Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Third Sunday of Ordinary time
January 25, 2015
Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:24-20


We have seen over the past few weeks that Mark’s Gospel opens dramatically by introducing Jesus as the Son of God and showing John the Baptist to be a mighty prophet roaring boldly like a lion in the desert wilderness. Today’s reading shows that John’s public ministry comes to an end with his arrest and imprisonment while Jesus arrives in Galilee to proclaim the favored time, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” While John preaches repentance, Jesus preaches God’s immanent presence.  

Without delay, Jesus begins to organize his ministerial team and it is prudent to take men from a profession where one has to cast nets widely and cleverly to secure the greatest possible catch. He first picks the fishermen, Simon and Andrew, and then beckons the sons of Zebedee who are mending their fishing nets. Casting widely and mending are two qualities that are still in high demand in church ministry today, but also notice the supreme importance of ministering as part of a community of faith.

During the most recent Jesuit General Congregation, which reflects the needs of the church while setting a path for future ministry, Jesuits determined to go to the “new church frontiers” in order to “kindle the flames that will light other fires to set the world ablaze.” To set new directions, we have to look at the world with lenses that discern new opportunities for growth in communities of a globalized world. Originally, missionary efforts were directed at new geographic frontiers, but the frontiers of today are discerned in new ideas, challenges to the moral life in an age of instant communication, new professions within science and the digital era, and the complex societal divisions that result from socio-economic discrepancies.

In promoting God’s message of loving compassion, Jesus moved beyond physical and socio-religious frontiers, and his message of reconciliation with God and with one another challenged society’s widely held assumptions. Whether he spoke to the influential or the ordinary, he challenged them to a change of heart, and his reconciling actions showed preferential love of the sinner and marginalized. His vision preached a world of right relationships where all as reconciled in God. His fidelity to God that led him to a death on a cross revealed that his words and actions were expressions of the final reconciliation through which a new creation springs forth because all relationships will be set right in God.

The first Jesuits recognized the importance of reaching out to people on the frontiers and the center of society. They sought to bring the Gospel to many cultures in foreign lands and to learn their traditions, to build bridges between the rich and the poor and the educated and the unlearned, and to build up the common good by reconciling fractured relationships. We are sent on the same mission today as Jesus and the early Jesuits. In world ripped apart by violence, division, and strife, we are called to be the same reconciling presence to restore all relationships in a new world order through the forgiving cross. We can bridge the divisions of a fragmented world if we are united in love in by Christ, that we develop personal bonds of friendship in a nourishing community of faith. Our expression of love to one another will reach across all divisions so that God’s justice for all is restored.

   Jesus and his call of the first disciples gives us an example of finding new ways to bring God’s good news of love and compassion to today’s new frontiers. It also speaks of the supreme necessity to reconcile broken relationships that are closest to us before we go forth to mend the nets of others. Strengthening the bonds within our tightest community of faith will proclaim to others that God is intricately involved in our openness to establishing right relations. Our testimony becomes, “Since God has done it for us, God will surely do it for others.” Our first frontier is within ourselves as it contains the challenging lesson of loving those who are around you and forming enduring friendships that will sustain you when you are sent to reconcile those who by all rights should be friends.

The call is the easy part; the mission is a challenge. Nevertheless, both are exciting and both are needed in a world where people are alienated and estranged from those who can bring them joy. To which frontiers do you need to cast your net? Does your net need mending first? Take some time to stitch up your relationships and this will be proof to others that the Kingdom of God is among you. It is time to go forth – onward and upward – towards a world where God’s justice is restored for all.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (2 Timothy) Filled with gratitude, Paul reminds Timothy to stir into flame the gift of God that he received through the imposition of his hands.
Tuesday: (Hebrews 10) Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same types of sacrifices once made.
Wednesday: (Hebrews 10) Every priest stands daily at his ministry offering sacrifices, but the one made by Christ takes away our sins.
Thursday: (Hebrews 10) It is through the Blood of Jesus that we can confidently enter into the sanctuary of the new life he opened for us.
Friday: (Hebrews 10) Remember when you suffered and came to know you had a better and lasting possession. You now need the endurance to do the will of God and receive what was promised.  
Saturday: (Hebrews 11) Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. By faith, Abraham was tested and received the promises of God.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Mark 3)  The Jerusalem scribe called Jesus a man possessed by Beelzebul, but Jesus retorted that a house divided against itself cannot stand. He ups the ante and says that the most terrible sin is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.
Tuesday: (Mark 3) The mother and brothers of Jesus sent word to Jesus to come outside and give up this preaching. Jesus queried, “Who are my mother and brothers ? Those who do the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Wednesday: (Mark 4) Jesus began to teach by the sea and told a parable about the sower and the seed. Those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it.
Thursday: (Mark 4) Jesus encourages his disciples by saying that everything placed in the dark will receive the light of God upon it. All our actions are suitable for scrutiny.
Friday: (Mark 4) Jesus unpacks the parable of the sower and then compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed that starts off so small, but blossoms into a large bush.
Saturday: (Mark 4) As Jesus crossed the other side of the sea in a boat, a violent squall burst forth. When Jesus was awakened, he said the to wind, “Quiet. Be still.”

Saints of the Week

January 25: The Conversion of Paul, the Apostle, was a pivotal point in the life of the early church. Scripture contains three accounts of his call and the change of behavior and attitudes that followed. Paul's story is worth knowing as it took him 14 years of prayer and study to find meaning in what happened to him on the road to Damascus.

January 26: Timothy and Titus, bishops (1st century), were disciples of Paul who later became what we know of as bishops. Timothy watched over the people of Ephesus and Titus looked after Crete. Both men worked with Paul and became a community leader. Timothy was martyred while Titus died of old age.

January 27: Angela Merici (1474-1540), was the founder of the Ursuline nuns. Relatives raised her when her parents died when she was 10. As an adult, she tended to the needs of the poor and with some friends, she taught young girls at their home. These friends joined an association that later became a religious order. Ursula was the patron of medieval universities.

January 28: Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor (1225-1274), studied in a Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino as a boy. He joined the newly formed Dominicans where he studied in France and Italy. He is a giant scholar. He wrote much on Scripture and theology, including his summation of theology (Summa Theologiae). He wrote several songs for liturgy, such as the Tantum Ergo, Pange Lingua, and Adoro Te Devote.

January 31: John Bosco, priest (1815-1888), formed his Society to aid children who were imprisoned. He used Francis de Sales as his inspiration. He taught poor and working class boys in the evenings wherever it was possible to meet them - in fields, factories, or homes. A sister community was set up to assist young girls who were sent to work.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan 25, 1707. Cardinal Tournon, Apostolic Visitor of the missions in China, forbade the use of the words 'Tien' or 'Xant' for God and ordered the discontinuance by the Christians of the Chinese Rites.
·      Jan 26, 1611. The first Jesuit missionaries sailed from Europe for New France (Canada).
·      Jan 27, 1870. The Austrian government endeavored to suppress the annual grant of 8,000 florins to the theological faculty of Innsbruck and to drive the Jesuit professors from the university, because of their support of the Papal Syllabus.
·      Jan 28, 1853. Fr. General John Roothaan, wishing to resign his office, summoned a General Congregation, but died on May 8, before it assembled.
·      Jan 29, 1923. Woodstock scholastics kept a fire vigil for several months to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from setting the college on fire.
·      Jan 30, 1633. At Avignon, Fr. John Pujol, a famous master of novices, died. He ordered one of them to water a dry stick, which miraculously sprouted.

·      Jan 31, 1774. Fr. General Laurence Ricci, a prisoner in Castel S Angelo, claimed his liberty, since his innocence had been fully vindicated. He received from the Papal Congregation the reply that they would think about it. Pope Clement XIV was said at this time to be mentally afflicted.