Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary time
February 8, 2015
Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39

Last week, Jesus began his surprisingly strong preaching ministry when his words expelled unclean spirits from a man in the synagogue. His words had power over the spiritual world. Today, Jesus complements his preaching ministry with many healings and everyone is drawn to him because they want their suffering to cease. However, Jesus surprises us by saying that he cannot stay and cure everyone because he has to remain faithful to his mission, which is to preach the nearness of God’s presence to the world.

Job’s comments reveal to us the depth of human suffering and the questions that arise when we stand before God. Job is at the beginning of his descent into despair, which seems to have no end. He claims, “I have been assigned months of misery,” and “My days come to an end without hope. I shall not see happiness again.” When any of us suffer from chronic conditions, life is bleak and we will do anything to relieve our pain so we can be restored back to our former way of life. We will search endlessly for a savior who can take away our suffering.

You can understand the astonishment of the first disciples when Jesus heals many, but then says it is time to move on. It is a recognition that everyone suffers in some way and that the poor and the suffering will be with us for eternity and there us not a whole lot we can do about it. The historical Jesus was unable to reach everyone and he was not sent to be a super-doctor. He instructs his disciples that he has to be faithful to the mission God entrusted to him – to preach the Kingdom of God to all of Israel. The Kingdom of God, the re-establishment of the Twelve Tribes of Jacob, was being reconstituted through Jesus.

The choice of Jesus not to stay and heal everyone makes us wonder how God feels about those who are overlooked and neglected in their suffering and pain-relief. What is the mystery behind why some are healed and others are cast to the sidelines to be forgotten? Does God not care for those who are left behind? Is there something unlovable or worthless about them? In these matters, both Jesus and God seem to be unfair. Jesus moves on.

However, we have to see the purpose of the mission of Jesus as the greater good. He has to be obedient for God and his message is, “God cares deeply for you. Receive this gift.” His words are going to travel further than any cure and his words will ring on into eternity. His words are to be received by future generations so that everyone can have life, and these words are crucially helpful for those who are ill and suffering because we all need to cling to the hope that God remains concerned for us.

We have to know our limits when we show compassion to a suffering person of faith. Our job is much like Jesus: we have to preach God’s concern for them after listening to their heartbreaking stories that are reminiscent of Job. We cannot save everyone, but we can point them in the direction of Jesus, who stands by them in their suffering, but we have to be the compassionate face of God, to show human love as an aspect of divine love.  We have to help the person pray in a way in which he or she feels heard or attended to by God. They have to know with absolute certainty that God gazes upon them in concern. Our presence matters only insofar as we mediate the presence of God. We are there to represent God’s love as silently as we can. Our actions have a tongue of their own. They have an eloquence of their own, even when the tongue is silent. For deeds prove the lover more than the words.

Jesus moved on so his words could be preached to the many, yet he gave us examples of loving and acting so we can take care of ourselves. Some are called to be healers, others are teachers, and some are preachers. We laugh, play, build, and create with one another; we mourn, suffer, sit, and cry with one another. In all that we do, Christ’s mystery shines through us. Let us be as kind and loving as possible. We each have a role in Christ’s plan for salvation. Let us be glad that the ministry of Jesus is stronger than ever today. We take care of one another and we do what we can to announce, whether privately or publicly, God’s kingdom is here for you. Let us always bring the gift Christ gave us to one another and our world will be brighter.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Genesis 1:1-19) The account of the first four days of creation are told.
Tuesday: (Genesis 1:20-24) The fifth and sixth days of creation are recounted and then God rests on the seventh day.
Wednesday: (Genesis 2) God formed man out of the clay and blew life into his nostrils. God then planted a garden in Eden where he planted the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God forbid him to eat of the tree of knowledge.
Thursday: (Genesis 2) God did not want man to be alone so God created a woman to be his companion. The two shall cling to one another and become one.
Friday: (Genesis 3) The serpent persuaded the woman to eat from the tree and give the fruit to the man. Their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked.  
Saturday: (Genesis 3) God spoke to Adam and Eve and found out what happened. God then measured out his punished that would be carried throughout the generations.

Monday: (Mark 6) When Jesus crossed to the other side, many recognized him. Wherever he went, he touched many who were sick and they were healed.
Tuesday: (Mark 7) The disciples of Jesus are accosted for the hygiene before meals. Jesus tells them they disregard God commandments but cling to human tradition.
Wednesday: (Mark 7) Jesus called the people together and say, “Nothing that enters one from the outside can defile the person; what  is inside will defile the person.”
Thursday: (Mark 7) Jesus wanted to be alone so he went into a house and a Syro-Phoenician woman found him and begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
Friday: (Mark 7) Jesus went to the Decapolis and met a deaf mute. He opened his ears and mouth and ordered the people not to tell anyone. His fame increased dramatically.
Saturday: (Mark 8) A great crowd surrounded Jesus and his heart was moved with pity. Since they had been with him for days, he asked his disciples to feed them even though they had few quantities of food.

Saints of the Week

February 8: Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537), was a Venetian soldier who experienced a call to be a priest during this imprisonment as a captor. He devoted his work to the education of orphans, abandoned children, the poor and hungry. He founded an order to help in his work, but he died during a plague while caring for the sick.

February 8: Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was a Sudanese who was sold as a slave to the Italian Consul, who treated her with kindness. She was baptized in Italy and took the name Josephine. Bakhita means fortunate. She was granted freedom according to Italian law and joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity where she lived simply as a cook, seamstress, and doorkeeper. She was known for her gentleness and compassion.

February 10: Scholastica (480-543) was the twin sister of Benedict, founder of Western monasticism. She is the patroness of Benedictine nuns. She was buried in her brother's tomb; they died relatively close to one another.

February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes is remembered because between February 11 and July 16, 1858, Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a cave near Lourdes, France eighteen times. The site remains one of the largest pilgrim destinations. Many find healing in the waters of the grotto during the spring.

February 14: Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop (Ninth Century), were brothers who were born in Thessalonica, Greece. They became missionaries after they ended careers in teaching and government work. They moved to Ukraine and Moravia, a place between the Byzantium and Germanic peoples. Cyril (Constantine) created Slavonic alphabet so the liturgy and scriptures could be available to them. Cyril died during a visit to Rome and Methodius became a bishop and returned to Moravia.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.
·      Feb 7, 1878. At Rome, Pius IX died. He was sincerely devoted to the Society; when one of the cardinals expressed surprise that he could be so attached to an order against which even high ecclesiastics brought serious charges, his reply was: "You have to be pope to know the worth of the Society."
·      Feb 8, 1885. In Chicago, Fr. Isidore Bourdreaux, master of novices at Florissant, Missouri, from 1857 to 1870, died. He was the first scholastic novice to enter the Society from any of the colleges in Missouri.
·      Feb 9, 1621. Cardinal Ludovisi was elected Pope Gregory XV. He was responsible for the canonization of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier.
·      Feb 10, 1773. The rector of Florence informed the general, Fr. Ricci, that a copy of the proposed Brief of Suppression had been sent to the Emperor of Austria. The general refused to believe that the Society would be suppressed.
·      Feb 11, 1563. At the Council of Trent, Fr. James Laynez, the Pope's theologian, made such an impression on the cardinal president by his learning and eloquence, that cardinal decided at once to open a Jesuit College in Mantua, his Episcopal see.
·      Feb 12, 1564. Francis Borgia was appointed assistant for Spain and Portugal.
·      Feb 13, 1787. In Milan, Fr. Rudjer Boskovic, an illustrious mathematician, scientist, and astronomer, died. At Paris he was appointed "Directeur de la Marine."

·      Feb 14, 1769. At Cadiz, 241 Jesuits from Chile were put on board a Swedish vessel to be deported to Italy as exiles.