Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Second Sunday of Lent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Second Sunday of Lent
March 1, 2015
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10

Scripture presents us with momentous turning points this week. Abraham, though he has been faithful to God in the past, responds to God by being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, who God acknowledges, as “your only one, the one whom you love, your beloved.” Abraham, because of his prior trust in God, is willing once again to follow the Lord’s commandments, even though it would sadden him greatly. In the Gospel, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain to be transfigured in their presence into a dazzling white not seen like anything on earth. Jesus is the one declared beloved by the voice from the cloud, the one whom God loves in a special way. It is Jesus, not Isaac, who is destined to be sacrificed.

These are crucial turning points in the story of these men. Abraham long practiced fidelity to God and he survived the crucial test of giving up his only son. His other son, Ishmael, was born to a servant woman, and not born of the free marriage to Sarah. Abraham’s “yes” validated God’s trust in him, which bestowed the fatherly blessing upon his descendants. While the fate of Jesus was becoming clearer, he took his inner circle of friends up the holy mountain where he Moses and Elijah appeared alongside him. God revealed Jesus to be more special than the lawgiver and the prophets. Jesus is identified the one whose faithfulness will lead to salvation. He tells his friends that he will rise from the dead.

Abraham’s turning point allowed the blessing of God to transfer from himself to his son and his descendants. In other words, his fidelity was no longer a personal response, but one that affected everyone who followed. Through Isaac and Israel, God’s promises continued. After the Transfiguration of Jesus, his mission changed drastically. His eyes looked firmly forward to Jerusalem, the destination of his journey where the great prophet would be rejected, reviled, and killed. His mission became clear. He was truly God’s beloved, the one who would be sacrificed as the extreme test of fidelity.

In the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, a retreatant’s turning point follows a period of fidelity where Jesus personally asks for this faithfulness to increase. After being with Jesus, watching him, listening to him, learning from him, Jesus, as the eternal king, asks a person, “Will you come with me and imitate me as I make my way to the cross? Just be with me, and feel with me, as I endure the final events of my day.” Typically, a retreatant resists because of the pain he or she will experience, but the only possible answer is “yes.” This is the turning point, when the heart, the mind, and the will are united by the imagination and one’s whole being says “yes” to Jesus. This is the magis, the more. Our lives are no longer are own because we live for a higher purpose.

Do you have a moment in your personal history that you consider a turning point in faith? We assent to God in small ways that strengthen our commitment, but is there a time when you felt your resolve to God become unmistakable so that a new path opened up for you? It involves giving a more thoughtful, deeper response to Christ that comes from knowing that he is your beloved as well. Your love for him reflects his affectionate care for you based on a whole lifetime of memories. It is a time when silence takes root together because you have stood by each other. Nothing more needs to be proven; you are in this together.

Lent is a time to tell ourselves again our stories of faith and to see how the friendship with Christ has developed. Let Christ remind you of those times that are significant to him. Let him choose you once again and call you his Beloved, the one whom he loves. We need these times of loving remembrance because this is the time of our magis, the more, because the Cross looms ahead, however we go into it knowing that our friendship has endured all trials and tribulations. His death lives on in us. We can go forth – onward and upward – secure in our faith, transfigured because Christ’s love forever changes us.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 9) We have rebelled against you God and sinned, but you have remained faithful to us in the covenant. You, O Lord, have justice on your side.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 1) Wash yourselves clean and make justice your aim. Obey the commandments and take care of your neighbor.
Wednesday: (Jeremiah 18) The people of Judah contrived against Jeremiah to destroy him by his own words.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 17) Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings. More tortuous than all else is the human heart. The Lord alone probes the mind and tests the heart.  
Friday: (Genesis 37) Israel loved Joseph best of all, which created resentment among his brothers, who later sold him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver.
Saturday: (Micah 7) God removes guilt and pardons sins and does not persist in anger.

Monday: (Luke 6) Jesus said, “Be merciful,” and “Stop judging because you will be judged by the way you judge.”
Tuesday: (Matthew 23) The scribes and Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Be wary of someone’s teaching if they have no integrity between their words and actions.
Wednesday: (Matthew 20) As Jesus went up to Jerusalem, he told his disciples, “Behold. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests, condemned to death, handed over to Gentiles, an crucified, and will be raised on the third day.”
Thursday: (Luke 16) A rich man dressed in purple garments died shortly after Lazarus, a beggar. In heaven, Lazarus was rewarded and the rich man was tormented in hell. He appealed to God to spare his family, but was told that they would not listen to Moses or to anyone who was raised from the dead.
Friday: (Matthew 21) Jesus told the parable of a vineyard owner, who entrusted the land to servants, but these men seized the land and possessed it. They killed the servants and the heir. When the owner returned, he cast the wretched men into a tormented death.
Saturday: (Luke 15) Jesus is accused of welcoming sinners and eats with them. He then tells the story of the prodigal one who was well received by his father upon his return. The one who was lost has been found.

Saints of the Week

March 1: Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), was from a wealthy Philadelphian banking family and she and her two sisters inherited a great sum of money when her parents died. She joined the Sisters of Mercy and wanted to found her own order called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the African and Native Americans. Her inheritance funded schools and missions throughout the South and on reservations. A heart attack in 1935 sent her into retirement.

March 7: Perpetua and Felicity (d. 203), were two catechumens arrest and killed during a persecution in North Africa. Perpetua was a young noblewoman who was killed alongside her husband, their young son, and their pregnant slave, Felicity. They were baptized while under arrest and would not renounce their faith. Felicity was excused from death because it was unlawful to kill a pregnant woman, but she gave birth prematurely three days before the planned execution. They were flogged, taunted by wild beasts, and then beheaded. They appear in the First Eucharistic Prayer.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Mar 1, 1549. At Gandia, the opening of a college of the Society founded by St Francis Borgia.
·      Mar 2, 1606. The martyrdom in the Tower of London of St Nicholas Owen, a brother nicknamed "Little John." For 26 years he constructed hiding places for priests in homes throughout England. Despite severe torture he never revealed the location of these safe places.
·      Mar 3, 1595. Clement VIII raised Fr. Robert Bellarmine to the Cardinalate, saying that the Church had not his equal in learning.
·      Mar 4, 1873. At Rome, the government officials presented themselves at the Professed House of the Gesu for the purpose of appropriating the greater part of the building.
·      Mar 5, 1887. At Rome, the obsequies of Fr. Beckx who died on the previous day. He was 91 years of age and had governed the Society as General for 34 years. He is buried at San Lorenzo in Campo Verano.
·      Mar 6, 1643. Arnauld, the Jansenist, published his famous tract against Frequent Communion. Fifteen French bishops gave it their approval, whereas the Jesuit fathers at once exposed the dangers in it.

·      Mar 7, 1581. The Fifth General Congregation of the Society bound the professors of the Society to adhere to the doctrine of St Thomas Aquinas.