Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary time
February 15, 2015
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; Psalm 32; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

Jesus acts out of his great store of compassion when he heals the leper early on in his ministry. Last week, we saw that he healed many who were brought to him when he stayed at Peter’s mother-in-law’s house, but this healing is different because it confronts the instructions outlined Leviticus that were designed to protect and promote the community’s sanitary health. Leviticus tells us that the priest will decide, as a doctor does, if he needs to be quarantined from the community. The priest also decides when he can be readmitted to society. Until then, he shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp and will yell “unclean, unclean” if someone approaches.

When the leper asks to be healed, Jesus can only say “yes” because he does not want the man to suffer, but he knows the risk he faces. Coming into contact with an infectious disease, Jesus faces his own quarantine. He knows that if he heals the man, he cannot enter a town because he risks spreading an infection to others. If the man remains quiet, there is a chance he can preach openly, but he knows this man is going to tell his story publicly. The ministry of Jesus becomes a great challenge and Jesus remains in deserted places to carry out his mission. To no one’s surprise, people risk upsetting the Mosaic prescriptions and they throng to Jesus to hear him preach and to be healed.

Our memories are long and sometimes we have to forget. We have to remember that the exclusion of someone from the community was temporary and was done for the sake of the community’s good health. The role of the priest was to admit and integrate the person back into the community because to remain outside for extended periods meant death. Today, we have to work hard to bring the estranged ones back into the family and community for their well-being. We have no right to exclude anyone on our own terms; our job is to reconcile and to bring people back into the fold because we all depend upon each other at some point in our lives. We need to be brother and sister to people who are beyond our circles of friendship and we need to treat strangers better than we do.

We also need to examine how well we fit into society. The leprous man Jesus healed acted like an agitator because he made it much more difficult for Jesus to complete his ministry. Of course, he was happy to be healed of his leprosy, but as he was reintegrated, he could not contain his story. His silence would have let Jesus preach and heal without impediments. Do our actions agitate or do they advance the common good smoothly?

I realize many of our actions are designed to get others to respect us, but sometimes we have to realize our pursuit of respect gets in the way of a smooth flow of society’s functions. We have to pick and choose when it is time for us to act and time for us to fit in. For instance, if you walk up the left side of the stairwell when everyone else stays to the right and you feel disrespected because people take offense, move to the right hand side and choose a different way to express your need for respect and to negatively control the behaviors of others. Your actions agitate and slow down the flow of traffic. Always demanding respect from others shows that we can be self-centered, and that is not the mark of a true disciple. We need to choose when it is right to say, “My life matters,” but if I am always a thorn in the side of someone, I need to look at other issues affecting my life. If everything in your life is a battle with someone, the issue is most likely your behavior.

We must always pray that Christ will help us to become persons for others. The one who positively influences society and makes it flow more smoothly will find profound respect. The one who complements, encourages, is gentle and polite, will be regarded well by others and by God. You will become a pillar of strength for others who are looking for the right way to live. Challenge where it is necessary, but always find yourself contributing to the greater good, to the common good. You will find that you are living contentedly as Christ desires for you.

Jesus healed the leper of his skin condition and he was right to praise God. Jesus is ready and willing to heal us today, but we have to sustain his healing. We have to cooperate with him in building the kingdom. We have to act as he did – giving of himself to others even when it was not to his advantage, but we do it for the reason he did: he had great compassion for others. Let us pray for an increase of our ability to be compassionate because it takes us away from our concerns and helps us build a society based on the love of God for every person. Every person has his or her part. Let us choose to be mindful of the way we contribute to society and make each action better than yesterday’s actions. As Lent is soon to begin, let’s start to transform our small corner of the world anew.


Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Genesis 4:) Adam and Eve issued for Cain and Abel. Cain, out of resentment for Abel’s lot, killed his brother and was severely punished. Even then bore Seth, a third son.
Tuesday: (Genesis 6) The Lord saw the great extent of human wickedness and decided to wipe out all the humans God created. Noah found favor with God. God asked Noah to take seven pairs of every clean animal and to place the on an ark while God flooded the earth.
Wednesday: (Joel 2 – Ash Wednesday) Return to God with your whole heart. Blow the trumpet in Zion and proclaim a fast.
Thursday: (Deuteronomy 30) Moses said, “I set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. Follow the commandments and choose life.”
Friday: (Isaiah 58) This is the fasting the Lord requires: release the unjustly bound, set free the oppressed, feed the hungry, take in the homeless, and clothe the naked.
Saturday: (Isaiah 58) Honor the commandments and treat others with mercy, as if they are your neighbor, and God will nourish you.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Mark 8) The Pharisees argued with Jesus, who became downcast and asked, “Why does this generation seek a sign. No sign will be given to it.”
Tuesday: (Mark 8) After the miraculous feeding, the disciples forgot to bring bread and they blamed themselves. They failed to remember the miracle Jesus worked for them.
Wednesday: (Matthew 6 – Ash Wednesday) Perform your righteous deeds in secret and the Father in heaven will see everything in secret.
Thursday: (Luke 9) Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly, be rejected, killed and on the third day be raised. Anyone who follows must deny himself and take up the cross.”
Friday: (Matthew 9) Why do the Baptist’s disciples fast, but your disciples do not? Jesus tells them, “No fasting is needed when the bridegroom is with them.”
Saturday: (Luke 5) Jesus saw Levi, a tax collector, sitting at his post and he called him to become a disciple. The Pharisees and scribes complained that he hung out with sinners.

Saints of the Week

February 15: Claude La Colombiere, S.J., religious (1641-1682), was a Jesuit missionary, ascetical writer, and confessor to Margaret Mary Alocoque at the Visitation Convent at Paray La Monial. As a Jesuit, he vowed to live strictly according to the Jesuit Constitutions to achieve utmost perfection. Together, they began a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

February 17: The Seven Founders of the Servites (Thirteenth Century) were from Florence and they joined the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin, who were also known as Praisers. They devoted their apostolate to prayer and service and withdrew to a deserted mountain to build a church and hermitage. After adopting a rule and gaining recruits, they changed their name to the Servants of Mary.

February 17: Mardi Gras is your last chance to eat meat before Lent. This is the last day of Carnival (Carne- meat, Goodbye – vale). Say goodbye to meat as we begin the fasting practices tomorrow.

February 18: Ash Wednesday is the customary beginning to the season of Lent. A penitential time marked by increased fasting, prayer and almsgiving, we begin our 40-day tradition of sacrifice as we walk the way of Jesus that ends at the Cross during Holy Week. Lent is a time of conversion, a time to deepen one’s relationship with Christ, for all roads lead to his Cross of Suffering and Glory.

February 21: Peter Damian, bishop and Doctor (1007-1072), was orphaned and raised by his brother, Damian, a priest in Ravenna. He began as a hermit monk and was then made abbot and cardinal. He became a reformer in the church often speaking out against clerical laxness.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Feb 15, 1732. Fr. Chamillard SJ, who had been reported by the Jansenists as having died a Jansenist and working miracles, suddenly appeared alive and well!
·      Feb 16, 1776. At Rome, the Jesuit prisoners in Castel S Angelo were restored to liberty. Fr. Romberg, the German assistant, aged 80, expressed a wish to remain in prison.
·      Feb 17, 1775. The French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Neapolitan Ambassadors in Rome intimate to the newly elected Pope Pius VI the will of their respective sovereigns that the Jesuits imprisoned in Castel S Angelo should not be released.
·      Feb 18, 1595. St Robert Southwell, after two and a half years imprisonment in the tower, was removed to Newgate and there thrust into a dungeon known as "Limbo."
·      Feb 19, 1581. The election of Fr. Claude Acquaviva as fifth general in the Fourth General Congregation. He was only 37 years of age and a Jesuit for only l4 years. He was general under eight popes. He had been a fellow novice with St Stanislaus.
·      Feb 20, 1860. Pope Pius IX visits the rooms of St Ignatius.

·      Feb 21, 1595. At Tyburn, the martyrdom of Robert Southwell after he had suffered brutal tortures in Topcliffe's house and in prison. He embraced the jailer who brought him word that he was to be executed. As he breathed his last, Lord Mountjoy, who presided over the execution, exclaimed: "May my soul be one day with that of this man."