Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Fifth Sunday of Lent
March 22, 2015
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33

            The time has come for the passion of Jesus to take place. Signs are becoming more frequent as the pieces fall into place. Today we hear that some Greeks, who represent the foreign kingdoms of the world, come to worship at the Passover and they want to see Jesus. In other words, prophecy states all the nations will come to God’s holy mountain at the appropriate time where they will meet the holy one of God, that is, Jesus who uniquely reveals God. The path to the Passion is straight ahead and everything will fall into place quickly.

            Notice the humanity and emotions in the readings. God desperately wants a new mutual relationship with us, not based on laws, but on affectionate care for the other. It is a responsive relationship of the heart where one gives autonomy and freedom but closely knows the motives and practices of the other. This type of love forgives all faults because this type of love perfects the other just as newlyweds can find no fault in their beloved one. In Hebrews, Jesus did not hide his human emotions when he poured out his prayers with loud cries and tears to the God with whom he developed an intimate friendship. Even in the Gospel we read that Jesus was greatly troubled because he knew betrayal and death was upon him and he did not want to suffer. We connect with these feelings and emotions.  

            You can also notice the familiarity between persons in the texts. God wants to become radically familiar with the Israelites; Jesus prays in the garden to a God with whom he is totally familiar; Philip and Andrew know Jesus so well that they are the ones to bring the Greeks to him. Then the crowd hears thunder and Jesus explains that a voice from heaven spoke to him saying this is the time for glory. Jesus and the Father have become one and Jesus wants the people to know that it is a familiar, friendly voice that brings everyone he knows to himself because he will draw them up to heaven in friendship.

            Our friendship with Christ advances when we pay attention to his human emotions and struggles. Just as human friendship deepens when we stand with one another during times of suffering and distress, we do the same with Jesus, especially during Holy Week. Sharing and receiving emotions builds bonds of friendship. As we move to the final days of Jesus, we pay attention silently to how he handles his fate. We sit forward with our senses heightened and we feel with him as he experiences his pain and loss once again. We are simply to be with him.

            Throughout this past year, we have been with Jesus as he invited us to be companions with him in his work of salvation. He invited us to labor, to serve, and even to suffer with him – always with him, never on our own. Since all our life events are to be in union with him, we seek the grace to better know and love him in order to follow him more closely. We acknowledge the grace is first of all to be in a relationship – knowing and loving Jesus, and to be an integral part of this deepening relationship, to be enabled to labor and serve. As a result, our choices and decisions about service and work are viewed through the lenses of Christ’s values and his way of making decisions in his life, along with our resolve of humility, which helps us closely identify with Jesus. It is Jesus who draws us into friendship to be busy with him about the reign of God.

            Let us get busy with him this week by being attentive to his emotions as we read scripture. Let him open up for us the reasons he is personally doing this for us. Let us be in more profound conversations with him about the stuff that troubles us, no matter how small. The events are beyond our control. In fact, we have so little control in life but we tightly hold onto those dramas and disorders that do not serve us well. We hide our chaos from him that he sees so clearly, but we think we hide it well. Give that ugly stuff over to him so it makes his cross heavier to carry. This is the reason for which he came and he will not turn away from it. The heavier it is for him, the more worthwhile it is for us in the long run because we pile on the horrors held in our hearts. The heaviness of the cross leads to greater glory.

            Take this time now to look into the eyes of Jesus as he prepares for his passion and then tell him of the shame and guilt you carry. Promise to give it to him now so that your intimacy increases. Above all, he wants you to love him as a friend and he will give everything he has for your friendship. His time has come. So has yours. Give him what he needs so you he can free you from your cares. He wants you to live for him.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 13) Daniel’s sharp advocacy skills spare the life of Susannah who has been unjustly accused of immoral sexual relationships.
Tuesday: (Numbers 21) As the wandering Israelites passed through the desert near the Red Sea, many are bitten by seraph serpents, but Moses erected a bronze serpent that he lifted up for those bitten to gaze upon the image and be cured.
Wednesday: (Isaiah 7) Annunciation: Ahaz is tempted by the Lord to ask for a sign but he will not. The Lord gives it anyways: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son named Emmanuel.
Thursday: (Genesis 17) The Lord said to Abraham: You are to become the father of a host of nations. You will become fertile; kings will stem from you.   
Friday: (Jeremiah 20) Terror on every side. Let us denounce him. The Lord is with me like a mighty champion.
Saturday: (Ezekiel 37) My dwelling shall be with my people. I will be their God and they shall be my people.   

Monday: (John 8) A woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus for a verdict, but he does not answer as he calls upon those who are without sin to cast the first stone.
Tuesday: (John 8) Jesus tells the Pharisees that they will lift up the Son of Man and will then realized that I AM.
Wednesday: (Luke 1) Gabriel was sent to Mary of Nazareth to inform her that she has been chosen by the Lord to bear a son who will be called holy, the Son of God.
Thursday: (John 8) Whoever keeps my words will never see death. Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.
Friday: (John 10) The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus, but he wanted to know for which of the works he was condemned. He went back across the Jordan and remained there.
Saturday: (John 11) Many came to believe in Jesus. Caiaphas asked, “do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people?”

Saints of the Week

March 23: Toribio of Mogrovejo, bishop (1538-1606) was a Spanish law professor in Salamanca who became the president of the Inquisition in Granada. As a layman, he was made the Archbishop of Lima, Peru and became quickly disturbed at the treatment of the native populations by the European conquerors. He condemned abuses and founded schools to educate the oppressed natives. He built hospitals and churches and opened the first seminary in Latin America.

March 25: The Annunciation of the Lord celebrates the announcement that God chose to unite divinity with humanity at the conception of Jesus. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to inform her of God’s intentions to have her conceive the future Messiah. The boy’s name was to be Jesus – meaning “God saves.” This date falls nine months before Christmas Day.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 22, 1585: In Rome, the three Japanese ambassadors were received by Fr. General with great solemnity in the Society's Church of the Gesu.
·      March 23, 1772: At Rome, Cardinal Marefoschi held a visitation of the Irish College and accused the Jesuits of mismanagement. They were removed by him from the direction of that establishment.
·      March 24, 1578: At Lisbon Rodolf Acquaviva and 13 companions embarked for India. Among the companions was Matthew Ricci and Michael Ruggieri.
·      March 25, 1563: The first Sodality of Our Lady, Prima Primaria, was begun in the Roman College by a young Belgian Jesuit named John Leunis (Leonius).
·      March 26, 1553: Ignatius of Loyola's letter on obedience was sent to the Jesuits of Portugal.
·      March 27, 1587: At Messina died Fr. Thomas Evans, an Englishman at 29. He had suffered imprisonment for his defense of the Catholic faith in England.

·      March 28, 1606: At the Guildhall, London, the trial of Fr. Henry Garnet, falsely accused of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot.