Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 15, 2015
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Psalm 137; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

            A theme present in both readings is “the people prefer darkness to light, because their works are evil.” It is a cause for Israel’s distress when immoral actions caused the downfall of the temple and Jerusalem. The people turned away from God and looked to their own interests while Israel fell to the Babylonians and were sent into exile. In the Gospel, Jesus was sent to into our messy world because it was filled with darkness. His task was to save it by being faithful to God, and he revealed God’s saving love to those who were in darkness and did not want to live in it any longer. People fundamentally want to live in the light.

            As we look at our world, we still find many people who put themselves above all else. Many are aggressive, lacking kindness, and concerned mostly for their own needs. They do not care if they make others feel unsafe, vulnerable, or scared. It does not serve their own interests to be aware of others. We feel that many are impolite, rude, and lacking positive manners. Listen to the language of people on the street. Certainly, other adjectives can be used than the harsh ones that spew forth from their mouths.

            Yet, we Christians know that selfishness and darkness are not the last words. The Book of Chronicles reminds us that the Israelites returned to Jerusalem when the good King Cyrus of Persia wanted to build the Lord a house in Jerusalem because he had affection for the people. Reading between the lines, King Cyrus had a warm heart that was concerned for others. Likewise, Jesus reveals the warm, affectionate heart of God, because God so loved the world that God wanted to save it. God knows that all people really want to live in the light and bask in God’s goodness.

            Paul in Romans 12 tells us that we are never to pay back evil for evil. Always let your aims be honorable and live at peace with all. If you adversary has needs, then help her meet those needs and you will use your goodness to conquer evil. In today’s world where many people want to be served, cheerfully be of good service to them. Because you think about others and care for them, they may see your good example and choose to follow it. We are people who live in the light of Christ, the man who served others so that they could see God.

            The most important part of these readings is that we have been brought to life with Christ. His grace has saved you and we can receive his great love by being open to the goodness of others. When we love, we are using God’s great gift to show others that they can be better people. We never want to change a person. We do not want to control their behaviors or shape their responses, but we want to show them what a life of goodness looks like so they can desire this goodness in their own time. Be patient with others.

            In the face of unpleasant selfishness, wait your turn. You do not have to react or respond right away. Giving yourself some time to deal with someone’s darkness will help you respond in goodness. If a relationship is not mutual, withdraw your affections and devote more time to a life-giving friendship. You will not anger the other person because she is only concerned for herself. She may not even notice that you are giving her less time. Stop accommodating people and set clear boundaries for your choices. If your gut tells you to say no, find a positive way to say it. You will gain much more self-respect, self-love, and self-care, and yet it is not selfish, but healthy and positive. It will help you attend to those who are in greater need and desire a more mutual friendship. Your words of charity can help a person grow in goodness.

            Just as Moses lifted up the serpent and Jesus was lifted up on the cross, we are to lift others to Jesus so they can be loved. We affirm and encourage others because we love them enough to do so. We hold them up so they can see their essential goodness enough so they begin to love themselves. When their love increases, their goodness increases and others will come to see the crucified Christ through them. It is not easy to always love others, but it is essential that we try. You will notice so many people along the way who will help us love more fully. This world, today, needs your love.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Isaiah 65) The Lord is about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered; there will always be rejoicing and happiness.
Tuesday: (Ezekiel 47) The angel brought the prophet to the entrance of the temple where life-giving water flowed forth and bringing life to all.
Wednesday: (Isaiah 49) The Lord finds favor with Israel and promises help on the day of salvation. The Lord will help Israel keep the commandments because He cannot forget her beauty.
Thursday: (2 Samuel 7) The Lord said to David: Your house shall endure forever; your throne shall stand firm forever.  
Friday: (Wisdom 2) The wicked said, “Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us. Let us revile him and condemn him to a shameful death.”
Saturday: (Jeremiah 11) Jeremiah knew their plot, but like a trusting lamb led to slaughter, had not realized they were hatching plots against him.   

Monday: (John 4) Jesus returned to Galilee where he performed his first miracle. Some believed in him. A royal official approached him as his child lay dying, but at the hour Jesus spoke to him, his son recovered.
Tuesday: (John 5) Jesus encountered an ill man lying next to a healing pool, but when the water is stirred up, no one is around to put him in. Jesus heals him and he walks away. The Jews protest that Jesus cured on the Sabbath. The Jews began to persecute Jesus.
Wednesday: (John 5) Jesus explains that he is the unique revealer of God and cannot do anything on his own. He judges as he hears and his judgment is just because he does not seek his own will.
Thursday: (Matthew 1) The birth of Jesus came about through Mary, betrothed to Joseph. In his dream, the angel tells Joseph to take the pregnant Mary as his wife.
Friday: (John 7) Jesus did not wish to travel around Judea because the Jews were trying to kill him, but he went up during the feast of Tabernacles where he was spotted. He cried up in the streets, “You know me and you know where I am from.”
Saturday: (John 7) Some in the crowd said, “This is the prophet.” Some said, “This is the Christ.” A division occurred because of him because they could not settled how he fit into Scripture. Nicodemus interjected, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” The crowd dispersed to their homes.

Saints of the Week

March 17: Patrick, bishop (389-461), is the revered Apostle of Ireland and patron saint of many U.S. dioceses. He is credited for bringing the faith to all of Ireland. He was abducted and enslaved at age 16 by pirates and taken to Ireland where he worked as a cattle herded and shepherd in the mountains. He escaped after six years and eventually returned to his native Britain where he became a priest. Pope Celestine sent Patrick as a missionary to Ireland to evangelize them. Though he was under constant risk from hostile pagans, he converted many of them and developed a native clergy by the time of his death.

March 19: Joseph, husband of Mary is honored today for his support of Mary in their marriage. He is portrayed as a righteous man who obeys the will of God. Therefore, his ancestry is upheld as a virtuous stock through which God’s promises come true. We seldom contemplate his marital relationship to Mary and his responsibility to love and raise Jesus as his son. He was a descendent of King David and a carpenter or builder by trade. In Matthew's dream sequence, Joseph was embarrassed by Mary's pregnancy before their marriage, but went through with the wedding because he was a righteous man. He considered dissolving their marriage because of Mosaic Law, but is told in a dream to take Mary as his wife and to raise Jesus as his own. He is honored as the earthly father of Jesus.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Mar 15, 1632. The death of Diego Ruiz, a great theologian, who studied on his knees.
·      Mar 16, 1649. The martyrdom in Canada of St John de Brebeuf, apostle to the Huron Indians. Captured by the Iroquois along with some Christian Hurons, he endured horrible tortures.
·      Mar 17, 1964. The death of Joseph O'Callahan. He was awarded the US Medal of Honor for heroism as chaplain on the USS Franklin, off Japan on March 19, 1945.
·      Mar 18, 1541. Two letters arrived from Lisbon from Francis Xavier. One was addressed to Ignatius, the other to Frs. LeJay and Laynez. They were written just before his departure to India.
·      Mar 19, 1836. By imperial decree, the Society was allowed to re-enter the Austrian dominions.
·      Mar 20, 1602. The first "Disputatio de Auxiliis" was held before Clement VIII. The disputants were Fr. Gregory de Valentia SJ and Fr. Diego Alvarez OP.

·      Mar 21, 1768. In Spain, at a special meeting of the Council of State in the presence of King Charles III, the Suppression of the Society was urged on the pretense that it was independent of the bishops, that it plotted against the State, and that it was lax in its teaching.