Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 2, 2015
Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15; Psalm 78; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35

            Hunger causes us to grumble. When we are not satisfied with food and drink, we become irritable and we search for more food. The Israelites experienced this when they wandered through the barren desert in search of satisfying food. Many longed to be back in hostile Egypt just so they could have the regularity of eating nutritious meals. The Lord heard the cries of the people and provided them with manna – food of the angels – so they could be sustained. Every evening, after a long parched day, in the twilight, God provided fleshy quail as the Israelites’ protein and in the morning, fine flakes of manna that were made into bread. Once their bellies were full, the Israelites could praise God for providing for them.

            Hunger kept the crowds looking for Jesus after he fed the multitudes. He was the one who took their hunger away and satisfied their searching. They realized they found the real deal in Jesus and they wanted to know more about him because he offered what no one else could provide. They huddled into their boats to cross to Capernaum just to see if Jesus was there. Once they came to know Jesus, they needed to remain close to him. He told them that he provides the food that endures for eternal life and the crowds wanted to know how they could believe more fully.

            People with partial faith want verification that Jesus is the one to whom they ought to devote their lives. Many seek and search and try out various approaches to become happy, but they find these pursuits ring hollow after a time. They are not ready to become religious and to allow Jesus to be known to them as a real person. They say, “Only if I hear the voice of Jesus or if he appears to me will I believe.” They seek the same sort of signs as the people of biblical times, but they will not look at the sign that is most revelatory – the Eucharist. Jesus tells the people, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Fortunate is the one who replies, “Sir, give me this bread always.”

            We have come across people who are marginal Christians or do not regularly attend church on Sundays. Though it is a weekend day to them, it feels rootless because the day is not special from the other days except for maybe a special sports or media event. Setting aside time for God even if it means attending a church service that may not feel particularly engaging still provides some satisfaction. No matter how relaxing it may be to take a leisurely walk, to attend a concert, or show up at a family gathering, one always feels better when one commits to meeting Jesus during church services. Something unexplained is fulfilled. Something meaningful has happened.

            As people mature and their values change, if they are not rooted in faith, they are inarticulate about what they seek, even if they seek laudable goals. For the one who seeks good health and fortune while trying to live a morally good life, we believers know that Christ is participating in their lives, but we yearn for their fulfillment. We want them to come to knowledge of the Lord who will satisfy their longings and increase their trust in the divine. We want them to know who is feeding them so a personal relationship can be strengthened. The Israelites wanted to know if the manna was a natural event or if God was feeding them. The crowds surrounding Jesus wanted to know if he was the one providing the lasting bread. It makes all the difference in the world to know that one cares about you very much and wants to feed you, even if you cannot see him. What great joy, though, when we recognize Jesus, turn towards him, and allow ourselves to become bowled over in gratitude by the offer he extends to us. “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Numbers 11) The children of Israel cried out for meat in their food just like they had in Egypt. Though the Lord fed them manna, they cried for more substance in their meals
·      Tuesday: (Numbers 12) Moses contracted marriage with a Cushite woman, but Miriam and Aaron protested and declared that the Lord could speak through them also. When the cloud moved to the Meeting Tent, Miriam was struck with leprosy for her sin against Moses.
·      Wednesday: (Numbers 13) Moses sent men to scope out Canaan, who reported that during their 40 day reconnoiter the people of the land could be overtaken. Some men doubted and spread fear. The Lord punished them 40 years to wander in the desert because they doubted.
·      Thursday: (Daniel 7) Daniel had a vision of the heavenly court where he saw one as the Son of Man who received dominion, glory, and kingship.
·      Friday (Deuteronomy 4) The Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and there is no other. Keep the statutes so that you and your children will prosper and have long life.
·      Saturday (Deuteronomy 6) The Lord will guide you after you entered the Promised Land. Follow the commandments and fear God. Serve God and you will have favor.

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (Matthew 14) When Jesus heard of John the Baptist’s death, he withdrew to a deserted place. He saw the vast crowds and his heart was moved with pity. He fed the 5,000 with the five loaves and two fish.  
·      Tuesday: (Matthew 14) Jesus put the disciples in a boat to cross the sea. At night, a violent wind swept up and Jesus appeared to them walking on the water. Peter doubted and began to sink as he walked on water too. Jesus spoke to them about the need for faith.
·      Wednesday (Matthew 15) Jesus approached Tyre and Sidon and encountered a Canaanite woman whose daughter was tormented by a demon. She fought for her daughter’s inclusion in the healing ministry of Jesus. Jesus admired her great faith.
·      Thursday (Mark 9) Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus up a high mountain when Jesus was transfigured before them. A voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” The figures of Moses and Elijah that surrounded Jesus disappeared.
·      Friday (Matthew 16) Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. What profit is there if one gains the whole world but forfeits his life?
·      Saturday (Matthew 17) A man came up to Jesus and asked for pity on his son who was a lunatic. The disciples of Jesus could not cure him. Jesus claimed they could not heal him because of their little faith.

Saints of the Week

August 2: Peter Faber, S.J., priest and founder (1506-1546), was one of the original companions of the Society of Jesus. He was a French theologian and the first Jesuit priest and was the presider over the first vows of the lay companions. He became known for directing the Spiritual Exercises very well. He was called to the Council of Trent but died as the participants were gathering.

August 2: Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop (d. 371), was ordained bishop after becoming a lector. He attended a council in Milan where he opposed the Arians. The emperor exiled him to Palestine because he contradicted secular influences. He returned to his diocese where the emperor died.

August 2: Peter Julian Eymard, priest (1811-1868) left the Oblates when he became ill. When his father died, he became a priest and soon transferred into the Marists but left them to found the Blessed Sacrament Fathers to promote the significance of the Eucharist.

August 4: John Vianney, priest (1786-1859) became the parish priest in Ars-en-Dombes where he spent the rest of his life preaching and hearing confessions. Hundreds of visitors and pilgrims visited him daily. He would hear confessions 12-16 hours per day.

August 5: Dedication of the Basilica of Mary Major in Rome is celebrated because it is the largest and oldest of the churches in honor of Mary. The veneration began in 435 when the church was repaired after the Council of Ephesus in 431 when Mary was proclaimed the Mother of God. This is the church where Ignatius of Loyola said his first Mass and where Francis of Assisi assembled the first crèche.

August 6: The Transfiguration of the Lord is an historical event captured by the Gospels when Jesus is singled out as God's Son - ranking higher than Moses or Elijah. In front of his disciples, Jesus becomes transfigured, thus revealing his true nature. Ironically, the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb occurred at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

August 7: Sixtus, II, pope and martyr with companions (d. 258), died during the Valerian persecutions in 258. They were killed in the catacombs where they celebrated Mass. Sixtus was beheaded while speaking in his presidential chair and six deacons were killed as well. Lawrence, the Deacon, is honored on August 10th. Sixtus is remembered during the 1st Eucharistic prayer at Mass.

August 7: Cajetan, priest (1480-1547), was a civil and canon lawyer who worked in the papal chancery. He later joined the Roman Order of Divine Love and was ordained a priest. He became aware that the church needed reform and he teamed up with the bishop of Theate (Gian Pietro Carafa) and formed a society of priests called the Theatines who lived in community and took monastic vows. They owned no property.

August 8: Dominic, priest (1170-1221), was a Spaniard who was sent to southern France to counter the heretical teachings of the Albigensians, who held that the material world was evil and only religious asceticism could combat those forces. Dominic begged and preached in an austere fashion and set the foundations for the new Order of Preachers for both men and women.

August 8: Mother Mary MacKillop, religious (1842-1909), who worked in Australia and New Zealand to assist the poor, needy, and immigrants to the country, was canonized on October 17th 2010. August 8th is chosen as the day in which she will be memorialized on the Roman calendar. I offer the following prayer:

Bountiful and loving God,
You have filled the heart of Mary MacKillop
with compassionate love for those
who are in need at the margins of our society.
Deepen that love within us
that we may embrace the mystery of the Cross
which leads us through death to life.
We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus
who having broken the bonds of death
leads us to everlasting life. Amen.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 2, 1981. The death of Gerald Kelly, moral theologian and author of "Modern Youth and Chastity."
·      Aug 3, 1553. Queen Mary Tudor made her solemn entrance into London. As she passed St Paul's School, an address was delivered by Edmund Campion, then a boy of thirteen.
·      Aug 4, 1871. King Victor Emmanuel signed the decree that sanctioned the seizure of all of the properties belonging to the Roman College and to S. Andrea.
·      Aug 5, 1762. The Parliament at Paris condemned the Society's Institute as opposed to natural law. It confiscated all Jesuit property and forbade the Jesuit habit and community life.
·      Aug 6, 1552. The death of Claude Jay, a French priest who was one of Ignatius' original companions at the University of Paris.
·      Aug 7, 1814. The universal restoration of the Society of Jesus.

·      Aug 8, 1604. St Peter Claver takes his first vows at Tarracona.