Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 5, 2015
Ezekiel 2:2-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6

            In a world where so many stimuli compete for our attention, we need prophets to keep us on course in our faith. Few people, however, want to be the prophets we are called to be. Ezekiel well understood this when the Lord sent him to the unruly, combative Israelites who revolted against God. He was thrust into a people that were hard of face and obstinate of heart. No one can hear the word of God or the words of others when their hearts are closed off to goodwill.

            Our modern day prophets are men and women who defy conventional standards and rail against the prejudice and bigotry of our day. They take the heat and the bullets for us so that progress may result. They have the courage and resources to do the work we are unable to do. We applaud them while we maintain our low-risk, scar-free standard of life. Few people want to take on the identity of a prophet because it is lonely, full of rejection and hate, and covered with threats to life and livelihood, and yet, we want them in our lives because our status quo is not good enough.

            Paul was sent as a prophet into a hostile Gentile world, but his greatest adversary, his thorn in the flesh, were the arch-conservative Judaizers that wanted to keep the new Christians out of the Jewish faith. Paul prayed long and hard to God to find ways to effectively deal with these antagonists, but the Lord kept assuring him that his grace was sufficient for him because power is made perfect in weakness. Because Paul could find the Lord in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, he was able to more effectively let the love of Christ flow into his actions and words.

            Jesus of Nazareth experienced harsh rejection from his own kinsmen. They took offense with him for assuming such lofty teachings and healings. The hardness of heart of his villagers lessened his ability to mediate God’s actions to them. Jesus simply moved onto places where he was better received.

            How does one act as a prophet today? Not all are called to public prophetic stances and are ready to fight local, national, and international injustices. Being a prophet today is to first read the signs of the times and then to conform one’s actions to the Gospel truths. So, if society is telling us to value youthful beauty and athleticism, possess the finest materials, make the quickest buck without regard for others, or to live a dream that is beyond one’s means, then someone has to say, “Stop.” It has to be us.

            Our prophetic stance means to be gentle and kind in the face of bullying, while disarming the bully. It means to live simply in trust of God instead of searching for the careers and homes that bring us greater honor and glory. It means turning off the television, smart phones, and media and embracing new aspects in the relationships with our family and friends. It means that we must listen more than we speak and to honor those who are with us. It means returning to our true selves as children of God and finding our simple happiness through God’s gifts.

            This is a counter-cultural way of being a prophet, but it is perfectly compatible in our Christian culture. It does not free us from insults and persecutions, but it does give others cause to think about the counter-cultural responses we present to them. It is perceived as being weak and even our closest friends will walk all over us because they think we give them permission to do so. We must persevere because it is the way of Christ. Be good. Be kind. Let your perceived weakness be seen fully so that the power of Christ may shine through. We will get hurt and we will find that God’s grace is sufficient. We cannot join the world’s pursuits that lead to meaninglessness and voids, but our weakness can be a source of confusion to the world so they stop and gaze upon the Christ who is bringing about this imbalance. His power is make perfect in weakness. We are prophets for Christ, not for ourselves and that means we take the long, lonely road – until we recognize the many other wounded prophets walking the way with us.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Genesis 28) Jacob departed for Haran and after setting up a shrine, he lay down to sleep. He dreamed of a stairway to heaven where God’s messenger’s freely went up and down the ladder. When Jacob awoke, he knew God visited this spot and made a vow. Tuesday: (Genesis 32) Jacob crossed the Jabbok with his wives and children. Some man wrestled him to the ground and when he realized he could not prevail over Jacob, he struck his hip socked. The man renamed Jacob Israel because he contended with the divine and humans and have prevailed.
Wednesday: (Genesis 41) When Egypt suffered famine, Pharaoh sent his men to Joseph, who provided them grain and rations. All the world came to Joseph. As Joseph was governor, his brothers knelt down before him. He sent the brothers away with food but asked them to come back with news of their youngest brother, who they sold.
Thursday: (Genesis 44) Joseph engaged his brothers about his father and their youngest brother. He could no longer control himself and declared, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. Do not fear for it was really the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.”   
Friday (Genesis 46) Israel set out to Egypt with God’s assurance that his family would become a great nation and would return safely to Canaan. Joseph received his father in Goshen and Israel declared that he could now die in peace since he saw Joseph once again.
Saturday (Genesis 49) Jacob gave his sons instructions to bury him near Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebekah. Joseph remained in Egypt until death. His brothers promised to bring his bones back to the promised land when the Israelites returned as a nation.

Monday: (Matthew 9) A synagogue official sent for Jesus as his daughter died. On his way, a woman suffering hemorrhages came up from behind and touched him and was cured. When Jesus arrived at the house, he brought the girl back to life.  
Tuesday: (Matthew 9) Jesus cured a mute demoniac, and the Pharisees accused him of driving out demons by the prince of demons. Jesus went forth teaching in towns and villages and his heart was moved with pity.
Wednesday (Matthew 10) Jesus gave the Twelve authority over unclean spirits and to cure every disease and illness. He named the Twelve who would accompany him.
Thursday (Matthew 10) The Twelve are to proclaim, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons.” He then gave them a morality code to use during their missionary efforts.
Friday (Matthew 10) Behold, I am sending you like sheep into the midst of wolves. Trust in the Spirit of God who will give you words to say. You will be hated by many.
Saturday (Matthew 10) No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. Do not be afraid of the evil ones. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

Saints of the Week

July 5: Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336), was from the kingdom of Aragon before she married Denis, king of Portugal, at age 12. Her son twice rebelled against the king and Elizabeth helped them reconcile. After he husband's death, she gave up her rank and joined the Poor Clares for a life of simplicity.

July 5: Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest (1502-1539) was a medical doctor who founded the Barnabites because of his devotion to Paul and Barnabas and the Angelics of St. Paul, a woman's cloistered order. He encouraged the laity to work alongside the clergy to care for the poor.

July 6: Maria Goretti, martyr (1890-1902) was a poor farm worker who was threatened by Alessandro, a 20-year old neighbor. When she rebuffed his further advances, he killed her, but on her deathbed, she forgave him. He later testified on her behalf during her beatification process, which occurred in 1950.

July 9: Augustine Zhao Rong, priest and companions, Chinese martyrs (1648-1930) were 120 Chinese martyrs that included priests, children, parents, catechists and common laborers. Christians were persecuted throughout Chinese history. Augustine Zhao Rong was a diocesan priest who was brought to the faith after the example of the French missionary bishop Dufresse. Zhao Rong was arrested in 1815 and died in prison.

July 9: Leo Mangan, S.J., priest and religious,

July 11: Benedict, Abbot (480-547), was educated in Rome, but left after a few years to take on a life of solitude. He became a monk at Subiaco and lived alone, but his lifestyle developed followers so he built 12 monasteries for them. He left to found a monastery at Monte Cassino where he wrote his Rule that became a standard for Western monasticism. He adopted the practices of the austere Desert Fathers for community life and emphasized moderation, humility, obedience, prayer, and manual labor. 

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jul 5, 1592. The arrest of Fr. Robert Southwell at Uxenden Manor, the house of Mr Bellamy. Tortured and then transferred to the Tower, he remained there for two and a half years.
·      Jul 6, 1758. The election to the papacy of Clement XIII who would defend the Society against the Jansenists and the Bourbon Courts of Europe.
·      Jul 7, 1867. The beatification of the 205 Japanese Martyrs, 33 of them members of the Society of Jesus.
·      Jul 8, 1767. D'Aubeterre wrote to De Choiseul: "It is impossible to obtain the Suppression from the Pope [Clement XIII]; it must be wrested from him by occupying papal territory."
·      Jul 9, 1763. The Society is expelled from New Orleans and Louisiana at the bidding of the French government.
·      Jul 10 , 1881. Fr. Frederick Garesche' wrote from Sequin, Texas, to his Superior: "The cowboys who had not deigned at first to lift their hat to the priest or missionary; who had come to the mission as to a camp meeting, for the fun of the thing, gave in, and their smiles and awkward salutes showed that they had hearts under their rude exterior."
·      Jul 11, 1809. After Pius VII had been dragged into exile by General Radet, Fr. Alphonsus Muzzarrelli SJ, his confessor, was arrested in Rome and imprisoned at Civita Vecchia.

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