Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 26, 2015
2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15

            Sometimes we are called to exceed our capabilities more than we thought was possible. Athletes and military personnel are asked to extend to their utmost limits as a matter of course. When we see it, we are astounded, and we marvel at the almost supernatural abilities on display. Rigorous training and an environment set to exceed limitations sets a person up to amaze beyond belief.

            In 2nd Kings, the prophet Elisha took twenty barley loves and fresh grain and confidently fed one hundred people. The man who brought him the offerings was from Baal-shalishah; Baal, as you know, was a rival god to the Jewish God. Because Elisha knew what God would do through him, he insisted that his servants feed the people and collect the remainders. This is the same action Jesus takes in the Fourth Gospel, but as you would expect, there are a few twists to the events.

            Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee into the country today we call Jordan. Crowds followed him because he was healing the sick. The feast of Passover was near. Jesus knew the stories of Elisha and the tradition of the Jewish feasts and he trusted that God would deliver the people through him. In fact, this was a foreshadowing of the great event in which Jesus would become the replacement of the Passover meal.

            Before Jesus blesses the meal, he calls to mind scriptural references to the Good Shepherd in opposition to those who seek their own glory and prestige. Jesus says, “Have the people recline,” because there was a great deal of grass in that place. If you recall, Psalm 23 begins with, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” The comparisons are very clear to his disciples and he assures them that he is the one who provides for all their needs.
            Because we exist in the natural world, we look for reasonable, rational answers to events. Elisha’s servants lived only in the natural world; the servants of Jesus did the same. Elisha and Jesus were able to see God’s active involvement in the world, and each time God saw that the people needed to be fed. After all, it is God who provides, but God does it through those who believe that God can transcend the divine world to be with us in this natural world.

            If we live with the constraints we place around ourselves, we will do nothing extraordinary. We will simply have existed in this world, but if we follow the advice Paul gives in Ephesians, we live as if there are no limits. Paul encourages us to live out our call with humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, and preserving unity through the bond of peace. If we, like an athlete or military personnel, train ourselves in these virtues on a daily basis, we will push the limits of what we thought possible. We will see that we live always in thin spaces where God intersects our world and where God asks us to act in ways we cannot do on our own. God wants to be known through us, each in our own particular ways, and when God does act, God is able to multiply the effects of our actions just as God is able to multiply loaves and fishes. Live in those thin spaces where you believe that anything is possible because God is acting through you.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Exodus 32) Moses brought two tablets down from the mountain. He and Joshua heard sounds of revelry and found the Israelites worshiping a golden calf. Moses destroyed the two tablets of the commandments and the calf image. Moses atoned for their sins and the Lord told Moses to go back and lead the people to the Promised Land.
Tuesday: (Exodus 33) Moses set up a tent where anyone could go to consult the Lord. A column of cloud would descend upon the tent when the Lord was present. Some people remained stiff-necked and Moses atoned for their sins by fasting 40 day and nights.
Wednesday: (Exodus 34) When Moses came down the mountain with the two tablets, he did not realize how radiant his skin had become. The people believed he had special contact with the Lord. He would veil himself when speaking with the people, and lift it when speaking with the Lord.
Thursday: (Exodus 40) Moses erected the Dwelling as the Lord asked. He placed the commandments in the ark and set the propitiatory upon it. The cloud covered the meeting tent and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling.
Friday (Leviticus 23) Moses announced the festivals of the Lord that are to be held in a sacred assembly and offered as an oblation. Each festival has regulations about its celebrations.
Saturday (Leviticus 25) After seven cycles of festivals are held, a Day of Atonement, a jubilee year will be proclaimed.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Matthew 13) Jesus told parables to describe what the Kingdom of heaven is like. He used the analogies of the small mustard seed and yeast that helps wheat to rise.  
Tuesday: (Matthew 13) The disciples privately asked that the parables be explained. He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
Wednesday (John 11) Jews came to console Martha and Mary. When Jesus approached them, Martha said, “If you had been here my brother would not have died.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”
Thursday (Matthew 13) The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea that catches fish over every kind. The angels will separate the wicked from the righteous.
Friday (Matthew 13) Jesus came to his native place and taught people in the synagogue. His neighbors began to question where and how he received this theological knowledge.  
Saturday (Matthew 14) Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and wanted to meet him. His advisors were not sure if Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Herod sentenced John to death because he swore an oath to his daughter, who was manipulated by her mother, who was insulted by John the Baptist.

Saints of the Week

July 26: Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents (1st century) are names attributed to the grandparents of Jesus through the Proto-Gospel of James. These names appeared in the Christian tradition though we don't know anything with certitude about their lives. Devotion of Anne began in Constantinople in the 6th century while Joachim gained acclaim in the West in the 16th century. He was revered in the Eastern churches since the earliest times.

July 29: Martha (1st century), is the sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany near Jerusalem. Martha is considered the busy, activity-attentive sister while Mary is more contemplative. Martha is known for her hospitality and fidelity. She proclaimed her belief that Jesus was the Christ when he appeared after Lazarus had died.

July 30: Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor (406-450), was the archbishop of Ravenna, Italy in the 5th century when the faithful became lax and adopted pagan practices. He revived the faith through his preaching. He was titled Chrysologus because of his 'golden words.'

July 31: Ignatius of Loyola, priest (1491-1556), is one of the founders of the Jesuits and the author of the Spiritual Exercises. As a Basque nobleman, he was wounded in a battle at Pamplona in northeastern Spain and convalesced at his castle where he realized he followed a methodology of discernment of spirits. When he recovered, he ministered to the sick and dying and then retreated to a cave at Manresa, Spain where he had experiences that formed the basis of The Spiritual Exercises. In order to preach, he studied Latin, earned a Master’s Degree at the University of Paris, and then gathered other students to serve Jesus. Francis Xavier and Peter Faber were his first friends. After ordination, Ignatius and his nine friends went to Rome where they formally became the Society of Jesus. Most Jesuits were sent on mission, but Ignatius stayed in Rome directing the rapidly growing religious order, composing its constitutions, and perfecting the Spiritual Exercises. He died in 1556 and the Jesuit Order was already 1,000 men strong. 

August 1: Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor(1696-1787), founded a band of mission priests that became the Redemptorists. He wrote a book called "Moral Theology" that linked legal aspects with kindness and compassion for others. He became known for his responsive and thoughtful way of dealing with confessions.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jul 26, 1872. At Rome, the greater part of the Professed House of the Gesu was seized and appropriated by the Piedmontese government.
·      Jul 27, 1609. Pope Paul V beatifies Ignatius.
·      Jul 28, 1564. In a consistory held before twenty-four Cardinals, Pope Paul IV announced his intention of entrusting the Roman Seminary to the Society.
·      Jul 29, 1865. The death in Cincinnati, Ohio of Fr. Peter Arnoudt, a Belgian. He was the author of The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
·      Jul 30, 1556. As he lay near death, Ignatius asked Juan de Polanco to go and obtain for him the blessing of the pope.
·      Jul 31, 1556. The death in Rome of Ignatius Loyola.

·      Aug 1, 1938. The Jesuits of the Middle United States, by Gilbert Garrigan was copyrighted. This monumental three-volume work followed the history of the Jesuits in the Midwest from the early 1820s to the 1930s.