Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 19, 2015
Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34

            What happens in our process of electing or selecting leaders that causes a good person with potential to serve the common good moves away from their original inspiration? We need to evaluate the characteristics we seek in leaders. Our culture tells us we want to decisive, unyielding, strong-willed person of might and influence to direct our organizations. They are to make solid choices because they are leaders of stamina and strength who can endure threats and opposition because they have the ability to crush them. This mighty warrior can stand up to those who want to vanquish our values. The strongest warrior wins, so our representative needs to be formidable.

            Jesus, though he teaches with wisdom and cures through prayer, shows us that a true leader is one who acts out of compassion and concern. He shows that he is more concerned for the ailing person before him than for his own safety and well-being. His goodness and kindness attract many people to his way of life and he governs wisely. He creates environments of happiness where people learn to trust the innate goodwill of their neighbors. Jesus stands in opposition to the type of leaders we routinely elect and if we mimicked his leadership style today in politics, we would only get a handful of votes. Compassionate wisdom is seen as weak, but one who leads by these virtues are the types of shepherds that Jesus and God wants us to trust. Instead, we elect leaders who deepen the chasm between what we think we need and what is good for us.

            Society needs to come together and build a common core. Instead, what we do is set opposing camps, draw definitive lines, and go into attack mode when the camps feel threatened. Sensational rhetoric gets the media’s attention; therefore, the louder we whine, the more free airtime we get. However, this is not the way forward.

            The way forward is the way of Christ that we hear from Ephesians. Christ is able to reach those who are far off and bring them close to those who were once adversaries. He breaks down the walls of enmity so he can build a community of faith that is not dependent upon the laws but upon the contours of mercy. One entity is created rather than having two distinct bodies, thus establishing peace between the once warring factions. He effects the reconciliation of God that seeks to connect and to restore rather than to keep separate. This is all done because of God’s compassionate wisdom made evident in Jesus.

            Leaders will make themselves vulnerable by taking care of those who are less fortunate while also building the common good. Our leaders have to be gently intrusive into our lives so that we know they care about us. They call us to become better people who are expected to rise to honorable ideals while tending the wounds of others. Honor, glory, and accolades are put away for the sake of building unity among bickering factions. The hard work of creating togetherness is done one soul at a time.

            When it comes time to elect new leaders, let us throw away the old values that have not served us well, but we think we must follow. Instead, choose the person who demonstrates compassionate wisdom. It is far stronger than rhetoric, more efficacious than any imposing wall of strength, and creates more trust that we thought imaginable.

            Compassionate wisdom is exhausting. Jesus tried to get away with his companions for a little rest, but people were coming and going because they wanted to experience what they truly need. Compassion is attractive. The heart of Jesus still is moved for pity for us. We need our leaders to be moved to the depths of their souls as well. This compassion cements the bonds between souls. Let’s bring more of it to the world.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Exodus 14) Once the Israelites left Egypt, Pharaoh became angry and sent his charioteers after the fleeing Hebrews. When they pressed them into the sea, Moses stretched out his staff and parted the Red Sea so the people could cross safely.
Tuesday: (Exodus 14) When they had safe passage, Moses cast the waters back into the sea, thereby drowning the encroaching Egyptians. Horse and charioteers were lost at sea.
Wednesday: (Exodus 16) Israel came to the Sin desert and the people began to grumble for they were hungry. The Lord rained down bread from heaven for them.
Thursday: (Exodus 19) Three months after their departure, Moses said the Lord is coming in a dense cloud so that when the people hear him speaking to Moses, they will also have faith.
Friday (Exodus 20) The Lord delivered the Ten Commandments that will protect their relationship with the Lord and in relations with others.
Saturday (2 Corinthians 4) We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that life may be manifest in it.

Monday: (Matthew 12) The scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign, but he will not give them one. They cannot see that he is greater than Jonah and Solomon. Since their vision is impaired, he will not play into their tricks.   
Tuesday: (Matthew 12) When Jesus was speaking, his mother and brothers wished to speak to him. He asked, “Who are my mother and brothers and sisters?” Those who do God’s will.
Wednesday (John 20) Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. Jesus, who she presumed to be the gardener, called her “Woman” and Mary recognized her Lord and friend.
Thursday (Matthew 13) The disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you always speak in parables?” Blessed are your eyes and ears and mind because you can see, hear, and know the Lord.
Friday (Matthew 13) Jesus tells the parable of the sower demonstrating that the seed sown on fertile ground in like the Word taking root in the heart of a believer.  
Saturday (Matthew 20) The Mother of the Zebedee men asked that her sons sits on the right and left of Jesus in the kingdom. Jesus asked them if they could drink of the chalice from which he must drink. Without fully thinking it through, they reply, “Yes, we can.”

Saints of the Week

July 20: Apollinaris, bishop and martyr (1st century) was chosen directly by Peter to take care of souls in Ravenna. He lived through the two emperors whose administrations exiled and tortured him, though he was faithful to his evangelizing work to his death.

July 21: Lawrence of Brindisi, priest and doctor (1559-1619) was a Capuchin Franciscan who was proficient in many languages and well-versed in the Bible. He was selected by the pope to work for the conversion of the Jews and to fight the spread of Protestantism. He held many positions in the top administration of the Franciscans.

July 22: Mary Magdalene, apostle (1st century), became the "apostle to the apostles" as the first witness of the resurrection. Scriptures point to her great love of Jesus and she stood by him at the cross and brought spices to anoint his body after death. We know little about Mary though tradition conflates her with other biblical woman. Luke portrays her as a woman exorcised of seven demons.

July 23: Bridget of Sweden, religious (1303-1373), founded the Bridgettine Order for men and women in 1370, though today only the women’s portion has survived. She desired to live in a lifestyle defined by prayer and penance. Her husband of 28 years died after producing eight children with Bridget. She then moved to Rome to begin the new order.

July 24: Sharbel Makhuf, priest (1828-1898), joined a monastery in the Maronite tradition and lived as a hermit for 23 years after living fifteen years in the community. He became known for his wisdom and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

July 25: James, Apostle (1st century), is the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. As fishermen, they left their trade to follow Jesus. They occupied the inner circle as friends of Jesus. James is the patron of Spain as a shrine is dedicated to him at Santiago de Compostela. He is the patron of pilgrims as many walk the Camino en route to this popular pilgrim site.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jul 19, 1767. At Naples, Prime Minister Tannic, deprived the Jesuits of the spiritual care of the prisoners, a ministry that they had nobly discharged for 158 years.
·      Jul 20, 1944. An abortive plot against Adolf Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and his allies resulted in the arrest of Fr. Alfred Delp.
·      Jul 21, 1773. In the Quirinal Palace, Rome, the Brief for the suppression of the Society was signed by Clement XIV.
·      Jul 22, 1679. The martyrdom at Cardiff, Wales, of St Phillip Evans.
·      Jul 23, 1553. At Palermo, the parish priests expressed to Fr. Paul Achilles, rector of the college, indignation that more than 400 persons had received Holy Communion in the Society's church, rather than in their parish churches.
·      Jul 24, 1805. In Maryland, Fr. Robert Molyneux was appointed the first superior by Father General Gruber.
·      Jul 25, 1581. In the house of the Earl of Leicester in London, an interview occurred between Queen Elizabeth and Edmund Campion. The Queen could scarcely have recognized the worn and broken person before her as the same brilliant scholar who had addressed here at Oxford 15 years before.

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