Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 23, 2015
Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69

            Rejection and betrayal leave a deep wound in a person’s psyche, and we are often asked to choose one side, which means we have to move on from the other side. Our daily choices dictate the type of person we intend to be. Joshua realizes there is a growing crisis in the Israelite community. He notices that many tribes and people are serving the gods of the Amorites, the gods of the people whose land they just entered and occupied. By assimilating, they are integrating well with the native population, but they are leaving behind the God of their ancestors. Joshua wants them to choose because he decides to stay with the God who brought them of our slavery.

            Jesus is faced with defections from his camp as he tells them that, if they want eternal life, they ought to feed off of his body and blood. It is a hard saying that is just too much for them to accept. Many leave. It hurts Jesus to be personally rejected, but to also know that people are walking away from the promise of eternal life. As many people leave, he turns to his disciples and asks them the challenging question, “Are you going to leave as well?” Peter stews for a bit and then answers for the rest of the disciples, “Where else could we go? You are the One with the words of eternal life. We have no choice but to stay.”

            The disciples of Jesus are not dealing with cultural or theological disputes; this is personal and Jesus crosses a delicate boundary. For many, he simply goes too far because it offends every dietary and health regulation. Some think he is mad. The disciples share the thoughts of those who leave, but they benefit from knowing his life’s work and his good intentions, and they risk staying with him. As they contemplate how he has lived, they realize that Jesus has taught well, revealed his humble goodness, healed many, and appears favored by God. He is the risk worth taking.

            The emotions in this passage make it compelling. Many of us have been hurt and betrayed and we carry those wounds under the surface in our dealings with others. Sometimes we feel that we are unworthy and cannot measure up to the standards others set for us. It is painful for us to be rejected and to never understand the full reasons for the rejection. We default with the belief, “It must be something that I cannot see clearly about myself. Someone must see the failure that I really am.” The effects of this hurt lingers.

            Is it possible that Jesus personally felt hurt by the large numbers of people who left his school? Of course, he did. These are the people he fed and taught because he loved them. They were impressed with the miracles, but they saw it more as a spectacle rather than an event that came directly from God’s power.

            Where would you go if you were to leave the relationship with Jesus?  I just cannot imagine life without him and it would make me very sad. Fortunately I know, because of my life experiences, that the risen Jesus will never leave me. He never has. Since he has always be faithful to me, I want to repeat the words of Joshua and Peter. “As for me and my house, we will choose the Lord, who has the words of everlasting life.” Forever, I will eat the real body and drink the real blood of Christ because this is his promise to always be in my life.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Revelation) The angel showed John the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It showed the splendor of God and the wall of the city had twelve courses of stone as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
·      Tuesday: (1 Thessalonians 2) You know that our reception among you was not without effect and you know we were harshly treated in Philippi, but with such affection for you, we were determined to share with you the Gospel of God and our very selves.
·      Wednesday: (1 Thessalonians 2) Recall our drudgery so that we might not burden you. We treated you well, and for this reason, we give thanks unceasingly that the word of God is now at work in you who believe.  
·      Thursday: (1 Thessalonians 3) Night and day we pray beyond measure to see you in person and to remedy the deficiencies of your faith. May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another.
·      Friday (1 Thessalonians 4) Conduct yourself so as to please God. Holiness consists of refraining from immorality, not to exploit a brother or sister.
·      Saturday (1 Thessalonians 4) You have been taught by God to give fraternal charity. Progress even more in this love and aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands.

·      Monday: (John 1) Philip found Nathaniel and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph.
·      Tuesday: (Matthew 23) Woe to you, hypocrites, who neglect the weightier things of the law: judgment, mercy, and fidelity. Woe to you, hypocrites, who are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
·      Wednesday (Matthew 23) Woe to you, hypocrites, who are filled with evildoing and are filled with filth. Woe to you, hypocrites, who build tombs of the prophets and adorn memorials of the righteous, but you murder the prophets.
·      Thursday (Matthew 24) Stay awake for you do not know on which day your Lord will come. If the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and protected his house.
·      Friday (Matthew 25) Jesus told the parable of the ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five foolish ones brought no oil with them, while the wise ones brought flasks. Jesus recognized those who were prepared.
·      Saturday (Mark 6) Herod keeps his oath to his wife’s daughter who danced to the delight of all. In reward, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. The king was distressed but honored his promise. When the disciples heard about it, they collected the body to bury it.

Saints of the Week

August 23: Rose of Lima (1586-1617) was the first canonized saint of the New World. She had Spanish immigrant parents in Lima. Rose joined the Dominicans and lived in her parents' garden to support them while she took care of the sick and the poor. As a girl, she had many mystical experiences as she practiced an austere life. She also had many periods of darkness and desolation.

August 24: Bartholomew (First Century), according to the Acts of the Apostles, is listed as one of the Twelve Disciples though no one for sure knows who he is. Some associate him with Philip, though other Gospel accounts contradict this point. John's Gospel refers to him as Nathaniel - a Israelite without guile.

August 25: Louis of France (1214-1270) became king at age 12, but did not take over leadership until ten years later. He had eleven children with his wife, Marguerite, and his kingship reigned for 44 years. His rule ushered in a longstanding peace and prosperity for the nation.  He is held up as a paragon of medieval Christian kings.

August 25: Joseph Calasanz, priest (1556-1648), was a Spaniard who studied canon law and theology. He resigned his post as diocesan vicar-general to go to Rome to live as a pilgrim and serve the sick and the dying. He used his inheritance to set up free schools for poor families with children. He founded an order to administer the schools, but dissension and power struggles led to its dissolution.

August 27: Monica (332-387) was born a Christian in North Africa and was married to a non-Christian, Patricius, with whom she had three children, the most famous being Augustine. Her husband became a Christian at her urging and she prayed for Augustine's conversion as well from his newly adopted Manichaeism. Monica met Augustine in Milan where he was baptized by Bishop Ambrose. She died on the return trip as her work was complete.

August 28: Augustine, bishop and doctor (354-430),  was the author of his Confessions, his spiritual autobiography, and The City of God, which described the life of faith in relation to the life of the temporal world. Many other writings, sermons, and treatises earned him the title Doctor of the church. In his formative years, he followed Mani, a Persian prophet who tried to explain the problem of evil in the world. His mother’s prayers and Ambrose’s preaching helped him convert to Christianity. Baptized in 387, Monica died a year later. He was ordained and five years later named bishop of Hippo and defended the church against three major heresies: Manichaeism, Donatism, and Pelagianism.

August 29: The Martyrdom of John the Baptist recalls the sad events of John's beheading by Herod the tetrarch when John called him out for his incestuous and adulterous marriage to Herodias, who was his niece and brother's wife. At a birthday party, Herodias' daughter Salome danced well earning the favor of Herod who told her he would give her almost anything she wanted.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug. 23, 1558: In the First General Congregation, the question was discussed about the General's office being triennial, and the introduction of Choir, as proposed by Pope Paul IV, and it was decreed that the Constitutions ought to remain unaltered.
·      Aug. 24, 1544: Peter Faber arrived in Lisbon.
·      Aug. 25, 1666: At Beijing, the death of Fr. John Adam Schall. By his profound knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, he attained such fame that the Emperor entrusted to him the reform of the Chinese calendar.
·      Aug. 26, 1562: The return of Fr. Diego Laynez from France to Trent, the Fathers of the Council desiring to hear him speak on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
·      Aug. 27, 1679: The martyrdom at Usk, England, of St. David Lewis, apostle to the poor in his native Wales for three decades before he was caught and hanged.
·      Aug. 28, 1628: The martyrdom in Lancashire, England, of St. Edmund Arrowsmith.

·      Aug. 29, 1541: At Rome the death of Fr. John Codure, a Savoyard, one of the first 10 companions of St. Ignatius.