Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 30, 2015
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 15; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

            Ah, our fickle relationship with the law. The Israelites bent and challenged the laws just as we do. We are proud when we cleverly manipulate the law to our advantage and we get burned up when the law catches up with us, but when it comes to holding someone else to the law, we stringently hold fast and want justice metered out to the offender. We have a problem. We do not want the laws to apply to us, but we want them held to the highest standards against others. When we lord it over others, we are acting as counter-signs against our faith. We do not see the laws as something positive, but an encroaching aspect of our lives that must perpetually be challenged, yet these laws provide us with protection, safety, personal space, positive attitudes, and they contribute greatly to the common good. Laws are designed to contribute to the proper functioning and flow of society, while agitating the law slows down the slow forward movement of community standards. Moses reminds us that the commandments are given to us so that we have life-giving freedom because they will make the Israelites into a great nation.

            Laws without charity are not laws at all, and charity is our authentic Christian virtue. The very antithesis of charity is bitter zeal, which we see in religious fundamentalism. Someone who holds tightly to a law acts like the Pharisees that Jesus holds up for scrutiny. They are people who honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far away from charity. People who worship documents without integrating mercy and compassion perpetuate bitter zeal. We need to lead them to the law of charity.

            The Pope’s visit to the U.S. next month may pit those who cling in comfort to highly idealistic church teachings against those who admire the Pope’s call for greater mercy and compassion. For years, conservatives held court denouncing those who asked for a softening of tone and attitudes to officious church rulings. They were known as culture warriors because they stood against the values of the world and sought to change them, and their tone and style disrespected many. It is not a way to build a healthy church. Today, a new tone of tolerance, understanding, and acceptance is creeping into the church’s style and the vast majority of people are responding in gratitude. Documents without charity lead to bitter zeal. Pope Francis is setting right what has long been broken. Pope Francis is returning us to the teachings of Jesus.

            Jesus changed attitudes of many hard-hearted people. He showed everyone that the world was good, but he pointed out that the things that come out from within are what defile. In other words, people are good; the world is good; society is good. We do not have to always stand against it and condemn it. We have to uphold what is good and build a more just, compassionate, and merciful society. It will take a while to change the church from its place of harshly judging others to become one that welcomes the stranger and cares for each other. It will become a church that his humble.

            We have to make sure our souls and our churches are devoid of evil attitudes because they defile from the inside out. Church is often a place where people with poor boundaries are welcomed and their behaviors accepted. We cannot let this be. When someone exhibits an unholy attitude and tone, we must help them soften their bitter zeal as we approach this Jubilee Year of Mercy. The business at work here is the salvation of everyone’s souls, not just someone who agrees with your theology. We are responsible for each other’s souls, and it begins with our attitudes.

Reforming our attitudes to include humility is a start. Teach people to honor positive attitudes that work to build a cohesive, harmonious community. Our generosity of heart will lead others to salvation. We are not in a game to win a theological position; we are in the life and death ministry of saving souls. Make it a mantra to start the day: My ministry is to save a soul today. It will only come about if our attitudes conform to that of Christ and the saints.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (1 Thessalonians 4) We believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
·      Tuesday: (1 Thessalonians 5) Disaster comes upon the complacent, but not for you who are not in darkness. Let us stay alert and sober.  
·      Wednesday: (Colossians 1) We always give thanks to you for your love of Jesus Christ and for the love that you have for all the holy ones because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.
·      Thursday: (Colossians 1) We do not cease praying for you and asking that you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
·      Friday (Colossians 1) Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that is all things he might be preeminent.
·      Saturday (Colossians 1) You were once alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds; God has now reconciled you in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him.

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (Luke 4) Jesus came to Nazareth and attended synagogue on the Sabbath. He read from the scroll of Isaiah and when finished declared, “This reading has been fulfilled in your hearing.” No prophet receives honor in his hometown.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 4) Jesus came Capernaum in Galilee and taught on the Sabbath with authority. A man’s unclean spirit was silenced and thrown out of him. The demon recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God.
·      Wednesday (Luke 4) Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law and at sunset, all who had people with various diseases brought them to him to be curried. At daybreak, everyone was looking for him, but he said he had to leave. “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom.”
·      Thursday (Luke 5) At Lake Gennesaret, Jesus saw two boats with fishermen washing their nets. He signaled to Simon, who was frustrated with the last night’s catch. Jesus told him to put out his net and Simon caught so many that the boats were in danger of sinking. Simon recognizes his sinful nature and asks Jesus to depart. He doesn’t.
·      Friday (Luke 5) The scribes and Pharisees asked why his disciples do not fast while John’s disciples do. One day they will, but now they do not have to while the groom is with them.
·      Saturday (Luke 6) Jesus ate the heads of grain in a field on the Sabbath and some Pharisees protested. Jesus recalled David’s precedent and declared that the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.

Saints of the Week

September 3: Gregory the Great (540-604) was the chief magistrate in Rome and resigned to become a monk. He was the papal ambassador to Constantinople, abbot, and pope. His charity and fair justice won the hearts of many. He protected Jews and synthesized Christian wisdom. He described the duties of bishops and promoted beautiful liturgies that often incorporated chants the bear his name.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug. 30, 1556: On the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Fr. Leonard Garreau, a young missionary, was mortally wounded by the Iroquois.
·      Aug. 31, 1581: In St. John's Chapel within the Tower of London, a religious discussion took place between St. Edmund Campion, suffering from recent torture, and some Protestant ministers.
·      Sep 1, 1907. The Buffalo Mission was dissolved and its members were sent to the New York and Missouri Provinces and the California Mission.
·      Sep 2, 1792. In Paris, ten ex-Jesuits were massacred for refusing to take the Constitutional oath. Also in Paris seven other fathers were put to death by the Republicans, among them Frs. Peter and Robert Guerin du Rocher.
·      Sep 3, 1566. Queen Elizabeth visited Oxford and heard the 26-year-old Edmund Campion speak. He was to meet her again as a prisoner, brought to hear her offer of honors or death.
·      Sep 4, 1760. At Para, Brazil, 150 men of the Society were shipped as prisoners, reaching Lisbon on December 2. They were at once exiled to Italy and landed at Civita Vecchia on January 17, 1761.

·      Sep 5, 1758. The French Parliament issued a decree condemning Fr. Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis.