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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 20, 2015
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

            Jesus tells his disciples that his fate includes death, and that after three days he will rise from the dead. The disciples are stunned into silence. Whenever the subject of death is brought up, people do not know how to respond sensitively and they are afraid to ask clarifying questions. Suffering stymies us and then disconnects us from others. It is like a strong force that presses upon us and dominates our consciousness. The best thing we can do is to go against how we feel and ask those questions anyways. We need to build stronger ties that bind us together.

            I began to reflect upon those times in which I am afraid to ask questions. I never know what to charge for my artwork when someone asks to buy a painting. I do not want to assess the wrong value and make it inaccessible. I also do not want to overcharge because I am simply an amateur. Then there are times when I contracted to provide and service and I never received proper payment. My reluctance to ask for just compensation is to honor the person’s goodwill and to avoid embarrassment. The other times I feel shy to ask clarifying questions is when my place in the relationship is in question. I feel vulnerable and only want to hear a positive answer freely offered. When I sum up the reasons I cannot ask those necessary questions are around my value in the relationship. I think this is what the disciples also felt.

            Right after Jesus made his provocative statement, the disciples began to quarrel about their value: they debated who was the greatest among themselves. They probably argued over who was going to lead the group when Jesus departed. Succession planning is always prudent, but Jesus reminds us that the values of the kingdom of heaven are counter-cultural. The one who is greatest leader is the one who serves the most. Leadership is not about honor, status, or accolades, but it is in meeting others’ needs. A life of service indicates that the persons do not live for themselves but for the greater good.

            A kingdom-of-heaven leader has to get over the reluctance to ask questions in order to know what others truly need. You simply cannot know what people need until they say it for themselves. We can guess and we will often get it wrong. We can anticipate, but that can be presumptuous. We can provide gifts in abundance to others, but they may not need or want what we select for them. Needs can only be met if a person declares them. Let the persons speak for themselves. Ask them the most important question they need to hear: What do you need?

            Jesus and his movement worked hard to adjust the attitudes people hold so that wars and conflicts cease. He wants us to turn from ourselves to be aware of others because our passions get in the way of living with integrity. We have to ask for the wisdom of Jesus today because it is the fruit of righteousness, which cultivates peace. While we live in the world, we have to seek promotions, raises, and well-deserved benefits, but it need not be our goal. Not everyone is called to be downwardly-mobile, but we can check our attitudes about what we possess and decide to live simply. We fare much better when we give our lives in service to others. Eternal life is our reward and we help many people along the way. No one has ever become poor by giving away all they have in pursuit of the greater good.           

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Ephesians 4) I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you received striving to preserve the unity you received. Grace was given to each according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  
·      Tuesday: (Ezra 6) King Darius issued an order: “Let the Jews continue to work on that house of God.” After the house was dedicated with sacrifices, the priestly class and Levites were installed in service of God in Jerusalem. Passover was kept as usual.  
·      Wednesday: (Ezra 9) Ezra rose and said, “The kings of Persia gave us new life to raise again the house of God and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem.”
·      Thursday: (Haggai 1) Haggai spoke to Judah, “The time has not yet come to rebuild the house,” but it is the time of preparation.
·      Friday (Haggai 2) It is now time to build the house and I will fill it with glory, says the Lord.
·      Saturday (Zechariah 2) Zechariah was going to Jerusalem to measure the width and breadth of the holy city. The Lord will protect her like an encircling wall of fire. Sing and rejoice for I am coming to dwell among you.

·      Monday: (Matthew 9) Jesus passed by to see Matthew sitting at his customs post. He called to him and said, “Follow me.” Amidst the Pharisees objections of eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said, “Those who are well do not need a doctor.”
·      Tuesday: (Luke 8) The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but could not see him. Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act upon it.
·      Wednesday (Luke 9) Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them authority of demons and power to cure diseases. He gave instructions for preaching and visiting villages.
·      Thursday (Luke 9) Herod heard about what was happening and inquired about Jesus. “Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” He kept trying to see him.
·      Friday (Luke 9) Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Then he taught his disciples that the Son of Man will be rejected, killed, and will rise on the third day.
·      Saturday (Luke 9) Jesus told his disciples that he will endure great suffering, but the disciples did not understand his saying for the meaning was hidden from them.

Saints of the Week

September 20: Andrew Kim Taegon, priest, martyr, Paul Hasang, martyr, and companion martyrs (19th century), were Korean martyrs that began to flourish in the early 1800’s. The church leadership was almost entirely lay-run. In 1836, Parisian missionaries secretly entered the country and Christians began to encounter hostility and persecutions. Over 10,000 Christians were killed. Taegon was the first native-born priest while the rest were 101 lay Christians.

September 21: Matthew, evangelist and Apostle (first century), may be two different people, but we have not historical data on either man. Since Matthew relies heavily upon Mark’s Gospel, it is unlikely that the evangelist is one of the Twelve Apostles. The Apostle appears in a list of the Twelve and in Matthew’s Gospel he is called a tax collector. The Evangelist is writing to Jewish-Christians who are urged to embrace their Jewish heritage and to participate in their mission to the Gentiles. To Matthew, Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes of Jews and the inaugurator of a new way to relate to God.

September 22: Tomas Sitjar, S.J. and the martyrs of Valencia (1866-1936), were killed in the Spanish Civil War just a week after the war broke out. Sitjar was the Rector of Gandia and was formerly the novice director and metaphysics professor. The Jesuit Order was suppressed at the beginning of the war, which sent the men to disperse into apartments, but since they were known to the community, they were sought out, imprisoned, and later executed because of their belief in God.

September 23: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887-1968) was affectionately named Padre Pio and was a Capuchin priest who received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) just as Francis of Assisi did. He founded a hospital and became the spiritual advisor to many at a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo.

September 26: Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (d. 287), were twins who became doctors. They were noted because they never charged anyone a medical fee. They died in the Diocletian persecution. Great miracles have been attributed to them and the Emperor Justinian is claimed to be healed through their intercession.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 20, 1990. The first-ever Congregation of Provincials met at Loyola, Spain, on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the approval of the Society and 500th anniversary of the birth of St Ignatius.
·      Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.
·      Sep 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.
·      Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.
·      Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.
·      Sep 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.
·      Sep 26, 1605. At Rome, Pope Paul V orally declared St Aloysius to be one of the "Blessed." The official brief appeared on October 19.

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