Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 13, 2015
Isaiah 50:5-9; Psalm 116; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35

            Being faithful to God is not easy and brings about unwanted suffering, but we can endure it because of the charity we hold in our hearts. Isaiah gives us the image of the Suffering Servant whose soul is turned towards God, but endures insults and beatings from all sides. This servant acted in kindness, with compassion, was meek and gentle. We are supposed to mirror these qualities from God, but our world does not want us to do it. A kind person is considered weak. Bullies smell this and they seek dominance. Fortunately, we understand that bullying needs to be stopped because God does not act through force or violence. At most times, whenever someone raises his or her voice or lifts a hand in threat, that person acts like a bully.

            Be kind anyways. Be compassionate and merciful – as Pope Francis teaches us. Kindness, though at first rejected and seldom understood, will become your strength. Besides, we are kind because God loves us, and then we love God back, and if we love God, then we have to love our friends and family – even those who annoy us with their dysfunction. We have to remember that they love us – even in our dysfunction. Kindness and mercy change the hearts and minds of others and builds the type of society in which we want to be.  

            I tell people to lie all the time. Whenever someone is having relationship problems, I suggest that when they next see the person, they say something like, “I missed you. I’m glad to see you again.” It takes the edge off the tension and conveys to the person that you still fundamentally care for him or her, but that you are simply going through trying times. Saying that little piece of fiction not only assures them of their place with you, it changes you into a move loving person. The tensions soften a bit so that your humanity, not your disagreements, can resolve the dispute.

            I recently sat with a monk at a cloistered monastery while he spoke of a friendship he wanted to end because it had become out of control. A benefactor provided many gifts and lots of delicious food out of generosity and kindness. In the beginning, he knew he needed to restrict the free-flow of gifts because they change the nature of the friendship, but he wanted to be hospitable and welcoming. Gifts and food are tricky business in relationships. From the start, we are to be clear about our rules for giving and receiving them. Over time, the benefactor and the monk were trapped because neither could speak about what they needed and the relationship became unnecessarily complicated. Relational boundaries were all bolloxed up and the monk wanted simply to tell the person to go away.

            I asked the monk, “Why do you think this benefactor keeps coming to you?” He replied, “Because this person likes me.” I asked, “Could it be that this person seeks you out as a man of God and wants news of salvation from you?” I continued, “Your job in this world is to save souls and point them to Jesus Christ, who wants to save them. Please do not end the relationship because you are telling the person Christ is no longer interested. Instead, manage the relationship with mercy and integrity and helps save this person’s soul. It will take hard work and lots of time, but it is the work we Christians are to do.” The monk agreed. Sometimes we need to keep the larger goal in mind while we are immersed in the chaos of daily life.

            Jesus realizes this when he tells Peter and his disciples that suffering comes to anyone who follows him and takes up his cross. Most people will do anything to avoid suffering, but we calmly enter into our suffering because we answer the most important question Jesus asks us: Who do you say that I am? We do not answer with our intellect, but we simply respond to a place deep in our hearts. You are my God. You are the Christ. You are the one who makes sense of this world and its chaos. Every day you grow more important to me. I will gladly stay with you, and we will walk this journey together.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Numbers 21) The Lord sent seraph serpents to the wandering Jews, which bit them so that many died. The impatient people grumbled about their disgusting food. Moses mounted a seraph on a pole and lifted it up for them to gaze upon.
·      Tuesday: (1 Timothy 3) Bishops must be irreproachable, temperate, self-controlled, hospitable, gentle, and not a lover of money. Deacons must be dignified, free from addictions, not greedy, and holding fast to the mystery of the faith.  
·      Wednesday: (1 Timothy 3) Paul will visit soon, and he tells them how to behave as the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.
·      Thursday: (1 Timothy 4) Set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Do not neglect the gift you have. Read and teach.
·      Friday (1 Timothy 6) Avoid erroneous teachings because from these come envy, rivalry, insults, suspicions, and mutual friction. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
·      Saturday (1 Timothy 6) I charge you before God to keep the commandment without stain. The Lord Jesus, who is without stain, will reward you with eternal power.

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (John 3) Jesus said to Nicodemus that the Son of Man must be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.
·      Tuesday: (John 19) Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his aunt, Mary, wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene, and the beloved disciple. He said, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.”
·      Wednesday (Luke 7) Jesus asked, “To what shall I compare this generation?  We played the flute and you did not dance, we sang a dirge and you did not weep.”
·      Thursday (Luke 7) A Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner. A sinner woman brought an alabaster flask on ointment and bathed the feet of Jesus with her tears. The host objected and Jesus replied, “Which of two people will love more the person who forgave the debt – the one with the larger debt or the lesser?”  He then forgave her sins.
·      Friday (Luke 8) Jesus journeyed from town to town with his disciples and the women whom he healed. They provided for him out of their resources.
·      Saturday (Luke 8) Jesus told the parable of the sower and the seed. Some fell of poor soil, some fell on rocky ground, some seed fell among thorns, but some fell on fertile ground and produced a hundredfold.

Saints of the Week

September 13: John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor (347-407) was a gifted homilist and was called "Golden Mouth" because his words inspired many. He was raised in Antioch and joined a community of austere hermits but the lifestyle damaged his health. He became the archbishop of Constantinople where he introduced many conservative and unpopular reforms. He fled to escape an uprising from the people and on the way to exile he died.

September 14: The Triumph of the Holy Cross remembers the finding of the true cross by the Emperor Constantine's mother, Helen in early 4th century. Two churches were dedicated in the name of the cross on this day in the 4th century. Therefore, the feast was applied to this day. In the 7th century, the feast was renamed, "The Triumph." The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335 was also dedicated on this day.

September 15: Our Lady of Sorrows was once called the Seven Sorrows of Mary as introduced by the Servite Friars. After suffering during his captivity in France, Pius VII renamed the devotion that encapsulates: Simeon's prophecy, the flight into Egypt, searching for Jesus at age 12 in the Temple, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the deposition, and the entombment.

September 16: Cornelius, pope and martyr (d. 253) and Cyprian, bishop and martyr (200-258) both suffered in the Decian persecutions. Cornelius was being attacked by Novatian, but since Novatian's teachings were condemned, he received the support of the powerful bishop, Cyprian. Cyprian was a brilliant priest and bishop of Carthage who wrote on the unity of the church, the role of bishops, and the sacraments. Cyprian died under Valerius after supporting his church in exile by letters of encouragement.

September 17: Robert Bellarmine, S.J., bishop and doctor (1542-1621) became a Jesuit professor at the Louvain and then professor of Controversial theology at the Roman College. He wrote "Disputations on the controversies of the Christian faith against the Heretics of this age," which many Protestants appreciated because of its balanced reasoning. He revised the Vulgate bible, wrote catechisms, supervised the Roman College and the Vatican library, and was the pope's theologian.

September 19: Januarius, bishop and martyr (d. 305), was bishop of Benevento during his martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. He was arrested when he tried to visit imprisoned Christians. Legend tell us that a vial that contains his blood has been kept in the Naples cathedral since the 15th century liquefies three times a year.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 13, 1773. Frederick II of Prussia informed the pope that the Jesuits would not be suppressed in Prussia and invited Jesuits to come.
·      Sep 14, 1596. The death of Cardinal Francis Toledo, the first of the Society to be raised to the purple. He died at age 63, a cardinal for three years.
·      Sep 15, 1927. Thirty-seven Jesuits arrived in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to begin tertianship. The property was given to the Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.
·      Sep 16, 1883. The twenty-third General Congregation opened at Rome in the Palazzo Borromeo (via del Seminario). It elected Fr. Anthony Anderledy Vicar General with the right of succession.
·      Sep 17, 1621. The death of St Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church.
·      Sep 18, 1540. At Rome, Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fourteen, was admitted into the Society by St Ignatius (nine days before official papal confirmation of the Society).
Sep 19, 1715. At Quebec, the death of Fr. Louis Andre, who for 45 years labored in the missions of Canada amid incredible hardships, often living on acorns, a kind of moss, and the rind of fruits.