Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 27, 2015
Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

            We have an unfortunate quality to our humanity. We hold onto our differences more strongly than putting them aside to build unity. We encounter it in Numbers when Eldad and Medad are away from the camp meeting but the spirit rests upon them the same as for those who are present. Without the proper stamp of anointing, the people doubt whether the gift is authentic and licit. Moses assures the people that the two elders are equally rewarded by the Spirit and are duly anointed. The same happens with the teachings of Jesus. Those who were not known disciples of Jesus drove out demons in his name. Instead of rejoicing, the disciples thought to reprimand them. Jesus says, “No, no, no. They are doing the same good works as you. Be happy that they are part of the team.”            

            Most of our disputes are about “us and them.” We naturally think that we are right and we look skeptically at others and we distrust their motives. We tend to think that others are wrong, even though we have not listened to what they have to say, and then we fail to see the many ways we are alike. The path to unity requires us to make one small step forward and we are so reluctant to hold out the possibility that we can be successful in reconciling our common goals. We need to believe that we have the skill sets to honor and respect each other.

            In pastoral conversations, the most divisive arguments are within families. Siblings cannot speak to one another, children are estranged from parents, and spouses sue for divorce because we focus upon our differences. The family is often the place where people share the most in common and it has the conditions that would be the easiest to reconcile, but instead it becomes the place where the most hurt results. Yelling increases when people get hurt. Egos get bruised when family is dishonored. People walk away when positions become entrenched. If we could only see that goodwill and love exists. I believe we simply need to develop the right skillsets to make what seems impossible happen. It may be seem like a miracle of our faith, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility to back off, let emotions settle, and come back to one another with fundamental respect and honor.

            As Pope Francis visits the U.S. and Cuba, he sets an agenda to reconcile the “us and thems.” He represents the needs of the poor against the interests of the comfortably wealthy. He speaks on social injustices and works for a world in which the divisions are lessened. He speaks on environmental damage and the need to help one another along the path to holiness. Many U.S. conservatives are upset with his Gospel values and economic positions, but no force in the world will derail him from the path Jesus Christ has set up for him. Whether we are conservative or liberal, no matter what position we hold, we are one church united in Christ. It is time that we begin to act as if we care for one another.

            Whether as an individual or as a certain persuasion within the church, we must tell ourselves that we will not hold onto bruised feelings for the sake of a larger goal. It means that we have to lift our hearts to higher ideals. If our goal is to support and encourage one another, then we find a way to build bridges. We deliberately and temporarily move past the hurt feelings so we can discover the honor and dignity within each other. Conservatives and progressives do not have to be against one another; they simply have different ways of holding onto their religious ideals. Together, we suffer too much. Together, we need to celebrate and affirm each other’s goodness. It is constant work, but very much achievable.

Let us make sure that we are healing and driving out demons in the name of Jesus. Pay attention to Jesus Christ rather than the workings of others. Christ will settle it in the end. We are called to build up, encourage, affirm, and honor everyone we meet – in the name of Jesus. Put aside envy, greed, and petty divisions. Put on Jesus Christ. He looks very good on you.  

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Zechariah 8) The Lord said to Zechariah, “I am intensely jealous for Zion. I will return to dwell in Jerusalem.”  
·      Tuesday: (Daniel 7) Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. The court convened and one like a son of man came and he received dominion, glory, and kingship.
·      Wednesday: (Nehemiah 2) The prophet requested to be sent to Judah, the city of his ancestors, to rebuild it. The king agreed upon an acceptable time to return.
·      Thursday: (Nehemiah 8) The whole people gathered as one before the Water Gate and Ezra, the scribe, brought out the law of Moses. He said, “Today is holy to the Lord. Rejoice because the Lord is your strength.”
·      Friday (Baruch 1) During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed, “Justice is with our God. Today we are flushed with shame.”
·      Saturday (Baruch 4) Fear not. He who brought this on you will remember you. He will bring your enduring joy.

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (Luke 9) The disciple John said, “Master, we saw someone cast out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him.” Jesus replied, “Whoever is not against you is for you.”
·      Tuesday: (John 1) Jesus saw Nathaniel sitting under the fig tree and he called to him. Jesus said, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God before the Son of Man.
·      Wednesday (Luke 9) “Foxes have dens and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Let the dead bury the dead.
·      Thursday (Luke 10) Jesus appointed 72 other disciples whom he sent ahead in pairs to every town he planned to visit. “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.”
·      Friday (Matthew 18) The disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom?” Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom.
·      Saturday (Luke 10) The 72 returned rejoicing. “Bless are the eyes the see what you see.”

Saints of the Week

September 27: Vincent de Paul, priest (1581-1660), was a French peasant who selected to be chaplain at the Queen's household after his ordination. He provided food and clothing to the poor, including prostitutes, the sick, disabled, and homeless. He founded the Congregation of Missions (Vincentians) to preach and train clergy and he co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac.

September 28: Wenceslaus, martyr (907-929), was raised a Christian by his grandmother while his mother and brother were opposed to Christianity. His brother opposed him when he became ruler of Bohemia in 922. He introduced strict reforms that caused great dissatisfaction among nobles and political adversaries. His brother invited him to a religious ceremony where he was killed in a surprise attack.

September 28: Lawrence Ruiz and 15 companion martyrs (seventeenth century), were killed in Nagasaki, Japan during 1633 and 1637. Most of these Christians were friends of the Dominicans. Lawrence, a Filipino, was a husband and father. He and these other missionaries served the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan.

September 29: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels are long a part of Christian and Jewish scripture. Michael is the angel who fights against evil as the head of all the angels; Gabriel announces the messiah's arrival and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; and Raphael is a guardian angel who protects Tobias on his journey. Together, they are venerated to represent all the angels during a three-day period.

September 30: Jerome, priest and doctor (342-420), studied Greek and Latin as a young man after his baptism by Pope Liberius. He learned Hebrew when he became a monk and after ordination he studied scripture with Gregory Nazianzen in Constantinople. He became secretary to the Pope when he was asked to translate the Bible into Latin.

October 1: Teresa of Jesus, doctor (1515-1582), entered the Carmelites at age 15 and died at age 24 from tuberculosis. During her illness, Pauline, her prioress, asked her to write about her life in the convent. These stories are captured in "The Story of a Soul." He focused on her "little way" of pursuing holiness in everyday life.

October 2: The Guardian Angels are messengers and intermediaries between God and humans. They help us in our struggle against evil and they serve as guardians, the feast we celebrate today. Raphael is one of the guardians written about in the Book of Tobit. A memorial was added to the Roman calendar In 1670 in thanksgiving for their assistance.

October 3: Francis Borgia, S.J. became a duke at age 33. When his wife died and his eight children were grown, he joined the Jesuits. His preaching brought many people to the church and when he served as Superior General, the Society increased dramatically in Spain and Portugal. He established many missions in the new territories.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 27, 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the Society of Jesus.
·      Sep 28, 1572. Fifteen Jesuits arrived in Mexico to establish the Mexican Province. They soon opened a college.
·      Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope's death in August, 1559.
·      Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
·      Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months.
·      Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.

·      Oct 3, 1901. In France, religious persecution broke out afresh with the passing of Waldeck Rousseau's "Loi d'Association."