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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 25, 2015
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

            The story of the Bartimaeus is a feel-good story in Mark’s Gospel because, even though the disciples scold him, he is singled out by Jesus and is given both faith and sight for his perseverance. He follows Jesus on the way to up the steep incline to Jerusalem and testifies on his behalf. Bartimaeus is one of those characters about whom I wonder about what happened in the rest of his life. He was a blind man whose very first image to see was the face of Jesus and he believed in the work of salvation. To the church, he represents one of those types of people to whom Jesus was sent to illustrate that the scriptures are fulfilled in him. Jeremiah writes, “The Lord delivered his people. Behold, I will bring them back. I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and lame in their midst.”

            This is a good place from which to examine the Synod on Family Life, which concludes in Rome on Sunday. For the second time in two years, bishops convened at the Vatican to discuss issues facing family life. The topic is way too broad, and it touches contentious issues like divorced and remarried Catholics and gay marriage. Conservative bishops keep saying that no doctrine is being changed, while progressives urge dialogue to foster greater understanding of the faith issues that confront a person. We understand the fear of not having firm control of our teaching authority, but the two positions can be integrated by prayerful seeking of pastoral mercy to those in need.

Our Sunday texts frame a way we can approach the discussion. A primary mission of Jesus and his church is to deliver his people to the Lord. He gathers them up and presents them as the holy ones of God. He often goes to those places that are not fashionable, like the poor, the sick, and the disabled, and to those who are marginalized. His work is to bring people into the church for comfort, healing, and hope. Jesus was not creating an ideal community of saints and righteous, but a community that shows each other mercy in our common struggles. He has given us as gifts to one another through whom we will find the work of God. It seems then that our pathway forward points to towards inclusivity and hospitality. The church is not designed to have all the answers; the church is there to meet the struggles and the striving of the people as they seek God in their unique circumstances of life. Yes, every religious group needs rules and principles, but it also needs to constantly examine where it stands with the mission of Jesus. Just how successful are we in welcoming those who hunger for God?

The Pope realizes that there may not be strident one-size-fits-all answers for today’s complex world because there are new challenges to the faith that were not articulated during the time of Jesus. However, Jesus and his Spirit are still alive to us and we can ask him what he would like for his church. After all, it is his, not ours. We belong to him. Our task is to go out into the highways and byways and to bring others to him so he can save them. Why? Too many people are suffering and are in search of Christ. Sometimes it is a misguided search for relief from suffering, but we have to be there for those who are ready to turn to Christ as the one who can make sense of their turmoil and disorder.

            Pope Francis wants us to imitate Jesus who had personal encounters with those in need, just like he did for Bartimaeus. He said, “Call him,” and then asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replied, “I want to see.” “Go your own way; your faith has saved you,” said Jesus. We have to be like Jesus who calls and asks, “What do you want?” From his encounter with Jesus, Bartimaeus’ life was transformed because he became a believer. Our task is to bring those of no or little faith to Christ and let the mystery of the faith change a person’s life. We cannot save others, but we can lead them to the mystery of Christ who saves them. Please do not underestimate the power of a personal welcome. People who deny communion to others deprive the hungry, lame, blind, and poor from an encounter with the one who can work miracles. That goes against the teachings of Jesus. Give those miracles a chance. Communion with Christ, with others, can open one’s eyes of faith and can save a precious soul. Give those miracles a chance to unfold. We as church need the transforming, healing touch of the Lord that gives us a more enriched sight.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Romans 8) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. You received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father.”
·      Tuesday: (Romans 8) I consider the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. Creation is groaning in labor pains, and we groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption.
·      Wednesday: (Ephesians 2) You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.
·      Thursday: (Romans 8) If God is for us, who can be against us. In all things, we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. No power can separate us from God’s love.  
·      Friday (Romans 9) My conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great anguish and sorrow in my heart.  
·      Saturday (Romans 11) Through transgressions, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Be aware, Israel of the hardening of your hearts.

·      Monday: (Luke 13) Jesus heals on the Sabbath a woman crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. The leader of the synagogue became indignant and shamed Jesus.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 13) What is the Kingdom of God like? It is like a mustard seed when planted and fully grown, or as the yeast in wheat flour.
·      Wednesday (Luke 6) Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and he called his disciples to himself and chose Twelve.  
·      Thursday (Luke 13) Pharisees warned Jesus that Herod wanted to kill him. He then laments over Jerusalem – a place where prophets are killed.
·      Friday (Luke 14) Jesus dined with a leading Pharisees when a man with dropsy came by. Jesus healed them though the scholars and Pharisees remained silent to his questions.
·      Saturday (Luke 14) Jesus told a parable when he noticed places of honor at the table. Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Saints of the Week

October 28: Simon and Jude, apostles (first century) were two of the Twelve Disciples called by Jesus, but little is known about them. We think they are Simon the Zealot and Judas, the son of James. Simon was most likely a Zealot sympathizer who would have desired revolution against Rome; Jude is also called Thaddeus, and is patron saint of hopeless causes. Both apostles suffered martyrdom.

October 30: Dominic Collins, S.J., priest and martyr (1566-1602), was a Jesuit brother who was martyred in his native Ireland. He became a professional solider in the Catholic armies of Europe after the Desmond Rebellion was put down in 1583. He joined the Jesuits in 1584 at Santiago de Compostela and was sent back to Ireland in 1601 with a Spanish contingent. He was captured, tried for his faith, and sentenced to death.

October 31: Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1532-1617) was widowed at age 31. When his three children died, Alphonsus joined the Jesuits as a lay brother at age 40 after attempting to complete the rigors of study. He was sent to the newly opened college in Majorca where he served as a porter for 46 years. His manner of calling people to sanctification was extraordinary. He served obediently and helped others to focus on their spiritual lives.

October 31: All Hallows Eve (evening) owes its origins to a Celtic festival that marked summer's end. The term was first used in 16th century Scotland. Trick or treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling when poor people would go door to door on Hallomas (November 1) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2.)

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 25, 1567. St Stanislaus Kostka arrived in Rome and was admitted into the Society by St Francis Borgia.
·      Oct 26, 1546. The Province of Portugal was established as the first province in the Society, with Simao Rodriguez as its first provincial superior.
·      Oct 27, 1610. The initial entrance of the Jesuits into Canada. The mission had been recommended to the Society by Henry IV.
·      Oct 28, 1958. The death of Wilfrid Parsons, founder of Thought magazine and editor of America from 1925 to 1936.
·      Oct 29, 1645. In the General Chapter of the Benedictines in Portugal, a statement published by one of their order, that said St Ignatius had borrowed the matter in his Spiritual Exercises from a Benedictine author, was indignantly repudiated.
·      Oct 30, 1638. On this day, John Milton, the great English poet, dined with the Fathers and students of the English College in Rome.

·      Oct 31, 1602. At Cork, the martyrdom of Dominic Collins, an Irish brother, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his adherence to the faith.

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