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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 11, 2015
Wisdom 7:4-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

            A question that puzzles me is, “Why can we not say yes to those things that are really good for us?” The question emerges in the Gospel reading when a man asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life. The man has lived a good life and has kept the commandments, but he cannot do what Jesus asks, that is, to give up his riches to follow him. Jesus knows it is a hard teaching to accept, but the disappointing part is that the man walks away from his relationship with Jesus.
            First, I want to encourage you. Having riches does not automatically disqualify you from the kingdom of heaven. Jesus refers to the attitude we have towards our wealth and he want to make certain that we are not being self-indulgent, greedy, or selfish. Many wealthy people take care of those who are less fortunate with their resources. They certainly are people who lead good and moral lives and help others build a better life. Also, the Gospel is presented in an “all or nothing” choice, but we progress in stages. We are a people on the way and the desire to strive is the important part of the journey.

            During my hospitalization this summer, I overheard conversations of roommates with doctors and their loved ones. Each case seemed very sad because these men lost their desire to live. They did not want to die, but they were also unwilling to make the necessary choices to become healthy. It confused me that young and middle-aged men knew that fate had the stronger hand. Even though family loved them, they could not accept the help that was generously offered.

            I see the same thing in drug and alcohol addictions. First, there is no shame in being an alcoholic or a drug addict. It may be unfortunate, but nearly every family is struggling with these terrible problems. Perhaps the worst approach we can take is to keep our struggles secret. We do not want others to know that a family member has a problem. We do not want to admit that we do not have everything in control. The best thing we can do is to talk about it and to involve others into our struggles.

            Addictions are fierce to overcome. I have seen many families intervene in a person’s life. A multitude of love surrounds the one in need, but everything hinges upon a person’s consent, which is difficult to obtain. It is as if the universe is standing before the person asking, “Will you let me help you inherit eternal life?” and the person cannot answer “yes.” The crowds are saying, “We will do everything we can to help you out. Just let us help you,” but consent is elusive. Heartbreak prevails. Even when programs are free and solutions are laid out for a person, stubborn pride or other obstacles prevent a person from giving the needed “yes” to put the well-worn plan in motion. Instead, everyone walks away despondent. All that is needed is a simple “yes.”

            People put themselves in the place of God. They say, “No thank you. I can do this on my own. I just need a few days of sobriety. Then I will be fine.” This approach does not work. Perhaps a person was a helper her entire life and she does not know what it feels like to be the recipient of other’s goodness. It speaks of the low level of trust the person has in others; the process of rebuilding trust takes many years.

            We cannot place judgments upon others because we have our own baggage to carry. For instance, I know that it is beneficial to lose weight and yet I seldom make the right choices to do so. I go through the same process of denial as others do. I put myself in total charge of my life instead of letting God and others in to help me.

            The lesson in all this is not to walk away from the relationship with Jesus, but to stay in it for the long haul. Open up the closed areas of your pride enough to trust in him. Each day, ask Jesus to help you increase your trust in him and to lessen your own rugged spirit. Know that he is sending you many helpers. They want you to affirmatively answer the questions that Jesus puts before you: “Are you ready to receive help? Do you want to inherit eternal life enough for me to be a part of your life?” When you humbly say “yes,” you will see many more people than you could imagine at your front door saying, “Thanks for letting me into your life. We are here to love and support you.” Dear friends, learn how to say “yes” to eternal life. You deserve it.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Romans 1) Paul introduces himself to the Romans and says they belong to Jesus Christ, who was spoken of in Scripture and established himself as Son of God in power according to the Spirit.
·      Tuesday: (Romans 1) Paul is proud of the Gospel because salvation comes to all who believe, first Jew, then Gentile. The one who is righteous will live by faith.
·      Wednesday: (Romans 2) Prepare yourself for the day of revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works, eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works.
·      Thursday: (Romans 3) The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law; it comes from faith in Jesus for all who beleive.  
·      Friday (Romans 4) The blessedness of the person to whom God credits righteousness is about from the works one does.
·      Saturday (Romans 4) The promise to Abraham was not made through the law. Righteousness comes from faith.

·      Monday: (Luke 11) Jesus says, “This generation is an evil one. It seeks a sign, but none will be given.” He says the have one greater than Jonah among them.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 11) A Pharisee invited Jesus into his home for dinner, but Jesus did not do the prescribed ritual washing.  Jesus said, “You cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.”
·      Wednesday (Luke 11) Woe to you Pharisees. You pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces.  
·      Thursday (Luke 11) You build memorials to the prophets your fathers killed. You take away the key of knowledge. The Pharisees acted with hostility towards him.
·      Friday (Luke 12) Beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Be afraid of the one who after killing has power to cast you in to Gehenna.
·      Saturday (Luke 12) Everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. Do not worry about your defense because the Holy Spirit will teach you

Saints of the Week

October 12: John Beyzym, S.J., priest (1850-1912), was Ukranian-born, entered the Jesuits, and petitioned to work among the people of Madagascar who had Hansen’s disease (leprosy.) Since the lepers lived in remote shanty buildings with no windows or facilities, Beyzym worked hard to improve their living conditions, build a hospital, and a church. He died after contracting the disease.

October 14: Callistus I, pope and martyr (d. 222) was a slave of a Christian who put him in charge of a bank that failed. He was jailed and upon his release became a deacon and counselor to Pope Zephyrinus. He became the first overseer of the official Christian cemetery that was eventually named after him. When he was elected Pope he introduced humanitarian reforms. He died during an uprising against Christians. 

October 15: Teresa of Avila, doctor (1873-1897), entered the Carmelites in Avila and became disenchanted with the laxity of the order. She progressed in prayer and had mystical visions. She introduced stricter reforms through her guidance of John of the Cross and Peter Alcantara. They founded the Discalced Carmelites for men and women.

October 16: Hedwig, religious, at age 12 married Henry, a prince who would become king of Silesia. As a monarch, they built a Cistercian monastery for women. They soon built many other religious houses and hospitals. She chose to live in austere poverty to be in solidarity with the poor.

October 16: Margaret Mary Alocoque entered the Visitation Order at Paray-le-Monial in 1671. She received visions of Christ's love and told her Jesuit spiritual director, Claude la Colombiere, who asked her to write about her experiences. They developed the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her community resisted her promotion of the devotion at first, but later came to see the power of the prayers.

October 17: Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr (d. 107) was born around 33 A.D. and became a leading figure in the new church at Antioch. He served as bishop for 38 years before he was persecuted and killed under Emperor Trajan for being a Christian leader. He wrote seven letters about church life in the early second century and is the first-mentioned martyr of Roman heroes in the first Eucharistic Prayer.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      October 11, 1688: King Louis XIV forbade all correspondence and interchange between the French Jesuits and Fr. Thyrsus Gonzalez, the Spanish General Superior of the Society.
·      October 12, 1976: The murder in rural Brazil of Joao Bosco Burnier, SJ, who was shot and killed by soldiers for protesting the torture of two poor women.
·      October 13, 1537: At Venice the Papal Nuncio published his written verdict declaring that Ignatius Loyola was innocent of all charges which had been leveled against him by his detractors.
·      October 14, 1774: A French Jesuit in China wrote an epitaph to the Jesuit mission in China after the suppression of the Society. It concludes: "Go, traveler, continue on your way. Felicitate the dead; weep for the living; pray for all. Wonder, and be silent."
·      October 15, 1582: St Teresa of Avila died on this day -- the first day of the new Gregorian calendar. She always wished to have a Jesuit as a confessor.
·      October 16, 1873: About two weeks after Victor Emmanuel's visit to Berlin, where he had long conferences with Bismark, rumors reached the Society in Rome that all of their houses in Rome were threatened.

·      October 17, 1578: St Robert Bellarmine entered the Jesuit novitiate of San Andrea in Rome at the age of 16.

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