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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 18, 2015
Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 33; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

            We look to church workers as men and women dedicated to the Gospel who have sworn off any advantage to their careers. Of course, the church needs to pay its workers a fair and living wage, but we do expect our ministers to care for the poor, to reflect Christ’s values, and to represent a good moral life in line with the kingdom of God. It is jarring when we hear James and John, as disciples who should know better, ask Jesus about seats of honor in his kingdom. They are the inner circle of friends with Jesus and still they seek what amounts to honor and glory from humans rather than from God. However scandalous it seems, it is quite natural in our church organizations to have those who seek greater human glory.

            Jesus attaches the cup of suffering to the pursuit of glory. When James and John ask their brazen question, Jesus asks them if they can willingly suffer for him. Confidently, they say yes. They will suffer for those seats of glory as badges of honor, but it reveals that they are seeking glory for having endured the suffering. These are all the wrong reasons. It shows that they do not understand how suffering tears a person apart.

            Isaiah mentions the purpose of suffering for the Lord’s servant. He writes, “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.” Isaiah concludes that the sufferer will understand its purpose once he has gone through it and his suffering will benefit others.

            However, Isaiah does not address the main question of religions: If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why does God allow the suffering of the innocent? For instance, where is the redemptive meaning in the death of an infant? Does all suffering have meaning? Suffering does not discriminate. Sometimes bad things happen to good and bad people alike and there does not seem to be an inherent purpose. Life gives us quite enough suffering; our task is to figure out how we will enter into it well and be prepared for when it strikes.

            The best medicine for suffering is to find something for which to be happy each day and to hold onto it. When we choose our happiness, it can diminish the consequences of suffering. While suffering isolates us from others and causes us to doubt our self-worth, happiness pulls us closer to others and brings joy to the relationship. When we work hard to reconcile fractured relationships, we find these bonds surprisingly sustaining when we are the ones in need and we receive much needed grace. It helps us to clear up misconceptions and misunderstandings so the distance caused by hurt feelings can be lessened. In fact, we must do all that we can to strengthen bonds of community because suffering will never go away and we need each other in those times of need. Always, someone is in search of some words of encouragement and healing. Perhaps, the words that come from your mouth can give a person hope. In fact, everyone you know suffers silently in ways you are not aware. Look at everyone, not as a threat or foreigner, but as someone who needs a connection with God through you.

            You cannot obtain humility unless you have experienced humiliation. You then know what it feels like to be at the lowest and you then possess an otherworldly knowledge that demands that we respect and care for the persons around us. Suffering humiliates, and the one who suffers needs extra-special care. The upcoming year of mercy is designed to help us see each other as vulnerable loved ones in need of special compassion. While suffering separates us, this mercy and compassion unites us and touches our common humanity. Life is much more comforting when we can hold each other’s hand instead of having fists ready to go at one another.

            Of course, many will be social climbers, careerists, and self-indulgent seekers. We will even find those people in our local church and in the church hierarchy. They have special needs that we cannot touch until they let the reality of others into their lives. They may never be satisfied because they want more. We know the secret though. We know that a good moral Christian life is not about greatness, accolades, status, respect, or honor, but we need a certain amount of it. We are to do our best in all things, but we know that loving service to others brings about the glory of God that we cherish silently. We know that it is the unnoticed simple acts of kindness that are remembered. We are all given the cup of suffering to drink whether we want it or not; we must take it with the hands of kindness and realize that everyone else is drinking it too. Then we must go to others and treat them with mercy.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Romans 4) Abraham did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God and was fully convinced that what God had promised he was also able to do.
·      Tuesday: (Romans 5) Through one man, sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and death came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous.
·      Wednesday: (Romans 6) Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. You who were once slaves to sin have become obedient from the heart.
·      Thursday: (Romans 6) You have been freed from sins and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life.  
·      Friday (Romans 7) The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.  
·      Saturday (Romans 8) There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death. If Christ is in you, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

·      Monday: (Luke 12) Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions. Then Jesus told the parable of the rich man who stored up a harvest, but his life ended prematurely.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 12) Be like the servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
·      Wednesday (Luke 12) Jesus tells the parable of the prudent steward. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.  
·      Thursday (Luke 12) I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing. Every household will be divided.
·      Friday (Luke 12) You read the signs of the weather, but not the signs of the times. Why do you not judge for yourself what is right?
·      Saturday (Luke 13) Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus began to talk about the nature of great suffering. He told the parable of the person who planted a fig tree in his orchard. He had given up on its fruitlessness, but a friend urged him to wait one more year for its produce.

Saints of the Week

October 18: Luke, evangelist (first century) was the author of his version of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He is described as a doctor and a friend of Paul. He was a well-educated Gentile who was familiar with the Jewish scriptures and he wrote to other Gentiles who were coming into a faith.

October 19: North American Jesuit martyrs: Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, priests, and companions (17th century) were killed between 1642 and 1649 in Canada and the United States. Though they knew of harsh conditions among the warring Huron and Mohawk tribes in the New World, these priests and laymen persisted in evangelizing until they were captured, brutally tortured, and barbarically killed.

October 20: Paul of the Cross, priest (1694-1775), founded the Passionists in 1747. He had a boyhood call that propelled him into a life of austerity and prayer. After receiving several visions, he began to preach missions throughout Italy that mostly focused upon the Passion of the Lord. After his death, a congregation for nuns was begun.

October 23: John of Capistrano, priest, had a vision of Francis of Assisi when he was imprisoned during an Italian civil war at which time he was the governor of Perugia. He entered the Franciscan Friars Minor in 1415 after ending his marriage. He preached missions throughout Europe including a mission to Hungary to preach a crusade against the Turks. After the Christian victory at the Battle of Belgrade in 1456, John died.

October 24: Anthony Claret, bishop (1807-1870) adopted his father's weaving career as a young man, but continued to study Latin and printing. After entering seminary, he began preaching retreats and giving missions. He published and distributed religious literature and founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He was appointed archbishop of Cuba but was called back to Spain to be Queen Isabella II's confessor. He resumed publishing until the revolution of 1868 sent him into exile.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      October 18, 1553: A theological course was opened in our college in Lisbon; 400 students were at once enrolled.
·      October 19, 1588: At Munster, in Westphalia, the Society opens a college, in spite of an outcry raised locally by some of the Protestants.
·      October 20, 1763: In a pastoral letter read in all his churches, the Archbishop of Paris expressed his bitter regret at the suppression of the Society in France. He described it as a veritable calamity for his country.
·      October 21, 1568: Fr. Robert Parsons was elected Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He resigned his Fellowship in 1574.
·      October 22, 1870: In France, Garibaldi and his men drove the Jesuits from the Colleges of Dole and Mont Roland.
·      October 23, 1767: The Jesuits who had been kept prisoners in their college in Santiago, Chile, for almost two months were led forth to exile. In all 360 Jesuits of the Chile Province were shipped to Europe as exiles.
·      October 24, 1759: 133 members of the Society, banished from Portugal and put ashore at Civita Vecchia, were most kindly received by Clement XIII and by the religious communities, especially the Dominicans. 

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