Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Second Sunday of Advent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Second Sunday of Advent
December 6, 2015
Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6

            The Jubilee Year of Mercy has begun and we will learn a lot this year about how to receive and practice mercy as God intends. It sounds nice and easy, but the challenge is in applying it to each new interpersonal conflict. As we hear in Scripture, the effects of mercy stand for themselves: robes of mourning and misery will be discarded, the people will be led to the light of his glory, the valleys shall be filled in and the crooked roads made straight, and the rough ways will be made smooth. We see the salvation of God when we experience the power of mercy, and we will know the joy that St. Paul prays for in Philippians. We pray with him that our love may increase ever more in knowledge and discernment as we first receive the warm affection of Christ Jesus.

            We have to understand mercy not as a pleasant idealistic concept but an experienced reality. Have you ever been subject to someone’s anger moments after leaving church? We scratch our heads and wonder: Was this person at the same mass I was? If so and if mass is the sacrament of love and unity, where is the mercy? Church cannot be just something that we do; we must allow the Gospel words to change our minds, hearts, and imagination. If we simply revert to the person we were before mass, then we ask ourselves if we were present to the loving actions of Jesus, Did we give ourselves over to the power of his words. Advent is about preparing ourselves to receive Jesus more fully than we previously understood.

            Part of our challenge is to change our usual behaviors. What would it be like if an angry person came up to us and said, “I’d like to speak with you in the near future about something that is bothering me. Can you set aside some time for me to speak with you? I want to be able to understand something that I am not yet seeing.” That changes the game doesn’t it? The purpose of the meeting is to be enriched and to learn something. The old way was to destroy, to be heard, and to let the other person know you were angry.

            Acting in mercy means that we need a paradigm shift in the expression of our thoughts and feelings. Rather than condemn and harshly judge a person who angers you, you can transform it into a positive situation that is clearly articulated. When you speak from mercy, you end up saying: You are a person of worth and I want to uphold your dignity. One of your behaviors has caused a reaction in me and I’d like to communicate to you how your behavior makes me feel. The dignified person may respond, “What do you need? I do not want to upset you? Let’s talk about how we can resolve this imbalance.” Everyone wins. Mercy wins. Christ’s victory is sealed over pettiness and the ways of destruction. Mercy builds up and achieves the affection of Christ.

            This Jubilee Year means that we examine our habitual responses and ask, “Why am I doing this? Are my actions loving? Where is the mercy in my judgments?” It calls for a daily examination of our consciences, but it calls for something more fundamental: a daily examination of our unconsciousness, because this is the area where Christ is always speaking to us, if we learn to listen to his voice. The examination of unconsciousness asks us: Where is the Lord present this day? It allows God to be totally other from us. It allows God to save us – from our enemies, but mostly from ourselves.

            John the Baptist preached repentance for our sins, not so that we feel bad, but that we see that, despite our attitudes and actions, God loves us and wants us to live holy lives. God wants us to know that we are loved sinners, with the emphasis on love. God wants to lead us to joy. Let’s make St. Paul’s prayer our own so we can look upon each other in holy affection and delight in each other’s presence. May your love increase more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, so that you see the Lord working in our midst. Let us rejoice that the Lord is coming in new ways, but also in that he is already here among us. We make him known through our mercy.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Isaiah 35) A highway will be there, called the holy way; Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing. They will meet with joy and gladness.
·      Tuesday: (Genesis 3) After Adam had eaten of the tree, the Lord God asked him, “Where are you? He answered, “I hear you in the garden, but I was afraid, because I was naked.”  
·      Wednesday: (Isaiah 40) Do you not know or have you not heard? The Lord is eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.      
·      Thursday: (Isaiah 41) Fear not for I will help you. I will not forsake you. I will do all these things so that all may see and know, observe and understand, that I have done this.  
·      Friday (Isaiah 48) I the Lord will teach you what is for your good and lead you on the way you should go.    
·      Saturday (Zechariah 2) Rejoice, O daughter Zion. I am coming to dwell among you.

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (Luke 5) Some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed. They opened a hole in the roof to lower him to Jesus for healing.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 1) The angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin in Nazareth, “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid Mary for you have found favor with God.”
·      Wednesday (Matthew 11) Jesus said to the crowds, “Come to me all who are labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Learn from me for I am gentle and humble.”
·      Thursday (Matthew 11) Among those born of women, there has been none greater than John the Baptist. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
·      Friday (Matthew 11) To what shall I compare this generation? We piped for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.  
·      Saturday (Luke 1) The angel Gabriel visited Mary in Nazareth. He told her to visit Elizabeth who conceived a son in her old age. Mary assented to God’s will in order to conceive a son who would be called Son of the Most High.

Saints of the Week

December 6: Nicholas, bishop (d. 350), lived in southwest Turkey and was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 324. Since there are many stories of his good deeds, generous charity, and remarkable pastoral care, his character became the foundation for the image of Santa Claus.

December 7: Ambrose, bishop and doctor (339-397) was a Roman governor who fairly mediated an episcopal election in Milan. He was then acclaimed their bishop even though he was not baptized. He baptized Augustine in 386 and is doctor of the church because of his preaching, teaching and influential ways of being a pastor.

December 8: The Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated today, which is nine months before her birth in September. The Immaculate Conception prepares her to become the mother of the Lord. Scripture tells of the annunciation to Mary by the angel Gabriel. Mary's assent to be open to God's plan makes our salvation possible.

December 9: Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548) was a poor, simple, indigenous man who was visited by Mary in 1531. She instructed him to build a church at Guadalupe near Mexico City. During another visit, she told him to present flowers to the bishop. When he did, the flowers fell from his cape to reveal an image of Mary that is still revered today.

December 12: The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated to remember the four apparitions to Juan Diego in 1531 near Mexico City shortly after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. Mary appeared as a native Mexican princess and her image is imprinted on a cloak that was presented to the bishop.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec. 6, 1618: In Naples, the Jesuits were blamed for proposing to the Viceroy that a solemn feast should be held in honor of the Immaculate Conception and that priests should make a public pledge defend the doctrine. This was regarded as a novelty not to be encouraged.
·      Dec. 7, 1649: Charles Garnier was martyred in Etarita, Canada, as a missionary to the Petun Indians, among whom he died during an Iroquois attack.
·      Dec. 8, 1984: Walter Ciszek, prisoner in Russia from 1939 to 1963, died.
·      Dec. 9, 1741: At Paris, Fr. Charles Poree died. He was a famous master of rhetoric. Nineteen of his pupils were admitted into the French Academy, including Voltaire, who, in spite of his impiety, always felt an affectionate regard for his old master.
·      Dec 10, 1548. The general of the Dominicans wrote in defense of the Society of Jesus upon seeing it attacked in Spain by Melchior Cano and others.
·      Dec 11, 1686. At Rome, Fr. Charles de Noyelle, a Belgian, died as the 12th general of the Society.

·      Dec 12, 1661. In the College of Clermont, Paris, Fr. James Caret publicly defended the doctrine of papal infallibility, causing great excitement among the Gallicans and Jansenists.