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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Epiphany of the Lord

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Epiphany of the Lord
January 3, 2016
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

            The Epiphany of the Lord is a like a second Christmas gift to us. The twelfth day of Christmas has come. Orthodox Catholics celebrate this as their meaningful Christmas moment. Many Spanish-speaking communities also regard this day as a bright spot in their festivities because salvation has been announced to the whole world. The public declaration that Christmas is for everyone brings joy to people who were waiting for the promised light of the world. The radiating power of the tiny infant who was born to us is taking hold in a world that was set to destroy or marginalize him. A simple joy can permeate all things because his presence makes the world brighter.

            While Epiphany is the public manifestation of Christ to the world, we see the terrible effects of keeping secrets. As we know, Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained the time of the star’s appearance as he hatched his plan. He brought the three wise men into his conniving ways, but they trusted that his motives were impure and decided to stay away from the deceitful ways of Herod. Fortunately, they departed for their home country by another way.

            Beware of those who keep secrets. There’s that old proverb: We are only as sick as our secrets. Gossiping is secretive and the person who does it intends harm another person. Typically persons gossip because they are unable to bring their anger directly out into the open. Their conflict-avoidant nature often makes them unable to positively resolve disputes and it gives them energy to devise their plans to get their own way secretively, but their plans never stay below the surface. It is all about control. Secretive anger destroys the person who holds it. Casual observers sense their unresolved anger and healthy people make sure they avoid the trap of getting enrolled into their problems. Healthy people, like the Magi, depart for their home country by another way.  

            Families keep secrets because they feel shame. We have to help people realize what they perceive as shameful is not really so bad. However, if we had the courage to speak openly of those shameful areas, we might be able to get our loved ones the help they need. Both they and we want the same goal. Let us not bury the condition that causes shame, but bring it out into the open so the person can get help. The larger goal is in loving and helping the person so they can reach salvation. The worst things we can do are hiding the shame and devising all sorts of plans to keep the shame inside the family closet. Certainly, courage is needed to emerge from the chaos, but the mercy we receive along the way will change our world.

            Think of the person who comes out and says: I was once illiterate, now I can read. I am a lesbian, and I want acceptance from my church. I am an addict, and I need rehab and support. I am an orphan, and I want to know someone loves me for who I am. All these people will be met with open arms and affirmation. They will become more lovable because we all have wounded areas that need to be healed. We allow ourselves to be embraced when we emerge from our secrets. No one can harm us when we make our shame our strength.

            Imagine if Herod told others of his secret fears. Their intervention might have saved thousands of lives of the young innocents. If he simply shared in a trusted colleague that he feared for his loss of power, he would have had his fears allayed and his confidence in his own goodness affirmed. Instead, he made a mess of things. Herod wanted to be adored as the Christ-child was by the three wise men. He made himself unlovable. He pushed away from himself what he most wanted. This is what our secret shame does to us. We cannot let it live any longer.

            The public manifestation of the Christ-child is an invitation for us to make our whole selves, our true selves public as well. We no longer have to be debilitated or paralyzed like Herod. We can enter into the joy of knowing we are saved and are lovable when we stand before Mary and Joseph and their child and present ourselves as a remarkable gift to him. He will accept you and lavish you abundantly with his everlasting graces. Rise up, dear friends, your light has come. The glory of the Lord shines upon you.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (1 John 3) Do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
·      Tuesday: (1 John 4) Let us love one another because love is of God. God loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
·      Wednesday: (1 John 4) This is how we remain in God’s love: that he has given us of his Spirit. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God remains in his love.        
·      Thursday: (1 John 4) If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother is a liar. Whoever does not love his brother, who he can see, cannot love God, who he cannot see.  
·      Friday (1 John 5) The victor of this world is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  
·      Saturday (1 John 5) We have confidence in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

·      Monday: (Matthew 4) When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. From that time on, Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
·      Tuesday: (Mark 6) When Jesus saw the crowd, his heart was moved with pity for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said, “Give them something to eat.”
·      Wednesday (Mark 6) After they had eaten, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat to cross to the other side. A quall whipped up and Jesus came to them walking on the sea.
·      Thursday (Luke 4) Jesus came to Nazareth, entered the synagogue, unrolled the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and read from it. “Today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
·      Friday (Luke 5) A leprous man pleaded with Jesus to heal him. Be made clean. From that point on, Jesus could no longer travel openly from town to town.    
·      Saturday (John 3) John answered his disciples about the reports of Jesus baptizing: The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is complete. He must increase.

Saints of the Week

January 3: The Name of Jesus was given to the infant as the angel foretold. In the Mediterranean world, the naming of person stood for the whole person. Humans were given the power to name during the Genesis creation accounts. If one honors the name of the person, they honor the person. The name Jesus means “Yahweh saves.”

January 4: Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious (1774-1821), was born into an Episcopalian household where she married and had five children. When her husband died, she became a Catholic and founded a girls’ school in Baltimore. She then founded the Sisters of Charity and began the foundation for the parochial school system in the U.S. She is the first native-born American to be canonized.

January 5: John Neumann, bishop (1811-1860), emigrated from Bohemia to New York and joined the Redemptorists in Pittsburgh before being named bishop of Philadelphia. He built many churches in the diocese and placed great emphasis on education as the foundation of faith.

January 6: Andre Bessette, religious (1845-1937), was born in Quebec, Canada. He joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross and taught for 40 years at the College of Notre Dame. He cared for the sick and was known as a intercessor for miracles. He built St. Joseph’s Oratory, a popular pilgrimage site in Canada.

January 7: Raymond of Penyafort, priest (1175-1275), was trained in philosophy and law and was ordained in 1222 to preach to the Moors and Christians. Though he was appointed bishop of Tarragon, he declined the position. Instead he organized papal decrees into the first form of canon law. He was later elected Master of the Dominican Order.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan. 3, 1816: Fr. General Brzozowski and 25 members of the Society, guarded by soldiers, left St. Petersburg, Russia, having been banished by the civil government.
·      Jan. 4, 1619: The English mission is raised to the status of a province.
·      Jan. 5, 1548: Francis Suarez, one of the greatest theologians of the church, was born at Granada.
·      Jan. 6, 1829: Publication of Pope Leo XII's rescript, declaring the Society to be canonically restored in England.
·      Jan. 7, 1566: Cardinal Ghislieri was elected pope as Pius V. He was a great friend of the Francis Borgia and appointed Salmeron and Toletus as apostolic preachers at the Vatican. He desired to impose the office of choir on the Society and even ordered it. He was canonized as St. Pius V.
·      Jan. 8, 1601: Balthasar Gracian was born. A Spanish Jesuit, he wrote on courtly matters. He is the author of "The Compleat Gentleman" and "The Art of Worldly Wisdom."

·      Jan. 9, 1574: Fr. Jasper Haywood died at Naples. He was superior of the English mission. As a boy he was one of the pages of honor to the Princess Elizabeth. After a brilliant career at Oxford, he renounced his fellowship and entered the Society in Rome in 1570. An able Hebrew scholar and theologians, he was for two years professor in the Roman College.

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