Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 31, 2016
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Psalm 71; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30

            As we heard last week, the fulfillment Jesus speaks about is not an historical event, but a reference to the present moment. His words are fulfilled in our hearing of them. These are the first words spoken by the adult Jesus as he deals with the theme of God’s promised fidelity. At first, Jesus is met with amazement from the townspeople that are grateful for the words of salvation, but they come from someone whom they have known all along. How can Jesus, the son of Joseph, be the messenger of God’s promise? They are astonished, but Jesus goes on the offensive with his audience. He charges them with a lack of faith in him as the fulfillment of God’s promises. The people merely want to see Jesus perform powerful deeds for their own curiosity and benefit, not to deepen their own faith in God.

            Jesus is in the line of the rejected prophets, which highlights God’s boundless compassion by continuing to send prophets to a hard-hearted, slow-of-hearing, rebellious people. However, the rejection of Jesus is not the end of the story. Jesus illustrates examples of God’s mercy given to the non-chosen, needy people of Elijah and Elisha’s time. God’s mercy extends beyond the borders of Israel. It is offered freely to men and women of all times and of all places. It is offered to anyone who is need of mercy. Who would think that such a statement would fill the people with rage, but it does. God has no restrictions upon salvation. God’s grace is unconditional. The audience of Jesus is not necessarily “God’s poor” who deserves special treatment. Therefore, Jesus continues on his journey according to God’s plan, which no opposition can squelch. The escape of Jesus points ahead to his Easter victory.

            The reading from Jeremiah shows us the intimacy God has with this early prophet that lived in a turbulent period. God is seen as the unique creator who knows the human person from its very first moment of existence and is always acting to bring God’s plan for the person to fulfillment. For Jeremiah, he is set-aside for a prophetic mission to proclaim that Yahweh is the God of all history. For Jesus, he is the fulfillment of God’s promises to declare that salvation is for everyone. For each of us personally, God has a unique purpose by which we bring news of God’s love to those in need. The love of God is at the heart of all we do.

            As St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, he speaks the poetic lines of love that are often used in weddings, but he is shaping and forming the people to become more than their immature selves. Paul talks about a progression of gifts: the lowest being the speaking in tongues, to intellectual gifts, then the miracle-working faith, to acts of supreme devotion that help others in need. For Paul, only by loving does a Christian authentically exist. Love is the fulfillment of one’s life in Christ. Paul then outlines the way Christians ought to be by personifying love. If the strong were not patient and kind, he called them to become that way. He considered the Corinthians to be childish and desired them to become mature. To see them act in love is the goal of Paul. Then he will know that the Gospel has taken root.

            If the people of the hometown of Jesus acted in love, they would not have been obstacles to their own salvation. We all know people who are resentful and jealous of someone else’s good fortune and act to bring them down. It boggles the mind why some people are filled with malice and evil intent in the pursuit of making themselves look good or in getting an advantage in status. Nevertheless, it happens too frequently. This is where First Corinthians gives us the insight: we have to act in love in those places where we do not find love. If someone is not patient or kind, we have to show them how to live because of our increased patience and kindness. We have to be the ones maturing in love in order to call others to this type of love. As Paul reminds us: Love never fails. The only quality that reverses the progression of evil is love. This world needs your love. Find a way to bring it to places where it is absent. Love never fails.
           
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (2 Samuel 15) David tolerates a Benjaminite who curses him and throws stones at him, jus as his son Absalom has done.
·      Tuesday: (Malachi 3) The Lord sends his messenger to proclaim the Day of the Lord. He will purify the sons of Levi and will offers pleasing sacrifices to Israel and Judah.
·      Wednesday: (2 Samuel 24) David sinned against the Lord by registering his people. The Lord promised punishment, but David protested because the people were innocent; he alone was guilty.         
·      Thursday: (1 Kings 2) David gave instructions as he lay near death. He ruled Hebron for seven years; Jerusalem for thirty-three years. Solomon succeeds his father.
·      Friday (Sirach 47) A litany of praise is heaped upon David. The Lord forgave his sins and exalted his strength forever. He conferred on him royalty and established his house forever.
·      Saturday (1 Kings 3) The Lord said to Solomon, “Ask of me anything and I will give it to you.” Solomon replied, “Give me an understanding heart so I may govern your people wisely.”

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (Mark 5) Jesus encounters the Gerasene demoniac, who was plagued with a legion of demons. Jesus sends the demons into the swineherd who rush off the cliff to their sudden death.
·      Tuesday: (Luke 2) The parents of Jesus came to the Temple on the day of purification for the ritual offering. They met Anna and Simeon. Both proclaim that they have witnessed the salvation of Israel when they encountered Jesus.
·      Wednesday (Mark 6) Jesus returned to his hometown and the native people heard about his miracles, but he remarks that a prophet is without honor in his hometown.
·      Thursday (Mark 6) Jesus summoned the Twelve and sent them out two-by-two. He gave them instructions to respect their hosts and to proclaim in all humility with integrity.
·      Friday (Mark 6) Herod became curious about Jesus. He wondered if he was John the Baptist reincarnated, for he had a checked history with John, whom he put to death.
·      Saturday (Mark 6) The apostles gathered with Jesus who took them away to a deserted place to pray. The crowds found them, and Jesus was moved with compassion towards them.

Saints of the Week

January 31: John Bosco, priest (1815-1888), formed his Society to aid children who were imprisoned. He used Francis de Sales as his inspiration. He taught poor and working class boys in the evenings wherever it was possible to meet them - in fields, factories, or homes. A sister community was set up to assist young girls who were sent to work.

February 2: The Presentation of the Lord is the rite by which the firstborn male is presented in the Temple as an offering to God. It occurs 40 days after the birth while the new mother is considered ritually unclean. Two church elders, Simeon and Anna, who represent the old covenant, praise Jesus and warn his mother that her heart will be pierced as her son will bring the salvation of many.

February 3: Blase, bishop and martyr (d. 316), was an Armenian martyr of the persecution of Licinius. Legends hold that a boy, choking to death on a fishbone, was miraculously cured. Blase's intercession has been invoked for cures for throat afflictions. The candles presented at Candlemas the day earlier are used in the rite of the blessings of throats.

February 3: Angsar, bishop (815-865), became a monk to preach to pagans. He lived at the French Benedictine monastery of New Corbie and was sent to preach in Denmark and Sweden. He was made abbot and then became archbishop of Hamburg. He is known as the Apostle of the North because he restored Denmark to the faith and helped bolster the faith of other Scandinavians.

February 4: John de Brito, S.J., priest, religious, and martyr (1647-1693), was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who served in India and was named “The Portuguese Francis Xavier” to the Indians. De Brito was martyred because he counseled a Maravan prince during his conversion to give up all but one of his wives. One of the wives was a niece to the neighboring king, who set up a round of persecutions against priests and catechists.

February 5: Agatha, martyr, (d. 251), died in Sicily during the Diocletian persecution after she refused to give up her faith when sent to a brothel for punishment. She was subsequently tortured. Sicilians believe her intercession stopped Mount Etna from erupting the year after her burial. She has been sought as a protector against fire and in mentioned in the First Eucharistic prayer.

February 6: Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs (d. 1597), were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan for being Christians. Miki was a Jesuit brother and a native Japanese who was killed alongside 25 clergy, religious, and laypeople. They were suspended on crosses and killed by spears thrust into their hearts. Remnants of the Christian community continued through baptism without any priestly leadership. It was discovered when Japan was reopened in 1865.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan 31, 1774. Fr. General Laurence Ricci, a prisoner in Castel S Angelo, claimed his liberty, since his innocence had been fully vindicated. He received from the Papal Congregation the reply that they would think about it. Pope Clement XIV was said at this time to be mentally afflicted.
·      Feb 1, 1549. The first Jesuit missionaries to go to Brazil set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, under Fr. Emmanuel de Nobrega.
·      Feb 2, 1528. Ignatius arrived in Paris to begin his program of studies at the University of Paris.
·      Feb 3, 1571. In Florida, the martyrdom of Fr. Louis Quiros and two novices, shot with arrows by an apostate Indian.
·      Feb 4, 1617. An imperial edict banished all missionaries from China.
·      Feb 5, 1833. The first provincial of Maryland, Fr. William McSherry, was appointed.
·      Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.