Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 24, 2016
Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

            Nehemiah assembles the people and has Ezra the priest read to them the law-book of Moses as they institute the Jewish Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), an agricultural festival that is the seventh and last feast instituted by the Lord for the Jewish people to follow each year. It is one of the three principle feasts. As a harvest festival, the Israelites celebrate God’s continued care for them in the Promised Land and it honors their protection by the Lord during the 40 years in the wilderness. Ezra’s preaching results in a great revival as the people confessed their sins and asked for atonement.
            Nehemiah worked at the court of the king in the important border city of Persia called Susa. Nehemiah learns that Jerusalem is unprotected without walls and resolves to restore them. He is appointed by the king as the governor of Judah and travels to Jerusalem where he rebuilds the city’s walls even though Israel’s enemies oppose the plans. With Ezra’s preaching, he reforms the community and brings it in line with the Law of Moses. The Israelites have become lax in following the law, especially by taking non-Jewish wives, and his governance begins to enforce the Law.

            Jesus acts as Ezra the priest in Luke’s Gospel. As Ezra proclaimed the Law of Moses, Jesus proclaims in word and deed God’s creative spirit. Every Jew knows that Jerusalem has pride of place as the city where God’s word will be fulfilled, but Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee, which will be the place where God’s promises are detailed, where Jesus gathers witnesses to his ministry, where he restores people to good health and casts out demons. Jesus is introduced as a mighty teacher in Galilee as he functions well in both local synagogue and the Temple. He proclaims a kingdom-centered theology in opposition to the Temple power base. Jesus initiates a new type of teaching where his words convey the power of God’s promises, which always remembers the poor and the marginalized.

            Jesus stresses continuity between the old and the new and becomes a fine prophet in a line of a rich prophetic tradition. He teaches in his hometown where he is bound to meet rejection and resistance, but initially the people are taken aback because he speaks with authoritative wisdom. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the hungry, the sick, and the imprisoned and he preaches the good news that salvation is available for everyone. His preaching benefits those who are economically, physically, and socially unfortunate. Jesus is offering the less fortunate a release from their bondage.

            Lastly, he ushers in a Jubilee year, which typically comes about every fifty years. Debts are forgiven, but the main purpose is for reconciliation of the community because relationships need to be mended and offenses forgiven. It is largely like our present year of Mercy, a jubilee year where old offenses can be wiped clean. Jesus inaugurates this “time of fulfillment,” but it is not meant to be an historical event in the ministry of Jesus, but rather a declaration that the time of fulfillment is now, despite whatever era of time we exist. Today is the day to usher in the powerful word of the Lord; today is the time to reconcile and strive for greater unity.

            As church we stand in the Year of Mercy. Time is progressing and we have to ask how we are fulfilling our responsibility to extend mercy to others, which means that we are bound to enter into the chaos of another’s life. Surely, there are ways in which we have not forgiven someone or released others from an obligation. Certainly, there are ways in which we are not reconciled or made proper moral retribution. What are we waiting for? Change will not come about unless we initiate it. We have to be the agents of change that we want for the world. The standards by which we judge others will be the standards imposed upon us, so please be compassionate and fair. A just, merciful, peaceful world comes about through our just, merciful, peaceful initiatives. Let me encourage you to take the words of Jesus to heart. The time of fulfillment is now. Do not delay. This is our time of Jubilee. Take advantage of God’s grace and free others from their burdens. 

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Acts 22) Paul addressed the people and recounted his conversion. He added, “Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away.”
·      Tuesday: (2 Timothy 1) I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.
·      Wednesday: (2 Samuel 7) Nathan spoke to David to tell him that his house is the one that the Lord will build. He will be like a father to David and assist him in his governance.         
·      Thursday: (2 Samuel 7) Nathan said to the Lord, “Bless the house of your servant that it may be before you forever.”
·      Friday (2 Samuel 11) David sent Uriah the Hittite to the front line of battle to be killed so that he could take possession of the beautiful Bathsheba who recently conceived.
·      Saturday (2 Samuel 12) Nathan speaks the truth in calling David a sinner. David repented and begged that the child he conceived with Bathsheba must not die.  

·      Monday: (Mark 16) The Risen Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Whoever is baptized will be saved.
·      Tuesday: (Mark 3) The family of Jesus arrived at the house and asked for him. He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
·      Wednesday (Mark 4) Jesus taught about the sower and the seed. The seed that falls on fertile ground will produce great yields.
·      Thursday (Mark 4) The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. To the one who has more, more will be given.
·      Friday (Mark 4) Jesus speaks of the mystery of the Kingdom of God – as like scattered seed that grows on its own accord or as the tiny mustard seed that becomes very large.
·      Saturday (Mark 4) As Jesus crossed the sea asleep with his disciples, a squall came up and overtook the boat. Jesus was awakened and he calmed the storm.

Saints of the Week

January 24: Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor (1567-1622), practiced both civil and canon law before entering religious life. He became bishop of Geneva in 1602 and was prominent in the Catholic Reformation. He reorganized his diocese, set up a seminary, overhauled religious education, and found several schools. With Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded the Order of the Visitation of Mary.

January 25: The Conversion of Paul, the Apostle, was a pivotal point in the life of the early church. Scripture contains three accounts of his call and the change of behavior and attitudes that followed. Paul's story is worth knowing as it took him 14 years of prayer and study to find meaning in what happened to him on the road to Damascus.

January 26: Timothy and Titus, bishops (1st century), were disciples of Paul who later became what we know of as bishops. Timothy watched over the people of Ephesus and Titus looked after Crete. Both men worked with Paul and became a community leader. Timothy was martyred while Titus died of old age.

January 27: Angela Merici (1474-1540), was the founder of the Ursuline nuns. Relatives raised her when her parents died when she was 10. As an adult, she tended to the needs of the poor and with some friends, she taught young girls at their home. These friends joined an association that later became a religious order. Ursula was the patron of medieval universities.

January 28: Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor (1225-1274), studied in a Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino as a boy. He joined the newly formed Dominicans where he studied in France and Italy. He is a giant scholar. He wrote much on Scripture and theology, including his summation of theology (Summa Theologiae). He wrote several songs for liturgy, such as the Tantum Ergo, Pange Lingua, and Adoro Te Devote.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan 24, 1645. Fr. Henry Morse was led as a prisoner from Durham to Newgate, London. On hearing his execution was fixed for February 1, he exclaimed: "Welcome ropes, hurdles, gibbets, knives, butchery of an infamous death! Welcome for the love of Jesus, my Savior."
·      Jan 25, 1707. Cardinal Tournon, Apostolic Visitor of the missions in China, forbade the use of the words 'Tien' or 'Xant' for God and ordered the discontinuance by the Christians of the Chinese Rites.
·      Jan 26, 1611. The first Jesuit missionaries sailed from Europe for New France (Canada).
·      Jan 27, 1870. The Austrian government endeavored to suppress the annual grant of 8,000 florins to the theological faculty of Innsbruck and to drive the Jesuit professors from the university, because of their support of the Papal Syllabus.
·      Jan 28, 1853. Fr. General John Roothaan, wishing to resign his office, summoned a General Congregation, but died on May 8, before it assembled.
·      Jan 29, 1923. Woodstock scholastics kept a fire vigil for several months to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from setting the college on fire.

·      Jan 30, 1633. At Avignon, Fr. John Pujol, a famous master of novices, died. He ordered one of them to water a dry stick, which miraculously sprouted.