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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Third Sunday of Lent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Third Sunday in Lent
February 28, 2016
Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9

            In this Gospel, Jesus teaches the disciples to be compassionate, but not wishy-washy. He demands that sinners repent before it is too late. Jesus counsels his disciples that they should learn from the tragic unexpected deaths of others that they should repent and be ready for judgment. As he relates this passage to his fig tree comments, his compassion to give the tree another year of life with the proper fertilizer would produce comfort in the disciple who stumbles along the Christian way. It also, is a parable of crisis, which should light a fire under procrastinators and other unproductive disciples. The fate is clear: the one who does not repent will be cut down.

            Repentance allows us to be like Moses as one who finds the holy ground in everyday life. When we repent, we realize that the world does not revolve around us, that we are not the center of everyone’s life, that we are happier people when we are more concerned with the plight of others. We are able to recognize, not just our limitations, but the blessings and gifts that come from beyond us. It gives us humility. We come to know that our lives are for others, just as Moses realized his life was to lead the Israelites out of bondage and slavery to freedom. God is able to use us, not for our gifts, but because we understand our rightful place in the relationship. Because of this, we are able to bear fruit.

            As a people, we are too self-sufficient. We need to learn how to rely upon God. In our presidential election, we seek qualities of mighty strength, unwavering firmness, clever framers of arguments, and an ability to raise large sums of money. Advertising campaigns tell us that we are worthy if we are youthful, fit, attractive, without an ounce of body fat. Truth be told, each of these qualities have great merit, but the degree to which we aspire to them can cause us harm. Our concern for our own image can put us at the center of our universe, sometimes squeezing out others, sometimes squeezing out God. This is where repentance in essential.

            Anyplace that God inhabits has life. As God dwelled within the bush, it could burn without being consumed and it gave future life to the Israelites. Likewise, the fig tree, because Jesus decided that its life could be extended and given proper care, would give future life to the poor and the hungry. God is able to live within us when we choose to live with a spirit of repentance, and God’s creative energy will give us new life to produce the surprising quantities of fruit that God intends.

            Follow your daydreams. This is an arena of your imagination where God is at work. It is the place where the seedlings of your fruits will germinate. Your daydreams, because they contain God’s desires for you, will lead you to a fruitful place. Too many people let work, convenience, security, or other factors to make major life decisions for themselves. People are locked into places that provide a comfortable standard of living, but do not fully energize a person to excel in ways that make their lives personally meaningful. It is understandable that other factors, like family obligations and caring for those in need, will dictate the major portion of our lives, but it is our responsibility to ourselves and to God to retain some of the dream that is implanted within us. Where we can, we have to take risks that will unsettle some aspect of our way of proceeding so that we can be led into an unknown place that will quickly become familiar. We need this integrity with God if we are going to have an honest life.

            Life passes quickly and unforeseen tragedies beset us. We have to take advantage of our present day opportunities to get our life in order. We have much less control than we think we do so it is best to recognize that God is more a part of our lives than we think. It is a tragedy if bypass the chance to square our life with God who is on our side and is actively working to bring the best out of us. As God told Moses, “I am the God, not just of the dead, but of the living.” God is very alive and is actively laboring for us, in our daily struggles and joys. As we permit God to have a clearer path to our soul, we will be able to radiate to others the burning love that does not consume, but gives new life. Through you, others will come to a place of the holy that will draw them closer to the heart of God.

First Reading:
Monday: (2 Kings 5) Naaman, the king of Aram, contracted leprosy. A captured girl wanted him to present himself to the prophet in Samaria. Naaman was instructed to wash seven times in the Jordan River and his flesh became again like the flesh of a little child.
Tuesday: (Daniel 3) Azariah asked for the Lord’s deliverance. He asked that the Lord deal with them in kindness and with great mercy.
Wednesday: (Deuteronomy 4) Moses spoke to the people asking them to hear and heed the statutes and decrees he received from the Lord. Do not forget the things the Lord has done.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 7) They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. 
Friday: (Hosea 14) Return to God, who forgives all iniquity. The Lord will heal their defection and love them freely for his wrath is turned away from them. 
Saturday: (Hosea 6) Come, let us return to the Lord. It is love that I desire, not sacrificed, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 

Monday: (Luke 4) Jesus reminded people that a prophet is without honor in his own land and he called the mind the story of Naaman, the foreigner from Syria, who was cured.
Tuesday: (Matthew 18) Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness. He said to forgiven seventy-seven time because unless each person forgives from the heart, he will not be forgiven.
Wednesday: (Matthew 5) Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Each commandment is to be observed; the one who does it will be the greatest in the Kingdom.
Thursday: (Luke 11) Jesus drove out a demon that was mute and was then accused of being in league with Beelzebul. Jesus explained to them how that does not make much sense.
Friday: (Mark 12) A scribe asked Jesus to declare which is the first commandment. Love the God with you whole soul and your neighbor like yourself. The scribe was well pleased. 
Saturday: (Luke 18) Jesus told a parable about prayer to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. The one who is humble is favored by God. 

Saints of the Week

March 1: Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), was from a wealthy Philadelphian banking family and she and her two sisters inherited a great sum of money when her parents died. She joined the Sisters of Mercy and wanted to found her own order called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the African and Native Americans. Her inheritance funded schools and missions throughout the South and on reservations. A heart attack in 1935 sent her into retirement.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Feb 28, 1957. The Jesuit Volunteer Corps began.
·      Mar 1, 1549. At Gandia, the opening of a college of the Society founded by St Francis Borgia.
·      Mar 2, 1606. The martyrdom in the Tower of London of St Nicholas Owen, a brother nicknamed "Little John." For 26 years he constructed hiding places for priests in homes throughout England. Despite severe torture he never revealed the location of these safe places.
·      Mar 3, 1595. Clement VIII raised Fr. Robert Bellarmine to the Cardinalate, saying that the Church had not his equal in learning.
·      Mar 4, 1873. At Rome, the government officials presented themselves at the Professed House of the Gesu for the purpose of appropriating the greater part of the building.

·      Mar 5, 1887. At Rome, the obsequies of Fr. Beckx who died on the previous day. He was 91 years of age and had governed the Society as General for 34 years. He is buried at San Lorenzo in Campo Verano.

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