Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Palm Sunday

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Palm Sunday
March 20, 2016
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

            The last words spoken in the Gospel are from the Roman centurion: “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” The Centurion, a man whose faith was in the Roman gods, witnessed the incomprehensible brutality towards a man who was not found guilty of any crime. As an uninvolved bystander, he could capture the essence of this madness with a balanced perspective. Jesus of Nazareth, the innocent one, would shed his blood for our sins so that we would live forever.

            The way Jesus dealt with his Passion and trial are instructive for the ways we pass through our own judgments from others. Let’s face it. The people around us, even if they are from our own church, will often place their needs at the expense of others. In the pursuit of getting ahead or getting what they want, our “friends” will step on us, make accusatory statements, and intend to harm us. They have their own reasons for doing so, and we find ourselves suffering innocently as Jesus did. We wonder whether we should fight back and defend ourselves or simply to be silent and to trust in God. If we are in it for the long haul, we believe that God will justify us as God did with Jesus.

            I think of the ways we can respond to suffering. I know sometimes I want to claim my voice and let others know of my unfair treatment, however, if I do that, I risk being labeled as a malcontent – an image that does not represent my true self. Yet, if I remain silent, I suffer alone and no one else but God knows the depth of my suffering, and if I do not try to correct the situation, my suffering remains. If I have it within my power to do something about it, perhaps I should. Otherwise, I could simply trust in God, who would provide me tons of consolation, and I could endure the suffering knowing I am not alone and that God hears me and walks with me.

            Grabbing ahold of compassion can help us endure, but we do not do it alone because someone else in mercy has reached out to us. Jesus encountered the teary faces of the women from Jerusalem, Peter’s blank stare, Pilate’s assessment of his innocence, and the good thief’s gentle words. We, too, encounter compassion in our suffering. We have to seize onto it as encouragement from God and trust more fully that God is with us in our suffering. In the end, all will be O.K. In fact, everything will be better because we learned that God is always near to us.

            Jesus, the innocent one, suffered and knows what we go through when we suffer, whether we have brought it on ourselves or have been unjustly targeted. Because of his suffering, Jesus walks every step of the painful journey with us because he is alive to us. He can do for us what we could not do for him – listen to our pleas, hear our groaning, and hold us when we feel alone. Reach out to him this week as he relives his suffering. Give him the compassion and consolation that he needs. He will return it to us a thousand-fold and more because his love for us is much greater than we know. Staying connected to each other is a grace that eases our pain. Jesus needs it from us. We need it from him. Let’s join ourselves together knowing we will find a calm center in the midst of the storm.
Scripture for Daily Mass

Monday of Holy Week: We hear from Isaiah 42 in the First Oracle of the Servant of the Lord in which God’s servant will suffer silently, but will bring justice to the world. In the Gospel, Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with costly oil in preparation for his funeral.

Tuesday of Holy Week: In the Second Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 49), he cries out that I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth. In deep hurt, distress and grief, Jesus tells his closest friends at supper that one of them will betray him and another will deny him three times before the cock crows.

(Spy) Wednesday of Holy Week: In the Third Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 50), the suffering servant does not turn away from the ridicule and torture of his persecutors and tormentors. The time has come.
Matthew’s account shows Judas eating during the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with Jesus and their good friends after he had already arranged to hand him over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. The Son of Man will be handed over by Judas, one of the Twelve, who sets the terms of Jesus’ arrest.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday: Only an evening Mass can be said today and we let our bells ring freely during the Gloria that has been absent all Lent. In Exodus, we hear the laws and customs about eating the Passover meal prior to God’s deliverance of the people through Moses from the Egyptians. Paul tells us of the custom by early Christians that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. In John’s Gospel, Jesus loves us to the end giving us a mandate to wash one another’s feet.

Good Friday: No Mass is celebrated today though there may be a service of veneration of the cross and a Stations of the Cross service. In Isaiah, we hear the Fourth Oracle of the Servant of the Lord who was wounded for our sins. In Hebrews, we are told that Jesus learned obedience through his faith and thus became the source of salvation for all. The Passion of our Lord is proclaimed from John’s Gospel.

Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil: No Mass, baptisms, or confirmations can be celebrated before the Vigil to honor the Lord who has been buried in the tomb. The Old Testament readings point to God’s vision of the world and the deliverance of the people from sin and death. All of Scripture points to the coming of the Righteous One who will bring about salvation for all. The Old Testament is relished during the Vigil of the Word as God’s story of salvation is told to us again. The New Testament epistle from Romans tells us that Christ, who was raised from the dead, dies no more. Matthew's Gospel finds Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at dawn arriving at the tomb only to find it empty. After a great earthquake that made the guards tremble, and angel appears telling the women, "Do not be afraid." The angel instructs them to go to the Twelve to tell them, "Jesus has been raised from the dead, and is going before you to Galilee."

Saints of the Week

The Annunciation falls on March 25th unless the Lord’s Day or other major feast preempts it. It is transferred to the next available day.

No saints are remembered on the calendar during this solemn week of our Lord's Passion.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Mar 20, 1602. The first "Disputatio de Auxiliis" was held before Clement VIII. The disputants were Fr. Gregory de Valentia SJ and Fr. Diego Alvarez OP.
·      Mar 21, 1768. In Spain, at a special meeting of the Council of State in the presence of King Charles III, the Suppression of the Society was urged on the pretense that it was independent of the bishops, that it plotted against the State, and that it was lax in its teaching.
·      March 22, 1585: In Rome, Fr. General received the three Japanese ambassadors with great solemnity in the Society's Church of the Gesu.
·      March 23, 1772: At Rome, Cardinal Marefoschi held a visitation of the Irish College and accused the Jesuits of mismanagement. He removed them from directing that establishment.
·      March 24, 1578: At Lisbon Rudolf Acquaviva and 13 companions embarked for India. Among the companions were Matthew Ricci and Michael Ruggieri.
·      March 25, 1563: The first Sodality of Our Lady, Prima Primaria, was begun in the Roman College by a young Belgian Jesuit named John Leunis (Leonius).

·      March 26, 1553: Ignatius of Loyola's letter on obedience was sent to the Jesuits of Portugal.