Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2016
Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48

            Patient perseverance is the proof of our trust in the Lord. The Book of Wisdom tells us “the night of Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that …they may have courage.” The author knows that we must keep our eyes on the prize, which is salvation, and when we do, our spirituality reflects the faith we hold. The author of Hebrews tells us, “faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” He then describes Abraham’s faithfulness as he sojourned to a promised land in a foreign country. By faith, he was able to generate offspring to become a mighty nation with many descendants. Abraham and his children may not have received immediately what they had been promised but they trusted in God, who had become their home.

            The Gospel presents a view of our moral life as we live in faith. Just like the first reading, the Gospel tells us that God “is pleased to give you the kingdom.” Our response to it is outlined in the story of the faithful and prudent steward. Our response includes a healthy detachment from worldly belongings so we can build up a treasure in heaven that no one can destroy. This treasure is a collection of our good deeds of social justice and our responsible stewardship of our relations with friends and neighbors. Our responsible care for others includes fairness and reconciliation.

            It is important for us to establish healthy patterns of perseverance in prayer in good times in order to sustain us in the times of darkness and our Passover. When it is dark, we do not perceive that God is near to us. When it is dark, we think of our sufferings and pain instead of trying to look for God. We feel disconnected and alienated as if we are in exile, and though we may be, our positive practices will keep us connected to hope. Establishing meaningful rituals will help us persevere in our hope even when those times seem bleak. Our daily actions will be a symbol of what we once hoped for and still grasp in our imagination. When we go through our Passover, we are going through transitions that are unsettling, but we can remember that God is leading us to a new place, just as God led Abraham and Sarah. With the assurance of God’s abiding presence, we can move through our transitions with a greater sense of calm and security.

            Jesus asks us to put away our fear because God’s promise has already come true. Though it is quite a challenge to do in times of darkness, we have to allow our actions to remain concerned about the welfare of others. We are to be prepared to receive the Lord at any point, to be cheerful, and to guard our boundaries so we are not swayed from our resolve. Embedded in that is the necessity for our self-care for if our minimal needs are not being met, we will not act with the type of responsibility required of us. We must make certain to get enough sleep, sufficient quantities of healthy nourishment, maintaining a positive connection with others for companionship, and in communicating positive boundaries that keep our needs met. Our right relations will be proof that we await the Lord’s arrival.

            Finally, we have to invent ways to keep hope fresh. Building a world in which we creatively express our individuality in community is important. Finding those activities that bring us joy is mandated. Creating new possibilities for the growth and common good of the community will help us to see how the Lord is working in the lives of others. Sharing our joy with others who are devoid of hope will help them grasp onto the elusive goal to which we all trust. Expressing our gratitude that the Lord is present among us will and is working to let us all know that God is pleased to give them the kingdom is the action of a faithful and prudent steward. Praise God and let Christ praise you back. You will receive the salvation of the just.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Ezekiel 1) During King Jehoichin’s fifth year of exile, the Lord came to Ezekiel to invite him into the heavenly liturgy where he saw the Son of Man seated on his throne.
Tuesday: (Ezekiel 2) Obey me. Do not be rebellious, but speak what I tell you. The scroll Ezekiel received read, “Lamentations and wailing and woe.” Eat this scroll and then speak.
Wednesday: (2 Corinthians 9) Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly. God is able to make every grace abundant for you.   
Thursday: (Ezekiel 12) You will bring out your baggage like an exile. Hide your face from the land for you are a symbol of Israel. Likewise, others will follow your lead because you do as I tell you.      
Friday (Ezekiel 16) Make known to Jerusalem her abominations. The whole history of Israel’s failings are retold, and the Lord holds out hope that she will remember her covenant.
Saturday (Ezekiel 18) If a person is virtuous, one shall surely live. The Lord will judge you – each one according to his ways. Turn and be converted from your crimes that there be no cause of guilt against you.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Matthew 17) Jesus and his friends arrived in Capernaum and tax collectors approached for the temple tax. Is it lawful to pay the tax? It is required on this earth, but also live for the world that is eternal.
Tuesday: (Matthew 18) Who is the greatest in the kingdom. A child such as this is the greatest. The Father’s will is that none of his little children will be lost in the faith.
Wednesday (John 12) Unless a grain of wheat dies, it cannot produce fruit. Whoever serves me must follow me and the Father will honor those who serve me.
Thursday (Matthew 18) If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive. Jesus says “seventy-seven times.” The kingdom is like a king who settles his accounts with servants. A crooked servant has his debt forgiven, but shamefully does not forgive the debts of others.
Friday (Matthew 19) Is divorce lawful? Jesus said divorce was permitted for human desires, but God is the one who joins loving couples together.
Saturday (Matthew 19) Let the children come to me and do not prevent them. He placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Saints of the Week

August 7: Sixtus, II, pope and martyr with companions (d. 258), died during the Valerian persecutions in 258. They were killed in the catacombs where they celebrated Mass. Sixtus was beheaded while speaking in his presidential chair and six deacons were killed as well. Lawrence, the Deacon, is honored on August 10th. Sixtus is remembered during the 1st Eucharistic prayer at Mass.

August 7: Cajetan, priest (1480-1547), was a civil and canon lawyer who worked in the papal chancery. He later joined the Roman Order of Divine Love and was ordained a priest. He became aware that the church needed reform and he teamed up with the bishop of Theate (Gian Pietro Carafa) and formed a society of priests called the Theatines who lived in community and took monastic vows. They owned no property.

August 8: Dominic, priest (1170-1221), was a Spaniard who was sent to southern France to counter the heretical teachings of the Albigensians, who held that the material world was evil and only religious asceticism could combat those forces. Dominic begged and preached in an austere fashion and set the foundations for the new Order of Preachers for both men and women.

August 8: Mother Mary MacKillop, religious (1842-1909), who worked in Australia and New Zealand to assist the poor, needy, and immigrants to the country, was canonized on October 17th 2010. August 8th is chosen as the day in which she will be memorialized on the Roman calendar. I offer the following prayer:

Bountiful and loving God,
You have filled the heart of Mary MacKillop
with compassionate love for those
who are in need at the margins of our society.
Deepen that love within us
that we may embrace the mystery of the Cross
which leads us through death to life.
We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus
who having broken the bonds of death
leads us to everlasting life. Amen.

August 9: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), martyr (1891-1942), became a Catholic convert from Judaism after reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila. He earned a doctorate in philosophy, but was unemployable because she was a woman. She taught at a high school for eight years before entering the Carmelites in 1933 where she made final vows in 1938. She moved to Holland to escape persecution by the Nazis, but was arrested when the bishops spoke out against the persecution of the Jews.

August 10: Lawrence, deacon and martyr (d. 258) was martyred four days after Pope Sixtus II and six other deacons during the Valerian persecution. A beautiful story is told about Lawrence's words. When asked to surrender the church's treasure, Lawrence gathered the poor and presented them to the civil authorities. For this affront, he was martyred. He is the patron of Rome.

August 11: Clare, founder (1193-1253), was inspired by Francis of Assist so much that she fled her home for his community to receive the Franciscan habit on Passion Sunday 1212. She lived in a nearby Benedictine convent until she was made superior of a new community in San Damiano. She practiced radical poverty by wearing no shoes, sleeping on the ground, and giving up meat.

August 12: Jane Frances de Chantal, religious (1572-1641), founded the Congregation of the Visitation with her spiritual advisor, Francis de Sales. This congregation was for women who wanted to live in religious life, but without the austerity of the other orders. Jane was married to a Baron with whom she had six children and she sought religious answers to her suffering. Her order established eighty-five convents dedicated to serving the poor before she died.

August 13: Pontian, pope and martyr and Hippolytus, priest and martyr (d.236). Pontian's papacy was interrupted by a persecution when the Roman Emperor Maximinus arrested him and his rival, Hippolytus, and banished them to Sardinia. Pontian resigned so another pope could succeed him. Hippolytus, who formed a schismatic group and claimed to be the real pope, reconciled with the church before he and Pontian were martyred.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 7, 1814. The universal restoration of the Society of Jesus.
·      Aug 8, 1604. St Peter Claver takes his first vows at Tarracona.
·      Aug 9, 1762. The moving of the English College from St Omers to Liege.
·      Aug 10, 1622. Blessed Augustine Ota, a Japanese brother, was beheaded for the faith. He had been baptized by Blessed Camillus Costanzi on the eve of the latter's martyrdom.
·      Aug 11, 1846. The death of Benedict Joseph Fenwick. He was the second bishop of Boston, twice the president of Georgetown, and the founder of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.
·      Aug 12, 1877. The death of Fr. Maurice Gailland. He was an expert in languages and spent many years at St Mary's Mission in Kansas. He wrote a 450.page dictionary and grammar of the Potawatomi language.

·      Aug 13, 1621. The death in Rome of St John Berchmans. He died while still in studies, preparing for a public disputation.