Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 14, 2016
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Psalm 40; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53

            The prophet Jeremiah’s opposition finally managed to squash the man’s prophetic voice. The word of the Lord spoken through him made too many people uncomfortable and his adversaries silenced him by through him into a cistern filled with mud. It was certain that he would die because there was not more food in the city and prisoners were the last to be fed. King Zedekiah was not entirely convinced that he should let an untried man die so he ordered him to be raised out of the cistern.

            Jesus faced the same fate as Jeremiah, but unlike the prophet, he had no human savior to come to his aid. Despite all the kindness that Jesus gave to people, no powerful human leader stood up for him during his trials. It is no surprise that Jesus speaks words that stretch us to new places of discomfort. He has to shake complacent people out of their self-concern. The fact is: We will always encounter people whose anger is unresolved and we will experience their lashing out in unjustified ways. Some people are taught to become hateful and they are unhappy with themselves, and they act out by blaming others for a world that is far beyond their control. As with Jeremiah and Jesus, these people will be quick to hurt others and show no remorse. Their poor behavior in a meaningless battle may make them feel momentarily superior, but we can see they are small and unimportant bullies. While they want to feel honored, their actions cause the opposite of what they want.

            Impolite people ought never to cause us to erode our confidence and hope. We counter their poor behavior with our increased charitable behavior. Our exceedingly polite behavior may make them feel very uncomfortable so that they can hold onto their dysfunction as they look at themselves in the mirror. We see this particularly evident in the political arena. People will unresolved anger will eventually do themselves in. Do not set up a contest between yourselves or you will be thrown into the cistern too. We do not hasten their self-destruction, but to trust in the power of Christian goodwill. Refrain from engaging them in a battle of anger. Change the nature of the discussion and simply ask them if they have to capacity to act with kindness. The question does not lead to a battle, but gives them a chance to pause and evaluate their responses. Allowing kindness to surface as the primary virtue changes around everything.

            When we find ourselves threatened, be aware of those waiting to offer a hand. They are the great cloud of witnesses given to us by the Lord. Yes, our action ought to bother them to even try to love a bit more. This is what Jesus is proposing – that our hearts are conflicted but our positive responses can help them access the good that rests hidden in theirs. We have to look away from ourselves, rather than toward us, so that we may see our new selves in the likeness of God. We have to help those in anger gaze upon themselves while we let God gaze upon us. Our task is to help these angry people see themselves as lovable and honored by God. Mostly, we do this through your kind listening to them – especially when they do not deserve it.

            Become mindful of the way you want to be and persevere in keeping yourself on the path. Your awareness will catch you before you slip and you will have an opportunity to improve upon your responses in the future. Set the world ablaze with your kindness. It may temporarily create the division about which Jesus speaks, but it will do more to repair and restore broken relationships in the kingdom. Remember, it is Christ’s battle, which he has already won. Simply live in contentment that we do our best to bring Christ’s kind heart to others. Bother yourselves to love even a little more. Christ’s love through you will change the day.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Revelation 11) At the end of days, a huge red dragon appeared in the sky and appeared before the woman about to give birth to a son, who was destined to rule all the nations.
Tuesday: (Ezekiel 28) You are a man and not a god, however you may think yourself like a god. I will bring against you foreigners, the most barbarous nations.
Wednesday: (Ezekiel 34) Prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: You did not strengthen the weak or heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring the strayed nor seek the lost. They were scattered for the lack of a shepherd.   
Thursday: (Ezekiel 36) I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations. Those nations will know that I am the Lord. I will gather you from foreign lands.
Friday (Ezekiel 37) Ezekiel was brought to a field covered with many dry bones. The Lord put his spirit into these bones, opened the graves, and brought them back to life.
Saturday (Ezekiel 43) The Lord entered the Temple and spoke: This is where my throne shall be. This is where I will set the soles of my feel; here I will dwell among Israel forever.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Luke 1) Mary visited the pregnant Elizabeth when the child leapt in her womb. The women rejoiced and Mary praised God for the gift of her child and the Lord’s presence.
Tuesday: (Matthew 18) It will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter.
Wednesday (Matthew 20) The kingdom is like a landowner who hires laborers for his vineyard and gives them each the same wage. Are you envious because I’m generous?
Thursday (Matthew 22) The Kingdom is like a king who gave a wedding feast for his son and invited many people. When few came, he invited more, yet one man attended but was not properly dressed for the feast and was thrown out into the fire that consumes.
Friday (Matthew 22) The Pharisees mounted an attack once Jesus silenced the Sadducees. Which commandment is the greatest? Love God and then love your neighbor as yourself.
Saturday (Matthew 23) Jesus spoke to his disciples: Scribes and Pharisees sit on the chair of Moses. Observe all that they tell you, but do not imitate them. You have one father, the one who reigns in heaven.

Saints of the Week

August 14: Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr (1894-1941), was born in Russian-occupied Poland. He entered the Franciscans in 1910 and preached the gospel with his devotion to Mary in Poland and Japan. When the Nazis conquered Poland in 1939, he ministered to thousands of refugees. He was arrested, sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. When a prisoner escaped and retaliation was sought, Kolbe offered himself to replace one of the ten randomly chosen men to be executed.

August 15: The Assumption of Mary is the principal feast of Mary with her Queenship celebrated at the end of the octave. This feast celebrates that she was taken up to heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life. The Council of Ephesus in 431 proclaimed her Mother of God and devotion of her dormition followed afterwards.

August 16: Stephen of Hungary (975-1038) tried to unite the Magyar families and was able to establish the church in Hungary through Pope Sylvester II's support. Rome crowed Stephen as the first king in 1001 and he instituted many reforms in religious and civil practices. He built churches and trained local clergy.

August 18: Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, S.J., priest (1901-1952), was a Chilean Jesuit priest, lawyer, writer and social worker who was born in the Basque region in Spain. He established Hogar de Cristo, that housed at-risk children, whether orphaned or not, and provided them food and shelter. Hurtado also supported the rise of labor union and labor rights in Chile.

August 19: John Eudes, priest (1601-1680) preached missions, heard confessions, and assisted the sick and dying. He founded a new religious order for women, which includes Our Lady of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters. He eventually left the Oratorians to found the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. 

August 20: Bernard, Abbot and Doctor (1090-1153) became a Benedictine abbey in Citeaux because of its strict observance. He was sent to set up a new monastery in Clairvaux with 12 other monks. He wrote theological treatises, sermons, letters, and commentaries that dominated the thought of Europe. His writings had a tremendous influence of Catholic spirituality.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 14, 1812. Napoleon I and his army arrived at Polosk, in White Russia. They plunder the property of the Society and violate the tombs of the Generals.
·      Aug 15, 1821. Fr. Peter DeSmet sailed from Amsterdam to America. He hoped to work among the Native Americans. He became the best known missionary of the northwest portion of the United States.
·      Aug. 15, 1955: The Wisconsin Province was formed from the Missouri Province and the Detroit Province was formed from the Chicago province.
·      Aug. 16, 1649: At Drogheda, Cromwell's soldiers shot Fr. John Bath and his brother, a secular priest, in the marketplace.
·      Aug. 17, 1823: Fr. Van Quickenborne and a small band of missionaries descended the Missouri River to evangelize the Indians at the request of the bishop of St. Louis. On this date in 1829, the College of St. Louis opened.
·      Aug. 18, 1952: The death of Alberto Hurtado, writer, retreat director, trade unionist and founder of "El Hogar de Christo," a movement to help the homeless in Chile.
·      Aug. 19, 1846: At Melgar, near Burgos, the birth of Fr. Luis Martin, 24th General of the Society.

·      Aug. 20, 1891: At Santiago, Chile, the government of Balmaceda ordered the Jesuit College to be closed.