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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 21, 2016
Isaiah 66:18-21; Psalm 117; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

            The Lord God wants nothing more than for people to come to know the promise that await them if they finally come to recognize God in their midst. God’s invitation goes out to the whole world so people can see God’s glory. Signs are set up for people to notice and spiritual missionaries are sent into distant lands to people who never have known God. God’s dream is that everyone will wake up and come to know that he is in their midst. The path God intends for us to take is wide, but Jesus instructs us on staying the narrow course.

            The author of Hebrews reminds us that God prunes us to become better disciples, and pruning always hurts. Discipline is designed as trials for us to learn valuable lessons of the heart. The discipline meted out by the Lord is intended for our own good so that we grow in holiness. We have to endure out trials and realize they do not have the last word in the story because it gives way to peace and righteousness, which have rewards of their own.

            The disciples become concerned for the provocative words of Jesus when he implies only a small elect group of people will be saved. The disciples wonder, with all their failures and trials, whether they have a chance of redemption in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus does not directly assure them of their place, but he raises the standard by indicating the road is certainly narrow and many who presume they will gain entrance through the gates, certainly will not. The point is that we cannot presume we are saved. Being saved means coming to intimate knowledge of Christ, who is the one to gain us admittance.

            We all know people who realize they are good people, but they do not pay any attention to their relationship with God. They do not commit any terrible sins, but their church life is not very important, if they believe in the institution at all. They have a precarious relationship with the sacrament of reconciliation because their sins are not all that severe. They may even consider themselves to be spiritual but not religious, which typically means they fundamentally believe in a Higher Presence, but they do not want to commit to church life. They feel good about what they say because they are not denying God and they profess a rudimentary belief in something larger than themselves. When God becomes important, they make seek divine assistance, but larger their attitude is: If it is not broken, don’t fix it. I’m doing fine on my own. I have loving people who surround me and we get along fine. Based on the Gospel readings, how would Jesus respond to this complacent attitude?

            In days past, we had a Happy Death society, that is, people who lived for themselves until their later years when they decided to turn their lives over to the Lord. Today, many people share this same attitude. During the twilight years when people realize their death is in the near future, they begin to make amends and live a more religiously based life. They recognize at a late date that the narrow path is the better route.

            Jesus wants us to commit to him. The spiritual, but not religious people are those who ate and drank in his company, but Jesus has the full right to say: I do not know you. He might say something like: You’ve heard me speak at mass or in your childhood prayers. You did not come to eat at my table. You refused to get to know the people who love me and are devoted to me. I put into your mind many invitations to come deeper into a friendship, but you said “No thanks. I don’t want to bother.” Why exactly do you think you know me? Why do you think I know you? You haven’t bothered to love me.

            The truth is we do not know who will be saved. We cannot make those judgments of ourselves or others. Jesus tells us we will be surprised who makes it into the kingdom and who is left out. The whole key is dependent upon how we are progressing in our friendship with Jesus. Complacency and presumption are vices to a life of fruitful discipleship. A faithful, intimate friendship is the way to go. If you do not have an engaged friendship, begin today to improve it. You really do not have time to waste. Today has to be the day to turn things around. If you do not know how to do it, reach out and ask someone whom you know has a vibrant faith life. They will spend time with you because your soul is important to God. Delay no longer. This is the day.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (2 Thessalonians 1) We pray always for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith.
Tuesday: (2 Thessalonians 2) Do not be shaken out of your mind suddenly or alarmed by a spirit or an oral statement or be deceived by anyone.  
Wednesday: (Revelation 21) I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. He took me to the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. It was radiant like a precious stone.   
Thursday: (1 Corinthians 1) I give thanks to God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you, that in him you were enriched in every way.
Friday (1 Corinthians) Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.
Saturday (1 Corinthians 1) Consider your calling. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise.

Monday: (Matthew 23) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees. Woe to you, hypocrites. Woe to you, blind guides. One who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God.
Tuesday: (Matthew 23) You pay tithes on herbs, but neglect the weightier aspects of the law. You cleanse the outside of the dish and cup, but the inside is full of self-indulgence.
Wednesday (John 1) Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this? Heaven will be opened and angels will minister to the Lord.
Thursday (Matthew 24) Stay awake. You do not know which day your Lord will come. Be like the faithful and prudent servant whom the master put in change of his household.
Friday (Matthew 25) The Kingdom will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five were foolish and five were wise.  
Saturday (Matthew 25) A man going on a journey entrusted his possessions to them. Upon return, he called them forward to account for their deeds. To those who invested well, more will be given to them; to those to did not invest, what he has will be taken away.

Saints of the Week

August 21: Pius X, pope (1835-1914), was an Italian parish priest for 17 years before he became bishop of Mantua, the cardinal patriarch of Venice, and eventually pope. He urged frequent communion for adults, sacramental catechesis for children, and continued education for everyone. He is known for rigid political policies that put him at odds with a dynamically changing world that led to World War I.

August 22: The Queenship of Mary concludes the octave of the principal feast of Mary as she celebrates her installation as queen and mother of all creation. This feast was placed on our calendar in 1954 following the dogmatic proclamation of the Assumption.

August 23: Rose of Lima (1586-1617) was the first canonized saint of the New World. She had Spanish immigrant parents in Lima. Rose joined the Dominicans and lived in her parents' garden to support them while she took care of the sick and the poor. As a girl, she had many mystical experiences as she practiced an austere life. She also had many periods of darkness and desolation.

August 24: Bartholomew (First Century), according to the Acts of the Apostles, is listed as one of the Twelve Disciples though no one for sure knows who he is. Some associate him with Philip, though other Gospel accounts contradict this point. John's Gospel refers to him as Nathaniel - a Israelite without guile.

August 25: Louis of France (1214-1270) became king at age 12, but did not take over leadership until ten years later. He had eleven children with his wife, Marguerite, and his kingship reigned for 44 years. His rule ushered in a longstanding peace and prosperity for the nation.  He is held up as a paragon of medieval Christian kings.

August 25: Joseph Calasanz, priest (1556-1648), was a Spaniard who studied canon law and theology. He resigned his post as diocesan vicar-general to go to Rome to live as a pilgrim and serve the sick and the dying. He used his inheritance to set up free schools for poor families with children. He founded an order to administer the schools, but dissension and power struggles led to its dissolution.

August 27: Monica (332-387) was born a Christian in North Africa and was married to a non-Christian, Patricius, with whom she had three children, the most famous being Augustine. Her husband became a Christian at her urging and she prayed for Augustine's conversion as well from his newly adopted Manichaeism. Monica met Augustine in Milan where Bishop Ambrose baptized him. She died on the return trip, as her work was complete.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug. 21, 1616: At Pont a Mousson in Lorraine died Fr. William Murdoch, a Scotchman, who when only 10 years of age was imprisoned seven months for the faith and cruelly beaten by the order of a Protestant bishop. St. Ignatius is said to have appeared to him and encouraged him to bear the cross bravely.
·      Aug. 22, 1872: Jesuits were expelled from Germany during the Bismarckian Kulturkampf.
·      Aug. 23, 1558: In the First General Congregation, the question was discussed about the General's office being triennial, and the introduction of Choir, as proposed by Pope Paul IV, and it was decreed that the Constitutions ought to remain unaltered.
·      Aug. 24, 1544: Peter Faber arrived in Lisbon.
·      Aug. 25, 1666: At Beijing, the death of Fr. John Adam Schall. By his profound knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, he attained such fame that the Emperor entrusted to him the reform of the Chinese calendar.
·      Aug. 26, 1562: The return of Fr. Diego Laynez from France to Trent, the Fathers of the Council desiring to hear him speak on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

·      Aug. 27, 1679: The martyrdom at Usk, England, of St. David Lewis, apostle to the poor in his native Wales for three decades before he was caught and hanged.

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