Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 18, 2016
Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

            It is always a delicate conversation to balance one’s faith with the political election system, and yet the church is called to be a sacrament of God’s reign, a visible embodiment of the type of community that God intends for the free flourishing of every individual. The church’s mission is to be a discerning community that wrestles with the larger human community. It is called to witness to justice and to heal, redeem, and transform the world’s institutions, policies, and patterns by which we relate to one another. This is politics and whether we like it or not, all Christians are responsible for bringing about economic justice for our neighbors.

            The prophet Amos reminds those who trample upon the needy and who destroy the poor of the land that the Lord is aware of their actions and will not forget the way they deceptively disregard others. The Lord will bring them to judgment, and though God judges with mercy, the Lord does not like when we harm another person. Jesus gives us a parable of a clever steward, who when called out for his mischievous ways, discovers new ways to settle his account with his boss. Because he has a wake-up call, he has the time to make amends to his way of life and thereby saves his soul. Even unjust people have opportunities to turn around their actions.

            Economic injustice plagues the United States just as it does the world community. We Catholics have to rise from our political apathy and inform ourselves on the economic reality of our times. Catholics can be Republicans, Independents, Libertarian, or Democrats, but we owe it to ourselves to become an informed, educated citizenry. A wrong approach for a political person is just to solidify their party’s position without great scrutiny and testing. We benefit no one when we simply accept the party platform just because we were born into a political party. We must not just adopt the language our particular party espouses and support it as we do the local sports team. We first have a sacred duty to inform our consciences and educate ourselves on the complex factors that shape policy. We cannot pretend we have all the answers. An honest person will realize she has more questions than answers and is willing to listen to a wide range of ideas to resolve our community problems.

            The problem is with us; therefore the solution is with us. We cannot blame Washington if all we are doing is casting a ballot on November 8th. To be a citizen means to be engaged every single day in civic responsibilities where we can shape policy, enforce safeguards, speak up to our representatives, and to get involved in local affairs. We solve problems by showing up and dialoguing over challenging issues where we put the common good before our own needs. We cannot only express our dissatisfaction with a ballot vote every four years. The hard work is done daily and it goes without thanks or recognition.

            Like the dishonest steward, we can find clever ways to manage affairs when life gets complicated. We find solutions. We can be just as resourceful with our faith life when it comes to politics. The dishonest steward was open to creating opportunities. Likewise, we must do the same. Can I listen to someone’s ranting about a politician and rather than turn away from their nonsense, help them make sense of what they really need? Can I see it is my ministry to be a pastoral presence without getting hooked into their craziness? Can I explore with them that there might be other approaches that might resolve their issues? It takes patient work, but as Christians, we can establish a baseline protocol for discussing any issues.

            For instance, as Catholics who are to learn gentleness, kindness, and humility from God, who also has long-standing patience, can we find a Catholic way of discussing hot button issues? I think so. We read the same scripture and realize the philosophy of Jesus was the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Can we therefore demand of each other that we be kind, respectful, and tolerant while using affirming and encouraging words that build up a politician rather than destroy them? I think so. This is the way we want to be treated. It is within our grasp to change the system from whatever corner of the pew we sit. We are Catholics who believe in the way of Jesus. Our whole system needs our Jesus-inspired way of entering into the process. Do you want change? It begins with your attitude. Let Scripture, let our faith form and inform our way of proceeding. You will like the result.      

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Proverbs 3) Refuse no one the good that is due them; plot no evil against your neighbor; Envy not the lawless one; the curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked.
Tuesday: (Proverbs 21) All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves hearts.
Wednesday: (Ephesians 4) Live in the manner worthy of the call you have received, with humility and gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and unity through peace.
Thursday: (Ecclesiastes 1) What does one profit from all the labor with which he toils under the sun? What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done.
Friday (Ecclesiastes 3) There is an appointed time for everything. God has made everything appropriate to its time and has put the timeless into their hearts.
Saturday (Ecclesiastes 11) Remember your Creator. As the years approach, you will say: I have no pleasure in the things of the world. Follow the ways of your heart and understand that God will bring you to judgment.  

Gospel: 
Monday: (Luke 8) No one who lights a lamp conceals it or places it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.
Tuesday: (Luke 8) The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to see him but could not because of the crowds. He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who do God’s will.”
Wednesday (Matthew 9) Jesus asked Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him. The Pharisees became upset and chastised him for associating with tax collectors and sinners.
Thursday (Luke 9) Herod heard about what was happening and he was perplexed because some were saying that John has been raised from the dead. Herod kept trying to see Jesus.
Friday (Luke 9) When Jesus was praying, he asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ.” Jesus rebuked Peter and told him that Jesus must suffer.   
Saturday (Luke 9) They were amazed at every deed of Jesus, but they did not understand his words: The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.

Saints of the Week

September 19: Januarius, bishop and martyr (d. 305), was bishop of Benevento during his martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. He was arrested when he tried to visit imprisoned Christians. Legend tells us that a vial that contains his blood has been kept in the Naples cathedral since the 15th century liquefies three times a year.

September 20: Andrew Kim Taegon, priest, martyr, Paul Hasang, martyr, and companion martyrs (19th century), were Korean martyrs that began to flourish in the early 1800’s. The church leadership was almost entirely lay-run. In 1836, Parisian missionaries secretly entered the country and Christians began to encounter hostility and persecutions. Over 10,000 Christians were killed. Taegon was the first native-born priest while the rest were 101 lay Christians.

September 21: Matthew, evangelist and Apostle (first century), may be two different people, but we have not historical data on either man. Since Matthew relies heavily upon Mark’s Gospel, it is unlikely that the evangelist is one of the Twelve Apostles. The Apostle appears in a list of the Twelve and in Matthew’s Gospel he is called a tax collector. The Evangelist is writing to Jewish-Christians who are urged to embrace their Jewish heritage and to participate in their mission to the Gentiles. To Matthew, Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes of Jews and the inaugurator of a new way to relate to God.

September 22: Tomas Sitjar, S.J. and the martyrs of Valencia (1866-1936), were killed in the Spanish Civil War just a week after the war broke out. Sitjar was the Rector of Gandia and was formerly the novice director and metaphysics professor. The Jesuit Order was suppressed at the beginning of the war, which sent the men to disperse into apartments, but since they were known to the community, they were sought out, imprisoned, and later executed because of their belief in God.

September 23: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887-1968) was affectionately named Padre Pio and was a Capuchin priest who received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) just as Francis of Assisi did. He founded a hospital and became the spiritual advisor to many at a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 18, 1540. At Rome, Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fourteen, was admitted into the Society by St Ignatius (nine days before official papal confirmation of the Society).
·      Sep 19, 1715. At Quebec, the death of Fr. Louis Andre, who for 45 years labored in the missions of Canada amid incredible hardships, often living on acorns, a kind of moss, and the rind of fruits.
·      Sep 20, 1990. The first-ever Congregation of Provincials met at Loyola, Spain, on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the approval of the Society and 500th anniversary of the birth of St Ignatius.
·      Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.
·      Sep 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.
·      Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.
·      Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.