Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 11, 2016
Exodus 32:7-11, 13-4; Psalm 51; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32

            Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States and this day has become a worldwide solemnity for peace and prayer. It is fitting, then, that our liturgical readings suggest the theme of mercy that our Pope has been highlighting for us. They point out that God is always willing to embrace us from our waywardness and to correct us through mercy. We simply have to respond in gratitude to this undeserved mercy. Mercy is always undeserved, which is the reason it changes the hearts of so many.

            In Exodus, Moses is sent down the mountain by God to chastise the Israelites for their waywardness. After everything the Lord has done for them, he is feeling bruised because the Israelites turned away from him and is worshiping a human-made statue instead. How can their memory be so short-lived? They care for only their immediate needs and the past no longer matters. However, the prayer of Moses helps the Lord remember the existing covenant that was made in goodwill. God’s mercy becomes the standard that we must follow in those times when we are betrayed and snubbed.

            The Gospel is a new standard for mercy because it is the story of finding welcome at home despite the terrible things we sometimes choose to do. Jesus was under attack for enjoying positive friendships with sinners. To answer his critics, he shows them that he is the one sent by God to find those who have strayed and to offer them a place back at the table.  He illustrates it with the story of the Good Shepherd and the woman who finds the lost coin. It was easy for people to relate to these stories because everyone has lost an object that they valued, and it is easy to remember the immense satisfaction of finding it once again.

            Jesus raises the value of this satisfaction when he changes it from lost objects to lost human relationships. The stakes are much greater; the satisfaction is the overwhelming joy expressed by the Prodigal Father. I am confident that nearly everyone in this church has been affected by a broken relationship and we simply have moved on from that which we cannot repair. Some have even stopped trying; some have even stopped waiting for a response from a person who has left us. We may passively wait, but without much hope, but we know the move has to be through the other person’s initiative. We can no longer invest our efforts in futile gestures.

            When we think of the loss the other person feels, we feel deeply for them amid our powerlessness. We know the loss dominates their psychological, emotional, and spiritual landscape, and it looms large in their unconscious and conscious world. Their actions are defined by this loss and they act in ways that keep that loss present. If we only knew the secret of what may bring them back. If we only knew the trigger that would make them love, honor, and value us again in the same way we really, deeply down want to love, honor, and value them. A part of us is not complete without them in our lives and we can never have the closure of understanding the cause of the rupture. Neither of us can be complete until we reconcile and bring the lost back home.

            I would imagine that God does not feel complete because of grief about those who walked away from the relationship. I cannot imagine God is satisfied when we experience a break-up of friendships either. Most of our prayers ask God to intervene somehow in our lives to effect reconciliation or at least to give us peace. God, like the Prodigal Father, stands on the threshold of the porch, peering out into the horizon hoping that a wayward one has chosen to return home. That is all that is important. The feeling of completeness. Overflowing satisfaction. Deep-hearted contentedness. These are enduring moments that shape the promise of the future, and this is what God wants for us.

            No easy answers are available for what we need to be to be open and available. For the most part it is out of our hands, which makes it so frustrating. We cannot create the ultimate type of environment that will bring someone back because the mystery of relationships is far too incomprehensible. Let us commit ourselves to this particular community of faith that rejoices when someone returns home. Let us feel their joy, even in the midst of our despair. Let us focus on the joy that God feels because we remain in friendship with God and God’s people. This affords God and us great satisfaction. Let us always be a people that rejoices and gives thanks that we have a God who accepts us with such a great embrace. Let’s pray always for changed hearts across the world. Let us peer into the horizon as we stand next to our Lord as we wait and hope and never give up.
Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 Corinthians 11) I hear there are divisions among you. I received from the Lord what I also handed onto you. This is my Body; this is my blood. When you eat this, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Tuesday: (1 Corinthians 12) As a body is one though it has many parts, though many, all are one body, so also Christ. The body is not a single part, but many.
Wednesday: (Numbers 21) The people complained to Moses about God, as they were without food and were being bitten by serpents. Moses made a seraph and mounted it on a pole so that all who were bitten could gaze upon it and be saved.   
Thursday: (1 Corinthians 15) I preached the Gospel to you, which you received. Through it, you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.
Friday (1 Corinthians 15) If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then empty too is our preaching; empty too is our faith, but now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Saturday (1 Corinthians 15) The first Adam became a living being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. The spiritual was not first, rather the nature then the spiritual.  

Monday: (Luke 7) A centurion sent elders to ask Jesus to save the life of his slave. “Lord do not trouble yourself, say the word and let my servant be healed.”
Tuesday: (Luke 7) Jesus journeyed to Nain and saw a woman carrying her dead son. The Lord was moved with pity. He touched the coffin and said, “Young man, I tell you, arise.”
Wednesday (John 3) Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.”
Thursday (John 19) Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister and Mary Magdalene. Jesus said, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your Mother.”
Friday (Luke 8) Jesus preached in various towns. Accompanying him were the Twelve and the women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities.   
Saturday (Luke 8) The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved.

Saints of the Week

September 12: The Name of Mary was given to the child in the octave that follow her birth on September 8th. Mary (Miriam) was a popular name for a girl because it means "beloved."

September 13: John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor (347-407) was a gifted homilist and was called "Golden Mouth" because his words inspired many. He was raised in Antioch and joined a community of austere hermits but the lifestyle damaged his health. He became the archbishop of Constantinople where he introduced many conservative and unpopular reforms. He fled to escape an uprising from the people and on the way to exile he died.

September 14: The Triumph of the Holy Cross remembers the finding of the true cross by the Emperor Constantine's mother, Helen in early 4th century. Two churches were dedicated in the name of the cross on this day in the 4th century. Therefore, the feast was applied to this day. In the 7th century, the feast was renamed, "The Triumph." The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335 was also dedicated on this day.

September 15: Our Lady of Sorrows was once called the Seven Sorrows of Mary as introduced by the Servite Friars. After suffering during his captivity in France, Pius VII renamed the devotion that encapsulates: Simeon's prophecy, the flight into Egypt, searching for Jesus at age 12 in the Temple, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the deposition, and the entombment.

September 16: Cornelius, pope and martyr (d. 253) and Cyprian, bishop and martyr (200-258) both suffered in the Decian persecutions. Cornelius was being attacked by Novatian, but since Novatian's teachings were condemned, he received the support of the powerful bishop, Cyprian. Cyprian was a brilliant priest and bishop of Carthage who wrote on the unity of the church, the role of bishops, and the sacraments. Cyprian died under Valerius after supporting his church in exile by letters of encouragement.

September 17: Robert Bellarmine, S.J., bishop and doctor (1542-1621) became a Jesuit professor at the Louvain and then professor of Controversial theology at the Roman College. He wrote "Disputations on the controversies of the Christian faith against the Heretics of this age," which many Protestants appreciated because of its balanced reasoning. He revised the Vulgate bible, wrote catechisms, supervised the Roman College and the Vatican library, and was the pope's theologian.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 11, 1681. At Antwerp, the death of Fr. Geoffry Henschen (Henschenius). A man of extraordinary learning, he was Fr. Jan von Bolland's assistant in compiling the Acts of the Saints.
·      Sep 12, 1744. Benedict XIV's second Bull, Omnium Sollicitudinum, forbade the Chinese Rites. Persecution followed in China.
·      Sep 13, 1773. Frederick II of Prussia informed the pope that the Jesuits would not be suppressed in Prussia and invited Jesuits to come.
·      Sep 14, 1596. The death of Cardinal Francis Toledo, the first of the Society to be raised to the purple. He died at age 63, a cardinal for three years.
·      Sep 15, 1927. Thirty-seven Jesuits arrived in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to begin tertianship. The property was given to the Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.
·      Sep 16, 1883. The twenty-third General Congregation opened at Rome in the Palazzo Borromeo (via del Seminario). It elected Fr. Anthony Anderledy Vicar General with the right of succession.
·      Sep 17, 1621. The death of St Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church.