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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 2, 2016
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Psalm 95; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10

            All of today’s readings deal with faith. We know that faith is a gift and none of us thinks we have been given enough of it. A typical prayer among many is “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief” or “Please, increase my faith.” The problem with this is that we see faith as something that is given by God to us in varying amounts, coming from the top down by a remote God, rather than the point that Jesus is trying to make: our faith can increase through our choices and actions – an action that is from the bottom up, which emphasizes a personal relationship to an accessible God.

            The problem may be in the word itself. If we think of faith as “trust in God,” we can work more tangibly with our actions. We mean “trust” when we say “faith.” We already have sufficient faith when we can say that God exists and that we can have a personal relationship with God. Faith is about believing in God’s existence; trust is about progressing in this relationship. This is the reason Jesus stresses our personal actions in the Gospels.
            Jesus tells us that if our trust in God is sufficient, we can see great things happen like a mulberry tree being uprooted and planted in the sea. He then tells us that we must oblige God with our service in grateful response to God’s providence. The prophet Habakkuk tells us that we have misery and destruction all around us. His words sound bleak until you realize that in our midst we have people dying from alcohol consumption, obesity, and drug overdoses. People are still without meaningful work, beneficial wages, or satisfactory residences. Those who are mentally ill weigh heavily upon our families. Homelessness and despair plague our communities. Then we add the senseless death of a loved one on top of it and we feel the heaviness of Habakkuk. The prophet says that the one who trusts in God, lives with integrity, and hopes for a positive vision of the future, shall live justly.
            How do we learn to trust God then? We trust God the same way we build up trust in our friends and loved ones. We start out with small steps and we make certain we can rely upon God’s integrity. When God delivers with small items and we become familiar with the patterns by which God fulfills promises, we become more confidently relaxed. Trust builds incrementally. Trust cannot increase overnight, but only through sustained efforts.

            Human relationships experience breakdowns, rejections, and betrayals, which severely limit our capacity to trust, but we do not have the same situations with God. While it is true that some people feel let down by God, it is often because we do not feel that God is present to us during times of tragedy and adversity. We blame God for those times when bad things happen to good people because God’s omnipotence can prevent bad events. We cannot see beyond our own grief. We need to persistently ask God, “Where were you when these bad things happened to me?” When we trust God, we realize God handles our anger well. God holds all our emotions, even if they are too many to count. In fact, God wants us to pour out our hearts and complaints so that we can move beyond ourselves and see how God is very present to us. In the depths of our suffering, we discover God’s closeness. At that point, we trust that God is somehow there for us. We relax a little more because we believe that God is always present.

            Our trust in God leads us to Paul’s point: that we have been given a spirit of power and love and self-control where we have to bear our share of hardship with the strength that comes from God. Paul further says we must guard this rich trust that dwells within us. Trust can be eroded in human relationships in an instant. With God, the invitation to deeper trust is always there. Day by Day. Step by step. It is slow, hard work that depends upon the pace we set. The gift is accessible to us, but it is up to us to actively test our relationship with the Lord for our benefit. We have been given the power. What an awesome power it is.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Galatians 1) Paul said: I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel. There are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ.
Tuesday: (Galatians 1) Pau said: You heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, but I was set apart.
Wednesday: (Galatians 2) After 14 years in Antioch, I went to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus and I presented to them that I may preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Thursday: (Galatians 3) O stupid Galatians. Did you receive the Spirit from the works of the Law? No, it was from the works of faith.
Friday (Galatians 3) Those who have faith are the children of Abraham. Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith.
Saturday (Galatians 3) Scripture confined all things under the power of sin, but through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe.

Monday: (Luke 10) Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
Tuesday: (Luke 10) Martha welcomed Jesus as he entered her village. She attended to him while her sister Mary sat and listened to his every word.
Wednesday (Luke 11) The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. He recited the Jewish prayer that became known as the Lord’s Prayer.
Thursday (Luke 11) Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Friday (Luke 11) After Jesus drove out a demon, people began to ask about the source of his power. Is it from God or from Beelzebul, the prince of demons?
Saturday (Luke 11) When Jesus was speaking, a woman cried out: Blessed is the womb that carried you. He replied:  Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

Saints of the Week

October 2: The Guardian Angels are messengers and intermediaries between God and humans. They help us in our struggle against evil and they serve as guardians, the feast we celebrate today. Raphael is one of the guardians written about in the Book of Tobit. A memorial was added to the Roman calendar In 1670 in thanksgiving for their assistance.

October 3: Francis Borgia, S.J. became a duke at age 33. When his wife died and his eight children were grown, he joined the Jesuits. His preaching brought many people to the church and when he served as Superior General, the Society increased dramatically in Spain and Portugal. He established many missions in the new territories.

October 4: Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was from the wealthy Bernardone family who sold silk cloths. After serving as soldier as a prisoner of war, Francis chose to serve God and the poor. He felt called to repair God's house, which he thought was a church. His father was angry that he used family money so he disinherited him. He began to preach repentance and recruited others to his way of life. His order is known for poverty, simplicity, humble service, and delighting in creation.

October 6: Bruno, priest (1030-1101), became a professor at Rheims and diocesan chancellor. He gave up his riches and began to live as a hermit with six other men. They had disdain for the rampant clerical corruption. The bishop of Grenoble gave them land in the Chartreuse mountains and they began the first Carthusian monastery. After serving in Rome for a few years, Bruno was given permission to found a second monastery in Calabria.

October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary recalls the events in 1571 of the Christian naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto near Corinth. Victory was credited to Mary as confraternities prayed the rosary for her intercession.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.
·      Oct 3, 1901. In France, religious persecution broke out afresh with the passing of Waldeck Rousseau's "Loi d'Association."
·      Oct 4, 1820. In Rome, great troubles arose before and during the Twentieth General Congregation, caused by Fr. Petrucci's intrigues. He sought to wreck the Society and was deposed from his office as Vicar General, though supported by Cardinal della Genga (afterwards Leo XII).
·      Oct 5, 1981. In a letter to Father General Arrupe, Pope John Paul II appointed Paolo Dezza as his personal delegate to govern the Society of Jesus, with Fr. Pittau as coadjutor.
·      Oct 6, 1773. In London, Dr James Talbot, the Vicar Apostolic, promulgated the Brief of Suppression and sent copies to Maryland and Pennsylvania.
·      Oct 7, 1819. The death of Charles Emmanuel IV. He had been King of Sardinia and Piedmont. He abdicated in 1802 and entered the Jesuits as a brother in 1815. He is buried in San Andrea Quirinale in Rome.
·      Oct 8, 1871. The Great Chicago Fire. Most of the city was destroyed, but it missed Holy Family, the Jesuit parish, as the fire turned north thanks to the prayers of Fr. Arnold Damen. The fire lasted three days; 250 were killed.

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