Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 9, 2016
2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19

            Two themes emerge from this Sunday’s readings: (1.) God’s actions often go beyond the boundaries we put around our beliefs and (2.) part of giving thanks is in glorifying God. The Second Book of Kings tells us of Naaman’s gratitude for the healing he received in the Jordan River. Naaman was an important officer in the Syrian army and he worshipped a different god until his encounter with Elisha, the man of God. In response to God’s cure of his leprosy, Naaman he wants to leave a gift in honor of this invisible God. When his offer is turned down, Naaman takes soil from the sacred land so he may worship this God back in his own land.

            A similar turn of events happens in the Gospel. Jesus sends ten lepers to visit the priests as described in the law and on their way to Jerusalem they discover they are healed. Nine continue on the see the priest so they can ritually rejoin their community, but one returns to Jesus to thank him. The one who returned was a foreigner. Previously, these men were isolated from any human contact and they are not cleared until the priest checks them out and approve their healing. They desire human contact once more. Presumably the nine were Israelites, but the who returned was a foreigner whose god was different from the God of the Jews. The foreigner could see clearly God’s action in Jesus and was compelled to express his belief in this God.

            Throughout the week we have many times when we feel grateful to God and offer a simple word of thanks. We pause, lift our eyes, and acknowledge God’s work in these small miracles. We bring our thanks to the greatest place of thanksgiving – the Eucharist. However, the men in the readings were compelled to go further. In their gratitude, they consecrate their lives to God. They recognize they stand before the Holy One and respond wholeheartedly.

            We think that only priests and religious consecrate their lives to God, yet it is a right of all Christians to offer themselves freely in a meaningful ritual, though many individuals commit themselves in private devotions to the Lord. Some people commit to a particular area of service like working in a soup kitchen or food pantry or visiting the imprisoned or the elderly. Others become adoptive parents to children in need. Others help our in bereavement ministry or in addiction and recovery treatment programs. People use their personal gifts in meaningful ways. There is a place for everyone’s gifts at the table. Everyone’s ministry is valued.

It is important to build rituals around our gratitude because these rites keep the deeper meaning present in our lives. Think about the way Jesus must have felt when one of the former lepers fell at his feet to thank him. Gratitude warms our hearts and forms a tight bond. Jesus must have been moved that the Samaritan thanked him and came to belief in God. He might have resented that the nine Jews did not even bother to thank him, though he knows it is not about his own acclaim. Still, as a human, it hurts to have our deserved gratitude overlooked. Take time to thank a person who does something kind for you. Make the time to thank God for the blessings bestowed on you. Speak your thanks out loud to God so you hear yourself say it. Doing so will warm your heart.

How will you glorify God this week? That is the whole point. Naaman took a pile of earth from Israel home with him to keep a good reminder of his experience. The Samaritan leper changed his belief in God. How are you moved to personally respond to God? You are faced with a choice: Are you ready to let your gratitude change your life?

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Galatians 4) It is written that Abraham had two sons, one b the slave woman, the other by a freeborn woman. These women represent two covenants. For freedom, Christ set us free.
Tuesday: (Galatians 5) For Jesus Christ, only faith working through love counts for anything.
Wednesday: (Galatians 5) If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Thursday: (Ephesians 1) Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing as he chose us to be holy and without blemish.
Friday (Ephesians 1) We were chosen in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to his will. The Holy Spirit is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession.
Saturday (Ephesians 1) Hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the holy ones, I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Monday: (Luke 11) This generation seeks a sign, but none will be given, except the sign of Jonah because he became a sign to the Ninevites.
Tuesday: (Luke 11) At a dinner with a leading Pharisee, Jesus did not wash his hands as prescribed and he was questioned about his practices.  
Wednesday (Luke 11) Jesus chastised the Pharisees. One of the scholars said, “You are insulting us too.” Jesus then chastised the scholars.
Thursday (Luke 11) Jesus chastises all who profess religion but act contradictory to their faith. Naturally, the scribes and Pharisees acted with hostility towards him.
Friday (Luke 12) Many gathered around him as he denounced the Pharisees. Nothing will be concealed that will not be revealed. Do not be afraid because you are worth much to God.
Saturday (Luke 12) Everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.

Saints of the Week

October 9: Denis, bishop and martyr, and companion martyrs (d. 258), was the first bishop of Paris. He died during the Decian persecutions by beheading at Montmarte, the highest hill in the city. Lore has it that he picked up his head after the beheading and walked six miles while giving a sermon. Denis was sent to Paris to bring Christianity and was thereby called, “The apostle to the Gauls.”

October 9: John Leonardi (1542-1609), was a pharmacist’s assistant before studying for the priesthood. He became interested in the reforms of the Council of Trent and gathered laymen around him to work in prisons and hospitals. He contracted the plague while ministering to those who were sick. He founded the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God to care for the sick.

October 12: John Beyzym, S.J., priest (1850-1912), was Ukranian-born, entered the Jesuits, and petitioned to work among the people of Madagascar who had Hansen’s disease (leprosy.) Since the lepers lived in remote shanty buildings with no windows or facilities, Beyzym worked hard to improve their living conditions, build a hospital, and a church. He died after contracting the disease.

October 14: Callistus I, pope and martyr (d. 222) was a slave of a Christian who put him in charge of a bank that failed. He was jailed and upon his release became a deacon and counselor to Pope Zephyrinus. He became the first overseer of the official Christian cemetery that was eventually named after him. When he was elected Pope he introduced humanitarian reforms. He died during an uprising against Christians. 

October 15: Teresa of Avila, doctor (1873-1897), entered the Carmelites in Avila and became disenchanted with the laxity of the order. She progressed in prayer and had mystical visions. She introduced stricter reforms through her guidance of John of the Cross and Peter Alcantara. They founded the Discalced Carmelites for men and women.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 9, 1627. Jansenius left Louvain for Salamanca to foment antipathy against the Jesuits and thus prevent Philip IV from giving the Society a large college in Madrid. The theological faculty at Salamanca were hostile to the Society.
·      October 10, 1806: The first novitiate of the Maryland Mission opened as ten novices began their Long Retreat under the direction of Fr. Francis Neale (himself a novice who had entered the Jesuits that day.)
·      October 11, 1688: King Louis XIV forbade all correspondence and interchange between the French Jesuits and Fr. Thyrsus Gonzalez, the Spanish General Superior of the Society.
·      October 12, 1976: The murder in rural Brazil of Joao Bosco Burnier, SJ, who was shot and killed by soldiers for protesting the torture of two poor women.
·      October 13, 1537: At Venice the Papal Nuncio published his written verdict declaring that Ignatius Loyola was innocent of all charges which had been leveled against him by his detractors.
·      October 14, 1774: A French Jesuit in China wrote an epitaph to the Jesuit mission in China after the suppression of the Society. It concludes: "Go, traveler, continue on your way. Felicitate the dead; weep for the living; pray for all. Wonder, and be silent."

·      October 15, 1582: St Teresa of Avila died on this day -- the first day of the new Gregorian calendar. She always wished to have a Jesuit as a confessor.