Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 16, 2016
Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:13-4:2; Luke 18:1-8

            We have great sympathy for the hapless widow fighting the powerful judge as she seeks a just decision. We appreciate that she is able to call some “good” out of the unjust judge. The main message of these readings is to persevere in trusting God. Jesus makes the point that trusting in God’s care will yield more fruit than trusting in someone who doesn’t have our best intentions in mind.

            Moses shows his fighters that he trusts in God when he raises his arms in battle to heaven. He is fighting the neighboring tribes of Amalek, who are more than likely waging a battle over water rights. In the preceding passage, God brings forth water from the rocks of Massa and Meribah. Moses stands at the precipice of the battlefield so he is visible to his men and he keeps his arms raised as encouragement. God is with him and he stands by his men confidently. They battle to victory.

            The other day I listened to a man who was bothered that his sister never told her family that she was sick. She kept secret that she was seriously ill and she did not see a doctor. Now she lies in a hospital bed fighting for her life. With a seriously severe condition, she did not even bother to ask for what she needed. No one knows why. Her family is devastated.

            Over the weekend I spoke with a woman whose chronic pain will not lessen despite numerous trips to her surgeon and primary care doctor. They cannot find any cause for her pain, but it is real. She does all the right things, and she realizes that taking opioid medication is not the solution. She lets her doctors know that she cannot take it anymore and still they send her home without any answers. It is maddening for someone with persistent pain to go through each day feeling isolated, unheard, and pushed to the side. When she goes home, she carries her chronic pain home to walls that absorb her cries while the doctor takes none of it with her. It is demoralizing when no one listens enough to act upon remedies. We simply do not know how to carry another person’s pain. It is natural for a person to examine all her options for pain-relief.

            We also are conflicted because we cannot tell when someone is persistent, which we value positively, or stubborn, which we see as negative. We realize that if we are stubborn, we are the last one to realize it and we do not want our persistence to turn into stubbornness. As a priest, I always pause when someone asks me to pray for a special intention when they do not tell me the nature of the intention. What if they are wishing ill will upon another person or they want someone who is bothering them out of their life? I always have to probe deeper into their request.

            Stubbornness is when we want something exclusive for ourselves; it is self-seeking and self-serving. This was the action of the judge when we protected his own interests. Persistence is generally about the common good and relying upon God’s providence. It often is concerned about what God can do or about how prayer can benefit another person. This is the action of the widow who wants to be pain-free and is seeking a way out of her destitution. She wants to be a positive part of the community again and she knows that God will eventually hear her and people like her.

            The widow found a way to see goodness in the judge. She was not solely focused upon herself. In our pain and sorrow, it is good for us to appeal to the goodness of God, who wants to give us many blessings. It is good for us to see that many others want to help. We just have to be open to those who want to lend a hand – even if it is not the way we intend it to happen. We have to place our hope in others’ goodness and firmly believe that God will act through them. I believe God is working on our behalf in many different ways. God is nearer than we sometimes think. Pray always for your well-being. Pray for your neighbors and loved one. Pray that you experience that God is moving closer to you. Never stop these prayers because they sustain those on the fragile edge of life. Your prayers may tip the balance in the favor of life.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Ephesians 2) God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he has for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.
Tuesday: (2 Timothy 4) Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength so the Gospel’s proclamation can be completed and the Gentiles might hear it.
Wednesday: (Ephesians 3) I became a minister by God’s grace: to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all the plan of the mystery of God.
Thursday: (Ephesians 3) May God grant you the riches of his glory, that Christ may grow in your heart through faith, and that rooted and grounded in love, you may have the strength to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love.
Friday (Ephesians 4) I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with humility and gentleness, with patience, and bearing with one another through love.
Saturday (Ephesians 4) Grace was given to each according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Through Christ, the whole body is joined and held together by every supporting ligament.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Luke 12) Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions. He told a parable of the man with a bountiful harvest.
Tuesday: (Luke 10) The Lord sent out 72 disciples” The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few. Ask the master to send more laborers for this harvest.   
Wednesday (Luke 12) Be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Jesus told them a parable about the mean and nasty manservant.
Thursday (Ephesians 3) I have come to set the earth of fire, and how I wish it were blazing already. There is a baptism with which I must be baptized and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished.
Friday (Luke 12) You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Saturday (Luke 13) Jesus told the story of the Galilean whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices and the story of the man who planted a fig tree in his orchard, but found no fruit on it.

Saints of the Week

October 16: Hedwig, religious, at age 12 married Henry, a prince who would become king of Silesia. As a monarch, they built a Cistercian monastery for women. They soon built many other religious houses and hospitals. She chose to live in austere poverty to be in solidarity with the poor.

October 16: Margaret Mary Alocoque entered the Visitation Order at Paray-le-Monial in 1671. She received visions of Christ's love and told her Jesuit spiritual director, Claude la Colombiere, who asked her to write about her experiences. They developed the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her community resisted her promotion of the devotion at first, but later came to see the power of the prayers.

October 17: Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr (d. 107) was born around 33 A.D. and became a leading figure in the new church at Antioch. He served as bishop for 38 years before he was persecuted and killed under Emperor Trajan for being a Christian leader. He wrote seven letters about church life in the early second century and is the first-mentioned martyr of Roman heroes in the first Eucharistic Prayer.

October 18: Luke, evangelist (first century) was the author of his version of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He is described as a doctor and a friend of Paul. He was a well-educated Gentile who was familiar with the Jewish scriptures and he wrote to other Gentiles who were coming into a faith.

October 19: North American Jesuit martyrs: Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, priests, and companions (17th century) were killed between 1642 and 1649 in Canada and the United States. Though they knew of harsh conditions among the warring Huron and Mohawk tribes in the New World, these priests and laymen persisted in evangelizing until they were captured, brutally tortured, and barbarically killed.

October 20: Paul of the Cross, priest (1694-1775), founded the Passionists in 1747. He had a boyhood call that propelled him into a life of austerity and prayer. After receiving several visions, he began to preach missions throughout Italy that mostly focused upon the Passion of the Lord. After his death, a congregation for nuns was begun.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      October 16, 1873: About two weeks after Victor Emmanuel's visit to Berlin, where he had long conferences with Bismark, rumors reached the Society in Rome that all of their houses in Rome were threatened.
·      October 17, 1578: St Robert Bellarmine entered the Jesuit novitiate of San Andrea in Rome at the age of 16.
·      October 18, 1553: A theological course was opened in our college in Lisbon; 400 students were at once enrolled.
·      October 19, 1588: At Munster, in Westphalia, the Society opens a college, in spite of an outcry raised locally by some of the Protestants.
·      October 20, 1763: In a pastoral letter read in all his churches, the Archbishop of Paris expressed his bitter regret at the suppression of the Society in France. He described it as a veritable calamity for his country.
·      October 21, 1568: Fr. Robert Parsons was elected Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He resigned his Fellowship in 1574.
·      October 22, 1870: In France, Garibaldi and his men drove the Jesuits from the Colleges of Dole and Mont Roland.