Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
January 22, 2017
Isaiah 8:23,-9:3; Psalm 27; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23

            We settle into Ordinary Time as the ministry of Jesus swings into action. Isaiah reminds us of the purpose of salvation: that the people who lived in darkness have seen a great light, echoing the strains of Advent. Even the lands that were once degraded, Zebulon and Naphtali, are restored and gloried in the Lord’s sight. The glory has even reached into Gentile lands. A new day has begun and salvation is made available to the faithful.

            John the Baptist is arrested and is no longer at the center of the Jewish imagination. To be safe, Jesus retreats to obscure Galilee where he is not under the watchful eye of the religious leaders. It is not by chance that this region is the once-forsaken land of Zebulon and Naphtali, the place where the great light will arise to signal that salvation has come. Jesus proclaims these words: The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

These words sound nice to us, but they were at the same time inflammatory. It announced that something new was being introduced in the person of Jesus, but it also signaled to the religious establishment that the status quo was upset. The message was polite, but a threat to the Temple authorities because a person no longer needed to go to Jerusalem’s Temple to fulfill one’s obligations. The kingdom is not located in a particular place.  A person can now worship the Lord wherever he or she is because the kingdom of God is among you. These words overturned the religious imagination of the time, and we know today that people get very upset at the hint of a change in doctrine. Then, as well as now, people become uncomfortable with even the hint of change in doctrine

            We also see it as a kindly thing that Jesus called Twelve kind and holy men to be a part of his team, but he does something remarkable that upsets the cultural societal norms. He gives his disciples the power to cure illnesses and diseases while ordaining them to preach his message. These were men, like Jesus, without any seminary formation. This again was a threat to the religious establishment and it had time to take root in obscure Galilee. Jesus and his men were very much a part of the life of the community and were not constrained by bureaucracy. They were approachable by the people and they did much good in word and deed. The preached the immediate closeness of God surrounding them and they practiced what they preached because they were accessible and near to the people’s concerns. Only by living among them could they bring light to their hardships.

            Two points to note here then are: (1.) do I see the newness of God’s kingdom unfolding in my life, specifically in those dark areas, and (2.) are my parish and religious leaders involved in my life with the same closeness Jesus and his disciples were with their followers? The mission of Jesus begins anew each year. Our pastoral leaders have to be close to us, knowing the details of ours lives, in order to preach the good news to the areas that need light. Demand more from your church. The word of God has to reach into those crevices so these places know they are redeemed and restored. Our leaders are in the line of the Apostles, who were ordained to preach and heal. They can reach into your lives if you want it. Ask for what you want and need.

            Jesus spoke in an historical period, but today, preachers are still speaking his words to you. This kingdom, this good news, about which he speaks? It is all for you. It is not just for the people 2,000 years ago. It is for you. Where do you need this kingdom to touch your life? Please today, ask for it. Receive the light and healing that comes from the Lord because it is intended personally for you. Let his newness descend upon you and let it be a new day – full of promise, hope, and joy. I think you deserve it.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Hebrews 9) Christ is mediator of a new covenant, for he did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, but heaven itself so he might appear before God on our behalf.
Tuesday: (Hebrews 10) Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices they offer.
Wednesday: (Acts 22) Paul says, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia. I was educated by Gamaliel in ancestral law and was zealous for God. I persecuted the Way, but I have become an Apostle of the Lord.”  
Thursday: (2 Timothy 1) I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. God gave us power and love and self-control.
Friday (Hebrews 10) Hold onto your courage. You will have recompense and you will need endurance to do the will of God and received what God promised.
Saturday (Hebrews 11) Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Abraham obeyed in faith. All the patriarchs also died in faith, but Isaac, offered up in faith, received the promises to Abraham by God.

Monday: (Mark 3) The scribes said Beelzebub possessed Jesus and was the source of his power. Jesus says that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.
Tuesday: (Mark 3) Who are my mother and brothers? Those who do the will of God.
Wednesday (Mark 16) Jesus appeared to the Eleven after his Resurrection and said, “Go out into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
Thursday (Mark 4) A lamp is placed on a high lampstand for others to see. Nothing that is hidden will remain hidden. The one who has some gifts will be given even more.
Friday (Mark 4) The kingdom is like a man who scatters seed without knowing how the seed grows. Mysteriously it grows while he carefully tends to it. We plant and God grows it.
Saturday (Mark 4) Jesus fell asleep in the boat as the disciples crossed the other side. When they woke him, he stilled the water and hushed the wind.

Saints of the Week

January 23: Marianne Cope (1838-1918), was a German-born woman who settled with her family in New York. She entered the Franciscans and worked in the school systems as a teacher and principal and she helped to establish the first two Catholic hospitals. She went to Honolulu, then Molokai, to aid those with leprosy.

January 24: Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor (1567-1622), practiced both civil and canon law before entering religious life. He became bishop of Geneva in 1602 and was prominent in the Catholic Reformation. He reorganized his diocese, set up a seminary, overhauled religious education, and found several schools. With Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded the Order of the Visitation of Mary.

January 25: The Conversion of Paul, the Apostle, was a pivotal point in the life of the early church. Scripture contains three accounts of his call and the change of behavior and attitudes that followed. Paul's story is worth knowing as it took him 14 years of prayer and study to find meaning in what happened to him on the road to Damascus.

January 26: Timothy and Titus, bishops (1st century), were disciples of Paul who later became what we know of as bishops. Timothy watched over the people of Ephesus and Titus looked after Crete. Both men worked with Paul and became a community leader. Timothy was martyred while Titus died of old age.

January 27: Angela Merici (1474-1540), was the founder of the Ursuline nuns. Relatives raised her when her parents died when she was 10. As an adult, she tended to the needs of the poor and with some friends, she taught young girls at their home. These friends joined an association that later became a religious order. Ursula was the patron of medieval universities.

January 28: Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor (1225-1274), studied in a Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino as a boy. He joined the newly formed Dominicans where he studied in France and Italy. He is a giant scholar. He wrote much on Scripture and theology, including his summation of theology (Summa Theologiae). He wrote several songs for liturgy, such as the Tantum Ergo, Pange Lingua, and Adoro Te Devote.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan 22, 1561. Pius IV abrogated the decree of Paul II and kept the life term of Father General.
·      Jan 23, 1789. John Carroll gained the deed of land for the site that was to become Georgetown University.
·      Jan 24, 1645. Fr. Henry Morse was led as a prisoner from Durham to Newgate, London. On hearing his execution was fixed for February 1, he exclaimed: "Welcome ropes, hurdles, gibbets, knives, butchery of an infamous death! Welcome for the love of Jesus, my Savior."
·      Jan 25, 1707. Cardinal Tournon, Apostolic Visitor of the missions in China, forbade the use of the words 'Tien' or 'Xant' for God and ordered the discontinuance by the Christians of the Chinese Rites.
·      Jan 26, 1611. The first Jesuit missionaries sailed from Europe for New France (Canada).
·      Jan 27, 1870. The Austrian government endeavored to suppress the annual grant of 8,000 florins to the theological faculty of Innsbruck and to drive the Jesuit professors from the university, because of their support of the Papal Syllabus.

·      Jan 28, 1853. Fr. General John Roothaan, wishing to resign his office, summoned a General Congregation, but died on May 8, before it assembled.

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