Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
February 5, 2017
Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalm 112; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16

            The Sermon on the Mount continues with Jesus encouraging people to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the citizens of the city built atop a hill for all to see. The similarity in each of these images is that our goodness has to move outwards to others for it to be really effective. We act in the place of Christ and put love into action. Heed the needs of the unloved, the lonely, the worried, and the hurting and we become the breath of God for those in need. Today, I give you practical steps to give to others the goodness that you are, for you are representing Christ.

            Our good intentions are never enough; we have to connect with others and bring commitment to our words. The Trinity is about being connected; therefore, the love we receive must be given away. We form heart-connections, which give others a sense of belonging. Step out of your comfort zone to meet a stranger, to ease a teenager’s awkwardness, or to introduce a lonely acquaintance to your circle of friends. They will feel blessed by your thoughtfulness, and you may be surprised that your discomfort has disappeared.

            Be dependable in your daily dealings with others. When you give your word, honor it. Simple follow-through actions reassure people of their value. Your loyalty, reliability and simply being there for them tells them you care.  Respect does not come without first accepting and recognizing differences. Respect refuses to make assumptions about others because it listens and learns. Self-worth and dignity flourish when we accept and respect.  Be generous with your smiles and hugs. They do not cost much, but they give so much. Smiles are small gestures that offer warmth and reassurance. Hugs can touch and wrap a heart in love, affection, and comfort. By expressing ourselves freely, we experience life more fully.

            Give your full attention to others. When others share, refrain from interrupting. Listen with your heart more than your head. Silence your electronics and look at the eyes of the person who is seeking your care and support. We boost our own emotional well being when we listen attentively. Then we look for the good in the other person. Applaud them and affirm their best points. Even tell your family and friends about their most endearing qualities. Praise them. Teach our youth to grow their capacity for compassion, like sponsoring a child overseas, baking a cake for the home-bound, donating toys to a hospital, and raising money for charity. Encouragement reminds a heart that it is not alone. A supportive shoulder and a compassionate ear with comforting words build bridges of connection and understanding. Send cards, make phone calls, or visit someone to keep the positive energy flowing.

            The curious law of giving is that the more you give away, the more you get in return. Mystically, it always comes back to you in abundant blessings. Give others the truth about yourself. Sometimes sharing your own flaws and failings help people be at ease. They relate to your humanity better. Admitting weakness forms bonds of great strength while allowing others to share their vulnerabilities. As you praise others, do not forget the people who are closest to you. They need it more from you than anyone else. Enthusiastically compliment, leave sincere notes of appreciation, and write a letter of thanks to one’s boss. Appreciating others renews their spirit because they are important to you. God’s mercies are new every morning. Give someone the benefit of doubt because we are not at our best every day.

            Be creative in the ways you give. Carry with you a few small gifts to give someone in need. Brighten the day of someone who is not in sight: nursing home patient, prisoner, or a hospital patient. God gives from a selfless heart without obligation or expectation. When self-giving is too much, maybe we can to give until it helps, rather than until it hurts. Let go and give laughter. Laughter, just like tears, forms bonds. The more we loosen up together, the greater the bonds. Lighten the mood for someone by sharing jokes, telling humorous stories and memories. The joy of your presence remains when you leave. Inspire by using your words sparingly. They bring people to the heart of Christ. Giving of your time tells someone, “You matter to me.” Spend time with one another. Hospitality and friendship are our dearest virtues. Keep your giving in balance, but know that your kindness becomes contagious as it caresses hearts and keeps it beating.

            Putting together a lifetime habit of giving ourselves to others makes us the salt of the earth and the light on a lampstand. We are gifts that are to be shared with others. Do not deprive them of you. You are saints and the world is waiting for the good news that you bring to them – that Christ is active in you and loves you deeply. Go forth, then, and share your love with a world desperate for it.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Genesis 1) God created the heavens and the earth and brought forth light. God created the skies and the ocean and dry land with vegetation. The sun, the moon, and stars were brought into being.  
Tuesday: (Genesis 1) The living waters teemed with creatures; birds filled the sky. All kinds of living creatures inhabited the earth and humans had dominion over them. God created male and female of every species to populate the earth, and on the seventh day God rested.
Wednesday: (Genesis 2) The God formed humans out of the ground’s clay and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. God also planted a garden in Eden where the man could live.
Thursday: (Genesis 2) God did not want the man to be alone so he created a suitable partner for him, by extracting a bone from his ribs and creating a woman.
Friday (Genesis 3) The serpent influenced the woman to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree. She gave it to the man to eat. Their eyes were opened and they saw they were naked. 
Saturday (Genesis 3) God called to Adam, “Where are you?”  “I hid myself from you because I am naked.” God punished the man and woman and the serpent.

Monday: (Mark 6) Jesus came to Gennesaret. Wherever he went, people found him and brought their sick to him.  
Tuesday: (Mark 7) The disciples of Jesus did not observe the ritual hand washing; the Pharisees objected. Jesus attacked their claim as they disregarded God ‘s commandment but clung to human traditions.
Wednesday (Mark 7) Nothing that enters one from the outside can defile a person; the things that come out from within are what defile.
Thursday (Mark 7) A Syrophoenician woman begged Jesus to drive a spirit out of her daughter. At first he protested, but because of her great faith, he healed her daughter.
Friday (Mark 7) A deaf mute man was brought to Jesus. He prayed over his tongue and ears and cried, “Be Opened.” His ears could hear and his speech impediment was gone.  
Saturday (Mark 8) A great crowd gathered but they were without food. Jesus had compassion on the crowd and did not want to send them away hungry.

Saints of the Week

February 5: Agatha, martyr, (d. 251), died in Sicily during the Diocletian persecution after she refused to give up her faith when sent to a brothel for punishment. She was subsequently tortured. Sicilians believe her intercession stopped Mount Etna from erupting the year after her burial. She has been sought as a protector against fire and in mentioned in the First Eucharistic prayer.

February 6: Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs (d. 1597), were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan for being Christians. Miki was a Jesuit brother and a native Japanese who was killed alongside 25 clergy, religious, and laypeople. They were suspended on crosses and killed by spears thrust into their hearts. Remnants of the Christian community continued through baptism without any priestly leadership. It was discovered when Japan was reopened in 1865.

February 8: Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537), was a Venetian soldier who experienced a call to be a priest during this imprisonment as a captor. He devoted his work to the education of orphans, abandoned children, the poor and hungry. He founded an order to help in his work, but he died during a plague while caring for the sick.

February 8: Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was a Sudanese who was sold as a slave to the Italian Consul, who treated her with kindness. She was baptized in Italy and took the name Josephine. Bakhita means fortunate. She was granted freedom according to Italian law and joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity where she lived simply as a cook, seamstress, and doorkeeper. She was known for her gentleness and compassion.

February 10: Scholastica (480-543) was the twin sister of Benedict, founder of Western monasticism. She is the patroness of Benedictine nuns. She was buried in her brother's tomb; they died relatively close to one another.

February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes is remembered because between February 11 and July 16, 1858, Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a cave near Lourdes, France eighteen times. The site remains one of the largest pilgrim destinations. Many find healing in the waters of the grotto during the spring.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Feb 5, 1833. The first provincial of Maryland, Fr. William McSherry, was appointed.
·      Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.
·      Feb 7, 1878. At Rome, Pius IX died. He was sincerely devoted to the Society; when one of the cardinals expressed surprise that he could be so attached to an order against which even high ecclesiastics brought serious charges, his reply was: "You have to be pope to know the worth of the Society."
·      Feb 8, 1885. In Chicago, Fr. Isidore Bourdreaux, master of novices at Florissant, Missouri, from 1857 to 1870, died. He was the first scholastic novice to enter the Society from any of the colleges in Missouri.
·      Feb 9, 1621. Cardinal Ludovisi was elected Pope Gregory XV. He was responsible for the canonization of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier.
·      Feb 10, 1773. The rector of Florence informed the general, Fr. Ricci, that a copy of the proposed Brief of Suppression had been sent to the Emperor of Austria. The general refused to believe that the Society would be suppressed.

·      Feb 11, 1563. At the Council of Trent, Fr. James Laynez, the Pope's theologian, made such an impression on the cardinal president by his learning and eloquence, that cardinal decided at once to open a Jesuit College in Mantua, his Episcopal see.