Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
February 12, 2017
Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalm 112; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16

            During these past weeks, we focus upon the two bedrocks of our moral lives – the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments, which teach us about the wisdom of God. Jesus realizes that one’s teaching style has a lot of do with helping people understand how to accept the lessons. For instance, the Ten Commandments are a list of “You shall not.” No one likes hearing about restrictions placed on their freedoms. Jesus is able to change the hard line approach into a softer, more effective method of teaching.

            Saint Paul writes, “We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,” but then how do we speak to those who are not mature or not educated on a particular subject? We are bound to interact with people of varying capacities. The style must fit the situation. The trick is finding the right method in each situation. Therefore, our teaching styles must adapt constantly.

            The Ten Commandments come from a Classicist worldview where laws must be given and strictly enforced. If you do not follow the law as one someone interprets it, then harsh judgments result and the lawgiver speaks firmly and loudly. Jesus preaches in an historical minded worldview where he poses questions, tells parables, and instructs in actions rather than words. He effectively relates to a person’s dilemma by using their owns symbols and images. He does not try to reason with his audience. His manner is soft-spoken, gentle, and yet, penetrating. The old maxim holds true: A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. Being pliable in our teaching and conversation styles will help us navigate difficult conversations, and in our climate today, our adaptability is going to be key.

            I want to tell you a story about a conversation I had with my mother this week. She is in a nursing home after breaking her hip a few months ago and she now suffers from dementia. She does not like where she is and she want to go home – back to a comfortable place. Some of my siblings sometimes hear the word “home” as the place where she lived for forty-five years, but I hear it as a place where she is free of pain, without confusion, and where she can be independent. Instead of explaining the reasons she cannot go home, I tell her that I want her to go home too and I will help her get there. That comforts her.

            Last week, she talked about meeting a train conductor, but she was afraid of taking the train because she might not get off at the right stop. She also did not have fare money. I told her that taking the train ride was beneficial for her and that I knew the conductor well. The conductor even knows my mother well, and I asked that he look after her. I explained that I already paid her fare and that she can order any food or coffee she wants from the cafeteria. She needs no money. Everything has been paid in advance. The conductor will visit to see if she is comfortable and will take her to the right place. During his visits, he will introduce her to others on the train.

            I further explained that the conductor and I have arranged for her to be greeted by some people at the stop and they will take her home then. Her mother and father will welcome her with a big hug. Her first-born daughter will be there – free from her mental retardation. Her sister, Betty, and her other friends from town will be there, even her girlfriends from the Air Force. They look forward to seeing her and kissing her. They are happy that she is going to be with them.

            Just then, my mother started to cry. She shook her fists excitedly. I asked her how she was feeling and she said, “I’m so happy. These tears are of happiness. I want to go there.”

            My mother was consoled by my words. The words we speak to others have to be equally consoling and instructive. We have the capacity to speak with tenderness to anyone, even those who are disagreeable with his or her words. Experiment with different styles, especially if the style you are using is not working out well. You still have time. Every relationship can be reconciled. We teach others the wisdom of God through the wisdom of our sensitivity.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Genesis 4) Adam and Eve produced Cain and then Abel. Cain became resentful of Abel, brought him out into the field and killed him. God punished Cain; Eve bore Seth.  
Tuesday: (Genesis 6) Human wickedness grew. God decided to wipe out humans, except for a small remnant. He called Noah to build an ark for every living creature before the rains.
Wednesday: (Genesis 8) At the 40 days end, Noah opened the hatch to see the sun and he return of the dove with an olive branch. God promised never to wipe out humanity again.
Thursday: (Genesis 9) God blessed Noah and his sons: Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth. If anyone sheds the blood of a man, I will demand his life.  
Friday (Genesis 11) The world spoke the same language using the same words. The people built a tower with its top in the sky to make a name for themselves. God confused their language and scattered them. They stopped building the city.
Saturday (Hebrews 11) Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Noah condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Mark 8) The Pharisees wanted a sign from Jesus, but he would not produce. He went into the boat and crossed to the other shore.  
Tuesday: (Mark 8) The disciples did not bring bread except for one loaf. Jesus related it to the leaven of Herod. He asked them about the surplus after the multiplication of loaves.
Wednesday (Mark 8) Jesus took a blind man aside, put spittle on his eye, and asked if he could see. The man saw figures so Jesus repeated the procedure until the man could see.
Thursday (Mark 8) At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked: Who do you say that I am? Peter replied: You are the Christ. Jesus predicted his Passion and Peter tried to stop him.
Friday (Mark 8) Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  
Saturday (Mark 9) Peter, James, and John went up the mountain with Jesus where he stood transfigured while speaking with Elijah and Moses.  

Saints of the Week

February 14: Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop (Ninth Century), were brothers who were born in Thessalonica, Greece. They became missionaries after they ended careers in teaching and government work. They moved to Ukraine and Moravia, a place between the Byzantium and Germanic peoples. Cyril (Constantine) created Slavonic alphabet so the liturgy and scriptures could be available to them. Cyril died during a visit to Rome and Methodius became a bishop and returned to Moravia.

February 15: Claude La Colombiere, S.J., religious (1641-1682), was a Jesuit missionary, ascetical writer, and confessor to Margaret Mary Alocoque at the Visitation Convent at Paray La Monial. As a Jesuit, he vowed to live strictly according to the Jesuit Constitutions to achieve utmost perfection. Together, they began a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

February 17: The Seven Founders of the Servites (Thirteenth Century) were from Florence and they joined the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin, who were also known as Praisers. They devoted their apostolate to prayer and service and withdrew to a deserted mountain to build a church and hermitage. After adopting a rule and gaining recruits, they changed their name to the Servants of Mary.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Feb 12, 1564. Francis Borgia was appointed assistant for Spain and Portugal.
·      Feb 13, 1787. In Milan, Fr. Rudjer Boskovic, an illustrious mathematician, scientist, and astronomer, died. At Paris he was appointed "Directeur de la Marine."
·      Feb 14, 1769. At Cadiz, 241 Jesuits from Chile were put on board a Swedish vessel to be deported to Italy as exiles.
·      Feb 15, 1732. Fr. Chamillard SJ, who had been reported by the Jansenists as having died a Jansenist and working miracles, suddenly appeared alive and well!
·      Feb 16, 1776. At Rome, the Jesuit prisoners in Castel S Angelo were restored to liberty. Fr. Romberg, the German assistant, aged 80, expressed a wish to remain in prison.
·      Feb 17, 1775. The French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Neapolitan Ambassadors in Rome intimate to the newly elected Pope Pius VI the will of their respective sovereigns that the Jesuits imprisoned in Castel S Angelo should not be released.

·      Feb 18, 1595. St Robert Southwell, after two and a half years imprisonment in the tower, was removed to Newgate and there thrust into a dungeon known as "Limbo."