Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

 Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 26, 2017
1 Samuel 16
1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

            The story of the man born blind raises important questions about faith and knowledge because the ones who have sight and knowledge turn out to be the ones who are blind and faithless. The poor man born blind must have felt like he went through a Senate confirmation inquiry because he is peppered with questions from every angle and he responds brilliantly to each question showing that his faith reveals true knowledge. He speaks from his experience and does not try to answer questions that are beyond his knowledge. He does not guess, hypothesize, draw conclusions, or speculate. He speaks only of his experience, and by doing so, his wisdom stands out.

            The question that begins the search of the truth is: Who sinned – the man born blind or his parents? Jesus says, “You got it all wrong. Sin is not the cause of disability or misfortune. Sin is something that emerges from within a person.” It reveals the faulty, simplistic view that we hold about sin. In the Gospels, Jesus is often teaching people a new definition of sin because sin comes from attitudes and values within a person. However, even though we know how Jesus defined sin, we still get it wrong today. We have to examine those areas of our lives where we do not even try to care for others. Sin is not caring enough about someone to help them.

            So, if sin is something that arises from within and if our eyes are the vehicles by which we form judgments, we have to be careful to form our perceptions correctly. How do we inform our attitudes about the information we take in? Are we too quick in arriving at conclusions? A good question to always ask ourselves is: Am I experiencing a movement of warmth towards my neighbor? If not, we may be moving in the direction of sin. If I am moving towards greater understanding and warmth, then I am less inclined to sin because I care enough about my neighbor to let love win out.

            Therefore, we have to learn how to see the world’s events differently than we have. We need to glimpse them through the lens of faith, which gives us better knowledge. We have to ask: Am I able to see what is right with the world rather than finding what is wrong? Can I see the positives instead of being critical? Can I suspend my need to make judgments until I get further information that may shed light on someone’s actions or words? I simply may not have enough knowledge to make a proper judgment. Therefore, I replace my initial judgments with positive regard, meaning that I will actively search for the best in everyone’s motivations until I know with certitude something to the contrary. I seek to see the world as if I were looking through Christ’s eyes.

            Faith brings us knowledge that we cannot explain easily to others and we are only asked to give our witness statements like the blind man.  This knowledge may conflict with people of influence and authority with institutional backing like the religious authorities in the Temple who were judging this blind man, but we have the courage to hold true to God’s vision for the world. Our sight leads to faith, which gives us knowledge of what is right with the God. This is a world worth celebrating.

            How are your eyes seeing the world? What are the impressions that you are forming? Are they inspiring you to create more “good” or are you making less loving judgments? Ask God to give you further sight and insight. Ask God to heal your sight and your knowledge so you can be the agents of grace. Ask God to give us new faith that allows us to open our eyes again so that we can see the face of Jesus as if for the first time. I bet it has a smile on it.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading:
Monday: (Isaiah 65) The Lord is about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered; there will always be rejoicing and happiness.
Tuesday: (Ezekiel 47) The angel brought the prophet to the entrance of the temple where life-giving water flowed forth and bringing life to all.
Wednesday: (Isaiah 49) The Lord finds favor with Israel and promises help on the day of salvation. The Lord will help Israel keep the commandments because He cannot forget her beauty.
Thursday: (2 Samuel 7) The Lord said to David: Your house shall endure forever; your throne shall stand firm forever. 
Friday: (Wisdom 2) The wicked said, “Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us. Let us revile him and condemn him to a shameful death.”
Saturday: (Jeremiah 11) Jeremiah knew their plot, but like a trusting lamb led to slaughter, had not realized they were hatching plots against him.  

Monday: (John 4) Jesus returned to Galilee where he performed his first miracle. Some believed in him. A royal official approached him as his child lay dying, but at the hour Jesus spoke to him, his son recovered.
Tuesday: (John 5) Jesus encountered an ill man lying next to a healing pool, but when the water is stirred up, no one is around to put him in. Jesus heals him and he walks away. The Jews protest that Jesus cured on the Sabbath. The Jews began to persecute Jesus.
Wednesday: (John 5) Jesus explains that he is the unique revealer of God and cannot do anything on his own. He judges as he hears and his judgment is just because he does not seek his own will.
Thursday: (Matthew 1) The birth of Jesus came about through Mary, betrothed to Joseph. In his dream, the angel tells Joseph to take the pregnant Mary as his wife.
Friday: (John 7) Jesus did not wish to travel around Judea because the Jews were trying to kill him, but he went up during the feast of Tabernacles where he was spotted. He cried up in the streets, “You know me and you know where I am from.”
Saturday: (John 7) Some in the crowd said, “This is the prophet.” Some said, “This is the Christ.” A division occurred because of him because they could not settled how he fit into Scripture. Nicodemus interjected, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” The crowd dispersed to their homes.

Saints of the Week

No saints are included in the calendar this week as it is often Holy Week or Easter Week.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 26, 1553: Ignatius of Loyola's letter on obedience was sent to the Jesuits of Portugal.
·      March 27, 1587: At Messina died Fr. Thomas Evans, an Englishman at 29. He had suffered imprisonment for his defense of the Catholic faith in England.
·      March 28, 1606: At the Guildhall, London, the trial of Fr. Henry Garnet, falsely accused of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot.
·      March 29, 1523: Ignatius' first visit to Rome on his way from Manresa to Palestine.
·      March 30, 1545: At Meliapore, Francis Xavier came on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle.
·      March 31, 1548: Fr. Anthony Corduba, rector of the College of Salamanca, begged Ignatius to admit him into the Society so as to escape the cardinalate which Charles V intended to procure for him.

·      Apr 1, 1941. The death of Hippolyte Delehaye in Brussels. He was an eminent hagiographer and in charge of the Bollandists from 1912 to 1941.