Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Third Sunday of Lent

 Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Third Sunday of Lent
March 19, 2017
Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42

            Deserts are unforgiving and they are places of extreme weather conditions. It is no surprise that the wandering Israelites, despite knowing the environmental conditions quite well, grumbled at the lack of water. Everyone becomes irritable when there is not enough food, when they are tired from searching for sustainable water, and when they are sent away from villages because they are different. This was the state of the displaced Hebrews. Just one hour in the scorching sun is enough for me to flee for any shady relief. As I have walked those desert routes many times, life clearly was challenging, and I wondered, “What is the hope of the people who live here?” The answer is firmly tied to the God that provides water.

            These readings focus upon our hopes in our providing Lord, and Paul tells the Romans that this hope never disappoints because when we were at our lowest, God stepped in to provide. This hope is evident in the Gospel reading of the Woman at the Well. Beaten down by society and failed relationships, she is invited by Jesus to hope again, and she accepts his offer of eternal life – and it comes in the form of water.

            This woman was remarkable because she remained respectful of her cultural boundaries, but was free enough to stay in the conversation with Jesus to see where it led. After all, the central part of any prayer is the conversation, because when we really listen, we have a conversion towards, a turning to, the other person. Real conversation changes us into people of mercy.

            Often in prayer, people ask questions or make statements to the Lord. If there is an answer, they end the prayer because they think they have the final, definitive statement and they do not dare to ask any further questions, but this woman gives us a pattern of dialogue that invites further depth. She keeps drinking in the thoughtful conversation until she is satisfied. Jesus and the woman question one another to be enriched and to clarify, and her persistence allows her to be baptized by his questions. As she leaves him, she knows she encountered the Lord, and she runs to tell others about him.

            Sometimes we are like the wandering Israelites who hunger and thirst for meaningful conversations, but we are bound to jump from one small stone of small talk to another, and we await that gushing forth from a rock from which meaningful conversations overflow, like the rocks at Massah and Meribah. Jesus reminds us the well is deep and we need to go deeper. We stay in conversation when we connect with someone who makes us feel secure and gently, trustingly call us to deeper conversion. Most of us have had times when we met someone so intriguing that we wanted to remain in his or her presence. We want to stay  around goodness and holiness. The woman at the well became that person for the villagers. We can become that person for those in our communities.

Welcome deeper conversations and find ways to go beyond superficial words. Become that secure and gentle presence in others’ lives. Help the words flow like water until it reaches a depth where it settles and permeates your soul. “Everyone who drinks from the water I shall give will never thirst; the water will become in you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

            Do you want this water? Huh? Seek the sacred within you. Be active in discovering it within others and let it flow forth because Christ is the source. If you want this, lower your pail into the well and accept the drink that Christ offers you.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading:
Monday: (2 Kings 5) Naaman, the king of Aram, contracted leprosy. A captured girl wanted him to present himself to the prophet in Samaria. Naaman was instructed to wash seven times in the Jordan River and his flesh became again like the flesh of a little child.
Tuesday: (Daniel 3) Azariah asked for the Lord’s deliverance. He asked that the Lord deal with them in kindness and with great mercy.
Wednesday: (Deuteronomy 4) Moses spoke to the people asking them to hear and heed the statutes and decrees he received from the Lord. Do not forget the things the Lord has done.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 7) They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. 
Friday: (Hosea 14) Return to God, who forgives all iniquity. The Lord will heal their defection and love them freely for his wrath is turned away from them. 
Saturday: (Hosea 6) Come, let us return to the Lord. It is love that I desire, not sacrificed, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 

Gospel: 
Monday: (Luke 4) Jesus reminded people that a prophet is without honor in his own land and he called the mind the story of Naaman, the foreigner from Syria, who was cured.
Tuesday: (Matthew 18) Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness. He said to forgiven seventy-seven time because unless each person forgives from the heart, he will not be forgiven.
Wednesday: (Matthew 5) Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Each commandment is to be observed; the one who does it will be the greatest in the Kingdom.
Thursday: (Luke 11) Jesus drove out a demon that was mute and was then accused of being in league with Beelzebul. Jesus explained to them how that does not make much sense.
Friday: (Mark 12) A scribe asked Jesus to declare which is the first commandment. Love the God with you whole soul and your neighbor like yourself. The scribe was well pleased. 
Saturday: (Luke 18) Jesus told a parable about prayer to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. The one who is humble is favored by God. 

Saints of the Week

March 19: Joseph, husband of Mary is honored today for his support of Mary in their marriage. He is portrayed as a righteous man who obeys the will of God. Therefore, his ancestry is upheld as a virtuous stock through which God’s promises come true. We seldom contemplate his marital relationship to Mary and his responsibility to love and raise Jesus as his son. He was a descendent of King David and a carpenter or builder by trade. In Matthew's dream sequence, Joseph was embarrassed by Mary's pregnancy before their marriage, but went through with the wedding because he was a righteous man. He considered dissolving their marriage because of Mosaic Law, but is told in a dream to take Mary as his wife and to raise Jesus as his own. He is honored as the earthly father of Jesus.

March 23: Toribio of Mogrovejo, bishop (1538-1606) was a Spanish law professor in Salamanca who became the president of the Inquisition in Granada. As a layman, he was made the Archbishop of Lima, Peru and became quickly disturbed at the treatment of the native populations by the European conquerors. He condemned abuses and founded schools to educate the oppressed natives. He built hospitals and churches and opened the first seminary in Latin America.

March 25: The Annunciation of the Lord celebrates the announcement that God chose to unite divinity with humanity at the conception of Jesus. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to inform her of God’s intentions to have her conceive the future Messiah. The boy’s name was to be Jesus – meaning “God saves.” This date falls nine months before Christmas Day.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Mar 19, 1836. By imperial decree, the Society was allowed to re-enter the Austrian dominions.
·      Mar 20, 1602. The first "Disputatio de Auxiliis" was held before Clement VIII. The disputants were Fr. Gregory de Valentia SJ and Fr. Diego Alvarez OP.
·      Mar 21, 1768. In Spain, at a special meeting of the Council of State in the presence of King Charles III, the Suppression of the Society was urged on the pretense that it was independent of the bishops, that it plotted against the State, and that it was lax in its teaching.
·      March 22, 1585: In Rome, Fr. General received the three Japanese ambassadors with great solemnity in the Society's Church of the Gesu.
·      March 23, 1772: At Rome, Cardinal Marefoschi held a visitation of the Irish College and accused the Jesuits of mismanagement. He removed them from directing that establishment.
·      March 24, 1578: At Lisbon Rudolf Acquaviva and 13 companions embarked for India. Among the companions were Matthew Ricci and Michael Ruggieri.

·      March 25, 1563: The first Sodality of Our Lady, Prima Primaria, was begun in the Roman College by a young Belgian Jesuit named John Leunis (Leonius).