Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time
June 25, 2017
Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 69; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33

Scripture teaches us to increase our trust in God, the one who probes our mind and heart and understands the goodness of our souls. When we trust, we no longer have any fear. Jeremiah tells us there is terror all around us and that many people will try to bring down the righteous while the Gospel tells us to be cautious of those who cause division because they are more harmful than those who cause physical harm.

Matthew uses the word Gehenna to describe the condition of a grave source of division. Gehenna is an actual location, a valley, southwest of Jerusalem that was a physical barrier that separated the tribes of Judah from Benjamin. A few kings of Judah used the hills around the valley for idolatry and sacrifices, which caused God to send his wrath upon the tribe. The valley became known to the Israelites as a place of fire and destruction, symbols we associate with hell. Gehenna became known as a place of God’s punishment of the wicked after death. It was not hell, but a place of punishment, where there was still hope for the wicked to repent and turn back to God.

When we consider who our real enemies are, we find out they are not the stranger or foreigner, but the people closest to us – family members, colleagues, trusted friends. They are the ones who are supposed to be on the same side as us. We take their friendship for granted and we trust too much in their good motives – only to be abused. The same happens with family. Because we are blood relatives, we expect that everyone has the same goals and practices, but the deepest heartache we experience is when family members are estranged from one another. We know that if we cannot trust our closest friends and family members, it makes it much more difficult to fully trust God.

How do we trust in God and not worry about the actions of others, but still protect ourselves from people whose self-concerned intentions are in conflict with God’s ways? It is not easy. I think many people would prefer to keep silent and avoid conflict. This is the route I generally take and it is insufficient because my silence permits others to take advantage of me. “My silence communicates to them: Go ahead and make your move. I’ll not do anything to stop you because I trust in God and God will make everything turn out fine.” My preferred approach is wrong. Years ago, on the pavement on the streets of Boston was a symbol: Silence equals death. This logo bears much truth.

I have to do those things that I do not like doing. I have to make friends with enemies, which means that I have to be kind to those people who are unkind to me and are actively working against me. It takes courage and patience because I would rather just avoid unkind people, but instead, I have to bring God’s ways to them. I have to let my pride go and actively decide that I am going to establish a relationship with my adversary because somehow this is my trust in God.

I have to change around my thinking about trust, which seems like a passive process, to one in which I have to courageously put myself in the presence of harm and conflict and I have to allow room for God to operate. These things I know about my experience of God: (1.) God connects and joins; therefore, I must commit to resolving conflicts in relationships so God can be found, (2.) God does not magically correct matters in a instant; therefore, I must build, cooperate, and nurture strained relationships patiently, (3.) God creates something new of out of the old; God does not just restore, God validates and fashions a new creation, and (4.) God has to give me the courage because I cannot do it well on my own. I have to swallow my pride, and know there is hard work ahead of me.

When I am able to think like this, my fear is lessened, as the Gospel promises. God cares just as much for the other person and God cares for me, so can I extend my care to my adversary, who will eventually become a friend. Most importantly, I am doing what the Gospel asks: I am testifying publicly about God to others and I am telling them that I trust that God is in the process – mysteriously, creatively, mercifully – and I will let God guide my responses and actions. I want my prayer to be: Loving God, be present in my conflicts and guide me so I may show others your care for you will teach us how to build a world with your mercy at its foundation. In this God I trust.  

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Genesis 12) The Lord said to Abram: Go forth from the land of your family to a land I will show you and I will bless your posterity. Abram set up an altar in Bethel.    
Tuesday: (Genesis 13) Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. Lot also had much livestock and they together had too many to share the land. Lot chose the land to the right of the Jordan, leaving the left bank to Abram.  
Wednesday: (Genesis 15) In a dream, the Lord told Abram he would have an heir. Abram made a sacrifice to the Lord, who blessed him with a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch.
Thursday: (Acts 12) King Herod killed James and intended to harm Peter, whom he imprisoned. An earthquake occurred in the night and the guard was converted to belief.   
Friday (Genesis 17) At age 99, the Lord blessed Abram with news that Sarai would bear a son. As part of the covenant, through Isaac, not Ishmael, every boy must be circumcised.
Saturday (Genesis 18) Three mysterious men visited Abram’s tent. Abram gave them great hospitality and as they left, they told Abram that Sarai would bear a son within the next year.

Monday: (Matthew 7) Stop judging and you will not be judged. Don’t criticize the splinter in your brother’s eye until you take out the log in yours. 
Tuesday: (Matthew 7) Do not give what is holy to the dogs. Do unto others as you would want them to do to you. This is the summation of the Law and the Prophets.
Wednesday (Matthew 7) Beware of false prophets. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be destroyed.
Thursday (Matthew 16) Jesus asked his disciples: Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am? Peter declared: You are the Christ, the Son of God.
Friday (Matthew 8) A leper begged Jesus to make him clean. He said, “I do will it. Tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest.”
Saturday (Matthew 8) In Capernaum, a centurion approached Jesus about his beloved servant. Only say the word and my servant shall be healed.

Saints of the Week

June 24: Nativity of John the Baptist (first century) was celebrated on June 24th to remind us that he was six months older than Jesus, according to Luke. This day also serves to remind us that, as Christ is the light of the world, John must decrease just as the daylight diminishes. John’s birth is told by Luke. He was the son of the mature Elizabeth and the dumbstruck Zechariah. When John was named, Zechariah’s tongue was loosened and he sang the great Benedictus.

June 27: Cyril of Alexandria, bishop and doctor (376-444), presided over the Council of Ephesus that fought Nestorian the heresy. Cyril claimed, contrary to Nestorius, that since the divine and human in Jesus were so closely united that it was appropriate to refer to Mary was the mother of God. Because he condemned Nestorius, the church went through a schism that lasted until Cyril's death. Cyril's power, wealth, and theological expertise influenced many as he defended the church against opposing philosophies.

June 28: Irenaeus, bishop and martyr (130-200) was sent to Lyons as a missionary to combat the persecution the church faced in Lyons. He was born in Asia Minor and became a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Irenaeus asserted that the creation was not sinful by nature but merely distorted by sin. As God created us, God redeemed us. Therefore, our fallen nature can only be saved by Christ who took on our form in the Incarnation. Irenaeus refutation of heresies laid the foundations of Christian theology.

June 29: Peter and Paul, apostles (first century) are lumped together for a feast day because of their extreme importance to the early and contemporary church. Upon Peter's faith was the church built; Paul's efforts to bring Gentiles into the faith and to lay out a moral code was important for successive generations. It is right that they are joined together as their work is one, but with two prongs. For Jesuits, this is a day that Ignatius began to recover from his illness after the wounds he sustained at Pamplona. It marked a turning point in his recovery.

June 30: The First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (c. 64) were martyrs under Nero's persecution in 64. Nero reacted to the great fire in Rome by falsely accusing Christians of setting it. While no one believed Nero's assertions, Christians were humiliated and condemned to death in horrible ways. This day always follows the feast of the martyrs, Sts. Peter and Paul.

July 1: Junipero Serra, priest, was a Franciscan missionary who founded missions in Baja and traveled north to California starting in 1768. The Franciscans established the missions during the suppression of the Jesuits. San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara are among the most famous. Serra’s statue is in the U.S. Capitol to represent California.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jun 25, 1782. The Jesuits in White Russia were permitted by the Empress Catherine to elect a General. They chose Fr. Czerniewicz. He took the title of Vicar General, with the powers of the General.
·      Jun 26, 1614. By a ruse of the Calvinists, the book, "Defensio Fidei" by Francis Suarez was condemned by the French Parliament. In addition, in England James I ordered the book to be publicly burned.
·      Jun 27, 1978. Bernard Lisson, a mechanic, and Gregor Richert, a parish priest, were shot to death at St Rupert's Mission, Sinoia, Zimbabwe.
·      Jun 28, 1591. Fr. Leonard Lessius's teaching on grace and predestination caused a great deal of excitement and agitation against the Society in Louvain and Douai. The Papal Nuncio and Pope Gregory XIV both declared that his teaching was perfectly orthodox.
·      Jun 29, 1880. In France the law of spoliation, which was passed at the end of March, came into effect and all the Jesuit Houses and Colleges were suppressed.
·      Jun 30, 1829. The opening of the Twenty-first General Congregation of the order, which elected Fr. John Roothan as General.

·      Jul 1, 1556. The beginning of St Ignatius's last illness. He saw his three great desires fulfilled: confirmation of the Institute, papal approval of the Spiritual Exercises, and acceptance of the Constitutions by the whole Society.