Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 9, 2017
Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

We appreciate the message of peace and rest that Scripture feeds us because our anxiety-ridden world chips away from the peace God promises. Violence from disgruntled terror groups, an all-time low for national political discourse, and technology that intrudes into daily life affect our ability to remain balanced and calm. If we do not take moments of downtime, it is difficult for our souls to be restored.

We just celebrated our national day of independence and the virtues that come with freedom: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are ideals to cherish, and we know we fall far short of the mark. Sadly, many in our nation cannot yet celebrate our values. Our holiday is over, and now we have a lot of work to do, and we cannot stop trying to create a better world until equal rights are achieved – for women, among the races, for the middle and lower classes, and for all people who are disadvantaged minorities. Peace is not possible whenever divisions and inequities exist. We show the world we have faith when we bring about God’s merciful justice.

Zechariah tells us our God is a just savior – meek, humble, and identifying with the lowly. This God brings down the strong, quells violence, and offers invitations to peace. So, whenever someone is using power, influence, and bullying to control our behaviors and to create some form of social control that suppresses freedom, their actions are contrary to God’s ways. If someone clenches a fist, raises their voice, or eliminates our choices in order to maintain systems of oppression, their actions are not of God, and this has to be stopped.  God abhors violence. Instead, God issues gentle invitations that we can freely accept or reject. If some invitation is genuinely loving, encourages our growth, and seeks to enhance our liberty and freedom, it is from God.

            Jesus, who is the revelation of God, teaches us that joy and gratitude are key parts of our faith, and then he asks us to learn two things from him – to be gentle and humble of heart. To be grateful means to be sensitive to the imbalance that is around us because this is when we can use God’s compassion to bind and heal. Let me give you an example. I live with a deaf priest, and he is quite courageous in his resolve to be a minister of the Gospel. His life is lonely because it is silent. He is socially isolated. He communicates by reading lips and using sign language, which no one in my community practices. Without knowing it, I neglect his participation in conversations regularly because I have not always adjusted my communication patterns. To my fault, I exclude him without even noticing. When I recognize my failings, I am suddenly grateful because I have the chance to rectify this social imbalance and make someone who is very special feel accepted, wanted, and welcomed.

            With our gratitude, with our humility, with our gentleness, we come to Jesus to recognize how challenging it is to get things right in this world. During this time, we do not need to do anything together, but just to just hang out. We do not always need to say something to our loved ones. Some of the best moments are simply being with them in silence. The same goes with Jesus. We seek rest in him, and he gives it to us. Upon later reflection, we realize we really needed the time together. He nourishes our soul with his silence and we feel a bit of our heaviness lifted.

            We have a secret that the rest of the world does not know. We are people of the Spirit, as St. Paul reminds us, and we have to be careful to give the Spirit some room in our life, otherwise, we can become people of the flesh, which we do not want. With the many conflicts, misunderstandings, and hurts in life, it is fairly easy to respond defensively and earthly, but we cannot let that happen to us. We have to keep our minds raised to the Spirit and to the needs of others. When we do that, we can help the Spirit in its resolve to bring dignity to each person, to influence the systems that remain unfair, and to heal and bring unity to places that so easily fall into discord.

The world needs our religious leadership – through our gentleness and humility, but with firm purpose. The world is not yet as Jesus wants it to be. So let’s go to him, rest with him, learn from him, and have the courage to act as people of the Spirit to work for the balance he wants for our world. There’s much work to do, but we are only helpful disciples when we are rested and filled with Christ’s Spirit.    

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Genesis 28) Jacob left Beersheba towards Haran where he dreamed while he slept: God’s messengers were going up and down, and God said: I will give you this land to your descendants.    
Tuesday: (Genesis 32) Jacob left Haran and crossed the stream when he wrestled a man throughout the night. You will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.  
Wednesday: (Genesis 41) Hunger came to Egypt and Pharaoh directed everyone to Joseph to do whatever he told him. The sons of Israel came for rations too. Joseph’s brothers came to him, knelt down with their faces to the ground, but Joseph recognized them.
Thursday: (Genesis 44) Judah approached Joseph and presented his case. Joseph asked them to bring his youngest brother. Joseph wept, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you once sold into slavery.”
Friday (Genesis 46) Jacob was told by God not to be afraid to go down to Egypt. Jacob departed with his sons to be greeted in Goshen by Joseph.
Saturday (Genesis 49) Jacob asked his sons to carry his bones back to Ephron where Abraham and Sarah are buried.

Monday: (Matthew 9) My daughter has just died. Come. Lay your hand on her that she may live. A woman with hemorrhages touched the cloak as she was seeking a cure. 
Tuesday: (Matthew 9) A mute demoniac was brought to Jesus, who drove out the demons. Word spread about his healings and Jesus had compassion on them. The harvest is abundant; the laborers are few.
Wednesday (Matthew 10) Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and illness.
Thursday (Matthew 10) Take no walking stick, receive without cost, do not take gold or silver, keep all possessions to a minimum. The laborer deserves his keep. Wish the place peace. If it does not accept it, leave there.
Friday (Matthew 10) I am sending you forth like sheep in the midst of wolves. Beware of men who will hand you over to the authorities. Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. I will give you the words.
Saturday (Matthew 10) No disciples is above his master. Do not be afraid of those who can harm your body. The greater fear is against those who can damage your soul.

Saints of the Week

July 9: Augustine Zhao Rong, priest and companions, Chinese martyrs (1648-1930) were 120 Chinese martyrs that included priests, children, parents, catechists and common laborers. Christians were persecuted throughout Chinese history. Augustine Zhao Rong was a diocesan priest who was brought to the faith after the example of the French missionary bishop Dufresse. Zhao Rong was arrested in 1815 and died in prison.

July 9: Leo Mangan, S.J.

July 11: Benedict, Abbot (480-547), was educated in Rome, but left after a few years to take on a life of solitude. He became a monk at Subiaco and lived alone, but his lifestyle developed followers so he built 12 monasteries for them. He left to found a monastery at Monte Cassino where he wrote his Rule that became a standard for Western monasticism. He adopted the practices of the austere Desert Fathers for community life and emphasized moderation, humility, obedience, prayer, and manual labor. 

July 13: Henry, king (972-1024) was a descendent of Charlemagne who became king of Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor. His wife had no offspring. He merged the church's affairs with the secular government and built the cathedral in the newly erected diocese of Bamberg. He was a just ruler who paid close attention to his prayer.

July 14: Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk chief. As a child, she contracted smallpox and was blinded and severely disfigured by it. She was baptized on Easter Sunday 1767 by Jesuit missionaries and was named after Catherine of Siena. She kept a strong devotion to the Eucharist and cared for the sick. She is named "the Lily of the Mohawks."

July 15: Bonaventure, bishop and Doctor (1221-1273), was given his name by Francis of Assisi to mean "Good Fortune" after he was cured of serious childhood illnesses. He joined the Franciscans at age 20 and studied at the University of Paris. Aquinas became his good friend. Bonaventure was appointed minister general of the Franciscans and was made a cardinal. He participated in the ecumenical council at Lyons to reunite the Greek and Latin rites. Aquinas died on the way to the council.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jul 9, 1763. The Society is expelled from New Orleans and Louisiana at the bidding of the French government.
·      Jul 10 , 1881. Fr. Frederick Garesche' wrote from Sequin, Texas, to his Superior: "The cowboys who had not deigned at first to lift their hat to the priest or missionary; who had come to the mission as to a camp meeting, for the fun of the thing, gave in, and their smiles and awkward salutes showed that they had hearts under their rude exterior."
·      Jul 11, 1809. After Pius VII had been dragged into exile by General Radet, Fr. Alphonsus Muzzarrelli SJ, his confessor, was arrested in Rome and imprisoned at Civita Vecchia.
·      Jul 12, 1594. In the French Parliament Antoine Arnauld, the Jansenist, made a violent attack on the Society, charging it with rebellious feelings toward King Henry IV and with advocating the doctrine of regicide.
·      Jul 13, 1556. Ignatius, gravely ill, handed over the daily governance of the Society to Juan de Polanco and Cristobal de Madrid.
·      Jul 14, 1523. Ignatius departs from Venice on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
·      Jul 15, 1570. At Avila, St Teresa had a vision of Blessed Ignatius de Azevedo and his companions ascending to heaven. This occurred at the very time of their martyrdom.