Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 30, 2017
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

Once again Jesus describes what the kingdom of God is like. He compares it to a valuable treasure buried in a field, like a merchant searching for the pearl of great price, and like a net thrown widely into the sea that collects every kind of fish in its catch. The point is that there is great abundance of joy when we realize we are in the kingdom of heaven. When we get a glimpse of it, we have to savor it and build our lives around it because it is the only thing that will give us enduring joy.

You ask, “how do we get this treasure?” The first reading points the way. At the very beginning of King Solomon’s reign, the Lord appears to him in a dream and says, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon reflects on his options and responds, “Give me an understanding heart that I may govern and positively judge your people.” He gives a tremendously insightful answer because he realizes that the people are God’s great treasure. He does not ask for his own gain, but that his service be directed prudently towards the common good. What is the best part of this interchange? God is very pleased with Solomon’s request and therefore grants his request. God acts like the proud teacher when a student comes forward with a well-integrated answer. God smiles.

Now, I ask you, wise and understanding people, to carefully consider this question: If God granted you a wish for your life, what request would you make? Please take your time answering. Now, Solomon was at the beginning of his monarchy and had an important mission to guide the people, and you are in a different station in life, but an equally important one, so within your very own context, what is it that you most seek? Listen to your body because it will give the right answer, and then when you have identified it, ask the Lord for it.

When and how will you ask? Consider offering your prayer during mass at the offertory or during the petitionary prayers. See if the Lord accepts your request. Or, maybe you can unite it to the prayer of the priest when he lifts the bread and wine for consecration. Maybe the Lord accepts it at this moment of unity. Wait for his response. Is God pleased with what you have asked? Or does God want to prune and tweak your request? Do not be discouraged. We are all shaped and trimmed when we ask for something that needs adjustment. Solomon’s great secret iss that he wanted his gift blessed so it could be used for the benefit of others.

If God accepts your request, then align your life to that request and live out of it. Throw away all the other competing aspects in your life if it does not contribute to your attainment of this goal. That is the Gospel message because too often we let other immediate demands take us away from our life-long pursuits. For instance, family dramas, the pursuit of a promotion, the blessing of an influential person, earning the respect from others, or trying to fix an interpersonal relationship can be factors that pull us away from our life-long goal. We have to let go of our perceptions and images of our roles in life in order to be free enough to follow our treasure. Find out what you essentially want and let all the other peripheral stuff drop off from your life. The Gospel is not about hoarding everything and everyone who is in your life; it is selectively treasuring the sacred essence of God in your life.

Live your dream well. Because we are friends with God, we can ask God every day for what we want and need, and it is in God’s nature to give us what we want because God is generous. Never doubt God’s generosity. Because we are a people who value mutuality in our friendships, we are moved to ask God: Tell me. What can I give you? What do you want from me? As we honor each other’s requests, we find we are in the midst of the kingdom.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Exodus 32) Moses came down the mountain with the stone tablets and found the people worshiping a golden calf. In anger, he threw the stones down and they crumbled.
Tuesday: (Exodus 33) Moses would go inside the tent to meet with Lord when he appeared as a column of smoke. He fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights.
Wednesday: (Exodus 34) When Moses came down from the mountain with the two tablets, he did not know his face was radiant and his hair whitened.   
Thursday: (Exodus 40) Moses erected the Dwelling as the Lord asked of him and he placed the ark of the covenant inside.
Friday (Leviticus 23) The schedule of the festivals of the Lord has been announced.
Saturday (Leviticus 25) After every 49th years, as a cycle of seven years, a Day of Atonement shall be announced and a Jubilee year proclaimed.

Monday: (Matthew 13) The kingdom is like a mustard seed that blossomed into a wide blooming tree though it began as the smallest of seeds. 
Tuesday: (Matthew 13) Jesus explained the parable of the seeds and the wheat and the role the Evil One plays in sowing the weeds.
Wednesday (Matthew 13) The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure in a field. When one finds it, he sells all that he has and he buys that field.
Thursday (Matthew 13) The kingdom of heaven is like a net cast into the sea that collects every kind of fish.
Friday (Matthew 13) Jesus returned to his native place and people asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph, the carpenter, and Mary? From where did he get this knowledge?
Saturday (Matthew 14) Herod heard of Jesus and wondered who he was. Some said John the Baptist raised from the dead. Mighty powers worked through Jesus.

Saints of the Week

July 30: Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor (406-450), was the archbishop of Ravenna, Italy in the 5th century when the faithful became lax and adopted pagan practices. He revived the faith through his preaching. He was titled Chrysologus because of his 'golden words.'

July 31: Ignatius of Loyola, priest (1491-1556), is one of the founders of the Jesuits and the author of the Spiritual Exercises. As a Basque nobleman, he was wounded in a battle at Pamplona in northeastern Spain and convalesced at his castle where he realized he followed a methodology of discernment of spirits. When he recovered, he ministered to the sick and dying and then retreated to a cave at Manresa, Spain where he had experiences that formed the basis of The Spiritual Exercises. In order to preach, he studied Latin, earned a Master’s Degree at the University of Paris, and then gathered other students to serve Jesus. Francis Xavier and Peter Faber were his first friends. After ordination, Ignatius and his nine friends went to Rome where they formally became the Society of Jesus. Most Jesuits were sent on mission, but Ignatius stayed in Rome directing the rapidly growing religious order, composing its constitutions, and perfecting the Spiritual Exercises. He died in 1556 and the Jesuit Order was already 1,000 men strong. 

August 1: Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor(1696-1787), founded a band of mission priests that became the Redemptorists. He wrote a book called "Moral Theology" that linked legal aspects with kindness and compassion for others. He became known for his responsive and thoughtful way of dealing with confessions.

August 2: Peter Faber, S.J., priest and founder (1506-1546), was one of the original companions of the Society of Jesus. He was a French theologian and the first Jesuit priest and was the presider over the first vows of the lay companions. He became known for directing the Spiritual Exercises very well. He was called to the Council of Trent but died as the participants were gathering.

August 2: Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop (d. 371), was ordained bishop after becoming a lector. He attended a council in Milan where he opposed the Arians. The emperor exiled him to Palestine because he contradicted secular influences. He returned to his diocese where the emperor died.

August 2: Peter Julian Eymard, priest (1811-1868) left the Oblates when he became ill. When his father died, he became a priest and soon transferred into the Marists but left them to found the Blessed Sacrament Fathers to promote the significance of the Eucharist.

August 4: John Vianney, priest (1786-1859) became the parish priest in Ars-en-Dombes where he spent the rest of his life preaching and hearing confessions. Hundreds of visitors and pilgrims visited him daily. He would hear confessions 12-16 hours per day.

August 5: Dedication of the Basilica of Mary Major in Rome is celebrated because it is the largest and oldest of the churches in honor of Mary. The veneration began in 435 when the church was repaired after the Council of Ephesus in 431 when Mary was proclaimed the Mother of God. This is the church where Ignatius of Loyola said his first Mass and where Francis of Assisi assembled the first crèche.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jul 30, 1556. As he lay near death, Ignatius asked Juan de Polanco to go and obtain for him the blessing of the pope.
·      Jul 31, 1556. The death in Rome of Ignatius Loyola.
·      Aug 1, 1938. The Jesuits of the Middle United States, by Gilbert Garrigan was copyrighted. This monumental three-volume work followed the history of the Jesuits in the Midwest from the early 1820s to the 1930s.
·      Aug 2, 1981. The death of Gerald Kelly, moral theologian and author of "Modern Youth and Chastity."
·      Aug 3, 1553. Queen Mary Tudor made her solemn entrance into London. As she passed St Paul's School, Edmund Campion, then a boy of thirteen delivered an address.
·      Aug 4, 1871. King Victor Emmanuel signed the decree that sanctioned the seizure of all of the properties belonging to the Roman College and to S. Andrea.

·      Aug 5, 1762. The Parliament at Paris condemned the Society's Institute as opposed to natural law. It confiscated all Jesuit property and forbade the Jesuit habit and community life.