Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 23, 2017
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43

Jesus gives us three images of the Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel. Each story shows that we are related to one another even during difficult circumstances. He explains the parable of the seeds sown among the weeds to his disciples showing how difficult one’s growth in the faith can be when surrounded by the weeds of evil and sin. We are left with a dilemma. What are we to do? Are we to destroy the weeds knowing we will also destroy the wheat? Jesus says, “Let me take care of it. It is my job to gather and to separate..”

The parable puts us in touch with the presence of evil when we are trying to do what is good and right. We cannot look at evil too simplistically. Are there evil people? There are certainly people who do sinful things. There are people who are not brought up well or given much of a reason to make something good of their lives, but are they rather victims of an unjust system than evil people? Therefore, we have to be very careful to put people into categories. Good and evil are not polar opposites. Jesus reminds us that good and evil actions arise from the attitudes we hold within us. Sin comes out of our attitudes.

Like you, I know many good people who have acted badly. Did I get angry with them? Yes. Did they disappoint and hurt me? Yes. Do I have to see them as evil people? No. Even though I do not like their actions, I do not condemn them with my absolute judgments. I realize they operate out of a set of circumstances and motivations that I do not know or understand. I may feel betrayed, I may experience their selfishness or jealousy, I may be appalled by their actions, but I cannot condemn them as evil. I cannot be the judge of their souls. That is the point of the Gospel parable. We have to leave the judgments to Jesus, who was given this ministerial role by God.

However, the Gospel demands more from the wheat than just coexisting with the weeds. We are connected and we have to peacefully grow together. Our presence has to mean something. Perhaps the example we give faith has a leavening effect upon others. Maybe a tiny kind gesture has the effect of a mustard seed that spreads its branches widely. We make the best choices possible and we leave the judgments to the Lord to make.

The author of Wisdom tells us, “You judge with clemency, with lenience you govern us, and you taught by kindness.” At our root, all people are good, but we show who we are when we are in conflict with others. Some have not learned how to be kind and gracious; others are passive aggressive or conflict avoidant; still others are belligerent and aggressive. We cannot wish these people away. We are to engage with them and let them know when their behavior is distasteful and disrespectful, but we are not to withdraw. We stay in the conflict and we give clemency and leniency without giving away our authority; we remain firm while being kind. Speaking softly can be more powerful than screaming or raising one’s voice. We do not have to lose our cool and get redirected by someone else’s anger.

We grow where we are planted. We are formed in ways that are beyond our control. Reconcile yourself to your history and let it go. Do your very best to reach for the heights around you. Articulate your needs and pay attention to your groaning and yearning. Choose to speak and to act as kindly as you can. Evil may hurt us but it has no grip over us. We might as well let go and live graciously because we have no other choice. Today, and in the end, Christ will sort it out for you. Live well and you will prosper. Live well and enjoy the blessings that abound around you. Live well and do not worry. You are already saved.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Exodus 14) Once the Israelites fled Egypt, Pharaoh sent his army and charioteers after them. In desperation, Moses petitioned the Lord who opened the sea to the fleeing people into safety.
Tuesday: (2 Corinthians 4) We are earthen vessels. We are afflicted, but not constrained; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We carry the dying of the Lord Jesus in our souls.
Wednesday: (Exodus 16) Beset by famine, the people grumbled in the desert. Moses petitioned the Lord, who sent doves among the people and gave them manna to eat.  
Thursday: (Exodus 19) The Lord said, “I am coming to you in a dense cloud of smoke.” The people assembled at Sinai’s foot, and the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain.
Friday (Exodus 20) God gave Moses the 10 Commandments.
Saturday (Exodus 24) Moses said, “We will do everything the Lord has told us.” He made an altar and offered a sacrifice in thanksgiving to God in honor of the covenant.

Monday: (Matthew 12) We wish to see a sign. No sign will be given to this evil generation, and you do not recognize that you have someone greater than Jonah and Solomon among you. 
Tuesday: (Matthew 20) James and John asked to sit at the right hand of Jesus. “Can you drink from the same cup from which I drink?”
Wednesday (Matthew 13)A sower planted seeds and some fell on rich soil and grew well, producing a yield of a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold.
Thursday (Matthew 13) Why do you speak in parables? To those to whom much is given, much will be expected. Hear the mysteries of the parables.
Friday (Matthew 13) Jesus explains the parable of the sower and the seed privately to his disciples.
Saturday (John 11) Your brother will rise in the resurrection on the last day. “Do you believe this?” Yes, Lord, I have come to believe you are the Christ, the Son of God.

Saints of the Week

July 23: Bridget of Sweden, religious (1303-1373), founded the Bridgettine Order for men and women in 1370, though today only the women’s portion has survived. She desired to live in a lifestyle defined by prayer and penance. Her husband of 28 years died after producing eight children with Bridget. She then moved to Rome to begin the new order.

July 24: Sharbel Makhuf, priest (1828-1898), joined a monastery in the Maronite tradition and lived as a hermit for 23 years after living fifteen years in the community. He became known for his wisdom and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

July 25: James, Apostle (1st century), is the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. As fishermen, they left their trade to follow Jesus. They occupied the inner circle as friends of Jesus. James is the patron of Spain as a shrine is dedicated to him at Santiago de Compostela. He is the patron of pilgrims as many walk the Camino en route to this popular pilgrim site.

July 26: Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents (1st century) are names attributed to the grandparents of Jesus through the Proto-Gospel of James. These names appeared in the Christian tradition though we don't know anything with certitude about their lives. Devotion of Anne began in Constantinople in the 6th century while Joachim gained acclaim in the West in the 16th century. He was revered in the Eastern churches since the earliest times.

July 29: Martha (1st century), is the sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany near Jerusalem. Martha is considered the busy, activity-attentive sister while Mary is more contemplative. Martha is known for her hospitality and fidelity. She proclaimed her belief that Jesus was the Christ when he appeared after Lazarus had died.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jul 23, 1553. At Palermo, the parish priests expressed to Fr. Paul Achilles, rector of the college, indignation that more than 400 persons had received Holy Communion in the Society's church, rather than in their parish churches.
·      Jul 24, 1805. In Maryland, Fr. Robert Molyneux was appointed the first superior by Father General Gruber.
·      Jul 25, 1581. In the house of the Earl of Leicester in London, an interview occurred between Queen Elizabeth and Edmund Campion. The Queen could scarcely have recognized the worn and broken person before her as the same brilliant scholar who had addressed here at Oxford 15 years before.
·      Jul 26, 1872. At Rome, the greater part of the Professed House of the Gesu was seized and appropriated by the Piedmontese government.
·      Jul 27, 1609. Pope Paul V beatifies Ignatius.
·      Jul 28, 1564. In a consistory held before twenty-four Cardinals, Pope Paul IV announced his intention of entrusting the Roman Seminary to the Society.

·      Jul 29, 1865. The death in Cincinnati, Ohio of Fr. Peter Arnoudt, a Belgian. He was the author of The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.