Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 6, 2017
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 97; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9

I suspect that you have had, at least once in your lifetime, a conversation with someone when you really connected. You knew the dynamics of the dialogue went better than you expected and you both walked away having a meaningful exchange. You both felt taller and straighter and the memory of that time together remained after you parted. You were amazed at the power a simple conversation could bring.

A good conversation is like a classic Hollywood-themed marriage proposal. You come prepared for dinner in your best clothes, you dine at a fancy restaurant, soft music plays in the background, you catch the subdued lighting flickering on your partner’s face, and you make sure you are not looking at your mobile phone. Your attention is focused solely upon your friend. You realize the conversation has been light and casual, but there is something more to come. Your waiter clears the entrée plates from your table and you order desserts to top off the evening. The time is right. You ask your friend to be your life’s partner as you likewise declare your commitment back. The answer is “yes” and the consequence of that conversation dances in your head for weeks afterwards. The moment lingers. Love transfigures the conversation; love transfigures the forward progress of your life.

Visualize the conversations that occur on that holy mountain. Peter, James, and John, the inner circle of Jesus, talk with him about his mission. Just then, the three notice Moses and Elijah. Jesus turns his attention to them in and speaks with them. Next, Jesus, who holds a special place in God’s eye, turns to the Father and is transfigured because of this interchange. There is one final conversation. God speaks to the three disciples and says, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” The Transfiguration was meant for us to know the power of God’s dialogue with us.

Never underestimate the power of dialogue. When it is done right, we know it and it can transform a person. The truth is: we do not often dialogue well, and mostly because we do not do an essential part of it: listening. It is not an easy skill to acquire, but it is one of the most useful gifts to acquire, and you will become known for it. When we are able to listen, we are then able to speak succinctly and articulately and we model our language after God’s because when God speaks, God creates. Our words, then, must be brief, life-giving, restorative, and reconciling.   

            Experiment this week with a good friend or someone in your family. Turn to that person and listen. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Hear what the person is saying and not saying and be comfortable enough to ask clarifying questions. Make no unnecessary statement. Relish the silence because that space does not need to be filled with chatter. Gaze upon the person and notice time simple offering of oneself that is being made – sharing hopes and vulnerabilities. Simple embrace the person. Affirm the goodness and the gift he or she is to you. Notice how you are both transfigured in joy as you depart in joy.

            Embrace the possibilities of transfiguring dialogue. Bring the same aspects of dialogue into prayer because conversation is merely a “turning towards” God. As we listen and God speaks, our soul is magnified with God’s life. That grace, my friends, is enough for me.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Numbers 11) The children of Israel lamented they had no meat to eat. God sent them manna and Moses petitioned God for help as the responsibility was weighty.
Tuesday: (Numbers 12) Miriam and Aaron got angry with Moses for his marriage to a Cushite woman. God gave Miriam leprosy and Moses petitioned God in her defense.
Wednesday: (Numbers 13) Moses sent men to explore the Promised Land, but they found it inhabited. The community deliberated if they should enter the land to occupy it.    
Thursday: (2 Corinthians 9) Whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully; God is able to make ever grace abundant for you.
Friday (Deuteronomy 4) You must know in your heart that the Lord is God of heaven and earth, and that there is no other.
Saturday (Deuteronomy 6) Hear, O Israel. The Lord alone is our God. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength.

Monday: (Matthew 14) Jesus withdrew to a deserted place after John was beheaded. The crowds gathered and he asked his disciples to distribute the fish and bread he blessed. 
Tuesday: (Matthew 14) Jesus got in the boat to cross the other side. A storm kicked up and Jesus calmed the winds and asked, “Why do you have such little faith?”
Wednesday (Matthew 14) A Canaanite woman pleaded for healing for her daughter, but Jesus said, “I have only come for the house of Israel.” He cured her daughter through faith.
Thursday (John 12) Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. Whoever loses his life for my sake will inherit eternal life.
Friday (Matthew 16) What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and lose his soul? The Son of Man will repay each according to his conduct.
Saturday (Matthew 17) Lord, have pity on my son who suffers severely. Jesus cured the boy, but the disciples asked, “Why could we not drive out this demon?”

Saints of the Week

August 6: The Transfiguration of the Lord is an historical event captured by the Gospels when Jesus is singled out as God's Son - ranking higher than Moses or Elijah. In front of his disciples, Jesus becomes transfigured, thus revealing his true nature. Ironically, the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb occurred at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

August 7: Sixtus, II, pope and martyr with companions (d. 258), died during the Valerian persecutions in 258. They were killed in the catacombs where they celebrated Mass. Sixtus was beheaded while speaking in his presidential chair and six deacons were killed as well. Lawrence, the Deacon, is honored on August 10th. Sixtus is remembered during the 1st Eucharistic prayer at Mass.

August 7: Cajetan, priest (1480-1547), was a civil and canon lawyer who worked in the papal chancery. He later joined the Roman Order of Divine Love and was ordained a priest. He became aware that the church needed reform and he teamed up with the bishop of Theate (Gian Pietro Carafa) and formed a society of priests called the Theatines who lived in community and took monastic vows. They owned no property.

August 8: Dominic, priest (1170-1221), was a Spaniard who was sent to southern France to counter the heretical teachings of the Albigensians, who held that the material world was evil and only religious asceticism could combat those forces. Dominic begged and preached in an austere fashion and set the foundations for the new Order of Preachers for both men and women.

August 8: Mother Mary MacKillop, religious (1842-1909), who worked in Australia and New Zealand to assist the poor, needy, and immigrants to the country, was canonized on October 17th 2010. August 8th is chosen as the day in which she will be memorialized on the Roman calendar. I offer the following prayer:

Bountiful and loving God,
You have filled the heart of Mary MacKillop
with compassionate love for those
who are in need at the margins of our society.
Deepen that love within us
that we may embrace the mystery of the Cross
which leads us through death to life.
We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus
who having broken the bonds of death
leads us to everlasting life. Amen.

August 9: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), martyr (1891-1942), became a Catholic convert from Judaism after reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila. He earned a doctorate in philosophy, but was unemployable because she was a woman. She taught at a high school for eight years before entering the Carmelites in 1933 where she made final vows in 1938. She moved to Holland to escape persecution by the Nazis, but was arrested when the bishops spoke out against the persecution of the Jews.

August 10: Lawrence, deacon and martyr (d. 258) was martyred four days after Pope Sixtus II and six other deacons during the Valerian persecution. A beautiful story is told about Lawrence's words. When asked to surrender the church's treasure, Lawrence gathered the poor and presented them to the civil authorities. For this affront, he was martyred. He is the patron of Rome.

August 11: Clare, founder (1193-1253), was inspired by Francis of Assist so much that she fled her home for his community to receive the Franciscan habit on Passion Sunday 1212. She lived in a nearby Benedictine convent until she was made superior of a new community in San Damiano. She practiced radical poverty by wearing no shoes, sleeping on the ground, and giving up meat.

August 12: Jane Frances de Chantal, religious (1572-1641), founded the Congregation of the Visitation with her spiritual advisor, Francis de Sales. This congregation was for women who wanted to live in religious life, but without the austerity of the other orders. Jane was married to a Baron with whom she had six children and she sought religious answers to her suffering. Her order established eighty-five convents dedicated to serving the poor before she died.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 6, 1552. The death of Claude Jay, a French priest who was one of Ignatius' original companions at the University of Paris.
·      Aug 7, 1814. The universal restoration of the Society of Jesus.
·      Aug 8, 1604. St Peter Claver takes his first vows at Tarracona.
·      Aug 9, 1762. The moving of the English College from St Omers to Liege.
·      Aug 10, 1622. Blessed Augustine Ota, a Japanese brother, was beheaded for the faith. He had been baptized by Blessed Camillus Costanzi on the eve of the latter's martyrdom.
·      Aug 11, 1846. The death of Benedict Joseph Fenwick. He was the second bishop of Boston, twice the president of Georgetown, and the founder of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

·      Aug 12, 1877. The death of Fr. Maurice Gailland. He was an expert in languages and spent many years at St Mary's Mission in Kansas. He wrote a dictionary and grammar of the Potawatomi language.