Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 13, 2017
1 Kings 19:9, 11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33

            We are presented with two images that depict responses to an encounter with the holy. One is humility through silence; the other is fear and disbelief. In the first reading, Elijah is told to go up into rock caves where the Lord will pass by. Elijah, while looking for the Lord, does not encounter him in the expected ways. God is not the storm god, which is often the way the Israelites, Greeks and Romans thought of their gods. In fact, we cannot comprehend God’s mysterious actions in our lives. Like many, we want God to speak to us plainly, but like Elijah, God often speaks to us in the silence that follows the whisper.

            The story about Jesus walking on water in the midst of a storm ought to wake us up. The miraculous event happens right after he mysteriously feeds the crowds. The disciples quickly fail to remember and to understand the significance of the feeding and they resort comfortably back into their fear when something unexpected happens. Isn’t that quite like us? We come to Sunday Eucharist where we are mysteriously nourished and then we walk out the church doors holding onto our worries and fears. We fail to remember and to understand the significance of the meal we just ate. This is a reason we relate to the disciples so easily. We act just like them. Perhaps, Jesus is saying to us, “Why are you doubting? What level of faith do you have?”

              It is helpful to reflect upon the effect the Eucharist has upon us. Soon, we will eat from this table of belief and we do not understand how the Holy Spirit and God work together to make this into the Body and Blood of Jesus, and yet the meal ought to reduce our fears as we are drawn into the mystery. To illustrate that mystery, let me read a quote from the 14th century German Dominican mystic, Meister Eckhart, that I found in Richard Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance.

            Do you want to know what goes on at the core of the Trinity? I will tell you. In the core of the Trinity, the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us.

            In such a world, fear does not exist. It cannot. The relationship is about standing in solidarity with one another. Catherine LaCugna writes about the nature and action of thr Trinitiarian God in this way: God for us, we call you Father. God alongside us, we call you Jesus. God within us, we call you Holy Spirit. You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things, even us and even me.

            This is the type of God Elijah meets in the cave. Absolutely mystery. His response can only be respectful silence. This is the type of God Jesus was representing to the disciples when he calmed the storm and ask Peter to step out onto the water. This is a world in which fear cannot exist because God is always, fundamentally, for us. When we allow ourselves to be swept up in the mystery, our worries cease. This is what happens when we accept God into our life. God’s very nature is to draw us into communion and friendship.

            Richard Rohr ends his reflection by writing: Suddenly, this is a very safe universe. You have nothing to be afraid of. God is for you. God is leaping toward you. God is on your side, honestly more than you are on your own.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Deuteronomy 10) Your ancestors went down to Egypt 70 strong and has now made them as numerous as the stars.
Tuesday: (Revelations 11) A great sign appeared in the sky and a woman clothed with the sun was with child and she wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Wednesday: (Deuteronomy 34) At Mount Nebo on the plains of Moab, Moses blessed Joshua to lead Israel across the Jordan as its new leader.    
Thursday: (Joshua 3) Joshua rallies the people around the Lord as they set plans to conquer Jerusalem and to displace the Canaanites.
Friday (Joshua 24) Joshua gathered all the tribes at Schechem: I gave you a land you have not tilled and cities you have not built and fruits of the land you did not cultivate.
Saturday (Joshua 24) On behalf of the people, Joshua made a covenant with God and the people pledged to keep the statutes and commandments.

Monday: (Matthew 17) When Jesus came to Capernaum, the temple tax authorities asked them to pay. Even though Jesus disputed the need to pay the tax, he certainly did, but he pointed out the folly. 
Tuesday: (Luke 1) Mary set out in haste to the hill country to visit her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who also was with child.
Wednesday (Matthew 18) If your brother sins against you, reconcile before you get to court. Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven; whatever is loosed is loosed.
Thursday (Matthew 18) How many times am I to forgive? Not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Jesus then told parables about the kingdom of heaven.
Friday (Matthew 19) Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? Jesus draws on the tradition of Moses but speaks also of the original intent of God to bring people together.
Saturday (Matthew 19) Children were brought to Jesus and he laid hands upon them. Do not prevent them from coming to me. The Kingdom belongs to those such as these.

Saints of the Week

August 13: Pontian, pope and martyr and Hippolytus, priest and martyr (d.236). Pontian's papacy was interrupted by a persecution when the Roman Emperor Maximinus arrested him and his rival, Hippolytus, and banished them to Sardinia. Pontian resigned so another pope could succeed him. Hippolytus, who formed a schismatic group and claimed to be the real pope, reconciled with the church before he and Pontian were martyred.

August 14: Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr (1894-1941), was born in Russian-occupied Poland. He entered the Franciscans in 1910 and preached the gospel with his devotion to Mary in Poland and Japan. When the Nazis conquered Poland in 1939, he ministered to thousands of refugees. He was arrested, sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. When a prisoner escaped and retaliation was sought, Kolbe offered himself to replace one of the ten randomly chosen men to be executed.

August 15: The Assumption of Mary is the principal feast of Mary with her Queenship celebrated at the end of the octave. This feast celebrates that she was taken up to heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life. The Council of Ephesus in 431 proclaimed her Mother of God and devotion of her dormition followed afterwards.

August 16: Stephen of Hungary (975-1038) tried to unite the Magyar families and was able to establish the church in Hungary through Pope Sylvester II's support. Rome crowed Stephen as the first king in 1001 and he instituted many reforms in religious and civil practices. He built churches and trained local clergy.

August 18: Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, S.J., priest (1901-1952), was a Chilean Jesuit priest, lawyer, writer and social worker who was born in the Basque region in Spain. He established Hogar de Cristo, that housed at-risk children, whether orphaned or not, and provided them food and shelter. Hurtado also supported the rise of labor union and labor rights in Chile.

August 19: John Eudes, priest (1601-1680) preached missions, heard confessions, and assisted the sick and dying. He founded a new religious order for women, which includes Our Lady of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters. He eventually left the Oratorians to found the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. 

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 13, 1621. The death in Rome of St John Berchmans. He died while still in studies, preparing for a public disputation.
·      Aug 14, 1812. Napoleon I and his army arrived at Polosk, in White Russia. They plunder the property of the Society and violate the tombs of the Generals.
·      Aug 15, 1821. Fr. Peter DeSmet sailed from Amsterdam to America. He hoped to work among the Native Americans. He became the best known missionary of the northwest portion of the United States.
·      Aug. 15, 1955: The Wisconsin Province was formed from the Missouri Province and the Detroit Province was formed from the Chicago province.
·      Aug. 16, 1649: At Drogheda, Cromwell's soldiers shot Fr. John Bath and his brother, a secular priest, in the marketplace.
·      Aug. 17, 1823: Fr. Van Quickenborne and a small band of missionaries descended the Missouri River to evangelize the Indians at the request of the bishop of St. Louis. On this date in 1829, the College of St. Louis opened.
·      Aug. 18, 1952: The death of Alberto Hurtado, writer, retreat director, trade unionist and founder of "El Hogar de Christo," a movement to help the homeless in Chile.
·      Aug. 19, 1846: At Melgar, near Burgos, the birth of Fr. Luis Martin, 24th General of the Society.