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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 3, 2017
Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27

To be a disciple of Jesus means to accept suffering and the Cross, and while we understand this aspect of discipleship, we do not like suffering at all. Suffering is something we avoid or keep at arm’s length. Our nation is fractured and politically divided, and the scenes from the horrific storm in Texas and Louisiana horrify us. Unless it is personal, we empathize and we pray and we send money, but we keep up walls to protect us from being touched by the severity of suffering.

 The Gospel reminds us that discipleship will cost us. Discipleship means we have to respond to others suffering. We cannot stand on the sidelines and consider ourselves good people. Peter attempts to protect Jesus from his fate, and Jesus reprimands him because suffering is crucial to the human experience. We all face it at some point in our lives and the way we deal with other’s suffering will shape how we deal with our own. To accept the cross means we have to actively enter into the suffering around us.

If we simply watch the news about Texas and are sad, then it may not be enough. The enormity of the destruction makes our contributions feel inadequate and small; therefore, we may not contribute. Those who are able find a way to get to Houston to lend a hand or a boat or provide medical services, but if we do not personally know anyone affected, it may just be an unfortunate event. However, we can contribute even five dollars or give blood or send clothing or even possibly making our homes available to a displaced person. Each of us can do something. For me, it is personal because my father’s home was destroyed and the families of students at two Jesuit schools have been left homeless. My discipleship demands an active response from me. As disciples, we have to wade in the waters of people’s chaos.

If we know someone who is hospitalized or ill, it may not be enough just to send a Facebook post wishing them well. The corporal works of mercy demand that we call and visit the person and we find out what they need. We send a card or flowers, stop in for a visit, drive them to an appointment, cook a meal or bring a dessert to the one in need. Social media keeps us apart from one’s suffering because we do not know the gritty details of the ill person’s day. We need to do more for the needy one. Additionally, if we want others to visit us when we are sick, we must visit those who are sick. Illnesses reveal whether our relationships are based on mutuality.

If we feel threatened that our liberties and way of life are threatened, we cannot complain about the people in charge, we have to get involved in the political life around us. If we are worried about the direction our political leaders are taking us, we have to stand up and make sure our voices are heard within the contours of our civic duties. Our involvement and participation in life will cost us comfort and it will upset the peace and status quo within our relationships, but it is the cost of discipleship. We have little choice if we are authentic disciples.

Our response to suffering ought to show our ability to do whatever is in our means. Therefore, our responsibility is to reach out and care for our neighbors and ourselves, in whatever small way we can. Not everyone’s response or ability is the same, but we are repaid according to what we give or withhold from giving. For your soul’s sake, I ask you to be gently intrusive into a loved one’s life. Ask the dangerous question. Bring up the unsettling topic. Get involved in the chaos when someone is need. Your discipleship demands it – for we do not get to heaven by avoiding crises. We get to heaven because we get hurt because we at least tried. That’s all Christ wants.  

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 Thessalonians 4) If we believe the Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Tuesday: (1 Thessalonians 5) Let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. God destined us for salvation through our Lord Jesus so we may live together with him.
Wednesday: (Colossians 1) We have heard of your faith and the love you have for the holy ones because of the hopes reserved for you in heaven.    
Thursday: (Colossians 1) In our distress and affliction, through your faith, we have been reassured about you. We now live, if you stand firm in the Lord.
Friday (Micah 5) From you, Bethlehem, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth one who is to be the ruler in Israel.
Saturday (Colossians 1) You once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds, but now God has reconciled you to the Body of Christ through his death to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before God.

Monday: (Luke 4) Jesus came to Nazareth, unrolled the Synagogue’s scroll, proclaimed the reading, and declared: Scripture has been fulfilled in this reading.
Tuesday: (Luke 4) Jesus taught in Galilee with authority and he showed power over the demons that cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”  
Wednesday (Luke 4) Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, and Jesus healed many people. At sunset, people from all over brought those who were sick and needed healing to Jesus.
Thursday (Luke 5) Jesus taught in a boat on the Sea of Gennesaret. When he finished speaking, he called Peter to himself, and Peter recoiled saying, “Depart from me. I’m sinful.”
Friday (Matthew 1) The Book of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Joseph took Mary into his house as his bride.
Saturday (Luke 6) Jesus picked and ate grains on a Sabbath and the Pharisees protested. He retorted, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Saints of the Week

September 3: Gregory the Great (540-604) was the chief magistrate in Rome and resigned to become a monk. He was the papal ambassador to Constantinople, abbot, and pope. His charity and fair justice won the hearts of many. He protected Jews and synthesized Christian wisdom. He described the duties of bishops and promoted beautiful liturgies that often incorporated chants the bear his name.

September 7: Stephen Pongracz (priest), Melchior Grodziecki (priest), and Mark Krizevcanin (canon) of the Society of Jesus were matyred in 1619 when they would not deny their faith in Slovakia. They were chaplains to Hungarian Catholic troops, which raised the ire of Calvinists who opposed the Emperor. They were brutally murdered through a lengthy process that most Calvinists and Protestants opposed.

September 8: The Birth of Mary was originally (like all good feasts) celebrated first in the Eastern Church. The Roman church began its devotion in the fifth century. Her birth celebrates her role as the mother of Jesus. Some traditions have her born in Nazareth while others say she hails from outside of Jerusalem.

September 9: Peter Claver, S.J. (1580-1654) became a Jesuit in 1600 and was sent to the mission in Cartagena, Colombia, a center of slave trade. For forty years, Claver ministered to the newly arrived Africans by giving them food, water, and medical care. Unfortunately, he died ostracized by his Jesuit community because he insisted on continuing the unpopular act of treating the slaves humanely.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 3, 1566. Queen Elizabeth visited Oxford and heard the 26-year-old Edmund Campion speak. He was to meet her again as a prisoner, brought to hear her offer of honors or death.
·      Sep 4, 1760. At Para, Brazil, 150 men of the Society were shipped as prisoners, reaching Lisbon on December 2. They were at once exiled to Italy and landed at Civita Vecchia on January 17, 1761.
·      Sep 5, 1758. The French Parliament issued a decree condemning Fr. Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis.
·      Sep 6, 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out on this date. There is not much the Jesuits have not been blamed for, and this was no exception. It was said to be the work of Papists and Jesuits. King Charles II banished all the fathers from England.
·      Sep 7, 1773. King Louis XV wrote to Clement XIV, expressing his heartfelt joy at the suppression of the Society.
·      Sep 8, 1600. Fr. Matteo Ricci set out on his journey to Peking (Beijing). He experienced enormous difficulties in reaching the royal city, being stopped on his way by one of the powerful mandarins.

·      Sep 9, 1773. At Lisbon, Carvalho, acting in the king's name, ordered public prayers for the deliverance of the world from the "pestilence of Jesuitism."

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