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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 10, 2017
Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20

Each of today’s readings guide us in ways to settle conflicts with neighbors. The first reading tells us that we have responsibility to fraternally correct those who have turned down the wrong path in life. The second reading exhorts us to love one another and to encourage them to fulfill the commandments, but to go even further. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves because love does no evil but fulfills the law. The Gospel also encourages fraternal correction by winning over our neighbors. If that doesn’t work, we seek other alternatives to show how far we are willing to go to help our neighbor.

Our relationships are complex and challenging, and we do not give up on them easily, no matter how frustrating. We have at least one person we having difficulty reaching and, often that person is a family member. We’ve done our part and now we wait in hope that they will recognize our loving stance and will return with positive actions. It is beyond our control and we are exasperated, but we stay open to the remotest possibility that they may reach back to us.

With family, we always have each other, but we do not have to accept bad behavior from them. It is a good opportunity to practice better self-care. As we examine other relationships, we have to assess whether there is a balanced mutuality and respectful behavior. If not, perhaps it is time to invest less energy and hope in the friendship. For example, if we are the one to always visit a friend, but the friend never returns a visit, then we probably do not have a positive, mutual relationship. It might be time to assess how much you time you want to put into it if there is little reciprocal effort to be friends. If you are giving much more than you are receiving, then the dynamic is not mutual. If we accommodate the requests of others to the exclusion of our own interests, then we are not respecting the demands of the Gospel, which calls for active correction, not passive acceptance of poor behavior. This is not the definition of ‘turn the other cheek.’

            It takes courage to tackle contentious aspects of relationships. The Gospel outlines a mechanism for resolution. We have to first ask that the bad behaviors cease in private. If that doesn’t work, we bring it out into the presence of others who can give a balanced judgment, and if that doesn’t work, then we bring it to the larger community of faith. We know that we tried, and it takes massive courage to escalate it up the ladder of wider involvement. The worst thing we can do is to keep it private, and yet our natural inclination is to keep it hushed up, especially if it is a family issue. We have to realize that we cannot handle it on our own and that there are good people willing to help. The more work we can do to show that this is not a personal issue or a personality conflict, the better off we are. Sometimes it takes others to reveal to us the way our actions may mistreat others.

            We have to do the same in the political world. We cannot silently accept bad behavior from someone who holds opposing political views. It is quite fine for them to hold their personal views, but if a person insults, bullies, chastises, or criticizes you, then you have to let that person know their standard of conduct has to be raised around you. Your silence means you welcome their bad behavior. Keeping the peace does not lead to solutions of mutual resolution. Bringing someone’s bad conduct to the light of day is helpful to everyone and it creates solutions. We have to stay with the uncomfortable conversations, but it is necessary. Raising the standard of good manners in our neighbors teaches others how to love well.

            Pray for your courage to speak and act with kindness. Know that you are in a long-term conversation that arises from the integrity of your faith. It may cost you in the short term, but you are building up the kingdom with your discipleship, and, of course, Christ will reward you for your courage.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Colossians 1) I rejoice in my sufferings, but now the Gospel is being manifest to his holy ones; Christ is in you, and it is for his glory.
Tuesday: (Colossians 2) See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to the tradition of men, and not according to Christ.  
Wednesday: (Colossians 3) If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.    
Thursday: (Numbers 21) The Israelites in the desert complained: Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?
Friday (1 Timothy 1) I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Saturday (1 Timothy 1) Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I was treated mercifully so that Christ might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him.

Monday: (Luke 6) A man with a withered hand was brought to Jesus and Jesus freed him from his sins. To the consternation of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus also healed him.
Tuesday: (Luke 6) Jesus departed to the mountain to pray: he called twelve men to be his disciples. When he came down the mountain, he healed every person of their diseases.  
Wednesday (Luke 6) Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day. God will reward you in heaven.
Thursday (John 3) Jesus said to Nicodemus: No one has gone up to heaven, except the one who has come down, the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent, the Son of Man must be lifted up.  
Friday (John 19) Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
Saturday (Luke 6) A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. Why do you call me ‘Lord,’ but do not do what I command?

Saints of the Week

September 10: Francis Garate, S.J. (1857-1929) was a Basque who entered the Jesuits and became a doorkeeper at the University of Deusto in Bilbao. He modeled his ministry after Alphonsus Rodriguez and became known for his innate goodness, humility, and prayerfulness.

September 12: The Name of Mary was given to the child in the octave that follow her birth on September 8th. Mary (Miriam) was a popular name for a girl because it means "beloved."

September 13: John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor (347-407) was a gifted homilist and was called "Golden Mouth" because his words inspired many. He was raised in Antioch and joined a community of austere hermits but the lifestyle damaged his health. He became the archbishop of Constantinople where he introduced many conservative and unpopular reforms. He fled to escape an uprising from the people and on the way to exile he died.

September 14: The Triumph of the Holy Cross remembers the finding of the true cross by the Emperor Constantine's mother, Helen in early 4th century. Two churches were dedicated in the name of the cross on this day in the 4th century. Therefore, the feast was applied to this day. In the 7th century, the feast was renamed, "The Triumph." The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335 was also dedicated on this day.

September 15: Our Lady of Sorrows was once called the Seven Sorrows of Mary as introduced by the Servite Friars. After suffering during his captivity in France, Pius VII renamed the devotion that encapsulates: Simeon's prophecy, the flight into Egypt, searching for Jesus at age 12 in the Temple, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the deposition, and the entombment.

September 16: Cornelius, pope and martyr (d. 253) and Cyprian, bishop and martyr (200-258) both suffered in the Decian persecutions. Cornelius was being attacked by Novatian, but since Novatian's teachings were condemned, he received the support of the powerful bishop, Cyprian. Cyprian was a brilliant priest and bishop of Carthage who wrote on the unity of the church, the role of bishops, and the sacraments. Cyprian died under Valerius after supporting his church in exile by letters of encouragement.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 10, 1622. The martyrdom at Nagaski, Japan, of Charles Spinola and his companions.
·      Sep 11, 1681. At Antwerp, the death of Fr. Geoffry Henschen (Henschenius). A man of extraordinary learning, he was Fr. Jan von Bolland's assistant in compiling the Acts of the Saints.
·      Sep 12, 1744. Benedict XIV's second Bull, Omnium Sollicitudinum, forbade the Chinese Rites. Persecution followed in China.
·      Sep 13, 1773. Frederick II of Prussia informed the pope that the Jesuits would not be suppressed in Prussia and invited Jesuits to come.
·      Sep 14, 1596. The death of Cardinal Francis Toledo, the first of the Society to be raised to the purple. He died at age 63, a cardinal for three years.
·      Sep 15, 1927. Thirty-seven Jesuits arrived in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to begin tertianship. The property was given to the Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.

·      Sep 16, 1883. The twenty-third General Congregation opened at Rome in the Palazzo Borromeo (via del Seminario). It elected Fr. Anthony Anderledy Vicar General with the right of succession.  

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