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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

November 5, 2017
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10; Psalm 131; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13; Matthew 23:1-12

Today’s readings give examples of ways in which religious leaders have missed the mark in spiritual leadership while they were trying to do good for the faithful ones. In Malachi, God tells his priests, “If you do not listen to me, I will send a curse upon you.” In the Gospel, Jesus yells at the scribes and Pharisees because their motivations that have gone astray. They perpetuate their own lifestyle and authority rather than help others come to know God better. These readings ask each of us, “How pure are our motivations behind our actions? And are they based on the will of God?”

Most religious leaders work hard to help people understand their faith better, but the leader has to keep asking, “Am I speaking for you, O Lord, or for my own needs?” The best thing a priest can do for you is to pray and to help you come to the heart of Christ, but we know sometimes our own needs get in the way. Some priests will be overly consumed with holding onto the teachings of the church and will act like the scribes and Pharisees who preach well but make life harder for people. Jesus, and Pope Francis, wants to correct that type of leadership. The Pope emphasizes that church teachings are good, but the mercy of Christ has to be at the heart of all teaching.

In Thessalonians, St. Paul praises the gentle caring for the well-being of others as the heart of the church leaders’ actions. Church leaders are not to place burdens upon anyone, but are to act with affectionate responsibility to one another. As leaders, we always have to make certain the people receive, not a human word or interpretation, but the word of God.

Let me give you an example of a teaching that Pope Francis is correcting. It focuses upon the liturgy. He wants the church to rediscover its theology at a local level with its own customs and cultures. Local churches should be willing to "borrow from the customs, traditions, wisdom, teaching, arts and sciences of their people." Liturgy was made for men and women, not men and women for the liturgy.

Right now, Pope Francis sees our common worship as having a stifling uniformity and he wants it to be a Spirit-inspired unity-in-diversity. He is determined to implement the vision of Vatican II. He realizes there remains a substantial gap between the council’s reformist agenda and its concrete application in the life of the church. He is trying to free people from inertia and from the church’s self-contained culture in order that it may incorporate the local flavors. He realizes many people will resist these necessary changes.

Pope Francis moving the flow of the bishop’s power away from the Vatican congregations towards more collegial structures at the local level. In addition to changes in the liturgy, Pope Francis is asking special commissions to look at the possibility of women deacons. He is also spending much time helping bishops understand their crucial role in the pastoral care of those in “irregular” marriages. He has made annulments easier to get so people can return to communion with the Lord.

God speaks through our Ecumenical Councils, and Vatican II is our highest teaching authority as Catholics. It is our Constitution. For years, the Spirit has been trying to get God’s message heard by religious leaders, and recently it seems like the Spirit has broken open the possibilities for our worship. We can’t sit back with closed fists trying to conserve what we have; we have to move forward with open palms ready to receive the Lord’s instructions.

The Spirit wants us to move forward but we cannot even imagine what those changes will be like. Therefore, it is our time to dream and to daydream, and be comfortably hold new possibilities. It is time to wonder about how our life with God can be more joyful. Let’s pray that our hearts and minds can be open to this wonderful adventure. Let’s dream once again.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Romans 11) The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.
Tuesday: (Romans 12) We, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them.
Wednesday: (Romans 13) Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Thursday: (Ezekiel 47) Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Friday (Romans 15) I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.
Saturday (Romans 16) Now to him who can strengthen you, according to my Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever.

Monday: (Luke 14) When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.
Tuesday: (Luke 14) Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.
Wednesday (Luke 14) Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple."
Thursday (John 2) Jesus found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
Friday (Luke 16) For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.
Saturday (Luke 16) The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, "You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.

Saints of the Week

November 5: All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus are remembered by Jesuits on their particularized liturgical calendar. We remember not only the major saints on the calendar, but also those who are in the canonization process and hold the title of Blessed. We pray for all souls of deceased Jesuits in our province during the month by using our necrology (listing of the dead.)

November 9: The dedication of Rome's Lateran Basilica was done by Pope Sylvester I in 324 as the pope's local parish as the bishop of Rome. It was originally called the Most Holy Savior and was built on the property donated by the Laterani family. It is named John Lateran because the baptistry was named after St. John. Throughout the centuries, it was attacked by barbarians, suffered damage from earthquakes and fires, and provided residence for popes. In the 16th century, it went through Baroque renovations.

November 10: Leo the Great, pope and doctor (d. 461) tried to bring peace to warring Roman factions that were leaving Gaul vulnerable to barbarian invasions. As pope, he tried to keep peace again - in particular during his meeting with Attila the Hun, whom he persuaded not to plunder Rome. However, in Attila's next attack three years later, Rome was leveled. Some of Leo's writings on the incarnation were influential in formulating doctrine at the Council of Chalcedon.

November 11: Martin of Tours, bishop (316-397), became an Roman soldier in Hungary because he was born into a military family. After he became a Christian, he left the army because he saw his faith in opposition to military service. He settled in Gaul and began its first monastery. He was proclaimed bishop in 371 and worked to spread the faith in at time of great uncertainty and conflict. He divided sections of his diocese into parishes.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 5, 1660. The death of Alexander de Rhodes, one of the most effective Jesuit missionaries of all time. A native of France, he arrived in what is now Vietnam in 1625.
·      Nov 6, 1789. Fr. John Carroll of Maryland was appointed to be the first Bishop of Baltimore.
·      Nov 7, 1717. The death of Antonio Baldinucci, an itinerant preacher to the inhabitants of the Italian countryside near Rome.
·      Nov 8, 1769. In Spain, Charles III ordered all of the Society's goods to be sold and sent a peremptory demand to the newly elected Pope Clement XIV to have the Society suppressed.
·      Nov 9, 1646. In England, Fr. Edmund Neville died after nine months imprisonment and ill-treatment. An heir to large estates in Westmoreland, he was educated in the English College and spent forty years working in England.
·      Nov 10, 1549. At Rome, the death of Paul III, to whom the Society owes its first constitution as a religious order.
·      Nov 11, 1676. In St James's Palace, London, Claude la Colombiere preached on All Saints.

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