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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

February 4, 2018
Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39

Job speaks thoroughly of the human condition in the face of heavy suffering. He deals with the eternal questions, “What is the purpose of death? And Why is there suffering, especially of the good and the innocent?” Today, he asks, “Is not human life a drudgery?” Suffering lingers on without any relief in sight. Just the other day, I spoke with several people who were struggle with the meaning of their lives in the face of suffering. A man in his seventies said, “I need to actively prepare for my death. End of life is coming quickly and I still feel young.” Another man reflected, “I’m continuing to wrestle with my demons, and I guess I always will. In my late sixties I have to realize that they are never going away.” I contemplated how people deal with life’s challenges and the suffering Job mentions.

As we move through stages of life, we deal with suffering in different ways, even though there is no prescribed way to suffer rightly. There comes a point in our life when we realize suffering is all around us and it is too big to handle. With great resignation and humility, we know deep down that we need a savior to make sense of our sufferings. We finally understand the message the church teaches us: Jesus Christ, our savior, cares for us deeply in our struggles, finds us lovable in light of all our choices, and wants to be close to us.

The Gospel shows us how Jesus deals with suffering. He wants to eliminate it because his heart is full of mercy. He heals the mother of Andrew and Peter and then he cures the ill that nearby villagers bring him. He even controls demonic spirits because he does not permit them to speak.

For Jesus, suffering will not have the last word. While suffering exits, he is faithful to his mission to preach the good news to the tribes of Israel who suffer. He visits many other synagogues to preach the kingdom of God. He engages in the battle of good and evil by taming unclean spirits. He wages a war to convert hearts to the ways of kindness, mercy, and righteousness.

Jesus forbids demons and bad spirits that cause suffering to speak. It stands to reason that we silence those demons with Jesus by speaking words of truth with mercy and living justly. There is a saying, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” We cannot let our demons today remain hidden because they win when we do. We face our demons by speaking humble to Jesus about who we are and what afflicts us. We cannot just say he knows what we are going through. We have to tell him what we need and how we feel. It is far better to articulate to him precisely what we are feeling so he can respond directly to our needs. When we name our demons, he exercises his authority over them.

Then we can tell others about our demons. When we open up to others, we get the help we need. Speaking our truths heals us, and while it will not cure all suffering, it tames demons and eases pain. Why? Because we know we are loved by others. We know we are loved by God. We gratefully receive the preaching of Jesus: the Kingdom of Heaven is among us, and God is very close. This love changes everything.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 Kings 8) The elders of Israel came to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD's covenant from the City of David, which is Zion. There was nothing in the ark but the two stone tablets which Moses had put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel.         
Tuesday: (1 Kings 8) Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD and said, “LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants who are faithful to you with their whole heart.
Wednesday: (1 Kings 10) The queen of Sheba came to Solomon and questioned him on every subject in which she was interested. King Solomon explained everything she asked about, and there remained nothing hidden from him that he could not explain to her.
Thursday: (1 Kings 11) When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the LORD, his God, as the heart of his father David had been.
Friday (1 Kings 11) Jeroboam left Jerusalem, and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road. ‘I will tear away the kingdom from Solomon’s grasp and will give you ten of the tribes. One tribe shall remain to him for the sake of David my servant, and of Jerusalem, the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’” Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.
Saturday (1 Kings 12) Jeroboam did not give up his evil ways after this, but again made priests for the high places from among the common people. Whoever desired it was consecrated and became a priest of the high places. This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.

Monday: (Mark 6) Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.
Tuesday: (Mark 7)  You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition. How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!
Wednesday (Mark 7) Jesus said to the crowd “Hear me, all of you, and understand.  Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” 
Thursday (Mark 7) The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
Friday (Mark 7) people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!") And immediately the man's ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. 
Saturday (Mark 8) Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.

Saints of the Week

February 4: John de Brito, S.J., priest, religious, and martyr (1647-1693), was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who served in India and was named “The Portuguese Francis Xavier” to the Indians. De Brito was martyred because he counseled a Maravan prince during his conversion to give up all but one of his wives. One of the wives was a niece to the neighboring king, who set up a round of persecutions against priests and catechists.

February 5: Agatha, martyr, (d. 251), died in Sicily during the Diocletian persecution after she refused to give up her faith when sent to a brothel for punishment. She was subsequently tortured. Sicilians believe her intercession stopped Mount Etna from erupting the year after her burial. She has been sought as a protector against fire and in mentioned in the First Eucharistic prayer.

February 6: Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs (d. 1597), were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan for being Christians. Miki was a Jesuit brother and a native Japanese who was killed alongside 25 clergy, religious, and laypeople. They were suspended on crosses and killed by spears thrust into their hearts. Remnants of the Christian community continued through baptism without any priestly leadership. It was discovered when Japan was reopened in 1865.

February 8: Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537), was a Venetian soldier who experienced a call to be a priest during this imprisonment as a captor. He devoted his work to the education of orphans, abandoned children, the poor and hungry. He founded an order to help in his work, but he died during a plague while caring for the sick.

February 8: Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was a Sudanese who was sold as a slave to the Italian Consul, who treated her with kindness. She was baptized in Italy and took the name Josephine. Bakhita means fortunate. She was granted freedom according to Italian law and joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity where she lived simply as a cook, seamstress, and doorkeeper. She was known for her gentleness and compassion.

February 10: Scholastica (480-543) was the twin sister of Benedict, founder of Western monasticism. She is the patroness of Benedictine nuns. She was buried in her brother's tomb; they died relatively close to one another.

This Week in Jesuit History

·       Feb 4, 1617. An imperial edict banished all missionaries from China.
·       Feb 5, 1833. The first provincial of Maryland, Fr. William McSherry, was appointed.
·       Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.
·       Feb 7, 1878. At Rome, Pius IX died. He was sincerely devoted to the Society; when one of the cardinals expressed surprise that he could be so attached to an order against which even high ecclesiastics brought serious charges, his reply was: "You have to be pope to know the worth of the Society."
·       Feb 8, 1885. In Chicago, Fr. Isidore Bourdreaux, master of novices at Florissant, Missouri, from 1857 to 1870, died. He was the first scholastic novice to enter the Society from any of the colleges in Missouri.
·       Feb 9, 1621. Cardinal Ludovisi was elected Pope Gregory XV. He was responsible for the canonization of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier.
·       Feb 10, 1773. The rector of Florence informed the general, Fr. Ricci, that a copy of the proposed Brief of Suppression had been sent to the Emperor of Austria. The general refused to believe that the Society would be suppressed.