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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

August 5, 2018
Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15; Psalm 78; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35

After Moses led the people out of Egypt, they found themselves grumbling against him because, in their eyes, he led them astray. They were dealing with hardship and hunger as they left the comforts of their imprisonment only to find that life was difficult as desert nomads. They directed their anger at Moses and wondered how they let themselves be duped by him.

This week in the church, we are dealing with a crisis in leadership. A U.S. cardinal and an Australian bishop took an unprecedented step of resigning from office because of their complicit actions in sex abuse cover-ups. Similarly, in Chile, the Pope is dealing with the resignations of bishops who were aware of abuse allegations by priests within their charge. The church is struggling to figure out how to move forward when their leaders are alleged to have committed or condoned immoral actions.

Moses was right about bringing the cries of the people into prayer. He petitioned God to provide food for the hungry people and to take care of their needs. They wondered, “Where was God?” God responded in actions that say, “I’m always with you.” God provided manna from heaven to provide for the people each day – just enough to keep them satisfied. In our church crisis today, we have to continue to look for the signs and actions God provides us to let us know we will be okay.

In the Gospel, Jesus shows us the he continues to be the Good Shepherd who will feed the people from his own body and blood, which he reveals to be the real food from heaven. He replaces the false shepherds who have led the people astray and he proves repeatedly that he will give of his very self so that others may eat and live. While other leaders only give from their surplus, he gives from his poverty. He has nothing more to give them but his only self – to be broken and consumed.

It is important to trust our religious leaders, but as we see, it is not always possible. How can we tell if they can be trusted? I would answer: (1.) they bring us closer to the person of Christ, who will feed us and take care of our most pressing daily needs, and (2.) they give of their very selves to a great extent as they imitate Jesus. We have to remember that Jesus is the one to whom we must develop a healthy dependency. We can admire and be attached to the person of the priest, but his job is to always point you to the heart of Christ. His authenticity can be trusted if we have an experience of Christ, a movement towards greater love of others, or an experience of self-giving as Christ models for us. The priest steps out of the way so that you can stand boldly before Christ who will give you want you need and desire. The priest will help you shape the conversation, but you have to speak directly with Christ and tell him what you need.

“Sir, give me this bread always.” I rejoice in the bold directness of this request. Jesus is begging for us to ask him, and he is always ready to provide. He wants us to demand from him, even if it sounds impolite to us. He wants to give us eternity. It is worth using any type of words that we know to get it. “Sir, give me who you are. It is all I want. Only your love and your grace are enough for me.”  

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Daniel 7) Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; his throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.

Tuesday: (Jeremiah 30) See! I will restore the tents of Jacob, his dwellings I will pity; City shall be rebuilt upon hill, and palace restored as it was. From them will resound songs of praise, the laughter of happy men.

Wednesday: (Jeremiah 31) I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the LORD: The people that escaped the sword have found favor in the desert.

Thursday: (Jeremiah 31) The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers: the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master.

Friday (2 Corinthians 9) Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Saturday (Habakkuk 1) Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision
Clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.


Monday: (Mark 9) Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 

Tuesday: (Matthew 14) During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
"It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Wednesday (Matthew 15) A Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Thursday (Matthew 16) Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Friday (John 12) unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.

Saturday (Matthew 17) "Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him." Jesus said in reply, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring the boy here to me."

Saints of the Week
August 5: Dedication of the Basilica of Mary Major in Rome is celebrated because it is the largest and oldest of the churches in honor of Mary. The veneration began in 435 when the church was repaired after the Council of Ephesus in 431 when Mary was proclaimed the Mother of God. This is the church where Ignatius of Loyola said his first Mass and where Francis of Assisi assembled the first crèche.

August 6: The Transfiguration of the Lord is an historical event captured by the Gospels when Jesus is singled out as God's Son - ranking higher than Moses or Elijah. In front of his disciples, Jesus becomes transfigured, thus revealing his true nature. Ironically, the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb occurred at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

August 7: Sixtus, II, pope and martyr with companions (d. 258), died during the Valerian persecutions in 258. They were killed in the catacombs where they celebrated Mass. Sixtus was beheaded while speaking in his presidential chair and six deacons were killed as well. Lawrence, the Deacon, is honored on August 10th. Sixtus is remembered during the 1st Eucharistic prayer at Mass.

August 7: Cajetan, priest (1480-1547), was a civil and canon lawyer who worked in the papal chancery. He later joined the Roman Order of Divine Love and was ordained a priest. He became aware that the church needed reform and he teamed up with the bishop of Theate (Gian Pietro Carafa) and formed a society of priests called the Theatines who lived in community and took monastic vows. They owned no property.

August 8: Dominic, priest (1170-1221), was a Spaniard who was sent to southern France to counter the heretical teachings of the Albigensians, who held that the material world was evil and only religious asceticism could combat those forces. Dominic begged and preached in an austere fashion and set the foundations for the new Order of Preachers for both men and women.

August 8: Mother Mary MacKillop, religious (1842-1909), who worked in Australia and New Zealand to assist the poor, needy, and immigrants to the country, was canonized on October 17th 2010. August 8th is chosen as the day in which she will be memorialized on the Roman calendar. I offer the following prayer:

Bountiful and loving God,
You have filled the heart of Mary MacKillop
with compassionate love for those
who are in need at the margins of our society.
Deepen that love within us
that we may embrace the mystery of the Cross
which leads us through death to life.
We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus
who having broken the bonds of death
leads us to everlasting life. Amen.

August 9: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), martyr (1891-1942), became a Catholic convert from Judaism after reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila. He earned a doctorate in philosophy, but was unemployable because she was a woman. She taught at a high school for eight years before entering the Carmelites in 1933 where she made final vows in 1938. She moved to Holland to escape persecution by the Nazis, but was arrested when the bishops spoke out against the persecution of the Jews.

August 10: Lawrence, deacon and martyr (d. 258) was martyred four days after Pope Sixtus II and six other deacons during the Valerian persecution. A beautiful story is told about Lawrence's words. When asked to surrender the church's treasure, Lawrence gathered the poor and presented them to the civil authorities. For this affront, he was martyred. He is the patron of Rome.

August 11: Clare, founder (1193-1253), was inspired by Francis of Assist so much that she fled her home for his community to receive the Franciscan habit on Passion Sunday 1212. She lived in a nearby Benedictine convent until she was made superior of a new community in San Damiano. She practiced radical poverty by wearing no shoes, sleeping on the ground, and giving up meat.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 5, 1762. The Parliament at Paris condemned the Society's Institute as opposed to natural law. It confiscated all Jesuit property and forbade the Jesuit habit and community life.
·      Aug 6, 1552. The death of Claude Jay, a French priest who was one of Ignatius' original companions at the University of Paris.
·      Aug 7, 1814. The universal restoration of the Society of Jesus.
·      Aug 8, 1604. St Peter Claver takes his first vows at Tarracona.
·      Aug 9, 1762. The moving of the English College from St Omers to Liege.
·      Aug 10, 1622. Blessed Augustine Ota, a Japanese brother, was beheaded for the faith. He had been baptized by Blessed Camillus Costanzi on the eve of the latter's martyrdom.
·      Aug 11, 1846. The death of Benedict Joseph Fenwick. He was the second bishop of Boston, twice the president of Georgetown, and the founder of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

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