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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

August 12, 2018
1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51

The church continues to teach that Jesus is the living Bread and Blood that nourishes our temporal and eternal life, and as beautiful these words are to hear, people walk away from him muttering. Jesus even says to them, “Stop murmuring,” and then he tells them that all shall be taught by God.

Some people are murmuring about the words Pope Francis taught us this week about the dignity of life. He has always taught that the rights of the unborn are sacrosanct and that they are part of a consistent ethic for life. In his recent teaching, he declared other positions of our Christian moral life have equal dignity with the rights of the unborn – immigration, the poor and marginalized, racial equality, respect for gender disparity. This week he taught us that no life is to be ended prematurely, which includes the death penalty and capital punishment. He has not changed church teaching but emphasized its moral importance.

The difference in his teaching is that he is not merely declaring it as a moral wrong, he is saying the every Christian needs to work with determination for its abolition from society. We expect that he will face stiff opposition because many Christians support the death penalty. It also causes a distinction in those who call themselves pro-life, when more rightly said, they are pro-birth. To be called pro-life, a Catholic has to care equally for the rights of the unborn and the rights of the living, right up until death, and at every stage in-between.

For a little history lesson, Pope John Paul II stated at the time of writing of the 1992 Catechism that the death penalty was only permitted “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” He also had that the cases that require the execution of the offender are “very rare, if not practically non-existent.” Pope Francis has concluded that there are no exceptional cases and that capital punishment must end.

The new version of the catechism will state that respect for human life even applies to a criminal. It will state, “the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.” It stands aligned with the church’s teaching that a sinner will repent and ask for forgiveness. Executions cut off the available time for the sinner to repent. One can see this will be a volatile issue when it is applied to an individual convicted of a heinous crime, but it leaves the judgment up to God, who thankfully judges with mercy.

I think of the value of time of someone who is nearing death and is able to look at his or her final judgment. The reality of death changes a person, who is able to make peace with God and is able to forgive others, while asking for forgiveness. Grace is also available for the one who returns to God.

Grace is the food that Jesus gives us. We may need time to wrestle with the nuances of this teaching and its implications for our political stances. The way we will reconcile with this teaching is by being fed often by Christ, who gives us grace and nourishment from his Body. His Body will teach us, slowly, over time. We don’t have to be concerned for the big stuff in life. All we need to do is let the Eucharist transform us as he teaches us the value of all life to him.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Ezekiel 1) Above the firmament over their heads something like a throne could be seen, looking like sapphire. Upon it was seated, up above, one who had the appearance of a man.

Tuesday: (Ezekiel 2) It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which he unrolled before me. It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: Lamentation and wailing and woe!

Wednesday: (Revelation 11) God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Thursday: (Ezekiel 12) You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on; in the evening, again while they are looking on, you shall go out like one of those driven into exile.

Friday (Ezekiel 16) Then I passed by and saw you weltering in your blood. I said to you: Live in your blood and grow like a plant in the field. You grew and developed, you came to the age of puberty; your breasts were formed, your hair had grown, but you were still stark naked. Again I passed by you and saw that you were now old enough for love.

Saturday (Ezekiel 18) As I live, says the Lord GOD: I swear that there shall no longer be anyone among you who will repeat this proverb in Israel. For all lives are mine; the life of the father is like the life of the son, both are mine;only the one who sins shall die.


Monday: (Matthew 17) When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, "Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes," he said. 
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?

Tuesday: (Matthew 18) “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Wednesday (Luke 1) Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

Thursday (Matthew 18) "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

Friday (Matthew 19) "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?" He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

Saturday (Matthew 19) Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Saints of the Week
July 13: Henry, king (972-1024) was a descendent of Charlemagne who became king of Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor. His wife had no offspring. He merged the church's affairs with the secular government and built the cathedral in the newly erected diocese of Bamberg. He was a just ruler who paid close attention to his prayer.

July 14: Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk chief. As a child, she contracted smallpox and was blinded and severely disfigured by it. She was baptized on Easter Sunday 1767 by Jesuit missionaries and was named after Catherine of Siena. She kept a strong devotion to the Eucharist and cared for the sick. She is named "the Lily of the Mohawks."

July 15: Bonaventure, bishop and Doctor (1221-1273), was given his name by Francis of Assisi to mean "Good Fortune" after he was cured of serious childhood illnesses. He joined the Franciscans at age 20 and studied at the University of Paris. Aquinas became his good friend. Bonaventure was appointed minister general of the Franciscans and was made a cardinal. He participated in the ecumenical council at Lyons to reunite the Greek and Latin rites. Aquinas died on the way to the council.

July 16: Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patronal feast of the Carmelites. The day commemorates the day Simon Stock was given a brown scapular by Mary in 1251. In the 12th century, Western hermits settled on Mount Carmel overlooking the plain of Galilee just as Elijah did. These hermits built a chapel to Mary in the 13th century and began a life of solitary prayer.

July 18: Camillus de Lellis (1550-1614), began his youthful life as a soldier where he squandered away his father's inheritance through gambling. He was cared for by Capuchins, but was unable to join them because of a leg ailment. He cared for the sick in hospitals that were deplorable. He founded an order that would care for the sick and dying and for soldiers injured in combat.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 12, 1877. The death of Fr. Maurice Gailland. He was an expert in languages and spent many years at St Mary's Mission in Kansas. He wrote a 450.page dictionary and grammar of the Potawatomi language.
·      Aug 13, 1621. The death in Rome of St John Berchmans. He died while still in studies, preparing for a public disputation.
·      Aug 14, 1812. Napoleon I and his army arrived at Polosk, in White Russia. They plunder the property of the Society and violate the tombs of the Generals.
·      Aug 15, 1821. Fr. Peter DeSmet sailed from Amsterdam to America. He hoped to work among the Native Americans. He became the best known missionary of the northwest portion of the United States.
·      Aug. 15, 1955: The Wisconsin Province was formed from the Missouri Province and the Detroit Province was formed from the Chicago province.
·      Aug. 16, 1649: At Drogheda, Cromwell's soldiers shot Fr. John Bath and his brother, a secular priest, in the marketplace.
·      Aug. 17, 1823: Fr. Van Quickenborne and a small band of missionaries descended the Missouri River to evangelize the Indians at the request of the bishop of St. Louis. On this date in 1829, the College of St. Louis opened.
·      Aug. 18, 1952: The death of Alberto Hurtado, writer, retreat director, trade unionist and founder of "El Hogar de Christo," a movement to help the homeless in Chile.

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