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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time
November 4, 2018
Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Psalm 18; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34

We are fortunate to have these particular readings to guide us into our future because Election Day is Tuesday and the month to remember our beloved dead has begun. Tribal politics separate us and cause great anxiety when friends and family gather. We quietly dismiss one another and barely tolerate each other’s viewpoints as our national discourse is far from civil, and too often we see the goal as victory for our side while the other is vanquished, and a dilemma is that at the heart of our identity is that we are Christians.

In the political realm, the goal is to influence, to state positions, to play a chess game of power, and to control how events and situations are named. Politicians are masters of framing and reframing agendas, of coining sound bites that will resonate in the media, of labeling arguments and positions with select terms. I admire how some politicians carefully execute their craft. The gift of politicians is oration, to land a lasting image or concept, to win a rhetorical battle, and speak firmly and then to restate it in an even louder voice, always being a crafty wordsmith, and yet while politicians speak, our readings ask us to listen and to hear.

The prayer that we hear today in Deuteronomy is called The Shema, which is Hebrew for the command, “Hear.” Discipleship is about hearing, and we cannot hear if we are the ones always speaking. With the many competing voices that demand our attention, we have to stop to hear God’s message for us, because it is will make a difference between life and death. We are to take this message seriously – that we are to love the Lord will all our strength, with all our heart, and with all our soul. Jesus knows this, and when he is asked by a scribe to name the greatest commandment, he restates it, and then he, like a gifted politician, goes a bit further. I paraphrase the meaning of his words to say, “This commandment is true, but it is incomplete if it does not include your neighbor. Love of God naturally includes love of neighbor, therefore love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is proof that you love God.”

 As we form our political position, love of neighbor has to enter into our consideration. Taking time to pray over issues and hearing God’s voice is part of our responsibility to God. The pursuit of the common good locally and for greater humanity has to be emphasized, but we also have to consider what this liturgical month offers for us. It is the Month of Remembrance, the month to remember our deceased loved ones in the faith. While we remember in charity the positive example of faith they gave us, it also reminds us of our inevitable mortality. We will die, and if we reckon with our mortality, death informs the way we choose to live. Death puts our actions in perspective, especially when we realize we have less control in all things than we thought we have. Confronting our death and our powerlessness before it allows us to live with greater integrity and meaning. It reorders the priorities in life and liberates us to love as God loves.

This is a crucial time to stop so we can listen to the Lord, and to take stock of how we may need to reorder and to make adjustments in our day. With the change of seasons pointing towards its winter slumber, with decreasing daylight to remind us of our diminishment and death, let’s be bold enough to consider how we will confront our own death. We remember solemnly those who have already passed from this life, and in light of that, we make choices to love those who are closest to us a little more dearly. We recognize that the whole purpose of life is to increase the care and affection that we give to our closest circle of friends and loved ones, but that this love naturally moves out to those who are our neighbors. We vote within this context where “us” and “them” do not exist because we are all part of God’s family. We increase the only force in the world that can stop the progress of evil, - magnanimous love. Our love is what others will remember about us, and it has the power to unite, heal, reconcile, and bring joy to anyone who needs hope.  “Hear, O Israel.” “Hear, O Christian.” Love your God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself.” “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Philippians 2) If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.

Tuesday: (Philippians 2) he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and, found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Wednesday: (Philippians 2) Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.

Thursday: (Philippians 3) But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Friday (Ezekiel 47) The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east.

Saturday (Philippians 4) In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.

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, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.

Tuesday: (Luke 14) The master then ordered the servant, '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) If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

Thursday (Luke 15) 'Rejoice with me because I have found what was lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Friday (John 2) Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?"

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 4: Charles Borromeo, bishop (1538-1584), was made Bishop of Milan at age 22. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He was a leading Archbishop in the Catholic Reformation that followed the Council of Trent. During a plague epidemic, Borromeo visited the hardest hit areas so he could provide pastoral care to the sick.

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 4, 1768. On the feast of St Charles, patron of Charles III, King of Spain, the people of Madrid asked for the recall of the Jesuits who had been banished from Spain nineteen months earlier. Irritated by this demand, the king drove the Archbishop of Toledo and his Vicar General into exile as instigators of the movement.
·      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.  

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