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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

October 14, 2018
Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

The disciples were as perplexed by the severity of these sayings of Jesus as we are, and Jesus does not answer convincingly. He leaves the judgment up to God, as if the reward of salvation is serendipitous even after a whole lifetime of trying to live rightly. He does follow up to say that anyone who has left everything behind will be assured a place in the kingdom, but those of us who are not in religious life are left hanging in suspense.

The point of these readings, though, is to concentrate on two aspects of discipleship: one, our attitudes that show genuine concerns for the poor and the needy, and two, whether we stay in right relationship with Jesus. The Old Testament reading tells us the most helpful gifts are prudence and wisdom, which makes us think of King Solomon when the Lord asked him to name anything he wanted, and he replied, “Give me an understanding heart that I may govern your people well.”

Pope Francis is teaching us that Jesus wants us to discover what it means to practice mercy, which is messy business because mercy means to enter vulnerably into the chaos of another person. To Francis, the one who is a Christian is a person who has a conversation with the Lord about how to best respond lovingly in each particular moral situation and is able to discern together a path together that provides hope. Discipleship is not just following all the rules and teachings of the church; it is about engaging actively and doing the hard work of arriving at a solution beneficial for a person’s soul.

To many, mercy seems weak and does not respect the rules and traditions that hold us together. Mercy is not about giving away money with or without restrictions or letting oneself be taken advantage of in generosity. Mercy is not giving just one more chance or forgiving debt. Mercy is not dismissing healthy boundaries with someone’s mental illness, addiction, or unbalance. Mercy is not being passive when someone is sinning against you or abusing your necessary boundaries; it is not keeping the peace and tolerate bad manners or poor behaviors. Mercy isn’t abandoning the rules for the sake of someone’s needs or giving a person the easy way out; it is not being permissive. Mercy is, however, staying in relationship with one who is in need and recognizing how one suffers, while you at the same time suffer. This solidarity to stay the course will let the other person know that you care, with hopes that the other person will recognize how much angst you go through for their sake. Mercy means we stay in relationship, so we can discern a future path together, and it is not easy work. It never is when we enter into someone’s chaos – because it always brings up our own chaos.

The rich man in the Gospel who walked away sad could not give up his whole life’s narrative for something too ambiguous to grasp. He built a nice career upon a solid philosophy of life that worked well; he had the respect and honor of others, and he did it by being a faithful disciple according to the rules of the faith, and it was too much to tell him to abandon that paradigm, and rightly so. Some theologians say that his tragedy was that he walked away, even after Jesus looked upon him in love.

The lesson is to stay in relationship with Jesus and to work out the decisions and challenges together. Allow his input into decision-making. This is difficult when we’ve been the one to make a lifetime of making good judgments for the common good, but Jesus still wants room in our lives. We need to converse with Jesus in prayer better as we further develop this friendship. He wanted to be a part of the rich man’s decision-making process through more extensive conversations, but the man did not understand. We’ve been given prudence and wisdom and the abiding presence of Jesus to navigate life’s tricky situations because, let’s face it, life is hard and we need guidance. The invitation is to figure it out with Jesus because the salvation of souls is at stake, but I do promise you, your salvation is already guaranteed, but let’s give that hope of salvation to others.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Galatians 4) Now this is an allegory. These women represent two covenants. One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar. But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother.

Tuesday: (Galatians 5) For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Wednesday: (Galatians 5) If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Thursday: (2 Timothy 4) At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.

Friday (Ephesians 1) In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory.

Saturday (Ephesians 1) Hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the holy ones, I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.

Monday: (Luke 11) While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.

Tuesday: (Luke 11) The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, "Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.

Wednesday (Luke 11) "Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too." And he said, "Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."

Thursday (Luke 10) The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.”

Friday (Luke 12) So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, "Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.

Saturday (Luke 12) Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Saints of the Week

October 14: Callistus I, pope and martyr (d. 222) was a slave of a Christian who put him in charge of a bank that failed. He was jailed and upon his release became a deacon and counselor to Pope Zephyrinus. He became the first overseer of the official Christian cemetery that was eventually named after him. When he was elected Pope he introduced humanitarian reforms. He died during an uprising against Christians. 

October 15: Teresa of Avila, doctor (1515-1582), entered the Carmelites in Avila and became disenchanted with the laxity of the order. She progressed in prayer and had mystical visions. She introduced stricter reforms through her guidance of John of the Cross and Peter Alcantara. They founded the Discalced Carmelites for men and women.

October 16: Hedwig, religious, at age 12 married Henry, a prince who would become king of Silesia. As a monarch, they built a Cistercian monastery for women. They soon built many other religious houses and hospitals. She chose to live in austere poverty to be in solidarity with the poor.

October 16: Margaret Mary Alocoque entered the Visitation Order at Paray-le-Monial in 1671. She received visions of Christ's love and told her Jesuit spiritual director, Claude la Colombiere, who asked her to write about her experiences. They developed the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her community resisted her promotion of the devotion at first, but later came to see the power of the prayers.

October 17: Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr (d. 107) was born around 33 A.D. and became a leading figure in the new church at Antioch. He served as bishop for 38 years before he was persecuted and killed under Emperor Trajan for being a Christian leader. He wrote seven letters about church life in the early second century and is the first-mentioned martyr of Roman heroes in the first Eucharistic Prayer.

October 18: Luke, evangelist (first century) was the author of his version of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He is described as a doctor and a friend of Paul. He was a well-educated Gentile who was familiar with the Jewish scriptures and he wrote to other Gentiles who were coming into a faith.

October 19: North American Jesuit martyrs: Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, priests, and companions (17th century) were killed between 1642 and 1649 in Canada and the United States. Though they knew of harsh conditions among the warring Huron and Mohawk tribes in the New World, these priests and laymen persisted in evangelizing until they were captured, brutally tortured, and barbarically killed.

October 20: Paul of the Cross, priest (1694-1775), founded the Passionists in 1747. He had a boyhood call that propelled him into a life of austerity and prayer. After receiving several visions, he began to preach missions throughout Italy that mostly focused upon the Passion of the Lord. After his death, a congregation for nuns was begun.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      October 14, 1774: A French Jesuit in China wrote an epitaph to the Jesuit mission in China after the suppression of the Society. It concludes: "Go, traveler, continue on your way. Felicitate the dead; weep for the living; pray for all. Wonder, and be silent."
·      October 15, 1582: St Teresa of Avila died on this day -- the first day of the new Gregorian calendar. She always wished to have a Jesuit as a confessor.
·      October 16, 1873: About two weeks after Victor Emmanuel's visit to Berlin, where he had long conferences with Bismark, rumors reached the Society in Rome that all of their houses in Rome were threatened.
·      October 17, 1578: St Robert Bellarmine entered the Jesuit novitiate of San Andrea in Rome at the age of 16.
·      October 18, 1553: A theological course was opened in our college in Lisbon; 400 students were at once enrolled.
·      October 19, 1588: At Munster, in Westphalia, the Society opens a college, in spite of an outcry raised locally by some of the Protestants.
·      October 20, 1763: In a pastoral letter read in all his churches, the Archbishop of Paris expressed his bitter regret at the suppression of the Society in France. He described it as a veritable calamity for his country.

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