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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time


The Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

October 7, 2018
Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 128; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16

This homily is given at a preached art and spirituality retreat. It diverts from the regular readings slightly.

This homily will focus on the ways art and creativity can assist our spiritual lives. As we start with the readings, we see that in the Garden of Eden, God wanted unity with humanity, and God knew we needed community if we were going to thrive. The Gospel talks about divorce, and the last thing God wants is for us to get separated from our true selves, but that often happens over the course of a lifetime. Being in communion with others brings the best out of us and the love of another person perfects us because love does not see our failings. Ironically, being a person for others returns us most directly to our real selves, and only then can we celebrate the world around us. Art helps us access beauty, which allows us to celebrate what is right with the world.

Let me tell you about your pastor as he was making a 30-day silent retreat that I directed. First, don’t you think it is a miracle that he did not talk for thirty days? Actually, he made a good retreat, and I remember a time when he was struggling to articulate what he was feeling, and when we cannot find our precise words, we do not feel complete. His assignment that night was to go to the craft room and to play around with some paints. He was to create an image, or to express his feelings through colors or shapes, or do whatever he wanted. The next morning, he arrived at our daily conference with wide eyes and tons of energy. He expressed his feelings about the painting and was well pleased with his creation. It was something completely his own that he created prayerfully with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Regularly throughout the course of the retreat, your pastor would come to the meetings, fully alive, to express how God was communicating with him throughout his drawings. He simply sat back in his chair, beaming, satisfied, pleased, that he communicates God’s work in his life.

Art has a way of changing the lens by which we see the world. It safely reveals our interior lives, it moves us out of our comfort zones, and it gives us fresh perspectives that we would not have seen on our own. It builds community because others are respectfully brought into the innermost parts of our selves. It can clarify what is difficult to express. It can heal what cannot yet be spoken. It can point others to the beauty that you see and that you want others to see. We all need to often change our lens, so we can see the beauty around us because our church and national government is not presenting us with comforting images.

Art lets our soul be gazed upon – indirectly and safely – and that is what we all want to some degree. We want to be seen and heard and known by those who are meaningful to us, and we want to be seen and heard and known by God. God gets to be a part of the creative process. As we are creating and expressing, God is able to gaze upon us, to look at us in wonder and amazement, and let God’s breath be taken away. Just as a parent smiles upon his or her child in amazement, God does the same with us. We break God’s heart with joy and delight as God watches how we express what is in the deep recesses of our souls. God encourages, coaxes, inspires us and then sits back in contentment because of the beautiful soul that sits before him, and when we are finished, no matter the professional quality of our creation, we hold it up with pride to share with the one who loves us.

We all want to return to our true selves. We were happy with God in the Garden of Eden because it was the place in which are true selves are engaged because it is our place of happiness, joy, and meaning. God wants to restore us to this place of integrity and beauty. We cannot let the forces of the world separate us from our true selves, from the dreamers, poets, and song composers in us. This is the place where the world comes alive, where beauty reigns, and where our life-giving, vital energy can consider new possibilities and dreams. It is the place we are able to best love ourselves and receive the love of God. Our is a creating God and when we create, we participate in the ongoing creation of the world because we want to seek and find what is good and right with the world – and then to celebrate it.

Help your prayer develop in new ways. Pick up a paint brush, some knitting needles, a wood working kit, a guitar, and start imprinting your soul into a new piece of work. It may not be your best work or the only work you will do but it will be a start of the process of reclaiming your interior joy and freedom. Enjoy the process and be gentle with yourself. Create a judgment-free zone. Tap into your childlike vitality and see yourself emerge over time. Play a bit. We do not play enough. Discover. Uncover. Recover your soul. Allow that God is deeply in this with you – and is watching with joy who you are becoming. God will certainly be there to embrace you, to smile widely, to celebrate all that is right with the world – and with you.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Galatians 1) I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ.

Tuesday: (Galatians 1) You heard of my former way of life in Judaism. I was unknown personally to the churches that are in Christ; they only kept hearing that "the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." So they glorified God because of me.

Wednesday: (Galatians 2) After fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. I went up in accord with a revelation, and I presented to them the Gospel that I preach to the Gentiles– but privately to those of repute–
so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain.

Thursday: (Galatians 3) O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard?

Friday (Galatians 3) Realize that it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham. Scripture, which saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,
foretold the good news to Abraham, saying, Through you shall all the nations be blessed.

Saturday (Galatians 3) Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.

Monday: (Luke 10) But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Tuesday: (Luke 10) Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part.

Wednesday (Luke 11) Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."
He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come.

Thursday (Luke 11)  I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Friday (Luke 11) Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out?

Saturday (Luke 11)  "Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed." He replied, "Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

Saints of the Week

October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary recalls the events in 1571 of the Christian naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto near Corinth. Victory was credited to Mary as confraternities prayed the rosary for her intercession.

October 9: Denis, bishop and martyr, and companion martyrs (d. 258), was the first bishop of Paris. He died during the Decian persecutions by beheading at Montmarte, the highest hill in the city. Lore has it that he picked up his head after the beheading and walked six miles while giving a sermon. Denis was sent to Paris to bring Christianity and was thereby called, “The apostle to the Gauls.”

October 9: John Leonardi (1542-1609), was a pharmacist’s assistant before studying for the priesthood. He became interested in the reforms of the Council of Trent and gathered laymen around him to work in prisons and hospitals. He contracted the plague while ministering to those who were sick. He founded the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God to care for the sick.

October 12: John Beyzym, S.J., priest (1850-1912), was Ukranian-born, entered the Jesuits, and petitioned to work among the people of Madagascar who had Hansen’s disease (leprosy.) Since the lepers lived in remote shanty buildings with no windows or facilities, Beyzym worked hard to improve their living conditions, build a hospital, and a church. He died after contracting the disease.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 7, 1819. The death of Charles Emmanuel IV. He had been King of Sardinia and Piedmont. He abdicated in 1802 and entered the Jesuits as a brother in 1815. He is buried in San Andrea Quirinale in Rome.
·      Oct 8, 1871. The Great Chicago Fire. Most of the city was destroyed, but it missed Holy Family, the Jesuit parish, as the fire turned north thanks to the prayers of Fr. Arnold Damen. The fire lasted three days; 250 were killed.
·      Oct 9, 1627. Jansenius left Louvain for Salamanca to foment antipathy against the Jesuits and thus prevent Philip IV from giving the Society a large college in Madrid. The theological faculty at Salamanca were hostile to the Society.
·      October 10, 1806: The first novitiate of the Maryland Mission opened as ten novices began their Long Retreat under the direction of Fr. Francis Neale (himself a novice who had entered the Jesuits that day.)
·      October 11, 1688: King Louis XIV forbade all correspondence and interchange between the French Jesuits and Fr. Thyrsus Gonzalez, the Spanish General Superior of the Society.
·      October 12, 1976: The murder in rural Brazil of Joao Bosco Burnier, SJ, who was shot and killed by soldiers for protesting the torture of two poor women.
·      October 13, 1537: At Venice the Papal Nuncio published his written verdict declaring that Ignatius Loyola was innocent of all charges which had been leveled against him by his detractors.

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