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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
February 3, 2019
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19, Psalm 71; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30

Today we get the rest of the story. Last week, we heard about the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry, and today we hear bitter criticism from the townspeople because Jesus broke the conventions that put him at the center of a controversy. The initial responses of awe and admiration as he assumed a position of holiness are replaced by rejection and hostility. Today, Jesus is called to give an answer for his newly exalted role, and the people do not buy it. His answer does not satisfy: A prophet is without honor in his hometown. Then he shows examples that his townspeople are no different from the historical hard-hearted Jews. Those who can hear God’s message and be healed are foreigners. This response inflames their anger.

Many of us do not like to see another person get an elevated status, position, or salary without merit or without going through the regular process. It upsets the balance of power and the status quo. The immigration debate in our country is an aspect of this situation and it causes many volatile reactions. We think like this: “I rose up the ladder the hard way; she should too. I entered through the legal way; he should also.” We want fairness and impartiality and we want to know which rules to follow. It is entirely understandable that Jesus would be rejected by those closest to him because God’s presence in his life upsets the natural order. We do not like holier-than-thou people; it is easy to attack the righteous one, and we want to know that other people will slog it out with us.

Jesus presents a dilemma for the people. God’s breaking into our lives disrupts life as we know it, and we are not prepared for it because we are not comfortable with our own holiness. Sometimes, we hold onto our ordinariness, and even worse, our sinfulness and limitations, and we create for ourselves a poor self-image, which leads to a poor image of God. When we cannot see the honor and beauty within ourselves, we cannot honor the gifts, achievements, or good fortune of others. Many townspeople in Nazareth could not honor this new image of Jesus and they tried to throw him off the hill’s cliff. They could not recognize they were being specially visited by God, and they turned away.

We need to explore our own sense of belonging to God. Jeremiah writes, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I dedicated you.” Until we see ourselves as beloved by God, we will miss the miracles, we will miss the messages of the prophets and saints. We need to see ourselves connected to the wide vision and great spirit of Jesus. We need to love ourselves and to see that his love is patient and kind and rejoices in the good fortune of others. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes, all things, and endures all things.

As a priest and friend, I want you to be gentle with yourselves. I want you to see that you are lovable, especially if you hold a poor self-image, despite what you consider your poor choices, limitations, and failures. Please be good to yourself. I want to help you develop your prayer so that you can know fully how much God honors you and wants to waste time hanging out with you. I want to help expand your prayer styles and practices so you can experience God’s warm, loving gaze upon your face so that you know God holds you in awe, wonder, and admiration. That is the gift I most want to give you as a priest. I want to show you God’s love so that you can rejoice in all the good things God holds out for you. I want you to stand face to face before God so that you can hear God say, “I’m so very proud of you. You are perfect just as you are. You are mine and I honor you profoundly. Nothing will ever separate us because I want you so much. My love never fails.”

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Hebrews 11) Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.

Tuesday: (Hebrews 12) Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.

Wednesday: (Hebrews 12) Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.

Thursday: (Hebrews 12) You have not approached that which could be touched
and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them.

Friday (Hebrews 13) Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality,
for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.

Saturday (Hebrews 13) Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.

Monday: (Mark 5) Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.

Tuesday: (Mark 5) When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live."

Wednesday (Mark 6) Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 

Thursday (Mark 6) Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick –no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.

Friday (Mark 6) King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
That is why mighty powers are at work in him." Others were saying, "He is Elijah";
still others, "He is a prophet like any of the prophets." But when Herod learned of it, he said, "It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up."

Saturday (Mark 6) The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.

Saints of the Week

February 3: Blase, bishop and martyr (d. 316), was an Armenian martyr of the persecution of Licinius. Legends hold that a boy, choking to death on a fishbone, was miraculously cured. Blase's intercession has been invoked for cures for throat afflictions. The candles presented at Candlemas the day earlier are used in the rite of the blessings of throats.

February 3: Angsar, bishop (815-865), became a monk to preach to pagans. He lived at the French Benedictine monastery of New Corbie and was sent to preach in Denmark and Sweden. He was made abbot and then became archbishop of Hamburg. He is known as the Apostle of the North because he restored Denmark to the faith and helped bolster the faith of other Scandinavians.

February 4: John de Brito, S.J., priest, religious, and martyr (1647-1693), was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who served in India and was named “The Portuguese Francis Xavier” to the Indians. De Brito was martyred because he counseled a Maravan prince during his conversion to give up all but one of his wives. One of the wives was a niece to the neighboring king, who set up a round of persecutions against priests and catechists.

February 5: Agatha, martyr, (d. 251), died in Sicily during the Diocletian persecution after she refused to give up her faith when sent to a brothel for punishment. She was subsequently tortured. Sicilians believe her intercession stopped Mount Etna from erupting the year after her burial. She has been sought as a protector against fire and in mentioned in the First Eucharistic prayer.

February 6: Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs (d. 1597), were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan for being Christians. Miki was a Jesuit brother and a native Japanese who was killed alongside 25 clergy, religious, and laypeople. They were suspended on crosses and killed by spears thrust into their hearts. Remnants of the Christian community continued through baptism without any priestly leadership. It was discovered when Japan was reopened in 1865.

February 8: Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537), was a Venetian soldier who experienced a call to be a priest during this imprisonment as a captor. He devoted his work to the education of orphans, abandoned children, the poor and hungry. He founded an order to help in his work, but he died during a plague while caring for the sick.

February 8: Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was a Sudanese who was sold as a slave to the Italian Consul, who treated her with kindness. She was baptized in Italy and took the name Josephine. Bakhita means fortunate. She was granted freedom according to Italian law and joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity where she lived simply as a cook, seamstress, and doorkeeper. She was known for her gentleness and compassion.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Feb 3, 1571. In Florida, the martyrdom of Fr. Louis Quiros and two novices, shot with arrows by an apostate Indian.
·      Feb 4, 1617. An imperial edict banished all missionaries from China.
·      Feb 5, 1833. The first provincial of Maryland, Fr. William McSherry, was appointed.
·      Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.
·      Feb 7, 1878. At Rome, Pius IX died. He was sincerely devoted to the Society; when one of the cardinals expressed surprise that he could be so attached to an order against which even high ecclesiastics brought serious charges, his reply was: "You have to be pope to know the worth of the Society."
·      Feb 8, 1885. In Chicago, Fr. Isidore Bourdreaux, master of novices at Florissant, Missouri, from 1857 to 1870, died. He was the first scholastic novice to enter the Society from any of the colleges in Missouri.
·      Feb 9, 1621. Cardinal Ludovisi was elected Pope Gregory XV. He was responsible for the canonization of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier.

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