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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
January 27, 2019
Nehemiah 8:2-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-20; Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Jesus follows in the footsteps on Nehemiah, the governor of Judah seventy years after the Babylonian exile, and Ezra the priest, who proclaims the law of Moses after their return to Jerusalem. The actions of Jesus call to mind the historic work of these two men. Nehemiah was given permission to rebuild the Temple and the city. He took it upon himself to expand the Jewish population and to purify the race by forcing men to divorce their non-Jewish wives. He then assisted Ezra to promulgate the law of Moses and to enforce the observance of the law. As we just heard, Ezra opened the scrolls in the presence of the people, read the statutes, and declared a Holy Day.

Jesus likewise goes into his hometown’s synagogue, rolls open the scroll, and reads from the major prophet of the Exile: Isaiah. His actions are preceded by miracles and teachings across Galilee and the people begin to understand that God was doing something remarkable through him. With anticipation, people are hungering for God’s word. They want to hear from someone who has direct contact from God because far too many people speak in God’s name and get it wrong. Jesus offers them something fresh and credible.

Nehemiah and Ezra enforced the old law and rebuilt an old concept; Jesus declared something new, and it wasn’t a law at all. Jesus revealed to us God’s heart. Jesus was able to say that the old law was not mediating God’s spirit the way God intended and, over the years, the law-givers did not hear God’s commands properly. Above all other matters, a servant of God, a priest of God has to bring hope and good news to the people, has to set a culture of reconciliation so that people live in freedom, has to instruct people properly so that one’s heart is always becoming more loving and understanding. Is this what your church is doing for you? If not, demand more.

Each year we read this passage, we have to see that Jesus is doing something new with us. He does not want us to go backwards and hold onto the familiarity of the past. Laws evolve, traditions are updated, and progress is measured by the extent of God’s mercy that we bring to others. Jesus always returns us, not to the teachings of the church, but to our care for one another, a care that is not always natural or comfortable to us, but one that expands our understanding of another person’s suffering. Caring for another person is seldom convenient; trying to understand the troubles of another person means that we are going to risk upsetting our understanding of our worldview. It means we are going to have to throw away our absolute judgments in favor of uncertainty, in favor of doubting our long-held positions. Sometimes our ideas have to be deconstructed before they can be reconstructed, but it is important that it be done gently in the context of God’s mercy.

We can see this as a day of rejoicing because we have more chances to make the right choices. We have a chance to ease someone’s pain and to have our pain understood and treated with compassion. We can reconcile estranged relationships because no broken friendship is beyond repair. We can forgive someone else’s sins while ours are dismissed from memory. We can liberate loved ones from all those matters than hold them back. Yes, this is a day of newness, a day of hope and promise. It is a day greater than the one when Nehemiah and Ezra restored the Temple and gave the law. In this new day, Jesus proclaims a new Temple, the temple of compassion where God’s mercy is brought about through our informed hearts. This Temple will endure and will give hope for many.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Hebrews 9) Christ is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

Tuesday: (Hebrews 10) Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year.

Wednesday: (Hebrews 10) Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.

Thursday: (Hebrews 10) Since through the Blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and since we have "a great priest over the house of God," let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust.

Friday (Hebrews 10) Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.

Saturday (Malachi 3) Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.

Monday: (Mark 3) The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."

Tuesday: (Mark 3) The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you."

Wednesday (Mark 4) And he taught them at length in parables, "Hear this!  A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.

Thursday (Mark 4) Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.

Friday (Mark 4) This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

Saturday (Luke 2) When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord.

Saints of the Week

January 27: Angela Merici (1474-1540), was the founder of the Ursuline nuns. Relatives raised her when her parents died when she was 10. As an adult, she tended to the needs of the poor and with some friends, she taught young girls at their home. These friends joined an association that later became a religious order. Ursula was the patron of medieval universities.

January 28: Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor (1225-1274), studied in a Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino as a boy. He joined the newly formed Dominicans where he studied in France and Italy. He is a giant scholar. He wrote much on Scripture and theology, including his summation of theology (Summa Theologiae). He wrote several songs for liturgy, such as the Tantum Ergo, Pange Lingua, and Adoro Te Devote.

January 31: John Bosco, priest (1815-1888), formed his Society to aid children who were imprisoned. He used Francis de Sales as his inspiration. He taught poor and working class boys in the evenings wherever it was possible to meet them - in fields, factories, or homes. A sister community was set up to assist young girls who were sent to work.

February 2: The Presentation of the Lord is the rite by which the firstborn male is presented in the Temple as an offering to God. It occurs 40 days after the birth while the new mother is considered ritually unclean. Two church elders, Simeon and Anna, who represent the old covenant, praise Jesus and warn his mother that her heart will be pierced as her son will bring the salvation of many.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan 27, 1870. The Austrian government endeavored to suppress the annual grant of 8,000 florins to the theological faculty of Innsbruck and to drive the Jesuit professors from the university, because of their support of the Papal Syllabus.
·      Jan 28, 1853. Fr. General John Roothaan, wishing to resign his office, summoned a General Congregation, but died on May 8, before it assembled.
·      Jan 29, 1923. Woodstock scholastics kept a fire vigil for several months to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from setting the college on fire.
·      Jan 30, 1633. At Avignon, Fr. John Pujol, a famous master of novices, died. He ordered one of them to water a dry stick, which miraculously sprouted.
·      Jan 31, 1774. Fr. General Laurence Ricci, a prisoner in Castel S Angelo, claimed his liberty, since his innocence had been fully vindicated. He received from the Papal Congregation the reply that they would think about it. Pope Clement XIV was said at this time to be mentally afflicted.
·      Feb 1, 1549. The first Jesuit missionaries to go to Brazil set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, under Fr. Emmanuel de Nobrega.
·      Feb 2, 1528. Ignatius arrived in Paris to begin his program of studies at the University of Paris.

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