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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What was Lost is Found in God: The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What was Lost is Found in God

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 15, 2019
Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 51; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32

Jesus uses parables as a way of teaching indirectly about the mind and heart of God. It is a soft way of getting a wide-sweeping message across without letting people get immersed in their own particular truths. The message of Jesus confronts the tightly held doctrines that people hold because they often get formed at an early age and we live out of those beliefs, whether correct or not. Sometimes they are rigid ideologies, and Jesus knows that his message will not be heard if he confronts these viewpoints head-on. Jesus tries to encourage us to look at our presuppositions with a different lens, so that we can focus on the larger issues and not get bogged down in misperceptions.

 The main point of the parables we just heard is that God is going to do everything to bring those who are lost back into the kingdom. In the Exodus story, Moses implores God to treat the people who have gone astray with kindness and to remember God’s promise to make them numerous and prosperous. (Hint, hint. We are not to treat those who sin or are wayward as awful people, because they are not, and yet God knows that we place people on the outside of the kingdom with our own judgments.)

Jesus gives us three parables that are so effective that we ponder our place in these stories and we forget the main point that God will search desperately for us to invite us to come home to a place of love, mercy, and forgiveness. The parables are about finding a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son, and then rejoicing. The context is that Jesus was found to be welcoming sinners and eating meals with them, and then rejoicing. We get to see the emotions of God when one who was lost has been embraced once again, and God rejoices.

Now, it is easy for us to see ourselves as the prodigal son or the ideologically rigid older brother. It often points to some unreconciled relationship with our parents and siblings, and we have not dealt well with our feelings or the fracture in these relationships. This story is about the nature of God. We are called to imitate the values of God, but we have a tendency to create people who are in our inner circle, which means that we put people on the outside, and when we do that, we can treat those outsiders with disdain, derision, ridicule, or pity because we fail to see them as our brothers and sisters. We judge people who are not like us with great clarity of thought, as people who have a history and can never change. Our judgments and lack of hope in one another stops another person from evolving and having a change of heart.

Do you believe God is powerful enough to change hearts? To change your heart? To turn around someone’s life? In First Timothy, Paul tells his conversion story that is credited to the abundant mercy of God. He was given the faith and love that is found in Jesus Christ. Paul is an example of one with a rigid ideology who was lost to God and then found by Christ, and look at what he became once he gave his life over to Christ. What are the possibilities that God may do with you?

God’s grace is powerful. We may have to lose any rigid ideologies, attitudes, and judgments we hold in order to access the mercy that is extended to us, but when we allow our hearts to be moved in a final, absolute way, we enjoy a life of mercy that gives us gladness of heart because we see the possibilities for reconciliation, possibilities for restoring friendships, and possibilities for loving the way we know is true. Rejoice, then, because God is rejoicing over you.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 Timothy 2) I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.

Tuesday: (1 Timothy 3) Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity.

Wednesday: (1 Timothy 3) I am writing you, although I hope to visit you soon.
But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God,
which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

Thursday: (1 Timothy 4) Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.

Friday (1 Timothy 6) Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.

Saturday (Ephesians 4) I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Monday: (Luke 7) When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave.

Tuesday: (Luke 7) Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.

Wednesday (Luke 7) For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'

Thursday (Luke 7) A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.

Friday (Luke 8) Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities.

Saturday (Matthew 9) As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.

Saints of the Week

September 15: Our Lady of Sorrows was once called the Seven Sorrows of Mary as introduced by the Servite Friars. After suffering during his captivity in France, Pius VII renamed the devotion that encapsulates: Simeon's prophecy, the flight into Egypt, searching for Jesus at age 12 in the Temple, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the deposition, and the entombment.

September 16: Cornelius, pope and martyr (d. 253) and Cyprian, bishop and martyr (200-258) both suffered in the Decian persecutions. Cornelius was being attacked by Novatian, but since Novatian's teachings were condemned, he received the support of the powerful bishop, Cyprian. Cyprian was a brilliant priest and bishop of Carthage who wrote on the unity of the church, the role of bishops, and the sacraments. Cyprian died under Valerius after supporting his church in exile by letters of encouragement.

September 17: Robert Bellarmine, S.J., bishop and doctor (1542-1621) became a Jesuit professor at the Louvain and then professor of Controversial theology at the Roman College. He wrote "Disputations on the controversies of the Christian faith against the Heretics of this age," which many Protestants appreciated because of its balanced reasoning. He revised the Vulgate bible, wrote catechisms, supervised the Roman College and the Vatican library, and was the pope's theologian.

September 19: Januarius, bishop and martyr (d. 305), was bishop of Benevento during his martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. He was arrested when he tried to visit imprisoned Christians. Legend tell us that a vial that contains his blood has been kept in the Naples cathedral since the 15th century liquefies three times a year.

September 20: Andrew Kim Taegon, priest, martyr, Paul Hasang, martyr, and companion martyrs (19th century), were Korean martyrs that began to flourish in the early 1800’s. The church leadership was almost entirely lay-run. In 1836, Parisian missionaries secretly entered the country and Christians began to encounter hostility and persecutions. Over 10,000 Christians were killed. Taegon was the first native-born priest while the rest were 101 lay Christians.

September 21: Matthew, evangelist and Apostle (first century), may be two different people, but we have not historical data on either man. Since Matthew relies heavily upon Mark’s Gospel, it is unlikely that the evangelist is one of the Twelve Apostles. The Apostle appears in a list of the Twelve and in Matthew’s Gospel he is called a tax collector. The Evangelist is writing to Jewish-Christians who are urged to embrace their Jewish heritage and to participate in their mission to the Gentiles. To Matthew, Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes of Jews and the inaugurator of a new way to relate to God.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 15, 1927. Thirty-seven Jesuits arrived in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to begin tertianship. The property was given to the Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.
·      Sep 16, 1883. The twenty-third General Congregation opened at Rome in the Palazzo Borromeo (via del Seminario). It elected Fr. Anthony Anderledy Vicar General with the right of succession.
·      Sep 17, 1621. The death of St Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church.
·      Sep 18, 1540. At Rome, Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fourteen, was admitted into the Society by St Ignatius (nine days before official papal confirmation of the Society).
·      Sep 19, 1715. At Quebec, the death of Fr. Louis Andre, who for 45 years labored in the missions of Canada amid incredible hardships, often living on acorns, a kind of moss, and the rind of fruits.
·      Sep 20, 1990. The first-ever Congregation of Provincials met at Loyola, Spain, on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the approval of the Society and 500th anniversary of the birth of St Ignatius.
·      Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.

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