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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

With Arms Held High: The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 With Arms Held High:
The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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October 20, 2019
Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8

Today’s readings teach us that we ought to persevere in prayer, and Moses gives us an example of this when he raises his arms to the heavens to support Aaron in his battle against the Amaleks. Jesus gives us a parable about a persistent widow and an unjust judge who finally gives justice to the woman, and then he asks questions about God: Will not God support those who call out day and night? Yes. Will God be slow to answer? No. God will give justice to those who pray speedily.

We do not like being persistent, especially to God, because we don’t want to wear out our welcome or get the other person angry enough so that they take revenge on us. We want to be polite and reasonable when we pray. We want to present our experience to God and to know our petitions are heard and honored. We see persistence as a personality disorder, like obsessiveness or compulsiveness, even when we are a victim of an unjust situation. We have restrained ourselves in making our requests known and then fighting for them. We give up too easily. When we do this in an unjust system, our silence and reluctance to fight allows the unjust situation to continue, which only makes more victims.

The world is lifted up by our prayers for one another. Sometimes I walk into a chapel or church to pray and I sigh. I sigh because I want to remember all the people commended to me and I want their good fortune and good health. I lift them up and tell the Lord to show them that He is close to them. I recognize my powerlessness to effect any real change, but I seek the Lord’s providence over their lives. I ask for what I want for them, and then turn it over to the Lord’s wisdom to know the situation much more fully.

As I sit and pray, I realize how many people are praying for me and I feel strengthened by the support I receive. I am grateful for the persistence of people who pray for me as I pray for them. The world turns on our prayers. I take that moment to reflect upon all those people who stood on the sidelines and lifted their arms in prayerful support of me, and whether they are dead or alive, I ask the Lord to bless them.  

It fuels my desire to be like Moses, who stood on the sidelines with arms upraised in prayer. It is my paying back all the generosity given to me over the years, and I’d like to pay it forward now. I’d like to lift up people in need the same way I was lifted up, and I’d like to be known as a friend of God. My arms get heavy at times and they need support. Sometimes I pray for miracles. Often, I pray for healing. I pray for those things that don’t make sense or are not reasonable. I pray for wrongs to be righted. I pray for new solutions to emerge. Many times, I pray for the impossible, and I often pray for those things in my life where I have been told ‘no,’ but I still want a ‘yes.’ I continue to ask repeatedly for things that are unlikely to happen. I pray to be a loving person filled with generosity and mercy. I pray to be seen, heard, and known by God, and I practice my deep breathing as I pray. I pray for a lot of things, and when I am finished, I am either much more relaxed or I fall asleep.

I don’t know what a prayer is or what it does or where it goes, but I cannot stop doing it. It seems that persistence in prayer is reasonable. It makes me aware – of my goodness, of my suffering, of the immensity of God, and I just listen and become aware. It changes nothing and it changes everything. 

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Romans 4) Abraham did not doubt God's promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God and was fully convinced that what God had promised he was also able to do.

Tuesday: (Romans 5) Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

Wednesday: (Romans 6) Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness.

Thursday: (Romans 6) I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature. For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

Friday (Romans 7) I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Saturday (Romans 8) Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death.

Monday: (Luke 12) Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."

Tuesday: (Luke 12) "Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.

Wednesday (Luke 12) "Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."

Thursday (Luke 12) “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?

Friday (Luke 12) You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Saturday (Luke 13) "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

Saints of the Week

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.

October 23: John of Capistrano, priest, had a vision of Francis of Assisi when he was imprisoned during an Italian civil war at which time, he was the governor of Perugia. He entered the Franciscan Friars Minor in 1415 after ending his marriage. He preached missions throughout Europe including a mission to Hungary to preach a crusade against the Turks. After the Christian victory at the Battle of Belgrade in 1456, John died.

October 24: Anthony Claret, bishop (1807-1870) adopted his father's weaving career as a young man but continued to study Latin and printing. After entering seminary, he began preaching retreats and giving missions. He published and distributed religious literature and founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He was appointed archbishop of Cuba but was called back to Spain to be Queen Isabella II's confessor. He resumed publishing until the revolution of 1868 sent him into exile.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      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.
·      October 21, 1568: Fr. Robert Parsons was elected Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He resigned his Fellowship in 1574.
·      October 22, 1870: In France, Garibaldi and his men drove the Jesuits from the Colleges of Dole and Mont Roland.
·      October 23, 1767: The Jesuits who had been kept prisoners in their college in Santiago, Chile, for almost two months were led forth to exile. In all 360 Jesuits of the Chile Province were shipped to Europe as exiles.
·      October 24, 1759: 133 members of the Society, banished from Portugal and put ashore at Civita Vecchia, were most kindly received by Clement XIII and by the religious communities, especially the Dominicans.
·      Oct 25, 1567. St Stanislaus Kostka arrived in Rome and was admitted into the Society by St Francis Borgia.
·      Oct 26, 1546. The Province of Portugal was established as the first province in the Society, with Simao Rodriguez as its first provincial superior.

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