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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

She Persisted. The Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2020

 She Persisted.

                           The Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2020

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August 16, 2020

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28



Many find it refreshing that Jesus had a moment of expanded consciousness when we was forced to reckon with the unnamed Canaanite woman whose daughter was tormented by a demon. If Jesus was all-God by birth and all-knowing, then he would have treated her more kindly; if Jesus was all-human, a core aspect of our faith, then his human growth and development is reassuring because he didn’t have it all figured out before he began his ministry. Just the fact that Jesus could grow in his understanding of what it meant to be a servant of God gives us permission to grow from our experiences as well.


Jesus had to deal with a sort of racism in his time. As a Jew, he was forbidden to interact with anyone who was a tax collector or sinner, a person from another nation, including Samaritans and Gentiles, and yet those are the people with whom Jesus regularly seems to interact. Genetic purity was often a policy goal and laws against intermarriage were strict at certain historic moments. In this passage, he is challenged by his tradition, and it is evidenced in his attitude towards a woman who is a Canaanite. The mission Jesus received at his Baptism was to preach the immanence of the Kingdom of Heaven to the Twelve Tribes of Israel only. Certainly, this women went beyond the pale. The way he treats women and foreigners will be a blueprint for the way we are to proceed.


Fortunately, Jesus had a moment of awakening. This woman pressed against his assumptions and challenged some of his core beliefs. She persisted. To his credit, the heart and mind, the attitudes of Jesus become changed. His heart softens to her and her plight. How does this happen? He listens to her story of suffering. She and her daughter are suffering just like any Jew would and she is despondent – hoping that God would have compassion upon her. She was not trying to change any structures; she was not protesting. She only said these words to Jesus, “Lord, help me.” This is the moment when her humanity touches the humanity of Jesus, and both are changed for it. When we hear the each other’s stories of suffering, we can’t help but be changed for the better. We want to alleviate their suffering because their pain touches us. We want to help. We want to be a part of the solution, just as Jesus was the instrument by which the woman’s daughter was healed. Our ability to respond to someone else’s suffering heals the world.


This unnamed woman was the key that unlocked the entire world of seekers to the faith. In the first reading, Isaiah writes that “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, becoming his servants” will be brought to the holy mountain of God and will experience joy with God. The Lord says at the conclusion of the reading, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”


So, as Jesus was, we are challenged by the way we may interact or deal with foreigners and racism in our lives. What is the key for the faith? Listening. Letting our hearts hear stories of pain and suffering. Letting our faith be informed by greater understanding and wisdom, even in the midst of our uncomfortableness. Letting our goodness well up to say, “I want to be a part of the solution.” We will be able to hear Jesus say to us, “How great is your faith. Your faith has healed you.”


Scripture for Daily Mass


First Reading:

Monday: (Ezekiel 24) Son of man, by a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears. Groan in silence, make no lament for the dead, bind on your turban, put your sandals on your feet, do not cover your beard, and do not eat the customary bread.


Tuesday: (Ezekiel 28) Because you are haughty of heart, you say, “A god am I!
I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!”— And yet you are a man, and not a god, however you may think yourself like a god.


Wednesday: (Ezekiel 34) You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.


Thursday: (Ezekiel 36) For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.


Friday (Ezekiel 37) Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD.


Saturday (Ezekiel 43) I fell prone as the glory of the LORD entered the temple
by way of the gate which faces the east, but spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court. And I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD.



Monday: (Matthew 19) “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”


Tuesday: (Matthew 19) Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


Wednesday (Matthew 20) ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’


Thursday (Matthew 22) ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.


Friday (Matthew 22) “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”


Saturday (Matthew 23) They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.


Saints of the Week


August 16: Stephen of Hungary (975-1038) tried to unite the Magyar families and was able to establish the church in Hungary through Pope Sylvester II's support. Rome crowed Stephen as the first king in 1001 and he instituted many reforms in religious and civil practices. He built churches and trained local clergy.


August 18: Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, S.J., priest (1901-1952), was a Chilean Jesuit priest, lawyer, writer and social worker who was born in the Basque region in Spain. He established Hogar de Cristo, that housed at-risk children, whether orphaned or not, and provided them food and shelter. Hurtado also supported the rise of labor union and labor rights in Chile.


August 19: John Eudes, priest (1601-1680) preached missions, heard confessions, and assisted the sick and dying. He founded a new religious order for women, which includes Our Lady of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters. He eventually left the Oratorians to found the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. 


August 20: Bernard, Abbot and Doctor (1090-1153) became a Benedictine abbey in Citeaux because of its strict observance. He was sent to set up a new monastery in Clairvaux with 12 other monks. He wrote theological treatises, sermons, letters, and commentaries that dominated the thought of Europe. His writings had a tremendous influence of Catholic spirituality.


August 21: Pius X, pope (1835-1914), was an Italian parish priest for 17 years before he became bishop of Mantua, the cardinal patriarch of Venice, and eventually pope. He urged frequent communion for adults, sacramental catechesis for children, and continued education for everyone. He is known for rigid political policies that put him at odds with a dynamically changing world that led to World War I.


August 22: The Queenship of Mary concludes the octave of the principal feast of Mary as she celebrates her installation as queen and mother of all creation. This feast was placed on our calendar in 1954 following the dogmatic proclamation of the Assumption.


This Week in Jesuit History


·      Aug. 16, 1649: At Drogheda, Cromwell's soldiers shot Fr. John Bath and his brother, a secular priest, in the marketplace.

·      Aug. 17, 1823: Fr. Van Quickenborne and a small band of missionaries descended the Missouri River to evangelize the Indians at the request of the bishop of St. Louis. On this date in 1829, the College of St. Louis opened.

·      Aug. 18, 1952: The death of Alberto Hurtado, writer, retreat director, trade unionist and founder of "El Hogar de Christo," a movement to help the homeless in Chile.

·      Aug. 19, 1846: At Melgar, near Burgos, the birth of Fr. Luis Martin, 24th General of the Society.

·      Aug. 20, 1891: At Santiago, Chile, the government of Balmaceda ordered the Jesuit College to be closed.

·      Aug. 21, 1616: At Pont a Mousson in Lorraine died Fr. William Murdoch, a Scotchman, who when only 10 years of age was imprisoned seven months for the faith and cruelly beaten by the order of a Protestant bishop. St. Ignatius is said to have appeared to him and encouraged him to bear the cross bravely.

·      Aug. 22, 1872: Jesuits were expelled from Germany during the Bismarckian Kulturkampf.

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