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The Contours of the Human Heart The Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021

                                          The Contours of the Human Heart

The Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021

September 19, 2021

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Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54; James 3:19-4:3; Mark 9:30-37


We cannot escape the violence of the human heart in these three readings, and we are faced with the complex reality of human nature. In Wisdom, we hear how bullies will taunt and deride the one who is righteous and innocent because they want to test his trust in God. Saint James concludes that violence and hatred comes from a closed heart that is blinded by jealousy and one’s passions. In the Gospel, Jesus tells his friends that his own countrymen and religious elders will hand him over to be killed because they fear his authority and nature. The people who walked with him and conversed with him will be the ones to turn on him. The human heart has great capacity for hatred and great capacity for good.


When Jesus asks the disciples about their conversation, he realizes that they are still in the same power structure of those who wish to kill him. They are concerned about their status and authority, just like the Temple authorities, and Jesus instructs them, not for the first time nor the last, that following God is not about obtaining power and seeking privileges. Jesus often teaches the disciples, and us, that we must check our attitudes about power because doing the will of God does not include the pursuit of power. Service to God means becoming a person for others. Finding meaning as a disciple comes about when we live for the sake of others and help ease their suffering.


Our lives take on great meaning when we dedicate it to the well-being of others. It is where we get great satisfaction and find our life’s purpose. Rather than pursuing our greater comfort or the best things in life, we feel so much better about our actions when we realized we have just made somebody else’s life a little better and have given them needed hope and inspiration. Isn’t that what faith is about? Life is not easy for most people, and we do our best to get by and we just want a break somewhere along the way, and to know that God sees our faithfulness and has mercy upon us. Family, friends, work associates can be harsh at times, and though we keep trying, and keep trying to be a good Christian, we want to know that our efforts are worth it.


As hard as it seems, we have to make sure we examine our fundamental attitudes because our words and actions follow from our actions. If our attitudes are not positive or loving, perhaps we might want to edit our language to choose words that are more in line with God’s way of speaking. We know that is someone always speaks negatively or in criticism, people stop paying attention to them. We also know that if some speaks lovingly, full of praise or gratitude, we pay attention to those words and the person who is speaking them. Our words reveal something about who we truly are. Words of criticism reveal a closed world where one is primarily concerned about oneself. Words of encouragement, joy, and praise reveal that one is concerned about the well-being of another person. We have the ability and the responsibility to choose how our words reflect our faith. How do we want to be known? How do our attitudes reveal what lies in our heart? My prayer is that we all choose what will give life to others and to ease their sufferings as much as we can help. May God help us discern how to care for one another and build up one another as proof of our faith.


Scripture for Daily Mass


Monday: (Ezra 1) “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!


Tuesday: (Ephesians 4) I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live 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: one Body and one Spirit,


Wednesday: (Ezra 9) For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us; rather, he has turned the good will of the kings of Persia toward us.
Thus he has given us new life to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins,
and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem.


Thursday: (Haggai 1) Consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber and build the house That I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the LORD.


Friday (Haggai 2) One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come in, And I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.


Saturday (Zechariah 2) Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people and he will dwell among you.



Monday: (Luke 8) No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.


Tuesday: (Matthew 9) While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”


Wednesday (Luke 9) Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.


Thursday (Luke 9) Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”


Friday (Luke 9) He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”


Saturday (Luke 9) “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.


Saints of the Week


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.


September 22: Tomas Sitjar, S.J. and the martyrs of Valencia (1866-1936), were killed in the Spanish Civil War just a week after the war broke out. Sitjar was the Rector of Gandia and was formerly the novice director and metaphysics professor. The Jesuit Order was suppressed at the beginning of the war, which sent the men to disperse into apartments, but since they were known to the community, they were sought out, imprisoned, and later executed because of their belief in God.


September 23: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887-1968) was affectionately named Padre Pio and was a Capuchin priest who received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) just as Francis of Assisi did. He founded a hospital and became the spiritual advisor to many at a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo.


This Week in Jesuit History


·      September 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.

·      September 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.

·      September 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.

·      September 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.

·      September 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.

·      September 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.

·      September 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.

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