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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Our Extraordinary Call: The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

                                                      Our Extraordinary Call:

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 29, 2023

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Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13; Psalm 146; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12


           Last week we heard of the calling of the first disciples into the ministry of Jesus, and this week, we hear Jesus’s address to the crowds on the mountain, and this sermon is very much our call to discipleship. It is the universal call to holiness. The Beatitudes bring such comfort to our lives that we often say them at funerals as we send the person off from the church into eternal lives. These are the values by which we measure our lives as we stand before God, and there is always a part of these blessings that are meaningful to us.


          It is perhaps the greatest speech ever spoken and it outlines God’s plan for the world. In this homily, Jesus tells us of God’s values and priorities, and he gives us the criterion for how Jesus will judge our individual lifetime decisions. These words have given comfort to those throughout history who have been mistreated or misjudged or have sacrificed their lifetime goals for the sake of another person, for instance a family member who needs special care and attention. Many people have dedicated their lives in helping professions because they are called to live out Gospel values       and to forsake other choices or their own personal dreams. They choose to put God’s love into action.


          The Beatitudes tell us there is a place for everyone in God’s kingdom, even if they don’t find that space in the church or society. They have a place with God. The Beatitudes provide welcome in ways that we humans do not afford one another, and in our personal relationship with Christ, we know that he sees the heart the strives, the heart that loves, the heart that makes sacrifices for another person, the heart that knows God accepts our offering as best we can make. This knowing brings us consolation and comfort.


          We delight in this standard that we know is counter-cultural, where the truth of our lives can be known to God. Saint Paul reminds us of the biblical passages that repeatedly show us that God specially pays attention to those society hardly acknowledges. God’s values turn the world upside down, and it provides us comfort when we know those in leadership, in authority, in classes and castes, or with people of privilege do not see us, God will take care of us and provide us with the ultimate gifts – God’s presence and our eternal salvation. There is a place of us all in God’s wide embrace, and because of that, we know deep in our hearts that we are unduly blessed.



This homily is for the catechetical series on Christ’s presence in our worship.


In the age of Thomas Aquinas, he and theologians who followed him tried hard to find if there was a God particle in the bread and wine that had been transformed through faith into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Through faith, the gifts of the community that we offer to God are blessed and transformed. There was a tendency to objectify the consecrated host and wine and it is through our faith and God's remembrance of our action that what we offer has been transformed. Up until Vatican Council II, people tended to see the changed physical reality of the consecrated host and have treated it only as an object to be adored, revered, reserved, and consumed, and it missed a fundamental characteristic of the Eucharist, that it is, first and foremost an action. Vatican II has restored its original intent so that we see our crucial participation in the worship that is called the Eucharist, that is, the Eucharist is an action.


We have been focusing upon Christ's presence in the people who have assembled for worship, and we saw that the ministers reveal Christ's presence within them as they proclaim the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Word. We see that the People of God are crucial for the action of the Eucharist. We offer ourselves to God, and along with our gifts of bread and wine, we raise them up to the Lord, who remembers us. It is reminiscent of Noah's offering when, after the flood, he offered God the first fruits and the livestock he carried with him in a gesture of thanksgiving. God said to Noah, when you give thanks to me, I will remember you and bless you, and then God sent Noah a sign in the sky with the promise, "Every time you offer thanks, I will bless you." The same happens at our Eucharist as the People of God come together in thanksgiving, we raise ourselves and our gifts, and God remembers us. By faith, the wine and the bread are transformed. So are we. We are changed as we are made into a faithful people. We are the ones who are blessed. It is because we come together to be in God's presence that God remembers us and makes us the ones who are to be transformed. After God blesses us, we receive back the gifts God offered to us as the Body and Blood of Christ, and we experience communion with God and with the other people who have come to give thanks.


As Mass concludes, we are sent into the world nourished and transformed to live in fidelity to God. We are the Eucharist that we bring to others. We collect the extra hosts that are to be reserved for those who were not able to join us in the celebration so that we can bring it to them later in the week. 


Vatican II has restored the usage that the Eucharist is first and foremost an action by the People of God in the presence of his minister, who is reserved to be a servant of the people. The focus upon our action ought to make us people who fully participate in the Mass, rather than Mass be something that we watch and observe. The Mass is dependent upon the actions of the people who call upon God to remember us as we give thanks, and God blesses and transforms our gifts. 


Scripture for Daily Mass


First Reading: 

Monday: (Hebrews 11) What more shall I say? I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises.


Tuesday: (Hebrews 12) Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.


Wednesday: (Hebrews 12) Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as his sons. For what "son” is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.


Thursday: (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.


Friday (Hebrews 13) Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment,
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.


Saturday (Hebrews 13) Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have.



Monday: (Mark 5) When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.


Tuesday: (Mark 5) One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”


Wednesday (Mark 6) When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? 
What kind of wisdom has been given him?  What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 


Thursday (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.


Friday (Mark 6) King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
That is why mighty powers are at work in him."


Saturday (Mark 6) He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.


Saints of the Week


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.


February 3: Blase, bishop and martyr (d. 316), was an Armenian martyr of the persecution of Licinius. Legends hold that a boy, choking to death on a fishbone, was miraculously cured. Blase's intercession has been invoked for cures for throat afflictions. The candles presented at Candlemas the day earlier are used in the rite of the blessings of throats.


February 3: Angsar, bishop (815-865), became a monk to preach to pagans. He lived at the French Benedictine monastery of New Corbie and was sent to preach in Denmark and Sweden. He was made abbot and then became archbishop of Hamburg. He is known as the Apostle of the North because he restored Denmark to the faith and helped bolster the faith of other Scandinavians. 


February 4: John de Brito, S.J., priest, religious, and martyr (1647-1693), was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who served in India and was named “The Portuguese Francis Xavier” to the Indians. De Brito was martyred because he counseled a Maravan prince during his conversion to give up all but one of his wives. One of the wives was a niece to the neighboring king, who set up a round of persecutions against priests and catechists. 


This Week in Jesuit History


  • January 29, 1923. Woodstock scholastics kept a fire vigil for several months to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from setting the college on fire. 
  • January 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. 
  • January 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. 
  • February 1, 1549. The first Jesuit missionaries to go to Brazil set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, under Fr. Emmanuel de Nobrega. 
  • February 2, 1528. Ignatius arrived in Paris to begin his program of studies at the University of Paris. 
  • February 3, 1571. In Florida, the martyrdom of Fr. Louis Quiros and two novices, shot with arrows by an apostate Indian. 
  • February 4, 1617. An imperial edict banished all missionaries from China.

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