Thursday, August 24, 2017

Photo: Three Vases

Prayer: John Donne

O Lord, forgive my sins: the sins of my youth, my present sins, sins which are manifest to all the world, and sins which I have so labored to hide from the world that now they are hidden from my own conscience and my own memory. Say to my sad soul: “Child, be of good comfort, your sins are forgiven.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 27, 2017
Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20

The key is the distinctive feature of today’s readings. In Isaiah’s reading, God tells Shebna, the master of the palace, that he will be replaced by Eliakim, who will be given divine authority to treat the citizens of Jerusalem kindly. Upon his shoulder, the key of David will rest with the authority to open or to close. In the Gospel, Peter is with Jesus and their friends in Caesarea Philippi when people curiously ask, “Who are you? And from where does your authority come?” Peter astutely answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Because of his fidelity, Jesus promises to give Peter the keys to the kingdom.

Keys are powerful symbols. What business professional does not want the key to the Executive Washroom? It is an important status symbol because of the privileges that come with it. A sixteen-year-old cannot wait to get the keys to the family car, and the elderly fears that car keys may be taken away from them, denying them precious freedom and mobility. Keys are symbols of power and they give exclusive access to what is denied others. Keys give the impression of security and safety when we have private codes or a lock box. You might fret that you were never given the master key to your company. This key gives you authority along with responsibility. Sometimes our self-worth is tied to the possession of or the return of a key.

Notice that Jesus gave Peter keys in the plural. Certainly, forgiveness and reconciliation are two hallmarks of this key, and we know that keys are often symbols of education, wisdom, and knowledge. The reading from Romans marvels at the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God, and therefore we should spend our time seeking this knowledge of God. The responsibility that we have for our times is to increase our reflective, informed understanding of our participation in the world. We are Christians and part of our work is to show others the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God through us. The living God has to live within us.

Our nation today has fractures and sometimes neighbors do not like their neighbors. Family relationships are strained and oftentimes people, because we have the Constitutional privilege of protected freedom of speech, think that an uninformed, unreflective opinion carries the same weight as an informed, reflective one. People have the right to speak and express themselves and we never will take that away from a person, but we also have the obligation and responsibility to help a person inform his or her opinion, that is, after we take care of our own. Education is not easy because it means dismantling that which we hold as certain. If education is going to be authentic and have integrity, we really have to question the assumptions and presumptions we often do not reflect upon deeply.

Many of us will read articles that support our points of view and we will chastise articles of different points of view. That is disingenuous. Instead, we ought to be reading all sides deeply to understand the various ways people approach an issue. We will not heal, we will not reconcile until we try to understand. If I am honest about informing my knowledge and gaining wisdom and I am a Fox network watcher, then I better also watch MSNBC so I can search for deeper enrichment. Likewise, if I am an MSNBC viewer, it is honest of my pursuit of knowledge to include watching the Fox network. In each case, I have to be vulnerable enough to be changed, and enriched, and to refrain from negative, harsh judgments while giving some space for appreciation. Yes, styles do matter and various approaches will set off red flags in us, but a person who is striving, seeking, desiring to understand, will learn something important about their participation in the educational process. It helps to keep us in balance.

The entrusted keys to the kingdom demand from us a serious responsibility to reveal the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God through others. We cannot do that if we only exist in our tiny bubbles, and yet at the same time, the work has to be done in the small corners of our world. Underneath all this political rhetoric and vocalization of opinions tell us that there are many hurts, unmet needs, cries for help, and other truths that cannot yet be articulated well. We have to see beyond the surface words. We have to let others see, through our meticulously placed words and our helpful silence, the One who is the Son of the Living God, the One who is the Christ. In their own words, in their own ways, people are seeking him. Let us use those keys judiciously and mercifully to let others come to him - Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 Thessalonians 1) We give thanks to you calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tuesday: (1 Thessalonians 2) We drew courage through our God to speak to you the Gospel with much struggle. We were gentle among you and we were determined to share with you the Gospel and our very selves.
Wednesday: (1 Thessalonians 2) Recall our toil and drudgery so that we would not burden you, but we proclaimed the Gospel of God. We give thanks you received it so well.    
Thursday: (1 Thessalonians 3) In our distress and affliction, through your faith, we have been reassured about you. We now live, if you stand firm in the Lord.
Friday (1 Thessalonians 4) This is the will of God, your holiness. You received from us how you should conduct yourself to please God.
Saturday (1 Thessalonians 4) You have been taught by God to love one another. Progress even more, to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands.

Monday: (Matthew 23) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees. You lock the kingdom of heaven to people of good will. You do not enter yourself and you do not let others to enter.   
Tuesday: (Mark 6) Herod slain the Baptist because of an oath he made to Salome’s mother after she danced and pleased the crowd so well. The disciples of John came to collect his body and lay it in a tomb.  
Wednesday (Matthew 23) You whitewash tombs, which are beautiful on the outside, but inside are filled with the dead’s bones and every kind of filth.
Thursday (Matthew 24) Stay awake because you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Who is the faithful one? He is like the faithful and prudent servant whom the master has put in charge of his household.
Friday (Matthew 25) The Kingdom of heaven is like the ten virgins who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five were foolish and five preserved their oil. The Groom showed up when the five foolish virgins went out to refill their oil.  
Saturday (Matthew 25) The Kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a journey who entrusts his possessions to servants. Most servants invested well, but one was fearful and buried his treasure and was forced to give up everything.

Saints of the Week

August 27: Monica (332-387) was born a Christian in North Africa and was married to a non-Christian, Patricius, with whom she had three children, the most famous being Augustine. Her husband became a Christian at her urging and she prayed for Augustine's conversion as well from his newly adopted Manichaeism. Monica met Augustine in Milan where he was baptized by Bishop Ambrose. She died on the return trip as her work was complete.

August 28: Augustine, bishop and doctor (354-430),  was the author of his Confessions, his spiritual autobiography, and The City of God, which described the life of faith in relation to the life of the temporal world. Many other writings, sermons, and treatises earned him the title Doctor of the church. In his formative years, he followed Mani, a Persian prophet who tried to explain the problem of evil in the world. His mother’s prayers and Ambrose’s preaching helped him convert to Christianity. Baptized in 387, Monica died a year later. He was ordained and five years later named bishop of Hippo and defended the church against three major heresies: Manichaeism, Donatism, and Pelagianism.

August 29: The Martyrdom of John the Baptist recalls the sad events of John's beheading by Herod the tetrarch when John called him out for his incestuous and adulterous marriage to Herodias, who was his niece and brother's wife. At a birthday party, Herodias' daughter Salome danced well earning the favor of Herod who told her he would give her almost anything she wanted.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug. 27, 1679: The martyrdom at Usk, England, of St. David Lewis, apostle to the poor in his native Wales for three decades before he was caught and hanged.
·      Aug. 28, 1628: The martyrdom in Lancashire, England, of St. Edmund Arrowsmith.
·      Aug. 29, 1541: At Rome the death of Fr. John Codure, a Savoyard, one of the first 10 companions of St. Ignatius.
·      Aug. 30, 1556: On the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the Iroquois mortally wounded Fr. Leonard Garreau, a young missionary.
·      Aug. 31, 1581: In St. John's Chapel within the Tower of London, a religious discussion took place between St. Edmund Campion, suffering from recent torture, and some Protestant ministers.
·      Sep 1, 1907. The Buffalo Mission was dissolved and its members were sent to the New York and Missouri Provinces and the California Mission.

·      Sep 2, 1792. In Paris, ten ex-Jesuits were massacred for refusing to take the Constitutional oath. Also in Paris seven other fathers were put to death by the Republicans, among them Frs. Peter and Robert Guerin du Rocher.