Born in 1491 at Loyola, Spain, Ignatius was wounded in the leg by a cannonball at the siege of Pampeluna in 1521, an injury that left him partially crippled for life. During his recuperation the only books he had access to were The Golden Legend, a collection of lives of the saints, and The Life of Christ. These books, and the time spent in contemplation, changed him. Upon his recovery he took a vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin of Montserrat, and donned a pilgrim’s robe. He journeyed to Rome and the Holy Land where he worked to convert Muslims. His meditations, prayers, visions and insights led to forming the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) on 15 August 1534. He traveled to Europe and the Holy Lands, then settled in Rome to direct the Jesuit order. His health suffered in later years, and he was nearly blind at death. The Jesuits today have over 500 universities and colleges, 30,000 members, and teach over 200,000 students each year.
Monthly Archives: July 2015
Since the First Sunday of Advent, our Gospel Readings have generally been taken from the Gospel of Saint Mark with the exception of course of the Lent/Easter season. However, this Sunday our Gospel reading is taken from Saint John (John 6:1-15). This will also be true for the four Sundays that follow.
Those five readings from John’s Gospel make their way into the cycle of readings from Mark since Mark’s Gospel is not long enough to cover all the Sundays of the liturgical year. So as we are about to come to Mark’s account of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, we jump to Saint John’s account of that miracle. We then remain in John’s Gospel as Jesus goes from feeding a crowd of thousands to speaking of himself as the bread of life, the living bread from heaven that satisfies our deepest hunger and brings eternal life. In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus goes from providing bread and fish to saying “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53) Outside of the Resurrection, this story is recounted in all four Gospels.
At first Jesus went up into the hill behind the plain and he was sitting there with his disciples. Then the crowd began to appear in droves. We are told that the Feast of the Passover was near and there would be even bigger crowds on the roads at that time. At sight of the crowd Jesus’s sympathy as we heard last week was aroused. They were hungry and tired, and they must be fed. Philip was the natural man to whom to turn, for he came from Bethsaida (John 1:44) and would have local knowledge. Jesus asked him where food could be got. Philip’s answer was despairing. He said that even if food could be got it would cost more than two hundred denarii to give this vast crowd even a little each. Philip calculated that it would take more than six months’ wages to begin to feed a crowd like this.
Then Andrew appeared on the scene. He had discovered a lad with five barley loaves and two little fish. Andrew, as usual, was bringing people to Jesus. The boy had not much to bring. Barley bread was the cheapest of all bread
The fish would be no bigger than sardines. Pickled fish from Galilee were known all over the Roman Empire The boy had his little pickled fish to help the dry barley bread down.
Jesus told the disciples to make the people sit down. He took the loaves and the fishes and he blessed them. When he did that he was acting as father of the family.
When the people had eaten their fill, Jesus told his disciples to gather up the fragments left. Why the fragments? At Jewish feasts the regular practice was to leave something for the servants and no doubt the people left their usual part for those who had served them with the meal.
Of the fragments twelve baskets were taken up. No doubt each of the disciples had his basket. From the fragments each of the disciples filled his basket. And so the hungry crowd were fed and more than fed.
This same abundance and generosity is ours as well, as Christians. We, like the Ephesians, are God’s people, heirs to all the promises told about in the first reading, but especially the gospel, and so we too are called to live a life worthy of our calling, and be generous to one another and to the world. In our community, we need to live in humility and gentleness. We need to bear one another patiently, and work at loving one another, and working for unity and peace as well.
But living according to our calling is not just about becoming a better community as church. It means being generous in our world.
As Jesus performs the miracle of the Eucharist in this Mass, let’s renew our confidence in him, and hand over whatever loaves and fish he is asking for.
Note: James, the son of Zebedee, along with his younger brother John were nicknamed Boanerges, meaning “sons of thunder” by Jesus (Mk 3:17). They were natives of Galilee and fishermen when Jesus called them to follow him. James, John and Peter belonged to what seems to have been an inner circle of three. They were privileged witnesses when Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law, were present at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, at the Transfiguration, and Jesus’ agony in the garden. was “killed with the sword,” probably beheaded, by the order of King Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-2).
James and his brother, John (the Evangelist) were both called to become Apostles while they were mending their fishing nets with their father. They joined Jesus and Peter and his brother Andrew, who had been invited earlier. James is also the first Apostle to be martyred, and it was by the sword. He witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. He was special to Jesus, and we might call on him today to help us strengthen our Faith, fire it up; as Jesus also referred to him as being one of the sons of thunder, possibly for his temper.
Today’s first reading begins with the first line, “We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) This image speaks about our limitations, something we don’t like to think about very often today. Those limitations are expounded on in the rest of the reading. We see humility in the words; in their humanity they called themselves back so that they could recognize from whence they received their power. It is a very good reminder for all of us, even if we are not curing people in Jesus’ name. All the good that we do is only possible because of Christ. And as we sometimes find out, we have the ability to become quite sour when life doesn’t go our way. So, as we read about them being “in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered;” or “see no answer to our problems, but never despair”, let us be strengthened in our walk. This is a reminder just how much we need Jesus to help us in and throughout each day. It’s a reminder to ask in prayer for we are only earthen vessels.
Another lesson in humility is found in today’s Gospel, where we learn from one of James’ mistakes. He along with his brother, or in today’s reading the request is coming from their Mother, ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand when Jesus returns to his kingdom. Jesus tells them they will drink of the cup He is about to drink, but that the position of right and left hand are not His to give. Humility is one of our more difficult virtues to groom, but it was also spoken of when Jesus told someone to sit at a lower position at a dinner table and wait for the host to call you to move up. So, we are reminded not to boast of ourselves, we are all in earthen vessels; our goal is heaven and it is only in imitating Jesus that we will be worthy of this goal. We are also reminded that Jesus wants us to bring many people along with us; otherwise why would He have come to earth and suffered as much as He did if not to show us another way to live? All good lessons for today…
“I have seen the Lord”
Mary Magdalene had been plagued by demons, and Jesus healed her. With gratitude, she joined the band of women who cared for him (Luke 8:2-3) and was among those who followed him from Galilee to Jerusalem (Matthew 27:55-56), hearing his word every day and seeing his miracles. While many fled in fear, Mary Magdalene stood loyally near the cross—a true disciple to the end—and watched as Jesus was crucified (John 19:25). But even that courageous act was not enough to satisfy her devotion.
Grief-stricken, Mary went to mourn at Jesus’ grave, just to be close to him and the memory of all he had done for her. But her sorrow was turned into joy when she encountered first an empty tomb and then Jesus, risen from the dead! Calling her by name, Jesus freed Mary again—this time from the grief that had overcome her as she watched him die. With a single word, “Mary,” she was revived. And her reply, “Rabbouni,” Master, contained not only relief and joy but a pledge of faith in him and in his resurrection.
Just think: Jesus first appeared not to the priests and rulers neither of Israel, nor to the twelve apostles, but to a woman with a disturbed past. This was the person Jesus chose to be the first witness of the resurrection. This was the one he decided would have the honour of being the “apostle to the apostles,” the first herald of the resurrection.
Once again, God revealed himself to the lowly and least expected. Whatever kind of bondage Mary had suffered—whether she had been mentally ill, trapped in sin, or afflicted with a debilitating illness like epilepsy—it did not disqualify her in Jesus’ eyes. And neither are we disqualified, whether by past sins or current disabilities. Jesus came for just this reason, to deliver us from our sins and to fill us with the dignity of chosen and beloved children of God. He calls us, each by name, to share in eternal life with him and transforms us through the power of his Holy Spirit so that we too can be witnesses to his resurrection.
“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother”
Following on yesterday’s reading we see today the great moment when Moses, at the Lord’s command, separated the waters and the Israelites walked across on dry land. It was now, in obedience to the Lord’s command, that Moses stretched out his hand over the Sea of Reeds. A strong east wind began to blow all through the night and turned the sea into dry land. The Israelites then marched right into the sea on dry land. The Egyptians with all their horses, chariots and charioteers went in pursuit right into the sea. It was then that the Lord struck.
The Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand once more for the sea to flow back. Immediately the sea began to return to its normal depth. The Egyptians were thrown back into the surging waters. The whole army of the Pharaoh, chariots and charioteers were drowned. Not one man escaped. Then Moses and all the people broke out into a marvellous hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
Old Testament tradition consistently regards the ‘crossing of the Red Sea’ as one of the most, if not the most striking evidence of Yahweh’s intervention on behalf of his people. The episode is equally prominent in Christian tradition from the New Testament onwards, as a figure of the decisive ‘exodus’ effected by Jesus, and particularly of the baptism by which the Christian enters into it. In the waters of baptism we pass through the saving waters to life in Christ.
The idea running all through both in the Old and New Testaments is liberation; God makes his people free. He liberates us from slavery of all kinds.
Just before we enter the third great discourse which is on the parables of the Kingdom, we have today’s short passage on who really belong to Jesus. It would be wrong to conclude that Jesus was rejecting his own mother here. Yet what he says applies to her as much as to anyone else. Mary is measured by her commitment to the Father and the Son, who is also her Son. That commitment was clearly made when she accepted to be the mother of Jesus “Let it happen to me according to your word.” It was a commitment that was still being kept as she stood in grief at the foot of her Son’s cross. Mary was certainly on the “inside”.
At the end of last week we saw the Israelites setting out on their escape journey out of Egypt.
Our reading gives the first instance of the whines of the fickle and picky Hebrews in the Exodus. It will be the first of many. They complain that Moses brought them out of Egypt to kill them. They will complain that they have no food. When God feeds them with Manna, they will complain that they have no meat. The will complain that they have no water. They will complain that Moses has abandoned them when he is communing with God on Mt. Sinai, and they will make a golden calf idol. God continually has mercy on them and saves them, in spite of their fickleness. The lesson all through is that God is with his people, protecting and leading them. Even when they seem to be in deep trouble, he is there. They sometimes can see no light at the end of the tunnel but the light is there and it is God. Rather than think of a deserved condemnation of this people, we must marvel at God’s mercy — the same mercy which saves us!
In the gospel, the Pharisees want to see a “sign” from Jesus. Pharisees had a list of “signs” which they expected the Messiah to fulfil. Although Jesus worked many miracles, they wanted him to conform to their “list.” In response, Jesus first says that “it is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign”. Yes, evil and unfaithful, because for anyone with an open mind, Jesus has been giving nothing but signs ever since he began his public life. In addition to all this they are going to get an unmistakable sign of who Jesus really is. They will be given the “sign of Jonah”.
Mention of Jonah leads Jesus to say that the people of Niniveh who repented after hearing Jonah will fare better at the last judgment than the people that Jesus is speaking with. And Jesus is of far more significance than Jonah.
Similarly, the Queen of the South, that is, the Queen of Sheba, who came from a far distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon will fare better than the unbelieving listeners to Jesus, who is greater by far than Solomon.
We, too, have the privilege of listening to Jesus and we know the sign of his resurrection. Is it not possible that there are many people around us who, not knowing Jesus but following the guidance of their consciences, will find themselves going before us into the Kingdom? Complacency is probably one of our biggest temptations. “I am good enough; I observe the basic requirements of my religion.” Is that all that Jesus expects of me?
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME SUNDAY, JULY 19, MARK 6:30-34 (Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:13-18)
His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd” (v 34).
Jeremiah says in the First Reading that Israel’s leaders, through godlessness and fanciful teachings, had mislead and scattered God’s people. He promises God will send a shepherd, a king and son of David, to gather the lost sheep and appoint for them new shepherds.
Every social grouping, every organization needs a leader. It needs a leader of integrity with the ability to inspire, to motivate, to express the truth, and to set the right direction.
St Mark tells us The apostles have just returned from their first attempts at teaching and expelling evil spirits, and it is likely that their report to Jesus is an enthusiastic retelling of all the marvels they found themselves able to do. Jesus invites them to a deserted place, the kind of place where he would customarily go apart to pray (Mark 1:35) and where one meets face-to-face both one’s temptations and the divine assistance (Mark 1:12-13). Perhaps the disciples were in danger of becoming a bit too enamoured of their own abilities to perform wonders. The deserted place will help them experience more deeply the divine compassion that calls them into mission and that is the source of all that they are able to do. From their ability to receive divine compassion in their own neediness, they become able to be the compassion of God toward others. Just so, in any work of reconciliation, the ability to experience compassion – that is, to “feel with” the other from the other’s point of view – is crucial to moving toward oneness. And so The crowd gathered on the green grass for Jesus. For People yearn for good leaders, they seek them out. We see that in this Sunday’s Gospel
Jesus is moved to pity, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. This phrase was used by Moses to describe Israel’s need for a shepherd to succeed him (seeNumbers 27:17). And as Moses appointed Joshua, Jesus appointed the Twelve to continue shepherding His people on earth.
Paul, too, in today’s Epistle, sees the Church as a new creation, in which those nations who were once far off from God are joined as “one new person” with the children of Israel.
Today, we live in a society that also yearns for good leadership. We seek government leaders who can unite us and inspire us to see beyond our self-interest. We hunger for religious leaders who will powerfully preach and authentically live the Gospel. We hope for corporate leaders who will make decisions that benefit their employees and not just the bottom line. We desire academic leaders who will challenge their students and institutions to excel and to serve the common good. We wish for leaders in the media who will promote human decency, compassion, and non-violence.
As followers of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, let us pray that God may bless us with such good leaders. Equally important, let us examine the kind of leadership we may be exercising at home, at school, at work, in our family, in our neighbourhood, and in our society. Is it the kind of leadership that inspires people to seek us out or does it leave them yearning for a good leader?
In a few moments, Jesus will renew his commitment to us, feeding us with the bread of eternal life, the Eucharist.
When we receive him into our hearts, let’s thank him for his interest in us, and renew our pledge to stay always actively interested in him and in building his kingdom.