Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fourth of July Fun

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
7 July 2013
Psalm 66: 1-3,4-5,6-7, 16, 20
Gal 6:14-18
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

The reading from Galatians consists of the last four verses of the letter.  As such, they function as a summary of Paul’s message.  The first verse is the well known and oft-quoted,  “But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”  In a few words Paul is describing the radical change brought about by Christ’s crucifixion.  Change in the world.  Change in Paul himself.  And, one hopes, change in us who responded to Jesus' call: "Follow me."

Paul’s sentiments here are neither surprising nor out of step with his other writings.  The verse recalls 2 Cor 12:9-10: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

Fr. Stanley Marrow frequently reminded students at WJST--he had to because they  continually forgot-- that Paul’s theology begins at the foot of the cross and nowhere else.  We must not forget or deny that it is at the foot of the cross, the shameful, insulting, degrading and scandal causing instrument of Jesus' death, it is there that our lives as Jesuits begins and must remain. 

The Exercises put us at the foot of the cross soon after we entered the novitiate.  The introduction to the first exercise of the first week notes that, following a preparatory prayer and two preludes, there are three main points and a colloquy.  The instruction begins, “Imagine Christ our Lord suspended on the cross before you, and converse with Him in a colloquy.”  Ignatius graciously supplied the outlines for that colloquy. 

“Reflect on yourself and ask: 

What have I done for Christ? 
What am I doing for Christ” 
What ought I to do for Christ?”  

We are born as Jesuits at the foot of the cross.  Not at the feet of the Risen Jesus near the empty tomb.  Not looking up at Jesus as his soul ascends to the Father.   Not standing alongside the Jesus as he heals the sick. Not sitting next to Jesus as he repeats the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount.  We are born at the foot of the cross on which Jesus hung in agony, an embarrassment to his apostles and disciples. 

This is the same Jesus who, in today’s Gospel, sends disciples out on pilgrimage, rather like a first-year novice.  When he sent out the seventy he gave them detailed instructions in what was to be their way of proceeding.  He covered: dress, baggage, accommodations, how to comport themselves in the towns and homes in which they stayed, and what to do if they and their message were rejected. There is an endearing quality in the reactions of the group upon their return from the pilgrimage.  “They returned rejoicing; amazed that even the demons were subject to them because of Jesus’ name.”  They were acting like a bunch of first-year medical residents—who literally began their training six days ago. They are stunned that they are actually able to heal someone with a touch, a prescription or a bit of surgery.  Healing is an exhilarating a feeling  a first-year resident; it should be for a grizzled and gray physician.  Similarly there are moments during one’s early years of ministry in the Society—and one hopes later ones as well—that are thrilling, consoling, and perhaps life-changing. 

Would the disciples have acted differently or been less effective if they had known that the one to whose name demons were subject was soon to die the shameful death of the lowest kind of criminal?  We know that their behavior when Jesus was crucified was less than admirable.  Would they have preferred an ultimately less-humbled Jesus?  A political-social activist perhaps?  A military liberator from the yoke of Roman domination?  A kind of stand-up comedian who never challenged their assumptions about their own goodness?  A permissive buddy who allowed all sorts of moral and ethical transgressions?  We cannot afford to be ashamed of or minimize Jesus’ death on the cross.  We can't replace the reality of Jesus' death on the cross with something more palatable to modern or post-modern sensibilities. 

It is the crucified Jesus who is the center of the mysterium fidei.  It is in the name of the crucified Jesus that we preach, heal the sick, comfort the sorrowing,  minister to the poor,  and instruct unlettered youth.  If, as Jesuits, we remain in our privileged position at the foot of the cross engaged in the triple colloquy, we can proclaim with the psalmist:

"Hear now,
all you who fear God,
while I declare
what he has done for me. . . ."
Had a good time on the Fourth.  The weather was great.  It was hot but not humid.  Out on the whale watch boat the temperature was about 65, considerably lower than the 94 on land.  Super conditions for photography throughout.  We went on the whale watch with Cape Ann Whale Watches.  Saw quite a bit of action once we got there.  I enjoyed it but, without the camera to keep me occupied, would probably have wanted to chew my leg off.  Got some great shots of Gloucester Harbor both out and inbound.  Those will appear in a subsequent post.  After a quick burger we went to Marblehead to watch the fireworks.  

The shots below reflect my first attempt at taking fireworks.  We were at some distance  overlooking Marblehead Harbor and I had the roof line of a building in front to contend with.  All the shots below were at ASA 1600 (as high as the camera will go, would love an Olympus OMD that has a max ASA much higher) with a shutter speed of 1/4000 and a wide-open f-stop.  Then there was the post-photo manipulation on the computer.  It involved cropping to get rid of a lot of black space, and other maneuvers.  

Put on a little Handel and flip the pix and you've got your own royal fireworks.  

Speaking of royal, that was one great Wimbledon Final.  

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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