Friday, July 31, and Monday, August 3, 2015

Memorial of Saint Ignatius, priest

(Leviticus 23:1.4-11.15-16.34b-37; Matthew 13:54-58)

Jesus could have used other sayings to describe the reaction of the people of Nazareth to him in today’s gospel.  He might have said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  Rather than praising God that one of their own has been blessed to speak so well, the people question how he came by the wisdom. 

But, of course, familiarity does not always cause rejection.  St. Ignatius of Loyola immersed himself completely in the story of Jesus and wanted to organize a band of followers for him.  The name they chose is revealing, “The Company of Jesus” (often rendered “Society”).  Knowing him to be the source of goodness and truth, they desired to stay close to the Lord.

We may feel like despairing because we fail to measure up to Jesus.  That would, however, be a mistake.  He takes us where we are every day and assists us to do better.  Remaining in his company by sharing regularly with him the food and drink of the altar will make us more like him.

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Number 11:4b-15; Matthew 14:2-36)

Parish priests notoriously complain like Moses in the first reading today.  They feel oppressed by an unrelenting round of meetings, appointments, responsibilities, and requests.  But certainly pastors are not the only people stressed out in society.  Often parents feel overwhelmed by demands at home, school, work, and church. 

Moses’ appeal to the Lord demonstrates a lively relationship.  He shows little reservation about telling God how overburdened he feels.  On the brink of despair, he even mentions that death would be preferable to being badgered by so many requests.  God will answer Moses’ plea.  Advice is given on how to administer the people more proficiently.  Also, God will intervene more directly to aid his worthy friend.

We should confront stress in our lives on varied fronts.  We need to prioritize our responsibilities so that we give our best time to what is most important.  We need to make sure that we eat intelligently, exercise vigorously, and rest sufficiently.  Most importantly, we, like Moses here, should unabashedly appeal to God for assistance.