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Bible Reflections View Comments

May God Give You Peace
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 7, 2013
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I was looking for a small gift for a friend the other day and ended up browsing the Quotable line of magnets, mugs, and other items. I found a wonderful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

It came to mind as I was looking at the readings for this Sunday. We can be so focused on what we don’t have that we miss what we do have. We can be so consumed by what we haven’t done that we take for granted all that we have in fact accomplished. And always we hold on to grudges and resentments, sometimes not even realizing that we’re doing it. We spend far too much of our time criticizing, whether we’re pointing fingers at our own weakness or at other people’s failures. We are, in Emerson’s words, encumbered by old nonsense.

In the Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out to spread the message of the kingdom. To do this well, they needed to be wholly committed to their task. And they needed to make sure that their focus was on spreading the Good News. This is why Jesus counsels them not to dwell on those who reject the message. The act of shaking the dust of unrepentant towns from their feet is less an act of rejection than it is a way of setting themselves free of destructive attitudes of revenge and retribution.

Just before today’s passage from Luke, we read that Jesus and his disciples were passing through a town in Samaria that rejected them. Luke tells us Jesus’s response was simply to go on to the next town. James and John, loyal followers that they were, wanted to call down fire on the townspeople. When the disciples return to him with stories of their success, it becomes clear that they are a bit intoxicated with their first taste of the power of God working through them. Jesus again says, “Do not rejoice that the powers are subject to you. Rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”

Power is always a danger among those who lead. If that power is not consciously turned toward doing good for others, the temptation to take out one’s frustrations, old hurts, and unhealed wounds on those who stand in opposition or are simply weaker can be difficult to overcome.

Pope Francis has been consistently preaching to the cardinals, bishops, and priests in Rome—and throughout the Church—to remain humble and guard against the urge to misuse power for their own advancement. Like Jesus with his disciples, he is reminding them to stay focused on the commitment to Christ and to God’s people that lies at the heart of every true vocation. This applies to us as well, whatever our state in life.

More than anything else, the message of the kingdom of God is one of peace. We are called to be at peace with God, with others, with ourselves. Jesus tells us, “Peace is my gift to you.” Like any gift, it is ours to receive. But in order to open our hands to God, we have to let go of the things of this world.



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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but she oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p>
American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

 
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