Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourteenth Sunday: The Proclamation of the Peace of God's Kingdom - Piergiorgio Frassati's Feast Day

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C") July 4m 2010, JERUSALEM CITY OF PEACE & THE MISSION OF THE 72 [Texts: Isaiah 66:10-14c; [Psalm xx]; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20]

Jerusalem is the city, dear to the hearts of believers of the three great monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Holy Father was simply continuing to express a hope extending back to the prophets. "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her".

Third Isaiah (chapters 56-66) repeated the yearning of his predecessors, striving to offer comfort and hope to the returning exiles faced with a ruined Jerusalem and discouraged by difficulties they were experiencing. There would come a day, Isaiah promised in the Lord's name, when Jerusalem would know peace at last.

Then would Jerusalem be a focal point for the ingathering of Jews dispersed among the nations. It would also radiate peace for all the peoples of the earth. "I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream".

Once the exiles had become settled in the land, the prophecy of Isaiah began to acquire an eschatological (end-time) meaning. Christians understood the text to refer to the joy brought by the Good News in the ministry and teaching of Jesus.

All the synoptic gospels depict the mission carried out by the Twelve. During their missionary journey, the Apostles announced the peace of God's Kingdom to the towns and villages of Galilee.

Luke alone mentions a second mission, confided by Jesus to 70 (or 72) others, whom the Lord sent out "in pairs to every town and place where He intended to go".

Half the New Testament manuscripts list the number of missionaries as 70, the others read 72. The first group probably reflects the Hebrew text of Genesis 10: which lists 70 nations, whereas the Greek Bible mentions 72. Thus, this mission foreshadows the outreach of the Church to the nations of the world (cf. Luke 24:47).

The messengers were sent before His face ("ahead of Him") to prepare the way for Jesus in each village. So these evangelists served as forerunners of Jesus' personal presence. His mission address to them began with two proverbs ("the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few..."; "I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves").

In the Old Testament, the harvest image projected a message of urgency, and therefore suggested God's judgment. People had to make a decision, as they would by accepting or rejecting the message brought by Jesus' envoys. As the natural predator of the lamb, the wolf figure alerted the disciples to the dangers and opposition they would encounter.

In His speech, Jesus also told His disciples to be ready for positive and negative receptions, gave them behavioral procedures on entering houses and towns, and twice declared the heart of the message they would herald in His name: "the kingdom of God has come near to you".

The message of Jesus seeks out people of peace ("say 'Peace to this house!'..., if anyone is there who shares in peace"...).

Jesus instructed the disciples not to move from house to house, perhaps to prevent them seeking better quarters. His advice to "eat what is set before you" effectively served to break down social and religious barriers.

The invitation to "cure the sick" showed that they shared in Jesus' authority and power by caring for people's physical needs.

Any who rejected the message of Jesus invited a public gesture of repudiation ("even the dust from your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you").

Still, this would not invalidate the message that God's reign had broken into the world for people distant from God's blessings.

Jesus' mission sayings challenge the Church in each age to proclaim the gospel boldly. He counselled innocence, sincerity, vulnerability and non-resistance. Above all, Jesus challenged His disciples to a single-minded purpose, to tell of God's condescension in offering the world an extraordinary message of joy and peace.

Once having experienced the power of the gospel through his encounter with the risen Lord, Paul relativized everything else ("neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything").

Indeed, a whole new order had come ("a new creation is everything!")

* * * * * *


A recent phenomenon among Catholic young men across Canada is the establishment of households (e.g. in Halifax, Toronto, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Ottawa) devoted to living in a godly way their faith, inspired by the example of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati whom Pope John Paul II called the "man of the eight beatitudes".

The ideals Frassati represents may be gauged by the descriptions of him in the litany that follows. His relics and a display on his life were present in Sydney, Australia at the World Youth Day in 2008 as an encouragement to youth from around the world. I had the privilege of venerating his relics in the Cathedral of Turin in April on the occasion of my participation in the Showing of the Shroud of Turin there.

A fun-loving geology student who guilessly drew his friends closer to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, with whom he had entered into deep spiritual communion, Frassati climbed mountains, took part in battles for justice and cared deeply for the poor.

Scion of a wealthy but secularized family, he befriended the poor who came out in great numbers for the funeral following his death at age 24.

The households are beacons of light with men residents who go about their studies or work while striving to be manly disciples of Christ.

One of my joys in Halifax was to bless the founding of a Frassati House there. Though the original four men have graduated and gone of to a variety of careers, studies and even missionary work with CCO, each year the household is reconstituted with some returning and others moving on.

A Frassati household in Ottawa for several years disbanded when one of the major players married last summer, but a new configuration sprang on Prince of Wales Drive. May it and the others across Canada continue to flourish, as they pause today to celebrate quietly his feast day. Prayers and best wishes, guys, and to your associates across our country!

Here is the Litany of Blessed Piergiorgio Frasatti approved for limited use; we pray that God, through his intercession, may grant a miracle that on its recognition will soon lead to his canonization.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

God our Father in heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
All the angels and saints, pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us. (Repeat after each invocation.)
Loving son and brother,
Support of family life,
Friend of the friendless,
Most Christian of companions,
Leader of youth,
Helper of those in need,
Teacher of charity,
Patron of the poor,
Comfort of the sick,
Athlete for God’s kingdom,
Conqueror of life’s mountains,
Defender of truth and virtue,
Opponent of every injustice,
Patriotic citizen of the nation,
Loyal son of the Church,
Devoted child of the Madonna,
Ardent adorer of the Eucharist,
Fervent student of the Scriptures,
Dedicated follower of St. Dominic,
Apostle of prayer and fasting,
Guide to a deep love for Jesus,
Diligent in work and study,
Joyful in all of life’s circumstances,
Strong in safeguarding chastity,
Silent in pain and suffering,
Faithful to the promises of Baptism,
Model of humility,
Example of detachment,
Mirror of obedience,
Man of the Beatitudes,

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Pray for us, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[IMPRIMATUR, November 2, 1994: +Joseph A. Galante, D.D., J.C.D., Bishop Beaumont, TX]

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