Fr Arturo Sosa S.J Preaching St.Igunatius Catholic Church
GOSPEL : Luke 14:25-33 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish . "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, "saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? "Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple+
Today, I am very happy to be with you here in Tokyo to celebrate this Eucharist in thanksgiving to God for the gift of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is a special day for all Jesuits and for you, our partners in mission, with whom we try our best to serve the Church. This feast is very much yours as it is ours. It is also special because later we will witness the Final Vows of Father Jun Nakai and Father Kiyoshi Shibata.
On this occasion, let us reflect on three key words – fire, foundation, and fidelity.
The first word is fire. The first reading from the prophet Jeremiah speaks about how God comes into our heart – it begins with a seduction, the awaking of a desire for God. “You seduced me, Lord, and I let myself be seduced.” After comes a powerful presence, “You were too strong for me, and you prevailed.” These wonderful words describe very well the experience of St. Ignatius when he encountered the Lord in the cave of Manresa. It was a falling in love that was so overwhelming and so complete, capturing his heart so totally. From that time of conversion, Ignatius never turned back: it was like fire “burning in my heart”.
I am told that one of the well-known paintings by a Japanese Christian artist is of St Francis Xavier, depicting him with his heart out in the open and on fire. It is the fire of the love of Christ that he also felt when he did the Spiritual Exercises, guided by St. Ignatius himself. It is the same fire with which, legend has it, St. Ignatius is said to have sent Xavier to the east – ite, inflammate omnia—“go, set the world on fire.” It is the same fire we find in the Decree 2 of the 35th General Congregation, asking that we keep the flame alive so that it might kindle other fires. It is the same fire that will allow you, Kiyoshi and Jun, “to dare the audacity of the ‘improbable,’” to work towards the transformation of yourselves, the Church, the world. Please pray that this fire will keep burning in your hearts.
The second word is foundation. By foundation, I mean the basis, the ground, the moving force, the key and pivotal principle by which the followers of St. Ignatius are to be guided. This is captured in his motto, ad majorem Dei gloriam, the greater glory of God – a phrase that St. Ignatius tirelessly used in much of his writings, that echoes the words of St. Paul in the second reading, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” All his life, Ignatius was driven to always seek the greater glory of God. It is the foundation on which he built the Society of Jesus, and through the Society, a whole network of friends and partners in mission has been energized.
Most important to realize is that for Ignatius, the mission is never about one’s self. It always moves beyond the self – first and foremost towards God, and then to those whom God loves, all of humanity. Today, this humanity is immersed in so much pain – the suffering of those who are poor, refugees and others who are displaced by war and violence, the brokenness of those who are abused, the meaninglessness of so many who feel isolated and alone, who turn to addiction and even sometimes to suicide, the selfishness that leads to the destruction of the environment. This is the humanity that God calls you to love, Jun and Kiyoshi, to have a special place in your heart, in your prayer, in your work. By caring for them, you give glory to God.
Finally, the third word is fidelity. This is the demand of discipleship which we read in the Gospel. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple…. everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” What is important to remember is that carrying one’s cross and leaving everything behind is not a single act. It is an effort made each day of a disciple’s life. It is a struggle that invites the disciple to a confirmation of commitment. It is a daily confrontation of one’s being a sinner, yet called to follow Jesus.
Many Jesuits are work-oriented, making sure to plan, to be efficient, to aim for success, like the king who marches into battle in today’s gospel who must sit down first in order to strategize, or the tower constructor who must calculate costs before starting the work. But success does not always come, and we face failure. Or at times, we feel bored or unfulfilled or stuck or laden with so many problems. Through all this, the disciple is challenged to be faithful, to stick it out, to not give up.
The last stage of the life of St. Ignatius was spent in Rome – as the first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Those were fifteen long years. The man who was once a dreamer of great and seemingly heroic things – of being a gallant soldier, of traveling to the Holy Land, of saving souls – now finds himself leading a relatively quiet life as General, writing his many thousands of letters, encouraging his men, clarifying principles, suggesting practical norms, reminding about virtue. On the outside, all this seems undramatic. Is this a different Ignatius of Loyola? Older? More tired and retiring? Maybe. Yet the one thing that surely remained to which Ignatius was truly faithful was prayer, spending hours on it and often moved to tears.
In the end, Kiyoshi and Jun, it is prayer that will sustain you. It will help you live chastity, poverty, and obedience. It will give you inner strength, at the same time that it will give you peace. It will move you forward, as human beings and as religious men in a troubled world. It will empower you to respond with generosity to any task that might be given. It will free you from yourself and make you available to be sent anywhere for mission.
On this feast day of St. Ignatius, let us pray for Jun and Kiyoshi in a special way, that they may not lose fire, that they may always be faithful, that they may give glory to God. We also pray for the Japanese province of the Society of Jesus, for all the works that are done, and for all of you who are partners in mission. With St. Ignatius, we turn to Our Lady of the Way, to show us how best to follow her Son, and dedicate ourselves always to the Father, and to all people whom we are called to love+
First Reading :Jeremiah 20:7-9 O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded;You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.I am in derision daily;Everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out;I shouted, "Violence and plunder!"Because the word of the Lord was made to meA reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him,Nor speak anymore in His name."But His word was in my heart like a burning fireShut up in my bones;I was weary of holding it back,And I could not.
Second Reading : 1Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ+
31 July 2019 (Wed) 16:00
Special Mass in English <White>
St.Ignatius Catholic Church in Tokyo
Fr Arturo Sosa S.J The Superior General of the Jesuits Preaching
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