St. Ignatius of Loyola

Mathew 13: 54-58
Lev 23 / Psa 81: 3-6,10-11ab

Only in his town and in his own house is a prophet without honor.
(Matthew 8:58)

If others remain cynical
That you have been in faith transformed
Just remember it’s typical
Even Jesus in His place was scorned.

Coming to His hometown, Jesus began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13: 54-58)

Reflection

It was of no use for Jesus to work great miracles in His own hometown of Nazareth because He saw that their cynicism and hardness of heart prevented their faith conversion. Notice how our Lord almost always asked the beneficiary of His healing, “Do you believe?” In yesterday’s gospel reading, Jesus asked Martha if she believed that He was the Resurrection and the Life, and she readily answered, “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who is to come into the world.” (Jn.11:27) And seeing her faith, Jesus brought her brother Lazarus back to life. It was also because of the Roman centurion’s faith that Jesus healed his servant, telling him, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you” (Mt.8:13).

It is by our faith in Jesus that we are healed from the deadly virus of sin, and in some cases, even from a life-threatening disease like cancer. This is a gift from God, and not of our own doing. St. Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph.2:8). And if we are not to boast, neither should we feel any shame or intimidation when our own friends or relatives regard our conversion with doubt or cynicism. All the more we should counter their jokes or criticisms by inviting them to our new life in Christ. We should never be ashamed to speak out for the One Who has shown us the Way and the Truth, and the freedom from sin. As our Savior reminds us, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (Mt.10:32-33).

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), the founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Without doubt this religious order known as the Jesuits ranks as one of the greatest “dragnets” of the Church since the 16th century, being one of the first to serve in foreign missions. The pioneering work of Jesuits like St. Francis Xavier in the Far East inspired many others to evangelize Christian frontiers like India, China, Ethiopia, the Congo, South America, and Canada. By the time of St. Ignatius’ death on July 31, 1556, the Jesuits had already numbered more than 1,000 members in nine European provinces aside from those working in the foreign missions. St. Ignatius’ youthful dreams consisted of becoming a high-ranking soldier in the service of the King of Spain. Instead, he became a soldier of Christ the King when, as a result of a broken leg in the battle of Pamplona, he turned to prayer and meditation while he was recuperating. He read books on the life of Jesus and the saints which inspired him to lead a life of labor and sacrifice, in imitation of the works of St. Francis of Assisi and other great monastic saints. His “dragnet” in his life’s mission started small, bringing in an initial following of six former schoolmates in the College de Montague of the University of Paris, where he attained his academic credentials. After Pope Paul III confirmed the Jesuit order in September 27, 1540 through a papal bull, Ignatius sent his companions as missionaries around Europe, creating schools and seminaries. A large number of great men like Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino were products of the Jesuit ‘dragnet’s institution in the Philippines, the Ateneo University, which, up to the present time, has been forming men and women who dedicate their lives for others. They are all the proud legacy of St. Ignatius de Loyola.

Dear God, today we honor St. Ignatius de Loyola, whose short life on earth continues to bring in millions of souls into Your kingdom through the influence of the Society of Jesus, which he founded. May his example lead us to a life of prayer and meditation, in imitation of his extraordinary life, and be men and women for others in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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