November 17, 2015

Elizabeth of Hungary

November 17, 2015:  St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

Can you find ten connections with today?
Legend below

Elderly Eleazar chose to be martyred rather than submit to unjust laws, refusing to eat pork and rejecting his friends' offer to compromise his integrity.  Spiritual worldliness tempts us to an inconsistent lifestyle, in which we pretend to be one thing but live another way.  Just as a worm slowly destroys things, so worldliness slowly leads us to lose our Christian identity; it leads to inconsistency between what we say and what we do, leading to a double life that distances us from God.
Jesus pleads with his Father to save his disciples from such a worldly spirit.  Christian identity is never egoistic but tries to be consistent, avoid scandal, help others, and give a good example.  Only God can help us avoid such worldliness; that's why we pray in today's psalm, “The Lord upholds me.”  He's our support against the spirit that destroys Christian identity.  We humbly pray, "Lord, I'm a sinner; uphold me so I don’t pretend to be a Christian while living like a worldly person."  May the Eleazar story give you courage, strength, and support to uphold your Christian identity and not lead a double life.

  • 2 Mc 6:18-31  Old scribe Eleazar was forced to eat pork, spat it out, refused offer to substitute another meat, endured torture with joy, stayed loyal, died willingly with courage, set noble example of virtue for all.
  • Ps 3:2-7  "The Lord upholds me."  My adversaries rise up, but you, my shield, answer and sustain me.
  • Lk 19:1-10  Short, wealthy tax collector Zacchaeus climbs sycamore to see Jesus.  “Come down; I must stay at your house.”  Zeke receives Jesus, makes restitution, gives to poor.  “Salvation has come; the Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost.”

  • Creighton:  The crowd considers Zacchaeus unworthy of Jesus' attention, but he wants to stay at his house!  Zacchaeus receives faith and love, freeing him from his self-centered focus of amassing wealth to imitate Christ's mercy and love, give away his possessions, and make restitution.  Though we're unworthy of Christ's attention, he'll seek us out, stay with us, and free us of our self-centered focus so we may share his love.  "Don't be afraid; he's waiting for you; he'll take care of everything,  Take up God's offer, his caress of love"  (Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy: A Vision for the Church).
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Die and let live":  "Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." "If a grain of wheat dies, it produces much fruit."  Eleazar gave a fabulous example of how to live and die for the Lord.  "None of us lives or dies as his own master....   In life and death we are the Lord's."  Our dying can bring Jesus' life to the world.  May my life and death be a "noble example...."
    Sycamore tree
  • Passionist:  Eleazar wouldn't compromise any aspects of his beliefs; he died faithful to God.  In The Seven Faith Tribes, Barna gathered data on views of the American people, specifically re belief in God, and came up with seven different groups organized and defined by their world view.  Among Christians he speaks of Captives and Casuals.  Captives' lives are defined and centered on their relationship to Christ; they believe the Bible and refuse to compromise in doctrine or moral living.  Going to Church is joyful, they love their families, they're not heavy into the media world, they live in the spiritual realm and don't find great comfort in material things, and they're lowest in debt and highest in generosity.  They're least likely to view pornography, get drunk, gamble, use profanity, gossip, use tobacco, or commit adultery; they're most likely to serve the poor, help the homeless, and discuss moral issues with others.  Casuals aim for personal comfort, to live in peace.  They try to keep peace with God, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.  They sidestep conversations about religion and politics.  They encourage those who are down and to look for the upside.  They feel sharing their sunny outlook on life is one of the best gifts they can offer.  They love their families but distrust religion and politics.  They don't believe in moral absolutes.  They tolerate almost anything to keep their peace; their world isn't defined by God’s law.  They estimate some 185 million Americans are Casuals.  Eleazar was a Captive.
  •  "Zacchaeus received Jesus joyfully":  Tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts; they overcharged people and accumulated wealth at others' expense.  Zacchaeus needed and found God's merciful love and forgiveness; his change of heart resulted in a change of life.
St Elizabeth washing a beggarSt. Elisabeth Cathedral, Slovakia
"Zacchaeus saw Jesus without the crowd in his way.  The crowd laughs at the lowly, who leave the wrongs they suffer in God’s hands, saying. 'You can't even stick up for yourself and get back what's your own.'  The crowd prevents Jesus from being seen; it boasts when it can get back what it owns; it blocks the sight of the one who said from the cross, 'Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing...'  Ignoring the crowd, he climbed a tree of 'silly fruit.'  'We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews, but folly to the Gentiles.'  The wise of this world laugh at us about the Cross, 'What sort of minds do you have, worshipping a crucified God?'  Certainly not your kind.  'This world's wisdom is folly with God.'  Let us climb the sycamore tree and see Jesus.  The reason you can't see him is that you're ashamed to climb the tree.  Let Zacchaeus grasp the sycamore tree, and let the humble climb the cross.  Don't be ashamed of the cross but fix it on our forehead, the seat of shame.  You make fun of the sycamore, but that's what has enabled me to see Jesus. 'God's foolishness is wiser'" (Augustine, Sermon 174.3; see also CCEL).  The Lord is ready to make his home with you.  Do you make room for him in every area of your life?
Today's saints, from Universalis
  • Hilda, religious, abbess
  • Hugh of Lincoln, Carthusian prior, bishop, cared for the sick and oppressed
  • Dionysius of Alexandria, student of Origen, bishop
Dress legend
  • '[Flying] pig' pin:  Eleazar was being forced to eat pork (1st reading)
  • 'Hands' tie:  I'd never escape the hands of the Almighty (1st reading); the souls of the just are in God's hands (November:  all souls/saints)
  • 'Shield' tie pin:  You, Lord, are my shield (psalm)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  When I call to the Lord, he answers me (psalm)
  • 'Coin' button:  Tax collector Zacchaeus (gospel)
  • 'Tree' pin:  Sycamore (gospel)
  • Red suspenders with clocks:  Eleazar's martyrdom (red socks too); countdown to Day of the Lord, and end of Ordinary Time
  • White and green in shirt:  White for St. Elizabeth of Hungary, green for Ordinary Time

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