Reaching out to the marginalised
32. Hostels for Jews and Muslims
Both in Spain and Italy the lives of Jews and Muslims were often precarious and they were subject to much vilification and persecution. Perhaps encouraged by the Jewish descent of Diego Laynez, one of Ignatius’ first companions, or maybe because Ignatius felt Jews warranted special respect because Jesus was a Jew, the first companions set up hostels for Jewish and Muslim men and women.
These houses were established in Rome, in the Piazza d’Aracoeli in 1543 .
The early Jesuits kept their eyes open for those who were at the margins of society and who were left to suffer.
In most cases Ignatius would beg for money and property from wealthy lay people as well as from bishops and cardinals, and then set up a ‘confraternity’ of lay people to run these charitable houses. The Jesuits would set them up and then move on to the next area of need.
A thought to ponder
Like Simon in the story from Acts in today’s scripture reading many think they need to buy God’s favour with gifts. Our gifts may vary according to our traditions, we may set aside time for worship and praise of God, or make a donation to dedicate a Mass, or give large donations to charity.
The Apostles Peter and John were clear that trying to buy God’s favour is totally misunderstanding love. All that God gives to us is freely given out of love.
Love cannot be a transaction. Consider the nature of true love as you have known it.
Scripture for the Day
As a way of praying today’s Scripture we suggest Imaginative Contemplation.
Acts 8:4-24 NRSVACE
Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word.
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.
The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralysed or lame were cured.
So there was great joy in that city.
Now a certain man named Simon had previously practised magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great.’
And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.
But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed. After being baptised, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus).
Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’
But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!
You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God.
Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.
For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.’
Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.’
Music for Today
Veni Sante Spiritus, international Taizé choir
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