Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday word, 13 Oct 19

28th Sunday of the Year (13 Oct 2019)
2Kgs 5. 14-17; Ps 98; 2Tm 2. 8-13; Lk 17. 11-19
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Spiritual Exercises
Ever Faithful
Thanksgiving is tomorrow in Canada. The Word today joins gratitude and faith with two sobering reminders: faith is not always clothed in spectacular dress; and people of faith are not to expect thanks but to thank Christ, our model of faithful living.

Luke’s Gospel lets us notice healings by Jesus as effective signs of life in God’s realm. In the ancient Mediterranean world of Jesus leprosy was considered impossible for humans to heal; but the awaited Messiah could heal it. Leprosy also banished one from others. Living with leprosy was worse than death in a society for which community was most important.

Leprosy affected the valiant and the timid. Scripture recalled Naaman was valiant; he was an Aramean not a Jew; he was a leper. Naaman traveled from his king to the king of Israel; he expected a spectacular cure. To be told, Wash in the puny Jordan, angered him. If river washing was the way to a cure he could have stayed home and washed in far better rivers.1

Wash Naaman did: not only was he healed; faith in the God of Israel joined a foreigner to God’s people. Scripture remembered Naaman.

In his homily at Nazareth inaugurating his Spirit-led ministry Jesus named Naaman and another foreigner. Toward both God had been gracious. That Jesus would minister to foreigners and not exclusively to his people enraged them.2 Their hearts had grown puny and could not imagine God was faithful toward every human God creates.

Divine fidelity let St. Paul make his surprising turn on a traditional saying: endure and reign; deny and be denied, but human infidelity cannot limit God’s faithfulness.

Jesus embodied God’s faithfulness. He healed with no words. He recommended: Go, show yourselves to the priests who had been entrusted to certify healings of leprosy.3 The Samaritan leper alone sounded loud praise of God and returned to thank Jesus for healing him. Jesus only remarked the foreigner returned to give praise to God. Perhaps you and I need to note what Jesus did not do: he did not undo the healing of the other nine.

That is worth pondering. God is ever gracious to us even when we are ungrateful. This Thanksgiving we may notice our hearts are warmer, are more supple, and we are grateful for everything, even for what we so easily overlook.

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  1. 2Kings 5.1-13. The verses immediate prior to the reading provide the context for the foreigner’s visit to the prophet of Israel’s God.
  2. Luke 4.25-28.
  3. Leviticus 14.1-9 included rituals as well as pronouncements.
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Sunday, October 06, 2019

Sunday word, 06 Oct 19

27th Sunday of the Year (06 Oct 2019)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Full Spiritual Exercises
Two Roles
Qumran was home to a sectarian group of Jews that separated themselves in the desert. They devoted themselves to live torah, the desire of God for the world. They lived in the world yet not part of it, distinctly sensing they lived torah, the divine wisdom. Their steadfast loyalty allowed them to live wholeheartedly for God.

Their commentary on Prophet Habbakuk’s conviction, the just one shall live by steadfast loyalty was key: to live by faith concerns all those who observe the Law in the House of Judah, whom God will deliver from the House of Judgement because of their suffering and because of their steadfast loyalty in the Teacher of Righteousness,1 their founder.

That is an illuminating window on another community in the same century in the same locale: the Jesus-movement of Christian communities. Christians’ steadfast loyalty—faith—had become personal trust in their founder, Messiah Jesus whom they experienced as raised from death and more powerfully alive than he had been on earth: he lived in the very presence of God.

Personal trust operates in Ignatius’ foundational principle. It offers two roles: our triune God creating and gifting; and our coming to desire God’s desires for us. Our role sets aside what limits us welcoming and living from God’s desires. Our personal trust operates when we open space2 in our lives for God. So it is in other relationships: people affect us when we open and welcome them. Our triune God entrusts us with all creation, desiring we enjoy it and care for it. God respects our freedom to open space for God or decline to open. To open space for God to act for our good opens the door onto Ignatian spirituality.

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  1. QpHabbakuk commentary on Habbakuk 2.4b.
  2. Annemiek van Campen, “The Mystical Way of Images and Choice,” The Way Supplement 103 (2002), p. 11.
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Wiki-images by: Habakkuk and God, Miniature PD-US

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Daily word, 03 Oct 19

Memorial of St. Francis Borgia, Jesuit Priest (03 Oct 2019)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Ignatian Spirituality Retreat
More Expansive

Before mass: Hebrew is a verbal language. Actions are its building blocks, not concepts. Modern, western languages are more heavy with concepts. As a result we can miss hearing in more expansive, relational ways. To notice in relational ways with all our senses is a grace to beg our triune God these days.
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The theme of the song that is Psalm 19 is creation. In its first half the psalmist focused on it: The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.1 If heaven and earth declare the glory of God, more wonderful are God’s desires for humans. The psalmist extolled them in its second half.

God’s desires were enshrined in torah. Sadly its translation as law confines our imaginations. The root of torah is to flow; it came to mean shoot an arrow, and figuratively to point a finger, thus to show, to instruct.2 The English connotation, to instruct, rests between others: be visible; display; manifest/reveal; then verify and accompany/escort. All more expansive, relational ways to show.

Those who heard Ezra read torah at the Water Gate listened in such expansive ways. Torah had been lost to them in their long exile in Babylon. Ezra read it to them on their return to Jerusalem. Weeping became joyful tears on discerning God’s desires for humans are trustworthy…giving wis-dom; they rejoice the heart and enlighten the eye; they are more precious than…purest gold and sweeter also than…honey. Such gracious care defied head-knowing; it could and can be appreciated by the heart. That led to joyous celebrations of their interior freedom.

That freedom is our gateway to the Peace of the New Creation, the realm of God. Jesus and his disciples proclaimed it in deed and word. Jesus  is torah of God: of and coequal with God; flowing from God; showing God. Jesus invites us to experience him here so we can show him better to others.

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  1. Psalm 19.2.
  2. 3384. יָרָה yarah, yaw-raw´; or (2 Chr. 26:15) יָרָא yara, yaw-raw´; a primitive root; properly, to flow as water (i.e. to rain); transitively, to lay or throw (especially an arrow, i.e. to shoot); figuratively, to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach:—(+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach(-er,-ing), through. At “יָרָה יָרָא,” Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary of the Old Testament, paragraph 3400. Jeff A. Benner built his “What is Torah?” on yarah.

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    Wiki-image: Ezra. PD-US

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday word, 22Sep19

25th Sunday of the Year (22 Sep 2019) Am 8. 4-7; Ps 113; 1Tm 2. 1-8; Lk 16. 1-13
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Acting in Godly Fashion

•            •            •
Before mass: On Sundays of the Year the 1st reading from the OT correlates with the gospel [Lectionary for Sundays and Solemnities, Introduction, #67]. It may harmonize, and Jesus fulfills or completes it.
It may contrast—as today: Amos condemned cheats and unfaithful use of possessions. Jesus taught their faithful use to his followers. Faithful, reliable, trustworthy, prudent—even shrewd—translate the same word Luke used in today’s gospel.
•            •            •

Prophet Amos denounced hypocrisy, injustice and the “hollow prosperity of [Israel’s] Northern Kingdom.”1 At its celebrations of the new moon, business ceased. Some merchants itched to use their adjusted weights and fix their scales for cheating! Deceit in commerce is as old as humans. Long before Amos, even before Abraham an ancient Mesopotamian “hymn…to the…patron of justice and righteousness, contrast[ed] “the merchant who practices trickery as he holds the balances, who uses two sets of weights” with “the honest merchant who holds the balances and gives good weight.”2 Relationships with others as well as with wealth change us; and we are always at risk of idolizing, elevating someone or something too highly.
Relationship-change is nothing to fear. People have made us who we are; we allowed them to do that by being vulnerable. Relationships turn on that risk. We can recall a change or two that did not profit us well. They remind us to choose well because relationships change us.

Jesus knew that well. With his parable of the dishonest manager Jesus disclosed idolizing wealth closes us to his good news. Using wealth faithfully opens us to God and to others.

Many note two features in the parable: dishonesty and commending. Jesus’ summary to his disciples may confuse us: the master commended that dishonest manager for acting prudently. Jesus did not undo the Seventh Commandment, You shall not steal, with his parable. When we note the way the manager handled the crisis he faced when he was found out, Jesus’ summary is clearer.

Managers were stewards of households; house-holders trusted their managers. The dishonest manager violated trust placed in him by wasting the householder’s possessions. His I know what I shall do… sounds matter of fact; yet it communicates sudden insight, “a burst of daylight to the puzzled, darkened man: I’ve got it, I see into it now!”3 His response to his self-caused crisis guaranteed his acceptance by those whose payments he reduced. One can hear his master mutter, “I’ve got to hand it to him....”

Jesus regularly taught and encouraged his disciples to be prudent—recall be prudent as serpents: same word translated shrewdly4: act prudently on behalf of the gospel. With this parable Jesus encouraged we act as prudently, faithfully, reliably with our wealth as the dishonest manager did in his interests. Prudent use not self-serving use.

Jesus’ now-unclear sayings closing his parable convey what prudent acting looks like: faithful/reliable in something tiny, faithful/reliable in something greater; dishonest in something tiny, dishonest in something greater. That which is tiny refers to possessions; that which is greater refers to us entrusting ourselves to God, who is most faithful, reliable, trustworthy. Relying on possessions and wealth as though they cannot fail, as if they are always reliable; treating them as entitlements not gifts makes possessions and wealth an idol—dishonest wealth. Jesus personified it with the name Mammon.

Both our ever-reliable God and Mammon pull at us. From God to Mammon is always a tiny step. Our use of possessions indicates with whom we are in relationship, God or Mammon. Aligning with God lets us hold our wealth more freely and desire to help others. Our sense of God gifting us increases our confidence to do so. Appreciating the things of the world as gifts God gives us frees us to exercise stewardship of the world around us. To do it well, to do it with others; relying more on God as we do it.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Consider your gifts; consider the Trinity lavishing them on you.
  • Ask Sts. Paul and Timothy to present you to Jesus.
  • Allow your gifts to float to the surfaces of your heart and mind
    • the roof over your head
    • clean water to drink and in which to bathe
    • significant people in your life
    • your home
    • your school
    • your job
  • Savour each and thank Jesus for it.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to savour your gifts more deeply and notice them as ways Jesus personally loves you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It reminds us that all we have is divine gift; and it shapes our hearts to use them more reliably, more prudently and more faithfully.
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  1. New American Bible introduction to the Book of Amos.
  2. Quoted in W. Gunther Plaut and David E. Stein, The Torah: A Modern Commentary, Revised; Accordance electronic ed. (New York: Union for Reform Judaism, 2006), pp. 654-655.
  3. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2001), paragraph 2068.
  4. Matthew 10.16. Luke used the same Greek word, meaning faithful, reliable, credible, trustworthy.
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Wiki-images by: Prophet Amos PD-US ;Andrey Mironov Dishonest Manager. CC BY-SA 4.0