Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday word, 22 May 16

Transforming Our World—Again
Solemnity of the Holy Trinity (22 May 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Eucharistic worship allows us to celebrate events in the life of Jesus. Jesus revealed God in our flesh and blood in the events of his life. Today we celebrate Jesus revealing God in the power of Holy Spirit. We celebrate our one God creating and saving us as Three Persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Today personalizes Pentecost: today welcomes us to savour what Pentecost began, the empowering of Jesus’ disciples in every age.

The power Jesus gives us is more real than atomic power, political power, social power. Jesus’ Spirit makes all other powers possible. Jesus’ Spirit guides humans to use powers for the good of all peoples and all creation. Jesus’ Spirit helps humans overcome power that destroys so human life and the planet’s life may flourish—and to flourish as created.

By living our human life fully Jesus revealed a life em-braced by Holy Spirit; he revealed living by the Spirit. St. Paul reminded us that as Jesus revealed he offered us what he revealed—an attitude and way of living—and who he revealed—Holy Spirit. Jesus did that not in any show-and-tell fashion but as witness to God’s heart and as agent of the gift of Holy Spirit and Spirit living: through Jesus we have gained access to this gift in which we stand. Our gift is right relationship with God.

As in other relationships God in Jesus by Holy Spirit desires us to collaborate with God. Pope Francis sharpens the desire of our triune God. “God,” Francis has said, “wishes to work with us and…counts on our cooperation.”1 Jesus gave us his Spirit to empower us to collaborate with our triune God. The more we give ourselves to the Spirit the more alert and ready we are to cooperate with the ever-creating Spirit. 

We give ourselves to the one who is always available. St. Paul has written us that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. His choice of poured out is in sync with the tradition of Pentecost: God has poured out what you see and hear—the apostles speaking in languages anyone could understand.2 The word conveys no accidental spilling but an intentional self-emptying.

Mutual self-emptying, mutual sharing is how we describe the relationship among Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It is intentional. In the words on Jesus’ lips in the gospel:  Everything that the Father has is mine. They desire we share in it. Jesus again: Holy Spirit will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Declared: not given as a secret to hoard; given so we may continue to make known what Jesus reveals to us and among us, his selfless, transforming Spirit-love. Jesus’ Spirit is the source of our Christian power. It has transformed our world and can transform it again with our cooperation.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God with worship to help you: trace the sign of the cross on yourself several times as you say the Divine Name slowly. 
  • Ask the disciples, who cooperated with Jesus in their imperfection to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying, rising and giving us his Spirit; ask Jesus to help you experience your baptized life nourished by his eucharist in a more loving, active and generous fashion.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to cooperate more readily with his Spirit abiding in  you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Saying Jesus’ words, Our Father, reminds us Jesus revealed God personally and that like risen Jesus, his Father brings us more alive by their Spirit in us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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  1. Laudato Si, 80.
  2. Acts 2.33.
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Wiki-image: The Holy Trinity icon in art PD-US Tabernacle by Herzi Pinki CC BY-SA 3.0

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Communication, Mercy, Healing

An initiative in Australia aims to put people first. The Australian Catholic Bishops “will provide an opportunity for ordinary Catholics and child abuse survivors to speak directly to Church leadership.” It is a concrete response to the invitation Pope Francis extended to let “the power of mercy to heal wounded relationships” (World Communications Day Message). Stories told and believed begin healing and empower people.  
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Wiki-image of Kings Canyon by Ueli Fahrni CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Congratulations! Enjoy a blessed day and deeper love and respect in the future.  
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Wiki-image of Rhododendron ‘Mother's Day’ by Ryan Somma CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday word, 08 May 16

The Heart of It
Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (08 May 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Each Easter Vigil those baptized promise to live as members of risen Jesus. The already-baptized renew their baptismal promises with them. On Easter Day all gathered at Mass renew them. Baptismal promises are the heart of our creeds: the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed.1 When we say, I believe, we pledge ourselves to a person: Jesus. Risen Jesus embodies a single mystery: Incarnation-Resurrection-Ascension. Threefold yet one mystery.

I will let some phrases of our creeds focus our vision on the mystery we celebrate: Jesus came down from heaven…for our sake…he suffered death and was buried, [he] rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. We hear the phrases express Incarnation-Resurrection-Ascension. We focus on one aspect of Jesus then another so we may appreciate him and all to which he invites us.

To focus on one aspect at a time is not strange. We do it when we appreciate the mystery of each other. To focus one aspect at a time is not limited to our Christian selves. An example: athletes focus on separate parts of their bodies so their entire bodies may function with greater ease and harmony. We celebrate the Ascension of Jesus so we may appreciate him as our Messiah and Lord sharing his life with us.

Appreciating Messiah Jesus stumbles because our language is limited as we try to express deep truth. The Ascension side of Jesus’ mystery highlights that. You’ll remind me scripture says he was lifted up. Scripture’s truth embraces more: ascending speaks not about space; it affirms risen Jesus shares God’s life. Scripture more often uses exaltation and its enthronement imagery. Our creeds let us echo it: seated at the right hand of God. Jesus, who died for us, was raised to be the source of God’s life for us.

Raised for us. Resurrection is not resuscitation; it is new creation from death to absolutely new, unlimited, powerful life. Scripture points to the truth that risen Jesus lives and even death no longer limits him: to the women at the empty tomb two men in dazzling garments asked why they sought the living one among the dead.2

Living Jesus would not remain present in his glorified body. Yet he is not absent.To this day risen Jesus is more powerfully present by his Spirit. Exalted at the right hand of his Father, Jesus, author of life,3 is present each moment. Risen Jesus’ exaltation as life-giving Lord opens on to his more intimate presence with us and all reborn in baptism, sealed with his Holy Spirit and nourished by his eucharist.

What does Jesus’ spirit-presence mean for us? In his spirit is our present; in his spirit is our future. Our present life is limited: it is broken and wounded by sin. Our future will be healed. We will be healed and share fully Jesus’ divine nature as he shares our human nature. In our present Jesus’ spirit allows us to eat with him so his flesh and blood nourish us to share his mission: be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth; Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

This is our mission: to make Jesus known because we know him through the church, its sacraments and the words of scripture it proclaims. Deepening our relationship with Jesus makes us more effective disciples. Deepening our relationship with Jesus lets us evangelize joyfully. Celebrating the Ascension-Exaltation of Jesus with sacramental devotion renews our confidence to count on his promise and give ourselves anew to his gospel for the sake of our world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Bask in the living light of our triune God.
  • Ask the apostles to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for abiding with us even when we are unaware he accompanies us; thank him for the privileged way he abides with us in his sacraments and shares his exalted life with us.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live out the life he offers.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his words, who art in heaven, to remind us we call on the exalted, living God. God’s life Jesus shares and offers us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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Wiki-image: The Ascension PD-US Spirit-fire by Nheyob CC BY-SA 4.0

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bearings Readjusted

Landlubbers can walk along a port and become disoriented. Coastal dwellers ought not to gloat. They may not really know what lay directly across the ocean—according to Web Cartographer Andy Woodruff. Sure to surprise is what lay “Beyond the Sea.”  
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Wiki-image of Hafen und Felsen von Monaco-La Turbie by Tobi87 CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday word, 24 Apr 16

Reclaiming Now
Fifth Sunday of Easter C (24 Apr 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More than four centuries of scientific imagination and thought have shaped us. Scientific imagination and thought have let us progress and enjoy the ways we live today. One cost of scientific thinking to our deep, true selves affects the way we decide what is real. We consider —without second thoughts—that what is real is what we can see, hold, count and measure in all sorts of ways. We may call it out-there, outside-me view of the world.

I hear someone say, “That’s true, and there’s more.” Absolutely! Our interior selves, our spirits live. Yet we cannot extract our desires, our loves, our temptations, our courage, our hopes, our patience, our fidelity, our endurance, our generosity. We cannot extract them or any other interior feature, put them on a table and dissect them. In our honest moments we readily name as real features of our interior selves.

Our exalted Messiah, Jesus, is real now. Jesus lives now; Jesus is present among us now. Our exalted Messiah Jesus is a living presence; Jesus is more real than anything we can see, hold, count or measure. Our gospel selection expressed that briskly: Now is the Son of Man glorified. Jesus’ glorification and exaltation did not remove Jesus from us; Jesus abides with us by his holy Spirit. Jesus’ Spirit is our Christian energy; his Spirit makes effective our Christian witness.

Our scientific imagination desires to hear nowNow is the Son of Man glorified—as the report of Jesus’ words in the past. His exalted glory is present not past. The church invited us as mass began to enter his real present: Almighty ever-living God, constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us. The church comfortably refers to Jesus’ dying and rising: now and not confined to the past. His paschal mystery is now, among us. Our exalted Messiah Jesus speaks to us as he spoke to John on Patmos: Behold, I make all things new.

All things includes us. Our triune God has a purpose in making new: the rest of our first prayer at mass expressed God’s purpose and included us in it: that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism may, under your protective care, bear much fruit [on our way] to the joys of life eternal. The fruit we bear is our virtuous action on behalf of others. The fruit we bear Jesus’ Spirit makes effective even if we do not see its results. Our Christian actions bear fruit when we love as Jesus loved us. Christian love is open hearted, open handed; its focus is others not self. Christian love renews us and our world. We are made new each time our Christian love deepens and grows more committed. Others begin to be transformed when they experience that deep love, faithful love is possible.

Next time any of us is tempted to think Jesus is a dead person in the past, remember God…constantly [desires to] accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us. Constantly means now, every now of our lives.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for abiding with us even when we are unaware he accompanies us; thank him for the privileged way he abides with us in his sacraments and shares his exalted life with us.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live out the life he offers you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, thy will be done, beg God constantly [to] accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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Wiki-image: The last sermon of our Lord PD-US Sacrament of Jesus’ Love PD-US

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Guardian Op Ed


Yesterday Peter Ormerod offered an opinion that appeared in the Guardian. Life in an imperfect world demands endlessly sifting among choices. At times prudent choices are not always beyond the human imperfections. One of them finds fault with every choice.

Mr. Ormerod reflected on Pope Francis’ “gesture” to provide homes for three Syrian refugee-families: “I’d like to say to the naysayer: …beware of creating a culture in which the rewards are greater for doing nothing bad than they are for doing something good.” 
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Wiki-image of Coat of Arms of Pope Francis by Stemma del Santo Padre Francesco CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday word, 17 Apr 16

Already and Not Yet
Fourth Sunday of Easter C (17 Apr 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The opening verses of the Fourth Gospel begin the gospel in a poetic way. The verses describe Jesus as the Word of God;1 Jesus is God’s only begotten son;2 Jesus both revealed God3 and offered life;4 Jesus continues to reveal God and offer life by his Spirit. The same verses also work as a table of contents for the gospel: later chapters expand the gospel’s opening images and convictions.

Today’s gospel selection highlighted Jesus as giver of life. Jesus gives no ordinary life but eternal life. We may quickly think “everlasting,” but the point is not time but a share in divine life. Jesus can give it because Jesus was in the beginning with God5—a cue from the gospel’s table of contents. Jesus words in today’s gospel echo that conviction: The Father and I are one.” 

Jesus words, I give them eternal life, express a second conviction, and it involves us. It involves us because I give is present—now. We already share the divine life risen Jesus offers. None of us needs anyone to tell us that our present share in divine life is partial. We are well aware the effects of sin limit us and all creation. Yet our present share in divine life begins with our desire to know6 and welcome Jesus into our lives. Our share in worship and the sacraments and our belief in his name give us new life as children of God,7 short-hand for being reborn by God.8

Jesus encouraged his first disciples and us with a promise: our already-share in his life can let us enjoy security. We may not readily hear his promise for his imagery of shepherd and sheep is not familiar to us as it was to his first hearers: no one will ever snatch them out of my hand. The word in the Fourth Gospel the lectionary translates with take. Take is neutral; Jesus’ suggested violent grasping. Ancient sheep had human and, more often, animal enemies that overpowered them. Jesus and his life given us are more powerful—even though appearances may suggest otherwise.

Along with our already-share in God’s life is a promised not yet. The community of the Book of Revelation  expressed both. It already shared God’s life as we do. Many were discriminated against and persecuted for it. Their share in divine life would not be snuffed out even if their human lives were violently ended. The Book of Revelation expressed its conviction about the security of Jesus’ life given them could not be undone. Although a great tribulation appeared to annihilate them, Jesus, the Lamb who had suffered the tribulation of his cross, will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water. In other words, Jesus would raise them to absolutely new and indestructible life like his.

In my honest moments I wonder how well I rely on the security our Good Shepherd offers; am I aware that I share already the eternal life Jesus offers? Pope St. Leo offered practical advice to face my wondering and my question: “I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action.”9 Cultivating our relationship with Jesus helps us love Jesus, our living Messiah.

By “action” St. Leo meant all the ways we embody our love for Jesus and imitate him as our model, the ways we allow Jesus’ Spirit to guide our lives in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.10 How might we do that? Begin anew each day and desire to know and welcome Jesus into our lives; share in worship and the sacraments; live in ways that respect others, protect them and creation; and act in peace to build peace. Our already is not less important than our promised not yet. Living our already is path and door to our promised future.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: Praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for how he guides you, gives you life and nourishes you with his risen life.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live out the life he offers you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It unites us with Jesus and shapes us more like him.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday word, 10 Apr 16

Staying Visible
Third Sunday of Easter C (10 Apr 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Simon Peter and the beloved disciple are main characters in the second half of the Fourth Gospel. After they ran to the empty tomb and looked inside they did not understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then they went home.1 That phrase left me empty: they went home. What did they do after that? Mary of Magdala then Thomas took center stage. Simon Peter and the beloved disciple don’t appear by name until the last chapter.

If they disappeared to their homes, and that was that, I would feel let down by the Fourth Gospel. But they do reappear. Not only that! They at last recognize risen Jesus. First, the beloved disciple: it is the Lord! he cried out while in a boat with Peter. Then Peter hurriedly swam ashore to be with risen Jesus.

The scene on the shore lets Peter put behind him his triple denial of Jesus on Good Friday. Risen Jesus helped him by asking Peter to reaffirm his love for Jesus. Jesus broadened Peter’s love: his faithful friendship would remain true—and indeed flower—when Peter included others in it: Feed my lambs and sheep.

Nourishing faith is the goal of the Fourth Gospel: that each person may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing…have life in his name.2 Living faith, faith in action is how we Christians are most visible in our world. When we do not live our faith we may as well return home—or worse disappear. The world is not better off when we make that choice.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Simon Peter and the beloved disciple to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: Praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for how he gives you life and nourishes you with his risen life.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to continue to put your faith in him in action.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is our roadmap both to welcome Jesus’ risen life and to share it with others and deepen their belief.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
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  1. John 20.9-10.
  2. John 20.31.
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