Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday word, 23 Jun 19

Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ C (23 Jun 2019)
Gn 14. 18-20; Ps 110; 1Co 11.23-26; Lk 9. 11b-17
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., 8-day retreat
Nothing Private
Before mass:
Today’s solemnity allows us to celebrate in another key the Easter event. “‘Easter innovates [thoroughly],’” a living Catholic philosopher and theologian reminds us. The Easter “‘innovation has a name—Jesus Christ—[his] own body, breaking through death to a life no one had ever lived before, has become a people, a new creation, a community thrown forward in a world so freshly minted that its citizens’—us—‘must relearn everything, like children (or rather, like an old person overcome by newness.)’”*

Whether one’s core-self is sprightly as a youth or ‘overcome by newness,’ let us ask for felt-knowledge to notice Christ freshly creating us.
*Jean-Luc Marion, “The Gift of a Presence,” Prolegomena to Charity, trans. Stephen Lewis (NY: Fordham University Press, 2002), 124. Cited by: Nathan D. Mitchell, Meeting Mystery: Liturgy; Worship; Sacraments (NY: Orbis Books, 2006), 182.


“Work is one of my best defenses against my mental illness.” Elyn Saks admitted that. Elyn is University of Southern California Gould School of Law professor. She has “joint appointments in law, psychology, and psychiatry.” “To keep her schizophrenia symptoms at bay, she stays on medication and sees a therapist four or five times a week.”1 Saks’ academic work serves her good health. Her remark reminds me that liturgy is work: liturgy means people’s public work. Her remark reminds us Christian liturgy serves the world’s ultimate health. Christian liturgy flows from Christ’s love for the world. He gave himself to give life to the world.2 His is ongoing work.

A frequent, human preference avoids that work—even in the gospel. After a day when Jesus taught and healed many his disciples wanted Jesus to send away his hungry listeners. Jesus responded differently: give them food yourselves. I often wonder how he sounded his response. Did Jesus speak with a telling pause? Give them food—yourselves. Sharing our possessions—of whatever sort—always extends ourselves. Our pattern for living, Jesus, did precisely that.

The Solemnity of Christ’s Body and Blood cele-brates Jesus’ self-giving. It is beyond devotional; it revolutionizes our living and gives it direction. Eucharistic revolution has always challenged Christian living. The desire not to work to give life to the world—to give ourselves generously— easily flows from a private notion of eucharist. Each generation has struggled against privatizing the eucharist. Early in the Christian experience St. Paul struggled with eucharistic privacy: each one goes ahead with each one’s supper with a tragic result, one remains hungry while another becomes drunk.3 Later St. Augustine exhorted: Christian, become what you receive.4 We hear his words as encouragement, and they are. With them Augustine also defended unity in the diversity of the Body of Christ. To become Christ is work: our work to grow as spiritual beings.

In our time Jesuit Robert Taft was asked about the relationship of our work to grow as spiritual beings and liturgy. The man who breathed liturgy and spirituality for more than 40 years responded with words that both challenge me and encourage me:
The purpose of the Eucharist isn’t to change bread and; wine into Jesus Christ, it’s to change you and me into Jesus Christ…. We are supposed to become the word of comfort and forgiveness, we are supposed to become the bread of life for the world, we are supposed to become the healing oil.5
The health of the world depends on Jesus’ self-gift in his eucharist. Becoming Christ Jesus and joining him are gift before they are work; and about his gift to us and our work with him—nothing is private.

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 Holy Spirit in us.
  1. Working with schizophrenia
  2. John 6.33.
  3. 1Corinthians 11.21.
  4. Sermon 272.
  5. I’m grateful to brother Jesuit Joe Kosczera, who heard Fr. Taft respond to the question.
Wiki-images: Miracle of Loaves and Fishes PD-USCopyright © 2007 David Monniaux Common wheat CC BY-SA 3.0

Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday word, 31 May 19

Visitation of the Virgin Mary, Feast (31 May 2019)
Zep 3.14–18a; Resp  Is 12-6; Lk 1. 39-56
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., 8-day retreat
The Eternal One Rejoices
St. Ignatius of Loyola helped people inhabit scripture. He recommended: engage one of its scenes personally. Personally engaging may include: picture the place; the land; a building and rooms within. Of people: hear what they say; notice their appearance and actions. To engage the Word gently, gradually opens us to what our triune God desires us to enjoy with a scripture-scene at a particular time.

As I engaged our gospel scene Mary’s era, her location and her culture absorbed me. Imperial Rome dominated her era. Rome had annexed Mary’s homeland. Rome sought to conquer her Jewish culture in a bodily way. Her culture recognized each person’s dignity because God created all humans. Rome vested people with dignity insofar as each one served Rome’s needs: humans “reproducedto give [Rome] control over the chain of generative life.”1 

Absorbed by Mary’s Palestinian culture two things emerged: long before Mary women well knew imperial powers wanted their birthing to contribute to Roman rule in their land; second, Mary had grown to see Rome sought to dominate her motherhood—if she were so blessed.

This was innate to Jewish mothers and fathers. Yet they lived as though God’s desire for them were more real: Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem [my people]! The Eternal has removed [this foreign, imperial] judgment against you and has turned away your enemies. Prophets had announced God’s desire and not only once; each time one read them or heard them proclaimed prophetic words reminded the Eternal God is ever present. Because the Eternal had removed past judgments from their ancestors, the Eternal would do it again. The King of Israel, the Eternal, is in your midst…a mighty savior; who rejoices over you with gladness and renews you in the Eternal’s covenant love.

Mary felt this promise in her bones; she grew in it. As much as imperial Rome ignored her spiri-tual, cultural way of being in the world, God fiercely held Mary and her people and refused to let them be drowned in Rome’s way. Among you [Mary & your people] is the great and Holy One of Israel!

One day the great and Holy One of Israel visited Mary in Gabriel. On that day the Holy One refi-ned the eternal promise. Not only among but with-in you, Mary: you will conceive in your womb and give birth…to the Son of the Most High.2

Mary shivered with joy; she could not keep still! She hastened to Elizabeth despite its risk—hill country sheltered bandits and others prudent to avoid. Mary spilled her joy to Elizabeth; they rejoiced together in God my savior. What Rome tried to put down, God lifted up; Rome’s pride was about to be scattered.

The scene invited me to consider my arrogance. To eye my strengths as gifts not my doing. To feel what I identify as truly mine I share with the Holy One, kindly offering each to me from the Holy One’s generosity.

I noted the Holy One visited Mary before Mary visited Elizabeth. I did not notice chronology—Mary then Elizabeth. Rather, the Holy One visiting Mary made Mary’s visit to her cousin possible! Ask Mary to intercede for you so the ways the Eternal God has visited you on retreat frees you to reenter your daily routines in ways that are more joyful and more deeply rooted in the one who is in our midst and rejoices over us and renews us each moment. Savour the joy the Eternal God has for you.


  1. James F. Keenan, S.J., “Current Theology Note: Christian Perspectives on the Human Body,” Theological Studies (55), 1994, p. 336. 
  2. Luke 1.31…32.
Wiki-image Visitation PD