Monday, December 09, 2013
Think Christianity answers all questions? Think again. Jesuit Philip Endean “delves” into the mystery Catholics celebrate today, the Immaculate Conception of Mary. He begins with candles—of all things. Stay with him—it’s not quick reading but rewarding. When coming up for mental air is necessary, imagine the flickering candle.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Comfort We Receive We Give
Advent Sunday 2 A (08 December 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
St. Paul’s words to the Romans crisply describe the season of Advent and our Advent outlook: we celebrate it so we might have hope. I add, to increase our hope. That is the reason the Scriptures were written. In addition to introducing us to Messiah Jesus, the writings his Spirit inspired instruct us in the Christian life. It was and is a life together. If we were asked to search the scriptures, our first reaction may well be to get a bible. For St. Paul no bible existed. The scriptures that existed for him and the first Christians we call the Old Testament. St. Paul had a hand in shaping and contributing to the bible as we think of it.
St. Paul had experienced risen Jesus. The first Christians had their experiences of him. His phrases through endurance and through the comfort of the scriptures described their experience. Their experience encouraged their hope to experience God in all things. They experienced God embodied in one another because God became human in Jesus. Jesus became weak for us! No wonder the event of Jesus crucified and risen was folly1 to the Gentile world of power, privilege and patronage. Let’s consider their experience to see if we can find ourselves in it.
In his letter St. Paul had just mentioned one of those scriptures written ahead of time.2 He was considering Christian life together. Life together includes enduring weaknesses of one another.3 That is equally part of our daily life now as it was then. Jesus patiently endured others’ weaknesses when he walked the earth. He continues to do it in and through each member of his body. St. Paul: Christ did not please himself; but as it is written, ‘The insults of those who insult you fall upon me.’ The you in that scripture is God. Those opposed to Jesus could not discern that God chose to be weak, and more, to be weak as humans are. Even the most fortunate and well-off cannot save themselves.
This exchange of divinity for humanity overflows St. Paul’s letters. We fix on its short-hand name, Incarnation. Too fixed and we embrace Incarnation as a sacred museum-piece—something to admire. Incarnation is not that. Incarnation is an active verb of our triune God’s language of love. God does not please God but reaches toward us in a mutual way. By human standards it mystifies: ‘We will exchange our divinity for humanity to save humans and help them find and delight in us.’ God in Jesus by their Spirit do that each moment in the marvelous exchange that marks and reshapes the fulness of time in which you and I live. St. Paul reminds us the God of the scriptures is God working for us: the God of endurance and comfort.
The holy exchange of divinity for humanity has made the crown of creation even more wonderful and revered above all creation. Some think that to be so wonderful and revered makes us the center of the universe. No. Jesus is the center of the universe. He welcomed all with divine mercy not human fairness. Because he welcomes us none of us is a Pollyanna. His spirit empowers us to welcome one another [and all]…as Christ welcomed us, for the glory of God.
God’s glory—glory in highest heaven4 we will hear and sing—is a person, Mary’s son, Jesus. Jesus is that day of the Lord Isaiah sang often. Jesus embodied reason’s powers of wisdom and understanding. Jesus keenly and clearly guided. Jesus always pointed beyond himself to God and God’s rule. Jesus’ spirit continues his work in and through us his body, his church.
As the Baptizer prepared for his first coming, you and I live Christian lives hoping all we do, the least to the greatest thing we do points to Jesus who will come again. Take this with for your week ahead: God’s action in Jesus by their Spirit is a welcoming exchange. God is with us and for us in Jesus. Jesus invites us and empowers us by his spirit to welcome others. Doing that transforms lives by offering God’s comforting welcome.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Pause to feel our triune God welcoming you as you are with life-giving love.
- Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
- Chat with him: praise Jesus for becoming human to die and rise for you; thank him for never turning his back to you and always offering himself to you in baptism and sustaining your baptism with the eucharist and other sacraments.
- Ask him for grace to rejoice at his welcome of you and to let it open your heart.
- Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. He gave it to us to remind us that we are like him, beloved children of God with a mission to love as he has loved us.5
- 1Corinthians 1.23.
- Psalm 69.10 in Romans 15.3. As he began his letter Paul shared his conviction that God promised previously through his prophets in the holy scriptures the good news of Jesus (1.3).
- Luke 2.14.
- Living the mission of expressing our faith in love is the focus of Pope Francis’ recent exhortation to each member of the church.
Friday, December 06, 2013
One of them began recalling Nelson Mandela with these words: “I was 16 when the ANC was unbanned.” ThinkingFaith chose someone who works at the Jesuit Institute of South Africa and someone from the Southern African Bishops’ Conference. The reflections were released today.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
When it comes to quiet amid a day’s surging pace, individuals need to secure it for themselves. Everyone’s life is busy. Add preparations for Christmas and one tumbles into overdrive. Making 15 minutes and setting them aside daily is more than an antidote. Jesuit Fr. Steve Curtin, Australian Provincial, entitled his encouraging message “Christmas and the Examen.” He included a link to one of its adaptations.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
“Pope Francis revealed he also used to work as a bouncer.” He shared that during a 4-hour Sunday visit to a parish. The sentence grabbed attention the world over. The Pope had more important present things to say on Sunday.
______________________________________________Wiki-image by Mattes of open door CC BY 2.0 DE.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Living the Kingdom
Advent Sunday 1 A (01 December 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
As a liturgical year comes to a close it has us look at our final goal, the goal of history: time will end and the rule of God will come into its own. Salvation, that is life in God through Jesus by their Spirit will be complete. As Advent opens a new liturgical year its scriptures sound the same truth.
St. Paul’s urging to put on Christ suggests we live each day as if it were the final Advent. We live between two Advents: Jesus came in history to live, die and rise from death; Jesus will return in glory with salvation. Those who put on Christ our Messiah will gather to himself.
To put on Christ is an early church metaphor for baptism. The newly baptized went under the Easter water. When they came up they were anointed then clothed in a white linen garment. They were luminous in candlelight. They were charged to live in ways that kept themselves luminous, and we continue that today: Receive this baptismal garment and bring it unstained to the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may have ever-lasting life.1
To keep one’s baptismal life luminous means to live each day as saved, as united with Messiah Jesus and by the norm of the kingdom of God he announced. To live by the norm of the rule of God means not by the norm or standard of the world. The world’s standards are very enticing. Their allure is powerfully seductive and hypnotic. Not only are we charmed to live as though the world’s standard were normal, we are lulled into measuring by its standards.
Catastrophes and other tragedies jar us and we snap alert briefly. Systemic sufferings born of injustice and other insults to human dignity cause our heads to shake and to voice, perhaps only to ourselves, ‘That isn’t right. It should not be that way.’ And we are correct. Then, we turn away from the sufferings, injustices and other insults to human dignity. We return to living as if what is not right and just is! The world’s ways are enticing and hypnotic, indeed.
Not only are we correct in those moments; we begin to live our baptisms with clarity. To say that with other words: baptism allows us to live normally in an abnormal world. When we resist the world’s standards for those of our Messiah Jesus in whom we have been baptized, we are living alert. We are alert to what is normal. We allow God to instruct us in his ways [so] we may walk in his paths. We have our feet in Jerusalem. We awake to the the Son of Man with us.
The coming of the Son of Man: the words of St. Paul and the words of Jesus are not to be read as train schedules; nor are we to read them as if knowledge of them absolves us from working to secure great justice, peace and harmony for other and with others. We are to grow to feel the mercy of our triune God gives us the daily gift to live the risen life of Jesus through our bodies, hearts and actions and sufferings. Not only individually but corporately, as the body of Messiah Jesus, his church.
The one way we would prefer not to experience doing that is suffering. Yet Jesus suffered to death before he rose. As members of his body we ought not expect any different. Jesus even warned us we would suffer for being his. His warning was one of his blessings: Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.2
To live our baptisms includes to accept the Christian perspective: the world is abnormal; Christian living is normal. To admit that does not denigrate nor negate the goodness of created things. Instead, it admits that creation has been warped and needs to be saved. Saving is not our doing, it is God’s gracious doing. Baptism begins the process of God saving us in Jesus by their Spirit. To live as baptized means to live each day as if we were welcomed home. It means to welcome others in the ways Jesus has already welcomed us.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Pause to feel our triune God embracing you with life-giving love.
- Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
- Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for uniting himself to you in baptism and sustaining your baptism with the eucharist and the other sacraments.
- Ask him for grace to live his life in you as normal and to live it for the sake of the world.
- Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, forgive as we forgive, challenge us when we say them. Yet they remind us daily what is normal, despite how the world tries to shape us. They give us courage to live as Jesus lived and died and rose for us.
1. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 320.
2. Matthew 5.11-12.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
From Mr. John L. Allen Jr.: “Making the poor feel welcome…represents ‘the greatest and most effective presentation of the good news of the kingdom.’” Mr. Allen’s comment is part of his All Things Catholic post today.
_______________________________________________Wiki-image by Peter Maes of relief of feeding the hungry CC BY 3.0.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe C (24 November 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Jesus exceeds expectations of a monarch. Most startling is this: his cross is his throne. In Luke’s gospel the death of Jesus echoes earlier portrayals of Jesus in it, especially Jesus as Prophet and Jesus as Savior. His death unfolded as Jesus had told his Twelve Apostles as they journeyed to Jerusalem. Less than 20 miles from it he said, “We are going up to Jerusalem and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles and; he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon.”1 In those days Prophet Jesus remained in control though to human sight he controlled nothing.
Savior Jesus dazzled despite accusations, mocking and at a plea of faith. Accusations: The rulers ...sneered at him...,“He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Of course, we faithful hearers and readers of the gospel know faith saved Jesus no less than it saved those Jesus healed from demons, infirmities and exclusion from the people of Abraham. Mocking: Even the soldiers jeered at him. They parroted the accusation hung atop his cross, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” No prisoner of self-concern, Jesus forgave them.
The criminals saw Jesus in two ways. One was desperate, the other captured by faith. We see Jesus as they did. We hope to see him more as one did. The desperate one wanted Jesus to save himself so Jesus would save him. The other criminal gasped to the desperate one that both were under the same condemnation. Condemnation is a bleak translation of the Greek word that can mean sentence or judgment.2 The three were under the sentence of death by crucifixion. Their ultimate judge was God. God is ultimate judge of all humans.
Even under contemporary state-sponsored executions, legal though immoral, the ultimate judge of all receives at least a whisper of recognition: chaplains are allowed to be with those who accept them. No one knows how many guilty criminals faith has saved! We do know faith saved Jesus: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup…from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.”3 God raised him from death to save more than the “good thief,” as tradition honors him. Remain with the gasping “good thief” to notice two graced efforts: evangelizing is one; praying is the other.
To honor God with reverent wonder is ever fitting. The second criminal scolded but did not revile the first criminal; he evangelized him: In the time we have left honor God the creator, judge and lord of all. The good thief evangelized as did so many in the gospel and many more after Jesus’ resurrection.4
Also the second criminal was, as I put it, captured by faith. Faith wraps all who are open to it in its saving robe. Faith voices intimate exchanges. We name faith’s voice prayer. Praying unites us with Jesus. Flanking Jesus in excruciating agony, the second criminal spoke intimately with Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He did not address Jesus as Teacher, Lord or Master. Did he know to whom he spoke? His awareness exceeded human knowing for he was captured by faith. Angels and demons used Jesus’ personal name; they knew his identity. In the Third Gospel any who sought Jesus to heal them used his personal name.5 Their awareness exceeded human knowing. Jesus means, as you know, the Lord saves.6 He is our Prophet and our Savior. Jesus is our Lord, God’s Messiah. Jesus is no worldly monarch.
Can the evangelizing “good thief” crucified with Jesus help us live day to day? He can. He moves us to consider: Do we allow ourselves to be captured by faith? Do we converse intimately with Jesus? Do we regularly pause to ponder how un-likely people and unlikely moments may evangelize us to live our Messiah Jesus’ kingdom? As Prophet our Messiah Jesus invites us to live by the code of his kingdom. As Savior our Messiah Jesus protects us with his risen life and leads us by his faith. He leads as our companion. Messiah Jesus accompanies us now until he wel-comes each of us into his kingdom. The Year of Faith has ended yet living our faith begins each day. Messiah Jesus accompanies us as we campaign for all to enjoy his justice and faith. To campaign for both lives Jesus’ evangelizing way.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Pause to feel the Trinity embrace you.
- Ask the criminal, who spoke intimately with Jesus, to present you to him.
- Chat with Jesus: praise your Messiah, Lord and Savior. Thank him for accompanying you even when you are not aware of him with you.
- Ask Jesus for the grace to be captured by his faith, the faith of his body, the church, so you may live anew.
- Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, thy kingdom come, on our lips echo the intimate conversation of Jesus and the evangelizing “good thief” crucified with him. To make a habit in personal prayer to say slowly the Lord’s Prayer increases our intimacy with Jesus and with others as day to day we live his ever-dawning kingdom.
- Luke 18.31-32.
- See Thayer’s Lexicon.
- Luke 22.42.
- These others populate the rest of Luke’s gospel and his second volume, his Acts of the Apostles.
- For angel Gabriel, see Luke 1.31; for demons, see 4.34 and 8.28; for people begging for Jesus to heal them, see 17.13; 18.38.
- Yeshua (= Joshua) is how Jesus was known. Jesus is from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua.