Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday word, 10 September 2006

23d Sunday of Year(10 Sep 2006) Is 35. 4-7a; Ps 146; Jms 2. 1-5; Mk 7. 31-37
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Explicit Christians

Construction on Fairmount Blvd as well as on Cedar, beginning or ending at Miramar--depen-ding on one's driving-direction--made me alert to this story.

"It is the general desire of most citizens that their government be attentive to their needs. I live in a rural area, and last summer, a number of my neighbors began circulating a seek the repair of several of our town roads. One road was so rutted that it was washing away, while another was more pot-holes than road. The petitions were presented to the town board, which deliberated for a few months, and then finally agreed to repair one road and to craft an ordinance that would lead to the reconstruction of the other in two years.

"Now that the repaving is completed, there is general satisfaction that the town board had listened to [us] and responded adequately. Of course, swaying the opinion of three members of a town board (who are also your neighbors) is vastly easier than convincing representatives who govern at a distance."1/ The author's point was listening: the town board listened to the residents, whose roads need repair, and the town board paid attention to them.

The second reading focuses us on paying atttention and prevents us from getting distracted by the prophetic words of Isaiah, which Jesus fulfilled with a miraculous healing. That healing, like others, exceedingly astonished people.

The healings Jesus performed were signs of the reign of God, and Jesus was concerned that people become ambassadors of the reign of God and not the miracles: a reason why Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone.

In order to become ambassadors of the reign of God, each of us needs to pay attention to how God in Christ by their Spirit is planting their reign within each of us, what concrete aspects of God's reign are emerging and maturing within each of us.

To listen is only one way of paying attention. I prefer the verb to notice because it encompasses
not only hearing but seeing, feeling, realizing with our senses as well as our hearts.

Everything implied in the life of Jesus as well as in the teachings of St. Paul St. James made explicit in his letter, which is why the Letter of James has and continues to challenge Christians.

Sometimes we are mute, not because of any physical limitations, but because we have not found words and ways to voice our needs or courage to voice our Christian convictions.

At other times we may be deaf, not because of any physical limitations, but because we do not notice--on every level of meaning--others' needs and even our needs for conversion.

St. James awakens us to the miracles we can work: ways of collaborating with God's reign and God's justice making them more tangible in our neighborhoods, homes, workplaces, schools. We Catholics do this because "We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable."2/

The basis for our "right and...duty to seek the common good and well being of all" may surprise you: it's the Seventh Commandment.3/
We think of it first as not to steal. That is what not to do. Jesus, with the prophets before him, transformed it from merely not doing into acting justly, that is with God's heartfelt care.

St. Ignatius of Loyola recommended the Commandments4/ in order to take the pulse of one's life as a friend of Christ Jesus. Inspired by his word we heard I suggest this for your week ahead. Set aside 10 quiet minutes a day to be reassured God personally and lovingly notices you. Hold up the Seventh Commandment and notice how you live it by acting with God's justice for "the common good and well being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable." Notice how God's life is at work in you, how you give birth to it in others and how you can do that to glorify God more. Close with an Our Father spoken as slowly as you can. What you notice will surprise you.

1Paul Michaels, Wednesday Morning Connection for 10 September 2006, Liturgical Publications Inc.

2 Principle of Catholic Social Teaching; see

3 The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "What is set forth by the seventh commandment?

"The seventh commandment requires respect for the universal destination and distribution of goods and the private ownership of them, as well as respect for persons, their property, and the integrity of creation. The Church also finds in this Commandment the basis for her social doctrine which involves the correct way of acting in economic, social and political life, the right and the duty of human labor, justice and solidarity among nations, and love for the poor."

4/ Spiritual Exercises [239].

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