Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday word, 15 Oct 2006

28th Sunday of Year(15 Oct 2006) Wis 7. 7-11; Ps 90; Hb 4. 12-13; Mk 10. 17-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Wisdom Awaits

As you know the arrangement of scriptures on Sundays and others solemnities follows a plan. The second reading is from the letters of Paul and others; and during the Easter season from the Acts of the Apostles. Each of these is read in a continuous fashion. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are read continuously, too. Each is read over one year. This is the year of Mark. The gospel of John had been the traditional gospel of Lent and Easter, and it remains so in our lectionary.

The Old Testament readings are chosen in relation to the gospels: on a given Sunday the Old Testament selection is one which Jesus fulfills in the gospel reading. Sometimes their pairing is transparent. Take next week as an example. Isaiah prophesied about the suffering servant of the Lord, who would shoulder the guilt of many. Continuing the 10th chapter of Mark’s gospel Jesus will identify himself as the Son of Man [who came] serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Today’s first reading and gospel do not as easily betray why they might be paired. So I asked myself, “Did Jesus fulfill anything in the selection from the Book of Wisdom?” We heard its speaker pray and receive the gift of wisdom.

Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit which we the Sacrament of Confirmation encourages and strengthens in the baptized. I liken this divine gift to a window on the loving design the Trinity has for each person, each bit of dust, each drop of water, each wisp of wind. The Trinity’s loving design embraces them all together into what we know, what we don’t yet know and what we will never know.

In his earnest promise-making, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

Messiah Jesus promised a gift now and to come to his disciples in every age, men, women and children, who pattern their lives on his life of selfless loving and giving. In a phrase Messiah Jesus makes available to us the wisdom of his cross. To live for [Jesus’] sake and for the sake of the gospel means I make my love other-centered, not self centered. I do that by exercising restraint over my whims and my hungering. To pattern our lives on the pattern of the life of our Messiah Jesus is not something we can do unaided. Doing that is my part, your part in cooperating with the grace Jesus’ faith imparts to me, to you.

To exercise restraint contemporary human-development language calls “impulse-control.” As we develop we do not indulge every desire. I am the first to say that is ever a challenge. After living seven months in Asia, I realize that impulse-control, other-centered love--name it in your way--is a steeper challenge for us in the United States than I ever imagined.

You and I are products of our cultural world. The wisdom of the world--forgive me for insulting Wisdom by using the word that way--the wisdom of the world in our age hypnotizes us by individualism; beguiles us with our bodies; preoccupies us with private rights; and co-opts us by competition to the point that life risks being cumbersome and unsatisfying at every turn, rather than a constellation of gifts created by the Trinity for us to enjoy with others, especially with those we keep on the margins of society.

The wisdom of the cross, which Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer, gives us, is a window on his loving design for creation. It also empowers us to live more freely, seeing more clearly all people as sisters and brothers in our Lord. This week in your daily praying of 10 minutes, which you set aside for yourself and Jesus, praise Jesus for creating and redeeming you by his holy cross as you slowly sign yourself with his cross. Converse with Jesus about the way he lived freely for and with others. Beg Jesus in your own words: “Jesus, grant me a deeper share of the wisdom of your cross. Help me choose it first before anything else. Help me cooperate with your wisdom with each breath I take so that I may live more freely with and for your sisters and brothers in my daily world.”

The 10-minute spiritual exercise for the week may be found in steps for easy use at


Enjoy your week! --Faithfully, Fr. Panaretos

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