Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday word

Jesuit houses celebrate the Memorial of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez on 31 October.

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (31 Oct 2006) Eph 5. 21-33; Ps 128; Lk 13. 18-21
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Therefore Connects and Invites

Jesus, traveling to Jerusalem, was in a situation of conflict: some accepted him, others did not. Accepting the visitiation of God in Jesus by the Holy Spirit, and accepting day by day, is real repentance. We heard before Jesus doing things that indicated the presence of the kingdom of heaven.

The woman he healed, loosed from her bondage of being bent over, was that latest, which those of us who were able to celebrate mass yesterday heard. Sometimes the inbreaking of heaven occurs in a capital-letter way. More often it happens in hidden ways. Jesus comments via two short parables--of the mustard seed and the yeast--that is so. “Therefore he spoke” them.

After planting the mustard seed is visible only in its tree-size bush. All of us know even better that yeast is visible only in the growth it causes in dough.

St. Paul knew the hidden nature of the reign of God, too, and it shaped his preaching to the Ephesians. When it came to the mystery of marriage, Paul began with what people knew and expected: wives respect your husbands. He gained a hearing before he said, Husbands love your wives.

Husbands didn’t have to love their wives because they owned them along with children and other property. Yet the reign of God often turns things upside down. So it is for the mystery that symbolizes the Christ and his Church.

Alphonsus prayed in no less an upside-down way. He described it as conversation with Jesus and Mary. During his prayer-conversation his soul would reach a state “by the grace of God, where it does not know how to be--or even can be--presumptuous, any more than a baby at the breast.”*

Alphonsus is a good intercessor for us, not only to make our praying more candid and innocent. Alphonsus, the porter at the Jesuit college in Majorca, can also intercede for us so that we strive to live as portals of heaven to one another.

* From his spiritual writings; excerpt in the Supplement to the Divine Office for the Society of Jesus, St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2002, p 90.

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