Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday word, 28 Jan 2007

4th Sunday C (28 Jan 2007) Jer 1:4-5, 17-19; Ps 71; 1Co 12:31—13:13; Lk 4. 21-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Altered States

In doing many things day to day we operate on automatic pilot: getting out of bed; making coffee; pulling in the paper; getting ourselves to school and to work. We give those and many other things little thought and at times we aren’t aware we are doing them--like breathing.

Our usual waking state isn’t the only way we are aware of the world around us. It is not how we are more aware. We are more aware not on automatic pilot but at certain frequencies of awareness called altered states of consciousness.

Sometimes we enter these altered states accidentally: indigestion; fever; trauma; when we’re deprived of sleep, of food, of oxygen. Altered states of clearer awareness can occur naturally as they do in ecstatic moments; when we are overjoyed or sad; and during dreaming.

As we know, we can intentionally alter our consciousness by means of alcohol and other chemicals. We also alter our conscious awareness when we relax, focus ourselves and when we pray. None of this is novel; ancients were well aware of this. Artists, poets, scientists, as well as preachers make stunning connections while in altered states of awareness. Swimming makes me and my mind more receptive.

God communicates to us in altered states of conscious awareness. We happened on Jeremiah when he was more receptive. We heard him aware that God shaped his life in a prophetic way. Jeremiah, fully aware of the difficulty of the prophetic life, grew to know in his bones that I am with you to deliver you says, the Lord. Such felt knowledge fuels clearer awareness and action

God communicates with us, which is why we pray. We may not think praying alters our awareness, but it does. Praying in the Ignatian manner both recognizes our conscious awareness and assists us to grow more alert to God inviting us to help fulfill the scriptures by the way we live--even when making coffee as well as here around Jesus’ altar-table.

Our baptism into Christ Jesus makes all of us prophets, people who proclaim with our lives the same mystery in which we have been trans-formed: the death and resurrection of our Messiah Jesus. The effects of praying--which is different from saying prayers--the effects of praying make us more aware of the more real world of God’s desires for us and our planet.

God’s desires both include us and they reach beyond us. In a moment of more clear and deep awareness, God’s desires challenge us at best and threaten us at worst. What’s the challenge? What’s the threat? God is not just for me or you; or people like us; or those who side with us. God is for everyone; for people unlike us; for people who hold opposite opinions; and especially for people who experience the world from the margins.

This was Jesus’ prophetic message: I am not only for the poor among you, I am for all the poor with every poverty; I am not sent to release you from bondage but for all who are constrained by every sort of bondage; I am come not only to help you recover sight and gain deeper insight, I am come to do that for each and every person. Indeed, the more blind, the more bound and the more needy have a greater claim on Jesus’ heart.

Those in the synagogue heard Jesus say the salvation he was bringing was not for them alone but for everyone beyond the boundaries of the Israel of his day. Jesus wa announcing he was a prophet like Elijah and Elisha who extended their prophetic visitation to Gentiles: Elijah was sent...only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon; and of all the lepers Elisha healed only Naaman the Syrian. That the prophet Jesus and his message were meant for all provoked those hearing Jesus to attempt manslaughter, so furious were they with him.

In your 10 minutes with Jesus each day this week, open your heart to Jesus. Trust him with it. Speak to Jesus: whether you can tolerate Jesus’ universal loving concern; and name what prevents you from living it yourself. Jesus’ own prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, will not be the same for you again, especially when your conscious awareness is clear, receptive and honest.

Photo used under the GNU Free Documentation License.


Anonymous said...

Great message Paul. You are very gifted with your words. Thank you for sharing them with me.

Becki Haller said...

I always have loved your homilies and continue to use these inspiring words each year for my annual retreat. You are such a blessing, and I'm grateful to hear the "Word" through your voice.
Blessings to you,