Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday word, 29 Apr 2007

4Easter (29 Apr 2007) Ac 13. 14, 43-52; Ps 100; Rv 7. 9,14b-17; Jn 10.27-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More Aware

Some of us are avid readers of the funny pages. We find all sorts of truths expressed in the antics which earn those pages the name funny.

Others forgo the funnies and prefer the political cartoons on the op-ed pages of newspapers. Caricatured impressions of contemporary people at times speaking, at times silent, do not blind us to the truths--serious, sad and ironic--those visual ways of knowing and communicating convey.

Because cartoons of both varieties appeared in the papers I read as a boy, I thought that the cartoon was as new as I was. My middle- and high-school history classes taught me cartoons had been around a long, long time.

Ancient literature didn’t have cartoons as we know them. Ancient authors drew images with words. One convention portrayed humans as animals. Sound familiar? Hint: ...a great multitude...from every nation, race, people, and tongue ...stood before the throne and the Lamb.

Writers also expressed truth in contradictions. Does that sound familiar? Hint: those who survived the time of great distress... washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.

Yes, cartoons as we “read” them can help us appreciate the imagery of the Book of Revelation, John’s vision which he wrote down to console and encourage Christians suffering for living their faith.

Rather than be distressed and distracted by his vision, we can absorb its truth by allowing much of its imagery to convey truth in twists and turns, the way we absorb cartoon-images and the truths they convey. If we can’t get our minds around Jesus’ resurrection from the dead --the message of the Book of Revelation--we need not get our bowels in a stir over John eating a scroll printed on front and back or a great red dragon with seven heads and 10 horns or other bizzare images. Truth isn’t for experts only.

That is not to say that we will ever exhaust the symbolism of the Book of Revelation. It is to say that our best approach to it lets the vision reveal Jesus to us.

That has many consequences for our lives of faith and action for God’s justice. All of them shape each person’s vocation: the way each of us in each one’s way best lives as a disciple of Jesus and bears his truth to the world.

The church designates this weekend to greater awareness of vocation. While we pray ardently that young people discover the ways in which the Trinity has created them to live their Christian discipleship--as spouses; in the nobility of single life; as deacons, priests or members of religious communities of women and men--vocation awareness also means everyone’s growth in the vocations they have accepted with God’s grace. Vocation awareness means choosing again, day by day, to grow more generous as spouses, single people, priests, sisters and brothers of religious communities.

Our primary vocation is common to us all: we are to allow the word of God to be spoken to us again and again, day in and day out. Vocation awareness means hearing Jesus’ voice; and it means allowing the Lamb, who was slain yet lives for ever and ever, to shepherd us and help us persevere as disciples. We sophisticated people do not easily lend ourselves to that. Yet the vision of heaven revealed in the Book of Revelation is not for sophisticated people, it is for persevering people.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, dedicate your time to becoming more aware of how very much the Trinity desires you. Ask the entire communion of saints to present you to the Lamb, our crucified and risen Jesus. Converse with Jesus about his awareness of his vocation as Messiah and Savior as well as your own awareness of your vocation. Ask for light, courage, conviction and generosity to live it more freely and with gusto. Close your time by slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer, our compass for living as disciples: men, women and children, who are more keenly aware that they belong to Jesus with a desire to be more aware that we do.

Wiki-images of the Lamb and the Resurrection of the Dead are in the public domain.

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