Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday word, 15 Jun 2007

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (15 Jun 2007) Ez 34. 11-16; Ps 23; Rm 5. 5b-11; Lk 15. 3-7
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Heart, Which Transforms

In the Old Testament shepherd was a metaphor for God just as flock was a metaphor for God’s people. God’s shepherding defined the role of king: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. ...I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered. ...The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.

God was the king of God’s people. Yet, they wanted a human king like other nations. Scripture narrates God’s rescue and transformation of a ragtag crowd into God’s own people, and their response to God’s graciousness. Scripture oscillates between their faithful response and their selfish response.

Ezekiel’s words sound suspicion about human kingship because many did not shepherd rightly. On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Ezekiel’s words welcome us to no saccharine, futile, fruitless friendship with Jesus. They invite us to hand ourselves into Jesus’ healing care and desire to mission us to extend his caring work as we live and breathe.

St. Paul described the fruitful, real, effects of Jesus’ caring work. By dying and rising Jesus not only lives unconstrained by cloudy and dark powers; Jesus died for us to transform us, to reconcile us to God. Reconciliation by Jesus is more than forgiveness. Reconciliation by Jesus transforms us, recreates us. Each of us ought to be shocked, astonished by Jesus’ selfless gift. The rhythm of Paul’s reasoning reinforces that: Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person...How much more then Jesus’ dying for us...Indeed...while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son...Not only that....

What was always so--God was the one who did shepherd rightly for our sake--God’s Son embodied. Jesus sets [each lost one, each of us] on his shoulders with great joy.

Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep began three lost parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Jesus told them to the Pharisees and the scribes because they grumbled that tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us, indeed all people, to draw near to Jesus in order that we might be transformed to our original dignity as the crown of his creation.

When we are prone to grumble; when find ourselves complaining against God or others; when we verge on self-pity: it is good to repeat with all our hearts the Psalmist’s words, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Who can want when, in the words of our novena prayer, “gentle, humble Jesus...fill[s] our hearts with [his] Spirit and inflame[s] us with [his] love?”
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