Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wednesday word, 24 Oct 2007

29th Wednesday (24 Oct 2007) Rm 6. 12-18; Ps 124; Lk 12. 39-48
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Christian Freedom

The story which conveys the beginning of sin in the world involved deception: the tempter deceived the first humans. On the basis of his personal experience of the risen Jesus, St. Paul communicated that God responded to sin’s deception by God’s gracious act of raising Jesus from the dead. He concluded the heart of his Letter to the Romans that 1) Jesus’ resurrection undid sin’s deception unto death; and 2) that we have been given this power to new life: In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all./1/ This was purely gracious gift with awesome effect.

Before St. Paul people had steeped themselves in this real gift of grace through baptism. It really participates in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is effective, accomplishing what it symbolizes. The life-project of each of us is to translate our baptism into behavior and the way we live. For St. Paul this life-project was obedience, attentiveness to the pattern of our risen Lord and shaping our living after his pattern of living.

The grace of Jesus’ risen life transforms our freedom, empowering us not to use our bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but [to] present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness.

When I sin I close myself to Jesus’ gift of new life; I live as though I never received it. My sinful act does not limit his gift and its power; I limit myself by refusing the gift. I hand over myself to what can not give me life. I’m a slave of my grasping compulsions and attachments. To pattern my living on the pattern of risen Jesus reorients my--and all human--choosing. This was freedom for St. Paul, not our notion of individual preference; it was serving what ennobles humans, helping us become as God created us. To paraphrase the Irish orator, Edmund Burke, Jesus’ resurrection of the dead is God’s “chastity of honor...which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost..its evil”/2/ I want to give myself to God’s honor and become as God creates me. St. Paul invites us, Choose our allegiances carefully!

/1/ Chapter 5. 19, near the end of yesterday’s reading.
/2/ Answers.com used his sentence to illustrate the usage of the word, ennoble.

Wiki-image of the symbol of Christ, the Beginning and the End is used according to the GNU Free Documentation license.

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