Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday word, 10 Nov 2007

St. Leo the Great, Memorial (10 Nov 2007) Rm 16. 3-9,16,22-27; Ps 145; Lk 16. 9-15
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Living Thanksgiving

Today ends the church’s weekday reading at mass St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Its continuous reading, with the exception of solmenities and feasts with their proper readings, allowed us to hear a healthy portion of St. Paul at his pastoral best. He summarized both his aware-ness of and his relationship with risen Jesus as his introduction to the members of the church at Rome, which he intended to visit after he completed his mission bearing some contribution for the poor among the holy ones in Jerusalem./1/ Other Gentiles churches with intimate relationships with St. Paul did this charity.

As he closed his letter, St. Paul commended Phoebe, a woman who was more than kind to him. Phoebe was a benefactor of his ministry./2/ Then, he named more in his large cast of coworkers in his Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ. St. Paul was no lone-ranger! He confirms my own conviction I expressed earlier in this series: faith is deeply personal but it is never private.

St. Paul had encountered risen Jesus as Messiah and Lord. His personal awakening and commissioning by risen Jesus set him on this ministry to the Gentiles to make risen Jesus known as Messiah and Lord. He was for St. Paul the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings. We heard these weeks how St. Paul combed the oracles of God in the Hebrew scriptures he knew intimately. St. Paul had begun his letter this way./3/ Even as he began he was clear that his vocation was responding to the command of the eternal God to make known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith./4/

Faith was no concept to give assent for St. Paul. This attentiveness--obedience--was to Jesus’ own faith, the faith of Jesus./5/ To live faithfully means to replicate in our lives the pattern of Jesus: his attitude, his mind, his response to God, whom he called his dear Father. All creation reveals God to us. Indeed, creation is divine gift to help us make our return to God with thanksgiving, which is our way of living. St. Paul lived the faith, which Jesus first brought to life among us.

/1/ Chapter 15. 28, 26, respectively.
/2/ Chapter 16. 1-2, which the Lectionary oddly omits.
/3/ Chapter 1.2.
/4/ See Chapter 1. 5-9.
/5/ Chapter 3. Also see my note /2/ on 03November earlier in this series.

The weekday Lectionary, presenting the Letter to the Romans at daily masses every other October and November, challenged me to clarify St. Paul and to inspire us contemporary Catholics to live Jesus’ faith more eloquently. I have labeled each homily with “Romans” to make them easy to revisit.
Wiki-image of St. Leo meeting Attila is in the public domain.

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