Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday word, 24 Nov 2007

St. Andrew Dung-Lac (24 Nov 2007) 1Mc 6. 1-13; Ps 9; Lk 20. 27-40
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Rising Above Anxiety

We heard the controversy of Jesus with the Sadducees on the second Sunday of this month. It’s one of a montage of controversies, debates with leaders after Jesus entered Jerusalem: about Jesus’ preaching and teaching, so Jesus told his kingship parable; the disguised “questioning” by Pharisees about paying taxes to Caesar, so Jesus asked for a coin; then this one that shows us that Judaism was not unified in beliefs about resurrection and angels. The debates became skirmishes then efforts to destroy Jesus.

Taken together these hostile encounters impress us more forcefully than any one alone. They communicate this: the leaders domesticated God’s ways and made them as earthbound and limited as themselves; Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, making clear that it was not earthbound and limited but an absolutely new way of being, which opens onto an absolutely new identity, children of God, who are children of the resurrection, heirs of God’s life.

Heirs of divine life live God’s deathless life in one of two phases, either partially or fully. It’s obvious that we live God’s life partially. We are limited. Nevertheless, God reveals in human experience. From Moses through the succession of prophets and sainted ones God spoke in many and various ways./1/ God became human in Jesus, who revealed in life and death God’s care and concern, and in his resurrection revealed in our experience our destiny as children of God and of the resurrection.

That’s why living divine life partially asks a total commitment to live in ways which testify to what is not earthbound, to what is not always in continuity with our limited vision. This has come to be called “countercultural.” The church is not against culture, it affirms all that is true and noble within cultures./2/ Yet culture is not the be-all and end-all. Living divine life, partially as we do, is not in complete continuity with our limited ways. We live differently not only to give witness; we live differently so that our hearts won’t sink with anxiety but rejoice in hope.
/1/ Hebrews 1.1.
/2/ Chapter 2 of The Church in the Modern World of the Second Vatican Council focused on culture (paragraphs 53 through 62).
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