Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday word, 06 Nov 2007

31st Tuesday of the Year (06 Nov 2007) Rm 12. 5-16ab; Ps 131; Lk 14. 15-24
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Personal and Communal

Throughout his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul functioned as a religious person not as a philosopher. He noted what God had done and discerned how God continued to act, indeed, create the world, through Jesus’ death and resurrection. God and God’s ways were central for St. Paul. A philosopher’s center of reference is self: my intelligence can grasp and critique all around me.

Noting God’s way and learning from it, esp. God’s justice, God’s mercy, God’s desire to save all,/1/ is not for dummies. It requires human intelligence which knows its limits: God ways surprise us. Welcoming God’s surprise, grace, respects God and ourselves. Indeed, religious service is possible by inner transformation/2/, which happens as we respond to Jesus’ invitation and align more with his attitude.

This life-project is at once personal and communal. As you’ve heard me encourage: faith is personal but never private.

St. Paul encouraged the church in Rome he intended to visit--and he encourages us hearing his letter--to exercise our gifts and discerning powers with and for the community, the Body of Christ. Just as one mind steers one human body, the mind and attitude of our Messiah, steers the community of whom we are individually parts of him and one another. Thus, serving one another with our gifts serves Jesus.

The list of practical encouragement which we heard--love sincerely, hold..what is good, be fervent, rejoice in hope, contribute, exercise hospitality, and bless--Paul crowned with do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. In his day that was a counter-cultural directive, and it probably is in our day. In his day such an attitude was disdained as not noble and free. Yet that was Jesus’ attitude and his way./3/ Jesus is the ultimately free person. St. Paul encourages us to adopt true, Christian, freedom. Our world is in great need for us to exercise not power but the most real freedom, Christian freedom.

/1/ St. Paul devoted Chapter 9-11 to this. His conclusion, yesterday’s first reading, resumed God’s justice, mercy and desire to save all. This is God’s recreation of humans by Holy Spirit, who intercedes for us and prays in us and for us (Chapter 8. 26-28).
/2/ Chapter 12. 1-2, which the Lectionary oddly does not allow us to hear throughout the daily reading of Romans.
/3/ Philippians 2. 5-11 also sings of this attitude, which St. Paul expressed in compact form here.

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