Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday word, 15 Jan 2008

First Tuesday of the Year (15 Jan 2008) 1Sm 1. 9-20; Resp 1Sm 2; Mk 1. 21-28
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Two Levels

Many people over the years have spoken to me about the shape of their prayer. One feature common to many is a reluctance not to pour[] out my troubles to the Lord. It takes courageous faith. I identify because I didn't pour; I used to bargain with God regarding my troubles, plus I would not ask God for favors for me.

I refrained because I feared God would let me down. God never had, but I feared it anyway. I didn’t have the courage, and I feared if I asked, God might let me down. Hannah needed no coaxing nor could any one keep her from pouring out [her] troubles to the Lord. She had faithful trust in her Lord. We need her example.

On one level courageous faith is personal: each of us shapes it and distorts it. On another level courageous faith vibrates through every atom of the universe. In other words: in addition to being personal, faith also functions on a cosmic scale. Today’s gospel selection showed us both.

Jesus began his life’s work, proclaiming the good news, the gospel of God, in deed as well as word. His sabbath synagogue-teaching demonstrated a clarity and power unmatched by his contemporaries or elders. The faithful welcomed and noted the power of his words. The religious leaders, however, were threatened.

Jesus’ healing deeds were even more powerful. In them Jesus confronted evil. The gospel presented us with his first healing, an exorcism. An unclean spirit, who kept a man in its grip, was also threatened--not by just another man but by the Holy One of God. On the level of history Jesus made clearer the desires of God. At the cosmic level an unclean spirit, a resident outside and beyond history, acknowledged Jesus as the Stronger One, who entered Satan’s realm and bound Satan.

Encountering Jesus as the Holy One of God, helps us appreciate both rejecting and accepting Jesus. The more we stand in the mystery of God’s Holy One, the more courageous our faith becomes to accept Jesus.
Wiki-image of The Exorcism is in the public domain.

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