Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday word, 15 Jun 2008

11th Sunday of the Year A (15Jun2008) Ex 19. 2-6a; Ps 100; Rm 5. 6-11; Mt 9. 36-10.8
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Deeply Personal, Never Private

You may recall hearing on the Second Sunday of Lent God calling Abram to leave behind his father’s home and land and go to a place to which God would lead him./1/ Abram was not hearing God the way you and I hear one another, but he was alert to God communicating in a most real way. God made a covenant with Abram in that land when Abram took animals slaughtered them and divided them in half along a line. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram… and he heard God promise him and his descendants the land Abram reached./2/

Scripture described in human language an altered state of consciousness: deep sleep fell on Abram, and he discerned God address him. Other prophets before Jesus and his disciples with him and after him were aware of God’s communication in altered states of consciousness. In deep sleep, drowsy, in dreams are only a few ways scripture describes how people discern God. It is figurative language. Human speech cannot capture this most real and awesome event: God communicating to humans. Figurative does not necessarily mean fanciful or false. Jesus spoke the truth, using many figures--his parables./3/

We heard in the first reading God communicated with Moses on Mt. Sinai. To hear not human speech but divine communication; to hear not with ears but inwardly and truly: Moses was conscious in a way deeper than in ordinary living. Most importantly, what Moses discerned was not meant for him only: you shall speak to the children of Israel…you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a people set apart. Those are powerful words: all the people would make God known by how they lived. Jesus' compassion, his teaching and preaching, his healing ministry embodied God’s compassion and modeled for his twelve disciples their mission on which he sent them.

In these days of natural disasters, untimely deaths--many of us remain stunned by the loss of Tim Russert--and high-jacked personal and national economies, we welcome encouragement to remember that how we live has greater power than all devastating twists, which wrench us from our moorings and seem to drown our morale.

Along with the first apostles--who knew their own devastations--Jesus commissions us each day to make him better known, to spread his kingdom by the way we live. Jesus was quick to add that we cannot do kingdom-work by our efforts alone: pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. To pray means our public worship and intercessory prayer. To pray also means to enter our other consciousness in which we discern how Jesus invites each of us to embody his mission of compassion, teaching and healing, and not without frequent prayers to Jesus to keep us from drowning in so many concerns. What we discern Jesus communicates to us is deeply personal and never private. When I’m aware of Jesus forgiving me, I am to show forgiveness more readily. When I’m aware of Jesus’ patience with me, I am to exercise patience as well. When I receive Jesus’ body and blood, I am to carry myself with Christian dignity and let it shine.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, allow the Trinity to enfold you with love and divine security. Ask the 12 apostles to present you to Jesus so that you and Jesus may converse. Speak with Jesus about how Jesus has reconciled you to Jesus, to his Father and to others. Praise and thank Jesus for making you one with him and for making you a minister of his reconciliation in your daily life. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which guides us on living the mission on which Jesus sends us each hour of every day.

/1/ Genesis 12. 1-3.
/2/ Cf. Genesis 15. 7-18.
/3/ Mark 4.2.
Wiki-images of Abram journeying to new land and of Jesus and his apostles are in the public domain.

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