Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday word, 20 Sep 2008

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions,Martyrs
(20Sep2008) 1Co.15. 35-37, 42-49; Ps 56; Lk 8. 4-15
Homily of Rev. Paul D. Panaretos, S.J.
That Pregnant Question

Fine nuances in Luke’s parable of the sower exist. Often they make more precise some of the figures expressed by his source. One difference, however, may be more akin to us sophisticated moderns. In Matthew and Mark, the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables at all./1/ In Luke’s gospel the disciples asked what his parable might mean.

If we pause, we can recall we heard that question before in the gospel. It fell from the lips of Mary, when the angel greeted her to announce she would be the mother of God. Mary was utterly confused by the angel’s speech and wondered what the greeting might mean./2/ I call her wondering a pregnant question.

We often risk reducing the Mystery to something we might understand--two lovers never completely understand each other; on some levels they remain mysteries to each other. When we imitate the disciples and ask Jesus what he means--before asking a commentary or a footnote in our bibles--when we ask Jesus what he means for us, we begin to learn and live the mystery of his risen life in us.

Pope John Paul II canonized in 1984 the 100 Korean martyrs we remember today. Of them 92 were lay people. Speaking at that time the pope recalled the mystery that is growth from persecution:
The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today’s splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the north of this tragically divided land./3/
They lived the meaning of the mystery as St. Paul proclaimed in our hearing again: Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. How our bodies and our lives bear the heavenly image now, even slightly, is the most pressing and pregnant question we Catholics can ask. We are wise to ask Jesus to join his Spirit to ours as we ponder how we may live the Mystery more effectively.

1. Matthew 13.10 and Mark 4.10.
2. Luke 1.29.
3. Paragraph 3 of his homily in Seoul, 06 May 1984, original emphasis.
Wiki-image of the Korean martyrs is in the public domain.

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