Dt 18.15-20; Ps 95; 1Co 7. 32-35; Mk 1. 21-28
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Our Prophetic Role
Times vary for each of us and all of us together. God’s word speaks to all times, across all time and for all time. While we know times vary, we are convinced that God’s word speaks, and it’s a preacher’s task to help our faith-conviction enlighten us. That task challenges me, more so in these “curious religious times.”
The phrase belongs to Oblate Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, who observed that
We live in curious religious times. A spiritual renaissance of sorts is happening in the Western world, even as church attendance is in steep decline and less and less of our own children are walking the path of faith with us.You and I know that from our experiences at Gesu Parish. We know what Fr. Rolheiser described; we don’t know about it, we know it. Yet are you and I willing to accept what Fr. Rolheiser submits as evidence for the decline? He submitted, “We are better at maintaining church life than at initiating it.”
The church is generally blamed for the second-half of this equation, but the evidence mostly doesn’t point that way. Indeed, in some ways, life at the level of parish and church-community has never been more finely-tuned, more biblically literate, or more healthy liturgically than it is today./1/
The reasons for this are complex and often are more bound to what’s happening in the culture than to any particular failure inside the churches. ...the high premium that we put on individuality within our culture is a bigger culprit than poor church services. Lack of space in our lives for the church, more than dissatisfaction with it, is the bigger issue./2/Consider with me one facet of the “bigger issue.” Economic conditions and their consequences on us all drive many to think survival: my company, my job, my family, our home, our future. Most of us haven’t thought of survival in the same ways until now. People in other parts of our world do each day. People in the earliest days of Christianity did as well.
One thing people then, the thing that people in other parts of the world today have heard more clearly has been scripture’s attention to God’s words and God’s deeds. The responsorial psalm today united them for us: hear God’s voice and see God’s works. God promised through Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth.” Jesus, the prophet like Moses, embodied divine speech by action not only by words. His actions, which made people whole, caused all Jesus said and did to be a new teaching with authority.
When we contribute to building up one another and move our parish community forward, you and I unite ourselves with Jesus and his proclamation of the kingdom. Fr. Snow and I enlist your help to do that in a way most needed by so many. We ask you to initiate community not maintain it, that is, to act to help make the lives of each other more whole.
We are beginning a job bank for parishioners to help other parishioners find employment. Work not only supplies cash needed to live, work contributes to self-development/3/ and secures personal dignity/4/. If you know or if you know someone who knows of local companies which are hiring people, please fill out a brief form in future parish bulletins and email it or mail it to our Parish Office. Today people need every lead they can find. Job postings will be listed in the Bulletin and on the Gesu website for two weeks only to make room for more.
Your contributions make the job bank work. Your contributions keep Gesu a thriving community of disciples, not a church-maintenance organization. Your contributions point to the kingdom, and all pointers to it are prophetic. Your contributions to the job bank help others to be aware of God at work in them.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, compose yourself in the creative love of the Trinity for you. Become aware of your gifts up to the present. Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus so you may converse with him. Express your gratitude to Jesus for your blessings. Resolve to pray for our Gesu Job Bank, to contribute to it as you are able and to let others know about it. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer to help us see how we can act in God’s name to meet others’ needs and to be able to receive help and gratefully and gracefully.
1. “Our Generations’ Particular Task”
3. See Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World, 35.
4. The Church in the Modern World, 66.
Wiki-images of scenes from the life of Moses and of Jesus healing one possessed are in the public domain.