Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday word, 25 Apr 2010

Easter Sunday4 C (25 Apr 2010)

Ac 13. 14, 43-52; Ps 100; Rev 7. 9, 14b-17; Jn 10. 27-30

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Not in Results

Jesus statement in the gospel, “My sheep hear my voice,” caused me wonder: if some do not hear his words, then why preach him, preach the word of the Lord? The phrase, the word of the Lord, is ancient, as the Acts of the Apostles attested. Believers in the risen One gave voice to Jesus’ voice and continue to do so today. Yet, the question stands: if some do not hear him, then why preach the word of the Lord?

Our first reading, which is not exceptional, sharpened the question more. We heard that preaching the word of the Lord filled [some hearers] with jealousy; and with violent abuse [they] contradicted what Paul said…and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. We may shake our heads because we have the right to speak their religious convictions. The point is to speak the word of the Lord as faithfully as one can—and to speak by deeds as well as words.

Jesus warned his disciples that speaking as he did by actions as well as words would cause others to persecute disciples in every age. From the church’s infancy to today that was so. We easily forget that because our experience is more comfortable than other disciples contemporary to us. Whether it’s giving voice to Jesus by his words or by actions that are in harmony with him and his risen life people in other places in the world suffer persecution. Yet, you and I are called by risen Jesus no less to be his voice.

That means preaching by deed and word as faithfully as we can is the point of our lives as disciples of the risen Lord. The persecution American Catholics may endure is far from martyrdom or even imprisonment. Our distress is that others pay no heed to Jesus’ voice speaking through us.

Jesus calls us as his witnesses. Even the testimony of witnesses in a civil court may go unheeded by a jury, or a jury may not give honest testimony the credibility it deserves. What a jury will do with witness testimony does not mean that a witness ought not to be anything less than honest and direct.

Because we are a practical people, it is very easy to put results ahead of preaching the word of the Lord. Yet not all who hear our words or notice our actions on behalf of the gospel hear Jesus’ voice and follow him. Does the absence of results or the scarcity of results mean we should cease being Jesus’ voice in our world? Not at all! Does the absence of results or the scarcity of results mean we should pressure our hearers with scare tactics or that we should not treat them humanely? Not at all!

It does mean three things for starters. One, we ought to consider how faithful to the voice of Jesus our preaching by word and example has been. Second, we do well to pray for the grace to speak by word and example the word of the Lord more authentically. Third, we do well to pray for the grace to persevere in our efforts to embody the gospel of Jesus and give it our flesh and blood, so that others may begin to see it not as credible but credibly human and humane.

This grace to persevere in our evangelizing efforts will prevent us from succumbing to results as the measurement of our fidelity to Jesus’ voice. Indeed, the faithful in lands not ours, lands near and far, give voice to Jesus’ gospel without results. Often results seen by later generations of Christians are not seen by earlier ones. Always the gospel is about God working life from death, a work always beyond us. We share in it by grace and by being faithful even—and especially—when it seems impossible. That is what the Easter message, faithfully proclaimed, presents from Paul and Barnabas, the countless great multitude, who...survived [their] time of great distress to us gathered around the Lord’s table.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, bask in the source of Easter life and joy, the Trinity. Ask Paul and Barnabas to present you to Jesus. Speak with Jesus about how is voice finds a home within you and about what competes in you for attention to other than Jesus. Ask Jesus for the grace to be his more authentic witness in every circumstance. Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The daily bread it helps us pray for includes our need to be a faithful witness to Jesus and Jesus’ need of us to be his faithful witnesses in the world in which we live day to day.

Wiki-image of Paul and Barnabas preaching is in the public domain.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Threats of Death for Those Who Desire To Protect Amazon

Last Friday Mr. John L. Allen Jr. posted a story about the Catholic bishops from the Brazilan State of Para. Para is the second largest state, and its northern region is home to more than 6 million people. Para is also home large portions of the Amazon River and the Amazon Rain Forest.

While this group of Brazilian bishops met with the pope in rome for their every-five-year visits, they also held a press conference. They acknowledge another threat than the death-threats against three of their number.

“A threat to the Amazon is a threat to the entire planet, and everyone has an obligation to defend it,” Kräutler said.

While the injustices surrounding the Amazon region are hardly new, the bishops wanted to sound a particular alarm about what they see as the latest chapter in that story: Construction of a massive hydroelectric dam, called Belo Monte, which has recently been approved by the Brazilian government.

The bishops are not opposed to technological progress; however, they do not want to see the disaster of dislocation of people, destruction of homes and disruptions to livelihoods and to society.
Wiki-image by Raphael Lorenzeto de Abreu of map showing Para and surrounding Brazilian states is used by Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Preparing for Sunday. . .

. . .each week

St. Louis University began a website some years ago to help people prepare themselves to enter Sunday Eucharistic liturgies and emerge from them renewed as worshipers and as disciples. It offers a 2-minute video to present itself.

The site has integrated several aspects of liturgy: scriptures (readings and psalms); prayer; music; history; Catholic social teaching; and more. The growth of the site and its use has secured its place on the web; and its integration of various aspects of liturgy has established it as a comprehensive site for Catholics to visit regularly.

The site has begun to request donations to support it; however, entry is free. At its FAQ page, it offers this response to the question one might ask about need for financial support.

Why do you need my financial support?
Our ministries at the Center for Liturgy rely entirely on outside support. While we are housed on the campus of Saint Louis University, we are responsible for raising all of the money each year to fund our programs. The Center has just three employees with several dedicated volunteers to keep our operating costs low.
Bookmark and visit the Center for Liturgy Sunday Website to prepare for Sunday mass.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday word, 18 Apr 2010

Easter Sunday3 C (18 Apr 2010)

Ac 5. 27-32, 40b-41; Ps 30; Rev 5. 11-14; Jn 21. 1-19

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

If Fishing Nets Could Speak, Peterʼs May Have Said This

I had long grown used to the stress and pull, and above all, the wet.

For my purpose from the very first was Simon Peter’s fishing net.

He found me in a souk near Caesarea-by-the-Sea and knew just

By a touch of hardened hands that I was the woven cord to trust

And toss out into the dark depths of his prized fishing haunts. With me

He'd more than fish. He'd gather people's meals: I’d earn him money.

So he thought. My white-with-silvered strands very quickly darkened

From water, sand and muck sun couldn't bleach. My fibers hardened,

Too, and soaked up quickly the shiny, scaly smells of Galilean trout.

I was knotted tightly and enjoyed that sinking pull and draw about

Schooling fish, which by day and night Simon and his brothers captured.

To their great surprise, and my wonder, their future lay in Jesus raptured.

It happened as easily as Peter found me with other nets: “Come along,”

He smiled and paid for me. Walking the shore Jesus sang a similar song.

You might say that Jesus fished for them and drew them in with ease.

No wonder he said they’d fish for people. They didn’t hear him tease.

But how could it be? And why fish for people? What could he mean?

Did you ever notice how others take to Jesus and on his words they lean?

Simon did, and he did not have far to look beyond his own dozen:

The first were fishermen, yes, who hoisted me and in arcs cast me in

Waters cold, clear and fresh. One was good with figures; another very young.

Another, a zealous activist; another—can you believe?—a thief of quiet tongue.

Jesus even bid a tax-collector to walk with them; Matthew upped and did so on the spot.

My owner, Simon, would have thrown him out—not back!—and hope that he would rot.

Quite a varied lot, and that was only four. One-third of a dirty dozen, you’d say.

It was just for them—for sinners, to use another word—that Jesus came this way.

More remarkable than that all ten & two were sinners is this single, simple fact:

No soul is without its darkened depths. They all responded to Jesus in his act

Of netting them, calling them, inviting them, to go deep and themselves to see

As God created them: the crown of creation now and even more-so in eternity.

“To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and

Glory forever.” The disciples added to that echo when they made their stand:

‘We must heed God above all.’ Above all things, others, and even their self-concern,

Which brings me back to my story in all this, like going from stern to stem to stern.

My owner, Simon Peter, more than once said those days, “I am going fishing,” and did.

Some days he cast me far, with rage and roar and tears of grief that could not be hid

From others in his boat or from me. His tears fell on me and I felt their salty sting

In midair. I knew that Peter was grieving still: ‘I’m unfit to join my risen King,’

his heart pounded, ‘For I let him down.’ Vibrations like I’d known when my lines,

For hours at a time, embraced not a single fish, not a gill, in water without any signs

Of fish at all. So long I drifted at times that I thought I’d come to my aquatic tomb.

After those long, dark, damp stretches, Peter drew me out, like a baby from the womb.

Before Jesus died and after Jesus rose I, a lowly woven net, remained in Peter’s gear.

Even after Jesus rose, for a while, Peter was enmeshed, entwined in his deepest fear:

Guilt for denying the Man he loved with all his heart, the One who focused his passion

And gave his life meaning, purpose, clarity, too, and His witness in so keen a fashion.

Shame could no longer be. His grief held his heart from keeping up with Christ arisen

Until that day when I at Peter’s hands went down again for a starboard-side collision

With a school of finned, silv’ry swimmers. The point, 153 of them, so clearly made,

Was timely knowledge: no more kinds of fish than that could have been caught and laid

Ashore. Before your 21-first-century mind imperils your soul more, imagine this:

From 12 men to the totality of the human race in Jesus’ risen heart: that is Easter bliss,

The bliss we celebrate together here and try to live out each and everyday.

Jesus, dead and risen, netted this: no one, no net, no boat, no ingenious way.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, let the Trinity’s joy brighten you.

Share in risen Jesus’ joy and vict’ry; ask for grace to let your faith shine through you.

Simon caught fish by casting me. Be like me and let Jesus work through all of you.

Form a knotted web of love, of hope, of faith. Come alive: in Jesus live your life

As his body now, the Church: each child, brother, sister, cousin, friend, husband, wife.


Wiki-image of Peter in a fishing boat is in the public domain. Wiki-image by Margret Hofheinz-Döring of fishing Peter is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.