27th Sunday of the Year C (03 Oct 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
“Servants of Christ’s Mission” *
To call myself a Jesuit is a self-interpretation the way calling myself the son of Elizabeth and Paul Panaretos Sr. interprets me to me and to others. To call myself a Jesuit is a self-interpretation the way calling myself Roman Catholic is. Like my family heritage and my religious heritage, being a Jesuit son of St. Ignatius interprets me both to myself and to the world.
This personal identification and interpretation parallels interpreting scripture. First, God’s word interpret us. Second, we hear and read scripture so we can discover who we are, who God creates us to be each moment. Scripture is a privileged means to encounter our Creator and Redeemer. The homily’s purpose at a liturgical celebration helps us engage God and ourselves intensely and personally.
To say, “God’s word interprets us,” is to say God’s word creates us, shapes us, loves us into being each moment. We’re expressions of God’s word. To approach scripture’s expression of God’s word that way is not problem-solving. Nor is it studying God’s word, though its study helps us appreciate more the power of God’s word to interpret us to ourselves.
To interpret scripture is not a casual exercise in antique or quaint writings. To interpret scripture is a personal and present activity. That means it’s risky: we risk seeing ourselves in new ways; we risk discovering the need to place ourselves in God’s care; and we risk becoming aware of living differently: changing some ways or deepening others.
As an ongoing activity, seeing our authentic selves involves us in the dramas of scripture. Prophet Habbakuk’s sentence, The righteous person will live by...faith, is a good example. People interpreted their identity, that is, they saw themselves in those seven words through their experiences of suffering, waiting, unanswered questions; not by abstract principles nor by their power and ingenuity.
Not our power at work but the power God gives us, the holy Spirit who dwells in us. Holy Spirit does not make us puppets or robots or take us out of the world; rather, Holy Spirit gives us new hope to be in the world as people of faith whose love works God’s justice increasingly.
To see and interpret oneself through one’s suffering, waiting, unanswered questions calls one to patient endurance as one suffers, waits and lives inside unanswered questions. It invites us to a different vision of the world, of self and others. Habbakuk again: this vision has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and it will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it. We live in its partial fulfillment already.
No longer a vision, and not at all a view or idea, it’s a person, Jesus Christ, who recreates relationships in a remarkable way: Jesus waits with us; Jesus waits for us; what is truly remarkable is that Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer, waits on us. Come here immediately [in your suffering, waiting, unanswered questions and all your labors] and take your place at table. Just as masters in his day would never change roles like that, we often approach Jesus the same way. Our encounters with Jesus change our roles precisely that way—Jesus waits on us. Allowing ourselves to encounter Jesus serving us frees us to serve others more willingly and generously and to know ourselves more clearly. Not only sacraments, personal praying allows us to meet Jesus that way.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the creating love of the Trinity. Ask Prophet Habakkuk to present you to Jesus. Speak to Jesus: praise him for welcoming you into his risen life; ask him for the grace to allow Jesus to serve you so you may be his reenergized, devoted disciple. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, thy kingdom come, on our lips help us enter Jesus’ promise and both enjoy it now as we actively desire its fullness when Jesus returns.