Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday word, 18 Dec 2010

Advent Saturday3 (18 Dec 2010)

Jer 23. 5-8; Ps 72; Mt 1. 18-25

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Subtle Presence

Many are the names of God, names scripture used to describe God at work. This morning we heard some heaped upon one another: As the Lord lives; the Lord our justice; savior from sin, what Jesus means; and Emmanuel. The one who lives was recognized by others who lived because of the gracious mercy, the overflowing compassion of God for them. Of course, Jesus shared this by his messianic role. As the angel in the tomb asked the women, Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here...he has been raised.1

The power of victory over the grave registered in various ways in the experience of the first disciples. As earth-shattering as life beyond graves, no longer constrained or confined by space and time or any other limit, conceivable or inconceivable, Jesus’ living presence was also subtle. The annunciation to Joseph reflected that subtlety.

God communicated to Joseph in a dream. If one describes dreaming as between the conscious realm and the subconscious one, we all know the subtle ways dreaming works. A dream’s outstanding character or action or acting character may have import, which may elude us when we are no longer sleeping. We often wake slowly to gifts our dreams communicate.

When we are truly awake—not just no longer sleeping—then we act from motivation, which we often describe as coming from beyond us. When we are awake this way we enjoy true security, which the people Jeremiah addressed could not enjoy, in particular because of their king.2

The subtlety of God with us continues in numerous ways. Announced in a dream, conceived by Holy Spirit began the subtlety of Jesus’ powerful presence; they began why we routinely work 1) to recognize Jesus present to us and 2) to sift true presence from false presence. So we will be alert to divine subtle working like Joseph was, and so we will be courageous as Jeremiah was, Jesus promised his disciples in each era, I am with you until the end of the world.3

Matthew’s gospel begins and ends with Emmanuel. Each presence of him we enjoy, especially those which take effort to claim, you and I are to hand over, and with conviction though not always with total understanding. A writer described these Jeremiah-consequences this way:

Wherever the gospel is preached, we must remember that its good news will make

you crazy. Jesus will put you at odds with the economic and political systems of

our world. [His] gospel will force you to act, interrupting the world as it is in ways

that make even pious people indignant.4

As the Lord lives this is our vocation as well as our salvation! Living it fosters true security. Living it does the Lord’s usually subtle bidding in no understated manner.


  1. Luke 24.5b-6a.
  2. Zedekiah means the Lord is justice, a name the king did not practice.
  3. Matthew 28.20.
  4. Ugandan Fr. Emmanuel Katongole lives his name. Learn more about him and his work at his website.
Wiki-image of St. Joseph's Dream is in the public domain.

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