First Saturday of the Year (15 Jan 2011)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Renewing Christian Imagination
A helpful way of reading scripture is to notice where we see ourselves. In the familiar calls Jesus made to follow him, we noticed Levi, responded positively, as did others in the earlier, first chapter of Mark’s gospel. The response to Jesus was mixed. Not everyone who witnessed those healed and forgiven by Jesus responded positively. Some went away, while others rejected Jesus, and some of those opposed him.
Where do we see ourselves? Jesus calls us in numerous ways day to day. How do we dispose ourselves to recognize Jesus inviting us? How do we discern Jesus inviting us to join him in his kingdom-mission?
On Wednesday our President encouraged healing in Tucson and in the nation by inviting everyone to “do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.” Nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, one person killed last week in Tucson, inspired the President’s closing line. Christina, he had said, “saw [the world] through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.”1
For us Catholics our grownup cynicism blinds us to Jesus calling and inviting us daily. Jesus calls us to be who he created and redeemed by inviting us to join him in his mission of recognizing the kingdom he proclaimed, that it blossoms within us, and of living his kingdom in the ways we extend ourselves to both friend and to stranger.
Catholics’ cynicism prevents us from appreciating our psalm refrain as “true for me”: Your words, Lord, are spirit and life. When we allow the word of the Lord to address us personally, we are able to persevere as his disciples, to renew our dedication to his gospel and confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help for each other, not only for ourselves. Seeing ourselves at the throne of grace, noticing Jesus personally calling us, renews our Christian imaginations so we can renew our world.
Jesus does not leave us unaided after calling us to join his mission. He speaks to us in the words of scripture and sustains us by his sacraments. We do well to make a point this year of welcoming all the ways Jesus addresses us as personally inviting us to join him.
1. From the complete text of his address.