Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday word, 23 Oct 2011

30th Sunday of the Year A (23 Oct 2011)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More Sensitive and More Versatile

Today’s three scripture selections focus us on serv[ing] the living and true God. What does serv[ing] the living and true God include? Let me offer four ways which that service includes. 
It involves, first, initial conversion, experiencing God in a way, which moves me to arrange my life with God as singularly
important. St. Paul, we heard, described that with the words, turn[ing] to God from idols. The pastors of the early generations of the church echoed him. The Occupy Together movement of our time is reminding people the world over that greed for wealth is one such idol.
Idols are not necessarily exotic or antique. We exalt many things too highly. We often do not realize when we arrange our lives around power, prestige, possessions or performance, to name a few. When we make such things the center of our universes, we bow before our idols.
Second, serv[ing] the living and true God is part of daily living. Severing serving from daily living is spiritualistic. We serve the living and true God in and by Jesus’ Spirit. To live according to Jesus’ Spirit means the shape of my living imitates Jesus and his living: loving God as completely as I can; and loving others with respect and care, the respect and care I desire.

Catholic imitation is not aping. That’s important because Scripture sounded the call often to imitate divine love, Jesus, the saints and holy people who follow their example. One learned how to be in the world by learning from and following models. Two fruits of ancient imitation were sensitivity and versatility.1 Recalling their own enslavement helped the people of Israel to treat those on the margins with compassion. Being compassionate to widows and orphans—the phrase included all people at risk—was no option: you shall not molest or oppress...or wrong them. Sensitive people seek to exercise compassion in situations for which no positive command existed. Our Catholic faith can adapt to different situations without betraying itself. 
Third, we do not exercise compassion on our own nor do we take the initiative to meet God in our first conversion. We are powerless to do either of those on our own. God empowers us. We made ours the words of the Psalmist, who sang, I love you, Lord, my strength! Relying on God’s strength to help us shape our Christian identities, is crucial whoever we are, wherever we are and in all we do.

Last, keeping alive and fresh our initial conversion in daily living and cooperating with God’s grace gives our Christian living a particular purpose: to expect [God’s] Son from heaven, Jesus whom he raised from the dead
The texture of expecting Jesus’ return is not fearfully watching over our shoulders. Witness is its texture! The ways we exercise Christian compassion as well as the ways we receive it are the most powerful ways all of us evangelize. Your witness, my witness to the living Risen Lord Jesus is key. As Pope Paul VI a group of lay people, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."2
What Jesus revealed by fulfilling God’s desire, enshrined in the commandments, the prophets and God’s relationship with humans is that the vocation of us all is to witness to gospel values above all others. Jesus is our model. From him we learn greater sensitivity. Plus, we enjoy many sainted people, who show us how to live the gospel daily with greater versatility, both to awaken people to their first encounters with God and to deepen our ongoing conversion to God in Jesus by their Spirit. 
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Allow yourself to rest in the love by which the Trinity creates you at each moment.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Speak with Jesus about how your life gives witness to him and to his gospel.
  • Ask Jesus for his strong grace to grow more sensitive to others and more willing to respond to them.
  • Close your time with Jesus by saying slowly the prayer he taught us. The Lord’s Prayer is our key to fulfilling his twin commandments by which we honor God in our Catholic concern for all people.

  1. “The genius of Roman rhetoric resides in the use of imitation throughout the school course to create sensitivity to language and versatility in its use.” Donovan J. Ochs, “Roman Rhetoric,” in Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times to the Information Age, Ed., Theresa Enos, p. 643. The way people communicated extended to the whole of life.
  2. Pope Paul VI, Address to the Members of the Consilium de Laicis (2 October 1974), He incorporated his words in his Apostolic Exhortation, Proclamation of the Gospel, 41. The occasion was the 10th anniversary of the closing of Second Vatican Council.
Wiki-image of Moses speaking to the Israelites is in the public domain. Wiki-image of stained-glass window of the Teaching Christ is in the public domain in the U.S.


paul d said...

In our "15 minutes," why do we ask others to present us to Jesus?

Paul D. Panaretos, S.J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul D. Panaretos, S.J. said...

Good question, paul d!
Prayer is an intimate communion with God. Ignatius of Loyola counseled ways to help people enter it. Asking a saint [here I suggested St. Paul because he was reminding the Thessalonians of their intimate response to risen Jesus and his gospel; a person ought to choose whomever is more helpful: Mary, one's patron saint, or another] to present us to Jesus 1) helps a person to intend everything authentically & intimately; and 2) a person allows the saint, who overcame things that once kept the saint distant from Jesus to accompany us so we can do the same. *In short: saints we ask to present us to Jesus help us deepen our preparation to converse with Jesus and to be genuine when we do.*