Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday word, 26 Aug 2012

Accepting Jesus’ Challenge 
21st Sunday of the Year B (26 Aug 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
What if we stood at Shechem with Joshua that day. What if we knew the rest—thats 87%—of the scriptures of the people of Israel would call people again and again to fidelity and deeper intimacy with God? If we knew that, then Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods would come from our lips more as a prayer than a declaration. Many things tempt us to make them our gods.

What if we knew by personal experience the culture of the world of St. Paul, one in which the accepted order was women were less than men, not just paid less than them? (In that culture women and children were property. Women played no legal role; no one would call them to give official testimony!) What if we all were eager to hear what this Saul-become-Paul, this Jew-become-Christian looked and sounded like, maybe what he had to say?

What if we walked in on him speaking as we heard the echo of his voice today? Respect one another, don't think oneself greater than another: sensible; it makes for a good society. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. If we stood inside that time and culture, we couldn't disagree at best, we might nod off at worst. This hotshot apostle wouldn't be telling us anything we didn't know.

What if we were nodding off, when Paul said, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her sanctity? We would snap awake so fast, especially the men. Love our wives? What! would be our response. Or, This is new; or, Hey, that makes them our equals! That was what Paul realized in Messiah Jesus.

And if we had been hanging around listening to Paul already while he was in town, then his words about diversity is united in Messiah Jesus would become personal. The diversity of male and female helps each man and each woman know our Messiah better as each one responds in love. As a Canadian woman expressed, “Yet too many women still haven’t experienced this love and too many men have missed the challenge.” 

What if you and I took up that challenge more often? Here’s one way to begin to do that each day this week. Give Jesus 15 minutes each day. Set aside that amount of time and quiet yourself. Sit with open hands.

In your 15 minutes each day this week

  • Quiet yourself in our Triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • In your words chat with him: consider the way Jesus has created you in love for loving. Consider what you may have chosen to do or not to do. Consider people you have encountered. Share with Jesus how you have responded. In your considerations of your experiences and your choices up to that moment instead of declaring, “See what I have done!” ask Jesus, “Where did I meet you?” and, “How did I respond to you?”
  • As you grow more aware of meeting Jesus in your daily rounds, ask Jesus for the grace to be more free with your love. 
  • Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus invites us not to say only the words, hallowed be thy name; Jesus invites us to enact them by the choices we make and the ways in which live.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


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