Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sunday word, 09 Sep 2012

Collaborating With God
23d Sunday of the Year B (09 Sep 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Political conventions seek to accomplish many things. One of them is that candidates assure voters they have listened to us. Feeling we have been heard is important to us. Because others have listened to me, I have grown to feel listening is important to extend and not only to receive. It is not listening only; it is the broader ways we give our attention to others.
Giving attention to others is feeling with them. Scripture and our Catholic heritage call feeling with others compassion. The compassion Jesus showed attracted people to him. Pope St. Leo called it Jesus’ sacred compassion because it revealed God’s desire for people to be whole.1 Jesus extended his compassion without discrimination. He ministered to non-Jews in a region where they were in the majority and the culture was the Roman culture Jews despised.

The Letter of James reminds us our Messiah and Savior is also our model. Today’s selection focused us on paying attention as he did. For us to show compassion like Jesus does not mean that we will exceedingly astonish people as Jesus did by his miraculous healing. Jesus knew his miracles offered experiences of God’s closeness. Jesus desired people become ambassadors of God’s closeness not obsessed by any miracles. To show compassion like Jesus does mean seeing another and looking beyond gold rings and fine clothes, which attract us, and shabby clothes and poverty, which repel us.  

How do we become ambassadors of God’s closeness? We become those ambassadors when we pay attention to how God in Jesus by their Spirit are close to us, patient with us, attentive to us, creating us at each moment. Carving out moments of quiet allow us to pay attention that way and then to live from what we notice.

St. James was explicit in his letter: My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. His straightforward language always challenged. Martin Luther felt the Letter of James threatened the priority of faith. Yet, Luther could never exclude the letter from the bible. Today, James continues to challenge how we live our faith.  Praying for courage to voice our Christian convictions flows from faith. Praying to be awakened to notice our need for deeper conversion and the needs of others helps us express our faith in our Messiah Jesus.

St. James awakens us to the miracles we can work: ways of collaborating with God’s nearness and God’s justice. Collaborating with God’s nearness and God’s justice make them more tangible in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods,  and schools. We Catholics collaborate with God’s nearness and justice because, “We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”2

The basis for our “right and...duty to seek the common good and well being of all” may surprise you: it’s the Seventh Commandment.3 We think of it first as not to steal. That is what not to do. Jesus and the prophets before him transformed it from merely not doing into acting justly with no partiality, that is, with God’s heartfelt care.
St. Ignatius of Loyola recommended the Commandments 4 so we may take the pulse of our lives as friends of Messiah Jesus. Inspired by his word we heard I suggest this for your week ahead. Give Jesus 15 quiet minutes a day.

  • Rest in the Trinity who personally and lovingly notices you by creating you at each moment.
  • Ask St. James to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus about how you live the Seventh Commandment; how you embody God’s justice for “the common good and well being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”
  • Ask Jesus for grace to look forward to giving his name more glory.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is after we say hallowed be thy name and complete the prayer that we have our chances to live our faith explicitly.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. From the opening of his Homily on the Beatitudes.
  2. Principle of Catholic Social Teaching; see this summary of them. 
  3. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church online, Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2 at 506: What is set forth by the seventh commandment? “The seventh commandment requires respect for the universal destination and distribution of goods and the private ownership of them, as well as respect for persons, their property, and the integrity of creation. The Church also finds in this Commandment the basis for her social doctrine which involves the correct way of acting in economic, social and political life, the right and the duty of human labor, justice and solidarity among nations, and love for the poor.” 
  4. Spiritual Exercises [239-243].


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