Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday word, 16 Sep 2012

24th Sunday of the Year B (16 Sep 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. [Catechetical Sunday]

Albert Einstein said, “I want to know how God created the world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details.”1

Our triune God does have a mind. The Trinity thinks, chooses, plans, loves and desires our loyal friendship. The Trinity has made known to us the divine mind in Messiah Jesus. Jesus’ Spirit enlightens us and gives us our courage to befriend our triune God.

Befriending the Trinity—having a relationship with Father, Son, Holy Spirit—is the vocation of each baptized person. All of our formation and education—think liturgy and learning—support each one’s relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. That singular relationship we call faith. Both its supports—liturgy and learning—we call catechesis.

Catechesis comes from two Greek words. One of them you know. “Kata” means down; “echo,” the Greek word you know, means to sound. We hear the word, echo, and we readily think repeated sound. The goal of catechesis is straightforward: what we hear in all our liturgy and our learning about faith we let echo down to our depths. All of us have an inborn, untaught disposition for the divine. Our worship and our learning about our faith help us deepen and cultivate our relationship with our Creator and Redeemer.

Catechesis has stages. The first is preparing for baptism whether of infants or of adults and children old enough to understand. The rest of the stages of catechesis build on each other and continue all our lives. All its stages echo our Creator and Redeemer’s call to us, “I love you,” and invite us to respond, “I love you.”

We respond in worship and by our love for others. By our twin response each of us is an agent handing on the faith by how we act, choose, pray and speak. Each parish commissions some to help others respond to their inborn disposition for God and to begin and to nourish their faith-relationship. They are called Catechists. Teachers at St. Luke and all Catholic schools share in the spirit of the gospel in all the subjects they teach. That makes them important agents who also hand on the gospel. A math teacher and a coach have power to evangelize, too.

The national theme for this weekend is “Catechists and Teachers: Agents of the New Evangelization.” A veteran catechist2 in Chicagoland likens Catechetical Agents to “travel agents.” That’s a good image. People with certain expertise help us make journeys for work and pleasure. Catechists help us journey in faith with Jesus. Their expertise helps parents prepare to baptize their children. Their expertise helps children establish their faith. Their expertise helps couples prepare to marry. Their expertise helps all of us discern ways better to live our faith.

Travel agents do us a great service. However, we are the ones who make our journeys. Catechists do us the irreplaceable service of helping us think correctly about our religious heritage. Yet we are responsible to make our journeys of faith. Journeying daily in faith means we keep growing to love Jesus more ardently and follow him more closely.3 When we give ourselves to our faith-journeys our ears, eyes and hearts are opened; our faith and actions which flow from faith complete and perfect each other; and we evangelize without thinking about it.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Compose yourself in our Triune God.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise Jesus for giving you a share in his faith and for giving you his Spirit to live his faith. Notice what stirs in you: what invitation Jesus offers you and your response to him emerging in you.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to put your faith in action.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ prayer expresses his mind. By giving us his prayer Jesus lets all of us share his mind. By praying his words, we embody his mind and make it more available to us, and through us, to others. The rest are details.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Some consider he didn’t say it. It appeared at the BBC, which is known for fact-checking.
  2. Joe Paprocki. His reflection on the theme is at his blog.
  3. A paraphrase of St. Ignatius of Loyola. See his Spiritual Exercises, Second Week, Third Prelude.


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