Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday word, 23 Sep 2012

M and M
25th Sunday of the Year B (23 Sep 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
If the gospel words sound familiar it’s because last week’s gospel selection contained the first time Jesus said he would be rejected, handed over to [others who would] will kill him, and three days after his death...would rise. For the disciples it was an outrageous teaching. The first time Jesus spoke openly about this Peter scolded Jesus for saying it. Peter thought as humans not with the mind of God.

Although we may not know how, God works for our good through all things, especially rejection, suffering and death. Today we heard the rest of the twelve also think in human terms. Their reaction was not Peter’s forceful denial; instead fear gripped them: they did not understand [Jesus’] saying and they were afraid to question him.

Let’s look past their feelings and ours for a moment and consider the Jesus we would have seen and heard? We would have noticed Jesus was a man of God with his feet planted on earth. He was open, compassionate, a man of patience and gentleness, whose way of living was self-giving. Jesus did not shrink from living the intentions of God’s heart, even when they clashed with human ones like those triggered by envy, conflict, hatred, lying, arrogance and rage. This what St. James offered us in the selection of his letter today.

James had a clear, accurate picture of Jesus in mind as he wrote. His letter is about living God’s desires for us and all people: living the reign of God Jesus announced.1 We do that by trying to do what fits God’s reign as Jesus taught and lived it. This is where the M and Ms come in. They are manners and morals.

St. James knew that some things had become usual practice among people. People had ways of doing things societies expected. Those ways were manners of doing things. Are all manners and ways of living right, healthy and good for individuals and society? No. We try to choose the right, healthy and good ways instead of those that are wrong, unhealthy and bad. Morals help us make the correct choices. Morals help us by guiding us to choose well.

With an eye on Jesus St. James helps us consider one manner and reject it: envy. Envy warps our vision. Envy works this way: A person sees the ability of other people, their possessions, talents, gifts, effort and energy as reasons to dislike both the people and their achievements. That dislike leads us to wrangle rather than befriend others. Jesus befriended even people others would not.

With his eyes on Jesus St. James got right to the point. Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? It is from the way we deal with our needs and desires. Even if I do a good and right thing—like obey my parents and superiors—even if I do a good and right thing with unloving motives, I allow envy to shape me. Its results range from disrespect and grumbling, no one hears but us, to coveting, fighting, even waging war.

Jesus found himself in different situations with people who welcomed him and people who did  not. So do we. In different situations with different people, Jesus allowed God’s desires for him and all humans to shape him. In different situations with different people, Jesus was the same: open, compassionate, a man of patience and gentleness, whose way of living was self-giving. That’s the picture St. James had in mind as he wrote. It is that picture of Jesus that Peter and the frightened disciples came to see clearly. We see that picture of Jesus more clearly as we make it our habit to allow our Catholic morals to guide and shape us throughout all our lives.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week 
  • Quietly place yourself into the heart of our triune God.
  • Ask St. James to present you to Jesus. 
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for inviting you to walk with him as one of his friends. Thank Jesus for giving you family, friends and teachers who introduce you to him.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to shape your deepest self to be more open, compassionate, patient and gentle and to have courage to befriend others.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, on earth as it is in heaven, remind us that greedy and violent things do not need to be that way, and that each of us can spread generosity, compassion and peace.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

1. See James 2.8.

Wiki-image by deror_avi of the Fifth Beatitude used by CC BY-SA 3.0. Wiki-image of Jesus with children is in the public domain in the U.S.

No comments: