Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday word, 30 Sep 2012

Not By Chance
26th Sunday of the Year B (30 Sep 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Each one’s vocation is to be a disciple of our Messiah Jesus. Misunderstanding our messiah leads to misunderstanding discipleship. The first disciples misunderstood Messiah Jesus while he was with them. He said he would be handed over to others, who would kill him then rise on the third day, but they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. Jesus taught them God’s messiah came to serve with his life.1

Today we heard they misunderstood that God’s messiah came to serve all without distinction. John spoke for all the disciples, whom Jesus sent to do his work of healing and evangelizing: “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” We easily make that distinction between us and them. It’s part of our human condition and always has been. It challenged Moses early in the history of God’s people. So, when a young man quickly told Moses that two men he did not appoint were prophesying in the camp,” Joshua...who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, “Moses, my lord, stop them.” Moses’ response speaks to us and our vocation today: Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!

Baptism has made us God’s people. We were baptized into Jesus our Priest, Prophet and King.2 Baptism makes you and me prophets. Prophets are about here and now. Jesus sends us to do his work and give voice to his gospel by our deeds. How? Jesus was open, understanding, patient. Jesus was free of any need of honor. With our eyes on Jesus we live our baptisms by living the ways he modeled for us.

That singular voice in the New Testament, the Letter of James, shows us how. The Letter of James makes explicit Jesus’ desire for his church that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Equality does not ignore or erase differences. Equality among us means each person has inestimable value.

The scathing censure of the rich, who withheld from others so they might enjoy luxury and pleasure, hurts our ears. Its accusation, You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one, pierces hearts. As generous as we are each of us withholds to some degree. The ear-hurting and heart-rending words of the Letter of James remind us that living our baptism calls us to be more free to follow Jesus’ way more closely. Morals help us follow Jesus more closely.

Probing how in sync we are with Jesus and his Gospel-way means letting morals scrutinize our manners. Morals are about right and wrong and about choosing to do the lesser wrong and the more right action. Manners are about habits, customs, practices and the ways we put things to use. If we operated only from manners, we would do the lesser wrong and the more right by chance. Human habits, customs and practices are often shaped by our weakness to distinguish between us and them. We are so like the disciple John and Moses’ aide, Joshua!

James, Jesus and our Catholic tradition with its social teaching remind us morals shape our choices to do some things and not others. Jesus clothes our choosing with his Spirit. His Spirit makes us prophets. Prophets are human megaphones: their actions and lives give voice to Jesus here and now. Morals, not manners, make our actions authentic, give our actions authority. Jesus did everything with authority. With eyes on Jesus the church understands that authority functions as ministry serving all in need of God’s healing compassion. Placing God’s healing compassion to us in service of others, shapes us as more faithful, prophetic servants of our Messiah’s mission.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Become freshly aware of the Trinity anointing you to continue Jesus’ priestly, prophetic and royal work.
  • Ask Moses, who desired all God’s people to be prophets, to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus for his goodness to you.
  • Ask Jesus, “Help me be your authentic disciple and your prophetic voice in deed and word.”
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer to shape us as servants of God’s compassion and to help our gospel-actions deepen the union of heaven and earth and of human minds, hearts and lives.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Last Sunday’s gospel selection (Mark 9.30-37). Its verses immediately precede today’s.
  2. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults [RCIA], 228 [U.S. Edition]; Rite of Baptism of Children [RBC] 125; 151.
Wiki-images of Moses and Joshua worshiping in the Meeting Tent and of Jesus speaking is in the public domain in the U.S.

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