Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sunday word, 04 Nov 2012

Coming and Going: Equally Important
31st Sunday of the Year B (04 Nov 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A wise way to begin to appreciate the messages scripture carries is to recognize the convictions they profess. Take today’s gospel selection: what are its convictions? First, God is one. The one God is the God of Israel and our God; to God both Israel and we belong. Second, oneness requires our total response of love: with all your heart Deuteronomy urged, and Jesus echoed. Third, oneness of God, of Israel, of us, the church, and singleness of heart include love of all others and the rest of God’s creation. All others are the neighbor in scripture’s language.

Not only are those the convictions revealed by scripture. Jesus, the revelation of our triune God in flesh and blood, identified himself with this command of our God and its convictions. Mark’s first hearers would have heard Jesus’ perfect loyalty to God and Israel. It brought Jesus and the scribes closer than ever in his mounting debate with them near the close of his ministry. The scribe we heard question Jesus made that clear when he answered Jesus, “Well said, Teacher...You are right in saying that the Lord is One and no other...And to love the Lord with all your heart...understanding…strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is the most worthy worship.

That conviction does not devalue our worship here. Here we gather and worship our God around the tables of God’s word and God’s son. We worship one way our one God in two styles. The styles are word and eucharist. To echo St. Augustine, word and eucharist “are so closely connected with each other that they form one single act of worship.”1

Nor is our worship here our only worship. Our worship here commissions us to leave here so we may worship in deed and truth. We hear our commission variously: Go in peace! Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord! Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life! Each of them sends each of us “to do good works, praising and blessing God.2 They make clear going from church is as important as coming to church.

Clarity about convictions, though, does not erase our need to make decisions as we live our lives as Christians day to day. Our decisions include:
  • Who is one’s neighbor?
  • How do we understand love?
  • How do we maintain the link between our God, our neighbors as well as the non-human members of our God’s creation?
  • Do we have a deepening felt knowledge that glorifying God by our lives between masses is truly worship, one which is better than any of our devotions?

The church’s liturgy—the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours—and all our devotions serve to make us more eloquent, faithful, active friends and disciples of Jesus, our high priest who lives forever to make intercession for us to God. His intercession is our messiah Jesus’ unending, priestly action. To approach our God is at once an act of faith and an act of service. Remember what Jesus echoed: to ‘love the Lord with all your heart...understanding…strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is the most worthy worship.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Begin by giving loving praise to our one God in three Persons. 
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for the gifts Jesus lavishes on you each day to help you walk more closely with Jesus. Offer our High Priest whatever causes you to resist his invitation to share his faithful, loving concern for others.
  • Ask Jesus to help you love with greater singleness of heart our God, our neighbors and all created things in which our God acts for us.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. To pray slowly his prayer we know so well engages heart, understanding and strength. When the three are engaged, they make us more agile and affectionate lovers with Jesus of others and all creation. That, after all, is most worthy worship!

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Constitution on the Liturgy, #56, of the Second Vatican Council.
  2. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition, #90c [the conclusion of its Chapter 2].

Wiki-image of a scribe and Jesus was released into the public domain. Wiki-image by Polimerek of Christ All-powerful is used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

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