Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday word, 20 Jan 2013

Friend to Friend
Second Sunday of the Year C (20 Jan 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Epiphany manifested Jesus as Savior and King of all nations. His Baptism manifested him as God’s beloved son. We begin the Sundays of the Year—the numbered Sundays of the church year—with Jesus manifesting himself in power by the first miracle John’s gospel remembers.

The wedding at Cana: all of us, young and old, know its story. Do we appreciate its ending? Jesus [changed water into wine] as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. Let me highlight two things important for us and all believers.

First, Jesus was not born to reveal all his glory by turning water into wine. Jesus revealed all his glory when he died on the cross, lifting up all things to himself.1 The second is more significant for us believers; it was the disciples’ reaction: they began to believe in him.

In Jesus the power of a new creation dawned. The disciples saw him as the gateway to God’s transforming power. That attracted the disciples.  Attraction is not the same as trusting belief. A relationship of trusting belief God had spoken through Isaiah. To God the reformed people of Israel was God’s Delight and Espoused. The ties holding together spouses have always been sacred avenues to deepen their relationship. Attraction may be beyond them, but deepening their friendship is their life’s work. Attraction gives way to intimate, shared knowledge.

Thinking of spouses helps us value faith as a relationship. Making one life together, spouses give themselves to each other. Faith allows us to give ourselves to our triune God; God is always giving God to us. Faith happens when we give ourselves to God. The faith-relationship allows us to share ourselves with God in Jesus by their Spirit as the Trinity share themselves with us.2

The disciples showed us by their reaction to Jesus that by believing they began to entrust themselves to Jesus. We measure our friendships in that way: we give ourselves to family and close friends. So with faith. We can measure our faith life by checking how we entrust ourselves to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer.

Measuring and growing our friendship with Jesus is vital. Pope Benedict remembered that as he baptized 20 infants last week. “The journey of faith that today begins for these children [rests] on a certainty, the experience that there is nothing greater than knowing Christ and communicating friendship with him to others; only...this friendship...really [discloses] the extraordinary possibilities of the human condition and [let’s us] experience that which is beautiful and that which frees.”3

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, advised we communicate with Jesus best as “one friend to another.”4 Friendship with Jesus is the reason I entered the Jesuits. Friendship with Jesus, like human friendships, rests on honesty. Honest sharing shapes us. Honest sharing with Jesus, who is always honest with us, shapes everyone’s personal vocation. Each one’s personal vocation is God’s desire for each of us. We discover it; we uncover it as we grow. When we uncover it, we help it continue to grow.

St. Ignatius offered an uncomplicated method to help us uncover and to grow our friendship with Jesus. It moves this way: we quiet ourselves in the presence of the Trinity; then we become aware of the gifts the Trinity lavished on us today. We allow a gift or event or a word or image from scripture to capture and focus us on Jesus. Focused on Jesus we consider ways we avoided living his gospel and express sorrow; and we consider ways we lived his gospel, and we express our gratitude to Jesus. We resolve to live as more honest friends of Jesus by living as his disciples in our world today.

This method5 works, helping us give ourselves to Jesus. You’ve noticed in the ten months I’ve been with you, I end each Sunday homily with a form of this Ignatian style of praying. I shaped it to help us give ourselves to Jesus Sunday to Sunday and deepen our friendship with him, his Father and their Spirit.

I’ve created a blog, Spiritual Exercise of the Week, to help anyone do this. Last Friday I adjusted the site so that it is number four in a Google search for Spiritual Exercise of the Week. It will allow you to move through my suggestion to give Jesus 15 minutes a day this week. Fifteen minutes is 1.5% of the waking hours of a day: a slender sliver of time with Jesus. Jesus’ friendship frees us to live as his disciples in our world today. Friendship with Jesus is believing him.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause and rest in the Trinity who creates us each moment.
  • Ask Mary and the disciples at the wedding feast to present you to Jesus. 
  • Chat with him: Speak to Jesus as one friend to another and give yourself to him. Friends do that. Praise him for his faithfulness to you. 
  • Ask him for grace to give yourself and your life to Jesus with greater confidence.
  • Close your time by slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words begin, continue and strengthen his friendship with us; they help us befriend him and live in ways that invite others to be his friends. That is each person’s vocation no matter what shape a person’s life takes.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. John 12.32.
  2. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #150.
  3. Homily, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 13 January 2013.
  4. See the bottom of this webpage for Ignatius’ words. Jesuit Fr. David Fleming wrote an essay about those words; it began: “The underlying dynamic of Ignatian prayer is that of a conversation.”
  5. One shorthand list of its five-steps also has comments and links to assist anyone.

Wiki-image of the wedding at Cana is in the public domain in the U.SWiki-image of water into wine by © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC-BY-SA-3.0.

No comments: