Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Look at the Latest Papal Encyclical

From Mr. John L. Allen Jr.: “Making the poor feel welcome…represents ‘the greatest and most effective presentation of the good news of the kingdom.’” Mr. Allens comment is part of his All Things Catholic post today.
Wiki-image by Peter Maes of relief of feeding the hungry CC BY 3.0.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday word, 24 Nov 2013

Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe C (24 November 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Jesus exceeds expectations of a monarch. Most startling is this: his cross is his throne. In Luke’s gospel the death of Jesus echoes earlier portrayals of Jesus in it, especially Jesus as Prophet and Jesus as Savior. His death unfolded as Jesus had told his Twelve Apostles as they journeyed to Jerusalem. Less than 20 miles from it he said, “We are going up to Jerusalem and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles and; he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon.”1 In those days Prophet Jesus remained in control though to human sight he controlled nothing.

Savior Jesus dazzled despite accusations, mocking and at a plea of faith. Accusations: The rulers ...sneered at him...,“He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Of course, we faithful hearers and readers of the gospel know faith saved Jesus no less than it saved those Jesus healed from demons, infirmities and exclusion from the people of Abraham. Mocking: Even the soldiers jeered at him. They parroted the accusation hung atop his cross, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” No prisoner of self-concern, Jesus forgave them.

The criminals saw Jesus in two ways. One was desperate, the other captured by faith. We see Jesus as they did. We hope to see him more as one did. The desperate one wanted Jesus to save himself so Jesus would save him. The other criminal gasped to the desperate one that both were under the same condemnation. Condemnation is a bleak translation of the Greek word that can mean sentence or judgment.2 The three were under the sentence of death by crucifixion. Their ultimate judge was God. God is ultimate judge of all humans.

Even under contemporary state-sponsored executions, legal though immoral, the ultimate judge of all receives at least a whisper of recognition: chaplains are allowed to be with those who accept them. No one knows how many guilty criminals faith has saved! We do know faith saved Jesus: “Father, if you are willing, take this cupfrom me. Yet not my will but yours be done.”3 God raised him from death to save more than the “good thief,” as tradition honors him. Remain with the gasping “good thief” to notice two graced efforts: evangelizing is one; praying is the other.

To honor God with reverent wonder is ever fitting. The second criminal scolded but did not revile the first criminal; he evangelized him: In the time we have left honor God the creator, judge and lord of all. The good thief evangelized as did so many in the gospel and many more after Jesus’ resurrection.4

Also the second criminal was, as I put it, captured by faith. Faith wraps all who are open to it in its saving robe. Faith voices intimate exchanges. We name faith’s voice prayer. Praying unites us with Jesus. Flanking Jesus in excruciating agony, the second criminal spoke intimately with Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He did not address  Jesus as Teacher, Lord or Master. Did he know to whom he spoke? His awareness exceeded human knowing for he was captured by faith. Angels and demons used Jesus’ personal name; they knew his identity. In the Third Gospel any who sought Jesus to heal them used his personal name.5 Their awareness exceeded human knowing. Jesus means, as you know, the Lord saves.6 He is our Prophet and our Savior. Jesus is our Lord, God’s Messiah. Jesus is no worldly monarch.

Can the evangelizing “good thief” crucified with Jesus help us live day to day? He can. He moves us to consider: Do we allow ourselves to be captured by faith? Do we converse intimately with Jesus? Do we regularly pause to ponder how un-likely people and unlikely moments may evangelize us to live our Messiah Jesuskingdom? As Prophet our Messiah Jesus invites us to live by the code of his kingdom. As Savior our Messiah Jesus protects us with his risen life and leads us by his faith. He leads as our companion. Messiah Jesus accompanies us now until he wel-comes each of us into his kingdom. The Year of Faith has ended yet living our faith begins each day. Messiah Jesus accompanies us as we campaign for all to enjoy his justice and faith. To campaign for both lives Jesus’ evangelizing way.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause to feel the Trinity embrace you.
  • Ask the criminal, who spoke intimately with Jesus, to present you to him.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise your Messiah, Lord and Savior. Thank him for accompanying you even when you are not aware of him with you.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to be captured by his faith, the faith of his body, the church, so you may live anew.
  • Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, thy kingdom come, on our lips echo the intimate conversation of Jesus and the evangelizing “good thief” crucified with him. To make a habit in personal prayer to say slowly the Lord’s Prayer increases our intimacy with Jesus and with others as day to day we live his ever-dawning kingdom.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Luke 18.31-32.
  2. See Thayer’s Lexicon.
  3. Luke 22.42.
  4. These others populate the rest of Luke’s gospel and his second volume, his Acts of the Apostles.
  5. For angel Gabriel, see Luke 1.31; for demons, see 4.34 and 8.28; for people begging for Jesus to heal them, see 17.13; 18.38.
  6. Yeshua (= Joshua) is how Jesus was known. Jesus is from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua.


Wiki-image of what Jesus saw from his cross public domain in the U.S. Image of CCHD © United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The 2013 national collection is this weekend.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday word, 17 Nov 2013

Baptized to Embody Mercy
33rd Sunday of the Year C (17 Nov 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
As it nears its end the liturgical year reminds us more awaits us beyond our lives on earth. In our tradition this more follows judgment. Prophet Malachi imaged it as a blazing oven for the ungodly, and a sun of justice for god-fearers and the people of the covenant alike.

You and I are not well disposed to judgment. The reasons are many. Among them we young and old alike readily accommodate ourselves to our feel-good culture more than to the prophetic tradition and the gospel of Jesus, prophet in deed and word. Jesus aligned himself with the tradition of the prophets. He revealed it in his person. He spoke its judgment. Neither stopped people from seeking him or coming to him to beg his mercy and kindness. They intuited that his were the divine mercy and loving kindness that create the world. That is easy to forget and easier not to feel.

Today’s gospel selection doesn’t remind us of the many who sought Jesus and his care. Like the people standing with Jesus in the temple, we may be distracted more by the noble beauty of our surroundings than by the suffering beyond walls of church and borders of city, state and nation. Distracted from what really goes on makes us dupes of deception. Jesus warned those with him in the temple,“See that you not be deceived.”

Refusing to see what goes on is self-deception. The other deception involves duplicity. Fraud describes well the doubleness of untruth. For example: someone tells another,, This will clean; but the person finds it smears dirt and makes a blouse worse than before. Many messages our culture offers are like that: this activity or saying that assures happiness. Yet they offer only a short-lived high and no enduring contentment, peace of mind and stability of soul.

Culture assaults us with double messages as we sleep and while we are awake. To expose them does not trash culture’s noble contributions nor any created thing given us to help us love God and others more freely. To expose culture’s double messages is in sync with the prophetic tradition, from Moses to Malachi to Jesus and the apostles. It reminds us our Creator and Redeemer is the source of all we are, all we have, all we have done and will do to glorify Jesus and his gospel with our lives.

What are we to do? Jesus told us. If a doubleness, a duplicity and deceit lay in many messages our culture gives and in what self-named prophets of our culture extol, then we may find singleness of truth by keeping close to Jesus and embracing him, our Creator and Redeemer.

What has Jesus told us? The same he told his disciples. Passing things distracted them, even sacred adornments of the temple and the more sacred human bodies among whom they lived. Jesus said, “[Fix your sights on what endures, for] by your perseverance you will secure your lives.

Jesus’ list of events to follow his death and resurrection, events that dog his disciples to our day, describe—almost define—to persevere. To persevere means to continue a course of action when difficult or with little prospect of success.

Our culture as well as our personal inclinations seldom consider difficulties as doorways to opportunities for greater life. Both share a false belief that we can succeed at everything. The dramatic, out-of-our-control imagery the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of Ad-vent foist on us invites us to walk inside the prophetic tradition and recognize it calls us to single-hearted relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, the Creator and Savior of all. The dramatic, out-of-human-control imagery of the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of Advent challenges each of us to be prophets and embody divine mercy and loving kindness as we were baptized to do. Baptized into Jesus’ body means each Catholic is baptized to be hands and feet, ears and mouth and heart of Jesus today.1

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Compose yourself in the Trinity’s creative love.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • In your words chat with Jesus: praise him for all the ways he offers himself to you—in the sacraments, in his word, in love received and given, even under the guise of suffering stranger and friend.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to persevere in his many presences and to welcome him more energetically by how you live and choose.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, on earth as it is in heaven, on our lips are not just about his Father’s limitless power and presence. On earth as it is in heaven is our plea to focus more with the vision of the Trinity and their enduring life even as self-styled prophets and their double messages distract us from living our baptized priesthood for and with the least among us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Inspired by the poetic image attributed to the Carmelite Saint Teresa of Avila.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Persecution Fallout

Persecution of Christians is a fact backed by sad statistics as well as ground-level stories. Sad though it is, persecution of Christians is “potentially a boon to ecumenical relations. All denominations today have their martyrs, and all are more or less equally at risk.” So noted Mr. John L. Allen Jr. in his All Things Catholic post yesterday. Mr. Allen also touched on strengthening the role of women in the church; the pope’s visit to the seat of the Italian government; and a scandal too bizarre to “make up.”
Wiki-image by Geobia of Palazzo Quirinale CC BY-SA 3.0.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Claimed by God

Opinions about commitment in the modern world abound: it is a victim of a throwaway society; few give themselves to it; most are wary of it; it is old-fashioned; it does not satisfy; and more. Perhaps people rush commitment to soon. Does something precede making a religious commitment? In an essay by Anna Nussbaum Keating allowing God to claim people seems prior.

The ways men and women make God’s claim of them tangible for themselves varies. One of those ways is tattoos. Many moderns react viscerally to them. Ms. Keating recalled an eighth-century church council had decided that “a Christian bearing a tattoo ‘for the sake of God’ was deemed worthy of praise.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


One view of a Washington, D.C., that has “lost its way.” One consequence is that the common good suffers. The “common good” is a tenet of Catholic Social Teaching. Author John Carr is no stranger to the social tradition of the Catholic Church.
Wiki-image of Friendship stamp PD  U.S.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Helping Those Affected by Haiyan/Yolanda

The former USAID Director Andrew Natsios explained on the NewsHour last night that cash donations to a number of agencies are the most helpful way to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan (called Yolanda by Filipinos). 

One way to help:  Contributions to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The  (PJF) is a charitable organization under section 501(c)3 of the US Internal Revenue Code. The PJF “is the only official fundraising organization in the United States for Jesuits and Jesuit works in the Philippines.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday word, 10 Nov 13

Accept Jesus
32nd Sunday of the Year C (10Nov2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
We get used to things. We easily grow accustomed and often less mindful of things in our lives. Take running water. It’s rare that we don’t have it. So it is with electricity. Both are virtual constants, and it’s easy not to be mindful that others are not as blessed. At a point in my Jesuit formation I lived in Sri Lanka. Our house enjoyed running water and electricity. We also endured several interruptions of both.

During monsoon months rains poured straight down for entire nights—enough to water all the world. Mudslides were one result. They brought down poles and their electric lines. Water pumps ceased. At other times that didn’t bring Noah to mind power was not interrupted, yet we lost running water. It was too much to understand. Instead I grew more sensitive to water and electricity as limited commodities and more grateful for them both.

We get used to words and expressions, too. Frequently hearing them dulls us to their meanings. Love and hate are convenient examples. Our casual use of them empties them of their meanings. Other words buzz but make little impact when we hear or say them. Buzzwords seem the fate Christian vocabulary. Today’s scripture selections seek to rescue one: resurrection.

Resurrection is not resuscitation. Resuscitated people, in scripture and in our lives, return to life, which death tried to claim too soon. Resuscitation is temporary; resurrection is not. Resurrection is absolutely new, astonishingly new life: divine life. If death discontinues human life, resurrection more than continues human life. Resurrection is God’s life given us. Now we enjoy it partially; one day we’ll enjoy it fully.

The first Christians had no grasp on resurrection. Resurrection grasped them, they were caught up by it. It was the atmosphere they breathed, the transforming life they lived. Before it was experienced resurrection was a hope, one not every Jew shared. It was a late doctrine and a contested one as we heard in the gospel: Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and questioned Jesus. Who were they?

Sadducees traced their origins to high-priestly families. They ran the temple and were wealthy landowners. They were a Jewish sect about half as old as the Pharisees. They held only the written scriptures, not the Pharisees’ oral tradition of interpreting them. The hope in resurrection was a belief of the Pharisees. It grew after intense persecutions Jews suffered long before Jesus. The Second Book of Maccabees sought to give faith-meaning to resurrection.

We share three convictions our first reading announced:
  • God will raise us up to live again forever;
  • our glorified bodies will be whole, no matter how we may have suffered; and 
  • for those who defy God there will be no resurrection to this divine, unlimited life.
Can we understand that? Of course, not! Does our faith encourage us to believe and hope in resurrection? Of course! Yet for many reasons—not a mindful use of the word resurrection for starters—our imaginations narrow like Sadducees, who mocked life of the children of God. They limited it to human descent and birth. We enjoy an antidote to narrow religious imaginations, our sacramental life. Our sacramental life expands our imaginations.

Our sacramental life is neither a head trip nor a postgraduate theology class. Our sacramental life accesses all our senses: we see fire; taste wine; smell aromas; feel oil; hear words and song. Sacraments expand and make more supple our religious imaginations and sensibility. That’s why fire, water, oil, bread, wine, colors, music, song, touch, processions, aromas, kneeling, standing, signing and other gestures surround us. Words play a lesser role in liturgy’s grand symphony of the senses.

One lesson for us may be this: accept Jesus rather than ridicule him. Jesus lives among us by his resurrection. When we ridicule resurrection, we ridicule Jesus, who lives with us that way and invites us to share his risen life: in part now; and completely when Jesus returns in glory. We know much, yet some-things cannot be known. Resurrection is one. Jesus shares it with us. Sacramental living joins us with him. Sacramental living is a sure way we enjoy what we cannot know. We enjoy it because Jesus shares his life with us.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause to feel the Trinity accompanying you. 
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him about his life; praise him for it; feel it within you and all ’round you.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to see with his vision; to hear with his attention; to notice and savor all our Creator fashioned and fashions for us.Thank Jesus for all your gifts, especially his promised life in you.
  • Close slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer. It aligns us more with Jesus’ attitude; it makes us more humane; it broadens our Christian imagination and deepens our religious sensibilities. It frees us to walk by faith and not by sight.1 Those qualities make us lively disciples, who accept Jesus and help others accept him as risen Lord.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. 1. A mid-19th Century hymn. The 20th Century saw the tune SHANTI used with it.