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.


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