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.


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