Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday word, 11 May 14

Familiar Voice
Easter Sunday4 A (11 May 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
In courts lawyers enter pieces of evidence. They hope enough evidence paves the way for a decision. Evidence is not identical to proof. Evidence suggests; proof is absence of doubt. Law courts and religious faith differ. Yet, both involve evidence.

When St. Peter preached a crucified and risen Jesus he offered evidence: mighty deeds, wonders, and signs…God worked through Jesus in your midst, as you yourselves know;1 by them God has made…both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified. When he finished his hearers responded the way all preachers hope their hearers respond: “What are we to do?”

Place yourselves with those who heard Peter. Among those who heard him some may have been hoping Jesus was the promised Messiah. Some may have been uncertain until they realized Jesus effected the lives of others not only them. Still others may have rejected Jesus as another fanatical fraud claiming credentials as God’s promised, anointed one.

No matter how any of them had been disposed toward Jesus. Their response, “What are we to do?” signaled they had reassessed Jesus in light of the evidence Peter offered: Jesus’ deeds and Scripture’s words. His evidence squared with their experiences. Some of us may never have reassessed Jesus. For Jesus’ contemporaries it was vital. Not only did death end anyone’s life; for faithful Jews crucified Jesus meant rejected Jesus because Scripture declared that anyone who is hanged on a tree is a curse of God.2 Others may have rejected Jesus on the evidence of earlier impostors: those who claimed they were God’s ambassadors of salvation yet changed little or anything. Impostors had been exposed for what they were, and others were killed as threats to Roman occupation of Palestine.

But change had happened, and it was personal. We can describe it briefly: the first friends of Jesus had been transformed. They enjoyed freedom and confidence boldly to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Messiah. They had received his power to work mighty deeds, wonders, and signs like his. Not only that. They received power to live like Jesus: returning no insult and threatening no one. These formed the foundation of early Christian experience.

Experience is difficult to describe or measure. More accessible are the impressions an experience leaves. People and events leave their impressions on us. If Jesus of Nazareth impressed people in attractive, healing ways, how much more did risen Jesus, incontestably alive and both Lord and Messiah! Two of those impressions are these: familiar and life-giving.

When risen Jesus spoke his disciples recognized a familiar voice. They recognized their friend’s voice not the voice of a stranger. When risen Jesus communicates with us we recognize him as fitting our condition. He may console; he may challenge; he may invite; he may encourage; he may rally; he may breathe his peace into us and refresh us. Exercising our relationship with risen Jesus helps us grow more familiar with the many ways he communicates.

Jesus communicates with us for an express purpose. He told us: so we may share his life and have it more abundantly. Of his life Jesus gives us we have evidence. Often evidence of Jesus is subtle. We may not notice it; we may not easily put the evidence together; we may allow other evidence to leave us numb to Jesus’ life and deaf to his communications. To waken another day is part of his more abundant life. So is finding our purpose in the world. It is not all on us to find our purpose, just as no one wakens oneself or makes oneself breathe. Every aspect of Jesus’ more abundant life is gift. Today children take time to notice and honor mothers as gifts. Everyday Jesus gives himself to us. He abides with us—whether or not we keep him in mind; whether or not a person is familiar with his ways. The more familiar with Jesus we grow—Catholic life offers us many practices to help us—the more familiar with Jesus we grow, we recognize him more readily. All who grow more familiar with Jesus and his voice are living evidence of his more abundant life here and now.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause and rest in our triune God.
  • Ask St. Peter to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for leading you, communicating with you and sharing his life with you. 
  • Ask Jesus for grace to recognize him more readily and to be evidence for our world of his life and love.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is his voice alive in us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Acts 2.22.
  2. Deuteronomy 21.23.

No comments: