Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday word, 20 Jul 14

God Prays For Us
16th Sunday of the Year A (13Jul2014)
Wis 12. 13, 16-19; Ps 86;  Rm 8. 26-27; Mt 13. 24-43
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Through his parables Jesus helped people appreciate what the kingdom of heaven is like. The parables we heard sharpen what is is like this way: the kingdom of heaven does not impose itself on humans in all its glory; rather, from tiny beginnings the kingdom of heaven seems to grow in its greatness and expanse.

Nor is the kingdom of heaven obvious in our present. The parable of weeds and wheat grow[ing] together suggests that. To live in the “already” of the kingdom calls for a patient courage to let risen Jesus—in the parable, Son of man—decide who is fit to enjoy the reward of kingdom life. Without that patient courage any of us is like the slaves of the householder who wanted to pull up the weeds.

How might that look in daily Christian living? In our efforts to live in sync with Jesus and his gospel values we can set the measure for living the kingdom instead of letting the kingdom be our measure and to measure us. How do we allow the kingdom to measure us? St. Paul has been helping us. He has been reminding us that the kingdom of heaven in the person of Jesus’ Spirit dwells in us.1

Jesus has given us his Spirit as our guide and help. St. Paul experienced Jesus’ Spirit was more than by our side; Jesus’ Spirit dwells in us. Paul did not mean that Jesus’ Spirit was within us in some idle fashion. Not in the least! Jesus’ Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness…[and] intercedes with inexpressible groanings. It is obvious that we are weak: sometimes in ways we share because we are human; other ways unique to each of us. No one is perfect. Also obvious: creation is not perfect;2 but the Spirit’s inexpressible groanings are not obvious. What did Paul mean?

He enjoyed a Spirit-gift we call to speak in tongues.3 He knew others had the gift. Of it he said: the one speaking in a tongue speaks not to people but to God; indeed, no one understands him, yet he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit. The Spirit offered another gift: to interpret a tongue. Then others could both understand and grow stronger in the ways of Jesus’ Spirit and the kingdom of heaven he announced.4 That is our side of praying.

Our side of praying is only one side. St. Paul noticed that God prays for us and in us. Our inability to understand does not limit God. As we heard: God, who searches our hearts, knows the desire of the Spirit, who intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

God searches our hearts and intercedes for us. Here’s the vital meaning: St. Paul witnessed to deep, pervading closeness of God and humans. Even with others who are dear to us, we know loving affection is not only communicated by words we understand. Sometimes—is it often?—words cannot express what our hearts know and communicate. Put another way: love defies logic and understanding. Not understanding is not the same as not knowing.
We call kingdom-knowing faith. Faith is a graced knowledge. It is not knowing the way we know facts. Anyway, facts are not the only real things. The most real is our triune God who creates us and holds us in being each moment. Not only do we pray in God’s presence. God in Jesus by their Spirit pray in us and for us.

One way Jesus’ Spirit intercedes for us helps us welcome patient courage to live the kingdom among us now in its mixed and messy shape. Another frees us to allow the kingdom of heaven as Jesus announced and lived it to be the measure by which we live the kingdom until he returns.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for proclaiming the kingdom of heaven. Thank him for living it for you.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live so your life can be a vivid parable of the kingdom Jesus proclaimed, the kingdom in which Christians place their hope.
  • Close saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught. His words, your kingdom come, are not exclusively about the future. They are about God’s emerging kingdom—emerging among us even in life’s thorniest circumstances.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Romans 8.9-11 from the second reading two weeks ago.
  2. Romans 8.20-22 from last Sunday.
  3. 1Corinthians 14.18.
  4. 1Corinthians 14.13-17.

Wiki-images of The Enemy Who Sows PD-US and by B. Behr of Calvary Chapel Logo CC BY-SA 3.0

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