Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday word, 24 Aug 14

Protocol For Christian Action
21st Sunday of the Year A (24 Aug l2014)
Is 22. 19-23; Ps 138; Rm 11. 33-36; Mt 16. 13-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Shebna was master of the palace. We can appreciate his role by recalling our phrase: chief of staff. We recognize the role as part of White House and other large administrations. We may not be familiar with all chiefs of staff do. Yet if we polled ourselves we would include two important qualities: in sync with the administrator; and putting the job ahead of self. Let’s start with the job.

Having access to power can tempt anyone. Chiefs of staff have ready access to power. Coordinating staffs is their power. Shebna abused his authority; he got drunk on it. Isaiah knew his arrogance before he spoke on God’s behalf: you cut out…a tomb for yourself…on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock: you fancy yourself more than master of the palace. From the beginning—from creation to the church, the new creation, God entrusts people with power to serve. God created humans as stew-ards of all created things.1 Jesus entrusted Peter and then all the apostles2 to serve the members of the church. We all know that arrogance in any form does not serve. Shebna is our counter-example: how friends and followers of Jesus ought not act.

Another quality of good chiefs of staff: they know the temperaments of administrators. That doesn’t mean reading their minds. It means they are in sync with and know administrators’ styles of leading: how they evaluate; how they decide; how they prepare and the time they need. Good chiefs of staff fully inform administrators so they can do all their duties well. Administrators confide in their chiefs of staff. Theirs is a two-way-street relationship. 

These qualities of good chiefs of staff apply to us and all disciples and friends of Jesus. Each of us has a relationship with Jesus. We have knowledge of Jesus’ mission and how he does his work through us. Jesus gives each of us a share in build[ing] his church where we live, work and play. It means living our Christian lives faithfully and with greater devotion and zeal to serve others. How does living our faith serve? It frees others to notice  Jesus nearer to them.

Not only do we know Jesus’ mission; we know how to continue and extend it each day. We know because we have his mind, his atti-tude. We enjoy that gift because we are part of Jesus’ body, his church.3 Pope Francis recently remarked that the mind of Christ rests in the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. Memorize the Beatitudes, he said, because they are “a portrait of Jesus and his way of life.”4 The pope recalled that the portrait of Jesus on which we look is not art to behold; it is a protocol to put into action, the “protocol according to which we will be judged….”

“What will the questions be that the judge will ask?” We know them: Did we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the prisoner? In short, did we comfort any on life’s margins.5

Together the Beatitudes6 and Matthew 257 free and encourage us to be in sync with Jesus, the ways chiefs of staff are in sync with their bosses; they free us to anticipate Jesus and to build up his church, his body in the world, where we live, work and play.

I add to the pope’s practical encouragement the prayer Jesus taught us. The Lord’s Prayer also puts us in sync with Jesus’ attitude. His attitude toward others included forgiveness. Forgiving is more costly to us than giving things that support life and ease hardship. Forgiving is an antidote to arrogance, how friends and followers of Jesus ought not act.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the presence of our triune God to feel God’s creative love for you.
  • Ask Peter to present you to Jesus. Peter was so much like us in our limitations as well as our desire to know Jesus and anticipate him.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for all Jesus has done and is doing in your life. Tell Jesus your desire to know him better.
  • Ask him for grace to help you know him better and continue his mission where you live, work and play.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us to stay close to him and his Father and to live our faith by lives of care and service; and to rest secure in our ever deepening felt-knowledge of Jesus, our Messiah-Savior.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Genesis 1.28. The dominion/stewardship is limited power [click on * in the verse].
  2. Matthew 18.18.
  3. 1Corinthians 2.16; Philippians 2.5.
  4. From his 06 August General Audience.
  5. That same audience.
  6. Matthew 5.3-12.
  7. Matthew 25.35-36.

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