Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday word, 31 Aug 14

Three Features For Our Living
22nd Sunday of the Year A (31 Aug l2014)
Jer 20. 7-9; Ps 63; Rm 12. 1-2; Mt 16. 21-27
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
As he did for the Roman Christians to whom he wrote, St. Paul encouraged us to present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice…to God. Years ago his words moved me; it took me some time to appreciate the concrete way I was invited to do that. Needing time to notice how we are invited to respond to God from our freedom reminded me I am more like you than different. I thought I’d reflect briefly with you about St. Paul’s brief, full verses.

Certain nuances of sacrifice may dominate more than others for us. The uncertainty, discomfort or the pain involved in our sacrificial efforts may blind us to the freedom sacrifice involves. Jesus said, I lay down my life ….No one takes it away from me…I lay it down of my own free will.1 He spoke of sacrificing his life to save us and all people. Jesus is the measure of sacrificial freedom.

Genuine is another feature of sacrifice. If I sacrifice only because everyone else is, then my sacrifice is not genuine. Let me make up an example: my family decides to have a very simple meal once a month. We do it to grow more aware of men, women and children who lack nourishment each day. I participate then hasten to an all-you-can-eat diner; my sacrifice was not genuine. I joined the family sacrificial supper but not with my spirit and heart. “Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, [expresses] spiritual sacrifice.”2 Sacrifice is genuine when our spirits, hearts and minds are in sync with our actions. Jesus is our measure of genuine sacrifice.

In addition to free and genuine, sacrifice is worship. Our genuine sacrifices adore God, thank God, petition God and seek to deepen communion with God.3 St. Augustine put it crisply: “Every action done so as to cling to God in communion of holiness, and…achieve blessedness, is a true sacrifice.”4 Once more Jesus is our measure and pattern for deepening our communion with God.

When we talk of sacrifice we easily use language of worship. We speak of offering service to God and others. St. Paul had recalled early in his Letter to the Romans what they knew and we know: some refuse to be in relationship with God. St. Paul used worship language: they adored and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for all ages.5 St. Paul echoed his conviction as he encouraged us: to [God] be glory for all ages!…Therefore, present your bodies as a living sacrifice…to God. St. Paul used worship to encourage godly living. These were his words: to present your bodies as a living sacrifice…to God is a reasonable6 act of worship for you. His word, reasonable, included mind and soul. St. Paul always spoke to the whole person.

His encouragement today means this: the more we act according to the way we worship Jesus by our godly living, the more we make Jesus our measure and model; the more we shape ourselves according to the pattern of his life and his consciousness.

Summarizing the three features of sacrifice Jesus modeled for us: Jesus freely lived, died and rose for us; his visible actions were in sync with his mind, heart and spirit—he refused to be held prisoner by arrogance or grand schemes; and he ever desired to live in communion with God, whom he called his Father. In these two verses St. Paul sketched how we exercise the mind of Christ7; how we renew our consciousness with the consciousness of Jesus. The grace for us to desire and ask is this: to grow more free to pattern our lives after the life and consciousness of Jesus.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause to recall our triune God creates you in the divine image and to become divine because Jesus became human with and for us.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise Jesus for giving you his awareness by the power of his Spirit. Consider one way Jesus’ mission attracts you and one way it challenges or even frightens you; chat with Jesus about each.
  • Ask for the grace to grow more free to pattern your life after the life and consciousness of Jesus.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us to help us pattern our lives on his living, dying and rising. He gave it to us so we may grow more free, more genuine and in ever deepening communion with him and his Father.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. John 10.17-18.
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] 2100.
  3. CCC 2099.
  4. Quoted in CCC 2099.
  5. Romans 1.25.
  6. As Thayer noted in his dictionary.
  7. 1Corinthians 2.16.


Wiki-images of Get Behind Me and Apostle Paul PD-US

No comments: