Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday word, 26 Oct 14

Reawakening to the Spirit’s Gift
30th Sunday of the Year A (26 Oct 2014)
Ex 22. 20-26; Ps 18; 1Th 1. 5c-10; Mt 22. 34-40
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Poet Anne Lamott suggested the key texture of daily living. She expressed it this way:

Try walking around with a child who’s going, “Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!” And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, “Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!” I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world–present and in awe.”1
Priest Ignatius of Loyola concurred that presence and awe are key to Christian living. For him presence and awe registered quietly. As a Jesuit novice I connected with him when he related a quiet experience of them.
The greatest consolation [Ignatius] received [when convalescing from his wounds] was from gazing at the sky and stars, and this he often did and for quite a long time. The result…was that he felt within himself a strong impulse to serve our Lord.2
I connected with him because I did that in my youth and still do. I was in awe the other night gazing at the stars; I was in awe as I was years ago.

Present and in awe describe moments in a conversion process. The child and parent poet Anne Lamott offered saw the world with clearer vision. The child saw with fresh, young eyes; the parent recovered that fresh, youthful vision. Christian conversion is vision that registers as relationship with Jesus, one’s companion and living Lord. Enjoying relationship with risen Jesus frees us to imitate him as our model. The pattern of his life becomes our pattern for living. The source of living his new life is Jesus: Jesus sharing his Spirit with us. Jesus’ Spirit empowers us to choose Jesus as our model.

Jesus did not allow his choices to be limited by the world and its allegiances. Choosing what is not limited by the world is difficult. First, we have to discern what is not readily available to our senses. Beyond that choosing what is not limited by the world or in sync with it is difficult because ridicule, hostile feelings, even persecution hover close. St. Paul expressed that with the word affliction: he reminded the Thessalonians they received the word of the gospel in great affliction. They chose to receive; and they received power to choose it and choose it again: they received the word of the gospel in great affliction by means of joy from the Holy Spirit.

Joy is one gift of Jesus’ Spirit given us. The Sacrament of Confirmation increases joy and all the Spirit’s gifts offered us.3 Confirmation also strengthens us to live as the Thessalonians: live the faith of Jesus and model it by word and action4 for others.

Another Confirmation-gift is key to its other gifts and to live baptism and its ongoing conversion: the spirit of wonder and awe in our triune God’s presence.5 This is no convenient echo of Poet Anne and Priest Ignatius. Jesus’ infuses our lives with his wonder and awe. When we reconnect with his wonder and awe we free ourselves to allow Jesus, his Father and their Spirit to touch us with their compassion and refashion us by it. By cultivating his wonder and awe in us we allow ourselves to grow more fascinated with Jesus accompanying us with compassion. Fascinated by the way Jesus accompanies and touches us frees us to extend to others his compassion to us. How to begin to grow more “present and in awe?” Take time to look at the stars, a cloud, a leaf, yourself, your spouse, your child, your parent, your sibling, your friend, your teacher, your colleague: look as if you are seeing for the first time. A great thing like reawakening to the spirit of wonder and awe in our triune God’s presence often has a modest beginning.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause in the company of our triune God creating you each moment.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for revealing to you the compassion of his Father and ours by the way he lived.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to reawaken to his Spirit-gift of the spirit of wonder and awe in his presence.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Pray it as he did: in wonder and awe in his Father’s presence. Wonder and awe are key to praying and to living the faith of Jesus each day as it unfolds.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. The Daily Dig 22 Oct 2014.
  2. A Pilgrims Journey, ed. Fr. Joseph N. Tylenda. Ignatius Press. 2009-07-06. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 576-578).
  3. Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 1303.
  4. CCC 1303.
  5. This final gift is prayed by the one who confirms. It may be found at CCC 1299.

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