Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday word, 27 Apr 14

Breathe On Me
Easter Sunday2 A (27 April 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Peter wrote his letter to Christians dispersed far and wide.1 By witnessing to Paschal Jesus he encouraged them and their faith.2 We are far from Jerusalem and the holy events of Jesus’ passion, dying and rising. Peter addresses us and our faith. We heard why: Peter desires us to enjoy genuine faith like the first and later friends of risen Jesus.

In the phrase, genuineness of your faith, genuine implies tested. Peter considered genuine faith’s vitality and value more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire. As a gift of Jesus’ Spirit faith cannot perish. Yet your personal faith and mine will whither if we do not cherish and cultivate it. Not a few things conspire so that we neither cherish nor cultivate it.

One conspirator is grief. It can isolate us from our faith. An example: A widowed spouse is sharply pained to be alone anywhere—church, too. Grief challenges faith. Widowed people let go their familiar way of being in the world to pass through and beyond grief and hold on to faith.

Today’s gospel is awash with grief. Grief choked the disciples after Jesus’ cruel death. Fear pulsed, too: the disciples wept and worried behind locked doors. Risen Jesus shattered their isolation.

When Jesus did that Thomas was not with them. It matters not why. He grieved, too. Was it survivor’s grief? Days before Jesus had decided to revisit the area around Jerusalem; its people had turned on him. Disciples tried to persuade Jesus not to go. Not Thomas. He was the one who had said, “Let us also go to die with him.”3 Jesus had died; Thomas survived. His grief pierced deeper because he had abandoned Jesus with the rest.

What changed the disciples from grief-racked, frightened individuals to the company of lively friends4 Jesus had invited together? He breathed on them. Breath for them evoked God. The disciples were steeped in their Jewish scriptures. At the beginning the Creator blew into the first human’s nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.5 Job, that embodiment of grief, proclaimed, “The spirit of God made me, the breath of the Almighty keeps me alive.6 The Fourth Evangelist shared that vivid imagery. He also discerned risen Jesus is the absolutely new creation, who recreates everyone, even those who think it hopeless or impossible. Jesus’ personal invitation to Thomas confirmed it. Jesus’ personal invitation—to Thomas and us—breathes his recreating Spirit of ever new, abundant and overflowing life.

Risen Jesus remained faithful to his disciples though they had not been faithful to him: they fled at his arrest. When he breathed on them his Spirit his disciples recovered their faith. Notice: Jesus was not with them in the familiar way they had enjoyed. Nor would Jesus stay with them bodily in his glorified way. He would abide with them by his Spirit. They had to keep connected with Jesus’ Spirit. They did so in four ways. Their ways forever shape us, the church.

Their first way was the breaking of bread and the prayers. For us that has grown to mean all the sacramental life of Jesus’ body, his church.

They shared their property and possessions so no one was in need. We practice Christian charity and service so need victimizes fewer people and all people may savor their human dignity.

Third was their regular gathering in the temple area. We are blessed with all St. Luke Parish offers. Our parish exists because we are here and keep it alive and thriving.

Last was exultation and sincerity of heart. Christians are joyful or they are not Christians.7 Love, joy, generosity…faithfulness are fruits8 of Jesus’ Spirit. He always breathes on us his Spirit.

We all tire; some of us grieve. Tired or grieving we may feel differently: I will give each a voice. 
“I’d rather not be in church”; or,
“I’d rather not be bothered to help the poor”; or,
“I don’t think today I’ll celebrate the Eucharist [or another sacrament]”; or
“I’ll be a sourpuss9 like my boss, my neighbor [add whomever you are around day to day].

Holding dear the ways the first disciples kept connected with risen Jesus’ Spirit, we can overcome our inertia of fatigue or grief. Holding dear their ways helps us appreciate sacraments, personal praying, Christian charity and regular communal worship for what they are: neither luxuries nor  add ons when convenient but ways to cherish and cultivate Jesus’ faith breathed into us. By faith we share his life-giving Spirit. His faith is genuine for his cross tested and proved it. By his resurrection it never perishes. Freely and reliably risen Jesus breathes his faith into us. We enjoy it as long as we cherish and cultivate it. In Sts. Popes John XXIII and John Paul II we have two intercessors from today forward to help us do those and “not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ.10

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Thomas to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for breathing on you to fill you with his Spirit.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to be like the disciples and work actively to stay connected with his Spirit.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Sincerely praying his prayer shapes us more as his joyful, generous, prayerful and sacramental sisters and brothers.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. 1Peter 1.1. This map helps us see “far and wide.”
  2. 1Peter 5.12.
  3. John 11.7 and 11.16.
  4. John 15.13-15.
  5. Genesis 2.7.
  6. Job 33.4.
  7. Of this Pope Francis is convinced.
  8. Galatians 5.22.
  9. The word summarizes “Christian faces have more in common with pickled peppers” (above note 7). It re-appeared to translate the same meaning in the pope’s recent Apostolic Exhortation.
  10. Pope Francis, Homily at their Canonization.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Eve of Two Saints

The popes who will be recognized tomorrow as saints have key things in common. Both lived through wars and oppressions; both sought peace, human dignity and freedom; nor was humor foreign to either. One began a council; the other sought to establish it in deed and fact.
    Last fall the U.S. bishops posted on their webpage a few points about their relationship. One was their relationship to the Second Vatican council: John XXIII its “instigator”; John Paul II its “codifier.

Wiki-mages of John XXIII and John Paul II PD-US

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

Among the global coverage and resources U.S. Catholic has posted a special section concerned with things environmental. The issues are many. Any help to sift through them and understand them better is worthwhile.
Wiki-mage of soldiers planting trees PD-USGov

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Octave

The 8-day Solemnity of Easter allows the staggering good news to enter ever deeper. Jesuit James Hanvey entitled his apt reflection, “Let Him Easter in Us.” Easter is Jesus’ gift not a problem for humans to solve.
Wiki-mage by Walters Art Museum of Crucifixion and Holy Women at the Tomb CC BY-SA 3.0

Saturday, April 19, 2014

No Interlude

Holy Saturday challenges everything. It is no mere in-between. Today is a mystery as much as Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesuit James Hanvey guides us through its “emptiness of waiting.” Only Jesus can “carry us over into Easter morning.”
Wiki-mage by Olybrius of Saint-Girons CC BY-SA 3.0

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pained Remembering

The African nation of Rwanda has recalled its genocide of 20 years ago. The desire to move forward exists. Some survivors have even sat down with some who killed their families. Can they coexist [links to 1-min. trailer of film with that title]? National Geographic dedicated a series to the past tragedy and the present. The third part is “Rwanda: The Art of Remembering and Forgetting.”
Wiki-mage by Adam Jones, Ph.D. of Genocide Memorial Church CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday word, 13 Apr 14

Mario Lanza and J.S. Bach
(While We Hail our King With Palm Branches)
Passion Sunday A (13 April 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
I wager Mario Lanza and J.S. Bach rarely appear in the same sentence. The composer Bach lived and died centuries before the tenor Lanza. Separated by time they had passion in common.

Mario was full-throated “When They Beg[a]n the Beguine.” He gave his love “Only a Rose”; he lent the “Desert Song” vocal passion that made it sound more an adventure than a dry, dusty, dangerous affair its lyrics suggested.

Bach’s passion was writing music. He gave scripture musical shape so we could feel its call and respond to it. Some of his cantatas thrill with the grandeur of God; others show me my shadow made bright in God’s grandeur.

We will hail Jesus as our King. We will recall his passion that followed after hosannas faded. By his music Bach helps us feel Jesus’ passion.1 Someone2 I met described it this way: The episodes of Jesus’ passion Matthew painted in words; Bach “record[ed] in music the impact of each episode on his mind.” I add, and heart: minds alone do not interpret God’s word or respond to it.

For Bach Jesus’ Passion3 was most real, most human. When Jesus will tell his disciples, Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, Bach’s music cues most frantic, frightened voices to deny, one following another, Surely not I Lord?4

Lent prepared us to face our heart’s frenzy and fear; to see ourselves as we are at this season of our lives. If anyone has slogged through Lent, close it and make room in your heart for our most holy, potent days ahead. If anyone began Lent late, you are not disgraced. Ask Jesus to help you admit what causes you to tremble and take energy from it and Jesus. If anyone has yet to begin Lent, do not be ashamed. Walk with Jesus or just stand with him in one moment of his Passion. Allow Isaiah, St. Paul and Matthew, whose words we will hear in a moment, to present you to Jesus.

Lent isn’t dry—we are. Lent has no dust—we do. Lent isn’t dangerous—we court danger. Lent has been our key to notice passion: our suffering; the suffering of others; and now the passion of our Love, Jesus our King.
Hosanna to the Son of David!

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Bach has helped us feel Jesus’ suffering as this familiar minute of passion attests.
  2. Paul Sevier Minear (†2007), Winkley Professor of Biblical Theology Emeritus, The Divinity School, Yale University, paid close attention to the way Bach (and other artists) interpreted Scripture. His “Matthew, Evangelist and Johann, Composer” appeared in Theology Today (30) 1973, pp. 243-55. He contributed to a symposium at Yale some years ago that focused on Bach’s Matthew’s Passion.
  3. This site sketches the history of setting the Passion to music.
  4. The voices sound at 1:16 in this 2-minute video portion of “St. Matthew’s Passion.” Text and translation.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Saint for the Frontiers

From its beginnings the Society of Jesus knew itself as going out to help. The 16th century Jesuit Jerónimo Nadal captured in five words its apostolic, international, mobile and mission-orientation: “The world is our house.”

At its 2008 35th General Congregation Pope Benedict reminded the Society that “the Church needs you, counts on you, and continues to turn to you with confidence, particularly to reach geographical and spiritual places others do not reach or find it difficult to reach.” In the Congregation’s documents the word “frontiers” embraced those places.

On 03 April Jesuit Blessed José de Anchieta was canonized. The fragile man had been known as the Apostle of Brazil and still is. The Society has another patron to intercede for its ongoing ministry to find and to serve new frontiers.
Wiki-mage by Gabrielt4e of statue of José de Anchieta CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday word, 06 Apr 2014

Felt-Knowing, Surging Wonder, Being Loved
Lenten Sunda5 A (06 April 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
If you want to have or give a short description of Scripture’s purpose, here’s one in nine words:

Scripture discloses God, present to the world, by humans.

The ways they disclose God are prophetic: not narrowly “to predict” but “to reveal,” to make known. Prophet means spokesperson.

They communicated in language and actions. Their language and actions dripped with vision, symbol, poetry, parable and myth. Jesus’ remark to his disciples captures those: I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening.1 We don’t think their way, why Scripture puzzles us to say the least. More important than our puzzling is this: by the visions the prophets beheld and heard they stood in heaven with their feet rooted on earth.

So it was for Ezekiel. God granted him a vision at the lowest point in Israel’s history. God showed him God would transform God’s defeated, deported people and give them new life. My people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Those words summarized the vision.

What was the vision? It inspired a song we know.

     Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
     Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
     Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
     Now hear the word of the Lord!

     Foot bone connected to the ankle bone
    Ankle bone connected to the leg bone
    Leg bone connected to the knee bone
    Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
    Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
    Hip bone connected to the back bone
    Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
    Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
    Neck bone connected to the head bone
  Now hear the word of the Lord!

   Dese bones, dese bones are gonna walk around.
  Dese bones, dese bones are gonna walk around.
  Dese bones, dese bones are gonna walk around.
  Now hear the word of the Lord!

No anatomy lesson for Ezekiel. He saw God’s promise. God’s promises are not ones of logic but of vision. Ezekiel believed God would bring them back and by God’s spirit give them life and purpose.

Temptations not to believe have always lurked among us. We heard in her grief Martha almost succumbed to them. The dead man’s sister, said to Jesus when he ordered Lazarus tomb opened, “Lord…there will be a stench; he has been dead four days.” Jesus said…“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” She saw!

Lazarus may have been the last “living dead” before Jesus. A vision of a valley of “living dead” with bones, sinews, flesh, skin, breath2 and lively purpose kept Martha and countless others awake not to slumber in disbelief. They were in awe of God’s life giving promises. Their awe and longing moved them to believe.

That word again: believe. To believe outstrips logic and mannered knowledge. Believing in Messiah Jesus is steeped in sacraments; it drips with vision, symbol, poetry, parable and his pattern of living. ‘I believe’ means I respond to God, to God who reveals and gives God’s self to me.3 Response language is relationship language. It speaks being touched, moved, grasped, renewed; it is the heart’s felt-knowing, surging wonder, being loved. Because it is relational it is personal. It is never private. No prophetic visions are given to a person as private property. They give access to God, who always invites others to respond to God’s life and love.

The church of Jesus—you and I—will soon recall his passion and death with deep devotion. Will we be awake with wonder and emotion at what Jesus did for each of us and all people? Will we stay connected with his dying for our very lives? That is our outlandish good news. “Outlandish” for it defies our logic. “Good” because it is the vision our triune God has had for us before time began.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Lazarus to present you to Jesus. He gave Lazarus a new lease on life and new purpose to live it.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for you; allow yourself to feel touched, moved, grasped, renewed or loved by his passion for you.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to respond more freely to him in others.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, lead us not into temptation on our lips, are not limited to wrong actions. They beg to live awake by Jesus’ vision and to share it by our lives.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Luke 10.18.
  2. Ezekiel 37.7-10.
  3. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 26.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Everyone Is Fed

The Easter homily attributed to St. John Chrysostom emphatically welcomes all to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus: “Whoever may be spent by fasting, enjoy now your reward. …[yet] If any of you have arrived even at the eleventh hour, do not be dismayed for being late them not fear on account of tardiness.” [Video of full homily] Such hope for latecomers!

For any starting Lent late, Jesuit Nicholas King recently noted that the “strength of fasting [helps avoid the] danger of drifting into putting that at the centre of our lives which is not God, and some kind of postponement (or even cancellation) of satisfaction can be a powerful statement of who and what our God really is.”
Wiki-mage by Thomas Bresson of crescent moon CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Never Seen ’Til Now

Ten years in the making is the 360º view at the edge of the Milky Way. Andrew Fazekas offered a post about the project. The video gives both a view and more facts.