Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday word, 25 Jan 15

Everything for Jesus
Third Sunday of the Year B (25 Jan 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A real estate maxim extols the virtue of place: Location is everything. Location is not only for brokers of real estate1 or of the stock market.2 Catholic worship locates scripture passages through the liturgical year. A first reaction at hearing Jonah appeal to the people of Nineveh to repent and Jesus begin his ministry the same way might be that these scriptures befit Lent. Placing them early in the Sundays of the Year the church assures us that repentance and conversion have no single season. Indeed, both are daily decisions.

Decision is what Jesus wanted when he walked the earth. Decision is what Jesus wants from each of us—daily and not just at a certain time of year or a season in our lives. Jesus wanted then and wants us now to decide for him. What does it mean to decide for Jesus? Consider our decision to cultivate friendship with someone; or consider the decision to love another who also pledges to love in mutual and lasting fidelity…in good times and in bad.3 When couples decide to espouse themselveswhen we decide to befriend others: we decide in favor of the person and for what the person hopes and envisions. So with Jesus.

Jesus announced the time of fulfillment; Jesus also embodied it and modeled it. And not by accident! The fulfillment answered prayer, especially King David’s priestly prayer:
Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.4
Not only prayer; prophecy, too. Prophets had voiced God would gather the people. Two examples:
Gather my loyal ones to me, those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice5; and 
the Lord God…who gathers the dispersed of Israel; others will I gather to them besides those already gathered.6
Jesus began God’s gathering. He began it by calling all to him. He started with his people, Israel. He made it clear that gathering those others keep at the margins—the poor, the captives, the blind, those oppressed in any way—happened because of him: Today [that very prophecy] is fulfilled in your hearing.7 Jesus also gathered others; they were not of his people yet lived in awe of God. Scripture’s word for living in awe of God is faith. Jesus was open to and amazed at others whose faith allowed God to gather them.8

All who gave themselves to Jesus decided they saw in him the fulfillment of God’s promises to gather God’s people. They deeply longed for their fulfillment. Their longing opened their eyes, their memories and their hearts to Jesus as he made the promises come to pass. Each day Jesus invites you and me to decide for him and all he desires: to gather us and all people into God’s realm.

God’s realm is no place but a way of living. God’s realm is, St. Paul urged, a matter of…righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit.9 We heard moments ago St. Paul shared Jesus’ urgency about godly living: time is running out. For us today their urgency is not about the world’s end. It is about deciding for Jesus and living our decision.

On generations down to ours God showers great patience. God’s patience in no way minimizes Jesus’ longing that we decide for him and for all he desires. We know God’s patience because Jesus demonstrated it. God’s patience gives us chances to decide for Jesus. Some may decide for Jesus for the first time. More of us may decide yet again for him. Deciding for Jesus offers new hope and new courage to align our choices and actions with Jesus’ heart. We know choices and actions speak more eloquently than words.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the love of our triune God.
  • Ask Jonah, St. Paul or your patron saint to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for proclaiming the gospel for you; thank Jesus for gathering you into the life he shares with his Father and Holy Spirit.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to free you to let your life draw others to him.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ gave us his prayer to help us decide for Jesus each day. His prayer guides us in practical ways so our decisions share his heart, his life and his mission for the sake of the world. in the love of our triune God.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. An exchange at
  2. An entry at
  3. One option from the Rite of Marriage.
  4. 1Chronicles 16.35.
  5. Psalm 50.5.
  6. Isaiah 56.8.
  7. Luke 4.21.
  8. A centurion’s faith amazed Jesus.
  9. Romans 14.17.
Wiki-images: Jonah speaking God’s message by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing CC BY-SA 3.0; The Calling of James and John PD-US

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