Sunday, February 08, 2015

Sunday word, 08 Feb 15

Jesus: God’s Good News, Our Good News
Fifth Sunday of the Year B (08 Feb 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

The church desires Catholics to hear more selections from scripture when we worship. To help us do that the church redesigned its books of scripture selections used at worship. We hear more scripture than Catholics did 50 years ago but nothing near all of it. The Book of Job highlights that. The Book of Job has just over a 1000 verses. On Sundays we hear only 11 of them—every three years! We just heard half of them for the year.1

The six verses of the Book of Job the church offers us are important. I suggest two things: today’s verses recommend we be real; and being real includes eagerly inviting Jesus to accompany our living. First, Job.

Who cannot identify with Job? Who of us has never felt one’s life on earth [is] a drudgery? Who has never voiced Job’s sentiment one time or another? Who hasn’t felt some days that our expected work and responsibilities weigh on us; that their pressure makes us feel we are hirelings, even enslaved? Who hasn’t had a sleepless, troubled night? Whose nights—not to mention some days—have not dragged on one time or another? Who does not long for hope, varieties of goodness2 and meaning? Job described our humanity when he bemoaned a moment in his life.

We identify with Job because we are human. The absence of hope, goodness and meaning, as well as our longing for them on the best days: their absence and our longing for them are part of being alive. The absence of hope, goodness and meaning gnaw at our deepest selves before we are aware of it. Our longing for hope, goodness and meaning clothes us with our humanity.

The few verses from the Book of Job call us to be realistic; to admit human longing and human suffering are real for us and everyone. Human longing and human suffering belong to daily living. Though they are not physical, hope, goodness, meaning are real. They describe our spirit.

Each of us is body and spirit. The body is readily available; the spirit is not. We often talk about our spirit with physical imagery; even as we do we know our imagery doesn’t entirely capture spirit. If Job crisply listed symptoms of our suffering, the Psalmist diagnosed us with a word: brokenhearted. The Psalmist also summarized the condition of each and everyone: we all have wounds.

Into our wounded confusion Jesus came to heal us. Jesus came to heal us as one of us. Jesus knew confusion as we do: when hope begins to vanish; when joy bows to sadness; and when fading hope and flustered joy undermine meaningful living. St. Paul experienced risen Jesus rescue him and restore meaning, hope and joy to his living. Risen Jesus was good news to Paul. Don’t let good news, ring trite; replace it with gospel. Yes, it means good news. Gospel is less about Jesus; it is Jesus! God’s good news for all.

St. Paul modeled keeping Jesus in our lives. Preaching Jesus did that for him. He preached Jesus, as he said, so I may have a share in Jesus. To share in Jesus is to share his mission. Jesus joined us to announce the reign of God was now active among us; to cure diseases; and to drive out demons. In a time when we control diseases and even let some out of our control, Jesus driving out demons can distract us from reality. We humans are wounded in body—diseases; that’s plain enough. Our spirits are also wounded. In scripture demons name powers that hurt our inmost selves. Those powers still exist. Detecting them is less easy than many diseases. Jesus came for the sake of all in our total humanity, body and spirit.

Sharing Jesus is not private. Our deeply personal sharing in Jesus heals; it also hands us our mission. We know God’s creation will be restored as a new heaven and a new earth.3 Our expectation of a new earth…stimulate[s] our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now points to the present dawning of the new age.4 Jesus began it and continues it with us and through us so everyone may enjoy renewed hope, deeper joy and lives full of meaning.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the creative love of our triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul and your patron saint to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for announcing the reign of God unfolding among us and for healing our complete selves; thank Jesus for inviting us to share his mission.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to invite him more eagerly into your life and accompany you each moment.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, thy kingdom come, do not deprive us of wholesome living nor erase any confusion or anxiety we suffer. Jesus’ words remind us we are not totally self-sufficient. To pray, thy kingdom come, opens us to invite into our lives the one who embodies God’s kingdom and welcomes us in it—Jesus our savior.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Statistics for Roman Catholic lectionaries; selections of scriptures on given Sundays.
  2. The word, we translate with happiness, includes hospitality, loyalty, old age, beauty, excellence. For more of its expansive meaning.
  3. Revelation 21.1; 2Peter 3.13.
  4. Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World, ¶39.


Wiki-images: Job by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing CC BY-SA 3.0Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law PD-US

No comments: