Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday word, 27 Sep 15

“Missionary of Mercy”
Twenty-sixth Sunday of the Year B (27 Sep 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Watching Pope Francis on our soil confirmed again for me that he is a living homily. Even his silence speaks. Homilies seek to stir hearts as much as deepen knowledge of faith. Hearts, after all, move us to do what we know. Francis’ authentic actions people feel. He stirs hearts. Many of us have heard other Christians and non-believers say, “I like your pope.” Francis stirs hearts longing for “renewal and growth.”1

Francis also encourages: several times he used the word in his remarks last week! Francis encourages us to enact the gospel joyfully. Open hearts and minds experience joy. Closed minds and hearts are unable to welcome joy; nor can they welcome others. Closed, narrow minds and hearts endanger even the church.

Two years ago Francis noted, “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.”2 That is nothing new. Even Moses had to put up with narrow-mindedness. God’s spirit chose not to be limited and contained only by the legitimate helpers of Moses. By God’s power and gift others joined Moses as God’s mouthpieces. A young man quickly told Moses two others had begun to prophesy. Moses was neither defensive nor anxious over rules. He responded that he and all God’s people could use every help possible: Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!

Narrow minds deafened the disciples to Jesus’ words that his mission included suffering unto death. Their narrow-mindedness led them to feel exclusive as Jesus’ comrades. They heard Jesus tell scores of people that kingdom living included showing mercy as mercy was shown them. When someone unknown to the disciples did a mighty work of mercy in the name of Jesus they tried to prevent him—to limit and contain God’s mercy. Jesus had released it in a new, powerful, authentic way, and his disciples wanted to control God’s mercy that Jesus showered on all!

To shower mercy flowed from a conviction Jesus held; it coursed through him as blood in his veins and air in his lungs. Jesus showered mercy because he was convinced a way back is possible for all. To people aware they have strayed far or a bit do not sin again3 are words enough. When sin grips and blinds people more words, direct words free them and restore vision—like those James leveled at those imprisoned in their greed: [Your corroded wealth] will devour your flesh like fire.

Pope Francis is convinced sin seeks to grip him and all; he encourages that we need help to keep free of it. Even when sin tarnishes our freedom Francis is convinced a return to freedom is possible. So convinced he stamps his mission with God’s mercy. As “missionary of mercy”4 Francis shines brighter light on the gift of freedom regained. Mercy expands minds and hearts; heals division; strengthens the weak; and renews our compassion.

The pope’s visits offer many things. He always extends the mercy of God in Jesus by Holy Spirit. Untold numbers welcome his offer. Their welcome recommends we pray for it: pray to welcome God’s mercy more readily. It may be the most transforming prayer anyone makes.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Moses, who desired God’s people all be prophets, to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for his goodness to you.
  • Ask him, “Help me be your prophetic voice and your disciple of mercy in all I do and say.”
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave his prayer to shape us as servants of God’s mercy who unite heaven and earth and human minds, hearts and lives.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. His August 2013 interview to Jesuit journals.
  2. John 5.14; 8.11.
  3. His motto as he set out for Cuba before visiting the United States.

Wiki-images: Moses, Aaron and the Elders PD-US  Girl drinking by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade CC BY-SA 2.0

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