Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday word, 25 Oct 15

Allowing Mystery to Embrace
Thirtieth Sunday of the Year B (25 Oct 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Letter to the Hebrews is not read often. Major parts of it are read from beginning to end on autumn Sundays every three years. Liturgy does not expose us often to its praise of Jesus as human and divine, crucified and exalted into God’s presence. Hebrews relies on imagery little used by us moderns, especially religious sacrifice and suffering. Sacrifice feels alien to us; suffering we equate with evil. Yet with religious sacrifice and suffering Hebrews portrays Jesus as high priest. In the gospels Jesus said he would suffer.

Our Sundays have been given to Mark’s gospel most of this year. We heard Jesus speak of his suffering: he would suffer before his resurrection; suffering was the way to his resurrection and life in God’s presence. That harmony—that the Jesus of the Letter to the Hebrews is in sync with the Jesus of the gospels—that harmony suggests we try to enter as best we can the mystery of our high priest Jesus, human and divine, crucified and exalted into God’s presence for us.

The Christian truth is that Jesus is our mystery. Does that mean Jesus is far removed from us? No. Think of those we know well. We never have others all figured. We may think we do; then others surprise us by a quality or behavior not in character with the person we know. Every person, even those to whom we are close, is a mystery. So is Jesus. Jesus’ way of being with us and for us is by Holy Spirit. His Spirit surprises often those who open their hearts to Jesus. 

Letting ourselves be embraced by the mystery who is Jesus challenges our active, take-charge and get-it-done selves. Letting ourselves be embraced by the mystery who is Jesus allows Jesus to befriend us, to call us and free us from what warps us and constrains our freedom. It lets us enter his mission. It is easy to move through life in our active, take-charge and get-it-done ways to shape and try to carry out our missions. The Christian vocation seeks to put our energy and our talents at the service of Jesus’ mission. Baptism and Confirmation sustained by the Eucharist gives each of us an active role in Jesus’ mission.

Jesus called everyone to join him. Jesus desired all who joined him use their various talents to extend his gospel. The more we embrace Jesus, our high priest, the more we share his Gospel spirit.1 Gospel spirit gives mission drive to the Christian way of being in the world.

The personal decision is a daily one: do I want to live by Jesus’ Gospel spirit? Much can blind Christians to our daily decision. Desiring daily to embrace Jesus and welcome his Gospel spirit as fuel for living is our first step to being his witnesses for others and for their salvation.2

Bartimaeus is a good intercessor for us. His begging life could have dulled his desire to see. Bartimaeus knew what he wanted from Jesus; no one could silence him. When Jesus healed him Bartimaeus joined Jesus on Jesus’ way, Jesus’ mission.

Blindness can be inward. My desire to embrace Jesus and welcome his Gospel spirit may be dulled by busy time, distractions, temptation, even sin. Personal praying, communal worship, celebrating the sacraments and staying in tune with the church: those activities fire our desire to know Jesus better as our high priest, our savior who longs for our company and our efforts to extend his gospel.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Become aware of the Divine Persons embracing you in love.
  • Ask Bartimaeus to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for being our high priest—not for honor but to save us for his gospel and life with God.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to enkindle your desire to know him more closely. 
  • Close by saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. It summarizes Jesus’ life, the gospel spirit and the gospel way of living.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Vatican II, Decree on the Apostolate of the Lay Faithful, 2. 
  2. Decree on the Apostolate of the Lay Faithful, 2.
Wiki-images: Jesus giving sight to Bartimaeus PD-US Pilgrim's Way by Oliver Dixon CC BY-SA 2.0

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