Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bearings Readjusted

Landlubbers can walk along a port and become disoriented. Coastal dwellers ought not to gloat. They may not really know what lay directly across the ocean—according to Web Cartographer Andy Woodruff. Sure to surprise is what lay “Beyond the Sea.”  
Wiki-image of Hafen und Felsen von Monaco-La Turbie by Tobi87 CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday word, 24 Apr 16

Reclaiming Now
Fifth Sunday of Easter C (24 Apr 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More than four centuries of scientific imagination and thought have shaped us. Scientific imagination and thought have let us progress and enjoy the ways we live today. One cost of scientific thinking to our deep, true selves affects the way we decide what is real. We consider —without second thoughts—that what is real is what we can see, hold, count and measure in all sorts of ways. We may call it out-there, outside-me view of the world.

I hear someone say, “That’s true, and there’s more.” Absolutely! Our interior selves, our spirits live. Yet we cannot extract our desires, our loves, our temptations, our courage, our hopes, our patience, our fidelity, our endurance, our generosity. We cannot extract them or any other interior feature, put them on a table and dissect them. In our honest moments we readily name as real features of our interior selves.

Our exalted Messiah, Jesus, is real now. Jesus lives now; Jesus is present among us now. Our exalted Messiah Jesus is a living presence; Jesus is more real than anything we can see, hold, count or measure. Our gospel selection expressed that briskly: Now is the Son of Man glorified. Jesus’ glorification and exaltation did not remove Jesus from us; Jesus abides with us by his holy Spirit. Jesus’ Spirit is our Christian energy; his Spirit makes effective our Christian witness.

Our scientific imagination desires to hear nowNow is the Son of Man glorified—as the report of Jesus’ words in the past. His exalted glory is present not past. The church invited us as mass began to enter his real present: Almighty ever-living God, constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us. The church comfortably refers to Jesus’ dying and rising: now and not confined to the past. His paschal mystery is now, among us. Our exalted Messiah Jesus speaks to us as he spoke to John on Patmos: Behold, I make all things new.

All things includes us. Our triune God has a purpose in making new: the rest of our first prayer at mass expressed God’s purpose and included us in it: that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism may, under your protective care, bear much fruit [on our way] to the joys of life eternal. The fruit we bear is our virtuous action on behalf of others. The fruit we bear Jesus’ Spirit makes effective even if we do not see its results. Our Christian actions bear fruit when we love as Jesus loved us. Christian love is open hearted, open handed; its focus is others not self. Christian love renews us and our world. We are made new each time our Christian love deepens and grows more committed. Others begin to be transformed when they experience that deep love, faithful love is possible.

Next time any of us is tempted to think Jesus is a dead person in the past, remember God…constantly [desires to] accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us. Constantly means now, every now of our lives.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for abiding with us even when we are unaware he accompanies us; thank him for the privileged way he abides with us in his sacraments and shares his exalted life with us.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live out the life he offers you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, thy will be done, beg God constantly [to] accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Wiki-image: The last sermon of our Lord PD-US Sacrament of Jesus’ Love PD-US

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Guardian Op Ed

Yesterday Peter Ormerod offered an opinion that appeared in the Guardian. Life in an imperfect world demands endlessly sifting among choices. At times prudent choices are not always beyond the human imperfections. One of them finds fault with every choice.

Mr. Ormerod reflected on Pope Francis’ “gesture” to provide homes for three Syrian refugee-families: “I’d like to say to the naysayer: …beware of creating a culture in which the rewards are greater for doing nothing bad than they are for doing something good.” 
Wiki-image of Coat of Arms of Pope Francis by Stemma del Santo Padre Francesco CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday word, 17 Apr 16

Already and Not Yet
Fourth Sunday of Easter C (17 Apr 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The opening verses of the Fourth Gospel begin the gospel in a poetic way. The verses describe Jesus as the Word of God;1 Jesus is God’s only begotten son;2 Jesus both revealed God3 and offered life;4 Jesus continues to reveal God and offer life by his Spirit. The same verses also work as a table of contents for the gospel: later chapters expand the gospel’s opening images and convictions.

Today’s gospel selection highlighted Jesus as giver of life. Jesus gives no ordinary life but eternal life. We may quickly think “everlasting,” but the point is not time but a share in divine life. Jesus can give it because Jesus was in the beginning with God5—a cue from the gospel’s table of contents. Jesus words in today’s gospel echo that conviction: The Father and I are one.” 

Jesus words, I give them eternal life, express a second conviction, and it involves us. It involves us because I give is present—now. We already share the divine life risen Jesus offers. None of us needs anyone to tell us that our present share in divine life is partial. We are well aware the effects of sin limit us and all creation. Yet our present share in divine life begins with our desire to know6 and welcome Jesus into our lives. Our share in worship and the sacraments and our belief in his name give us new life as children of God,7 short-hand for being reborn by God.8

Jesus encouraged his first disciples and us with a promise: our already-share in his life can let us enjoy security. We may not readily hear his promise for his imagery of shepherd and sheep is not familiar to us as it was to his first hearers: no one will ever snatch them out of my hand. The word in the Fourth Gospel the lectionary translates with take. Take is neutral; Jesus’ suggested violent grasping. Ancient sheep had human and, more often, animal enemies that overpowered them. Jesus and his life given us are more powerful—even though appearances may suggest otherwise.

Along with our already-share in God’s life is a promised not yet. The community of the Book of Revelation  expressed both. It already shared God’s life as we do. Many were discriminated against and persecuted for it. Their share in divine life would not be snuffed out even if their human lives were violently ended. The Book of Revelation expressed its conviction about the security of Jesus’ life given them could not be undone. Although a great tribulation appeared to annihilate them, Jesus, the Lamb who had suffered the tribulation of his cross, will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water. In other words, Jesus would raise them to absolutely new and indestructible life like his.

In my honest moments I wonder how well I rely on the security our Good Shepherd offers; am I aware that I share already the eternal life Jesus offers? Pope St. Leo offered practical advice to face my wondering and my question: “I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action.”9 Cultivating our relationship with Jesus helps us love Jesus, our living Messiah.

By “action” St. Leo meant all the ways we embody our love for Jesus and imitate him as our model, the ways we allow Jesus’ Spirit to guide our lives in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.10 How might we do that? Begin anew each day and desire to know and welcome Jesus into our lives; share in worship and the sacraments; live in ways that respect others, protect them and creation; and act in peace to build peace. Our already is not less important than our promised not yet. Living our already is path and door to our promised future.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: Praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for how he guides you, gives you life and nourishes you with his risen life.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live out the life he offers you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It unites us with Jesus and shapes us more like him.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday word, 10 Apr 16

Staying Visible
Third Sunday of Easter C (10 Apr 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Simon Peter and the beloved disciple are main characters in the second half of the Fourth Gospel. After they ran to the empty tomb and looked inside they did not understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then they went home.1 That phrase left me empty: they went home. What did they do after that? Mary of Magdala then Thomas took center stage. Simon Peter and the beloved disciple don’t appear by name until the last chapter.

If they disappeared to their homes, and that was that, I would feel let down by the Fourth Gospel. But they do reappear. Not only that! They at last recognize risen Jesus. First, the beloved disciple: it is the Lord! he cried out while in a boat with Peter. Then Peter hurriedly swam ashore to be with risen Jesus.

The scene on the shore lets Peter put behind him his triple denial of Jesus on Good Friday. Risen Jesus helped him by asking Peter to reaffirm his love for Jesus. Jesus broadened Peter’s love: his faithful friendship would remain true—and indeed flower—when Peter included others in it: Feed my lambs and sheep.

Nourishing faith is the goal of the Fourth Gospel: that each person may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing…have life in his name.2 Living faith, faith in action is how we Christians are most visible in our world. When we do not live our faith we may as well return home—or worse disappear. The world is not better off when we make that choice.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Simon Peter and the beloved disciple to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: Praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for how he gives you life and nourishes you with his risen life.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to continue to put your faith in him in action.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is our roadmap both to welcome Jesus’ risen life and to share it with others and deepen their belief.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. John 20.9-10.
  2. John 20.31.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Sunday word, 03 Apr 16

Faith Is Relationship
Second Sunday of Easter C (03 Apr 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Every three years the second reading at Sunday masses in the Easter Season is from the Book of Revelation. It is not about dating the end of the world. The Book of Revelation is about seeing: it is a graced vision of heaven given one early scriptural witness. That witness’ vision is not only a revelation about Messiah Jesus; his vision reveals him: “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.” The Eucharist, part of Easter’s sacramental trio with baptism and confirmation, nourishes this vision and deepens it in Christians who let it. To see with the scriptural witness is to soak ourselves in his vision. It consoles and comforts despite all contrary to it around us: war; hunger; pestilence; disease; racism; poverty—and fears we hesitate to name.

Living the vision has always challenged—the first disciples as well as us. Risen Jesus, the Living One, appeared to his disciples: they did not rejoice for long; they remained behind locked doors. When they let in Thomas, is it any wonder he disbelieved them? Is it any wonder that Risen Jesus, oncedead, but nowalive forever and ever, shakes and shatters all we call real?

What the disciples considered real caused them deep suffering—death took from them their Teacher. Risen Jesus came to console them: with not a word about their betrayal by not standing with him. John wrote down his vision to comfort those who suffered for believing in risen Jesus, he who is alive forever and ever. Not to entrust ourselves to risen Jesus is suffering: it is not what first comes to mind when we consider it. Consider again: probably everyone of us has experienced some sort of grief. It stabs us and warps us in manifold ways. Keeping risen Jesus away from us—or worse, letting him be an idea, however pious—draws us closer to the first disciples than we may imagine.

If we are like the first disciples in their grief, is it impossible to be like them and receive the Spirit of risen Jesus? Receiving is the operative word. Everything the first Christians enjoyed—all the ways they had been touched, transformed and empowered—they received as risen Jesus’ gift to them. Everything they enjoyed was undeserved, unearned; and more real! They gave themselves to risen Jesus and his Spirit-gifts. They cultivated and nourished what they received. For generations of Christians down to us it has been so.

Receiving, giving, entrusting nourishing: they describe humans relating to one another. Christian faith is relationship with the Source of life. How might faith register in us? Let me suggest three ways: freedom; peace; witness.

Freedom. Risen Jesus embodies our triune God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit and their living love overflowing in creation. Jesus reveals the Trinity holds the keys to death and the nether-world. Neither image is close to us; yet keys evoke release, freedom to live. Do we believe risen Jesus frees us from death, creates us for life? Does our relationship with risen Jesus shape how we choose, act and breathe our faith-commitment to him? The more it does, the more free we are as his disciples today. Being Christian disciples responds to being touched, transformed, empowered by our crucified and risen Messiah.

Peace. Jesus often encouraged,“Do not be afraid.” He offered deep, interior peace which much frustrates and crushes. On Patmos risen Jesus spoke his familiar words to John with a gesture. John wrote: He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. Jesus touched him, who had fallen down before him. Jesus’ touch embraced John in Jesus’ indestructible life. The gospel expressed this with another gesture and words: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, [Jesus] breathed on them. Do our choices, our actions, each breath let others feel we have been embraced in risen Jesus’ life?

Witness. Embraced by risen Jesus’ indestructible life does not leave us feeling smug or locked in ourselves or our trusted groups. Embraced by risen Jesus’ indestructible life issues in mission. Jesus desires us who know him to know him better so we may proclaim him and his life with our lives: in our relationships, choices, actions and each breath we take. That is Christian witness, testimony to Jesus. It is not always easy, and is itself a choice. At times proclaiming God’s word hurts. Jesus warned that experiences of suffering mark the Christian life. No less real is having no commitment and  its fog that darkens daily living.

Relationship with risen Jesus causes us to shine. It registers as freedom, peace and Christian witness. Faith is not theory but our way of living. We live because Jesus creates us and all people. His recreating dispels fear so we may live peacefully. Jesus includes us in his mission so others may come to know him intimately. The newly initiated among us remind us that cultivating a devoted relationship with Jesus is a lifelong choice.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask John on Patmos to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: Praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for his patient attention to you and for the ways he touches you with his risen life.
  • Ask Jesus, the one who lives, for grace to be alert to his presence in your distress as well as joy; and for endurance to be his disciple in our world today.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It shapes us to offer peace with generosity rather than fear. That is the finest way we testify to our risen Messiah.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise