Friday, July 29, 2016

Daily word, 29 Jul 16

St. Martha, Memorial (29 Jul 2016) Jer 26. 1-9; Ps 69; Jn 11. 19-27
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario
8-day Retreats: Brother Son, Sister Soil (Ecology); Directed; Private 
Our Resolve
The responsorial psalm conjured desperate circumstances. Desperate circumstances prompt a demanding plea for help. The Psalmist often pleaded desperately. Martha did as well. Her Mediterranean indirect way may prevent us from hearing what Jesus heard. Jesus heard this in Martha’s voice: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know God will grant whatever you ask. Get on with your asking! Get on with it!”

In our ways we made our pleas these days. We received various graces—our shares in God’s life given us now. We came needing quiet. Some also needed nearness to sun, soil, plants and trees. Others came to the quiet to be more aware or newly aware of our triune God alive in us and for us. This place welcomed all of us to lay our pleas before our triune God.

We leave enlightened by God as we have needed and desired God’s living light. We may be aware of ourselves in new ways. We may leave with a holy awareness that our earth-home is desperate—the widely broadcast and printed phrase, “earth’s tipping point,” comes to mind; Pope Francis has expressed it more sharply: earth is at its “breaking point.”1 We may leave with a new or renewed sense of self, of purpose, of our missions to the world and being accompanied by our triune God.

We more readily notice God present in our spiritual consolations. Our spiritual desolations and their darknesses cannot keep out God-for-us. They cannot blind us to God present for us unless we let them. Bathed in spiritual con-solations or shrouded awhile in spiritual desolations our directors have helped us appreciate and savor wealth of life the Trinity lavishes on us.

Wealth of life the Trinity lavishes on us:

  • How will we spend it?
  • How will we put it to use for the sake of others and of creation?

God shares God’s life with us to heal and empower us to share it everywhere we find ourselves: busy or resting; weeping or laughing; quiet or conversing; considering; acting; dreaming and more awake. Our answers to how we will spend the wealth the Trinity lavishes on us are each one’s resolve.

Enacting our resolves lets us embody graces given and received. Whichever one’s style of retreat—on one’s own in silence; traditional directed; or letting the earth move us more in sync with God’s heart and desires—we return home differently and equipped to affect it differently. Each is true because our risen Messiah Jesus has met us and entrusted to us his message of abundant life2—even life from death! We are more effective messengers when our believing overflows with awesome wonder at how Messiah Jesus has met us and continues coming into the world through us.

As you return and at home let St. Martha model uncomplicated faith and trust in Messiah Jesus. She showed that living uncomplicated faith and trust in Messiah Jesus is for grownups—for us! Fashion your faith on hers. Uncomplicated faith and trust in Messiah Jesus free us to embody his life-giving good news and share with our world his good news it so desperately needs.

  1. Laudato Si’ 61.
  2. John 10.10.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday word, 10 Jul 16

Following Hearts
Fifteenth Sunday of the Year B (10 Jul 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

For a long while I heard today’s gospel unaware of a few features. They helped me appreciate the parable that may be the most moving Jesus told. The features are: locale; motive; and humane. First, locale.

The exchange between the scholar of God’s law and Jesus happened in Samaria. Not long before in the gospel Jesus had begun to make his way to Jerusalem. He chose to pass through one of its towns, but the Samaritans refused to let him.1 Samaria was the locale in which Jesus told his parable as he traveled.

Travel in Jesus’ world was not impossible. The Romans maintained a vast network of roads; some were dangerous. In the locale of Samaria hilly roads ascending to Jerusalem were lonely. Robbers patrolled them—Jesus was not being fanciful. Organized villains were common—gangs, gets at Jesus’ meaning.

The second feature is motive. In that risky territory the scholar of God’s law approached Jesus with a hostile heart: he stood up to test Jesus. Making distinctions in God’s law had become more important than God’s desires to many religious professionals by Jesus’ time. I suppose they thought it an art; sadly their practice wounded many innocent, good-hearted and generous people. When the scholar’s test ended so quickly he kept the spotlight on him: he wanted to justify himself. He asked Jesus his question, Who is my neighbor? His question points to the third feature: being humane.

We could leave worship today thinking the man who fell victim to robbers was saved by someone with nothing to lose: the Samaritan did not have to worry about ritual purity as the priest and Levite did. But that misses Jesus’ intent. He had affirmed the scholar’s insistence that loving God and loving humans were one love: do [so] and you will live, Jesus told him. The Samaritan risked losing his life when he chose not to pass by on the opposite side as the other travelers had. Robbers could have waited for someone to get a closer look at the dying man. More, the Samaritan traveler was moved with compassion when he saw the man lying there. Those who were part of God’s people, heirs of the covenant—represented by priest and Levite—seemed to have lost their humane and human selves: intense suffering left them unmoved: the man was naked, beaten and half-dead!

Acting in humane ways flows from our hearts. God’s desire for us to be in covenant-relationship with God is within us. Christian love does not pick and choose. Every human is our opportunity to love God or ignore God. That is true for every Christian wherever we may be. Other motives outside us may paralyze our hearts: no keen sense that friends of Jesus show God love by sincerely responding to others; the world’s motive to get ahead may overwhelm our Christian senses; or we may allow fear to inhibit responses our hearts truly desire. Acting in humane ways flows from our hearts. As Moses reminded, we have only to carry it out. I dare add this: asking for grace to make our hearts freer allows us to carry out God’s desires today.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest our triune God.
  • Ask the Good Samaritan to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for inviting us to join him as ambassadors of his healing love.
  • Ask him for grace to make our hearts more supple and free.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It reminds us that we exercise our hearts to grow like Jesus’ heart in little ways as well as ones of greater moment.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Luke 9.51-53; the beginning of the gospel two weeks ago.


Monday, July 04, 2016

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Sunday word, 03 Jul 16

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year B (03 Jul 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Jesus and the 70 disciples were in hostile territory, Samaria. The Samaritans had just refused Jesus direct passage through them to Jerusalem.1 Sending them into hostile territory explains Jesus’ insistence that they travel light. It also held genuine possibility that people who heard them proclaim the kingdom of God would refuse to listen to the disciples as they refused and rejected Jesus; they could even harm them.

This hostile situation helps us appreciate what Jesus told them on their return: I saw Satan as he fell, like a bolt of lightening from the sky. Did Jesus speak figuratively? Did Jesus mean exactly what he said? Does Satan continue to fall?

It suits our modern sesnsiblititites to say that scripture is more figurative than real. We are comfortable with facts and not as comfortable with truth. We even limit truth to facts. If we can’t measure a thing, we may safely discount it. In our honest moments, though, we know facts do not have so much power. When we fell in love, facts were not the reason. In our honest moments, we admit facts alone cannot fulfill our deep longings. In our honest moments, we admit however much Jesus and his kingdom proclamation confuses or confounds us, we continue to worship him and long for him.

Our honest awareness points to much more than figurative language on the part of Jesus and his disciples down the ages to this moment. Jesus did see Satan fall; Satan fell already before time. Scripture speaks of time past, time present and time to come. God evicted Satan from the realm of God—what scripture communicates by the sky. In the present of Jesus and his disciples, Satan fell because of they proclaimed what Jesus did, the kingdom of God, and healed in his name. Since the disciples, every action on behalf of God’s kingdom and in Jesus’ name has caused Satan to fall. In word every action on behalf of God’s kingdom and in Jesus’ name continues God’s war on the enemy of our human nature.

The risks to the disciples highlight that their action was other-centered. Life of the kingdom of God now has the same contour. The enemy of our human nature is self-centered and seduces us to put ourselves at the center. Perhaps the most exhausting and riskiest front in God’s war is trying to be other-centered. Traveling light, as the disciples were advised to do, may mean for us to choose to live in ways that do not attach to things; instead we put them to use for ourselves and for others. Focusing on the essentials does not mean being in the world as a hermit; focusing on the essentials does mean seeing all things as gifts given us so we may follow Jesus more easily, more wholeheartedly and more faithfully.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the disciples to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for inviting you to extend his mission and protecting us by his word and sacraments.
  • Ask him for grace to respond more freely to Jesus’ heart as you walk with him.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The words of Jesus, thy will be done, on our lips focus us on his mission of extending the kingdom of God by our choices and our actions.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Luke 9.53, part of last Sunday’s gospel.