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.


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