Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday word, 17 Oct 16

St. Ignatius of Antioch (17 Oct 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during 40-day Institute, Guelph, Ontario
Begging More Ardently
The scene in which Jesus spoke is the same one we entered last week: as he made his last journey to Jerusalem a massive crowd pressed around Jesus. We sense them hearing Jesus teach his disciples: the Prophet urged courage in the face of threats to their lives. Out of the air a question—off-topic; asked by one in the crowd who was unaware a prophet spoke. Teacher—might as well be Attorney, sir—settle a property dispute I have with my brother. How easy in any time and place to be inattentive to Prophet Jesus!

That irrelevant question did not sidetrack Jesus as he taught, Do not fear when life is threatened. Jesus knew fear moved the questioner. Fear caused people to be owned by their possessions. A judge or arbitrator operated within this logic of fear; not a prophet! Fear still is one of those powers of the air, to use Paul’s phrase. Fear, like its sibling powers, has idolatry as its goal: it creates distance between people and God.

It works as it always has: fear dulls awareness. Without knowing it, possessions lure humans to need for more. As possessions come to own their owners, owners not only amass more things; they guard them out of proportion to the immeasurable gift of life and the gifts of hope, faith and love—the foundations and contours of relationship with God and others.

Jesus teaches us as he taught his disciples. His teaching was not about eliminating fear; it is about not being con-trolled by fear, not allowing our inmost selves to be dis-torted by it. Jesus’ gift of his Spirit allows us to know in our bones that we receive life and all we have from our Creator and Redeemer. Praying to continue receiving our true selves helps us resume our retreats.
Images: by PDP from a chapel at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, Bloomfield Hills, MI

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