Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday word, 10 Dec 17

Advent Sunday2 Year B (10 Dec 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Creation Kissed
When did our end begin? For Christians end means fulness of time, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will be at home. God’s righteousness created our original innocence. God’s righteousness and our original innocence harmonize with one another. That is what Jesus revealed by his living and announcing that God draws near. Our Christian end, that is, the fulfilment of history, began with the first arrival of Jesus.

The Advent season opens each year with a look at the fulfilment of history; then it turns our eyes to Jesus’ first arrival. Advent’s First Sunday bridges what the gospels of the final Sunday of the church year invite us to consider: the summing up all of creation in Christ Jesus and our participation in it. At Jesus’ first arrival he began his call to others to join his mission. The rest of Advent helps us look again at the way God worked Jesus’ arrival for us in human circumstances: of time; location; culture; and faith.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Those words are words of faith; they entitle the Gospel of Mark. Its first hearers would have been more astonished on hearing them than most of us today. To titles describe Jesus: Christ, that is, Messiah; and Son of God. That the God of Israel would have a son was impossible to imagine. God personally accompanied the people Israel and each person from the beginning; and God was also totally unlike people. A messiah, one God would anoint and appoint, was possible to imagine. Indeed, people had come to long for a messiah who would resemble King David and Prophet Moses. All the prophets after Moses would speak of God’s heartfelt longing to re-accompany God’s people. But that God would personally do that in flesh and blood—Jesus, God’s son—was beyond most everyone.

For the early church today’s responsorial psalm captured essentially how Jesus embodied God. God’s salvation drew near in Jesus; in Jesus: Kindness and truth met; justice and peace kissed. Truth sprang out of the earth, and God’s justice…walked the earth in a way we too may walk.

In scripture a kiss signalled greeting—of family and friends; it expressed marital love; it also expressed loyalty. God kissed creation by entering it as human.  By God’s kiss friendship, love and loyalty received new status. That status and solidarity Christians ex-pressed to one another with the holy kiss.1 After the newly baptized were dressed in brilliant white robes the next ritual was the first holy kiss of greeting, a greeting repeated throughout their lives.

To celebrate the beginning of our salvation, beginnings of our redemption or beginnings of God’s grace,2 the Incarnation of God in Jesus, son of God and son of Mary two things may help us enter this mystery: losing ourselves in God’s love for creation; love so deep that God kissed creation to entered it as human. Second, we may ponder: does the Christian holy kiss shape and sustain our eager longing for new heavens and a new earth in which God’s righteousness will be at home? Every element in the story of God’s advent and birth as human can help our holy kiss purify our societies and our creation.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week

  • Pause in the bright love of our triune God who loves us enough to become human for us.
  • Ask John the Baptizer to present us to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for embodying God in human flesh, bone and emotion; thank Jesus for calling us to join him and his mission.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to lose ourselves in his love that transforms every relationship—with creation, with others, with God.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his words as our guide to walk eagerly in his steps of his kindness, comfort, mercy and peace. His prayer reminds us we enjoy already his kindness, comfort, mercy and peace and will enjoy them fully at his glorious return.
  1. Romans 16.16; 1Corinthians 16.20; 2Corinthians 13.12; 1Thessalonians 5.26; 1Peter 5.14.
  2. From the Roman Missal: the first is from the Christmas Vigil Mass, Prayer over the Offerings; the second is from its Octave Day, Prayer over the Offerings

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday word, 03 Dec 17

Advent Sunday1 Year B (03 Dec 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Telling Time
We mark time in various ways. Clocks and calendars come first to mind: seconds become minutes; minutes become hours; hours become days; days become months, and so on. We mark seasons—and not only four annual divisions. We also mark seasons of our lives: infancy; childhood; youth; adult years; middle years; senior years. Turning points dot every life, too: significant events and experiences of all sorts.

Jesus and his Jewish ancestors and contemporaries marked time in an additional way: according to a previous calling and a future accounting. It began with Abram: God called him to move to a place God would disclose; God promised: I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.1 God entered into a covenant with that future people and gave them 10 words to live by: the commandments.2 

After many turning points the people felt a need and hunger for a messiah—a prophet like Moses3 and a leader like David.4 Jesus satisfied their need and hunger. Jesus called people to follow in his steps and to live the pattern of his life. Filled by the Spirit Jesus was raised by God and entered God’s living presence. This is what Jesus’ followers in every age expect. The grounds of our expectation is living as disciples of Jesus: each of us is called by Jesus to live as his disciples as faithfully as we can until his glorious return.

Marking time between two advents of Jesus is a related way we tell time: between his first advent to live a human life like ours—God in our flesh and blood; and his second advent when he will sum up everything5 and present a new creation to God.6 Telling time this way may not help us keep our usual daily schedules and follow our routines. It does bring us closer to Jesus and lets us inhabit the gospels in ways our usual telling time cannot. Telling time this way follows the coordinates of God and helps us grow more firm in faith, joyful in hope and active in charity.7 As we tell time according to God’s coordinates we live more as Jesus and his disciples lived, as Jesus urged: What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ By Watch! Jesus means to live the gospel way.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause in the bright love of our triune God who faithfully creates us each moment.
  • Ask the first disciples to present us to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for embodying God in human flesh, bone and emotion; thank Jesus for calling us to join him and his mission.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to run the Christian life in an eager, self-effacing way: that is, to live marked by the gospel way of firm faith, joyful hope and active charity.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his words as our guide to be alert, ready to welcome him at his glorious return.
  1. Genesis 12.1-2.
  2. Exodus 20.1-17.
  3. Deuteronomy 18.15.
  4. 2Samuel 7.8-16; Psalm 89.
  5. Ephesians 1.10.
  6. 1Corinthians 15.28.
  7. Roman Missal, “Solemn Blessing and Prayers Over the People, I.1,” Solemn Blessing for Advent.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sunday School Teacher. . .

. . .As well as former Director of the F.B.I. On the one hand, people for whom faith is alive don’t flaunt their service done in faith. On the other hand, learning such facts helps make civil servants more real to the public.
   The fact that Mr. James Comey had been both is a tidbit in an essay about the man who once “had adopted the handle @Niebuhr for his secret Twitter account.” 

Wiki-image by Rob Farrow Norman chapel CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday word, 19 Nov 17

Thirty-third Sunday of the Year A (19 Nov 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Risking Love
These past Sunday liturgies have their distinct feel: their gospels recall Jesus offering parables with an end-time edge. The edge of the end-time is sifting: good from bad; prudent from foolish; choice for the kingdom from choice against it. One risks choosing God’s way because one is loved by God and feels it.

Risk-taking is often considered imprudent. Yet we can name risks worth taking. Risking ourselves with others in friendship, marriage, consecrated life and all of us in moments of Christian service are not always foolish choices. Continuing to do things when the tide is against us is a risk; individuals who risk learn themselves. Learning we are stronger or more patient or more courageous than we thought doesn’t change the riskiness of situations; learning we are stronger or more patient or more courageous than we imagined reveals us to ourselves.

An even greater revelation is this: our triune God risked divinity for our sakes. The Trinity risked for us! St. Ignatius of Loyola expressed it this way: aware humans readily cooperate with things that are not life-giving the Trinity decide in their eternity the Second Person would become a human being in order to save the human race.1 Their eternal decision risked Mary’s choice: she could have declined to embody divinity and give birth to Jesus, God incarnate.

I can hear someone object, Where’s the risk? Mary didn’t decline; and another, Jesus was God. Yes, and fully human, too. The mystery of an embodied God easily causes logical people to defer to divinity over humanity or humanity over divinity. The mystery holds both together—something humanly impossible for us. Yet, Jesus’ humanity has given everyone access to God.2 Like his mother Jesus also was free to decline: recall the garden? Father let this cup [of suffering] pass from me. But not my will but yours be done.3

To help us enter the coming week scripture offers us four models: the gracious wife and mother of the first reading and the honourable husband of the psalm; both revere God by embodying the ways and desires of God in each one’s life. Another model is the faithful Christian. Faithful Christians live with others as children of light. A faithful Christian is neither fanatic nor unrooted—fanatic or unrooted Christian is a contradiction; faithful Christians live in the present and breathe the atmosphere of the future: the power of Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit enlightens and enlivens us even now with the vitality of God’s desire that is dawning though not yet fully blossomed.

The final icon models how not to live. Servants of a most generous householder were given responsibilities. The use of money is one concrete responsibility. In Jesus’ parable the amounts were staggering: a talent was a unit of weight used in Jesus’ day; a talent of gold in Canada today would be worth nearly $1.6 million; a talent of silver, $21,000. The householder trusted his servants. One of them wouldn’t live up to that trust: he buried his master’s money. The parable reminds us: God trusts us; God creates us each moment. Our use of possessions symbolizes our response to God. Our self-understanding is that we are God’s treasured possession4: Jews, first,5 and all Christians.

How can we live as God’s treasured possession? By rediscovering that we are. Pope Francis offered an image to help us. He invited us to imagine “God’s boundless love” as a “sea.” Next, he invited us to “dive into” God’s love.6 Risk that dive to rediscover ourselves as children of light: loved and trusted by God and more alert to the Trinity’s love of us and freer to love others.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause in the company of our triune God creating us each moment.
  • Ask Mary and our patron saints to present us to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for becoming human for us; thank him for inviting us to share his life; consider when and how we have responded to our triune God’s boundless love.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to respond more freely to his love and constant invitation to share his life and mission.
  • Close saying slowing the Lord’s Prayer. His words, give us…our daily bread, more than ask for physical nourishment. The sustenance our triune God offers exceeds food. It nourishes us to live holy, humane, joyful, loving lives that extend Jesus’ mission of love with and for others.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Spiritual Exercises, 102.
  2. Romans 5.2; Ephesians 2.18; 3.12.
  3. Matthew 26.39.
  4. First in Exodus 19.5; repeated often even into 1Peter 2.9.
  5. Romans 1.162.9see also 9.4-5
  6. His 2014 Ash Wednesday homily.

Wiki-image by Andrey Mironov Parable of the Talents CC BY-SA 4.0; by kallerna Campfire and sparks CC BY-SA 3.0

Friday, November 17, 2017

First World Day of the Poor

Earlier Pope Francis had announced he would dedicate a day to highlight the poor. The first one this Sunday, 19 November. Francis closed his message with his desire that:
this World Day of the Poor a tradition that concretely contributes to evangelization in today’s world. 
This new World Day, therefore, should become a powerful appeal to our consciences as believers, allowing us to grow in the conviction that sharing with the poor enables us to understand the deepest truth of the Gospel.  The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practise in our lives the essence of the Gospel.
Image Vatican website

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Daily word, 02 Nov 17

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed A (02 Nov 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during the Spiritual Exercises
Affectionate Practice
When October 24 and April 10 come and go I feel something before I recognize it. Its texture has been somber; other years weighty. I have felt an ache; I have felt a subtle, insistent tug. This year assurance recurred. Those dates offer me a bittersweet peace. October 24, 2001, and April 10, 2010: my sister and I buried our parents. I feel their absence as each was with me; I also feel them present to me in new, more real ways. Their absent-presence, if I may join those words, shapes my reflection with you according to Catholic contours of practice and affection.

Praying for the departed faithful is an ancient practice of the church. The church prays “for all in Christian and catholic fellowship departed, even without mentioning… their names, under a general commemoration.”1 Each mass allows us, at once locally and universally, to plead for all the dead: Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light and peace.2 

In time another practice emerged: a day to commemorate the faithful departed. An 11th-Century French monastery set aside the day after remembering all the saints to commemorate all the faithful departed. Its custom became universal practice.

Its logic is plain: the saints remain patrons of those who died. At the funeral and before we bury our dead, we invoke angels and martyrs to greet them on their way:
May the angels lead you into Paradise.May the martyrs come to greet you on the way. May they lead you home to the holy city, to the new and eternal Jerusalem.3
Affection for the dead is as nearly as ancient as Catholic practice. In ancient times much threatened care for the dead. Because of that a 5th-Century bishop wrote St. Augustine about caring for the dead. In replying St. Augustine frequently mentioned affection: the affection of the living for their loved ones and friends.4 Very significant, St. Augustine replied, is
where a person [inters] the body of [ones] dead…because both the affection [in life] chose a spot which was holy, and after the body is there...the recalling to mind of that holy spot renews and increases the affection which had preceded.5
Affection and remembering are intimately connected. Our affection chooses, and our remembering increases our affection. That is true throughout life not only after it.

Commemorating All the Faithful Departed involves not only our affection for and remembering our dead. It includes the Trinity’s affection for us and remembering us. When the Trinity remembers us their remembering surpasses our memory. When the Trinity remembers us Father, Son, Holy Spirit create us—create us each moment.

Jesus made divine remembering concrete by the affection he showed. Jesus shows deep affection for his disciples of every age by giving his body and blood. They nourish us on our pilgrim way through life6; they strengthen our shared identity as created in the divine image and redeemed to be saints.

Our share in his eucharist
  • recreates us;
  • keeps us closely connected with Jesus and one another, living and deceased;
  • and increases our affection for Jesus and one another, living and deceased.
The affection of our beloved dead abides with us; their affection for us cannot die; it increases and flourishes. Our prayers for the dead need not numb us to the ways they affectionately remember us; or their desire to present us to Jesus. One way to grow more sensitive to their affectionate desire is to pray like this: as we close our prayer for them, let them present us to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer. Entrusted to him lovingly, speak with Jesus about the ways our beloved dead have presented us to him; how our affection chooses Jesus and Jesus’ affection chooses us each day we sojourn on earth.

  1. St. Augustine, On the Care To Be Had for the Dead, 6.
  2. Eucharistic Prayer I. Each Eucharistic Prayer remembers the faithful departed with different wording.
  3. Order of Christian Funerals 176, 203, 294, 315, 339.
  4. On the Care To Be Had for the Dead. Seventeen times in its 23 sections: Sections 1; 5; 6 (3 times); 7 (4 times); 9 (3 times); 10; 11 (2 times); 22 (2 times).
  5. Ibid., 7
  6. Prayer after Communion, Order of Christian Funerals, 410


Wiki-image Ancient funerary inscription PD-US Praying to God for Christian martyrs, saints, and all the faithful departed PD-Release