Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday word, 22 Jan 17

Third Sunday of the Year A (22 Jan 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Effective Remedy
The arrival of Jesus in the world was his Nativity. Not only did gospels recall light accompanied the the Nativity; the Nativity was light God shone for the world. Isaiah’s words we heard were sounded at one of the Christmas masses: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. The person of Jesus was that same light; so was his ministry. We hear the prophet’s words again. Today they are set in words that emphasize God’s desire to enlighten all peoples: Jesus embarked on his ministry by visiting the Galilee of the Gentiles. Jesus fulfilled what prophets had been given to know.

The way Jesus ministered is worth pondering. First, with John the Baptizer’s arrest Jesus came into his own: the kingdom of heaven is at hand! Matthew used that phrase to describe God’s presence Jesus announced; we’ll hear it as we follow Matthew’s gospel throughout this liturgical year. Put another way Jesus announced God’s dream for the world was dawning.

Second, Jesus ministered with others. Accomplishing tasks, announcing news, even airing grievances were done in concert with others. We who pride ourselves on individual achievement find value in team building, team work, networking and community organizing. In Jesus’ Mediterranean culture community overrode individual efforts. To aid him in his mission Jesus happened to choose fisherman first; but we know he was inclusive. He chose an activist, a minor collaborator with Rome, someone seemingly obsessed with money, two power-hungry brothers, a few quiet souls and an impulsive extrovert.

Without Jesus his chosen disciples may never have become a group. The apostolic band never would have remained together on their own. Jesus’ Holy Spirit unified them.

Holy Spirit unified all who would be baptized into Messiah Jesus. Baptism unites individuals into the body of Christ. His body was communities of Christians—from the beginning to our day. And like our day early Christians faced the challenge of dissension and fractured unity. Dissension tore the Corinthian community of Christians. Its not that Jesus’ Spirit failed them; no. Instead, some of them did not cooperate with the Spirit.

They knew divisions rather that sharing the mind of Christ and his purpose. The divisions were expressed as cliques and certain behaviours and even as rivalries centred on certain preachers. St. Paul wrote them and asked a question that expected the answer No: Is Christ divided?

The long-lived scandal is that Christians are divided. The Church invites worldwide prayer each January for the healing of divisions among Christians and a unity in risen Jesus. Pope Francis encourages one powerful remedy to disunity—common service in the name of Jesus and his gospel: “When we work, pray and serve the needy together, we are already united.”1 To cooperate with one another in good works we continue the ministry of Jesus; we promote the light of his mission and its service to all, especially those at the edges of societies. Jesus’ friends grow to be inclusive as he was. Gospel service not only draws Christians closer; gospel service cooperates with God’s dream for all. Jesus expressed it this way: that they may be one, just as we [Father] are one.2

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Become aware of the Divine Persons embracing you with loving delight.
  • Ask Mary and your patron saint to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for us; thank him for welcoming us to share in his mission to make known his Father and his Father’s dream for all people, for all creation.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to announce him by all our choices, actions and speech.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His prayer is unifying because all Christians revere it. It recognizes God is the source of all things; that includes God’s gift of Christian unity with which we cooperate to make it real and keep it real.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Summary of his address to Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
  2. John 17.11.

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