Friday, July 28, 2017

Daily word, 28 Jul 17

(28 Jul 2017) Sixteenth Friday of the Year
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. closing an 8-day Directed Retreat
Staggering Goodness

Join me and try to make ours the voice of our psalm refrain: Lord, you have the words of everlasting life! It was Peter’s response to Jesus when he asked Peter and the Twelve, You do not want to leave me like the others, do you? To make Peter’s words a response to a psalm—blending New Testament and Old—splendidly shows how worship cares little about logic and very much that what is old abides ever new and what is new flows from what went before. In other words, you and I fuss over time—early, late; new, old; while worship enjoys being timeless and welcomes us into it.

For us to punctuate the psalm with Lord, you have the words of everlasting life! acknowledges our triune God; it is worship more than our reasonable judgment. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life! rejoic[es] the heart and enlighten[s] the eye. It helps us treasure the psalm’s words as God’s before ours. We treasure them as more valuable than purest gold, as more sweetly delectable than syrup or honey from the comb. Our human valuing and delights only begin to reveal God’s staggering goodness.

We can empathize with Peter and the Psalmist when we recall we have experienced people dear to us reveal themselves to us. Their self-revelations not only give us themselves; their self-revelations inform us about our hearts, our delights; they even transform for the better the ways we value the world. Such a deep, heartfelt relationship with God’s self-revelation deepens our relationship to God and God’s revelation in scripture, creation and people. We treasure God and God’s ongoing revelations to us and grow more unable to live without God embracing our hearts, enlightening our inmost eye, and guiding our daily living.

Cultivating this relationship is what our triune God wants because God desires to befriend each person. Jesus: I call you friends because all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.1 So the Hebrew bible, esp. the Prophets: they repeatedly expressed God’s desire to know each person as as spouses know one another.2 When we enjoy such deep bonds we are alert to anything that may harm them or us. We grow more sensitive to how we may drift from trusting our self-revealing God.

We are quicker to notice what comes between us and God. That acceptance is mature, not childish; we take it as a matter of fact. We take Jesus at his word that the Evil One indeed seeks to harm us and our relationship with our ever life-giving, self-revealing God. Jesus vividly named the enemy’s violence: hooks us and snatches away. (The word’s original language provides us with our harpoon.)

As we go forth resolve with one another to face down any challenge, God forbid! any misfortune, any attempt by the Evil One, any worldly anxiety and the lure of riches to choke what God has given us on retreat. Jesus told us that in the gospel. I echo Jesus because Jesus reminded me to encourage you on your way to live as his better friends.

I can hear someone object, The world into which we go will not receive us as Loyola House has. Yes, things are amiss in our world; they would not have strayed so far or even at all if friendship with our triune God had not been stretched and torn. You and I cannot prevent others from stretching and tearing—even God will not hinder another’s freedom. Each of us can cultivate our friendship with our triune God so it becomes our still sweeter treasure. By cultivating it each of us bears fruit and tastes even now God’s staggering goodness—everlasting life.
  1. John 15.15.
  2. The Hebrew word we translate as to know includes acquiring information to interpersonal intimacy, including sexual relations.
Wiki-image by George Shuklin Honeycomb CC BY-SA 1.0

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