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

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