Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Motivation To Help Enter Lent

eeking motivation to enter Lent consistently this year? Consider this online retreat. “Each Monday [Tim Muldoon will] share audio reflections accompanied by suggestions for prayer and action.” (A service of Loyola Press.)


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday word, 11 Feb 18

Sixth Sunday of the Year B (11 Feb 2018)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. on 8-day Directed Retreat
Two Similarities
The people of Israel experienced the divine presence personally encountered them. Their response to the Holy One inviting them touched all their living. To stay in touch with the encounter challenged later generations. Two similarities for us: personal encounter; and staying in touch. Retreat allows us to enjoy a personal encounter with our God. Our experiences may be quieter than what the people Israel knew; quiet does not mean less real. Connect-ing with our encounter with God on retreat when we’re home challenges: our usual routines can distract us from fostering our retreat experience and living from it. Those similarities—encounter and staying touch—may help us appreciate more the healed person of the gospel; and even share a healing fruit. Let’s revisit the gospel encounter.

Religious practice established by Moses shaped Israel’s response to serious skin discolouration and disfigurement that they named leprosy. Jesus encouraged the offering Moses prescribed. Jesus did what Moses could not do: he touched the person. His physical touch had more-than-physical effect. His touch embodied God’s desire for people and announced the good news of God: Jesus’ touch signalled our triune God’s desire to restore people to one another.

We may say the one healed of leprosy began a cascading effect of announcing God’s good news. Announcing God’s good news was a fruit of the healing. Can we enjoy that same healing fruit even though our personal encounters with Jesus differ? Can we join the cascade of those who announce God’s good news? I feel we can, esp. because the one healed of leprosy is not named: the person’s healing fruit is everyone’s gift. Unnamed in scripture is not overlooked; unnamed invites us to look and see ourselves. St. Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians shows how to share the fruit we receive. First, the fruit.

The more-than-physical effect of the healing was electric. The one healed of leprosy was moved to announce what Jesus had done: to proclaim it freely and to spread the word. In the gospel’s native language the words have an urgent feel: proclaim captivated with authentic authority; and spread also meant to blaze abroad. We can be sure the one healed did not whisper a polite report; nor did others. Word of God’s good news alive in Jesus crackled across countryside, villages and towns; like a brushfire fanned by winds it could not be contained.

St.Paul could not contain himself after risen Jesus touched his life. St. Paul shared God’s good news in Jesus to build up people: I try to please everyone in everything…not seeking my advantage, but that of many so they may be saved. Please everyone may leave us wondering: so we don’t “wonder” to a dead-end it helps to remember St. Paul was not addicted to approval by others; nor was his self-esteem tied to fulfilling the needs of others. He was not addicted to approval by others; nor was Paul’s self-esteem tied to fulfilling the needs of others. His pleasing excited other’s emotions to attract them to Jesus and his cross and resurrection. His vocation was not his exclusive calling. Paul wrote others: Let each of us please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For Christ did not please himself.1

Announcing Jesus in deed and word has long been called evangelizing: literally bringing good news. Christian evangelizing freely announces Jesus—his person and his actions. The emotion attached to the word is energetic: spread the message like a fire blazing forth. That emotion may  distress us: I couldn’t do that; I don’t have it in me. The truth is more this: I don’t yet realize or accept or admit in my bones that Jesus has touched me. Feel Jesus’ touch and one enjoys relationship with Jesus, receives courageous energy to announce that Jesus touched me.

True evangelizing leads to relation, namely between the personal God revealed by Jesus and humans. Retreat is our opportunity to get more personal with our triune God so our lives after retreat can attract others to Jesus and his cross and resurrection. Life after retreat begins here with Jesus touching us. Savour Jesus’ touch here. Remain here; life after retreat will arrive soon enough.
  1. Romans 15.2-3.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Thursday, February 08, 2018

“Say ‘No’ to Corruption”

Pope Francis uses strong words when speaking about corruption: such as plague and death. In February’s Pope Video he encourages people of good will to discuss the issue and to denounce it as each one can.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Sunday word, 04 Feb 18

Fifth Sunday of the Year B (04 Feb 2018)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. on 8-day
Made Whole
The first readings and gospels on Sundays are paired with an intention: the gospel fulfills the first reading. The pairing is not always obvious—like today. The church gives a gift to us with today’s responsorial psalm refrain: Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted. It helps us appreciate the pairing of selections from Job and Mark’s gospel.

Job readily evokes a brokenhearted soul, full of miseries. The end of Job’s story lets us see God restoring him. Unfortunately, worship rarely uses the Book of Job; a bit of its ending—God restoring Job—is read at mass on one weekday every other year! Its no surprise our image of Job is mainly, or even only, brokenhearted and suffering.

What of us? We will contend with our challenges and sufferings this side of heaven. Some may be physically healed; others will be healed differently. Different way of healing does not mean less real. Healing is not the same as curing. Healing makes us whole in mind, body, spirit, community and environment.1 Christian healing allows us to enter the mystery of God’s heart; finding ourselves in God’s heart we are made whole, restored to our true selves. How does this happen?

I ministered with a woman who felt healed from a life marred by betrayal, violence and loss. Her ministry was effective. At midlife she was diagnosed again with cancer. She confided to me she was afraid because she felt her life was unfinished; nor did she feel right with God. Later when she had no hope of a remission let a lone a cure, she looked different: radiant even though gaunt. I’ve let go, she said; I’ve never felt peace like this. I’m ready. She was healed, not cured. Even a reconciliation she had with a significant person soon after her diagnosis was transformed: it was made whole.

That moment remains vivid: she offered me the gospel free of charge--free: that is, without condition; authentically. Until that moment my colleague was on the way to being healed. She had been separated from herself. Her distance separated her from others and God.

Job’s sufferings separated him; his story is part of the bible because he allowed his miseries to let him enter the divine mystery. Jesus human sufferings allowed him to enter the presence of God; we call his entrance resurrection. St. Paul encountered risen Messiah Jesus. His encounter healed Paul’s  energetic life; he let nothing prevent him from preaching the gospel of Jesus crucifiedand offer the gospel free of charge. He included free of charge in his letter because after Paul left Corinth others hijacked Paul’s ministry; they charged for their words and their service as charlatans did—and, I wager, still do. His phrase reminded Christians in Corinth to be alert for authentic preachers who preached like him—like my colleague announced it to me. 

Perhaps some of us are like Simon and plea on behalf of another; I am praying for the healing of a child these days. Others may be praying to be delivered from illness or another misery that distorts their lives. We share prayer that the world be delivered from violence and enjoy peace. Whatever our praying this gospel selection stretches us to keep up with Jesus. After curing Simon’s mother-in-law and others brought to him Jesus left before dawn…. Simon…searched for him andfinding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” As if to say, get back and do more wonders. Jesus answered, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”  

Jesus cured, yes; more often he healed: restored people to themselves and their community. Jesus was convinced announcing God’s desire was more valuable: people can set right their relationships with one another and with God. For Jesus curing people was a feature of announcing God’s good news for all. He refused to let himself be seen only as a wonder-worker. Some who rejected God’s good news as impossible saw him as one: the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves when Jesus was crucified, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.2 

Do we allow our miseries and setbacks to help us enter God’s heart? Or, do we insist God’s healing good news is impossible? We are probably a mixture of both. To help us know better which way we lean at a given moment give Jesus 15 minutes each day this week.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus
  • Pause in the company of our triune God creating us each moment.
  • Ask Job, St. Paul and Simon’s mother-in-law to present us to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for becoming human for us; thank him for dying and rising to heal us and all creation. 
  • Ask Jesus for grace to be healed and respond more freely to his constant invitation to share his life and mission.
  • Close saying slowing the Lord’s Prayer. Living his prayer as best we can begins our healing; frees us to offer the gospel in deed and word; and helps us restore our corner of creation.
  1. Strategic Plan: Building the Science of Healing.
  2. Mark 15.31
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Wiki-image Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law PD-US; by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing Sun CC BY-SA 3.0