Monday, September 30, 2013

Helping Govern

Pope Francis formed a council of eight cardinals to assist him in governance of the church. It will convene 01 October 2013.
      Fr. Lombardi, speaking for the pope, said, “The key words to define this method of government would be ‘synodality’; to bring forward a church that walks together with its various components in the search for the will of God through consultation and patience.”
      He also read to media personnel the brief document of the pope establishing the council.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday word, 29 Sep 2013

Staying Unlocked
26th Sunday of the Year C (29 Sep 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
People viewed Jesus differently, and he spoke different parables to them. He told disciples ones about prayer and possessions; to scribes and Pharisees ones of rejection. He urged disciples to use possessions reliably, faithfully. Because scribes and Pharisees objected to the welcome Jesus gave sinners he told parables of the lost: lost sheep; lost coin; lost son.

Overhearing them scribes and Pharisees mocked Jesus.1 They did not just disagree, they mocked! To mock treats another as worthless or only worth hating. Our distance from them makes it hard for us to feel their fierce hostility toward Jesus. Their hateful feelings did not silence Jesus. He responded with the parable of rejection we just heard.

Jesus told his parable of a certain rich man and a certain poor man to money-loving scribes and Pharisees.2 Loving money differs from using money. To love money flows from placing trust, faith in money as though it could give life. Putting faith and trust in anything but God is out of place. It is idolatry. Idolatry conjures carvings of gold, and we may say we don’t do that. Comb the scriptures and you will find people have put faith in many things from fruit to figures of wood, stone and metal to unseen attitudes of desiring ignoble things for self or others and the visible effects of coveting.3 An ancient commentary on Jewish living was uncompromising: Whoever turns away his eyes from one who appeals for charity is considered as if he were serving idols.4

It is one thing to turn eyes away; it is another to step over a poor person. The parable’s poor man was likely crippled for he was dumped at the rich man’s gate. Crippled and unclothed cued that someone was unclean. Dogs, too, were considered unclean. Licked by dogs that poor man was in a sorry way. Dumped at the gate of a rich man may have been a desperate attempt to help him. Surely the rich man would see him! He stepped over him, ignoring him. In stepping over the poor man the rich man trampled the words of Moses, In no way should the one in need die out from your land.5

His love for luxurious living locked the rich man in its grip. So tightly it held him that he obeyed it rather than God’s heart. In his torment he treated Lazarus as his lackey: ease my thirst; warn my brothers. Moses and the Prophets told of Messiah Jesus not to mention how to live. If no one heed them about right living, which we get our minds around, no one will heed them about Messiah Jesus and his rising from the dead.6

The rich man could have fulfilled his duty of charity at his doorstep. So with us as the proverb has it: “Charity begins at home.” It is born of an attitude of sensitivity. It grows by noticing others in need. Acts of compassion focus eyes of compassion. If Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus causes us to feel, “I don’t want to act like the rich man!” then our hearts are not hardened. Nor are we locked into idolatry of wealth. That feeling cues us to Jesus visiting us. To make room for him visiting us in his poor friends is our best response.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week consider your gifts.
  • Notice the lavish ways the Trinity blesses you.
  • Ask poor Lazarus to introduce you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for abiding with you even when you don’t think of him; consider all you have as ways Jesus visits you and thank him.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to grow more sensitive to those in need and to turn your eyes toward them.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It steers us from any idolatry. It keeps our hearts supple so we can show more readily to others Jesus’ love for us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Luke 16.14.
  2. Luke 16.14.
  3. Genesis 3.2-7; Deuteronomy 29.16; Colossians 3.5.
  4. Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra 10a.
  5. Deuteronomy 15.11—Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures Jesus and the apostles used.
  6. By beginning with Moses and the Prophets Risen Jesus explained to others how they referred to him. Luke 24.27.

Wiki-images of the rich man in hell and of 13th century allegory of charity public domain in the U.S.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cleanest in 50

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been passionate about cleaning the air of New York City. He said Thursday, “‘Theres no new science here. Stop putting the stuff in the air and you will clean up the air.’” The air has been the cleanest in 50 years. The mayor received an award for that achievement.
Wiki-image of clean air buttons public domain.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Migrants and Refugees

The pope’s message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees has been released. Entitled “Towards a Better World,” the pope explained:

A better world will come about only if attention is first paid to individuals; if human promotion is integral, taking account of every dimension of the person, including the spiritual; if no one is neglected….

Monday, September 23, 2013

On the Interview

Reflections from the staff at TJP on the papal interviewSeveral links, including one to the complete interview.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday word, 22 Sep 2013

Growing More Reliable
25th Sunday of the Year C (22 Sep 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Each time we gather before our triune God to worship, our triune God addresses us. Worship changes us each time we reflect on God’s word proclaimed and adjust our lives to it. One way adjusting our lives to God’s word registers is attitude: our attitude toward others; life; and creation.

The Source of All desires we respect created things not squander them. Our triune God desires we use created things to promote the dignity of all not trample the needy or cheat for private gain. Today’s gospel reading involved squandering. It involved adjusting: more vital than adjusting accounts Jesus’ parable revealed that giving alms in faith draws us and all disciples closer to God.

Humans tend to work the world, its resources and even people to private advantage: buying people with influence, status and perks and giving the poor no more mind than an old pair of shoes. We learn stories about people who give fraudulent alms; we learn nations pledge millions to help victims of disasters but their money never follows their pledges. Sadly, some individuals and nations are not reliable. Jesus’ parable is about being reliable, faithful and true.1 Jesus revealed himself as the faithful and true witness2 of divine reliability. The actions in the parable may blind us to the attitude around which we desire to adjust our lives. Let’s search for the attitude behind the actions.

Jesus told parables to teach. Jesus taught his disciples with encouragement. A saying most of us have used is one way to appreciate his encouragement here: “If we are given lemons, then make lemonade.” Because lemons are sour they easily stand for crises in our lives. We can wilt before crises, or we can respond in positive ways. Making lemonade suggests a positive response.

The crisis of Jesus’ parable is crucial to it. The master of the household occasioned the crisis: he demanded his squandering steward, Prepare a full account of your stewardship because you can no longer be my steward. He was rejected be-cause he squandered his master’s possessions. He was a cheat. The master could applaud the way the steward responded to his crisis. His response to his self-caused crisis guaranteed his acceptance by those whose payments he reduced. One can almost hear the master mutter, “I’ve got to hand it to him....”

Jesus did not reverse the Seventh Commandment, You shall not steal. That steward was a cheat. Humans are stewards of creation. Baptism made us stewards of our risen Lord and his gospel. By his parable Jesus encouraged disciples—us—to be more resourceful, more prudent and clever in our stewardship. By our stewardship we respond to our risen Lord. Our risen Lord invites us to announce his gospel by our stewardship. Our use of possessions shapes our stewardship and gospel life. We disciples ought to use possessions of this world wisely, reliably and faithfully to secure a share in the life of our triune God—our most real, lasting possession.

Jesus’ not-obviously-clear sayings following his parable clearly share a movement in that direction: reliable in something tiny, reliable in something greater; wicked in something tiny, wicked in something greater. That which is tiny refers to possessions and that which is greater refers to us giving ourselves to God, who is the most real.

Possessions, all created things can help us make a return of love to our Creator.3 Our Creator has given us them to help our stewardship. When we treat them as entitlements not gifts, then possessions and all created things become idols—Mammon. When wealth has our trust we tend not to share with others in greater need: a return of love to our Creator. From God to Mammon is always a tiny step. Our use of possessions determines how we bestow ourselves before God; whether we accept Jesus’ invitation to join him as his disciples, sensitive to others in need.

The words almsgiving triggers others: giving of our wealth to assist others. Yet the first alms any of us gives is oneself to our Creator. Giving ourselves to our Creator shapes our attitude, our interior dispositions. Attitude moves us to desire to help others. Our sense of God gracing us increases our confidence to help others. Appreciating the things of the world as gifts God gives us to assist our stewardship of the world is a potent prayer of praise. It shapes us more like Jesus, who calls and encourages us.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week consider your gifts.
  • Consider the Trinity the source of all them for you.
  • Ask Sts. Paul and Timothy to present you to Jesus. Allow your gifts to float to the surfaces of your heart and mind—the roof over your head; clean water to drink and in which to bathe; significant people in your life; your parish; your school; your job.
  • As you savor each one thank Jesus for it.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to savor your gifts more deeply and to notice them as ways Jesus personally loves you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It reminds us that all we have is divine gift; and it shapes our hearts to use them more reliably, more prudently and more faithfully.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. We translate the Greek word pistós (πιστός) in the NT variously: faithful (41), trustworthy (13), reliable (1).
  2. The phrase came to John by revelation: Jesus’ self-revelation to John on the island of Patmos. (Revelation 3.14).
  3. Paraphrasing St. Ignatius of Loyola: “The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the end [goal] for which they are created [to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls]” (Spiritual Exercises, 23.2 and [23.1]).
Wiki-image of the Unjust Steward Free Art License. Wiki-image by Harmonia Amanda from atop the Portal Charity, Sagrada Familia CC BY-SA 2.5.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Conversion of a Pope

          Update: Popes homily this day.
The Feast of St. Matthew recalls Jesus showed great mercy in calling Matthew to be his apostle. Pope Francis invites everyone to welcome that same mercy. It is a significant day in the life of the pope, explained Rocco Palmo.
Wiki-image by M2m of St. Matthew Day CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday word 15 Sep 2013

Aching Heart of God
24th Sunday of the Year C (15 Sep 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Crossing white water to get to the other side of a gorge is perilous; an image of one can cause us to check if our shoes leak. In tropical places monsoons make roads rivers deadly to cross because they can sweep people away. Leaking shoes is the least of their worries. Near my Jesuit community in Cleveland is a dry-land crossing: three streets flow into one intersection. Crossing there is always a brief driver’s ed class.

Crossings of many kinds confront us daily. We are wise to avoid some; we are wise to make others. One to make is crossing from our culture to the culture of Jesus. Not to make that crossing is perilous to us Christians. Crossing from our culture to the culture of Jesus is real although we do it not in a boat or car or on foot but in our imaginations. Jesus’ culture was a first-century, Mediterranean culture. We enter first-century, Mediterranean culture each time we hear Jesus speak to us from the gospel. We enter an older Mediterranean culture in the Hebrew scriptures. To cross from the 21st to Jesus’ first-century culture means letting go of our technological way of thinking. Making that crossing means being sensitive to reputation and honor: to “saving face.”

We may isolate saving face to the Far East. Yet it was and is very much part of the Middle East: Palestine, Israel and Arab states. When we are aware of that then Moses’ imploring the Lord begins to make sense. God had brought out of the land of Egypt a ragtag band. God would not willy-nilly let wrath blaze up against [God’s] own people. For God to be God, God forgives and shows mercy. Mercy is God’s reputation, God’s identity. It is divine and humane. Jesus gave new voice to it. The father in Jesus’ third, all-too-familiar parable refused to be shaped by anger. He was shaped instead by compassion. Jesus tells us: God is like that. 

He led to that parable with two briefer ones. A homemaker and a shepherd portray the anxiety that comes with loss and how anxiety can lead us to act. The shepherd risked the other ninety-nine sheep to seek the lost one; and who of us hasn’t turned office, home, playhouse or bedroom upside down to find something dear to us? Jesus tells us: God always seeks us.

Think of it! God is not satisfied without us. Chances are we don’t imagine God as anxious, let alone anxious about finding us. Yet God’s heart aches to rejoice over us as Prophet Zephaniah reminded: the Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, who will sing joyfully because of you.1 And Jesus, who gave God a body and a personality, said he came to seek and to save what was lost.2

To enter Jesus’ culture includes: imagining the Trinity feeling and longing for us; and being honest about ourselves: we are the lost our triune God seeks. Depersonalize the Trinity and we miss the Trinity longing for us. Think too much of ourselves and we refuse the divine invitation offered us.

Easy it is to shut God out of our lives. We come up short many ways when we do. Refusing God’s invitation is more perilous. In Jesus’ culture religious people refused it. God’s heart aching for all people: the Pharisees and scribes could not imagine such a humane, affectionate, prodigal God. To hear their side of things they had served God and never disobeyed God’s orders. They could not see themselves as children of Jesus’ humane, affectionate and prodigal God. Instead they saw themselves as slaves: vigilant to obey orders and resenting others with whom Jesus’ hobnobbed, dined and always welcomed.

St. Paul once was not welcoming. By his admission he was a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant. Then he made a spiritual crossing into the heart of Jesus calling him. Paul knew with his entire self Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; that his heart is vigilant for the lost. Does that have meaning for us? It means Jesus does not want us to be experts in the Catechism; Jesus desires us to live it. Like St. Paul we need to know our faith; celebrating the sacraments and growing in friendship with Jesus help us know it. Learning helps us live it better. Living faith is our goal, the goal of all Jesus’ friends.

Parents give example and lead children in living the faith.3 Catechists help young people read their lives in Jesus and his mercy, receive basic doctrine and prepare for the sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation.4 We will commission them shortly.

Example and learning. The entire parish gives example. All help each other learn in various ways. We learn from both sons in Jesus’ parable. The elder son teaches us not to let self-concern block God’s merciful love from pouring into us or anyone. The younger son did not care about “saving face.” He wanted his father to be his father. Jesus suggested God was very much like that father. The younger son teaches us returning to enjoy God’s compassion is life long.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Bask in the Trinity loving you with their love, which is better than life.5
  • Ask St. Paul to introduce you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him as friend to friend. Tell him what his mercy means to you. Jesus aches for you to tell him.
  • Ask him for the grace to communicate frequently with him, your brother and Messiah. Resolve how you can do that.
  • Close saying slowing the Lord’s Prayer. It shapes our hearts more like Jesus’ heart and reminds us that we are not God’s slaves but daughters and sons of Jesus’ Father and ours.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Zephaniah 3.17.
  2. Luke 19:10.
  3. CIC 774 §2.
  4. See General Directory for Catechesis 232.
  5. The phrase comes from Psalm 63.4. It is unique in the Old Testament because only in this verse is anything valued more than life, and it is God’s love!
Wiki-image by Scarafax of a mid-19th-Century five points CC BY-SA 3.0. Wiki-image of Return of the Prodigal Son  public domain in the U.S.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Six and Seven

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. offered his review of Pope Francis and his six months serving as Bishop of Rome and as “a force of nature.”

At ThinkingFaith Jesuit Tim Byron reviews one book about the pope:

Of the new literature rushed out to capitalise on the great interest and the extraordinarily long honeymoon period that Francis is experiencing, Paul Vallely’s Pope Francis: Untying the Knots is perhaps the best in the English language.

Seven is the number of weeks that the Letters to Timothy and Titus will be read at Sunday’s masses. Jesuit Peter Edmonds looks at these letters to individuals and their placement in the lectionary.
Wiki-image of detail of lectionary page public domain in the U.S.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Pope Francis invites attention to the poor and all “on the periphery” of societies. He lives his invitation. Cars are included: “A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one.” The NCR has now told the story of the previous owner of his humble wheels.

Wiki-image by EyOne of Renault grille CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Refreshed Appreciation

For many this date marks profound sadness and loss. The date also refreshed appreciation for the selfless service of firefighters, police, EMS personnel and all first responders. It is an appreciation that eludes understanding and logic.

From the perspective of a different yet painful turning point Jesuit Tony Homsy realized “what haunts [him] the most [also has] no logical explanation.”
Wiki-image by Vassil of detail of Sépulcre Arc-en-Barrois CC BY-SA 3.0.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pope To Visit Refugees

Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis will visit refugees in the Centro Astalli, the Jesuit center for refugees in Italy:
Chiara Peri who works at the Centro Astalli in Rome in the project office focusing on inter-religious issues and cultural events, spoke to Vatican Radios Linda Bordoni about Pope Francis’ visit, but first she illustrates the vision, the mission and the services of the Centro Astalli.
Report includes audio link to their interview.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sunday word, 08 Sep 2013

23rd Sunday of the Year C (08 Sep 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Solomon is well known; not so Philemon. Many are unsure how to say his name: FILL-ee-mun. Both have something to say to us about wisdom. Today’s first reading recalled Solomon’s prayer for wisdom. Solomon knew human wisdom—our deliberations—is timid. He did not mean shy. He meant not certain, not secure. Something not secure may be dangerous. The range from insecure to dangerous describes the uncertainty of our reason, emotion and resolve. Our reasoning and feelings get tripped; and we often live in fits and starts instead of single-minded purpose. Jesus’ remarks, spoken with conviction and no gentle color, revealed Solomon was correct.

God’s wisdom, though, is con-fident. God’s holy spirit imparts God’s wisdom to mortals. Risen Jesus gives us access to God’s holy spirit so we may live with confident trust. Our access is not breezy; following Jesus has demands. Anything can block and interrupt our following. Jesus warned things close to us have the most power: possessions and relationships. Jesus spoke not of feelings when he spoke of hating family. Jesus’ strong language means choosing Jesus as our primary relation. To renounce possessions means saying goodbye to them as primary. Disciples welcome Jesus and his word as primary and find Jesus and his word useful for living. St. Paul’s note to Philemon offers an example of divine wisdom in human life with Jesus as first.

St. Paul remarked about weakness throughout his letters. He admitted anxiety1 and other interior weakness2 as well as physical weakness due to disease,3 beatings4 and imprisonment.5 He wrote more than once as a prisoner. His weaknesses did not transform him; Christ Jesus did. Transformed by Christ Jesus Paul wrote Philemon, Take Onesimus to your heart as you would me. Paul asked his benefactor and his brother in Christ Jesus to reform his personal attitude about his possession.

Onesimus was Philemon’s runaway slave. He could end the lives of rebellious slaves. Onesimus found himself in prison with Paul. Onesimus feared his master wanted his property and feared the worst. During their imprisonment Onesimus helped Paul; he wrote his benefactor and brother in Christ Jesus: I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment, who was once useless to you but is now useful both to you and me.6

Paul wrote in Greek. In who was once useless to you but is now useful both to you and me, Paul made a deft play on words. Chreestos [χρηστοςis the root of both useful and useless. Non-Christians confused chreestos with its sound-alike Christos [Χριστος], the Greek title for Jesus as Messiah.7 It was not uncommon.8 St. Paul played on useful and useless in his note to Philemon. St. Paul suggested that before his conversion Onesimus was useless without Christ. Now Onesimus was a good Christian useful to Paul. Paul recognized a good coworker.

Philemon, too, supported Paul’s work. He reminded Philemon that he had Paul to thank for bringing him, his family, Onesimus and all his slaves to Christ Jesus. The benefactor of Paul was in the Apostle’s debt: May I not tell you that you owe me your very self.”9 St. Paul did not lord that over Philemon when he noted it for the record.  He recognized Jesus had made Philemon and Paul each a partner of the other.10

The point is transformation. Transformation worked by risen Jesus through his Spirit. Transformation of a timid Paul: he stood up for a slave who was much more: a brother in Jesus; brother even to his master.11 With Jesus as the hinge in their and all relationships transformation of their social obligation was afoot. Real obligation and gratitude for living belong to risen Jesus. Benefactor Philemon owed it no less than receiver of kindness, Paul.

Transformation invites us: the way we understand useful in our Catholic lives. Jesus invites us to understand useful not as doing but as identity: being in risen Jesus. Knowing ourselves rooted in Jesus and created by Jesus each moment helps us appreciate all humans are images and likenesses of their Creator and Redeemer. Noticing Jesus creating and redeeming us releases us from the grip of our weaknesses, possessions and relationships to partner freely with Jesus and give witness to him by our choices and our ways of living. Pope Francis recently expressed the usefulness of Christian identity this way: “Be always united with Christ, building his Kingdom with fraternity, sharing and merciful works.”12

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause in the bright shadow of the Trinity.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • In your words chat with Jesus: praise him for creating and redeeming you; thank him for choosing you to serve…[his] gospel.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to allow him to transform you more into the person Jesus creates and redeems: a wise not a timid disciple.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Thy will be done on our lips is not about any whims of God but about serving the gospel. The gospel guides us to embody God’s desires for the world. Jesus gives us his wisdom to live them.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. 2 Corinthians 11.28: And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.
  2. 2 Corinthians 12.7-10: What began in his flesh affected his inner self.
  3. Galatians 4.13-14
  4. If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. St. Paul enumerates several causes in 2 Corinthians 11.23-27, of which beatings was one.
  5. Also see Philippians 1.
  6. Philemon 11.The lectionary framers did not include this verse which is within today’s reading.
  7. Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Life of Claudius, 25:4, is one example.
  8. Early preachers of Christianity played on the misunderstanding in their defense. Justin Martyr did in his First Apology.
  9. Philemon 19.
  10. Philemon 17.
  11. Philemon 16.
  12. At the 04 September General Audience to Arabic speaking pilgrims.