Monday, March 31, 2014

Wins; Philly; The Border

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. commented on the visit of President Obama to Pope Francis, the visit of Pennsylvania leaders encouraging the Pope to visit Philadelphia next year and the several U.S. bishops visiting tomorrow “the US-Mexico border…our Lampedusa.”
Wiki-mage by Jeffrey M. Vinocur of Philadelphia skyline CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday word, 30 Mar 14

Sharing Jesus’ Vision
Lenten Sunday 4 A (30 Mar 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The first mechanically printed, English bible had ample notes. People used their “study bible.”1 One of its notes appeared at a verse in today’s gospel selection:
“Religion is assaulted most by the pretence of religion: but the more it is pressed down, the more it rises up.”2
Pretense. We hear it echo its cousin, pretend: to behave in ways to make something appear to be the case when it is not. We all are familiar with that. Religion and living that flows from it are vulnerable to pretense and pretenders. Jesus faced that often in his life and ministry. Today we witnessed it with Pharisees after Jesus healed a man born blind. First a word about healing, then about the Pharisees.

We all know Jesus lived before our understanding of medicine. That means we have to let go our understanding given to us by science and technology. When we do we can begin to understand what Jesus and his peers understood healing to do. Briefly, healing in the ancient Mediterranean world restored meaning to people whose lives were lacerated by a variety of conditions. For Jesus and all Jews meaning itself flowed from God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebbekah, Jacob and Rachel, Creator of all.

God created humans male and female.3 By worship humans served God recalling the words of their Scriptures and with ritual praise and sacrifice. Illness, and even some ordinary bodily functions, made people unfit to worship. To be unable to worship put people out of balance at best. At worst it emptied their lives of meaning. When he healed Jesus restored meaning to people and their lives. We can miss that when we focus on the elimination of their symptoms or conditions.

To be blind was understood not to be whole as God had created humans. The disciples’ question about sin begins to fit. More important was the lack of meaning the blind man felt not being able to worship and being able only to beg. Even his neighbors didn’t know him. When they saw him after Jesus healed him they said:“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said,“It is,“but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
How we are known shapes our meaning.

The once-blind-now-seeing man held his own with the Pharisees. The seeing man allows us to notice the Pharisees were blind to Jesus, light from light4 who is light of the human race.5

In a sense we are all blind because no one see as God sees. In another sense our triune God shares the vision of God with all who desire it. We can choose to stay in darkness; yet God created us for light and to be light. Paul’s phrase children of the light is no quaint expression. To share the vision of the Trinity, who creates and redeems us, makes us people of the light. To enjoy their light frees us to live the purposes they create for us and live them with gusto for the life of the world.6

Living our Christian vocations for the life of the world shares Jesus’ mission. We don’t pretend. When we make Jesus’ mission ours we don’t assault nor do we look inward. We look beyond ourselves; we encourage others; and by respectful, unassuming Christian outreach we allow others to discover or to reclaim meaning for their lives.

Each of us grows freer to spread the light of Jesus the more we grow to echo in our words the one with clear sight received from Jesus: One thing I do know is that I all I have is Jesus’ gift: my sight; my abilities; my talents; my possessions; my personal purpose, my vocation.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the life of our triune God.
  • Ask the man born blind to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise him for enlightening you and sharing with you his vision and attitude. Consider how you live your baptism in respectful, unassuming Christian ways. Chat with Jesus about them.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to make his mission—for the life of the world—yours lived with his church.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The more we live his words which we pray, the more we put our fingerprints on Jesus’ mission and he gives us his vision and attitude.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. It became known as the Geneva Bible.
  2. Note on John 9.16.
  3. Genesis 1.27.
  4. From the Nicene Creed.
  5. John 1.4.
  6. John 6.51.

Wiki-images of the blind man washing in Siloam pool and healed blind man telling his story PD-Art

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Immigration and a National Soul

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh wrote a brief commentary entitled: “The tragedy of America’s failed immigration system.” Systems easily overrun human lives. So it seems with the U.S. effort to cope with undocumented” people. The spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops cited some stats with this preface: “The United States loves data, but I hope it won’t be judged by its damning statistics.”
Wiki-mage by Billy Hathorn of Laredo, TX, border crossing CC BY-SA 3.0

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cross and Resurrection: Or, Benefits of No Meat

The Lenten practice of abstaining from meat is ancient. The churches of the West and the East focus differently on the goal to which abstaining from meat points. Jesuit Samuel Overloop considered that and contemporary aspects of abstaining from meat. He explores the physical as well as the spiritual benefits of the practice. The latter includes “reconciliation with creation.”
Wiki-mage by Odejea of fruits on a heraldic sheild CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday word, 23 Mar 14

Visiting Wells
Lenten Sunday3 A (23 Mar 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A woman came to draw water from her neighborhood well.
We came to draw nearer to Jesus and to one another as a parish community.

Hers was a simple task, and it wasn’t. Simple because drawing water is straightforward: hard work but not complex; not simple because like every person in every age, the woman was a fusion of emotions, experiences, failures, successes and longings.
In our life-tasks we are no different.

Jesus sat down about noon. He was tired by his journey. We pause here awaiting any number of things: midday; midyear; warm weather; sharing faith; welcoming a word; acknowledging our weariness and how our hearts thirst. The woman came, puzzled to see a man resting where women worked. She didn’t need another puzzle to complicate her life. “By heaven above, and Jacob’s well too,” she thought, “he’s no one I know, and he isn’t one of us!”

Jesus sits down among us everyday, every moment. If we ask him, Jesus joins us; we often leave disappointed. More often we stumble on him. As the woman at the well did, we often don’t recognize him. And if we do—isn’t this true?—we dread how he might complicate our already complicated lives.

Jesus spoke to the woman. Shocked, she conversed with him—interrogating him first (how do you do what I wouldn’t do? who do you think you are?). Jesus joined her at every turn. He poured questions of his own into her thirsty heart: God’s freeing questions.

Jesus communicates with us: as the Word; in his Sacraments; by his cross; in images and colors; in music and song. Jesus longs for us. Do we converse with him? Not put him on trial: we’re too good at that. Do we ask him for his heart? Do we speak to him as to absent friends; departed parents; a loved one we recall fondly; that person we dream of meeting?

When the woman left Jesus, she left her water jar and was not disappointed, no longer puzzled. She left on a mission! Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! No shame but full of joy and unburdened peace. Her joy flowed from visiting her well to perform a routine task. She rejoiced over Jacob’s well in a way she never dreamed.

Do such wells exist for us? They do. Now we can meet Jesus anywhere. First we had to come or be brought here to the well of baptism. Its living water poured God’s love into us through Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Jesus’ Spirit creates us new everyday! Do we let Jesus’ abiding Spirit turn our thirsts for meaning and fulfillment into our mission as well as his?

From the well of baptism flows the other privileged ways we meet Jesus, the sacraments. In them Jesus joins our humanity. Our regular celebration of the sacraments nourishes, strengthens, heals and focuses us as witnesses on mission to make Jesus known. To celebrate sacraments is more than to receive them. To our Elect, who will be fully joined to the Catholic Church, I offer this encouragement: to celebrate sacraments is more than to receive them. I celebrate when I give myself to what I receive. Catholic vocabulary has long put it, I cooperate with the grace I receive.1 Only to receive a sacrament makes no use of God’s life given me. To cooperate with God’s life given us in the sacraments affects us. When we collaborate with God’s life we affect others we know and meet.2 To affect others with his life Jesus infuses in us is to worship…in spirit and in truth.

The woman of Samaria is a Christian’s personal icon. She engaged Jesus vigorously and honestly. She withheld nothing from him. She expressed to him her deep desires. She did not keep for herself what Jesus had given, awakened and liberated in her. She shared Jesus’ gifts to her with others: “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! How could this man not be the Messiah?” If you desire a patron saint to help you live Christian discipleship, visit her and well of the sacraments often.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the life of our triune God.
  • Ask the woman of Samaria to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise him for giving you in various ways his Spirit, his life. Consider how you live your baptism, and how you can live it with more gusto. Chat with Jesus about that.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to live his life in deeper friendship and with greater conviction.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The more we live his words which we pray, the more Jesus slakes our thirst for him.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 2002 details humans’ “free response.”
  2. “Grace includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with [the Spirit’s] work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ.” CCC 2003.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Drama for Lent

Very early the Church chose the Gospel of John as the gospel for Lent and Easter. Jesuit Peter Edmonds considers it one of the “religious classics.” He tours the gospel so its selections in the coming weeks will offer more of their treasures to hearers today.
Wiki-mage by Marc Auer of Eagle of John the Evangelist CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday word, 16 Mar 14

Friends Learn Each Other
Lenten Sunday 2 A (16 Mar 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Early in my priesthood I made my annual retreat. After arriving I told my director I had come more than to pray. I desired the Trinity reveal to me what I needed for my life. The Trinity enlightened me: prayer is far more than words and time for them. Prayer is relationship with our triune God.

The pivotal moment on that retreat happened the day I spent visiting and revisiting the Transfiguration. Its operative grace was light: Like the sun[Jesus] shone. Jesus wrapped me in his light. As sunlight represents life, Jesus invited me to receive his life and to welcome it, accept and share it.

I am not exceptional. God in Jesus by their Spirit extend the same invitation to you and every one. A single word captures their invitation and the variety of ways they reveal it: friendship—friendship with Jesus. I have called you friends1 was no throwaway line of Jesus. Friendliness grounds the church’s mission from welcoming, reconciling, worshiping, charity, justice and proclamation. The church’s mission is the mission of each Christian. Our mission is to invite others to the same friendship revealed and offered to us.

God’s gracious friendship exceeds words. God’s gracious friendship includes this: God desires each of us and graces us with what any of us needs each moment. The Transfiguration of Jesus was such a moment for the disciples. 

Before Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves, Jesus had just show[n] his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders…ruling priests…scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.2 Peter, we recall, objected severely to Jesus. Can we appreciate Peter’s feelings? We can at least begin when we recall their ancient Mediterranean culture desired honor and feared shame. Honor was the prized value of their culture.

Honor involved more than esteem and privilege. Honor involved public image and moral responsibilities. Someone could be born to honor as the child of a person of high reputation or pedigree. Or, one could be adopted to it. Adoption not only won the prized value. It oiled the political machinery: if a ruler adopted his chosen successor as his child, people recognized the successor as legitimate.

The opposite of honor was shame, and people feared it. Tarnishing image and failing to live up to responsibilities owed family, friends and clan was shameful. People feared to bring disgrace on family and clan. They also feared the humiliation those actions—even accusations—carried.

Romans knew their culture. The most shameful death they could execute was crucifixion; it was a shame-spectacle: pains inflicted; power taken self-respect lost—progressively and all in public!3 For slaves and revolutionaries to be killed was to be crucified. Peter staked his life on Jesus; he could not bear the shame of his messiah being killed. He naturally objected to what Jesus said.

Words of Jesus were not enough. So Jesus took Peter and the other two hot-tempered disciples4—his inner circle—up the mountain. We have no video of what happened. That does not mean we are left with no meaning. Mountain and God are closely associated in Israel’s tradition. Moses went up a mountain to communicate with God and receive God’s teachings. Prophets and mountains were no strangers.5 Mountain, Moses and Elijah were only three features of the gospel. Others were: heaven opened; light; a cloud; a vision; a voice; a command. The command, Listen to Jesus, included what he had just told them: he would die suffering. Do these features offer meaning?

The vision was for Peter, James and John. It validated them as prophets of Jesus’ good news. It offered them a new way to grasp honor and rely on God as its source not humans. That took time and more help from God at work in them. Jesus’ words to them, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead,” are as much grace as command. They would struggle to accept Jesus’ words and his fate until they experienced Jesus risen. Then they grasped God honored him and them in an undying way. 

Jesus has been raised from the dead for us. That is why we are here. Lent is time for each of us to refresh our friendship with Jesus. Its practices help us count on God in Jesus by their Spirit for all we are, all we have and all we do from our friendship. Prayer grows our friendship with Jesus.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week

  • Rest in the life of our triune God.
  • Ask Peter, James and John to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: thank him for having called you his friend. Consider the ways you resist his friendship. Talk to Jesus about them.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to open more to him and his risen life he desires you to enjoy.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words on our lips remind us that Christian friendship is not conveniently seeing the same way. Christian friendship begins by learning Jesus to have his attitude; then living from it.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


  1. John 15.15.
  2. Matthew 16.21.
  3. Cicero did not mince words about the public trials.
  4. Mark 10.35-45 || Matthew 20.20-23; Luke 9.49-56.
  5. For Elijah: 1Kings 19.7-14.

Wiki-images of Jesus transfigured PD-US and by S Yao of Divine Light CC BY-SA 3.0

Thursday, March 13, 2014

From Ukraine

Jesuit David Nazar, Superior of Jesuits in Ukraine, wrote that events in the country are about “values that guarantee healthy society: justice, transparency, reconciliation, social inclusion.” Fr. Nazar also reported that “media coverage has been littered with misunderstandings.” He clarified them in his iWitness letter posted at ThinkingFaith.
Wiki-mage of flag of Ukraine PD-US

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Election Anniversary: Pope’s First Year and 10 Characteristic Features

People the world over cite how Pope Francis impresses them. Rome Reports TV News Agency compiled its “top 10 list” in this video.

Wiki-mage by Edgar Jiménez of Pope Francis among people CC BY-SA 2.0

Lent: Not on Automatic Pilot

Joe Paprocki, catechist, family man and National Consultant for Faith Formation, describes the pillars of Lent as exercises toward holiness. “Lent is 40 days for a reason—holiness is a habit, and habits take time to take hold.” Lent is a beginning: to change habits for new ones and live from them usually takes longer than 40 days.
[At the end of Mr. Paprocki’s reflection readers can use a link to participate in the U.S. Catholic survey about ways people celebrate Lent.]
Wiki-mage of mountain flower PD-US

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Belgian Among Native Americans

The Society of Jesus observes 2014 as the 200th anniversary of its restoration. As part of the anniversary the British Jesuits created a calendar of significant Jesuits. March bears the face of the Belgian missionary among Native Americans, Fr. Pierre Jean de Smet. At ThinkingFaith Jesuit William Pearsall sketched his life.

Wiki-mage by Ad Meskens of Pierre De Smet CC BY-SA 3.0

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Impact Is. . .

Last month the “Pew Research Center Religion & Public Life surveyed Americans’ views of Pope Francis.” Jesuit Francis Reese offers a tour of the survey numbers. He paraphrased a description of politics, “‘All Catholicism is local.’” Father Reese concluded: “If people become enthusiastic and return to church because of Pope Francis but find that same old same old, then they will turn around and leave.” 
Wiki-mage by Sébastien Bertrand from Paris, France of waiting for the pope CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sunday word, 09 Mar 2014

Dramas, Prayer, Reason
Lenten Sunday 1 A (09 Mar 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Lent immerses us in mystery. Our Catholic mystery is not a whodunit but a person, our Messiah Jesus. Jesus was fully God and fully human. We are not observers of our mystery. We are parts of it, parts of Jesus body. Lent allows us to recall clearly the human and divine contours of our mystery: sin and salvation.

How may we describe our side of the mystery? We lost right relationship with God and others. Not enjoying right relation is the result of sin. Something went wrong. It warped us and blurred the image of God in which humans are created.1 Genesis described it with its so-familiar went-wrong drama. In Eden eating was more than putting something in the mouth and swallowing. Eating dramatized personal choice and responsibility.

Human choice put things out of joint. What the first choice was we cannot not know. Genesis is not a news report. The insight of Genesis says we cannot blame God for not being in right relation with God and one another. As we heard Genesis present it God was not present at the center of the garden at that fateful human choice. That dramatic touch is easily overlooked.

A bad choice often leads to other bad choices. A series of bad choices makes it harder to make a good choice. We know that by experience. Yet our knowledge can work against us. We can obsess over the results of sin until they blind us to the rest of the mystery: God’s compassion and desire to save us, free us and restore us.2

Today the Genesis drama led to prayer.
The responsorial psalm bridged our choice and God’s choice, our sin and God’s salvation. The psalm allows us to take responsibility: Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. Then it allows us to make room for God’s desire: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. …Restore to me the joy of your salvation.

Genuine prayer and its reflection make room for God. 
St. Paul reasoned in Jesus God restored the joy of salvation to us. Just as through the first Adam…condemnation came upon all, so through the second Adam, Christ Jesus, acquittal and life came to all. God works our salvation by gift. The gist of the gift is Jesus and his choosing. Choosing right relation with God over runaway self-interest is the annual drama of Jesus tempted.

The drama of Jesus tempted reminds us the son of God was fully human. His Incarnation shouts that God does not disregard our humanity. God became one of us in Jesus. Jesus’ humanity reminds us of our humanity. We, the crown of creation, could not restore right relationship. To use contemporary lingo, restoring acquittal and life is no self-help project. Jesus chose to save us. We enjoy right relationship with God and others when we accept God’s compassionate love in Jesus then live from it and choose in line with it.

Our first experience in the church of God’s compassionate love was baptism. Each year Lent frees us to recall baptism and help others prepare for it. Baptism unites us with Jesus’ dying and rising; makes us parts of his body. Lent offers us 40 days of “closer attention to the Word of God, and more ardent prayer.”3 Both free us to fall into God’s saving love in Jesus. Lent offers us all together a chance to exercise ourselves so we can accept God’s saving love. By welcoming God’s saving love we more readily live from it and choose in line with it.

What Jesus did by his dying and what Jesus continues doing by his resurrection are real. Yes, the symptoms of sin, not being in right relation with God and others, continue: war; racism; drugs; crime; greed; poverty and pollution. Non-believers see them and throw up their hands. We walk by faith not by sight. We know our lives and the lives of those who have gone before us are hidden with Christ in God.4 As parts of Jesus and one another Lent focuses our mission: to choose and live what gives hope to others; to give them courage to look beyond the symptoms of sin so they may welcome the saving compassion of God in Jesus by their Spirit.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the life of our triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: thank him for being human like us; praise him for rising from the dead and making us new creations in him: not “improved” but baptized and sealed by his Spirit as new creations.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live your baptismal vocation readily.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words on our lips not only remind us our baptisms unite us with our Messiah Jesus as his disciples here and now. His prayer guides us to live and choose as his disciples everyday.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Genesis 1.27.
  2. Accepting God’s compassion is the human side of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  3. Constitution on the Liturgy, 109 of the Second Vatican Council.
  4. 2 Corinthians 5.7 and Colossians 3.3.

Wiki-images by Richard Croft of Adam and Eve CC BY-SA 2.0 and Jesus tempted PD-US

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Interview and Comment

On 05 March the Italian Corriere della Sera published an interview with Pope Francis. He spoke about several topics, including child abuse. His words about it elicited quick reaction from those critical of the way the church responds to abuse. John L. Allen Jr. commented that “both sides have a point.
Wiki-mage by Christoph Wagener of Pope Francis CC BY-SA 3.0

Thursday, March 06, 2014

First in Lenten Film Series

From the Rome office of the Society of Jesus:
Loyola Productions, Inc., Los Angeles, through its online platform, IN Network, is launching a Lenten Film Series via the original show The INNdustry with Sister Rose. Hosted by Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP, the series features film and TV clips from mainstream programming to highlight Lenten themes and foster reflection and conversation.
Sister Pacatte offers more info at the beginning of the video. Link may be found at the YouTube site.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Proving Ground?

Jesuit Philip Endean shares some thoughts about beginning Lent. One summarizes them: “Lent is only Christian if it is positive.” Lent’s focus is not about enduring hardship. It is about opening to what God in Jesus by their Spirit is doing. If a lenten practice still awaits, be not quick to rule out one “less conventionally ‘penitential.’”
Wiki-mage by Lolcatss of Ash Wednesday ceremony CC BY-SA 3.0

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

First Mention of Lent

In a short history of Lent Jesuit Norman Tanner notes that its first mention was in 325. The season’s name in many languages indicates its duration. “The English word ‘Lent’ has another, very beautiful derivation.” Learn it and Fr. Tanner’s encouragement to “relax in the presence of God” during Lent.
Wiki-mage by 4028mdk09 of purple rose CC BY-SA 3.0

Monday, March 03, 2014

Welcoming Lent

Every year popes issues messages for Lent. Pope Francis issued his last December. He focused on grace, God’s life offered all people in Jesus, and on the witness Jesus’ disciples offer the world. The text of his message may be read at the Vatican website.
Wiki-mage by Angel 007 of Soul iris CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sunday word, 02 Mar 14

Becoming More Free
Eighth Sunday of the Year A (02 Mar 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Take a few moments, close your eyes and think of someone who influenced you. A person may have awakened in you something you did not know you possessed. Someone may have helped you see in a new way. [pause]

Some who influenced me were teachers. In high-school one encouraged me not to give up my dream for my life; events were pushing me to do that. A graduate school professor was so clear she made difficult things less unnerving. Another made his passion for learning Jesus contagious.

To encourage; to strengthen to persevere; to share enthusiasm and help it grow: those are but a few ways people positively affect us. Classroom teachers are not the only people who affect us in positive ways, as you know. Whoever it may be, we feel connected. One contour of our connection registers as trust. I trusted the teachers I mentioned, my parents, my mentor in parish ministry and another colleague in ministry. How to describe my trust? If any of them told me to play in traffic, I would. My words may be over the top, but they hint at the deep connection with trusted others.

Recall again the person who positively affected you. Feeling the connection offers us a way to hear today’s gospel selection. Jesus addressed his words to his disciples. His disciples heard him as people closely connected to him. They recognized Jesus desired a relationship with them. They responded to his compassion for them, to his direct way of speaking and his connection with God, whom he called his dear Father. In a phrase: Jesus affected them in positive ways. Jesus desired that his disciples enjoy his connection with God. What could be more positive?

The disciples’ situation was not totally unlike ours. They needed food; so do we. They needed clothing; so do we. They were weak and vulnerable; so are we. Meeting our needs can make us anxious like Jesus’ disciples. God knows our needs as God knew the needs of Jesus’ disciples: your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Because of God’s loving knowledge, Jesus forbade his disciples to give in to anxiety.

Anxiety, we know from experiencing it, not only eats at us. Anxiety commands our attention. If we give in to it it masters us. Full, focused attention of the kind that moves us and shapes our desires is devotion. Devotion is not strictly a religious word. When we are devoted to anything we give ourselves to it. Not only anxiety and other emotions, we can give ourselves to possessions. The result? They control us. Before we know it we are possessed even though we think we are possessing; and because we are possessed we don’t realize we grasp for more or that we are not free. It’s so subtle! Jesus exposed this subtle deception with his warning: people cannot serve two masters [we] will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and possessions.

Not only is God supreme; Jesus revealed God supremely cares for us. God loves us and knows our needs. Possessions and emotions do not. God’s knowledge and concern for us is God’s providence. Jesus used a human image for it: your heavenly father. Our trust in God’s parental concern makes us children of God. Our relationship, our devotion to God offers us victory over ordinary anxiety and of being gripped and driven by possessions.

Jesus desires we enjoy his connection with God. I hear you object: I am human and concern about surviving, about tomorrow and for family is human. His disciples objected at first hearing, too. After Jesus died and rose they connected more with his teaching. They recalled Jesus trusted his Father more than himself. As he hung on his cross Jesus did not give in to the taunts of the religious professionals,“Save yourself! If you are the son of God, come down from the cross!”1 They remembered Jesus’ words about daily needs and being anxious. They remembered for us as well as for them that to be human is not all on us. Jesus’ Father is truly present to us with tender care.

We welcome God’s care by our human trust. Jesus did not force himself on his disciples or anyone. Nor does his Father force his concern and care on us. We grow genuinely human, more humane and more free as we grow more connected with Jesus and his desire to welcome his Father’s care for us and for all. Living faith begins as a personal relationship with Jesus; Like any relationship it is a challenge. Friendship with Jesus affects us in positive ways if we let it.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause to rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the disciples to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: Praise him for revealing God’s care for you.
  • Ask Jesus to help you trust his Father’s care for you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Its first words invites us to give ourselves to his Father and ours.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Matthew 27.40.