Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday word, 27 Jan 18

Third Saturday of the Year (27 Jan 2018)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. on 8-day, Directed Retreat
Commitment of the Heart
A scripture-snippet may become one’s prayer during retreat. Even outside retreat hearing snippets of scripture allows us to mull over what we hear and apply it to ourselves. A snippet may be a detail that at first glance seems insignificant. Some details help us appreciate Jesus and others in scripture on the way to appreciating ourselves. Just as he was is a detail today: [the disciples] took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.

Over 3 days at mass we heard Jesus embark on his parable-teaching. What we heard over 3 days together describe a single day in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was in a boat moored at the shore for much of it. He continued to teach the Twelve and those with them until evening. After a day of preaching then coaching the Twelve came the detail just as he was. It suggests tired, hungry, a bit smelling of fish and maybe damp.

Just as he was is no throwaway line. It helps us appreciate Jesus asleep. It helps us appreciate the disciples afraid: of the violent squall; the wind and sea; that Jesus was oblivious to them; and in awe when Jesus stilled wind and sea. They did not yet know Jesus: Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey? By this episode one would expect that they would know him. The reason readers of the gospel would expect that? Because the beginning of the gospel presented Jesus as the son of God.

As the gospel unfolded the human Jesus was a spiritual force demonic spirits recognized; with a word Jesus dealt with them. The disciples had witnessed Jesus confront demonic spirits. That day in the boat Jesus commanded the elements the same way, but the disciples didn’t know Jesus: Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey? Jesus’ question to them is a refresher for us: Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?

Fear and faith: they are not enemies. Fear lets us realize faith is not about abstract ideas; it involves feelings. Fear is an unpleasant emotion that stirs when we feel for our safety and well-being. Faith is also felt: it is commitment of the heart. Faith grasps the mystery of Jesus who is life-giving spiritual power in flesh and blood.

This is not foreign. Faith in another is felt-knowledge. As a child I did not have words to say I had faith in my parents, sister and grandmother, that I trusted them; I did. I did not have words to say they were committed to me; I did feel their affectionate care. When it comes to our triune God: one may not feel God’s commitment; for another it my be unfamiliar. Faith—commitment of one’s heart: we grow into faith all life long. Like learning another person faith is relationship. Jesus demonstrated God desires a relationship with us; reciprocating just as we are delights God. The gospel shows the disciples grew in their faith in fits and starts. It is the same for us. How might we grow in faith?

Let the foreign grow familiar. Until we spend time with another the person remains foreign to us. Spend time with Jesus, the mystery of God with us. Retreat lets us do that in a steady fashion. We grow more familiar with Jesus; we get into his skin; take on his attitude; feel our hearts meet. Graces like those we receive for us; we receive them to nourish our hearts and spirits beyond retreat. Cultivating what we receive on retreat makes the familiar friendly. Foreign become familiar, and familiar become friendly let us commit our hearts to Jesus more readily—or at least desire that.

Make the foreign familiar and make the familiar friendly describe what the disciples did. When we make the foreign familiar and make the familiar friendly we learn Jesus better; we take Jesus with us; and we are more free to bring Jesus to others.

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