- Pause in the company of our triune God creating us each moment.
- Ask Mary and the communion of saints to present us to Jesus.
- Chat with him: praise him for becoming human for us; thank him for revealing God’s welcome and constant care.
- Ask Jesus for grace to reorient ourselves and open our hearts to him.
- Close saying slowing the Lord’s Prayer. His words, thy will be done, reassure that God desires great things for us and all people.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
Sunday word, 28 Jan 18
Fourth Sunday of the Year B (28 Jan 2018)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Streak and spirit: specifically, mean streak and unclean/evil spirit. Let’s see if this approach helps us enter the gospel and not analyze it: to appropriate it rather than critique it.
A developed-world attitude approaches scripture with a scepticism that may be described as heady: it tries to explain what happened rather than be amazed or astonished. Amazed has the texture of being startled, at a loss for words, of feeling touched within. Its touch registers as impressed, moved, stirred, excited, inspired, awakened and more. Beyond my thoughts my heart is engaged; all of me is. We know we are more than a bundle of parts.
This mystery we humans are is always elusive. We approach it when we recognize that one-self or another has a mean streak. The phrase lacks scientific accuracy, yet its deeper accuracy satisfies: a person—self or another—is in the grip of that which is not friendly, not life-giving. A mean streak distorts personality. This is our language, and we are satisfied it communicates truth. Operations don’t remove mean streaks; they are not physical, yet we know they are real. The intervention of another delivers us with an offer of healthy life if we cooperate with the offer.
This may help us turn to the gospel. Jesus confidently spoke of God. His confidence and his expression—teaching of God & God’s desire—was attractive. His hearers noted Jesus had an authentic feel the scholars of the Mosaic law did not. The difference they noted between scribes and Jesus beckoned more; they were astonished. At a deeper level of self, deeper than obvious knowing they were moved, stirred, excited, inspired, awakened. Would they move with that interior invitation or would they resist?
Resistance was in their midst. Resistance, opposition to all that was life-giving, to God: among them was one with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” The stakes there were not only human; they involved the divine: the Holy One of God and spirits opposed to God.
Unclean spirit was the language of Jesus’ contemporaries. They recognized one can be in the grip of power opposed to God. It was more than human, more than a mean streak. Greater than human intervention could deliver the one in their synagogue; and Jesus delivered the person!
Again the question applied: Would they move with that interior invitation or would they resist? Would they accept the invitation Jesus voiced? To trust that God is hear now, for me, is not identical to spreading the news of what Jesus did for another.
That difference rests in two convictions: God cannot possibly be here; and God is truly here. ‘God cannot be here,’ flows from a closed self, a hardened heart in the Psalmist’s phrase; one refuses to be delivered by God to true life. An open self, a healed, supple, converted heart allows one to echo Jesus, God is truly here. We grow aware that what Jesus has…to do with us is to deliver us, free us from resisting to let him create us to be our true selves. Returning often to being astonished at Jesus’ desire for us is how we let down our defences and let Jesus in.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise