22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading – Sirach 3: 17-18, 20, 28-29

Sirach is the longest of the wisdom books with 51 chapters.  It is a mixture of proverbs and lengthy essays on major themes within the wisdom tradition:  use of speech, self-control, the value of work, etc.  Unlike Proverbs, it tends to group many sayings on the same topic close together.  The author identifies himself (Ben Sira) at the end of chapter 50, but luckily his grandson translated the original into Greek and wrote a preface which helps date the book to 190-175 BC.  It was thought that it was all in Greek but portions were found in Hebrew.  It is not a book accepted in the Jewish canon or the Protestant Bible (Reading the Old Testament, Boadt, p. 486-487).  Think about the passing on of wisdom and faith through the generations.

From Exploring the Sunday Readings, Sept.2, 2007:

Genuine humility has nothing to do with praising others or putting ourselves down. Humus means earth; humility means remembering that we are dust – yet dust that God has taken and breathed into it his very life. When we are humble we are filled with gratitude and are at peace in God’s presence. We can use our talents with great energy; but we do not have to be everything to everyone. Nor, do we have to be noticed, applauded, or extolled. Can you think of an example of when you have had to “eat humble pie”?

2nd Reading – Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22-24

This reading is highlighting the contrast between the law (Mount Sinai) and the salvation we find in Christ (Mount Zion).  What sense do you make of this reading?

From John Kavanaugh, “The Word Engaged,” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

Some see God as unapproachable as the highest mountain, or an all-consuming fire, or an abyss of impenetrable darkness, or a booming, terrifying voice. But the God we find in Christ is a loving parent, a merciful judge. His mountain is full of life and light and festivity. Come! We will be made whole.

From Exploring the Sunday Readings, Sept.2, 2007:

These two images of God battle for our attention. Is our God fearful, powerful, brooding, and potentially wrathful?   Or, is God approachable, beautiful, and delightful? Do you feel like plugging your ears and closing your eyes before God due to fear? Or, do you find yourself joining in a song of joy and peace in God’s presence? Moses once stood in the presence of God; his face shone with a brilliant light. Yet, the rest of the community nearly died of fright. What we see and experience in the presence of God may have more to do with us than with God. If we are open and trusting in the divine presence, we may be surprised by the joy we find. But if we are closed by fear and self-defensive, self-righteous attitudes, we may find trouble.

The Gospel – Luke 14: 1, 7-14

From John Kavanaugh, “The Word Engaged,” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

Jesus is not offering some lesson in courtly etiquette. He is talking about the real problem of ego-enhancement – self-promotion. Both the guests and host – and us? – have this problem. Elite house parties, in Jesus’ time or in our own, are honored by the best and brightest who attend. But besides this, Jesus is also speaking to people who want to ‘test’ him – even trap him. He is talking to them in the only language they understand, the logic of self-enhancement. He wants them to see that even on their own terms their tactics are self-defeating.

From John Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context,” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

In Jesus’ times, meals were very powerful means of communication. They affirmed a person’s role and status in a given community. Luke tells us that Jesus is invited by a leading Pharisee – but also that he is watched closely by the host and his guests. The word that is used for watching implies a very hostile observation. Their apparently honorable invitation may not have been quite so honorable. Jesus responds to this hostility with a story, a parable. Jesus is using their logic to turn their world upside down. Accepting an invitation to dinner came with obligation. Reciprocity was expected. Jesus’ advice to his host was shocking, and perhaps quite insulting and rude.

(A guest was never to tell a host how to be a host!) But Jesus wants to shock them and us into realizing that only God can confer ‘true’ honor. In Jesus we find a God who will personally reward the host who has been gracious to those unable to return such graciousness. Pharisees believed in Resurrection. Having set a trap for Jesus, they find themselves trapped — and their world rather topsy-turvy.

From Joan Chittister’s, Illuminated Life (p. 56):  “I am not everything I could be.  I am not even the fullness of myself, let alone a pinnacle for which my family, my friends, my world, the universe should strive.  I am only me.  I am weak often, struggling always, arrogant sometimes, hiding from myself most of the time, and always in some kind of need.  I cover my limitations with flourish, of course, but down deep, where the soul is forced to confront itself, I know who I really am and what, on the other hand, however fine the image, I really am not.  Then the Rule of Benedict says, we are ready for union with God.”

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading:  Isaiah 66:18-21

From The Word into Life, p. 96:  This first reading is taken from that part of the Book of Isaiah called Third Isaiah  (chapters 56-66), which was composed by an unknown prophet  (or prophets) around 500BC (and possibly later).  It proclaims a message of exceptional universalism – the God of Israel loves everyone.  First the Gentiles will actually serve as Yahweh’s missionaries; they’ll proclaim Yahweh’s glory in remote regions of Spain, Africa, Greece, and Asia Minor.  In the process, “they shall bring all your kindred from all the nations” – those exiled Israelites who have lost hope and those who have forgotten their God – “to my holy mountain.”  And some will be called to enter the elite ranks of the priests and to become Levites, or assistants, to the priests.  This is indeed a world without prejudice or bias.  In what ways do you experience a feeling of unity, of being one with others, in your family, in your work place, in your neighborhoods, in the Church?

2nd Reading;  Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

From Word & Worship, p. 454-455:  The discipline spoken of in the text probably referred to prejudices and persecution experienced at the hands of their friends and non-Christian neighbors.  Imagine what that must have been like…being teased for your faith, or worse…feeling like an outsider in your own hometown.  Even today, as Catholics, we worry about the fate of our Church and why there are dwindling numbers.  Wherever and whenever the church suffers in any way, whether that is through serious persecution, dwindling numbers, or apathy, we are to view it as discipline.  We are disciplined as a church.  This discipline is a sign of God’s love of the church.  One cannot help but recall St. Theresa’s complaint:  “Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few.”).  What obstacles do you find in practicing your faith?  How are these obstacles like discipline?

The theology of Hebrews asserts that suffering is to be seen as necessary for growth, not punishment for wrongdoing.   Consider exercising, or writing a paper.  It is hard work, but good work!  Harold Kushner in When Bad Things Happen to Good People says, “Let me suggest that the bad things that happen to us in our lives do not have a meaning when they happen to us.  They do not happen for any good reason, which would cause us to accept them willingly.  But we can give them a meaning.  The question we should be asking is not, ‘Why did this happen to me?  What did I do to deserve this?’ That is really an unanswerable, pointless question.  A better question would be, ‘Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?’ ( p. 136).

Gospel:  Luke 13:22-30

From Wm. Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 188-189.  “Keep on striving to enter…”  the word striving is the root word for the English word agony.  We must never be complacent; our struggle to follow Jesus is part of an intense encounter.  There is no finality for the Christian; no resting on one’s self-righteous laurels.  A Christian way is like climbing up a mountain towards a peak which will never be reached in this world…

We cannot live on borrowed goodness – or on who we know, not even if it is ‘rubbing elbows with Jesus.’  Jesus does not want casual acquaintances; he wants disciples.  Think about your own friends and how some are closer than others.  Sometimes it is hard when you want to be closer to someone than you are, but maybe the other doesn’t want that.  Or even people you may always just say hi to but you still don’t remember what their names are!  Jesus wants us to strive to be closer than close to him.  He always knows our name and knows us intimately.  We must respond to his offer.

From St. Anselm, “Thoughts from the Early Church, “ http://liturgy.slu.edu:  The kingdom of heaven is God’s gift to us – but he will not give it to anyone who lacks love.  Love is the only thing asked for – without it he cannot give it.  Love God and other people as you should and then you will deserve what you desire.  But you cannot have this love unless you empty your heart of other loves:  riches, power, pleasure, honor, and praise.  Hate locks doors; only love can open them…

From Hungry, and You Fed Me, p. 215:  “Jesus doesn’t seem to have much patience with the question [of who will be saved]…it’s as if Jesus is saying, ‘Just aim for the narrow gate.  Assume that you’re all outsiders and try the best that you can.  Don’t try to assess who is in and who is out.  Don’t even waste your time on all that because you’re not going to be able to figure it out.  The last will be first and the first will be last.’  What if we really led our lives in this manner?  What if we met each person and had no preconceived notions about who they were, but listened to their stories and understood their human messiness?  What if we had a bit of humility and assumed the position of outcasts who are just trying the best that we can?…if we set aside all of the ways in which we determine who is in and who is out, if we begin to relate to one another as mysteries…we would have a very different sort of faith.”

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1st Reading – The Book of Wisdom 18: 6-9

The Book of Wisdom, written in the century before the birth of Jesus and in Alexandria (one of the great centers of learning in the ancient world), aimed to strengthen the faith of the Jewish community living in the diaspora.  The diaspora were communities outside of the Holy Land through Asia Minor where the Jewish people were more influenced by Hellenistic culture.  They seemed to be more progressive and were very important to the early church.  In this reading, the author reflects on God’s abiding presence and constant saving action among the people.  There is an attitude of watchful readiness, which we will see in the Gospel reading too (Foundations in Faith, p. 176).

With faith comes courage.  We have a God that will never disappoint, that will never leave us.  We must rely on God like “holy children of the good”.  How does that image speak to you?  God summons (arouses, beckons, gathers, rallies) us…for God’s glory.  How do you find this true in your life?

2nd Reading – Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-19

The 11th chapter of this letter is sometimes called ‘the roll call of the heroes of faith.’ Yet, these great figures of salvation history are brought forth, not for their heroism, but for their ‘faith’ which is here closely linked with hope.  Faith is taking God at his word when he promises his love and help for the now and for the future. These Old Testament people became examples to early Christians (and to us) for the New Israel – the new wandering people of God – called into God’s kingdom – now and into the future. We are all called to imitate Abraham who “went out, not knowing where he was to go.” He lived trusting himself and his family to God’s promises and love. (Reginald Fuller, http://liturgy.slu.edu )

 

The Gospel – Luke 12: 32-48

This gospel is not about an ending…but a beginning.  Be prepared…for something wonderful.  Be prepared…for God to come into your life.  Be prepared…to open the door to Christ, let him in, and to serve him.  Are we ready for whatever God wants us to do with our lives?  Are we looking for Him, anticipating Him?  Are we ready to give Him what He wants and needs – our time, our talent, even, perhaps, our lives?  (Hungry, and You Fed Me, p. 206)

“Gird your loins.”  The long flowing robes of the east were a hindrance to work;  and when a man prepared to work he gathered up his robes under his girdle to leave himself free for activity.  We would like God to find us with our work completed.  Life for so many of us is filled with loose ends…the things put off and the things not even attempted.  Keats wrote,

“When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain.”

There is nothing so fatal as to feel that we have plenty of time  (Barclay’s The Gospel of Luke, p. 171-172).  What will you do with your time?  It matters!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1st Reading – Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23

From http://www.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/online.html:  This is the only time that we read from this book at a Sunday liturgy, although we often hear from it at funerals: “For everything there is a season . . . “ (3:1). Qoheleth seems to be a collective name rather than a single person, a community’s voice expressing its wisdom.  Vanity for the writer is more like mist or smoke rather than the falseness of glamor.  The voice of the people is wondering about what life is really all about.  Do you ever have moments when you wonder too?                                                                                 The basic message is the old one of, “You can’t take it with you.” Instead of the meaning of the word “vanity” concerning superfluous clothes and cosmetics, I offer the word, “fragile” or “symbolic”. Everything is sacramental, that is leading beyond itself. The theme here is that what is, is, and will not be, very soon. This text is not meant to be a bucket of cold water, but a reflection upon the shortness of life’s span and even more deeply, a pointing to the possibility of a life beyond the fragile.

In growing up, I remember going to my mother a lot and saying, “That’s not fair!”  She would always reply, “Well, life isn’t fair!”  I never liked it when she said that, because there is no arguing with it.  It’s true, as much as we all wish it wasn’t.  Sometimes we work hard and things still don’t work out.  Sometimes we do nothing and everything is grand.  That is how life goes.  Qoheleth is saying get past this.  Treasure the love.  Treasure the good.

2nd Reading – Colossians 3: 1-5, 9-11

From Reginald Fuller, “Scripture in Depth” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

The dying that Colossians is referring to is the ‘dying’ of baptism. Once baptized we are to begin living ‘a new life’ – a life that is transformed already by the resurrection of Christ. Thinking of “what is above” is not some neo-Platonic escape from this present world – but a qualitatively transcendent way to life within the world. Our relation to God is not a ‘religious’ relationship to a Being that is up there and out there – rather our relation to God is a new life in ‘existence for others through participation in the being of Jesus (the Body of Christ) – the ‘man for others’ – the crucified/resurrected one (taken from thoughts from D. Bonhoeffer).

“Your life is hidden in Christ” and “When Christ your life appears”…what do you make of this?  We are not branded that we are Christian.  By looking at us, no one knows that we are followers of Christ.  But we hold this truth in our hearts.  Our belief may be hidden from view, but our actions will show it.  It is through our actions that we become the hands and feet of Christ.  So we are to turn away from that which keeps us from being more like Christ.  A lifetime job!  Paul says we need to put them to death, which is such strong language.  What do you think?  

The Gospel – Luke 12:13 – 21

How does this Gospel parable relate to the other readings we just heard?

Isn’t it interesting that right from the get-go, Jesus says he is not a judge?  What does that say about Jesus?  About how you relate to Jesus?  It was not uncommon for people in Palestine to take their unsettled disputes to respected Rabbis; but Jesus refused to be mixed up in anyone’s disputes about money.  But out of that request there came to Jesus an opportunity to lay down what His followers’ attitude to material things should be, those with abundance and those who had none  (Barclay’s Daily Study Bible series on Luke, p. 167).

Basil the Great (330-379) says of this story:

“But what do we find in this man? A bitter disposition – an unwillingness to give. He forgot that we all share the same nature. With all his wealth, he laments like the poor: what am I to do?  If you have wealth, recognize who has given you the gifts you have . . . you are the servant of the good God, a steward on behalf of other fellow servants. Do not imagine that everything has been provided for your own stomach.”  How different the story would be if this man had thought: I will enjoy what I have by sharing it. I will issue the generous invitation: Let anyone who lacks bread, come to me. We will share in the good things just as though we were drawing from a common well.   (“Thoughts from the Early Church”,  http://liturgy.slu.edu )

Living Liturgy, 2004, p.187:

All of these readings challenge us to a deeper surrender to the paschal mystery. Our ideal stands before us – the person of Christ. The word reminds us that we are the body of Christ and our mission is to heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and forgive those who injure us. We are called to say yes to the ideal. This ideal is not a set of directives but a living, breathing relationship to a Person who is calling us to die to self and live a life that is eternal.

Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke, p. 153-155:

Jesus’ message in today’s reading is: “Live now what matters in eternity.” Live on earth what’s happening in heaven. What would really matter to you if you knew you were to die tomorrow? To whom would you go with the words, “I’m sorry,” or “I love you,” or “I forgive you”? It is important to live what is truly important. It is a call to faith. Such faith is the opposite of anxiety. If we do not believe that God is for us, then we must be self-occupied. As soon as we stop believing in a loving God, we revert to ourselves. Jesus and his good news free us from groveling before God or trying to earn or manipulate God’s approval. We all have that approval already. We just need to live it – and share it.

Does the Good Samaritan Matter?

Father Bob’s homily last Sunday…

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

The parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Prodigal Son are likely the two most famous parables of all, perhaps because they best both encapsulate the mercifulness that Jesus calls us to. The story of the Good Samaritan has been told and resonated with audiences for centuries, and it is easy to see why.

A man is beaten and robbed on the road to Jericho, a dangerous one that he should have never traveled alone. A priest and a Levite see him and pass him on the other side in order to remain ritually pure as they prepare to serve at the Temple. (I remember my first mass 18 years ago back at my home parish and this was the Gospel.  I thought did we have to have the Gospel in which the priest is the bad guy?)  Finally, a Samaritan…

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Baccalaureate Mass

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Baccalaureate Mass 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

St. Paul                 speaks about freedom in the second reading and that is a word that is I am sure on a lot of your minds for at this crossroads of life, you are about to come into more freedom.  You will have your own way space and your time to manage.  You will be free of curfews and easily enforced rules.  You are given more responsibility then you ever had before.  And even as your smile grows in excitement at the prospect, so your parents eyes grow wider in concern.

Yet, I imagine no one grows without freedom. We use that newly created space to stretch ourselves, to challenge ourselves and even to make the mistakes we all need to make.  Use this freedom to edge your mind to new horizons.   Learn from the sciences how intricately and carefully God…

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Scripture Commentary for 14th Sunday OT, Cycle C

1st Reading – Isaiah 66: 10-14c

From “Working with the Word,” www.liturgy.slu.edu :

This is from the last chapter of the Book of Isaiah. It is written after the Exile when Jerusalem was being rebuilt. This book is in many ways a story of Jerusalem. At times Jerusalem has been a place of unspeakable sin and injustice (for example, 1:21-26; 3: 8-12; 5: 7). Yet, Jerusalem (Zion) also stands for the very center (the “mountain’ – the heights) of the Lord’s glorious sovereignty and rule (2:1-4; 24:23; 27:13; 52: 1-2; 60:14). Even though Jerusalem often fails to live up to the grace that the Lord showers on her, she is still the place the Lord has chosen for divine dwelling. The term ‘Kingdom of God’ that Jesus uses captures many of these aspects of the ideal Jerusalem. This passage uses images that earlier in the book have been used for destruction. The “overflowing torrent” had been the relentless army of Assyria which had ‘punished’ and defeated them (8:7-8; 28:2, 15, 18). Now it is a “torrent” of wealth and prosperity from God: shalom. Before, grass had been an image of what was impermanent and worthless (5:24; 15:6; 30:33; 40:8), but now the flourishing grass is an image of growth, health, and vitality for God’s people.   When have you felt such comfort from God?

2nd Reading – Galatians 6: 14-18  (Paul’s closing remarks to this letter)

From John Kavanaugh, “The Word Engaged,” www.liturgy.slu.edu :

In the first reading, God’s love was imaged as a mother’s love, a tender, nursing mother. But Paul shows us just how ‘tough’ a love this is. The cross of Christ reveals God’s undying bond of love with us. Because of this cross, Paul is utterly rooted in trust, the blessed assurance in a God who bears and nourishes us, who wants only our life and flourishing, who would die for love of us. If, with Paul, we truly believe this truth of God’s love, we will find peace and mercy. Paul bore the marks of Jesus on his body: he had scars from his sufferings for the gospel’s sake. But he had gained a peace that was beyond understanding – a peace that let him live a life ‘in Christ’ – in the freedom that last week’s reading had declared was for all who are in Christ Jesus.

From Reginald Fuller, “Scripture in Depth,” www.liturgy.slu.edu :

Paul ‘glories’ not in the circumcision or any other religious ritual: he glories in the cross. For it is at the cross that we can be transformed, recreated into children of God, trusting and knowing a love that is there to heal and give life, even in the midst of hardship and troubles. The marks of his apostolic sufferings are evidence of his faith in that love. With that faith, nothing can really bother Paul – or us if we learn to let such a faith grow in us.

There is a balance between living a life detached and living life fully immersed in love.  Detachment is approaching life freely.  You are okay with however things work out.  This is hard because we want our own way!  And culture encourages decision-making or choosing sides.  It is also hard because we love.  We want things to work out well for those we love and we cling to what we achieve.  But God is here to help us with this balance.  This is why Paul says no one will make trouble for him again, because he bears the marks of Christ.  It is through Christ that we receive consolation.  Can you think of a time when you detached from something, trusted in the Lord and it worked out?

The Gospel – Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20

Only Luke uses this story of Jesus sending out 72 (or 70) to go ‘ahead of him in pairs.” What do you make of this gospel story as Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem?  Do you think any of the appointed were women?

From John Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context,” www.liturgy.slu.edu

In Jesus’ culture, goodness to a family member was considered ‘steadfast love.’ Hospitality was something given to strangers, usually by males. Travel was a very dangerous activity. Death was a constant threat once a person left their family village. Jesus is perhaps just uttering a cultural truism when he says that “I am sending you as lambs into the midst of wolves” – strangers among nonrelatives. Thus, hospitality was of vital importance in this culture. Jesus warns them to accept gratefully any hospitality that is offered, but to leave even the dust behind if they are rejected. They were not to be weighed down with disappointment. Remember also that the people at this time ‘saw’ demons everywhere. Today we might not personify evil in the same way. But evil is just as real. And, Jesus can still help us overcome it.

From William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, 137-138:

When Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven,” it is a difficult phrase to understand.   It may mean that he saw evil being overcome by their proclaiming God’s kingdom. But it could also be a warning against pride. The legend was that it was pride that caused Satan to rebel against God; it was Satan’s pride that cast him out of heaven. Jesus may be telling them to be careful of the same pride and overconfidence. They had been given great power, but it was a gift. Our greatest glory is not what we can do, but what God has done for us – ‘our names written in heaven’ – sinners who are saved by God’s free gift of grace.

From Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke, 137-142:

Luke’s Jesus sends the disciples out in two’s. By doing so, Luke is telling us that the gospel happens between people – it doesn’t happen in your mind. It is through a sacrificial love – being in right relationship with at least with one other person (the only real ‘test’ of God’s Spirit being present).  Only then do we begin to understand ‘salvation.’ Salvation is not antiseptic, unreal and sterile. “Person-to-person is the way the gospel was originally communicated. Person-in-love-with-person, person-respecting-person, person-forgiving-person, person-crying-with-person, person-hugging-person: that’s where the Spirit is so beautifully present . . . Restraint and passion – that is the paradoxical experience of the Holy.” We grow into our ability “to love another in a way that totally gives” ourselves and entrusts ourselves to another while respecting the other person and standing back in honor of them. Jesus is also trying to console them even as he is ‘toughening them up’ for the job. He warns them not to feel defeated when rejected. If they do not accept your peace, it will return to you.  If they accept you, then let your presence as another Christ bring God’s goodness to them.

Already, but Not Yet

Fr. Bob’s homily June 19th

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Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time C

There is an important theological concept that you many of you I am sure are aware of.  It is called “Already, but not yet.”  What it means is that we already have all we need to make the kingdom of God a reality.  “Already” we have been redeemed and forgiven.  We have been cherished and loved by a God who suffered and died for us.  We have known ultimate love so there is nothing that stands in the way of our capability of making the kingdom of God alive in our midst.

On the other hand, “not yet” refers to the fact that we fail to appropriate all of the love and grace that is given to us at baptism.  We make choices contrary to the Gospel and this inevitably results in our failure to live in a society governed by divine justice and…

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Scripture Commentary for 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading – Zechariah 12: 10-11

This Old Testament book was probably written by two, maybe even three, different anonymous authors, with this portion being written after the Babylonian exile.

Through suffering, the people would come to know what it means to truly repent and thus the covenant with God restored.  How does suffering help purify us?  The early Christians, of course, saw Jesus in these words, as we do today. He is the pierced one that we must look upon and mourn. Then a fountain of grace will cleanse us of sin. And that is the central meaning of the passage. When we really grasp the love of God poured out in and through the ‘pierced one,’ we will experience an outpouring of the Spirit and a change of heart. With mourning and grief we will turn away from our self-centered sins and open to the love of God present in the crucified one. (Celebration, June 1998)

It is interesting that grace proceeds the mourning.  How else are we to carry our burdens but through God’s grace?  It is only through God’s grace that death and destruction do not have the final answer.  In God there is hope.  What better goodness to hear with all that is in the news lately?

2nd Reading – Galatians 3: 26-29

Baptism is the sacrament in which we are immersed in Christ  — in the One who shows us the overflowing love of God and the dying and rising that this love entails. We are one-in-Christ only in this truth. Only when we immerse ourselves in God’s love and acceptance (justification) are we able to overcome and transcend such very real differences.  (R. Fuller, “Scripture In Depth,” http://liturgy.slu.edu )

Paul says we are all children of God…co-heirs…not alone but one body in Christ.  In fact, we are to “put on” Christ in our oneness.  By linking us all back to Abraham, he is saying the Israelites are not the only chosen people of God.  We are all chosen.  How does it feel to know you are chosen by God? 

Paul was not concerned with hierarchical leadership as much as he was with the house churches acting “as a body”.  Leaders were to admonish, but so was everyone.  Prophets were to build up, but so was everyone.  Paul’s notion of church leadership included the concepts of reciprocity, collegiality, and collaborative ministry.  The one in charge would carry out the wishes as servant of the “body”  (Birmingham, Word & Worship, p. 403).  How is this reflected in our church today?

The Gospel – Luke 9: 18-24

The next 10 chapters of Luke are about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.  They are particular to Luke.  The other evangelists do not give such an exhaustive rendering of the journey.  Luke intended to show that Jesus’ journey mirrors the journey of every Christian  (Birmingham, W&W, p. 404).   It gives us the picture that the disciples really were On The Way.  There is continual movement for them…constantly busy…yet they are focused on Christ and are fed in the midst of it.  Do you relate to this?

From Celebration, June 1998:

Peter’s response that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ of God, was a good answer, but one that hung Judaism’s old messianic hopes on Jesus. This messiah had been long anticipated as a royal descendant of the Davidic dynasty with might and prowess sufficient enough to restore the nation to the prestige and power it had known under David. Jesus had to correct this notion. His mission would not be spent in military maneuvers forcing foes into submission. He had come as one who serves, as one proclaiming God’s kingdom, a kingdom of love. This love would entail self-sacrifice – self-giving — dying to oneself. Only this way of life would lead to transformation, but first it would also lead to suffering. Jesus does not ‘sugar-coat’ this message. We as disciples – who claim to recognize God’s anointing presence in and with Jesus — must follow him: daily picking up our crosses, enduring rejection and suffering and even death so that we might find new life, resurrection. This dying and rising is a daily event, a daily decision, a daily response to our faith in Jesus.

As William Barclay says, Jesus requires that life be spent, not hoarded. We cannot be concerned with what is the safe thing – the bare minimum – the me-first routine. We need to seek the right thing, the generous gift, the what-can-I-do-for-others endeavor. We need to be grace-driven, grace-filled rather than ambition-motivated and power-directed.  How do you do this?  How does being one body in Christ help us with this?

Fill Me Up

Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…

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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Do you think that God keeps score?  I want to get back to that question.  But first, let’s get into this Gospel which I must admit is a little uncomfortable for me.  It might be the public display of affection for Jesus or the woman’s outlandish and very physical encounter with Christ, anointing his feet and wiping his feet with her hair.  All of that seems pretty discomforting especially given that it is being done to the Lord.  Besides, if you were giving a dinner party, who would want that scene to break out?

But that is not what is disquieting to the Pharisee who has invited Jesus over for dinner.  He is disturbed that Jesus allows himself to be touched by a sinful woman.  He can only conclude that if Jesus were really a prophet he would know better; a true Rabbi…

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