Monthly Archives: June, 2022

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1st Reading – Isaiah 66: 10-14c

This is the last chapter of Isaiah, written by the 3rd Isaiah source and after the exile.  The people were facing the difficulties of the restoration.  There is a mood of disillusionment in the Trito-Isaiah chapters.  2nd Isaiah brimmed with hopeful expectation of the imminent return; Trito-Isaiah lived with the reality of what is.  Things were not as the people hoped.  There was controversy in the Palestinian community.  Those who had returned from exile were eager to get back to their orthodox way of life.  Those who had remained in Israel during the exile had become enculturated with the conquering peoples and were not so eager  (This is similar to the divisions in our own country and the Catholic Church.).  But God comforts God’s people as a nursing mother.  Belief in a future life, a new age, and a new creation sprouts forth (M. Birmingham’s W&W Wkbk for Year C, p. 414-415).  When there are conflicting ideologies, how does God comfort us?  What can we do to recognize that comfort?  How does the image of God as mother resonate with you?     

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

For Paul, everything rests on the power of the cross.  NT Wright tells us in speaking about Paul, “God has accomplished, and will accomplish, the entire new creation in the Messiah and by the spirit.  When someone believes the gospel and discovers its life-transforming power (As Paul himself did!), that person becomes a small but significant working model of that new creation…the point of being human is to be an image –bearer, to reflect the praises of creation back to God, (Paul, p. 407).  Jesus’ death on the cross makes this possible.  His love overcame evil, and that means everything.

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 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 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 – ‘your names are written in heaven’ – sinners 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.

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1st Reading – 1 Kings 19: 16b, 19-21

Elijah has just finished a very difficult time, facing down the false prophets of Baal and then running for his life from Queen Jezebel. He is tired and asks the Lord to relieve him of his burdens – even his very life.

Then the Lord agrees to have Elijah pass on his role as prophet to Elisha.  It is interesting to think that God’s call to Elisha comes to him right in the middle of his ordinary life. And – once he understands the call, he responds with profound commitment. This is quite a powerful story!  What do you find thought-provoking in this passage?

From Mary Birmingham, Word & Worship Wrkbk for Yr. C, 409:

A cloak symbolized the personality and rights of the owner, as well as the owner’s protection. The gift of a cloak was a sign of unity and friendship.  It was also a sign of one’s function or charism.  Elisha, though a very wealthy man (most people would own only one oxen) responds wholeheartedly with a grand gesture of total commitment to the cloak and the call.

Here’s another way of using this story as a means to pray and be open to how God might be speaking to you through it  (from Margaret Silf, Inner Compass, p. 13-14):

After reading the passage of 1 Kings 19:19 about Elisha, imagine yourself in a field. The field is being plowed, and you have your own furrow to plow. The field is the field of the world . . . Your hands are on the plow and your feet are heavy with the earth. Perhaps you feel that you are carrying out this gigantic task all alone. But look ahead of you. See the eleven teams of oxen that Elisha saw. You are not alone. You are a part of a long line of life and meaning. But this is not just any line of oxen. It is your own personal line . . .

Who or what is in your line of oxen teams? Think of significant people who have made a difference in your life. Some may have helped provide the pulling power for your plow and its progress. Remember also the important moments, events, decisions or experiences that have formed your furrow. Notice the landscape of your part of the field. Think of how a farmer plows a straight furrow by keeping his gaze on a fixed object ahead. 

How has Jesus been your fixed object? He needs to be at the head of each one of our personal lines of oxen teams. It is his risen life and energy that provide the power for our every moment. Think of how he has been both your beginning and your end – both your starting point and your goal. Talk with Jesus about this. As you finish your prayer time, ask Jesus to help you to know –deeply—that you do not plow alone . . .

2nd Reading – Galatians 5:1, 13-18

What did Paul mean by ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’?  These terms, flesh and spirit, which are often used to translate the Greek sarx and pneuma, have caused tragic misunderstandings of Paul’s theology.  Paul has often been blamed for seeing the body and sex as sinful  — evil.  This is unfortunate for it is far from what Paul has in mind when he uses the word, sarx.  He does not mean the physical, sexual part of a human. Sarx refers to the WHOLE human as he/she is enslaved to weakness and corruption.  (Even when Paul lists sexual ‘sins’ with prominence, he is saying that sexual abuse and misuse are symptoms of the whole person’s disorientation away from God, the true source of life.)  The pneuma, or spirit, on the other hand, is the full human who is open to being influenced by God’s Spirit and charis, saving power.  Our whole being “every cell of our body, every moment of our mind is BOTH flesh and spirit.”  We are enslaved by the power of sin.  Or, we are liberated to grow into the image of God that we are intended to be.  (Paul Tillich, Shaking of the Foundations, 133, and The Eternal Now, 48).  Paul might have seen much of his own theology in this story. 

RH. Fuller, “Scripture in Depth,” www.liturgy.slu.edu & M Birmingham, W&W YrC, 409-410:

The freedom that Paul talks about is a freedom grounded in love – for others.  We are freed from our small, crippled, self-centered ‘false’ selves – it is false because this is not the way that God has called us to be. The Spirit of Love – which is the Spirit that God freely gives us – provides us with a set of antennae enabling us in each concrete situation to live a life that love requires, without a lot of rules and regulations. Once we are open to God’s Spirit, then – while we may still struggle with the ‘flesh’ (the old, weak, unredeemed self – the self that is resistant to God’s life and freedom)  we will have in the Spirit an indwelling strength and understanding that will help us to live this new life, a life of true love and freedom.

The Gospel – Luke 9: 51-62

Why do you think Luke has this right at the beginning of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem?

Here Jesus is emphasizing the primacy of commitment to God’s reign, God’s kingdom. All else is secondary. The imagery used is typically Semitic and strongly worded to drive the idea home. Details should not be pressed. To break the saying down into fractions is to lose their impact. The main point is clear: human considerations are insignificant . . . families ties must be seen in connection to our commitment to Jesus. The Palestinian one-hand plow cannot be easily guided without full attention given to the furrows. So, too, the reign of God calls for undivided attention and commitment . . . Every day of our lives presents new challenges, new problems. There is always the unknown lurking about . . . Yet, in the face of the unknown, Jesus never wavered. We are asked to follow him. We are to walk with the Spirit that gives life, not with the flesh that tires, doubts, and becomes easily discouraged.  (R. Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p.456)

Commentary on the Most Holy Trinity Sunday, cycle C

On Trinity Sunday we celebrate the very essence of God – and how we experience this essence. And so, by this celebration we hope to come to experience this mystery more deeply within our real and everyday lives. This God of love, truth and life is not a puzzle to be solved, but a mystery to be loved, experienced, and lived.

From Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God, “Trinity: The Living God of Love”:  Christians do not believe in three gods but in one. What is particular to this faith is the belief that this one God has graciously reached out to the world in love in the person of Jesus Christ in order to heal, redeem, and liberate… It lifts up God’s gracious ways active in the world through Jesus Christ and the Spirit, and finds there the fundamental revelation about God’s own being as self-giving communion of love . . .  This is about “an encounter with divine Mystery” . . . experiencing the saving God in a threefold way as beyond them, and with them, and within them . . .

Our “God is not two men and a bird” even though artists have often depicted the Trinity this way. This art is a meditation not a photograph. (207-208)

God is love – God lives as this mystery of love. We humans are created in this image. “Knowing God is impossible unless we enter into a life of love and communion with others.” “The church’s identity and mission pivot on this point . . .  Only a community of equal persons related in profound mutuality, pouring out praise of God and care for the world in need, only such a church corresponds to the triune God it purports to serve.”  (223)

“The point is, with the three circling around in a mutual, dynamic movement of love, God is not a static being but a plenitude of self-giving love, a saving mystery that overflows into the world of sin and death to heal, redeem, and liberate.  The whole point of this history of God with the world is to bring the world back into the life of God’s own communion, back into the divine dance of life  (p. 214).

1st Reading – Proverbs 8: 22 – 31

The Book of Proverbs is sort of an ‘Owners manual for the Jewish mind, heart and hands. All the chapters tell the reader about a spirit of right living: a life of discipline, restraint, just judgment, and relational sensitivity. This passage is a poetic presentation of how Wisdom assisted in creation. The goodness of creation and of ourselves is affirmed so that we reverence and use well all of that creation.  Larry Gillick, S.J., http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistr/053010.html

This passage in the Old Testament is considered typology…a foreshadow or hint of what may be understood further in the New Testament.  Trinity is not a concept that was revealed well in OT, but this is a prefigurement:  the idea that the Father had company in creation. 

2nd Reading – Romans 5: 1-5

Paul insists that standing firm in the midst of trials yields to endurance and a firm hope.  For Paul, the assurance that salvation was a free gift for all inclusively was based on his belief in God’s love shown to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It was Paul’s firm belief in the triune nature of God that would later be the foundation upon which theologians based the doctrine of Trinity.  For Paul it was the Christian anchor:  hope and endurance come through faith in the Triune God’s transcendent power!  (Birmingham, Word & Worship, p. 554)  How has hope and endurance helped you in the midst of trial?

The Gospel – John 16: 12-15

This passage continues the Farewell Discourse of the Last Supper that Jesus has with his disciples.  Note how gentle Jesus is in not wanting to overwhelm them by only feeding them bits of information that they are able to understand  (Think of how we teach our children!).  “Spirit” in this piece of scripture in Greek is “paraclete”…one who stands by us.  We have a God that stands forever with us.  How does this speak to you?