Father Bob’s homily 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, cycle B
11th Sunday of Ordinary Time B
I have been walking a lot lately, mostly on Route 7 and Union Street and I have noticed that I walk with my head down and I am not sure why. It could be that I am looking for potholes on our sidewalks. It might be that I am reacting to the Mets season and I am doing a sad Charlie Brown walk. But what I really think is that I am having a hard time just carrying this big noggin. You know how some people carry weights when they walk? My equivalent is just keeping my head up. The result however is that I have bumped into three runners and a sign post. I am learning the need to walk by sight and not by faith.
And so it seems to be with the walk of life. We like to see where we…
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Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
The readings this weekend point clearly to sin so it is time for me to give the Fire and Brimstone homily I have been waiting eleven and a half years to give. (Someone clapped when I said that at the 4:30 mass which I thought was weird.) Yet, I probably should talk about sin more and it is not a current a conversation in our lives, but it seems that our lack of discussion has not led to less sinning so let’s get into it with the Fall of Adam and Eve.
Today we hear the less well known second part of the story. We all know what happened in the first half – through mastery of language and psychological manipulation, the serpent finally seduces Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Then Adam sees Eve eating the fruit and thinks: hungry, good, eat. Men……
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Let us prayerfully reflect on this poem by Joyce Kilmer:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
What do you find meaningful – helpful—insightful when it comes to trees? Have you ever had a favorite tree?
1st Reading – Ezekiel 17:22-24
Ezekiel’s allegory of the cedar tree is one source for the imagery of the mustard bush in the gospel reading. The cedar stands for the restoration of the Davidic monarchy after the exile. The shoot or twig (see Isaiah 11:1) refers to a descendant of Jehoiachin, the last Davidic king before the exile. The beasts and birds represent the nations of the earth. This indicates that the prophecy expects the kingdom after the return from exile to be more than just the mere restoration of the status quo before the exile; in fact, it is to be the realization of the messianic kingdom. It is therefore legitimate to say that this prophecy finds its ultimate fulfillment in the kingdom of Christ, of which the church on earth is a foretaste. (Reginald Fuller, http://liturgy.slu.edu/11OrdB061712/theword_indepth.html )
The cedar forests of Lebanon enjoy the unique distinction as the oldest documented forests in history. The cedars made a special contribution to the development of the Phoenician civilization by providing the timbers with which they developed their famous sea-going merchant boats -thus becoming one of the first, if not the first, major sea-going trading nation in the world. The Phoenicians transported the cedar to Egypt, until Egypt conquered Lebanon and gained direct access to the forests, which were highly prized for building temples and boats. Later the Babylonians took a similar interest in the cedars and obtained them for use in building the fabled city of Babylon. The expansion of the Roman Empire into Syria and Lebanon had a detrimental effect on the cedars until the Emperor Hadrian installed markers around the boundary of the remaining forests and declared them as Imperial Domain. In modern day Lebanon, the legendary cedar is still revered and remains prominent in the minds of all Lebanese. The cedar is featured on the national flag, the national airline, Government logos, the Lebanese currency and innumerable commercial logos. (http://www.shoufcedar.org/)
2nd Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
For all his yearning for the life to come, Paul does not despise this life. He is, he says, in good heart. The reason is that even here and now we possess the Holy Spirit of God, the first installment of the life to come. It is given to the Christian to be citizen of two worlds; and the result is, not that he despises this world, but that he finds it clad with a sheen of glory which is the reflection of the greater glory to come (Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series, p. 205-6). Isn’t this hopeful? We must look for the good. Life is in the decisions we make. Right now. We must live in the present, but with a foot in the future, knowing we are accountable for our actions. What we do makes up who we are, and affects others around us. Does this stir something up in you?
The Gospel – Mark 4: 26-34
From John Kavanaugh, S.J. — Life is slow and subtle. Love takes time to show and grow. In life, little acts count. In fact, that is what a life is all about, a long parade of moments deceptively inconsequential. Children grow before our eyes. But they age imperceptibly. We recognize growth only after it has happened. The full truth of the child is seen after the child is no more. Life, like faith and love, resists most measurement. As it develops, it is rarely noticed. We seem not to do these things by sight. Our changings are unmarked as they happen.
This is why, perhaps, a daily examination of our awareness can be so life-enhancing. Examination applies the lens of believing to the blur of the daily grind. It is to notice in faith. It is to pay attention lovingly, gratefully. Like sowers, we scatter our activities, our tiny acts of faith, flung out far and extravagantly, some taken by the wind, all landing somewhere. We sleep our nights and do our days, and the growth takes place. We may not even be conscious of the flowering. (http://liturgy.slu.edu/11OrdB061712/theword_encountered.html )
Fr. Bob’s Corpus Christi homily…
Corpus Christi B
How would God let us know we are loved? He chose the best possible way in sending his son, an incarnation of the Word now taking flesh. It is in this way that Jesus becomes the translator of divine love, bringing into our daily lives and promising a future far beyond it. But as the threat grows to his own brief life, Jesus needs another way to speak perfectly of God’s grace, a way that will outlive his time on earth, a way to sustain this moment of love and self-donation forever.
How would Jesus let us know that we are loved? He would do it with his friends, those who followed him and witnessed tremendous deeds of power, who heard stunning and beautiful words; those who had journeyed, laughed and cried with him and now grow fearful as the specter of death casts its shadow upon…
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Gospel Reading: Mark 3: 20-35
From R. Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p. 408-409: Today’s reading includes a concern and lack of understanding of Jesus’ family, further incomprehension from his opponents in a double accusation, Jesus’ response to the accusations of the Jews and finally a return to Jesus’ family and a response to their charge. It is all in the context of the crowd pressing in on Jesus and his disciples, leaving them little room to even eat. The statement that Jesus’ family thinks he is mentally unstable is not found in the other synoptic Gospels. What does this passage stir up in you?
- Jesus states that internal division leads ultimately to the downfall of a kingdom, a house, or Satan. If Jesus is an agent of Satan, then in his working to cast Satan out, they are at cross purposes. Satan is doomed to fail.
- What is unforgivable is to call the work of God evil or to call an emissary of God an agent of Satan. It is to call light darkness. To do so is to reject the reign of God and thus by one’s own decision to move oneself to an unforgivable position. Yet all sins can be forgiven, even the one here cited, with repentance. What Jesus does here is underscore its extreme seriousness and the unlikely chance of reconciliation [because of our own rejection]. John Kavanaugh SJ says, “The sin against the Sprit occurs when I say, ‘I refuse to acknowledge that I need forgiveness.’ I refuse to be forgiven. I refuse to believe that God has answered. I refuse to believe even that there is good, for it is only another face of the evil I believe in,” (liturgy.slu.edu).
- When Jesus refers to his “global family”, He is referring to the new order which goes beyond that of the flesh.
From T. a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ: “I fight within myself and become burdensome to myself, while my spirit desires to soar and my flesh is earthbound. Oh, what do I suffer inwardly when in my mind I behold heavenly things and a great multitude of carnal thoughts soon enters my soul!” (p. 175)…AND THEN…”It stands in a man (woman) offering all his (her) heart wholly to God, not seeking himself (herself) or his (her) will, either in great things or in small, in time or in eternity, but abiding always unchanged and always yielding to God equal thanks for things pleasing and displeasing, weighing them all in one same balance, as in His love,” (p. 143).
The Examen can help us discern when we have internal division. We review our day to reflect on where God is by (Taken from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com):
- Ask God for light: I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
- Give thanks: The day I have just lived is a gift from God. Be grateful for it.
- Review the day: I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
- Face your shortcomings: I face up to what is wrong – in my life and in me.
- Look toward the day to come: I ask where I need God in the day to come.
Reading 1: Genesis 3: 9 – 15
A question being asked here is: How does sin come into our life? Innocent-seeming, a mere suggestion or conversation that soon develops legs – and lies – and walks away with our whole future. Sin is clever that way. It asks us simply to say no to God to believe a lie, rather than the truth of God’s Word. Once we’re willing to do that, anything is possible (Exploring the Sunday Readings, 2/05).
From John Kavanaugh again (liturgy.slu.edu): All the goods of the earth were made to look tarnished by the deceptions of the serpent. The only imposter presented as the most desirable good was the rejection of God’s will in denying our creatureliness.
In other words, we were made for good! God intends good for us, not bad. We need to be open and see outside of ourselves (our ego) at the good God is trying to work in us. It will never work if we remain self-sufficient. We must need God. And needing God requires vulnerability…something very hard to grasp sometimes. As a matter of fact, we don’t grasp it at all. We unclench our fists and let God happen in us. Henri Nouwen says, “…to be the way without being ‘in the way,’” (Reaching Out, p. 108).
Reading 2: 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1
Paul reminds us of the good news: everything indeed is FOR us…in abundance…overflowing!
This reading reminds me of a Mary Oliver poem, “The Summer Day”:
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
Holy Trinity B
The story of God we celebrate today as the Holy Trinity is never far separated from how we were told this story and who told us. It must be because the story of God is always in translation from mystery to revelation. This God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is mystery; a mystery so deep that it defines infinite. But this God is not unknowable altogether because this is also a God of revelation, a God who wanted to be known. And if we only have a thin slice of the entire mystery of God to go on, God has made sure it is enough. That thin slice is still so large and generous that it becomes the center of our life, the reason for our blessing and the way to our peace.
Who told you about the story of God? Was it a parent…
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1st Reading: Exodus 24: 3-8
Why was it necessary to ratify a covenant in blood? The fact that the covenant was sealed in blood indicated not only that is was an agreement to follow the Law, it was also an agreement to allow it to be the center of life – it was an agreement to share life. Recall that blood was a sign of life force – life was believed to reside in the blood. The people were willing to enter into covenant, an intimate blinding relationship, with Yahweh. The blood ritual only took place once. It would not be repeated again until the blood sacrifice of Jesus.
What rings true for you in this reading, since we don’t go around throwing blood? It does show great commitment to try and follow God’s will. But there is no way to absolutely know what God’s will is for us. As we pray and discern, we try to figure it out. It does please God that we try to be in relationship with God. Participating in Eucharist-remembering the blood sacrifice of Christ-is one way we are able to do this. How do you decipher God’s will? Does Eucharist help you feel closer to God?
2nd Reading: Hebrews 9: 11-15
Thoughts from Prof. Dr. Joseph Ratzinger’s Theology of the Cross from his book: Einfuhrung in das Christentum (Introduction to Christianity):
In many devotional books we encounter the idea that Christian faith in the cross is belief in a God whose unforgiving justice demands a human sacrifice – the sacrifice of his own son. This somber and angry God contradicts the Good News of God’s love and makes it unbelievable. Many people picture things this way, but it is false. In the Bible, the cross is not part of a picture of violated rights; the cross is far more the expression of a life which is a ‘being for others.’
This is an appalling picture of God, as one who demanded the slaughter of his own son in order to assuage his anger. Such a concept of God has nothing to do with the New Testament. The New Testament does not say that human beings reconcile God; it says that God reconciles us.
The fact that we are saved ‘through his blood’ (Hebrew 9:12) does not mean that his death is an objective sacrifice . . . In world religions, the notion which dominates is that of the human being making restitution to God in order to win God‘s favor. But in the New Testament the picture is the exact opposite. It is not the human being who goes to God, to bring him a compensatory gift or sacrifice; rather, it is God who comes to human beings with a gift to give us. The cross is not the act of offering satisfaction to an angry God. Rather, it is the expression of the boundless love of God, who undergoes humiliation in order to save us.
Christian worship is not the act of giving something to God; rather, it is the act of allowing ourselves to receive God’s gift, and to let God do this for us.
In traditional reflections on the passion, the question turns up again and again: what is the relationship between pain and sacrifice? And it was often assumed that the intensity of Jesus’ pain gave it salvific value. But how could God take pleasure in human pain, or find in it the reconciling act which must be offered to him? If this picture were true, then it would be Jesus’ executioners who make the sacrificial offering . . . but in Jesus God’s creative mercy makes the sinful human being belong to him, giving life to the dead. **Joseph Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI.
The Gospel: Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
From John Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context” http://liturgy.slu.edu:
In Jesus’ culture grain, oil, and wine were the staples, with grain and its products – especially bread – being most important. Bread provided about ½ the caloric intake for the ancient Mediterranean world, with wheat being considered superior to barley and sorghum, the food of the poor.
Another point from John Pilch: Drawing water and carrying it was a woman’s task in Jesus’ culture. Any man present at a well would be a challenge to the honor of all the fathers, brothers, and husbands in that village. If a man did carry water it was in a skin not a jar. This man carrying a water jar was certainly a cultural anomaly: easy to spot.
From Celebration, June 1998:
Eucharist is about a remembering (anamnesis) that does not simply call to mind the past events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The Eucharist makes present here and now, within the gathered assembly of believers, the reality of Jesus’ saving death and resurrection. Each Eucharist is a “living remembrance of Jesus’ act of love.” By our participation (offering our ‘hungry’ selves, hearkening to God’s Word, and then eating and drinking) in the Eucharist, believers proclaim and are integrated into that death and are given a taste of the resurrected life to come.
At Eucharist we say that we “proclaim the death of the Lord” . . .
What does this mean? The Eucharist is always about the paschal mystery – about a dying and a rising. We, like Jesus, must become a body for others. Giving of ourselves is a type of death – but out of it comes new life for our selves and for others. The gift of Jesus’ very self demands a response from us; it demands a response that is our selves. (It is also good to reflect how sharing from both the bread and wine – the body and the blood of Christ – is a much fuller celebration of Eucharist. The body is the real self of the Risen Christ and the blood is the life force of this Risen Christ– “We eat his Body and drink his Blood as sign that, nourished by him, we are now able to lay down our own bodies [our very selves] and pour out our own blood [our life force] so that salvation [fullness of life] comes to others.” (Living Liturgy, 2004, 150-152)
In Jesus, God has come to be with us where we are. To proclaim the death of the Lord is to find in his death a new definition of ourselves – a new understanding of the meaning of success and failure, of the meaning of life and death, of what it means to be a human person . . . the Eucharist is the call which frees each of us from the false self, the most tyrannical master of all . . . At Eucharist we become gifts of God to be enjoyed and put at the service of the neighbor. We are freed from the radical insecurity and false pride that is at the heart of all evil. We are freed to be realistic and intelligent about how we use the gifts God has given us while recognizing that our true call is to find life by giving it away . . . (John Dwyer, The Sacraments, “Chapter Eight: the Eucharist” p.129-130)
The Hebrew word for the Greek anamnesis is zikkaron, meaning a sacrificial term that brings the offerer into remembrance before God, or brings God into favorable remembrance with the offerer. When Jesus took the bread and wine and offered it, he was identifying with the Israelites and their covenant. He was being a good Jew. He was making a new covenant, saying, “I am united with my ancestors. This is now me. I am Passover.” So now the Church identifies herself with Christ. We are Christ to the world. Now it’s our turn to be united in covenant with God and give of ourselves. Like the Israelites, it will move us from captivity to freedom, from sin to repentance (taken from Fr. Vosko lecture).
Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
Pentecost Sunday B
They were all huddled together in an upper room. The apostles had endured a lot. They had known the terror of the crucifixion, the exhilaration of the resurrection and now they had witnessed the ascension of Jesus to heaven and were left anxiously waiting what was next and what this experience was to mean to them. Buoyed by the mother of Jesus, they stick together and they pray.
Then everything changes in a moment. With tongues of fire hanging over their heads and a mighty rush of wind, the promised Holy Spirit settled upon them. And they burst forth from that room literally unable to contain themselves as the preached boldly the word of God and the good news of Jesus Christ to all around them.
What happened? The miracles of Pentecost tell the story. Yes, there were tongues of…
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Let us pray:
O God, we praise you:
Father, Mother, Creator, Source of life —
Christ Jesus, Word, Savior, Lord, Brother —
Breath, Fire, Spirit, Comforter, Advocate –
You reveal yourself in the depths of our being.
Draw us to share in your life and love.
Be near to us who are formed in your image;
Renew us forever in Your Love. AMEN
Thoughts from Exploring the Sunday Readings, June 2005:
Understanding the Trinity by some feat of mathematics may be out of the question, but it is within our grasp to apprehend the Holy Presence through the power of the indwelling Spirit. To know God, start by making yourself known to God [opening yourself to God in prayer]. The Creator of the universe may seem too awesome for us. The Holy Spirit, as intimate as our next breath, may yet seem too mystical. But Jesus is the one in whom this God is completely present, and still we have been invited to call him friend. He is the one who knows us as one of us: He knew birthdays, hard work, good company, simple meals, and great feasts. He knew irritation, weariness, friendship, family, rejection, and suffering. Jesus is the one who can lead us through all that life has to offer us: there is no place we can go that he has not been.
1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
From Celebration, June 11, 2006: Deuteronomy means ‘a second law’ – it is written as if Moses is giving a farewell address to his people before they cross the Jordan river and enter Canaan. It is comprised of both early and late material, some perhaps as early as the 10th century B.C. and some as late as the 7th century B.C. It speaks of a God who not only created all things, but who wishes to also be involved with and care for all that he has brought forth.
How does this reading speak to you about our God? Do you feel this greatness of God in your life? Is it fixed in your heart?
2nd Reading: Romans 8: 14-17
From Celebration, June 11, 2006: Paul here is using Roman law and customs to explain how God wishes to relate to us. According to Roman law, the father’s power over the family was absolute. A son never came of age; he was always under the control of his father. To adopt a son was a major undertaking. It followed a long and exact ritual. But once done, the adopted person belongs forever to the new father. Here are some of the consequences of these legal adoptions:
- The adoptee gave up all rights in his former family and gained all rights and dignity of a legitimate child in his new family.
- The adoptee became the legal heir of his new father and even if others are born afterwards, his rights could not be affected.
- The old life of the adoptee was wiped out and all debts were cancelled.
- The adoptee was regarded as a new person and a true son/daughter.
What do you find most important in this reading? How does it feel to know you are a child of God (Family!) and able to ENTER INTO this trinity?
The Gospel: Matthew 28: 16-20
Matthew’s gospel began with the story of Jesus’ birth saying “and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us.” (1:23). Now with this ending passage, Matthew has Jesus again assuring the disciples who are sent out to all the world (no longer to just fellow Jews) saying: “And behold, I am with you always . . .”
What strikes you most about this gospel? Isn’t it interesting that the moment the disciples doubted, that’s when Jesus sent them off with work to do? None of us are completely prepared, but we are sent anyway. Just as we are.
- This took place at the Ascension…think of the difference between a vertical relationship with God to a now horizontal relationship.
- The Trinitarian formula reminds us that God wants FULL relationship with us in every way. The love within the Trinity is what God wants us all to enter into.
There are 2 ways to look at trinity: economic trinity and immanent trinity. The “immanent trinity” is God in relation to God’s self. The “economic trinity” is God in relation to the world, (Introduction to the Trinity, L. Lorenzen, p. 45). St. Augustine in De Trinitate came to this understanding of trinity: The Father is the Lover, the Son the Beloved, and the Holy Spirit the mutual Love that passes between Father and Son…the human soul and its faculties is the best mirror of the Trinity that is available. And so…this is the outward divine activity…that we move from the “economic” to the “immanent” tripersonal God. (The Tripersonal God, G. O’Collins SJ, 135-142). In other words, the more we have-our-being in God (behave, relate, move through the world), the more we enter into God’s very self. This is all very theological, but take time to consider what this might mean in your life. What is it to live a Godlike life?
Let us pray with Richard Rohr:
God For Us, we call You Father,
God Alongside Us, we call You Jesus,
God Within Us, we call You Holy Spirit.
You are the Eternal Mystery
That enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us, and even me.
Every name falls short of your
Goodness and Greatness.
We can only see who You are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing.
As it was in the beginning, is now,
and ever shall be. Amen.
Fr. Bob’s homily last Sunday…
7th Sunday of Easter B
I have lived in this town for eleven years which means I have been inundated with engineers and those who analyze things for a living. It changes a guy. And I am a better person for it. I have come to appreciate precision in all things. I am far more rational and evidence based than before. And I have come to appreciate that the greatest enemy in the world is inefficiency. You know what I mean. So many of you are either there or married to someone who is.
Yet the great irony of all this is that we are gathered here by the least efficient agent possible. Love. Love is out-sized, sloppy and impossible to control. It distorts proportion and perspective. There is no such thing as a small achievement for a loved one or a small wound to a loved one. When you…
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