Tag Archives: division

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle A

fishers-of-men

1st Reading: Isaiah 8: 23- 9: 3

Rather than trusting in God’s light, Israel and Judah (the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom of the Hebrew people) tried to live by their own ‘light’ – their own self-important ways.  It brought darkness and destruction to both.  The prophet is looking for an ideal king to lead his people. Kings were seen as being ‘adopted’ by God and a sign of God’s presence with his people.   King Ahaz of Judah did not live up to his calling.  He had made an agreement with Assyria against the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  The prophet looked to a new king, Hezekiah, to be a ‘savior king’.  These hopes were not realized.  Hezekiah eventually became a disappointment, too. (Celebration, Jan.1999)

The great light that Isaiah is speaking of is the revelation of God’s love beyond Israel to even the Gentiles. It is the day when God’s love becomes real for those who are without a religious tendency, to those who are toughened by despair, to those who think hope is nothing but a day dream. But this light does not come by way of some paranormal experience – it can come only by way of ordinary people open to and filled with God’s extraordinary love. This love can come to our world today only if you and I bring it, with God’s help. (Exploring the Sunday Readings, January, 1999)

Thomas Aquinas said hope is a special desire that has a special object.  That object must be clearly good, apparent, in the future, difficult to get and yet possible.  So to have hope is to have faith.  If faith is a gift of God, how are you open to receiving it?  How does it give you hope and dispel your darkness?

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10 – 13, 17

This letter of Paul’s was probably written about 54-55, A.D. It is really not the ‘first letter’ since Paul writes of a previous letter in 1 Cor. 5: 9. Remember in the early church Paul’s letters were treasured and circulated, but not really organized until around 90 AD. So some were lost and others then were put out of order. The ideas and their importance are still valid. (Barclay, The Letter to the Corinthians, 4-6)

Cephas was the Jewish version of Peter’s name. His ‘group’ was probably made up of the more Jewish Christians who still held tightly to Jewish traditions and law. Apollos was an educated man from Alexandria whose learning and Greek influence made him more attractive to the Gentile Christians and those with greater education. Paul reminds them that these differences should not lead to division. That it is Christ Jesus we must look to for the light – the truth –the insights we need. A preacher’s ‘job’ is just to lead us to Jesus. It is in the cross of Christ that we find the absolute assurance of God’s love – there is the fullness of wisdom in no other place. It seemed there were not serious doctrinal differences here in Corinth, but cliques and factions. The word for united is usually used when two hostile parties reach an agreement. In Mark 1:19 and Matthew 4:21 the same word is used to describe the mending of torn fishing nets. Keep this in mind when you read the gospel. (Celebration, January 1999 & 2005)

Do you think having no divisions among us is realistic?  It is our diversity that makes us the body of Christ.  But there lies the answer…diversity doesn’t have to mean division.  Donald Cozzens in his book Faith that Dares to Speak talks about contemplative conversation.  “Both conversion and conversation are cognates of converse – to turn around, to turn toward another.  Understood as a noun, converse includes the meaning of free and honest interchange of ideas, dreams, hopes – and yes, fear….We move too quickly to shrill argument and righteous declarations rather than turning first to silence that prompts openness of heart and nudges the soul toward the place where conversion of intellect and imagination occur…Contemplative conversation, conversation that emerges from silence and prayer, on the other hand, possesses a one and humility that disarms defensive postures of rectitude.  There is a freshness, a lightness of spirit present when this kind of conversation is entered into,” (p. 110-111).

The Gospel– Matthew 4: 12 – 23

Here we see Jesus setting up his home in Capernaum. His old life at Nazareth was over and done; it was clean cut, a momentous decision. The village was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This lake was and is a large inland lake that is 680 ft. below sea level. It has quite a warm climate and is surrounded by phenomenally fertile land that was, thus, quite densely populated. It is considered to be one of the loveliest lakes in the world. “Seen from any point of the surrounding heights it is a fine sheet of water – a burnished mirror set in a framework of rounded hills and rugged mountains.” In Jesus’ time it was thick with fishing boats.  This is probably not the first time that these men have met Jesus.  Some of them may have been disciples of John. They had known and talked with Jesus; they had heard him preach. Now these fishermen were being invited to “throw in their lot with him.”  These were ordinary, sort of middle-class men – certainly not poverty stricken – nor were they men to be easily fooled or impressed. And, as fishermen they may have had just the qualities Jesus needed in his disciples: men of patience, perseverance, courage, cleverness, with the ability to ‘fit the bait to the right fish’, to stay out of the way, and to know how to recognize the right moment for action.

(William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol.1 77-79)

Joseph Fitzmyer, a New Testament scholar, notes how strange this metaphor of ‘catching people like fish’ seems to be. The mission of the disciples was to bring them to salvation (fullness of health). Yet, what fishermen do to fish is far from salutary!  He points out, though, that the Greek term that Jesus used to say that they would be ‘catchers or netters’ of humanity could literally be translated as “you will be taking them alive.”  The strange metaphor then comes to mean that those ‘caught’ or ‘netted’ by Peter and the others would be saved from death and gathered into God’s Kingdom. (Celebrations, Feb. 1998)

Other interesting ‘fish’ facts:  A fish was an early symbol of Christianity because the letters of the Greek word for fish are I-C-H-T-H-U-S.  These are the same letters that begin the Greek words for “JESUS CHRIST, GOD’S SON, SAVIOR”  (IESOUS CHRISTOS THEOU HUIOS SOTER)

The early Christians also hung an anchor on the doors of the houses where they would gather to celebrate Eucharist because it resembled a cross.  This secret symbol identified their ‘house churches.’

The leaving of everything to follow Jesus was the way the gospel writers expressed the need of disciples to make Jesus the priority in life. These fishermen were no longer just fishermen any more once they began following Jesus. They probably went out during the day with Jesus to the surrounding areas and returned to their families at night or after short intervals, even fishing when necessary. Their total response to Jesus is meant to be an example to all of us as to where our priorities should lie. With Christ as the center of their lives, it was now more important to go out to ‘catch’ the suffering sea of humanity that was so in need of God’s love, God’s kingdom and God’s presence in their lives. What they have to offer others in Jesus’ name is not just good news; it is great news! We have the same calling. (Mary Birmingham, W & W Wkbk Yr A, 363,364)

Is It All Going To Be Okay? By: Kris Rooney

remain-calm

This is not another blog posting on our political climate.  Anyone that knows me knows I’m as political as my dog, Benny.  No, I am not going there.  But there is something to be said about the anxiety we are all feeling in the United States.  We are bombarded by opinions, feelings and news about who to vote for in the looming election.  It is literally exhausting.  The passion that some feel about their choice is not only difficult to ignore, it is divisive.  And after the election, there may still be division and emotion.  So our anxiety is this:  Is it all going to be okay?

If you ask my husband, he will tell you that my favorite words are, “Yes, it is all going to be okay.”  I ask him all the time and this is what he always tells me.  Because no matter what we go through, even if it isn’t the way we would like, it always is okay because we have each other.  And I think that is the way of our faith.   Julian of Norwich, a medieval mystic, wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”  Because underneath it all, God loves us.  Plain and simple.  God loves us so much that God put on skin to show it.  This truth is a deep part of us.  If we trust this deep wisdom, no matter what happens in our lives or in this election, it is all going to be okay.

The first reading for this Sunday is from the Book of Wisdom, which says, “But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things! (11:26-12:1).”  Listen to the words.  We belong to God.  God loves our souls and is a part of all things.  We are surrounded by and soaked in the love of the Lord.  All things change but this is a constant.  It is such a comfort. We cannot hide from it.  It’s in us.

So next time you begin to feel fear creep in and you worry what will happen with the state of the union, take a breath.  God has our back.  Hold on to the deeper truth that we have each other and a God that loves us.  We’ll figure it out.  It’s all going to be okay in the end.

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.”

Scripture Commentary for 3rd Sunday OT, cycle A

Darkness

 

1st Reading: Isaiah 8: 23- 9: 3

Rather than trusting in God’s light, Israel and Judah (the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom of the Hebrew people) tried to live by their own ‘light’ – their own self-important ways.  It brought darkness and destruction to both.  The prophet is looking for an ideal king to lead his people. Kings were seen as being ‘adopted’ by God and a sign of God’s presence with his people.   King Ahaz of Judah did not live up to his calling.  He had made an agreement with Assyria against the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  The prophet looked to a new king, Hezekiah, to be a ‘savior king’.  These hopes were not realized.  Hezekiah eventually became a disappointment, too. (Celebration, Jan.1999)

The great light that Isaiah is speaking of is the revelation of God’s love beyond Israel to even the Gentiles. It is the day when God’s love becomes real for those who are without a religious tendency, to those who are toughened by despair, to those who think hope is nothing but a day dream. But this light does not come by way of some paranormal experience – it can come only by way of ordinary people open to and filled with God’s extraordinary love. This love can come to our world today only if you and I bring it, with God’s help. (Exploring the Sunday Readings, January, 1999)

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10 – 13, 17

This letter of Paul’s was probably written about 54-55, A.D. It is really not the ‘first letter’ since Paul writes of a previous letter in 1 Cor. 5: 9. Remember in the early church Paul’s letters were treasured and circulated, but not really organized until around 90 AD. So some were lost and others then were put out of order. The ideas and their importance are still valid. (Barclay, The Letter to the Corinthians, 4-6)

Cephas was the Jewish version of Peter’s name. His ‘group’ was probably made up of the more Jewish Christians who still held tightly to Jewish traditions and law. Apollos was an educated man from Alexandria whose learning and Greek influence made him more attractive to the Gentile Christians and those with greater education. Paul reminds them that these differences should not lead to division. That it is Christ Jesus we must look to for the light – the truth –the insights we need. A preacher’s ‘job’ is just to lead us to Jesus. It is in the cross of Christ that we find the absolute assurance of God’s love – there is the fullness of wisdom in no other place. It seemed there were not serious doctrinal differences here in Corinth, but cliques and factions. The word for united is usually used when two hostile parties reach an agreement. In Mark 1:19 and Matthew 4:21 the same word is used to describe the mending of torn fishing nets. Keep this in mind when you read the gospel. (Celebration, January 1999 & 2005)

The Gospel– Matthew 4: 12 – 23

Here we see Jesus setting up his home in Capernaum. His old life at Nazareth was over and done; it was clean cut, a momentous decision. The village was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This lake was and is a large inland lake that is 680 ft. below sea level. It has quite a warm climate and is surrounded by phenomenally fertile land that was, thus, quite densely populated. It is considered to be one of the loveliest lakes in the world. “Seen from any point of the surrounding heights it is a fine sheet of water – a burnished mirror set in a framework of rounded hills and rugged mountains.” In Jesus’ time it was thick with fishing boats.  This is probably not the first time that these men have met Jesus.  Some of them may have been disciples of John. They had known and talked with Jesus; they had heard him preach. Now these fishermen were being invited to “throw in their lot with him.”  These were ordinary, sort of middle-class men – certainly not poverty stricken – nor were they men to be easily fooled or impressed. And, as fishermen they may have had just the qualities Jesus needed in his disciples: men of patience, perseverance, courage, cleverness, with the ability to ‘fit the bait to the right fish’, to stay out of the way, and to know how to recognize the right moment for action.

(William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol.1 77-79)

Joseph Fitzmyer, a New Testament scholar, notes how strange this metaphor of ‘catching people like fish’ seems to be. The mission of the disciples was to bring them to salvation (fullness of health). Yet, what fishermen do to fish is far from salutary!  He points out, though, that the Greek term that Jesus used to say that they would be ‘catchers or netters’ of humanity could literally be translated as “you will be taking them alive.”  The strange metaphor then comes to mean that those ‘caught’ or ‘netted’ by Peter and the others would be saved from death and gathered into God’s Kingdom. (Celebrations, Feb. 1998)

Other interesting ‘fish’ facts:  A fish was an early symbol of Christianity because the letters of the Greek word for fish are I-C-H-T-H-U-S.  These are the same letters that begin the Greek words for “JESUS CHRIST, GOD’S SON, SAVIOR”  (IESOUS CHRISTOS THEOU HUIOS SOTER)

The early Christians also hung an anchor on the doors of the houses where they would gather to celebrate Eucharist because it resembled a cross.  This secret symbol identified their ‘house churches.’

The leaving of everything to follow Jesus was the way the gospel writers expressed the need of disciples to make Jesus the priority in life. These fishermen were no longer just fishermen any more once they began to follow Jesus. They probably went out during the day with Jesus to the surrounding areas returning to their families at night or after short intervals, even returning to fishing when necessary. Their total response to Jesus is meant to be an example to all of us as to where our priorities should lie. With Christ as the center of their lives, it was now more important to go out to ‘catch’ the suffering sea of humanity that was so in need of God’s love, God’s kingdom and presence in their lives. What they have to offer others in Jesus’ name is not just good news; it is great news! We have the same calling. (Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook for Year A, 363,364)