20 September 2017 Wednesday Twenty Fourth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

20 September 2017 Wednesday Twenty Fourth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

 

First Timothy 3:14-16

Psalm 111

Luke 7:31-35

 

Paul wishes to reassure Timothy, even if he is delayed in visiting him, that the centrality of Christian conduct in the church of Ephesus is necessary.

This “living in Christ” is the only way to demonstrate the importance of Christ in the life of a person who follows Christ.

It appears that Paul borrows an early Christian hymn when he speaks of Christ reflecting the flesh- spirit contrast, the being seen- proclaimed, the contrast of the world- glory of the resurrection.

 

Jesús encounters various responses to his asceticism compared to that of John the Baptizer.

John was an ascetic who was responded to by being accused of being possessed.
Jesús’ less strict asceticism opens him to the accusation of being a “glutton and drunkard”.

Jesús knows both he and John follow the wisdom of God. John’s asceticism prepares for  Jesús who is the One who is to come, the One who fulfills the law and the prophets.

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19 September 2017 Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

19 September 2017 Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

 

First Timothy 3:1-13

Psalm 101

Luke 7:11-17

 

The qualifications of the Bishop and Deacon have to do with leadership and responsibility as well as living the Christian life for a period of time.

 

The reference to “women” in the context of the duties of the deacon may imply that women served in certain ecclesiastical offices that were like or shared with the deacons in the community.  

 

Paul does not mention priests in this description of the desirable qualities of ecclesiastical ministers.

 

The more Jesús travels the more his concern for the poor and bereaved is revealed.

 

A man who died is being carried out of the city.  The man is “the “only son of his mother”.  This is a catastrophic loss economically speaking since “the only son” is responsible for the care of his mother.

 

Jesús tells the young mn: “Young man, I tell you, arise!”

The man sat up and spoke.

 

The people respond with an affirmation that

“A great prophet has arisen in our midst,”

And ”God has visited his people.”

 

These are signs of the coming of the Kingdom and Jesús’ actions are reported throughout the region.

God visits his people when we gather for Eucharist and when the prophetic message is announced.

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18 September 2017 Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

18 September 2017 Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

First Timothy 2:1-8

Psalm 28

Luke 7:1-10

 

There appeared to be some reluctance in Ephesus to pray for non Christians. This may explain the insistence on prayers for those in authority who most likely were not followers of the “Way of Christ”.

Timothy’s mission to the Gentiles may also explain his insistence on prayers for everyone.

The ultimate reason for prayers for everyone is that God wills everyone to be saved and Christ is the “one mediator between God and the human race”.

This might give us pause when we find reasons to not forgive or not pray for another person or group.

 

The inclusive nature of Luke’s Gospel is underlined by the story of the Roman centurion who respected and generously supported the Judean religion.

The lack of “worthiness” of the Centurion may have had to do with his sensitivity to the Jewish prohibition on “entering the house of a gentile”.

Jesús mission, much to his own and the disciples surprise is not just to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Jesús, despite the Jewish teachings that exclude foreigners, finds himself offering the healing Reign of God to various men and women who are not “Judeans”.

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19 and 20 August 2017 Twentieth Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

  19 and 20 August 2017 Twentieth Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

 

Isaiah 56:1,6-7

Psalm 67

Romans 11:13-15,29-32

Matthew 15:21-28

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

Do you ever wonder which of the “Acts of Jesús” really took place historically?

Scripture scholars like to compare the same “incident” from the Gospels to see if there are differences, theological “points” to be made, or possible explanations for discrepancies we find in the Gospels.

For instance the story of “a Canaanite woman” from “Tyre and Sidon” appears in the the Gospels of Mark where the woman is called a “Syro Phoenician”  woman.

The two incidents are essentially two different reports on what happened between Jesus, the disciples and a woman and her daughter

The fact that this encounter is in both Matthew and Marks’ gospels tells us that historically this encounter most likely did occur.  The story’s popularity is attested in two of the four Gospels so it is given more certainty of actually happening than if it appears in only one of the four Gospels.

In a way it would be less work and easier on all of us if there existed only one Gospel.  Discrepancies, events, the chronology of events would be a much simpler for everyone concerned.

However we know that the gift of faith is experienced in different ways by different groups and persons.

 

It just so happens that there are four Gospels in our tradition. There are fragments of other Gospels attributed to other Apostles. But these are fragments and not whole Gospels.  Where they coincide with the Four known Gospels we can recognize them as portions of “lost” Gospels but we do not give them the weight or recognition of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We call these four Gospels “Canonical Gospels” meaning they are in the official “Canon” of Sacred Books in our church.

When I reflect on today’s Gospel I am amazed that it is even in the Gospels, much less two of them.

Matthew and Mark both present this encounter in a similar but not exactly identical forms.

What amazes me that Jesús is portrayed in this fashion is that there have been plenty of opportunities to substitute say Peter or Thomas as the main character in the story but this incident always has Jesús as the “heavy”.

Jesús in this story will not even look at the woman. What the woman wants is what any and all mothers want for their daughters.  Simply “help me”! “Help me by helping not me but my child.”

Jesús is very clear about why he will not even speak to the woman. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.

In today’s terms she is one of “them”.

She is not one of “us”.

 

The woman persists. She does Jesús homage and addresses him: “Lord, help me”.

Jesús really is irritated and wishes this woman, this foreigner, this “other”  would go away and says:

“It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

This woman is tenacious and gives at least as good as she gets:

“Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

Jesús says: “O woman, great is your faith!

                    Let it be done for you as you wish.”

 

The woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

There are a few things to be concluded from this.

 

First, Jesús was the Son of God be he was also the son of Mary and struggled with the messages, rules and customs of his Judean religion, Judean culture and the complicated politics of the Judean Nation.

Second, the truth of Jesús being truly human is demonstrated in this passage.

We recall that Jesús had to struggle as he emptied himself in the Garden of Gethsemane before he died on the Cross.

Jesús is forced, today,  by a foreign woman of all people, to empty himself, free himself  of the limitations his religion, culture and nation had taught him.

Jesús,  like us, at times comes to an insight about his mission that frees him to reach out to “all” not just “some” people.

Third, Jesús and the woman meet at the cultural and geographic boundaries of the their own time and place.

We too must reflect upon the boundaries and limitations of our religion. Our religion, our culture and our nation “give” us as a set of “certain truths and unquestionable values”.

Jesús, like the Judeans of his time, referred to gentiles (non Judeans) as “dogs” or “swine”.

Jesús until his encounter with the “woman” of Canaan could, without even thinking, refer to this troubled woman and her daughter as “dogs”.

My money says he never made that mistake again.

A final comment is in order.

Jesús does not get much good advice from his male companions. In the Gospels these “men” are like overgrown, immature, awkward boys who mostly miss every clue that comes their way.

Certain women do seem to be able to get Jesús’ attention. Jesús listens  to and even changes his plans at the request of is mother Mary at a wedding feast.  

A Canaanite woman with a daughter in need brings Jesús to “see” that his mission, contrary to his “training” , was

to everyone and to all,

not to some and a few.

 

One commentator suggested this story of the foreigner as “dog” might have inspired Jesús to give us the parable of the Good Samaritan.

 

One thing I know is: that the Lord’s inspiration and even sometimes obscure puzzling observations may come from a source Jesús and we least expect.  

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12 and 13 August 2017 Nineteenth Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

12 and 13 August 2017 Nineteenth Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

 

First Kings 19:9,11-13

Psalm 119

Romans 8:28-30

Matthew 13:44-52

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

Today we are treated to a plethora of “findings” of the divine presence.

Elijah, the prophet, is a man on the run. He has crossed Jezebel, Ahab’s wife. He flees for his life and ends up on Mount Horeb.  Horeb was also called Mount Sinai where Moses had “encountered” the LORD on many occasions.

Elijah is hiding in a cave and  is told by the LORD:

“Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by.”

There was a great wind and an earthquake…but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

Then there was a fire- but the LORD was not in the fire.

After the fire there was “a light, silent sound”.

 

The wind, storms, earthquakes and fires  may accompany the LORD “passing by”  but the LORD’S presence with Elijah is mysterious like: “a light, silent sound”. (In the Spanish translation: like a soft murmur).

 

Paul finds it ironic, in the Second Reading  that “his own people” his “kindred according to the flesh” have not accepted Christ.

Paul remarks that the Israelites had everything going for them “adoption by the LORD, covenants, the LORD’S glory, the law, the promises. They   even had the Christ born to them in their own flesh. Still they did not accept the divine presence in Jesús who was of the Israelite tribe of  David.

 

The Gospel speaks about the divine presence of the LORD in Jesús. The divine presence is found not in a Temple, or Synagogue or Holy Shrine. The divine presence is found in a storm in a lake. Jesús is recognized “walking over the water” and offered “homage” by a small congregation riding in a boat.

To set the scene from Matthew’s Gospel:

Jesús has just heard of the death of John the Baptizer.

Jesús next went off to pray.

Then Jesús  fed “five thousand men, not counting the women and children”. Jesús does this “feeding” with “five loaves and two fish.”

Jesús then,  puts the disciples in a boat and again Jesús goes off to pray.

I would like to share three vignettes about water,  two near drownings, and a boat ride.

 

Transparency Alert: I could not make up these yarns (as my Irish cousins call them) if I tried.

# 1. I remember, after our family moved from New York to Tulsa, going to a lake since there was no ocean. I remember my oldest brother going into the lake and not coming out. I remember my mother who was very pregnant lying on a rock and reaching down to pull my brother from the lake. My father, who could swim, had jumped into the Lake and “saved” my older  brother. My mother sent us all to the local pool for swimming classes as soon as she could manage that.

#2. Father Mike Hanrahan, who was one of my predecessors here at Saint Patrick’s  asked me to be a Camp Counsellor at a Summer Camp. He did not tell me I would be, at age 16, the head of the Camp when he went to his Parish and Missions on the Weekends.  I as only a year or two older than some of the “campers”.

Early on we took all the campers to go swimming in the lake. One of the kids, ran onto the dock, ran to the end and jumped into the lake.

(You might guess this was not a very well organized project.)

 

The wee lad came back up but realized the water was deeper than he was tall. I jumped in and pulled him out and told him to take his time going into any body of water, including a bath tub. “Get the lay of the land”, one of my mentors still says to me.

#3. Fast forward a decade or two. I am the Chaplain at Mount Saint Mary’s High School and Convent.  The thirty Sisters treat me like their little or younger or favorite brother depending on their age. I owned a boat because water skiing was for me a great source of fun in the sun. The Sisters and I go down to Lake Texoma for a weekend.  We decide, the first afternoon to go for  a ride on the boat.  

Six or seven us pile into the boat. We go out. It is still Spring and the sun goes down early.. It gets very cool and very dark. I do not know how full the fuel tank is. I do not know exactly how to get back to the “inlet” we launched from. This is long before cell phones.

Flashlights were available but we probably did not think to bring any.

God takes care of fools and idiots and we find our way back to where “we put in” and the Cabin and our companions. I was the only one who knew how lost we were. I think there was not much more that a pint or so of gasoline left in the tank.

So, I can identify with Peter.

I believe anyone who has water skied has a clue about what it is like to walk or “skim” over the water.  

Peter was fearless until he realized how really risky and dangerous this “walking over the water” feat is.

Think for a moment when something serious and life changing has happened to you. You can lose your health, your security, the love of your life. You can be tossed about by winds, by earthquakes caused by fracking, by depression, by bad luck, or by greed,

The only good that can come from these storms, struggles, failings, occasions of falling down is when we realize we are “truly” lost.

When we are desperate and without good alternatives we realize our need for others, for the Other, for the LORD.

The Jesús /Disciples Dialogue is fascinating today.

Loss, fear, death lead to the Disciples discovering what and who was there or “present” in plain sight “walking over the water” and “in the boat”.The Disciples: “It is a ghost.”  They cried out in fear.

Jesús: “Take courage, It is I: do not be afraid.”

Peter: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Jesús: “Come.”

Peter: “Lord save me!”

Jesús: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

The Disciples: “Truly you are the Son of God.”

 

My sisters and brothers,

Let us “Come”.

Let us ask to be “Saved”

Let us believe, “Truly Jesús is the Son of God.”

 

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9 August 2017 Eighteenth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

9 August 2017 Eighteenth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

 

Numbers 13:1-2,25-14:1,26-29,34-35

Psalm 106

Matthew 15:21-28

 

The land of Canaan was a new and exciting place. There appeared to be both a land “of milk and honey” as well as a land with people “who are fierce.”

The special number forty appears to catch the Lord’s attention and because of their distrust in the Lord after the reconnoitering of forty days the people will “suffer forty years for their crimes.”

The Lord of the Old Testament could indeed be a harsh and punishing with his people.

Jesús meets a Canaanite woman who asks for healing for her daughter.

Jesús does not respond to her in keeping with the tradition of the elders to not engage with a foreign woman.

Jesús mission is “to the lost sheep of Israel”.

The woman persists.

Jesús calls her, indirectly to a “dog”.

The woman challenges Jesús to give at least “the scraps” of spiritual food and healing he has been given.

The woman has “great faith”.

Today we ask for “great faith” to “see” as Jesús “came to see” the fullness and inclusiveness of the Father’s will for the peoples he created.

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8 August 2017 Tuesday Eighteenth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

8 August 2017 Tuesday Eighteenth Week Ordinary Time Year 1 Homily

 

Numbers 12:1-13

Psalm 51

Matthew 15:1-2,10-14

 

Moses meets opposition from his followers.

The LORD is angry and punishes Miriam, Aaron’s wife.

Moses pleads for the healing of Miriam.

 

Jesús finds himself in a similar fix with the Pharisees.

They are critical of Jesús not following the tradition of the elders.

The crowd are summoned by  Jesús.

Jesus  explains it was inside of the person that defiles and not what comes in from the outside.

 

Jesús wishes to heal the blindness of the Pharisees as well as the crowd.

We may be blind guides leading others to be blind as well.

We ask the Spirit of wisdom to help us to see and to teach others to see.

 

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7 August 2017 Homily Monday Eighteenth Week Ordinary Time Year 1

7 August 2017 Homily Monday Eighteenth Week Ordinary Time Year 1

Numbers 11:4-15

Psalm 81

Matthew 14:22-36

 

The people complain about the food and slavery seems attractive.

“Manna” means “What is it?”

The only food the people had was manna that came as “dew fell on the camp”.

The people are not satisfied with survival.

Moses complains to the Lord about the burden the people have become.

Moses is discouraged and only then can confide only in the LORD instead of his own power, authority or strength.

 

Faith and patience seem to figure into the boat, the storm at sea, Jesus’ saving Peter and the disciples.

Faith prompts the disciples to say to Jesus: “Truly, you are the Son of God”.

Jesus is Son of Man.

Faith causes Jesus to be recognized as Son of God.

 

Our community is, at times, like the boat in the storm.

Our salvation is based not on our own goodness or worthiness or holiness.

The boat, the storm, our being “saved” are  always undeserved gift.

 

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5 and 6 August 2017 Transfiguration Year A Homily

5 and 6 August 2017 Transfiguration Year A Homily

DANIEL 7:9-10,13-14

PSALM 97

SECOND PETER 1:16

 

MATTHEW 17:1-9

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

Jesus is “transfigured” today in the Gospel.

The setting for the transfiguration reminds us of Moses going up on

a high mountain and encountering the LORD.

 

The transfiguration certifies Jesus’ mission, special relationship with the

Father and Jesus’ task of fulfilling the Law (represented by Moses) and

the prophets (represented by Elijah).

 

The transfiguration, like the encounter of Moses and the LORD

struggles with how to describe in human words an experience of the

divine presence that cannot be put into human words.

“Jesús was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun

And his clothes became white as light…..” does not really tell us very much.

 

This experience is thought by some scripture scholars to be an experience of the Jesús and three of his disciples that is transposed to the time beforeJesús died on the Cross.

 

The reason for this “transposition” of an event from after to before the death and Resurrection of Jesús may have been to give encouragement to the disciples or the church who were discouraged by persecution, discrimination, expulsion from the synagogues and even death.

 

Matthew’s gospel was written, as far as we can tell, for a group of Judeans who had become Christians and faced opposition from their fellow country men for their choice to follow the Christ.

During this encounter between Jesús, James, John and Peter not only are Moses and Elijah present.

The disciples hear a voice from a cloud say: “This is my beloved Son. with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

The disciples of Jesús will need to be strengthened, encouraged and faithful in the face of difficulties and persecutions.

The “Transfiguration” of Jesús gives Jesús’ disciples a taste or snapshot or vision of what will happen to the followers of Jesús after he “has been raised from the dead.”

As we know from the Gospels, the original followers of Jesús were a mixed and at times mismatched group to start a movement that has lasted over 2000 years.

Peter for example, who will deny Jesús three times, today suggests that he build three houses for Moses, Elijah and Jesús. The could  take up residence on the mountain where the disciples can run to them to find answers, encouragement and consolation if things begin to become difficult, problematic or dangerous.

Peter in his own way is a “control freak”.  Essentially he tries to “tame” or “domesticate” Jesús, Moses and Elijah by capturing them and tying them down to a specific place.

Most of us think if we keep the commandments, are nice to others and do not do anything bad then we will be okay at the final judgment.

We sometimes think our “being good” gives us the right to judge and even exclude those who are not “good” in the ways we are “good”.

What the disciples are not thinking about as they come down from the mountain, although Jesús has predicted his passion and death is about the suffering that is involved in “taking up his/your cross and following me.”

Jesús even speaks of his resurrection as the disciples come down from the mountain.

What the disciples do not realize as they “descend” from the mountain is that they will be “tested” and will “fail” to be faithful to Jesús. They will not be present when Jesús falls three times but they will fall publicly and clearly in their first real “test” as disciples.

One spiritual writer refers to the “fall”, “failure” we all know so well in our struggles with being faithful disciples in an interesting way.  This writer speaks of our “falling upward”.

In fact if we do not “fall” down we will not ever be able to “fall” “up” into the hands of our Lord.  If we never fall or fail we have no need for God’s grace, mercy or compassion. If we never fail or fall we have no appreciation of a sister or brother’s need for compassion.

The Transfiguration of Jesús is a crystal clear invitation to us to be Transfigured, Changed and Transformed.  

Moses, Elijah, Jesús, Peter, James and John have been Transfigured and Transformed.

It is now our task and our turn to take the plunge and fall up into the grace, peace, forgiveness and light of the Christ.

 

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2 August 2017 Wednesday Seventeenth Week Ordinary Year 1 Homily

2  August 2017 Wednesday Seventeenth Week Ordinary Year 1 Homily

 

Exodus 34:29-35

Psalm 99

Matthew 13:44-46

 

Moses’ finds out his face is “radiant”.

This frightens the people.

Being in touch with the divine is so radical an experience that it causes fear, isolation and possible rejection of self and others.

 

Moses must cover his face since the “radiance” continues after he leaves the “tent” where the Lord dwells.

 

Moses repeats to the people what the Lord has commanded.

 

Moses is given this special “transformation” of his face and discovers it is a two edged sword.  The “radiant” face of Moses causes fear and distraction as well as the need to listen to what the Lord “says” and “commands” through Moses.

 

We all know times of searching.

We search for acceptance,

We  search for affirmation.

 

We come here  today because our continues.

We listen to the word.

We hear “seeds”, images, verbal paintings about the Kingdom.

 

In the end we choose to invest, accept, imagine until we live the “treasures” and “pearls” of the Kingdom.

 

We need to share the Kingdom, its riches, its fulfillment with others.

 

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