Monday, September 27, 2010
Leaps and Bounds will arrive in Cleveland for two days. One performance will be at the Noble Road Presbyterian Church, as the schedule indicates.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
26th Sunday of the Year C (26 Sep 2010)
Today Catholic Charities USA marked its centennial in Washington, D.C., after several regional events. At Gesu Parish in University Heights, Ohio, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle, Director of Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe & Catering, preached at masses. "God's dream come true" is people overcoming any chasm between them (Father Boyle used the chasm-image of the gospel parable of Lazarus and the rich man).
Catholic Charities reminds that the principles of the church's social teaching help people to make "God's dream come true."
Sunday, September 19, 2010
25tth Sunday of the Year C (19 Sep 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Parable of Compassion—Yet Again
Scripture is important for our lives even as it is the charter of the church of Jesus in every age. Yet we easily forget how fragile a record God’s word is. God’s word, God’s communication, is clothed in human words, human words of a time, place and culture far different from ours. That temporal, local and cultural distance makes the scriptural record of God’s communication so fragile. Our distance from our Declaration of Independence and other founding documents makes them fragile but not as fragile as scripture.
Our modern ways of understanding often blur the scriptural record instead of allowing us to receive clearly God’s communication through it. Let me guide you in ancient Palestinian agricultural economics so we may appreciate Jesus’ message in his parable confusing to our ears.
Luke recalled that not only did God have particular concern for the poor—a lasting place in God’s heart as Amos made clear; Luke remembered Jesus, the compassion of God in flesh and blood, lived the divine concern among people and invited them to make the ancient concern ever new. Jesus invites us through his spirit. That’s the starting point our liturgy offers.
How to approach Jesus’ parable Luke saved for us? If we recall that in Jesus’ lost-and-found parables before today’s the “finding” characters symbolized God’s desire to save the lost, we may notice the compassion of the master of the steward: he dismissed the steward, he did not fine or imprison him. We get distracted from that crucial fact by the behavior of the squandering steward, who received his master’s praise: the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. What!
In the 1st-Century Palestinian economy people rented from those who owned and controlled the land. Landowners employed agents who managed the flow of produce. Each steward received a fee for each transaction—here olive oil and wheat—and the fees were recorded in a public record. The public records, which included the fees they needed to pay stewards, helped people shop for good renting prices. Stewards could not extort fees higher than the public records showed. The steward in Jesus’ parable may have done that, what people saw was extortion or other impropriety and reported to the landowner: What is this I hear about you? ...you can no longer be my steward.
Before word traveled farther—no phones, no text messages or emails there and then—the steward had some renters awaiting him adjust their fees payable in olive oil and wheat in their favor. That meant that the landowner would be short produce for the season. It also meant he found himself in a bind. The renters were rejoicing at the landowner’s generosity: he had lowered their fees! If he dissolved the contract, he would set his renters against him. If he accepted his agricultural shortage, he would increase his honor—more valuable than money in 1st-Century Palestine. The steward’s action magnified his master’s honor before all. For an increase in honor did the master praise the steward. He was already honorable because he had only dismissed his steward, instead of fining or imprisoning him.
God deals with us graciously, too. All of us know we have overstepped our bounds at one time or another. God continued to act graciously toward us when we did. If God is openhearted with us, Jesus encourages us to be openhearted and openhanded with one another. Money is necessary—it was for Jesus, too—yet do we give it undue value? Does it grip our honor so that we lose our freedom with it? Do we hold money and possessions so dear that we idolize them? Do we serve things rather than put them to good, honorable use? If a squandering steward did that, hope exists for you and me. The parable reminds us our Creator and Redeemer trusts us to spread God’s honor far and wide. That is our Catholic devotion1 and dignity.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, first be aware of giving yourself to the Trinity. Ask your patron saint to present you to Jesus. In your words speak with Jesus: praise him for creating you; always seeking and finding you; and presenting you to his Father; ask Jesus for the grace to be openhearted to the ways Jesus invites you to be his disciple and to continue to be his trustworthy disciple and friend for the sake of the world. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, give us this day, encourage us to remember that much of what we have is more than sufficient—even surplus.
- More than a truth devotion remains a way of life as well as the mystery of risen Jesus (1Timothy 3.16), who nourishes and sustains each disciple, who lives his way.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Michael Fletcher-Gina Gerson wedding (18 Sep 2010)
Rt 1. 16-17; Ps 34; Col 3. 12-17; Mt 17. 14-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Gina and Michael, your choice of scriptures invites us to focus on fidelity. Ruth, who was not Jewish, had married into a Jewish family. Only her sister-in-law and mother-in-law, Naomi, were left, and Naomi was returning to her own land after many years away. She gave her daughters-in-law freedom to follow their lives not hers. Ruth pledged Naomi her loyalty and support: wherever you go...wherever you live...whatever God you worship...wherever you die, Ruth would follow and follow freely. Ruth’s pledge of fidelity was not only deep, it caused her freedom to change from one key into another: her attachment to Naomi and to her people and God modulated her personal freedom into a new key.
This modulating of personal freedom into a new key describes many relationships: yours in marriage; mine when I moved into the life of the Society of Jesus; others when they move from childhood and adolescence into adulthood; as well as one’s relationship with God, who creates and redeems us each moment. Modulation of personal freedom into a new key entails effort, as Naomi understood.
Naomi knew that the change Ruth would face—entering a new land with its God of Abraham, its religion and customs as well as its different vistas—would be steep. Naomi wanted Ruth to be herself. To be oneself is one more aspect of fidelity: authenticity.
Our Christian tradition shapes how to understand authenticity. We desire and we strive to become the individuals Jesus has created and redeemed. To be myself is no self-centered attempt. To be myself is no heroic effort. To be myself is moving with my Creator and Redeemer. Christian authenticity involves individuals and our Creator.
To be oneself is marked by longing. The Colossians longed for a new humanity; St. Paul responded to them using the phrases of old self and new self. He reminded them that what they sought God was creating and forming within the community of the church, in their communion with Jesus. Like them we may be surprised that to become more the persons Jesus has created and redeemed is not the results of spectacular feats but of putting on our Messiah and allowing his attitude to flow through us: clothe yourselves with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience….Bear with one another and,... forgive each other.
The church recognizes that Catholic marriage and family are a noble school to practice Christian attitudes. So noble that it calls spouses and their family a “domestic church.”1 Mike and Gina, your married love allows you, indeed frees you, to clothe yourselves with our Messiah, to give your loyalty and support to each other and to grow more as the individuals Messiah Jesus creates and redeems each moment.
Forcing love and its manifestations humans show one another—heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, meekness…patience. …Bear[ing] with one another and...forgiv[ing]—is noticed by lovers. Forcing love is a cue that I’m trying to be heroic, and being heroic often leads to judging another instead of leading self and the other to new humanity in Jesus. St. Paul used the image of clothing.
One doesn’t force on clothing. The word St. Paul used, which we translate as to clothe, literally meant to sink into. When something truly fits, we appreciate we are in it. The fashion-model photo of sinking into clothing captures what such appreciation causes: we luxuriate in what fits us well. So, Mike and Gina, sink into the Sacrament of Matrimony you put on one another today. Allow the mutual love and honor you pledge before us to enlarge your freedom: grow more free to be flesh and blood symbols of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church and to help each other to attain to holiness.2
Gina and Mike, I am thrilled for you both, and I congratulate you on behalf of the church. May God bless your future through your faithful love give you new courage to love and, especially, to receive each other’s love.
- Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 11, of The Second Vatican Council.