Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday word, 28 Nov 2010

Advent Sunday 1 A (28 November 2010)

Is 2. 1-5; Ps 122; Rm 13. 11-14; Mt 24. 37-44

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Already and Not Yet

As we begin Advent light, courage, resolve and gospel living invite us to continue to shape ourselves as disciples of our living Lord today. A word about each, beginning with light.

Our Catholic heritage has always refused to be either/or. Instead our Catholic heritage is both/and. Some examples: body and spirit; rich and poor; heaven and earth; saints and sinners; sin and grace; now and not yet; feasting and fasting; darkness and light. Our both/and Catholic heritage invites God into everything to transform sin by divine life, for which we use the shorthand, grace; to help us discover who we are created to be by transforming our humanity by the risen life of our living Lord; and to brighten darkness of any sort with the radiance of living light imparted to us by Jesus’ Spirit.

We need all the help we can get to keep our faith from becoming, falsely, limited to mental activity. Our upcoming Annual Service Day celebrates the variety of Christian service to which Gesu commits itself all year. Acting on behalf of others as disciples of Jesus helps us experience him at work in our limits and the limits and suffering of others. Our gospel living makes faith no idea but a participation in the risen life and faith of our living Lord.

Nature gives us another help. Daily deepening darkness of winter gives our senses a chance to connect with the graciousness of our living Lord Jesus. Winter’s shortening days, lengthening nights and least intense solar radiance are for many symptoms of the calendar more than experiences of personal limits or invitations to deepen our gospel living. We do enter darkness, and we emerge in new light.

Light has long stood for revelation with its prophetic encouragement to guide us to live in harmony with the commandments and the Spirit of our Messiah Jesus. We heard Prophet Isaiah express the divine desire that we may walk in [God’s] paths by encouraging, Let us walk in the light of the Lord!

With an eye to a 24-hour cycle of dark and day-light, St. Paul, too, voiced this tradition for us: it is the hour awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. ...let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day.

St. Paul, of course, spoke of salvation in Messiah Jesus. St. Paul began with Jesus who was past teacher—Jesus had also insisted, stay awake! and be prepared—but St. Paul urged his contemporaries and us in the spirit of Jesus, our living Lord. It takes courage to live in all sorts of darkness, to stay awake and be prepared. Our living Lord, no dead teacher of the past, makes his courage available to us through his Spirit. Jesus’ courage was not bravado, a boldness intended to impress. Jesus’ courage is divine life available to us: in baptism we were grafted onto Jesus; or in St. Paul’s words, we put on the Lord Jesus Christ; St. Paul actively described gospel living involves relationship.

Jesus’ reminder of the days of Noah made the contours of gospel living stand out. In (those) days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. Gospel living challenges the ways humans ordinarily do things often with self at the center or enslaved by fear, which causes us to behave in less than humane ways. Gospel living is shaped by courage and resolve to be open not heedless to the ways Jesus works in our lives: inviting; welcoming; challenging; and urging us not to be constrained by earthly affairs as if they were the final measure of our existence. The most wonderful, indeed saving, thing about gospel living is that it shapes us more like our living Lord as it widens the circles of relationships.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week consider your relationship with the Trinity. Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus. Converse with Jesus: praise him for welcoming you to extend his saving love to others; ask Jesus for the grace to be alert and attentive to the ways Jesus works in and through you for the sake of others and our world. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, thy kingdom come, on our lips, remind us that already present among us, the kingdom will be revealed in its full splendor when the Son of Man returns in the glory of his Second Advent.


Wiki-image of a manuscript bearing the beginning of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans is in the public domain. Wiki-image by Phillip Medhurst depicting Jesus' teaching of the end time is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Health in Financial Difficulty

The YOUDocs, Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, have contributed much to help people take charge of their health. Their website, RealAge: Live Life to the Youngest, features pages devoted to helping people maintain health in financial difficulties. Called Money and Work, these pages are full of practical knowledge as is the entire site.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday word, 21 Nov 2010

Solemnity of the Christ the King C (21 November 2010)

2Sm 5. 1-3; Ps 122; Col 1. 12-20; Lk 23. 35-43

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.


In Luke’s gospel the death of Jesus echoes earlier portrayals of Jesus in it. I highlight two: Jesus as Prophet and Jesus as Savior. His death happened as Jesus had told his Twelve Apostles as they journeyed to Jerusalem and were less than 20 miles away: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon.”1 Jesus as Prophet remained in control even though to human sight he controlled nothing.

Jesus as Savior shone in mocking, accusations as well as a plea of faith. The rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Of course, we faithful hearers and readers of the gospel know that faith saved Jesus, no less than it saved those Jesus healed from infirmities, demons and exclusion from the people of Abraham. Even the soldiers jeered at him, using the accusation hung atop his cross, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”

The criminals saw Jesus in two ways. One was desperate, the other captured by faith. The desperate one wanted Jesus to save himself so that Jesus would save him. The other criminal gasped to the desperate one that both were under the same condemnation. That’s a bleak translation of the Greek word, which could mean either sentence or judgment.2 All three of them were under the sentence of death by crucifixion. The ultimate judge of them and all humans was—and remains—God.

Even under contemporary state-sponsored executions, legal though immoral, the ultimate judge of all is given some space, a whisper of recognition: chaplains are allowed to be with those who accept them. No one knows how many guilty criminals faith has saved! We do know that faith saved Jesus: God raised him from death to save more than the “good thief.”

A close reading of the gasping “good thief,” as tradition has honored him, shows two efforts: one is evangelizing and the other is prayer. To honor God with reverent wonder is fitting always. The second criminal did not speak with condemnation to the first criminal; rather he evangelized him, In the time we have left, honor God the creator, judge and lord of all. First, the second criminal evangelized as did so many in the gospel and like so many after Jesus’ resurrection.

Also, the second criminal was, as I put it, captured by faith. Faith wraps all who are open to it in its saving robe. We name the voice of faith, its intimate expressions, prayer. The second criminal, who flanked Jesus, spoke intimately with Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Some might say he had no notion to whom he spoke for he did not address Jesus as Lord, Master or Teacher. His awareness exceeded human knowing because he was captured by faith. In the Third Gospel, those who sought Jesus to heal them used his personal name as did angels and demons, who recognized the identity of Jesus,3 whose name means the Lord saves.4 Indeed no worldly monarch, our Prophet, our Savior is our Lord, God’s Messiah.

The practical application of pondering the “good thief” crucified with Jesus moves us to consider: Do we allow ourselves to be captured by faith and to converse intimately with Jesus? Do we regularly pause in heartfelt reflection so that unlikely people and unlikely moments may evangelize us and lead us to live our Messiah Jesus’ kingdom? As Prophet our Messiah Jesus invites us to live by the code of his kingdom; as Savior our Messiah Jesus protects us with his risen life and leads us by his faith. Messiah Jesus accompanies us now until he welcomes each of us into his kingdom.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause to feel the Trinity embrace you. Ask the criminal, who spoke intimately with Jesus, to present you to Jesus. Praise Jesus for being your Messiah, Lord and Savior; ask Jesus for the grace to be captured by his faith, the faith of his body, the church, so you may live anew. Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, thy kingdom come, on our lips echo the intimate conversation of Jesus and one of the criminals crucified with him. Deepening our habit of personally saying the Lord’s Prayer slowly increases our intimacy with Jesus and with others as we live day to day in his ever-dawning kingdom.

Link to this homily's Spiritual Exercise


  1. Luke 18.31-32.
  2. See Thayer’s Lexicon.
  3. For angel Gabriel, see Luke 1.31; for demons, see 4.34 and 8.28; for people begging for Jesus to heal them, see 17.13; 18.38.
  4. Yeshua (= Joshua) is how Jesus was known. Jesus is from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua.
Wiki-image of detail of stained glass window has been released into the public domain.