Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday word, 30 Dec 2012

Greater Freedom
Holy Family C (30 Dec 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
In 2012 “Spend More Time with Family” was 10th of the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions. The other nine involved health, helping others, falling in love, saving money and getting organized.1 I began to think, Did people make resolutions about faith—learning and living it? This Year of Faith suggests I ask us to consider resolving to deepen faith in practical ways. First a word about faith, then about living it.

Christian faith is essentially this: a relationship with the Trinity. As a relationship it is a mystery. Not a whodunnit to solve it is to live, as relationships of spouses, of siblings, of friends, of brother- and sister-parishioners. No one completely knows another. Even a person with intimate knowledge of another does not enjoy total knowledge. That is why spouses and siblings as well as longtime friends surprise one another. Our surprise is knowing others better, knowing them in new light.

A shining feature of knowing another as spouse, sibling, friend, brother- or sister-parishioner is trust. Family members entrust themselves to one another as family. Friends entrust themselves as friends. Parishioners entrust themselves as members in and sharers of Messiah Jesus’ body. We have experienced all these relationships; our trust has been confirmed, and it has been wounded.

With our experience wounded we may be hesitant to surrender ourselves to our triune God, not to mention to other people. To put it in other words: we are challenged to live our faith. With our experience confirmed we dare to surrender ourselves to our triune God. To put it in other words: we are willing to live our faith. Our triune God is not with us in the same way as we are with one another. Jesus embodied God, which we celebrate with focused attention at Christmas. Now, Jesus is even closer because he lives with us in, through and by his Holy Spirit. If the apostles trusted Jesus when he walked with them, you and I are called to trust Jesus with a greater trust. As St. John reminded us, the way we know that [Messiah Jesus] abides in us is from the Spirit he gave us.

We cannot reduce Spirit-knowing to our other ways of knowing. Spirit-knowing overlaps with human knowing. Spirit-knowing also exceeds human knowing. Intuition may not be a bad analogy. When a parent senses something is not all right with a child; when a sibling senses a sister is going to announce her intention to marry; when a friend senses a friend is anguishing over an important choice: when people have no solid evidence for such things yet feel in their bones the distress or elation facing another, they operate on a different though real knowledge.

Surrendering to our triune God operates that way. We may not be able to prove it in court, even the court of public opinion, yet we trust in God even when appearances suggest other-wise. Because faith-relationship works that way we need models. On Holy Family
Sunday it is an understatement to remind ourselves that children need parents and other elders to guide them in all ways, especially the ways of faith. Abraham modeled for all that faith is an attitude of confident trust. St. Paul echoed Abraham’s story to the first generation of Christians.2 Faith empowered Abraham,3 and because it did faith was gift not something Abraham manufactured. He did cultivate what empowered him, and he lived from his relationship with God. Heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another describe relationship in practice.

Continue cultivating your faith. Make a resolution to practice our faith with more energy and in concrete ways. Resolve in a way that will help you put your faith in action: it may be resolving as a family; it may be resolving in a modest way so your resolution is not a contest but a desire to surrender to the mystery of divine life creating you. It may involve a return to a practice; it may mean beginning a new practice. Whatever you resolve, revisit it in a couple months. If you experience God in Jesus by their Spirit in a new way, it will be because you surrendered to our Creator instead of struggling to create things in your image. That temptation always fraught with frustration. Practicing faith leads to increased freedom.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the Trinity, who create you each moment.
  • Ask Mary and Joseph to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for becoming human for you and abiding with you by his Spirit; share with him what keeps you from giving yourself into his care.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to surrender with greater confidence to him as your savior, your brother, your friend.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Its opening words, Our Father, shift us from thinking we are the center of the universe. The words remind us our Creator and Redeemer is its center. We are the crown of creation, not its center.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Stastic Brain webpage.
  2. Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 9-22; Galatians 3.6-7; Also James 2:23.
  3. Romans 9.20.
Wiki-image of the Holy Family is in the public domain in the U.S. Wiki-image by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing of Abraham empowered by faith used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 International Children’s Peace Prize

Kesz Valdez slept in a cemetery, suffered burns was saved and more. His desire to help others became reality. He received the 2012 prize. A short video was posted at CNN.


Wiki-image by Nino Verde of Manila slum used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From Compensation to Consumption

Lloyd Alter at treehugger offers a brief overview of “Boxing Day, A Great Idea That Turned into Wretched Excess.” A not-so-popular carol recalls the opposite of excess.

Origins of Well-Known Carols

Well-known hymns play, and some join in. Christmas carols play, and everyone joins. What are the origins of well-known carols? Veronica Scarisbrick of Vatican Radio hosts a music historian to answer that question. 


Wiki-image of Carols Old and New is in the public domain in the U.S.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy a blessed Nativity!

Wiki-image of Nativity is in the public domain.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday word, 23 Dec 2012

Model of Surrender
Advent4 C (23 Dec 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Can anyone identify with this? “Many things distract me from entering Advent and preparing for Christmas.” I can. To admit distraction suggests being self-aware. To admit distraction from entering Advent and its Christmas preparation suggests being aware we are ignoring God inviting us to grow more alert to self and God in Jesus by their Spirit at work in us. Their work brings us to life now and will give us life—what we call our salvation. The Trinity gives us life. Can we give life to ourselves? Can we save our selves? Is God’s saving life in our power? Our measure of power can mislead us.

We are not the first to be misled. The passage from Prophet Micah we heard described God’s power in God’s Anointed. God chose to act so people might identify the messiah and join with him. Yet to many Jesus did not seem to fulfill the prophecy: he was gentle not firm, as the word caused some to think. He was not strong as people expected or measured strength. Nor did divine majesty blindingly radiate from him; and as far as greatness, Jesus’ origins were obscure—even scandalous.

Those who did recognize Jesus as Messiah were differently disposed from those who could not: those who recognized Jesus as Messiah were vulnerable; they acknowledged their limitations and weakness; they weren’t numbered among great ones. If they sat with us here, we probably would long to get away.

Many Micah addressed struggled long and hard against all those things they were: weak, limited, without clout, anonymous. Without power to change their circumstances they grew not to be obsessed with power. Advent invites us to grow docile that way. Our culture, indeed human nature, isn’t fond of docility of spirit. A docile spirit is not resigned nor wimpy nor whiny. Not at all! Docile means willing to learn, and not facts only but other people. Docile spirits help us focus and attend to God at work in us. In prophetic language: Behold, I come to do your will. Christians early recognized Jesus  in those words. When Christ came into the world, he said: I come to do your will. Advent reminds us how Christ came into the world: he was born of an obscure woman, neither wealthy nor powerful, who surrendered herself to an inviting, gracious God.

Yet much distracted Mary! How could she embody God into the world? How would it affect her future and Joseph, her betrothed? Her family, friends, all of Nazareth? Mary surrendered her distractions, her expectations, her fears to God who invited her. Her surrender changed history. We overheard again two effects of that change in one of history’s most intimate personal exchanges. Elizabeth proclaimed her relative blessed among feminine humanity. Elizabeth spoke not on her authority: she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Her prophetic insight was about that present moment. (Prophecy is not only about the future; it is also present as Elizabeth showed.) She also named Mary almost casually: mother of my Lord. As mother she gave God our human nature. Giving God our human nature gave Mary her mission. From the safety of home Mary set out in haste; from perplexed girl to a focused servant of an aged woman, whose dead womb was fully alive; from distracted fiancée to joyful young woman of promised blessing.

Elizabeth praised Mary because Mary believed. Note what Mary did: she hastened to Elizabeth.  Mary put her belief into action; she modeled for us that living our faith means putting belief into action. Mary aligned herself with God’s desire; then she let it shape her actions. Mary did not allow belief to be ideas: she exercised it. Belief was and is a way of living.

Micah’s prophecy—that the Messiah would be firm, mighty, radiating divinity—was no idea for Mary. She dreamed it. Mary aligned herself with God’s eternal dream for humanity, making it her deep desire. She surrendered to it, though she may never have thought to play the role in it God asked of her. Devotion to Mary includes imitating her. We all bring forth Messiah Jesus by living our faith.1 If Micah’s prophecy is just an idea for us, we would not try to surrender to God’s desire for each of us. To recall Mary hastened to serve Elizabeth frees us to respond to Advent’s invitation to surrender to prophetic language we often use all too casually. To recall Mary hastened to serve Elizabeth frees us to respond to God’s daily invitation to make Jesus present by the ways we live our faith. 

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Surrender to the Trinity’s love for you.
  • Ask Mary to present you to her son.
  • Converse with Jesus: express to him your awe that in him God shared our human nature.
  • Ask Jesus to free you more to welcome his divinity both hidden in our humanity and at work through you to make his desires come alive today.
  • Close saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. To pray, thy kingdom come, means to pave the way for it in ways gentle, strong, focused, prophetic and to grow more aware we are blessed even in ways we cannot see.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. See St. Ambrose, Commentary of St. Luke, Book 2.

Wiki-image by Vassil of the Visitation was released into the public domain. Wiki-image of score for O Antiphon of 23 December is in the public domain in the U.S.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Metro Quiet

Does the phrase “metropolitan hermit” attract? Note a longing for quiet? A recent Washington Post article offers silent answers.
Wiki-image by böhringer friedrich of ice-crystal post used by CC BY-SA 2.5.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Catholic Social Teaching, Dwarves and “Love Objects”

The origin of The Hobbit is probably some marking of exam scripts in about 1932 to gain some extra money. Tolkien was getting very bored so…”

Dr. Alison Milbank wrote about him. She also discussed what she wrote in this video. (The video at the end of the ThinkingFaith post did not open.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday word, 16 Dec 2012

Power Not Talk
Advent3 C (16 Dec 2012) 
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
[Completed before the shootings in Newton, CT, 14Dec.]
The third Advent Sunday long has been named after the first word of its entrance antiphon: in Latin, gaudete; in English, rejoice. The verb and its noun, joy, coursed through the liturgy of the word. While the gospel did not use either word, responses of the Baptizer to those who appealed to him reflect living from the ancient, common understanding of joy. When we appreciate the meaning the first Christians shared, we better appreciate Christian joy, and better still, are more free to live it.

The people of the ancient Mediterranean—the world of Jesus, of the writings of the New Testament and of the church—shaped Christian thought. It was not all rejection: that Christians rejected
all that pagans embraced. Far from it! The Second Vatican Council affirmed that both then as now, nonbelievers enjoyed a “certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and…human history; …This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.”1 Many ancients, before and after Jesus, were more religious than many moderns—but that’s another story.

By their experience early Christians transformed the common understanding of joy. Their understanding helps us appreciate that joy in scripture is not happiness. Happiness depends on positive circumstances and outcomes; they condition happiness. Joy exceeds positive and negative experiences. Not a condition, it is a disposition, an attitude. Our proverb, No pain, no gain, was not foreign to ancients. They had their saying, Mαθειν, παθεin: learning life costs endurance.2 Christian joy was a facet of what the first disciples claimed they had experienced: power. Expressed differently with different symbols, power had touched them, transformed them. The giver of this paradoxical power—joy amid trials and life from death—was Holy Spirit. Spirit-power was given not self-made, experienced not talked about. St. Paul was concise: The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.3 An attitude, Christian joy is first a gift, frequently a baffling one.

I came to realize I learned it after my father died. I was devastated. The next day after I woke and heard my mother stir, I stood in their doorway as I used to after a bad dream as a child. I told her I missed Dad terribly and how I felt. With soft strength Mom told me she did, too, that she had him 60 years and several times thought she would bury him because of illness. I felt her strength. She was not resigned as she continued that our turn to let him go as he had been with us had arrived, and we would help each other do that.

My mother was not happy. Her life-mate was gone. She had many blue days, as she called them. Yet her suffering did not warp her to become fainthearted or dispirited. Mom was neither, which allowed her to console me. Learning life was excruciatingly costly, yet Mom received power, which graced her to live with her eyes and her heart on tomorrow.

As Advent opened Jesus encouraged us to pray for strength not to let any anxieties of daily life overwhelm power.4 Advent praying, the Advent mood, the Advent hope are summarized in the the season’s refrain: Come, Lord Jesus! Praying it does not hasten Jesus’ return. No one can do that; Jesus will return at the appointed time. Come, Lord Jesus! opens us to receive the consolation, encouragement, enlightenment, hope, peace, patient endurance, fidelity, generosity—in short, the features of divine life the Trinity desires to give us and knows we need before we do. When we welcome their divine life and cooperate with their divine life, we cease to be prisoners of our circumstances. We become empowered and free. How? We receive from our crucified and risen Lord a share in his glorious joy.5 Christian joy, St. Paul reminded, surpasses understanding. It is no less real because it does. It is most real, a divine gift which enables us to live from our hope in Jesus, our crucified and risen Messiah, alive with us now, the one we await. When he returns in glory he will wipe away every tear and make all things new.6

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week 
  • Rest in the Trinity, who creates you each moment.
  • Ask John the Baptizer to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for becoming human for you; then, share with him your hurts, wounds, your emptiness.
  • After you bear your soul to Jesus, ask him for the grace to welcome consolation from him and from others. (We resist that when we hurt.) 
  • Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Praying Jesus’ prayer does not change our circumstances. It helps us welcome being sustained and healed by our Creator and Redeemer; to live though we feel otherwise; and to be ministers of his healing to others.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Its Decree on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, 2.
  2. Its Greek is rhythmic and rhyming: MAH-thane, PAH-thane. It found its way into Hebrews 12.7. While we think discipline is punishment, to the ancients it was training. Scripture joins training with love. For example: Proverbs 3.11-12; 13.24; Sirach 30.1; 1Corinthians 11.32.
  3. 1 Corinthians 4.20.
  4. Luke 21.34-36.
  5. In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Week Four, risen Jesus’ invites the maker of the Exercises to feel and share his glory and his joy [221]. It shapes and colors the entire phase [229].
  6. Revelation 21.4-5.

Wiki-image of the Gaudete incipit is in the public domain: {PD-OLD-100}; {PD-US}. Wiki-image by Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca of the Aramaic for Come, Lord is used by CC BY-SA 2.0.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

In the Wake of Another Tragic Shooting

Prayers and expression of support are the best, early offering to the families who lost loved ones in Newton, Connecticut. The Ignatian Solidarity network posted today this list of resources on guns, violence and Catholic Social Teaching.

Wiki-image by Francois Polito of non-violence sculpture used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Not Canceled and More

Pope Benedict’s third book on Jesus focused on the infancy narratives. While some media characterized the pope as the Grinch, not every journalist did. Mr. John L. Allen Jr., in his All Things Catholic to close 2012, explains that and comments about religious freedom far away and a successful Catholic television station.

Wiki-image by The U.S. Army of a friendly Grinch used by CC BY-SA 2.0.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Take Time

Just retweeted was this video of an Advent hymn sung by the Ignatian Schola of Manhattan. More about it and more links to “Best Ignatian Songs” at dotMagis.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Central Significance

Marian devotion has many expressions. Individuals may grow comfortable with one expression of Marian devotion over others. If an expression promotes one’s growth in love of God and of neighbor, a person ought not to seek out another—unless another expression helps a person love better. The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated in the Americas today, and devotion to her extends beyond them.

In 1531 Juan Diego beheld Mary, whose image appeared on his cloak. It hangs in the basilica remembering his visions and the place of them, an area of Mexico City. It is significant that Mary appeared to a humble person from whom she requested cooperation. It may be significant, too, that Mary did this in the middle of the Americas and in its oldest city. Of course, the personal significances are as many as are Guadalupanos of every nationality and denomination.
Wiki-image of the image of O.L. of Guadalupe is in the public domain.

Honor ≠ Worship

Every now and again a question is posed to Catholics. It may be called the question of “saint worship.” Catholics honor saints; they worship God. Perhaps because images of saints are in Catholic places of worship confusion arises. The Office of Readings of the daily Liturgy of the Hours recalled St. Augustine’s distinction between honor and worship.
Wiki-image {{PD-Art}} of St. Augustine is in the public domain.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Budget Proposals Through NT Lens

President Obama and Speaker Boehner have issued their proposals to reduce the national deficit. Bread For the World has analyzed both of them. The citizens’ group seeking to end hunger noted in its analysis that neither plan preserves the 25-year-old “principle that deficit reduction must not increase poverty.” A summary of both proposals was just released. It includes a link to its analysis.
Wiki-image by Cliff of White Bread used by CC BY-SA 2.0.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sunday word, 09 Dec 2012

To See Ourselves
Advent2 C (09 Dec 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The details which opened todays’s gospel may sound needless, even distracting. However, the evangelist Luke considered them important. Two reasons stand out. First, he placed himself in the tradition of earlier prophets whose records began similarly. The Book of Baruch, from which our first reading was taken, began: Now these are the words of the scroll which Baruch, son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, son of Zedekiah, son of Hasadiah, son of Hilkiah, wrote in Babylon, in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month at the time the Chaldeans took Jerusalem and destroyed it with fire.1 Details of events, names of parents and rulers situated prophets in specific times and places. Within the prophetic tradition, Luke attached his story of Jesus to the culture of his time: empire; regional rulers; and religious leaders. Second, that tradition helped Luke’s hearers and readers appreciate what he wrote: John was the last in the line of prophets; his words and deeds prepared the way for Messiah Jesus.

He went throughout [the] whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and Luke continued, crowds...came out to be baptized by him.2 That, too, may sound like a throwaway line, but it is not. The reason is this: that many came to John and were baptized by him indicated they responded positively to him and accepted his preaching.

When we understand what scripture means by repentance we appreciate John’s prophetic vocation to prepare the way of the Lord. To repent meant to change one’s mind and to live according to one’s change of mind. In the Acts of the Apostles, the second part of Luke’s good news, St. Paul was more clear: I preached the need to repent and turn to God, and to do works giving evidence of repentance.3

Sorrow is not the point of repentance, although a stung conscience, we know, motivates us. The point of repentance is to live in new ways, ways which reflect to others the compassion and grace God in Jesus by their Spirit lavish upon us. To deepen in ourselves their compassion and grace is our Advent goal. As the people of his day heard and responded to John the baptizer, Advent offers us a focused time to probe and ponder the words of evangelists and prophets. We probe and ponder their words with this question: where do I see myself in their words. As we note our intersections, we can do no better than the crowds who came out to be baptized by John. They asked after hearing him and recognizing themselves, “What ought we do?”4 John responded to different groups5: share with those in need; act justly and honestly; and be grateful for what one has.

Luke, an evangelist, offers us the preaching and teaching of the Baptizer, a prophet. As with  other offerings, our part is to recognize what is offered, to welcome it and to accept it. Accepting is not limited to thinking and agreeing with John’s teaching. Accepting John’s teaching means to live it as best each of us can. Living John’s teaching and preaching transforms us to live our faith clearly. Living John’s teaching and preaching transforms us to be more prophetic Christians: children, women and men who help prepare others to welcome Jesus into their lives.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause and rest in the Trinity, who creates us each moment.
  • Ask John the Baptizer to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for becoming human for you so you may become a truer temple of his presence and a clearer image of God, in whom we are made.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to live his faith, our Christian faith as John and he taught: sharing generously; acting honestly and justly; and expressing often gratitude for what we enjoy.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer, which was his way of living as one of us, so you and I may live more like him until he returns.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Baruch 1.1-2.
  2. Luke 3.7a.
  3. Acts 26.20.
  4. Luke 3.10. People responded to Peter, that way when he rehearsed the story of Jesus on Pentecost: Acts 2.37. Note how their consciences stung (they were cut to the heart) and motivated them to act.
  5. Crowds, soldiers, tax collectors.

Wiki-images by the Web Gallery of Art of John the Baptizer preaching and of Luke the Evangelist in the public domain in the source country {{PD-Art}} / {{PD-old-100}} and in the U.S.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Essence of Advent

Jesuit James Martin recalled that an elder in his community said each year that Advent was about desire. Tradition echoes that, too. The NJN post is a summary of Father Martin’s reflection. It links to his America Magazine article.
Wiki-image by Tone of St. Nicholas mosaic used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

In Memoriam: Dave Brubeck

Composer and musician, Dave Brubeck, died today. He believed music had transformative power. RNS tweeted a link to this 2009 post in memory of him.

Refreshing Refresher

BustedHalo posted the 2-minute video below. Celebrate Advent for years and people notice something different each time. The video is an aid for that. Here’s the link to the surprise calendar mentioned in the video.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Ignatian Resources for Advent

The Unites States Jesuit website today released several resources to aid praying during the Advent season. They include various formats (video; podcast; print) and prayer styles (examen; retreat; reflection). 
Wiki-image of Advent wreath is in the public domain.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sundayword, 02 Dec 2012

Living Covenant
Advent1 C (02 Dec 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The prophets used the phrase, the days are coming, to speak about God acting in history among God’s people. God promised never to abandon the people of the covenant. People abandoned the covenant and its ways of living God’s justice among themselves. Jeremiah reminded a broken people that God is faithful and would fulfill the promise made to them.

To enter a covenant in the ancient Mediterranean world accepted what the covenant-offerer asked. God asked people to show compassion—God’s justice—as God had shown them in liberating them from the land of slavery and death. They accepted. Over time they behaved differently, focusing on themselves more than on God.

God’s faithfulness to promises, even when people are unfaithful, shapes the history of God with people. The scriptures announce it without end. They recall God’s faithfulness in the ever-changing experiences of people and history. They never tire calling people to live again the ways of the covenant. St. Paul summarized covenant-conduct as love. We heard him tell the Thessalonians, Abound with love for one another and for all. To others he said, remember the poor1; and, love fulfills the covenant2; and, Do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility...look…also to the interests of others.3 The more we cultivate covenant-living the more readily we practice it in our circumstances. Our circumstances includes times and events that challenge us a little and those that challenge us a lot. Far from an idea to think about; covenant-living is actions to practice.

One practice is to rely on our Creator and Redeemer. Perhaps the best way to cultivate our reliance is to practice gratitude often: gratitude for the breath I am breathing and for the next breath I will take; gratitude for the singular gifts each day brings; gratitude for what protects me and strengthens me each day. Gratitude guards us against thinking we are the center of the universe. It also frees us to be openhanded and openhearted: openhanded to attend to others’ needs; and openhearted to receive the goodness others extend to us.

Gratitude also helps us take the long view. Humanly speaking, God’s compassion takes the long view. People abandoned God’s covenant in every age, but God takes the long view: God’s fidelity refused to allow the selfishness of some to invalidate the covenant or prevent the coming the new heavens and new earth. In today’s gospel Prophet Jesus spoke of that day, the coming of the kingdom in its fulness. Luke’s gospel presents Jesus as prophet; it is his gospel we will hear on Sundays through this liturgical year. The long view reminds us the dire details Jesus rehearsed are not his point; his point is the kingdom he had announced will arrive, born in its way. Its fullness will replace history and everything humans know.

Advent begins by bridging the end of time with the birth of our Creator in time. The image of midwife helps us be alert to our new covenant in our Messiah, to his encouragement not to allow any challenges to numb our attention and to invigorate our Christian living. Why a midwife? First, a midwife expects a birth, she does not rush it. Second, a midwife is prepared for unexpected turns, but she does not obsess over them. No: she remains calm so the parents may imitate her and be calm, attentive and single-minded. When the baby begins to enter the world, the midwife does what she practiced often: actions which make way for an infant—supporting, yielding, freeing and giving a new life its place in the world. Covenant-living allows us to midwife the kingdom Jesus embodied and modeled for the world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Be aware the Trinity gives you new birth.
  • Ask Jeremiah and St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for announcing and modeling God’s reign already dawning among us; thank him for choosing you to midwife God’s reign by your way of living.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to continue becoming more practiced in your Christian living.
  • Then close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, your kingdom come, remind us we await the kingdom, we don’t create it. His prayer outlines how we anticipate it: by imitating the actions Jesus modeled for us for the sake of everyone.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Galatians 2.10.
  2. See Galatians 5.14.
  3. Philippians 2.3-4.

Wiki-image NASA of the Ecliptic is in the public domain. Wiki-image of church on Broadway at Advent was dedicated to the public domain.