Vineyards of En-Gedi | Homiletic Explorations into Communion, community, and evangelization
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  • The practical spirituality and ministry implied in the I Corinthians 5 reading is too much to pass up; the gospel story of the prodigal son provides a concrete example of what Paul is talking about for the Church. Reconciliation shows itself in the qualities of justice, joy, thanksgiving, humility, and wisdom. The joy in this Laeta...

  • Lent means to transform us into conformity with Christ in the flesh and in the resurrection. So the Lenten sojourner witnesses the transfiguration of Christ, and thus is enabled to enter into a deeper understanding of th Paschal Mystery for one’s self. Thus, a significant milestone in the Lenten walk with Jesus is attained. Lent ...

  • Human life is frail, given to the distractions of the world and subject to the whim of bad luck and needing to be set free from the oppression of the world’s domination. God appears to Moses and in the person of Jesus Christ to save us from slavery to sin and to accompany us in mercy on our own journey to Jerusalem. The readings ...

  • The gospel story is so well known and so many readers get fixated on whatever Jesus mysteriously wrote in the dust of the Temple pavement. Sometimes the main message of the personal encounter with Jesus is missed, but perhaps this is the binding link for the readings. If anything, the highlights of the Philippians reading are key t...

  • The readings challenge us to think about the dynamics and psychology of sin from the view of these ancient texts. Recognition of the truth of the human condition and authentic honesty about ourselves will result in an increase of yearning for Jesus. Sin is never comfortable to discuss, and yet it should not be in a “hell fire and...

  • The Ash Wednesday proclamation focused on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, each the opposite of money, power, and fame. The gospel makes us consider the ways of the world as opposed to the ways of God. All God’s blessings belong to God; we return our money, power, fame and we praise God alone. How do these readings mature us in o...

  • Lectionary CatechesisFr. Alan Hartway, CPPS Guardian Angels Parish in Mead, CO Thus Lent begins. God desires conversion of heart; our Lenten practices are directed to that goal or end. At the same time, the three penances commended by Jesus are done for others who have less than we have ourselves; at any angle, penance has som...

  • The anointed one, foretold in Cyrus according to Isaiah, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ comes to save us through the trial of baptism, death to sin and an assent to God’s grace in the resurrection. The readings are about lamentation for the effects of sin; this is what Pope Francis means by a renewal of compunction, the gift of te...

Homiletics Notes / 31.03.2020

The first reading, an admonition to those who proclaim the Word of God, is an interesting Palm Sunday reading as we set out feet on the journey of Holy Week. Unfortunately, few homilists have a well-trained tongue. I've been listening to various on line Masses, and the preaching is worse than I had imagined. This is a sign that Catholics do not attend Mass for the homily, but they really come for the Eucharist. I completely understand why homiletics classes in major seminaries strongly recommend a homily between 8-10 minutes. Yet, then when the homilists do open their mouths it is very rarely to rouse the weary; too often the open mouth is filled with scorn, finger pointing, and putting people down. It's really and truly awful. This situation arises when then Church values legality more than an authentic life in Christ. The homilist is tempted to print out some generic homily from the internet and safely read it to the people. There's no heart in it. I know this because for seven years I traveled and preached for the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (now renamed to Unbound!) nd Sunday after Sunday (317 parishes in those seven years) the ambo had the last weekend internet printout of a homily. We now live in a very weary time of fear and anxiety. People need a word to rouse them. At the end of this Hoy Week the word will be Alleluia, which we haven't heard since before Ash Wednesday. Next, note that the Word come from listening to the cry of the poor, the weary, the refugee. This word never come from the political elite of the day. So the homily must begin in listening. It is this listening that sets our face like flint, because in the voices of the weary we hear the voice of God calling to us. ...

Homiletics Notes / 30.03.2020

Palm Sunday A: People love to take something home from Sundays; along with Ash Wednesday and the ashes, the free blessed palms are another enormous draw. The attraction here comes from the opening ritual of the palms and the accompanying procession into the church. It is a beginning of Mass that is unique and very attractive to people. The First Form called the Procession is obviously the preferred ritual, but will take much coordination with the musicians and servers and hospitality to carry it off. It is elaborate. The rite opens with an introit antiphons and psalm before the priest says anything. It is our introductory invitation to Holy Week by crying out to Jesus, Messiah and Son of David. It is an act of worship. Then the priest invites the people into Holy Week, to follow Christ very solemnly. The main message here connect the Cross and Resurrection as the Pascal Mystery. the palms are then blessed. The Gospel Matthew's account of Jesus' entry into Jerusale follows. The colt of a donkey has been the traditional animal on which the Davidic Kings entered the city for their coronation. The people would have known and gotten the message. I note that the ass was a mother, and this seems an interesting thing to note and wonder what this symbol means. The cries of the people indicate their initial belief in Jesus as the son of David and a prophet; they are soon to learn he is also high priest. Finally the priest announces the procession, moving to Psalm 24 followed by Psalm 47. A Hymn to Christ the King is also possible. When the procession reaches the entrance to the church, the cantor should be there for rite of entrance, versicle and response. Even the opening of the Mass is unusual, as the priest venerated the altar, incenses and begins with the Collect. This whole ritual is to be both festive and at the same time an awareness of the coming Pascal...

Homiletics Notes / 26.03.2020

The Gospel story of Lazarus opens with Jesus at some distance from Bethany, informed of the death of his friend, waits two more days. Doing this time, a argument arises from the disciples about the wisdom of not going to Jerusalem where the confrontation between the Jewish leaders and Jesus has devolved out of control; the disciples are concerned for their own lives and the live of Jesus. In this dialogue it is Thomas, the same one who doubts in John's gospel, who comes off as the courageous and unflinching disciple. a In these days of plague, we too are challenged to go up with Jesus and accept what there is to be for. Yet, it is very hard to be brave, unswerving, and even like Thomas, enthusiastic about the coming way of cross. We are knowing the same thing, challenged as we are to pick up this cross and to serve one another on the way. Marth and Mary are presented in this Gospel as example os this compassionate caring. While some are out there predicting apocalyptic doom. It's what the disciples warn Jesus about, "They are going to stone you." They see only an end, while Jesus proclaims a resurrection, something entirely unexpected and new; Thomas urges them on into the jaws of death. Then, Jesus shows us his own take on death, calling forth Lazarus from four days in the grave. This is what we too must proclaim -- Life! This is not to say we become like Pollyanna. Because we also know, now more than ever in the crisis we face, that life is messy, and I'm sure in some locked down homes, messier than ever. Yet, this is our choice. Love and life are messy, but let us not shrink back from plunging right into the mess of things. It's then that we are at our best. ...