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 / 04.05.2020

May 10, Easter 5 A I am struck by the relevance of the readings during this Easter Season in light of our pandemic crisis. It makes sense if we remember that the apostolic was in fact in a state of crisis on a number of fronts at the same, and yet, the Holy Spirit led them through it all. People are always the same! The apostolic church almost immediately began to experience martyrdom and persecution. They had to figure their way out of an ethnic faith experience into a Graeco-Roman cosmopolitan orientation. At the very outset there were disputes about sharing Eucharist, about mission, about structure, about Jesus, and the list goes on and on. They argued and disputed which texts were inspired by the Spirit and which were not essential to salvation. It was in some sense a very exciting and remarkable time to be in the Church. They dealt with these various crises just as we are dealing with our own crises of faith today. First and foremost, they prayed and they listened to the Spirit by testing the Spirit. Second they reached agreement by listening to one another, and especially to the apostles themselves. Thirdly, they continued to grow and develop the core mission of preaching even as things were unsettled. One of things they did not have to deal with were the "stick in the muds" we-always-did-it-this-way crowd of traditonaslists. And they certainly didn't have to deal with the vulgar language, Latin. A crises is presented in each reading this coming Sunday, and we are given how the Church resolved the matter. This is a consolation for ourselves that the Holy Spirit is with us even until today. This does not mean, however, that we can jest rest on our haunches and wait for the Spirit to take care of things in our favor. It does mean that we get up and do the right things about all that is before us. The passive, lisping Catholic of 18th century...

Homiletics Notes / 01.05.2020

Peter proclaims, "And to all those far off." Typically, the expressions "those near" designates the Jewish people in the homeland of Palestine, and "those far off" designates the Diaspora of the Jews throughout the Graeco-Roman world. But here the author adds "all" which quickly came to mean in the apostolic church, the entire rest of the world's inhabitants. This is the story of the Acts of the Apostles. The fundamental mission of the Church, to be superseded by nothing else, is the salvation of ALL souls. Sadly we live in a time when the self-righteous think that the church should now shrink in size, leaving a small elite to renew the church. However what they mean by renewing the church is to go back in time to the 19th century and it lisping pietism. They are no intention of mission. Therefore, we see only Jansenists in 21st century garb, but really no different from the poor people of every age who think they know more than the church. When these white racists (really prosperity religion catholics) think of mission at all, it is approached from a position of looking down their long and arrogant noses at the rest of us who gone astray, on the very brink of falling off the cliff into the pit of fiery hell. They think in terms of the rest of humanity outside their little smug circle as pagans, savages, and heretics. If there's any one thing that will enable the church to turn away from the temptations of legalism (including keeping a ledger of dry indulgences to ensure that I have won my ticket to heaven, will be to recover this deep sense of mission, led by good shepherds, who "have the smell of their sheep." (Pope Francis) ...

Homiletics Notes / 30.04.2020

Sheep and shepherds on a enormous canvas with dense mountain forests in the background and a riot of clouds and flashing sunlight was the frequent subject of painting during the Romantic Age of the early 1800s. This idyllic setting even today invites a return a simpler time and place, where the human is more at one with nature. These images are somehow comforting to us, especially those of us furtherest away in our concrete cities. While we have all these thoughts, we realize at the same time that in fact the shepherds' life and work is not for the faint hearted what with the terrain, the wild storms, wolves, the stupidity of sheep, the loneliness, and all the bugs and beetles and snakes creeping underfoot through the grassy meadow. So, in the gospel this coming Sunday, we have one more time in which Jesus uses rural images to make his point. The setting is winter, otherwise why would the sheep be inside the gate of the sheepfold. The style of this address is the parable. The gatekeeper, in this way of understanding, is the Father or else the Holy Spirit. The shepherd is Jesus. The gate is discipleship, the flock are the children of God. The thief is the devil, who goes prowling about. The stranger is someone unknown to the flock, and so is probably up to no good or is at least questionable. When Jesus explains the meaning of his "figure of speech" the strangers, thieves and robbers (those who came before him) are all the bad kings, priests, and rabbis who came before him, including the false prophets. He also calls himself the gate, the template for authentic discipleship. So, for us, it is all about hearing the Word and following Him. In this Word and relationship, we find life abundant. ...