Vineyards of En-Gedi | 2019 March
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Homiletics Notes / 13.03.2019

The front range of Colorado is having a white out blizzard today, like the "dazzling white" of Jesus in the Transfiguration. The physical world gets altered by natural forces, and the interior world is transformed by the manifestation of the Spirit. Problem: the Spirit is difficult to point out and name. If we tell someone about our spiritual experiences, dreams, and visions, we get "that look." If Peter, James, and John had actually told anyone of the mountain top experience, they would have been looked at askance. Why are we so hesitant and suspicious of spiritual matters? Confessions again this Lent. People are confessing their political, or rather that politics of others who irritate them. They are of every different kind of political stripe imaginable. "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, Jesus Christ" So, just when I am tempted to enter the political fray, I can choose this thought and teaching. In heaven there are no more political parties or earthly rulers, but only our savior, Jesus Christ. I am remembering that theBible says not to put our trust into humans. It is hard of the disciple today to change the topic and shift the notion of citizenship. I've always thought of this text as a rationale for not having any national flag in church, where we gather as citizens of heaven.  ...

Homiletics Notes / 11.03.2019

I miss the starry skies of night, the silence far from cities, the sweep of the Milky Way, and the aurora borealis. Here so near the light pollution of the city, perhaps on a very dark night the new moon, one might see only a couple hundred stars. God gave us the stars so that we can be filled with awe and wonder, and in seeing them we will know our place. Tolkien wrote in his essay "On Faerie Tales", that humans find two things most deeply satisfying: first to survey the cosmos, and second, to experience a sort of oneness with the cosmos. This is the experience of Abraham and divine guest. God has called him from Ur of the Chaldeans to a new land. Abraham trusts God. Yet, now in the tent on the plains, a question arises, almost a plea and an argument. Abraham has no children, and wonders about his future. God responds by recounting the past. In other words, God is the Lord of history, and really does penetrate our human experiences in some mysterious way. The question of children leads to questions about possessing the land. Here then we have the traditional biblical blessings from the covenant: children wealth, length of days, peace! ...

Homiletics Notes / 09.03.2019

The people remember that they were wandering Arabians, "strangers in a strange land," until God saved them. When we tell the story of our own ancestors, it doesn't seem like we even know the story, nor do we remember what and how much God has done great things for us. The homily could begin to enumerate these actions of God that then lead us to thanksgiving and praise. The "land of milk and honey" captures the sense of the luxuries God gave them. The description of this primitive ritual goes on to command a feast which includes the alien and the foreigners among them. In sharp contrast, we seem to think that there's no enough to go around, and to hoard for ourselves we have to build walls, implement security systems, and lock the doors. The great temptations the modern world in our culture are money, sex, power, fame. Hence even the Church has much to repent this time of Lent. ...

Homiletics Notes / 08.03.2019

Romans 10 is a part of the letter in which Paul gives an account of the relationship between the early Christian community and its Jewish heritage. Our confession of faith saves us, not some ethnic lineage. The passage is a mini-kerygma, which is "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." Among believers, God shows no partiality or distinction. These partialities and distinction that we make are signs of sins of bigotry and and prejudice. The "word is near you" is the same word pattern as "the kingdom of God is near you." It is very clear in the Greek. Actually the word "near" in the sense of "immediate" and "now" come first in the sentences, which means it is the most important and startling thing in the simple proclamation. ...

Homiletics Notes / 08.03.2019

The agricultural setting of the harvest feast in the reading from Deuteronomy reminds me of the hay harvest barn dance and food fest my grandparents put on very year in mid August. Everyone was invited. It was a great time and long remembered. By late August in northern Wisconsin the weather was already filled with Fall, and winter coming. To me, it has become somewhat romanticized, in a way that I can imagine the ancient Israelites remembered the day before city life when their culture was nomadic and agricultural. Life seemed simpler and more direct, uncomplicated. Even the simple relationship with God portrayed in this scene got complicated by centuries of traditions and add-ons. Even today, we sometimes find ourselves yearning for such a world. Yet, we still can have the bringing of gifts, a sharing with the stranger and alien, a rejoicing with a feast, and most importantly the presence of God directly in our lives. What gets in the way? Our calloused hearts and fisted hands. What can we also do: ensure the real "catholicity" in our parishes by our hospitality to the strangers and the alien. A typical Sunday Mass should look like a cross section of the world. Everyone wants this happiness: security, peace, prosperity, children. And God promises these things, just not in the monetized way that we think as Americans. The happiness comes in this scene because of the sharing and the thanksgiving. The Psalm 91 prayer continues this same theme of trust in God and the fulfillment of God's promises. Vs. 10-11 have comforting lines about our Guardian Angels. "For to His angels he has given command about you." ...

Homiletics Notes / 04.03.2019

The opening verse intends to remind of the Exodus and the events in the desert. The prophets typically saw the desert as a place of encountering God, a place of purification and simplification from the chaos of other spaces, and a place of covenant. The three temptations just abut follow the pattern of the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, or their opposites of money, power, fame. In the last verse, "he departed from him for a time" suggests that there will always be temptations for the disciple; the evil one is relentless. But the desert trains the disciple of Jesus to resist temptations. Jesus' own immersion in scripture enable to say "No!" The Deuteronomy readings reflects a very early stage in the development of ritual, well before animal sacrifices and before the temple. It takes place entirely in the natural world and is vegetarian. The text tells the ancient story of Abraham; the Exodus portion does not mention Moses. The ritual ends in a celebration. Vs 11 just after our reading, reminds the people to INCLUDE the aliens among them. ...

Lectionary & Catechesis / 01.03.2019

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 some communal character connected with it, cf. the prophet Joel. We live in a culture that privatizes religion. God is a separate if not remote part of our lives; God is spiritual and therefore not tangible, immanent, or incarnate. Lent is our drawing close to God, to suffering, and to transformation.  FIRST READING: Joel 2, 12-18 Joel worked at some time after the return from Exile in the late 5thcentury BC, and in the context of a drought and famine in the countryside. While there is a temple and its priests and liturgy, there is no mention of a king. The text consists basically of two speeches, using the agricultural crisis as an image of the Day of Lord, a time for a wake up call, and foreshadowing a great, divine harvest. The prophet calls to conversion and repentance in order to renew the covenant. All the people are convened from greatest to smallest.  Vss. 12-13: CCC 1430 Jesus calls us to conversion and penance; the interior or spiritual work must precede the exterior work of fasting, mortification, self-denial and the like. Without the interior work of the Spirit, any external activity is “sterile.” Only the presence of interior conversion and penance can lead to exterior work or visible signs.  KNOW YOURFAITHWhat is the spiritual gift of compunction, and why have we lost this in the modern world? What happens typically when  exterior or visible work is not grounded in interior conversion?  LIVE YOURFAITHWhat does it mean for you to “rend your heart”? The prophet mentions some of the forms of penance. What would you add to his list?  SHARE YOUR FAITHWhat role do you play in gathering the assembly of the church?  In evangelizing, what is the stage of conversion?  WORSHIPWhat...

Homiletics Notes / 01.03.2019

Welcome to the vineyards! I hope that you find these homiletic reflections and catechesis materials helpful in your own preparation and group work. The Spirit "conducted" Jesus into the desert where he was "tempted" by the devil. This reminds me of the sentence in the Our Father, "lead us not into temptation." Or as Pope Francis considers, "Do not let us fall into temptation." These two words seem to work together in Luke. Conducting means a certain kind of care-taking guidance.  ...