Vineyards of En-Gedi | 2019 July
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Homiletics Notes / 04.07.2019

Not that anyone will remember by Sunday, but today is the 4th of July which means camping out and BBQ. The images of tenderness in the first reading are in sharp contrast to tanks rolling through the streets. Two things: if a nation is truly strong, then there's no need for boasting of a capacity for war, and secondly, to be a great nation, we must first be a good nation. Both of these points seem difficult for Catholics today. We are a greedy nation and ought to be filled with shame for our injustices. St. Paul writes about a new creation in the second reading. Indeed, at one point we were a new creation, but iso many today think that we are worn and tired and old some 240 years later. To renew ourselves would mean a new commitment to the freedom that true peace and justice brings for everyone. Paul's context is that all the human made divisions of peoples counts for nothing because God is making something new. Pray for that renewal in our own time and nation. ...

Homiletics Notes / 03.07.2019

On the journey to Jerusalem in the Gospel this coming Sunday, Jesus depots the disciples to prepare the way and welcome for him. They are given instructions. These instructions center on the concept and practice of giving witness, and the witness is to three things: peace, poverty, and proclamation. This is far from our culture today, and even from the church, dare it be said. We must ask ourselves if we authentically bear witness to these practices and if we are preparing the way of the Lord. The seventy two return rejoicing in amazement at what they've seen. The imagery is bordering on the apocalyptic. The contrast between the kingdom of this world and the reign of God is sharply drawn. The reign of God is established through the three practices: peace, poverty, and proclamation. The rejoicing is not that the enemy has been overthrown, but that the reign of God is established, "their names written in heaven." Given Luke's inclusion of women and his attention to them in the writing of this Gospel, one wonders if the seventy-two included women, and given the themes of this Gospel, one might very well think that it did. After all, no where does it say they were only men. Just back in Chapter 8, Luke lists the women following and supporting the work of the Gospel, and surely this wasn't merely financial. The women too practiced the three principles by their actions. So far in Luke's Gospel, Jesus is consistently presented as quiet egalitarian. ...

Homiletics Notes / 02.07.2019

In the ILP bilingual pew lectionary on the Spanish side of the page, the verses about suckling at the abundant breasts is selected! What? Is it too much for our? Is there a risk of perverting God's abundance to say nothing of God's mothering capacity and imagery? Is there a fear that it is too sexual? The gap is very unfortunate, because the inclusion of the verses, duly printed on the English side of the page, is complete and unabashed. Yet, there are probably few preachers who would risk taking up the theme of God's abundant nurturing in such vivid imagery. That's what prophets are for -- to take these risks of language! The overall passage from this last chapter of the prophet Isaiah is about the coming to birth of the nation/people of daughter Zion. God appears like a doula; the birth of Zion's children is a rebuke to the nations and a display of God's power. The overall passage is suffused with the language of joy and celebration. The remainder of the end of Isaiah is about the ingathering of the nations, as adopted children along with Isaiah will gather in one apocalyptic scene of praise of God. Isaiah's vision stands compelling today, just as we think and pray (and act?) on the "ingathering" of the nations and tongues at our borders! God has blessed us with abundance, and we out of gratitude must share that abundance with others. God's plan is universal and catholic, while our human plans are division and greed and self-alleged superiority. These things will not stand in the face of God's power and lordship over and within history. ...

Homiletics Notes / 01.07.2019

Typically, the lectionary readings are so planned that the Hebrew Testament reading in some way enriches, foretells, enhances, or complements the Gospel. When the seventy-two return, they re rejoicing, St. Lujke tells us this coming 14th Sunday of Ordinary time. It is that one word that the first reading picks up. Paul's boasting in the second reading, too, is the cause of his joy. So, the thread throughout seems to be "rejoicing." The first reading from the end of Isaiah is extremely sensuous, intimate, and almost blushing imagery. God is likened to a mother with "her abundant breasts," suckling her child, Israel. The repeated word here is "comfort," not in the American sense of living well and securely, but rather comfort from life's woes, threats, and struggles. Accompanying this comfort, is the freedom from our scarcity mentality, a modern anxiety, overcome by God's promise of prosperity and wealth ...