Vineyards of En-Gedi | 2019 August
0
archive,date,ajax_updown_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,qode_grid_1300,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,transparent_content,qode-theme-ver-17.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.6,vc_responsive
Homiletics Notes / 30.08.2019

Notice how Luke stages the supper. Just as the Pharisees carefully watch Jesus, he too is watching them. They are vying for the places to recline at this banquet at the best and most advantageous places in relation to the host. We live in a very similar culture; we like to think of ourselves as important and finagle our way to what we think are the best seats. Except when seats are assigned then we get a subtle message about our real place in the eyes of the host. If your name card is at table 13 of 13 tables, you know it is going to be in the far corner of the room, out of the limelight, and you will be served last. Vss 11 and 14 sayings go together it would seem, with the last saying expanded to introduce the banquet in heaven of the resurrection. Luke uses these "reversal" sayings frequently in this Gospel; they are uncomfortable for us even today. In Hellenistic culture of his day, humility was not considered a virtue, but a deficiency, a kind of lack of interior strength or a lowly status in economy or society or family. It is the same today in our own culture of narcissism, privilege, and entitlement, and especially of white supremacy and racism of every kind. There's no humility here at all. Yet, humility is the mother of all the virtues. ...

Homiletics Notes / 29.08.2019

In some sense, the readings this weekend are about heaven and how to get there. For those who believe, this is the goal. For those who do not, the only other two options are reincarnation or nothing at all. There's an unsavory aspect to each of these two options. The resurrection and heaven require faith, but the prospects and the vision are far more appealing. In the Gospels, it often seems that any feast, banquet, dinner, wedding all point to and talk about heaven. So it is with the supper at the house of a Pharisee that begins here in Luke 14. The saints will be honored at the first places in the reign of God, and this is because while on earth they were looked down upon and suffered. There are few kings in heaven, and without doubt less lawyers, and as Jesus notes elsewhere, even less the rich. Those of us who think much of ourselves ought to take great care lest we are humbled by some humble person esteemed by the Master rather than by our own self esteem. God invites the poor, the lame, the broken to the great wedding feast. In our culture wedding invitations are crafted with an attention to who is important and deserving and who will bring in the better gifts. Recently there was a article in the news about the new trend of simply charging people a fee much like buying a ticket to an event in order to attend one's wedding, and in the case of this story it was $250! I suppose that there are those who think that they can buy their way in. Or who self-justify by keeping every letter of the law, while missing the whole point of love. The Gospel includes both reward and humility, after the two sayings of Jesus embedded in the Gospel. ...

Homiletics Notes / 28.08.2019

The author of the letter to the Hebrews would seem to address the contemporary issue of the sort of 18th century piety which demands that people shrink back, bow and scrape, and do full prostration in the divine presence of God. Because we are worth scum in the sight of God due to our sins, we are unworthy in every moment to approach God. It is the difference between translating "fear of God" and "awe of God", the two legitimate options based on the Hebrew original phrase. The clergy of any religion has wanted to instill a sense of "fear of God" in the people to control them and ensure job security. The one is a negative orientation to God, and the second a positive understanding. Of course in a day and age of deep human narcissism and godlessness, one can understand the need to instill fear.After all, God is the final judge. But the Hebrew's writer declines the negative view of human unworthiness by the use and description of the first "not" in favor of the second "no", we have approached something filled with awe and wonder. The scene is "festal" not "fearful." The sprinkled blood is the sign and ritual of the new covenant, the eloquent words recreate the scene of Exodus 24, 1-8. where blood is sprinkled and the covenant is read out to the people who answer affirmatively that they have heard and will act upon the covenant. eating to a feast shared between God and the people. Communion is not only about the holy presence of God, but about the covenant between God and the human family. We tend to focus only on the first aspect to the neglect of the second. ...

Homiletics Notes / 27.08.2019

The second reading this coming Sunday from Hebrews 12 is depicted in the reredos mosaic at St. Charles Center, the former major seminary, in Carthagena, OH, in a very grand and modernist manner. It is actually as art surviving the test of time and cultural changes and remains a compelling piece of beauty. The apocalyptic vision of the fullness of the reign of God is heightened emotionally by the rhetoric of the passage, which is extremely difficult for lectors to negotiate. The Greek long sentence with their climactic buildup and thrust do not fit English language patters. It's the "you have not approached . . ." with the rhetorical turn of "No, you have approached . . ." The contrast of the first "not" with the second "no" is very effective, if only read in the right tones and turns of voice. Each component culminates in a voice: first a voice that awes and frightens, and second the voice of Jesus' blood crying out from the earth like Abel's, "that speaks more eloquently". It is a very fine passage in Hebrews. It is the sprinkled blood of Exodus 24, creating the new covenant. The congregation in the first have of the structure is filled with "tremendous", and the gathering in the second part is filled with "fascinosum." The contrasts of the two covenants is very distinct. There are those of us who need to think of God in the former terms, the God of wrath about to destroy them in their sinfulness. And there are those of us looking forward to our final encounter and vision of God with anticipation of happiness and joy. This is not just verbal uplift, but an invitation away from Jansenism toward the Church on earth that God wants to create among us by our participation in the covenant of the new blood. ...

Homiletics Notes / 26.08.2019

The first reading from the Book of Sirach, is a paste up of five verses from Sir. 3. Sirach is a long letter as a kind of handbook for a son who setting out into the world and leaving home. The father writes, and so it is addressed to the son, and child is the neutral translation. The first three verses of the selections focus on humility, the mother of the virtues. Humility is promoted for its benefits: you will be loved, you will find favor with God, and you will be happy with your limits. Vss. 29-30 are two proverbial sayings that seem unrelated to one another. Vs. 29 adds an additional benefit to the practice of humility: gratitude for the wisdom of others.The NAB heading for vs. 30 is "Alms for the Poor," suggesting a new thought in the overall letter. With vs. 31, the idea is almost a kind of "karma", "what goes around, comes around" spirituality, rarely found in the Bible. The image of water quenching a fire is realistic and practical. The simile connects "flaming fire" with "sin", something that "burns" a person. "Quenches" is coupled with "atone" in the simile which is to say "puts something out" or "replaces." In the simile "water" is paired with "almsgiving" suggesting that quenching of the thirst of the poor and needy. Each of the three parts of the simile has a complementary component. The theology of atonement behind this verse is controversial, suggesting a sort of propitiation of God, persuading God to mercy because of a gift, rather than expiation, which is the work of Christ on the cross. Yet, at the same time, in the practice of reconciliation restorative justice is a fundamental component. After all, our sins are an injustice that consume us and everyone around. ...

Homiletics Notes / 26.08.2019

If this dinner were supposed etc have happened in reality, the dinner from Luke 14 - 17, 10, could surely be counted among the greatest dinners of all time! Luke artfully weaves together descriptive dinner scenes with the most unusual set of hosts and guests, with the greatest parables of the gospels, and the give and take of questions and Jesus' answers, and with teachings about discipleship as service. Reading the whole of the dinner as one piece at once rather amazes and only increases regard for the Luke Gospel author. It is the last dinner before the Last Supper, as Luke arranges his material. Al the dinners in Luke's Gospel point to and speak about The Dinner, the heavenly banquet, which of course is the great wedding feast of heaven and earth. Who of us would not have wanted to be at this dinner in the house of leading Pharisee! Tax collectors and prostitutes were gathering in! The parables at this dinner are without equal. The parish has a missionary this weekend assigned by the archdiocese here, so I will not be preaching this weekend, but I will have notes and reflections through this week ahead. I will miss not preaching. Our guest is a priest of the Maronite Rite from Lebanon. which is rather serendipitous, as our new music director is a woman from Lebanon, and she starts her job this coming weekend. What good fortune! ...

Homiletics Notes / 23.08.2019

One of the key theological and anthropological terms running through the readings for this coming weekend is the whole notion of developing and conforming the disciple in the culture of Jesus. As aspect of this is in the first reading, the work of the great ingathering, which is to say that the disciple is a missionary and an evangelist. The letter to the Hebrews passage contributes another aspect -- discipleship is work, in other words it does not come easily. It is the Father's work in us through grace that we achieve full discipleship; we do not do it on our own. An example, is that the master gymnast, skater, violinist only gets there after the discipline of much practice and work. Jesus' saying about striving to enter through the narrow gate again is about discipleship, the formation of self and community into a Catholic culture. By Catholic, the readings mean a universalism that surpasses human divisions and hierarchies. ...

Homiletics Notes / 22.08.2019

The parable of the midnight knocking at the door seems rather harsh, and "grinding and gnashing of teeth" only appears this once in Luke's Gospel. They may've eaten in Jesus' company, but not in the manner of the eschatological banquet with Jesus and his fellow banqueters, the prostitutes and the tax collectors. He does not know where they are from because they are not from that special table, which represents the ingathering of all the peoples. The parable leads to three teachings sayings. First there is the surprise that all the figures of Hebrew history will be at the banquet. Luke's largely gentile audience would have had questions about this, as Christians gradually broke from Jewish roots. The second saying tells of the great eschatological ingathering. Thirdly the repeated saying about the first and the last. Each of these represent fundamental aspects of the teachings of Jesus, that combined are core Christian principles of what it means to be church. It's temporal and geographical scope is larger than we normally imagine. That is an enormous thought, especially in our time of exclusivity and entitlement. ...

Homiletics Notes / 21.08.2019

"Few will be saved! We are all sinners in the hands of an angry God." This religious mentality of the late 18th century found in the heresy of the French priest Jansen is still prevalent in the minds of many Catholics. The heresy is that humans largely are unworthy of the absolute transcendence of God, and only a very few elect will be saved, and then only if they perform many pious and penitential works. Sadly, because of the impossibility of the work, many walk away, feeling unworthy and unaware of grace. Subtle as it is, but the many who attempt to enter are reject precisely because of that attempt, that is on their own, without an authentic encounter and accompaniment with the Master of the House. Jesus calls this sort of self-trumpeting religion evil. These who knock at the door had forgotten grace, that pure gift from God that creates a share in God's life right here and now. No propitiation makes it happen. It is gift. All the prophets, the patriarchs, and indeed all the foreigner know and live this grace. They do not come as beggars, but they recline at the banquet table as guests! The religious snob, who think of themselves as self-justified in their religious comfortableness and lord it over others with judgements, they will be the last in the reign of God. One imagines that this includes white supremacists and that ilk. There is a certain whiff of this superior mentality among Catholics; the sooner we unburden ourselves of this attitude, the better for everyone else and for the church. ...

Homiletics Notes / 20.08.2019

Paideia is a very broad word that describes the culture being handed on and how it is handed on. It could as easily be translated "an education", before the word was hijacked by getting credentials for a career, in other words making money. Paideia means what happens to the whole person (body, mind, soul) when suffused with ideals valued by a culture, so that a person embodies the culture and lives it out. All this is far more important than a career, but now something almost completely lost in higher education. Perhaps, English "enculturation/enculturate" covers for Padeia. The translators have chosen the word "discipline" instead, which has all sorts of different connotations in English and in our culture, and among those connotations a certain negativity. What I'm specifically talking about is the holding and handing on Catholic culture In the family. The "discipline" meant here in this text, is far larger concept or practice than punishment or strictness on the part of a father. Note that the writer uses the language of love to color the meaning of this "discipline." A further note about language. The test is highly masculinistic, and ought somehow to be cast in gender neutral language, because surely a mother and father together are engage din this Padeia with their children regardless of anyone's gender. ...