Vineyards of En-Gedi | Homiletics Notes
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Homiletics Notes / 12.11.2019

The prophets end on an uplifting note with the last verse of Malachi, at least for those who fear the name of the Lord. 'Note that '"fear" means a sense of reverence and awe that overcomes a person in front of that which is greater than which we can think. The prophet brings the judgment of God down on the proud and the evildoers. The proud are those who make of themselves number 1 and greater than God. The evildoers; are those not doing good, remembering that the good means bearing the fruits o the Spirit and doing the corporal works of mercy. These will be burnt to ashes. Keeping to the prophet's; line of thought, one can't help but think that this culture is not in good standing with God. Making America great again seems to mean financially top dog, and anything goes to get there. We can be great unto the heavens like the tower of Babel, but unless we are good, our much lauded greatness is but rubble in the sight of God. For those who fear the Lord, the "sun of justice" which the Church takes to mean Jesus Christ, will arise. Thus the Church understands this passage from the prophets. The healing rays is both the light of Christ and his healing sacraments. In some sense all the sacraments have some healing component. The homilist should on this over and above the condemnation part of the verses. ...

Homiletics Notes / 11.11.2019

Over these last two years in our new Parish Center, I have innumerably given tours to guests, visitors, and parishioners, focusing especially on the beautiful parts. We all gawk at the whole thing, and we marvel. There been many compliments, almost zero criticism. So I really understand the gospel opening this Sunday in which some people are speaking about the splendor of the Temple. While I'm promoting earthly beauty and all that, Jesus takes the wind right out of their sails and graphically envisions for them the end of the world, if not a prediction of the events of AD 71. From his death and ascension to the destruction of the Temple, Jesus predicts the persecution of the apostolic church. So it happened. It only intensified over the next two hundred years. Of course Luke is writing this most likely after the First Jewish War and the Acts after the martyrdom of Peter and Paul. As they witnessed the Jewish leadership go after Jesus, they oculi not but be aware that this too was their fate. There is not persecution in the North American Catholic Church today, and what little there is stems from the fact that Catholic were and are considered to come from immigrant stock, questionably white enough and form the lower classes. There is little persecution because of the Gospel. We've been so assimilated and enculturated that we safely fit in with everyone else. It strikes me that the followers ask for time and sign so that they can rescue themselves. Our signs given today are largely environmental, which we are ignoring, and secondly the sheer exhaustion of resources in endless wars. Ostrichs hide their heads in a hole in face of threat. Jesus speaks two truths: first this world is passing away, and second the church will be persecuted. Survival depends on faithfulness, endurance, and perseverance. ...

Homiletics Notes, Uncategorized / 08.11.2019

St. Paul connects faith and works in his final chapters of Romans. Putting the faith into practice is the phrase we use. "May the Word of the Lord speed forward and be glorified," and "you are doing and will continue to do." These phrases describe the evangelizing work of the Church, because this is the first and foremost work of the Church, certainly in the theology of this author. The image of the Word "speeding" ahead, or literally "running" or "rushing' seems rather slow compared to the spread of information in our internet and social media culture. While we have every opportunity to promote the Word, we are seemingly still at about the pace of 1st century AD. The point may also be that the Word wins the race and not I. We all like to think of ourselves as winners, in at least something. Can we imagine that God's Word should win this race, this pilgrim journey we are on to the heavenly city of Jerusalem? We are also a culture that loves speed! The faster, the bigger the better. Which makes of us a lazy culture because we expect and demand that some machine do it for us. We don't take the time in our rushing around, and then after all that speed, what is it exactly that people have been freed up do do? Exhaustion and crashing. How doe this Church culture promote forward the Word of God in our lives? ...

Homiletics Notes / 07.11.2019

As the liturgical year ends, the readings turn toward teachings, reflections, and the meaning of the resurrection for our lives today. The first truth tells us that the resurrection is to about something in the distant future either after death or at the end of the time, but rather an event that means something for the immediate now. This first teaching appears already as a key insight into "the reign of God is at hand." In the second reading, we find another implication. The resurrection should "encourage and strengthen" our hearts for the work (the good) that we do today, right now. In other words, if I keep my focus on this truth, then I have a rationale for resisting temptations and sins. This process was apparently more successful to the ancient mind than it is today, largely because we are a culture awash in feelings, and neither the intellect nor the will. Our hearts are to be directed to the love of God, not love of this world. This is the crux of the challenge for th Christian today. The last truth in the readings relates to and connects the resurrection to evangelization. The Word of God proclaims an alternate reality to the one we have accepted like Esau's porridge. One's salvation is not personal, but rather oriented toward the common good, and there is no common good if we have withdrawn ourselves from any sense or meaning of community. The second reading is written in the "you" plural, which pathetic English has no way to distinguish from "you" singular, unless you're from Texas, where "all y'all" seems to work. Another truth regards body purity, becoming the greatest challenge in this culture of all. This physical purity orients the present body in the flesh toward the resurrection of the body, which will be transfigured or changed in some profound way in relationship to Being itself, if not "in Being." The question is this: do these things connect to the modern person,...

Homiletics Notes / 06.11.2019

I'm struck by the words in the second reading from II Thessalonians the promote the evangelizing work of the Church. "Encouraged and strengthened for every deed and word," and "so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified." This remains the work of the church today, although poorly done when one considers the state of homiletics in the US today. The hearts of the people may be admonished, moralized, and denounced, all of which is a far cry from encouraging and strengthening the hearts of the people. I don't mean some kind of verba up lift, but rather inviting people, offering examples, setting out the high road, and bringing them to love, not fear. Twice, the brief reading mentions "hearts". The homiletic appeal is to the heart, not the intellect. Unfortunately, in the United States, hearts hardly means the interior self, but rather some mushy runamuck emotions, a feeling that is transient. It is the will ("direst your hearts") of the disciple to order this interior transformation by the grace of God stirring up that will in us, for in the opening verse, it is Christ who stirs the will. Elsewhere, for Paul, this is "conform yourself to Christ." This is the life of the saints. This is the resurrection in the gospel. ...

Homiletics Notes / 05.11.2019

The persecution of the Judaism ratchets up as Antiochus IV sends a Greek senator to force the jews to abandon their faith and participate in sacrifices to Zeus. Of course they refuse. The author of Maccabees then tells heroic stories of their resistance and martyrdom. The first is Eleazar, an old man, and then the mother of seven. These remembrances intend to stir up resistance even to death among the Jewish people. Naturally these heroic and defiant deaths only serve to deepen resistance and faithfulness. The rebellion becomes outright war; in the midst of it Antiochus IV Epiphanes dies after literally rotting from the inside out. The people are success and the Temple is purified and rededicated. One of the points of the story is faith in the resurrection in vs. 9 which is why this narrative accompanies the Gospel. This means the encounter in the Gospel is not about marriage, but rather about the resurrection. The incident is all of II Maccabees 7, of which we only read a small section. The cofident faith of the seven sons and the mother are exaemplars. One wonders how many contemporary American Catholics would die for their faith. Not very many of us at all. We'd become Islamic first, exactly as the people of Constantinople in 1453. We have a very "thin" faith. ...

Homiletics Notes / 04.11.2019

Reflections toward Ordinary Time 32 C. The Problem of Marriage is the gospel this Sunday. The Sadducees, of course, attempting to trick Jesus, are preposterous in constructing their hyperbolic narrative. Their example goes back to levirate marriage; it is unclear whether or not this sort of marriage was ever actually practiced in ancient Israel. The Sadducees deny the that there is a resurrection; the incident initially is not about marriage at all but about the resurrection. this is the theme of Jesus' teachings in the Temple before the Passion Narrative events begin. Jesus' response does not focus on marriage as much as on the nature of the resurrection. The Church teaches that there are not marriages in heaven. After all, people say in their vows "until death do us part." Death ends a marriage. Following his own life choice of not marrying, Jesus privileges the state of virginity as worthy of the resurrection. It is difficult to read the teaching "they are the ones who will rise", almost as if those married will not. This teaching, the core of it is vs. 35, is difficult. Marriage is oriented toward the procreation of children by means of the physical body. In "the coming age" there is no begetting of children as there is no physical body. Gender and sex will not exist. Virginity is a preferred state of life in light of the immediacy of the end times. This is extremely foreign to our culture. ...

Homiletics Notes / 02.11.2019

There are several contrasts in the readings or reversals, if you will. The grand as in the grandeur of the created cosmos in the first reading and the smallness or shortness of Zacchaeus in the Gospel. And in the Gospel, just as Zacchaeus seeks (the translation is "tries") to see Jesus, so too Jesus seeks the lost, that is, Zacchaeua, not the grand Pharisees. Zacchaeus' restitution and reparation goes way beyond the twofold required in the Mosaic Law, and beyond any sense of tithing, when he offers four fold. He is being outrageously generous in his joy at having come to see Jesus and receive such a guest into his home. On the last portion of his journey to Jerusalem, there are four encounters: with the ten lepers, the rich official, the blind beggar, and Zacchaeus. Each of these has been about certain classes of people, both the have and have nots of society of the day. They are also stories of the Messianic joy and thanksgiving that arises from the encounter with Jesus. These stories are about acceptance or rejection of the reign of God. They are not parables but arranged by Luke as actual encounters, to show how the encounter takes place and the turning point of the encounter as conversion and acceptance of the messianic presence. Translating this into our own encounter with Jesus challenges us, largely because we are unsure of our own encounter. For us it may very well have begun with the natural world which the Wisdom author puts into perspective for us. Yet, we are the same people who admire the beauty of the natural world we ravage it wastefully and wantonly. Or it may have been like the Psalmist who has an experience of God's mercy which turns them to thanksgiving. Or perhaps it is the reception of the Thessalonians in their struggles to hold fast to the faith that they should keep in mind the glory of God. ...

Homiletics Notes / 31.10.2019

For ancient Israel, a return to the desert and to the exodus experience was understood as a time of renewal, healing, and communion with God. We have no similar image in our culture, except for those who go deep into the natural world and experience such things. Often here in Colorado, that means the mountains, which give us this sense of vastation and communion. Tolkien also writes about this in his essay "On Faerie Tales".Just another thought on that first readings. St. Paul's writing to the Thessalonians has two separate points. First, the co-indwelling of God in us and us in God. Abiding is a good translation in the sense of visitation, union, and communion. We have community with God. The second point is Paul's typical response to the coming of the Lord. He uses the word, "our assembling with him." The word is not the expected "ecclesia" but rather evokes "synagogue", and in the Eastern Churches, "Synaxis", which typically names the "Eucharistic Liturgy." The final verse sounds like the fake news culture of today on the internet that has permeated our lives, and we find ourselves often confused and no longer sure what to believe. Paul would tell us not to be alarmed, but rather in community, in the Lord, we can hold fast to the truth. ...

Homiletics Notes / 30.10.2019

The first reading this coming Sunday offers an eco-theology that we are not seriously enough given our current environmental disaster looming clearly caused by us humans and the destructive ways we have chosen to live. However note the larger context. The author is remembering the Exodus, when Hebrews were in the desert forty years. In that extreme environment they experienced God's care for them. The author brings this up to remind us that God is the God of all creation, and everything works together for good. We don't always see the good in the natural world. Vs. 26d is curious. "For your imperishable spirit is in all things." This borders on panentheism. The passage concludes with a praise for God's mercy, displayed in the natural world, that invites the wicked to conversion. Like Zacchaeus in the Gospel, it is never too late or too impossible to turn to the Lord for mercy. Furthermore, like Zacchaeus, reparations and repair must be done to the environment. Zacchaeus makes an effort to restore and repair the social environment of Jericho that he had profited from. We profit from the environment as if we owned it, but we do not. We seem to have forgotten the point of the Wisdom passage, that God will take care of us. Yet, we don't believe this really, and so we have taken matters into our own hands. ...