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 / 22.01.2020

A concern in every parish is its unity. Yet, in every parish there is often disunity. The differences appear over the liturgy, over some obscure point of philosophy, over personalities, rivalries. Parishes and pastors often can resolve this through a shared vision and mission statement. Sometimes it might result from a building project, focus on a mission or sister parish somewhere, and shared opportunities for prayer. I have found that one major way to this unity that St. Paul speaks of to the Corinthians was engagement in some project external or outside of the community, and the most supreme way to this unity is to preach the Eucharist in every sermon..St. Paul says it best and most simply, "I belong to Christ." We may laugh now over such obscurities as the aphthartodocetai or the problem of apokatastasis. You may be amazed to learn that people gave their lives or were imprisoned over such issues. There are those today who would die for the Latin Mass, for example. It is not just the bishop or the pastor who must strive to preserve the unity of the church. It is the responsibility of every single member of the church not only preserve this unity but orient this unity toward Eucharist and the sharing of some common outreach. St. Paul offers an interesting rational. "So that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of it meaning. Or in the original, "might not be emptied," the "of its meaning" has to be added by the English to clarify what the emptying results in. The cross is then a sign that points to the sacrifice of the Eucharist and in itself embodies the union of heaven and earth. ...

Homiletics Notes / 20.01.2020

Sunday, Ordinary Time 3 A The Gospel this coming Sunday has four parts: the rationale of Jesus' withdrawal to Galilee, Jesus' core message, Jesus' calling of Peter, Andrew, James and John, and a final verse about Jesus' ministry in Galilee. The references to the ancient tribal territories of Zebulon and Naphtali seem a bit obscure. Perhaps the point is that Jesus' work in these two northern most areas foretell Jesus' command to go the Gentiles. Living closest to and among the Gentiles, these two lands were seen as at risk to lose their Jewish religion. The prophet Isaiah's description of their culture is not pretty; they are at the way to the sea, a poetic way referencing their access to the rest of the world and all its lures, a land overshadowed by death, poetically speaking again of the dying to one's faith. The passage also reflects the extent of Jesus' northern ministry. Then suddenly Jesus' simplified message is added to show what Jesus did, then suddenly he is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum. Jesus got around. The last verse in this passage picks this up again after the call of the sons of Simon and Zebedee; Jesus' travels through "all of Galilee". Jesus message is universal, not just meant for some elite privileged core group of the righteous. How does this narrative match up with the modern North American Catholic Church today? ...

Homiletics Notes / 17.01.2020

We rarely think of baptism as the initiation into service of the Gospel. The prophet spells this out for us. This service gives glory to God, leads the community of the baptized to be brought back, (to raise up and restore), and become a light to the nations through evangelization. One of the conversations in the contemporary Catholic Church regards turning inward and becoming a small remnant to shelter and protect this new and smaller community of the utterly faithful from the world. the flip side of this coin is the movement outward of the church to the world, succinctly said by Pope Francis, something to effect of "Make a noise!" or "Create a stir!" The cautiousness of those turn ing inward and their hesitations and scrupulosity around canonical, liturgical, and catechism purity as their litmus test for fidelity is hardly what the Church needs to be doing in the world today and does not fulfill the commands of Jesus to "go forth". Here it is interesting that John the Baptist's proclamation says that Jesus came to "take away the sin" of the world. Yes, it is singular. The Church, living in Christ, is God's tool to make this happen. So what is this sin of the world? It seems that this is actions of the human person making of themselves -- gods. This that ancient sin of Adam and Eve. The sin is life in darkness away from the Light who is Christ. In baptism we are purified of the darkness and turned toward God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ...