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 / 29.04.2020

The last three verses of our reading from the first letter of Peter essential restate and quote Isaiah 53, 5-6. The core of this is the enigmatic line, "For by his wounds you have been healed." What does this mean? The line reflects an ancient understanding of medicine that comes from the remnants of a shamanic religion remaining in classical thinking. Today it is spiritualized. Although in a time of pandemic, the principle strangely is at work when antibodies are taken from someone who has had corvid-19, and then this "wound" is used to create a vaccine, hopefully. In the original, the word for wounds is more literally the blows and lashes absorbed by the body of Jesus during the day of his arrest, judgement, scourging, way of the cross, and crucifixion. The word μωλωπι, "by his wound", is actually not the wound itself but rather the blows and strikes that caused the wounds. The language evokes an action, rather than a passive state of things. The underlying principle here is that suffering can be transformative. When we are confronted with suffering, as is happening now with the entire medical community and in ner families, the deepest parts of our human hearts are touched, and this emotion, really a profound empathy, changes our selfcenteredness into a care for others, even to the point of going out of our way to be there for that person, and setting our own lives on the line at risk. The authentic disciple of Jesus, therefore, does give in to the temptation to despair or even on the other hand to rise up in an angry protest, only to create more violence. The day of the cross did not in any way take ahold of the fundamental goodness of Jesus, but he accepted it in order to show the inner power of suffering to be transformative. The question then today is not how can I overcome and dispel the evil of corvid-19, but rather to ask oneself, ...

Homiletics Notes / 28.04.2020

Some of us live sin a politically correct culture and many of us do not. dEach enculturated way of thinking, speaking, and acting has strangely positive and negative aspects, which makes it all the more difficult and problematic when it come to the ethic of sorting this out and making good decisions. It does not help at all that both side have adopted the culture of speech hyperbole, hyperventilated language, bordering on screaming. In very sharp contrast, the letter of St. Peter presents Jesus Christ, "leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps." "When he was insulted, he returned no insults." This description of the Jesus' core character transcends the politically correct and turns away from a culture of insults, that we come to accept from a president leading us to the abyss. Once more, we are to consider the manner of Jesus as our own. Jesus walks and talks the way of self-emptying (κενοσις) and self-abnegation (συνκαταβασις), this latter one picked up by Pope Francis in his book, The Way of Humility. Jesus had the art of taking in all the insults and suffering caused by our human tendency to sin. He absorbs them into his very self and shows us demonstrably the effects of our sin in his own body. Our sin is to have turned away inward upon ourselves from love that serves and to have elevated the individual ego to an intolerable sreaming of, "Me! Me! Me!" This egocentric voice has called us astray from authentic love in self love and indulgence of every kind, even to the sin of insults against one's neighbor. We can return and rediscover the voice of Jesus, the good shepherd, calling us back to himself and the Father. We do this by accepting in our lives His grace through the power of prayer and power of conforming ourselves to Christ. ...

Homiletics Notes / 27.04.2020

Easter IV, May 3, Good Shepherd Sunday. John 10 is the Good Shepherd chapter in his gospel. Pope Francis’ remarks that the “pastors should have the smell of the sheep” is relevant to this discourse of Jesus. There seem to be two different characters here: the shepherd and the gatekeeper. Notice in the parable that the sheep are led OUT of the corral, that is to say out into the world, where there’s risks and dangers. Recognition of voice and name are crucial to getting the point of this parable and the collabo- ration between flock and shepherd. From the very beginning Baptism and Confirmation are linked together (Acts 2, 38). Confirmation was never a rite of passage into Catholic adulthood or some sort of last chance to hook our youths into coming to religious education classes. This only started in 1910 with Pius X who also moved First Communion down into “the age of reason” in about second grade. This is a classic example of an undesirable enculturation of the gospel. Baptism symbolizes death, purification, regeneration, and renewal. The Spirit empowered the apostolic Church to evangelize; it is the same today. Finally we are called to conversion; Baptism is the first, foremost, and fundamental locus of conversion. Reconciliation is inextricably bound up into the very nature of Baptism. ...