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 / 16.04.2019

Just back from the last RCIA meeting where the topic was the nature and role of suffering. The main question and concern focused on how to understand the value and meaning of suffering. Lots of stories told and heard. While we all know it, it is hard to put one's finger on outside the context of stories and relationships. These two features may after all be the point. Suffering, in some paradoxical way deepens and enriches our humanity and binds us into community. The wealth of biblical readings this week are all about the long history and trail of human suffering, most of it committed by us ourselves in our unjust structures of convenience -- political, social, economic, religious, educational, international, racial, gender, and the list goes on and on. It is because of our free will, that on the one hand enables love, that God allows suffering to go, because it is our very own free will that binds us to choices of sin and evil. The free will of Jesus, who loses his life for the reign of his Father, finds his life given to him. Imagine if he chosen to save himself, and in doing so would have lost everything including still his life There is this great red thread of suffering in the long Biblical tale told from Thursday through Sunday. The Buddha put it succinctly in th first Noble Truth, "There is suffering." At the same time, "a word to rouse them" (the weary, the suffering) must shout out at last by the end of the Vigil and surely on Easter Sunday morning. The songs, chants, music, the homily must be all about life, joy, the great and high communion, the outpouring of the Spirit, the promise of resurrection from the dead. A good Gerard Manley Hopkins poem would probably be better than many homilies that go theological on people, when what they should be served is a "word to rouse them." ...

Homiletics Notes / 12.04.2019

How many times I hear myself saying out loud, "I'm really busy right now" or some such phrase. No more than it is out of my mouth I regret saying it because I'm probably no more busy that anyone else. We are all busy, way too busy. In being busy, we are really expressing a certain "full-of-myself" situation. Being busy and of importance to others gives us meaning in our lives; my calendar is full, therefore, I must be important. Perhaps we dread the empty schedule, or we dread our empty lives. This busy-ness doesn't mean I don't have time for you, because I still say yes to almost everything in a compulsive way. Some of yearn for that "desert" experience, that alone-with-the-alone experience of the mystics as a healing for the business of our lives. This deep yearning, which is also a source of fear to answer to, is fulfilled in Jesus. The self-sacrificing, self-emptying characteristic and manner of being and acting on the part of Jesus runs through Palm Sunday readings and of the entire Holy Week. As Jesus is the suffering servant, so too in some way as disciples we learn to give ourselves away. "The one who saves his life in this world will lose it, and the one who loses his life in this world will save." This is the great mystery of the Pascha. There is no other way. ...

Homiletics Notes / 11.04.2019

A rapidly moving spring snow yesterday evening and last night. Yet it is not even noon and the side streets are dry. It's like four seasons in one morning. Holy week, just like that, rapidly moves us through all the emotions of joy, horror, grief, loss, rejoicing! Palm Sunday's reading from the great Christological Hymn of Philippians moves from one extreme to another, But this sharp range of emotions, in the life of Christ and in the life of the disciple is not merely an emotion, but rather expresses the workings of the will, an unparalleled decisiveness in the dialogue and dynamic of the Father and the Son. At the heart of what seems the Greek rhetorical chiastic structure, is the cross, bookend by a descent into this world and at the other end by an ascent to the Father. As Christ ascends at the end as Lord, the human descends to the knee in adoration and worship. Christ's descent into this world, lifts us up to the world above, heaven. In some sense, the main actor in the entire hymn is perhaps the Father God, in and through him which all this happens. ...