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 / 18.12.2019

This is a season of greetings, yes, even after all the politically correct jargon elbows its way in, of Christmas joy. It's become so careful that all we can say it "Happy Winter," what ever that means for something no one get bent out of shape about. The very act of greeting one and all with the traditional, and yes, Christian greeting has fortuitously become an accidental act of evangelization. You are announcing that you are disciple of Christ, proud of it, and wish like St. Paul that grace and peace befall the person addressed. That is the upshot of the long single sentence structure of the first reading. Paul writes, heaping up appositives, participles, and relative clauses addresses the holy and beloved members of the church at Rome and wishes them grace and peace. This is our Christmas greeting: grace and peace. Not exclusively for one's fellow Christians, but a wish for everyone, muslins, buddhists, vedics of every sort, and yes even the modern neo-pagan person. That's the beauty of this greeting. The peace and grace that goes forth from us will come back to us increasing in peace and grace. We need to stop backing away from our carefulness about how we greeting one another, hoping to offend no one. So, now two things come to mind. If I'm extending this greeting, then I have to first be living this greeting, a task very difficult in the modern fractured world. I have to be or become a person of grace and peace in order to extend it. It has two other components: joy and holiness. These two are not things we often thing of going together. The second thing, I must receive the greeting in return from the other person, regardless of what it means. This first step of exchange of greeting is the opening of dialogue; we introduce ourselves by name and we greet. In biblical times (and a bit formally today in Greece) the normal greeting year...

Homiletics Notes / 17.12.2019

King Ahaz appears in the first reading this Sunday. He resigned in Judah, and saw the conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 ( there is a dispute about the exact years of his reign). To avoid conquest he allied himself with the Assyrian king Tiglath-pilessar III, who effectively became his sovereign. He was a young king and so, ineffective and hesitant. He also accepted the worship of Assyrian religion. Long his cojnserns was succession, hence the exchange in our first reading. Most commentators seem to get lost in the issue of the virgin, a type of Mary. In this case however, there is no suggestion of parthenogenic birth, but rather that the woman was young and unsullied, and her virgin state did not continue after the birth. Arguably more important for us is the name of the child -- Emmanuel, that is to say "God is with us." What an assurance amidst the chaos of the times in which Ahaz lived. As we ourselves thrash about in dark times looking for something to save us, we ask how can we make this proclamation of God with us an effective cry of the heart that we will be saved. Children today come into the world not always welcomed, seen rather as a problem or an economic drain or something unwanted, and so by the same token, one wonders if we really look at all for God to save us. We've come to the point, by the benefits of science and technology, that we think we can save ourselves. The connection here is that as Joseph is a man of dreams and Ahaz a man confronted with a prophet, just how much have we lost by not seeing our own selves in these Biblical exemplars. We have lost a lot! and what could we gain by rekindling our fundamental dreams? ...

Homiletics Notes / 16.12.2019

Advent IV A. Joseph makes a rare appearance in the gospel this Sunday, and like men everywhere actually doesn't say a word, so men resonate with the carpenter who is faithful, righteous, and devout, to say nothing of the outrageous kindness he offers Mary by taking her in. He is also a man who pays attention to his dreams and to that interior voice of the Lord. Perhaps he doesn't speak so that he can listen! How does anyone in a small community have a quiet divorce? There's gossip, and not always the kind explained in Kathleen Norris' chapter on gossip in her book, Dakota. Today divorces are loud and ugly affairs, and way too many have a say about it, take sides, and make it messier. Joseph must have felt some of this in tiny Nazareth. It is his openness to the plan of God in a dream, no less, that changes his mind. Betrothal in that culture was almost for practical purposes a marriage commitment. Twice in the text, Mary is called "his wife." The act of taking her into his home only sealed the deal. The betrothal in the father's house had already occurred and the dowry dealt with. Jewish marriage was a two part process: presentation at the bride's father's house and the the conveyance of the bride to the groom's house. The first step is betrothal and the second the marriage. From the time of the betrothal, the man and woman are husband and wife. Refer to De Vaux for the details. Behind this story are deep Biblical themes of faithfulness to the law and to the prophets at once, difficult as that is to bring the two together. Another great theme is the incredible value of life and the excitement of a new life coming into the world. The first reading shares this same excitement of continuity and possible future security of an heir. For the reading from Romans, the key phrase is without...