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 / 09.10.2019

Jesus tells the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests. They are not cured until they are on their way. Their act of compliance with the requirements of ritual and legal purity represents their capacity for faith, in action. It is very difficult for many of us to have such faith of compliance and action. These two components give faith its coherence and consistency and commitment. Yet we typically resist being told what to do. Yes, we want the miracles, but not all the rules that accompany faith. One of the top ten reasons why people leave the Catholic Church is "all the rules." Americans want to be free, which usually means a "go it alone" attitude of individualistic independence. It is an "I can do whatever I want" attitude, and on of "nobody tells me what to do." In all truth this is not any kind of authentic freedom. These are the same people who would throw themselves at the feet of one or the other political demagogue and hand over their freedom for a pot of porridge, i.e., the economic benefits. This freedom they speak of is really understood as a kind of immorality because there is no responsibility for acts in their picture. In this gospel we see Jesus himself complying with the Mosaic law, as he does throughout the gospels. He tells us he comes to fulfill that law. His freedom, and ours, is oriented toward that law, taking it to the next step. In other words we come to that beloved American behavior, "minimalism." The nine lepers are minimalistic because they do not fulfill the law and return to Jesus with thanks, of which Psalm 98 speaks this Sunday. ...

Homiletics Notes / 08.10.2019

Paul speaks of his "gospel" to Timothy as a very short form of thekerygma of the apostolic church. Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. The rest of the story is implied that Timothy knows it. Paul suffers for proclaiming this gospel of death and resurrection. While he may be in chains, the Word of God will out! I'm remembering here the language of the Christ poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Knowing this gospel bestows eternal life, but not merely knowing in some intellectual sense but then perpetuating its release into the world by positive witness. Paul composes a short Christological hymn constructed of four conditional sentences. The "saying" is extremely tightly constructed and balanced piece of rhetoric. Note that the subject of each "if" clause is us, in the first two instances we are doing something positive, while the last two our denial and our infidelity is objectionable and leads to the judgment of Christ, while the first two protases proclaim a rich reward -- eternal life through resurrection. The whole thing is beautifully constructed by Paul. It's our perseverance and our faithfulness by the grace God that results in our reception of the fulfillment of God's promises. In some sense the one leper who returns is an example for us of perseverance in his cry for mercy and in his fidelity by returning to Jesus, his belief that leads to thanksgiving. ...

Homiletics Notes / 07.10.2019

The whole Naaman story is easily read for context. The main point is about the foreign general, indeed an enemy of the northern kingdom of Israel, coming to the God of Israel. The lepers in the gosepl are also identified as Samaritans, enemies of the Jewish peoples, considered foreigners. Thanksgiving, by way of physically returning in person to offer the thanks, also complements the Gospel. In the Gospel the word for thanksgiving is ευχαριστειν, which is in English, "eucharist." Our own contemporary tribalism presents an obstacle for us. We want to think only what is comfortable for ourselves to think. New thoughts, differences, negativity and the like are very difficult for many people. The average American cannot understand why the whole rest of th world doesn't just become like us! Other foods, clothing, languages, lifestyles, philosophies, cultures, values are all considered inferior to the so called American way. We are a nation of deep seated prejudices and bigotries. Just as Elisha and the northern king Joram, son of King Ahab and jezebel, received naaman with deep suspicions, it is the same with us. We live in very skeptical times. Naaman is grateful for the cure and satisfied only to have two mule loads of earth. Divinities in the ancient world were connected to the physical land over which they were thought to hold sway. The theme in Psalm 98 celebrates the new universal scope of God's salvation. Of course, every nation rejoicing in their own songs to the Lord for some would be cacophony, but perhaps there is some strange superseding harmony and concord in this "new song." ...