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 / 15.08.2019

Most of us would rather have cheery, good news stories than even to think about the horrors happening in the modern world. We avoid the politics, the economics, and the antics of world leaders (including our own). It's all just too much to bear. So when Jeremiah preaches the impending doom in the royal court, the princes acted to cheer the people and the soldiers up, by proposing the death of Jeremiah, bearer of bad news. It is likewise very tempting to be a cheery homilist, soothing the peoples' ears with "the good news". Yet, uncomfortable as it is, the challenge is to present the gospel and the conforming of ourselves to Christ in all of its difficult reality. The steps are simple, but far from American culture: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. Not a complicated action plan, just hard to take. The first step alone, denying oneself, is to let go of that cheery, rose colored glasses outlook and see things and one's self as we really are; naked before the throne of God. Now, that's a scary thought! Yet, here is Jeremiah in the dark and dank cistern, alone and hopeless and not a little beat up. The princes had him "thrown" into the cistern, down long narrow stairs of unforgiving stones. And so, either way you understand the fire cast down on the earth of the Gospel, as the fire of the Holy Spirit or the fire of divine purification, it is not cheery, because the fire calls for decision -- for Christ or not! If you do this seriously you'll probably have to get a new set of friends nd a new family. The disciple's walk is out of step with our culture and society. ...

Homiletics Notes / 14.08.2019

I cite Luke Timothy Johnson in Sacra Pagina for his insight into the symbolism of fire. It is both regarding judgment because of its purifying and consuming effects and because it is clearly in the Scripture a sign of the Holy Spirit. Luke uses the same language as th prophet Elijah calling down fire to consume the sacrifices and the false prophets in II Kings. The "to set" of the translation is a very weakened option for the Greek, "to throw down". It strikes me that this is the connection with the Jeremiah selection. The young Judean King Zedekiah was obviously in the control of the princess of the land and the false court prophets, men and women who were there to flatter the king, speak on his behalf, and assuage any sense of impending doom. There is an American heretical Christianity that does just that: they tickle our ears with prosperity religion, create an us vs. them mentality, and create an environment of apocalyptic doom way off in the future. Jeremiah would understand our culture very well; we don't. In our complacency, the last thing we want is the fire, under either of its symbolic range of meanings. ...

Homiletics Notes / 13.08.2019

The city of Jerusalem is under the threat of Babylonian siege, the young king is easily swayed by his inept councillors, and everyone is in massive denial about the doom facing them. The status quo seduces everyone in the tiny Judean kingdom. The false prophets spread cheery fake news to keep the peace at any price. Jeremiah is the lone voice, accurately reading the signs of the times and announcing God's judgment on king and country. He is one small voice, lost in the noise, but for the fact that he brings his messages abruptly to the court. They're not having it; he is a bother, a party crasher. A plot unfolds to do him in, and the king complies. Everyone is in on the conspiracy of silence, except for Ebed-melech, a court official and a Cushite foreigner, who comes to his rescue. If these elements sound vaguely like what is happening today, it is because we are living through similar circumstances. Children are captives like animals at the border, the environment degrades, and we are awash in fake news. We powerlessly wring our hands, we pray, and we go on with the daily business of our lives, unaware and undisturbed by the coming doom and judgment. We ask ourselves, "Who will rescue us?" We are neck deep in the mire of the "cistern" of our times. Who will rescue us? ...