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 / 09.07.2019

In the second reading this Sunday, we have the great Christological hymn in Colossians. The hymn sets out the true identity of Jesus Christ and at once, in highly technical theological language, the kerygma. It begin with the truth of his identity as true God. The word "image" εικων, is "icon" translated literally. An icon was not just a mere symbol or re-presentation of the divine, but understood originally as the thing itself. It is more than just a copy. We, in turn, are made in this image and likeness o God, marred now by sin. Yet he has come to use to reconcile all things for God the Father. This reconciliation is effected by the donation of precious blood, which is life (cf. Leviticus 17). In other words the share we have in God's life is restore through participation in his precious blood. Our contemporary cultural symbolisms and structures of thought are very far from this way of looking at the human person, and very, very far from our imagery around blood. There's almost no way around this; explaining it takes much talk and time, and in the end still does not make sense to the modern person. Yet, this reconciliation through blood only occurs because of who Jesus Christ is, as the hymn lays it out. He is the only one so positioned to effect this reconciliation. We cannot do it on our own, that is, be one again with God. This too is hard for us. ...

Homiletics Notes / 08.07.2019

Surpassed only by the Lost Son parable from the Pharisee's dinner, this Sunday we have the parable of the Good Samaritan. A lawyer asks about the requirements for eternal life, as if were a legal question at all. Jesus turns the question back on him with two questioons. The building up of the narrative works this way. The lawyer responds with the great Shema, a commandment very familiar to Jews today, as it is literally on their doorposts. He adds the great levitical love commandment regarding the neighbor. Jesus applauds him, and it could have ended right there, the lawyer proceeds with the game of questions. "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus' response to this is the parable of the Good Samaritan, and then Jesus concludes with the final question, turned on the lawyer. The five questions comprise the structure of the encounter; these are also five excellent questions for evangelization and for one's own discipleship. This fine question is startling and unexpected by the lawyer who could not have seen it coming at him, and yet the answer is inevitable. Nor could the lawyer have expected the final command of Jesus, inviting him into the first stages of discipleship! The tension in this encounter are in the questions. Jesus uses an outrageous example of the Good Samaritan to make and to strengthen his case for the breath and scope of love and mercy. Note that the Samaritan was possibly a man of substance, because he had his own animal and was traveling well provisioned with wine and oil and coin enough for lodging in excess of what was needed. Thus the lawyer could identify with this Samaritan, because the lawyer himself was probably wealthy in his profession. ...

Homiletics Notes / 05.07.2019

My homily this weekend will take up the three characteristics of the evangelist from the Gospel. Again, first, it is the bestowal or granting of peace to people and even to buildings or residences. Jesus comes with and for peace. St. Paul picks this theme up in his observation of the breaking down of artificially constructed human divisions, to be replaced by a new creation, the old things no longer mattering. Jesus begins this part of the commission acknowledging that the disciples are being sent into a violent and non-receptive world, still true today. The second aspect of the commission defines the presence of the disciples as simple or pure, undistracted by the many things of this world. One might think of this in terms of the vow of poverty, traditionally made by religious orders so that they can focus on their charism and mission. In this passage, the poverty is on one's belongings needed for the journey and on accepting what is given, rather than complaining and moving on to the next house where the food and drinks may be better. The third element is the message itself, "The reign of God is at hand for you." The phrase "at hand" is a single Greek adverbial that has the sense of immediacy and suddenness perhaps alternatively translated at "right now!" In any case it is stronger than "at hand". Why? Well, because of the acceptance of this new creation's peace and because of the refocusing of the person away from the things of this world to the things of heaven. The disciples return rejoicing because their mission has been successful! We might ask ourselves today if this is true of the Church, our parish, and our individual self, especially as we are in the sacraments of service. ...