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 / 05.09.2019

I only had to read the third word of St. Paul, and I completely identified. And a prisoner. All these things seem to have mellowed Paul as he writes the shortest letter in the New Testament to Philemon about the runaway slave Onesimus. "Onesimus" is Greek for "useful," and so the word play is present in the rhetoric of the letter. Among letters regarding slavery, an abomination in the human race, this is one of the most touching. Paul pleas for the slave, and more than that pleas for a change of the slave's status. Human trafficking is a modern atrocity. It has not gone away. It is embedded in the sinful idea that some humans are less than others. I"m appalled for one, when I think of just how many Catholics of my generation persist in these sinful patters of thinking and talking. It's subtle, but that's how Satan works. First of all there's not such thing as a pure white race, and at the end of the day, in light of its violent history, if there were such a thing, has little to commend itself. For example, much of the construct of the modern world is unsustainable in our attitudes toward the environment and economics. Perhaps this Sunday, after Labor Day, the letter to Philemon opens an opportunity to reflect on issues of human trafficking, slavery, refugees, migrants, unjust wages, and to consider it in light of the Biblical truth of the unity of the human family and all that implies. ...

Homiletics Notes / 04.09.2019

Science has certainly given us an amazing progress with developments that touch, inform, and shape our daily lives. We are self impressed with all that has been discovered and made usable for us. Yet, we have rarely thought through the consequences of this "progress", our morality has not kept up, and the dignity of the human person has eroded. From the first reading,  "And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty." The quest for power and control continuers, even often against our own best interests. We are a very shortsighted species. While we pursue control, not good stewardship, over the natural world, even with much difficulty, the things of heaven are left behind. Again, from the Book of Wisdom, "but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?" So enamored and bedazzled are we by material things (all bright, shiny objects = BSOs), that we forget to pursue as well the things of heaven. In these things we are a very impoverished people. Many Catholics have a theology of a second grader and a spirituality informed by American individualism. kOur first reading this coming Sunday presents us with a sharp contrast in the two different levels of human pursuit: things below and things above. The wisdom of each surely has its place, but the ancients knew very well that the things above are more important, weighty, and valuable in their lives. , ανω και κατω, things above and things below is a persistent theme of ethic in the wisdom literature favored in the Hellenistic world just before and at the time of Jesus. In some ways, our own age looks forward to the self-help industry and books, the variety of new age spiritualities, and cross cultural misappropriation of religious traditions. We take things out of the context of community and cultural to...

Homiletics Notes / 02.09.2019

Ordinary Time 23 C: How to build a tower and how to prepare for battle are the Gospel images this week. Yet before and after these two practical examples of discernment, Luke arranges sayings about the nature of discipleship, consistent with the whole of the teachings on the way to Jerusalem. The message concerns attachment to the world in family and materialism. The tower is about the financial resources and the preparations for battle about Human Resources. The contractor and the king each have need to engage more than the worldly ion their decision making; there's something more interior, spiritual, and intangible informing their decision. In any event in their enterprise, each has come to the time of decision making. If anything, old age helps on to renounce one's possessions, because downsizing becomes the matter of the day. All the books, the kitchen gadgets, furniture and all become more and more optional the older I get. But Jesus is talking about dong this at the beginning, not the end, of the journey. Great crowds were following him, apparently mostly from northern Galilee. Did they leave behind family and their work to follow Jesus? Jesus sets out the terms of discipleship in rather strong language for the Pharisees who are considering following him, after all why are they there. for us too there is the invitation waiting for our response. If we think we can postpone this, consider that the builder of the tower and the king planning a battle are on a limited and immediate time line, given the mockery to follow when the tower is incomplete and the closeness of the opposing king. Time is of the essence in both cases, and so it is with the journey to Jerusalem -- Jesus is getting closer. He is not turning back. ...