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 / 12.09.2019

There's a new group of Pharisees for today, -- Napa Catholicism, soaking the cloth of religion in the spit bucket of politics and an odd interpretation of history, or so I read in Commonweal. They've made a golden calf out of some mystical, magical moment in history when the world was perfect because in submission to hierarchy, yet such a Tim never actually existed. One's religious credentials are based on familiarity with dubia and minutiae of GIRM. It is to them that the parable is addressed of the Lost Son, not understanding that the son the father has now lost is in fact themselves. When most Catholics are offered good liturgy including good music, good homiletics, and compassionate pastoral care, then they participate in Church, much like the father's surprise banquet for his wayward son, whose life is now retired and brought round right by grace. It is a tender tale. The still up in the air story of the older brother is left unfinished and in question. Will he come to his senses and attend the feast? The other example is Paul's own case in the second reading from I Timothy. Here he lists his four obstacle: blaspheming, persecuting, arrogance, and ignorance. He tells us that mercy and grace are what brought him to the table in Damascus. "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Paul calls his case an example of salvation from slavery to the sins/obstacles of his former way of life. He concludes with a doxology of praise and thanksgiving. ...

Homiletics Notes / 11.09.2019

In the second reading, Paul's letter to his disciple Timothy, Paul acknowledges that he too was once the older brother. It is interesting that he sees that "I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief." When I apply this to the Lost Son, the attitude of the older brother is revealed. He was ignorant of his younger brother's conversion experience of coming to his senses and his return and what that meant emotionally for the father; he did not believe in the power of mercy or his own capacity for mercy, until of course his father comes out to the field to show him mercy and invite him in. This ignorance unless most of our relationship with another, even in our own family. We can barely know ourselves, so how can we presume truly to know the other. This recognition of one's own ignorance generates a mercy toward the self and toward others. I find myself saying, "The older I get, the less I know." Paul presents the antidote to hate and divisions (see the very last verse of this passage) as grace, faith, and love, the three things once lacking in Paul and in the older brother. Paul recognizes that he was mercifully treated by God and so behooves himself to extend that same mercy and understanding to others. He goes so far as to dissolve the divisions of human society and break down the barriers. (cf. Colossians 3, 11) He understand that this is his new ministry. ...

Homiletics Notes / 11.09.2019

The parables at the great supper are addressed to the Pharisees in the presence the poor gathered around. Jesus pulls back the veil on their religious hypocrisy and manipulations. In the parables, the Pharisees only appear implicitly in the lost sheep and the lost coin parables. They are the shepherds who have written off the one lost sheep as a business deduction and would not have gone in search of that little lamb. The Pharisees appear more explicitly in the incident of the lost son for they are dobviously the older brother, whom Jesus does not condemn, but whom he leaves up in the parabolic air left to wonder how the story ends, as Jesus has made them so carefully a part of the story. Does the Pharisees remain contemptuous of the poor gathering around at the great supper in the Pharisees house or do the get the message and enter more fully into the great banquet of life with the poor, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes. We don't hear their answer. This is because Luke is such a careful and precise writer. The story has survived the test of time precisely because the story remains relevant today. There's a certain kind of liturgically correct Catholic who has completely missed the covenant connection \between the ritual that builds community way beyond their little (if existent at all) imagination.i I hear that the Church must shrink to get down to only the "real" faithful, and then we can build again. This scenario suggests that a lot of people are not worth saving. The community of Jesus is egalitarian. This still shocks the righteous today. It is more important for them to have correct liturgy than to care for the poor. The general Catholic silence screams out on issue like gun control, the border, just wagers, the international refugee crisis, white supremacy (which I don't believe an American bishop has ever addressed as a mortal sin), and other issues. The vesy table setting of these three...