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 / 09.09.2019

Typically the first reading has been chosen to connect to the Gospel passage. For this weekend of OT 24 C we have the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, complemented by the first reading from Exodus in which we have the incident of Israel's rebellion in the gold bull and Moses' subsequent bargaining with God. It would seem the lost son is rebellious against his father, and while the temptation is to see that son forever cast out, the voice of mercy overcomes and reconciliation begins. At least that's what I'm guessing are the connections. The golden calf is the apis bull of ancient Egyptian fertility rituals, the worship of material wealth, property in the sense of strength, and fertility.. The scene begins on the mountain top with a conversation between Moses and God. There are several of these "argument" narratives in the Bible, in which God relents in His mercy. The father in the Gospel is merciful toward both his sons. it is actually the son who remained who is ironically caught up in the wealth of his father his strength, and his rights. The father's plea puts all these things in the light of our capacity for reconciliation and thereby changes the dynamic of the status quo for a new reality. The three parables of Luke 15 are examples of God's providential care over us. God is the one who grants wealth, strength, and descendants to his people, as we read in the Exodus text. ...

Homiletics Notes / 07.09.2019

There's a building locally that is taking an extraordiarily long time to complete, and it is typically the topic of laughter. The developer is paying for it as it goes up, which is to say, when it is finished it will be paid for, and then a major structure in the local downtown area. On the way, people laugh, wonder, and use the length of construction time as a metaphor for eternity. I learned during the development and construction project of our little Guardian Angels parish center building that also holds our current worship space, that it takes much planning, coordinating, and strategizing. One big aspect of it all: where's the money going to come from? And this is a small consideration in light of Jesus' second part of the parable. We cn scarily imagine the complexities of international diplomacy, the making of treaties, and the attempts to build a world of peace. Many moving parts and people are involved. So, I have to read the news with a bit of perspective. It seems very difficult for the journalist to encapsulate all this in a very brief sound bite that is inevitably short of the goal of explanation and tainted by word choices inclined toward one view or another of the matter. dYet at the end of the day, it is not so much the two examples of discernment that Jesus gives us, it is the renunciation of possessions in the first place. For me this may be a matter of downsizing at this point, and so somewhat easier to do. Discipleship is all about the decision and about the turning away from the materialism of this world and prioritizing the things of heaven. The first reading brings me up short, then, when it tells me that we scarce can know the things of heaven. This is where blind faith really enters the picture. ...

Homiletics Notes / 06.09.2019

The more I think about the Letter to Philemon, the more I realize the complexity of the relationships and meaning of the text when I think about it in terms of our own cultural moment. The text is at once a launching point for a modern discussion of human trafficking and slavery, but is also a text about the church. From the Gospel of John's Last Supper, I am reminded of the saying of Jesus, "I no longer call you slaves, but friends." The shared table is a key concept underlying the text, the Eucharist. We are in communion with one another. Forming that community and sustaining it are the tasks of the church today. So often I hear that the church should shrink to be more pure; this direction seems to me a Pharisaical bent, and further, a sign of an exclusionary arrogance. We are justified by our charity, not by our ritual purity. We ought to be useful to one another and to God, and as Paul points out, because of charity. It stretches my heart to know that my brothers and sisters include such people: the refugee, the immigrant, the enslaved and on and on. These people are not comfortable people, but they require us to reframe our whole mental landscape. They challenge us. The border is so far away, and are all the images true and I don't want to see. Paul imposes upon Philemon is an outrageous way, that in a slave based cultural wold be unthinkable. So, today they impose on us, whether we like it or not. ...