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 / 24.12.2019

More reflections on Holy Family. Journalistk typically portray the family gathering around the table for Christmas as a time of great stress, unsavory relatives, conflicting food issues, political disagreements, and religious controversy. They recommend avoiding it altogether or provide list of tactics to avoid the inevitable. Journalists make it sound as if Christmas dinner is the worst event of one's life. One has to wonder if this merely reflects the unhappiness index of journalists, because surely many families gather and actually have a good time. Perhaps journalists do not know that most people really are decent and civil. The first reading is an example of this. Ben Sirach, a father, writes a lengthy letter to his son. Like every loving father, of course, he wishes his son well, gives his blessings, and gives his advice for wellbeing, success, and civility. The portion of our reading suggests on the surface a father's self serving advice about his own old age. He is really merely reinforcing deep intergenerational cultural values, that we would do well to practice in our own days. The last verse uses a bit of karma to encourage the son in the care of his father. In other words we are under obligations to one another, regardless of how far we go in the world. Good practices of lovingkindness in the family atones for sins. They cover over a multitude of the bad things we do to one another. This is unusual theology, given that sins otherwise could only be covered over in Temple worship and sacrifices. In Temple Judaism, the covering of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies and the word atonement derive from the same word stem כפר. And that cover was understood to be the footstool of God's throne, the point were the soles of God's feet touched the earth, thereby creating union between God and the human person. Atonement for sins then recreates the divine and holy presence of God on earth for...

Homiletics Notes / 23.12.2019

This Sunday's readings tell the stories of any number of dysfunctional families, just saying that the texts are brutally realistic and honest about real life. They often painfully just like us! But this Sunday is not one of them. Joseph is the main character ion the Gospel, with Mary and Jesus referred to as "the child with his mother" three times in the text. The story picks up right where the gospel for Advent IV A left off. The massacre of the holy innocents injected in between. Indeed Mary is only named once in Matthew's infancy narratives at 1, 18. First to notice is that lie Mary, Joseph is portrayed as someone who also does the will of God; he is a faithful and just man. Second is the way in which Matthew inserts the story of Jesus into a larger picture of the sweep of world events and history; you can notice this in the opening genealogy of Matthew. It seem that the point is that God acts in human history and continues to do so to draw humanity and the fallen world back to God's own self. While the world may be in disorder, God acts in an orderly and carefull way with us. Notice that Joseph was a Judean, and yet he could not return to his first home for fear of the Herodian clan, so he moves far north into the hill country of Narareth where there were also job opportunities nearby with the Roman building or a new city a couple of miles from Nazareth, at Sephoris. A prudent carpenter was able to provide for his family yet living within a Jewish community to avoid hellenization. This is the environment in which Jesus was raised. ...

Homiletics Notes / 21.12.2019

" . . . that we may press forward all the more eagerly to the worthy celebration of the mystery of your Son's Nativity." This is the aspiration of the Communion Prayer this Sunday. Three things come to mind: how eager are we about the presence of Christ in our lives? What does a worthy celebration look like both at church and in our homes? What is the mystery here of Nativity? Another lens through which to read the Gospel in immigration, refugees, and the displacement of peoples throughout the world today. Joseph, perhaps aware already of the threats of Herod and now with a dream to support his fears and solve his questions, flees with his family into Egypt. He is repeating the ancient biblical pattern of descent into Egypt (Joseph and his brothers) and ascent from Egypt (Moses and the Exodus). This is a kind of reflection of the pattern of the life of Jesus: descent from the cross to the tomb and the ascent from the tomb in resurrection and ascension. But, in what is this ancient pattern of God acting among us the pattern I can discern in my own life? ...