A Homily – The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118(119):1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68
Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 11 :25
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5: 17 – 37 ©

(NJB)

The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen!

God has prepared the way for you, look ahead you can see it. The lane is clear and smooth and yours to take, but on the margins there are ruts and grooves, there are stones and roots, and other things to stumble on.

You may take which ever path you like, because all paths lead to God.

Look into the fire and there is God, dip your cup in the well and there is God.

Water cleanses without hurt, fire cleanses as it burns, in both fire and water we encounter the divine, turn around and God is with you, plant your feet and God is there. Close your eyes and stop your ears, God remains.

God is with you in your heart.

Nothing evil comes from God, and all things bend toward the good.

Be mindful!

God’s law is written in our hearts. God speaks to us there. All other versions of God’s law are merely reflections of the divine law that each of us carries with us.

God’s law is a living flame. Look into your heart see it shimmering there, wrapping itself around the coals.

God’s law is to love, and there is no other law. To love is its own reward. You will receive no other.

Remember this!

Those who do not love are not unloved by God. We are called on to love, even the hateful, love is the only cure for their hatred.

When you petition God; the creator of the universe, do not petition God for favor. Do not ask God for special treatment, do not ask God to prefer you over any other one of God’s children. Do not promise to do for God what is not within your power to do.

Be wise and ask for wisdom.

Do not lie to God, or yourself when you petition God.

Do not ask from God what it already lies within your power to do for yourself.

Be mindful of the sacred text, it has been made a tool for human beings, and there are places, many places that offer us a window on human vanity and nothing more.

There is no mystery in the sacred text, there is only the commandment that we love one another as God loves us. This is the demand that the divine law makes on our conscience; to act mercifully in the interest of justice.

Live a life filled with compassion, and you will be following the way.

When a leader arises in our midst, we must acknowledge them and their appointment if it is a reflection of the will of the people.

When that leadership is pure, and we see that their work is holy, we must acknowledge that, but in the acknowledgment of these things it is important to not embellish.

Remember that god speaks to all people.

God, the creator of the universe; God speaks in the human heart.

Be mindful of what the gospel teaches!

Here is the good news; God loves you, and you are saved. You are not saved for anything that you have done, you did not earn it, you are saved because God loves you.

The promise of salvation is not that you will be spared from suffering and torment in hell, or that when you are judged God will forgive you.

God has already forgiven you. You are already saved.

God has prepared you and everyone for eternal life.

Believe it!

Let the goodness of the promise flow through you, begin to live your life as if it were true.

We are not called to believe in the idea that Jesus is this or that, the Holy One of God, we are called to act on the principles of his faith, to live lives of charity and service to each other.

The teachings of Jesus cannot be treated like a shell game, though they are, and have been since the beginning, as Matthew’s Gospel illustrates.

The way of Jesus is not a long con, it is not a bait and switch, it is a simple teaching that cannot be controlled or owned by any one group of people.

God, the creator of the universe, God has hidden nothing from you. The truth is in the open for anyone to see.

The wise and the powerful, the learned and the clever, the weak and the meek, everyone has access to the same truth, to the knowledge of God, the understanding of justice, the freedom to hope and love.

Who are the wise and powerful, who are the learned and the clever, who are the faithful and childlike. In every generation, you will see a new group labeling the elder group as out of touch, blind, privileged, in the dark, corrupt.

It is an endless cycle, and the truth remains the same; love justice, be merciful, do good, serve God through the loving service you provide to one another: your family, your friend, your neighbor, the stranger, even your enemy.

That is the way Jesus asked us to follow.

Just because a person is be wise and powerful, learned and clever, or a child of the church, does not mean they recognize the truth when they see it, or act upon when they do.

It is not your station in society, it is not how other people regard you, it is not the titles you have earned, or the ways that you have been marginalized that give us the tell on how you will fulfill the calling to follow Jesus. What matters is what is in your heart, and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope.

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

The way is simple and elegant, and it is among the most difficult of challenges.

The writers of Matthew’s Gospel attempted to summarize Jesus’ teaching on the law. Those who had known Jesus, or who had been instructed in the faith by those who did know him, they believed sincerely that they knew what was in Jesus’ heart.

Nevertheless, their summary of it fell short of the mark, because, as with all matters pertaining to the divine, and to God, the creator of the universe, our human understanding falls short.

Know this, in this passage, the kingdom of heaven which Jesus refers to, is not a place beyond this world. It is the world we live in; it is not the world as it is, but the world as it could be, if we set aside our sins.

Know this, the hell which the gospels refer to is not a place beyond this world, it is not the diametric opposite of heaven, it is the realm of the dead, it is the place where we are, as we are still caught up in our sin.

We have a choice, a choice we can exercise right now; to live in the way of the divine, in a community of peace and love, or to live in a world conditioned by fear and greed, characterized by strife and pain.

If we chose the way, no matter how much we may desire it, we cannot have it, be in it, bring others to it, if we are not reconciled to the community that we live in. If we hold a grudge, if there is enmity, we must address these first and come to a place of healing.

In the way, what we do matters, but our intentions matter as much or more.

A person may not be a thief, but if they covet their neighbor’s possessions there is no peace between them. What we hold in our heart, that determines the nature of our relationships with each other.

Forgive and be forgiven, this is not a transaction, it is a simple injunction.

Let go of the hardness and covetousness in your heart, accept the mercy that is offered to you.

Be loved, and love.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21 ©

God Predestined Wisdom to Be for Our Glory Before the Ages Began

If you wish, you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power.

He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer.

Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him.

For vast is the wisdom of the Lord; he is almighty and all-seeing.

His eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every action of man.

He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118(119):1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34 ©

They are happy who follow God’s law!

They are happy whose life is blameless,
who follow God’s law!
They are happy who do his will,
seeking him with all their hearts.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

You have laid down your precepts
to be obeyed with care.
May my footsteps be firm
to obey your statutes.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Bless your servant and I shall live
and obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
the wonders of your law.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Teach me the demands of your statutes
and I will keep them to the end.
Train me to observe your law,
to keep it with my heart.

They are happy who follow God’s law!
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ©

God Predestined Wisdom to Be for Our glory Before the Ages Began

We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true, still less of the masters of our age, which are coming to their end. The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began. It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.
These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68

Alleluia, alleluia!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 11 :25

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are you, Father,

Lord of heaven and earth,
for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom
to mere children.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 5: 17 – 37 ©

You Have Learnt How it was Said to Our Ancestors; but I Say this to You

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.

‘For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.

‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’
The Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 58:7-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 111(112):4-9 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12
The Gospel According to Matthew 5:13 – 16 ©

(NJB)

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen.

Meditate on the scriptures and consider their meaning when they refer to the light of God, in this moment we should reflect on the teaching of Isaiah, as Jesus often did.

Be mindful of these precepts:

We are light when we are shine like the justice of God, we are light when we are merciful, we are light when we speak words of love and perform acts of service to those who are in need, this is when we are light.

We are light when we feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the poor, and clothe the naked. When we are light we are healed of our own sickness, the sickness in our hearts and in our minds, the disease which clamors for us to horde our wealth, and feed our greed.

When we are giving we are good, and God’s light shines through us like a beacon, it shines in all directions and says to those who see it that we have made a dwelling for God in our heart.

We are light when we release the poor, when we uncurl the clenched fist, when we speak with kindness, and raise up the oppressed, this is when we are light.

When we are light we shine in the darkness, and our shadow departs from us as if we were standing beneath the sun at noon.

Be mindful!

This is what the scriptures are speaking to when they preach to us about God’s light.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

God, the creator of the universe, God is just, righteous and filled with compassion.

The destiny of each and every one of God’s children, is God’s own self; when the seed of the Word that God has planted in each of us, sprouts and comes to fruition, the fullness of the blossom is God’s own self.

Listen!

Righteousness and compassion are their own reward, nothing extra comes to you from God for in exchange for doing good. The Godly life is not a matter of commerce.

Be mindful, what is good true does not require a letter of introduction. A person’s past deeds are not necessarily a prelude to their future actions, the good may to ill, and the wicked may do good.

Take each day as it comes.

We are not called to be guarded or suspicious of each other’s motives, neither are we called on to blindly accept a person’s credentials.

Listen!

We are all in the way, and the way does not exclude anyone. We are all moving inexorably toward God, both the cooperative and the recalcitrant we are all moving toward the divine, the source of all being.

Consider the Gospel for today and know that there are no guarantees in life.

Listen to Jesus as he teaches his disciples, he understood the natural failings of human beings. Jesus knew that a person can be salient and good in one moment, bitter and coercive in the next.

Not even the disciples, as close as they were to Jesus, were free from these propensities. Why would it be any different for the Christian man or woman who follows them.

If you set out to teach, and be a light in the world, then do that. It requires you to live intentionally.

Be mindful of what Jesus said; a lamp, once lit, should be put on the lamp-stand, but even still it requires constant attention. The lamp oil must be refilled, the wick must be trimmed, replaced, and the soot must be cleaned from it.

If you intend to live your life as an exemplar of the way, you must be diligent, watchful, mindful of yourself and humble.

In your pursuit of the light, reflect on the teaching of Isaiah:

“Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin.”
First Reading – Isaiah 58:7-10 ©

Then will your light shine like the dawn

Thus says the Lord:

Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin.

Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you.

Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word, if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 111(112):4-9 ©

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

He is a light in the darkness for the upright:
he is generous, merciful and just.
The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever.
He has no fear of evil news;
with a firm heart he trusts in the Lord.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

With a steadfast heart he will not fear;
open-handed, he gives to the poor;
his justice stands firm for ever.
His head will be raised in glory.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ©

The Only Knowledge I Claimed Was of the Crucified Christ

When I came to you, brothers, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ. Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
anyone who follows me will have the light of life.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 5:13 – 16 ©

Your Light Must Shine in the Sight of Men

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40):2, 4, 7-10 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14
Alternative Acclamation John 1:14, 12
The Gospel According to John 1:29 – 34 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Be wary of the voice of God.

Be wary!

Be wary when you hear God speak to you, especially in secret and in private. What you perceive as the voice of God is almost always the voice of your own desires.

Be mindful.

God made us all to be God’s servants, God made us all from light, and to light we shall return.

Listen!

God has provided for our wellness.

Be careful that you do not substitute your will for the will of God, for the will of God who created the universe.

Consider the wisdom of the psalmist who declares that God is the God of mercy, and of listening.

Bend your ear to God; listen with the ear of your heart.

Stretch out your feelings and you will find your way through the troubles of life on Earth, through its filth and misery, as the psalmist says:

Seek salvation, seek wellness, seek freedom from your own sins and do not dwell on the sins of others.

When you are beset with difficulties do not cast blame on others, rather look to yourself, to your own transgressions and seek relief from them by following the way of God, whose command it is to love.

Listen, and be mindful.

We have all been appointed by God to be apostles, to share the gospel, the good news of God’s love for us, and the promise that God has prepared the way for our salvation, for the salvation of humanity, for the salvation of all people in all times and all places.

We are all people of the way; we are all saints in the making.

Remember this!

Jesus is not a lord, he is not our king, he was our brother; Jesus is our friend.

Let us dwell on this for a moment longer; God is not king, or a lord. The creator of the universe does not wear a crown. We do not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. As we follow Jesus we seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, we seek to serve those in the deepest dark, returning them to the light of love.

Listen!

Do not repeat the errors of John

Proclaim the truth, we are all born into the family of God; we are God’s children. We are not made the children of God by any power, not by a power that comes from within us, neither by a power that is external to us. We coming into being as children of God, in the Word, by the Word and through the Word.

Our status as children of God is as unconditional as God’s love for us.

Remember this always.

Consider the Gospel for today:

The Gospel of John was written more than one hundred and twenty years after the death of Jesus. None of its authors knew Jesus, or John, and not any of them knew anyone who knew them.

Like all of the other Gospels, John was not written by a single person. It was written by a community of people, and more than any of the other Gospels, it was written as propaganda.

The Gospel of John was written with the intention of arguing for that community’s beliefs about who Jesus was, what the weaning of his life was, and what his death meant to
Christians of their day, it was written to communicate those beliefs to the world.

By the time Johannine Gospel is written, the early church no longer had any concern about ameliorating John the Baptist’s followers, as they did when they earlier gospel’s were drafted. The ethnic Jews in John’s community had either become Christians, or they were considered by the community to be enemies of the nascent Church.

John’s Gospel is overwhelming concerned with depicting Jesus as the cosmic savior. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Word of God, who comes to take away the sins of the World.

Jesus is God.

When John the Baptist encounters Jesus, he provides witness for this.

The Baptist does not Baptize Jesus, as he does in the other Gospels, even though he, himself is busy at the work of baptizing.

When he sees Jesus approach, he announces to his followers that Jesus has come, a man greater than himself, one who existed before him (even though he was born in time after him), one on whom the Spirit of God rests, one who will complete the baptism of every believer, because he will baptize them with Holy Spirit and not mere water.

The Gospel of John was the crowning achievement of the early Christian propaganda. Through this vehicle the Church transformed the man, Joshua son of Joseph, into the being through whom the entire universe came into existence.

And this is fine, but it must be understood for what it is, as the expressions of faith and hope, not the recitation of history and fact; it is metaphor, allegory and myth.
First Reading – Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 ©

I Will Make You the Light of the Nations so that My Salvation May Reach to the Ends of the Earth

The Lord said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I shall be glorified’; I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.

And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him:

‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40):2, 4, 7-10 ©

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,
but an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Instead, here am I.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

In the scroll of the book it stands written
that I should do your will.
My God, I delight in your law
in the depth of my heart.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

Your justice I have proclaimed
in the great assembly.
My lips I have not sealed;
you know it, O Lord.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ©

May God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ Send You Grace and Peace

I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle, together with brother Sosthenes, send greetings to the church of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ, who are called to take their place among all the saints everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ; for he is their Lord no less than ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessings on the King who comes,
in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heavens!

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation John 1:14, 12

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Word was made flesh and lived among us:
to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 1:29 – 34 ©

‘Look: there is the Lamb of God’

Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’
The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 24:1-2, 8-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20 ©
Second Reading – Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Timothy 3:16
The Gospel According to John 1:1 – 18 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)
Be mindful!

There is truth in the sage’s reflection, and much that is false.

God has given us the Spirit of Wisdom, Sophia, who from eternity has issued from the creator like God’s own breath.

The Spirit of Wisdom is God’s own spirit and that spirit animates all that live, all who ever lived, and all who ever will be.

Now Listen!

God’s spirit is not a gift that belongs to a specific people, in a specific place at a specific time.

The Spirit of Wisdom is not property that can be transmitted like an inheritance.

It does not belong in Jacob’s tent, on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem or the house of Israel.

There are no people on the face of the Earth, or anywhere in the universe, who occupy a privileged place in relation to God.

God loves all of God’s children equally.

The creator establishes the material conditions for all things. In God’s wisdom God has established the cycles of life and death. Material power is of no concern to God, ignore the Psalmist when he dwells on these topics, they are not instructive.

God does not seek power, God seeks to be honored by God’s creatures, and we honor God through the service we provide one another.

We honor God when we emulate God’s love for creation, through ministries of healing, taking care of the hurt and the sick, feeding the hungry and welcoming the exile.

Do not follow the Psalmist into error.

The Psalmist fails to recognize that God is truly the God of all people; not merely the God of Jerusalem, of Zion, of Judah and Israel.

God does not favor one people over another, one tribe or one nation.

God does not the fill the belly of one person while allowing another to starve.

God does not favor one army over another, one city over another in time of war.

God does not favor war at all.

The season of winter, of summer, of spring and fall; they do not reflect the judgement of God, they are cyclical, and the weather is wild, it expresses the freedom and chaos of the natural order. In relation to human behavior it only reflects the laws of consequence and causation.

Be mindful!

A good winter is not evidence of God’s grace, neither is a bad summer evidence of God’s judgement.

Love God, and show that love by the love you exhibit to your enemies, to the stranger and to the less fortunate among you.

Remember the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father

Consider this:

If you are caught up in the consideration of God’s glory, ask yourself this: What is glory?

God is the creator of the universe. God’s greatest place is in relationship to us, God has said so, and we are God’s children, and God is our loving parent.

Pray this:

May each and every one of us come to the full knowledge of God.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and remember that the hopes you have for yourself and those you love is to be extended to everyone, even those you do not love, for that is the way that leads to the knowledge of God, and our understanding of our relationship with the divine.

If you think that God has promised riches and glories as the inheritance of the saints, remember this, the first will be last and the last will be first. Know that spiritual riches are not counted in gold and silver, and precious things, but in love, companionship and friendship with God, which we experience primarily through our friendship with one another.

We all need each other.

Good governance requires good people. Know them, understand who they are before you appoint your leaders, put them through a process of discernment.

Choose well.

Be mindful.

Christian faith is not about who Jesus was and how the world saw him, our faith means trust in God, and trust can only be based on our understanding of the creator as a loving and caring being.

Let us reflect for a moment on the Gospel for today.

John’s Gospel is unlike the others. Its authors were the farthest removed from the life of Jesus. They wrote their narrative of his life between 120 and 150 years after his death.

John’s Gospel is also the furthest removed from the actual ministry of Jesus, it is more concerned with the cosmic identity of Christ, with Jesus as the Word of God, more than with the lives of actual people or the ministry of healing, mercy, and justice that was Jesus’ actual occupation.

The gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew are commonly referred to as the synoptic gospels. The events that they narrate are closely linked to each other and follow the same basic pattern; even though there are differences.

Luke and Matthew rely largely on Mark for their structure; Mark having been written first.

Luke came second and took a little step farther back in time than Mark. Whereas Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus, Luke begins with the story of his birth.

Matthew, coming third in the sequence goes a little farther back in time than Luke. Matthew opens with the story Jesus’ descent from Abraham. While John, coming last, takes the reader all the way back to the beginning of time.

John narrates some of the same events as the other gospels do, but with a markedly different character, all designed to tell us who Jesus is, God’s own self.

The historian in me objects to this treatment of the life of Jesus, but it is what it is, and this fiction, having taken hold of the Christian imagination represents a historical reality all of its own.

John’s prolog, which we are given today, tells us very little about the persons of Jesus, or John the Baptist, but a great deal about what Christians believed about God, the creator of the Universe, and about creation itself.

Even though it was a common view in the ancient world that our material condition was essentially corrupt; as evidenced by our experience of pain, sickness, and death. The Christian community of John was articulating faith in its essential goodness.

It affirms the unity and oneness of all creation; having been brought into being through the Word of God, the Logos; God’s reason, or rational will. This tell us that life itself has purpose, it is not random, it not the product of chaotic forces. Creation comes from the goodness and light of the eternal God, it informs that not one thing or being exists apart from God.

The Gospel encourages us in the hope that no matter how bad things are for us as we experience the drama of creation, the darkness will not overcome the light. Also, that the world and humanity itself are worthy of the love of God, so much so that God becomes a human being, living and suffering with us in the spirit of compassion and solidarity.

This teaching is also remarkably esoteric and deeply personal. While encouraging the believer to have hope, it also reminds the reader that they must also persevere in the face of rejection and violence.

Many people to not want to hear the truth. They prefer their own cozy view of the world, they prefer their tribal and national gods, their totems and taboos, their neat philosophies and mores, their magical-realities and superstitions to the sober understanding of what it means to be a child of God.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 24:1-2, 8-12 ©

From Eternity, in the Beginning, God Created Wisdom

Wisdom speaks her own praises, in the midst of her people she glories in herself.

She opens her mouth in the assembly of the Most High, she glories in herself in the presence of the Mighty One; ‘Then the creator of all things instructed me, and he who created me fixed a place for my tent.

He said, “Pitch your tent in Jacob, make Israel your inheritance.”

From eternity, in the beginning, he created me, and for eternity I shall remain.

I ministered before him in the holy tabernacle, and thus was I established on Zion.

In the beloved city he has given me rest, and in Jerusalem I wield my authority.

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20 ©

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
Zion, praise your God!
He has strengthened the bars of your gates
he has blessed the children within you.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

He established peace on your borders,
he feeds you with finest wheat.
He sends out his word to the earth
and swiftly runs his command.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

He makes his word known to Jacob,
to Israel his laws and decrees.
He has not dealt thus with other nations;
he has not taught them his decrees.

The Word was made flesh, and lived among us.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ©

Before the World Was Made, God Chose Us in Christ

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.

Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved.

That will explain why I, having once heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and the love that you show towards all the saints, have never failed to remember you in my prayers and to thank God for you. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Timothy 3:16

Alleluia, alleluia!

Glory be to you, O Christ, proclaimed to the pagans.
Glory be to you, O Christ, believed in by the world.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 1:1-18 ©

The Word Was Made Flesh, and Lived Among Us

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him.

All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world.

He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him.

He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:

‘This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me ranks before me because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received – yes, grace in return for grace, since, though the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
The Second Sunday of Christmas (Year A)

A Homily – The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):6-10 ©
Second Reading – James 5:7-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)
The Gospel According to Matthew 11:2 – 11 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Listen to the prophet, this reading from Isaiah is a prayer of hope.

Be mindful, do not take the words that are given here as literal truth.

This is a prayer for healing and restoration, a prayer for salvation, something which God will lead everyone to…but not in this life, this is not a prayer concerning our expectations for this world.

The things we hope for, God’s deliverance, those hopes are for the next world, God will not intervene in the events of our lives, not in the here and now.

We have the choice to live our lives as if we believe in the things we hope for, which is faith, or whether we do not.

In the next world we shall witness the whole creation in the exultation of God, we shall not be concerned with ephemeral things, such as glory.

We will face our fears and watch them disappear. Have courage now, and patience while we wait.

Do not wish for the vengeance of the God, or divine retribution to be visited on your enemies, rather seek to have no enemies, forgive those who have hurt you, and ask for their forgiveness in return.

This is a prayer for healing, seek in your own heart the will to see everyone healed.

In that moment you will experience something of the everlasting joy that awaits us all the love God.

Listen to the psalmist!

Praise God, creator of the universe. Praise God, with words and song.

God is the author of our salvation, do not trust in princes and kings. And know that God is not a king.

The life of a human being, the time of humanity on earth, our window on life is only a brief flash in the night. We are born, we breathe for a time, and then we are gone.

The Earth itself will not survive the dying of the sun.

Happy are those whose help is God, the creator. Happy are those who assist God in the divine work of mercy and justice:

Lift up the oppressed, wherever they are: feed the hungry, free the prisoner, teach the ignorant.

Pray for your own faults to be forgiven, your own blindness lifted.

Advocate for those who need an advocate, care for those who cannot care for themselves. Find those who are lost in their wickedness and bring them home.

Be mindful!

If we think of the second coming of Jesus as an actual return; we are mistaken. Jesus will not return in the flesh, because that is against nature, and we each have only one life to live on Earth.

If we think of Jesus coming to Earth as God, of his coming to bring about the end of time; we are mistaken. God will not intervene in the life cycle of our planet, because God made us and our planet free.

The apostle was wrong to engage in prophecy of this nature.

Be mindful of this error. Do not repeat it.

Take these words to heart: be patient, live a good and loving life; even in the midst of turmoil. When we live in the promise of the divine way, the divine way becomes the reality of our lives.

Praise God, and pray for God’s servant. When the will of God is done, the message is clear and the mission is pure.

Love one another, as God loves you.

Consider the Gospel for today:

John came before Jesus. It is said that they were cousins, but the evidence for this claim is scant.

It is said that James, the apostle and bishop of Jerusalem was Jesus’ brother, but that claim has long been rejected by the Church.

There is no way for us to know the veracity of these claims, and it does not matter.

John came before Jesus, for a time they worked as contemporaries. It is said that they met at the river Jordan where John was carrying out his ministry of baptism, for healing and repentance.

John baptized Jesus at that time, the moment is presented in the Gospel as a passing of the torch from John to Jesus.

There is no way for us to know if this event ever even happened, or if it did that John and Jesus viewed this moment in this way.

It does not matter. The legacy that has been preserved in this accounts informs us in ways that the actuality behind those events cannot…because the actuality is unknown and unknowable

John prepared the way for Jesus as the Gospel for today indicates. He was arrested shortly thereafter, and shortly thereafter he was murdered.

John and Jesus belonged to a movement, a movement of the people, the am haaretz, a movement for the people, a movement calling for justice, for unity, and salvation.

They saw their work as something connected to the prophets. They were reformers, they were people whose preaching synthesized the sacred texts. They boiled the commandments down to their essence and returned them to the people in the simplest form.

“Love God, with all your strength and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

That is the whole of the law, and all the words of the prophet were summarized therein.

Many of John’s followers became followers of Jesus. Leaders in John’s group became leaders among Jesus’ disciples, but not all who had followed John came along. It is to these people that this gospel is pointed.

It was written to remind them of the sequence of events; first John, then Jesus.

It this was the exploitation of an ancient theme among the Hebrews. It is a story reflected in the patriarchalt narratives, God’s expressed favoritism for the younger son; for Able over Cain, for Isaac over Ishmael, for Jacob (Israel) over Esau, for Joseph over all of his brothers.

The gospel of today is a piece of politics. It is a message to the holdouts among John’s camp, expressing love and pride in the work of John, while telling them in no uncertain terms that the way forward was with Jesus.

This was the beginning of Church politics, and as with all such actions, it healed some aspects of the divide, while exasperating others.

Such is the way of human beings.

Be mindful.
First Reading – Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 ©

God Himself is Coming to Save You

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid.

‘Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.

They will come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament be ended.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):6-10 ©

Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free,

Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.
Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

Come, Lord, and save us.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – James 5:7-10 ©

Do Not Lose Heart; the Lord’s Coming Will Be Soon

Be patient, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon. Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia!

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 11:2 – 11 ©

‘A Greater than John the Baptist Has Never Been Seen’

John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’

As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:

‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way before you.

‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’
The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)

A Homily – The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Wisdom 11:22-12:2 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):1-2, 8-11, 13b-14 ©
Second Reading – 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14
Alternative Acclamation – John 3:16
The Gospel According to Luke 19.1 – 10 ©
Listen to the wisdom of the sage!

God, the creator of the universe; God is the infinite and the eternal. God is omnipresent, everywhere, God is not, not present in any space. God is omniscient, God knows all things, not in the mode of abstract particulars, but in the intimate made of being; God knows you as you know yourself. God is omnipotent, this is not a reference to raw power, though all the power in the universe belongs to God, but it means that God has the perfect ability to accomplish God’s will.

Know this:

What is infinite, is infinitely greater than the entire sum of finite things and beings.

The spirit of God dwells in all things and beings, and God loves all in whom God’s spirit dwells.

As the prophet says:

“In your sight the whole world is like a grain of dust that tips the scales, like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground.

“Yet you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook our sins so that we can repent.

“Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it.

“You spare all things because all things are yours, God, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all.

“Little by little you correct us all.

Pay attention to the scripture and me mindful of where it falls into error.

The psalmist is mistaken, when he refers to God as a king.

God is not a king.

God is the creator of the universe, God is present in all times and all places; even in the deepest places of the human heart.

God has made us free, and God does not intervene directly in human events. Do not pray for God to do so, such prayers are mere vanities.

Contemplate the vast power of God, and then contemplate the innumerable ways of God’s love and mercy.

Listen to the words of the apostle!

Be mindful of the matters he wants to caution us about.

Pray for your brothers and sisters, for your mother and father, for your sons and daughters; pray for all your friends and family members, for their families and most of all, pray for the stranger among you, for the alien in your midst, pray for those who wish you harm, and for those who oppose your interests.

Pray for them as God prays for them, in a spirit of love and humility. Pray that you will find them worthy, and that they will find you worthy of love, just as God does.

Do not look for glories, pray for the peace of God.

Be mindful!

Listen to the words of the Apostle, there are many who call themselves Christians who pretend to know the secrets of the universe or the path to God’s favor, they preach on it even while they deviate from the way Jesus taught us.

Call out the false prophets among us, point out their false claims, do it in the spirit God has given you, do it in the Spirit of truth.

As you do so remember this, God is not king, or a lord.

The creator of the universe does not wear a crown.

We do not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. As we follow Jesus we seek out the lowest of the low, we do not seek the highest heaven, we seek to serve those in the deepest dark, returning them to the light of love.

Listen!

The gift of life is not transactional. It is free. We do not have to ask for it, just as we did not ask to be born, like true love, eternal life comes to us without conditions.

God, the creator of the universe, came to us in the person of Jesus. If you trust in the teachings of Jesus you will find peace in this world, you will understand that the things we endure here: pain and suffering, alienation and uncertainty, hunger, disease and death, these are all temporary.

You will see the world of light and life beyond the mortal veil.

There is no condemnation in God, or in the ministry of Jesus. There is hope and love and mercy.

Be mindful and cleave to the truth.

No one is condemned because they refuse to believe in the scriptures, or believe in Christian doctrines, or the dogma of the church.

No one is condemned by God no matter ho egregiously we err, God pours out the divine love on all creation, God does so continuously.

There is no magic power in a name or an article of belief, we are given a warning because of this, if we are not able to trust in the way of Jesus, and trust is the meaning of faith, if we are not able to trust in the way and we are selfish, instead of giving; malicious instead of loving, harmful instead of healing, then we will suffer in this world, even as we increase the suffering of others.

Faith in Jesus means liberation in the here and now, freedom in the present reality, which is a blessing to everyone who finds it and to all whom they encounter.

Be mindful.

Do not judge. Make no assumptions about the piety of others.

Everyone is a sinner, and everyone is good;

Everyone loves, and is worthy of love.

That is the whole of the gospel.
First Reading – Wisdom 11:22-12:2 ©

You Are Merciful to All, Because You Love All That Exists

In your sight, Lord, the whole world is like a grain of dust that tips the scales, like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground.

Yet you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent.

Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it.

And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist, how be conserved if not called forth by you?

You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all.

Little by little, therefore, you correct those who offend, you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned, so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you, Lord.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):1-2, 8-11, 13b-14 ©

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

I will give you glory, O God my king,
I will bless your name for ever.
I will bless you day after day
and praise your name for ever.

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God.

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and loving in all his deeds.
The Lord supports all who fall
and raises all who are bowed down.

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.
Second Reading – 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2 ©

The Name of Christ Will be Glorified in You, and You in Him

We pray continually that our God will make you worthy of his call, and by his power fulfil all your desires for goodness and complete all that you have been doing through faith; because in this way the name of our Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified in you and you in him, by the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

To turn now, brothers, to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we shall all be gathered round him: please do not get excited too soon or alarmed by any prediction or rumour or any letter claiming to come from us, implying that the Day of the Lord has already arrived.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – John 3:16

Alleluia, alleluia!

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son: everyone who believes in him has eternal life.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 19.1 – 10 ©

Salvation Comes to the House of Zacchaeus

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – 2 Kings 5:14-17 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 97(98):1-4 ©
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 2:8-13 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 6:63, 68
Alternative Acclamation – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The Gospel According to Luke 17:11 – 19 ©
Be mindful of how you read the sacred text. It is easy to misconstrue the gospel, and the way may be lost in jingoistic mythology.

The story of Naaman the Leper is one of these tales that threatens to blind us to the purpose of the good news.

On the one hand it relates a story of healing, in this way it is in alignment with God’s promise to cleanse all of us from our hurts and wounds, from the disease of sin.

That is God’s plan for us, to make us well, but the realization of that plan is not of this world.

We must not be confused into believing that this is a story of miraculous faith, or the magical powers of the prophet Elisha, or of God reaching into the world to cause a radical transformation in the life of a single individual.

God does not intervene in our affairs, not even to help us. God has made us free, and the whole of creation with it, and that freedom precludes divine intervention.

The authors and editors of the Book of Kings fail to understand where the real presence of God resides: it is not that the one and true God, creator of the universe dwells in Israel and in no other place, but that there is only one God, the one God is preached in Israel, but the true God is in all places at all times, and with everyone.

God dwells in the human heart and speak to all of there.

Listen!
It is right and good to praise God, the creator of the universe, because creation is miraculous, and beyond the scope of human comprehension.

But know this: God is not a giver of victories. God has no enemies, and in God, within whom all things exist and have their being…in God there is no conflict.

It is not God’s justice that is shown in the doings of human beings, it is human justice, and when human justice approximates the justice of God, it will be characterized as merciful and good.

Have faith in this: God is kind and to all people, God loves us equally.

God’s power is everywhere, god’s spirit animates the voices that give God praise.

If you are an instrument of justice, judge fairly, judge kindly all-the-while remembering the love of God.

Consider what the good news is:

The Good news is the promise of resurrection and life after death, but it is more than that.

The good news is about the life we live here on earth. The resurrection is meant to ground our trust in the hope that we are all included in God’s plan for the salvation of all people, a plan which God will carry out even in regard to those who do not know of God’s plan, or who knowing of it, do not participate in God’s plan while they are living among us.

God will save even those who view God as the enemy, those who suborn the truth, and harm their brothers and sisters.

Christian faith is grounded in our belief in the reality of the resurrection, and the hope that it applies to us as well. The kindling of this hope is meant to free us from the bondage of the world and allow us to live a life of service right now.

Let us live with this passage for a moment.

God is calling us to be holy, at all times, God is speaking in the heart, pulling at us, inviting us into the compassionate life, a life of wellbeing.

God, the creator of the universe; God does this out of love. This was God’s plan from the beginning of time. There is not one of us, not one child of God, not one being in the whole of creation, who is outside of this plan.
It is not that God has abolished death as much as it is revealed that the death of the body is merely a transition, which we all pass through on our journey toward the creator.

The gospel is this; God loves you, and you are saved. You are not saved for anything that you have done, you did not earn it, you are saved because God loves you.

The promise of salvation is not that you will be spared from suffering and torment in hell, or that when you are judged God will forgive you.

God has already forgiven you. You are already saved.

God has prepared you, and everyone for eternal life.

Believe it! Let the goodness of the promise flow through you now, and start living this life as if it were true.

We are not called to believe in the idea that Jesus is this or that, the Holy One of God or anything else, we are called to act on the principles of his faith, to live lives of charity and service to each other.

It is wise to be thankful, to share your thanks with the world, and in your thankfulness give from your bounty to those in need.

This is the way.

Remember this, God, the creator of the universe, God loves all people. God loves the clean and the unclean, the leper and the person in full health. God loves them both alike. God’s mercy is the inheritance of both.

Consider the Gospel for today, all of the lepers were healed of their disease, one came back and gave praise to God; only one of them was grateful, returned and gave thanks.

You may say that the one who returned and was healed according to his faith and trust in God.

The others were healed nonetheless, they were saved according to God’s grace and mercy.

The important thing to understand is that all were healed, God did not hold back God’s mercy, God saved them all.
First Reading – 2 Kings 5:14-17 ©

Naaman the Leper Returned to Elisha and Acknowledged the Lord

Naaman the leper went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.

Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. Now, please, accept a present from your servant.’

But Elisha replied, ‘As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing.’ Naaman pressed him to accept, but he refused.

Then Naaman said, ‘Since your answer is “No,” allow your servant to be given as much earth as two mules may carry, because your servant will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 97(98):1-4 ©

The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.

Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation.

The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.

The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel.

The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord, all the earth,
ring out your joy.

The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 2:8-13 ©

If We Hold Firm then We Shall Reign with Christ

Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.

Here is a saying that you can rely on:

If we have died with him, then we shall live with him.

If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.

If we disown him, then he will disown us.

We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self.
Gospel Acclamation – John 6:63, 68

Alleluia, alleluia!

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life;
you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Alleluia, alleluia!

For all things give thanks,
because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 17:11 – 19 ©

No-one Has Come Back to Praise God, Only this Foreigner

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9
The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 – 31 ©
(NJB)
Listen to the prophet. His words were never more true than they are today:

Woe to you Israel.

Woe to the callous hearted, woe to those who cannot see God looking back at them through the eyes of their neighbor, through the iron slats of the fences they build to divide us from one another. Woe to those who cannot see God in the faces of your brothers and sisters living in the occupied territories of Palestine.

Woe to powerful, woe to those who deny justice to the oppressed.

Consider this:

God is the author of our salvation, there is no other. Do not trust in the power of princes and kings, they will not deliver you, and God is neither a respecter of persons, or of nations.

The life of a human being, of all human beings, the time of humanity on Earth is little more than a brief flash in the night. We are born, we breathe and we are gone.

The Earth itself will not survive the sun.

Consider the words of the prophet, and the teaching of Jesus who points to the way; happy are those who assist God in the divine work of mercy and justice:

Lift up the oppressed,
Wherever they are
Feed the hungry
Free the prisoner
Teach the ignorant,
Wherever they are

Advocate for those who need an advocate, care for those who cannot care for themselves. Find those who are lost in their wickedness, and bring them home.

The Church began to deviate from the way on the day it was founded. As soon as Jesus died, before Christians were even called Christians the falling out among them was intense. It was immediate.

The Church was divided in doctrine, concerning questions about the truth, regarding the knowledge of God, the possession of riches and the distribution of alms.

It was like any other human institution, because it was just another human institution.

The epistle from today exemplifies this. It promotes the lie that the rewards of the faith are transactional; if give your wealth to the church, you will have a reward in heaven.

Be mindful!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather, it is the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

For Christians; Jesus is the shepherd, and the Shepherd is God; the creator of the universe.

There is just the one shepherd; just the one sheepfold and whether it make sense to us or not, whether it contradicts the teaching and the tradition of the Church, it is to the one Shepherd that we all belong.

Know this!

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, with how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger. The shepherd is speaking to them to, and they are listening as they are able (or willing).

Everyone that is, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, just as God is guiding you.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, just as God waits for everyone. God, Jesus, the shepherd, they speak to us of love, they are love, like love they are patient and they are kind.

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us, because there is not place, not a single place where God is not.

Remember this!

Jesus is not a lord. He was rich in spiritual gifts, he shared those gifts with many, with all whom he encountered and in sharing he became richer in those gifts.

He was our friend, he lived with us as a friend, spoke to us as a friend, loved us as a friend, and died for the sake of his friends.

Remember that as you read the scriptures and be on the look out for those passages in scripture which contradict that fundamental truth, such as the reading for today.

The reading from Luke is not a parable, it is not meant to teach anything but fear. It is given as a means of justifying a denial of charity to those whom the first Christians, especially in those communities outside of Palestine, in their desire to excluded from the good works of the way, something Jesus himself would never have done.

These are the clues by which we can see that this is a false interpretation of Jesus’ teaching.

The writing is heavily mythologized, representing imagery of the afterlife, depicting Lazarus in the Bosom of Abraham (imagined here as an analogy for Elysium), the abode of the blessed dead. Be mindful of the reference to Hades, and the description of a gulf between it and the blessed realm.

Understand that Jesus did not speak in concrete terms regarding the afterlife.

Another clue is in the way that the author riffs on the name of Lazarus, which is the name of a man who we know Jesus loved. The author builds up the narrative in a way that draws a clear connection between Lazarus and the tales of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who also, like a dog, asks for scraps at the table of Christ.

In this way the author connects everyone who his contemporaries viewed as an outsider; seeing them as such on the basis of nationalism and ethnicity, to Lazarus who was beloved by Jesus; and was the man for whom Jesus wept, who he raised from the dead.

The central message of the reading provides the final clue. The message that is given is that Jesus is content to let people die in their sins, suffer in eternity, and never have recourse to salvation. This message is in stark contrast to his teaching on love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Be mindful of the way the prejudices of human beings, they were no different in the era when the Gospels were first written, when they were allowed to creep into the narrative of Jesus’ life and to rob us from the truth.
First Reading – Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©

Woe to Those who Live in Luxury

The almighty Lord says this:

Woe to those ensconced so snugly in Zion and to those who feel so safe on the mountain of Samaria, those famous men of this first of nations to whom the House of Israel goes as client.
Lying on ivory beds and sprawling on their divans, they dine on lambs from the flock, and stall-fattened veal; they bawl to the sound of the harp, they invent new instruments of music like David, they drink wine by the bowlful, and use the finest oil for anointing themselves,
but about the ruin of Joseph they do not care at all.

That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just,
the Lord, who protects the stranger.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

The Lord upholds the widow and orphan
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©

Do All that You Have Been Told, Until the Appearing of the Lord

As a man dedicated to God, you must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called when you made your profession and spoke up for the truth in front of many witnesses. Now, before God the source of all life and before Christ, who spoke up as a witness for the truth in front of Pontius Pilate, I put to you the duty of doing all that you have been told, with no faults or failures, until the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no man has seen and no man is able to see: to him be honour and everlasting power. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,
says the Lord,
I know them and they follow me.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 – 31 ©

Dives and Lazarus

Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them..” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-4, 12-13, 17, 19 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Colossians 5:19
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1 – 32 ©
(NJB)
Be mindful!

Always remember that God, the creator of the universe does not intervene in human events. God never has, and God never will.

All of creation is free from divine coercion.

God loves all of God’s children, God loves us equally, and does not favor one person above another, one family, one tribe or one nation.

God does not reach into our world to punish us, neither does God reach into our world to reward us.

Moses did not speak to god, if such a person as Moses ever even existed, God speaks only in the hidden chamber of heart. God speaks to everyone there.

Remember this.

The destiny God has planned for us, God laid out at the beginning of time. We all share in the same destiny and God will deliver all of us to it that is the promise and it is a destiny that is not of this world.

Listen:

With God there is never justice without mercy. When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that already found us.

When we possess knowledge of our wrongdoing and are contrite, that contrition is like the shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to know the meaning of it.

We are all sinners, we are all animals, no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power, and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life; God calls us to a life of conscience.

Follow the example of Jesus.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven, just as Jesus said when he was dying on the cross, forgive them, they know not what they do.

Listen!

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral and bound to end.

Do not think of rewards and punishments, follow Jesus instead.

Jesus was a healer.

He made the entire purpose of his life the proclamation that we are saved, which means to be made well.

Jesus was a healer.

Salvation was his message, and a constant prayer on his lips.

Be well, that was his command. Love one another, and know that you are saved already. You are saved; not because of anything that you have done to deserve it, not because Jesus made it so, but because God loves you, God knew you from the beginning of time, and God made a way for you to find the blessing that has been prepared for you.

Jesus was a healer, his life’s mission was to heal, and to teach us to love.

Remember the life of Jesus, and God; whom he called Father

Ask yourself this:

Is God glorious?

What is it to be glorious in the sight of the divine?

God is the creator of the universe. God’s greatest place is in relationship to us; in relation to God’s children as a loving parent.

When we come to the full knowledge of God that is what we will understand, that God prays for us, hopes for us, loves us and even trusts us, just as God has called us to in return.

There is hope in the knowledge of God, and peace.

Remember, that the hopes you have for yourself and for those you love are meant to be extended to everyone; even to those you do not love, for that is the way God leads us.

If you think the glory of God is the promise of riches and status and the elevation of station, if you think that is the inheritance of the saints; I ask you to remember that the first will be last and the last will be first, and that riches are not counted in gold and silver and precious things.

Be mindful of what the apostle says.

The apostle tells us in the simplest of terms that the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation of all people in God.

Everyone is reconciled in God’s loving embrace, by God who created the universe.

The members of the church are meant to be ambassadors of this good news.

The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, with the purpose of signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.

Know this:

The reconciliation has already occurred, it occurred in Christ at the beginning of time, in the act of creation, through whom the whole of it came into being, and without whom not one thing would exist.

The mission of the church is to proclaim it.

Consider all of the readings for today, they are as they often are, about stewardship, about service, mission and belonging.

There are not two kingdoms. There is only what belongs to God; God who created the universe, in whom all things exist, and by whom we all live and breathe.

There are not two kingdoms, as there are not two sheep-folds and there is only one shepherd. Even the sinner, depicted here in today’s Gospel as the lost sheep, even that sinner belongs to God and not some other nameless non-existent being.

No matter where you are, no matter who you are, you are God’s beloved.

You are more precious to God than a sum of great wealth. If you have lost your way God will find you, listen for the voice of the divine, you can hear it in your own breathing, be mindful, and sensitive to tugging at your heart, that is the hand of God pulling you toward the divine.

Every sinner is welcome, no matter what state you are in. Your return is an occasion of joy.

God is like the farmer, and the householder, whose son returns after squandering his inheritance.
Most of us (in one way or another) are like the prodigal child; eager, self-centered, ungrateful, and pushy.

We demand things that we have not earned and squander what does not belong to us. We lead shameful lives, either in public or in private. We are small minded and petty. We get into trouble and look back to those who have always been there for us. We look to those who love us; knowing that we can count on their love again.

In today’s reading God is the loving parent, and we are each of us the sinful child. Some of us have the character of the spendthrift son who squandered everything and found himself, destitute, a stranger in a faraway place. Others of us are like the stalwart child who stayed by their parent’s side doing everything that was asked; from a sense of duty and not from love.

Some of us learn from our mistakes, and come to know the meaning of love, turn around and come home.

Others of us are so hardened by pride that we cannot forgive those who do not lead lives as exemplary as we perceive our own to be.

God is patient, and waits for them both.

We are all called to humility.
First Reading – Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14 ©

The Lord Relented and did not Bring on His People the Disaster He Had Threatened

The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: “I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.”’

So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-4, 12-13, 17, 19 ©

I will leave this place and go to my father.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

I will leave this place and go to my father.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

I will leave this place and go to my father.

O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.
My sacrifice is a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

I will leave this place and go to my father.
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ©

Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith. Mercy, however, was shown me, because until I became a believer I had been acting in ignorance; and the grace of our Lord filled me with faith and with the love that is in Christ Jesus. Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown to me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life. To the eternal King, the undying, invisible and only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation – Ephesians 1:17, 18

Alleluia, alleluia!

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our mind,
so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19
Alleluia, alleluia!

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,
and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1 – 32 ©

There will be Rejoicing in Heaven Over One Repentant Sinner

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.

‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’

He also said, ‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Wisdom 9:13-18 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 89(90):3-6, 12-14, 17 ©
Second Reading – Philemon 9-10, 12-17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15
Alternative Acclamation – Palms 118:135
The Gospel According to Luke 14:25 – 33 ©
(NJB)
Listen to the sage.

The questions that are asked are rhetorical, who can know the intentions of God, or fathom the heavenly will?

The answer is not “no-one.”

God has endowed us with the gift of wisdom, the spirit of God dwells within us, and where God is present God is present fully.

Be mindful of this.

We must admit our limitations and speak to the fact that our ability to discern God’s intentions for creation is occluded by our material condition.

What we can say is this:

God has made us and the entire creation free from divine coercion.

God does not intervene in our lives and God has no specific intentions for us regarding any particular outcome for any particular event. God only desires that we love one another, God desires that we demonstrate our love for God through the caring we share with each other, that we walk humbly, exhibit mercy and seek justice all the days of our lives.

God intends bless everyone.

Listen!

God is with us, yes, God has created in us, as a constitutive element of our being; a desire and a longing for God. This pull on us, it draws us to God, but God does not interject God’s self in our lives, does not interfere with our choices, God does not intervene in the consequences of those choices, God does not take sides either for us or against us.

When God is our refuge it is because we have made God so.

God is indeed the eternal, creator of all that is, we are little more than a speck of dust in the face of the infinite, but God knows us, and God loves us, even in our relative insignificance.

Be mindful!

We are, each of us individually, and taken as a whole; infinitely less than the infinite God.

God is never angry with us. We do not suffer because God desires to see us suffer, we do not sorrow because it please God to see us sorrowful. God’s justice is not distributed in that way.

God created us with the capacity for sorrow and suffering because they teach us something about the value of joy, and peace.

When we suffer or are sorrowful we cause suffering in others and sorrow in them. When we rejoice and are glad God is there with us; feeling what we feel, knowing what we know, understanding our experience just as we understand it ourselves.

Consider the words of the apostle:

Saint Paul teaches us two things with these words from his letters.

He demonstrates his personal commitment to the mission he accepted, to share the good news about the teachings of Jesus and the way of life Jesus commended to us, a commitment that led the apostle into captivity, and to his death.

The apostle desires that all people understand the transitory nature of the material world and his absolute faith in the promises of the divine that lead us to eternity.

The apostle also wants us to understand that any person can change their station, can elevate themselves from the circumstances of their birth, can go from being a salve to a leader in the church if they persevere in the way.

There are no obstacles that cannot be overcome, no threshold that cannot be crossed in the service of God.

Follow God’s command!

The greatest commandment is love, love is the whole of the law.

To love one another, to give of one’s self to another, there is no greater gift.

The love that we are called to is not the love we call desire, though to desire and be desired is an experience of great joy.

We are called to move past the love we have for family and friends, because to love in that way is only a short extension of the love we have for ourselves. We see ourselves in the faces of our mothers and fathers, we see our ambitions as tied to the ambitions of our friends. We are called to love in a greater capacity than that.

We are called to love to the point of selflessness, to love even those who are against us, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have hurt us and done us harm, to feed the stranger and protect them…to do so out of love.

Allow yourself to be moved by the living judgment of the living God; as the psalmist says. God’s rulings are filled with wonder and awe.

God; creator of the universe, God of light and warmth, our God is the God who loves, who teaches love.

Love God in return and demonstrate your love through the care you have for your sisters and brothers, your neighbor, and the stranger in your midst.

This is the great commandment, it is what the church has commissioned you to do.

Be mindful!

There are places in the scriptures where the words that are attributed to Jesus by the authors of the text are out of keeping with the character the reader has come to know about him.

Today’s reading from Luke is one of those places.

It is jarring to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us about the necessity of hate, of hating your father, your mother, your wife, your children, your sibling and even yourself. It is jarring because Jesus is the man who; more than any other prophet speaks to us of love.

Love God, the creator of the universe; Love God with all your strength, and all your heart and all your mind, love your neighbor as yourself, this is the whole of the law.

It is love and not hate that Jesus calls us to.

We are created in love, and called by the loving voice of God to be good and do good in the world.

We are called to be merciful, to be advocates, to be compassionate.

As Saint Paul said; if we speak in the tongues of angels, and are not loving, then our voices are clanging cymbals, dissonant and incoherent, and in consideration of these virtues: trust, hope, and love, the greatest of them is love, because it is the root of the other two.

It is out of keeping with the teaching of Jesus to dissuade us from a course of action simply because we will be publicly ridiculed if we fail. It is out of step with the wisdom of Jesus to compare the work of his disciples to the machinations of kings and their generals with their armies. It is out of keeping with the teachings of Jesus to make the work of the church a march of conquest rather than a way of conversion.

This passage represents the thoughts and the fears of the church in the second or third generation. It represents the church in a time of persecution, but also a time of building. They are the feelings of a community trying to establish itself, while looking to remove the weak and the ill prepared from their congregation.

This is the wisdom of human being, not the wisdom of the divine, just as the sage had noted. These are the hopes and fears of men, of men occluded by their material condition.

Be mindful.

When we strip it down to its essence the advice is not bad. It is a call for total commitment. It says to the church, be ready to complete what you have started, and be ready to give everything you have, including your life for the work you believe in. But it is missing the final thought: if you fail (and you will fail) you will still be loved by God.
First Reading – Wisdom 9:13-18 ©

Who can divine the will of God?

What man indeed can know the intentions of God?

Who can divine the will of the Lord?

The reasonings of mortals are unsure and our intentions unstable; for a perishable body presses down the soul, and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind.

It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth, laborious to know what lies within our reach; who, then, can discover what is in the heavens?

As for your intention, who could have learnt it, had you not granted Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from above?

Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and men been taught what pleases you, and saved, by Wisdom.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 89(90):3-6, 12-14, 17 ©

O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.

You turn men back to dust
and say: ‘Go back, sons of men.’
To your eyes a thousand years
are like yesterday, come and gone,
no more than a watch in the night.

O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.

You sweep men away like a dream,
like the grass which springs up in the morning.
In the morning it springs up and flowers:
by evening it withers and fades.

O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.

Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants.

O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands.

O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.
Second Reading – Philemon 9-10, 12-17 ©

He is a Slave No Longer, but a Dear Brother in the Lord

This is Paul writing, an old man now and, what is more, still a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for a child of mine, whose father I became while wearing these chains: I mean Onesimus. I am sending him back to you, and with him – I could say – a part of my own self. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the Good News has brought me. However, I did not want to do anything without your consent; it would have been forcing your act of kindness, which should be spontaneous. I know you have been deprived of Onesimus for a time, but it was only so that you could have him back for ever, not as a slave any more, but something much better than a slave, a dear brother; especially dear to me, but how much more to you, as a blood-brother as well as a brother in the Lord. So if all that we have in common means anything to you, welcome him as you would me.
Gospel Acclamation – John 15:15

Alleluia, alleluia!

I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – Palms 118:135

Alleluia, alleluia!

Let your face shine on your servant;
and teach me your decrees.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 14:25 – 33 ©

Anyone Who Does Not Carry His Cross and Follow Me Cannot Be My Disciple

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)