Tuesday, October 22, 2013

29th Sunday In Ordinary Time Homily 2013

Exodus 17: 8-13
2 Timothy 3: 14--4:2
Luke 18: 1-8

Every once and a while, the Scripture readings the Church chooses for a particular Sunday may seem a little odd to some of us.  The first reading sounds like a scene from the movie series “Lord of the Rings.” Or the cable show, “Game of Thrones.”  The Gospel reading has a parable that could have come from an episode of “Judge Judy!”  Yet, if we look closer, we will see the deeper meaning that is in both readings.  In the first reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, we see recorded the first battle the Hebrew people fought in, since their escape from Egypt.  They are facing a people hardened by the desert and combat.  Moses is not even committing all of his forces, but is having Joshua go out only with a group of “certain men.” The only reason the Hebrews are able to succeed; is because of Moses’ constant intercession, constant prayer to Yahweh, to the Lord.   Moses at times weakens in his prayer, and the community suffers.  The community in turn, helps Moses, supports Moses in his prayer, through the persons of Aaron and Hur.  And the community is victorious. 

In today’s Gospel, to illustrate the need to “pray always without becoming weary,” Jesus tells a parable of a widow pressing a judge, known for his dishonesty, to give her a “just decision.”  Scripture scholars speculate that her adversary must be a wealthy person; and since she is poor, her only leverage is to harass the judge constantly, until he gives her the decision she wants.  Now we could interpret this reading as showing that if we constantly keep asking God to give us something, we will get it.  However, I would take the position that what we would call intercessory prayer is more than constantly saying to the Father: “Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimmee!”   Intercessory prayer is us acknowledging how dependent we are on the Father; it is us acknowledging that all good things we receive, including the talents we have, the people who love us; all good things have their source in God.

And prayer is more than just always asking God for something.  Prayer is the way we maintain our personal relationship with God.  And God wants that personal relationship with each one of us.  Among the most moving Scripture passages for me, is in a later chapter of Exodus, Chapter 33, in which God calls Moses, “his intimate friend.”  How awesome is that?  But what relationship can be maintained if the communication is only one way; or when we speak to one another, shall we say, once a week?  How many of us have seen or have experienced a family at table, each person working their own smartphone?  And, sadly, they maybe texting other people!  Saint Paul has written that we must pray always, but I think he not just speaking about vocal prayers; but that we keep ourselves always open to that encounter with God, that can occur at any time.  When we gather here each Sunday; when we focus on what is happening here, when we experience the Presence of the Lord in our midst, and in our hearts; it is an experience we should carry with us when we leave here.  Let us be persistent in prayer, whether, as St. Paul wrote, “it is convenient or inconvenient.”  Let us greet the morning with a prayer of praise, and the end of the day with a prayer of thanksgiving.  Let us take a moment to read and reflect on Scripture.  Or just take a moment to sit, be silent, and be in God’s Presence. 

A Benedictine monk once said “Until you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will never find time to pray.”  Let us strive to be persistent in prayer, persistent in living the Good News of Jesus Christ, so that when He does come, He will find faith on earth.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pope Francis Meets With Members Of The United Bible Societies

According Vatican News (News.VA), yesterday, October 9, 2013, Pope Francis met with members of the United Bible Societies.  It is an international umbrella organization, with representatives from 146 bible societies.  They were meeting with representatives of the Catholic Biblical Federation, reviewing both organizations activities, which are aimed at promoting bible study throughout the world.

The first modern Bible Society was found in England, with the goal of providing affordable Bibles to anyone who wished to obtain one.  Bible societies were founded in other countries, and many begin expand their mission to provide international translations of the Bible; and increase biblical literacy.  The American Bible Society was established in 1816.  Locally, we have the Massachusetts Bible Society, incorporated in 1810, and is the third oldest Bible society in the United States.  While the members were predominantly Protestant, currently more Catholics are either joining these societies or supporting their work.  This came about after Vatican II, as Catholics have begun to rediscover the importance of Scripture in their daily lives.

“Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to the gospel.”  (Article 4, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cardinal Sean, A Person Of Influence

Last week saw the first concrete move by Pope Francis to begin the reform of the Vatican, which was the first meeting of the advisory council of selected cardinals.  The council, dubbed by the media as the “G-8,” was formed to give the Pope advise and a sense of what issues the cardinals and bishops out in the world felt should be addressed. 

Among the cardinals appointed to this body, is Boston’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston.  In his own quiet, subtle way, he is, and has been a person of influence in the American church, and now in the global Church.  John Allen, Jr., of the National Catholic Reporter, has written an interesting column about Cardinal Sean, which was posted on the Vatican Insider.

It was reported that Cardinal Sean was definitely in the running at the last Papal Conclave.   And Mr. Allen seems to hint that he is still a viable candidate if a future Conclave needs to held in the next six or so years.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi

"I have done what mine to do: may Christ teach you what you are to do."
    (Second Life of St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas of Celano)

The above words were spoken by Saint Francis to his brother friars, as he was on his death bed.  He was encouraging his brothers not to just imitate him, but to learn from him, and the example of his life.  It was a life of being totally open to Jesus Christ, following in the footsteps of Christ, being inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  From that inspiration, they will learn what is the will of God for themselves, how they are to proclaim the Good News, in words and deeds.

The same is true for us.  During this feast day, it is not enough just to visit a Franciscan shrine, or to read a biography of St. Francis.  We must learn from St. Francis, and become open to the power of the Holy Spirit, and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.