Who we invite

weddingfeastredhouseThe priest I lived with in Kenya was away for a much-needed break. He assured me it would be a quiet week.  Which is of course a guarantee that something will happen.  Perhaps not monumental in the way of things, but yes indeed is was a memorable week. It was the week the Kenyan Security Forces came looking for the leaders of the Rwandan refugee community – of which my name was on the list.  We were all in a meeting when they showed up. We all slipped out the windows in the back of the church.  All very dramatic, but in truth I don’t think they tried that hard to catch us.  Still, kind of memorable to be on a top ten list if even for an hour. But that wasn’t the most memorable. Continue reading

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Honor: hosts

weddingfeastredhouse12 Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Just as Jesus’ fellow guests had occupied themselves in normal, honor-seeking pursuits upon arrival at the meal, so Jesus’ host had followed ordinary conventions in putting together his invitation list. Invitations served as “currency in the marketplace of prestige and power” [Green, 552] for those whose framework was the world as we know it. See through the framework of the Kingdom of God, a different currency is the “gold standard.” Continue reading

Honor: guests

weddingfeastredhouseIn 14:1–24 Luke depicts Jesus’ enjoying the hospitality of a leader of the Pharisees following a synagogue service on the Sabbath (14:1). Given, first, the importance of social status as determined by the perception of one’s contemporaries, and, second, the importance of the reciprocity of gift and obligation in ancient society, Jesus’ assertions on right behavior undermine the values and expectations that his meal companions would have taken for granted. The consequences of this right behavior leads to the construction of a new vision of life and community. Continue reading

Honor: humility

weddingfeastredhouseThis word comes into our language from the Middle English, via Anglo-French, from Latin humilis low, humble, from “humus” the word for earth. Webster’s offers this as a definition

  1. not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive
  2. reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
  3. ranking low in a hierarchy or scale: insignificant, unpretentious –or : not costly or luxurious

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Honor: context

weddingfeastredhouse1 On a sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. … 7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 12 Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Continue reading

Being Family, Being Holy

flight-into-egyptOne of the things I do to prepare for the homilies is to continually read – books, magazines, on-lines articles and commentaries, and a host of other sources. I spent part of Saturday morning looking through the internet to see what people were saying or had said about the Holy Family.  There is no shortage of sources. There were very good articles with inspiring insights, but there were too many articles that, it seems to me, were simply not too helpful.

There were sources that bemoaned the rate of divorce and the state of families in the United States, but said little else. Articles that scolded. Articles that had true and factual things to say. But so many articles failed to hold up one of the readings from Scripture that might speak to families having a rough go of it – to hold out encouragement, hope, and a touch of compassion.  Continue reading

Finishing the Race

tn_race-titleJesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.”  Well, I sure hope this parable isn’t addressed to me.  It is just a story, a parable, right?

But then stories and parables invite us to identify with characters – even if we don’t get a lot of choices here. We can be the Pharisee, but then it’s pretty clear that’s not a great choice.  You can almost hear the hubris, the pride, and the scorn in his prayer: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.”

I suspect most of us would favor the tax collector.  He seems to be the epitome of humility, is sincere, prayerful, and a model of conversion and penitence. Continue reading

What a person is before God

holy-saturdayIf this week’s readings contain any one warning about the human condition it is that too often we are concerned about honor.  In the gospel account it is connected with desiring seats of honor. There is nothing wrong with honor or being honored; what is disordered is when a person seeks the bestowal of honor as a right, something earned, or demanded. Then honor is just the surface symptom of Pride – a sin as deadly as they come and as old as time. As Proverb 16 tells us, “Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pr 16:18). Continue reading

“See, I am doing something new” – Pope Francis

from time to time, I am asked to publish one of my homilies…… from the Fifth Sunday in Lent

Eight years ago when Pope Benedict inherited the chair of Peter, the sense was that the cardinals had voted to continue the papacy of John Paul II.  Continuity was the catch phrase. It what make the verse from Isaiah stand out: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” (Isaiah 43:18) Continue reading

Francis of Assisi – “And the Lord gave me brothers…”

It is later in the autumn of 1206 that with his decision to “leave the world” Francis began to be aware of the powerful Divine Presence in his life through, his work among the lepers near Assisi, and his habit of taking refuge in churches for prayer and rebuilding the structures.  At San Damiano he encountered the consoling presence of the Savior who had suffered and died for him. It was a presence he soon came to recognize in other church: “And the Lord granted me such faith in churches that I would pray simply and say: We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, in all you churches throughout the world, and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.” (Testament 4-7).  Francis was at the beginnings of an inner peace. Continue reading