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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

2nd SUNDAY -C- January 20, 2019

Isaiah 62: 1-5; Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11; John 2: 1-11

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

 

PRE-NOTE:

 

I have written "thank you" notes to those of you who contributed to our Advent appeal. In case I missed anyone – Thank you for the support you give that enables us to preach the gospel through the Internet.

 

May your New Year be blessed.

 



We will have readings from 1 Corinthians this Sunday till early March. Why not consider at least one preaching from it? The preacher might want to focus on the unity and diversity of the church. Corinth resembled a lot of our modern cities. It was cosmopolitan, with people from all over the world. It had the extremes of great wealth and a very large poor population, many of whom were slaves. Paul preached there and he got followers from among both the rich and poor. Several passages show that there were internal conflict and problems in the Christian community (1: 11-12; 1: 19-2: 10; 6: 1-11). In addition to the internal struggles in the faith community, they were surrounded by non-believers and so struggled to keep the faith – a faith which was bombarded by foreign beliefs and practices. Just as we, the Corinthian community had to deal with both internal and external issues that threatened its vitality and unity.

 

The series of Sunday readings from 1 Corinthians begins with today’s selection from chapter 12. It is about order in the Christian assembly. The question concerns "spiritual gifts," "forms of service" and the different shapes they take in the community. The community has shown an ignorance of God’s gifts. Notice how often Paul repeats that the individual’s gifts are "by the Spirit." One way of getting a handle on the passage is to think about spiritual "gifts" as spiritual "persons." The Spirit works through individuals to benefit the community. In today’s section, Paul is stressing the diversity that shows itself in the community. But, the first four verses of chapter 12 (prior to today’s passage), state the fundamental on which diversity is possible: the first gift of the Spirit is the faith to profess, "Jesus is Lord." This fundamental gift holds us together in all our diversity and struggles with differences.

 

Like the Corinthians, we are very aware of our diversity each time we gather for worship. In reaction to the differences, people sometimes choose to go to a particular church, or join a smaller community, so as to be with people who are "just like us." It sounds like a platitude to say we share one faith in Jesus Christ through the Spirit. But Paul is saying that is the real basis for our unity. We may come from different political camps (how many voted for Trump, how many for Clinton?); economic backgrounds (who came to church in big SUV’s and who came in battered pick-up trucks this morning – or had to walk?); age groups (how many have grey hair, no hair, or look like a shampoo ad with a full head of tresses?); races (brown, black, white, red, yellow, mixed?); education (with framed advanced, or professional degrees in their offices, or those barely able to sign their names?) etc. (The preacher can specify the differences based on your own "Corinthian community.") The differences may be what first strike us as we enter our places of worship.

 

When the inevitable tensions arise, we will need to remember, as hard as it is (!), that we profess faith in the same Lord. Underlying Paul’s argument in Corinthians is that the whole community is united by the same faith, the same profession that "Jesus is Lord" (12:3). We can’t forget the One who is the reason for this crazy mix of people. All we do to hold together – the forgiveness, patience, understanding, love, and all the times we bite our tongues, or decide we have to speak up – all this is because of Jesus Christ, our convener, our focus. Who, or what else, would have the power to keep us from bursting apart under the pressures? Especially these crisis days for our Church! We are a church that celebrates God’s Word and Eucharist. We celebrate all the diverse ways the Spirit shines through each individual, the Spirit who "produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as the Spirit wishes." It is this Spirit who gives us the voice to express our common faith, "Jesus is Lord." (See our "Justice Bulletin" board below for more on today’s I Corinthians reading.)

 

Strange to begin the "Ordinary Sundays" with today’s Gospel passage. It is out of sequence. On the Sundays through this liturgical year, we will be hearing from Luke, yet today we begin the season with John. Does this Gospel set up the subsequent Sundays? Has God come, as Isaiah promises in the first reading, to espouse a people? And is Jesus the sign that this espousal is taking place? Maybe the wedding feast of Cana is the best story to begin with since it speaks so richly of God's desire to be one with us. All Jesus' words and actions in forthcoming Sundays will show God's reaching out as a lover to the beloved. Not to just an individual beloved either; for the wedding is a community affair. The community will celebrate this new bond with God. We had run out of wine, did not have the means to celebrate, so God enters the scene and gives us reason to celebrate – a new wine in a new age.

 

The story is about more than turning water into wine. It is a "sign" and each "sign" is an epiphany (i.e. "reveal his glory"), a manifestation of who Jesus is, so that people would accept him and the nearness of God that he brings. For gathered are the people wanting to celebrate, but not having the means to do that. Jesus makes possible our celebration of God's nearness. (Isaiah voices it today, "As a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.") In Jesus, God has come close, and given us the reason and the means to celebrate. God has saved the best wine till last. One commentator suggests that scriptural reflection groups might view the movie "Babette’s Feast," as a way of feeling the significance of this Gospel tale of wine and celebration.

 

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012019.cfm

 

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

 

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

1 Corinthians 12:7

 

We have just begun the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25) and its 2019 theme finds its origins in Deuteronomy. "Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue" (Deuteronomy 16:20) was chosen for its powerful message of promoting truth, equality and unity.

 

The initial work on the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer was prepared by a group of representatives from different parts of Indonesia. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity states, "Every year Christians across the world gather in prayer for growth in unity. We do this in a world where corruption, greed and injustice bring about inequality and division. Ours is a united prayer in a fractured world: this is powerful. However, as individual Christians and communities, we are often complicit with injustice, and yet we are called together to form a united witness for justice and to be a means of Christ’s healing grace for the brokenness of the world."

 

The final text continues, "Christ’s Church is called to be a foretaste of this kingdom. However, in our disunity we fall short. We fail to be the sign of God’s love for his people. Just as injustice has widened the divisions that have riven Indonesian society, so injustice has also fed the divisions of the Church. We repent of the injustice that causes division, but as Christians we also believe in the power of Christ to forgive us and heal. And so, we find ourselves united under the cross of Christ, calling both for his grace to end injustice and for his mercy for the sins which have caused our division."

 

To deepen our reflection on unity and justice, the topic of each day has been carefully chosen to present struggles that result from injustice. The themes are:

 

Day 1: Let justice roll down like water (Amos 5: 24)

Day 2: Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes,’ or ‘No, No’ (Matthew 5:37)

Day 3: The Lord is gracious and merciful to all (Psalm 145: 8)

Day 4: Be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5)

Day 5: To bring good news to the poor (Luke 4: 18)

Day 6: The Lord of hosts is his name (Jeremiah 10:16)

Day 7: Woman, great is your faith! (Matthew 15:28)

Day 8: The Lord is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27: 1).

 

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/weeks-prayer-doc/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20180621_week-prayer-2019_en.html

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

 

FAITH BOOK

 

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

 

From today’s I Corinthians reading:

 

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit

is given for some benefit.

Reflection:

 

We need a variety of gifts in the Church. How boring it would be if we all had the same gift, or gifts. And how deprived we would be! Paul is reminding us of our God who sees our needs and addresses them through the different members of the Christian community.

 

So, we ask ourselves:

  • What gift has God given me?

  • How do I use that gift to serve others?

  • How am I a sign of God’s active presence in the world?

 

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

 

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

 

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

 

Please write to:

  • Carl Moseley #0294214 (On death row since 10/1/92)

  • Nathan Bowie #0039561 (2/5/93)

  • William Bowie #0039569 (2/5/93)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

 

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org

 

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

 

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

 

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.

 

Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:

 http://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C

  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: http://preacherexchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

 

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

 

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.org - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.
 


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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