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Contents: Volume 2 - Seventh Sunday of Ordered Time
February 24, 2019


 

The 7th

SUNDAY

Ordered

Time

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

 

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Sun. 7 C

If I were a Scripture Scholar, I would have known that this week's Gospel was going to be even more counter-cultural than last week's. I'm not, so I was really surprised when it was! Sometimes when that happens, I also check out the more modern translation of the same selection from The Message just so I don't just pass over the words and ignore them as "impossible even to try".

Well, I surely got a spiritual jolt when Jesus began with "To you who are ready for the truth, I say this....." Each particular sentence was worthy of a long , personal "come to Jesus" reflection. Perhaps the original version was too familiar, but this time, this version was, in my opinion, what every one alive today could use to improve daily interactions with family and friends, co-workers, parishioners, those strangers we meet, people we dislike, and even TV political figures, journalists, and newscasters!

I invite you to gift yourself by adding this version below to the usual translation you use for this particular Gospel reading. It will produce a positive change. I can't speak for Jesus or with his authority, but in this selection, Jesus says " You'll never- I promise-regret it."

http://messagebible.com/scripture/?text=Luke+6%3A+27-38

Let us pray: Oh God, we are made in your image and likeness. Please remind each of us of that truth each day when we look in the mirror or at someone else, anyone else, everyone else. We need help with our "God created identify" for sure.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Seventh Sunday of Ordered Time February 24, 2019

1st Samuel 26:2 & 7-9 & 12-13 22-23; Responsorial Psalm 103; 1st Corinthians 15:45-49; Gospel Acclamation John 13:34; Luke 6:27-38

You have got to be kidding, Jesus! To follow you, to be your disciple I’ve got to love even those who hate me! That’s just not the way the world works! I’ve got to protect myself: I’ve got to protect my own! Someone hurts me I’ve got to strike back. When I get punched, I’ve got to counter-punch!

If we listen with full attention, with full reason, with the fullness of our emotions, and especially with the complete attention of our hearts, we’ll have concerns with the readings this Sunday. The stories are not take-it-or-leave it instructions. This is the Creator revealing to us how we are hard-wired for happiness and fullness of life. And we’re not inclined to forgive those who hurt us or our families. This is not an easy truth to apply, to include in how we enjoy the grandest gift, the gift of life itself.

The narrative from the first book of Samuel gives us the beginning of the God’s way. Saul was anointed as king by Samuel. The people of Israel begged and pleaded for a king so they could be like other nations. Samuel pushed back against the request telling the people a king would bring them burdens they would come to hate. The royal household would take their sons for fighting and their daughters for housemaids and concubines. Despite the warning, the nation insisted that they should be like all other nations. And that’s what they got. Saul was a great warrior and was able to defeat in battles many of the tribes competing for the Promised Land. Then came Goliath, a huge man whom no soldier of Israel could face. Saul promised wealth and status for the soldier who could kill Goliath in battle. No one came forward. Saul turned to the dark side and began depending on sorcerers and necromancers for advice. God turned away from Saul.

Samuel was instructed by God to find a new leader for Israel. In place of the strong and commanding presence of Saul the one chosen by God was only a kid. The only battle this kid, David, knew was beating back the attempts of wild animals to make a meal of his sheep. David was anointed and became a soldier in Saul’s army. He defeated Goliath using only a sling and a couple of stones. Saul was at first grateful. But jealousy took over in is heart. That jealousy soon turned to hatred and a desire to eliminate David. David went out from the army with a group that supported him. That is the background to the reading this Sunday from Samuel. David and a close friend crept into Saul’s camp and could have killed Saul but instead took his spear and his water jug. The next day, David confronted the hatred of Saul with the respect he had for God’s anointed. He could have taken advantage. But he did not. He respected the office of Saul. Saul for a time relented of his jealousy and hatred. But the seeds of hatred had grown. Saul succumbed to that hatred and that hatred destroyed his leadership and his strength. In a battle that went badly for the Israelites, Saul was wounded and about to be captured. He would be kept alive but tortured and made a fool of. He fell on his own sword, his life surrendered to the hatred he allowed in his heart.

Hatred is like plaque in one’s arteries. Once it begins to form, the strength of the heart is diminished. If plaque fills an artery or arteries there is a heart attack and the life of the person oftentimes is lost. Hatred grows and eventually consumes the good will, the affection, and the gentleness of a person.

The antidote to hatred is its opposite. Jesus this Sunday instructs us to live a life of love for others. This is not only to love one’s friends and family. It is to love even those who hate you and do harm to you. Who can live this way? Do we not build walls around our egos to keep out others? Do we not seek to control and to ruin those we believe to hate us? Is not hatred a stronger emotion than love?

We place a crucifix in our homes, our churches, and in our schools. For a thousand years we’ve looked on the Cross as in some way Jesus – God and Man – making restitution for offenses of humanity against God. That teaching is based on the culture of society at the beginning of the second millennium. Anyone who offended a Lord or Lady in those days had to make restitution for the offense. That meant time in the stocks or languishing in a dungeon, a sort of purification from a bad attitude. It was about honoring authority. Even slight errors in protocol were punished. Lords and Ladies quickly learned to abuse this system. Every serf or servant had to make satisfaction for any infraction. This was applied to the sinfulness of humanity. Sin offended God and in the culture of the Middle Ages this demanded satisfaction be made. So God sent his Son to make satisfaction. This makes God a tyrant, an ogre. What loving father would send his son to death for any reason? How is condemnation to death of a son an act of love? Accepting the suffering of the cross as a sign of salvation makes suffering of persons was something holy, no matter how awful it could be.

Another way of looking at the Cross is to see it as an affirmation and revelation of God’s love for us. Despite our sinfulness and our choosing badly and maliciously, God continues to love us. God does not creep into our encampment during the sleep of night to murder us, to give us pain, to get even for our offenses. The Cross happened not because God willed it, but because the message of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the healing and miracles of Jesus were about God’s love for us. But Jesus’ love ran into the way of the world. The way of the world is about domination, control, and accumulation of wealth and power and fame through self-serving leadership. Jesus had to be eliminated because he was a threat to how the world lives. The Cross insists that God is all in for us. That God is with us even to the shedding of the last drop of his blood. The Cross is the ultimate affirmation and revelation that God loves us completely and without condition. The proof of this is Jesus raised from the tomb into a new life. He becomes, as Paul insists, the first born of God’s kingdom, the kingdom that lives and gets it energy from the Love God has for each of us and for his dream which is all creation. The Resurrection is our proof that God is with us. It is the revelation that death and violence shall not stand, shall never triumph! It is the revelation that even the most insignificant among us, the smallest amoeba in creation has standing before God and will be honored for the dignity and worth that God has given by his creation of each of us and of all that is. That is our hope that is our faith that is the love that binds us together and provides us with the strength to endure what the world will throw at us.

So, when we look on the Cross we should think of God’s love for us. We should think of the instruction Jesus gives his disciples today. If we believe in love then we should realize we’re to live contrary to how the world behaves. It is love that conquers all. It is love that gives us peace. And it is in love that we discover a fullness of life that eludes those who worship other gods.

It is love that is the very life of God. When we think about the Trinity, we consider the exchange between Father and Son – between the Speaker of the Word and the Spoken Word – as the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit which binds together the persons of the Speaker-Father and the Spoken-Son so that they are truly ONE. If we aspire to live the eternal life of God, then our energy must spring from love. Allowing even a spark of hatred in our hearts tears at the fabric of eternal life. Hatred grows like weeds in a garden. The Love of God revealed in Jesus is like Round-Up to those weeds.

This is not easy, is it? But we have the gift of time in which to practice, to work on conquering the hatred and paranoia that seeks to find a home in our hearts. As we come to the fullness of years we must arrive at a peace that allows love to be the eyes, the ears, the touch, and the experience of God’s creation and all persons. That must include all of creation, even that which threatens us, hates us, or seeks to rob us of dignity and worth.

May the Love that is the Spirit of God flood our hearts and cleanse them of hatred.

Carol & Dennis Keller & Charlie dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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LIVING THE GOLDEN RULE: 7TH SUNDAY C

We are followers of Jesus. He has set the bar for our behaviour as high as can be (Luke 6:27-38). Love your enemies, he insists. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who treat you badly. Don’t hit back. Don’t condemn. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. This is the Golden Rule. Be merciful, forgiving, compassionate, generous and kind.

Do we take him seriously? Jesus himself did just what he said. He practised what he preached. He welcomed and forgave the woman who had a bad name in the town (Lk 7:47-49). He healed the ear of one of those arresting him (Lk 22:51). On the cross he prayed that his executioners might be forgiven (Lk 23:14). He taught us to pray for forgiveness for our own sins, and to be ready to forgive any wrongs done to us (Lk 11:4). In short, Jesus repaid evil with goodness.

Centuries before Jesus, one of his ancestors David had shown similar generosity of heart towards his jealous rival, King Saul (as we learn in our First Reading today). Despite the fact that Saul was out to kill him, David refused to harm the king, for Saul had been chosen by God to lead the people, and so David left Saul’s fate to God. All through history other people have practised that kind of mercy, goodness and generosity:

At the end of the Second World War, when the Nazi death camp of Ravensbruck was liberated, a prayer on a scrap of dirty paper was found next to the body of a dead child. This is what it said:

O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we brought, thanks to this suffering, our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgment, let all the faults which we have borne be their forgiveness. AMEN.

A religious sister was raising money for the poor in an anti-Catholic part of America. After her talk a mild-looking old man walked up to her. Expecting a donation she held out her hand. He spat on it. She coolly wiped her hand, held it out again, and said to him, ‘OK, that’s for me. Now, what do you have for Christ’s poor?’ In 1989 in San Salvador, six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, were murdered. On All Saints’ Day, their families and friends gathered in church to mourn their losses with prayer. They painted the names of the victims on cards, surrounded the names with flowers, and placed the cards on the altar. One prayer-card was without flowers. But it read: ‘For our enemies.’ Later, a man spoke up in defence of that card: ‘Because we are Christians, we believe that our enemies should be on the altar too. Even though they kill us, they are still our brothers.’ On May 13th, 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca, intending to kill, shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Square. After his recovery the pope went to the prison to forgive his assailant. In the Philippines, a young woman called Maria went to work in a home for homeless boys. She was asked to interview three out of the forty boys there. After one hour she came back to her supervisor, looking flushed and distressed. The first boy she interviewed, she said, could not be reunited with his father as his father was in prison for murder. The supervisor explained that several boys were on the streets because their parents were in prison and not to let it upset her too much. ‘Yes,’ replied Maria. ‘But I have just discovered that the man his father murdered was my own father.’ After they both recovered a bit from that shocking news, the supervisor said. ‘Well, perhaps you might like to drop that boy from your case-load or relocate to another facility?’ But Maria stood her ground. ‘I am a social-worker,’ she said, ‘and I am also a Christian. It’s not this boy’s fault that his father killed my father. I think I would like to help him as much as I can.’

But why would Jesus teach and expect such goodness and mercy? He says simply: ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate (v.36).’ It’s a matter of the imitation of God, of acting like God, a matter of ‘like Father, like child!’ So no matter what another does to us, we must seek nothing in return but their good. Yet loving is not the same as liking. Liking is about how we feel, and we don’t have control over our feelings. But we do have control over how we act. So, says Jesus, do no evil, do no harm, even to those who deserve it. Love like God. Replace their darkness with your light.

To love like that, however, does not come easy. It involves going against very basic human instincts – the desire to get even, and the fear of being taken advantage of. But with God’s grace to help us, while it’s not easy, it’s still possible. In fact, it’s in our own interest to love like that. People who hate are in great pain and great need. In their book How to Forgive your Ex-Husband, Marcia Hootman and Patt Perkins highlight the enormous energy and money some women waste trying to get even with their ex-husbands, and how they hurt themselves far more by their anger than by what they endured from their former spouses.

The secret to success in living better this particularly challenging teaching of Jesus is surely prayer, and so let us conclude this reflection by saying: ‘Good and kind God, only with the help of your grace can we love as you love. Give us the strength to overcome anger with love, ugliness with beauty, and evil with good. We make this through Jesus, our Leader and our Lord. AMEN.’

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year C: 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back."

One of the most Christian lives I ever saw lived was that of my grandfather. Originally, he came from a little village high in the mountains of the north-west coast of Donegal, looking out onto the North-Atlantic Ocean. I’m sure that there are actually colder places on earth – I just haven’t been to any of them.

And his family had a small farm – a little less than a hectare. And he was the third son in the family. So, as was the way in those days, the first two sons had the farm – he had to leave and make his own way in the world. So, at the age of 15, he started walking to town. After ten days hard walking, he arrived in our capital city, called Belfast. It was then about a quarter the size of Camden, but we think that’s pretty big. He arrived with absolutely nothing in his pocket. For three weeks, he begged for his food and slept on the streets. Then somebody gave him a job and a place to stay. The job was serving behind the bar in a bottle shop.

For five years he worked hard to save money to send home. Then, after 5 years, he had saved enough to open his own bottle shop. And the day he opened his pub, he made a vitally important decision. Now, in most pubs they would fill up your glass and the beer would froth up so that the top maybe half-inch of your beer was just froth. So you didn’t get all the beer you had actually paid for. My grandfather decided that in his pub, he would pour your beer, wait for the froth to settle, take it off the top and than top it up so that your glass was completely full. As a result, many more customers came to him and he became very rich with a whole chain of pubs and his own brewery. He also had a great reputation as an honest businessman and that led him into a very fruitful second career in local politics. There he was universally respected as a wise and honest community leader. And it all came, it seemed to me, from one basic good business decision to give his customers their money’s worth. The amount he measured out was the amount that was given back to him. On his deathbed, I told him that. All of us children were ushered in to say ‘good-bye’ to him. And I told him that was the thing I would remember him most for – that basic good business decision to give people their money’s worth.

But he was angry with me. With the last of his remaining strength, he raised himself up on one elbow and shouted at me: "No! I didn’t do it because it was good business. I did it because it was Right."

Those were almost the last words he spoke. And I will never forget them. Because they gave me something to live by – the knowledge that what will give us contentment on our deathbeds is not what we did that was good business, what was clever, what was wise according to the world, but what we did that was right – what was right in the eyes of God.

Let us pray that we too may live our lives, not by the things that are good business, not by the things that are expedient, by the things that get us what we want, but by the things that are Right. Let us pray that we may live by that, and teach it to our children, and have them teach it to their children’s children.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in God, the only true Judge of Right and Wrong.

Paul O’Reilly, SJ

<fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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