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Contents: Volume 2 - The Eighteenth Sunday
- August 4, 2019


 

The

18th

Sunday

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. --

4. --

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

 

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Sun. 18 C

I think most Christians, at least the ones I know and myself included, spend a good deal of time reflecting on "what really matters to God'. For me, taking the time to stop and reflect on that very thing becomes an oasis in the tough journey of life. I also think that each stop is important in order to move forward and become closer to God along the entire journey and staying there, too.

Throughout our lives, I do indeed think we do toil and have some anxiety of heart... we want to do the right thing (whatever that may seem to us at a particular age) and be successful ( perhaps meaning happy, content, being in right relationship with God.) We may gather worldly goods and possessions along the way. Perhaps we use them to better society and help others... but still we question.

What really matters to God is a forever question whose answer is guided by the Holy Spirit. Certainly we should think about the things above and rise above the evils to which we have succumbed in the past. What do you think really matters to God for you personally right now... what should you do and not do? Come Holy Spirit, help us!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Eighteenth Sunday of Ordered Time August 4 2019

Ecclesiastes 1:2 & 2:21-23; Responsorial Psalm 90; Colossians 3:1-6 & 9-11; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 5:3; Luke 12:13-21

The readings this week-end are troubling. In each of the three readings and in the responsorial psalm and Gospel acclamation, as well the message, conflicts with how we live. The culture of the world insists success is the goal of work, of planning, and of life itself. Most troubling is the last line of this Sunday’s gospel. It summarizes Jesus’ parable about the land-owner blessed with an abundant crop. His agricultural success is so great that he evaluates the yield of the land finishes life’s work. He has only to live out his days eating, drinking, and making merry. That night he dies in his sleep. His new barns are built and filled to the very top. What good are filled barns to this now dead person? Jesus summarizes his parable with the sentence: "Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God."

That is the question for followers of Jesus. Just what is it that matters to God? Are we to strive for mystical experiences in our earthly living? Does what matters to God cause us to neglect education, financial security, providing for children, or aiding those without resources? Is being Christian mean spending our time in prayer, avoiding profitable work? Are wealth, power, influence, and pleasure sinful distractions to be avoided?

The world we live in – socially, economically, and politically – is about productivity. That productivity leads to wealth and power, influence and pleasure. It seems we are created to pursue those things. We are hard-wired to pursue quality of life. We have an insatiable desire for wealth, for power, for pleasure, and for fame. Are these impulses the result of sin? Should we begin to live a life of poverty and ignorance? What is it that matters to God?

The question to answer is, "How do we know what matters to God?" The answer is etched in human experience. Over the hundreds of thousands of years since humanity emerged with self-consciousness, with the ability to learn from experience, skills to communicate, and the capacity to care for another: these abilities allowed humanity to learn about the creator-God. Over the ages society was formed. Economic, social, political, and science developed. Throughout the world the organization of peoples developed in various traditions, dependent on the experience of the people of those regions. In all those traditions there has always been an element of faith in a source, a model of, and a meaning and purpose to human life. The ancient myths and legends sought to explain this human experience. Eventually these oral traditions were written down. Each story tells us to a little about God and what God is.

As the gospels tell us, in the fullness of time, when humanity’s experience had prepared it for a revelation of God beyond what had been experienced, God came to earth in the person of Jesus. This Jesus shared in his person Divinity as well as Humanity. In his life – as we know it – he demonstrated what God is. His ministry always demonstrated through his words, through his actions, and through his choices that God is concerned about his creation. Jesus’ work and words always worked toward bringing all persons -- especially those on the margins of society – into full membership in community. This reflection of what God is reveals those characteristics of God that apply to all creation. From the presence of Jesus in the world we learned that God is a community of three. We name them Father, Son, and Spirit. Some would define these three persons as God the Speaker, God the Spoken, and God the Unifier.

In this understanding of what God is we find the model for what matters to God. In God the Creator we discover our impulse to work, to produce, to create for each other. In God the Word we discover expression of God in creation. And in God the Spirit we find the energy that binds us together in community. John the Evangelist insists that God is Love. He continues by saying that whoever lives with Love for what God creates abides in God themselves. That is what matters to God. That which matters to God is that we love.

The object of our love is not only love of every other person. The ancient story of creation, taken from many cultures and refined over and over again for thousands of years, insists that humanity is to take care of creation, working to make all creation fruitful. Humanity is to love what God has created; that is the nature instilled in humanity that it appreciate and cause all of nature to thrive. For creation is an expression of God. Again, John tells us this in the prologue to his gospel. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be." We have allowed the way of the world to coop the teaching of Genesis. The translation of God’s directive to humanity to care for creation has been twisted into meaning that humanity has the right to take and even abuse creation. Yet the term "dominion over" means not unbridled use but makes humanity responsible for, care of, and development of creation in time as God’s expression of the very life of the Trinity.

What matters to God is that all life – vegetative, animal, and human – has what it needs to flourish. It is what matters to God that his expression returns to the Trinity grown, matured, and expressing the wonder that is the Divinity. We are to engage all of creation with appreciation for its wonder. It means that we treat each person who has this responsibility for creation with the dignity and respect God created in them.

What causes us troubles is the way of the world insisting that persons with accumulated wealth, those leaders with authoritarian power, and those persons who receive praise and claim fame are those who are the greatest among us. We remember well those who have brought evil and self-centeredness to the world. Those who follow the Way of Jesus remember those persons with revulsion. Even so, there are many who follow the way of abusers.

The great scholar of the New Testament, William Barclay, speaks about the conflict between the way of the world and the Way of Christ with these words.

"To those who had an abundant supply of possessions Jesus spoke this parable of the Rich Fool. Two things stand out about this man. (a) He never saw beyond himself. There is no parable which is so full of the words, I, me, and mine. A schoolboy was once asked what parts of speech my and mine are. He answered ‘Aggressive pronouns.’ … (b) (This Rich Fool) He never saw beyond this world… he is destined someday for the grimmest of grim shocks."…

"Jesus said, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God.’ We saw that God’s kingdom was a state on earth in which his will was as perfectly done as it is in heaven. So Jesus is saying, ‘Bend all your life to obeying God’s will and rest content with that.’ So many people give all their effort to heap up things which in their nature cannot last. Work for the things which last forever; things which you need not leave behind when you leave this world, but which you can take with you." (The Gospel of Luke, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, pp. 164-165)

If we believe that fullness of happiness comes from living the will of our Creator then we seek to be united to the Creator who formed us in their own image and likeness. That image and likeness is the ability to love one another as Jesus loves us. We know the result of such love is that Jesus became the Christ when he joined perfectly the nature of humanity with his divine nature. The result of his love is his resurrection. In that action God revealed what is in store for us who live his will. Jesus the Christ is the model and the image of what we will become when we love God’s creation and one another. In loving God’s work, we discover we love God and all God has created. That is what matters to God. That is how we life the days of our life with great success. This is a quantum leap from mere compliance with rules. It finds its basis on commandments and rules but leaps far beyond such compliance. The heart is the place of faith and the place that enriches our lives and brings us into unity with the Spirit that unifies and makes all things, all beings into oneness that is the Trinity.

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

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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