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Contents: Volume 2 - The Nineteenth Sunday
- August 11, 2019


 

The

19th

Sunday

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. --

4. --

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

 

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1.

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Sun. 19 C

The Gospel account today has a not too familiar parable/story. The main message is a familiar one, however. In not so many words, we are to be ever vigilant and to stay prepared.

It is not easy to be a Catholic Christian in today's world. It is not even easy to be "just" a good person sometimes either! Daily life is a whirlwind and many things pull us and push us in all kinds of directions.

I think that our job here on earth is to keep the "inexhaustible treasure in heaven" that awaits us constantly in mind. I do not think that we should ignore the daily life that we have (either the good or the not-so-good parts) or be unconcerned about our loved ones and our neighbors though. I think that the treasure in heaven awaits those who remain focused on what it is that God has entrusted to them.

God has entrusted each of us with faith and people with whom we are to share that faith. Our lives should reflect that faith and sharing. It is there that we are often somewhat lax and fall sort of vigilance and preparedness, even becoming really lazy or wayward at times.

This busyness of our world often stops us from the prayer and reflection needed to stay on course. It is helpful to have like-minded friends and community to help with self-accountability. The Church even slows us down at times during the liturgical year for extra reflection in Advent and Lent. Many people have a personal habit of a daily examination of conscience, consulting a spiritual director, or frequent sacramental reconciliation/confession.

Whatever we choose, we need to choose something that we will do consistently. For beginners or those who need a nudge, Jesus gives us a suggested prompt. He tells us : "For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."

Is our heart (that perhaps is measured by our involvement via time and passion) in alignment with what God expects of us? Are we in keeping with those expectations or have we veered off course? God knows... do you?

To keep our faith strong so we will be able to share it with others close to us or strangers, we really need to be ever vigilant and stay prepared ! Each of us have been given much. Through faith, prayer, and good works, we must be the Lord's faithful servants and laborers in the kingdom.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Nineteenth Sunday of Ordered Time August 11, 2019

Wisdom 18:6-99; Responsorial Psalm 33; Hebrews 33: 1 & 12 & 18-19 &20-22; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 24: 42a & 44; Luke 12:32-48

This week-end’s liturgy of the Word could cause to think of this 19th Sunday of Ordered Time as "Faith Sunday." The first reading from the Book of Wisdom focuses on the faith of the Hebrew Nation as it gathered in family units to celebrate a meal to nourish them on their forty years journey to the Promised Land. They had only the oaths of the Covenant to give them courage for the long, long, long, exhausting journey through the desert that tested their faith and their endurance. Yet their faith has endured down through the ages. The exodus story played a significant in the underground railroad that channeled slaves from bondage in the south to northern states and Canada. Whoever works to live the Christian life can relate to the exodus as reflective of their own life journey. So many of us find ourselves enslaved by addictions, by unjust managers and government, oppressive economic and social systems. The journeys of our religious ancestors required great courage. Such courage must have a source. And that source is Faith. Looking into the past we recognize that energy source as faith. It’s not clear how these ancestors of ours came to faith. It’s not clear how the faith we experience in our spirits comes to us. Many people we encounter in the world don’t seem to live their lives with that faith. Is it that God only extends this undeserved gift to certain people? We know and understand that God loves every bit of his creation. We know that God loves each and every human being. In that love God gifts us with faith. It is ours to refuse, to reject.

The Second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews speaks about faith much more directly. The Wisdom reading is about the founding history of the Jewish Faith. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews lists the history of Faith found in our Judaeo-Christian tradition. It begins with the faith of Abraham – then known as Abram – who heard God calling him to let go of all that was familiar to him. He and his wife went where God said, "go to where I will show you." That is an element of faith in God. When the faith in God arouses the human Spirit, there is a leaving behind. For the Hebrews it was a leaving behind of enslavement and brutality at the hands of pharaoh.

However, later when the harshness and difficulties of desert wandering were experienced, many longed for the "fleshpots" of Egypt. There is a security in dealing with the devil that is known rather than the devil lurking in the shadows of the future. Only faith has the strength in the human psyche to energize persons to move along into the darkness. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews puts out in the first two verses of chapter 11 a definition of faith. "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested." Wow! What a mouthful! What on earth is he saying? What is a realization of things hoped for? Realization means that our hope becomes reality. The second reading from Hebrews seems to deny realization of the hope of Abraham and Sara. It seems to deny the hopes of Isaac, of Jacob, and even of Joseph for a place for themselves. They all looked for a place where they belonged, where they could be free, and where they could pursue wealth and strength of personal relationship with each other and with their God. It seems from history that they never achieved what their faith gave them. But that faith continued through all generations and finds fulfillment in the Messiah, Jesus, who came from the line begun by Abraham. And through Jesus is extended to all who follow him.

Last week we thought about what is permanent – what is worth pursuing because its value endures. What is terrifyingly true is that what actually has value is what is within our persons. Our journeys as humans are about growth or decay. Who are we? What are we? What is meaningful? What is our purpose in life? Are we the grass that springs up in the morning but by evening is wilted and fit only to fuel the cook stove in the hut of a shepherd?

Growth of character is the purpose of human life. But that truth is only evidenced in faith. Faith is the realization of what we hope for. Through faith we see, we understand, and we make our own here and now what our hearts desire. We all need recognition. We all have a need to understand that we have dignity and worth. Yet to the world, and those who live the way of the world, energies, creativity, and rational powers are applied to disrespect us, to rob us of health, wealth, stature, liberty, and future. When even the least among us is thus disrespected, or robbed of health, wealth, stature, liberty, and future all persons of faith are disrespected and robbed.

In the gospel, Jesus speaks of the thief, of the master returning home when least expected. In these vignettes, life is a surprise. Planning and efforts for success are interrupted and thrown off track. This is the way of human life. No one has complete control of the events that shape human lives. The surprises that come our way can throw us into a tizzy. The message of the gospel is that we should expect and welcome the surprises that come our way. Our choices, when surprises come our way, is to either reject them, fight them, resist the energies of those surprises. Or we can welcome the surprises as another way our faith can help us grow.

Thus when Jesus tells us the parable of the master of the house coming when least expected he is telling us to always be alert to the possibilities of human life. When we welcome the challenges --- well, no! Let’s not call them challenges. Those unexpected events that touch our living are opportunities to grow. We can easily become anxious about the problems that come our way. Or we can accept them as opportunities to open ourselves to the movement of God in the world.

The gospel is called the gospel because it brings us good news. That good news is twofold reality. The first part of this is the faith that God loves us no matter what. In that love God continually comes to us as does the master returning home or as a thief who comes unannounced and unwelcomed. Yet this surprising coming can only be welcomed and be a force for our personal growth if we are sensitive to God’s continual presence.

Perhaps we should re-think our understanding of the story of Moses and the burning bush. Moses is astonished. He is alone with sheep and goats in a desert where he must search out grass for his animals. He encounters a strange sight. A bush is on fire – but the bush isn’t consumed. He speaks to the bush and the bush responds. Moses is commissioned to bring the Hebrew people to freedom from their slavery to pharaoh. Rightfully, Moses wants to know the name of this speaking voice. The answer is "I am who is with you." That is how God views God. God is he who is with us.

Perhaps we should be more attentive to God coming to us. Just as with Moses, we don’t expect to encounter God as we carry out our human responsibilities to family, to community, and to society. Unless we allow our faith to interpret our experiences as encounters with God we’ll walk by burning bushes and miss opportunities to grow in our relationships with God and with God’s people.

It makes little difference when the world ends. Through our faith we understand God as being with us through it all. We believe in that faith that all persons are called to faith as well. We have absolutely no room in our faith to disrespect anyone. We have absolutely no room to deny that God cares for others.

God is with us. And God loves us. Our faith tells us that. It is for us to open our eyes, unclog our ears and see and listen.

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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