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Contents: Volume 2 - Twentieth Sunday of Ordered time -C- August 18, 2019


 

The

20th

SUNDAY

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Deacon Russ O'Neill

4. --

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

 

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1.

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Sun. 20 C

Jesus's message/mission was straight-forward and clear, but it did not "sit well" with many people. This Sunday's Gospel reading even tells us that Jesus himself said that he came to establish division, not peace, in the world. What, did I read that correctly?

It is a bit confusing. Burden, sin, shame, opposition are the words from our second reading that described the reality of past ages. That same rality show is still rampant in our world today with a few changes in details. I think that is why Jesus's words still do not "sit well" in our day and age.

Our lives and our world are full of division. It is difficult to grapple with thsee negative things as Christians because neither ignoring them nor letting them consume us is what Jesus wants from us. The words in the second reading tell us to keep our eyes focused on Jesus as we run this life's race to glory. That strategy seems the best way not to lose heart or grow weary, not too often at least. it is a way to recognize ourselves in the head-to-head oppositional categories Jesus mentions and work to change that dynamics.

At Vacation Bible Camp this week at my parish, the children, teen helpers, and adults were reminded that "God is good always" When life is good, God is good, but also when life is unfair, scary, changing, and sad. God is with us always and forever. That does not change, not ever!

Some adults are faced with incredible challenges each day, but the faces of these 80 some children said their struggles count also. I think it is important for we adults to step off to the side in our journey to see and help the other racers, but also to catch our breath so we can continue the race well-focused. Vacation Bible Camp was a great and fun way for me toreconnect with Jesus's message/mission this week as a volunteer. Perhaps a small something along that line mighthelp to re-energize you, too!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

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2.

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Twentieth Sunday of Ordered time August 18, 2019

Jeremiah 38: 4-6 &8-10; Responsorial Psalm 40; Hebrews 12:1-4; Gospel Acclamation John 10:27; Luke 12:49-53

The first reading from the book of Jeremiah pretty much sums up the prophetic career of him. At one point in his career he shouts out to God, very likely shaking his fist to the heavens, "You duped me!" The life and times of Jeremiah would make for a tremendous made for TV drama. In the narrative this Sunday, Jeremiah is attacked by one of the polarized parties in Jerusalem. One party was lobbying for an alliance with Egypt while an opposing party lobbied for an alliance with Assyria. Jeremiah was pretty much in the middle. He insisted the nation should not seek an alliance with any foreign power. Such an alliance according to the customs of the times would require the Chosen People to accept the gods of whichever nation they allied with. That would mean that the temple which was so central to the faith and traditions of the nation would be given over to idols. For his efforts on behalf of the faith of Israel, Jeremiah was lowered into a cistern with only mud at the bottom. That cistern was a sort of image of what was happening in the nation. Life giving faith in God who had freed them from pharaoh and was with them as they conquered the land promised to them through Abraham was absent. Their faith was as empty as the cistern of Prince Malchiah. Jeremiah was saved by the intercession of a court official. Jeremiah had no liking for Egypt. In the end, when the wealth, powerful, and intelligent were carted off to a third conquering nation, Babylon, Jeremiah was dragged by his friends into exile into Egypt. What sort of reward was this for such a faithful and loyal service to Yahweh?

In the gospel Jesus startles us. "I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish it were already ablaze." Jesus sounds like a mad man. We pray such madness doesn’t ever reside in the mind of one who has his finger on the nuclear button. Jesus’ message comes as a warning to us. In what seems to be veiled terms, he announces that he will undergo a terrible suffering. It is as though going through much pain and suffering for the message and way of life he was bringing, Jesus would be eminently successful.

The message of this Sunday’s readings comes across very powerfully. If you serve God and him alone, you will suffer from persecution and threats from political forces. Jesus was seen to be a threat to the leadership of the Priestly class of the Chosen People. He was considered a threat to the safety of the Roman Empire. And for his great effort at healing and preaching a message of love, tolerance, and appreciation for God’s creation he was mocked, spit upon, crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb.

That is the message to us. If we expect smooth sailing as we apply the message of Jesus we’re just not well experienced. Or perhaps we’ve misunderstood Jesus’ message. The world’s way demands that we go along with its violence, its unbridled competition, its denial of dignity and worth to immigrants, and many, many other sordid and violent treatments of the lesser among us. Jesus’ work was always about bringing into full participation in community all persons. He healed the sick and maimed, raised the dead, brought sight to the blind: All these miracles were for the purpose of bringing this person back into the community as a fully participating member of that community.

What do we think about the villages in which persons were healed or freed from addiction or possession by evil spirits? Would not the person healed, saved not be a constant reminder of what Jesus did? That miracle that brought into full communion one rejected would have made a change in the community.

Have we not also been given a call to light the fire of God’s love within our communities? Should not our relationships at work, at play, at prayer, in family, in community not reflect Jesus’ message? Should we not set ablaze the world with the love of God?

If we believe we should be part of the story of Jesus, of his mission and ministry, we should not expect a smooth sail through life. We should remember Jeremiah. We should recall the crowds welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem. Just a few days later they shouted "crucify him, crucify him." We should expect resistance. We should do all that we can to heal and to lift up all we encounter because we are Christians. We imitate him whom we admire and love. May it be so.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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3.

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20th Sunday Ordinary Time, year C

The words of our Gospel this morning are a bit tough to handle. Why would Jesus say that he came to bring division rather than peace? Why would he have a son divided against his father or a mother against her daughter or a mother-in-law against a daughter-in-law? Some of us might relate to that one! We say that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so how does this all fit in?

We heard this morning about Jeremiah the prophet having a bad day, a real bad day. Jeremiah was a royal prophet, he was the prophet at the king’s court. He should have been held with the deepest respect. But he refused to butter up to the king by just telling the king what he and the people wanted to hear. He said they would be judged, not on the grandeur of their palaces, but on their justice to the oppressed. Because Jeremiah stood for the truth, he was berated and mocked. He was thrown into a cistern where he would have died if the king had not stood up against his own counselors and saved Jeremiah’s life. Jeremiah’s life should have been wonderful, beautiful, full of honor. But being true to the Word of God resulted in his being treated with contempt. That kind of persecution was something that afflicted all the prophets due to their determination to stand up for God’s word, to stand for what was right and true, no matter what others would say about them or do to them.

This is what Jesus did. He stood for the truth and was put to death. Jesus brought a different concept and a different message to the world, one that the Jews and Romans had a hard time dealing with. In the early Church, families were indeed divided when some accepted Christ and some didn’t. He preached obedience, repentance, love, forgiveness, and those who lived that message became divided from the rest of society and even their families. His word lit fires in their hearts, and fires can cause trouble.

It is in this context that we can understand the difficult Gospel for today. We face difficulties just like those who lived at the time of these readings did. We read every day in the paper about violence and killings, especially of young people. Opioids are snuffing out so many lives. Our country is in political upheaval, with people on both sides calling the opposition names, rather than working towards unity. Our society says that abortion and capital punishment are right; that war and poverty and homelessness are just part of the fabric of society. And how do we respond? Many of us put pictures of Jesus on our walls, usually nicely painted, pious, pretty pictures, not Jesus the troublemaker and the firebrand. But I’m not sure Jesus wants pictures on our walls as much as He wants to light his fire in our lives. If his word takes hold in us it can make us dangerous and divisive. We challenge many of the values and mores of society. Dedication to Christ causes stress and suffering and we, like Jesus, need to be willing to suffer, need to be courageous enough to speak the truth when it is uncomfortable.

Consider the young people of our parish who will be in middle school, high school and college next week. Those who refuse to go along with the drinking and drugs, those who refuse to bully others, those who refuse to let others take advantage of them physically, will be given some sort of nasty label. Life would be much easier for them to go along with the crowd. But being rooted in the Lord demands that they be something different.

Consider the parents of our parish. They will be criticized this school year for setting moral standards within their homes. Their own children will tell them that they need to get real and allow them to go along with what everyone else's parents allow them to do. Many of the parents of our parish will have to put up a terrible struggle to stand for what is right and true in their own homes, with their own children. But living for the Lord is worth the struggle.

Consider our senior citizens. Their challenge to follow Christ means trusting in him as their bodies and the bodies of their loved ones begin to fail. For so many of our seniors their challenge means being a care giver when they are exhausted. Every day presents a new challenge for them to embrace faith and trust and hope in the Lord and live in the Light of Christ when, physically, life might be getting a bit darker. But this is the challenge that draws them nearer to God. And, by meeting the challenge of faith and hope they are bringing God nearer to our world.

I frequently hear of a new challenge that confronts a parishioner or a family. This family has to deal with emotional problems. That family with physical problems. This family has financial problems. That family has marital problems. Individuals and families that feel they have been thrown into the cistern. All of these challenges of life, all of the daily crises we all face, all lead us to God if we embrace them with selflessness, with faith, with trust in God, and with love.

So, when it seems like there is fire rather than peace, do not give up. Trust in God. You do not struggle alone. The readings for today are clear and grounded in reality. Life is full of challenges and struggles. And the greatest of these challenges are rooted in our standing for what is right and true, standing for God, even if it divides us from others. Can I say yes? Can you say yes? Can we say yes?

Deacon Russ O'Neill

Diocese of Youngstown

<russon2330@sbcglobal.net>

 

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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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