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Contents: Volume 2 - Twenty Second Sunday of Ordered time -C- September 1, 2019


 

The

22nd

SUNDAY

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. --

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

 

 

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Sun. 22 C

The readings this Sunday are about how we perceive ourselves and others. We read/hear words such as humility, strength, wise, places of honor, distinguished, embarrassment, exalts, esteem, repayment, and righteous. These words call us to align our viewpoint with how God sees us and everyone else.

Our Gospel story talks about a banquet and being a humble guest... but what about the superiority we might feel over those who have little or no food at all? Do we lump them into a category of people who have made bad choices and go on with our lives? I think that many people consider their own situation (unless it is truly dreadful) as "normal" and the way it is supposed to be. Walking in someone else's shoes (if the person even has shoes) is just not a common occurrence. Occasionally, we come across something that alerts us that there really is a problem in what we see, something like these readings or when someone we know is stunned by a drastic change in life for the worse.

It seems to me then, that now is a good time to reflect on our individual feelings, positions, thoughts, words, and actions that speak to equality and privilege. In truth, our world is a place of great inequality which leads to both privilege and thus, disadvantage. Do we see this reality as such and try to make adjustments and amends or do we just consider ourselves either lucky/blessed or shrug our shoulders and think another's situation is just unfortunate?

A wise person once told me that if we are not actively part of the solution, then we are definitely a part of the problem! Examining our innermost thoughts about inequality and privilege and, perhaps even acknowledging how privileged each of us really is in some way, might change our eyesight! Where we were born and to whom, how we look, and our education are just some areas, not usually of our choice, but a definite part of our beginning. Others' demographics have put them in a vastly different place, also usually not of their choice.

In God's view, however, everyone's "place" is on equal footing, all in the space of God's heart and kingdom. Once we can wrap our minds around that, and it may take a long time, little by little, our lives will change, regardless of our beginnings. Understanding and compassion will enter more into the picture we see of someone else's life. Sharing and humility will become easier when we realize we are "one body, the body of Christ".

Each of us is beloved of God. Each of us is precious in God's sight. That means you and me, equally, as well as the person we dislike or fear or resent etc. the most. Really? Yes, really! That is another good lesson in humility.

Come Holy Spirit, reshape our hearts and our minds so we can see how true that is! Change us! Help us change our world!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Second Sunday of Ordered Time September 1 2019

Sirach 3:17-18 & 20 & 28-29; Responsorial Psalm 68; Hebrews 12: 13-19 & 22-24; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 11:29; Luke 14:1 & 7-14

We’ve been reading from the Letter to the Hebrews for several Sundays now. As you may know, the second reading is taken from letters written by or on behalf of the apostles. The first reading for Sundays is typically taken from the Hebrew Scriptures, what we have called the Old Testament. The selection this week is chosen to help us understand the Gospel chosen for this Sunday. The First reading and the Gospel align and help in understanding both readings if we compare the two. The Responsorial Psalm each Sunday is the people’s response to the first reading. This responsorial in our Liturgy of the Word is usually from one of the 150 Psalms chosen to unlock the meaning of the first reading. The Hebrew Psalms are the Hebrew People’s prayer response to Temple worship. Certain psalms were also sung as traveling songs. Those traveling psalms were sung by pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for celebration of the High Holy days of Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Booths. Because the roads to Jerusalem were mostly uphill these psalms are classified as Ascent songs. These psalms through their music and words joined pilgrims together and the rhythm provided a cadence for their footsteps. They sang as they traveled the up-hill road to Jerusalem and to the high point in Jerusalem that was the Temple Mount.

The Letter to the Hebrews this Sunday contains a key to understanding the first reading from Sirach. Sirach is about wisdom. Wisdom in Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic religions means a skill and attitude of the character of a person that applies knowledge of reality gained through experience and meditation on the Scriptures. Those scriptures catalogue the religious experiences of those who have gone before us. As persons apply that wisdom of persons experiencing God’s presence in their living, the wisdom learned and developed into a skill focus on relationships. Those relationships are to self, to all others, and to the rest of creation.

In the reading from Hebrews, the writer is comparing the presence of God with us as it occurred when Moses when up the mountain to learn the wisdom of the law from God. No one was permitted to approach the mountain or even to touch it. The mountain was covered in great noises, with fire, with dark clouds, with trumpet blasts and storms. There was a voice heard that was fierce and frightening. By contract, the presence of God that came with the Messiah, the Christ who is Jesus was totally different. It was not frightening. All persons were invited to the Mount Zion which is the seat of the living God in the heavenly Jerusalem. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant as was Moses the mediator of the old covenant. That is the wisdom of the new covenant. We are no longer slaves, no longer frightened at the presence of God. For God has come to walk with us, to eat with us, to suffer with us. We are welcome to the Mount of God.

That is the foundation of wisdom that God is with us. Whatever we experience adds to the experience of God of his creation. That is the foundation of our Christian Experience. God walks with us and is present to us not only individually but most especially in the assembly gathered to hear the Word of God and to offer our work in the offertory, the offering is the material that the Holy Spirit consecrates into the Body and the Blood of Jesus. When we receive that Body and Blood we in effect receive one another and are thus bound together in the Body of the Christ. When one of us hurts all hurt. When one of us is filled with joy, so all rejoice. When we understand that we act with the wisdom that came to us in Jesus the Christ.

When we act with the energy of that faith, we live differently than do those without this faith. That difference is what Jesus is teaching us in the gospel. He makes it very clear. We all like to be noticed, to be thought of highly. We like to be seen as successful, attractive, intelligent, and liked. He tells us that when we put ourselves in the first place we overlook the wonder of others. He doesn’t intend for us to be doormats for the muddy feet of fellow humans. His lesson tells us that we are alone when we focus on our stature. When we act with humility, when we live looking for the wonder, the dignity and worth of others and of creation itself, then we discover the wonder of God’s creation. When we get stuck on our own prestige we have no room within ourselves for anyone else in our hearts. Thus we end up alone with our accumulations, with our influence, with our power, and with the pleasures we pursue to fill our emptiness. There are examples aplenty of persons who have committed their total energies and life efforts to making themselves look good. In the process truth finds little footing. In that process the love that discovers wonder in others and in creation is a stranger. Others and creation itself becomes an enemy to be conquered and subjected to their perverted will.

Fr. Andy Pollack once instructed us on how to begin a conversation with a stranger. Ask about the stranger’s life. When a person is attentive to another, there is formed a bond that is often the beginning of friendship. Were we to begin a conversation with a litany of our great accomplishments and skills we’d soon find ourselves alone in a crowded room. Take the last place. Be a listener instead of a braggart. Be truthful and not a fabricator of fantasy. Great politicians are those who ask others to speak to them. They need never trot out promises. In attentive listening the politician learns what is in the hearts of their constituents.

That is the wisdom of the Christ. Love others as much as you love yourself. That means listening to them with attention and an open mind. That is the nature of the new covenant of which our passage of Hebrews tells us today. Our God is our friend who listens, who understands, who cares, and who loves us unconditionally -=--- even when we prattle on and on and on about us.

The Responsorial Psalm insists that God in his goodness makes a home for the poor. Even the poor have a place of rest, of shelter, of warmth, and of companionship. Orphans and widows have an advocate to speak for them. Even those who are prisoners with guilt and fault are led forth from their chains into prosperity and freedom. The Wisdom of the Christian is that God is the God of loving kindness, of mercy, of compassion, of forgiveness, and of love.

May we work on our character this week seeking to be more receptive to the presence of the living God and to all those we encounter. In listening we’ll learn to love. And in loving we’ll enter into the Kingdom of God.

Carol & Dennis Keller 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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