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Contents: Volume 2 - Tenth Sunday in Ordered Time

June 10, 2018


 

 The

10th

Sunday

2018

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

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

 

 

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Sun. 10 B

The Scripture readings this Sunday describe people's opposing viewpoints. The first two readings talk about the blaming portion of original sin but also "we are not discouraged" because of "grace bestowed in abundance"... "for the glory of God." The Gospel recalls Jesus's listeners, even his relatives, thinking Jesus was "out of his mind" but also seeing Jesus extending intimate "belonging" not just to his "own" but to all who "do the will of the Father". It seems that we can choose to look at things through different colored glasses!!

What lens directs our lives? Do you allow something/someone to rob you of (or chip away at) your eternal dwelling because you become too tied up in the cares of the world to seek the help of the Holy Spirit? Is your life/glass usually half empty (complaining about the negative) or half full (hoping for a better resolution)?

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be light for the world, a world that has many dark, negative places these days. As we reflect on our own baptismal calling, let us approach the shadows of those dark places that pop up in our lives. Let us pray that we will rely on the Holy Spirit of the God of Many Opportunities to continue to shed light on our world for us and through us as well as abundant blessings.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Tenth Sunday in Ordered Time June 10 2018

Genesis 3:9-16; Responsorial Psalm 130; 2nd Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Gospel Acclamation John 12:31-32; Mark 3:20-36

In the now long ago days of my youth, a popular TV comedy show featured one Flip Wilson. In each episode there would be a scene in which Flip stumbled into a troubling situation. His immediate response and the trademark of his show was, "The Devil made me do it!" That always got a laugh. Perhaps the audience could easily relate to the human failing of blaming an ever present evil force called the Devil for our bad choices.

Perhaps Flip Wilson’s script writers took a clue from the first reading. The narrative in our first reading from Genesis is about what St. Augustine named ‘original sin.’ When God comes into the garden, Adam hides from God because he is naked. God asks Adam how he became aware of his nakedness – "Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten from the tree of which I forbade you to eat." Adam’s immediate reply shifts blame for his action to God. After all it was the woman, the companion God had created for Adam, who seduced him. If God had not created woman, Adam would not have disobeyed God. And so it began. It has been so from the beginning of human self-consciousness.

Since that first shifting of responsibility humanity has had a consistent habit of passing the buck. Is there anyone among us who has never tried to protect their nakedness by pointing an accusing finger at another? We often blame even ones we love for our sins, for our failures. And when we deny responsibility by transferring guilt to another we break our connectedness with others. From made up conflicts, lying, scapegoating of another comes violence, war, murder, disrespect. Our denial of responsibility by blaming another destroys the energy which holds us together, what makes us a community. When we hide our nakedness, our inability to accept ourselves as we are, we begin to create an image of ourselves that denies the image in which we are created. We reject the unique image of the Creator that is an expression of God’s wonder and mystery. We disconnect ourselves from the truth and begin to spend our lives building and selling to ourselves and others a lie. Is there any wonder that we experience so much inner anguish, so much addiction, so many issues with mental health?

In the middle of the twentieth century there was a huge push to nationalism which resulted in an isolation of one nation from the others. Following World War I, there was a reaction against the horrors of trench warfare, of chemical warfare, of indiscriminate bombings, and the terrible death toll that came from mechanized warfare. The Treaty of Versailles focused on punishing the German nation so much so that the Treaty became the beginning of the environment in which nationalism and racial supremacy became a rallying point that began the Second World War. The League of Nations, so dear to President Woodrow Wilson, was a miserable failure. It failed to create a community of law and dialogue among the nations of the world. In the place of law and order a divisive political movement arose abetted by scapegoating a whole people because of their religious and cultural roots. Religious practices were bent to serve the purposes of the state, making Christianity a pawn of tyrants and dictators. The war that resulted was even more horrific than experienced by the First World War. A weapon was developed which incinerated two entire cities with one bomb. Millions died on the battlefield: millions more died in concentration camps, willfully exterminated as a sacrifice to the gods of hatred and nationalism. Even now in America we experience political power created from dividing persons from one another, creating scapegoats of groups by race, by national origin, by language, or any other easily recognizable traits. We seem to ignore our nation’s founding principle based on the truth that "all men are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Hitler, Stalin, Hiro Hito, and Mussolini used division and hatred to consolidate their power. They focused on people’s fears by assigning blame for economic and social problems to groups of innocent people. The evil that resided in those leaders’ hearts was transferred to chosen enemies.

In the gospel today, we see two accusations leveled against Jesus because of his preaching and healing. In the minds of his relatives he should have stayed in his carpenter shop. His family believed he was just plain crazy for abandoning a thriving business to become an iterant preacher. How very impractical of Jesus! How stupid! What kind of future was there in preaching and healing? Surely it would result in failure! In our own time, when we strive to walk in the Way of Jesus, many think us crazy, impractical, weird. Why should we love everyone especially when they hate us and steal from us? But we know from the letters of the Apostles and early Christian writers that pagan peoples thought Christians out of touch with reality. They were looked on as persons who failed to fall in line with the culture. But, despite standing alone and in conflict with the usual and customary way of living, there seemed to be a power in those Christian communities that gave Christians the strength to live motivated by respect and love for all humanity and all creation. What gave these people such strength to resist persecution and even cruel death were apparent to the pagans of Ephesus in that first and second century. The people of that region said of Christians they observed, "See how they love one another!" The care and concern of Christians for each other was out of place in the pagan world. Persons from every nation, every culture, every language -- cared so deeply about each other as to overlook what separated them from each other! The power of that care, concern, and outright love for one another is a power that makes no sense to persons whose gods are created to justify denying dignity and rights to vast groups of others.

We are truly children of Adam and Eve. We are easily drawn in by the loudest voice. Those loud, divisive, angry, accusing voices fabricate their own truth. Those voices, like that of the serpent in the Garden, lead us into discovering our nakedness. And in our shame we blame others for what is wrong with us. And when we accuse others, those others fight back, making wounds and death-dealing blows all the more vicious and violent. When we forget we are the image and likeness of God we deny our nakedness; we avoid shame and remorse for our wrongful choices. Yet the Creator God loves us as we are and extends a loving, merciful, and compassionate hand to lift us up from our guilt. When we consume the Body and the Blood of the Lord we become one and our nakedness of spirit and our imperfections are less and less important to us. There becomes no need to deny our responsibility as the Lord has taken it with him to his death on the Cross. In his resurrection, we become a new creation and know we are forgiven.

There are thousands of dogmatic theologians, moral theologians, fire-and-brimstone preachers, and self-righteous Pharisees and tyrants who delight in pointing out our irrelevance and unimportance in the world’s culture and economy. If we buy into that rhetoric we find ourselves in a place of hatred, of violence, of family squabbles, of national competition, and of rejection of others unlike ourselves. We find ourselves in a place where we’re constantly defending ourselves from others. And then the evil one – the gospel names that one Beelzebul – swoops in and takes advantage of division. Think how Adam blaming first Even and then God for creating her placed a wedge between Adam and Eve!

Our God is One – through three in persons yet one in essence. If we believe and live our lives in the faith we are in the image and likeness of God our goal is to imitate God by becoming one with every other. This means respecting each other’s dignity and worth. It means living what we’ve called the corporal works of mercy: we respond to the needs of others: we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give shelter to the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead! Our concern for others imitates God’s love for us.

When we come face to face with our inadequacies, our nakedness, we are faced with our failures and inability to live in the unique image and likeness of God. When we discover our need and hide ourselves from God, God continues to call out to us – "Where are you?" "Where" is not about the GPS spot where we can be found. It is where our hearts are. And when we say to God "I am afraid," we are asking for his mercy and forgiveness. As Christians we are confident in his mercy and forgiveness. We remember the Son-of-God-become-Man dying on the cross asking the Father God that he forgive the violence and nakedness of all persons. How can a Dad not respond to what his Son requests it?

We live in the world but are not of the world. Well, we are of the world when we accept the values of the World as our god. When power, wealth, and prestige are the clothing in which we hide our nakedness, we are of the world. Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. It is only when we accept forgiveness that we can love ourselves. That is why despairing of the Mercy and Compassion of God is an eternal sin. It prevents us from the love of God.

The world’s way is division. Every miracle of Jesus always brings persons back to a full and participative share in creation. Possession by the evil one separates us from society. Physical illness, mental illness, imprisonment, and poverty of spirit isolate persons and deny them participation in the life of the community. If we practice the Way of the Christ, that practice will always reach out and work to return to our community all we meet. That makes us different. Were all Christians working to build up the community, the Mystical Body of Christ, there would a surge in the continuing march of creation to the fullness of the Kingdom of God. How blessed the feet of those who walk the path of the Christ. Surrendering to the Ways of the World always results in dividing persons from persons. The way of division, of hatred, of self-centeredness, of profit from the suffering of on the backs of the poor and those on the margins tears us apart and makes enemies of our brothers and sisters.

May we listen to the heart of the Christ and imitate his works. May we work always to deny evil a place in our hearts. May we invite and welcome those isolated into our community. May we forever reject scapegoating those living on the edge of society.

May it be so.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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FROM BROKENNESS TO WHOLENESS: 10TH SUNDAY B

The teacher asked her class of small children: "What is conscience?" Quick as a flash, one boy piped up: "It’s what makes you tell your mother before your sister does." St Paul the Apostle once made a startling comment about his personal struggle to follow his conscience and do the right thing: "I do not understand my own behaviour," he wrote. "I do not act as I mean to, but I do the things that I hate" (Rom 7:15-16) Talk about true confessions! But perhaps he’s not the only one to admit that he did not always do what his conscience told him but sometimes went against its guidance. I wonder, in fact, if there’s anyone other than Jesus, who has always followed their conscience perfectly and done the most loving thing in every life-situation.

At least Paul was not trying to cover up, find excuses, or blame anyone else for his failures. Unlike the man and woman in our First Reading! We know them as "Adam" and "Eve". But in this poetic and symbolic story about human nature in general, rather than a factual account of the behaviour of the first man and woman that ever lived, they represent you and me. "Adam", then, is Everyman, and "Eve" is Everywoman. As the Dutch Catechism puts it: "The sin of Adam and Eve is closer than we imagine. It is in our own selves."

The part of the story that makes up our First Reading today deals with the fall-out from their disobedience to God and God’s commands. They have eaten the forbidden fruit, despite God’s lavish gift to them of the whole Eden garden of delights and its trees. In doing so they have forgotten their dependence on God for their very existence. They have refused to accept their right relationship with God as God’s creatures. In wanting to be just like God and deciding for themselves what’s right and what’s wrong, they’ve simply become, as the saying goes, "too big for their boots".

The effects of their sin are immediate. The details provide a wonderful psychology of sin. Sin causes feelings of fear and shame and guilt. No longer content to be creatures and accept their human limitations, they lose their innocent, trusting relationship with God. They are now ashamed of their God-given bodies, ashamed in the presence of each other, and ashamed before God. Despite God being said to stroll among them in the gentleness of a cool breeze after a long hot day, the man and the woman skulk away from their Creator and hide themselves in the trees (v.8). Then the man attempts to blame God for the mess they are in because it was God who gave him the woman as his partner (v.12). His complaint also illustrates how sin tends to separate people from one another too, and how can even destroy interpersonal relationships. The woman, for her part, protests that the serpent tricked her into eating the forbidden fruit (v.13). What is at work here is a psychology of self-justification and refusal to take the blame for anything.

We seem to be living in an age of blunt consciences. Some drivers run over pedestrians, but instead of stopping to assist the injured, drive on. Family peace is being shattered in some homes by repeated offences of abuse, disrespect and violence. The Women’s "Me too" Movement has been disclosing hundreds of instances of sexual assault and even of rape. The "Big Four" Banks and other finance agencies have been "ripping off" many customers and diddling some of them out of their whole life-savings, leaving them homeless. We hear again and again of wage theft, of employers paying their employees far less than the award wage, and in some instances, paying nothing at all. Then there’s the desperate situation of the people of Palestine and Syria, being driven from their homes and livelihoods by the scourge of constant war. Fraud, deceit and distrust abound. Too many people in too many places feel unnoticed, unwanted and rejected. And too many rich people are getting ever richer at the expense of the poor.

That’s just a small snapshot of the sins of society today. Just as concerning are the reactions of the offenders, who share such lines as these: "Take no responsibility!" "Shrug your shoulders and walk away!" "Blame the boss!" Blame your childhood!" "Admit nothing!" "It’s their word against yours. Deny it!" "Plead not guilty!" "Laugh it off! Just say ‘The devil made me do it’, or something, anything, except that you goofed, that you did it."

What then, is the answer to all such moral dilemmas and challenges? St Paul puts the question this way. "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death?’ His answer to his own question is this: "God - thanks be to him - through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 7:24-25) Paul is saying in other words: "Salvation, or redemption, must come from God because it must come from a greater source of being and of healing power" (Monica Hellwig). This is the healing power that we experience in an ongoing personal, family and community relationship with Jesus Christ as our Saviour. His role as our Liberator/Saviour could hardly be better expressed than in these words of Colossians 1:13-14, words to us of comfort and hope: "It is he who has rescued us from the ruling force of darkness and has transferred us to the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him we enjoy our freedom, the forgiveness of sin."

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.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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