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Contents: Volume 2 - The 12th SUNDAY - (A) - June 21, 2020


The

  Twelfth

  Sunday

   2020

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

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

 

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1.

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Sun. 12 A

Jesus's message to the Twelve about God's care for each of us is one that I think is most needed in our times when everyone's major concern is the pandemic. This pandemic threatens not to subside, but rather to rear its ugly head even stronger. There is also much turmoil about other important issues such as on-going demonstrations, wars, nuclear tensions, and, in the United States, a presidential campaign and election.

Isn't it great to hear, in today's lingo, that "God's got this!!!" God knows what is going on. Do not be afraid!

That does not mean that we can act recklessly and do nothing or do as we please. As a close friend said this past week, "Yes, I believe in Jesus and also in gravity, but I still wear a seat belt!" So, what do we do in faith?

Well, I think that the loving thing to do for ourselves, those we love, and for strangers,in this pandemic is we wear masks and practice social distancing to quell this virus. We challenge racism or police brutality or violence against the police, identify rioters and looters vs. peaceful protesters, and then use reasonable means to diffuse hostility and change the situation. We insist on transparency, not personal gain or political or economic partiality, from our leaders, our friends and family, and ourselves. We pray and we change what is contrary to God's ways, starting with ourselves. We help people in need, no matter who they are. We also research/fact check for the truth... and vote.

That is a long list, but really just a start. Jesus was speaking to every individual when he spoke to the Twelve and said, "You are worth more than many sparrows." Each person is precious in God's sight, even those from whom we prefer no contact, ever, pandemic or not.

Especially with all that is going on that is not a normal or welcomed part of life, it is really difficult to let that concept of God's true unconditional love permeate our lives. We must pray, for ourselves, for those with whom we disagree, and yes, even for those whose behavior is visibly contrary to God's ways. We must also pray for those with whom we are sheltered, for those with whom we long to be, and for those who are alone.

So, as we are looking in the mirror at the longer and unruly looking hair that is becoming something we look beyond in everyone after too many weeks of non-professional care, let us remember each hair is counted by the Master. So are everyone else's. God's got this!

Let us pray. Let us acknowledge God's place in our lives. Let us smile again, with masks on and when it is time to take them off.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twelfth Sunday of Ordered Time June 21 2020

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Responsorial Psalm 69; Romans 5:12-15; Gospel Acclamation John 15:26-27; Matthew 10:26-33

With this Sunday’s readings, we return to ordinary time instructions, turning our attention to living the way of the Christ. From now until the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Feast of Christ the King, we are encouraged to live the way of the Gospel. The Gospel, as we all remember, is Good News. The Good News is counter intuitive. The news is that God really, really loves us and cares about us. Being the best of all parents, the Father does not force us, does not enslave us to his will. God cherishes our freedom and constantly encourages us to the fullness of freedoms God, in all three persons of the Trinity, constantly encourages, turns bad choices into possibilities for growth of spirit (soul), and even lifts us up in resurrections from the evil we do, that we suffer at the hands of others, or from the terrors of nature gone rogue. One of the methods God uses to help us is the gift of prophecy to the Church.

It would seem that being called to prophesize to humanity is a great and wonderful calling. Just ask Jeremiah about that. Jeremiah was a man who served in the temple and in the court of the King. His was a time of great trouble and uncertainty. Pretty much like our own time. He was called to warn the nation not to align their nation with any pagan nation: in those days there were three nations who wanted to be their protector. Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon were interested in this small nation situated on the strategic north/south highway with its port cities. If choosing one of these nations as an ally meant the Jews would be required to replace God in the Temple built by Solomon with pagan gods. Secondly, the youthful pride of the Jews would be required to serve in their army, and worship that army’s emperor. Serving in that army would place a target on the back of the Jewish nation and subject them to attack from the other two. Jeremiah warned the Temple and political people to stay independent and rely on God’s help. As in our own time, the political environment was such that the many sides would not listen to the other sides. Jeremiah was very much alone because of his prophecy. It positioned him as the common enemy of the three parties. At one point, they conspired to throw him into a dried-up cistern in the city where they hoped he would die of thirst and starvation. Get rid of him, that was the plan. Some influential friends saved him from this. Despite all his warnings, the Jews made an alliance. Jeremiah, then an old man, was forcibly taken by his friends to Egypt for safety. Of all places, Jeremiah most despised Egypt. It was there he died. What a reward for serving God!

So being a prophet is truly a thankless calling. In the first place, the prophet must have truth as his/her foundation. Unfortunately, then as now, truth is a rare commodity. We still hear the pathetic questioning of Pilate in our ears, "What is truth" as he washes his hands, forfeiting his responsibility for judging the truthfulness of the High Priests, Sadducees, and the rabble assembled. What is truth? Where is truth? Who can one trust? In this all time of history is not unlike this judgement of Jesus. Both the Sanhedrin and Pilate’s court made up alternate realities to justify their condemnation of Jesus. Demagogues twist bits of truth into a grand tapestry that appears to be the absolute truth of a situation. All is designed to mislead and garner support for untruth. When prophets rise up at the calling of God to challenge alternate realities, they are denounced as impractical, as delusional, as getting in the way of progress. When Francis, the Bishop of Rome, published the work of the Vatican in the Encyclical, Laudato Si, immediately in secular society it was denounced as a pipedream. Even a conservative Catholic group denounced it as un-Christian and an overreach. The leader of that group had not even read a copy of the document before he denounced it. Yet the prophecy in that document is based on the truth of the Gospel and on the Christian experience of two thousand years. If as respected an author as Francis is denied being a prophet of truth, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Abortion is one of the issues of morality not only in our current time, but in all the centuries of Christianity. There are references to the morality of abortion back to the early writings of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church. Many of those writings speak of the sanctity of life, the grand gift of life when they write of abortion. Yet in our time, the focus is solely on abortion, outside the context of the sanctity of all life. Within the hierarchy, there is a constant push to made abortion a capital crime. Those efforts have been taken over by politicians and some churches of Christian tradition as a tool to gain votes. Bit by bit, more and more contemporary prophets insist all life is equally sacred. The ploy to acquire votes by political parties and political operatives is only that – a ploy. Review for a moment the loudest voices, religious and secular, who fight for criminalization of abortion as its solution. How many of them support asylum for refugees fleeing their home nations because of violence, because of war, because of oppressive governments? How many of them recognize the terror in Syria, that land in which our Faith first flourished? How can we think we support the sanctity of life when we fail to offer refuge to the children and non-combatants, in large part of our Christian faith? How about the lack of political and citizen will to provide health care to those who live on the margins of society? How about an economic system that rewards those who enrich themselves by playing with money instead of investing in sustainable jobs and living wages? How about those who fail to hear the warnings of Dwight D. Eisenhower warning us about the military-industrial complex that consumes the assets of the nation and sets us up for the possibility of destroying tens of thousands of years of growth and the lives of billions of persons? Where is the truth that every life is sacred – unborn, born, handicapped, aged?

More importantly, where are the prophets in the public square who comprehend the lack of a culture of life? There are indeed some. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, many years before his death by cancer, spoke of the seamless garment of life. Most of his fellow bishops turned away from his teaching and embraced the legal approach instead. Bishop Hunthausen in Washington state was derided, ridiculed, and relieved of his episcopal authority for protesting the nuclear submarine base in Seattle. As mentioned earlier, Francis, Bishop of Rome, has written repeatedly about human life and its threats and possibilities. Much earlier, St. John XXIII wrote about the necessity of peace. Venerable Paul VI wrote about it as well. And St. John Paul II was instrumental in breaking down walls, endorsing and encouraging solidarity as witnessed in Poland resulting in the breakup of the Soviet Union.

There are prophets. Shouldn’t we consider the truth of their witnessing? There is another example. Contrary to the gospel of life, this nation has expended much of its treasure creating a system of destruction. In just the Trident submarine platform, there are 14 such vehicles carrying 24 missals each carrying up to eight warheads, each with the explosive power thirty times the force of the bomb that eradicated Hiroshima. That is a total of 2688 possible bombs. How many billions of persons, most innocent, would be incinerated were these to be unleashed by choice or by accident? Where is the outcry, where is the diplomatic effort, where is the combined power of those who claim to be pro-life? There are some who protest these armaments. They are labeled traitors, imprisoned, and deemed impractical. Such is the case of the King Bay Plowshares 7 who protested at Brunswick, Georgia regarding the Trident weapons system. Reminds one of the story of Jeremiah’s life. Is pro-life merely a political ploy to gain votes? Or is being pro-life in truth what Francis, Bishop of Rome, and others insist is the necessary moral choice of Christians?

In the gospel this week-end Jesus tells us to shout from the housetops what we have heard in secret. In all his public ministry, Jesus healed, instructed in the way of peace, and even died to open our hearts and minds to the Will of the Trinity. The Will of God is that all creation flourish and achieve its potential. Jesus’ work, all of his work – ministry, prayer, healing, freedom to those chained in slavery to addiction, and accepting death – is confirmed by God’s raising him to newness of life. Jesus tells us to listen to the truth – that truth that comes from the gift of Faith. Faith resides in the heart. The heart is where we believe resides the power that is love. Hatred and division seek to eliminate persons our minds declare enemies. Were we to engage in dialogue instead of diatribe, perhaps we could turn our hearts to the truth of the Way of Jesus.

It is hard being a prophet. Accepting that responsibility typically ends up in a person being ostracized and, in extremes, death. Yet Jesus tells us that we should not be afraid to speak truth, no matter what happens to us because of it. The wisdom, the truth of human life and of creation, come from God. And God will defend us from those who would seek to rob our souls of life. Lies, untruth, violence, and hatred are not God’s truth. Jesus insists that God watches over us. For even the sparrow that is so cheaply bought is known by God’s providence. Even when that sparrow lands on the ground to forage for seeds and food, God knows it landing and that sparrow’s rising into the air.

In the Baptismal rite by which we became members of the Assembly called together by God, we are baptized into the states of priest, prophet, and kings/queens. The implications of that are that we are called to search out the truth and to speak it without fear. We speak it by our actions, by our allegiances, by what we love. Those states are certainly not about hatred: for hatred is death to the soul.

May the God of Truth and Wisdom be in our hearts this coming week. May we repent of the falsehoods declared by those who seek to murder our souls. May we be a source of light and life to all we encounter. That is our mission, that is our hope, that is our connection with the Trinity where only there is eternal life.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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TRUSTING GOD NO MATTER WHAT:12TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (A)

I wonder have you ever become involved in a project that you thought was worth doing because of how it would benefit others? Then, after starting it, you have come to realize that your involvement has become more difficult than you first thought. The hours you put in, the interruptions to your usual routine, the amount of energy and concentration you bring to it, the frustrations and set-backs you experience, have been eating into your spare time. You have no "me-time" left. So you start to say to yourself, and friends have started to say to you, "Your project is taking over your whole life!’’

Or else, perhaps your efforts to do good, either in your parish community or your local community, have stirred up opposition from some group, that is absolutely determined to keep things just the way they are. "Don’t rock the boat," they keep warning you. "Don’t try to do anything different." "Don’t start anything new." "Just back off." But it’s too late to back off. You are so utterly convinced that all your efforts are for the good of others, and that and you must see your agenda through to the end, cost what it may.

If you can identify with any of what I’ve been saying, then the prophet Jeremiah in the First Reading today is your patron saint, the first of many people moaning and groaning to God about the rotten time they’ve been having for all their efforts. Now in temperament Jeremiah was a gentle soul. When God first called him to be God’s messenger, he protested that he was too young for the job (1:4-10). God told him not to be afraid and promised to be with him and deliver him. In his current situation, as described in the Reading, he’s going to need that deliverance, because even his friends have turned on him and been giving him a hard time.

Jeremiah has done what God asked him to do. He has accused his people of turning away from God in favor of entering into shady and shaky political alliances with their enemies. For their misbehavior Jeremiah has predicted doom and gloom. But that doom and gloom hasn’t happened yet. So his hearers have mocked him and jeered at him, belted him up, and even put him in prison. On his release, he feels compelled to let God know how angry he is with God for the bad things he has been experiencing. On the other hand, he feels compelled to keep warning people about their need to change their ways in order to avoid the catastrophe heading their way.

Can you and I identify with Jeremiah? Do we ever feel like shaking our fists at God and shouting, "How could you let me get into this mess?" But there is more to the story of Jeremiah than his moans, groans and laments. In that part of his story that we have been hearing today, Jeremiah changes his tune. He thanks God that in all his troubles, God has been at his side, that God has been his hero and champion, and that God has been providing maximum support. So while the prophet is in solidarity with us in our disappointments and complaints, he is also urging us to keep on trusting, that no matter what we have to do and endure in our lives, God will never abandon us, and trusting too that we will even find God right there beside us.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus is just as encouraging. Don’t be afraid, he says. Don’t be frightened even of those who might murder you. For they cannot kill your soul, they cannot break your spirit. When all is said and done, the only fate to fear is ending up in hell, without God. (Jesus interpreted hell as being like "Gehenna", literally that big rubbish dump to the south-west of Jerusalem, where fires were always burning).

Jesus is telling his followers, including you and me, that they are going to face opposition, just like he did. It will come from saying that we are Christians, that we are people for Jesus. It will come from being Jesus kind of people. It will come from walking in his footsteps, telling his truths, sharing his wisdom, and living his values and teachings.

But Jesus assures us that God will never stop taking care of us. Jesus also assures us that God is going to reward us for all our efforts to stay faithful to Jesus, no matter how much ridicule, mockery and sheer nastiness might be dumped on us for that. After all, God cares even for two sparrows that can be bought for a single coin in the market. So will he not be so much more caring of those persons who keep striving to follow Jesus his Son as closely as they can?

God is so aware of us, so much in love with us, and so much on our side, in fact, that he has counted every hair on our heads. We can trust, then, that on the Day of Judgment Jesus will acknowledge us and praise us before God. We can trust that he will remind God just how loyal and true we have been, and just how hard we have tried to live as wise and faithful servants of the Lord, even if every now and then we’ve messed up.

We are to live in hope, then, are we not? We are to stop worrying, are we not? We are to let go and let God, are we not?

"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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