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Contents: Volume 2 - 19th Sunday - C
August 7, 2022

 

  The

19th

SUNDAY

 (C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Dennis Keller with Charlie

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

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

 

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Sun. 19 C 2022

I think that our Gospel story today, depending of course on the length of the part that is read/heard, contains three important and connected points:

1. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

2. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

3. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

I think much insight can be gained from sitting with these quotes over a couple of days. That is what I have done for more days than usual ... and, consequently, why this reflection will be submitted late!

I've always tried to attend to focusing on those main themes of time management, planning, and accountability in my professional life. That really seems so long ago now that I have been retired and I refer to the former as "my previous life". It really hit me when I first read the readings though: what about my spiritual life, then or now, regardless of the other important things that different stages of life present!

For me, the spiritual life has to determine the other aspects of my life. Well, at least that is my desire and philosophy but I truly know that the emergencies of life involve the triage of everyone's time, including my own. So my personal question to myself, and to readers is how does this very CORE part of me /someone need to change and adjust, so it will sustain and help me/everyone thrive, no matter what?

I'll be sitting /standing/working/praying with those thoughts repeatedly for a long while but will end here for now... or I will never hit "send"!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Nineteenth Sunday of Ordered Time - August 7 2022

Wisdom 18:6-9; Responsorial Psalm 33; Hebrews 11:1-2 & 8-19; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 24:42 & 44; Luke 12:32-48

When I think about faith, I think about a belief in something unseen, unsensed, and often unsensible. That belief is the filter through which everything I do see, sense, and understand is run. For those who have faith – even if a just born faith or a much practiced one – everything is colored and understood differently than those without faith understand physical reality and relationships. If we were to be asked if we have faith or not, most would say yes without thinking about it. Some would take a little time to scrutinize their thinking before answering. With faith, the world and its relationships seem to have a purpose. The purpose and meaning are often not evident immediately. It seems there is a randomness and chaotic aspect to how material reality and how relationships come into being and how they play out. For the person with faith, however, there comes a purpose and a reason for events and relationships. It’s sort of like a growing tree: what occurs is growth. In orchards and managed forests, humans prune and shape the growth. The growth is present, but the shape it takes comes from the hands of the caretaker. That’s a way of thinking about faith. Things happen naturally or by human intervention. Those events, those growths are shaped, not left to randomness – to purposelessness. Faith is the perception and awareness of the shaper of history, the mitigating of relationships, the unifying of contrary and conflicting efforts. The person of faith seeks and believes there is a husbandman present who shapes and forms even tragedy and hatred into growth leading to a higher truth, existence.

Faith runs counter to what we know about human experience. Amassing a sizeable fortune, achieving an enviable social status, being recognized, and picked out of crowds as a person of importance are the hot buttons all naturally strive to achieve. These are the tangible things we can sink our teeth into. These are the goals of much of human life. But Faith? What does faith provide add to our pursuit during our years? Faith, isn’t it about things unseen? Isn’t it easily forgotten, pushed aside in favor of what we are able touch, see, hear, taste, and/or smell? So, this Sunday is about – faith. We’ll need to collect thoughts to think about during this coming week.

The second reading, that letter to the Hebrews, is difficult. It is written to the Jews and assumes the readers participate in that cult and culture. Those of us lacking that background struggle to understand. It insists faith is the realization – the actualization – of what we hope for. Faith makes real what hearts and minds are hard wired to search for in life. What questions arise from this? What do hearts long for, what do minds search for, what emotions and passions do we cultivate and struggle to achieve? The quick and unvarnished answer is a single word, SALVATION. Isn’t this what religious writers, philosophers, and theologians write about? Isn’t this the code word we rattle off so easily? We’re all looking to be "saved," as if we’re like fruit to be put up in a jar and shelved. Salvation, does it mean that we are somehow preserved? But isn’t that what happens when the fruit or vegetable reaches maturity and is ready to fall to the ground? So, maybe the notion of salvation in the sense of being saved is too negative, too lacking in future? It speaks of status quo when a certain quality is achieved. Yet even those whose lives are morally perfect still live and experience new and challenging opportunities. Maybe we’ve a child’s view of salvation. We really need an adult perspective if the pursuit of salvation is to have any impact on how we live. It’s time we put on long pants and take our place in the real world that is where faith makes a difference to each person and to the community of persons. Let’s look at the word salvation.

Salvation is often dumbed down to mean escaping the tragedy of an eternal juridical sentence in the fires of Gehenna. Do you know the image of Gehenna? It was a garbage dump outside Jerusalem, a place made notorious by the pagan sacrifice of firstborn males in the furnace of Moloch. Salvation reduced to escaping eternal damnation lacks motivation for righteous as it is based on fear of pain and forever-suffering. Unless threat is immanent, we tend to ignore it. But, even so, who can operate, live life based on fear? Well maybe we should look at thoughts about heaven. What is there about heaven that motivates us to a high moral standard? Some think heaven is sitting around perpetually staring at the infinite majesty of the Trinity. Pretty boring after a century or so – unless there is no sequence of time just a perpetual present. What is the delight in that, where is the change and progress of events that makes human life interesting? The gospels present heaven as a great banquet. How long can we be at a banquet before we’re overstuffed and tipsy? Others believe heaven is existing in the presence of God AND friends, relatives, co-workers, and citizens. Since this is outside competition and conflict, all would need have settled disputes before arrival or both parties to a dispute could both ejected. The pursuit of heaven must be more than avoidance of hell and its blazing fires. That fear is a good started but in the long run, which is human life, it lacks staying power.

There is a problem with looking at heaven and hell as the end of living. It is too future. Focusing down the road will cause us to fall into the ruts and potholes in day-to-day living. Some think to wait till the very last moment and making sure a priest is around to anoint and send us on our way with the Apostolic Blessing – and, if we’re able, to receive the Eucharist in the form of viaticum – that is food for the journey. Heaven and hell, however, is already now in our present time as well as at the final curtain. How we are able to deal with the glories and the tragedies and the everyday boring stuff of life colors our living – we discover heaven now or hell now. And faith is the difference as it finds value in daily salvation.

I learned at a retreat this past weekend that the word salvation is from a Hebrew word which is translated as a verb meaning "to make spacious." Our Latin rendering of the word has a root that can lead us to think it means "to heal, to cure, to make whole." But it is the making spacious that is more to the point of salvation. Salvation is what happens within us when we are freed from what ties us down. Simply put, it is a release from what enslaves us. In the history of the Hebrews, God over and over and over yet again causes liberation for his chosen ones. One tragedy after another – they continually get caught in idolatry; they act as in the way of the world, denying the rights and dignity/worth of others. Inevitably idolatry and violating the welfare of others and robbing the common good of all leads to being conquered and enslaved. In religious thinking, the conquering by foreign nations is only the realization of what the chosen ones have already done to themselves. Think of the Egyptian captivity, the Assyrian conquest, the Syrian threat, the Babylonian captivity. Don’t overlook the enslavement of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanies. For the sake of unity and loyalty in his empire, he insisted the Hebrew culture, cult, and Mosaic Law be replaced with Greek culture and worship and philosophy. Yet, from the beginning – actually beginning with Abraham – there was a belief in One God. And that One God was truthful, present, and wise. The Mosaic Law was the way the people would live a free and productive life, focused on the common good of the nation and aware of those in need and supportive of the widow, the orphan, and the alien in their midst. Harmony would ensue giving space and encouragement to each person to grow in skills, productivity: security was achieved, and each could reach fullness of age, graced with wisdom, dignity, and peace. This is no ordinary peace but one in which everyone had access to what they needed to flourish. That is named Shalom and is a condition our hearts and minds cry out for even now. From this we understand heaven isn’t something in the sky far away and a long time from now. Heaven and hell exist here and now. Good things and bad things happen. How we deal with them puts us in one of the two places. Take a look around and it’s evident this is so.

The judgment that precedes our final placement is a summation of our life. That is the treasure that is stored up for us either in heaven or hell. And it all begins now. Even the most difficult life is a foundation for growth in wisdom, dignity, and relationship with the source of all life, the Trinity. The difference between heaven and hell in time and space is faith.

There is a big jump, however, before we get to the place where we grow in spirit, in wisdom, in dignity, and relationship with God we need nourish the faith that has been gifted us. We must realize the way of the world is not in our best interests. The way of the world cannot satisfy our thirst for wisdom, dignity, peace, and fullness. The way of the world is to keep us in a state of anxiety and in constant struggle to get the more always just out of reach. The way of God appears to be foolishness to anyone who lives in the way of the world.

The way of the world is marketed to us with an insistence difficult to resist and/or refute. How can we stand up against its pressures and allure? Ah! That’s the story this Sunday. It is faith that gets us past the siren songs of power, wealth, influence, and pleasure. If we agree with those ways of the world, we soon become enslaved to them. Check out the concerns of your day! Check out the amount of time allotted in your day for developing a relationship with the Trinity, that source of Life. Check out the urge to compete even unto financial and/or social death for the goods the world holds out as rewards. Faith, says the Letter to the Hebrews, is the realization of the hope that is most central and fundamental to humans. Often our hopes are about the new car, the bigger house, the richer food, the fat accounts, and stock portfolio. What is more fundamental to our wellbeing is a sense of self-worth, an awareness of belonging to a community, starting with family, and expanding as we mature. What we hope for is health, and our daily bread – that bread not limited to food but includes food for our hearts – what we love – and for our spirits. That bread is the Wi-Fi connection with the kingdom of God, that reign of God whose energy is based on the bondage of love for others and community. If we hope for anything else, we hope for the things available by the way of the world. That way demands our spirits (souls) stealing freedom. Our living becomes more expansive when we discover the Way of Faith. Faith resides in the heart, coming as gift from the Father. For with faith, obedience means listening with the heart. The head is too calculating to listen, concerned as it is with its own way. When listening with the heart, we listen with appreciation, love, in harmony with the heart of the Gift-giver. By listening to the Heart of God, we expand, grow in freedom, and in that freedom, are able to grow as persons, and strength to life of communities. We make real what in faith we set our hands to – listening always to the heart of the Trinity.

Dennis Keller with Charlie dkeller002@nc.rr.c

 

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LOOKING FOR JESUS TO TAKE US HOME: 19TH SUNDAY C

Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 18-19; Luke 12:32-48

'Be ready,' Jesus says, 'because I am coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Linda, a mother, was putting her three tiny tots to bed. Suddenly, Anna, who had just begun kindergarten, said thoughtfully: 'Mommy, if the world came to an end right now …' Linda gulped and said a quick prayer for guidance. 'Yes, dear,' she said, 'go on.' Anna finished her question, saying, 'Would I have to take my library book back, or would it be okay to leave it at home?' Anna's innocent question and Jesus' clear words invite me to ask: 'How ready am I at this very moment to meet my Lord?'

Jesus calls on his followers to be on the job so to speak, with their sleeves rolled up and ready for action, on the day of his Second Coming. Just when that will be, nobody knows. Meanwhile, for those of us who will have passed on before the Second Coming, Jesus will also be coming for us at our death. Just exactly when that will be, we have no idea. We don't know what year, what month, what day, and what hour any of us who are alive now are destined to pass from this world into the next. It might be in 50 years’ time or 10 years’. It might be next year or it might be tomorrow. It could even be tonight. 'Who knows?' God knows, and God alone knows.

No matter how strong and healthy we might be, life can be as fragile and unpredictable as when a burglar breaks into a house in the dead of night. Remember what happened to Princess Diana, and many others. The all-important thing is to hear and heed the sensible advice of Jesus: 'Be ready! Be ready at all times and at any time! Be always ready to let go and let God!'

For those servants of God who are ready, Jesus offers a blessing: 'Happy those servants whom Jesus the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you the truth. He will put on an apron, sit them down at the table, and wait on them.' They will find themselves at the table of the Lord, being waited on by Jesus himself, no longer just servants, but friends. Waited on, nourished, cared for, and loved, just as he does at every Eucharist, but this time in a richer and fuller way.

How very important and necessary it is, then, that we heed the teaching of Jesus on how he will be coming into our lives at the end, by being on the lookout for how he comes into our lives now. In ‘the signs of the times’, in the people we meet, in the circumstances of every day, and in the opportunities that come our way to do good for others! Someone has said wisely and well. 'I will pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do to any person, let me do it now, and not delay it, for I shall not pass this way again.' Someone else has said just as wisely: 'As we live, so we die, and as we die, so we stay.'

If we are convinced of the truth of those sayings, we will not only be people of faith. We will also be people of hope, people who pray with conviction and commitment three prayers we regularly recite at Mass: - 1. ‘Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.' 2. ‘... we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ', and 3. '...we look forward to his second coming'. Living like that, and praying like that will make those other words of Jesus come true for us: 'There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.'

When Jesus Christ comes for us, then, how would we like him to find us? We would surely want him to find us with our work completed. Life for so many of us is filled with loose ends. There are things undone and things half done, things put off, and things not even started. May we be able to say what Jesus said to his God and ours: 'Father, I have finished the work you gave me to do' (Jn 17:4)!

We would surely want Jesus to find us at peace with our fellow human beings. At peace and reconciled, with no anger still burning in our hearts, and carrying no grudges! We would also surely want Jesus to find us at peace with ourselves, with confidence that we have nothing on our conscience to trouble or hinder us now, that we have experienced and celebrated God's mercy and forgiveness, and that we have put right any wrong we have done.

So, when Jesus comes for us, if he finds us with our work complete and at peace with ourselves, with our fellow human beings, and with our God, we will surely feel safe and secure as he takes us into his arms, and carries us home to God.

For this most necessary of all blessings, let us keep praying to the Lord!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year C: 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.."

You will have heard it said,

You may have heard the song,

You may even have seen the film:

"Diamonds are forever!"

That is why diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

That is why people like them – to put in engagement rings and wedding rings and symbols of other things that they hope will also last forever.

And that is why they are so expensive.

And that is why people take big risks to go and get them. Some even fight and kill for them. I am told that the biggest civil war in Africa – in the Congo –which killed over three million people was maintained almost entirely by the price of diamonds. They called them ‘blood diamonds’.

Well, most of what I know about diamonds I learned from a man who used to mine diamonds. I’ll call him Rohan. Rohan spent five years going up and down the Mazaruni river in South America, looking for diamonds. He was a diver – they get the best pay and they take the biggest risks. And he took enormous risks diving in the river. He saw many friends killed and seriously injured. He himself got malaria twenty-six times, as well as bush yaws, typhoid, dysentery, and all sorts of other diseases. But he did make good money. And every so often, he had "plenty money" to into Mahdia, the local mining town, and drink up and have a good time and meet some nice girls. At least, he always thought it was a good time and they always seemed like nice girls. But then the money would finish and it would be time to go back up the river.

Just occasionally, he would go back up to his home village of Moruka where his brother has a farm. And one day, after about four or five years of this, his brother asked him very simply: "Rohan, why is it that you earn so much money and you never have any; while I earn so little and I always have a little?"

That question really troubled Rohan. And it took him a very long time to find the answer. But, when he found it, the answer was that his brother was working for his wife and his family. That was why his little money had to last. Rohan was working only to get money for himself. And that is why his money never lasted longer than his most immediate pleasures. And right then he made himself promise that from now on he would only work for things that endure – for the things in life that are ultimately important - for the food that lasts. He had learned that Diamonds may be for a long time, but only God is forever.

And just after Rohan told me that, he looked me very straight in the eyes, pointed his finger hard at me and asked me his own question: "Father, - you - do you work for things that last, or do you only work for diamonds?"

It is a question I always try to ask myself as seriously as I can, every few months, just to keep myself honest. Because diamonds come in many forms – not just a comfortable lifestyle in one of the rich countries of the world; popularity with friends and colleagues; the approval of patients and parishioners (well sometimes!), all the nice things in life. But all of that means nothing – and less than nothing - unless it means something in the eternity that is God’s Kingdom.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in the God who gives us the true treasures of life.

Paul O'Reilly SJ <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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