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Contents: Volume 2 - 32/33rd Sundays - C
November 6 & 13, 2022

 

  The

32/33rd

SUNDAYs

 (C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP - 32nd SUNDAY

2. -- Dennis Keller - 33rd SUNDAY

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP - 32nd SUNDAY

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ - 32nd SUNDAY

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

 

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1.

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Sun. 32 C 2022

 

    Since preachers are focused on the word and its power in our lives, I focused on the selection from the 2 Letter to the Thessalonians this week.  The first part reminds us of the love, encouragement, hope, and grace which we have received from God. Certainly these continual blessings do indeed encourage us and strengthen us in spreading the word especially when challenges appear.

 

    All of us, by our Baptism, are called to be preachers in some way.  All of us confront obstacles.  All of us are encouraged and strengthened by our God!

 

We certainly do need the prayers of others though so that the word may speed forward.  Might I ask additional prayers for all of us that we not get bogged down or side-tracked with whatever the current challenge might be!  The Lord is indeed faithful and will continue to instruct and direct us in this awesome and humbling task.

 

Let us take some time to pray for one another this week and acknowledge these gifts from God once again so that our call might be strengthened within us.   It is God's work, not ours that we do for God is the one who is all knowing, all loving, and all powerful, not us.  Let us trust in God's care as we continue the work that we do.

 

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Thirty Third Sunday of Ordered Time November 13, 2022

Malachi 3:19-20; Responsorial Psalm 98; 2nd Thessalonians 3:7-12; Gospel Acclamation Luke 21:28; Luke 21:5-19

Wars and rumors of wars! Violence and abuse of the marginalized, resourceless poor! Were we living in Ukraine just now, we’d wish for an end to the campaign of terror meant to subject that nation to the will of a tyrant. In this Sunday’s readings, there is a clear threat of violence and pillage coming to the people. Yet despite such dire circumstances, the gospel and the first reading are hope filled because of God’s commitment to those who fear him.

This is not the same fear we rightfully have about bombs, rockets, or heavy artillery. This fear of the Lord would have been better translated as “awe at the presence of the Lord.” It’s like standing over the crib of your infant and marveling at this newness of life. This fear of the Lord is the source of hope and perseverance.

The first reading from the prophet Malachi, states the “Day of the Lord” is coming. It would be a time of siege, of pillage, of rape, and slaughter as armies take the city. Even in the face of this terror, the last verse of the reading is full of hope. “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” There will be healing – in Christian-speak, there will be resurrection. These are great words, but in times of trial and persecution they seem empty --- unless… It’s this ‘unless’ that is the message in the gospel as well. Faith in the presence of the Lord, of the Trinity, during trials and troubles arising from the perversity of the way of the world, makes survival and recovery possible. Faith is about the presence, the walking with us of God. Sometimes that presence seems light years away. Yet God is present, especially present because other people share their strength and accompaniment with us as God’s surrogates. Suffering becomes tolerable. God uses whomever, whatever is at hand to be for us. The watching out to discover God is demanding and often seems a futile exercise. But none the less God is with us. Recall Moses stumbling onto the burning bush. It was on fire but was not consumed. When asked its name the response is a forever pronouncement: “I am who is with you.” The word “always” is implied.

In the midst of terrible persecution, of death, of terror, of starvation, and torture, God remains with us. That takes a lot of faith. The cross in all this is our symbol of hope. That sounds weird – the instrument of unbearable pain is our hope? Our faith tells us that after the storm, after the cross, there comes a gentle breeze that lifts us up in resurrection. In our faith, we know – well should know – that the example of Jesus tells us that enduring the cross is the pathway to resurrection. Doesn’t make the cross any less agonizing and threatening. When trouble comes our way, faith practiced will be strong enough to sustain us.

The narrative of the book of Job seems pertinent. Up till the time of the Job story, it was thought that suffering, persecution, violence, and famine were punishments God meted out to those who sinned. The Job story tells us pain, loss, and despair are not God punishing us. It’s a part of human life and often the evil of others affecting us. Suffering for the Christian can be restorative as a sort of resurrection, a new creation within us. Suffering is not God demanding retribution for past deeds. Job’s question becomes, “O God, where is your mercy.” What a great mini prayer to have at hand when trouble comes!

We don’t often hear from the prophet Malachi. His name is more a title than a proper name. It means Messenger (of God – is implied). His preaching occurred after the Babylonian exile around 428-427 B.C. Much of his prophecy concerns marriage. Men were divorcing the wives of their youth and marrying younger, attractive foreign women who turned husbands from the God of Abraham to pagan gods of these foreigners. Marriage is a holy matter: God created man and woman to be together, “bone of bone, flesh of flesh.” Yahweh is the father of all Jews and because there is only one God, persons belong to the people of God in order to be a part of God’s family. Marrying outside that circle is to break the bond of the divine family and to desecrate the temple of God. Recall, the temple was the place where God dwelt within the nation.

He also preached against the priesthood which in that time were ignorant, grasping, and indulgent. The lack of religious fervor in the community was the responsibility of leaders, especially priests. The rich cheated the poor, even selling them into slavery. The mood of the people questioned why irreligious people got along better than devout people.

The prophet Elijah would return before that “great terrible day.” That was how the “Day of the Lord” was described when God would come to claim his creation. It can also mean a siege and capture of a city by a foreign army and refer to the suffering of surviving citizens. In Christian literature the “Day of the Lord” often refers to the first and second coming of the Christ. That second coming in Christian literature is frequently described as the most terrible of times. 

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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3.

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‘LIFE IS CHANGED, NOT ENDED’: 32nd SUNDAY C

Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38

 

If you happen to visit Flemington (Melbourne, Australia) for the Spring Racing Carnival, you will see on display a stunning crop of beautiful roses. But a few days later, they will start to wither and die. This is the lot of all living beings on earth. Eventually they all wither and die. This includes human beings, even though we generally last much longer than flowers.

 

When I was young, I felt so alive, so strong, and so energetic, that I could not imagine myself as dying or dead. It was hard to think that way of any of my immediate family either. But in 1975 my father died, in 1991 my mother, in 2001 my sister Marie, in 2006 both my sister Eileen and my brother Pat, and in 2021 my sister, Stella. Now with all those experiences behind me, it’s a lot clearer than it was then, that I too am destined to die.

 

What about you, Brothers and Sisters? Can you imagine yourself dying or dead? I wonder what your thoughts and feelings are about this. What questions do you have about the end of your life on earth? Does the prospect of your death fill you with fear and dread, or have you accepted that it’s something normal and natural? Will your relationship with God then, be different from what it is now? Do you expect to meet your loved ones again after you’ve gone from this world? Do you see yourself as passing away into nothingness or as passing over into the embrace of the God of life and love?

 

All our questions and concerns about this are connected with the incident in today’s gospel. At the time of Jesus, one of the powerful groups confronting him was the Sadducees. They were religious fundamentalists. They accepted no development in religious insight and teachings beyond the first five books of the bible. Because the Pentateuch (the first five books) had nothing to say about life after death, they strongly denied it. They knew, however, that Jesus did believe in life after death. So, they decided to ridicule and humiliate him about life after life. They put this silly scenario to him. There was this woman, they said, who married seven times to seven brothers. In the next life, whose wife will she be?

 

Even though they are trying to bait Jesus, he answers them politely and courteously. He insists that there is real life for good human beings after this one. We survive death. We are not annihilated. We don’t pass into nothingness. But in many ways, the life to come is quite different from our experience of life now. Thus, in heaven, where we hope to be with God forever, there is no getting married and no sexual union. When good people die, they pass into the embrace of God. They meet God, and they meet their loved ones in God. They enjoy the company of God forever. In the presence of God, there will be no more sadness, crying, grieving, worrying, and anxiety. In their union with God, they will be permanently happy.

 

A story may help our understanding. A little girl was waiting in an airport lounge to board a plane. She was so excited that she kept bouncing up and down. ‘Little one, where are you going?’ her mother asked. ‘To Granny! To Granny! To Granny!’, the child kept saying over and over again. Her answer helps to illustrate the point Jesus was making about the afterlife. We should not think of it so much as going to a place as being with a person, i.e., with our great, wonderful, interesting, fascinating God, who is Life and Love Itself.

 

Sometimes I look at the Death and Memorial Notices in “The Sun” or “The Age” newspapers. I’m intrigued by the sheer number of people, religious and non-religious, who show that they believe strongly in life after death. They get that much correct. But some of the things they say about it suggest that they imagine that life after death is simply a continuation of life as they experience it now. Thus, they talk about looking down from the sky, having a beer with their buddies, eating Sunday lunch with Mama, and enjoying her pasta once more. Rugby union players, perhaps with tongue in cheek, claim that their game is the one that is played in heaven.

 

The facts of faith, though, are that good people survive death, and after being purified, go to God in heaven. But their life with God is not identical to the life they live now. The famous Preface for Christian Death sums up the matter beautifully when it prays: ‘For your faithful people, Lord, life is changed, not ended.’ But even though it is a new life we hope and expect to live, that life has already begun. It has begun now in our relationships with God and with our fellow human beings.

 

How important it is, then, to live in harmony with God in the here and now, to live it in friendship with God, to live in loving ways,! For, as a very wise saying has it: ‘As we live, so we die. And as we die, so we stay!’

 

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

 

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4.

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 Year C: 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

 

“Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection”.

 

You should always meet your heroes; true heroism requires the reality test. The ultimate things in life – and death – can only be faced with the confidence of a tested truth. And, as it happens, I met one of mine this week. I was doing a sponsored sleep out for a homeless charity at Lord’s cricket ground. (When I was a teenager, my mother once said, in a moment of stress, that I would only ever be able to earn a living if I could find somebody who would pay me for sleeping! But that’s another story.)

 

At Lord’s, we were addressed by, among other dignitaries, Mike Brearley, the captain of England at possibly the most pivotal moment in modern English cricket history – Headingley 1981. Every English cricket enthusiast who was alive at the time has her or his own story of that match – that little Resurrection lives in all our hearts. But this is mine, just as I finally had the chance to tell it to Mike Brearley:

 

Just before tea-time on Monday 20th July, 1981, I was carried out of the cardio-thoracic surgery ward at Papworth hospital in Cambridgeshire and helped slowly, painfully and awkwardly into my father’s car. It had not been a good day and the rain was spattering down from a leaden sky. I had just had a lifesaving operation on my lungs. I was very sick, very scared and in a lot of pain. I had been told that if the operation was successful and I recovered well, I would be able to have another operation in two weeks time which might then enable me to live a long time – perhaps even a near-normal life expectancy – but no promises – only “might” and if I was lucky.

 

It was the lowest moment of my life. In the previous four days I had experienced more pain than I had thought the world contained. If I was lucky, in a few weeks I would get to relive the experience when they would do the same operation on my other lung. But I wasn’t feeling lucky and I was convinced that I would soon be dead. And I was not the only one - just at that moment the world seemed full of Sadducees – people who say there is no Resurrection.

 

As I tried to make myself comfortable in the car seat, I could hear the cricket commentary on the car radio. Graham Dilley was just walking out to join Ian Botham batting for England at Headingly in the third Ashes test.

 

The match situation was little better than my own: 135 for 7, following on and still 92 runs away from making Australia bat again. Ian Botham, the disgraced former captain who had been forced to resign following the humiliating defeat at Trent Bridge, followed just a few days before by making a pair at Lords, was joined by the hopelessly out of form bowler, Graham Dilley. Up on the dressing room balcony, the captain, Mike Brearley, knowing that the game was gone, had already changed into his suit and was composing his speech of defeat. Every single member of the press corps had already booked out of their hotels, certain that the game would not last into its fifth scheduled day. The bookies were offering odds of 500 to one against an England victory and finding no takers. For England it would be the thirteenth consecutive Test without a win – the worst losing streak in English Test history.

 

As we now know, Botham and Dilley met in mid-pitch and Dilley, knowing that he would not be selected for the next game spoke the finest words ever spoken in Test Cricket: “You don’t fancy hanging around on this wicket for a day and a half do you? Right! Come on! Let’s give it some humpty!”

 

What happened next is well known. Botham, determined not to die wondering went to the long handle like no test batsman has ever done – at least not since the days of Gilbert Jessop in the 19th Century. By the time, three hours later, I reached my father’s house in London, Botham had made 145 not out and England were 124 ahead with one wicket standing and I had begun to think that I might live.

 

The following day, as all the world knows, normality was restored. The final English wicket fell cheaply. The Australian top-order comfortably reached 48 for 1.

 

But then Bob Willis came down like the Assyrian from the Kirkstall Lane End, taking 8 for 43 in a whirlwind of blistering pace that he spent the rest of his career failing to repeat. England won by 18 runs and I just knew I was going to live.

 

I have had other low moments in my life; though never anything quite as bad. And at those times, the words which sustain me come – I am sorry to say –not from the sacred scriptures, nor even from the great canons of English literature. They are: “Let’s give it some humpty!”

 

We too believe in the Resurrection.

We too believe that there is an ultimate hope which sustains us whatever the situation.

We too believe in God.

 

So, let us stand and profess that Faith.

And, just this once, let’s give it some humpty!

 

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

 

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5.

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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 Boll, OP

 


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