"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

August 26, 2018

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 11:08 am

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 26, 2018 – St. John’s

For five Sundays now we have been engaged in a slow meditative reading of the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, whose entire theme is Christ as the Bread of Life. Jesus presents himself as that bread first of all through his words, through his teaching, and this bread is consumed when people who bring hungry hearts and minds receive it in faith. Last week we heard him speak of himself as life-giving bread in a second sense, through his presence in the eucharist when we eat his flesh and drink his blood under the sacramental signs. We will have noticed that the structure of the Mass, our weekly celebration, follows the structure of Jesus’ words, as we first listen to him through the Scriptures and in the homily and respond with the words of our faith and as from this altar table we then receive him in the eucharist.

Today we near the end of this Gospel chapter and hear that some of those who heard Jesus, even some who had been his disciples, did not believe him or the remarkable claims he was making. As they began to drift away, he asked his closest disciples whether they, too, wished to leave, and, speaking for them all, Peter makes the powerful confession of faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life. We have come to believe and now know that you are the Holy One of God.”

It is impossible to read or hear this exchange without relating it to the scandal many Catholics are experiencing today and which has led some of them to leave the Church and others of them to reflect on and to explain to others, and perhaps even to themselves, why they are staying. (more…)

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July 30, 2018

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – B

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , — komonchak @ 3:10 pm

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 29, 2018 – St. John’s

Our second reading today, taken from the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, sets out a description of what makes the Church the Church. Paul is addressing the Ephesians as a group, but not any hap-hazard group such as the people who might happen to find themselves in the same bus or train or airplane. He addresses them as a community, and the first thing he mentions that makes them a community is that they have all been called: “Walk worthy of the call you have received.” Each of them has been called, yes, but as he will say in a few lines, they were called into a single hope.

But there are other constituents of their common life, their community: they have one spirit, which makes them one body; they have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. No other group of human beings at the time would have been brought together around those principles of unity. This was something new in the religious and cultural world of the time. And it is true still today: no other group of human beings gathers around these principles of unity.

It is only after he reminds them that each has been given a gift to use, that St. Paul goes on to say that there are various ministries given in order to help all the members in their work at building up the Body of Christ that is the Church. But his first emphasis is on what all Christians have in common, and it is to serve that community of faith, hope and love under the one God that the ministries of some exist. Some are singled out for the care of all.

It is because some of those so singled out have not served the Church but have betrayed it that we Catholics are once again suffering so painfully. It is painful for me as a priest to see still more horrors being disclosed again, and I can imagine how much more painful it must be for the parishioners of this parish in particular to be reminded of a frightful past. And now the scandal involves a man at the highest levels of the hierarchy being identified as a serial abuser and removed from office, with a hundred questions arising as to how he could have risen so far even after his behavior was widely known and even brought to the attention of authorities in Rome. I am afraid that we have not seen the end but perhaps only the beginning of disturbing new revelations. I can tell you that the anger among priests is almost palpable, and to judge from my readings of many different Catholic websites in the last few weeks, the anger is just as great among the laity.

That is why I wanted to begin this homily where today’s excerpt from St. Paul’s Epistle begins: with the basic gifts and blessings received in common that make us the Church, that bring us together this morning as a Church, the things that are prior to and far more basic and far more central than the hierarchy: the common calling, the common grace, the common faith, the common hope, and all this under the one God who is Father of all, in the one Lord, possessing the one Spirit. These are what really make the Church the Church, that make us–you and me, here and now, this morning–that make us the Church, and we need to remember them, to treasure them, to cling to them, to make them the primary reality that defines our identity as Catholics, that anchors our own individual spiritual lives.

I don’t think any of you would be here in this church this early morning if that were not already true of you. But it is good to be reminded of it, so that we don’t take blessings for granted and don’t confuse the non-essential with the essential, the peripheral with the central. And let us join in prayer that God would heal his Church of these new wounds and lead those in authority to do all that they can to prevent these outrages from ever happening again.

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