Deuteronomy 30, 10-14
- If only you would hear the voice of the Lord and keep his statutes. It does not sound very dramatic and was not meant to.
It is an appeal to all the descendants of Israel, put in the mouth of Moses. Commandments and statutes have always been an important part of our Christian observance,
to laws has marked the history of our country, though, and the church must confront this tradition of hostility.) In my mouth it will be closer to a prayer than to a declaration.
- Return to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. Now begins the theme of personal commitment.
The people are expected to give their whole lives as well as isolated weekly actions to God.
- This command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious
and remote for you. The appeal continues, taking the shape of a natural law. Paul certainly knew it and depended on it for his doctrine of divine grace. He quotes part of this passage verbatim: It is something very near
to you, in your minds and in your hearts. It speaks to us especially, in
a time in which teaching authority is ever more concentrated in a far-off bureaucracy.
- Not up in the sky… not across the sea. I do not look for caricature in these examples
but for an attitude that is always prevalent in the church. For one example,
who has the ability to annul a marriage or excommunicate a politician? I intend
only to remind my listeners that the tradition we inherited from Judaism stresses personal responsibility. Deuteronomy and the prophets declare an interior commitment. In both cases I will center on the word Who?
- Today’s Gospel passage presents the Good Samaritan who embodies actions in fulfillment of the
love of God. More than a church of laws we are a servant people who do not have
to be told or prompted to love.
- Climax: No, it is something
very near to you.
- Message for our assembly: In management we call this “ownership.” Are the laws merely proclaimed by authority or have we also received and accepted
- I will challenge myself: To find a warmth in my voice that does justice
to the intimacy of Moses’ encouraging words.
Colossians 1, 15-20
- Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God. I hear the hymn to the Cosmic Christ. And the opening strains
of Yanni’s Santorini come to my mind.
It may not be the humbled slave of Philippians that the author invokes,
and yet it is someone who through his divinity renders a wonderful service. Let
- All things in heaven and on earth, things visible and invisible,
thrones or dominions, principalities and powers. Nothing is left out and
there is no room for evil here. No worldly power lies outside the benchmark of
Christ’s love. Evil does not triumph now.
I want the church to hear this bold, confident statement.
- In him all things hold together. What daring in these words! How can I speak them with indifference? How can I hold back a part of my life from him?
- He is the head of the body, the beginning, the firstborn from
the dead. Again we proclaim Christ not as a despot or a dictator or even
a founder, but as our foundation and our pledge. This hymn is about us! I should read it in that spirit.
- Through him to reconcile all things for him. The pronouns refer to different divine persons, first the Son and second the Father. I will show by my inflections that they are different.
- And the service to the creation? To reconcile, first, and then making peace by the blood of his cross. We are not triumphalists, but rather follow Christ’s example as servants. The hymn lifts Christ to the heights of creation and the ground of being because he
- Climax: All things were created through him and for him.
- The message for our assembly: Do we take pride in the Christ who is honored in this hymn? Are we too bound to our nationalism to pray for the reconciliation of everyone, including undocumented
immigrants and militant Muslims, in Christ?
- I will challenge myself: To find my best lyric voice to entone this early poem.
Luke 10, 25-37
- Luke continues his narrative about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. I know this is the Good Samaritan story, which my listeners know already, so I don’t
intend to find new slants of any kind. My ministry is for our little corner of
the universal church to hear, listen and take heed of what Christ asks of us.
- What is written in the Law?
begins the Master. And so we begin, not with an invention of ours but
with God’s revelation. I will emphasize the word all each of the four times it comes up, to remind ourselves that God requires our whole lives.
- You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.
I notice that Jesus is speaking about the law of Moses. The Good Samaritan
story is an elaboration of the commandment I have already read. The reading of
the law is not a set-up to the story, as it were, but the general summary of Jesus’ teaching that we usually downplay
or limit in its scope.
- The question Who is my neighbor? was asked over and over in the communities
of the Diaspora where Jews and Gentiles lived close to each other. It has not
lost its relevance for our own community, especially in my neighborhood when we take it for granted that most everyone around
us is also Catholic.
- A man fell victim to robbers as he went down… Let me practice carefully, since this translation has changed the word order and I
want to avoid stumbling over words and breaking my listeners’ concentration.
- A Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved to compassion. These are the words we apply to Jesus when he saw the crowds and the infirm. Of course, “Samaritan” was applied to Jesus by his enemies.
- Climax: Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor?
- Message for our assembly: Jesus turned the question around, and so must we. We
are all called to be neighbors to each other.
- I will challenge myself: To tell the story without rushing and as an insider.
From Word to Eucharist: Now
we journey together to the Eucharistic table, re-enacting the journey to Jerusalem and indeed
the emergency mission down to Jericho. Everyone is our neighbor but are we neighbor to them? Has
Christ worked his way with us?