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Contents: Volume 2 - The 28th SUNDAY (A)
 - October 11, 2020


The

  28th

  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. 28 A

The conclusion of the Gospel reading this Sunday might raise the comment, "Wow, I thought "called" and "chosen" the same thing." I think that in God's eyes, once we are magnanimously invited to partake in the heavenly banquet, we must respond appropriately in life by living according to God's ways. If we do not, we will, by our own actions and non-actions, cast ourselves into the darkness outside the Kingdom.

Perhaps that recognition will help us to ponder how it is that we actually can live the life we have, according to God's ways. Life seems to be swirling around us with so very many things from which we need to be saved! Our first reading from the Book of Isaiah reflects not only the longing of peoples of the past, but of us today, we who would love pure abundance and no tears or strife.

Last week, we were reminded to pray with thanksgiving and dwell on positive thoughts. We can do that, with grace and practice. This Sunday's psalm is the familiar prayer that begins "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...." The second reading to the Philippians reminds us " I can do all things in him who strengthens me" and "My God will supply whatever you need." We can remember and repeat those familiar words to keep those positive thoughts front and center in our minds.

That front and center is our prefrontal lobe, where we make daily decisions. That development of that part of the brain is well, developmental, as is our prayer life and the commitment to conforming to God's ways. We can take baby steps if we need to do so, but we need to take a step. We need to make a firm commitment to change whatever stands in our way, something that with God's grace, can be changed, so that we can walk a closer walk with God.

In the day and age in which we find ourselves, it is difficult not to call out those who seemingly flout the rules and live lives that objectively go against the 10 commandments or what the Bible says in one place or another or even the Golden Rule. Only God can read hearts and only God is the Supreme Judge. Pope Francis has made several similar statements to that effect, the last being in his recent encyclical "Fratelli Tutti" where, among other important things, he speaks about the death penalty as "inadmissable and Catholics should work for its abolition."

We have an invitation and obligation to live according to God's ways. God gives us many personal chances to get that right! As we work toward changing our own ways, let us afford others the right and chances to let God's grace work within them also. It will be interesting to see who it is that we might recognize at the Heavenly Banquet.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Eighth Sunday of Ordered Time October 11, 2020

Isaiah 25:6-10; Responsorial Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14 &19-20; Gospel Acclamation Ephesians 1:17-18; Matthew 22:1-14

Isaiah opens the proclamation of God’s Word this twenty eighth Sunday with a promise of a great banquet. There is a lot of writing in Hebrew and Christian Scriptures about banquets. A favorite and well-known psalm is psalm 23 whose final verse speaks of a great banquet. Historically, when this part of the book of Isaiah was written, life in Judaea was anything but a banquet. This time was stressful, filled with rumors of war, frayed diplomatic relationships with Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon. Each of these empires wanted to dominate Israel because of its strategic position and highly secure, top of the mountain city, Jerusalem. The secular scene is reminiscent of the time directly before the second World War. We can relate to the dark and terrible future for Juda if we reflect on current conflicts and concerns. We have the ravages of a viral pandemic, international relationships are highly competitive and rancorous, there is a revitalization of the nuclear arms race, there are struggles on our streets – not only in the U.S. but around the world. Despite this uncertainty and threats of warring destruction of the eighty centuries before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah writes of a great banquet. He writes of a time of peaceful prosperity, a gathering of persons and nations in brotherhood and fellowship. Isaiah writes there will be a new mountain on which the foreboding veil that covers all people, that spider web of intrigue and violence woven over all nations will lose its threat. The rush of a race toward violent death and all that murders peace and prosperity will be torn away resulting in death of death itself. The tears of terror, of loss, of despair, and of discord between nations, dividing families, and conflicting life traditions will be wiped away. All will sit down together and sing "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!" Such thoughts, such words are the ultimate focus of in each of the three segments of Isaiah’s prophecies. This prophet sees in the gloom and darkness of anger, violence, cut-throat international competition, and infighting of the nation a hope for peace, for welcoming arms, and for a time of great rejoicing and sharing of the bounty of the earth. Boy, oh Boy! From Isaiah’s lips to God’s ears! As we tire of the struggle, isn’t such a peace and harmony our heart’s desire?

Despite the promise of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jerusalem fell, and its inhabitants were either slaughtered, dispersed into the wilderness of wastelands, or brought as slaves to the great city of Babylon. What on earth is Isaiah talking about?

The answer to this question seems to evade us. Why after at least four thousand years of God’s interventions in history do we still allow and suffer under the thumbs of oppressors? Why are our hearts still so hardened by experiences that we cannot find the handle to peace and harmonious living? Why is it that poverty continues to be the hatchery of terror and violence? Why is power such an aphrodisiac that seduces us into worshipping it excesses? Were we to stand on Isaiah’s mountain and scan the horizon would not our eyes encounter temples built to worship the god, power? Why is wealth the measure of persons’ dignity and worth? Looking down from Isaiah’s mountain do we not note the cut-throat, destructive competition that seeks to own and control competitors? Do we not see the futile efforts to stand head and shoulders above others by reason of fame, manipulation of truth, and wholesale shame and self-destruction of integrity and character? Is there any movement, any family that is not taken in by these false and seductive temptations?

Jesus’ parable speaks of a gathering in honor of the wedding of a king’s son. In the time of Jesus, invitations were sent out well in advance. But the actual date and time would not be included. This seems strange, but if we recall the lack of refrigeration and control over perishability and food preparation, we can understand the start of a magnificent banquet would depend less on choice than it did on the completion of preparations. Invited persons would need to clear their calendars and prepare themselves and bathe and prepare their wedding garments and wait for the call to come to the feast.

Jesus summarizes the history of the Chosen People by claiming that the Father has continually invited the Hebrew People to the wedding feast of the son. Repeatedly, God has intervened to help this small nation to survive and to thrive. Over and over again, God has spoken to his people through the prophets – all with the same message – "be prepared for the great feast, the wedding banquet of the Son." The preparation for the wedding banquet – when the Son wed creation in general and the Hebrew People in particular – was extensive and took thousands of years. The invitations began with Abraham and Sara’s call until the time of the human birth of the Son as Jesus.

When history came to fullness, the nation should have been prepared. This parable of Jesus is about the Kingdom of Heaven. God’s efforts in creation are not static. God is continually involved, is continually inviting us in the here and now. The Kingdom of Heaven is a work in process. The coming of Jesus is the beginning of the wedding feast – and each person is invited regardless of who we are, where we come from, what gender we are. None of that makes as difference to the one inviting. We come to the feast – to the Kingdom of Heaven dressed in what we have chosen to be.

We are the invited. The banquet is the event of a lifetime. It is life itself. Yet how many of there among us who have business to attend to, politics to pursue, economic concerns to manage, pleasures to enjoy, and family concerns that command our attentions. In the parable Jesus speaks of wide-spread rejection of God’s invitation to the Kingdom of Heaven. There are many who reject with violence. There are many who are unable to see beyond the moment.

The question to ask ourselves is, are we willing to come to the banquet? Our secular concerns come with us to the banquet. Those who come to the banquet retain their concerns. It is just that the concerns do not keep us from participating in the Kingdom of Heaven. Members of the banquet are not to demonstrate split personalities. We come as we are but wearing the wedding garments we have prepared. Our characters, what we have chosen to become, are our wedding garments. Liars, thieves, murderers, adulterers – all those who choose to violate their created character fail to groom themselves and care for their garments.

Matthew writes that those who rejected and did violence to God’s emissaries lose their kingdoms and their cities. This seems strange in the context of the invitation to the banquet. To understand this verse, it helps to know that Matthew wrote this gospel between 80 and 90 A.D. This was after Rome, tired of the constant rebellion, the constant violence from the nation, this was when Rome finally came to Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple. The slaughter was indiscriminate – men, women, children, and even animals were slaughtered wherever they were found. The city was sowed with salt so that nothing would grow there. Matthew includes this line in his gospel to Christian Jews to remind them to live in the non-violent gospel of Jesus. Jesus’ message was a message of God’s love and God’s compassion. Violence was contrary to the message and life of Jesus. He endured violence and was raised up into newness of life. That is the power of the banquet. No matter what we endure, we come together in celebration of the wedding of the Son, that wedding that binds us each to one another and to the God who created us for himself. When the Kingdom of Heaven is effective, Isaiah’s vision is brought to completion. Then the spider web of deceit and violence is cut and God’s light shines through to show us the way to his kingdom.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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SHARING AND CARING: 28TH SUNDAY A

There is always some context, some situation, that sheds light on the things we say and the things we do. What I am about to say presupposes the gathering together of Christian people for prayer, and especially for that great prayer, our Sunday Eucharist. Tragically, for many months now, many Christians here, there, and everywhere, have been unable to gather fully as one community for our Sunday Eucharist. Many of us have also been starved for months on end of Holy Communion, the nourishment of Jesus for our shared lives of faith, hope, and love. In the context of this tragic situation, then, my words today are spoken with joyful and prayerful hope, that we may soon return to a more normal pre-Covid situation, for life together in the community of Jesus.

If we look deep into our hearts, we will discover that among our many longings, there is one for good relationships with other people. We long to be at peace with them, to be at home with them, to live in harmony, to get on well with them, to cooperate with them, to support them and enjoy their company. In a nutshell, we have a very deep longing for companionship, community and communion. We know deep down, that try as we might to be masters of our own fate, to be captains of our own souls, to be rugged individuals, to make it on our own, to be self-made and self-sufficient, we simply cannot survive and we certainly cannot thrive without other people in our lives. Our longing for belonging makes that very clear.

While the French philosopher, John-Paul Sartre has said: 'hell is other people', he was surely overlooking the greater truth that so too is heaven. I suggest too that the call to community, to togetherness, is some part of what Jesus meant when he said that the kingdom of God, the rule and reign of God, is like a wedding feast to which all sorts of people have been invited to come together. In fact, we cannot have the company of God, and we cannot experience and savour the love of God, without being connected with, and in contact with, other human beings. This is so true that the Second Vatican Council, in its document on the meaning of the Church, said that God saves us (and therefore re-makes and transforms us), not as isolated individuals but as members of a people - the people of God, a sharing people, a people in communion. (The Church #8)

But perhaps in response to God's invitation to dine together at the table of the Lord, to share Jesus Christ with one another, to enjoy one another's company, to offer friendship and love to others, both at the Eucharist and outside it, and to reach out to them with acceptance, interest, care and concern, that we keep saying like those selfish and self-centred individualists in the gospel today: 'No! Not now! Not yet! I have to work my farm. I have to look after my business. I have no time to mix with others, no time to socialize, no time to work with others. I don’t want to get involved and mix with them. Don’t expect to find me standing, kneeling, and sitting down with all those strangers, let alone meeting them personally and becoming friends. I’m just not coming to the feast. What do you take me for?'

If we find ourselves saying ‘no’ to others, no to companionship, no to communion, no to community, no to caring and sharing, how are we ever going to make God's dream come true for us - people of our faith, people of other faiths, and people of no faith? How on earth are we going to help God’s dream come true for us all, God’s dream for unity, peace and harmony. If we keep saying ‘no’ to others, blocking them out of our lives, or worse, discriminating against anyone who is different, how are we going to make that dream of Jesus come true for his followers: 'There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all' (Ephesians 4:5), so 'love one another as I have loved you' (John 15:12)?

There is yet another application of the image of the wedding feast. It is summed up in the challenge that is expressed in a fourth-century inscription on the wall of an ancient church in Syria. It says to the people as they assemble for Sunday Eucharist: 'Let no one stay away. If you do, you will deprive the body of Christ of one of its members.'

So, let's remember that, any time we would rather stay home from church - to surf the net, wash the car, prune the roses, bake a cake, walk the dog, paint the spare room, watch the football, go for a swim, do anything at all except, join with the rest of the body of Christ in giving praise and thanksgiving to God. For God’s gifts of life and health, and for God’s gift of life together - life shared, life in common, the heart and soul of our parish communities.

So, as we eagerly await the day when things get back to something like normal, may we find these words of Jesus truer than ever: ‘blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled’ (Lk 6:21)!

"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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