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Contents: Volume 2 - 21st Sunday - C
August 28, 2022

 

  The

22nd

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. 22 C 2022

A look at our Gospel message suggests a radical view of how each of us, especially anyone with wealth or means, needs to act toward anyone who has less. The values encouraged include a sense of equality, kindness, and graciousness. It connects to the first reading from the book of Sirach which outlines the importance of humility rather than superiority.

The messages in these readings seem to apply to everyone's everyday life. We have many opportunities to share our blessings, talents, knowledge, etc. with others. How do we do it? Are we the expert, the one in charge, perhaps even the benefactor? Perhaps unintentionally, something in our inner attitude might actually be quite off-putting!

Now that my granddaughter is well into the teenage world, we are learning new ways of communicating... and not just through the latest slang or emojis. We are blessed with the foundation of a positive relationship, but, wow, effective communication is still a struggle. There is lots new to me, but I imagine, for her, communicating with a caregiver who is also an educator must be daunting!

The qualities in our readings plus those that grow along side of them are the ones that help us and most relationships the most. They seem to be the basis of genuine caring for one another. I think that is the heart of the very basic message in today's readings and what Jesus lived by his life. Jesus as a role model reminds us that we are all equally loved by the Father. None of us will gain entrance into the Kingdom because we are thought of as "distinguished", but rather because we are loved and treated others as loved as well. Hmm!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one
 

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Twenty Second Sunday of Ordered Time August 28th 2022

Sirach 3:17-18, 20, & 28-29; Responsorial Psalm 68; Hebrews 12:18-19 7 22-24; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 11:29; Luke 14:1 & 7-14

The operative word in this Sunday’s liturgy of the Word is "humility." Back in seminary days, we students were accustomed to laugh about "humility with a hook." What that meant varied from one student to another. Mostly, however, it meant saying or acting as though you were untalented, undisciplined, un-attentive, and un-intelligent. Of course, someone, feeling kindly, would immediately spout up, "of course you are really good at all those things." Then of course there was the wise guy who wouldn’t take the bait and insist it was good he was so well aware of his failings. The ultimate putdown and humiliating experience would be the wise guy being wise. In truth, such self-depreciation was often just trolling for a complement. It was a way of growing one’s self-confidence. Makes me wonder, in the gospel Jesus recommends we should take the lowest seat just in order to be recognized and asked to move up to a more prestigious spot. Ah, the mystery of God’s word!

Pride and arrogance never get high marks in the Scriptures, Hebrew or Christian. Typically, the loudest of those with pride and arrogance gets attention in our world. The way of the world demands we promote ourselves or we’ll be left in the dust. We’ll only achieve personal goals, improve the quality of life for our families by tooting our horns. If we don’t look out for ourselves, we’ll never have recognition that is necessary to achieve a raise or the next promotion. There is another term to add to pride and arrogance that is dangerous to our spirit. That addition is hubris. That’s when we embrace a system and allow the system to rob our characters of truth and dignity. That is the foundation for the child abuse that continues even now. Those who achieve great power and wealth tend to forget truth and morality. Some have begun to wonder if we’ve lost any sense of morality in our dealings. Even so, we seem to have a genetic pre-disposition toward knowing what is right. There is a sense of knowing what is right and what is wrong that is hard-wired into our spirit at birth. Then we encounter the world and how people of the world live. Instead of an openness to others, there arises within a demanding sense of right that is more about my best interests. In place of family, our first society, our spirits turn inward as though we are the god that requires worship. Our living takes on self-interest. Goodness is measured by what is presumed to be good for me. Suddenly we turn toward selfishness. Community is lost.

Of course, this is natural, many would say. It’s about self-preservation, about making our way in the world where it’s dog eat dog. The world of the spirit, the place where awareness of a Creator, of a Revealer who teaches and heals the broken, and of a Vitality that is energy for more than just stuff – where the awareness of God and Trinity is submerged below worship of myself. The truth of humanity’s history is painted over with smallness and conflict arising from taking whatever is in reach. The truth of reality that we should know from what our ancestors experienced is that without care and concern for others, we become violent and small persons. There is no future, there is no hope. There is no pathway to personal growth of who and what we are.

We were born with standards of right and wrong hardwired into our psyche. The world teaches us that right and wrong are merely society’s way of controlling our most depraved instincts. It is how dictators control us to their wills. But old testament prophets and new testament prophets insist freedom is God’s gift. As we constantly work to become captives to untruth and selfishness, God continues to raise up seers who shout at us to wake up to the dawning light available to our spirits.

The world thinks of freedom as being able to do whatever pleases us. The prophets tell us that freedom means we are unbound to live without being controlled, freed from the manipulation of the world that turns our spirits toward selfishness. The gods of the world seek to control our spirits and render us servants to their lies. So, we become victims of sin, prevented from the freedom God strongly fights to guide us toward fullness of our unique spirit. The Cross we look to for strength is all about that. Jesus, the Revealer, in pain, in rejection, in losing the last drop of his blood, and robbed of the very last bit of air necessary for life, that Revealer ascended the Cross to demonstrate, to model for us that suffering is not the ultimate slave master. It is a part of the world and its people looking for wholeness. The paschal mystery is this – that suffering, even death has no final say. After each episode of suffering in life, there comes resurrection to those whose eyes of faith are clear and perceptive. For through suffering we learn about love. And love is not just some useless passion, some empty emotion. Love that is true is the very life of the Creator, the Revealer, and the Life Giver. That is the eternal life promised by Jesus. That is how we come to grow.

The great chain that binds us is self-illusion. When and if we live seeking honors, expending ourselves seeking the esteem of others, while condemning self for perceived weaknesses and inability to be gods in our smallest of worlds, then we are in a fool’s race. The tendency to seek divinity for self is an impossibility and dooms us to ultimate and complete failure because of death.

Humility is a true and just estimate of oneself. The truth of what we are, focusing on our positive and good aspects, is the ultimate freedom. Humility is never groveling and debasing oneself. The virtue of humility makes us free of criticisms of others. It is a virtue – a strength supporting our freedom to be the great possibility of our created unique persons. We are like a seed, planted in fertile soil of possibilities. We are empowered to choose from a diverse, rich banquet of possibilities. If we present ourselves to the world, to our family, to our community in a phony and empty incarnation, we are bound to be ground up into dust and fail to live the gift.

Who has listened well to the gospel? Jesus is invited to dinner by a prominent Pharisee. Only a dinner, nothing more. Yet Jesus immediately speaks of a "wedding banquet." That’s worth some thinking.

Some authors have begun writing about the current situation in the world of power, wealth, and influence. What prophecy they are proclaiming is that right and wrong have been overthrown. Rightness and wrongness have lost their footing. In place of those standards have come winning and losing. Winning is the ultimate good no matter its effects on others and on the world in which we live. Losing is the ultimate wrong. As a result, humanity loses the basis for community. Violence is the effective result. Alienation of son or daughter to moms and dads is common. Hatred and greed are fed in momentary and passing victories or defeats. There is a lack of foundation for relationships that are for mutual growth and expansion of spirits, the souls of persons. The very notion of the sacredness of each person is lost. There are only those who play the game and those who are collateral damage.

The message of the gospel and the first reading this Sunday are about humility. Jesus teaches us that seeking the esteem of others is a fool’s error even at a non-spiritual level. Seeking the applause of the crowd is not how we grow as persons. Accepting this idea as operative is a significant daily battle and requires effort. The result of this continuing battle is what freedom is for. That is the freedom Paul writes when he calls it the "freedom of the sons and daughters of God."

Study, if you will, the history of the Chosen People with Pharoah, with Assyria, with Babylon, with the terrors of Antiochus Epiphanies who sought to eliminate the history and culture of the Jews. Look, seeking understanding of the Cross and the empty tomb and the ascension and the Assumption of Mary. Repeatedly, our spiritual history is about growth of freedom for each person. Self-centeredness, attempts to make ourselves God: those attempts are the tool of evil, laying heavy chains on our limbs, and bending our backs. The way to freedom resides within our spirits. The victories w ie achieve with God’s helping hand is what is known as salvation.

The reading from the Letter to the Hebrews this Sunday helps us understand God’s constant hand in helping us. The letter contrasts the Law of Sinai with the Law of Calvary. The first part presents God at Sinai as sheer majesty, not about love but about the mighty power of God. God is unapproachable. The Hebrews are in absolute terror of God.

The Law of Calvary is about a new Jerusalem, a place where God dwells with humanity. Even angels wait for God in joyful, anticipatory assembly in that city. The people of God are no mere nation, but are the first born of the house of God; that is, they inherit the kingdom of God. In the Law of Calvary, God is the judge of humanity, judging with unspeakable joy the perfection of the just ones. And this new Law of God’s making has as its director, this Jesus. He sealed this new contract with the sprinkling of his own blood. That blood shouting to all as more efficacious than the blood of Abel that identifies each as brother or sister to Jesus. The guarantee of the blood cannot be refuted or denied. This contract is a contract not of law but of the very life of God. And that life is absolutely the vitality and energy of God (some would say the Spirit). And that vitality and energy is simply put "the Love of God" for God’s creation.

May we discover how to live. May we come to understand that suffering is our way of growth. May we take heart at the Resurrection of our Revealer. May Mary’s assumption be a lesson to us not so much of Mary’s holiness but of the roadmap for us of what happens when we complete our growth in this life. Humility is about making ready for growth. Humility is the virtue that cleans away bondage and opens us to understanding and growth as God’s darlings.

Dennis Keller with Charlie dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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OUR HOSPITALITY: 22ND SUNDAY C

Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14

In Australian culture, one of the most insulting things we can say to another is this: 'You're a loser!' It's just as bad as saying: 'You're a no-hoper!' We often hear this kind of insulting talk on talk-back radio. Such callers not only show how out of touch their simple solutions are for complex problems but also how rude and nasty they can be to fellow human beings.

Once upon a time on a Sunday morning, a family was rushing from their car to the church. They had been slightly delayed because torrential rain had caused flooding of the local streets and slow driving on the main road. The mum in the family was to be a Eucharistic minister and the dad was scheduled to proclaim the First Reading. As they hurried to the door from the parking lot, they passed a homeless man selling a bi-weekly paper, the proceeds of which went to help the homeless. When they saw him, the parents looked the other way and urged their children to hurry up. When their daughter dared to ask why they didn't buy the paper, the dad replied: 'That's just a rip-off. If those people would just get jobs, we wouldn't have to put up with them in front of our church. They don't belong here, so we shouldn't encourage them.' The dad who prided himself on being an excellent reader, felt very proud of his effort that day when people told him how well he read the words about the need for humility, gentleness, and kindness.

In another parish, the organizers stopped serving tea, coffee, and biscuits after Mass. Why? ‘Because,’ they growled, 'the homeless kept coming here for them.'

Such attitudes are the very opposite of those of our Leader, Jesus Christ. During his life on earth, his welcome, hospitality, kindness, understanding, compassion, and support, for people who were poor, powerless, broken, rejected, struggling, and suffering was so obvious that he was called 'the friend of outcasts'. His attitudes are summed up in his advice to his followers in the gospel today: 'When you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means you are fortunate because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.'

Fortunately, there are still people who take the teaching of Jesus seriously. A former Governor-General, Sir William Deane, a committed Catholic Christian, imitated the humanity of Jesus, in his warmth, care, and affection for all kinds of people. You may remember his trip to Switzerland to grieve with the parents of the young people lost in a fast river following an avalanche, and his handing out to their parents sprigs of wattle to place in the stream as mementos of their lost children. His whole attitude was summed up when for his last official function, he invited a group of homeless young people to have lunch with him.

What do people remember and treasure most of all about the late Diana, Princess of Wales? Was it not her decision to use her worldwide fame and glamour to help the homeless, the sick, the maimed, and the suffering? And so again and again we saw her cuddling babies with incurable diseases, taking off her gloves to shake hands with patients dying of Aids, greeting the mentally ill with a big bright smile, and running an energetic campaign that took her halfway around the world to rid the earth of land-mines.

A school girl tells how when she came back into class after lunch her pencil case was missing. She told the teacher. The teacher found out the child who stole it and gave her a dressing-down in front of the whole class. She was from a very poor family. The next day the mother of the first girl went out and bought a new pencil case for the child who had none.

In one suburb a rather wealthy woman lives in a big house on a hill. Not many people know about this, but at night she drives around in a van and gives out sandwiches and hot chocolate to people spending the night in doorways, tram and bus shelters, and on park benches. In one parish, the priest took out three rows of pews near the front so that wheel-chair restricted persons would not have to park by the doors like unwelcome guests. Another parish welcomes mentally retarded adults from a local facility to Sunday Mass. They make a bit of noise. Some parishioners are not happy about this, but the Parish Council says that the warm welcome tells them that God too welcomes them and loves them.

In our district, area, or suburb, is there someone we are aware of, who regularly gets left out? Could we consider inviting them home for our next barbecue, or having them along to our next picnic, or at least going out of our way to talk with them? Is there someone else who used to be with us at Mass on Sunday, but for whatever reason has dropped out? What about inviting that person to join us once again? Has a new family moved into our town, district, or area lately? What about going out of our way to meet them and help them settle in? Perhaps with a cake or a casserole!

Welcome, warmth, and hospitality! They were big things with Jesus. And consistently so! What about us, who have promised to follow him and live like him? Our Holy Communion, i.e., our sharing of the food God gives us, the food in which Jesus is really present, is not meant to stop at the altar, but to send us from our community to be Jesus Christ to others, bringing them the nourishment of his welcome, and the warmth and care of his hospitality, to anyone and everyone who needs them, and right there and then.

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

 

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Year C: 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Come up higher, friend."

I saw just that happen once – a long time ago in Northern Ireland. A rich man - a pub landlord – funny how pub landlords in Ireland are always rich men – can’t imagine why. Anyway, this rich man held his daughter’s wedding feast at the biggest hotel in Northern Ireland, in a town a few miles outside Belfast. But this was in the time of the Troubles. And on the day of the wedding, there was a lot of trouble in the city, with fighting and shooting and bombs and road blocks, so many of the invited guests were too frightened to come. And so there we were - only about ten or fifteen people in an enormous hall set with dinner for two hundred and fifty. The bride was crying; the groom was silent; nobody was talking; everyone was tense. The atmosphere was horrible!

At the back of the hall stood the father of the bride – a big stout powerful man in his early fifties. And I have never seen a man look so angry! His whole face was purple; the veins were popping out on his forehead; his whole face was working – as they say in football - like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Just once I have seen the like. Sir Alex Ferguson, in his last year as manager of Manchester United, at Old Trafford, losing at home to Liverpool.

And then, just as I was watching, something inside him just suddenly snapped. He could stand the strain no longer. For a moment, I thought he had had a stroke. Then I saw a look of decision come into his face. He had had enough. He wasn’t going to take this any longer. He was going to do something.

He went very slowly and very quietly to the manager of the hotel, grasped him warmly by the throat. (Well, remember he was a pub landlord and in moments of stress we all go back to the methods that have served us well over the years.) And he said very quietly but with emphasis, in a whisper which carried the length of the hall: "Bring all your staff, all your cooks and waiters, porters and chambermaids, barmaids and entertainers. Let them bring all their families because we are still going to have a party. This is still My. Daughter’s. WEDDING!"

The manager was a wise man. He just nodded.

So they all came, pulling on their good clothes as they came. And they filled up the empty spaces. And they were delighted. Normally they spent all their time serving other people. Never before had they had a party in their own hotel. And we ate. And we drank. And then we ate some more. And drank some more. And gradually the party started to warm up. The hotel band happened to have come along. So they pulled out their musical instruments and we had some music. And peoples started to dance. And the party was just beginning to really swing, when...

Well, you know what’s going to happen next, don’t you? All the people who had been delayed on the road finally arrived in a bunch. And there was total confusion. And it was packed. It was heaving. It was massive. It was Brilliant!

Eventually, in the early hours of the morning, as we all tottered our various ways unsteadily home, we all agreed that it had been the best wedding we had ever been at!

The lesson of that moment – the lesson of this Gospel – is that God does not have favourites. Anyone and everyone, black or white, slave or free, rich or poor alike, is welcome to the wedding feast of his Son.

And when we celebrate, we do not celebrate for ourselves alone. We celebrate with the entire Body of Christ – the Church. In our Eucharist today we are united with Christ and with one another. And beyond this place we are united with more than a billion people all over the world. And beyond this time we are united with the billions of people who have gone before us marked with the Sign of Faith. And into the Future we are united with the billions of people who will follow in our own footsteps of Faith.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in God who invites us all.

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

 

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