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We all have “to do” or “honey do” lists. We oftentimes check off the list first what’s easiest to do, then gradually, the harder ones. Finally we are left with the hardest or the least attractive, like weeding the garden after letting it go for 6 weeks or cleaning out the garage, a closet, or that junk drawer.
When we ask other people who we are or when describing ourselves, we quite naturally talk about roles we have. For instance, “I’m a spouse. I’m a father or mother. I work in the banking, insurance, or manufacturing industry. I work at home, taking care of my family”.
Do we ever add or even think about that we “are children of God in Christ Jesus”?
Why? Why would Jesus go to dine in a Pharisee’s house? He had to know that the Pharisees were looking for excuses to criticize him. They had already complained that he was eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. They had already accused him of letting his disciples break the Sabbath law by picking ears of corn on the Sabbath, a form of work that was strictly forbidden. Why would Jesus go into the lion’s den by eating at the home of a man who considered himself righteous by obeying scrupulously every commandment and tradition of the Law?
And then it happened.
A known sinner, a woman besides, crashes the dinner party, touches Jesus feet with her tears and with her hair, kisses them and anoints them with ointment.
Perfect! Simon was horrified and ecstatic at the same time. He had this so-called prophet right in his crosshairs!
But Jesus turns this breach of etiquette into a lesson of forgiveness and a criticism of Simon’s own lack of hospitality, showing his host is in need of forgiveness and not as righteous as he thought himself.
The Pharisee opened the doors to his home to Jesus. The woman opened the doors of her heart.
What can we learn?
• First, don’t mess with Jesus.
• Don’t consider yourself righteous.
• Don’t judge others harshly.
• We all are in need of the Lord’s mercy.
• And when you invite into your life, show him hospitality.
Two of the more important discoveries in the history of humankind were learning how to tame fire and how to harness the wind.
We have recently seen the destruction those two elements can cause in the wild fires around and in Fort McMurray in Canada and in the tornadoes that devastated several southern and mid-Western communities.
But fire tamed can cook our food, heat our homes, and boil our water. Wind that is harnessed fills our sails, turns our windmills, and is a source of renewable energy.
Wind and fire also symbolize the coming of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it can seem destructive, upending lives and burning out sin. Sometimes it can be more constructive, propelling us along paths not yet taken with a warming glow in our hearts.
Today which coming of the Holy Spirit do you need:
a purifying, raging fire or a soft candlelight glow;
a whirling tornado or a light gentle breeze?
It must be in our DNA. We like our heroes and superheroes to be loners or almost loners: for example, the Lone Ranger, Superman and his ice castle, ...
An individual's last words usually represent the deepest feelings, hopes and dreams for those being left behind. The prayer of Jesus we heard today is part of his farewell at the Last Supper ...
An individual's last words usually represent the deepest feelings, hopes and dreams for those being left behind. The prayer of Jesus we heard today is part of his farewell at the Last Supper and represents an emotional appeal for unity among his disciples. Perhaps he envisioned that there would arise conflicts and differences of opinion as his followers brought his message to the world, and he wouldn’t there physically to offer advice. In fact, soon after, the Church in Jerusalem did have some concerns and questions when Paul began his missionary journeys among the Gentiles, those outside the Jewish faith and culture. For instance, how much of the Hebrew religious practice would they have to embrace as members of the "new way" in order to be accepted by those who had previously found comfort and hope in the tradition given them through Moses? What was important, and what was not? Where could the two sides meet, one without giving up too much of what they treasured; the other, without being discouraged by demands foreign to their culture? How would the message of Jesus overcome such differences and make unity possible?
These are issues with which the Church still struggles.
For example, the talks among various branches of Christianity revolve about what issues are fundamental to faith and which differences developed because of misunderstandings, concerns for authority and power, or were influenced by political realities.
While there is a longing for unity, it must not be confused with uniformity. Nor can differences always be associated with better or worse, right or wrong. For example, apples are different from oranges, yet both are fruits. Is one a better fruit than the other? Personal preference may make that judgment, but in and of themselves they are only different.
As we ponder Jesus' prayer today, may we make these words of Pope St. John XXIII, and then borrowed by the Second Vatican Council in its document on The Church in the Modern World our own motto:
“For the bonds which unite the faithful
are mightier than anything which divides them.
Hence, let there be Unity in what is necessary,
Freedom in what is unsettled,
And charity in any case." (# 92)