Preaching Team

The Vine and the Branches

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Once again, I share with you an insight from a student of mine. Dennis Conrad, a candidate to be ordained on May 2 to the permanent diaconate, sent to me a copy of the first homily he will preach at his parish. In that homily, he delineates the process of grape harvesting which clearly indicates why Jesus calls himself the vine and we the branches. Dennis's insight helps us understand this image as the people of Jesus’ day would have grasped it: "Like most plants created by God, the grape vine has its own growing patterns. The grape vine is composed of four basic parts: the vine, the branches, the fruit and the leaves. The vine is the main trunk and is, of course, rooted in the ground. The vine's sole purpose is to provide the food by which the rest of the vine's parts flourish. The vine, while providing the food for the branches, does not produce grapes but only branches.

The Easter Question

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Walter Brueggemann again, but from a different book: The Threat of Life. Those present at the General Chapter heard some of the following.

The Church must give an account of its Easter faith. In Acts 4:7, the prosecutor asks: By what power or by what name did you do this? The authorities ever since Pharaoh in the Old Testament and Herod in the New Testament have recognized that a dangerous power is on the loose, which they cannot administer. The answer is given by Peter, filled with the spirit powered by freedom, saturated with courage, unintimidated. He says:

If we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you...that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. (Acts 4:9-10)

Easter Light Bearers

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My assignment for my preaching students last Thursday was to compose a homily for the Easter Vigil. Anthony Simone began his homily asking "Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror? This morning perhaps when you were shaving or doing your hair? Most likely, but have you ever looked in the mirror...just looking into your eyes…at a moment when you felt particularly good or full of joy? Or at a time when you were under great pressure, undue stress or just felt overcome with negativity? He goes on to comment further on reasons for looking into our eyes...or not looking! "Maybe we don’t want to do that. But who we are is a dynamic, ongoing story and a mystery that unfolds from moment to moment. Do we sometimes dull down that mystery? Do we limit this very unique image of ourselves that is constantly forming and growing?"

Change or Transformation?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I am putting a hold on finishing up the brickyard until next week because I want to share with you an insight gleaned last evening from a presentation given by Sr. Pat Kozak, CSJ. She addressed a group of us on the women in the New Testament who in-fluenced Jesus, widening and deepening his understanding of his mission. Addressing the call of the gospel to a transformation of consciousness—a profound shift in awareness, she spoke of the difference between change and transformation.

Change

  • arises from our own initiatives
  • involves a strategy of behavior
  • post-change awareness is on the same level as life before the change.

In other words, change fixes things but doesn't resolve issues.

Transformation

Shalom Infers Resurrection

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 61—63

A New Policy

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 61—62 The Gospel of Mark begins with a challenge: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news (1:15). A new policy is being implemented, a policy that ends all coercion. The battle raged, and it was by no means clear how it would turn out. Decisively on the cross, the gospel of Mark presents the coercive, chaotic powers having their day. And, indeed, it seemed on Friday night that they had won, The voice of freedom was silence in the land. But the gospel has the right word at the right place. Jesus, dead on the cross, clearly defeated, was abandoned by all, by all except one Roman soldier, a man under authority, who was used to determining who was in charge. From his mouth comes this incredible conclusion: "Truly this man was God’s Son!" (Mark 15-39).

The Lord of Freedom is in Control

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Brueggemann, Peace: Understanding Biblical Themes: pp. 59-61 — What does it mean that the Lord of Freedom controls the brickyards? Of course it says something about this Lord. It says that "Let-my-people-go" is powerful and for us. It says to us: "Get out from under the load of oppression and coercion." The Lord's intention is that we should not have to lead that kind of life, no matter how much the technological, bureaucratic propaganda of the regime lays on us. The Lord is for freedom and is powerful enough to introduce freedom into the grimmest brickyard there could be. That is the odd faith of the children of Israel to which we are heirs. It says the Lord has not abandoned the world.But what it says about us!

Wholly Giving

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Today Jesus asks his disciples if they still haven't "gotten" it yet: are they still hard of heart, whether they have eyes but cannot see; or ears but they do not hear. Scripture scholars who have studied the culture of the time call this the "eye-ear-heart" triangle. When these are mentioned together they refer to the totality of one's being, one's "all", one's personhood. We hear it similarly in "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength." Or as we will hear tomorrow, "Return to the Lord with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping and mourning." Our hearts, our eyes, our ears, ourselves. Jesus questions not just the disciples' figuring him out, but their commitment, the quality of their relationship, which they discover, as we do, is all about giving ourselves over to God, and opening our hearts in God's love, to others.

"Let-my-people-go" Is Now In Charge

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 57-58 - Brickyards always seem to envelop us and everybody thought that it had to be like that. The slaves and the owners. But the Bible, the announcement of shalom, raises an unheard of question.... It could have been Moses or anybody with any name, because what counted is what he said: "Let my people go." That is what he said. And the moment it was said, the brickyard was changed. And it will never be the same again. That is the good news, good news for the slaves, but also for the foreman. The brickyard has been completely transformed by that announcement: "Let my people go!" That is the beginning of shalom.

Moving In and Out of Brickyards

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 56-57 — As stated last week, the brickyard is a place of competent production where the production schedule is taken with great seriousness. It is also a place of coercion and profit. It is profit for the people who own and sell the bricks and set the production schedule. But for the people who make the bricks, it is a place of coercion. That is, they are there to meet other people’s standards, to knuckle under others’ demands. Here there is no zone of freedom, not even a hint of a break in the heat of the day. The gap between the people of profit and the people who are coerced is not an accident of the system, but is built into the design of the system. Most often the story of the brickyard is put out in company literature. Remarkably the biblical story of the brickyard is told from the perspective of the coerced.

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