25th Sunday Ordinary Time – Hearing the Cry of the Poor, Hearing God’s Word, and Acting!

The Angelus, Jean-François Millet, 1857-1859, Musée d’Orsay

September 22, 2019
Amos 8:4–7

This week, we read from the Book of Amos. We last read from this book in July of 2018. Oddly we will also read it again next week. This week, we look at one of the visions of Amos and examine the consequences of wrapping worship around injustice.

King Jeroboam 2 was king of Israel between 783–743 BC. He was a talented politician and saw that Assyria, the dominant power in the north at the time, was experiencing internal discord. He was able to expand his country’s boundaries and its trade bringing unparalleled prosperity, for at least the aristocracy. This was seen in the development of cities which centralized both worship and commerce often by the same people (king: Amos 7:10–11, high priest: Am. 7:16–17, and wealthy of Samaria: Am. 4:1–3). This prosperity also brought ignorance of God. It is to this world that Amos is sent.

The most critical development was the growth of a permanent underclass, which was contrary to the will of God. This is reflected not only in the writings of Amos and his near contemporary in the Northern Kingdom Micah, but in the other prophets as well. At about the same time Isaiah said:

Learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow
(Is. 1:17) Continue reading “25th Sunday Ordinary Time – Hearing the Cry of the Poor, Hearing God’s Word, and Acting!”

24th Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Smith homily

What kind of Shepherd leaves 99 sheep to search for one stray? Not a very sensible one. That is the basic meaning of today’s parables. God’s relationship with us is not sensible or reasonable. It is not based on calculation or deduction but simply love. That would be a powerful message in itself but Luke is too great an artist to leave it there, and in a few verses will show us much more about God’s love and how we can respond to it. 

When he says “what man among you” he is speaking to a specific audience. The passage began with “tax collectors and sinners” seeking to hear Jesus but with the Pharisees and lawyers commented darkly but typically “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”   Continue reading “24th Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Smith homily”

24th Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Gribowich homily

Good morning, everyone. It’s always a great joy to be here with you today.

I think it’d be fair to say that we tend to be people of excess. If we look at anything around us in our culture and our society, we see examples of excessive behavior. A lot of it can be very bad. And that can be very good. Perhaps we see the most excessive things right here in the Bay Area when we just encounter just the billions and billions of dollars that are here in this area, right? Why, don’t you go too far to see amazing properties – homes, amazing lifestyles. And yet in just a few blocks away we see tent cities and we see excessive poverty, excessive mental illness, drug addiction.

But yet in our own lives, too, we tend to be excessive in our habits, whether it’s been watching on Netflix a whole weekend, or whether it’s just going out and eating a lot of food, or whether it’s exercising to the extent where we almost hurt ourselves. I definitely will say I’m a person of excess when I really get into something. I really get into it ,and I was reminded of that yesterday and I’m actually feeling it right now, when I went for the first time here surfing with friends of mine and they were teaching me how to do it. ,And I was getting really into it, and I just kept going and going and going for like two straight hours in the water and my friends like, we’ve never seen anyone like stay in the water this morning and try to catch this many waves. I think you’re going to be really hurting. Well, I’m definitely hurting right now. Continue reading “24th Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Gribowich homily”

24th Sunday Ordinary Time – Tearing Down Idols

Adoration of the Golden Calf, Nicolas Poussin, c. 1634, National Gallery (London)

September 15, 2019
Exodus 32:7–11, 13–14

We return today to the double world the Pentateuch. We must look both at what is related about the original event, in this case the Exodus about 1450 BC, but also the situation during its final editing in the restored Jerusalem of 500 BC. Key to both is the experience of liberation. Moses led the people out of slavery in Egypt. The Jews, who were instrumental in completing the text, were freed from Babylon. Indeed, the miraculous return of the people to Jerusalem would have been the lived experience of those who compiled these texts. It was the greatest resurrection of any religion until the resurrection of Jesus centuries later. The authors were very sophisticated writers and they could juggle many themes at the same time. Today we will look at the first stages of the development of the hereditary priesthood in Judaism.

As we begin the story today, Moses has been on Mt Sinai with the Lord for considerable time. The people become restless:

They gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will be our leader; as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.
(Ex. 32:1)

Note two things immediately. They say it was “the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt.” Moses did not bring them out, the Lord did. They do not understand the basic situation. Also, the people may have meant for the golden calf to be a representation of “the Lord” as opposed to another god. This may not seem as serious to us, but we must remember that the third commandment is “to have no graven images.” The distinctive idea of the religion of Israel is that God is not a part of nature or creation in general, as other deities were considered, but above and beyond them. Once he is connected to a creature, he will eventually be lowered to one in at least the popular consciousness. The people do not get to decide who or what will represent God only he does, and he wanted Moses not an animal however well gilded. Continue reading “24th Sunday Ordinary Time – Tearing Down Idols”