18th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Living in the Spirit, Sharing in His Victory

Milagro de los panes y los peces, Juan de Espinal, c. 1750, Despacho del Alcalde de la Casa consistorial de Sevilla (Wikipedia)

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Rom. 8:35, 37-39
August 2, 2020

Today’s reading is one of the most beautiful standalone passages in St. Paul. Whenever possible, I use it for funerals because it expresses the bedrock of Christian hope. Yet having examined the rest of Romans, we can see why it is such a fitting conclusion to it. It is also a pertinent exhortation to us at St. Charles.

The selection that will be used at Mass needs to be read with the passage immediately before it. Together, they form a powerful and haunting victory hymn: Continue reading “18th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Living in the Spirit, Sharing in His Victory”

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Living in the Glory of God

Photo by Cassiano Psomas on Unsplash

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Romans 8:28–30
July 26, 2020

Our readings from Romans for the last two weeks emphasized “groaning”. All of Creation, the Christian, and indeed the Holy Spirit, experienced frustration. In Paul’s terms, human beings lived “in the flesh;” our activities directed to “saving” ourselves. This is impossible and so we were never fulfilled. Jesus offers us the opportunity to “live in the Spirit,” living so that all our actions flow from our relationship with Him.

Thus Paul can say in today’s reading:

We know that all things work for good
for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose
(Rom. 8:28)

Paul assures us that we were not created for frustration but fulfillment. Yet he goes further and shows us what that fulfillment is. Before looking at this, let us remember two things we mentioned at the very beginning of our study of Romans. Continue reading “17th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Living in the Glory of God”

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Everlasting Hope for Our Restless Hearts

Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Romans 8:26–27
July 19, 2020

Last week’s reading began with

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth
comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.

(Rom. 8:18)

This is a common theme in the New Testament. We saw when reading the 1st Letter of Peter that his community suffered from the scorn of family and former friends. We will see in Matthew’s Gospel the suffering of internal divisions. Each of these authors use these experiences to relate the present situation of that particular community to Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection. Paul does the same, but he broadens the perspective to the whole of creation and indeed God himself.

Jewish law was evidence-based. Testimony was always required. To prove that today’s sufferings are insignificant to the glory for which we are intended Paul gives us three witnesses:

Continue reading “16th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Everlasting Hope for Our Restless Hearts”

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Harmony in the Kingdom of Heaven

Man Holding Basket, Duong Tri, Unsplash

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Romans 8:18–23
July 12, 2020

No other letter of St Paul is read as much as Romans in the liturgy and no part of it as intently as Romans 8. As we saw last week, it answers the question:

Wretched man that I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death?
(Rom. 7:24–25)

Paul boldly told us that it was Jesus and him alone. He will rescue us not by a decree, but by joining his life to ours. We will live “in” his Spirit. Paul, ever the good Jew, believed that the human being had two inclinations: abandonment to God and reliance on material things. They did not play well together. He begins today with:

Consider that the sufferings of this present time
are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
(Rom. 8:18)

This is not only nor even principally a conflict with Rome or indeed with fellow Jews but a battle within us. Which inclination will guide us, will we choose God or the world?

It was a great insight of the Jews that this was not merely psychological or even sociological and political but cosmic in nature. Continue reading “15th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Harmony in the Kingdom of Heaven”

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sinners Struggling to be Saints

Yoke of Oxen, Jean, 2010 (Flickr) Some rights reserved

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Romans 8:9, 11–13
July 5, 2020

My first course at the seminary in the Bible was impressively titled “Theological Anthropology in Scripture.” Unlike most portentously named academic course descriptions, this one actually reflected the material. It examined Genesis 1–11 and Romans 1–8. It was called theological anthropology because it explored how the Bible saw human beings. We explored how modern uses and assumptions did not always reflect what the Scriptures meant and were not necessarily superior. This is seen very clearly in today’s selection from Romans 8.

Look at the first lines of today’s reading: Continue reading “14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sinners Struggling to be Saints”

Pastor’s Message on Church Reopening

In the post below, our Reopening Committee has provided an extensive section on returning to church. I’d like to add a few words as we welcome the faithful back to public Masses starting the week of June 29.

Bishop DiMarzio has given churches permission to open for Mass both on weekdays and on Sundays. Enough parishioners have volunteered to act as ushers that we will be able to have Mass this Wednesday (July 1) at 12:10 PM and next Sunday (July 5) at 11:15 AM. We barely have enough volunteers to maintain our current schedule, much less expand the number of Masses, we will need more helpers. If you can volunteer going forward, please contact the rectory, Joe Genova, or Jane Olson. Continue reading “Pastor’s Message on Church Reopening”

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time – A Real Relationship with Jesus

Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

Thirteen Sunday of Ordinary Time
Romans 6:3–4, 8–11
June 28, 2020

In our introduction to the Letter to the Romans, we noted that this was Paul on his best behavior. He speaks to the Romans in a calm and measured tone. He needs the Roman church and knows that he does. He had also grown as a person and an evangelist. In earlier letters, he would speak without recognizing the religious and social condition of the people to whom he was speaking. The letters to the Corinthians are beautiful and we are grateful to have them, but they were written because of problems of Paul’s own making. Although the Corinthians were his spiritual children, he did not consider that most were not Jews and did not understand the subtleties of Jewish law. For Paul, to be freed from the law meant to be able to eat pork, but for some of the Corinthians, it meant that you could marry your sister.

By the time he writes to the Romans he has obtained far greater self-understanding. He has realized that his faith is not based on law or tradition but on his own personal—indeed we might say mystical—experience of the risen Jesus. That experience can only be understood in the light of being a Jew, but his religious beliefs are guided by this encounter. This would always be difficult to communicate but especially so with a new religion. If he shares this with the early church in Rome he knows he must be clear and careful. Continue reading “13th Sunday of Ordinary Time – A Real Relationship with Jesus”