SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST – YEAR C 2 JUNE 2013
At the dawn of the last century, two ecclesial movements made enormous headway: the liturgical movement and the social justice movement. Both had dominical commands to support their work: the liturgists relied on “Do this is memory of me”; and the Rerum Novarum enthusiasts countered with “Whatever you do to these little ones, you do unto me.” Scripture reminds us that it has never been an eitheror proposition: what we do in church is just as important as what we do after church; indeed, the former inspires the latter, and vice-versa. This Sunday’s Scripture alludes to both, but the homilist may need to make that clear. Eucharist has always been about table fellowship (Genesis) and, for Christians, especially, it has been about life and death (Paul). Christians need reminding and this Sunday’s solemnity can do it easily: the Lord’s providence is bountiful, and no one should go hungry (Luke). Will your homily inspire the assembly to act in eucharistic justice for the poor? Pray. Spend a few moments in prayer before reading this Sunday’s Scriptures. Ask the Lord to let his Word speak to your heart. Lord, we know you in broken flesh and blood poured out. May my preaching be a thanksgiving for the precious gifts of Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen. Enter the Word. Read the Scriptures a number of times: Lectionary 169. Let the words and phrases touch your heart.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
Genesis 14:18-20 Melchizedek ... brought out bread and wine.
Psalm 110 You are a priest forever.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 You proclaim the death of the Lord.
Gospel of Luke 9:11b-17 They all ate and were satisfied.
Take an Ainward glance.@ [Genesis] “Being a priest of God Most High.” Name the ways that you are “priestly” in your ministry of the Word. If a priest makes things holy, how does your preaching make you holy? What distinctions do you make between eucharistic and homiletic ministry? [Psalm] “Yours is princely power.” Might it seem to others that you have “princely” power? In what ways are you more “regal” than your servanthood should allow? Name the ways you try to make others feel regal in your presence? [1 Corinthians] “You proclaim the death of the Lord.” Are you more a “Resurrection” preacher or a “Crucifixion” preacher? Try to step back from your preaching for just a few moments: how often do you proclaim the “death” of the Lord until he comes? [Sequence] “Isaac bound, a victim willing.” How are you “bound” — what persons, things, ideologies, substances or situations “bind” you? And in what ways are you a willing victim to any of these? Consider how preaching his Gospel has caused suffering in your life.
“Dismiss the crowd.” How often are you “dismissive” of others? How do you try to be inclusive of others’ thoughts, feelings and ideas — and often do you end up excluding them? When the crowd is dismissed at the end of Mass, how have you been changed by their presence?
“They all ate and were satisfied.” What do you, personally, do about all the hunger in the world? How often does the plight of the homeless and those marginalized by our society enter your thoughts? How often does their plight influence your behavior? Take an Aoutward glance.@ [Genesis] “Bread and wine.” Such simple gifts. Do you feel that your sisters and brothers view the bread and wine as “their” gifts at the Sunday Eucharist? Does having two or three representatives of the assembly bring the gifts forward do enough to drive home the idea that these are the assembly’s gifts? [1 Corinthians] “Do this in remembrance of me.” What are the other actions that your parishioners do in the Lord’s memory? If “we become what we receive,” do your brothers and sisters sense that it is their bodies that must be broken, and their blood poured out in service to others? [Sequence] “Where the heavenly feast you show.” What “connection” do your parishioners make between the Sunday Mass and the eucharistic banquet of heaven?
“We are in a deserted place here.” Are all of the Sunday Masses “packed”? When your parishioners look around, do they feel as though they’re in a “deserted place”? Can anything be done to make the Sunday liturgy look “less deserted”? Prepare your homily. There is an inescapable connection between Eucharist and justice. Perhaps this week’s inward and outward glances have drawn out some of the consequences of the Eucharist in your life. Try to preach as a eucharistic person — someone who feels uncomfortable that others grow hungry while we feast at the Lord’s table. All Christians need a reminder of this now and again! Pray. To conclude your preparation, spend a few moments in prayer.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR C 9 JUNE 2013
In his homily on this Sunday’s Gospel, St. Augustine instructs his listeners to look beyond what can be seen with their eyes, to what lies deeper: Yes, Jesus raises the Widow of Nain’s son from the dead, but we should see the Lord’s power over spiritual death, as well. Augustine says: “When the young man in the gospel was raised, his widowed mother rejoiced; when souls are daily raised from spiritual death, mother Church rejoices.” The miracle story of Elijah raising a widow’s son from the dead is apt preparation for the Gospel miracle, but adds a familiar twist. Elijah’s widow is certain that God has killed her son because of some past sin of hers. How often even we modern believers wrongly conclude that the death of someone we love is somehow a punishment from God. The truth taught in the Scriptures is meant to convert us (as St. Paul says of his own conversion in Galatians), but shaking us free from the notion that God kills others because he is angry with us will probably take something on the order of Paul’s experience with the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus. As a preacher, you are used to helping your congregation look beneath the surface of words to find the deeper spiritual meaning. Will you preach a God who, instead of sending us death, is concerned with freeing us from death? Pray. Spend a few moments in prayer before reading this Sunday’s Scriptures. Ask the Lord to let his Word speak to your heart. Father, you have the power over life and death and, in your Son, death has lost its power forever. Grant to me and my brothers and sisters, the conviction that you are the loving source of life! Amen. Enter the Word. Read the Scriptures a number of times: Lectionary 90. Let the words and phrases touch your heart.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
1 Kings 17:17-24 See! Your son is alive!
Psalm 30 You changed my mourning into dancing.
Galatians 1:11-19 God ... was pleased to reveal his Son to me.
Gospel of Luke 7:11-17 Do not weep.
Take an Ainward glance.@ [1 Kings] “See! Your son is alive.” How often we have wished to be the bearer of such wonderful news! How do you handle your bereavement ministry? How has your own experience with loss and grief helped you to offer consolation to those who have lost a loved one? [Psalm] “You changed my mourning into dancing.” How soon after losing a family member or friend has your own mourning “changed”? What skills do you bring to your ministry of consolation? Have you been complimented for your funeral homilies? [Galatians] “You heard of my former way of life.” St. Paul’s conversion story is unique. Do you have a conversion story of your own, perhaps less spectacular but wonderful in its own way? What used to characterize your life story but, since your “conversion,” no longer does?
“She was a widow.” We hear so little of widowers in the Scriptures. Do you feel that different skills are needed to offer comfort to those who have lost their wife?
“Do not weep.” Besides the death of a loved one, what other situations cause you to weep? Are you someone to whom tears come easily? What does the weeping of others induce in you?
“He stepped forward and touched the coffin.” The word “coffin” appears only twice in the Bible -- here and in the Genesis story of Joseph’s death and burial. How does your parish handle the ministries surrounding the death and burial of your parishioners? How might it be improved? Take an Aoutward glance.@ [1 Kings] “Killing her son?” Do you suppose some of your sisters and brothers believe that God sends death as a punishment? Do they hear enough from their parish ministers (and preachers) to dispel this notion? [Galatians] “I was even more a zealot.” Every parish has its zealots. What raises the zeal (or ire) of your parishioners these days? Do they feel that their parish ministers are listening to them?
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst.” There seems to be a dearth of miracle-workers these days. What distinguishes men and women as prophets in today’s Church? Who has acted as a “prophet” in your life and ministry over the years?
“Fear seized them all.” Is there anything in particular that strikes fear in your parishioners? Do they readily approach their parish ministers with such fears? Prepare your homily. Your preparation this week has, perhaps, had you meditating on the mystery of death -- how you’ve handled death in your own life, as well as how you as a homilist have preached about it. With St. Augustine’s help, we could all need a reminder to look deeper, to consider that we are all in the Lord’s hands. Try to preach as someone who has placed his life and death in the Lord’s hands and who looks to the Lord, if not for miracles, then for consolation and peace. Pray. To conclude your preparation, spend a few moments in prayer.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR C 16 JUNE 2013
Forgiveness is placed in high relief in this Sunday’s Scriptures. King David is brought to admit his sinfulness in sending his lover’s husband to his death (2 Samuel). St. Paul speaks about the law’s inability to bring about justification (Galatians). And in one of the most beautiful scenes portrayed in the Gospels, Jesus grants forgiveness to the woman who washes his feet with her tears. Love and forgiveness are not the result of pulling strings or finding legal loopholes: God is the source of both and they are, in the end, wholly unmerited gifts. No one sitting in the pews before you this Sunday has escaped the need for forgiveness and everyone needs a reminder now and again that there is no sin too great as to be beyond God’s power to forgive. While your assembly has no need to know what your sins are, they do need to know that you, like them, are a descendant of Adam -- and that you can speak as a fellow sinner in need, as they are, of the Lord’s mighty power. Will you preach a homily that arouses the desire to be repentant and, at the same time, the conviction that the Lord’s forgiveness is theirs for the asking? Pray. Spend a few moments in prayer before reading this Sunday’s Scriptures. Ask the Lord to let his Word speak to your heart. We are so grateful, Lord, for your power and your willingness to forgive. Make me mindful of my need for forgiveness and never let my sins weigh me down. For you are a generous and compassionate God forever and ever. Amen. Enter the Word. Read the Scriptures a number of times: Lectionary 93. Let the words and phrases touch your heart.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13 I have sinned against the Lord.
Psalm 32 Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Galatians 2:16, 19-21 Christ lives in me.
Gospel of Luke 7:36—8:3 She began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Take an Ainward glance.@ [2 Samuel] “I anointed you ... rescued you ... gave you....” The Lord counts all the blessings he has bestowed on David. Can you do the same? Take time to count the blessings you’ve received. Can they move you to ask for forgiveness for your sins? [2 Samuel] “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin.” What wonderful news this must have been for the sinful David! How grateful have you been for the Lord’s forgiveness? Of all your sins, which has been the greatest? [Psalm] “I confess my faults to the Lord.” It is neither Advent nor Lent. But can you commit yourself to getting to confession in the month of June? Which of the commandments have you transgressed? Which of the virtues have you found particularly difficult? [Galatians] “A person is not justified by works of the law.” God’s forgiveness (and justification) come freely, as gifts. How do you seek justification?
“The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” The image of the sorrowful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears is a powerful one. Do your sins bring tears to your eyes? How desperate are you for the Lord’s forgiveness? How grateful are you for his forgiveness?
Take an Aoutward glance.@ [2 Samuel] “I have sinned against the Lord.” Do you suppose that your brothers and sisters have sufficient appreciation of the sacrament of reconciliation? What might their parish, and their homilists, do to increase their appreciation?
“Do you see this woman?” A crucial question to us, as well: Have we really “seen” the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears? We’re told nothing about her, or her sins. How do your parishioners “see” her?
“You did not anoint my head with oil.” How does your assembly fail to be hospitable? To one other? To strangers? To the homeless and the hungry not far from the parish church’s doors? How might they be encouraged to extend their hospitality?
“Her many sins have been forgiven.” Do you suppose that your brothers and sisters have “many” sins? Are there sins they don’t confess?
Prepare your homily. Your preparation this week has undoubtedly brought you to consider your sinfulness and your need for forgiveness. Here in Ordinary Time, at the start of summer, it may be difficult to encourage your assembly to attend to their sins in confession. Try to preach as someone who, himself, is in such need. Your brothers and sisters will likely give your words due attention if they come from a man who humbly acknowledges his gratitude for the Lord’s forgiveness! Pray. To conclude your preparation, spend a few moments in prayer.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR C 23 JUNE 2013
This week’s settling in to “ordinary” time allows us to remember the “baptismal” consequences of our faith: having “clothed” ourselves with Christ, Paul reminds us, we must live out the promises we have inherited. Peter’s confession is the turning point in Luke’s Gospel: Christ asks him, “Who do you say that I am?” Professing Jesus to be our Messiah will mean only one thing, namely, that we, too, must suffer; we, too, must follow the Lord not only with a confession on our lips, but with a cross on our shoulders. This week’s Gospel invites us to consider, from a Christian perspective, what unites all men and women of whatever faith: suffering. Christ himself reveals that his, and our, suffering is salvific and that, should we wish to follow him, we will need not only to “look on him” whom we have pierced, but to join him in carrying our own cross. Can your homily this week be a source of encouragement to all those who are carrying a cross in emulation of their Savior? Pray. Spend a few moments in prayer before reading this Sunday’s Scriptures. Ask the Lord to let his Word speak to your heart. Lord, may the sufferings I endure ever remind me of the salvation won for us all by your Son’s cross. May your Word bring us strength through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. Enter the Word. Read the Scriptures a number of times: Lectionary 97. Let the words and phrases touch your heart.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1 They shall look on him whom they have pierced.
Psalm 63 I gazed toward you in the sanctuary.
Galatians 3:26-29 You ... have clothed yourselves in Christ.
Gospel of Luke 9:18-24 The Son of Man must suffer greatly.
Take an Ainward glance.@ [Zechariah] “I will pour out ... a spirit of grace and petition.” How often have you waited for the Lord to give you the “spirit of petition” before beginning your prayer? If you were to wait for such a spirit, would the things you ask for be different? [Psalm] “My flesh pines and my soul thirsts.” In what ways is your “flesh” pining? When it is a choice between satisfying the needs of the flesh or the needs of the soul, which gets satiated? What do you need to do in your life to effect a balance? [Galatians] “You are the descendants of Abraham.” In what ways have you tried to speak against anti-Semitism as a minister of the Word? When you have learned of hate crimes aimed at the Jewish community, have you and your congregation tried to speak out in solidarity?
“Who do the crowds say that I am?” Who do the crowds sat that you are? What is your reputation amongst the People of God as a priest or as a minister? As a person? Do you speak kindly of your brother priests and deacons? Are you the kind of minister that young people might want to emulate?
“John the Baptizer.” Are you more than a “sacramental minister” — known only for your bap-
tisms or weddings? In what ways do you value your ritual identity? Are you known to be a minister of the Word, as well as a minister of the sacraments?
“Take up his cross each day.” Is there a cross that you bear silently each day? In what ways is your life too easy? What are the things that make your life seem too hard sometimes? Take an Aoutward glance.@ [Zecharish] “The mourning in Jerusalem shall be ... great.” Does your parish offer the ministry of bereavement to those who have recently lost a loved one? Do your homilies ever speak to the special loneliness of widows and widowers? Do parents who have lost a child feel welcomed back to church?
Who do the crowds say that I am?” Do your sisters and brothers feel free to offer criticism of their preacher? Do the members of the assembly feel that you “know” them? What can be done so that more and more of the congregation feel that they are “known”?
“Take up his cross each day.” What are the crosses of marriage and parenting that your
brothers and sisters bring to the Eucharist each week? Do the single people in the congregation carry crosses that are ever addressed in the homily?
“Whoever would save his life will lose it.” Do any of your assembly feel that they’re “on their own” when it comes to living — that if they don’t solve their problems, no one else will? Prepare your homily. As you have prepared for writing your homily this week, you have, perhaps, focused your attention on how you have borne your own crosses; you have, as well, tried to think of the suffering that your brothers and sisters in the assembly bring to the weekly Eucharist. Try to preach a homily this week that unites the entire congregation — all equal members, as Paul reminds us — in their suffering, encouraging everyone to depend more heavily on the Lord’s grace to find salvific meaning in the crosses they bear. Pray. To conclude your preparation, spend a few moments in prayer.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR C 30 JUNE 2013
With Peter’s confession, last week, Luke’s Gospel can now focus on Jesus’ true mission: to journey toward his death in Jerusalem. But Christ does not make the journey alone; nor does he want his companions to be confused about where the journey will end. As the Lord journeys toward his destiny, so, too, are we, his followers, required to make a commitment to that same destiny. The psalmist today calls the Lord “my allotted portion and my cup”; it is a cup of suffering that Jesus will drink, and it is this same cup that he asks his followers to take up. Christian freedom cannot be separated from Christian commitment, as Paul reminds the Galatians. Jesus’ melancholy, in there being no place to lay his head, does not deter him from his freely, and firmly, resolving to see his mission completed. The journey from baptismal font to the eucharistic table in the new Jerusalem requires us all to “set our face” in one direction, all other concerns subservient to this one goal. Can your homily this week exhort your sisters and brothers to keep their hand to the plow, to look forward only, refusing to look back? Pray. Spend a few moments in prayer before reading this Sunday’s Scriptures. Ask the Lord to let his Word speak to your heart. Loving Father, keep my commitment strong and my goal always in sight. May my homily be an inspiration to my brothers and sisters as we make our journey of faith as companions of your Son. Amen. Enter the Word. Read the Scriptures a number of times: Lectionary 99. Let the words and phrases touch your heart.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes
1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21 You shall anoint Elisha.
Psalm 16 You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Galatians 5:1, 13-18 Live by the Spirit.
Gospel of Luke 9:51-62 He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.
Take an Ainward glance.@ [1 Kings] “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye.” If you have lost one or both of your parents, do you feel that you were able to express your love for them before they died? If one or both of your parents are living, are you able to spend the time with them that they deserve? [Psalm] “My body, too, abides in confidence.” In what ways is your body a “concern” to you? How “confident” are you about the temptations of the flesh? Are you as confident about physical temptations as you are about spiritual ones? [Galatians] Do not take on yourselves the yoke of slavery a second time.” If you could become addicted to a substance or an activity, what would it be? Do you take adequate precautions to resist such things? Can you rejoice that the Lord helped you become victorious over a certain temptation?
“He firmly resolved.” What are the commitments or intentions to which you are “firmly re-
solved”? What are the values that you stand for? In conversation, do you stand up for what you believe, even when it is unpopular?
“Call down fire from heaven.” Have you ever given a “fire and brimstone” homily? What are the issues or situations that rouse your anger? How have you felt when you have met with inhospitality to Christian values or perspectives?
“Whoever ... keeps looking back.” Are your “glory days” behind you or ahead of you? What made the “good old days” so good for you? When you “look back,” to the seminary, to your training for ministry, what things helped to make you the person you are today? Take an Aoutward glance.@ [1 Kings] “Threw his cloak over him.” Are many of your parishioners caring for an aging parent or spouse? How do their experiences of care and dedication color their interpretation of the Gospel message? [Galatians] This is why you do not do what your will intends.” Do some of your brothers and sisters have difficulty with willpower, unable to do what they truly want to do? What can the assembly do to offer help and encouragement to such sisters and brothers?
“Sent messengers on ahead of him.” How many of your sisters and brothers are “messengers” who were “sent on ahead” to you, so that you might feel at home? What is the “message” that the Lord may be trying to send you that may be coming through members of your congregation?
Let me bury my father first.” Are there personal troubles that act as obstacles to members of your congregation acting as ministers in your parish? What are the things that you and your parish can do to help ease such burdens? Prepare your homily. Your preparation this week has perhaps encouraged you to examine the obstacles that may stand in the way of such commitment. Try to preach a homily that gives evidence of your own Christian resolve, allowing the congregation somehow to understand that they have a “fellow traveler” sharing his own determined struggle to be a faithful follower of Jesus. Pray. To conclude your preparation, spend a few moments in prayer.
Reverend Paul A. Holmes