January 18, 2016

Jan. 18

January 18, 2016:  Monday, 2nd week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Crown' tie bar:  The Lord anointed you king...  (1st reading)
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  From the spoil the men took sheep...  (1st reading)
  • 'Ram'/'animal sacrifice' tie pin:  Saul's spoils; obedience is better than sacrifice, submission than the fat of rams (1st reading)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  I'll correct you by drawing your deeds before your eyes (psalm)
  • Red and white shirt:  new wine, fresh skins (gospel)
  • Green tie pin:  Ordinary Time season

For Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (starting today)
Pope Francis
Homily:  God rejected Saul as king because he disobeyed, listening to the people rather than God.  The people, after a victory, wanted to sacrifice the best animals to God, because “it’s always been done that way.”  But this time God didn't want that.  Jesus taught the same thing:  criticized because his disciples didn't fast “as had always been done,” he responded with the examples about sewing cloth on an old cloak and pouring wine into skins.  Did Jesus change the law?  No!  The law is at the service of people, who are at the service of God, so we ought to have an open heart.  "It’s always been done this way" is a closed heart.  Jesus tells us, "I'll send you the Spirit to lead you into truth."  If your heart is closed to the newness of the Spirit, you'll never reach the full truth; your Christian life will be a half-and-half life, patched, mended with new things, but on a structure not open to the Lord's voice—a closed heart, so that you can't change others.
This was Saul's sin, for which God rejected him. and the sin of Christians who cling to what's always been done and who don't let others change.  They end up with half a life, patched, mended, meaningless.  The sin is a closed heart that doesn't hear the Lord's voice of the Lord, isn't open to his newness or the Spirit's surprises.  Rebellion, Samuel says, is the sin of divination, and obstinacy is idolatry.  Christians who maintain "it’s always been done this way" are guilty of divination, as if they went about by guessing, considering what they hear more important than the Lord's Word.  Obstinate Christians are idolaters.  Open your heart to the Spirit; discern God's will.
In Jesus’ time, good Israelites fasted.  But there's another reality:  the Spirit who leads us to the full truth.  So we need open hearts, not stubborn in self-idolatry, imagining our opinion more important than the Spirit's surprise.  "New wine in new skins":  Renew habits in the Spirit's newness, in God's surprises.  Lord, give us hearts open to the Spirit's voice that knows what shouldn't change from what should.
    New wine, fresh skins
  • 1 Sm 15:16-23  Samuel/Saul:  “The Lord sent you to exterminate the sinful Amalekites.  Why have you disobeyed?  You pounced on the spoil.” / “I obeyed, destroying Amalek, but my men took from the spoil for sacrifice.” / “Obedience is better than sacrifice.  Because you rejected God's command, he has rejected you as ruler.”
  • Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23  "To the upright I will show the saving power of God."  Why profess my covenant with your mouth but hate discipline?  I'll correct you.  Offer praise as your sacrifice; I'll save those who go the right way.
  • Mk 2:18-22  People/Jesus:  “Why do John's and the Pharisees' disciples fast but not yours?” / “Wedding guests can't fast while the groom is with them, but they will when he's taken away.  No one pours new wine into old skins lest both be ruined.  New wine, fresh skins!”
    • Creighton:  When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached on today’s gospel reading, he invited the congregation to change habits, including intellectual, emotional, and spiritual change.  He applied the same principles to destroying social evil, righting an unjust practice in our world.  Faith was personal, communal, and to be lived out in the world. / New wine ferments, pushes against its container, and shapes it in a new way.  Christ is the new wine, able to transform us in ways yet unknown or sometimes unimaginable.  If we try to contain this radical way of life, all can be lost.  We need new structures, new ways of doing things to image Christ to those most in need.What wants to change in me so much that it can’t be contained by my old thoughts or actions?  How can I help bring about such change in our world?  May we care for those left out in the cold.  May the outrage we feel for discrimination, racism, and other social sins lead to meaningful change in our social systems.  
      Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Proud of your self-hatred?"  Saul erected a trophy in his honor though he was little in his own esteem.  People proud of themselves often hate themselves:  they act like gods but hate themselves for failing and maybe lie to themselves and others about failing, then hate themselves for being phonies. They may consider and even commit suicide, as Saul did.  The wages of pride are escalating disobedience, failure, self-hatred, and self-deception.   May we humble ourselves, learning from Jesus, "humble of heart."
    • Passionist:  "Obedience is better than sacrifice":  Jesus brought was a witness to a new experience of God’s love.  He witnessed to new possibilities for us to live within God’s loving embrace.  Such a truth couldn't be contained within old frameworks, attitudes, actions, or rituals.  New wine requires a new skin, and unshrunken cloth needs to be sown only onto a new coat.  We're comfortable with our ‘default’ ways of acting, speaking, thinking, and being and take them for granted.  Learning experiences and challenges may help us move to new understanding and acting, but we can slip back into the old.  But Jesus challenges us to renewal, to conversion, to readiness to receive and respond to what he offers us.  May we listen for the word of God, practice awareness, be receptive to God's ever-new message, and respond by moving beyond tired familiar patterns....
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Fasting or feasting?"  Which comes first?  John's disciples were upset with Jesus' because they didn't fast.  Jesus explained that there's a time for fasting and a time for feasting.  To follow Jesus is to experience joy like that of a wedding party, but there are also times to bear the cross.  Jesus warned his disciples about the "closed mind," using the familiar image of wineskins.  New wine poured into skins was still fermenting; new skins were elastic enough to take the pressure from the gases, . The gases exerted gave pressure. New wine skins could take the pressure, but old skins burst.  May we make the best use of both old and new.  May we be open and ready to receive the new wine of the Spirit....

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