November 10, 2016

Leo the Great

November 10, 2016:  St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor

  • 'Hearts' suspenders:  You've refreshed the saints' hearts; Onesimus, my own heart; refresh my heart (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  I, Paul, write this in my own hand (1st reading)
  • 'Crowns' tie:  The Lord shall reign forever (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  The Lord gives sight to the blind (psalm); the coming of the Kingdom can't be observed (gospel)
  • 'Lightning bolt' pin:  Just as lightning lights up the sky, so will the Son of Man be (gospel)
  • White shirt:  Liturgical color for St. Leo memorial

Pope Francis
To Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:  Christian faith, a journey of conversion to the will of Christ, requires unity.  Avoid false models of communion:
Believing unity can be achieved through human effort alone:  Unity, he insisted, is a gift from God and our task is to welcome that gift and make it visible to others. Rather than just a goal to be achieved, he said, we should see the search for unity as a journey that we undertake together with patience, determination, effort and commitment, knowing that all of us are sinners for whom God has infinite mercy. Remember, he said, that when we work, pray and serve the needy together, we are already united.
Uniformity:  When differences are rooted in apostolic tradition, they're not a threat but a treasure for Church unity; trying to suppress them goes against the Spirit who enriches Christians with a variety of gifts.
Going back in time to incorporate one church into another:  No one should deny their own faith or tolerate proselytism, a poison for the ecumenical journey.  True ecumenism is when we focus not on our own regulations but on God's Word which requires us to listen, receive, and witness. 
Homily:  Jesus stressed that Christians must guard hope every while awaiting the fullness of the Kingdom. God's Kingdom, among us, is like a seed growing over time; God helps it grow without drawing attention to it.
The Kingdom isn't a ‘show’ religion seeking new things or revelations.  Jesus Christ is the last Word of God; others are like fireworks that light you up then leave nothing behind:  no growth or light.  We've been tempted by entertainment religion, wanting to have something in our hands.  Our salvation comes from hope; artificial brightness dies after an instant.
While awaiting the fullness of the Kingdom, take care of your hope.  Guard it with patience, like one who planted a seed and takes care of the plant, ensuring there are no weeds close by, so it'll grow.  How do I guard this seed, the Spirit inside us?  How do I discern the wheat from the tares?  Grow through hope and guard that hope.  Our hope of meeting the Lord is the thread in salvation history.
Ask, Do I have hope, or do I go ahead without knowing how to tell good from bad, the light of the Spirit from fireworks?  We must, through rest, work, and discernment, guard the hope of God's Kingdom till the Lord comes and transforms everything.
"Lightning bolt"
  • Phlm 7-20  You've refreshed the holy ones' hearts.  I urge you on behalf of Onesimus; he was once useless to you but is now 'useful' to you and me.  I send him back to you.  Perhaps he was away so you could have him back not as slave but brother.  Welcome him, and if he owes you, charge me, though you owe me your very self.  Refresh my heart in Christ.
  • Ps 146:7-10  "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob."  The Lord secures justice, gives food to the hungry, frees captives, restores sight, loves the just, protects strangers, sustains the fatherless and widow, and shall reign forever.
  • Lk 17:20-25  “The coming of the Kingdom can't be observed; no one can announce, ‘Here it is.’  God's Kingdom is among you.  The day will come when you'll long to see a day of the Son of Man but won't see it.  Some will tell you, ‘Look, there!’ but don't run in pursuit, for as lightning lights the whole sky, so will the Son be in his day.  But first he must suffer and be rejected....”
  • Creighton:  I unconsciously seek out distractions, hoping they will satisfy some longing, unmet need, or restlessness.  Jesus reminds us God's Kingdom isn't a place, event, activity, or distraction but rather is among us:  Jesus dwelling among us. When we focus on Christ, we'll find God's Kingdom; otherwise we'll be distracted and restless.  When we're full of trust, love, and mercy, we're focused on Christ and can act boldly.  Paul writes Philemon to save the life of slave Onesimus, whom Philemon could have legally punished or killed.  Paul suggests Philemon pardon him and treat him as a brother in Christ; only a heart full of trust, love, and mercy, focused on the Kingdom can ask that, seeing goodness and love in others.
    St. Leo Magnus
    Francisco de Herrera el Mozo
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Free will and free love":   One of Philemon's slaves, Onesimus ('useful'), had apparently escaped and stolen from his master, then ran into Paul who converted him.  Paul convinced him, who became a 'useful' minister of the gospel, to return to Philemon to restore what he'd stolen.  Paul asks Philemon to forgive him, treat him as a brother in the Lord, and free him to return to work with Paul.  Similarly, God has given us free will and wants us to love him freely.  Free will make it possible that we'll choose evil, but may we give God our love....
  • Passionist:  Jesus tells us no one knows the day, whether the end of the world or of our own life.  People's predictions fail.  We're not in control, but people want to be, e.g. wanting assisted suicide.  Most wanting assisted suicide are afraid:  of pain, of “losing dignity,” of burdening family, of losing control, of the dying process.  What if instead of making it easier to circumvent the natural course of life and death, we work to eradicate fear:  educate people about the dying process, make effective palliative care widely available, emphasize the dignity of every person (even if disabled, unproductive, feeble, dependent, or dying), form children to know it's OK to not be in control, teach that strength is ability to stand firm in the midst of suffering, accompany people who are ill or grieving, have the courage to be vulnerable, advocate for better and affordable services for the homebound or seriously ill, become role models (bringing food, caring for someone so family can have time off, running errands for families with ill members), teach children how to be comforting, talk about the privilege of care for those who need it....  Let’s live our faith by working to cast out fear, surrender control, embrace our lives, and support the dignity of everyone we touch....
  •  "The coming of Christ's kingdom":  The Pharisees, watching for a sign to indicate when Messiah would come, asked Jesus the question to test him since they didn't accept him as Messiah.  Jesus surprised them saying the kingdom had already come, and would come.  The "Day of the Lord" was understood as the time God would manifest his glory and power.  Amos declared the Day also meant judgment for all; Joel proclaimed that those who repented would be saved, but the Lord's enemies would be punished.
In Palestine, storms appeared unexpectedly, covering everything in darkness.  Lightning filled the sky and struck terror in those who tried to flee.  Jesus warned the "Son of man" would also come unexpectedly to bring God's judgment; no special sign will be needed, nor will his presence and power be veiled:  all will recognize him as clearly as lightning.  Jesus identified himself with the "Day of the Lord."  The "Son of man" would establish God's kingdom and judge the living and the dead.  Jesus points to his second coming, to complete the work of restoration and judgment.  It'll be apparent to all, believers and non-believers alike.  Jesus said only one sign, he himself, would point to the Day of the Lord.  In Jesus we see the power and glory of God's kingdom; on the cross he defeated death and canceled the debt of our sins. His victory opens the way for us to live as God's children, citizens of his kingdom of peace, joy, and justice....

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