Saturday, June 24, 2017

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jer 20:10-13
Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35
Rom 5:12-15
Mt 10:26-33

What does it mean to prophesy?  What does it mean to proclaim the gospel?     What does it cost?  What does it cost to preach the gospel at all times through one's words and actions?  We are all called to be prophetic.  We are all called to preach the truth of the Gospel even when it does not march in lock-step with current social trends and fads.

Jeremiah has been described as “the most sensitive and personal of the Old Testament prophets, conscious throughout of a close union with God.”  But, he was not exactly beloved.  He repeatedly denounced the sins of Judah.  He pointed out the ugly reality of the people's faithlessness.  He repeatedly denounced the sin of false worship, the most serious of all sins that leads almost linearly to all the other sins.  He was the forerunner of the brave souls today who call out the lies and falsehoods that characterize the dominant social narrative. These include worship of the self and self-determination along with proselytization of the newest social trend no matter how destructive it is to humanity, the family, or the individual.  His prophesying and preaching resulted in exile, imprisonment and disdain.  Today he would be pronouncing very public mea culpas on television and then be sent into social media exile with Oprah's hectoring voice screeching in the background.

If, as Jeremiah puts its, one’s so called friends are on the watch for any misstep, how much more are one's rivals and enemies examining every word and action so as to be able to scream “Gotcha” at the first slip of the tongue?  This is true even if the slip of the tongue was twenty years earlier while a drunk college freshman.  New 'isms,' unique 'phobias'--almost all of which misuse the meaing of phobia--and, in one of the very best examples of whiny creativity, what are called micro-aggressions (exactly what is a micro-aggression?) are being invented every day so as to wield the cudgel of accusing the speaker of the eighth deadly sin of political incorrectness.  The newest custom-designed social sin is so-called cultural appropriation.   

The mandate to proclaim the Gospel--a mandate in which we all share--involves the risk of rejection, insult and criticism.  Indeed, the mandate almost demands it considering the nature of the message.  

Jeremiah could have easily written Psalm 69: 

“For your sake I bear insult,
I have become an outcast to my brothers
Because zeal for your house consumes me
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.”

The idea of original sin has evolved over centuries.  The philosophy, biology, neuroscience, mode of transmission, and manner of action—corporately as well as individually—are beyond the scope of a homily.  However, the fact that we are sinners from the moment of conception is inarguable.  The fact that despite being sinners we are loved by God is consoling.  That the sacrifice of one man—Jesus Christ—negated the transgression of Adam is ultimately beyond our comprehension. 

One commentary on Romans noted that “sin for Paul represents a kind of deadly virus in human life, a fundamental revolt against the Creator that places self and the perceived needs of self in the position that should only be occupied by the sovereignty of God.”  That just about nails the clinical definition of narcissism and narcissistic personality. 

Jesus’ words in the Gospel suggest that we are to be like Jeremiah who was unafraid to proclaim the truth from the housetops, unafraid of those who can merely kill the body, or perhaps in the context of the above reading, undaunted by those who call us fools or worse for preaching the Gospel.  We are called to be proactive in spreading the Gospel through deed and word.  We are not to be diffident or afraid on the off-chance of perhaps, maybe, possibly, sort of, kinda-like offending someone when we name sin for what it is.  

The last words of this Gospel are both consolation and challenge:

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Signed out for lunch and went for a walk mid-afternoon figuring I'd get some coffee and a light meal.   Upon approaching the colonnade the aromas became seductive and smoke was rising from a number of kiosks.  Why?  The Pivo & Burger Fest.  Burger needs no translation.  Pivo is Slovenian for beer.    As I was getting hungry I realized I could eat with minimal to no guilt as I'd had, at most, 250 calories at breakfast and that was it.  This was going to be my only other meal for the rest of the day. 

Free balloons for the kiddos and at least one parent. 

Some of the burgers.   I only realized about a week ago that I have not seen, smelled or tasted bacon since getting here.  Mentioned it in the community.  One of the men who studied in Ireland noted that you can't find bacon here.  Going without the bacon embellishment is certainly a good way to cut down calories, particularly the way it is overused in the U.S. Each scallop wrapped in a slice of bacon adds about 100 calories in its count.  

There was also the option for a pork burger.  This guy was very busy.  I was going to have one.  However, I had not had a hamburger or cheeseburger, since coming to Slovenia.  Definitely wanted beef. 

Some of the beers.  Beer was both domestic, imported (from Australia) and on tap.  

This display was perhaps a tad overdone.  It was Chinese beer.  The display looks more appropriate for wine.

These are not burgers but large macaroons in the shape of burgers. 

After about 30 minutes the smoke was making me cough.  Wandered to Prešernov Trg for a bit of a respite.  Heard this accordion ensemble, all children save on adult, sitting at the base of Prešeren's statue playing polka music.  They were very good.  Beautiful instruments. 

Then there was this sign that made me laugh out loud.  Put the camera to the eye and start shooting.  Most of us have believed "Trust me, you can dance.  (signed) Beer" at least once in our lives, oftentimes at family weddings or worse, reunions.  Took several shots and then purchased a very good beer from Croatia.  Nicely bitter and hoppy.  Then went to Pop's Place kiosk (he has a restaurant along the river), run by a Slovenian-American who grew up in CA, for a bacon cheeseburger with just enough bacon to flavor but not so much to take it off and make a BLT.  Perfectly rare meat.  Right size.  No fries (only one stand was offering them).  Below is a shot of one of the best Sunday dinners I've had since coming here.  I was sipping the beer as I walked to find a place to shoot the phot and sit down.  Great Sunday afternoon. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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