Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tell It To the Judge (2016-10-16)

HML–    2016 Oct . 16   /   29th Sunday (year C)
Éxodo 17:8-13  • Salmo 119 (120)   2 Timoteo 3:14 - 4:2 • Lucas 18:1-8 •           

[__01__]    T – H – E  - R – A – P – Y.   Therapy.
T – H – E  - R – A – P – Y.  
That was too easy.  E – A – S – Y.
          A year ago in The Atlantic magazine, Terence Ross wrote that the Scripps National Spelling Bee – held annually in Washington D.C. – has become part of our country´s pop culture. Indeed it is also part of our sports culture.
          In this competition, known as the Bee  - B – E – E – the most competitive and intelligent young people in the orthography of spelling take the stage and try for the championship.

I say this is part of the pop culture and sports culture because it is broadcast on ESPN.   One of the 2015 co-champions also liked to quote NBA basketball star LeBron James for inspiration.

          The words are becoming more difficult than a free throw or lay-up.

          Regarding  T – H – E  - R – A – P – Y and  ¨ therapy¨, that was the final winning word in 1940. 
          In 1993, the winning word was kamikaze.  (Yes, from the Japanese).
          In 2016, ¨ gesellschaft¨  (From the German).
          Yes, the words are becoming more difficult.
          But as one observer wrote, as the spellers up their game (raise their ability to compete and their knowledge), so goes the spelling bee content and words.

[__02__]    At each round of the bee, the young contestants may ask questions of the judges, such as:
è Could you use the word in a sentence?
è Are there alternate pronunciations of the word?
è What is the word’s language of origin?

          This conversation – between the competitor and the judge – becomes longer and more detailed, with the more complicated words.
          There is a conversation with the judge. Each competitors is searching for the right answer through his or her questions.

          I wonder if the winning person in 1940 actually had to ask for “therapy” to be used in a sentence.  I think we all know what therapy is … physical therapy, drug therapy, counseling therapy. There is even pet therapy. But that does not mean your retriever goes for counseling. The pet therapy is for humans.

[__03__]    In the Gospel this Sunday, there is a conversation between the judge and a person in the community.
          It seems to be a competition.  The judge wants to escape from the person’s questions; the person – the woman of the parable – remains persistent, taking the judge to overtime and winning.
          The judge does not have the time, energy or inclination to engage and serve this person.

 [__04__]    Sometimes, this parable is called the parable of the dishonest judge.
          Why is he dishonest?
          He is not “dishonest” in that he is explicitly lying or telling lies.
          He is dishonest because he is only interested in his own comfort, his own position.
          Yet, even this dishonest judge can show mercy to someone who was persistent, persevering,  and asking.
          Mercy starts with a conversation.

[__05__]   A beautiful aspect of the parable is that the woman also believes that mercy is a conversation.

Pope Francis observed in his 2016 Divine Mercy Sunday homily (3 April 2016) that God’s mercy opens doors that were otherwise closed.
          Pope e Francis cites the example of the apostles who were behind closed doors after the Passion and Death of Jesus.
          Francis: “Jesus, who by his resurrection has overcome the fear and dread which imprison us, wishes to throw open our closed doors and send us out. The path that the Risen Master shows us is a one way street, it goes in only one direction: this means that we must move beyond ourselves to witness to the healing power of love that has conquered us.” (Francis, Homily,  3 April 2016)

          Of course, we observe – and may envy – the woman’s strategy and her result.  Though her call was not necessarily answered in the order it was received, it was answered.
          We encouraged to persevere ourselves, even when the answer is delayed or hard to comprehend.

[__06__]   We are called to keep the conversation of mercy going whether we hope to gain forgiveness or to offer forgiveness.
          By the way, Monsignor Joe Petrillo  - Father Joe Petrillo – with whom many of us have a long friendship  - used to say this to me express this as an important discipline for marriage, for family, for any commitment, to keep the conversation going. He believed this. And, we know that Monsignor Joe could keep a conversation going – for a while – with biographies and autobiographies and histories. But, truly, he also lived this message of mercy for all of us.

          These conversations with God – and with others – may be difficult, uncomfortable or even painful.
          St. Paul writes about being a slave ..even being crucified in his flesh, suffering for the sake of goodness.
          Well, it is both a conversation – and a crucifixion – when we are struggling to forgive someone by whom we have been hurt or injured.
          Mercy is a conversation.

[__07__]          It would certainly be easier to forgive someone if were able to forget simultaneously what had happened.
          Mercy is a conversation that calls us to remember to remember that God forgives our sins and that we are called to forgive those who trespass against us.
          The conversation with Jesus – as our brother, our counselor, our judge can also help us to put the words together, and to remember and to memorize his word – his good news -- in our minds and hearts.

[__08__]   Remember – your vote counts on Tuesday November 8th  and always.
          In the Gospel this Sunday, we hear about the mercy shown for a person in a courtroom. The woman of the parable is a model for us, reminding us to persevere in prayer.
          In 2016 and always, we are called to pray for our country’s leaders, both current and future.
          Every election cycle brings attention to the flaws and the background of the candidates on the ballot.
          And, this year, we learn – from both oof them – what they have done –what they have failed to do …and  they wish they had done differently.  We also have learned about conversations and messages and files which were never intended to be on the air, out in public, or in the newspaper.
          Yes, your vote counts. My vote counts on November 8th.
          And, while each candidate’s character is on display, we are also reminded – as the Pharisees were told – not to focus on the outside of the cup, not to cleanse the outside only, but to look within.       God looks not at appearances but at our hearts. And, in this regard, we are called to consider not only the public appearance of each candidate but what each one stands for. What is on the inside?
          What is each candidate’s inside view – and record – on religious freedom, on the sanctity of life, the sanctity of the family. There is more information in the bulletin on this.
          Your vote counts and your prayers for our country and needed before, during, and after November 8th.
          The president and the president’s advisers will need to hear from you.
          We pray that for wisdom for our leaders and also for mercy.
          In the Gospel today, we see the example of the corrupt judge, the judge who gives mercy only to the one who perseveres long enough.
          We need leaders who are able to show mercy even to those unable to ask. In this regard, we pray that there will always be in our country – faith on the earth.     [__fin__]

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