My Homily for the XXIII Sunday of Ordinary Time

Here’s my Homily for this week. As always, I appreciate the prayers and feedback. God bless!


The Church has many symbols of expression, and some of these include a sheepfold, a cultivated field, a family; the Mystical Body of Christ, the People of God. And in today’s readings we look at yet another aspect, that of the Church as communio, or communion.

Jesus tells us today, that where two or three are gathered, there will he be in their midst. That more or less sums up communio in a nutshell; one could certainly find more theologically profound definitions. But, communio is, more or less, amMovement of community in the Holy Spirit; we experience relationships with one another, and with God, both personally, and as a group.

When we gather together in community to worship: the founding principle is love; of God, and of neighbor. In addressing the Christians of Rome, Saint Paul has no doubt in asserting peremptorily “Love is the fulfillment of the Law.”

So, The Church as communion is first and foremost the sacrament of the intimate union of humans with God. And, this communion with God is the purpose of the Church.

The idea is ever ancient, and goes back to the very beginning where we find it in the books of Genesis.

In the Beginning…

In Genesis I, man is created male and female, and man and woman are to subdue and be victorious over the world; they have dominion over it. They are created male and female, separately and as coworkers in this great movement of God’s will. There is a desire to create; to build new and bigger; to get to the moon; to build the tallest building; to achieve great things.

In Genesis II we find a very different story.

Eve said to Adam… “Adam, Do you Love me?” And Adam said, “Honey, Who else?”

In Chapter Two, man is created in humility, from the dust. God breathes life into him, in a very intimate connection; Yahweh is the most intimate name for God. Man’s job is to tend to the garden of life … to life giving things. And everything is good.

Except for one little thing, which is really bugging him: man is alone.

So, woman is created from a rib of Adam, again a very intimate union. They are together; “Ah, at last!: flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones.”

They are only ultimately fulfilled in togetherness, and moreso, they are only fulfilled in togetherness with each other and with GOD. I + Thou, + God. That’s communio.

As an aside: Eve said to Adam… “Adam, Do you Love me?” And Adam said, “Honey, Who else?”

Josiah Royce and a Philosophical Dimension

Josiah Royce

Josiah Royce was an American philosopher of the 18th and 19th centuries. Interestingly enough, his philosophy mirrors the entire idea of Communio.
Also, interestingly enough, his house was later purchased by Julia Child, and was used in filming many of her TV shows; it’s kitchen is now in the Smithsonian.

Royce said that man is most fully realized in community with others.

For instance: I’m Joe, and I show up on a bike…. You look at me strangely and say, “What?!”

But when you start asking me, what schools did I go to? Where did you grow up? Do you know so and so? What Parish are you in? What diocese? Etc…

All of these community associations help you to understand who I am, and what I am about.

In Genesis, when Cain kills Abel, his punishment is to walk alone amongst the tribes of the earth. He says No! Such a fate is cruel; cruel and unusual punishment, so he is given some sort of marking; something. But to be alone, to not have a tribe, a clan, a community: that’s a fate worse than death.

The challenge is to take to heart the message of Jesus Christ: Love God; love your neighbor as yourself.

Josiah Royce looked at Rugged Individualism (for example, Thoreau on Walden Pond, a country club, with the Alcott sisters bringing him dinner, living on an inheritance…) and said,
“If this continues, in 100 years people will no longer be willing to pay income taxes; divorce will sky rocket, the family will fall apart.” Very Prophetic.

Nihilistic Trends – To Each His Own

John Paul II, in Fides et Ratio wrote of the prevailing philosophical currents in the world today, one of which is an unhealthy sense of indiviualism: unhealthy in that it promotes isolation.

We’re called to be fully formed individuals, and to have independence, of course. But in community with others and with God.

In the world today we find a great sense of separatism and isolation. Each in his own room, own TV, own music, own computer, own world. Each is his own demi-urge…. Or small god unto his or herself

The challenge is to take to heart the message of Jesus Christ: Love God; love your neighbor as yourself.

Take to heart the writings of St. Paul and look up how to live a life of authentic fraternal love: Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not blind, honest, it is noble and true.

Living in a world of Faith, we find one another in Jesus Christ; we gather in His name; we grow through communion with others.

Thoughts on a Friday, of Week 22

Jesus ChristFirst Friday of the Month, Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday of Week 2 in The Breviary… What’s in a name? Or a number?

Today, because I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time, and, because I know that people often look up Priests’s weblogs expecting far more than beginnings in photography, I’m posting my daily Homily.

Despite it’s written length, it’s redacted in the actual giving of it. Mass is over in 20-25 minutes.

… I pray it may inspire someone to holiness. …

The readings today speak to the beginning of time, and the wonders of all creation.

No, really. They do.

Paul’s introduction to the community at Collosse gives a pretty high Christological discourse in just a few sentences.

We know that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, the logos. The logos could be several things, and can be seen as an animating principal, bringing forth from the realm of the invisible, the realm of thought, the realm of the mind and of the heart, into the physical world. In the purely natural realm, you could think of your own ideas and thoughts on life. You ponder upon them and form them properly in your interior person, then you speak these thoughts, and work to bring them into fulfillment in the physical world.

The late John Paul considered that ‘the human body, and it alone, is capable of bringing forth into the visible world, that which is invisible.’ (I paraphrase from his discourses in the Theology of the Body.)

So, we have Jesus Christ, a person of God in the Trinity, who is the divine logos – through Him all things were made. And this is what Paul is addressing here in his introduction to the letter. All things are created through Jesus Christ, all that is good and holy comes from him, all the angels, the entire world and cosmos come through Jesus Christ, and thus Jesus Christ is at the head of all things. He is the ‘prime mover’ as Thomas Aquinas might say – the first cause. He is the beginning, and ultimately the end.
Fallen Angels - Dore
St. Athanasius, I believe, wrote that the beautiful world God had created had been overtaken, as it were, by a ‘band of brigands.’ The fallen angels and their hordes flew into action and set up shop over humanity, overlords of death, misery and destruction, even setting up the chief of the fallen as the Prince of the world. (This is very true simply looking about the world at times.)

Jesus even spoke about this at times in parables, such as the one about the Good King who comes to find his lands o’ertaken; or the one about the son of the king who is sent and murdered, et cetera.

And it’s in this spiritually oppressive atmosphere that humanity dwelt, held captive by a marauding, malevolent spirituality for generations. We were held ransom, in darkness and slavery, without even knowing it. All we knew was the darkness.

God did ransom us from sin and slavery through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We were bought with the price of His blood.

So, the Gospel speaks of the ‘old wine’ and a wedding Feast. Jesus is the old wine, ever ancient, ever new, which is the preferred wine. He is the groom at the wedding feast, creating a new covenant with the people of God, and in whose presence the people will no doubt rejoice with great gladness of heart.

Made new in spirit, made whole and healed, seeing the face of God in Jesus Christ, experiencing the rebirth and salvation of humanity — how could the apostles and disciples not rejoice, and feel great gladness?

Friday is a penitential day within the universal Church. We recall Christ’s Passion, we examine our lives and prepare ourselves spiritually as the week ends, so that on Sunday we may be in a state of grace when we arrive once again at the foot of Christ’s altar.
Triumph of Jesus Christ
We ponder anew the ancient wine, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were made. We consider that we are made new in Him, and as ‘new wine’, we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that we too might grow in wisdom and character conformed to Jesus Christ.


The Death of John XXIII

When I started this weblog, it was with every intention of posting reflections on the daily readings, and my weekend Homilies as articles. I was doing that as early as 2003 in an anonymous little blog called Back on the Soapbox.

I only kept it during an internship that I was doing, and it eventually suffered from the same sort of self consciousness that invaded all of my online writing during formation. (Who needed a weblog coming up for discussion in an EVALUATION?)

Actually I was posting reflections in 2009 when I sort of resurrected this project. But then I became concerned with the photos I was publishing, and ultimately got involved in photography and photoshop. So now I post photos that I’ve tried to photoshop into looking decent, and it’s somehow become a quasi photoblog because I find photo retouching relaxing. For the most part.

But I’m still firmly intent on getting back to posting those reflections. So, if you think this is somehow just another post with photoshopped pictures or documents just hang on to your hats a minute. If you don’t practice something you’re never going to get any better at it you know.

I know… I know. You already know that.

Death of John XVIII

But the truth of the matter is, that you’re absolutely correct if you are making those assumptions. Sorry. And to make matters worse, these are just scanned and then poorly cleaned up.

I’m working on a few projects around here these days, and in cleaning some things around the office came across a mysterious binder stored with the glassware.

It’s a collection of diocesan correspondence from back in the 60’s, and one of the communiques were the instructions on the Death of Pope John XXIII. It’s interesting to look at the wording, to see how much things have changed in the last 48 years.

Also included were some general instructions for Holy Week 1963. (Clicking on them will produce a legible copy, if you’re so inclined.)

Holy Week

With the new translation coming up in Advent, it’s good to look at things which were published before the old new translation, the one from the 70’s came out, around the very same time that Imagine came out.

So! That about wraps that up. I really must go ponder upon my Homily now.

The Rev. Kenneth Allen