Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: There is a widespread effort within our culture to destroy the human family, and ultimately to dehumanize all of us, to turn us into commodities. But there is also hope for change.

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2017

From the epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians:

Brethren: I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

From the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke:

One sabbath when [Jesus] went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they were silent. Then he took him and healed him, and let him go. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” 6 And they could not reply to this.

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

In nomine Patris. . .

The apostle Paul wrote today’s Epistle to the church in Ephesus, one of his favorites, but it very well might be the Epistle to the Americans from any right-thinking bishop today. He, and we, need to bow our knees before the Father, and cry out in loud petitions and fervent repentance, because of the constant assaults by the culture of death upon the family.

What Paul wrote in Greek doesn’t translate effectively into English. In fact, unless you know what he said in Greek or in the Latin translation, verse 15 might not make sense. Every family takes its name from the Father because the Greek and Latin word for father, Pater, gives us the word for family, patera, and the Latin word paternitas, which can mean family or paternity. The Father of all, God, gives us family because the Blessed Trinity is the foundational family. On that model each human family should form, each community come together, every fatherland, every patria, exist in harmony. That is the will of God. That is how God planned for us to become sanctified, to exhibit the image and likeness of God. “It is not good for the man to be alone,” and so man is given to woman, and woman to man, as a divine gift, and from that gift are the children as gifts. All together, in charity, they image on earth the divine family of heaven.

So, too, is the Church one family. This is why we call priests “father,” and why the Pope is the “holy Father.” Holy Orders is a gift to the human family for the propagation of faith, hope and charity among all, so that we can all be saved and sanctified and fit for the divine family that is called the “kingdom of God.” Each time our family comes together, whether for Eucharist or another sacrament or the Divine Office, what is our common prayer? It is the prayer Jesus taught us, a prayer to the Father. In fact, let’s all pray that prayer together in English right now, slowly enough so we can savor the words: “Our Father, who art. . .”

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