Posted January 29, 2010
Book: Short Sermons for Preachers on the Run
Author: Walter J. Burghardt
Orbis Books. Maryknoll, New York. 2009. Pp. 127
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
Busy preachers will find this last book by one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century an inspiring resource. They will also find superior spiritual reading. Those who have cherished previous books by Fr. Burghardt as well as those discovering him for the first time will find his final gift to us a small treasure.
An Excerpt from the Book:
Joy Even in Lent
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:17-21.
When I began this homily, laetare (“rejoice”) was uppermost in my mind. The clear “break” with Lenten language, the optional use of rose vestments, the “joy” in the Latin subtitle, the parallel with Advent’s third Sunday. “Gaudete” (“rejoice!”) — all these together may seem to envision a one-day relaxation from the rigors of Lent. Not quite. Lent remains, but at its very heart the liturgy pauses to give us an anticipation of resurrection. To grasp this, we go back to the Scripture for glimpses of God’s generosity, of a father’s fidelity.
First, to the Old Testament. The biblical book of Joshua, the successor of Moses, is important here. For “the purpose of the book is to demonstrate God’s fidelity in giving to the Israelites the land he had promised them for an inheritance.” The “promised land” is, of course, the covenant the Lord made with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, for the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittitess, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebustites” (Gen. 15:18b-21_.
Second, to Paul’s second letter to Corinth’s Christians. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ . . .God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them . . .For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
Once again, in the very middle of Lent, absorbed by a Christ with eyes fixed on Calvary, I am subtly but clearly reminded that I trudge through these forty days as a risen Christian. I dare not pretend, even beneath the cross, that Jesus has not yet risen.
Third, to a parable. The problem (relaxation or anticipation?) reaches a new level in Luke with the parable of the Lost Son. The story is familiar to you, but let me tell it with some of my own words.
The younger of two sons asks and receives his inheritance from his father. With all his belongings he sets off to a far country, where he dissipates his inheritance. Hit by famine, he tends swine, does not get their food to eat, is dying of hunger.
As he approaches home, his father sees him. Full of compassion, he rushes to embrace and kiss him. In the home he orders for his son the finest robe, a ring, and sandals, topped off by a celebratory feast. The older son is angry, refuses to enter the house and share in the music. He has served his father “all these years,” never disobeyed his orders. No party for him, only for the son who swallowed up his father’s property with prostitutes. The father’s response is classic — every word: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found: (Luke 15:31-32).
Hardly a Gospel for a traditional Lenten day. If we focus on the happy outburst of the father in the Gospel that his son has come from death to life, as well as his excited insistence on celebration and joy — our Laetare this day could easily extend to an empty tomb.
Table of Contents:
1. If I have not love. . .
A wedding homily
2. Love: only for two?
A wedding change
From Advent to Easter
3. Proximate preparation for a unique birth
4. Out of the mouths of babes
A homily for Christmas Eve
5. A light, a star, an Epiphany
Solemnity of the Epiphany
6. You will name him Jesus
Annunciation of the Lord
7. Joy, even in Lent
8. Every day a Holy Thursday
9. Let this cup pass?
10. For me?
11. Hope for the hopeless?
An Easter Homily
Special Feasts and Memorials
12. Receive the Holy Spirit
13. The birth of John the Baptis
John associated with Jesus always
14. Ignatius for today
Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola
15. Sanctity yesterday, sanctity today
Feast of All Saints
16. The gift of love for one another
The mass for family and friends
17. Honoring conscientious objectors
Expanding our vision of Veterans Day
18. Thanks be to God!
Thanksgiving Day or every day?
19. A priest in every season
A sixty-fifth-year homily
20. Courage in the dark
A Jesuit’s diamond Jubilee
21. Jubilee for two priests
Sixtieth and sixty-fifth ordination celebration
22. Scholar, author preacher
Funeral homily for Walter J. Burghardt, S.J.