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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

ORDER OF MALTA RENEWAL 2018

MALTA CROSS

In a few weeks’ time at the start of May The Council Complete of State  will convene for the election of the Grand Master or Lieutenant of the Grand Master. This election  comes after a time of renewal and reform that Pope Francis called for after the events that took place at the end of 2016 into 2017. Renewal that will continue after the election and beyond. When we think of renewal what do we think of and where do we begin ? As an organisation set up to defend the faith and serve the poor we take our que from the dual ethos of our Order  that is Faith and Service in action. For proper renewal to take place within the order we need to begin with the individual  people that you and I are and then move on to the bigger organisation but the organisational renewal is a totally different concept from the spiritual renewal of oneself.

We have just finished the great season of Lent which is in itself a time of spiritual renewal with many people giving up and taking up the challenges of the Lenten season and now during the 50 days of the  Easter Season  leading up to Pentecost we consolidate the renewal undertaken during Lent so that we can move forward in faith. The American Association Year of Preparation primer makes the point  that  we serve the sick and the poor but we also commit ourselves to defend the Faith the two go together . Our adherence to the Catholic Faith should be manifested by our moral conduct, our ongoing learning and sharing of this Faith, and our service of others. We are not motivated by a pay check or a place of honour in church or generic humanitarian inclinations. We are followers of Jesus Christ who is the way the truth and the life!  When we think about tuitio fidei, the Defence of faith, our mind goes readily to the Hospitallers of past, who defended Palestine against the Mamluks, to Grand Master Jean de La Valette who held out against the Turks in the siege of Malta in 1565.

These were the battles that took place for all to see, and today we try compare to those warriors of old with Catholic men and women who defend the Faith in the media, and in political and other debates, or who by their writing seek to commend the faith to non-believers. There is also defence of the Faith at the level of individuals But how does this fit into the notion of renewal of the person who is an ordinary member of the Order is a question that we have to constantly ask ourselves. I believe that the answer is that  Faith is the assurance of things hoped from the conviction of things not seen”. (Hebrews: 11,1).  We must be prepared to witness to things unseen as an important part of a spiritual life but of course it is difficult to be such a witness, precisely because they are things unseen, and yet St Paul is insistent on the need for proclaiming the truths of faith.” How are men to call on him (Jesus) if have not come to believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how will they bear of him unless there is a preacher for them?And how will there be preachers if they haven’t been sent?  So faith comes from hearing and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.(Romans: 10,14-15.17). Our duty as Christians in today’s world is to be like the preachers mentioned in the  above text. But what does this mean in practice?  In the 1930’s there was an association in England called the Catholic Evidence Guild. Its members were well trained in apologetics and public peaking, but the difficulty was to find them an audience. The local group of the Catholic Evidence Guild decided to take Scripture literally and to send a preacher to the nearby town of Bury St Edmunds.  On market day, a kitchen table was placed in the square; a priest called Fr Gilbey stood on it and spoke eloquently, but no one stopped to listen to him. People just looked at him in an awkward way and went past to buy their meat and vegetables as usual. The preacher was speaking to nobody. Perhaps in certain cultures and at certain periods in time such a method would have been successful but  it was not successful in the 1930’s and I do not think it is for us today.

A better starting point for us in proclaiming the faith is in the comment in St Peter’s first letter: ‘Always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that is in you, but give it with courtesy and respect. (Peter: 3, 15).  “Have your answer ready” but in order to have our answer ready  we have to constantly renew ourselves so that we have our answer at the tip of our tongue for someone who asks us about the faith we profess.  If we think that this is asking too much, we should take to heart a remark made by Pope St. John Paul 2 on this very subject. He said in a Speech to the new Ambassador of the Order of Malta to the Holy See; 13 October 1997.

“Today the defense of the faith means above all the witness to the truth of Christianity by what one says and what one does To defend the faith often means, especially in our time, to defend basic values which human reason, without the light of revelation, is in danger of not being able to grasp radically or completely enough. Such are, for example, the dignity of man, the nature of the family, and the fundamental right to life.

We need to renew our spiritual selves on an ongoing basis with Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, perhaps saying the Divine office, the Rosary with other spiritual exercises such as retreats etc.  The ongoing reform of the Order that is taking place at the moment will only be successful if we renew ourselves spiritually and recommit ourselves to the core values of defending the faith and serving the poor. Our lives should be a spiritual odyssey constantly looking at where we were in the past, where we are at the present time and where we hope to be in the future.  The spiritual life of faith  is not easy but anything that is good is never easy and is always worthwhile. Archbishop Martin of Dublin in his homily at the Mass for the  beginning of the preparations for the world meeting of Families tells us that  Faith is trust in God. Faith is trust and recognition that God cares even when we are not aware of it. Faith is not telling God what he should do for us. Faith is not a situation in which we feel we know what God should be doing.  It is being sensitive to God’s plan for us and to his love for us. We as people of faith are called to bring that faith into our lives and the lives of those around us.

The love of God calls us to set out on a journey to show the love of the Father to others without pre conditions.  This kind of merciful love is often a life-time’s work. It is a service, and day to day it needs to be strengthened and restored through prayer and confidence that God’s will is being done for it is God’s will  that his the Love should  of God be shown to all whoever they are wherever they might be. Perhaps everyone we meet has some special need for our Love that is our merciful, uncomprehending, love and our understanding response to their needs and cares. Children, old people, a tired friend, disabled people are just examples of people  in need of our affection, understanding, counsel, or consolation there are so many people out there and we shouldn’t be afraid to show ourselves as people who love and care for those who need us.  There are many things within the Order of Malta institutions that are good and there are also many things that have served the order well over the years that are no longer relevant and we should consider getting rid of them but this does not mean that we throw the bath water out with the baby. This means that after a period of thoughtful consideration we should do what is required in order to move forward in a proper way.  We pray for the election that will take place during the early part of May  we  also pray for all those involved in it from all over the world. We also pray for all those who will take part in the Lourdes Pilgrimage that it will be a time of grace and healing for all the pilgrims. There is much need out theremay we see what we have to do and get on with the job that needs to be done.

As we end this reflection we consider the following words  attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero The sentiments within this could be applied to our personal lives as well as the life of the Order and maybe we should take these few lines to heart as we go forward:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.

The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, It is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that should be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

 

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3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER

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This weekend we celebrate the third Sunday of Easter. Many people thing that Easter is just one day but Easter lasts for 50 days ten days more than Lent and ends on Pentecost Sunday.

Our gospel reading for this Sunday tell us about the two disciples who were on the road. They were leaving Jerusalem, their hopes shattered after Jesus’ death or at least that’s what they felt. Then they met the risen Lord. They didn’t recognize him at first, but they did after he opened the Scriptures for them and broke bread with them. After their encounter they returned to the community in Jerusalem with the news of what had happened. While they were still speaking to the community, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them peace be with you. He is encouraging them and not to be afraid. It’s still not enough. Then he invites them to touch him. Still more, he asks for food and eats in their presence. The resurrected Christ is present, in the same way he was when they traveled and ate together. He is not just someone who somehow survived what was done to him and escaped. He didn’t experience a near death on the cross – he died and rose again as he said.

Jesus reminds them and us that he is the same, yet there is something very different about him. They knew that he was with them; Yet, the disciples need more in order to accept his new presence with them. What he did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus he does again and again for us in the person of our priests. He expounds what the Scriptures had said about him in the same way our priests do for us today. Do we see that? Can we understand what God can do and has done  for us – bring new life after death? Jesus doesn’t choose just certain Scriptures as proof texts. He tells us as he told the disciples “everything written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” What would we be like if Jesus came and stood among us in real flesh and blood, I think that our reaction would be exactly the same as the apostles disbelief. But if we stop and think for a moment Jesus does come amongst us each time  we go to the Eucharistic liturgy, Jesus is there with us on the Altar in the elements of Bread and wine and in the person of the Priest offering these gifts to the Father on our behalf. We remember the last supper when Jesus gave us himself as an everlasting memorial and we remember that each time we hear the prayers of consecration at Mass that we do this in memory of him. 

Let us walk with Jesus in all of those who serve the poor and needy in the name of Christ. Let us walk with those who serve the children or those outsiders who seek Christ. In the mere process of being witness, the context comes alive. For Christ walks with us  the Easter people when we serve others may we not be afraid to get up and bring the light of Jesus into the world were we are.

 

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER

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This Sunday we celebrate the second Sunday of Easter it is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. For the 40 days of Lent we have prepared for the celebration of Holy Week then after Holy Week we celebrate the season of Easter for 50 days.  The Easter season has the most exciting Scripture readings of the year. They take us from the empty tomb of Easter Sunday all the way to the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost. The Apostles are huddled together in fear in the empty room. They weren’t so sure that the women’s report that Jesus had risen was believable. They weren’t singing for joy! Now, a whole week has gone by. They still felt “rocky” about their future.

Thomas wasn’t the only one who had doubts about Jesus, I think so many were doubtful then as so many are doubtful right here and now. The Apostles were pondering the shocking experience of the week before when all seemed to be lost as Jesus hung on the Cross. But here we are over 2000 years later thinking about how they felt after the events of that first Holy Week. All seemed to be lost but we gained everything. Jesus had broken through those doors and came to assure them that he was alive and then his message must have troubled them: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” in the same way we are sent out in the Joy of the Gospel to bring his message to other people wherever we are by what we say and do. We are asked to bring the mercy of God to all those out there who need his healing merciful love.

We remember the joys the hope, the grief and the anxieties of the people in our time these are the joys and hopes, the grief and anxieties of the followers of Christ that means you and me. As Pope Francis directs us, we must courageously reach out in the joy of the Gospel to those who are doubtful among us, and assure them of the great mercy of Jesus. Our world is hurting so much because of the many evil things that are happening within it. May all of us be the witnesses to the joy of the Gospel bringing the caring face of the mercy of God to the people of our time and place as Christians in our own communities.

EASTER VIGIL AND EASTER SUNDAY

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Having  completed our Lenten observance and after the liturgies of Holy Thursday and  Good Friday we  are now at the stage of celebrating the Easter Vigil on the day of resurrection that is Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is about emptiness, the cross is empty and Jesus lies in the tomb everything around us is still.  The heavens and the earth cry out with longing for the sinless one who is not to be found, if we stop to think for a moment we remember that Jesus died and rose again on the third day. We wait, as mourners beside a grave, unsettled, ill at ease, not knowing what to do with ourselves. The Church has only one thing to do today: to pray through the emptiness of Holy Saturday.

Holy Saturday is the day when we experience watching and waiting at the tomb as we await the celebration of the Resurrection which we celebrate in the Easter Vigil and the season of Easter. The Psalm for Easter Sunday says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”Above all days, Easter is a day of joy. At Easter, we celebrate the kind each of us longs for, when every tear is wiped away, and there is no sorrow any more no more suffering from weather or hunger or hurtful human beings. As we sing in the much-loved hymn by Fr. John Foley, S. J., at Easter, “the cross and passion past, dark night is done, bright morning come at last!”  When we ourselves rise to meet our risen Lord, in that bright morning we will hear him say, “Come away, beloved. The winter is past; the rain is gone, and the flowers return to the earth” (Song of Songs 2:10-12). In the loving union of that encounter, all the heart brokenness of our lives will be redeemed. That will be perfect  joy.So in that same vein of perfect joy we say “this is the ‘day which the Lord has made.’ Alleluia!  let us take fresh hope,  with Christ our Passover everything is possible! Christ goes forward with us in our future!” Let us go forward together as Easter people rejoicing in the Resurrection.

THE EASTER SEASON

It can seem that once Easter Sunday has passed Easter is finished, but the’ celebration continues for fifty days. The next Sunday of Easter after Easter  day  is traditionally known as Low Sunday or Dominica in Albis (White Sunday) which refers to the white baptismal garment of the newly baptised. Divine Mercy Sunday is a new feast also celebrated on this day. It comes almost as an opportunity in which anyone who missed out on celebrating the mercy of Christ in Holy Week has another chance. After forty days we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of Christ who returns to the Father to send us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We spend the novena (nine days) between the Ascension and Pentecost praying for the Spirit like Mary and the apostles in the Upper Room. On the fiftieth day (which is the literal meaning of the word “Pentecost”) Easter ends. On that day “Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 731). Our celebration of Easter resonates throughout the rest of the year: full of gratitude for Christ’s passion, joy in his resurrection and, strengthened by the Spirit, we continue our Christian journey.

HOLY WEEK

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Lent has ended and now we begin the Holy Week Triduum. The word Triduum is the Latin for three days that is the three days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. The Church celebrates one liturgy each day. We should not think of the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil as three separate events, all three form part of one single extended liturgy. In fact at the end of the Mass on Holy Thursday there is no dismissal and blessing instead we accompany Jesus to the Altar of repose. In the same way there is no formal beginning and end to the Good Friday liturgy.  This three-day liturgy concludes with the solemn blessing at the end of the Easter Vigil or at the morning Mass on Easter Sunday.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday is all about the priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper. On the Morning of Holy Thursday, there is only one mass celebrated in a Diocese (Although the Chrism Mass may be celebrated earlier in the week). All the priests gather around the Bishop and the people of God to renew their commitment to priesthood. Also at this Mass the oils of Chrism, Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick are blessed by the bishop, these holy oils will be used in the Baptisms, Confirmations and anointing of the sick in the local parishes over the next 12 months. The theme running throughout this day is one of humble service that is service of God and his people.

The Evening Mass commerates the Last Supper again the theme is service and sacrifice both of these are aspects of the same mystery.  We see Jesus as one who serves, who gives himself. Just as he freely gives himself in washing the feet of his disciples, so too he gives himself  in the bread and wine he takes, blesses and hands to the disciples.  

In the same way we receive Jesus in the form of Bread and wine from the hands of our priests. All these acts of self-giving are the same act – that of the Son of Man who came ‘not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ May we take up the mantle of humble service giving a helping hand to others and not counting the cost to ourselves. Many people over the years have given much at great personal cost and have not failed in their example of humble service and that for me  is what  Holy Thursday is all about  Humble service for others and not being afraid of being the presence of Christ for others no matter what the cost is.

GOOD FRIDAY

 On this day in the liturgy we read St. Johns account of the passion, we pray for the needs of the Church and the world, we venerate the Cross and we receive the blessed Eucharist. We think of the death of Jesus on the cross, his death was a result of the courage of his convictions. He lived his life with a message of compassion, of equality and love, Jesus was often critical of those who lorded it over those who were less well off or who had little or even nothing at all. The cross of Good Friday is a sign and a symbol that all of us recognise, it is a sign of the completeness of the love that God has for each one of us faults and failings included. It is not accidental that the Passion according to John is always read on this day.  This account shows Jesus always in charge, in total command of his situation.  John’s Passion is an extended commentary on an earlier statement of Jesus found in John 10:17-18:  “I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”   

The focus of the liturgy of Good Friday, is not primarily a meditation on Jesus’ pain, nor on our sinfulness, nor on our imitation of Jesus’ humility on their own.  Rather the focus is a reminder to us that we are beneficiaries of this event, and so we call the Friday “Good” by thanking God for what God has done for us in Jesus.  The final words of Jesus from the cross say it all for us, “Is is accomplished!”  Jesus is not overcome.  On the contrary!  He has overcome! When we go up to venerate the cross on Good Friday we should allow the cross to move us to be better people. Consoling, comforting and challenging the people we meet with the values of Jesus and the Cross.

 

Palm Sunday

 

 

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This Sunday we commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem for the completion of the Paschal Mystery. Palm Sunday is just the start as we begin our annual journey from the Hosannas of Palm Sunday through to the Upper room of Holy Thursday and then on to the denials of peter and the Cross of Good Friday when all seemed to be lost. And then we come to Easter when all that seemed to be lost on Good Friday was redeemed and is redeemed every Easter. So now we stop and think for a moment about how we began our journey on Ash Wednesday and where we are now as we approach the life changing and life giving events of Holy Week.

The entrance into Jerusalem is one of the very few events in Jesus’ life which is mentioned in all four gospels.  It is the only time that Jesus accepts and encourages public acclaim as Messiah.  He even goes as far as organising his entrance by telling the disciples to go and fetch the donkey. The key moment in God’s great plan of salvation is about to begin and Jesus knows exactly how it will unfold as he knew and understood what the will of the father would mean for him.

The events of Palm Sunday were foretold thousands of years ago. The first reading from Isaiah, speaks of a courageous and obedient messiah-figure, who says, “I have set my face like flint” against the beatings and scourging that lie ahead, “knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” The second reading from Philippians reminds us of Jesus’ total emptying of His divinity in order that He might identify Himself with the lowest criminal being led to His execution, “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And the reading continues but God raised him high and gave him the name above all other names. We move towards the heavenly Jerusalem because Christ himself made the journey to the Cross for us and now he offers to make it with us.  The full drama of the Gospel  begins with the crowd’s fickle acclamation of Jesus as King at the beginning of the reading.

On Palm Sunday we feel embarrassed to cry out “Crucify Him” with the palm branches still in our hands. It reminds us of our own fickle response and our lack of courage in responding to His love and truth. Yet we know that it was the sins of us all which brought Jesus to Calvary. Palm Sunday and Holy Week are all about Jesus suffering for our inadequacies and our own very real sins. Holy Week is a time for us to realize what we’re really like, and to find that the only remedy for our pains and our fears is love. That is Love of God, love of others and oneself. Are we ready to join our own pains and fears to the Master’s? Are we ready to add as much love as we can possibly muster to His boundless love? As God’s family, we are called to look out for one another. It’s not just about “me myself and nobody else.” It’s about “us and everyone else all together. Our journey during Holy Week is a journey about god’s love for all of us that is his great love that has no end.  let us not be afraid to set out and go through the week we are beginning today so that we will be able to celebrate the bright light of Jesus present in our lives  at Easter having travelled the journey of Lent and Holy Week.

 

 

5TH SUNDAY OF LENT

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Well we are now at the fifth Sunday of Lent, it is hard to think that we are going through lent at such a fast pace and soon  we will be celebrating Palm Sunday and Holy Week. At the beginning of Lent I said that Lent was a time for giving things up as well as taking things up I hope that all of us were able to give something up as well as taking something up such daily Mass or that extra spiritual task and I hope that all of this hasn’t been too hard. There are so many worthwhile things that we can do during Lent in order to make our celebration of Holy week so much better.

In the Gospel for this weekend some Greeks ask to see Jesus. Jesus responds by saying that anyone who loves his life will lose it; to gain your life, you have to be like a grain of wheat which brings forth much fruit only by falling into the earth and dying. The seed which must die to produce a harvest is a powerful image of Jesus death. The Greeks must have been baffled. They were baffled in much the same way that we are when we listen to the stories from scripture about Jesus and all the things that he had done.

The gospel goes on to tell us that a voice is heard from the cloud, as at the Transfiguration in the other gospels, but here it speaks of the ‘glory’ that will come to Jesus for giving up his life. It is in his death and resurrection that he draws all people to himself, both Jew and Greek. Many Learned men and women have tried to put their interpretation on the Scriptures but if we listen with open hearts and minds what the word of God means in our lives and the way we live them will become apparent. For many people including me God’s presence is not often thought of  at the time his spirit is with us but afterwards, when you look back at what has happened or what you have said you often see that the hand of God was with you at that point. I have often said things to people about situations that they are in and thought to myself where did I get that from? Then on reflection I know that what I said was inspired by the Holy Spirit and was the right thing to do or say in the right place.  As we come to the last few days of Lent let us prepare with great intensity for Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum and then we will really be able to enjoy the Easter feast on Easter Sunday which we have been preparing for since Ash Wednesday and don’t forget the Easter celebration lasts until Pentecost Sunday !!!

4TH SUNDAY OF LENT

 

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This weekend we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Lent and this is also known as Laetare Sunday and this mirrors Gaudete Sunday in Advent because their mood and theme is one of hope and rejoicing. So what is the cause for rejoicing this Sunday? The cause for our rejoicing is that we are getting close to the great events of Holy Week and Easter that have brought us salvation.

The Gospel reading from John tells us that a person is condemned because that  person did not  has not believe in the Son of God. God the Father has no desire to condemn, but people condemn themselves by putting God and the ideals of faith out of their lives. Over many centuries so many people have said there is no  god or in situations that seemed hopeless where is your God. There are so many people out there in our so called modern world  who have turned out the light of faith in their lives permanently for many reasons.  I know people of all ages who have been brought up in the Christian Faith and then have left it all behind and yet we as people of faith know that there is a  god and he is there among us in the people who are in our daily lives . He is also there in the good and bad times that we have in our lives and helps us to get through whatever happens.

At the Easter Vigil we proclaim the risen Lord as Christ our Light and we celebrate with joy. We are invited to celebrate this Sunday with joy, because through baptism and confirmation we have been invited to live in the light of Christ and to act accordingly. This Sunday we also pray for all those who are undertaking the RCIA process who will take up the light of Christ for the first time when they are baptized at the Easter Vigil.  We also remember and pray for all those who have left the faith and extinguished the light of faith in their lives and we pray that they may reignite the faith in their lives by seeing the good example of those around them.

 

3RD SUNDAY OF LE

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Well here we are at the third Sunday of Lent as I am writing these words it’s snowing and blowing a gale outside with the storm called the beast from the east attacking Ireland with full force. We think of all those who are in any need this weekend especially the homeless, the old perhaps there are people in our localities who might appreciate a friendly knock on the door to see how they are and if they need any help. This is what we are called to do all the time not just during times of crisis. We are called to be a friend to those around us who might be in any difficulty especially when life is not so good.

This Sunday’s gospel puts Jesus’ knowledge of our human nature so clearly: He really knew what was going on in the hearts of those around him. He knew what they thought. He saw what they did to the Temple. The Temple was supposed to be a place of celebrating the spiritual presence of God in the world. As we hear in the reading  the people changed the Temple into a marketplace when it should have been a place of spiritual encounter.

For many in our modern world the day of the Lord Sunday has been replaced with so many secular things taking the place of God religion and faith.  Jesus knew that people would see the signs that he worked, the miracles he performed, but would refuse to see the messages behind the signs and the miracles that were there if front of them. Instead they would see him as a wonder worker, a superman, a good show and Jesus wasn’t about any of that. Many people have left the faith behind but in similar fashion many are returning again. It is often said that in order to really appreciate something we have to leave it behind and then go back to it again later on when we understand the thing we have left behind better.

The portrait of Jesus in today’s Gospel is a world away from the storybook caricature of Jesus, the meek and mild figure. An equal caricature is to use this passage to make Jesus into a godfather of violence, a revolutionary willing to support annihilation for the sake of the cause and that was not the case. Jesus did use force in the Temple; he was certainly aggressive. But he did not use force he was not a political leader. Nor did he use aggression to gain power for himself because his kingdom could not be established by violence.

Our faith is not about a good show instead it is about our relationship with God and with one another. Jesus shows us  what real love is as he went on to die on the cross for us on Good Friday.  Our dying to ourselves during Lent is an identification with the power of Christ crucified. Our calling, then, is to be strong in faith, not weak. God gives us signs both people and places as anchors of faith. But, at some point, we must trust the Lord enough to cut ourselves free from our anchors and allow him to guide us through the rough currents of life.

Second Sunday of Lent 2018

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Well here we are at the second Sunday of Lent. It is hard to believe but time is marching on. In the Gospel reading for this weekend we hear about Jesus going up the mountain taking Peter and James and John, with him and we hear the voice of the father identifying  Jesus as “my beloved Son.”  the God who speaks to the disciples on the mountain directs them to Jesus and tells  all of us, “Listen to him” and our journey during lent is a journey of listening to scripture and listening to one another as we tell our own stories of faith. Jesus invites us to an exciting journey as a matter of fact our lives if lived in faith should be an exciting journey from birth right until we get to the pearly gates when we die. “The kingdom of God is at hand, Repent, and believe the Good News is all about Lent and in a particular way it is our call to take up the spiritual journey.  We’re not invited to a trip to Disneyland or any other holiday place we might want to go to. Instead we are called to explore the great depths of God’s love for us as we try to move and live in God’s Spirit as we climb the mountain of the Lord which is represented by our faith led observance of Lent.

Lent provides inspiration for all Christians  to remember and celebrate the days of their Baptism and Confirmation. Every year we hope to rise again from the ashes of our sins and failures “to recreate ourselves anew.” Every year we take a six week journey, a pilgrimage through the penance, self-discipline, prayer, and  good works in Lent leading  to the refreshing Easter waters of renewal. For many their journey began last Sunday in the cathedral churches as they began the journey to their Baptism at Easter as Catechumens. The  Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation by means of the rite of election, the scrutinies and catechesis. The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer accompany them on their journey and  through a spirit of repentance all of us are able to renew our baptismal promises at the Easter Masses.  We remember once again the voice of god from the cloud, our heavenly father identifying  Jesus as “his beloved son.”  The god who speaks to the disciples  who also speaks to us and directs all of us to Jesus That same voice of God also  instructs us  to “listen to him” may we sit up and take note of what he is saying and not be afraid to do what he asks of us.

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