fullertont

RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

THIRTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

The Gospel story for this Sunday tells us about the woman with the haemorrhage and the Synagogue official Jairus who pleaded with Jesus to come because his daughter was sick. As we know the woman and the Child were both cured. Today’s readings reinforce for us the undeniable reality that suffering is not unique to us or to our times, and that if the truth be told we know very little about the ultimate meaning of death as no one has ever come back to tell us where they have gone. Wars, hunger, economic disasters abound and bring us to despair; personal illness, pain, and loss in our families sometimes cause us to lose hope. Often times we feel as if we are alone in our pain; and as a result of this perceived loneliness we ask, Why me? There is so much fear around and about in our country and in the world today: fear of “the other person,” fear of losing a job and not being able to pay the mortgage and look after our families, fear of crazy people with guns, fear of not succeeding, oh, so many fears and perhaps not enough of the old reliable that is FAITH.

People in desperate or helpless circumstances were not disappointed when they sought Jesus out and we are not disappointed when we seek Jesus as well. What drew them to Jesus? Was it hope for a miracle or a word of comfort in their affliction? What did the woman who had suffered greatly for twelve years expect Jesus to do for her? And what did a grieving father expect Jesus to do about his beloved daughter who had died?  It was the same for them as it is for us today Jesus gave hope where there seemed to be no human cause for it because his hope was based in and directed to God. He spoke words of hope to the woman (Take heart, daughter!) to ignite the spark of faith in her (your faith has made you well go in peace!).A 4th century church father, Ephrem the Syrian, comments on this miracle:

“Glory to you, hidden Son of God, because your healing power is proclaimed through the hidden suffering of the afflicted woman. Through this woman whom they could see, the witnesses were enabled to behold the divinity that cannot be seen. Through the Son’s own healing power his divinity became known. Through the afflicted women’s healing her faith was made manifest. She caused him to be proclaimed, and indeed was honoured with him.

For truth was being proclaimed together with its heralds. If she was a witness to his divinity, he in turn was a witness to her faith…He saw through to her hidden faith, and gave her a visible healing.” Jesus also gave divine hope to a father who had just lost a beloved child. It took considerable courage and risk for the ruler of a synagogue to openly go to Jesus and to invite the scorn of his neighbours and kin. Even the hired mourners laughed at him in scorn. Their grief was devoid of any hope. Nonetheless, Jesus took the girl by the hand and delivered her from the grasp of death. Peter Chrysologus, a 5th century church father comments on this miracle: “This man was a ruler of the synagogue, and versed in the law. He trusted therefore in God that his daughter would be restored to life by that same hand which, he knew, had created her…He who laid hands on her to form her from nothing, once more lays hands upon her to reform her from what had perished.” In both instances we see Jesus’ personal concern for the needs of others and his readiness to heal and restore life. In Jesus we see the infinite love of God extending to each and every individual as he gives freely and wholly of himself to each  person he meets.

Every Sunday is a little ‘Easter Sunday’: because Jesus rose on Sunday, triumphant over death, we gather on Sundays. We gather to rejoice and celebrate his meal, the Eucharist: he died, yet he lives, he has departed from us, yet also he is here among us. To celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead is to celebrate that in him is our victory over suffering, pain, and death itself. In proclaiming that the Father raised Jesus from the dead, we are stating and restating our conviction that all those parts of life and living that strike us as annoying  and destructive are not part of the Father’s will for us:

Let us bring all our many fears and worries to god our Father through Jesus his Son who gives us hope and healing in our daily lives and living. May we be like the Woman with the haemorrhage and Jairus the Synagogue official who had faith and hope in their Hard times.

“Lord Jesus, you love each of us individually

with a unique and personal love.

Touch our lives with your saving power,

heal and restore us  to fullness of life.

And help us in our present hard times to

keep on going in faith and hope.

Advertisements

THE FEASTDAY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

THE FEASTDAY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST.

THE FEASTDAY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

JOHN THE BAPTIST

 Birthdays are a special time to remember and give thanks for the blessings that have come our way in our lives family, friends faith or whatever. In many churches of the East and West the birth of John the Baptist is remembered on this day. St Augustine points out that The Church observes the birth of John as in some way sacred; and you will not find any other of the great men of old whose birth we celebrate officially. We celebrate John’s, as we celebrate Christ’s. Augustine also points out that this point cannot be passed over in silence, and  he states if I may not perhaps be able to explain it in the way that such an important matter deserves, it is still worth thinking about it a little more deeply and fruitfully than usual. So in the spirit of St Augustine let us stop for a moment to think about this feast a little more deeply

John was born of an old woman who is barren; Christ was born of a young virgin woman. That John will be born was not believed, and his father is struck dumb; that Christ will be born was believed, and he is conceived by faith.  The Gospel of this day recalls that great figure: John the Baptist.  We hear in our gospel that Zachariah regained his speech when they came to name the child John. John’s task was to announce the coming of Jesus and to point to him when he came.

John’s work was extraordinary.  He was called to reawaken a sense of expectation among a people that had grown tired and distant from God as many have done in our present generation.   John was called to bring renewal to institutional expressions of religion which, at the time, had so often become fossilised into mere formulae or external ritual.  He attracted thousands to come out into the desert to see him. Tradition sees the desert as the place where God speaks to the heart of his people. It is from this solitary place of spiritual combat, the desert bordering the Jordan, that John appears “with the spirit and the power of Elijah” (Luke 7:17). By his word and his baptism with water, he must call the children of the covenant back to the Lord their God as he calls us today to come back to the Lord our God.

John was a man who stood out. His strange dress the wild camel hair shirt and the leather girdle   was not chosen as a publicity gimmick or a trademark as many things today are chosen because they are a trademark and gimmicky.  His message was one that spoke of rising above conventional ways of thinking, conventional expectations and attitudes.  He shunned the external amenities of a comfortable life because he wanted to show his absolute dependence on God.  His detachment from life’s comforts gave him the freedom to truly recognise the message of Jesus and who he was the Son of God. John is not only the fiery preacher of judgement  He also appears as the friend who leads the bride to the bridegroom and then withdraws. He relentlessly directs hearts and minds OUR hearts and minds toward Jesus. Then he seeks to decrease so that the Jesus may increase. Thus is the servant conformed to his master.

The figure of John serves as a warning to us today, to all believers, to the Church and to Church organisations of every age of our need to draw our strength from Christ alone, rather than identifying with the cultural patterns or the Fads and fashions of the time, which in any case come and go.The Church is here to proclaim and live out the message of Jesus in every generation in season and out of season whether people at large like it or not. It is not there in any way to be inward looking.  The Church that is the people of god, you and I  are called to constant renewal, to tear ourselves away from conventional expectations, attitudes and superficialities and centre ourselves completely on God.  The Church in every age must become like John the Baptist, an uncomfortable reminder of how we must allow the truth of Jesus to break into our lives to enlighten the darkness that can at any moment enter into our lives or the life of the Church.

The Christian message always has the ability to fascinate and challenge everyone in every age. It calls on all of us to interpret correctly the meaning of Christ’s coming for our lives and for the society in which we live. Young and old that is all of us one and all need to hear Christ’s message in its clarity with all its demands and challenges. We need to see that the true foundation of the meaning and the hope we have comes in its entirety from the message of Jesus: of whom john said “He is the one”. Like John the Baptist, the Lord invites each of us to make our life a free-will offering to God. God wants to fill us with his glory all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Today then let us renew the offering of ourselves and our lives to God and give him thanks for his mercy and favour towards us as we celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist

ELEVENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

Our Gospel story today is the parable of the sower and we see how the farmer (GOD) has sown a tiny seed (FAITH); we see how he watches and waits for it to bear fruit. Jesus makes a comparison between the small and negligible start and the extraordinary results and we see many of these results in the spiritual lives we are celled to lead. The farmer is in no hurry; he simply sits, waits and lets things happen having sown the seed. Whatever happens will take its own time and the farmer must certainly not hurry its growth. He does not try to find out how this happens, but allows things to develop as they will. From God’s perspective, things are often not what they appear to be at first. The tiny mustard seed may seem small and insignificant, but within it looms something so very valuable, a vital part of creation. This parable helps us to realize that size can be deceiving? It helps us to understand that out of a small thing can come something wonderful and Spiritually powerful. The Church grew from a small mustard seed into what it is today that is something wonderful and Spiritually powerful in every generation past present and moving on into the future.   Of course there are those within the Church who have let us all down in many ways and not least in recent years through the various scandals that have taken place, the life of faith is never easy. In this parable, Jesus spoke about the truth that smallness has its strengths, advantages and possibilities. Smallness is a theme to which Jesus returned again and again in his ministry. And we know, too, that smallness was the basis on which the church began and in which the church continues to flourish.The church operates best when it carries into larger ministries the insights and techniques of smallness. We are at our best when we engage as individuals in reaching out to the other person because we have but one ministry as an example – that of Jesus himself. He gathered around him a small band of followers, totalling at best two dozen people. He worked closest with a select band of 12 who gathered with him at the Last Supper and heard his message of servanthood. When the church began as a small mustard seed, it was empowered by the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost to carry the good news of Christ out into the world. It found expression in a small group of 11 who became empowered by the risen Lord in the upper room and grew into such a faith filled group of people. The people Jesus chose to carry on his work were, by the world’s standards, small men – fishermen, unlearned, probably illiterate.   One was a despised tax collector. They were simple ordinary people. Some of his band of followers were the very rejects of society. By all outward signs and appearances, they were small people. This, of course, was based on the judgment and standards of quantity, wealth education and worldly power. But in God’s eyes, they can be seen as the greatest of people. And we learn that, in the midst of the world that has a culture that idolizes the big the bold and the beautiful whilst waiting on the next BIG THING to come along, for us Catholic and Christian people generally there is a faith that honours the smallness and stillness in life that is the kind of smallness and stillness with which Jesus worked. This smallness means maintaining concern for individuals, providing opportunity for looking after everyone, promoting a feeling of worth and good in everyone, we meet making sure that all are interconnected, so that, for example, there is somebody to miss you when you are absent for whatever reason and then somebody to say how are you, to ask where you have been and how you are doing when you return. The Stillness means that we stop from time to time to recharge the batteries of faith so that the Mustard Seed of Faith can grow as the father intended. From the right kind of “small thinking and stillness of soul and spirit” can flow the values and mission that Jesus gave to his first followers who have passed it on to us. down through every generation to the present time.

The parable of the sower is all about you and me when we stop to really think about things we see how God has sown a tiny seed that is the seed of faith within each of us and we see how he watches and waits for it to bear fruit in us and through us for other people. This particular parable reminds us it is not the size of the seed planted that is important, but what counts is what grows up from that tiny seed. And what grows up from the tiny seed should be a life filled and lived in Faith and hope.

As I write this we are in the middle of the 80th Eucharistic Congress Week. I hope that all who have taken part in the week by their attendance or for those who were unable to be there in person spiritually by their prayer will be richly blessed. The Church in Ireland that is one and all of us have begun our Journey along the road of renewal. Yes it is our journey along a road less travelled with all its bumps and turns good and bad some better than others and some simply awful. On this day we recommit ourselves to renewal of our faith renewal of spirit and Soul. The faith from the tiny mustard seed, The faith of the upper room, the faith of Jesus Christ this is such a rich inheritance for us in our time may we not be afraid to embrace it in our generation and pass it on so that future generations will have the faith, that is faith in God and one another

THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI

THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI

On Sunday 10th June we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, that is the Body and Blood of Christ. It is so very apt that we are reflecting on the theme of the Eucharist on this particular day as we in Ireland begin the 80th Eucharistic Congress week – a week in which we make a spiritual journey in Communion with Christ and with one another. (cf www.iec2012.ie)

The Israelites celebrated the first Passover in Egypt. The Lord ordered that they should celebrate it every year and that they should explain to their children and to their children’s children, from generation to generation, what this Passover signifies (Ex 12:25-27). The awareness of what it is, is absolutely necessary for appreciating this celebration and for celebrating it as it should be celebrated.

The same applies to the Eucharist, the Passover of the New Testament. Jesus celebrated the first Passover of the New Testament, when at the Last Supper he changed bread and wine into his Body and Blood and gave them to his Apostles as food and drink, and then the next day dying on the cross he offered himself as victim to his Father. Each time his followers celebrated the breaking of bread in his name, they would re-present, no longer the lamb of Egypt that saved the Israelites but the sacrificial death of Jesus that offers us liberation through his blood. In the Holy Mass, Jesus is offering himself, in the form of bread and wine, through the ministry of the priest, to God the Father, reminding us of his death and resurrection and what it means for us as people of faith.

From the very beginning, the Church believed these truths and taught them and upheld them against all errors and heresies. St Thomas Aquinas, expressed beautifully the Eucharistic faith of the Church in the hymn “Adoro te devote”, which he composed for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and is still sung today. Along with him let us also say: ‘We cannot know you through seeing or touching or tasting, but we believe in you through hearing what you have said. We believe whatever you have said, for nothing is more true than your word. On the cross only your divinity was hidden, but here in the Eucharist also, your humanity is hidden. But we believe and proclaim both, i.e., that both your divinity and humanity are present in the Eucharist, and we make the same request of you as the penitent thief Lord remember me in your kingdom’.

If the sacrifice of the Mass is the same as the sacrifice of Calvary, but offered in an un-bloody manner, how devoutly should I celebrate it or participate in it? In the early Church, public sinners and non-Christians were not admitted to the Eucharist. The faithful were taught, that to be able to receive communion worthily and to benefit from it, one must be free from grave sin. St Paul had given a warning: You must examine yourselves before you receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. If one receives the Eucharist unworthily, one is bringing judgment upon oneself (I Cor 11:27-29). If you are at Mass and are also aware that you have committed a grave sin, do not go for Communion and bring judgement on yourself. Today let us resolve to worship the Lord in the Holy Eucharist and never to offend and dishonour him as so many people do in so many ways. When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood.

Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. When we approach the Table of the Lord, what do we expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for our souls? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ.  As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to things and creatures and leads us to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ.  Jesus shared himself with his disciples in many different ways before offering himself to them as food and drink at the Last Supper. Jesus nourishes us in so many ways, spiritually and of course especially in the Eucharist. Those, who have a deep sense of the presence of God, in the whole of creation, will not have great difficulty in believing, that He is present in a very special way in the Eucharist. God alone can satisfy all the longings and hunger of our hearts because He alone can give us the bread of eternal life. Without it we would not have the strength to follow Christ. By receiving the Eucharist, we are nourished, and enabled to nourish others through the example of our lives and the way we live them.

 We do not live in the Kingdom, even though we live in constant expectation of God’s reign. However, the Eucharist we celebrate makes the Kingdom real because the Lord in truly present what is called the ‘real presence’. He is with us at Mass so he can be one with us in our daily lives and living. Our struggles, our pain, our happiness and our sorrow and our anticipation of the Kingdom become his. And the gift of his self-giving becomes ours in order that we may pass it on to others as they see us living our lives as faith filled Christian people.

So let us remember on Sunday  at the start of the 80th Eucharistic Congress that this is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it – rejoicing that we are in communion or rather trying to be in communion with Christ and with one another.

TRINITY SUNDAY

 

Today is Trinity Sunday and this feastday was popularized by St. Thomas a Becket centuries ago. The feast of the Trinity became so important that until recently Anglicans numbered the long summer Sundays as “Sundays After Trinity”. This feast is unique in that the focus of our celebration is not an aspect of the history of salvation, but reflection on the nature of God as we believe it has been revealed to us as Christians. It is worth reflecting that today’s focus is the very essence of Christian identity. We begin every liturgy by stating that we are acting ‘In the name of the Father …’ and that is a declaration of our basic faith, not just an opening formula.

In 324 A.D., the gathering of bishops at Nicaea declared doctrine of the Trinity. Their declaration was in response to a false teaching that the Son and Spirit were merely creatures. If the Son and Spirit were creatures, then the relationship of all believers to the Father would be distant. The bishops rejected this teaching and reaffirmed God’s intimacy with his faithful. As Catholics, we profess the Nicean Creed every Sunday at Mass. We are living in an age of information overload – driven by means of communication which have profoundly changed the nature of our relationships with one another and our lives and the way we live them. You can even have a “best friend” you have never met  through the internet and other computerised ways of communication– and before you scoff, we need to hit the “pause” button to reflect on how we relate to God, Father Son and Spirit one. Our world seems locked in battle between contending parties and groups, and division and tension have even got into the churches as we are divided over so many different issues and some of the issues that have divided us are so very hard to deal with at so many different levels. Common sense tells us God exists and Jesus gave us a new look into nature of God. As creator, God is “Father.” Jesus made that distant concept close intimate and personal to us all. The Father became “Our Father” who cares for each and every one of us his creatures with an intense, personal love he has called each one of us by name and we are his.

As he showed us God as this loving Father, Jesus revealed himself as the only Son of the Father. As the Son, he became our model and connection with the Father. Through the Son we touch the warm embrace of the Father. The Spirit continues the mission of the Son through the Church. The Spirit moves us to intimacy with the Father. It moves us to prayer and worship, witness and evangelization, community and service. Through the Spirit, the strangers become friends, friends become believers, and believers come close to God. Hence, we believe God is Trinity (three divine persons in one God) simply because we experience divine power in the words, deeds, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And we experience divine life in the Spirit. In both we find what we call “God.” In both, we experience the Father as a personal, intensely loving, and compassionate God. The Church receives new believers “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.” The singular term “name” referred to the ancient notion that God in substance (nature or essence) is one, but three in person (or “hypostasis”). The family acts as an easily understood analogy of this mystery. There is only one family, but many members. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit.  So whenever  we say In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit let us remember the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself given freely to all of us.

Post Navigation