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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “June, 2013”

13th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

FOLLOW ME

FOLLOW ME

Most of us will not have said to Jesus explicitly: ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Nonetheless, we gave that commitment on several occasions. One such time was the commitment made on behalf of each one of us by our parents and god-parents when we were baptized. Similarly, we ourselves renewed that commitment when we celebrated the sacrament of confirmation. Those of us who are married committed ourselves completely to the person and teaching of Jesus again when we committed ourselves to our spouses ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, all the days of our lives’.

The commitment we make at baptism, confirmation and marriage — which, if we are faithful, is total and life-long — parallels the irrevocable commitment that God has made to us, especially in sending his Son into the world. Jesus’ commitment to us was so complete that he suffered and died on the cross to save us from the consequences of our sins. Regrettably, we break our commitment to Jesus every time we sin. At the heart of Christ’s teaching is the invitation to make a commitment to him. ‘Follow me’ (Luke 5:27):
Jesus says this to us every day of our lives. Do we follow Christ at all times, even when colleagues and friends confront us with ideas and lifestyles that contradict his teaching? Furthermore, do we follow Christ in our daily relationships by challenging the cultural changes that have become accepted in our society despite the fact that they flout his great commandments to love God and to love our neighbour? Our baptismal commitment requires us to renounce the Devil and his temptations.

When Jesus goes to Jerusalem, this means, first of all, that he is resolutely going to face his executioners, those who will put him to death and make sure that, in accordance with the divine plan, the Saviour of men is taken away from this world: “When the days drew near for him to be received up, Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.” But, for Jesus, going to Jerusalem is, above all, the fulfilment of his mission as the one who brings peace to souls, beginning with his own. For, once he is dead, Jesus enters, with his soul, into heaven in order to eternally enjoy true peace, the Peace of God which passes all understanding! For Jerusalem means “Vision of Peace”! Jesus is the great peacemaker par excellence: he came into the world to bring peace, but his own Peace! The Peace of the Lord is that which establishes the soul in a perfect harmony with the body, a body that is entirely dominated by the spirit and that obeys it in all things. This is the Peace of God. It is not the peace of men, the peace of the world, which is never anything other than a relative equilibrium between the intention of not attacking others, provided that they do not attack us, and the intention of not doing too much good to others, for to do otherwise could be taken by others as a sign of our weakness and could be seen as an opportunity to attack us. The Peace of God is not like that of men and the world: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” (Jn. 14:27)

 Jesus stayed faithful to his being raised on the cross. He remains faithful to us with our turning toward our own personal little kingdoms and all that they mean good and bad. Our faithfulness is not supposed to be totally to our own commitments, but to his faithful commitment to being our Saviour. He saves us from ourselves, our attempts at perfection which we will never achieve in our world. How can we live with ourselves who so constantly are inconstant?

With Paul we moan that we do not do all the good we want to do which is the nature of our lives, and those things we would rather not do, well, we easily do them and sometimes the hard things we should be doing are not easily done.. Our baptismal promises centre around Jesus being our personal and universal Saviour. We live with ourselves, because he lives in us and we are supposed to live in him. To be a follower of Christ, we must be prepared to travel light. Our possessions may distract us from keeping Christ as the center of our being. We may also be distracted by too many interests, too many commitments, too much food, or too much play. When we decide to follow Christ, we will leave some things behind. With faith let us continue our faith journeys as we follow Christ in our daily lives knowing that the peace of Christ is with us as in this year of faith 

 

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Twelfth Sunday of the year

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TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME

In our Gospel Reading for this Sunday we hear the immortal words of Jesus when he asks the disciples WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?  That is a very good question to ask ourselves during the year of faith who do we say that Christ is. Peter put it very well when he said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:16) This profession of faith belongs to the heritage of the Church: Peter said it once and for all of us and as a result of his words from that time, and for all time entered into the history of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ!  Like a living body, a body which is always growing, whose members live forever in God even when they have ceased to live on earth? We also see that Jesus tells us that we must take up our cross every day and follow Jesus. During Sunday Masses, we may be tempted to “turn off” when we hear the Gospel especially when the message that Jesus tell us says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Many people do not want to deny themselves in our world where so few have so much and so many have little or nothing at all Yet, Jesus insists on this qualification for being His follower. As experience of living teaches us over and over, “biting the bullet” and facing the hard things that come our way has rich rewards from the point of view of faith. Enduring pain from illness, accident, or loss can transform us to a richer level of living. How can we possibly measure up to this kind of living? We know the answer very well. It’s our decision (inspired by prayer and God’s grace) to love God more and more.

 All of us want to be followers of Jesus, but many refuse to pay the price of discipleship we cannot forget Good Friday and the Cross the greatest example of love and discipleship that Jesus gave us. We won’t go through the Calvary that Jesus went through and there is no consolation at all in being a half-hearted disciple. There is no freedom in that. Even though we all want to live  a pain- and trouble-free existence and I don’t think anyone anywhere really gets to live in a a pain- and trouble-free existence. Religion is a two-sided coin. On the one hand, it comforts us with the security of God’s love and protection. On the other hand, it makes demands of us that are frightening in their consequences. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, represents a combination of the two aspects of religion. “I give my life for my sheep, ” . Those of us who follow Jesus must rely on God’s protection and must “endure many sufferings.” We must care for God’s people  our brothers and sisters and many people have given their lives for them over many years. So in this year dedicated to the Faith let us remember the words of Jesus “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Let us follow the Lord by taking up the crosses that he places before us so that we may grow in faith and be able to say in answer to the question that Jesus asks us who do you say I am You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

 

11TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

Copy (2) of Project32

Here we are at the 11th Sunday of ordinary time and for us here in Ireland we are right bang in the middle of the schools college and university examination season. It is a time of anxiety and annoyance with a lot of frayed nerves with moms and dads trying to get the youngsters to do the revision and they not wanting to do it.  We all have been through the exams and we all have got out the other side unscathed and hopefully with reasonable results. In all of this I think that we have to remember that it is not always the exams that count but that we produce well rounded young people who are not afraid of the world and all it will throw at them good bad and in-between.

 The “theme” of the First Reading, Psalm and Gospel today is “forgiveness of sins”. We hear the touching Gospel story, of the “woman with a bad name in the town” coming to anoint Jesus’ feet. Living inspired by the love of Jesus is the key to our discipleship – his crucifixion is the sign of his love, which is in itself the forgiveness of sins. A sinner among sinners, Mary Magdalene was greatly loved by Jesus. How could it have been otherwise? If Jesus loves sinners, he does so to love his Father in them and through them. Jesus loves his Father in us and through us! For we are but creatures But, as every man or woman was created in the image of God  (cf. Gen. 1:27), Jesus, in loving his Father, also loves every man and woman in Him. So Jesus loved Mary Magdalene in loving his Father, that is to say divinely. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, followed the same path as her Son. Indeed, she imitated him, while preceding him in time, having contemplated in advance, in the Old Covenant, the unique model who is the Saviour of men! Thus Mary also loved God above all, in loving he who became her mystical Spouse, the Holy Spirit, during the Incarnation of the Word.

Mary gave herself to God from the first instant of her existence, enlightened and strengthened by the fullness of grace in her. May today’s Holy Communion teach us and help us to love God above all things, through the intercession of Mary Mediatrix We are challenged by the Good News of salvation to imitate God’s desire to forgive. As people who are forgiven, we are called to be forgiving towards ourselves and others. If we refuse to forgive, then we will be unable to value forgiveness when it is offered to us from other people and God. We pray that we will be gracious in accepting forgiveness when it is offered and that we will be generous in forgiving others. Sometimes we think that, unless we forget whatever was said or done that hurt us, we have not forgiven. But forgiveness is about an act of the will — it has nothing to do with the emotions which may remain. And it is not necessarily about forgetting the hurt caused. Forgiveness is about deciding not to be controlled any longer by the effects of the hurt, and not to nurture the grievance which only makes us bitter and angry. On a spiritual level forgiving means recognising that nothing we suffer in this life is equivalent to what Christ, who was totally innocent, suffered and died to secure our salvation. By uniting our sufferings with his suffering, we strengthen our character and our souls. Only then will we be really free people, because only then will we be able to think about or be in the presence of those who have offended us without allowing their damaging behaviour to cause further hurt. The reality is that it is easy for God to forgive sinners because he loves us. The readings for this Sunday underline the importance of our faith–faith in the dying and rising of Jesus Christ for our sins, and faith in the mercy of God toward sinners. God is much more concerned about our faith than He is about our sins! Without faith, David would never have asked for God’s forgiveness. Neither would have the penitent woman of this Gospel, whose great faith and love so pleased Jesus. Without faith, we cannot expect to enter heaven so in faith let us continue our faith journey as the beloved people of God forgiven and restored .

 

PRAY FOR OUR PRIESTS

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I normally don’t Blog during the week but this week I think that I should say something about a sad event that took place here in Belfast last Friday. The sad event was the death of one of the Parish Priests in the west of the city by suicide. Fr. Matt Wallace was a well respected and loved priest who was originally from County Wexford in the south and it will be very hard for the people in the west of the city and our local diocese in general to get over this. As you see above the little picture sums it all up  as we are asked to pray for our priests and religious. We need to support our priests and religious because at this time they are scarce on the ground and are to use simple terms a valuable  spiritual commodity that we simply cannot do without.  Let us pray for our priests wherever they are in the days ahead  that we may be true friends to them whenever they may need us.

Tenth Sunday Of Ordinary Time

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As we return to “Sundays in Ordinary Time,” the liturgy begins with the tenth week! Why I hear you ask? Well by beginning here after Lent, Easter and the various feast days that are held on a Sunday the numbering will come out right at the 34th and last week at the end of the church year. Then, on December 1 this year, we’ll begin another church year with the First Sunday of Advent! (Now you know why this Sunday is the “Tenth Sunday”!) So As you can see it can be a bit of a jump to get back into the pattern of readings for the season of ordinary time. Readings chosen  are not the particular ones to celebrate a particular feast or mystery such as Corpus Christi or Pentecost, but the Sunday by Sunday continuous reading of the Gospel and Apostolic Letters. So this Sunday we get back into Saint Luke’s Gospel with the dramatic story of the raising of the widow’s son in the town of Nain.

 The ‘theme’ that unites the scriptures today is found in the psalm: “For me you have changed my mourning into dancing.” Our faith  tells us that the death and resurrection of Jesus has changed death forever – just as both Jesus and Elijah changed it in the stories read today. Christians will always mourn the death of loved one mother, father brother sister or whatever  just as Jesus himself wept over his friend Lazarus: but Christian mourning, while acknowledging grief, will also contain the hope of life and the hope of resurrection, as revealed in the stories we hear today.

 We look to Jesus as the Lord: he is the Son of the Father, the conqueror of death, who has visited us from on high to redeem us. In today’s gospel we see this in his raising a young man from the dead in Nain. We recall this incident from our memory of Jesus not because we expect miracles to happen like this every day, but because they remind us that the life Jesus gives us is not bounded by death. He gives us a new way of living in this world and the promise of the fullness of life with the Father in the world to come. The Gospel of Luke is the Gospel of the Compassionate Lord.  The message is clear: the Lord cares for each of us as individuals.  He is not too big for us, or too great for us.  In fact, He shows His greatness in the concern He has for each of us.And He calls us to follow. To be as He is.  In the Gospel of Matthew, we come upon the order “Be perfect as my heavenly father is perfect.”  In the Gospel of Luke the same directive is rephrased to: “Be compassionate as my heavenly father is compassionate.” It is impossible for us to be too caring, too giving, or too concerned about others.  It’s just difficult.  We have busy schedules.  We can’t handle additional emotional grief.  We find excuses why we can’t spend time with a family with a sick child, or with the elderly lady down the block. Many times people have said to me, “My child came down with cancer, and all my friends became strangers.” We were surrounded with help at first, but as the weeks became months and he became sicker and sicker, many people seemed to disappear.  Perhaps that’s because it hurts to expose ourselves to another’s grief.  But this hurt can bring support, this hurt can bring healing.  Sure, we are busy.   Jesus was busy too.  But He didn’t look for excuses to stop everything and reach out to the hurting. His heart went out to those in need.  He was compassionate. 

 The practical challenge, from reflecting on this miracle story, is to be convinced about God’s merciful love and to be sensitive to the difficulties of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. God is indeed compassionate, and Jesus is proof that God has visited his people. Just as the crowd who witnessed the widow’s dead son being brought back to life instantly recognised that this was the work of God, so we, too, strive to recognise God working, albeit perhaps less dramatically, in the events of our own daily lives. God was close to the widow of Nain and he is also close to each one of us. His heart goes out to us too.  He cares about every one of us.  And He calls us to be like him, to be compassionate. We remember what He said after He washed His disciples feet before the Last Supper: “What you have seen me do, you must do.” We have to allow the compassion of the Lord to flow through us to others. may god change our mourning into dancing as we  go forward in Peace as we continue our faith Journey 

CORPUS CHRISTI 2013


Art Corpus Christi

 

In many places throughout the world the Feast of Corpus Christi would have been celebrated last Thursday but we in Ireland and many other places celebrate this feast on the weekend after Trinity Sunday. Gathered at the Eucharist we bring our prayers to God. We each have our own needs. Friends are sick. Neighbours are losing their home. Kids need work. The person who has been in our lives for so long has died. We bring these prayers to church because they remind us of our need and they raise our hopes in the power of God. We have those hopes because God has rescued us and continues to rescue us time after time. Our relationship with God has produced fruitfulness, satisfied our longings, and brought us peace. Because of God’s faithfulness, we give thanks, offer sacrifice, and once again present our needs. In the story of the five loaves and the two fish, we learn that Jesus fed the hungry crowd by multiplying five barley loaves and two fish. He did this because he was concerned for the people who had stayed with him, listening to him and watching him cure the sick. In a sense, he was acknowledging their commitment to spending time with him.

 Initially, Jesus tested his disciples by asking them where they might get something for the hungry crowd to eat. They had no practical answer to his question, because Jesus always practised what he preached. He never asked other people to do what he was unwilling to do himself. He satisfied the crowd’s physical hunger and, in doing so, he enhanced the authority of what he had already said to them and of what he had already done when he cured the sick.

 The love and generosity of Jesus in tending to the needs of the hungry crowd offer us an insight into his own total self-giving for others at the Last Supper and in his suffering and death. Corpus Christi is an occasion for us to celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist sacrament of Sacraments. It should be an occasion when we enter into the symbolism of this sacrament, letting it teach us deep lessons about life, our relationship with God and with one another. Since the very first days of the church before St Paul had set out on his journeys or any of the gospels were written — our brothers and sisters have been gathering every week for this sacred meal. But when we routinely do anything, we often lose sight of just how wonderful it is. We gather for Eucharist often. We still carry out one of the oldest and certainly the richest rituals in the Christian tradition. And whenever we eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

 It is a privilege to share this Eucharistic meal which is the bread of life. We have inherited it from a long tradition. And with it we have also inherited a responsibility to proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes by the way we live our lives. The Sacrament brings the gift of charity and solidarity, because the Sacrament of the Altar is inseparable from the new commandment of mutual love.

 The Eucharist is the power that transforms us and strengthens us . `It spurs us on our journey through life  and plants a seed of living hope in our daily commitment to the work before us’ in the family, at work and in society. From the beginning of the second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch defined Christians as those who `live according to Sunday,’ with faith in the Lord’s resurrection and his presence in the Eucharistic celebration. By receiving the Eucharist, we are nourished, and enabled to nourish others as Jesus does. As it unites us with the one who satisfies all our yearnings for love and fulfilment, so we must let that power flow through us to a world more desperately in need of God than ever before. Let us resolve to worship the Lord in the holy Eucharist and never to offend and dishonour him by our words or deeds.

 

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