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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

17th Sunday In ordinary Time

FAITH

In the  Gospel reading this Sunday we see Jesus in a certain place praying when one of the disciples asked him to “teach us to pray”. Jesus then went on to give them one of  the greatest of all the prayers we have which we now know as the Our Father.  There are many things about the Lord’s prayer that could be said but the first thing to notice is that it is full of petitions of things that we are asking for. The first petition is that God’s name would be hallowed. The second is that God’s kingdom would come. The third is that God would give us our daily bread. And so on. The Lord ’s Prayer isn’t just a litany of praise to God, then. It isn’t just an expression of a pious wish that God’s will be done though we pray that the will of god will happen in our lives. It isn’t only a surrender of one’s own will to God. Just look at the request for daily bread. It presents to God what we would want God to give us but God gives us what he knows we need when he knows we need it. Having desires and presenting them to God are required by the Lord’s prayer. The second thing to notice is that people don’t generally get what they ask for. The Lord says ask and you will receive. I always say to people that God gives you exactly what you need when he sees that you really need it not what you want when you think you need that particular thing and this has been the case so often in my own life and in my dealings with other people.

But how many people around the world pray the Lord’s prayer and go without food that day? And food is only the beginning. Every mass we ask God for healing: “Only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Then we lug our sinful, sick, and sorrowful souls around another day.

 So this  is the third thing to notice. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will get the very thing we ask for. He says that if we ask, we will receive; but he doesn’t happen to mention what we will receive and when we will receive it. If you think about it, you can see the point. If a sick person could heal himself, he would be the doctor, not the patient. The patient’s job is to want to get well. It is the doctor’s job to figure out how to get him well. In the same way, the Lord’s prayer requires us to trust God enough to tell him what we want—over and over and over. Our job is to ask continually. God’s job is to figure out what to give us that will really fill us and heal us. So we might not get what we ask for. But as long as we keep asking, the Lord promises that we will receive—grace, pressed down, shaken together, running over, and gently given, from the God who loves us. Our Lord and Saviour wants us to attain the joy of the  heavenly kingdom, and so he taught us to pray for it, promising to give it to us if we did so. “Ask, he said, and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” in this year of faith we pray that when we ask for and  seek faith we will receive it, when we knock at the door of faith it will be opened wide to us.

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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

16sunOT

 

The story we hear in the Gospel Reading for this Sunday is the lovely story of Martha and Mary from the record, we can establish the Teacher (Jesus) stayed at the house of Martha and Mary in Bethany outside Jerusalem many times. He stayed there in the last three months of the year 29 when He was busily working the Jerusalem territory. He would stay in this house the first four days of Holy Week the sisters were not only generous hostesses but also bold ones. At this point, Jesus was walking about with a price on His head. He was an outlaw.. They hardly would find themselves in good favour with the police, the Temple authorities, and probably the Romans.  
But I am certain that they were quite aware that the Jesus was running a risk Himself in being their guest. Accepting hospitality from women was clearly forbidden by Rabbinic law. In addition, He had from their first encounter taken great pains to offer them instruction. This would not make Him popular with the male world in general or with the authorities.  The Christ was no doubt the only man in their circle who did not patronize them. He treated them as equals. What a welcome change that must have been for these intelligent women! They must have been so tired of being treated like children. No wonder Dorothy Sayers writes, “Perhaps it is no wonder that women were the first at the cradle and the last at the cross. They had never known a man like this Man…” We all know the story of this gospel. Martha is exhausting herself  putting together a meal worthy of a five star restaurant for the Lord. She is setting out the best of the best of everything for the meal the Irish linen, the Wedgewood china, the Tiffany silver, and the Steuben crystal of the time.

During all of this time her sister Mary is enjoying the company of their guest in the coolness of the family room. Martha is hardly amused. She storms into the room. There is Jesus with His worn sandals off and His feet up on the barca lounger. Mary is drinking in every word the Teacher speaks. She looks as though she wished she owned a Sony tape recorder. However, the Japanese had not yet reached Palestine. It is a pity for us that they had not. Martha loses her cool and sounds off with a bitter indictment of Mary the shirker. For her pains, all she gets from Jesus is a wrap-around smile and a healthy chuckle. It does not improve her mood when she hears Him say “It is Mary who has chosen the better part.”

 Martha loved Jesus as much as Mary did, and it is clear that he treasured them both. Her mistake was in not trying to find out how Jesus wanted to be entertained, while visiting her house. Her sister correctly senses that when Jesus comes on a visit the last thing he wants is to have people fussing over how to feed him. So, while Martha makes the greater housekeeping effort, Mary understands better what is expected of her by him. Her contemplative intuition grasps instinctively the real reason for Jesus’ visit. He is there not to receive but to give, not to be served but to serve. He has something he  needs to say and the one thing necessary is to listen to his voice. As we see in the gospel, God’s Message came in person to Mary, the sister of Martha, and we see her vibrant relationship with God in Christ.  On one level, we feel sorry for Martha, being left to do the household work on her own, but the key value here is that our listening to God, our attentiveness to Christ must never be drowned out by the bustle of our everyday lives. Then, in the reading from St Paul we are told how the Word of God, hidden from all mankind for centuries, comes to the gentiles.

How do we understand the complementarity of Martha’s generous hospitality in meeting Jesus’ need for food and Mary’s longing for personal communion with him? In response, we might follow the way of Jesus. He fed the hungry, cured the sick and expelled demons of every kind as an expression of love. In other words, our love must also become incarnate in whatever we do to meet the needs of others. Thus, our good work becomes a sacrament or an effective sign of our self-giving love. Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who died at Auschwitz, expressed a similar understanding when she wrote that in prayer “‘God can enter you, and something of ‘Love’ too…the love you can apply to small, everyday things.”  

 Only one thing really matters in the hurly-burly of our modem world,  that is that we choose the better part we choose the better part when  we make space for God in our lives, when we reach out and grasp the message which God is continually presenting to us through many people in so many places we might find ourselves. We make space for God in our lives when we make the message of God our own, and that we allow it to guide and shape us, as we live and as we hope to die, in fulfillment of God’s wishes for us.  Let us not be afraid to take the better part especially in this year of Faith.

14th Sunday of Ordinary time

FAITH

 

When we think of Jesus preaching we think of people flocking to hear him, But in today’s gospel we hear of people being sent out from Jesus to prepare his way before him.  We also think of John the Baptist who went to prepare  a way for the lord making his paths straight so that all of us can see the salvation of the Lord. We gather  as Christians in the here and now of our daily lives in 2013  as we remember that  we are also the people that Jesus  has charged to prepare his way in the world today by the living of our faith in every situation we find ourselves. To be a disciple is not only to follow, but to go ahead of the Lord announcing his presence. with this in mind this weekend we reflect on these twin aspects of being Christians: following the Lord, and presenting the Lord to the world through  what we do and in what we say. We are called not only to be ‘disciples’ but ‘apostles’. But there is a constant danger: we often think that ‘the apostolic life’ is something that we can delegate to a few specialists: full time ‘apostles’ or ‘missionaries in foreign lands’ or those who live ‘the religious life’. Every individual and that includes you and I  are called in a specific way to spread the word and to bring the pres­ence of Christ into the world where we are remembering that only a few people are called to do so in a ‘high profile’ way. We are called to be apostles by our baptism; we cannot delegate the responsibility. Rather we must search out the precise way that each of us is called to be an apostle – whether it is high or low profile – and how we each can make ourselves better fitted to the precise place and moment in the history of salvation where we are called to be the rippling presence of God.

There are a number of things that are striking in the  gospel story for this Sunday: one is the simple urgency of the task of proclaiming the message. Some will accept it, others will not, but their rejection of the message should not be on account of any failing on the part of the messengers. It is encouraging to listen to the enthusiasm of the disciples when they returned. They rejoice on their return because they know that are participating in the ultimate struggle of good over evil. In sharing their joy, however, Jesus reminds them that it is not about them but about God working through them and that should be the source of their joy. It is a call to humility. They had obeyed Jesus, and it worked. His promise to them was vindicated.  They discovered that the call to mission contained the power to effect that mission. Jesus went even further in assuring them that he had given them full authority over all the power of the evil one, and that their names were registered as citizens of heaven.

The words at the end of this Sundays  gospel are addressed to each and every one of us. Jesus does give us his power we are empowered to do his work, and to work in his name. We have the power if we are willing to supply the goodwill. Community support is essential to living the gospel. Even a hermit has to be commissioned by a Christian Community, and must continue to be in touch with that group.

Today Jesus, present among us , continues to call us, send us, and empower us. Perhaps this coming week, in our quiet times, when we have the opportunity to reflect, or even to pray, it might be good to consider what task, seemingly beyond of strength or talents, our comfort zone, God wants us to take on and embrace, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, who has lived within us, often unrecognized, since the day we were adopted by God in Baptism.   We remember the words of  Jesus in the Gospel for this Sunday‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. May the door of faith open wide for us as we continue our journey of faith together.

 

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