Archive for the month “October, 2013”



The Tax Collector and the Pharisee

The Tax Collector and the Pharisee

It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of October with the schools in our locality having the midterm break for Halloween next week. It is also hard to believe that next Friday we celebrate the feast of All Saints closely followed by all souls the next day but that as the saying goes is for later. The readings in our Liturgy for this weekend are all about the HUMBLE person of faith that God calls all of us to be in our own time and place. That means that we shouldn’t lose the run of ourselves when dealing with people and the situations that we might find ourselves. What does the Gospel Reading about the tax collector and the Pharisee say to you and I, what do the words of the Pharisee who thinks that he is better than everyone else say. Also and I think more importantly what about the words of the Tax Collector when he said in a simple humble way  God be merciful to me a sinner what do these words  say to you and me? I think that the Tax Collector despised by the people possibly because of the job he does (nobody likes the tax man even now) is saying to us that we need to have the humility to be humble before God who knows that we are sinners even before we say it and we also have to be humble with other people dealing with them with real humility.

To have a person showing real humility is to be true to yourself in word and deed:  humility is the truth and often times we don’t like to hear the truth about ourselves or any situations we might find ourselves in.  The person who is truly humble will always see pride in him or herself as a bad thing.  The person who is humble believes himself to have nothing, when in fact he has God, for him and in him!  The person who knows  himself to be dependent on God humbles himself so much,  putting himself in his proper place before his Creator, that God cannot  leave him in this state:  the Lord lifts him up to his own Glory in order to make him his adopted child.  In a word, he who humbles himself, God justifies! The more someone belittles himself before God, the more the Lord is pleased to come and live in him and to make him shine with his divine light. 

In our modern world, Pride which was very strong in the words the Pharisee spoke dominates the world, and it is this pride which often leads many people the world over down a long lonely path. The old saying rings true that pride comes before a fall and in so many places and situations we might find ourselves or perhaps we have seen other people in. Today, the same as  every  other Sunday, we shall receive within us Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  We shall approach the altar of the Lord.  This approach testifies at once to our humility and to our grandeur.  It testifies to our humility, for we humble ourselves in believing that what we see as bread is not bread but rather the Body of Christ.  It testifies to our grandeur, for, in communion, we truly become the Body of Christ, adoptive sons in the only Son of God!  May this approach be our justification, for the salvation of the world! I finish with these words from Micah which sum up the gospel reading for this Sunday and what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? The Lord requires us in the same way to be just, kind and to walk humbly with our god so let us go forth into the world with true humility in our hearts and minds.





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This weekend we celebrate World Mission Sunday. Mission Sunday celebrates the great missionary spirit that has brought the faith to all corners of the world over so many years. Mission Sunday  is a particular  Sunday set aside by the Church for the public and annual renewal of our commitment to missionary activities and was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926 a  the day of prayer and promotion of mission. Therefore, today we are asked to join our hands and hearts in continual prayer for the success of missionary activities throughout the world. The various missionary activities and organizations that promote mission encourage us never to lose heart in order that Missio dei (God’s mission) may be sustained, and all peoples come to know the salvation of our Lord and God. The theme for the 2013 celebration of World Mission  Sunday is Growing in Faith and that is what we should be about from the start of our lives right until the end. Growing together in faith is a good theme for this celebration as we are coming the end of the Year of Faith. This Sunday we remember all those who have gone into the mission fields members of the religious orders such as the Columbans, Mill Hill Fathers, Dominicans, the Medical Missionaries of Mary and there are so many other religious orders who along with the Lay Missionary who have brought Christ and his message to the far flung corners of the world. We must earnestly pray to the Lord of the harvest for the strength to persevere in our missionary activities. In a special way, we commend our brothers and sisters who are often engaged in extremely difficult missions all over the world May they find the strength to carry on in spite of all odds.

We also pray for Christians all over the world, that the Spirit of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, the first missionaries may spur and encourage us to succeed in our various missionary apostolates whether they are in the countries where we live or abroad.







As I sit here writing this on Friday evening I am thinking about so many different things that have happened and people that I have seen, having said that coming from Belfast the two murders that have taken place in Northern Ireland during this past week are uppermost in the mind’s eye. One of those who died murdered at the hands of those who are trying to impose their will on the local community lived not far from me here in North Belfast and will be buried after a funeral Mass on Monday Morning at our local church. Much has been said over the last few days about what this man had done but the overwhelming message from everyone including our politicians is that NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TAKE THE LIFE OF ANOTHER and this statement has to be reinforced time and time again is so many situations in life. In our world today life is so very cheap, with so many taking up arms against their brothers and sisters in so many situations in the world. When we stop we think of Syria, Egypt and Iraq to name but a few there are so many war zones in the world, we pray for peace wherever we are, peace in our hearts our minds and our souls.

Our Gospel story for this weekend is the story of the ten Lepers, It is really a story of being grateful for all the various things that are done for us in faith and otherwise Jesus cured ten, but only one returns to day thank you, perhaps this percentage of thankfulness continues among God’s children today. All of us have reasons to give thanks for so many things yet very few turn to the Lord with words and hearts expressing  our gratitude for all the wonders he has done for us in our personal lives and in the life of the Church. The working of the grace of God is seen here in this reading in the gratitude of the Samaritan the man who came back to say thank you.  A Samaritan who was thought to be socially repulsive, and an outcast even before he contracted leprosy, shows the dignity of faith in returning to give thanks to Christ. “Rise, and go ob your way, your faith has saved you.

How often do our prayers turn to the theme of thanksgiving to God?  The gospel today encourages us to voice our prayer as simply and directly as the lepers did in the story do: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” No need for pretense, excuses or false pride to block or alter the request. Bluntly put: “Have pity on us.” We yes YOU AND I are like the lepers, who did not pray as individuals alone, but as a group in need.  When we voice our simple prayer out of need, what do we expect – instant help and healing? Sometimes that’s what happens. But we take a clue from the lepers in the Gospel story Luke tells us, “As they were going they were cleansed, “As they were going, they were cleansed.” In my own life I often say that my prayers are answered not when I wanted them answered but when God saw I needed the requests  answered. We need to ask ourselves today, “Am I really grateful for God’s constant love and for His forgiveness? Or do I just take Him for granted?” Thankfulness is a necessary component and expression of our love for God who has loved us in Christ to His death on the Cross. What can we do but give thanks every day to God who has put to death our death by the death of His own Son and, by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, given us a share in His own life which never ends? If we open our hearts and minds to this perspective of faith, how could we fail to begin and end every prayer and offering in heartfelt and loving thanks to our heavenly Father? 

Let us continue our lives with a lively faith which includes thanking God for all that he has done for us.  We remember the words taken from the psalms “what wonders the Lord worked for  us indeed we are glad.”





 Well here we are at the 27th Sunday in ordinary time and our scripture readings are all about FAITH. In the Gospel Reading Jesus says that if you have faith even as big as a wee mustard seed, and that is so very very small, you could command trees and they would obey you. Faith is often described as believing in what is not seen.  Faith is a sort of catch-all for what we lack, sometimes giving explanation for events we dont understand: sometimes it becomes an attitude of hope: sometimes it is used by churches to align those with different views.  If we have faith then we believe in God.  “Lord increase our faith,” the apostles asked Jesus. Elsewhere they requested, “Lord teach us how to pray” (Lk 11:1). We too ask the Lord for faith as we pray for all the various people and the  things that they need.  For to pray is to focus the heart on God, to love and trust God, to have faith in God’s concern for us. Every prayer is an act of faith in God, and every  time we turn to God in faith, we are praying. It is no more possible to have faith without prayer than to swim without water. But we must try to pray to God in the right spirit. For often we are trying to bring God around to our way of thinking rather than putting our thoughts under God’s guidance waiting to turn ourselves to the way of the Lord. We are told in the Gospel for today that the Lord says; the just shall live by faith—even faith so little it isn’t as big as a mustard seed.

 The apostles implore the Lord Jesus to increase their faith. He makes clear that faith will grow for those who are generous with their time, talents and treasure for the sake of the Lord and the kingdom of heaven. If we keep our eyes on him, the author and finisher of our faith then we realize that the mustard seed of faith will grow and be enriched. It will be enriched when we nourish the mustard seed of faith by prayer both as a community of believers and on our own and when we are generous with our time and our talents in the service of others. As we continue our faith Journeys as we move on let us not be afraid to be people of faith and hope  nourishing that wee Mustard Seed in the days and weeks ahead.



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