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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

1st SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR A

 

Well here we are now in Advent the official run up to the feast of Christmas as we begin the Spiritual preparation we light the first purple candle on the Advent Wreath and we pray that we will make good the preparations for the season of Christmas. The message of the advent season is clear for us. We must continually strive to work for a peaceful and just world, so that Christ may have room in all hearts. How? We must listen carefully to the daily preaching of Pope Francis! Peace starts in the hearts of believers. We start our journey to ascend to the mountain of the Lord, to be illuminated by His Words of peace and to allow Him to indicate the path to tread. (cf. Is 2:1-5). Moreover, we must change our conduct abandoning the works of darkness and put on the ‘armor of light’ and so seek only to do God’s work and to abandon the deeds of the flesh. (cf. Rm 13:12-14). Jesus, through the story in the parable, outlines the Christian life style that must not be distracted and indifferent but must be vigilant and recognize even the smallest sign of the Lord’s coming because we don’t know the hour in which He will arrive. (cf. Mt 24:39-44)Blessed John Henry Newman reminded us in a homily for the Advent Season: “Advent is a time of waiting, it is a time of joy because the coming of Christ is not only a gift of grace and salvation but it is also a time of commitment because it motivates us to live the present as a time of responsibility and vigilance.

This ‘vigilance’ means the necessity, the urgency of an industrious, living ‘wait’ We need to take this Advent seriously, for the coming of the Lord will be not just a beautiful Christmas, but the actual day of judgment. As the inscription on an old sundial in an English garden says, “It’s later than you think!” With joy, let us climb the mountain of the Lord!

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CHRIST THE KING

Here we are at the feast of Christ the King which marks the end of the liturgical year as well as the end of the year of faith. We stop today and think about the kingship of Christ the Lord and we also think about the faith that he left us which we have been celebrating in a particular way over the last twelve months. The goal for this Year of Faith has been to conform our lives to Jesus Christ, and to not only learn the Faith but to live faith in the world where we are. 

 The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man’s thinking and living life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations. The way to serve Christ our King is to work for the coming of his kingdom. In working for the relief of the deprived, the oppressed and the outcast we are serving Christ in person, because he fully identifies himself with all those in need. Those in the gospel reading who were excluded from God’s kingdom were guilty of the sin of omission. It was the sin of the priest and the Levite who passed by on the other side the side farthest from the battered body of the traveler.

The disciple of Christ the King cannot afford the luxury of saying “I keep myself to myself” or “I do nobody any harm.” To be deaf to the cries of the oppressed is to be deaf to Christ. To be blind to the agony of those about us is to be blind to Christ. To take Christ as our Shepherd involves becoming a shepherd to Christ present to us in the sufferings and deprivations of others.

As we conclude the liturgical year, are you with Christ? Is your life an open sacrifice in a demonstration of love? As we conclude this year, we too embrace the cross and walk in the victory of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. What began as a humble event—the birth of the Messiah—has changed the world. As we conclude the Year of Faith, let’s not forget the beautiful truths that we have learned, but let’s continue to learn more about them, celebrate them, live them, and pass them on. It is our prayer that when people look at us, they will say, “Christ is King.”

 

 

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33RD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

 

 

 

In the world today, we often feel like we need a “time out” or the equivalent of a few “stop the world, I want to get off” moments.   I have been lucky that this week I have had one of those moment as I have been out of action for a couple of days due to a bit of sickness and it has been good to recharge the batteries. Many things and countries around are in turmoil as we see in the Philippines and other places where there have been disasters of one sort or another as well as  non-stop action if not in our own lives then in the lives of someone we know. Sometimes I think that a break in the constant adrenalin flow of the day would be nice,  if even for just a brief time, time enough to collect myself and that is why it was good for me to be able to take time out during the week even though the head and throat were sore for in the run up to Christmas things will as usual get busier and we might not get a chance to think about God and things of the Spirit.

 Our readings for this Sunday tell us about the time that the world has left as well as the time that we have left. The prophet Malachi says that the Day of the Lord is coming. In the Bible, The Day of the Lord refers to the last days of the world. In the Gospel, Jesus Himself gives some details for those who ask Him for signs that will precede the end time. First, He tells them not to believe those who claim to preach in His name that the end is now! “Do not believe them,” Jesus warns.

Then He speaks of natural disasters and wonders from the sky. Even then, He says, the end will not come before a general persecution and imprisonment of His faithful followers. This is the time for them to give witness to His Name. Don’t prepare your defense ahead of time, He says, for “I myself shall give you a witness in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” It’s all about having courage to cling to our faith. “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives,” Jesus concludes. When we hear the  readings for this weekend we are tempted to dismiss them as something in the far future, something we most probably will not experience. We forget that the end of our own days will certainly come, and much sooner than any of us anticipate as time is flying by. So the father in the story is correct: None of us can allow hatred, anger or upset to destroy the time we have left to serve the Lord.

 In time of trial it is of great profit to us patiently to endure for God’s sake, for the Lord says: “By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves.” He did not say by your fasting, or your solitude and silence, or your singing of psalms, although all of these are helpful in saving your soul. But he said: “By patient endurance” in every trial that overtakes you, and in every affliction, whether this be insolent and contemptuous treatment, or any kind of disgrace, either small or great; whether it be bodily weakness, or the belligerent attacks of Satan, or any trial whatsoever caused either by other people or by evil spirits.This Sunday we are offered the time and grace to commit ourselves to the Gospel’s invitations to faith in his Kingdom and our working for the Widow’s and Orphans and against the possessors who are oppressors” of such poor.

The heavens and earth and all its temples may and will pass away, but for those who accompany Jesus during their days on earth, they will pass along “in that number.”

 

31st SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

 

 

This week we celebrated the feast of All Saints on November 1st and  then All Souls on November 2nd. Last Friday we prayed with  all the Saints of God who are in heaven and on earth, I’m sure we all know someone in our localities who we might say are saints and there are so many great examples of people who were declared saints on our own time. Then on Saturday we prayed for all the holy souls, that is for all those who have passed to their eternal reward we pray that they are in the kingdom of God. Also during the Month of November we offer our prayers and masses for the holy souls remembering our family members our friends and all those we have known in this life who have passed on may all of them rest in the peace of god’s kingdom.

 Our gospel reading for this Sunday is the story of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector who was a small man who was anxious to see the person that all the fuss was about. The image of this Sunday’s gospel is a short man looking for something more.  He climbed into the branches of a sycamore tree to get a peek at Jesus as he passed by.  Zacchaeus put his dignity and prestige on the line when he scrambled up the tree like a kid.  Jesus saw him in his need and willingness to repent. Zacchaeus’ house became a place of God’s presence to sinners. The story of Zacchaeus encourages us to seek and find Jesus present in our own lives in our daily living.  We need to let go of ordinary behavior and become removed from the ground of our lives and ascend to a different level to find the Lord passing by.  

Just as Zacchaeus finds Jesus passing by in the crowd, we also find Him in the crowd.   We each have a role to play in God’s continuing work of creation.  Our task is to bring care and love to all creation we encounter.  Our relationship with God depends on how we relate to all others.  Do we impose taxes and burdens on the poor, the weak?  If we abuse, ignore, burden, conquer and subjugate them to our wills and our self-centered desires we end up being the thorns and weeds that are removed from the harvest and cast into the fire as thrash. We come to worship to get a better glimpse of Jesus. It is the “tree” we climb. Our hope is that Jesus  will stop and give us a clearer glimpse of where he is in the midst of the issues and struggles we face day and daily. We’ll stay in this “tree” where we meet the Lord today – but just for a while. Then we will climb down to return to our daily lives. In the days ahead may we be like Zacchaeus  not afraid to go out into the world looking for Jesus and recognise him in those around us.

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