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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

3rd Sunday year A

I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN

FOLLOW ME AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN

The whole thrust of this week’s readings are about the call of Jesus to Peter, Andrew, James and his brother John to follow him as disciples. The great words that Jesus spoke way back then “Follow me and you will be fishers of men” have resonated throughout the ages as many people have taken up the call of Jesus .

When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been arrested, he left Nazareth and went to Capernaum. Herod Antipas was ruler of this territory, Galilee of the Gentiles, regarded as a region of God-forsaken pagan ways. It is here that Jesus goes to take up what is now the dangerous mission of John, to proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom.Jesus then proceeds to call Peter, Andrew, James and his brother John to follow him as disciples. Through Jesus, what has been spoken through the prophet Isaiah is at last fulfilled: “. . . the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has risen.”

The light becomes an efficacious means to express God’s involvement in human history. God manifests Himself as ‘The Light’ that disperses the darkness. The light illuminates, encircles, defines things, emphasizes the colours and gives depth to space. The light heartens and comforts: to be in an enlightened place helps us to accept reality for what it is and makes one feel happier, more certain and protected. A joy and happiness that became real in Jesus’ presence. He is the promised light that has come into our midst, His physical presence that expresses the definitive arrival of the Light. The light that shines brightly marks God’s initiative performing His first merciful and free step towards a wounded humanity.This dynamic is expressed through Jesus call of the first Apostles. He chooses them with an unequivocal call, ‘Follow Me’. Faced with God’s sudden interruption in their lives He invited them to abandon the nets and trust themselves totally to the Lord for a new ‘catch’, a new definitive horizon. At the Last Supper, the end of His earthly life, Jesus reminds His disciples ‘you did not choose me, no, I chose you’ (Jn 15:16).

 This Sunday’s our  Gospel invites us to remember that our personal vocation is founded on God’s original and absolutely free choice.  This means that we are totally free to accept or deny his invitation to us to take up the vocation that is for us.  Let us ask the Lord, for us and the whole Church, for the gift of a true conversion of our hearts enabling us to receive Christ as the only Light to follow. Christ is the only one that really dispels the darkness within and around us.

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2Nd Sunday Ordinary Time

Well here we are at the second Sunday of Ordinary time. As our lives grow more pressured, more tired, and more restless, perhaps more than anything else we long for “ordinary time,” quiet, routine, solitude, and space away from the hectic pace of life. The lights of Christmas and Epiphany have all faded. We’ve come from last Sunday’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord into seven weeks in “Ordinary” time. Watch out!  Ordinary time in the liturgy never means going back to “business as usual.” Last Sunday we celebrated the gift of baptism, and now this Sunday we hear the words of  John the Baptist. In The Gospel reading for this weekend we hear  the words of the man who went before the Lord as he says “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  We know these words, so well for we hear them in Church when we are just about to receive the Body and Blood of Christ during the Eucharistic celebration. 

There’s a lot of talk these days in our church about the “new evangelism.” Evangelism is not a notion we Catholics have always claimed as part of our Christian identity and activity. We, like John and Andrew, are supposed to bring others to Christ. Each of us in the church has this responsibility – not just the Priests deacons or religious. In one way or another, like John, we must also announce, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

We squirm uncomfortably when we attempt – if we ever do attempt – to tell our faith story to others. But our baptism links us to Jesus and to the long line of his followers, who believe Jesus is the Lamb of God and that his death and resurrection is the source of new life for all peoples. We then, are to be like God’s servant in today’s Isaiah reading, “a light to the nations.” Or, to use the seldom spoken, we are to be “evangelists” That is people who get out there and tell the message to those around them about Jesus the lamb of God. 

John promises Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit. And so he did, for we received his Spirit when we were baptised and confirmed. Perhaps that Spirit will help us overcome our shyness and hesitancy to speak to others about who Jesus is for us. Most likely, we won’t have to do that from a soapbox in the town square. Probably the Spirit will guide us to share in more personal ways how we have come to freedom, peace, joy and hope through our faith in Christ. We remember that Ordinary time in the spiritual sense never means going back to “business as usual” it means that we are always ready to change and not be afraid to be people of faith. As we continue our faith journey during the next few weeks of Ordinary Time that take us up to Ash Wednesday let us remember that Jesus the Lamb of God is with us. 

The Baptism Of The Lord

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This Sunday we celebrate the baptism of the Lord, when Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan by John. None of us remember when we were baptised when we were infants but that said we may have known and Adult who was baptised.  It may seem strange, but this is a Christmas Feast. Not if we think of Christmas only in terms of the Baby in Bethlehem, but if we have followed the ideas of the Feasts of Holy Family and especially Epiphany, and have seen the Season in terms of the growing manifestation or appearing of the Son of God: first to the shepherds and then to the wise men from the East. Now in the River Jordan, Jesus, Son of Mary, is revealed to all and everyone as the fullness of all God’s promises: “This is my Son, the Beloved“. 

Just as Jesus entered the Jordan to be baptized, so he enters our scene of darkness and confinement in our lives today. He is the one promised us in the prophet Isaiah, the one who will “bring out prisoners from their prisons.” He comes to those hidden places that keep us locked up. He goes to the imprisoned areas of our lives and our restricted ways of behaving which we sometimes excuse by saying, “That’s just the way I am.” Rather than be a cheerleader on the sidelines, Jesus comes down into the dark places where we are. He helps us face the shadows and hidden places and leads us out – just as God promised God would do for us through the prophet Isaiah. Jesus’ baptism reminds us today that, through our own baptism, we are united to him. Most of us rarely, if ever, think about our baptism. Through our baptism we died with Christ and thus have been reborn into a whole new life ( Romans 6). We, the baptized, are incorporated into the body of Christ. We are called and enabled to imitate Jesus, whom Paul says, “went about doing good.” We don’t need a detailed rule book in order to know how we should act in each situation of our lives, for in baptism, we have the companionship of the Spirit of Jesus who is our wisdom, impulse and help to do good.

 Some treat Baptism as a private family event only. They even insist on a baptismal ritual separate from the ones celebrated at Sunday Mass or on Sunday afternoon. They don’t appreciate that Baptism is not a private, but a public affair. Jesus didn’t insist that John baptize him further up the Jordan River with only his mother and a few family members and friends present. Jesus’ baptism was public – and so should each Christian’s be – a public ritual for people who are called to live their Christian vocation in public ways. There is little that is private about our vocation to follow Christ Our role as baptised Christians has some of the characteristics of St. John the Baptist in that we also are to prepare the way for Christ, not only in our own lives, but in that of others. We do this by the example of how we live our own lives and by teaching informally when the occasion arises. If we are doing this, we can ask ourselves, “Does this role bring us joy as it did St. John the BaptistIn a world that celebrates life achievements mostly for celebrities, the church rejoices at the baptism of a person into the church as well as into their own unique relationship with Jesus, as they are sealed and marked as Christ’s own forever. Take a moment now and reflect on where your baptismal journey has brought you. What have you done as a result of your life in Christ? How has Jesus led you to use your talents and gifts for righteous actions? What has been joyful for you on this journey? Then look around at your sisters and brothers, and give thanks that together we  can celebrate our life in Christ and look forward to further adventures in the life of faith.

 

 

 

The Second Sunday after Christmas in some countries Epiphany

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Yes you did read the heading correctly it is the second Sunday after the feast of Christmas and we are now almost  at the arrival of the Three wise men on Epiphany which takes place on Monday 6th January or in some countries on Sunday the 5th.  By long standing sacred tradition Christians celebrate Christmas as a season, with the twelve days between Christmas and the Epiphany as one long “Christmas feast.” The season ends with the Baptism of the Lord which is also the first Sunday of ordinary time and that takes place next Sunday.

Epiphany means manifestation. What the Church celebrates today is the manifestation of our Lord to the whole world; after being made known to the shepherds of Bethlehem He is revealed to the 3 kings  who have come from the East to adore Him. As Christians, we will very often find ourselves living in contradiction to the styles and preferences of the present age. The present age which presents I want I get as the normal thing. Regrettably we have to get used to the fact that we will face conflict among friends, and even at times within families, as we seek to live out and the Christian life more generously in word and deed.

 May we not be afraid in the year that has just begun to seek the wisdom that God wants for us, that is the wisdom and the light of faith so that we will have the wisdom of the three wise men to follow the star which is Jesus the light. 

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