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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

4th Sunday of Lent

 

jesus heals the blind man

JESUS HEALS THE BLIND MAN

Well here we are at the midpoint of Lent, Hopefully the things that we have given up or perhaps taken up have not been as stressful as we thought. Many people young and old  have given up things such as sweets, a glass of wine or perhaps their favorite food or drink items whatever they are, they might then pass on the money saved as Lenten Alms. Or maybe people have taken up doing things such as going to the early Mass (7.30am in our parish) or the Lenten devotions and prayers or whatever spiritual retreats or events that are out there for everyone. All in all Lent is a time for giving things up that might not be as good as we think it is also a time for taking up other more meaningful things. Things that lead us out of the darkness into the light of Christ.

Two weeks ago in the readings we were told to ‘Listen up!’ This week, the readings tell us to get rid of the darkness, and to learn to see things good and bad as God sees them or at least to try and see things as God Sees them. There are so many dark places in our lives where we need to shine a light and there are many people who have turned out the light of faith in their lives permanently for many reasons.

Many people are blind just because they simply don’t want to open their eyes to look around them and see the many things that abound in our modern world that run against what we are meant to be as Christians that is followers of Christ. There are so many things that really destroy the light of faith in our lives such as abortion and euthanasia to name but two and there are so many other things besides these that extinguish the light of faith. The light of Christ  is about letting god work through us and as a result being the light in the darkness of life and living  for others.

If we are to really see clearly, we need to let Jesus heal us of our blindness  and open our eyes as He did the man born blind in this weekend’s Gospel. Even though Jesus was right in front of him, the blind man couldn’t see Him until Jesus removed the scales from his eyes, and restored his sight. Only later, after much harassing from the narrow-minded Pharisees, was he able to really see spiritually, and to see Jesus as the Son of God. It was all possible when he saw through the “lens” of the Holy Spirit. We can be like that in so many ways We are invited to celebrate this Sunday with joy, because through our baptism and confirmation we have been invited to live in the light and to act with the power of that light. We also pray for those adults who will take up the light of Christ for the first time when they are baptized at the Easter Vigil may they be a light to those around them as they come to the joy of baptism and confirmation.

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3rd Sunday of Lent 2014

WATER

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

 

As we continue our journey of prayer for lent we come to the 3rd Sunday and our gospel story for this weekend tells us about the Samaritan woman at the well. One of the responses for the Easter Vigil is with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation and this sums up what the reading from johns gospel is about. It is about the great joy that comes from being a Christian a believer in the good news of the Gospel.

Jesus breaks the law to speak to a Samaritan woman who had come to Jacob’s well to draw water. What a surprise it must have been to her, when Jesus, tired, hungry and thirsty, asks her for a drink of water! He broke all the rules in speaking to her. Now, He keeps on talking, ignoring her hostility, aware that, in this unexpected encounter, the Father has provided Him with an opportunity for piercing the heart of this sinful woman with His love and also leaving an example for all those who thirst. Jesus suggests that He can give her living water that is far superior to anything she had ever tasted. Certainly her five husbands (plus her newest lover) haven’t brought her what she is really looking for. We know that she had tried cheap love, and i am sure she was no stranger to intoxication, power, and money! This isn’t a gentle lady who comes to draw water from the well, but a toughened cynic. Cynical with the world around her in her time as so many are cynical  in our modern world for many different reasons.

Jesus forgets His own needs, and offers this woman living water that is spiritual grace. Finding her heart curious and open to this miraculous water, He proceeds to raise her vision. He asks her to go back and bring her husband to the well with her. Of course, this is the turning point of the story. When He confronts her with the truth, she could have flounced off in righteous indignation and denial as many people do when confronted with the truth but she doesn’t. In true humility, she accepts the reality of her sordid life. Because of her humility, Jesus floods her soul with grace. Dropping her bucket, she runs back to spread the good news. “I’ve found the Messiah!” And she had!

Lent is a time for us to let Jesus satisfy our thirst for the truth. Like that woman, we too have tried the wrong kinds of water to quench our thirst for happiness, satisfaction, and peace of mind without really finding it. The psalm in the Easter Vigil tells us that with joy we will draw water from the wells of salvation and this  is the time for us to find real joy and satisfaction of letting the Lord fill us with the grace during  the season of Lent in order to fully enjoy the season of Easter. We will find that our joy from that comes from the well of salvation the living water is greatest when we share the gift of salvation with others by really listening to them, praying from the heart in a quiet place, reflecting on the Word privately or at daily Mass, and letting the Eucharist change us into the Body of Christ. The Samaritan woman reminds those who doubt, or struggle with faith and we are all like that as we all have doubts to stay in a conversation with Christ.

She came looking for physical water and found Jesus, the “living water,” who would quench her thirsty spirit. May we find joy at the wells of salvation which is Jesus Christ the light of the world. Today we also think of those  adults who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil as they continue their particular journey and we pray in a special for them, their families and all the people who are journeying with them at this time. They  are seeking  with joy the wells of salvation as they head towards their baptism at Easter.

2nd Sunday of Lent

 

Well here we are at the 2nd Sunday of Lent, as we continue our journey along the road that leads to Holy Week and Easter. In the Gospel, we get further advice for the journey. On the mountain, Peter, James, and John will catch a glimpse of the glory of God. As they approach the summit, the three suddenly notice a change in the garments Jesus is wearing. They become dazzlingly white. The disciples then see two famous figures appear. They recognize Moses the Lawgiver, and Elijah the Prophet. They are both discussing something with Jesus. Then their joy is turned to fear when suddenly a cloud comes between them and the sun, and a Voice thunders out, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” As the disciples fall to the ground, Jesus calms them and tells them not to be afraid. The glory has faded and they proceed down the mountain. On their spiritual journey, they are to focus on listening.

 What does all this mean for us on our spiritual journey? If we’re really serious about Lent, we’ll take the Transfiguration experience as Jesus intended. As He taught a lesson in patience and hope to Peter, James, and John, so He teaches us to listen and wait, to listen intently to Jesus and His message. We have the advantage of knowing and believing in the Resurrection. In our Lenten journey this week, we remember Jesus transfigured on the mountain–and listen! Whether it’s daily Mass, a Holy Hour, private prayer or work, may we keep in mind that God and the community around us provide us with encouragement and strength to continue in faith

1st Sunday of Lent 2014

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Well here we are at the 1st weekend of Lent 2014, time is just flying by each for all of us young and old and all the in-betweens. Our Gospel Reading  for this Sunday is all about temptation that is the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness by the devil. God asks us to undertake this time of renewal and that is why we have the penitential season of Lent. Why do we have Lent every year? Why penance? Why fasting? Why almsgiving? What does that have to do with us? Many people fail to see the connection. “I’m not a sinner when the truth is I AM A SINNER”  So why Lent? We know the answer that the Church gives us, of course. We have to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter.

The readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent  should convince us that we really are sinners, and that it’s pretty arrogant of us to deny it I am often reminded of the scripture lord be merciful to me a sinner! It is time to make Lent what it is meant to be, a time for correcting our faults and raising our minds and hearts to God. A time for personal and community conversion! A time for personal and community renewal! A time for coming face-to-face with God – our origin, our purpose and our destiny – and being changed for the better and forever by that healing encounter!

 The bottom line for all of us during Lent is that we should try to get to know God better so that those not too easy to detect lines separating good and evil will become more apparent to ourselves and everyone else through us.   The Church teaches that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are significant ways to become closer to God.  The decision for each of us is to determine what form of those three things to make our own this Lent. The temptations, to which our Lord allowed himself to be submitted, are a source of encouragement and consolation for all of us. If our Lord and master underwent temptation, we cannot and must not expect to live a Christian life without experiencing similar tests and trials. The three temptations Satan put to our Lord were suggestions to forget his purpose in life that is his messianic mission of redemption for one and all. He was urged to get all the bodily comforts of life, all the self-glory which men could give him, and all the possessions and power this world has to offer. In the same way all the comforts of life are put before us including the self indulgence and glory which is the exact opposite of our calling as followers of Christ. We are called during Lent not to give in to the temptations of this life as we are called to renewal of heart mind and Spirit.

As we begin our Lenten journey may god give us his grace to make a good Lent as we begin our journey  on the road to Easter .

 

ASH WEDNESDAY

LENT

As we begin the season of Lent we begin a period of reflection and renewal for our personal spiritual lives and hopefully those around us will be doing the same. It is a time when we undertake a certain amount of giving up things or doing things that well may be out of the ordinary such as getting up to go to an early Mass before going on to work or school or giving up this that or the other. But the season of Lent should be much more than doing things though all of the above mentioned things are important. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that a good Lent makes a wonderful Holy Week and Great Easter. I don’t mean that we should be like the man who, when asked why he was beating his head against a brick wall, said ‘it’s just so nice when I stop!’ There is more to Easter than the first bite of chocolate, sip of wine or gasp of cigarette on Easter Sunday after the Lenten fast. Lent is not all about making life ghastly and hard for ourselves for 40 days just to show we can do it, but it is actually about so much more. It is about Holy Week and Easter, and our focus has to be on the distant light of Christ at the Easter vigil that we should be looking towards right from the very start on Ash Wednesday and then as we travel the road of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.

 Instead of giving up things I think that we need to take up things, things such as the scriptures, the word of god, or maybe the pope’s message for lent or the  various forms of prayer and prayer books or whatever means we may have for bringing ourselves to God. The question to be asked and applied to you and I is this, does my prayer life deepen my relationship with God? Do my daily choices truly reflect my commitment to become Christ like in my life and dealings with others? What can I change to better embody the good news of Christ so others might follow? Lent offers the gift of 40 days to re-evaluate the way we are going and gives us a chance to empower ourselves to do better. Our penances and prayers are all about the resurrection; not just our Lord’s, but our own. They are all about allowing the grace of God to do its work in us, making us more like him, becoming less self-centered and more other person and God-centered so that we are more able to proclaim the kingdom of God by our words and deeds.

ASH

8TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

LENT

Well here we are at the 8th Sunday of ordinary time as we face into the season of Lent with all the opportunities it provides for us on the spiritual front.  Lent means many things Ashes, Fasting, and may be even Fish on Fridays. These and many more things come to mind as we begin this important  40 day period of preparation in the Church year  as we head towards Holy Week and the great feast of Easter. Though the Church requires fasting and abstinence, these are not the most important things about Lent. Fasting and abstinence are no help to us unless they move us to deeper prayer; bring us to a deeper commitment to the most important truths about our life in faith: baptism, forgiveness of sins and a share in the Resurrection through conversion of heart and mind.

The readings for this Sunday are about three questions that are ultimately responsible for our general attitude as we live our daily lives.  Who has not felt forgotten by the Lord?  Who has not felt judged prematurely by others?  Who has not worried about having the basics of everyday life?  These are common and reoccurring feelings that we all experience throughout our lives. Sometimes these feelings are deeper or stronger than at other times, but they still get to people whenever they feel most unsure or vulnerable about something that they consider important at that particular time. We find ourselves at different places in our lives at different times and different feelings  good and bad certainly come and go.  God is always there though: God does not come and go he remains the same as he was as he is and as he will be in the future the alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end.  “Can any of us add a single moment to our life-span by worrying?”  No, we can’t!  The only thing we can do is trust that the Lord is in control of our lives journey and we are in control of how we spend the time that he gives us and hopefully we use the time  wisely. During Lent we are called to a period of renewal that is renewal of heart, mind, body and more importantly renewal of our souls. This time of renewal should bring us to a deeper commitment to the most important truths about our life in faith. Let us  Open our mind and hearts to the presence of God in our lives and our daily living and not be afraid to embrace the opportunities for us to grow in the Faith of Christ who is the light of the world during the season of lent.

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