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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Ascension Sunday June 1st 2014

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In some dioceses this feast was celebrated on Thursday of last week but in most places we celebrate the Ascension on the ` 6th Sunday of Easter. The words of the Gospel for this weekend strike me ‘go therefore make disciples of all the nations and know that I am with you yes to the end of time. This Gospel reading is all about the future it is also about ourselves in the here and now of today, and what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations in 2014. Simply put where do we fit in when we hear Jesus telling us to make disciples of the nations and do we recognize him as being with us now in June 2014. In today’s gospel, Jesus has little to say, but he is definite about what he has to say. This is in sharp contrast to the fact that, even at this last minute, some of his disciples still doubted. The disciples did what he told them to do. He asked them to meet him on the mountain, and they did that. Like any gathering of people, their feelings were varied. Some of them worshipped him, while some of them still doubted. Jesus didn’t seem to have any great problem with that, because he knew that, when the Spirit came, all of those doubts would be ended. It would seem, indeed, that he was in a hurry to take his leave of them, so that the second part of his plan of salvation could get underway.

The mission of the apostles was simple to understand; difficult to carry out. It was to teach others all that Jesus had taught them. Just as he asked his disciples to obey him, they were to ask that others should obey his directions and instructions also which is so hard in the world of today. The programme of redemption and salvation must continue from generation to generation, until the end of time. With all the changes in the church and in society, the two things that have not changed are Jesus himself, and every word of his message. The Message and the Messenger have never, and never will change. Again we ask ourselves what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations realizing that Jesus and his message is always new for each generation may we be heralds of joy of the Ascension as we place the message of Jesus before others by the way we live our lives in the Joy of the Gospel. 

6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

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This weekend we celebrate the 6th Sunday of Easter. It seems no time since we began Holy Week on Palm Sunday and now we are heading into Ascension and then Pentecost Sundays and then we resume  the Sundays of Ordinary Time. The readings this Sunday contain many comparisons of those “in the world” and those who have life “in the Spirit”.  The truth is that we all live in the world and are constantly influenced by other people, places, and events good and bad.   In this Sundays  Gospel Jesus promises us that “I will not leave you orphaned; I will come back to you and you will have life.” Our faith, nurtured in this great paschal season, tells us that God-made-flesh is God-with-us, never abandoning us and always filling us with life.Today many live without belief in the existence of truth. Some use the word without understanding its authentic meaning, as if it can denote only a personal opinion, a thing that is “true” only for the individual who holds that idea. This widespread relativism, has crept with increasing power like an infection into the body of the Church.

The members of Christ’s Body are ever affected by the same forces and currents as is every human person. For the Catholic Christian, however, there can never be any confusion as to the existence of truth. There can be no Catholic faith without truth, for Christ founded the Church for the purpose of teaching the truth, endowing her with the gift of the Holy Spirit by which the truth is taught infallibly in matters of faith and morals in every age. Reverence the Lord in your hearts,” Peter tells us in today’s reading. If God is not revered as sacred nothing is sacred anymore. This is so true in many aspects of today’s culture Maybe this accounts for the growing break-down in families and many other things as well. And in a timely warning to those of us  engaged in religious debate, Peter urges them  and ultimately you and me to make our arguments “with courtesy and respect.” Peter makes deep moral demands on us. As a Christian how fitted am I to give an account of my faith? Is my understanding of the Christian message a few’ do’s and don’ts’ and some scraps of information remembered from school?

Do I appreciate there is a Christian manner of action? Am I conscious of how others are persecuted for their beliefs, or feel a sense of solidarity with Christians who suffer elsewhere? As a member of a body which was born in persecution and whose head suffered on the cross, am I sensitive to the pain of all who are oppressed, and seek to alleviate their persecution? Is a document such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights something that I consider should interest me as a Christian? Do I support those who support human rights? Painful questions, but can we be true to our origin if we shy away from them? May we go forward in faith with one another and more importantly with God realising that god is with us through all that life throws at us.

 

5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

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In today’s world where news is reported instantly as a glimpse of the culture, being held accountable seems to be one of the most uncomfortable situations to find yourself in.  It is one to which people often respond with defensiveness rather than genuine self-evaluation.  Most people, it seems to me, just do not like being wrong or admitting having done something in error and I include myself in that. Unfortunately, we often stick to our own perspective and then voice strong denial even when evidence shows us (and everyone else) that the truth is something completely different to what we thought.  Politics is often an unpleasant testimony to that smugness and that arises when we think that our point of view is always right even when it’s wrong. On the other hand, sometimes we seem to know the truth “way down deep in the heart of our being” even though the current evidence does not bear it out and we act on that positive conviction that comes from the heart.  

We must also remember that the search for truth is not a search for you and me to become more important than the next person and certainly not more important than God:  only God is all powerful.  How do we genuinely and unwaveringly search for Truth and stay humble and accountable along the way?  How do we follow the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd,  and not the voices of the strangers or even our own selfish one, the “thieves and robbers” of whom Jesus speaks in our Gospel reading for this Sunday?

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is a story about Jesus and the disciples. He is helping them get ready for his suffering and death. For the apostles this was a huge reversal from the adulation of the entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the despair of the Cross on Good Friday. Remember when he asked them whether they would leave him, along with the rest of the crowd? Now it is he who is leaving. They are stunned. Peter’s reply at that time might have been appropriate now. “Where will we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:67-8) Jesus helps them. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” The straightforward meaning of this directive is, you know how to trust, you do it with God. Use that same trust with me.

This fifth Sunday of Easter tells us that Jesus speaks to us not at us.  His presence is in the word proclaimed in the Assembly of the people of god gathered together in Church.  His word is proclaimed to us in the readings from scripture as well as in lived example of others in the community where we live.  We come to Church week in week out to hear the Word.  We come to share the joys and sufferings of all the community gathered together.  We receive the Body and the Blood of the anointed one, the Christ, risen from the Tomb.  We hear the word while we work in the world through those around us. We don’t stay in Church all the time as the hard pew might well become the soft bed.  We have duties and obligations to family, work and the communities where we live.  We take the Word and Work of the assembled people of God into that life with all its short comings.  

The Word of God stays with us because through the death and resurrection of Jesus we receive the Spirit of God  Jesus breathed on the disciples. This breath of the Risen One imparted the Spirit to them and to us.  We are released from sin that harms our spirits and blocks our ears. The Word of God is available to us: we should  open our ears and listen.As the Good Shepherd puts it in the gospel, we will no longer be at risk of either being lost or stolen away by thieves and bandits. On the contrary!  He is both our Good Shepherd and the gate that swings open to bring us to green pastures and a magnificent banquet. So, in fact, the light of the Risen Christ, the one whom Peter today calls ‘the shepherd and guardian of your souls’ will be shining on us and on all whom we love.

When we’re confused about decisions we should make, Jesus Himself will show us the Way. When we don’t know what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, the Holy Spirit through the Church and its members will enlighten us. And when we are drawn into false pleasures that promise us life, Jesus will bring us back to real living and the joy of that life through the power of His love. As we walk along the roads of life let us take up the call of Jesus In the gospel to trust in him and he will not let us down.

3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER 2014

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We gather this weekend in the joy of the gospel after the solemn celebration of Easter and Divine Mercy Sundays, we also thank God for the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. we thank God for their leadership of the Church over the years. We also remember that the celebration of Easter continues until the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday and then Easter Time ends and the paschal candle is placed near the baptismal font.

After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples several times.  This Sunday’s gospel recounts the apparition of Jesus on the evening of Easter to two disciples who were going from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  Now, however, their life with Jesus has all come to an abrupt end.  For in these past few days Jesus, their beloved Leader and Teacher, has been arrested, tried, sentenced, tortured and killed. Now they are feeling that without his presence, his inspiration and guidance, his support and encouragement, they simply cannot go on. So disappointed and so disillusioned are they about Jesus in fact, that they have even decided to leave the Church, the community of his followers.  This is just what they are doing when we catch up with them today. Slowly but surely they are walking away from it all.

Slowly but surely they are putting Jerusalem and the other disciples behind them. They are heading for the village of Emmaus, some seven miles away, to start a new and different way of life. The Emmaus story is the story of the church it is the story of you and me the two disciples represent all of us who claim that we are Christians with all our doubts and disagreements.

We come together in our churches each Sunday in answer to a call, often a quiet murmur from the recesses of our hearts which calls out to us saying come to me you who are weary and overburdened and I will give you rest.  We’re searching just as the companions on the road to Emmaus  were and they were weary from all that had happened to them.  The people of God come together for a purpose and that is to seek God. We work together for God’s kingdom since the kingdom provides unending meaning and purpose: we worship together so we’ll not miss seeing God with us.  God comes to us in the Scriptures handed down throughout the ages.  The experiences of our faith ancestors in those scriptures give substance and meaning to our lives.  In these we find explanation and understanding of events and relationships which have shaped the faith of so many for many years. Our faith is lived out in the real world, the world of family, of work, of recreation, of politics and economics. We don’t live in two separate worlds one spiritual and the other secular.  

Those who would have us believe that we can separate our lives into two compartments are mistaken as history has shown.  The fellowship we share helps us ask the questions of faith.  It is the application of scriptures to the events of our own times that reveal that God is walking with us and maybe even working through us. But it is in the breaking of bread that we recognize the Christ who is already among us on our journey. It is in the sharing of the Bread and the Cup that we are made one with each other and with Christ.  Our faith grows and our relationship with God and his called-together-people unites us in bond of love.  We are formed into one Body, the Body of Christ.  The trip to Emmaus is the journey we make as faithful people of god.  We are on this journey in fellowship with one another  being led by Jesus who calls out to us to follow him from the Cross of Good Friday as well as from the empty tomb of Easter Sunday. 

 As we grow in faith, we are led to understand those past events as experienced yet again in our time and place.  It is in the breaking of bread, in the hospitality of Jesus, that we recognize Jesus as God’s Son.   The Risen Lord uses so much gentleness with us! He doesn’t oblige us to ‘believe’ but He offers us the instruments that enable us to judge based on the measure of our own hearts. As St Augustine extraordinarily wrote in the opening of his Confessions ‘our heart is restless until it rests in you

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There is still one more detail that calls for our attention and raises many questions: why did the eyes of the disciples open to recognize Jesus whilst they were at table with Him? The Eucharistic context of the Emmaus story is undeniable. The disciples are at table, the Lord is with them; He took the bread and saying the prayer of benediction, broke it. It was during the last action of the breaking of the bread that the companions recognised Jesus. It was not only the action in itself but finally as his friends could see, with their own eyes, and we too see the breaking of the bread with our eyes and hear the word of god and yet so many are slow to believe in the great joy that so many people have in the present as so many had in the past.  Pope Francis tells us in the Joy of the Gospel his recent letter to the Church, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ… If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life… At our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mt 14,16; Mk 6:37; Lk 9,13). Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation « The Joy of the Gospel »

As we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread may we be joyful agents of conversion of one another and to those who are around us. Bringing the joy of the Gospel and its message to everyone without exception and be the caring face of the Church those who need us wherever they may be.

 

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