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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

4th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

Picture 220THIS LATIN WORD PAX TRANSLATES AS  PEACE

On Tuesday of this past week we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp at the end of the second World war in 1945. The brutality of the Nazis regime of Adolf Hitler is starkly illustrated in all of these places, brutality against the weakest of the weak and against the Jewish People. As we think of the Holocaust  and the witness of all those who lost their lives in the concentration camps that are now sacred places we must also stop and  think of how we relate to one another and to those of other faiths in our modern world Jew, Christian, Muslim Hindu or whatever faith tradition we may be from.

In this Sundays  Gospel we hear about the authority of the Lord to cast out demons and devils. The reading is taken from the Gospel of Mark. Jesus begins to teach in Capernaum. The people are spellbound because he spoke with authority, not like the scribes. A man comes to Jesus who is in the hand of an evil power and Jesus makes the devil come out of the man. The bystanders are amazed because Jesus has such authority.  What do we mean when we speak about the authority of the Lord? What do we mean when we talk about authority in general? What ways do we exercise authority in relation to those around us? What ways do we exercise the authority of the Lord as Christians? 

The word authority comes from the Latin word auctoritas. The basic meaning of this Latin word is creator, the word author also comes from this word. In general, authority is intimately connected with its source that source is the person who gives another the authority to do something so the authority that Jesus has comes from his Father.  We share in the authority of the Lord to the extent that we are united to the source of this authority. When we are confirmed we receive the power, the authority, to defeat evil in the world and to lead others to Jesus, the source of all truth. This authority is given to us by God. God can remove this authority and will remove this authority if we refuse to stay intimately united to him. God has entrusted us with his authority only to the extent that we allow him into our lives.  As we reflect on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Death Camps at the end of the Second World War We pray that the horror of these events will never return. We also pray that all those who exercise authority will do so wisely and for the good of every member of the communities where they live so that everyone can live in peace.

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3RD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

celtic 1

The readings for this Sunday are all about the call to get up and go. That is to get up and leave family friends and go out to the world to proclaim the good news of Jesus as told to us in the old and new testaments. Of course in today’s world the church and faith in general mean a lot less in people’s eyes and many tell you that the faith they had that is faith in God has got up and gone and for a great number that was a long time ago!! So many have placed their trust in the worldly things whilst leaving the lasting things that is things of God behind.  The big question for the Churches is how do we reconnect with our people especially with those who have left for whatever reason, but that is a question that is for another time but it is also worth thinking about.

The  second reading for this Sunday tells us that though we live in the world and are of the world we need to remember that all of us  who have to deal with and live in the world should not become engrossed in it as the worldly life has often taken  people down the wrong road and that road  leads one  away from a god and his ways.  Our gospel reading tells us about Jesus calling the first disciples they respond immediately to Jesus’ summons they don’t waver and think should we do this as they are taken away abruptly from their daily work of fishing.

The call of Jesus is irresistible and many people have found this to be so true over the generations who have taken up the Call of Jesus in their lives as Christians. We learn the names of the first four disciples, the brothers Simon and Andrew, and the brothers James and John. They abandon both their work, and their family ties. Something momentous is happening in their lives and they see the Call of Jesus as just that, a momentous event that they cannot ignore. It was amid the preoccupations of each day that the Lord calls his disciples, and calls them by name. It is also true for each of us that amid the preoccupations of our time and place within the world that many people are called by the Lord to be fishers of men.

Christ saw something in Simon James Andrew and John that led Him to entrust them with carrying out His mission and building His Church when he called them to be fishers of Men. Each person had their unique role to play in that process at the beginning, just as each of us have a unique role and job to do today.  We too are fishers of men by what we do and what we say. One person doesn’t do it all, but that small part that we play is as important as the person who has the big headline role.

So the question to be asked of each of us is are we prepared to take up the call to be fishers of men where we are? Being fishers of men does not necessarily mean that we leave our families and our lives behind though many take up this part of the challenge as priests or religious serving gods people in that particular way. As followers of Jesus the challenge for us is to be an example of faith in all we do and say and as a result of this we will be fishers of men because people out there will see how we live our lives and will want to follow us to see where we have come from and where we are going and when we get there all of us will find the lasting things of great value that are the things of God and his Church.

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

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This weekend we celebrate the second Sunday of ordinary Time and in the Gospel Reading we see that Jesus is asking his followers including you and me who do you say I am? In the first Reading it took Eli to tell Samuel to answer the call from God after he thought it was Eli and the reading tells us that ’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’ How many of us are listening to the word of God and not hearing it even though we may be listening? The two searchers in the Gospel ask Jesus, “Where are you staying?” When Jesus responds to the Baptist’s disciples, “Come and you will see,” he is not speaking of the house where he lives. He is inviting them and us in our present time to come to experience him on a deeper level to discover where he is and that is to follow him and  finding where he is staying is really about  a life with God in it. All of us remember special moments by recalling the date and the time they happen. John tells us, “It was about four in the afternoon,” when the disciples received their invitation from Jesus. I wonder how many times Andrew and John repeated the story of their first encounter with Christ and concluded their witness with, “It was about four in the afternoon”?

We don’t need to know the time of the day the call happened. But for Andrew and John that moment was very important because it began the journey that would forever change their lives. By giving us the time they were invited to go and stay with Jesus and so the gospel is underlining the importance of that moment for the disciples. The evangelist also seems to be suggesting the importance of the call they and each of us in our turn has received. It may not have been at a particular moment but, even if we experienced the call spread out over our lifetime, the invitation is to go with Christ and “stay” with him has been, or should be, life-altering for each and every one of us and for many people this has been the case as they take up the call of their own vocations in life and those vocations are varied and many. When we reflect on the beginnings of our own faith in Christ and of our own particular relationship with him, we remember the people who introduced us to Jesus. Most of us can think of a particular person, our mother or father etc who enabled us to begin our faith journey. As Christians that is people who are called to be Christ Like we all come to him by way of generations of Christians who have shared their experience of Jesus. In their turn they were introduced to him by others and through time they have introduced other people  to Christ and in time we will do just that. The story of Christianity, is  a story of a great chain of witnesses linked through the ages from Jesus himself and the apostles at the beginning right up until ourselves here and now in 2015. We too are witnesses and are called to tell others by the spoken word and by the things that we say and do.

This Sunday’s Gospel and readings invite 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 the invitation he gives to us to take up is his call for our lives.  A call that might lead us to be a priest or religious a call that may lead us to be a father or mother or whatever there are so many vocations in life and many of them are not vocations of the religious sort. Let us ask the Lord, that we will be able to see and  receive Christ as the  as the way the truth and the light as we follow our vocation in life wherever the calling will lead us.

The Baptism Of The Lord

JESUS IS BAPTISED BY JOHN IN THE JORDAN

JESUS IS BAPTISED BY JOHN IN THE JORDAN

This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord and this feast marks the end of the Christmas season. For those of us who have carefully prepared through Advent for a joyful celebration of Christmas and Epiphany, it’s with a sense of sadness that we let go of the childhood of Jesus. Mary and Joseph must have seen all of this coming as they hear Jesus’ excuse after their three-day search for Him in the Temple: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House?” And now, some years later, Joseph is dead, and a sword has pierced Mary’s soul as she bids goodbye to her Son. I often ask people what did Mary say to Jesus when they found him in the temple and the answers I have got are never the simple answer that I would expect and that answer is simply Mary asking Jesus where have you been your father and I missed you. I think that this is the question that Jesus will ask all those who no longer practice the faith when they return to the faith but that is for another time.

The baptism of the Lord marks the beginning of the public life and ministry of Jesus as he set out to do the Father’s will announcing the arrival of the kingdom of God. The beginning of the messianic work of Jesus is marked by the moment of his baptism in the Jordan. We remember that John the Baptist foretold Jesus  coming and he is acclaimed on earth by John and Jesus links himself to John by being baptized by him. Jesus is acclaimed from heaven by the voice of the Father and the presence of the Spirit.

None of us remember when we were baptized when we were infants but that said we may have known an Adult who was baptized at the Easter Vigil or at another time.  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 made a part of the body of Christ. We are called 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, That same Spirit will enable us to do what is right in every situation we may find ourselves in.

This weekend we stand with the French people after the attacks in Paris outrages against the ideals of free speech and brotherliness. But as we stand as one with the French we must also recognize that we should not answer hatred with hatred but instead answer hatred with love. This is the ideal that we try to put into our lives but it is so very hard for all of us who call ourselves Christians. We ask god for the strength to approach our problems and those who attack us and our way of living in a way that promotes love, and promotes the Kingdom of Jesus Christ whose baptism in the Jordan we celebrate this Sunday.

2ND SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS Or The Feast of the Epiphany

The three kings

Well here we are with the Christmas and New Year festivities of now a distant memory, and I am certain many people  out there are asking themselves the time honoured question  why did I make such a fuss!!!  So many make such a fuss about  the secular part of Christmas and as a result they may have missed and are missing the essential message of the season.  The message is that Jesus Emmanuel was born in the stable in Bethlehem at Christmas and  that is the reason for the season. Some places the feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on this Sunday so we reflect on the three wise men.

In the gospel reading for this feast the Magi or the Wise men represent the “mystery” made manifest in concrete human beings. By their very nature they are seekers, people who came looking for the “king of the Jews.” Where would they find this royal child? Not in the courts of the powerful, like Herod. He was an example of how those in power would react to the gentle one who would draw all people into his realm.

Jesus was not born in a mighty city, nor was he an heir to a powerful ruler. Instead, he was born  in Bethlehem, a backwater in the eyes of those of Herod’s court and the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Through the “least,” and the poor, Christ comes to us. That’s a lesson the church needs to continually learn and proclaim. We, like the Magi, will find Christ among the “least.” and this is the message, the humble message that lies at the heart of our faith It is the message that Pope Francis is proclaiming in our own time and place.

Today, the call of the Saviour is extended to each of us. What do we hear? With what gifts will we welcome him? Will we be humble enough to believe in visions and prophecies, and daring enough to work toward their fulfillment? Will we believe? With God’s grace, we  that is all of us together can do all these things for nothing is impossible for those who have faith.

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