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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

PALM SUNDAY

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As we gather together this weekend  we have come to our annual celebration of our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem his own city at the beginning of Holy Week more commonly known as Palm Sunday. The entrance into Jerusalem is one of the very few events in Jesus’ life which is mentioned in all four gospels.  It is the only time that Jesus accepts and encourages public acclaim as Messiah.  He even goes as far as organising his entrance by telling the disciples to go and fetch the donkey.  The key moment in God’s great plan of salvation is about to unfold and Jesus knows exactly how it will unfold.

As we reflect upon the story of Jesus coming to Jerusalem we recommit ourselves to Christ and his message of salvation.The events of Palm Sunday were foretold thousands of years ago. The first reading from Isaiah, one of the four Suffering Servant oracles written at the time of the Babylonian captivity, speaks of a courageous and obedient messiah-figure, who says,

“I have set my face like flint” against the beatings and scourging that lie ahead, “knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” The second reading from Philippians reminds us of Jesus’ total emptying out of His divinity in order that He might identify Himself with the lowest criminal being led to His execution, “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” We move towards the heavenly Jerusalem only because Christ himself has already made that journey to the Cross for us and now he offers to make it with us. 

 The full drama of the Gospel  begins with the crowd’s fickle acclamation of Jesus as King at the beginning of the reading. It is a foreshadowing of the blasphemous mockery the soldiers will hurl at our thorn-crowned Savior a few days later on Good Friday. And yet, we raise our voices joyfully with the crowd, linking the honor given Him, especially by the children, with His ultimate victory beyond the grave. We wonder and rejoice as the veil is raised to permit a glimpse of Jesus, the Messiah-King and liberator.

The Church is a master of drama in the liturgies of this week. Through the use of lay readers for the Passion and the voices of the congregation, we all become part of the action. On Palm Sunday we feel embarrassed to cry out “Crucify Him” with the palm branches still in our hands. It reminds us of our own fickle response and our lack of courage in responding to His love and truth. Yet we know that it was the sins of us all which brought Jesus to Calvary. Palm Sunday and Holy Week are all about Jesus suffering for our inadequacies and our own very real sins. Holy Week is a time for us to realize what we’re really like, and to find that the only remedy for our pains and our fears is love. That is Love of God and  love of others . Are we ready to join our own pains and fears to the Master’s? Are we ready to add as much love as we can possibly muster to His boundless love? As we recall the Passion story on Palm Sunday and then more solemnly on Good Friday we are called as witnesses to respond and to imitate his life. And as God’s family, we are called to look out for one another. It’s not just about “me.”It’s about “us.” Our journey is a journey of self-emptying in love too so let us not be afraid to set out on our Journey through the week that we are beginning with Palm Sunday so that we will be able to celebrate the bright light of  the resurrection at Easter.

HW

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5TH SUNDAY OF LENT

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Well here we are at the fifth Sunday of Lent often known as Passion Sunday; we are now heading towards Palm Sunday and Holy Week. The Sundays of Lent give us the opportunity to look at where we have been, where we are and where we need to go as we listen to the Word of God and what it tells us. Indeed we should be listening to the Word of God every time we hear the scriptures being read in Church or wherever. In the Gospel for this weekend some Greeks ask to see Jesus. Jesus responds by saying that anyone who loves his life will lose it; to gain your life, you have to be like a grain of wheat which brings forth much fruit only by falling into the earth and dying. The seed which must die to produce a harvest is a powerful image of Jesus death. The Greeks must have been baffled. They were baffled in much the same way that we are when we listen to the stories from scripture about Jesus and all the things that he had done. The gospel goes on to tell us that a voice is heard from the cloud, as at the Transfiguration in the other gospels, but here it speaks of the ‘glory’ that will come to Jesus for giving up his life. It is in his death and resurrection that he draws all people to himself, both Jew and Greek.

Many Learned men and women have tried to put their interpretation on the Scriptures but if we listen with open hearts and minds what the word of God means in our lives and the way we live them will become apparent. For many people including me God’s presence is not often thought of  at the time when it is upon us, but afterwards, when you look back at what has happened or what you have said you often see that the hand of God was with you. I have often said things to people about situations that they are in and thought to myself where did I get that from? Then on reflection I know that what I said was inspired by the Holy Spirit and was the right thing to do or sat in the right place.

As we come to the last few days of Lent let us prepare with great intensity for Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum and then we will really be able to enjoy the Easter feast on Easter Sunday which we have been preparing for since Ash Wednesday and don’t forget the Easter celebration lasts until Pentecost Sunday !!!

4TH SUNDAY OF LENT

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This weekend we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Lent and this is also known as “Laetare Sunday” since its mood and theme is one of hope and rejoicing that Easter is near.  So what is the cause for rejoicing? The opening prayer offers an important clue. We pray to God as “[you] who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way.” it then goes on to say that  we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come on palm Sunday and Holy Week

The Gospel reading from John tells us that a person is condemned because that  individual “has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” God has no desire to condemn, but people condemn themselves by putting God and the ideals of faith out of their lives. Over many centuries many people have said there is no  god. There are so many people out there in our so called modern world  who have turned out the light of faith in their lives permanently for many reasons.  I know people of all ages who have been brought up in the Christian Faith and then have left it all behind .

At the end of the Gospel we are told that Jesus the Light came into the world, but the people preferred darkness to light, because some of the things that they had done and were doing were evil.

For everyone who does wicked things hate the light because the light shows up what they were doing. Jesus was sent by God; light in the darkness of our daily lives and living. At the Easter Vigil we proclaim the risen Lord as Christ our Light and we celebrate with joy. We are invited to celebrate this Sunday with joy, because we have been invited through baptism and confirmation to live in the light of Christ and to act accordingly

We also pray for those adults in the RCIA process 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. We also remember and pray for all those who have left the faith and extinguished the light of faith in their lives and we pray that they may reignite the faith in their lives by seeing the good example of those around them.

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3RD SUNDAY OF LENT

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 This weekend we celebrate the third Sunday of Lent and our readings take us from the Ten Commandments in the first reading to Jesus putting the tax collectors out of the temple in the gospel. What does this say to you and me about our journey during this time of Lent? For each person the scripture for this weekend will mean something different.

In the first reading we are presented with the ten commandments  they  challenges us to establish a right order with God (the first three commandments) and then with our fellow human beings (the last seven commandments) and ourselves. The words of the second reading tell us that God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.  Our sins are signs of the weakness that we must overcome.“Christ is the power of God”; his weakness is more powerful than our strength and with God on our side who can be against us?

This Sunday’s gospel puts Jesus’ knowledge of our human nature so clearly: He really knew what was going on in the hearts of those around him. He knew what they thought as he knows what we think and what is going on in our hearts. He saw what they did to the Temple. The Temple was a place of worship. It was a place of celebrating the spiritual presence of God in the world. And  they changed the Temple into a marketplace.For many in our modern world the day of the Lord Sunday has been replaced with so many secular things taking the place of God and religion. Jesus knew that we would hide the celebration of the Resurrection behind the Easter Bunny. He knew that people would see the signs that he worked, the miracles he performed, but would refuse to see the messages behind the signs and the miracles. Instead they would see him as a wonder worker, a superman, a good show. Of course our faith is not about a good show instead it is about our relationship with God and with one another. Jesus shows us  what real love is. He went on to die on the cross for us.  Our dying with Christ during Lent is an identification with the power of Christ crucified. Our calling, then, is to be strong, not weak. The commandments represent not just a set of rules but an ideal of a social order for which we are to give our lives, as Christ did on the cross.

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