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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “August, 2015”

22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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Well here we are at the last weekend of  August and the youngsters are going back to school. Time is flying by for all of us both young and old as we move into the new school year. I’m sure at this stage everyone will be happy to get back to the daily routine of school and home life instead of the frenetic activity of the summer.

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday deals with tradition it also deals with the opposition to Jesus which came from the Pharisees and the temple officials as a result of his challenge to their version of tradition. When it comes to the subject of tradition, people’s attitudes can vary dramatically. Some people have an affectionate loyalty to traditional ways of doing things they often say we’ve always done that this way. They feel secure when they adapt their own values and behaviour to received wisdom, reassured by the knowledge that they are following in the footsteps of many others. Problems occur if laws themselves become more important than the people whose lives they are designed to serve and protect . According to the written Law, ceremonial washing was required only of priests before they entered the sanctuary. By the time of Jesus, however, the ritual of hand-washing, before every meal and between each course, had been extended to include all pious Jews.As we all know Jesus interpreted the Jewish Law in a different way and as a result of his interpretation he clashed with the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were mainly concerned with the externals of faith and didn’t understand the message of Jesus that faith comes from the heart. In our Gospel reading Jesus teaches a central truth: it is what comes from within that determines whether we are clean or unclean, good or evil not the washing of our hands.  In our secular world, so many couldn’t care less about ritual observance or conversion of heart. When things are going well, there seems to be no need for God, much less religious observance. Conversion of the heart means that we have discovered that all our goodness comes from the love of God for us. This leads to genuine prayer of praise and gratitude as well as a real yearning to share this gift with others.

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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Well here we are past the midpoint of August with the return to school for our youngsters looming in a few days time. Spare a thought for all the parents out there getting the bits and pieces needed for the kids return to school. I’m sure they are running round trying to bring it all together and I hope that it all goes well for the kids and their parents as September looms large on the horizion. This Sundays Gospel reading has a resonance with the modern world for me. In today’s Gospel, Jesus puts the choice to His apostles of following Him, or of leaving Him. Many of the Lord’s followers had left Him because of His teaching that He Himself is the Bread of Life. After hearing Jesus’ teaching on the bread of life, many of the people find Jesus’ language intolerable. As a result of this intolerable language some  of them choose to leave him. Today in a similar way so many people find the words of Jesus to be intolerable language as many Christians have got up and left their faith behind them and some may never return again.

No one who accepts Christ for what he is, the Son of God in human form, has any difficulty in believing that he left us himself in the Eucharist as a sacrifice and a sacrament This does not mean that we understand this gift of Christ in all its details I certainly don’t but it was an act of divine power and as such beyond full human comprehension.  We can understand enough about the actuality of the Eucharist because we accept the words of Christ, who “has the words of eternal life,” even though its innermost nature escapes us. In Galilee he promised to give his body and blood in the Eucharist—to be our spiritual nourishment — communion — and our means of offering an absolutely pleasing sacrifice to God every time his body and blood are made present by the words of the priest. He fulfilled that promise at the Last Supper. He gave to his Apostles and their successors the power to repeat this act of divine love when he said: “Do this in memory of me.”

When Simon Peter answered Christ’s challenge—”will you too go away?”—he spoke not only for his fellow-Apostles that day with: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” but for all of us in our own time and place as well, people who really believe that Christ was the incarnate Son of God. Peter made his act of faith before he was fully convinced of the divinity of Christ, but he was already convinced that Christ was close to God and spoke nothing but the truth.

We have the proofs of Christ’s divinity which Peter and the Apostles later got. We have also the faith of two thousand years of the Christians whose belief in the Blessed Sacrament the bread of life as a sacrifice and sacrament was at the very center of their Christian lives. This belief was passed down to us through each generation. We have also the noble example of many martyrs who gladly gave their lives in defense of this truth. Our faith may never be put to such an extreme test, but should it be, God grant that we will not be found wanting. “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

20 TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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 We are now at the midpoint of August and summer has flown by and the thoughts of the children and their parents turn towards going back to school at the start of September. Over the next few weeks the preparations will get going and hit fever pitch with the buying of school uniforms and all the other things required for the school going population. This indicates an unending circle from one September to the next, each year being the same with the people involved getting a bit older as time goes by. Also this week the exam results are is for those doing the A levels and next week we have the results for those doing the GCSE exams. 

 Our Gospel Reading for this Sunday suggests when we take Communion we really are taking real Food and real Drink.   The receiving of this gift becomes the acceptance and acknowledgment of the Lord’s care for us and thus, ultimately, the nourishment we need to continue the journey. Sometimes it is not easy to put one foot in front of the other, let alone continue on the journey of faith.

In His book To Live Is to Love, Ernesto Cardenal says, “If in everything you fulfil God’s will rather than your own, every encounter in the street, every telephone call, every letter you receive, will be full of meaning, and you will find that everything has its good reason and obeys a providential design. To “live in love” requires us to be connected to the Love of God.     There is one concrete way that the Lord helps us to make this connection that is by providing the Eucharist the bread of Life.   In the bread and wine offered at the Eucharist, the risen Lord makes himself present.

While the priest invokes the words of blessing (thus acting as the instrument of Christ or “in persona Christi”), the conversion of the bread and wine into the blood into the Body and Blood of Christ remains the initiative of God (specifically, the Holy Spirit). The offer to partake in the “living bread” is God’s offer of unity with Christ and his followers (his “body,” the Church). The attraction of the Eucharist or Blessed Sacrament is dynamic. Jesus is dynamic.

When we receive communion or when we come to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, we don’t receive an inanimate object.  We don’t kneel before a static entity. This is not a crucifix or a statue that reminds us of something. This is Jesus. The One Who Is who was and will be in the future. When we receive communion or come to adoration, we take within ourselves or we come before the dynamic, powerful Presence who speaks to us through the life He has given us. How great is our God. He has found a way for each of us to have continual, intimate encounters with Him. Let us pray, for those whose access to the Gift of the Eucharist or Blessed Sacrament is not so easy whether they have left the faith or perhaps they might be struggling with it or for many they may not yet found it as we remember that Jesus has said ‘I am the Bread of life he who comes to me will never be hungry.’

19 TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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Here we are heading into another week end and our gospel this Sunday is about bread. Some of the greatest stories I have heard were told around the kitchen table at family meal times so in a similar vein we listen to the Scriptures as we gather around the table of the Lord each Sunday as the family of God. Jesus is the life-giving word. God is feeding us through the Word. “We do not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God Deuteronomy (8:3).” The Gospel reading for this Sunday deals with a doubting audience, they were shocked and critical of Jesus’ claim to have come down from heaven as the Bread of Life. Despite the miracles they had witnessed, and the words of wisdom they have heard preached with such convincing authority, they could not go the extra step to accept His claim. We are able to take that extra step because our Christian faith has come to us from Jesus, we know where he came from, we know where we are going and we know how to reach that destination. Of all the knowledge a human being can acquire on this earth, the above facts are the most essential and important. The knowledge our Christian faith gives us concerns eternity and our journey toward it. The personal faith that we have has passed down to us through each generation and this means that “God out of the abundance of his love, speaks to us as friends and lives among us as  the living bread which came down from heaven.

The Gospel lesson for today tells us that we can’t do it by ourselves.  We need Jesus.  And we find Jesus through the teachings and Word of God.  It is through our communion with him, in him, and through him in the eating of the bread of life that his flesh becomes the life of the world.  It is in our relationships of love with each other and our listening to God and learning from God that we experience Jesus among us.  In our simple day-to-day lives of being kind to one another, compassionate, and forgiving one another, we are empowered to be imitators of God.  So, at the end of each day, when we give thanks for all of our blessings, most of all, we should give thanks to God for the presence of Jesus in our lives. 

18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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Here we are at the beginning of August and it seems a very short time since the summer holidays began and yet it will be no time until the schools go back at the start of September.

Our Gospel reading this weekend has as its focus Food that is food for the body that is bread and food for the soul that is the Bread of life. Jesus tells the people that they are only following him because they have enjoyed the food that physically satisfies them; they should work, he says, for the food that endures to eternal life. The one thing which earns this food is believing in the one God has sent. The Galileans promptly ask Jesus for a sign to aid their belief in him – a sign like the manna their fathers ate in the desert.

Jesus points out that it was God, not Moses, who supplied the manna, he compares himself to the God who now gives bread from heaven. Jesus declares that he himself is the bread of life, the bread come down from heaven. Whoever believes in him will never be hungry. Yet there are so many people in our world who suffer from hunger, physical hunger for so many do not even have a wee bit of bread to eat or water to drink. Also there is a great spiritual hunger, there are many people out there who have lost their faith and there are also many people searching for faith who have yet to find it. I think that in our day and age we need to be the bread of life for all those who are out there who have lost the faith or those who are searching. What does it mean for you and me to be the Bread of Life to others? It really means feeding the hungry through our donations to organisations that bring physical bread to the people who need it in the world. It also means being a light showing that God the Father has sent Jesus from heaven to be our food, our strength, our hope, and our joy in living. Nothing else in life can surpass this Bread of Life given freely and freely accepted by those who choose to accept this great gift of God. 

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