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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “August, 2016”

22ND SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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The  readings  for this Sunday are all about humility, a virtue that doesn’t seem to be valued that much in our world. These days, it’s all about how many “friends” we have on Facebook, how many followers we have on Twitter. But for all of today’s technology we can still pick up on someone whose humility is done for show, whose humbleness is not the real thing and there are people like that around and about. Humility is about: being real, being grounded. Accepting and sharing our gifts without fanfare; acknowledging and accepting our  own faults without undue self-recrimination.  If we live a virtually unrecognized life of goodness and quiet service, sooner or later someone will praise us in some way.   We thank God for all the things that come to us and humbly acknowledge that we were using the  gifts of God for the good of all.  It is his grace that has produced the right attitude within us to live in a humble way. To me, generosity involves the giving of one’s time, talent, or money for the common good without thought of personal recompense and without thought of scrutinizing the recipients. For people who want to seek a more human and fraternal world, Jesus says that welcoming the poor and needy must rank before all other relationships or social conventions.

Many people do this quite effectively and seem to match Jesus’s expectation perfectly.  Some people, however, widen their giving to include the less fortunate but maintain a certain  level of superiority to the recipients which is wrong.   Jesus’s message in this Gospel Reading is  unconditional giving of oneself and one’s resources and it needs to be done willingly according to Jesus’s direction rather than to further one’s own motives as those who were seeking the best seats in the Gospel were trying to do.  Being humble is something we are, something we learn through living fully with our successes and our failures, and never forgetting our dependence on God our merciful Father.   St. Augustine once said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues; hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Without humility, our compassion is meager; our mercy, condescending. Real humility takes awareness and acceptance of our real selves which is why it is so hard for us to achieve. May we be the Humble people that we are called to be in the Gospel of this Sunday accepting our real selves so that that we may use our  God given gifts wisely in the service of others.

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21st SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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As we gather this weekend we remember all those who have got A level exam results. We offer a prayer for all those who have done well and we also pray for those who have not done as well as they wanted as they continue their education. We also thank god for our teachers, families and friends, all those who have helped our young people and journeyed with them along the way whatever the results.

In this Sundays  Gospel Luke tells us about the door policy of the kingdom of God and how there is no such thing as automatic membership. While Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem, someone asks him about the number of those who will be saved. Rather than speculate about the arithmetic of salvation, Jesus gives practical advice about the present time: “Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.” The image changes from tight space to time up.

Those who wait until the door is shut try knocking, but the householder regards them as strangers. The latecomers try to remind the householder of common ties: they ate and drank with him, they listened to him teaching in their streets.  In Jesus’ world (as in our own) there were “insiders” and “outsiders.” A person would be an insider by their birth into a family or group. Or, one might become part of the family/group by being invited to eat with the members. Thus, they are distressed because they are being excluded, the people in the story “prove” they are part of the group. “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.”

Jesus like the house owner is not impressed with this type of superficial acquaintance: people who eat and drink in the same restaurants and bars, read the same papers, watch the same programmes, don’t always  share the same commitment to God. In the gospel stories Jesus has a habit of telling religious people not to get smug; in fact, the so-called “devout and religious” were the ones who rejected Jesus the most. He was most critical of the judgemental religious leaders who were the very ones to condemn him in Jerusalem – where he is determined to go… and where he asks us to follow and remember that includes the cross that Jesus carried to Calvary. Jesus is our example of the good and faithful person who goes through a period of trials and even death trusting God no matter what happens.

Through Jesus we come to know the faithfulness of God. For Isaiah, a faithful band of witnesses will announce the news of God’s restoring love and invite all people to Jerusalem to see the manifestation of God’s power and fidelity. For us, Jesus is the “sign” of God’s fidelity. The God who raised him from the dead offers us that same new life through him. Pope Paul VI said in his famous encyclical, “Evangelii Nuntiandi” that people listen more to witnesses than to teachers. Pope Paul was also right  when he said that the most convincing messengers of our faith are those who speak from their personal experience of God – they are viable witnesses. Perhaps, they were sick and God healed them, or gave them strength and endurance for the trials of life. We are reminded today that everyone loves a humble person, because the humble person keeps a balanced outlook on people and events. And what is it that we are called to be as gods people we are called to be authentic witnesses to the Gospel message Passed down to us through the generations through the Scriptures and so many individual people. Our lives must be changed by our faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We are given the gift of faith; but a subsequent change of life is expected as our response to that gift.

During this Year of mercy we are called to show the love and the mercy of God to those around us may we not be afraid to be the agents of the mercy  and love of God.

20TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY

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In the gospel for this Sunday Jesus says, “I have come to set the world on fire and how I wish it were already blazing.” Jesus is ready and willing to face the hardships that lie ahead. Jesus’ words must have unsettled the people who heard them the first time. It doesn’t sound like Jesus meant that the practice of our faith should make us comfortable, guarantee harmony or tranquillity. Indeed, as he predicted, belief in him would cause the most severe conflict, even in the close-knit-family world of his Mediterranean followers and this inter-religious conflict continues today in many places throughout the world especially in the Holy Land. Jesus is zealous about his mission; He has a task to complete and will follow it through, despite the threats to his personal safety. Jesus refers to his fate as “a baptism with which I must be baptized.”

He sees his passion as a baptism which he will accept and which will set a fire upon the earth. Remember when John the Baptist spoke of Jesus he linked baptism and fire, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”. When our lives get difficult, for any reason perhaps running low on the resources of spirit, mind and psyche at critical moments, we are tempted to think that the Holy One is asleep behind a closed door. We feel very much on the outside. At these times it’s important to remember that Jesus the mercy of God is with us throughout the turmoil we may have as a result of the hurts and hardship that life throws out to all of us on many occasions. Making decisions on the journey of life is a natural process for us; we make many of them each day. Our senses take in all kinds of information some of which we accept, some we discard and much, we are not aware of. Our minds move us to a yes or no that is what the will does. So our imaginations can present data to our minds for a choice as well. So a faith based decision to walk the ways of Jesus needs some information which Jesus gives his disciples, that information  is handed down to us in a special way through the scriptures the word of God.

But some information has to be provided by memory and imagination and in so many cases memory and imagination are not always good at telling the truth of the matters under discussion at any particular moment. The faith that Jesus the face of the father’s mercy calls us his followers to is a faith that leads us to live lives which reflect the life of Jesus the mercy of God. It is much easier to follow from a safe distance and not let our lives be challenged and changed by faith in God. It is very easy to let the bitterness of others take us over but at the end of it all Jesus went to the Cross to overcome all the hatred and bitterness that we see around and about us. Today we are invited to lead lives less dominated by greed possessiveness and hatred or whatever is the opposite to the love and mercy of Jesus. Remember that the words of Jesus are there to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted those who are in any need.

Faith was not easy at the beginning of the Church and isn’t easy now the martyrs of the faith throughout history right up until our present time bear witness to this and I  include Fr. Hamel the 84 year old priest who was killed in France recently while celebrating Mass in this. Deciding to follow Jesus in Faith is not easy and we will have to work at it for anything that is worth doing or being part off will never be easy.  At the end of it all in simple terms we are called to follow were God leads us and he will do the rest for nothing is impossible to God who is rich in mercy.

 

19TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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This Sundays Gospel begins with some of the most beautiful of Jesus’ words: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. “What love, what tenderness in these few words Fear not, little flock! “. These particular words fear not little flock are so full of meaning especially in these days when there is so much fear and distrust around with so many people promoting fear and distrust in many different spheres of life. The words of our Lord should make us all sit up and take notice. He has taken us into his household. He has made us his “little flock.” We are invited guests in his home, the Church, rather than just being mere servants. Jesus also warns us that we must always be busy about our vocation and there are many vocations in life religious priesthood marriage or whatever. We also remember the reason why he invited us into his home. We are Christians, we are members of his Church, God, through Christ’s Incarnation, has put us on the road to heaven. He is always helping us on the way. We don’t know in advance what God may do with us and our own often times selfish plans a friend of mine always told me that Man proposes and God disposes in other words the will of God will happen no matter what you or I might want.

To those who have faith, all things are possible the old saying that faith moves mountains but we should keep on climbing is certainly true. Faith helps us to rely on the limitless power and mercy of God, not on our own limited power. The gospel also points out; we should live in this world as strangers who are on the way home. People who move from one place to another get rid of all they can from their old house and focus on furnishing the new house. They joyfully give away what they once cherished we have to be the same getting rid of the baggage that stops us from being the people we are called to be by our heavenly Father. We don’t know when personal illness, bereavement or some other trying experience will put us to the test. But we do know that our life will be a success if we set our hearts and minds on values that go beyond all the transitory goods of this world. Our faith, is leading us onward, always pointing to something still to come, and at the end of our pilgrimage on this earth we will find where our true treasure is and we will simply discover that where our heart is there our treasure is as well. In these days of uncertainty these words of the gospel fear not little flock are a call for us to place our trust in God and he will do the rest for us and help us along when we come to the trials and tribulations of our lives.

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