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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “September, 2016”

26TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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Our gospel story for this Sunday tells us about two people, a rich man and a poor man. The first detail we have concerns the rich man’s wardrobe: he dresses in purple and fine linen, an outfit which was similar to that worn by the high priest. He feasts magnificently – not once a week, but every day – a figure of massive self-indulgence. The rich man is wealthy in clothes and food; he is also rich in privilege and  freedom he is free from the worry that besets those who are poor even though he was poorer than the poorest man because of the way he lived his life. You can imagine Lazarus praying: “Give us this day our daily bread.” But he didn’t get  a crumb. You cannot imagine the rich man praying, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Because the privilege he has hides his responsibilities from him; it blinds him to the man who lies at his own gate.

The poor man is of course Lazarus who is covered in sores. Lying at the gate of the house, Lazarus can see the traffic that is heading for the rich man’s table. Both men eventually died as all of us will. Lazarus went straight to heaven to a state of endless happiness. His bodily sufferings have ended forever, he will never be in want again. On the other hand the rich man fares very differently. His enjoyments are over. He is now in torments of Hades and he is told that he can expect no relief. Abraham tells him why he is in his present state: he abused his time on earth he acted as though there would be no judgment day of course there was and he sees the truth of this. He knows that he has no one to blame but himself which adds to his torment. It is also a cause of additional grief to him that his bad example will lead his brothers that is his fellowmen to a similar fate.

All the parables of our Lord are based on everyday happenings. While we hope and pray that the case of the rich man described here is not an everyday occurrence, there is no doubt that such cases have happened and will happen again. This rich man is not in eternal torments because he was rich and even very rich. He is in eternal torment because he let his wealth become his master and forgot God and his neighbor and his own real welfare that is eternal life. There are people like the rich man in our world today, men and women young and old who completely ignore their real future. While they know that their stay on this earth is of very short duration and that they will have to leave it they still act and live as if they had a permanent home here. There is a lovely scripture verse that tells us that when the tent of our earthly dwelling is folded up we will come to our true home in heaven and this is so true.

For all of us today there is a simple question are we going to be like the rich man and ignore those around us who are the Lazarus’s of our own world. The rich man did nothing to Lazarus, but he was not innocent. There are times when our lack of action is our crime think of how we react to The homeless, the refugees or those who don’t have enough daily bread. All of them all worthy of our thoughts our prayers and our resources. Christ, shared his riches with everyone we should do the same and not be like the so called rich man in the gospel story!!!

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25TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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Our gospel story for this Sunday tells us about the rich Man and his dishonest steward. The steward who looked after his master’s estates is accused of wasting his employer’s goods; he is dismissed, but before he goes he must submit the final account of his stewardship.  In this time of crisis the steward takes firm and immediate action to ensure his own future. He is praised not for his dishonesty, but for his resourcefulness in coping with an emergency with such speed. If a dishonest man can use his employer’s money to ensure there will be people to welcome him when he’s out of a job, how much more should honest people use their money in such a way that they will be welcomed into the kingdom of God when they arrive there. This parable invites us to examine our use of material possessions. One of the central themes in Luke’s gospel is the suspicion Jesus conveys towards worldly wealth.

Material things can divert our attention and in some cases they can take the place of what truly matters in life. These particular words of Jesus are a warning to those who follow him on the road to heaven, the warning is that we shouldn’t be the slaves of earthly things and this is applicable to all of us. Most of us may feel that this warning is for millionaires and business magnates. Our Lord didn’t say who he was warning and his words at all times are meant for all of us. What Jesus warned against was not the just acquisition of this world’s goods but their unjust acquisition, and the dishonest use of them when they were justly acquired. There are wealthy people in Luke’s gospel who seem to follow the thrust of the parable and make wise use of their time, their talents and their wealth. They use their possessions to serve Jesus as sons and daughters of God.

Stirred by teachings like today’s gospel story  they decided to act quickly and decisively when occasions arise to help others and journey with them in their time of need. This gospel story gives us an example of someone who knew what he had to do in a crisis situation and Jesus asks all of us to remember no matter what situations we might find ourselves in that we shouldn’t become slaves to the processions or wealth that we might have and that we shouldn’t be afraid to use whatever our resources are for the good of everyone especially those in need.

24TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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This Sunday the 11th of September, is the day when we remember all those who lost their lives in the World Trade Centre atrocity which took place in 2001. Fifteen years on all of us who were around at that time remember exactly where we were on that fateful day as the events unfolded on the TV before our eyes.Disbelief at how this had happened and wondering about what would happen next were the order of that life changing day. The question we need to ask ourselves at this time has to be what have we as individuals learned from this event and are we safer in our day to day living as a result of the actions of our governments after 9/11. I’m not really sure that I know the answer but I do know that we need to continue to pray and work for peace in our world, our countries, our hearts and minds

In this Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of Luke we hear the story of the Prodigal Son. This story is all about the mercy of God for all of us. It is also about us looking for the mercy of the father while not being afraid to say that we were wrong or afraid to say sorry. At times the steps necessary for our walk back to the Fathers house may seem too arduous for us and we hesitate even to make the first move. Perhaps it is only when we see, like the Prodigal Son, that we are then willing to rouse ourselves to say sorry and to take the path that leads to the merciful embrace of our heavenly Father. When we make even the slightest effort with God’s grace, it is then we see the Father waiting at the door to embrace us and welcome us back home. Rejection of the love and presence of his father, in the communion of life and love as a family, was a terrible choice for the prodigal son. He desired things over people, his share of the inheritance in preference to a life in communion with the father who and loved him. Let us remember that God our father celebrates every time that we return to him.   The tax collectors and sinners did not come to hear the Pharisees and scribes, because they knew that they would find only judgment not mercy. They came to hear Jesus, because he was happy that they wanted to change their lives.  God does not give up.  He will not give up on us, calling us to him personally seeking us out individually. Nor does He give up on anyone, even those who have been far from the him. Even today Jesus calls us all to join in the joy of His Presence in the blessed sacrament and the joy of the banquet of the lord in the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. 

The return of those who have had been away is a time for celebration.  Maybe some sin or other thing in life convinced them to leave the warmth of the family of god. The cause of leaving no longer matters what matters is the fact is that many who have left are beginning to come back  and we need to welcome them with open arms as the father welcomed the prodigal who had come to his senses and realized the big mistake that he had made. In the Old Testament the mercy of God was something that you had to beg for but in the New Testament the mercy and love of god are freely given and available to all. The mercy of God is there for our benefit as long as we have the breath of life in us. The coming of the Son of God on earth, His teaching, His sufferings and death, His resurrection were all accomplished for us, so that we share the joy of heaven. In the meantime may we show the mercy of God to others as he has shown his mercy to us.

 

23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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This Sunday we celebrate the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time it is a time for new beginnings with the youngsters going back to school or college and their  parents breathing a big sigh of relief that the long holidays are now at an end. Many of us have the feeling that time is passing by so very quickly. You know just how quickly life is going by when your nephew at 24 years of age  is complaining about his life just running past him such is the life of so many both Young and Old time is just passing by all of us. In our Gospel for this Sunday Luke tells us that Jesus is not addressing those he called to follow him, his disciples. Instead, he is speaking to those who might be thinking about following him. Earlier when someone had such a notion he said to Jesus, “I will be your follower wherever you go” (9:57). Jesus responded to, what sounds like, a person caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment, with a stark reminder, “the foxes have lairs, the birds of the sky have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (9:58).

This is a sobering reminder  to all of us about what it will mean to follow the one who has “nowhere to lay his head.”  The cost of discipleship might mean detachment from one’s previous world and way of living. Jesus is asking total loyalty to him and many have shown that loyalty by giving their lives in defense of the faith. Jesus used examples from his world; a farmer’s lookout tower, a king and his army marching into battle. We would use different examples for life’s challenges – but we get the point.

Have we considered what Christ’s invitation to follow him involves? Are we realistic about the personal costs investing our whole selves will require? Are we willing to use our strength and resources to fulfill the promises we have made in faith? Even more to the point: have we heard his most direct challenge, “Whoever does not carry his/her own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” How costly is that! To be willing to carry a cross, an instrument of sacrifice and death; willing to accept pain and loss of our own lives to respond to Jesus’ invitation to discipleship.

Who among us hasn’t stumbled, or even failed in our calling as disciples? We have chosen comfort over sacrifice. We have been still, when we should have spoken up. We prefer diversions, rather than learning more about our faith. We have existed on the edge of our church community, rather than given time and resources to help build it up. Have we compromised on the call to follow Christ and the sacrifices that call requires? At some point on many things faith and otherwise we have compromised. That’s why we begin Mass with the penitential rite, in which we acknowledge our failings. We can say with Peter, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful person.” But the emphasis isn’t on our sin; it’s on the mercy of God, as we pray, “Lord have mercy.” We struggle to do the best we can, and when we don’t, instead of pulling back in shame, we come together as a community that surrenders in trust to God’s mercy Especially during this Year of Mercy. Following Christ is a life changing journey. We have a limited time in which to complete this journey. Therefore, we must travel a certain distance each day. This does not mean that we must spend every day in prayer and meditation.

There are other tasks to be done, but we must Christianize these other tasks. Even the members of religious orders who “leave the world,” that is, who are set free from the family and financial cares of this world by their vows of chastity and poverty, have to busy themselves with other cares like teaching, nursing, tilling the soil perhaps, house-keeping, writing and many such activities.  They cannot and do not spend all their day and every day in prayer and meditation. Nor does Christ demand this of them. Jesus tells us that Discipleship is costly and not something we can take casually. It’s not easy to follow Christ. But we are not on our own. When we fail, Christ is by our side ready to respond to our plea, “Lord have mercy.”Nor are we on our own as we attempt to make big sacrifices in Jesus’ name. Rather, Jesus has given us with the Holy Spirit who is ever ready to guide us more and more into a fuller response to the invitation each of us has heard through our baptism, “Come follow me.” Let us not be afraid to follow where Jesus calls us to be.

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