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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “March, 2017”

4th SUNDAY OF LENT

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This Sunday our gospel is the story of the blind man, in this story we have another example of God’s choice, one which confuses the religious leaders of the day. John’s beautifully crafted story tells how a blind man comes to see the light in Jesus, both physically and spiritually. When Jesus’ disciples first see the blind man they presume that his affliction is a result of sin. But Jesus sees in the blind man something else: this roadside beggar who has always inhabited a world of darkness will be the one to display the work of God and point to who Jesus really is. If we are to really see clearly, we need to let Jesus heal us of our blindness  and open our eyes as He did the man born blind in this weekend’s Gospel.  This is a challenging gospel story for all of us even today because so many people are spiritually blind. It is possible that the places and things we think we are seeing clearly are not as clear as they should be. Remember that the ones, who were 100% sure they knew what was going on, the Pharisees, were blind to God. They were religious experts, like many other experts they missed the truth staring them in the face. The one who is turning their world upside down was the Son of God who was trying to open their eyes and send them along the right road. There are many things that raise questions and upset our routines these may be the very places God is trying to open our eyes and give us the vision to set things right for our lives. The story of the blind man getting his  sight gives us an opportunity to pause and ask ourselves:  How well do I see? Do I see what is really going on in my life? Has the road I have taken made me lose my way? Are things happening to me that make me trip up and stumble like a person walking and groping in the dark? We need to ask ourselves: what is blurring our spiritual vision these days?

What’s dulling our appreciation of life and gods place within it? As we remember the Blind spots in our own lives we also remember that faith always remains a choice we make that helps us to see with great clarity of vision. When we choose to trust in God and believe in what he reveals to us, we exercise our freedom to believe. Our minds and wills freely cooperate with God’s grace. Faith is not and can never be an act coerced by God or others. Faith in God and each other is a journey which takes along many roads and the road we are called to follow during Lent is the road that leads us to Jesus the light of the world at Easter. The question we should ask ourselves this weekend is this: will we continue to be blind or will we let our faith in God heal the blindness of our lives and our world?

3rd Sunday of Lent 2017

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As we continue our journey of prayer for lent we come to the 3rd Sunday and our gospel story for this weekend tells us about the woman at the well.  What a surprise it must have been to the Samaritan woman, when Jesus, tired, hungry and thirsty, asks her for a drink of water! He broke all the rules in speaking to her and as we know Jesus didn’t let the rules get in the way when he saw an opportunity to make a difference to someone and the life they are leading. Jesus suggests that He can give her living water that is far superior to anything she had ever tasted. We presume she was no stranger to intoxication, power, and money! Jesus offers this woman spiritual grace that is living water. Finding her heart curious and open to this miraculous water, He proceeds to raise her vision. He asks her to go back and bring her husband to the well with her. Of course, this is the turning point of the story. When He confronts her with the truth, she could have flounced off in righteous indignation and denial as many people do when confronted with the truth of their lives but she doesn’t run away.

In true humility, she accepts the reality of her life. Because of her humility, Jesus floods her soul with grace. Lent is a time for us to let Jesus satisfy our thirst for the truth. Like the Samaritan  woman, we too have tried the all kinds of water to quench our thirst for happiness, satisfaction, and peace of mind without really finding it. Lent   is the time for us to find real joy and satisfaction of letting the Lord fill us with grace in order to fully enjoy the season of Easter. We will find that our joy from that comes from the well of salvation the living water is greatest when we share the gift of salvation with others by really listening to them, praying from the heart in a quiet place, reflecting on the Word privately or at daily Mass, and letting the Eucharist change us into the Body of Christ.  The Samaritan woman at the well reminds all of us who doubt, or struggle with faith that we should take encouragement to stay in the conversation with Christ. The Woman at the well  came looking for physical water and found Jesus, the “living water,” who would quench her thirsty spirit. One of the responses for the psalms of the Easter vigil sums up what this gospel is really about  it tells us with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation May we find joy at the well of salvation which is Jesus Christ, the lining water of salvation.

2ND SUNDAY OF LENT

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This weekend we are continuing our Lenten journey and hopefully the  various  aspects of penance alms giving and fasting that we are undertaking are not too hard. This Sundays gospel story is about the Transfiguration. This momentary vision of Christ, in his glory, was given in order to strengthen the three Apostles Peter James and John  to face the trials to their faith which the sufferings and crucifixion of their beloved master would bring to them. For the very same reason this Gospel is retold to us today, in the early part of Lent so that we will strengthen our resolve to keep our faith.  The Father of Jesus told the apostles “This is my Son, the Beloved; with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” What is so important about listening to Jesus? Wouldn’t we rather have the spectacular vision as a sign of God’s presence in our lives of course we would. We live such regular, ordinary lives most of the time and such a vision might help us get stirred up and enthusiastic again. Well it’s not really about the big splash, or the spectacular vision on the mountain, instead its all about listening to Jesus and hearing what he is saying to us in our own time and place.

 

To really listen to anyone with your heart is a  hard thing to do sometimes we have to listen to someone going on about something that is or at least seems to be complete rubbish to us but is really important for the person telling their story. Listening to Jesus means not just hearing his words, but listening  to everything his life and his story tells us about how we should  live our lives as a children of God. There are many people out there who hear the story and pay it lips service but don’t take it to heart. Jesus, trusted completely in His Father’s plan for him with faith that recognized his dependence on his Father. This is the same sort of faith that you and I are asked to embrace during lent and throughout our lives. For us in 2017 this gospel asks us to listen to Jesus words and bring them into our lives so that by our words and actions we will be able to transform and transfigure our own lives and the lives of those around us.

1st SUNDAY OF LENT

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Last Wednesday we put the ashes on our foreheads and began our annual observance of lent after the Ashes comes 40 days of hard work. So what’s so special about the number forty in scripture?  Let me explain a little forty is a biblical length of time that represents the period of purification before a momentous change. After forty days on Mt. Sinai, Moses was ready to receive the ten commandments. He descended the mountain with the tablets of the ten commandments and they were a sure way for the Hebrews to live as God’s people. Forty years later, their children and grandchildren would enter the Promised Land as people who had faith in God, not like their parents and grandparents whose faith wavered. And so  for this year we begin our forty days of Lent, looking forward to momentous change as we spiritually renew ourselves by fasting, undertaking charitable works and Alms giving in preparation for Holy Week and Easter. In our Gospel reading for this Sunday we hear about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by the devil. The temptations of Jesus begin with something that seemed so harmless, providing bread for his hunger and ended with the devil showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour then telling Jesus that he could have all of them if he acknowledged the tempter or the evil one.  

As we know that didn’t happen as Jesus reply to these temptations from the devil was Be off, Satan! Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ and You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’ There are many temptations in our lives these days and they often begin with something small that then leads onwards to something big. Often the temptation is that we  question our relationship with God and everyone else. Fortunately for us, not only did Jesus resist the temptations in the dessert, his ultimate victory over sin and death are also our victory. We can hold on  to this and find strength from Jesus victory during our own difficulties and we all have these from time to time. On Ash Wednesday the ashes were used as a sign of our desire to “turn away from sinful ways  and to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel,” Lent is a time for us to remember who and what we are, sons and daughters of God created in his image and likeness.   After forty days in the desert, Jesus was strengthened to do battle with the Tempter. Over  the forty days of Lent, we are empowered to join the Lord in fighting off evil in our lives and our world. During these days we are called to fast and pray with the desire to draw closer to God who draws close to all those who call upon him with faith.  

So as we continue our Lenten journey over the next few weeks our call is to have the same confidence that Jesus had in the face of temptation so that we can make the changes in our own lives so we will be able to face up whatever temptations we come across in our lives.

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