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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “May, 2017”

Ascension

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This weekend we celebrate the feast of the ascension, In many places throughout the world this feast was celebrated last Thursday. Throughout our lives we see the departure of so many people, Perhaps it is a son or daughter leaving for university or maybe it was someone leaving to go to another country or the hardest departure of all someone close to us dying. Our lives are made up of so many different times and places of departure or leave-taking and really that is what Ascension is really about Jesus taking leave of his beloved Apostles. In the Bible when people climbed a mountain they wanted to encounter God. On the mountain top, God would reveal himself to the person. So, the mountain symbolized the place of teaching, revelation, and mission Now, on a mountaintop, he would commission his followers to make disciples of all the nations before ascending to the Father.

The ascension is the completion of Jesus mission on earth. It was also the beginning of the church, however before the disciples begin their mission they must be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus began his public ministry he was filled with the Holy Spirit. So in similar fashion the new church and its leaders needed to be clothed with the Holy Spirit before they began their mission to the world. The programme of redemption and salvation was to begin at Pentecost and continue in every generation until the end of time. So many things have changed in the Church and society since the time of Jesus and the church continues right up until this present moment. The Church continues because two things have not changed they are the person of Jesus and his message. The message of Jesus is ignored by many people inside and outside the Church for many reasons.

Again and again we as people of faith need to ask ourselves what are we doing to make disciples of all the nations remembering  that Jesus and his message are always new for each generation. May we be heralds of faith by the lives we lead as we place the message of Jesus before others by word and example.

6th Sunday of Easter

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This Sunday is the 6th Sunday of Easter it doesn’t seem that  long since Easter Sunday but it is 6 weeks as we  head towards Ascension and Pentecost. Please stop and say a prayer for all the young people who are doing exams during these days. Life for our youngsters is not easy in so many ways and we pray for them that they will get the courage and the strength to go forward.

In the Gospel for this Sunday Jesus promises us the “Paraclete,” or “Advocate.” The word “Paraclete” literally means “one called alongside” indicating one who accompanies another. This can refer to a Lawyer who intercedes for another in a lawsuit, a helper who encourages, or a companion who gives comfort. The Paraclete, or advocate, is the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his ascension, his going to the Father. When he finally leaves He doesn’t leave his followers a detailed plan. Instead, he promised them and us a person, the Holy Spirit, who will never leave our side. This is why he says “I will not leave you orphans.” The Spirit is with us to open our hearts and minds to the fullness of the truth of Jesus’ words, and the commandment he gives to “love one another as I have loved you.”Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure as well as the coming of the one who will replace him on earth, the Holy Spirit.

The second reading is one that I always love to hear as It speaks of us having reverence for God and that we should always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks about the reason for our hope, the reading goes on to tell us to give our answers with gentleness and reverence” What is the answer for our hope simply put the reason for our hope is Jesus Christ the Son of God the Father. If we live for Christ, we will be criticized and many people over the centuries lost their lives for their defence of the faith. Would we be able to stand up and tell those around us the reason that we have for the hope that is within us today? Would we be prepared to stand up for the faith that so many have turned their backs on and point towards Jesus Christ the reason for the hope that we have both these questions are hard  to answer for people of faith in the world we find ourselves these days. If we share our faith with courtesy and respect for others who might not hold our belief then we will find that they will show respect for the things we hold dear as we stand up for the faith we profess wherever we are.  

5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

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The Gospel reading for this Sunday is a story about Jesus and the disciples. He is helping them get ready for his suffering and death. For the apostles this was a huge reversal from the adulation of the entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the despair of the Cross on Good Friday. Remember when he asked them whether they would leave him, along with the rest of the crowd? Now it is he who is leaving. They are stunned. Peter’s reply at that time might have been appropriate now. “Where will we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:67-8) Jesus helps them. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” The straightforward meaning of this directive is, you know how to trust, you do it with God. Use that same trust with me.

This fifth Sunday of Easter tells us that Jesus speaks to us not at us.  His presence is in the word proclaimed in the Assembly of the people of god gathered together in Church.  His word is proclaimed to us in the readings from scripture as well as in lived example of others in the community where we live.  We come to Church week in week out to hear the Word.  We come to share the joys and sufferings of all the community gathered together.  We receive the Body and the Blood of the anointed one, the Christ, risen from the Tomb.  We hear the word while we work in the world through those around us. We don’t stay in Church all the time as the hard pew might well become the soft bed.  We have duties and obligations to family, work and the communities where we live.  We take the Word and Work of the assembled people of God into that life with all its short comings.  The Word of God stays with us because through the death and resurrection of Jesus we receive the Spirit of God  Jesus breathed on the disciples. This breath of the Risen One imparted the Spirit to them and to us.  We are released from sin that harms our spirits and blocks our ears. The Word of God is available to us: we should  open our ears and listen. As the Good Shepherd puts it in the gospel, we will no longer be at risk of either being lost or stolen away by thieves and bandits. On the contrary!  He is both our Good Shepherd and the gate that swings open to bring us to green pastures and a magnificent banquet. So, in fact, the light of the Risen Christ, the one whom Peter today calls ‘the shepherd and guardian of your souls’ will be shining on us and on all whom we love.

When we’re confused about decisions we should make, Jesus Himself will show us the Way. When we don’t know what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, the Holy Spirit through the Church and its members will enlighten us. And when we are drawn into false pleasures that promise us life, Jesus will bring us back to real living and the joy of that life through the power of His love. As we walk along the roads of life let us take up the call of Jesus In the gospel to trust in him and he will not let us down.

4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

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This Sunday we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Easter and we hear the story of the Good Shepherd. The parable that Jesus tells us today seems to be easy to understand: it is the parable of the good shepherd who leads his sheep to pasture. The figure of the good shepherd is very well known. From the very first centuries of the Church, this image was used to represent the Lord when a sacred place was being adorned… However, according to Saint John, it seems that the listeners who were present at the time did not completely understand the exact sense of this parable: “This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.” The flock that he is talking about is the Church and we also think about our priests and the role that they have as shepherds after the heart of Christ. We also remember the vocation of priesthood in a special way today.

The Gospel of the Good Shepherd teaches us how to embrace the gift of redemption by hearing and recognizing the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd. There are so many voices out there calling us to believe and to practice things that might seem nice, but are not truly of or from the Lord. We need to tune our ears and hearts into recognizing the voice of truth that comes from Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Just as Jesus is the Good Shepherd, we have the call to be Good Sheep. Men and women who are able to recognize the voice of the Lord and to faithfully follow him.

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