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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “July, 2017”

17TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

17th

Well here we are at the last weekend of July and the summer holidays are now at the half way stage. I’m sure there are many parents out there wondering when will the long holidays end it will be no time until the beginning of the new school year in September. Last weekend in the parishes in all the dioceses throughout Ireland a special collection was taken up for Trocaire the Irish Catholic Churches international aid organization to help with their  work in East Africa. In my home parish over £15,000 was raised once again it seems to me that when people are given a chance to help others they take it and give much of the treasure they have.

In this Sundays Gospel we hear the story of the treasure hidden in the field . The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field or a pearl of great price. When its great value is recognized, one gladly does all that is necessary to obtain it. The kingdom of heaven is also like a net that collects all sorts of fish. Just as the useless fish are thrown away, at the end of the age the wicked will be rejected. To members of the Kingdom means to share our knowledge of it with others.

 To truly believe in Christ means leading other people to the same knowledge by what we say and do; for secret faith is no faith at all. We should be happy to bring out of the house that is our life all kinds of treasures to share with our neighbours. But these treasures are not physical things but attitudes spiritual and otherwise that are virtues like love and justice and truth and hope and so on. What we bring out from our treasure store are the values of the Kingdom, the attitudes of Jesus and the knowledge of the one true God. God loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to leave us that way. He wants us to become treasure for other people so that they can discover the faith which is the pearl of great price the treasure hidden in the fields of our hearts.

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16th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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This weekend the holiday season is in full swing and we are almost at the end of July!! Time is certainly passing by leaving all of us wondering where exactly it has gone.

This Sunday we hear the reading from Chapter 23 of St. Matthews gospel, the story is the parable of the darnel in the field the seed and the weeds. In the parable of the wheat and weeds, Jesus recognized good’s co-existence with evil. He also held out the hope that the Kingdom would right all wrongs. I think that there is the potential in each of us to be either wheat or darnel that is good and bad. We often say ‘wouldn’t life be easier if everything were black and white’ as if there are ‘totally good people’ and ‘totally evil people’. Of course life is never that simple. If we are really honest nothing is ever that straightforward to be black and white. We need to ask ourselves Who are we called to be in a world where weeds and seeds grow side by side and we often find it hard to distinguish the difference between them. As people of faith we have to constantly ask ourselves : Should we hide from the messiness and make religion a privatized personal relationship with God? Should we insulate ourselves – sharing with those we think are worthy of our love, deciding who is worthy? Where is God in all this concern, worry and judgment? If we pray about these three questions and our problems and those of others we will see god is there in the middle of everything and his hand will guide us and as a result we will be the seeds that flourish and not the weeds that die.

Jesus used parables to challenge his audience to think and he uses the parables in our world of today to challenge all of us to make us think as well. In truth and charity we must speak to others and teach them about the great responsibility they have to choose either Life or Death to be weeds or seeds .All of us have the power to freely choose Him or to reject Him. May we see the seeds of the Kingdom of Heaven grow and flourish in our midst .Our calling then is to participate as best we can in building up a world where God is King! God will decide on its membership, not us and he will guide us along the roads that lead to Salvation and he will help us to be the seeds that flourish

15th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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The parable of the sower and the seed that we hear this weekend shocked Jesus’ audience as it seemed to be wasteful planting. Ancient people saw waste as an abuse of the rich. When they discussed economics, most ancient people agreed on two points. First, there was only a limited amount of wealth in the world. Second, God willed the distribution of that wealth within a rigid social class system. The rich five percent of the population held ninety percent of the wealth and the poor battled for survival. The bulk of the details in this gospel reading are about wasted effort and lost seed at least wasted effort and lost seed is what seemed to be at first glance. Why wasn’t the sower more careful, after all farmers were poor and the seed was precious? Sometimes, we wonder if all our efforts and words are worth it when things are falling down around us with so many people going their own way and doing their own thing with little regard to things of god.

But if we stop for a moment and think about it anything done for God in faith is never lost. Very often the things that happen  in our lives don’t seem to make sense but when we look at the problems that arise with eyes of faith we see that things around us are the way they are meant to be for the good of everybody. Do good and poor soil both exist in the same person I think that it most probably does much in the same way that a person can be good or bad. Is there something we might say that will land on the interior good soil in a person and bear the “hundredfold, or sixty or thirtyfold” as Jesus promises only God knows but we have to try to be the sower on Gods behalf and he will do the rest. The message of Jesus may not always be welcome especially in our modern world were faith and religion are constantly under assault by those who oppose anyone with a faith based outlook on life. That said we still have to sow the seed of faith by what we do and say and then we leave the rest up to God our efforts are never wasted and we don’t always see the fruit of the seed that is sown.

There are seeds of faith which we have planted in the past  that have yielded abundant harvest and there are also seeds that we have planted that produced little or no harvest. In some cases, life affords us the opportunity to replant and at other times, the opportunity to plant only comes once. In my lifetime I have been surprised by so many people and their stories of faith. How they have come to God by the planting of that small seed and how they have stayed there when they found him. Our God is a God of surprises and our faith has many surprises as well. So let us look and see and let us listen as we hear the story of the sower and the abundant harvest that came from the seeds that he had sown and not be afraid to live our lives by faith and share the harvest of gods love with other people.

 

14TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

 

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Well here we are getting into the holiday mood with all the opportunities that this time of year provide. While many people will be taking the time to get away we spare a thought for all those who may not get away for a break this year. This weekend in our Parish community we thank God for the life of a pivotal member of our music ministry Mark Mooney who died suddenly last weekend we pray that god will give him eternal peace in heaven and give consolation to his relatives and friends who are left wondering why.

One of the most wonderful things about the person of Jesus has been and continues to be, his special love for ordinary people ­ for people like us with all our faults and failings. It comes out in a particular way within the two statements that he makes in this Sundays Gospel reading. The first is in his prayer to God: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.’ The second is in his Invitation to all of us: ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.’  Why did he say this? The answer comes across very clearly so many times in the gospels, and may be summed up in just one word – COMPASSION. For example: – The plight and tears of the widow of Nain touches his heart to the core: ‘Don’t cry,’ he says to her, before bringing her son back to life.  He is moved with compassion at the plight of a leper begging for help (Mk 4:41), for two blind men sitting at the side of a road and pleading for mercy (Mt 20:29-34), and for a crowd of people with nothing to eat (Mk 8:2). In each case he responds to their sufferings with the power, love, compassion and care of God. To be a Christian and to have the light of faith to guide our steps in the neo-pagan darkness of today’s world, is a gift, and a blessing from God, for which we can never thank Him enough.  So, in the here And now of our daily lives  the big question for each of us has to be whose side are we on? Are we  on the side of Jesus, that is the side of compassion, kindness, help, healing, and mercy? Or on the side of the scribes and Pharisees who are  amongst us even today  and they are – fierce, fault-finding, heartless, critical, and merciless people without much compassion. Will we take our cue from their cruel, harsh, and insensitive judgements and actions? Or will we take our inspiration from what we see in Jesus, and from his touching  compassionate outreach to the poor and the broken:  ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest’?

13TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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Here we are at the start of July and the beginning of the summer holidays. Here in Northern Ireland the schools will be closed for the next 2 months and by the end of that time the parents will be ready for the asylum. So these days spare a thought for all those parents out there who are wondering what they will do with the youngsters over the next few weeks. We were lucky as we had our granny to go to down the country and the cousins etc. were there so times were great during the summertime for us but for many the summer holidays can be a difficult time.

In our Gospel story for this Sunday we are reminded that  The priority of faith demanded radical consequences for early Christians. At that time extended closely-knit families formed the basis of society, a choice for a follower of Christ could mean a rejection of the family’s faith and values. Jesus reminded his followers that the Christian life involved many risks and one could not compromise or hide these risks away a believer could not placate his or her family if the cost threatened faith. The people of the day thought that No, faith could involve such an extreme choice.

Either the relationship with family took priority or the relationship with Jesus took the number one slot it seemed that both could not go together.  Even though they had only a very vague idea then of what he meant, when the time came, they remembered Jesus  words and gladly suffered imprisonment, hardships, and finally martyrdom for Christ.  This shows how the resurrection of Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on them, changed them from worldly weaklings into fearless heroes. They had become convinced that Christ was the Son of God their saviour who had come on earth to bring all men to heaven. Through time they came to realize how unimportant, the few years of the earthly life that we have were compared to the eternal life of bliss to follow.  Today, too, there are still those who are suffering a lingering martyrdom, worse than quick death on the scaffold, because they obey God rather than man. We can help them to persevere, by our prayers. We ourselves, who are free from any overt persecution, must show our gratitude to God for being allowed to practice our religion openly and without fear. As well as carrying out our own personal duties, we must remember the spiritual needs of our fellowmen. They, too, need to get to heaven and anything less will be eternal disaster for them.

We may not be able to preach, or teach them the truth of the Christian faith, but we can and must help all those who are doing so by our prayers and how we lead our lives when we try to live according to our Catholic faith. We are here in this world for a few short years, our real and lasting home is in heaven. We must keep this thought uppermost in our minds, in all our dealings with others and then by our example we will lead others whose faith may not be as strong to their eternal homeland as well.

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