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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “November, 2017”

THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

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This Sunday  is the last Sunday of the liturgical year as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Before parents leave the house they usually give parting instructions to their children: “Don’t fight. Don’t turn on the stove. Don’t let a stranger in, etc.” In a way, that’s what this Sundays readings are, important reminders for us as we close this liturgical year. The theme of the kingship of Christ should not be misunderstood. Jesus is not king in an earthly sense of the word. The acclamations of the crowds that took place and the enthusiastic endorsement of the disciples that Jesus is the Messiah might mislead us. Jesus is king; Jesus is Messiah, because he is the anointed one of God, who comes to do the will of God.The gospel parable of the last judgment picks up on the king and shepherd themes. At the end time Jesus, the Shepherd King, will return and surrounded by his retinue of angels, will judge the nations. He will share his glory with those he finds worthy. Will he find us to be worthy of his call to be with him forever?

If we are serious about our Christianity, if we are committed to the Kingdom of God, then we will be living lives of sacrificial love, the love of Jesus Christ. To take Christ as our Shepherd involves becoming a shepherd to others making Christ present to them by reaching out showing the faith and leading them along the path of faith if they aren’t already there. The kingdom of Christ, a reign of charity and peace, is for all of us where ever we are. We remember that the Kingdom of God exists in every home where parents and children love each other. It exists in every region and country that cares for its weak and vulnerable people. It exists in every parish that reaches out to the needy with a helping hand. This very moment in our history and our lives presents us with a challenge and a choice. We can hear the Lord’s call in the presence of other’s needs. Or, we can turn away. Still there is hope in the grace God offers. Our past selfish ways can be overcome.  Now is the time for  conversion of heart and mind as we look to the season of Advent. Now is the time to give ourselves to the work God and his kingdom where all are valued and no one is left behind.

May all of us take up the challenge that the feast of Christ the King gives us. That challenge is to reach out to others showing them that the ways of Jesus are what we as Christians are really all about instead of being selfish and self-centred people which all of us can be at times.

 

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33rd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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This week in our parish we remembered all those who had passed on during in our annual Mass for  those who died during the year and we prayed with and for their families and friends. We pray for all the dead during November and we remember in a special way all those who have no one to pray for or remember them. We also remember all the members of our own families who have died that all of them our friends relatives and all  those we don’t know at all will rest in the peace of the love of god.

Our reading from the Gospel for this weekend  is about the servant and his one talent. The parable speaks first of the Master’s trust in his servants. While he goes away he leaves them with his money to use as they think best. While there were no strings attached, this was obviously a test to see if the Master’s workers would be industrious and reliable in their use of the money entrusted to them. The master rewards those who are industrious and faithful and he punishes those who sit idly by and who do nothing with his money. The essence of the parable seems to lie in the servants’ conception of responsibility. Each servant entrusted with the master’s money was faithful up to a certain point.

The servant who buried the master’s money was irresponsible. One can bury seeds in the ground and expect them to become productive because they obey natural laws. Coins, however, do not obey natural laws. They obey economic laws and become productive in circulation. The master expected his servants to be productive in the use of his money. If we stop and substitute the money aspect of the parable with the word faith then we get to what the parable is really about and it tells us that faith is a real and wonderful gift from God that should be treasured. Faith is also given to us according to our ability to deal with it; each in proportion to his ability, as it says in the parable. But the most important aspect of the Parable is that the Master will eventually return and the big question is will we be ready for his return? Paul assures us, ” The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.” This is a wake-up call to alert us to stop relying on false security, while missing the ways that Jesus comes into our lives and they are many.  Sometimes we feel God’s blessing. Sometimes we feel he is away out there in the distance. There are even times God may feel like the enemy. We enjoy times of intimacy as graced moments. But in all the moments of our lives  we should try to realize that in times of distance and estrangement God offers us his life.

The Gospel parable about the talents, and Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians both tell us to be at peace with ourselves in heart and mind, for if we are doing the Lord’s work there is nothing to fear. So let us be fearless in our living out the gospel in our lives where we are and remember that even in our darkest times God is near to those who love him.

32ND SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

 

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At the beginning of this week there was  a programme on the Irish TV channel RTE which paid tribute to a number of people who have been married for 50 years. my own mother and fathers would have been married 58 years had my dad survived. The theme of our readings this weekend is not marriage though the Gospel story is about the bridegroom and his attendants. Instead the readings point us towards something very different that is the gift of Wisdom. The first reading  taken from the Book of Wisdom cites watchfulness as the key to a faithful understanding of wisdom according to St. Bernard wisdom lights up the mind and instils an attraction to the divine.  The author of the Book of Wisdom reminds us that we have one unfailing presence to guide us through our lives that is Wisdom. We are told Watch for her early and you will have no trouble; you will find her sitting at your gates. She is “resplendent and unfading;” always there for those who seek her out.

The Gospel story for this Sunday is about an oil crisis in the Middle East it tells us about the five bridesmaids who didn’t buy extra lamp oil they were foolish because they weren’t prepared for the late arrival of the bridegroom. On the other hand the story flags up the wisdom of the five wise bridesmaids who were prepared for the late arrival of the bridegroom as they went out and bought more oil for their lamps. Their wisdom wasn’t extraordinary, but eminently practical. It is true that it is difficult, or impossible, to estimate the quantity of oil necessary to keep a lamp lit as we await the bridegroom for an unknown length of time! In this story the Lamp is our faith and how we live our faith is the oil. This Gospel calls us to seize the moment and direct our lives guided by the wisdom that God gives us through the life and teachings of Jesus. What we experience is the routine of work, school, and various activities, rushed family meals, television, the news on the car radio, shopping, visiting elderly parents, friends and family, church services, etc. It can feel so predictable. But the routine of our daily lives  can also be shattered by the unexpected and sudden demands life puts on us and our loved ones. Will we be ready to respond? It depends on how well we have tended to our “oil” supply.

If we have squandered it by neglect, or missed opportunities to get more oil for our lamps then when we look for backup in a moment of crisis, like the bridesmaids we may be left with the sound of the slamming door being locked as the bridegroom tells us I don’t know who you are you are too late. Only those who were ready went in with the bridegroom to the wedding. When God calls us, will we be ready?

31st SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

Lent Devotional

 

In our world these days we hear a lot about FAKE NEWS indeed this week the Collins English Dictionary editors have included the definition of Fake news immortalised by President Trump in their updated dictionary. Having said all of that our Readings this weekend  are all about fake leadership in the gospel for this Sunday Jesus warns against this kind of leadership. The atmosphere of hostility towards the religious leaders of Judaism is evident in this Gospel reading. The scribes and Pharisees are presented as bad examples of religious leadership, not to be followed by leaders of the Christian community. Jesus is presented as engaging in violent caricature, arousing the crowds to condemn the scribes and Pharisees. It is a tense and angry scene in which Jesus makes sweeping generalisations: “Everything they do is done to attract attention…”. Obviously, there were many scribes and Pharisees who were upright and extremely holy men. Matthew is warning against attitudes and practices which are not peculiar to any religious group. The scribes and Pharisees happen to serve as useful examples – especially since at the time of writing they represent the religious leadership opposed to Matthew’s church and the style of leadership Matthew is opposed to within his church.

Authority in any organisation, the Church included, is meant to be a gift. It is meant to be shown in loving service in  support of others, not in domination and control. It’s just not good enough to make people simply comply and obey. People may do that on the outside, while on the inside they are seething with rage and resentment which always boils over. The challenge for all church people is to get others onside, to win their hearts and minds, to persuade and convince them that this or that is the right thing to do in the various situations of life. Again and again in his teaching Jesus insists that we must not dominate, lord it over, or oppress others! He teaches over and over that God invites, calls, attracts and charms, rather than controls, directs, and regulates! He teaches too that the greatest in any group are those who love and serve the others! Jesus challenges us along the way of humility because, whether we are mindful of it or not, as baptised Christians we represent Christ in the world of today. How we present ourselves is how we represent him. Jesus challenges those who believe in him because he has high expectations of us.  Even though the Gospel for this Sunday is addressed to the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, it is also addressed to all of us who call ourselves disciples of the Lord.  

We must be willing to put everything behind us that prevents us from living in the humble way that Jesus modelled for us. The true style of any Christian must reflect the style and life of Christ, the servant of God. Matthew is unambiguous about Christian leadership: if it is not humble service, it is fake. So today as we reflect on the various things that are so called Fake News let us remember that we are called to be the agents of the Good News of Jesus Christ where we are and not be afraid to pass the good news on.

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