In our Gospel reading for this Sunday we see Jesus taking the road to Jerusalem. The story tells us that some people said that they would follow Jesus, these people really meant what they said until positive action is required. Then commitments and questions arise one man wanted to bury his father another wanted to say goodbye to the folks at home. Jesus reply to the first man was’ Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’ Then Jesus tells the second man’ Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ Jesus Christ sets us free. We need to treasure this freedom. We need to treasure our lives in Him. But this takes courage. This takes determination. We cannot just say we are Christian. We have to be determined to live the Christian life. We are followers of Jesus who want to live our lives according to his teaching. We are committed, inspired and determined but we all seem to have so called ‘special circumstances’ where being a Christian doesn’t apply!! perhaps we have special reasons for not praying or going to Sunday Mass, we just have to do something else first. – perhaps we have special reasons for ignoring the call to justice, mercy and compassion for the vulnerable we just have to secure our own place in the world first perhaps we have special reasons for disrespecting our neighbour, or family or friends .The truth is that there are no special reasons to put off being a follower of Jesus: we either are or we are not. The wonderful thing is that we are not trapped by the past at every moment we can choose again to return to follow Jesus. In this time, in these circumstances when our faith is getting a battering in so many ways we can ask for the grace to take one step on the road to Jerusalem, and another and we will get there in the end but we have to keep on going.
On Monday 24th June we celebrate the feast day of Saint John the Baptist and it is a good opportunity to stop for a moment or two and reflect on our Order and what we do within it.
John the Baptist is of special importance for followers of Christ. He was chosen before birth to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. A desert prophet, he was outstanding for vigour, discipline and humility. In the Gospels the Baptist plays a unique roll He is the first witness who leads other people to Jesus. The same Jesus who he identifies as the messiah, the Son of God. The readings of this feast alert us to the wonder of humanity as God’s created work. The selection from Isaiah captures two unique aspects of John’s birth: from my mother’s womb he gave me my name” and “formed me as his servant.” At a most unexpected time and in a most unexpected way God brought mercy to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Although these two cooperated with God’s plan of salvation and gave John the name they were asked to by the angel, little could they have known that his destiny was so much more than bringing vindication to an elderly couple who were childless.
John’s destiny was to herald the Messiah of Israel who would bring salvation. It is impossible to speak of John’s birth without noting his fidelity to his mission and his relationship to the Messiah. John the Baptist’s birth and mission remind us that God is always there amongst us especially in the poor and the sick. Being a caring and sharing individual within society means that we should give ourselves selflessly without hesitation to people who need us without counting the cost this is what true service means. Service of others should be taken as a privilege compassion and gentleness are valuable strengths which should be willingly and freely given to others and that is exactly what our service as members of the Order of Malta should be. Being a member of the Order of Malta is so much more than wearing the Church robes or the uniform put simply it is a way of life that is rooted in the faith that we profess as Catholics. Our vocation then, is to challenge the injustice of our times in our service to the Poor and the sick, to embrace the Catholic faith to which we are called and defend it when necessary and point people towards Jesus Christ the only source of true life who will be with us to guide us along the road that leads to salvation.
This Sunday we celebrate Trinity Sunday, which is the celebration of the Father, Son and Holy spirit the three equal persons that make up the Holy Trinity. When we make the sign of the cross we say In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit which is the invocation of the Holy Trinity. The feast of Holy Trinity goes back to 12th century England and St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Historians say the great Thomas celebrated a Liturgy in honor of the Trinity in his cathedral. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church. One week after the end of the Easter season, in which we gave thanks for the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.
The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to contemplate the mystery of God Father Son and Holy Spirit. Paul in the Letter to the Romans reminds us that the Spirit of God makes us God’s children, destined to share in the life of God, as Christ does. The gospel reading speaks of the power of presence and the power of the name. Ancient people placed great weight in presence; the way someone dressed and acted spoke of social power. Ancient people also chose names carefully; they believed a person’s name defined their strength of character.
Both outward presence and inward character are part of the disciples’ experience. When the followers of Jesus saw the resurrected Lord and heard his command to evangelize the entire world, they saw for themselves the Trinity in action. When we live as followers of Christ, we invite others to join us not because they see nice people living good lives. No, they, too, see the Trinity in action as God works through us. Each Trinity Sunday, we only scratch the surface of this great mystery of our faith. In gratitude and faith, let us begin and end every prayer with greater faith and reverence “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
This Sunday we celebrate the decent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost which heralded the beginning of the apostolic mission to bring the Christian faith to the world. It is the birthday of the church so maybe we should sing happy birthday instead of Veni Creator Spiritus and blow out the candles on a birthday cake instead of blowing out the paschal candle because it’s the end of the Easter season!! With the feast of Pentecost the seven weeks that is the Easter season have come to an end with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person. “Peace” was John’s prayer for his readers as it is for us as we listen to this gospel reading. With the sight of Jesus their fear turned into great joy, and their Anxiety turned into relief. The lack of spiritual direction turned into a sense of deep spiritual grounding.
The divine presence stood close to them and with the divine presence came a great sense of peace of spirit mind and soul. We too have the divine presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and it brings Joy and spiritual grounding to all those who come to meet him in the Eucharist. We can’t ignore our own or the problems other people have. Most of the time the problems in our lives just don’t go away by themselves very often we need to stop and think and pray things through. If we pray through the problems as well as thinking them through we will find that they are much easier to get through. Simply put Prayer Moves Mountains. Gathered at Mass we bring our prayers of intercession to God all of us have our own needs, Family and friends, someone we know may be sick, people need work. Perhaps the person who has been in our lives for so long has died.
We bring these and all our concerns in prayer to church because they remind us of our need and they raise our hope in the power of God made real to every generation through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit our relationship with God has satisfied our longings, and brings us the peace of God which is beyond all understanding. Because of God’s faithfulness, we give thanks, offer sacrifice, and once again present our needs this Pentecost Sunday as we remember the presence of God with us in all our lives through the good bad happy and sad times and we thank God for his enduring presence among us.
Come, Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.
Over our lives we have seen or we will 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 on the other side of the world or the hardest departure of all someone close to us dying. Our lives are made up of so many different times and places of leave-taking and that is what Ascension is really about Jesus leaving the Apostles to return to the Father. The Apostles must have felt awful as Jesus told them and us go therefore make disciples of all the nations and know that I am with you yes to the end of time. This Gospel reading is all about the past the present and the future. It is about ourselves in the here and now of today, and what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations in 2019 or at least making disciples of those around us perhaps our families and friends.
In this gospel reading Jesus has little to say, but he is definite about what he has to say when he speaks. This is in sharp contrast to the fact that, even at this last minute, some of his disciples still doubted. The disciples did what he told them to do. He asked them to meet him on the mountain, and they did that. Like any gathering of people, their feelings were varied. Some of them worshipped him, while some of them still doubted. Jesus didn’t seem to have any great problem with that, because he knew that, when the Spirit came, all of those doubts would be ended. It would seem, indeed, that he was in a hurry to take his leave of them, so that the second part of his plan of salvation could get underway. The mission of the apostles was simple to understand; difficult to carry out. It was to teach others all that Jesus had taught them. Just as he asked his disciples to follow him, they were to ask that others should follow him which was so hard then and especially hard in the world of today.The programme of redemption and salvation was to begin at Pentecost and continue from generation to generation, until the end of time.
So many things have changed in the Church and society over the years especially in more recent times. However two things that have not changed are Jesus himself and every word of his message as they are ever old and always new in each generation. The message of Jesus is ignored by many people inside and outside the Church for their own reasons. The essential message of God and Jesus his Son have never changed up to now and I don’t think that the message will ever change. Again and again we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations realizing that Jesus and his message are always new for each generation. May we be heralds of the message of Jesus this Ascension as we go forward with faith.