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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the category “Life”

15th Sunday of ordinary Time

 

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This weekend we arrive at the fifteenth Sunday of ordinary time. Lent and Easter are but a distant memory and we are now gearing up for the opening of our Churches for Sunday services and hopefully some holidays after the COVID19 lockdown.

This Sunday we hear the Gospel story of the sower who went out to sow the seed. For me the story  is really about the seed of faith with Jesus the sower and you and me as the soil on which the seed that is the word of God lands. The context of today’s parable provides some insight into its interpretation and application The parable is located between stories of confrontation and rejection. As the early church faced opposition and a seeming lack of success, the parable must have given encouragement to the first preachers and members of the early church a promise of fruit not yet visible to them. Jesus is speaking to a large crowd.

They may be listening to what he says, but some will follow him  and others will leave and go their own way. He is realistic as he seems to randomly cast his words out upon the crowd. What he says to them will not seem to bear fruit – not straight away. Often that wee seed of faith may take root many years after it has been planted and today we see many people returning to the faith or coming to the faith for the first time after someone or some event in their lives planted that first seed with others helping nourishing the seed and helping it to grow. What is striking about the parable is the amount of waste I’m sure those who are reading this who are recyclers will be horrified. The bulk of the details are about wasted effort and lost seed. 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. But if we stop for a moment and think about it anything done for God in faith is never lost.  

Very often things that are happening  our lives don’t seem to be the way we might want  them to be but when we look at the problems with eyes of faith we see that things around us are the way they are meant to be for the good of all. We also  get the strength to  deal with the problems that go on through. Nobody really knows what’s beneath the surface of the soil we cast the seed of the word of god upon. Who knows the potential of the good soil? 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 do good or be 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” Jesus promises? who knows only God knows. While the gospel parable begins with and spends time on hardships and failure it ends in surprise and abundance. What was the source of this abundance? We look to what Isaiah told us today in the reading about the fertile, life-giving nature of God’s Word.

Our God is a God of surprises and our faith is also filled with so many surprises as well. Despite any discouragement we might feel because our efforts in many things seem futile and draining, we put our trust in the one who speaks to us a living word who sows the seed. 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 the Christian 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 futile and we don’t always see the fruit of the seed that’s sown. Let us remember that tall oaks from little acorns grow and Our God is a God of surprises and our faith is also has many surprises as well especially during these days.

14TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

 

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Well here we are trying to get  into the holiday mood as the corona virus lockdown is easing. While many people will be taking the time to get away as things ease we spare a thought for all those who may not get away for a break this year .

One of the most wonderful things about the person of Jesus has been and continues to be, his special love for ordinary people ­ like us with all our faults and failings. This love is seen 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, and critical, people without much compassion. Will we take our cue from their cruel, harsh, and insensitive judgments 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 when he said ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest’. This, then, is a clear invitation for us to slow down.

Let us resist the temptation to join the mad rush in this world’s rat race especially these days when we are coming out from the darkness of the COVID19 lockdown and getting back to a new sort of normal. There is more to life than speed.  As the saying goes, “The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese”. This time of return to normal is also an invitation for us to move to a life of simplicity. Happiness does not consist in having more, but in being contented with what we have. Jesus invites us, “Come to me!” And He waits for us so let us take up our rest .Over these past four months of lockdown I have found many people taking up the opportunity to take the rest that Jesus talks about and many have found their true selves within the quietness despite the pandemic madness that is around. Let us remember the words of Jesus as we go back out into the world with all its problems and opportunities ‘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 end of June after 13 weeks of COVID 19 lockdown. if times were normal the schools would be closing for the summer holidays as it is the schools have been closed for the past few months with everyone wondering what things will be like when the schools reopen. This weekend we remember the family of Noah Donohue as we hear the sad news that a body has been recovered we pray that God may give his family  and friends strength at this sad 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 in the way our priests deacons and religious do but we can show them the way when we are seen to  live according to our Catholic faith.Over the next few weeks and months we will come out of the lockdown as we try to move into a more normal way of life. Many things will be changed and our ways of going around and doing things will be different but for all of this we  thank God that all of us  have come through it safely. As we thank God for bringing us safely to where we are we also remember all those who have died during the pandemic that their families will be consoled by their faith and the love of those around them. May we have the courage to be people of faith  as we go into the new future which the Covid19 pandemic has brought us.

12th SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME

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This weekend our gospel story tells us not to be afraid but for many they are scared and afraid as we come out of lockdown after the last 12 weeks. It is certainly true that life will be changed not ended for all of us as we come out from the lockdown in the coming weeks.  The Gospel message is quite simple Jesus tells us not to be afraid  He does not disguise the truth that his disciples and all of us will be confronted by those who threaten, bully and intimidate others into submissive agreement.  In the first reading Jeremiah refuses to be intimidated by terror from every side. That doesn’t mean that the terror doesn’t get to him it means that he has no intention of allowing the terror to write his script and dictate who he is. Jeremiah has been abandoned by all his friends who now try to discredit him. He is thrown into prison for his preaching, and the army council threatens him with death if he doesn’t change his tune.

But Jeremiah refuses to be bullied into agreement because he believes that “the Lord is at his side, a mighty hero”. What keeps Jeremiah sane amidst all this persecution is the profound belief that God cares for him. And, less spiritually, the frank hope that God will clobber all his enemies in good time! Not only does Jesus want his disciples to refuse to submit to the merchants of death, he tells them not to be afraid of them: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” What our Lord said to His Apostles applies to all Christians including you and me in the practice of our faith. By the very fact of living our faith day and daily openly and fully we are apostles especially during these weeks of the pandemic when we cannot be together as the Church. So today we think of all of those who have given us an example by living their lives in faith in difficult circumstances. These may be parents family members or people we have known we all have people who have shown us the way of faith.

So as faith filled people Jesus teaches us that our only source of freedom and strength is the goodness of our heavenly Father a goodness that is mediated through Jesus himself as well as through good people and beautiful flowers. Furthermore, the discovery of this goodness carries with it the solemn obligation to pass on one’s blessings through concern for others. We must look for the goodness in life and learn to count our blessings as we pass them on to other people. As we emerge from our lockdown there are many things that are changed or will be changing but we stop and thank God for all that we have and all the blessings that have come to us over the last 3 months of lockdown. We also remember all the families out there who have lost family members during the lockdown that God may console them at this time. May be people of courage in the days and months ahead as we remember the words of Jesus when he told us do be not be afraid.

CORPUS CHRISTI

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This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi in some places this celebration took place last Thursday. It seems so strange that we have been unable to receive the greatest gift from God the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist during the corona virus instead we have been making a spiritual communion but that is not the same. let us remember the importance of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ! The Body and Blood of Christ is an eternal testament to the unconditional love of God for us. Throughout history, this love has been shown to the people of God by God, over and over again, as partially described in the first reading from Deuteronomy. The second reading from 1 Corinthians reminds us that receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is the participation in the life of Christ and that we are one body. In the Gospel passage according to John, Jesus tells the Jewish crowds and us that he is the living bread,

that the living Father sent him, and that we have life within us because of these things. We are spiritually alive and eternally connected. When we see the Eucharistic Bread, we believe that it is Jesus who is there with us:  such is our faith in the Eucharist the bread of life.  We are thus in the presence of the Resurrected One, He who has conquered death and who is now in Heaven, in the Glory of the Father!  Only God can have a Heart so full of Love that he invites us in this way to contemplate him with the eyes of faith, for our eternal happiness, for his own Glory, forever and ever! Not only as individuals does Christ call us to store up eternal heavenly treasures, as opposed to earthly treasures which decay, but we are also called as a people to live virtuous lives. Sadly, we see the moral decay in our own time. By following in our Lord’s footsteps, Christians over the centuries have sacrificed greatly, in a labor of love, for their faith and their Christian way of life. Then as now, it begins with each individual humbly asking God to show the way and to provide the strength needed to follow in His footsteps. Gathered at the Eucharist even through the webcams we bring our prayers to God especially during this COVID19 Pandemic.

We each have our own needs. Friends are sick. Kids need work. The person who has been in our lives for so long has died. There are so many other needs as well and we bring our prayers to church because they remind us of our need and they raise our hope in God. We have this hope  because God has rescued us and continues to rescue us time after time. Our relationship with God has produced fruitfulness, satisfied our longings, and brought us peace. Because of God’s faithfulness, we give thanks, offer sacrifice, and once again present our needs on this feast of Corpus Christi knowing that we will be heard by the Father in heaven who loves us with an everlasting love and does not give up on us or let us down.

 

Trinity Sunday

 

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From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday we have travelled the 40 days of Lent and from Easter Sunday until Pentecost we have travelled the 50 days of Easter we have now come to part of the Churches Year that is called Ordinary Time. This year for want of other words Ordinary Time is a Lot Less Ordinary as we emerge from the COVID 19 pandemic with changes made to so many things. This weekend we celebrate Trinity Sunday which is all about the triune god Father, son and Holy Spirit. The Father is equal to the Son and the Son is equal to the Spirit three in one and one in three we hear this in the breastplate of St. Patrick. The 4th century St Patrick, with a brilliance that we Irish are justly celebrate found in the three leaf shamrock rising from the one stem an image of the Trinity. The feast of the 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. So was born the observance. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church.  We open each Liturgy especially the Mass invoking the Trinity . We close Mass and so many other liturgies by calling upon the same Persons Father Son and Spirit in blessing us as we go out into the world. Throughout the Christian world infants will be received into our faith communities  through Baptism in the name of the Trinity

Trinity Sunday is the day when we stand back from the extraordinary sequence of events that we’ve been celebrating for the previous five months—Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension and  Pentecost  it is the day when we  are asked to rub the sleep from our eyes and discover what the word ‘god’ might actually mean. How do we understand the Trinity? The Christian belief that God is a trinity helps underscore how rich the mystery of God is and how our experience of God is always richer than our concepts and language about God.  The doctrine of the Trinity affirms God as loving and knowing, giving and receiving. We profess that God could not be God without the “other” (the Son) and the eternal bond of their relationship (the Spirit). While some may think that the doctrine of the Trinity is negotiable, it is actually central to our faith. If we lose it, we lose all we are. Moses’ personal God, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity,” emerges in St. Paul as the interpersonal Trinity that models true human relationship. Thus Paul prays: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you all.” When the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, it is an attempt to summarize the whole mystery of our God into one day. This is not just a “theological feast” ` but a feast which should speak to us of this simple fact of faith: the Father loves us, has revealed that love in his Son, and has called into a relationship sustained by the Spirit. It is our joy that, as baptized members of the Church, we can somehow share in that divine life and love which is the Trinity – becoming children of God. God has chosen us, and we are his own people, just as he chose the people of Israel long ago. 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. Amen.”

PENTECOST SUNDAY

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This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost Sunday and it seems to be a new beginning for everyone as we emerge from the lockdown of the past 10 weeks or so.  But our new beginning will result in many changes in our lives and our faith lives going into the future. As we go on through the process of getting back to a new normal we remember all those on the front-line who have done so much to keep us going throughout these weeks. We also spare a thought and a prayer for all the families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic whose lives are particularly hard during these weeks.

With the feast of Pentecost the seven weeks of Easter have come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance.  By the time John wrote his gospel, Jewish Christians had been excommunicated for their belief in Jesus. Ostracised and socially persecuted, some Christians reacted in fear, while others boldly proclaimed the gospel. The First Christians needed a sense of stability, a sense of serenity and peace the same as we do these days. The words of Jesus, “Peace” was John’s prayer for his readers at the beginning as it is for us as we listen to this gospel reading in our current situation. With the sight of Jesus, fear turned into great joy. Anxiety turned into relief. Desperation turned into vindication. Most important, a 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 peace. We too have the divine presence in the Blessed Sacrament and it brings Joy and spiritual grounding to all those who come and Jesus says to each and every one you are welcome. We can’t ignore the problems that are there for ourselves and those around us especially during these days. Very often we need to stop and pray through the problems as well as thinking them through.   Gathered together in prayer week in week out we bring ourselves to God especially when we celebrate the Mass. We each have our own needs Family and friends may be sick,  Kids need work. The person who has been in our lives for so long has died.  We bring these and all our concerns in prayer because they remind us of our need and they raise our hopes in the power of God made real to every generation through the Holy Spirit.

As we go forward into a new unknown future as we come out from the lockdown we are like the first disciples who did not know what was going to happen or when but Through the  Holy Spirit everything made great sense to them. With the Holy Spirit as our guide the relationship we have with God produces fruitfulness, satisfies our longings, and brings us serenity and peace. Because of God’s faithfulness, we give thanks, offer sacrifice, and once again present our needs as we remember the presence of God with us in all our lives especially at this time.

ASCENSION

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As we continue to coexist with the COVID19 pandemic some of the restrictions are being eased. Our local Churches were I am are beginning to open for prayer and this is welcome and we are beginning to get used to the new normal with all of us keeping the required distance. 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 In the peace and the quiet. 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 what we say and the example we give.

6th Sunday of Easter

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This Sunday is the 6th Sunday of Easter it doesn’t seem that  long since we celebrated Easter Sunday but it is 6 weeks as we  head towards Ascension and Pentecost. We pray in a particular way for all those affected by the COVID19 virus as we begin to take the small steps to begin the end of lockdown and return to a new kind of normal.

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 back 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.”

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.

These past few weeks now nearly 2 months have been hard going for everyone who has been experiencing lockdown. So many people have experienced the loss of loved ones and were unable to say a proper good bye there is much sadness about as a result of this pandemic them but there is also a lot of hope around these days. Over the next weeks and months we will be getting back to the New Normal what that will be we will have to wait and see and work with it. but the one thing that will remain as it has up to now is the reason for our hope and simply put the reason for our hope is Jesus Christ who is with us in all our troubles whatever they are.

5th Sunday of Easter

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This weekend our gospel reading could have been written for the current situation we are in with the corona virus pandemic. As a result of this  many people are fearful for what might happen going forward and Jesus calls us to have faith and trust in him.  This Gospel is about Jesus helping the Apostles get ready for his suffering and death. For the apostles this would be a huge reversal from the adulation of the entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Remember when he asked them whether they would leave him, along with the rest of the crowd or stay with him? Now it is he who is leaving. They are stunned. ” Jesus tells them as he tells us now “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. Jesus speaks to us not at us.  His presence is in the word proclaimed in the Assembly of the people of god gathered together via the internet during these days.  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 especially those who are on the front line working to help and protect all of us from covid19.  We come to Pray week in week out to hear the Word of God.  We come to share the joys and sufferings of all the community gathered together.  During these days we make a spiritual communion with Jesus, risen from the Tomb as we cannot meet together in our churches. When we’re confused about what might happen 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 guide us to trust Jesus and one another. The disciples learnt soon after Jesus had left them that they didn’t have ready answers to everything the same as ourselves today. As we learn from the divisions in the early Christian communities, they all had to work together to find a way forward. There are many things Jesus did not tell them, and they had to face the future together with honesty and that too is what we need to do face the future together. Jesus trusted his followers down the ages right to you and me today to face the confusion and complexity of the world. That’s why he doesn’t leave us answers to everything. There’s still a lot of working out to be done by all of us especially theses days.

Looking to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life doesn’t actually solve every question effortlessly.  But Jesus knew that! Clearly he wants us to put our faith to work and solve the problems that we encounter in our daily lives and living especially during these more difficult days. During these days of pandemic lockdown we pray that we will trust in the love of God shown to us through Jesus who asks us to trust in him  when he said “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.”

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