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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the category “RELIGION”

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B | CJM MUSIC

After the anticipation of Advent and all the fuss of Christmas and the new year here we are back at ordinary time. With the COVID 19  pandemic continuing and the recent events in Washington it is good to note that no matter what happens faith in God continues and we as people of faith pray for those affected by the Pandemic as well as praying for peace in the USA and the world.

In this Sunday’s Gospel the apostles asked Jesus “Where do you live”? his reply was “Come and see”.  Invitations as we know come in all shapes and sizes. Some come in the mail or in e-mail. Others come on the street corner by word of mouth. Others come in unexpected ways. Some are personal, almost intimate. Others are general and impersonal. No matter what the invitation means, an invitation tells us that you are invited please come. We see Jesus inviting the apostles to come and see by association through faith  all of us  are invited and welcome to  come and see what’s going on in our Faith Communities.

When we accept the invitation of Jesus we have to ask ourselves why do we come and what do we seek? The early disciples of Jesus must have asked themselves those same questions. Living in a culture that distrusted novelty, they would go and see something new and that was the public appearance of the Messiah. We in our turn live in a culture that distrusts faith and people of faith as well as many other things and I often wonder what Jesus would think if he was here today. The people in this gospel story like you and me are out there looking and searching for God. Like the disciples we are seekers who want to stay or at least try and stay with Jesus. John’s disciples were seekers and it is late in the day for them as the gospel tells us. All of us remember special moments by recalling the date and the time they happen. John tells us, “It was about four in the afternoon,” when the disciples received their invitation from Jesus. They need rest from their search and Jesus is offering it to them. The “four in the afternoon” possibly refers to the beginning of the Sabbath the next day.

The invitation to come and see is an invitation to deepen our friendship with God and find rest in his presence. It is an invitation to enrich our belief in the faith that we profess each time we celebrate the sacramental life of the Church wherever we are in the world.  We, are being invited to follow Jesus with all that is going on in our lives and our world at this time, Invited to spend time with him and to discover who he is here and now, not dwelling on the  past or looking to the future the past is gone and the future may never be ours to have. The big question for us this weekend is will we accept the invitation that Jesus gives us in our time to come and see the one who has the message of eternal life or will we just ignore the invitation?

The Baptism of the Lord

This Sunday we celebrate the baptism of the Lord, when Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John. None of us remember when we were baptized when we were infants but that said we may know someone who was who was baptized at the Easter Vigil or at another time.  It may seem strange, but this is a Christmas Feast if we have followed the Feasts of Christmas as well as the Holy Family and Epiphany, we will see the feast of the baptism of the Lord in terms of the growing manifestation or appearance of the Son of God. Now in the River Jordan, Jesus, Son of Mary, is revealed to all and everyone as the fullness of all God’s promises: as the fathers voice from heaven tells us “This is my Son, the Beloved“. Just as Jesus entered the Jordan to be baptized, so he enters our lives today especially with the COVID19 restrictions that are in force in many places.

Jesus is the one promised in the Isaiah, the one who will “set prisoners free.”  He comes to those hidden places that keep us locked up. He goes to the imprisoned areas of our lives and our restricted ways of behaving which we sometimes excuse by saying, “That’s just the way I am.” Jesus comes down into the dark places where we are. He helps us face the shadows and hidden places and leads us out – just as God promised God would do for us. Jesus’ baptism reminds us today that, through our own baptism, we are united to him. Most of us rarely, if ever, think about our baptism. Through our baptism we died with Christ and thus have been reborn to a new life ( Rom 6). We, the baptized, are incorporated into the body of Christ. We are called to imitate Jesus, who St. Paul says, “went about doing good.” We don’t need a detailed rule book in order to know how we should act in each situation of our lives, for in baptism, we have the companionship of the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit  who is our wisdom, and help to do good.

Our role as baptized Christians has some of the characteristics of St. John the Baptist in that we are called to prepare the way for Christ, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those around us . We do this by the example of how we live our lives according to the gospel values In a secular world that celebrates life achievements the church rejoices at the baptism of a person young or old into the church as well as beginning  their own unique relationship with Jesu as they are sealed and marked as Gods  own son or daughter.  Take a moment and reflect on where your baptismal journey has taken you. Then look around at those around you our sisters and brothers, and give thanks that all of us together can celebrate our life in Christ our common life of faith as we go forward into 2021 and beyond.

Second Sunday After Christmas

Second Sunday after Christmas 1/5/20 - YouTube

This weekend we celebrate the second Sunday after Christmas and it gives us the opportunity at the beginning of the new year to reflect and look back at 2020. For all of us it has been hard going as a result of the COVID19 pandemic with many people losing their lives and so many others feeling the pressure that the pandemic has brought to the world at large in so many different ways. It has been a strange time but it has also been a time when many people went out of their comfort zones to look after the people who needed help and we pray a prayer of thanksgiving that we have come through to this point as we look to the future.

Johns Gospel  opens with a statement about the origins of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God.” It goes on to affirm that the Word became flesh for us. By becoming one of ourselves we might expect the Incarnate Word of God to share the same emotions as ourselves, and indeed he did. We read how Jesus showed his love to various people, to Martha, Mary and Lazarus, to his disciple John and to the rich young man who wanted to follow him.  Equally, he shared their experience of distress as he shares ours now.

He could shed tears at times of loss and crisis, such as when his friend Lazarus died and before he publicly entered Jerusalem, knowing that the city would reject and execute him. The Gospels also tell how Jesus enjoyed social occasions and was a guest at so many dinners that his critics called him a glutton and a drunkard. He felt a strong empathy for people who suffered, and when they were hungry he provided the food that they needed. He felt intense fear just before his passion, and openly admitted to his followers how troubled he felt in his soul. In his agony he prayed “Father let his cup pass me by.” When the Word became flesh, he joined us on so many levels. He dwelt among us, fully, passionately. He didn’t just come to live a quiet life. He “pitched his tent among us” and shared the full range of our human experience, in order to draw us near to God. Over the years Jesus has shown that he is with us in so many different ways and through many different people. In 2020 we have seen the love of god shine out through so many people in the face of the COVID19 pandemic. Those who are caring for the sick in the nursing homes, hospitals and other care settings. Those who are following the regulations and doing what they have to do for the good of everyone even though they do not like the restrictions and none of us like restrictions if we are telling the truth.

All those who have made donations to the various aid organisations especially the food banks that have become a necessity for so many. These are just a few examples of what has gone on in terms of people caring for others during 2020. As well as all the goodness and thoughtfulness there has been so much heartbreak with families loosing much loved family members as a result of this pandemic and we pray for them and their families in a special way. Our God is the God  who gave us Jesus his Son who is with us throughout our lives in happy and sad times. We remember that we celebrate  Emmanuel at Christmas time  and that means God is with us and it also means that in all the trials that we will go through  he is with us in our lives where we are as we go through 2021 with the challenges it will certainly bring we will go far remembering that our god with us as a friend who will help us to get through the difficulties whatever they might be..

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, and it is a  good time to stop and reflect on the meaning of the Family. As we reflect on the family with the continuing COVID19 pandemic we remember those families who are struggling at this time. We also remember those families who have lost loved ones this year for whatever reason and we say a prayer for all of them.

This Sunday, we commemorate a family in deep stress because their Son is seen as a threat to a jealous king as Joseph and Mary are running for their lives from Herod the Great. Tradition says that after three years in exile, another angel informs Joseph that Herod is dead. The Holy Family returns to their homeland, not to Bethlehem, since the new king who reigns in his father’s place is also a barbaric ruler. Joseph brings Mary and Jesus to his native town of Nazareth in Galilee. There, they lived a simple ordinary life, Joseph as a carpenter, and Mary as his wife and mother of Jesus.

Jesus grew in holiness and in knowledge of God’s will in the same ordinary ways that families do in our day. We  also remember the care that Mary and Joseph gave to Jesus. We recognize the sacrifice they made for Jesus, in the same way as we recognize the sacrifices our parents made for us  and many more  are making for their children today in our I want I get world.    For us who have come together to celebrate the Holy Family of Nazareth, the feast is a reminder of all that the Christian Family has means to us.  We remember that we have come to know Jesus  through the guidance and the love and support, of our parents!  In this Sundays  Gospel reading Simeon makes his prophecy about Christ’s destiny and as it says, ‘the child’s father and mother stood there wondering about him. Every parent wonders about their children and every parent is full of hope for their children. Over a period of time this might turn in to fear and anxiety, but the fundamental feeling of hope is still there. 

We hope that everything will turn out well for them; we hope that they will make a success of life; we hope that they will be safe and keep out of trouble; and that they will be happy.  As we think about family life and what it is now we pray that the great ideal of the Family  will continue to be cherished and that we will celebrate it in our own lives and the lives of our families especially during the COVID19 pandemic.

Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas from Faith Led Life Jesus | Celebration | Reason for the  Season |Savior's Birth | Isaiah 9 6, Isaiah 9, Isaiah

Little did I think that when 2020 began that I would be writing this reflection with the covid19 pandemic continuing. We remember in a particular way all those who are affected by the pandemic. Many people have lost loved ones as a result of Covid and we pray for them. We also pray for all the healthcare professionals who have been in the frontline .

For the last four weeks of advent we have been looking forward to the coming of Christ into our world with all its ups and downs. We have completed our advent spiritual preparation So now  then let us rejoice in the Lord.

At this time when we celebrate the birth of “a saviour who has been born for” us, who is “a great light” in the darkness of the world around us, we welcome an opportunity to put aside our cares and worries as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.   None of us will travel to Bethlehem to behold the  new-born infant lying in the manger in the way the shepherds and the wise men did in their time. But all of us travel the road of daily life, and we are called to see Jesus the new-born Infant in all the people we come across especially those who need a helping hand especially during the COVID pandemic. We remember in a special way all those who have died especially those who lost their lives as a result of COVID19 and we keep their families in our prayers.

The customs of this season are veiled announcements of one message: Christ is born for us. To remove the veil, to hear the good news, we gather together in our churches. There the message of Christmas speaks loud and clear. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “In times past, God spoke in  various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he speaks to us through his Son.” The customs of Christmas speak the message in partial ways, but God speaks the message clearly through his Son, who has come into our midst. At Christmas the whole community of heaven joins with all believers on earth in a jubilant song of praise for the good news proclaimed by the angels:  Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people,for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11). Christmas is the annual renewal of being filled with wonder at the nearness of God. The nearer we are to our God, the nearer we come to those lowly ones who are God’s special ones. We are challenged at Christmas to do what Jesus and the angels did: bring the good news to the outcast and the lowly. The “tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people,” and no one is to be left out.  Christmas is a great celebration of our faith in Jesus. We gather to celebrate light in the midst of darkness; we celebrate the new hope that Jesus has generated in people down the centuries. He is our light; he is our hope. When we want to know God, it is to Jesus that we turn; when we want to worship God, it is through Jesus that we sing our praises.

We too give glory to God in the highest for revealing himself to the lowly:  So with Mary and Joseph with the shepherds the Angels and  Arch Angels and the whole company of heaven  let us adore the Christ Child the child in the manger who is the reason for the Season that we celebrate at Christmas.

4th Sunday of Advent

This week we have heard that the local covid19 lock down restrictions will be reimposed here in Northern Ireland for another 6 weeks from the 26th December. It is very easy to be critical of these decisions and we cannot forget the fact that they will affect the livelihoods of many people as COVID-19 itself has affected all of us and continues to do so.. We also remember that the NHS could be overwhelmed with COVID19 as well as the normal pressures of this time of year and we pray for everyone that they will get the strength to keep on going despite the difficulties that might lie ahead.

This weekend we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent and we hear the story of the Angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. But as we hear this story we should stop and step aside from all the ongoing activities of this time of year to think about how Mary felt when she got this news that she was to have a child. Luke tells us, ” she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”

The angel has to reassure her, “Do not fear Mary.” – she must have been afraid. In that uneasy world of Galilee, a place of conflict and struggle, Mary’s personal response showed confusion and doubt. Still, Mary did not get a road map of the future neither do we especially these days with of COVID19.  Gabriel announced the conception and birth of royalty. Mary’s child would be “great”. He would be Son of the “Most High” (a title for the greatest God, the highest concept of divinity one could have. The title “Son of” indicated a unique, intimate relationship with this highest God and a sharing in this God’s power). He would have the Davidic throne of Israel forever. [1:32] Mary made room for God in her life. Scripture suggests God wants to enter more fully into our lives; with all the good and bad and all the happy and sad times that are part and parcel of our lives. Mary accepted, even proclaimed, God’s will in her life. She placed her future in the hands of the Father so should we.

Marys example should inspire us to stand firm as Christians in today’s world of ever-changing fads and fancies as we face up to the secular razzmatazz in the run up to Christmas. Remember, the words of others may sting, but the Spirit of God burns within. The divine fire can withstand the darts others fling toward us. This Christmas will give us many challenges as this past year has and we should place ourselves and our future in the hands of our heavenly Father as Mary did  and we wont go far wrong at all.

Gaudete Sunday 3rd Sunday of Advent

This weekend we continue our Advent Journey as we come out of another lockdown here in NI. We thank God that the Vaccine has been found and approved for use with the first doses been given ,we pray for the continuing success of all the scientists who have brought us to this point.

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent it is also known as Gaudete Sunday. In some places Rose vestments are used and we light the pink candle on the Advent wreath. It is a Sunday when we rejoice as we look forward to the birth of Jesus. In our parish we are celebrating Bambinelli Sunday though in a reduced way.  This  is a Roman tradition where  the priest will bless the baby Jesus from family cribs brought to Mass by the children on Gaudete Sunday.   The blessing of the Bambinelli reminds us that the crib is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy.

This does not consist in having many things but in feeling loved by the Lord, in giving oneself as a gift for others and in loving one another. As we prepare for the birth of Jesus we have to ask ourselves is God made real through the baby Jesus present in our own life stories especially this year with the continuing pandemic? Our Gospel story tells us about John the Baptist who was the voice crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord. John the Evangelist presented the Baptist as God’s witness, the one who spoke eternal truth in a transient world. John’s message and ministry of a repentant baptism prefigured Christ’s. John baptised in the spirit of hope and we live in the spirit of hope. The baptism of Jesus realised that hope. Those baptised by John looked forward to a life with God. Those baptised by the Christ lived in God as we live in God.

We rejoice and praise God on this Gaudete Sunday. We thank him for all he has done for us in our own lives and in the lives of all those who are near and dear to us, families and friends wherever they are especially at this time. We rejoice that through the coming of Jesus we have come to know God as our Father. We do our best to follow his Gospel of love in a spirit of joy. As we continue our Advent journey  along the road that leads us to salvation let us prepare the way for the Lord in our own lives remembering that in  the words of the Entrance Antiphon  we should rejoice in the Lord always; for the Lord is near. 

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Second Week of Advent – Living Water Community

As we continue our Journey towards Christmas we are mindful of all the ongoing COVID19 restrictions. We continue to  pray for all those who are suffering at this time from the Virus and its effects.

The general theme of the readings for this weekend is all about a voice in the wilderness. The voice we hear from the wilderness is John the Baptist, who came before Jesus as the lords herald.  John  tells us that there is one coming after him and that he is the son of God and that he was not good enough to take the sandals of his feet. He also tells us that we should make the paths straight for the lord. So are we making the paths straight for the lord as we try to make sense of all the ongoing razzmatazz or are we going to go with the flow, just too busy with all the secular preparations that this time of year brings to really take notice of the importance of the preparation that John the Baptist talks about? 

John the Baptist came to reawaken the sense of expectation among a people that had grown tired and distant from God as many have done in our present time.   John was called to bring renewal to the institutional expressions of religion which, at the time, had become fossilized into mere formulae and external ritual.  As the journey of Advent continues John the Baptist’s clarion call to conversion sounds out in our communities. As we continue our preparations let us not forget the true and lasting message of Christmas that has lasted for over 2020 years and the message is that God came among us.  All of us are asked to take up the Baptists call of renewal in order to prepare the way for the Lord. This  is the call to reawaken within ourselves the fact that Jesus is god with us Emmanuel The Church in every age must become like John the Baptist, an uncomfortable reminder of how we must allow the truth of Jesus to break into our lives to enlighten the darkness that can at any moment enter into  the life of the Church or our own lives .

Remember that the words of Jesus in the Gospel are there to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. So are we making the paths straight for the lord or are we just going to go with the flow a taking little or no  notice of the importance of the preparation that John the Baptist talks about  that is the spiritual preparation of our hearts and minds for the great spiritual event that Christmas is. Are we preparing as we should this year with its COVID19 restrictions and ups and downs that will happen as a result of them Christmas will be different. Having said that we should remember that our personal spiritual preparations should be the same as usual as we prepare the way for the Lord trying to make his paths straight in our own lives.

1st Sunday of Advent

This Sunday we begin the season of Advent and we begin another church year as we start our preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. This year all we do at this time in preparation for and celebration of Christmas will be tempered by the reality that COVID19 is with us as a real and present danger lurking in the background. Christmas when we get to it will be very different for all of us as we struggle to make sense of everything that has happened since last year.

Advent like Lent is a time of spiritual preparation and there are many opportunities for doing this between now and Christmas Eve. Amongst all the razzmatazz of the Christmas preparations and the madness of the shoppers on our town and city streets including Black Friday we need to stop and ask ourselves what are we waiting for this Advent.  We are waiting for Jesus who is coming to help us awaken from sleep so we can put aside all that is false in our lives and our world and rebuild our house on rock, that is the rock of faith. St. Paul’s words “God is faithful” will accompany us through any change or adjustment we need to make in our lives . This is the God Isaiah evokes as he imagines us as clay to be formed by our God, “the potter,” and reminds us, “we are all the work of god’s hands.  The Father will transform both humanity and nature to the way he intended them to be from the first moment of creation free from sin, sickness, and death- free from the consequences of evil. In our anticipation for the Lord’s coming, we hope that our faith will help reveal the Kingdom and prepare others as well as ourselves for eternity. Our efforts alone will not bring about the Kingdom, as if we humans can progress or evolve to a higher plane by ourselves. But, God, acting through us, will reveal and realise the Kingdom. Then, when we act according to his will; we add our contribution to his activity.       CCC 1042-1050

Blessed John Henry Newman in his time reminded us in a homily for the Advent Season: “Advent is a time of waiting, it is a time of joy because the coming of Christ is not only a gift of grace and salvation but it is also a time of commitment because it motivates us to live the present as a time of responsibility and vigilance. This ‘vigilance’ means the necessity, the urgency of an industrious, living ‘wait’. For all this to happen we need to wake up, as we are warned in the  reading to the Romans: ‘Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rm 13:11).As we begin this advent we ask ourselves what are we waiting for ? Are we waiting for the razzmatazz of Christmas Day or are we preparing as we should be for the greatest gift of God, Jesus his Son, Christ the Son of God the light in the darkness for a broken world. A world that needs something to hold on to this Christmas especially during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

ADVENT REFLECTION

Advent: A Time to Prepare – Diocese of Camden

As we begin the Churches new year it is a good opportunity to stop and reflect on what has happened over the last year and as we all know such a lot has happened. In particular we have the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic in which many have lost their lives and many more have given their all in terms of caring for and sharing with other people. We pray for them all. It has been a time of uncertainty as well as fear of the unknown for all of us. We have come through all the upheaval of the last 8 months and now we are moving towards Christmas.

Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas and Christmas this year will be very different for all of us for so many reasons especially COVID 19. Sadly, for so many who live in our secular world, Advent has no meaning.  It is so easy to pass the whole of December in the frantic secular preparation for Christmas.  With all of this going on the Church invites us to spend these 4 weeks in a spirit of hope filled anticipation. Advent from the Latin, Adventus means `coming’. God wants to be with us that is why he sent his Son Jesus into the world. As we think about the deeper meaning of Advent we cannot forget those who are in any kind of need especially as a result of the COVID Pandemic.  Over these days  of preparation we are asked to go beyond our own personal comfort zones and to take note of the places and people in this world most easily overlooked by everyone especially where we live.  

That is why the money we give to those organisations such as saint Vincent DePaul and the Salvation Army are so important at this time of the year as they help so many more people at Christmas and this year there will be so many people who will need their assistance due to the current circumstances. There are a number of steps for all of us to take to enter into the Advent season. All of us should slow down and as a result of covid19 this should be the case as we go about the daily toil that this time of year brings. Then, when we slow down we can begin to quietly pray, “Come, Lord, Jesus.”  Advent is about letting God come to live in us as we go about our everyday lives. For all of us, the Christmas we will celebrate this year with COVID19 around us  will be very different in comparison to wonderful Christmases of our past perhaps because we were younger perhaps because some of our loved ones who were central to our Christmas celebrations are no longer living perhaps because the burdens and struggles of life or the changes in our world robbed this Christmas of something or someone that was there before.

Some of us, might be looking forward to Christmas, and not be as aware as we should of the people around us who will be  struggling with Christmas,yet we  feel that, in spite of our best efforts to make Advent different there is still something missing, and we still feel that we are not -ready for Christmas when it finally arrives. For all of us, the story behind Christmas  draws us in, and invites all of us to understand the mystery of how Jesus came into this world and why.  Our best preparation for the Christmas Season  is for us to reflect upon how he came.  He came in the midst of scandal and conflict.  He came in poverty.  He was rejected before he was born.  He was born in a Manger in a Stable.  He was hunted down.  And he grew up in obscurity. He did not shun our world its poverty and conflict.   He embraced it.  And he wants to embrace us today, on this day at this time especially in this time of COVID19 with all its difficulties.  Right where we are.  Right when we are feeling most distant.  Right when  we are feeling least “religious” or “ready.” 

If we let him come into our hearts during these challenging days, we will find ourselves entering into the real meaning  of Christmas. Christmas  is all about being the people  that we are called in faith to be that is people who are caring for and sharing with our families and friends as well as those who are in need wherever they are and there are many people who have little or nothing at all.  All of our Advent preparations should lead us to  the celebration of the Christ Child Emmanuel who is God with us. So as we go forward may the Advent season help us to prepare for the birthday of Jesus at Christmas as we make our preparation this year we pray:

Come, Lord, Jesus.”  “Come into my life, it is messy in so many ways. I believe you love me.  Come and fill my heart mind and soul with the peace and the love only you can give.” “Come, Lord, Jesus, come into this house, into my family, into our struggles. Come and heal us, and give us peace in heart mind and spirit. Come into our communities and let us experience, each in our own way, the joy you are offering us at Christmas time.

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