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4th Sunday of Easter year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney-Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com ‘I am the good shepherd’.

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A teacher’s role is to guide others from the unknown to the known. Jesus was a brilliant teacher, and His listeners would all have been familiar with the unique relationship which existed between a shepherd and his sheep.

A good shepherd in Our Lord’s time knew every one of his sheep and their individual natures. It was somewhat like the way we know the nature of our pet Dog or Cat and in turn how they know our voices and show affection when they see us. However, Shepherds in Gospel times will stand with their sheep all day in the scorching heat, and at night they will sleep across the entrance to the cave to ensure their safety.

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Notice in the Gospels, we hear that the Shepherd leads his sheep … he never drives them. He simply walks ahead, and they listen to his voice, and follow him wherever he goes. On the other hand, goats have to be driven … they won’t follow their goat-herd. It’s interesting to hear Jesus using the shepherd separating the sheep from the goats to describe the final judgment. In other words, separating those who followed, from those who needed to be driven. Worth thinking about!

God's Word

Let’s now look at today’s Gospel Passage under the magnifying glass, so that we can know and appreciate the deeper meanings in this passage. We need to get a handle on the experience and its profound and extraordinary meaning with its impact, as it did for the Greek audience which heard this astonishing relationship between the Shepherd and the flock – the flock to the Shepherd, and the two way affiliation between the Shepherd and the Father.

The statement from Jesus in today’s Gospel, must be seen within the context of its original listeners to the dramatic declaration of Jesus claiming to be the Good Shepherd. OK, let’s go deep sea diving into the Scripture passage.

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John’s Gospel is presented to his Greek audience as a Drama, it has long speeches, engaging conversations and is littered with specific words and meanings which literally have the power to stun its listeners and readers. The Fourth Gospel has many plays on words which unfortunately in the English we can miss some of the deeper consequences of what is being said. If we were Greeks, listening to this Gospel, we would be gobsmacked, shaken and deeply stirred within. Let’s try and recover as much of this as we can for our purposes right now.

The Gospel of John is divided up into two Books: The Book of Signs and the Book of Glory. This passage comes from the first Book, the Book of Signs. We must keep this in mind as we reflectively read, ponder and pray from this extract.

Imagine, Jesus making a speech in an auditorium; all eyes are on him, the air is electric with expectation….then Jesus says, ‘I am the good shepherd……’ that phrase alone, would be enough to stun the listeners….why? In saying that Jesus is the I am, he is saying the sacred word, the sacred name of the lord God of the Old Testament! The I am who am, of the Book of Exodus, Chapter three. The sacred name which is never said, and the extraordinary reverence for that name, caused our ancestors in faith to call God, Adonai, or Lord God. Here Jesus goes right to the heart, and proclaims that he is the I am without any excuses for using the Divine name. So, having been knocked back in their seats as we hear the opening phrase of this speech by Jesus, let’s note that he is THE SIGN par excellence; the audience would have been spellbound just by the first word! In this passage, Jesus uses the I AM twice, and in both instances a different element within the personality of God is presented and acted out by Jesus. The first I AM is all about the extreme love and care of the shepherd for his sheep. It also calls us to realise again, the jealous love that the shepherd has for the sheep and the life-threatening lengths that the shepherd will go to for his sheep.

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The second time that Jesus uses the I AM the implications are all about knowing the sheep, knowing the Father, and the Father knowing Jesus. The verb to know in English is used in so many different ways that its meaning is only found within a context. Not so in Greek! In English, we might say, ‘Oh yes, I know those people in house number 24 in our street’. But the so called knowing might only be based on the frequent, ‘Good morning’ as we walk our dog, or a wave as we drive by. Or we might say to our friends…..’Yes, I know exactly what you are saying’. That is a bit closer to the Greek meaning….there seems to be more depth to this knowing than just a simple, ‘Hello’ or the occasional wave as we drive by. In Greek, the verb TO KNOW is specific in its meaning. In short, it means the deepest form of connection with someone else. It’s somewhat like a husband knowing his wife! Intimately and holistically; a union of oneness!

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So when Jesus uses the second I AM in the passage today, it is all about the intimacy of the Father, Son and sheep (us). We are precious in the Lord’s sight, mind and ultimate pastoral love. So much so, that in this relationship between the Lord and the Sheep, laying down one’s life through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus is taken for granted. Then we see that the Intimate relationship between God and Israel, is not selective, it is totally inclusive of all, if they wish to be part of the fold.

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So we can rightly ask ourselves what is the underpinning foundation for this unique relationship? The short answer is LOVE, in its fullest and extended meaning as we see drawn out all through the Old Testament, and then its culmination within the Word becoming one of us in all things but sin, and the new life and fresh breath that the Lord breathes into us as was his own resuscitation by the Father at the moment of Resurrection. That ‘breath’ that inner vigour and intimate understanding of the love like relationship between the Father and Son is freely given to us and is available for all humanity. We can’t just read this passage as though we a reading the Sunday Newspaper; no, we ought read this passage very slowly so that its impact stirs our whole being like it would have for the first writers and listeners to this Johannine Good News. Then we need to ponder, and ruminate its salient points, then we need to let go, and let the prayer pray in us, without seeking control of it…….that is a big ask! But it can be real prayer!

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One of the great scandals in history is the extent to which the Body of Christ has been so splintered. While a number of groups claim Christ as their shepherd, many deny the same right to those who do not walk in their way. But there is hope in the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel, where He declares that someday, there will be one fold and one shepherd. But this can happen only when we stress the need for unity … not necessarily conformity. What Jesus is saying is that we must listen and be open to others – Christians and non-Christians – just as we would welcome a guest in our home. There has always been a feeling by many Christian-Catholics over the centuries, that we are the best, and we are the only REAL church and all the others are good people, but secretly, not as good as us! Or when it comes to ‘changes’ in seeing our global village we vehemently resist and believe that our Religion is in solid concrete and no need for changes….well that kind of thinking is arrogant and far from the spirituality of Jesus which call us to be ‘gentle and humble of heart’. The breath of the Holy Spirit continues to embrace all in its way, but in order to listen to the spirit, we must be ‘open’ to the signs of the times and the responses which are urged within us to be Christ’s living body today……Yesterday has gone! Today is now! Let tomorrow be a time of surprises, a time of seeing the saving hand of God at work in us, in the people around us, and in this MISSION entrusted to us.

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In our Eucharistic Celebration that weekend, we pray that we may devote time to being attentive to the voice of our Good Shepherd, Christ the Lord, in prayer, through unexpected people and events … that we may put into action the stirrings of response from the Holy Spirit to be Christ’s living Word now and always.

Let us give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love has no end

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4th Sunday after Easter Year B, 2018. A Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne – Australia. Safe with our Shepherd.

4th Sunday after Easter year A married couple

 

Mike and Yvonne, so this story goes, were 85 years old and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they carefully watched their pennies. Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to Yvonne’s insistence for the last decade on healthy foods and exercise. One day, their good health didn’t help when they went on a holiday and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven.

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They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen. A maid could be seen hanging up their favourite clothes in the dressing-room. They gasped in astonishment when Peter said, ‘Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now.’

Mike asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. ‘Why, nothing,’ Peter replied, ‘remember, this is your reward in Heaven.’ Mike looked out the window and there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any built on Earth. ‘What are the greens fees?’ grumbled Mike. ‘This is heaven,’ Peter replied. ‘You can play for free, every day.’

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch. ‘Don’t even ask,’ said Peter to Mike. ‘This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.’ Mike looked around and nervously asked Yvonne ‘Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods and the decaffeinated tea?’ ‘That’s the best part,’ Peter replied. ‘You can eat and drink as much as you like and you will never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!’

‘No gym for a work- out?’ asked Mike. ‘Not unless you want to,’ came the answer. ‘No testing my sugar or blood pressure or anything?’ ‘Never again!’ said Peter.

 

So Mike glared at Yvonne across the table and said, ‘You and your crummy Bran Flakes. We could have been here ten years ago!’

As time goes by, we hear more and more reports from people who have almost died, people, in fact, who have been ‘clinically dead’. In all the stories from those who have come back to life, we find very similar details. Thus they speak of leaving their bodies behind. They speak of going through something like a dark tunnel with a light at the far end. A light like the sun, though it neither blinds nor burns, a light which keeps growing brighter. As they move closer to the light, their whole life, like a short film, begins to flash before them. They see the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

Looking at their lives in those short flashes, they sense that the light before them is personal, is somebody rather than some thing. Somebody who views the film with them. Somebody who approves their generous and unselfish actions, but not their mean and selfish ones. Somebody, however, who understands and interprets all the components of their lives as a necessary learning process.

All say that the light – some call it Christ, some call it God, some call it light – is kind and protective, humorous and understanding, forgiving and fulfilling. When they come out of all this, they are changed people, better people, new people.

These reports of ‘near-death’ experiences are interesting, even fascinating and inspiring. Yet we do not really need them to know what will happen to us. We rely rather on the voice of Christ our Good Shepherd who speaks to us in today’s scripture readings. He communicates all that friends and followers of Jesus need to know about their destiny.

 

As the Good Shepherd puts it in the gospel he has ‘concern for his sheep’. So much so that he states not once but three times, that he ‘lays down his life for his sheep’. He is the one, as Peter comments in our First Reading, ‘whom God raised from the dead…’, and ‘the only one by [whose] name we can be saved’.

figure5.jpg Icon of Christ the Good Shepherd

We may be sure, then, that our risen Good Shepherd, will keep bringing us to green pastures and a magnificent banquet, and that the light of his love will keep shining on us and showing us the way to live. In fact, all who now and to the end listen to his voice and stay together in his sheepfold, will find themselves safe, renewed, changed and transformed in his company.

So we can and will declare with the strongest conviction and the most heartfelt hope, those words from our Creed: ‘I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. AMEN.’

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney – Australia. ‘Fear not; be not afraid.’ kevin.w3@bigpond.com

It’s an extraordinary fact, but very understandable, that one of our basic attitudes towards God is one of fear. The first time the word ‘fear’ is mentioned in the Bible is when Adam and Eve sinned. We are told that ‘they hid, because they were afraid’. From then on, most contacts with God began with the words ‘Fear not; be not afraid.’ This was even said to Mary, as it was to the shepherds. It is reckoned that Jesus used this expression several dozen times throughout the gospels.

Today’s gospel speaks of the apostles being terribly frightened. This seems strange, as the reason for the fear is the one person who had always been their best friend.

In a way it’s sad to see Jesus pleading with his friends to believe him. He invites them to touch him, to give him something to eat, to examine his hands and his feet. Human nature is so fragile, and so changeable.

Let’s rest with the concept of ‘touch’! There are lots of instances in the Gospels where Jesus touches someone……this is a very important action because it is a very human way of communication. To speak and touch at the same time is a very connected form of relating. Look at the times when you have been respectively touched by someone else, this action seems to put the mind and memory into another gear. Its action has more chance of staying with us than just a kind word. In our own lives we use the phrase, ‘let’s keep in touch’ while you are away; meaning, let’s reinforce the closeness of our relationship through words in emails, text Messages and pics or even hand written post cards which reignite the memory of being ‘touched’.. Staying ‘in touch’ is what life is all about. In this post Resurrection appearance, we see Jesus inviting his friends to ‘touch’ him so that they can experience the reality that their friend and companion is now their Lord, and is with them and will continue to be with His Body, the Church always.

His apostles had known Jesus on a personal basis, and had felt at home in his company. This time, however, things were different. He had broken out of the constraints of the human body, and there must surely have been a sense of uniqueness about him that they had never seen before. It is very difficult for the human mind to grasp the concept of the utter transformation that takes place, when someone they have known and loved is so utterly transformed, and now has an aura of unearthliness about him. However, the fear is immediately changed into joy……a Transfiguration experience…….’it is wonderful for us to be here….let’s contain this experience by building three Tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ How normal is that? When we have these experiences, we want to do the same!

We are told that, while they still doubted, they were filled with joy and wonder. Jesus spoke to them about the hopes and promises ingrained within Scripture about a time when God with gently intervene in our world by His Word, becoming one of us and how he (Jesus) was fulfilling them. While they still wondered, he commissioned them to continue the task he had begun. In the following of that line, which is not included in today’s gospel, he promises that he will send them the Holy Spirit, and they will have a new power within themselves, which will urge them to go out in loving boldness and proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Risen Lord initiates the authority for this venture and He gives them the commission, which is to go out to all sinners proclaiming the Good News! ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’

Finally, in the Gospel for today, the Johannine community inserts a Eucharistic overtone in the text….namely, ‘……they offered him a piece of grilled fish and he took and ate before their eyes’. This Eucharistic insinuation is coupled with the next part that the Risen Lord …’opened their minds to understand the scriptures….’ The Gospel concludes by saying……’you are witnesses to this.’

Now, let’s get down to the reality of the ‘now’ and be reminded of a couple of very serious elements as followers of Jesus. Firstly, the Risen Lord comes to us in our daily life…..think back to those times when the circumstances that you might have been in was awkward, doubtful and lacking in hope! Within that situation we often feel deep within us a ‘stirring’ which frightens us and yet calms us. That is not the time to be looking to prove the existence of God! We don’t need too….we just know it; we know that the Lord is very near to us. We become changed, strengthened and the consequences all makes sense as seen through the lenses of Scripture, which the Lord gently unfolds before us. Our faith=insight, enables us to see the saving hand of God at work in us, and within us. As a result, we become witness to this experience of the Risen Lord……not just for ourselves but to share with others, through our ‘changed/transformed selves. It all makes sense and is real.

So let’s place ourselves among those disciples within today’s Gospel. Maybe our prayer is: ‘I believe, Lord, help my unbelief…Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free…Lord, increase my faith, Lord increase my faith!’

FROM WORD TO THANKSGIVING…..taken from the Glenstal Bible Missal, Page 767.

We give thanks to God our Father, for when we break bread we recognise our Risen Lord, and we receive from him, with the forgiveness of our sins, the peace which he alone can give.

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Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia

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3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Victoria. DISHING OUT HELL OR HEAVEN.

The famous French Philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, once said: “Hell is other people.” Judging on hellish things done to others, this is sometimes all too true. Just consider some of the stories reported in the media in recent times. A young Indian woman about to start her career as a medical doctor in Delhi went out with her boyfriend to see a movie. On their way home in the bus they were e set upon by a group of three men, who brutally assaulted and murdered her, and then tried to hide her body. Her fate left those many people who esteemed and loved her broken-hearted. But the perpetrators and even their lawyers pretended they were innocent because, they said, any decent girl would not be out after dark. In the USA a young unarmed man ran away from a policeman who chased him and shot him dead with a spray of bullets. In Kenya 142 students, mainly Christians, were gunned down on a university campus north of Nairobi by Islamic militants. In Australia a young teacher let herself into her high school one Sunday afternoon to prepare her next class, but was stalked by someone known to her. Her assailant shot her dead, and then transported and burnt her body in bushland some miles away. In just a few day’s time she was meant to marry the love of her life. There’s also the ongoing offence and hurt of wage theft, with too many employers paying their employees only two-thirds or less of the award wage.

But if hell is sometimes other people, so too is heaven. The good news is that many people constantly and repeatedly bring comfort, joy, reassurance, peace and contentment to others. On TV not long ago Nana Mouskouri at 80, wowed her listeners with her beautiful signature song “The White Rose of Athens”. An autistic boy wandered away from home into forest land near a weir and went missing for five days. But many people gave up their Easter holidays to join the police in the search. Finally, cold and hungry and sitting on the side of a precipice, he was spotted from the air and rescued. In the recent bush fires in Tathra and Cobden, Australia, strangers from hundreds of miles away arrived with food, clothing, and furniture for those who had lost all their possessions.

Just a few days back you and I were remembering the sufferings and death of Jesus our Saviour. As we looked on his crucified body with sorrow, love and gratitude, we came face to face with the dark side of human nature that led his enemies to give him hell, by torturing and humiliating him, and then killing him on the rough wood of a cross. On that black day in Jerusalem, the capacity of human beings to hate, hurt and harm one another went completely out of control.

Good Friday left us wondering over and over again: Why was this good man, this innocent man, this man with so much honesty and integrity, so much humanity and compassion, so much warmth and generosity, so much affection and kindness, violated, humiliated, tortured and murdered?

The motives which led his enemies to persecute and destroy him are those which have always influenced human beings to hurt and harm one another – arrogance and pride, power-seeking and ambition, envy and jealousy, anger and fear, hatred and revenge. Good Friday reminded us of the dark and hellish side of human nature and of its associated evils.

Fortunately, however, this is not the whole truth. For if we experience so much evil we also experience an abundance of goodness, a taste of heaven on earth. The crops keep producing food for our tables. The summer heat gives way to cooling autumn breezes. Most diseases are now curable. Tyrants are sometimes overthrown. Social reforms like pensions for the needy are here to stay. Conflicts end in reconciliation. Shaky marriages get patched up. Love survives misunderstandings, thoughtlessness, and indifference. Wars come to an end. Enemies become friends. We forgive others and are forgiven. Just as our Risen Lord has promised today that: “… repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations…!” In a word, there is goodness everywhere, more goodness than evil. In all such traces of heaven, the light of Easter, the influence of the Risen Christ, keeps shining brightly upon us.

Yet one mighty struggle goes on between good and evil, between hellish and heavenly influences. It goes on in the material universe, in human societies, and within our own personalities. Evil even seems stronger than good. But it has not yet finally triumphed. Though too often it seems to be in danger of being crushed, it manages to survive, and even to win many victories. The words of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Independent India, are so true: “When I despair I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but, in the end, they always fall.” Words of our Easter Vigil express the same truth in an equally appealing way: “The power of this holy [Easter] night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy. It casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.”

Our continuing celebration of the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that evil will not have the last say ether in us or our world. It leaves us in no doubt about the ultimate triumph of goodness, not only in ourselves but everywhere around us. Jesus was buried at sunset, to all appearances a victim and a failure. But on the third day the sun came up on him alive and powerful, influential and victorious. It will be the same for us who continue to celebrate Easter by renouncing and rejecting everything dark and evil in our lives, and by renewing our determination to always walk with Jesus in his light.

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So, dear People of God, what’s it to be? What will we dish out to others? Will we give them hell on earth, or with the grace of God, will we give them and keep giving them, slices of heaven?
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Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

5th Sunday of Lent year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. O LORD HEAR MY PRAYER! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

We all look forward to good things happening in our future. It might be a family gathering, where we have not seen many of our relatives since the last Funeral or Wedding. It might be the prospect of moving into a new House after waiting a long time to get the where-with-all to at least have it in order to pay it off as time moves on. It might be a long awaited operation, which will give more length to our life, and thus appreciate it more, because of our fragility.

In the first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah today, he, speaking God’s Word, is full of optimism for a new deed that the Lord God will initiate with His people in the future. This reading is just so powerful, that for its listeners with real open ears to the possibilities that the Lord God has for them and us, would nearly blow their mind! Even more so than winning Lotto or some mega Lottery.

When God’s people were at a low ebb in their living out of covenant love; when their present and future seemed to be nothing but a mess and it was as though they had lost their way, as their ancestors did in the Desert many years before; the Lord God comes up with a plan, as always…….a plan that would streamline their ability to truly listen to God, respond to God and hence live life to the fullest. As Jeremiah says, in speaking the Word of the Lord, ‘Deep within them I will write my law in their hearts.’ You can’t get much closer to the action than that! Then to top it off, the Lord God says, ‘I will forgive their iniquity and never call to mind their sin.’ Now, that is a guarantee to stake one’s life on.

Now for us, and as it was for our ancestors in faith, a great deal like this does not come without a personal cost; that price having a contrite heart! A clean heart! A remembering heart! A heart that truly listens and has the inner energy and grace to respond! The Responsorial Psalm today is one of the greatest Acts of Contrition in the Scriptures. Psalm 50. The Twitter message that could do well by being embedded in our being is: CREATE A CLEAN HEART IN ME, O GOD.

The Second Reading today, takes up the theme of inner transformation and the subtle growth that can take place in a person who lives the above Twitter message! In the Letter to the Hebrews, the Author unpicks vital aspects of Our Lord’s inner spirituality, in order to facilitate our own inner conversion. In the Letter it says, ‘he learnt to obey through suffering’. Unless we get a good handle on this, we could end up moving away from its real intent! The operative Verb is TO OBEY! Most certainly here we are not talking about obedience like we use with our pet Dog, STAY! COME! Nor is it an obedience that we would use with our growing children, ‘Don’t do that!’ No, the Biblical concept is through suffering, Jesus learnt to LISTEN not just with his ears, but with his whole body! We see this happening, and you would have seen this with members of your own family. Sickness and suffering not only enables the person in question to know what is really of value, and who are of value, but it can have a catalytic effect upon the family! Sickness and suffering in the family can unearth some of the most sanctifying and saintly aspects, actions and values of our humanity from those around us. Worth thinking about! So, let’s get this real; Jesus entered completely into suffering which then enabled him to listen to His Father’s filial words, and thus he can fully identify with us on the ground floor.

The Gospel today has underlying threads which have come through to us through the First Reading, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Second Reading. Let’s check it out!

There are lots of fantastic and realistic prayers in the Scriptures. In the Gospel today, we have a really beauty! Some Greeks, said to Philip, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ What a deep prayer……the Great St. Benedict, the Founder of Western Monasticism once said to his Brothers….’Prayer ought to be brief and pure’. In other words it is not a show of lofty words that will win the Lord’s attention….no, it is the simplicity and uncomplicated nature of the prayer which comes from a contrite heart.

There is more to this…….Philip, becomes an intercessor for the Gentiles (Greeks) who goes to Jesus! Look in our life at the many times when we want to see Jesus! Nine times out of ten, the Jesus that we are looking for is right in front of us, and we can’t see for looking! Or, many people that we meet over Coffee or in the Shops, will in a roundabout way ask us to lead them to Jesus! There is plenty of food for thought here as we head into the last lap of Lent, as we continue our spiritual athletics.

In the Gospel of today Jesus replied to the Greeks, in real terms, he did not sugar coat the message. In short Our Lord says, that in order to live the fullness of life, we must die to all that is not of God. In order to find life, we have to lose it……in other words, to find real life is being that of a foot washer, not some Imperial power dressed up in finery and rings…..All of us from Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and Faithful, are to refuse pomp and pageantry, in order to be a true and authentic servant of the Lord and each other. Look at our Pope! What a fantastic example of this in our needy, power filled world. Here of course we see the cruel and prevalent disease……the pursuit of power, and the abuse there of. It is the most ugly and crippling sickness which can drive people into depression, lack of self-appreciation, and a wandering through the black corridors of feeling worthless, just by some simple power filled action from maybe one trusted apostle. On the other hand, it can be one or two people who have been in that black hole, and the recipients of the abuse of power, which can figuratively, take you by the hand and raise you up!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

4th Sunday of Lent Year B, 20018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com THE MESSAGE CANNOT BE CLEARER THAN THIS!

Because today’s gospel is spoken entirely by Jesus himself, it deserves our close and full attention. It is like a Manifesto, Declaration or Policy outline of exactly where he stands. He tells us why he has come, and how important it is that we listen to his words and believe what he says. Both statements are equally important because, knowing why he came, and not to respond with faith, is to bring condemnation on ourselves.

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On a personal level verse 16 applies to us and seeks a response….it goes like this: ‘ For God loved me so much that he sent his only-begotten Son so that, if I believe in him, I will not perish, but will have eternal life.’ In simple words, what does the word ‘believe’ mean? What does it mean in practice? Because Jesus said it, and I accept what he says as true, my life is different and will continue to change. In taking on board the implications of saying ‘Yes, I do believe’, we are saying that what Jesus says is the truth, and hence we must explore all the resources within His truth. In short, we will view the world and its people differently, and we will think differently, and act in accordance with the will of God. As St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians Chapter 2, verse 5, ‘In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.’

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I suppose that we could say that our faith is in our feet! It enables us to step out with confidence, with the sure and certain knowledge that God will not let us down.

I am always amazed at many people in the Gospel who seemed to have the ability to listen to Jesus, believe what he said, and act on it. Then of course, there is the exact opposite; people who were spiritually blind and impaired by their hardness of heart, who would not even entertain the idea that God was doing a new deed in Jesus, and that in fact he was the fulfilment of the Old Testament Prophesies. The unique relationship that Jesus had with his Father was too much for some to bear, and the words which he spoke which flowed into his relationships with everyone, was far too radical!

28th Sunday year a priorities ahead

Lent is moving swiftly along, and Easter is just around the corner. Now is the time to STOP and CHECK OUT our spiritual maintenance list: Are we spending more time in prayer? Are we being more alert to the needs of others, especially the poor? Are we making attempts to be more disciplined in our lives so that we can be unhindered in our loving and forgiving outreach to others? In the final analysis, it is entirely up to us. Reconciliation? Confession? Making time to join in our Parish Community Reconciliation…..let’s face it, we are all in the same boat! TIME, TIME TIME! This activity in Lent in PRIME TIME!

Examination of conscience

The following might give us a kick start to seek Reconciliation…..
Selfishness: this blinds us to the needs of others;
Insensitivity: this blinds us to the hurt we’re causing others;
Snobbery: this blinds us to the equal dignity of others;
Pride: this blinds us to our own faults;
Prejudice: this blinds us to the truth;
Self-centeredness: this blinds us to the beauty of the people around us, and their giftedness.
Materialism: this blinds us and makes us numb to spiritual values.
Superiority: this blinds us to the reality that we all eat our Corn flakes the same way!

Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney  Australia

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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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4th Sunday of Lent year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. TELLING IT LIKE IT IS.

Begging for money

Paul O’Reilly, a Jesuit priest in England. recalls that when he was a seminarian on pastoral placement in a parish he was given a job called ‘Drinkers’ Duty’. Every morning about 8 o’clock, 20 to 30 men would come to the church to tell Paul how much alcohol they had drunk the previous day. Paul’s job was not to say ‘that’s good’ or ‘that’s bad’ but simply to write it down for the record. All sorts of men would turn up from poor hopeless drug addicts to rich and successful businessmen. Sometimes they would come very proudly and say ‘None! And that’s just two pints for the whole week.’ At other times one or more would come up looking very sheepish and ashamed and say ‘Er … eight cans, Brother!’

Nobody made them do this. They wanted to do it. They were all men who knew they had a problem with alcohol. They also knew what Jesus tells us today that ‘everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear their actions should be exposed; but those who live by the truth come out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what they do is done in God.’

3rd Sunday of Lent year B 1

So those problem drinkers needed a place and a person to go to each day where they could feel safe enough to be honest about their drinking, to tell it like it is.

That, of course, is the deal with the sacrament called ‘Reconciliation’ or ‘Confession’. People who are not Catholics find it hard to understand. They ask, ‘Why can’t I just confess my sins to God? Why do I have to bother with a priest?’

The answer of course is that we can confess our sins to God. Nobody is stopping us. But we all know that we human beings are good at deceiving ourselves. It’s not just alcoholics. We all need a safe place and a person we trust, in order to fess up to both the bad things we have done and the good things we have failed to do. We need that because as Catholic Christians we want to live by the Truth, the Truth that sets us free, the Truth that comes to us in the words of Jesus saying through our priest ‘I absolve you from your sins’, which is to say ‘I am setting you free’.
Someone has remarked wisely that hearing those words is like being ‘hugged by God’! So, let’s make more use of this gift from Jesus Christ that has come to us through his Church, this very healing practice!

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

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