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31st Sunday year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Speaking the truth in love = listening to the truth in humility. kevin.w3@bigpond.com https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

All of us have a tremendous capacity to love! It is, and can be the most explosive force within our universe! Its power can build enduring vectors of relationships, which can radiate extraordinary light and warmth, which nurture the building blocks of solid and all-embracing community-life in Christ! Remember the great American actor Steve Reeve who was famous, as you know for his portrayal of Superman in the movies. However, as a result of a fall from a horse, he ended up in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. He said he got 100,000 letters of sympathy and support from people. This led him to ask: ‘Why does it take a tragedy before we show our appreciation for one another?’ Well that is the big question!! It is really unfortunately true!

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Over the last forty years, I have presided at hundreds of Funerals. Sometimes it takes the death of a loved one to bring about Family Reconciliations. Over the years I have heard many Eulogies, and I have often asked myself the question: “I wonder if the deceased person has heard even half of what was said about them in their life time?” I don’t really have an answer to that question of mine, but I would not be too surprised if it is true to some extent.

In the ‘high tech’ times in which we live, we are surrounded by wonderful systems of communication; yet are we able to have more time for each other, love for each other, and accept each other’s differences? Again when there is a tragedy anywhere in the world, within second’s outpourings of grief and extraordinary stories appear on Face book! However, the social media can also be the vehicle for evil and blackmail, using the iPhone or Tablet as a coward’s pulpit!

So often when we go to the shops or professional services we are forced to take a number, and join the never ending queue, or hear the words on the ‘phone, ’ Your call is important to us, you have progressed in the queue’ please hold on! Unfortunately we are experiencing more than usual calls. Approximate waiting time is 45 minutes! For what? Then in frustration, you might hang up! In your mind you are saying to yourself, “all I want to do is speak to someone…not a robot”

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The twofold commandment to love God, and our neighbours, which we hear from the lips of Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel, ( Mark 12:28-34) echo the very same words found in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy 6:4., and in Leviticus 19:18. Yet, this twofold commandment was almost smothered within the 613 commandments of the Jewish ‘law’!! At this point I think we need to go back to the Old Testament reading and reflect upon it very deeply.

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Notice that in the pronouncement of the commandment there is Invitatory to LISTEN! Then built on this listening is a sense of urgency to implement it. The icon or image where the implications of the great commandment reside is in the heart! It seems that we could safely say that the overall icon or image displayed throughout the Scriptures is the heart! Then the total confirmation of this image is the Cross with its base deeply embedded within the heart. Let’s explore this for a few moments so that its impact can be appreciated.

In all civilizations of the world, the heart has a dominant place. Being the central organ in the body, the heart is the centre of ‘Life’; its functions enable the entire body to ‘Live’. The heart has been and still is the main symbol for ‘Love.’ That in itself is very telling….without love, nothing works! Nothing is sustained, nothing develops. A heartless person is someone who is devoid of human feelings, is hardened to the plight of the ‘suffering’ in this world, and has lost the sense of compassion. Unfortunately in our world it seems that the heartless acts perpetrated by people get the headlines, inherit the ‘breaking news’ slots in the media, and tend to dominate Thriller Novels and late night Movies. So, does that mean that hard heartedness is on the front line of human advancement? I believe that the short answer is no! The countless millions of heartfelt people far outweigh its opposite. People with big hearts, don’t go looking for publicity, people who are awash with love don’t make the headlines on digital media or Television News time. Occasionally, a short segment of true love is shown on Current Affairs Program’s as a kind of a Postscript or appendix, just to give a little reminder that the world’s people are not all bad…………..

I think that we need to dwell on the imperative given in the Old Testament Reading of today, (Deuteronomy 6:2-6) when it says: ‘LISTEN ISRAEL’ it’s more than saying, ‘Pay attention!’ It means, Children of El…Meaning children of God listen with body, mind and spirit….’holistic listening’……which is really Biblical Obedience! This is a far more positive and embracing concept of Obedience, then leaving it just with the following of Rules (well trained Dogs can do that)…or quoting Rules. So, in terms of loving, how does Biblical obedience come in to the full picture of loving? It would seem that according to the Scriptures: Listening to the truth in humility, is the precursor for us to truly love as God loves. Humility here is more like ‘poverty of spirit’ which is that constant hunger and thirst for hearing God’s Word and digesting it. It can be a very arrogant statement to say we speak the truth in love! Unless it is grounded in humility, it’s just window dressing.

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Finally, in an attempt to answer the big question: ‘Why does it take a tragedy to happen before we show our appreciation for one another?’ We so often leave it too late to love, and then we are full of regrets. We wait until it is too late to tell or show others that we love them. We often leave it too late to mend a quarrel, too late to enjoy health or the gift of our children or our parents. It seems that if we are going to be on time, we need to be listening to God while our hearts are being touched, and that we in turn respond in the ‘now’ not maybe, and then the words of Jesus to the scribe in today’s Gospel are then spoken to us: ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’.

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31st Sunday year B 2018. A reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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Jesus has just told you and me what is the most important thing in the world. That’s to be a loving person. So, we are meant to love our God with our whole self, i.e. with our whole mind, whole heart, and whole will – in fact, with every fibre of our being. The second part of being a loving person is to love and care for our neighbour every bit as much as we love and care for ourselves.

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It’s only right that we should do so. After all God has loved us first. The very fact that we are alive and here today is because our God has loved us into life. In the second place Jesus calls us to love God with our entire being because his whole life and death have been a manifestation, and even a pouring out, of God’s tender love for every single one of us. Being loved into life by God as both our Creator and Redeemer, we are called to mirror and reflect the love that has made and redeemed us, by reaching out in love to other persons.

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Reaching out to others with loving hearts involves our emotions. We feel for the different people in our lives. However, what is more essential and more important than any feelings we have about them is that we act for their well-being and happiness. When e.g. the gospels speak of the love in the heart of Jesus, they highlight his specific acts of kindness and generosity. To put this in a personal way: In loving another person I value that person. I value that person so much that I seek through my own resources, whatever they may be, to assist him or her in their wellbeing, happiness and development. I will seek to do so in concrete and practical ways. In the process I will extend myself beyond my personal needs, interests and concerns, to the interests, concerns and needs of the person I am seeking to assist.

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This approach to loving one’s neighbour as another self is the opposite of selfishness and self-preoccupation. It overcomes a natural and inborn tendency to think of myself first, to put my needs before the needs of anyone else, and to keep telling myself that they must paddle their own canoe and I mustn’t get involved. So, it overcomes our natural instinct to keep thinking: ‘Just mind your own business!’ even when that other person in my life is in acute pain and clearly needs me now. But when I truly care for another person, I put the needs of that other person first and let their needs influence and alter my personal choices, priorities and actions.

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For us Christians, our concrete ways of loving others are intimately connected with our love for God. Love for God, in fact, can be expressed only in a way which corresponds to our way of being in the world. It can function, then, only within the network of our interpersonal relationships. In fact, our love for God and neighbour are, in fact, one and the same love. So, our love and loving care for other human beings is not in competition with our love for God but the concrete and practical ways in which we express our love for God. In practice, the two commandments to be a loving person are just one commandment.

Let me give you one striking example of all this: – When Paul O’Reilly, a Jesuit priest, was working in the Amazon rain-forest in South America as a medical doctor, he had a young patient called Jeffrey. When Jeffrey was ten, his mother died. Three months later, his father abandoned Jeffrey and his two sisters and emigrated to a rich country. The three children were taken in by an uncle who worked as a teacher in a very poor village deep in the rain-forest. One day, when Jeffrey was 12, he and his sisters did not have enough food to eat. So Jeffrey climbed a mango tree to try to get some fruit.

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His uncle had told him not to, but Jeffrey couldn’t stand seeing his sisters going hungry. But he fell down 30 feet from the tree and broke his back. He was left paralyzed from the middle of his chest downwards. The people with him carried him on a stretcher 20 days walk through the forest to a little hospital in the nearest town. There he lay for a whole year. At the end of that year in hospital, he was in a bad way. He was just skin and bones and had pressure sores all over his back. He was in constant pain and was obviously dying. His uncle and sisters cared for him as best they could. But day by day he got worse and worse. So they decided to take him home ¬since they couldn’t bear for him to die in hospital. But unable to carry him another 20 days journey through the forest, they appealed to their local church community for help.

God touched the hearts of their next door neighbours Henry and Colette Melville, a married couple with children of their own, to take in the whole family and care for them. Colette, in particular, looked after Jeffrey night and day for six months till he died. And when he died she wept for him as for one of her own children.

Of all the people he has ever known, Paul says, she was the one who loved the Lord her God with all her heart, all her mind, all her strength and all her might. And more than anyone else he has ever known, she is the one who truly loved her neighbour as herself. What an amazing example for us of true love at work!

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Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

30th Sunday year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. LET ME SEE AGAIN! kevin.w3@bigpond.com https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

Bartimeaus being healed

There are many stories of ‘the blind’ being healed in the Gospels, but this one about Bartimaeus is the most well known example. It is loaded with simple and easy-to-understand teaching, and its implications remain the same for all generations.

Before we can begin to appreciate the evergreen message of this Gospel passage, we must go to the Old Testament Reading as a background which gives colour and meaning to the moments which the Gospel presents; especially with its promises ‘of old’ being fulfilled in Jesus, and how the long awaited ‘gathering of the nations’ might be accomplished by a Shepherd Messiah, a suffering Servant, a merciful Father.

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Firstly, let’s listen to the tone of the First Reading? Jeremiah 31:7-9 Notice that there is a distinct atmosphere of jubilation and expectation? Jeremiah is absolutely ‘over the moon’ as we say these days….is could not contain himself as the revealed word took root in his heart. He just had to yell it out! We have all had experiences of that kind of event in our own lives! The birth of your child….’it’s a girl, it’s a boy’!!!!! This runs through this section of the Book of Jeremiah, culminating in Chapter 34: 31-34…..the joy of anticipated new deeds that the Lord God will accomplish in the New Covenant at some future time. Notice who will have their hopes realised? Yes, it is the ‘Poor of the Lord’, the anawim, the faithful few, the remnant of Israel. Let’s keep in mind that the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth were representative of the ‘Poor of the Lord’.

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It is important to note that there are hints in this reading which are subtle reminders that ‘The One’ who is coming to the rescue has shepherd-like characteristics…. The text says, ” See, I will bring them back….” further on it says, ” and gather them….” and still further on it says, ” I will comfort them…..” Question? Who are some of these people? ‘The lame, the blind, the so called ‘fringe people’. Another question that should be asked could well be: What will these people receive when they are gathered together? The answer is ‘new life’, and this is demonstrated in the text, where it says ‘ I will guide them to streams of water’. Water being a rich Biblical symbol for “new life”. Now, we need to keep all of the above in mind as we look at the growing relationship in faith, between Jesus and Bartimaeus, and Bartimaeus and Jesus. I have deliberately phrased it that way…you will see why as we move on. Mark 10:46-52

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It was a moment of grace! Bartimaeus was blind, and Jesus of Nazareth was passing by; but notice that it is Jesus accompanied by a crowd, who were passing by…could this mean that the remnant, the ‘Poor of the Lord’ are being gathered and following Jesus? Most certainly that would seem to be a possible Biblical meaning of this procession from Jericho to Jerusalem! Bartimaeus had a choice, and what he did was a response to an innate invitation from the Lord God in Jesus. Notice what he shouted, “Son of David, “have pity on me!” Let’s stay with this for a moment….Bartimaeus, in his shouting, was praying the opening line of Psalm 50….’ Have pity on me of God….’ This Psalm is one of the greatest Acts of Contrition in the whole of the Scriptures.

Now Bartimaeus could have let Jesus go by, or he could seize the moment, and seek healing. Within an act of ‘spiritual poverty’ he called out to Jesus in the midst of opposition. Jesus did not go around healing anybody and everybody. But let’s not forget that Jesus heard ‘the cry of the poor’ Ps 130:1 ‘out of the depths I cry to you O Lord’. Jesus asked others to bring Bartimaeus to him. Here is another example of Intercession, in fact the Intercessors place a prayerful word on the lips of the blind man”Courage” he is calling you! There are just so many occasions in the Scriptures where we see Prayers of Intercession at hand, and we see that people are often the vehicle for Intercessions to be forwarded to the Lord God. This is one of those examples. The ‘gathering of the poor of the Lord’ who were accompanying Jesus reinforced the invitation to others along the way, by triggering an experience of salvation in those who freely responded to the Lord’s invitation. In this case, the man by the roadside had to make a decision about stopping him in the midst of opposition or letting him go on. Notice that Jesus says, ‘It is your faith that has healed you’. Faith in this instance, is the graced moment of being able to see the saving hand of God at work in Jesus.

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We can see that Bartimaeus was very determined. When he called out, some of those around him tried to tell him to ‘shut up’, and stay quiet. That in itself could have been enough to put him off. However, he shouted all the louder and kept shouting until Jesus stopped, and called him over. Don’t forget, Bartimaeus was blind, and yet Jesus called him over to him. Jesus remained where he was, and waited for Bartimaeus to come to him. Perhaps in throwing off his cloak as he went to Jesus was symbolic of him leaving his old way of life behind, and finding security and truth within the mantle of Jesus’ merciful and healing love. Let us pause for a moment on the request of Bartimaeus….” Let me see again!” This request has even deeper implications for all of us….the again means that he had eyes to see before; he was now in the dark! Another chance to see? This was enough to urge the man to walk towards the voice of Jesus! What a fantastic experience. Think back to the many times when you were in a dark place, and a voice from a loved one, or even someone who may not have been on your Christmas card list, call you into light. Like the Intercessors in the Gospel story, they were people just like you and me. Bartimaeus is a person just like you and me. A return from this man (representative of many others) to the author of all new life! A graced moment of Reconciliation.

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To complete our task in this realhomilie, I would like to dwell for a moment on another action which is extremely symbolic for Bartimaeus, and equally profound for all of us. The local Intercessors who placed their prayer on his lips…’courage’, also placed an action-response on him as well…..’Get up, He is calling you’. In his response to this Intercession, the throwing off the cloak of the past, and the rising up, jumping up is a combined action of throwing off the past, and rising to new life can well be seen as being part of the external signs of the inner experience manifesting his being saved……salvation! To finish off there is still something precious that we cannot overlook; notice what Jesus said to Bartimeaus at the end of this encounter…..’Go, your faith has saved you’…..the question is then asked: Go where? It would seem that the dismissal from Jesus is not…..Go now you are OK, but GO and procliam to all the world the nearness of the Kingdom!

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Make Disciples of all nations…..It was in the GOING, that his sight was returned, because through his spiritual sight, Bartimeaus could see in Jesus the saving hand of God at work. Another question……where did the healed man go to? The answer is profound: he followed Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life with the others who had gathered with Jesus along that road which leads to Jerusalem, and then post Passion/Resurrection to the New Jerusalem! And then to top it off, at this time when the Gospel of Mark was written, the followers of Jesus were not called Christians, they were called THE WAY! SEe the play on words? Isn’t that fantastic? This is why we walk slowly through God’s Word with heightened sensitivity, so that we do not miss anything.

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As we read the Scriptures, we see the need to take it slowly or we will miss some of its meaning. I think that we should read the Scriptures with a Geiger Counter attached by USB into our heads so that we don’t miss anything. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of reflective listening while reading God’s Word. At this point I want to publically thank Fr. Robert Crotty CP, who inspired me, and many others who enabled us to be ‘caught’ by God’s Word. As students for the Priesthood way back in the late 1960’s and 70’s we were so fortunate to have Biblical Scholars, like Robert Crotty CP, Jerome Crowe C.P and Angelo O’Hagin OFM at Yarra Theological Union, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia to inspire us.

Every one of us has moments of grace in the course of any day. Unlike Bartimaeus, we may not be ready, or we may not be determined enough to avail ourselves of the opportunity being offered. Jesus of Nazareth is passing by each moment of every day. We have a choice, and we know it at the time. I am sure that all of us can remember times when we have let opportunities of grace pass by, and they never return in the same way.
We all have our blindness, but there are none so blind as those who do not want to see. If Jesus is to be effective in our lives, then we must be open and honest before him, and we must rid ourselves of any attempts to impress, to deny or to pretend. Jesus sees us exactly as we are. Jesus is real! Jesus knows where healing is needed within us. It is up to us like Bartimaeus, to know our need of inner healing, seize the moment, and go to Jesus amidst the distractions which would have us stay still; blind, or excuses saying we have no time to see the saving God before us, narrow-mindedness, hardness of heart, or a preference to live within our inner darkness where growth is impossible. Our lives can be full of miracles if we choose to permit them to happen. Let us all be daring and adventurous in seeking healing just like Bartimemas, and Jesus will say to us, “Your faith has saved you.”

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30th Sunday year B, 2018. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Victoria. PRAYING IN PAIN.

Every now and then we come across people knocked for six by things that happen to them. We’ve seen e.g. people on television in deep grief because a loved one has been murdered, or been killed in a car accident, or their house with all their belongings has just burnt to the ground. In the face of such disasters, they may sit on the ground with their heads in their hands, rocking from side to side, or they may just stare blindly ahead. In their extreme pain they are often incapable of saying even one word about what they are feeling. So when someone asks: ’How are you feeling?’ or ‘Is there anything I can do?’, or ‘Can I bring you a cup of coffee or tea?’ there’s just no answer. The victims of sudden disaster simply cannot answer anything at all. In their numb state they are feeling just too much pain and too much shock even to hear what is being said to them, let alone responding to what is being said.

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The first step to easing their pain, is for them to find a language, however slowly, to express it. So we are not surprised to find in the pages of the bible a language to express the pain that comes from loss, and the pain that comes from fear. In fact there are many prayers of lament, many lamentations of one kind or another in the bible. What they have in common is that they are cries from the heart, shouts of suffering, groans of anguish, and even screams for help. One we will soon come across is in the Responsorial Psalm for our 33rd Sunday: ‘Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.’

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Cries, shouts and groans to God when people are in acute pain not only help people to express themselves. They are also expressions of hope that things can get better. Lamentation, then, is not pessimistic, it is trustful. It refuses to remain powerless and passive in the face of pain, frustration, disappointment or disaster.

Bartimeaus being healed

When that poor blind beggar Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is near by, he shouts out his lament: ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ But some of those near by resent him expressing his pain and his scream for help. They tell him rudely to ‘just shut up’. But Bartimaeus knows that if things are ever going to change for the better, he must communicate to Jesus the loss of his sight and his lack of any income to buy food, clothing, or any of the necessities of life. Having been blind nearly all his life, he’s had enough of living in his world of total darkness, and he’s just not going to take it any more. So, with the arrival of Jesus on the scene he’s convinced that his one and only chance of a brand new start has arrived at last.

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His cries for help stop Jesus in his tracks. He tells the bystanders to reach out to Bartimaeus by calling him over. They now change their tune. ‘Courage,’ they say, ‘Get up; he is calling you.’ Jesus asks him: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ When the blind man blurts out his desperate plea, there and then Jesus heals him and praises him for his faith in Jesus, his life-saver. Saved by that faith, he goes on to use his newly restored sight to follow Jesus along the road, as his newest, his most enthusistic, and his most grateful disciple.

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So this marvellous healing of the blind man takes place as the result of a prayer of lamentation. Its story reminds us that in the frustration and anger over bad things that happen to us or others, in situations of acute pain, it’s quite all right and indeed advisable, to give vent to our feelings, and even, like Bartimaeus, to yell or even scream at God for help. After all, God is big enough, great enough and good enough, to absorb all our cries of pain and all our cries for help.

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But if, on the other hand, we’ve been brought up to think that the religious response to pain and suffering should be silence and passivity, then we won’t ever pray those prayers of complaint and lament to God that we need to pray. We’ll just take it all on the chin, and fall into a crumpled heap of depression and anxiety. To do that, however, means that we will be depriving ourselves of a language to state our suffering. Instead of honestly telling God our loving Father and Mother exactly what we are thinking and feeling, our prayer will be a kind of polite and reverent game of ‘make-believe’.

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We will also deprive ourselves of the possibility of divine help and healing in one form or another. Just as Bartimaeus touched the heart of Jesus and found the comfort and healing he needed in his life-long predicament, you and I will also find that our prayers of lament will go straight to the heart of God. In every painful situation and especially when we find ourselves or others burdened with unbearable pain, may we also hear Jesus our Saviour saying to us too, those same tender and gentle words he spoke to Blind Bartimaeus: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
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Brian Gleeson special photo

 

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28th Sunday Year B 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. Fruit of Biblical Wisdom: SEE, JUDGE & ACT! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Today’s Gospel gives us Jesus’ teaching on the dangers of attachment to riches, and he speaks about the rewards awaiting those who put him and his message before their earthly ambitions, of building up their wealth on earth.

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The first obvious thing in today’s gospel is that the young man seemed to be a very good person. He was most respectful to Jesus, and he was honest in his search for eternal life. He had kept all the commandments since his youth, and Jesus looked on him with love. To all appearances, he was an ideal person. Yet, without condemning, Jesus just had to show him something about himself of which he may have been very unaware. He was too dependent upon his wealth, and therefore without knowing it, he was not truly free! Jesus invited him to freedom, but the cost was too much for him. So, what did the young man lack in his life seeing that he had seemingly led a pretty good life? The answer is in the first reading today. So, let’s have a look at it. Wisdom 7:7-11

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The author of this Old Testament Reading speaks about an interior value that supersedes a fat wallet, and millions of $$$$’s in the Bank Account. Notice that it is a feminine characteristic of God…..WISDOM. Well, what does Biblical Wisdom mean? Firstly it is a Spirit filled Gift which we need to ask for….Wisdom is somewhat like a nice Red Wine….it matures with age. However, it needs good intentions from the one who wishes to acquire it. As Biblical Wisdom matures, it enable us to discern what is of lasting value, what is of temporary value and what is rubbish! In fact, according to the Scriptures, God-given-Wisdom is the most valuable spiritual possession one can have in this life. If it becomes part of our bone marrow, Wisdom will guide us, challenge us and strengthen us. In order to engage the Gift of Wisdom, a simple rule of thumb can help us….SEE, JUDGE AND ACT! This motto was the core of a Youth Movement which I belonged too as a teenager, and I have never forgotten it.

The response to the Psalm 89:12-17 Fill us with your love, O Lord and we shall sing for joy. The Prayer sentiments in this Psalm are a great community response to the first Reading…..if we took on board the prayer in this psalm…..our only response would be: – Fill us with your love, O Lord and we shall sing for joy.

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Now, let’s hang on to the SEE, JUDGE AND ACT trio; you might find it handy as well. Let’s apply it to the young man in the Gospel story today. Mark 10:17-30. Let’s ask the obvious question: Why did he go away from Jesus sad? Most probably because he lacked Wisdom to discern the all-embracing gift that Jesus was offering him. He couldn’t see it! So Wisdom might have a great deal of meaning when it comes to seeing someone, who is the saving hand of God at work in Jesus. It could well be said to be the 1st cousin of faith! Food for Thought! So let’s get a balance in Our Lord’s view on wealth.

14th Sunday year A Mother Teresa

There is nothing wrong with wealth, or with being wealthy. Some of the world’s greatest people, who have given much of themselves to others, have been very wealthy people. So it’s all about our attitude and inner secret attachment or detachment that matters, which gives us the freedom to embrace the Gospel fully, or due to enslavement to riches we can walk away sad!

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Well what kind of poverty is Jesus speaking about when he says that we should have a sense of detachment from things in order to be truly free? The answer is ‘poverty of spirit’ which is a spiritual gift. It is that genuine thirst for God and a hunger to seek God, and in living that spirit, our attitude towards material things and people take on a new meaning. Poverty of spirit enables us to be open minded to what God asks of us. It flavours our life so much that we are deeply appreciative of our inner gifts, and can tune into the richness within other people without being jealous or envious of them. Poverty of spirit is an inner truth which sets us free to use the gifts that our world provides with a sense of appreciation and moving on, and not wanting to cling on to what we have got as a source of true identity and self-esteem. After all, when it is all said and done, a burial shroud has no pockets! Something to think about! When I was clothed in the Passionist Habit in 1968, we had no pockets because it was a black burial shroud! However, very inconvenient what you felt a sneeze coming on and one could not get to the pockets in our trousers under the habit to get a handkerchief, or hanky as we used to call them.
We give thanks to God who alone is good, for his Son, Jesus Christ. By handing over his body and blood for us, Jesus gives us everything; and turning on us his look of love, he says: ‘Do this in memory of me.’

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28th Sunday Year B, 2018. A Reflection on the Readings from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. RICHES GETTING IN THE ROAD. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

A questionnaire was once distributed to a class of high school students. It asked: ‘What would you like to be?’ Two thirds answered: ‘A celebrity!’ Not an answer Jesus would have given!

Mark, today’s gospel storyteller, tells us that Jesus is setting out on a journey, when this young man – he is not named – comes running up to him. All enthusiastic, he asks Jesus what he must do to make the most of his life and time on earth. What he is wanting is a greater closeness to God and a greater sense of fulfilment. It’s true he has already been walking the right path for any good young Jewish man. He hasn’t killed anyone, cheated anyone, or robbed anyone. He hasn’t fooled around with another man’s wife. He has always shown his parents love and respect. But right now this doesn’t seem enough to feel completely at home with God and completely at peace with himself. There must be more that he can be, and there must be more that he can do. ‘What is it?’ he asks Jesus.

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Jesus takes a shine to this rich young business man for his evident honesty, sincerity and good will. But Jesus wants to free him from his addiction to possessions and to help him share more with others. Looking him straight in the eye Jesus puts to him one massive challenge: ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’

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Let’s hear Jesus saying that to us 21st century people. What would we think? What would we feel? What would we do? Let’s hear Jesus, then, asking any one of us to give up every single thing we value and treasure. My family! My friends! My home! My garden! My kitchen with its new cupboards and appliances! My air conditioner! My computer! My smart TV! My smart phone! My IPod! My iPad! My digital camera! My swimming pool! My Jacuzzi! My secure job and pay packet! My superannuation! My pension! My gym subscription! My holidays! My concerts! My books! My movies, my videos, my CDs and DVDs! My restaurant meals! My motor car! My football! My cricket! My tennis! My squash! My basketball! My health insurance! Just imagine Jesus asking us to give up just about every possession, every pursuit, and every hobby we have that gives meaning to our lives and makes life worth living!

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And all for what? To keep walking with Jesus along those dusty roads of Palestine? Not being sure of having a roof over my head on any night you care to name! Never being sure of where, when or whether my next meal will be coming! Being exposed to the jeers and sneers of the enemies of Jesus! Travelling light all right, unbelievably light!

If, then, like that rich young man we did meet Jesus on his journey and he were to look steadily at any one of us and say: ‘Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor . . . then come, follow me,’ it would be very understandable, perhaps even predictable, that our jaws too would drop, and we too would walk away sad, sad because we would probably be thinking and feeling: ‘Jesus is asking too much of me. The cost is too great. It’s beyond me. It’s unreal. I can’t do it.’

13th Sunday of Year A Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa 2

Jesus, in fact, knows that what he asked of that young man is quite beyond the great majority of human beings. ‘For mortals,’ he comments, ‘it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ He is speaking, surely, of the special grace of God, and of the power of that grace given to particular individuals, who all through history have literally left everything to follow and imitate Jesus. St Francis of Assisi is a striking example. In 1206 Jesus crucified spoke to him three times from the crucifix in the church of San Damiano. ‘Go, repair my church,’ Jesus said. (He was speaking of his church community). So at the age of 25 Francis completely renounced his inheritance, stripped himself of all his fine clothes and all his possessions, and consecrated himself totally to God. From that day he began to live the teachings of Jesus as literally as possible. He put all his trust in God as his one and only source of security.
The amazing thing is that from that day on Francis found more joy in living than in the entire first twenty-five years of life. It can be done, then, but not by everyone.

Where does the gospel story leave you and me? Right now we can’t pack up the bare necessities and hit the road. For most of us that would even be irresponsible. But let our gospel remind us that we can let our lives get too cluttered and too complicated by too much stuff and too much attachment to what we have. It’s not that possessions are bad in themselves. But they can become a terrible hindrance if they start to possess us and block our minds and hearts from what matters most – surely our freedom to be loving persons to family and friends, but also to those poor people not far away without even the basic necessities of life. What matters most of all is our relationship with Jesus. He was calling that young man of the story into his company. He keeps calling us too to share his company – to spend time with him and to share our lives with him. Let’s do just that, then, in the rest of our Eucharist together today!

Brian Gleeson special photo

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27th Sunday Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney – Australia. JESUS SEES THE BIGGER PICTURE: DO WE? kevin.w3@bigpond.com WEB: https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

26th Sunday year B Cinema

Many, many years ago, when I was a young boy….say about 5 or 6 years of age, Saturday afternoons used to be very special for us kids! Because if we had been good to our parents during the week, and made sure that we ate our vegetables at meals, we would sometimes be rewarded by being allowed to go to The Pictures!

In Australia, that is what we call the Cinema! We would look forward to watching many Walt Disney’s cartoons of Bugs Bunny, and Donald Duck, and funny movies like Abbot and Costello and Superman! It was so good! And it was all in Black and White, on a small screen! We used to think that we were so lucky, and we were! But then as the years moved on, Television arrived, and then Movies and cartoons used in living Colour!!!!!! Then as time went on, there came the stunning vision of IMAX – SURROUND SOUND in 3D!!!!! This was an absolutely amazing change from the narrow box screen at the Picture shows when I was a kid! Now, it is the all-embracing view and experience of Cinerama -IMAX-3D!!! We actually feel and sense, and see ourselves in the Movie!

26th Sunday year B 3D

By illustration, let’s imagine that our human view of the world is the black and white films of the Picture show, years back, and God’s view of the world is CINERAMA-IMAX-3D-SURROUND SOUND PLUS! We are so often limited in our understanding of God’s plan and desired involvement with us, because of our tunnel vision! Over the millennia, the Angel of the Lord, has opened our minds to see the bigger picture, but to be within the bigger picture!

Let’s look at the first reading today from the Book of Numbers 11:25-29. We see something absolutely astonishing, which speaks about the smaller picture as seen by us, and the bigger picture interpreted by one of the Lord’s Prophets!

26th Sunday year B Holy Spirit over all

Within a moment of mystical experience, the Spirit of the Lord God having rested on Moses, moved onto the seventy elders, and they began to speak the Word of the Lord immediately! It seems that two other men who were not with this larger group, were back in the camp, also received an outpouring of the same Spirit, and began to speak the Word of the Lord! To the amazement and concern of a young man in the camp, he rushed off to tell Moses and Joshua of this so called ‘unofficial outpouring of the Spirit’ on Eldad and Medad! And what was Moses going to do about it? (Let’s pause here and be curious; question? Could these two names give us a deeper understanding of those who are ready to receive an outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit? The short answer is, YES!) (Eldad means: beloved of God, Medad means: beloved one, or exemplary LOVER!) So, it seems that for a person to be a Biblical Prophet, these two meanings in the names of Eldad and Medad, give us an important clue as to the kind of inner disposition within the human spirit which can be open to an outpouring of the Spirit! Food for thought!

The same goes for us! Moses set them straight in their thinking, and opened their minds, by letting them see the bigger picture which the Lord God had painted for them through this incident……’just imagine, Moses said, that if all the people had an outpouring of the Spirit?’ Moses was not perturbed nor upset that Eldad and Medad had received an outpouring of the Spirit, even though they had not been formed like the 70 elders under the Mantle of Moses! The response of Moses to this issue at hand, speaks volumes of the maturity of Moses as a Biblical Prophet and the IMAX Vision that he had of God’s work. Let’s hang on to this issue when we take a look at the Gospel for today; it will be very important for us to have this understanding under our belts, as we see Jesus responding to the questions of his Disciples about something similar.

26th Sunday year B Jesus with disciples discussing

In this weekend’s Gospel, the disciples are concerned, because a stranger is claiming to be acting in the name of Jesus! Jesus is not upset nor disturbed by this; he reminds his disciples, as Jesus reminds us today, that anyone who lives and acts in a Christ-like way, is living in the way that God wants. Not only those who bear the name Christian, but anyone of good will can reflect the goodness of God to others. Now isn’t that something? We really need to understand, own and appreciate that fact! As we saw in the first reading today, the two men in the Camp who received an outpouring of the Spirit, were not part of the official graduating class of the 70! And let’s remember how Moses responded to this fact! He did not react to it! He responded to it! Jesus does the same in this case in the Gospel today. Now, this is real food for thought for us, and we need to digest it fully!

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Nearly every Sunday morning my sister and I watch a BBC 1 Programme called, Song of Praise. It is a half hour segment, and is taken from a different Church in the British Isles each week. It is a mixture of Protestant and Catholic Congregations. I must confess a weakness in my thoughts to you about this Programme. When it is a Catholic Church, I am a little happier, than when it is in a Protestant Church. As soon as the programme starts, I automatically look for the tell-tale signs of the Sanctuary Lamp, Tabernacle and Stations of the Cross to see if it is one of ours! Now, I put that down to my genetic heritage, because my immediate ancestors put their lives, literally on the chopping block in order to protect the Catholic Church against Cromwell, and his henchmen! I own that realisation, but these readings for this Sunday remind me, through this clarion call, that the Lord works also through those people and Ministers who do not belong to the Catholic Denomination. Deep inside me, I am completely overwhelmed with the goodness, the love and forgiveness being lived by these Christ like people; in truth the Lord is present in them too! I believe that I have a clinging touch of arrogance inside me to say, ‘the Lord is present in them too!’ Over time that must be eliminated from my mind! WORK IN PROGRESS!

26th Sunday year B Ecumen

Therefore, one special message contained in the Gospel today, is that we must be ‘open minded’ and be free from bigotry in our attitudes and actions. The bigot or extremist, is the last one to see what is happening. It is a form of blindness, and it is very destructive! We see it today, on our Television World News! It is often most evident under the appearance of Religion. It is essential, that if we call ourselves Christians, we must have an open mind and heart to all others who follow Jesus. There is a great difference between unity and uniformity. We can be very united with members of other Christian Churches, and we can worship in different ways, or have different ways of seeing and understanding things; we belong to a broad Church, a Catholic (Universal) Church. However, this does not start and finish within the entire Christian Church! If we thought that, we are being very narrow minded, just like looking at the Cinema screen in the 1950’s.

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We need to be IMAX people, in 3D, who due to our massive communications networks throughout the world, we can get real glimpses of God’s almighty influence, not only in the World religions who have as their core teaching, the Golden Rule, but we in many other religions too. This is not about saying that we are better than others because we are Christians, but rather being mindful that our God has unveiled His love and purposes for us in many and varied ways…..who are we to judge! By their fruits, you will know them.

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How can we break down the barriers of misunderstandings between Religions? Well, it is a bit like striving and working towards Reconciliation between different races and cultures of people. Before reconciliation, comes conciliation, which means ‘meeting’. If we do not want to really talk and listen to people from other religions and cultures, we will never get near reconciliation or common understanding. We must want to understand other Religions…not in a window dressing fashion, but through solid listening, and asking good and respectful questions without any preconceived ideas that they are wrong and we are right. Unfortunately, there are extremists in all Religions, and Christianity has their fair share of them too. One only has to check out FACEBOOK to see some of the oddest, conservative and narrow minded views about God, and His Church! So many, many people in the world today think that some Catholics have all the answers, all the proper doctrines, and it is all set in concrete! What strikes me with some of these people, is that they are not SERVICE CENTERED, as Eucharistic Foot washers of the Lord! They often present as morbid people, who lack joy, and tend to appear like the Pharisees in the Gospel, who like to be greeted with special titles, and dress with longer tassels and phylacteries, thinking that this is all impressive and righteous.

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Then on the other side of that ultra conservative extremism, we have the secularisation and demythologisation where both the baby and bath water have been tossed out! Jesus did not come to bring us a new Religion; He came to show us the way to the Father, and the Way is a mystical experience founded deeply within the Heart of Love, and the Cross. This way to the Father is the antithesis of secularism, but intensely imbedded within the human experience of life and all its features! Look at the stir that our fantastic Pope is creating in the world today, because of his humane approach to the Gospel, and the living out of its message? His freshness of approach, has sent shivers down the spines of many people who think that they KNOW IT ALL! And control God!

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The Gospel today puts before us a challenge; do we see the importance of learning about the culture and spiritual ways of our Muslim brothers and sisters, as well as the culture and customs of our Hindu, Buddhists etc., who live in our streets, suburbs and cities? What about other Christian Religions; are we interested enough to go to Ecumenical Services, and pray with our sisters and brothers from other Churches or attend Lectures which will educate us about them? We hope that the answer is YES to both questions. There is only one drawback….”I couldn’t be bothered…” Lethargy!!!!!!!

Finally, hospitality is one of the fruits of open mindedness and welcoming people who come to our Parish Churches. It is so good to have a teams of ‘welcomers’ at Parishes; there is absolutely no substitute for the personal way, in which people are welcomed, not only with the giving of a Parish Bulletin, but the smile that goes with it. It is a tremendous sign to newcomers, and regulars, of the unique spirit of hospitality in our communities. As the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: HEB 13:2 ‘Do not neglect hospitality, for through it, some have unknowingly entertained angels.’

Finally, in today’s Gospel, we see the absolute sanctity of faith = insight which is fragile, and needs to grow unhindered by people who would like to destroy it! The severity in which Our Lord speaks about this evil intervention from people, who are set upon destroying that sacred fiber between God and His people, are given a severe warning! The method that Jesus uses in speaking about those who would destroy the faith of another, was a typical rabbinical form of shock tactics to get the message over! These shock tactics underline the absolute integrity and sanctity of the gift of faith. This warning is for all times and seasons, it is appropriate for all millennia……it is one of the gravest violations against humanity and God! Faith, as small as a Mustard seed, can grow in a large tree, where the birds of the air can nestle in its branches…….

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