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6th Sunday of Year C 2019. A realhomilie by Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. HAPPY IS THE ONE WHO PUTS THEIR TRUST IN GOD! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

beatitudes-2

The Gospel chosen by the Church for this weekend is the very familiar Beatitudes, or we could call them the charter or recipe for Christian living, and for happiness. They outline a series of choices, and it gives us a program for living. Let’s put the Beatitudes or Attitudes under the microscope!

To be poor in spirit has little to do with living in poverty, or without the basic means for normal living. It means that the spirit, the inner me, the real me, is not super-glued to wealth, to greed, or to material things of any kind. I could have a very healthy bank account, and be poor in spirit. In other words, I don’t need these material things to give me a sense of value, and an assurance of worth. A person could be very rich, and have very little of this world’s wealth. Another person could be really poor, empty, and alone, despite possessing much wealth!

What about the hunger that Jesus speaks about? Surely it is to do with the hunger for freedom, for justice, for a-fair-go, for equal rights, that continue to drive so many extraordinary men and women in today’s world. There is a greater hunger than the lack of food. The deepest hungers in the human heart have to do with belonging, self-worth, dignity, and personal freedom.

Those who weep are those who love! Grief is the price we pay for love. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and he wept at the tomb of Lazarus. These are not tears of despair. They were tears of love, of loss, of longing. They were the tears of the one who holds out both hands, but the offer is sometimes not accepted, of the tears of loneliness and aloneness that fill the vacuum created by the loss of a loved one. So often we get glimpses, supposedly of real love on some of the lack lustre Movies; what a lot of bunkum! Deep in our minds we do know that some of the greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much! Gaze at Jesus; the human face of the Father! Be present to some of the most beautiful people in our world who are FREE from keeping up with the Jones’….in Australia and Britain that means not having to keep up with some of the better quality cars owned by people in your street.

25th Sunday Year B Keeping up appearances

In Australia so many people think that driving a big 4 Wheel Drive car in the city is a high status symbol! Or people who gloat over their Swimming Pools, but hate cleaning them! I am caught up in this sometimes……I go into JB Hi Fi shops and gloat over more expensive Laptops!!!! And my own Laptop does the job! But then I start thinking….wouldn’t it be good to have a faster speed internet etc and the list goes on…..WRONG WAY! GO BACK! Eh eh eh

Today’s Gospel is not about laying a guilt-trip on anyone. It is OK to have wealth, to have food, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to enjoy the affirmation given us by others. The important questions have to do with where the wealth came from, who is being excluded from the food, or who is being used in my pursuit for self-satisfaction? It seems that the big problem in today’s world is that half the population is dying of hunger, while the other half is on a diet, trying to get down the weight. There is more than enough food in today’s world for everyone….if only we could share it!

img_f0134512aa1 World Cross

Let us pray: O Lord, grant that we will always have a ravenous appetite for your love, a hunger for your Word, a desire to have the eyes to see you, and embrace you, and welcome you in those who are new or shy in our community…grant us a sensitivity to respond at the right time. Amen.

Kevin and Shauna

Fr Kevin Walsh with his companion, Shauna.

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5th Sunday in Ordinary time, Year C, 2019. A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney – Australia ‘COME, AND FOLLOW ME’! Says the Lord. kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Pieta

Have you ever sat down to watch Television in the evening, and you flick around the Channels, and nothing really catches your attention; then for good measure you try it again, and suddenly you land on a channel that is showing a fantastic Documentary, and you know this is the one to watch? Well, it happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I had looked up the Television Guide for the week, and had completely missed seeing this Documentary advertised on the Works of Michelangelo! One of the many absolute inspiring works of art which makes my heart jump a beat or two is the Pieta. Now let’s refresh our memories about this famous work of art.

The Pietà (1498–1499) by Michelangelo is a marble sculpture in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned by the French cardinal Jouhnd-Billairesz, who was a representative in Rome. The statue was made from a single block of marble, and it was for a Cardinal’s funeral monument, but was moved to its current location, the first chapel on the right as one enters the Basilica, in the 18th century. This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus in the arms of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. In the Cardinal’s memoirs it is recorded that he marveled at the finished work of art! Michelangelo responded by saying that he chipped away at the block to unveil what he could see within. Let’s stay with that last point for a little while…..what he could see within the block of marble.

Prophet Isaiah scroll

Now as we look at the call of the Prophet Isaiah, and the call of the Apostles, the Lord God sees within us, what can be! Let’s have a closer look at the Call of Isaiah in the first reading for today, and then carefully see the stages within that call, where finally Isaiah can say…’Here I am, send me’.

The context for this Vocational change in Isaiah’s life is very, very important. It is a moment, captured within the ‘faith-life’ of Isaiah; it is a deliberate gazing into the void, and within that stillness and conscious focusing, it is as if floating, unbounded but totally consumed in body, mind and spirit, that this religious experience takes place. Isaiah sees himself within a place of Holiness, par excellence, where he is experiencing in 3D and surround sound an invitation to ‘change’ in order to become, what the Lord God saw in him. Isaiah, gradually undergoes a transformation within his spiritual self. Now let’s go through the stages of awareness of self, before the Lord God, and then on to the mission. If you are at home as you read this, you might like to make a cup of Coffee or some strong Irish Breakfast tea to sustain you for the rest of the read……

This picturesque Theophany, which comes from the Greek, theophania, meaning an appearance of God/Adonai which reveals some of the divinity, power and glory of The One, who has always been, and will continue to be…..the loving architect, and cause of all that was, all that is, and all that will be…..who issues forth the breath of life, to all that lives and breathes. The Temple…Holy of Holies, this Sacred Space is the Templum, and for Isaiah, it becomes the tempus…the time to gaze within this atmosphere of profound impact. So, that we don’t get lost in what I am trying to say, the Templum is the PLACE! The tempus is the TIME/MOMENT…hence within this Spiritual experience, the two become ONE! A sense of timelessness takes over, and from that, Isaiah’s response to the Lord God’s invitation is firstly a sense of CONTRITION! Then follows his RESPONSE. It is within this heightened experience, that Isaiah realizes his poverty of spirit, and that of the people whom he represents. It is seeing with the eyes of faith, his and their ‘missing the mark’ (wretchedness/sin) both personally and corporately. He experiences a sense of ‘lostness’ momentarily, which develops into a realization and exclamation of his contrite heart. The similar contrite heart which sings and lives is Psalm 50/51 The Miserere: Isaiah becomes the embodiment of this Psalm…here are a few verses…

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Saviour,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

30th Sunday year A Ark of the covenant

Now this Psalm, and its motifs, had already become part of Isaiah’s bone marrow……he would have prayed this kind of prayer many, many times, and actualised it in and through the Covenant Renewal Ceremonies, and Atonement Liturgies. This is not about reciting the prayer regularly, it is about praying the prayer habitually and with focus. I had a pet Galah (Pink and Grey Australian Parrot) and it recited lots of things…for example…it often said, “I love you Kev, does the Bishop know? That’s the big question!” I could teach the Parrot to recite Psalm 50/51, but it could never pray it. Praying the sense of this Psalm has to be done often…it is like applying Polish to a timber floor that hungers for it…..one application is never enough! The prayer needs to be digested and become part of us….this comes about by letting the prayer, pray in us…..notice the subtlety?

With Isaiah, the inner disposition was already present, and hence within this Dream, the Parable of his conversion and calling, is teased out, and put into action by his holistic response…..”Here, I am, send me!”

As we cross over the bridge to the Gospel, we see a similar embodiment of Psalm 50/51 in the Apostles, when they were called by Jesus, and the deliberate invitation by Jesus to make happen the seemingly impossible, to be possible……the huge catch of fish! So much so, that the ‘faith-activity’ of the Apostles becomes so contagious, that only a signal was needed for help, because the ‘new comers’ could see what was happening, from the point of view of seeing/hearing and knowing through faith. This is just not information for the readers that the catch was so big that help was needed to get the fish out of the breaking nets, and get them to the markets while the catch was fresh! No, the Gospel Community of Luke, who put this narrative together, were not interested in that, they were deeply absorbed by the “faith-response” of the Apostles, and its direct implications for the fledging Church, and of course for us, it is ever new!

After the catch of fish, and the filling of two boats to almost sinking point, Simon, in seeing this and processing this in his mind and heart, dropped to his knees, at the feet of Jesus…..this being a ‘living action of Repentance and Conversion’, is similar to that of Isaiah, in the first reading. In the face of such a phenomenon…..that is the inner change in Simon, and his companions. Notice their reaction? ”They were frightened”, then in another translation from the Greek it says: they were astonished/ amazement had seized them! Then Jesus, sensing their fear, as Simon represented the group; Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, from now on it will be people that you will catch”. To conclude the activity of Conversion preceded by Contrition, they hauled in their nets; dropped everything, left everything on the beach…not even getting cash for their catch; and they followed Jesus.

When I was a teenager, I used to often think that the Apostles were rather thoughtless in just leaving all this gear on the beach and following Jesus. Well, of course as I later discovered, the authors of this Gospel were not concerned by the details of leaving boats and nets for someone else to pick up….it is about a “faith-response” which the Evangelistic Community were keen on….In other words, it was an immediate change of life style…..in terms of faith, meaning in this instance, that their insight into the One who was calling them, enabled the Apostles to experience Salvation, that also means the ability to see the saving hand of God at work in Jesus. Hence with the pre-condition of a contrite heart, the change can then become immediate……but not necessarily final. Continued work would need to be done to fortify and nourish their faith response, and contrition, as we see further on in the unveiling of the Good News. We should also keep in mind that this experience of Salvation did not safe guard Simon Peter for the denial of his Master, when the chips were down, prior to Our Lord’s arrest! But it does say a lot about the Lord’s profound understanding of our human nature, because He shared in it too, in all things, but sin.

Christ's body

What about us? The message is the same, but the faces have changed! In order for our ‘faith life’ to be highly tuned, we need to nourish our inner sense of contrition frequently, so that we can see more clearly the One who continually calls us to change, to newness of life and to mission! This enables us to respond to the constant invitations from Jesus which come to us each day. We don’t go looking for the Mission, the Mission finds us. Are we as keen on nourishing our inner conversion, as we are to getting our cars put in for Service? Do, we regularly spend time working at our sense of contrition, by praying reflectively Psalm 50/51 or other kinds of Life Reviews and associated meditations? Is our response to ‘pop up’ mission invitations each day, taken up promptly, or done in our time when we are ready? These questions are just as important for me as they are for you. Then there is the feeling of ‘powerlessness and fear’ when we are face to face with the living Body of Christ within our communities; do we give the time to hear the comforting words from Jesus: “Do not be afraid!” Are we prepared to sit silently with these words????

Listening

Finally, who gives us the push, the urge to press on with the Mission of Christ in today’s world? An answer could well be that which alerted the Apostle Paul to the very same thing…’ I can do all things through Him who gives me the strength….’ Food for thought, eh?

As a concluding Twitter message to comfort us, and give us strength, may the prayerful words in the concluding verse of our Responsorial Psalm 137:8, echo throughout our being, always… “You stretch out your hand and save me, your hand will do all things for me. Your love is eternal…..”

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Fr Kevin Walsh & his Companion, Shauna

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5th Sunday Year C, 2019. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE HOUND OF HEAVEN.

Recently. a Baptist lady said to a Catholic priest: ‘God is so big and we are so puny.’ The lady’s humility somewhat surprised the priest, because she was an outstanding Christian. She and her husband had built a hospital in Africa. She had trained a group of young women to nurse the poor. Now in her 80’s she was still reading the bible and praying every day. When the priest asked her what her life, her work and her faith had taught her most of all, she simply said: ‘God is so big and we are so puny.’

man holding sheep statuette

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

That Christian lady had discovered from life experience that her smallness, her insignificance, even her sense of being unworthy, did not stop God from doing good things, even big things, using her as his humble agent and instrument. It was the same with the Old Testament priest, Isaiah. He caught a glimpse of the glory and majesty of God in the Jerusalem temple. Compared with God he saw himself not just as puny, but as completely unworthy of what he saw. So he cried out: ‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips.’ But God transformed him, by sending an angel to touch his lips with a burning coal and purify him. Now he was ready to be God’s messenger, and was able to say to God with confidence and enthusiasm: ‘Here I am, send me.’

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The apostle Paul too has insisted [in our Second Reading today] that it was ‘by the grace of God that he gave me’ that he became an apostle, a missionary for Christ. Much the same may be said of Simon Peter and his friends. They too had an experience of the bigness, the generosity – in short they had a profound experience of the ‘amazing grace’ of God.

In their case it happened through taking Jesus at his word, believing in him and trusting him. As a result, despite toiling all night, and not netting a single fish, now in the daytime they were hauling in a massive catch. So, in the presence of the power and generosity of God, Peter drops to his knees and says to Jesus: ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ Jesus is not put off by this. He has big plans for Peter and the others. Jesus tells them: ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will catch.’ There and then, supported by his trust in them, they leave everything – occupation, home, family, location and property – to join Jesus in netting people into the kingdom of God.

At different times in our lives, God has been in touch with us as well. God has spoken to us and called us to do God’s work. Usually there hasn’t been anything particularly grand about where God has called us. With Isaiah it was at his work the Jerusalem temple. With Paul it happened as he was galloping towards the city of Damascus on his horse. With Peter and his companions it was while they were trying without success that night to catch fish. So too with you and me, God has tracked us down wherever we live or work or pray.

Notice that I just said, ‘God has tracked us down.’ I now say that God will keep tracking us down, and never stop tracking us down. In a famous poem he calls ‘The Hound of Heaven’, the poet Francis Thompson, reflecting on his life-experience of trying to run away from God, presents God as being like a bloodhound, who never stops chasing us till he catches up with us and reaches us so irresistibly, that finally we surrender to God and to God’s great expectations and dreams for us. The whole powerful truth of this is captured in the very first verse of the poem. Let me quote it now:

‘I fled him, down the nights and down the days; I fled him down the arches of the years: I fled him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes I sped; and shot, precipitated, adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, from those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, and unperturbed pace, deliberate speed, majestic instancy, they beat – and a Voice beat more instant than the feet – “All things betray thee, who betrayest me”.’

There’s simply no getting away from God. For us too, resisting God and saying ‘Leave me, Lord, I’m not good enough. I’m a sinner’ won’t be the end of the matter. If God could use Peter for God’s good work with people, or Paul, or Isaiah, or the Baptist lady, God can and will purify and use us too to do good things, truly beautiful things in fact, for both God and God’s people.

So we better stand by, ready to hear his call! At any time! At any age! In any place! In any situation! And be ready to say, like Isaiah: ‘Here I am, Lord, send me.’

 

Christ's body

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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4th Sunday of Year C in Ordinary time, 2019. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB, I KNEW YOU’, SAYS THE LORD.

God's Word

Often the First Reading at Mass comes from one of the Old Testament Prophets, today it comes from the Prophet Jeremiah. Perhaps we might be tempted to think that ‘a Prophet’ is someone who foretells the future! Well in Biblical terms, a Prophet is one who is called by God to speak ‘His Word’ before others, and to discern through an openness of heart and mind as to what is going on within God’s people. Sometimes God’s people need correction, other times they need affirmation and direction. It would seem that it is not the kind of vocation that one would be caught in the rush to take on! Yet, according to the Prophet Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19) we catch a glimpse into the actual meaning of ‘the call’ to be a Prophet. Jeremiah is stunned to realize that he was known and set aside by God for this vocation, before he was formed in the womb! Jeremiah comes to understand that his ‘calling’ is not necessarily going to win him popularity! ‘Brace yourself for action’ says the Lord! But it is not all sad stories or battles; ‘I am with you to deliver you- it is the Lord who speaks.’

 

In the Gospel for today, we see Jesus living his Prophetic calling, speaking aloud ‘the Word’ in his hometown. The people’s reaction moves from amazement, to wonder, and then to resentment and anger! How can someone from the ‘home turf’ speak with such authority and directness, and bring God’s Word “alive” with such authenticity? As Jesus said, ‘no Prophet is ever accepted in their own country’! Well as we look back over two millennia, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same. So often we too, can easily fall into the very same trap as the people of Nazareth, when someone from within our midst humbly rises up, and shines. We may be tempted to say the very same thing…”I have known this person for so many years…how can they develop and mature beyond my expectations?” We know only so well how celebrities often make it to the top when they travel to another country, and get accepted for who they are, because there are no pre-judgments. Let us pray earnestly in response to God’s Word this weekend, that we will encourage the Prophets within our community, and when the slightest temptation comes our way to discard them, ignore them, or walk away from encouraging them…. let that be an inner sign for us saying:

 6th Sunday after Easter Year A Speak Lord Pic 2

Now let’s go back for a reconnaissance over the three Readings. Normally the Second Reading does not always connect with the 1st Reading and the Gospel, because it is a continuing Reading from week to week, but this Sunday it compliments them, and is truly the meat in the Sandwich between the other two Readings, giving us a 3D living image of God’s saving activity.

As I have already mentioned above, no one would be caught in the rush to be an authentic Biblical Prophet; far from it, to the contrary the Lord God captures or snares the person called to be a spokesperson for the Lord. As the chosen one responds to the Lord God’s invitation, in the midst of fear and unworthiness, a God-like element emerges from them, and that is true ‘poverty of spirit’….and authentic humility, not just some pious innuendo which skims the surface in a syrupy way; no it is deep founded openness and awe as to what this all means for them, and their burgeoning mission!. In turn, the Lord God assures the chosen one that they will never be alone, even though at times it might seem like that. Take the case of the Annunciation….the Blessed Virgin Mary radiated fear and unworthiness when she was called by the Angel of the Lord to be the Christ-bearer. Here with Jeremiah we see a dumfounded man who is totally astonished why he should be called by the Lord God to speak The Word in season and out of season. The Lord God tells Jeremiah in the strongest possible way that he has been known by God, is known by God, and will continue to be known by God. Here we are speaking of true Biblical knowledge, not academic knowledge. Biblical knowledge is that which enables God to know everything about us in a most loving, accepting and pardoning way. Biblical Prophecy is not necessarily telling the future by assumed knowledge and then making a prediction……no, those kind of Prophets can be found in interesting ‘write-ups’ in Magazines that we often find in the Doctor’s or Dentist’s waiting room.

So, the promise that is underpinning this address to Jeremiah is founded in the Lord God’s Covenant…..” I will be your God and you will be my people.” We also note that a bright future is not promised by the Lord God to Jeremiah, but there is something that we might easily overlook in this reading, and it is in the following sentence…’They will fight against you, but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you- it is the Lord who speaks.’ In bold type let’s look at this….the I am, is the Biblical name for God as revealed to Moses in the burning Bush in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3. What is I am going to do? Deliver you….this has profound meaning…..it means that Jeremiah will experience deliverance…not from some evil spirit, but more importantly, Jeremiah will experience the saving hand of God in and through all of what is outlined in this address to him, which is the substance of this first reading. In other words, Jeremiah himself, and those who listen to the Lord God’s invitations through the spoken Word will experience salvation……i.e being saved from something, for someone, and the someone is the Lord God……” You are precious in my sight says the Lord.” 1 Samuel 26:12

Now moving over to the Gospel (Luke 4:21-30) for today is like gazing at a typical Diptych ….that is a double Oil painting with a Piano hinge down the centre, and for the fullness of meaning contained in the paintings, it needs to be ingested from left to right…in this case the First reading is the left hand oil painting, and the Gospel is the right hand oil painting….the artist? The supreme artist of all! The Lord God!

For a start, all that the Lord God said to Jeremiah in that opening address is taken for granted as being in Jesus…in fact in fleshed in Jesus as The Word made flesh – par excellence! The locals voice similar opposition to Jesus, as was the case with Jeremiah, saying that this is all too good to be true!….we know who this man is…….But notice it is not a Biblical knowledge, it is an academic knowledge, which Biblically only skims the surface like a water strider on a mill pond. As Jesus says…” a Prophet is not accepted in one’s own country…” That’s true isn’t it? The faces have changed over the years but the message remains the same…..the locals are the hardest ones to break out of their pre conceived notions and summing up of a person, which can progress to be totally blind and angry. It still happens in our world, and sadly in our Church! Notice that the anger fuelled by the truth of God’s Word was too much for them, and they wanted to do away with Jesus..Just as Jeremiah and all the other Prophets in the Scriptures, with Jesus, and in our lived History many have been and will continue to be led to the same fate either physically or tactically!

14th Sunday year A Sharing the cross

Now, we go back to the meat in the sandwich…the second reading. Here we see an insight into the inner fortification and miss ion of one who is called to be a Prophet……Unconditional/Biblical Covenant Love. This Hymn to Charity/Love written by St.Paul, ( 1st Corinthians 12:31-13:13) is not only a masterpiece in Christian Spirituality, but it is also a very good examination of conscience……very simply, substitute your own name for Love in this Reading, and see how you go? This Reading brings to the surface our ‘real self’. Now after reflecting on this reading, and the innate invitations it has for us to ‘change’ i.e experience true metanoia …that is simply looking at oneself and the relationships we have with people, and our environment, by metaphorically standing on our hands….it all looks pretty different, doesn’t it? It can even upset us, and make us sick…..may that be not lost on us in our meditation as well. Then as part of this examination of conscience, kindly go to Psalm 50…the great Act of contrition in the Old Testament…….

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Let the words of Contrition become our words, may is seep deep within us like liquid polish on hungry wood; this ought be practiced regularly and it will erode any arrogance, pompousness and any pursuit of ‘ power inclinations’ we might have….. ha-ha, but like Vitamin B12 Injections…one shoot is not enough, we need to have it regularly, so that we can build up that inner strength and vigor, so that the ordinary diet of living in love, encased by forgiveness, and elevated by compassion become our true spiritual food. This of course receives its distinctive Christ-likeness in and through the Eucharist, listening with the Heart to God’s Word, and hearing the heart beat in God’s people.

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So, when we feel that not only our car needs a ‘tune-up’ but our spiritual selves as well…quietly sing the Song of St.Paul’s Hymn to Charity in the second Reading today…’ Love is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited, it is never rude or selfish….’ In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.’

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kevin-3

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

 

 

4th Sunday in Ordinary time year C 2019. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. TRUE AND FALSE RELIGION.

Every now and then a family decides to leave the hustle and bustle of the big city and move to a small town or village in the country. City life has become too busy, too chaotic, too demanding and too impersonal. They go to some place where, they claim, people know one another and care about one another. They are looking for meaning, acceptance and belonging.

What such city people are looking for among country people generally happens, and especially in times of crisis, e.g. when someone’s hurt in an accident, somebody loses a loved one from a sudden heart attack, someone’s house burns down or is washed away in a flood. Such events bring out the best in neighbours. They arrive with kind words, hugs and kisses, and any number of casseroles to tide the family over till they can get back on their feet.

Jesus rejected in Nazareth, by Jeff Watkins

But there can be a down side to everyone knowing everybody else. Some people may become the target of suspicious, gossiping, mean and nasty neighbours. This is certainly what happens to Jesus when he comes back to his own people at Nazareth. At first they welcome him as the local boy made good, the town hero. They are full of praise for what they have heard about him – his good and kind deeds, and his powerful and challenging message.

But one influential group in the town becomes particularly jealous, angry and annoyed with him, the more they hear about him. He’s become too big for his boots, they say, too high and mighty. They begin to sneer: Who does he think he is? No better than anyone else, surely! Just the son of that carpenter, Joseph, that’s what! As ordinary as everybody else around here!

They, and more and more others like them, decide that if he has anything to offer, they, the people of his own home town, should be the first to benefit. Without showing any real faith in him as God’s agent and spokesperson, they begin to demand that he do in Nazareth some of the wonderful things he is said to have been doing elsewhere.

But Jesus says back to them the plain truth, the truth they need for their own good. In the community and kingdom of God that is his mission, there is no place for privilege. What matters most is to have faith, and along with faith, trust and love. God’s love and help begin wherever there is human need for it, as with the starving widow of Zarephath, and with Naaman, covered with leprosy. Both were Gentiles, non-Jews. But they were persons in need, and therefore loved by God like any Jewish person.

At this message of the indiscriminate love of God, the people of his home town are outraged. They turn on Jesus. They throw him out of the synagogue and even try to finish him off by tossing him over a cliff.

Jesus walks on the water thL24LHJLV

Jesus at Nazareth was experiencing the fate of all prophets. But prophecy, being a spokesperson for God, is not about pleasing people. It’s about speaking the truth, sometimes the truth that no one wants to hear, the truth that often gets covered up, and yet the truth that one must hear and heed for one’s own good.

But why did the locals turn on him with such fury? The first reason was because of what he said. But there was a deeper reason. It was because he showed up the ugly parts of their personalities. After all, if you stir up a stagnant pool, a lot of mud comes to the surface.

Sad to say, religion can become misunderstood, twisted and distorted. When that happens, it tends to bring out the worst in people. They become narrow and bigoted, feisty and fanatical, mean and nasty, hateful and hurtful, even to the point of wanting to kill anyone who dares to disagree with them.

True religion, however, and especially that of following Jesus, brings out the best in people. It liberates and humanizes them. It makes them friendlier, more accepting and more forgiving persons. It fosters harmonious relationships and builds community. When this happens, religion is something beautiful.

Christ's body

In true religion there is an essential link between faith and love – doing things for others because of what we believe. We heard St Paul say in our Second Reading: ‘there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love’. But what’s the use in having both faith and hope if we are lacking in love?

The question, then, each of us must ask, and ask here and now is this: What does religion bring out in me? Is it really and truly making me a better person?

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Reflection for the Feast of Epiphany: Our English word, Epiphany, has its roots in the Greek verb, phainein meaning ‘to show’ or ‘to appear’ or ‘to be seen’. The English word ‘phenomenon’ shares the same roots. The German philosopher, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), describes that branch of philosophy known as Phenomenology, as the process whereby we endeavour to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’ (Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Harper & Row, 1962, 58). With the foregoing in mind, we may be better placed to approach the people, events and things of our daily lives with more respect, with an increased capacity to hear what is actually going on, with the prospect of being struck by awe at what comes to light when we refrain from imposing our assumptions, prejudices, idealizations and stereotypes. These are typically born of anxiety and fear and contribute to a thicket of unreality that prevents us from experiencing and affirming what is. Both Christian spirituality and the Christian life itself, in this sense, are pre-eminently phenomenological. That is, when rightly pursued, they endeavour to let the Divine Life ‘which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’ in and through the people, events and things of our days. Thomas Merton expressed beautifully this profound and ultimately incomprehensible thought in a letter of 21 August 1967. He wrote: “We exist solely for this, to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany” (“A Letter on the Contemplative Life” in Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master – The Essential Writings, edited by Lawrence S Cunningham, Paulist Press, 1992, 425). What a difference it would make if we lived life as epiphany? The “three wise men” of today’s Gospel – see Matthew 2:1-12 – were able to see what was there at Bethlehem because they had the disposition to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’. Herod, on the contrary had no such disposition. Where the wise men saw promise, Herod saw threat. Can we learn anything from this contrast between the wise men and Herod? Are we disposed to people in such a way that we are able to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’? What gets in the way? When we are dealing with the mundane events and things of daily life – especially the really difficult situations – are we able to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’? What gets in the way?

Reflection for the Feast of Epiphany: Our English word, Epiphany, has its roots in the Greek verb, phainein meaning ‘to show’ or ‘to appear’ or ‘to be seen’. The English word ‘phenomenon’ shares the same roots. The German philosopher, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), describes that branch of philosophy known as Phenomenology, as the process whereby we endeavour to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’ (Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Harper & Row, 1962, 58). With the foregoing in mind, we may be better placed to approach the people, events and things of our daily lives with more respect, with an increased capacity to hear what is actually going on, with the prospect of being struck by awe at what comes to light when we refrain from imposing our assumptions, prejudices, idealizations and stereotypes. These are typically born of anxiety and fear and contribute to a thicket of unreality that prevents us from experiencing and affirming what is. Both Christian spirituality and the Christian life itself, in this sense, are pre-eminently phenomenological. That is, when rightly pursued, they endeavour to let the Divine Life ‘which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’ in and through the people, events and things of our days. Thomas Merton expressed beautifully this profound and ultimately incomprehensible thought in a letter of 21 August 1967. He wrote: “We exist solely for this, to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany” (“A Letter on the Contemplative Life” in Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master – The Essential Writings, edited by Lawrence S Cunningham, Paulist Press, 1992, 425). What a difference it would make if we lived life as epiphany? The “three wise men” of today’s Gospel – see Matthew 2:1-12 – were able to see what was there at Bethlehem because they had the disposition to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’. Herod, on the contrary had no such disposition. Where the wise men saw promise, Herod saw threat. Can we learn anything from this contrast between the wise men and Herod? Are we disposed to people in such a way that we are able to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’? What gets in the way? When we are dealing with the mundane events and things of daily life – especially the really difficult situations – are we able to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’? What gets in the way?

https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/reflection-for-the-feast-of-epiphany-our-english-word-epiphany-has-its-roots-in-the-greek-verb-phainein-meaning-to-show-or-to-appear-or-to-be-seen/
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Posted by on January 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Reflection for the Feast of Epiphany: Our English word, Epiphany, has its roots in the Greek verb, phainein meaning ‘to show’ or ‘to appear’ or ‘to be seen’. The English word ‘phenomenon’ shares the same roots. The German philosopher, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), describes that branch of philosophy known as Phenomenology, as the process whereby we endeavour to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’ (Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Harper & Row, 1962, 58). With the foregoing in mind, we may be better placed to approach the people, events and things of our daily lives with more respect, with an increased capacity to hear what is actually going on, with the prospect of being struck by awe at what comes to light when we refrain from imposing our assumptions, prejudices, idealizations and stereotypes. These are typically born of anxiety and fear and contribute to a thicket of unreality that prevents us from experiencing and affirming what is. Both Christian spirituality and the Christian life itself, in this sense, are pre-eminently phenomenological. That is, when rightly pursued, they endeavour to let the Divine Life ‘which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’ in and through the people, events and things of our days. Thomas Merton expressed beautifully this profound and ultimately incomprehensible thought in a letter of 21 August 1967. He wrote: “We exist solely for this, to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany” (“A Letter on the Contemplative Life” in Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master – The Essential Writings, edited by Lawrence S Cunningham, Paulist Press, 1992, 425). What a difference it would make if we lived life as epiphany? The “three wise men” of today’s Gospel – see Matthew 2:1-12 – were able to see what was there at Bethlehem because they had the disposition to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’. Herod, on the contrary had no such disposition. Where the wise men saw promise, Herod saw threat. Can we learn anything from this contrast between the wise men and Herod? Are we disposed to people in such a way that we are able to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’? What gets in the way? When we are dealing with the mundane events and things of daily life – especially the really difficult situations – are we able to ‘let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself’? What gets in the way?

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2019 in Uncategorized