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2nd Sunday of Lent Year B. Helpful Hints for the Sunday Readings, Deep Sea Diving into the Scriptures, a Lenten Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson,C.P., a realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Family Intercessions and Blessing, Ongoing Scriptural Formation Courses on the internet. Publication Number 59.

29 Feb

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.

Helpful hints

It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.

First Reading: Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’

When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood. Then he stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.

The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)

Psalm: Ps 115-10. 15-19

R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord,

in the land of the living.

I trusted, even when I said:

‘I am sorely afflicted.’

O precious in the eyes of the Lord

is the death of his faithful. R.

Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;

you have loosened my bonds.

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make:

I will call on the Lord’s name. R.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfil

before all his people,

in the courts of the house of the Lord,

in your midst, O Jerusalem. R.

Second Reading: Romans 8:31-34

With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.

The word of the Lord.  Thanks be to God.

Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! 

We never say it… 🙂

Gospel: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.

As they came down the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflection time again……. see if you can see and hear the links, connecting between the Frist Readings and the Gospel. After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..

DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES

If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.

                                                        Focusing the word

                                                                                          Key words and phrases

Jesus led them up a high mountain.

He was transfigured.

This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.

Tell no one until after the Son of Man has risen from the dead.

God put Abraham to the test.

Because you have not refused me your son I will shower blessings on you.

I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.

Free us from the darkness that shadows our vision.

to the point

Disciples go where Jesus goes – to the mountain of transfiguration. On the way to the mountain where glory is revealed, however, there are other mountains to ascend – the mountain of testing (first reading) and the mountain of dying (second reading).

Connecting the Gospel to previous Sundays

On previous Sundays we have been focusing on proclaiming the gospel. In this gospel Jesus tells the disciples not to speak of ‘what they had seen’ until after the resurrection. The gospel is not complete until death yields to new life.

to human experience

Being tested, hardship, loss, temptation, human weakness, facing death are seen as low points. Spiritually, the image of ‘mountain’ indicates these can be high points, moments along the journey to ultimate transfiguration.

Understanding Scripture

Moriah: mountain of sacrifice

The test to which Abraham is subjected is to take place on a mountain in the land of Moriah (v. 2). On this mountain Abraham sacrifices a ram as a holocaust in place of his son, Isaac. Though Genesis reports that Abraham built many altars throughout the Promised Land (e.g., Shechem, Gen 12:7; Bethel, 12:8; Mamre,13:18), Moriah is the only place the text tells us that he actually offered a sacrifice. According to 2 Chronicles 3:1, this is the very spot where Solomon later built the Temple in Jerusalem. Once the Temple was completed it eventually became the only place where sacrifice could be offered. The story in Genesis 22, then, tells not only about Abraham’s great obedience and faith; it indirectly explains why the Temple was built there: Abraham, the great patriarch and father of the nation, himself sacrificed a burnt offering to the Lord on this very spot.

In a verse omitted from the first reading (v. 14), Abraham names the place, ‘Yahweh-yireh.’ This literally means ‘the Lord will see,’ and the Lord indeed does see that Abraham is obedient. But the Hebrew goes on to explain that it means ‘the Lord will be seen,’ and, in a manner of speaking, the Lord was seen by Abraham. But this is really a more appropriate nickname for the Temple where the Lord’s glory dwells: obviously, the story is told with the Temple in view. Thus, the mountain that was to be a mountain of testing becomes a temple-mount where appropriate (not human) sacrifice is made and where the Lord is seen. This point must not be overlooked: it is after testing, obedience, and sacrifice that ‘the Lord is seen.’

The responsorial psalm highlights several of these themes: not only the precious death of God’s faithful ones (v. 15), but also the themes of offering sacrifice (v. 17), fulfilling vows (v. 18), and standing in the temple courts in Jerusalem (v. 19). But in a nice reversal, whereas the psalm speaks of fulfilling vows, in Genesis it is God who swears to fulfil promises made to Abraham.

                   Journeying to Easter – by Brian Gleeson CP

Dr Brian Gleeson, a Passionist priest, lectures in systematic theology at the Yarra Theological Union in Melbourne. He recently stepped down as the Head of the Department of Church History and Systematic Theology at YTU. He joined the faculty at the beginning of 2001. His previous appointments were at Catholic Theological College Adelaide (2 years); St Paul’s National Seminary Sydney (13 years); Catholic Theological Union Sydney (8 years); Pius XII Regional Seminary, Brisbane (1 year); and Good Samaritan Teachers’ College, Sydney (4 years). His postgraduate studies were with the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; the Gregorian University, Rome; and the Melbourne College of Divinity. Fr Gleeson is also an active member of ACTA (Australian Catholic Theologians’ Association).

BEING CHANGED BY LISTENING TO JESUS. 2nd SUNDAY OF LENT

There’s this man called Mark, who lives far away overseas. At 12, he was a bit wild at school. At 14, he was smoking and drinking. At 16, he started taking cannabis, speed and ecstasy. At 19, he was injecting crack and heroin every day. At 22 he had no home, no family, and no possessions. Three times he tried to kill himself. Sometimes he went to church, not to pray but to beg from people there. But one Sunday, the gospel of the Transfiguration was read. In the homily he heard his priest say: The meaning of the Transfiguration is that God doesn’t make junk. God created the world – and what God makes is good. God sent his Son into the world to live, die and rise again for our salvation and transformation. So much so that Paul asks in our Second Reading: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ [Romans 8:31] At the end of his homily, the priest invited all the people to stand up, say and mean: “God made me; God doesn’t make junk.” So, along with all the rest, Mark felt compelled to get up and say those words. But days later, those words began searing into Mark’s heart: “God made me; God doesn’t make junk.” It became his prayer, his faith, and his life. He gave up drugs. He found a wife and a life. Not in a moment, of course, nor even in a few weeks, but over months and years he was transfigured and transformed. What about us? Where do we stand? Do we really want to be transfigured and transformed by listening to Jesus our Teacher? Hearing and living his words, teachings, values, example and inspiration! Do we? Surely we do!

A realhomilie from Fr.Kev Walsh

 

Dear One and All,

Many years ago when I was a little kid of about 10 years old we lived in what we call in Australia, a dead end street in Cammeray, Sydney.  That had nothing to do with the people who lived in the street, but the end of our Street was the End. The street ended at the top of a small cliff. Now going back into the late 50’s and 60’s we did not have Computers, but we did have Television sets….yes, black and white ones. All the kids in the street knew each other, and played all sorts of games together after school, and at weekends……there was no play station! Our family was especially friendly with another Family across the road, and one of the older boys in the family had promised to take me to the Zoo on a particular Saturday. Maybe, he wanted to leave me in the Zoo, I’m not sure. But both families were really close friends. The night before our proposed trip to the Zoo, I could hardly sleep because I was so excited of what would happen the next day. My friend was supposed to come over to our place at 9.00am, and then we would get the 9.10am Bus to Neutral Bay. Then catch a Tram to the Zoo. For Sydneysiders….you can tell that it was about fifty years ago…….  eh?  Trams, if only we had them back again!  Well, 9.00am came! I was waiting in the front Veranda of our House. 9.05 came and went, 9.10 came, and I saw the Bus go by, 9.15am, I could not understand why my friend had not shown up. Mum and Dad told me to wait till 9.30am, and then I could go over the road to see what was happening. I tell you, it took ages to get to 9.30! It was like watching and waiting for a kettle to boil.  Then I was off! When I got to the front door of the House his Mum said that he was still asleep!  I said, ASLEEEEEEEP! He promised me that he would take me to the Zoo today! For a little kid, like me that was a traumatic experience, because I had such trust in him, and it was built on friendship. That was the first time that I can remember that I was let down by someone who was my friend.

The theme which runs through the three readings today is about fidelity, trust, obedience and absolute faithfulness. For starters, we know that God called Abraham to make the biggest sacrifice in his life, and Abraham obeyed God’s request. But let’s look at what obedience means here. It is much more than just doing the task of sacrificing his Son in response to an instruction; biblical obedience is listening not just with the intellect, but with body, mind and spirit. Obedience is total listening, and feeling the consequences of the invitation, as well as being aware of the pain within the response. In short we could say that biblical obedience is holistic listening to God. I think that we can even take this a bit further in understanding what this really means. So often when we read the Scriptures we can do it from an information point of view, in other words, getting the meaning of the story and analysing it, then saying, what implications does it have for me?. If we stay with that method, we can run the risk of staying on the surface of its import and invitation. Look at the water striders on a pond, they stand and walk on the water, but they can never get below the surface. We have the ability and gifts to go beneath the surface of the Scriptures, and be submerged into its words! For example, let’s take the story of Abraham being asked to prepare an Altar of Sacrifice for his Son Isaac. Within the activity of preparation, there are inarticulate groans and internal wrestling’s taking place within the person of Abraham. Can we hear them? Can we feel it? Can our ‘seeing’ of this event stir our faith? To make myself a bit clearer, because I get carried away with this, just imagine that you are going to my special Store in Australia….Bunning’s Hardware, or for our UK readers, it’s like going to Mica Hardware. I want to buy two 30 Litre bags of Potting Mix. When I look at the bags, my mind is already processing the effort that will be needed to put one 30 Litre Bag in the Trolley, let alone two. Then I brace myself to pick the bag up correctly so that I don’t do my back in….when I make the holistic response to pick up the bag, I often make an inarticulate groan….as I do the job, and put it in the Trolley. That to my way of thinking is a holistic approach to the complete task. I believe that in our faith-responses we make inarticulate groans, and in fact while at ‘prayer’ I am totally sure of it….let’s see what St.Paul has to say about this in relation to ‘prayer’. Romans 8:26-27…’ The spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. We do not even know how to pray, but through our inarticulate groans the Spirit Himself is pleading for us, and God who searches our inmost being knows what the Spirit means, because He pleads for God’s own people in God’s own way.’ Now how good is that? Now this at first glance might be a bit un nerving because we are aware that God’s knows really what’s going on inside us, but really isn’t that good? We don’t need to put on a face or a mask in order to present well when God asks something deep from us? Let’s have a look at Psalm: – Ps. 138

The Response to the Psalm is: O Lord, you search me and you know me. 

O where can I go from your spirit,

Or where can I flee from your face?

If I climb the Heavens, you are there.

If I lie in the grave, you are there. RESPONSE

 

If I take the wings of the dawn

And dwell at the sea’s furthest end,

Even there your hand would lead me,

Your right hand would hold me fast. RESPONSE

 

If I say: ‘Let the darkness hide me

And the light around me be night,’

Even darkness is not dark for you

And the night is as clear as the day. RESPONSE

 

O search me, God, and know my heart.

O test me and know my thoughts.

See that I follow not the wrong path

And lead me in the path of eternal life. RESPONSE 

Notice that the Response to the Psalm is our community Twitter message to God: Just imagine if that message were on our lips, in our minds and hearts all day!  What great food for thought for our inarticulate groans of prayer with God! This simple method or ‘way’ is the foundation for contemplative prayer. We don’t have to live in a Monastery or Convent to use this ‘way’ in conversation with the Lord. Let’s go back to the Twitter message in the Psalm; in rolling this antiphon around and around in our minds till we are saturated with it…..just PAUSE….and let the momentum of the Meditation launch you into silence….yes, that means saying nothing. I find that hard because my friends tell me that I have an opinion on everything….so as we were; Let go, and let the inarticulate groans within your spirit be nudged along by the Holy Spirit. This is an act of Faith! Just let go of your words and let the Spirit take over in nothingness. It might seem like a boring task, but we do PAUSE in silence many times in our day. In today’s Gospel which we will move onto very soon, after I have had another cup of Tea, there is a tremendous Twitter message from God: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

In the second Reading St.Paul in his Letter to the Christian Community in Rome assures them, that God is totally faithful and would never leave them or forget them, using the example of the death and rising of Jesus as the father’s Son.

Let’s have a look at fidelity. The foundational building blocks of all relationships are trust and fidelity. Without this, there can be no certainty within relationships. We have all experienced in all kinds of ways, moments when we have failed in fidelity, and times when others have failed in it as well. However, just imagine if I had made up my mind after my friend forgot to take me to the Zoo that was it! No more, I will never trust anyone again! How stupid that would have been. That is where conversation with my Mum and Dad, and my sister helped me work through it, and build from it. The key to reconciliation is conversation. If we start talking about Reconciliation without the desire to meet others who are involved in it, then the healing process won’t happen; then it is a waste of time! St.Paul and the whole of the Scriptures time and time again tell us of God’s desire that we come back if we have strayed. The rest of it has to do with us, and working with Grace, so that we can make that return to God and others, possible and a reality.

Now, let’s have a look at the Gospel. The opening sentence immediately tells us that something important is going to happen because of the ascent of a mountain. In the Bible, Mountains are places of revelation, they are places of epiphany that is unveiling of the sacred, and they are also places of deep and mystical conversations as well as ‘listening in silence.’ Look at what happened on the mountain in the first reading today? Look at what happened on Mt.Sinai; look at what happened on Mt Nebo in present day Jordan? Moses and his companions saw the breath taking expanse of ‘the promised land’. (The fulfilment of God’s promise)

Now, let’s look at more than Geography here….what happens in us when we ascend a mountain, either by foot, Camel, Motor bike or Car? It would seem that there can be a percolating excitement within. When we reach to the top and see the view, we often say that it is ‘breath-taking’. It takes our breath away! It causes us to gaze in holistic stillness; and we are then deeply tuned in to ‘listening’.  I will never forget arriving at the summit of Mt.Sinai for day break, and the last thing that I wanted to do was talk! That’s a bit unusual for me. The words that were being said and echoed caused me to sit on the ground…I just could not stand up. A truly holy place, why? Because of the millions of people who have brought their ‘lived-faith’ to that place and this has given them insight into the mystery of conversation, initiated by the Lord God.

Now, let’s go to Mt.Tabor…the Holy Mountain. These days this mountain is a great launching place for Hang Gliders! However, the mystery and holiness of the place is well and truly there. As we keep in mind the ‘breath-taking’ experience in ascending a high mountain and beholding the view, let’s hang onto that experience as the mystery and message of the Transfiguration unfolds for the three Apostles who were privy to this moment.

Let’s look very closely at the text, for meanings that could escape us, if we either rush through it, or just treat the story at an academic level.  Notice it was Jesus who initiated this hike up the mountain. Now notice that in their presence, that is within the close proximity of conversation Jesus is ‘changed’, Elijah and Moses appear within the proximity of conversation…..It does not say that Jesus retreated to a higher part of the mountain and then the Transfiguration took place. No! It happened right there in their midst. In the English translation of the Lectionary it then says that while Jesus and the two Old Testament Fathers were held in conversation with Jesus…..and notice that nothing about the contents of that conversation is made known to us, but it says the following. ‘Then Peter spoke to Jesus. Rabbi it is wonderful for us to be here etc.’ However in the Greek text the translation does not say that Peter spoke to Jesus, but rather Peter answered Jesus….Rabbi it is wonderful for us to be here etc. So therefore, it seems to me that the three apostles were in the midst of this experience.  Peter understood this experience as a moment of the Apostles’ inclusion. In other words this moment was an invitation to Peter, who in speaking up for the group, puts into words their threefold response. ‘It is wonderful for us to be here etc.’

Now, I bet that you have had experiences of spiritual transfiguration within natural moments in your life time, which due to their intensity and fathomless depths have caused you to say so spontaneously…..’O Lord it is wonderful for us to be here’. Was it at the birth of your Baby? Was it when all seemed lost for you, and angel in human form was the saving hand of God for you? Was it when ‘love’ embraced you, and you wished deeply for that moment to be captured eternally? Was it when you experienced without a shadow of a doubt that God was with you in a particular moment? All the above, and many more experiences change us; we can be transfigured through them, and our faith is charged with new insight, and our whole being ‘listens’ anew.

Notice that the three Apostles were frightened, sacred out of their wits during this experience? Look at Our Lady at the Annunciation, she too was frightened……the Angel noticing her fright, said to her ‘Do not be afraid, you have won God’s favour!’ Notice that during the frightful experience of the Apostles, a cloud covered them with shadow, and the words were heard…’ This is my beloved, my Son, listen to him.’ (In the Greek translation, my is used twice…a form of emphasis not a typo) Let’s stay with the cloud, the mist, the breath of God. In Genesis chapter 1 it says, ‘In the beginning there was darkness over the world, God’s Spirit hovered over that darkness, and life appeared…..’ God’s Spirit, God’s breath hovered over the darkness and it was the first cause of life’s initiation! At Pentecost, the Risen Lord breathed on the Apostles and turned their fright and timidity into loving boldness and outreach. In the Transfiguration we see that the Apostles were fortified by this experience, and that the early Church Catechetic (teaching) guaranteed that Jesus is the Christ! The promised one of the Old Testament.  Listen to His Words, and act on them.

As I look back over this realhomilie it seems as though I have gone on and on….But that is the beauty and miracle of the Scriptures. God’s Word is evergreen, for all times and seasons, God’s Word is in a state of perpetual motion and its echo has been and will continue to be available to all. Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again!

God Bless you and your families, and May we remember each other the next time that we are held in conversation with the Lord.

Fr.Kev

PS: Please excuse any typos….they do escape my notice from time to time   🙂

OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………

 

This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Lent you might like to place some purple material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word.  Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…

LEADER: God chooses us as beloved children and so God will surely hear our prayers and grant our needs. So we pray with confidence.

For the Church always to be a support and encouragement for those who are struggling with dying to themselves. Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all people to put aside war and contention so that they might glimpse the promise of eternal glory. Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who cannot hear God’s word and be obedient to it. Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all of us to keep our Lenten penance as a way of being obedient to God and of stepping toward transfigured glory. Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Let us pray for the coming of the Kingdom in the words our Saviour gave us…Our Father……

LEADER: Loving God, you clothed your Son Jesus in transfigured glory: grant these our prayers that one day we might also share in that same glory. We ask this through that same Son Tests Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing……..

Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.

 

Leader:          The Cross

ALL          WE SHALL TAKE IT.

The bread……………

ALL          WE SHALL BREAK IT.

The pain

ALL          WE SHALL BEAR IT.

The joy………………

ALL          WE SHALL SHARE IT.

The Gospel……………

ALL          WE SHALL LIVE IT.

The love…………

ALL          WE SHALL GIVE IT.

The light……………

ALL          WE SHALL CHERISH IT.

The darkness…………….

ALL          WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.

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