THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
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: Acts 10:25-26. 34-35. 44-48
As Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, knelt at his feet and prostrated himself. But Peter helped him up. ‘Stand up’, he said ‘I am only a man after all!’
Then Peter addressed them: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.’
While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.
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 97:1-4
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation. R.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel. R.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy. R.
Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-10
My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
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: John 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me,
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Reflection time again……. Can you see and hear the links, connecting the First Reading, Second Reading 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
Let us love another.
Love comes from God because God is love.
Remain in my love.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You did not choose me, no, I chose you.
Go out and bear fruit that will last.
Anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Ring out your joy.
Help us to express in our lives the love we celebrate.
to the point
Just as God’s love is borne out in deeds (second reading: ‘sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away’), so must our love be borne out in deeds – lay down our lives, keep God’s commandments, love one another (gospel).
Connecting the Word
to the first reading
The good news is that ‘God shows no partiality’ in extending love and friendship to disciples (gospel) and Gentiles (first reading) alike.
to religious experience
Too often in our desire to grow in our spiritual life, we are very aware of the obligations that accompany religious commitment. An authentic spiritual life flows not from obligation but from the knowledge and experience of being loved by God.
Understanding the Word
Jesus’ love sets the standard
Frequently in the gospel of John Jesus uses himself as a basis for comparison. He asserts in a variety of ways that just as he is or as he does so must his disciples be or do. For example, ‘For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you’ (13:15); ‘Abide in me as I abide in you’ (15:4); ‘If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love’ (15:10).
In these and other ways (e.g., 17:18, 21; 20:21), Jesus offers himself as a model for disciples to emulate. The idea of Jesus as a ‘model’ is exactly the meaning of the Greek word usually translated as ‘good’ in the story of ‘The Good Shepherd.’ In fact, Raymond Brown translates the traditional language this way: ‘The Model Shepherd’ (10:11). In John’s gospel Jesus is not shy about using himself as a model for others – he sets the standard.
There is one behaviour disciples are to emulate above all others. Its importance is signalled by the fact that the command occurs twice, both during the course of the Last Supper: ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (15:12; see also 13:34). This ‘love’ is not a matter of affection or emotion or positive regard for others. In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus is very explicit: the greatest love is ‘to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ In the other passage where this command occurs, Jesus has just washed his disciples’ feet as a demonstration of what ‘love’ means. To love as Jesus loves means to be centred on the other, to be a servant, even to the point of giving one’s life for the other. The First Letter of John, whose author shares the same tradition as the Evangelist, states the matter most clearly: ‘We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for one another’ (1 John 3:16).
A realhomile from Fr.Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
Today’s gospel is a direct message from Jesus, where he speaks of joy, love, friendship, and mission. He leaves us in no doubt whatever about how much he loves us, and how we ought to love one another. He calls us friends, he tells us that he has chosen us, and if we use his name, we can ask the Father for anything.
It is hard to fully understand that just as the Father loves Jesus, we too are loved in the same way. There are no conditions imposed on us in order for us to receive God’s love. The only conditions that can exist are the ones that we make, and they in fact can be barriers to receive God’s precious love.
Let us explore the meaning of love that comes from God. We can get very real glimpses of that love when we love others just as they are, with no strings attached. Did you know that since the dawn of history when humankind was able to put thoughts in writing or song, more has been said and sung about love than any other human quality? Even today, we only have to switch on 2WS and every second song is about some aspect of love. Back in my heyday, we used to hear songs like: Love is a many splendored thing, or Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. However, we know that genuine love for another does bring out the best in them and in us. They know that they are ‘special’, they realise that they can be themselves and not have to put on airs and graces in order to be accepted and cherished. True love enables people to grow and blossom forth with their God given talents and qualities. Real love builds a strong community spirit, and newcomers can experience it because the invisible quality has become visible through hospitality, recognition and the acceptance of unity within diversity. This is prayerfully realised when we celebrate the Eucharist together. St.Paul outlines the ingredients of true love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Thus allowing and enabling others to be themselves, and not have to live up to imposed conditions, which are born from a desire to control and manipulate, the gospel today directs us and reminds us of the truth of the matter as Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete”. And when can this happen? Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love.” What is the number one commandment, which summarises them all, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
‘Lord, touch our hearts and heal them,
So that we may be able to bear the fruits of true love. Amen.’
In last week’s Gospel, we saw that pruning is necessary if fruit is to be brought forth in abundance from a vine, bush or tree. However, the Gardner has to have the wisdom to know what to prune, and how much, and what the possibilities could be as a result of this action. Branches are pruned to strengthen their growth and sometimes to produce fruit or flowers. Quite often, through trials and tribulations, we are pruned. Any worthwhile growth in our lives takes place during times of struggle, and never when everything is smooth, calm, and even. Sometimes we are pruned by each other. This can come about within a real spirit of love and forgiveness which becomes reconciliation; it is on this basis of trust that we can tell the story just as it is to each other. In this act of faith, we can sometimes suffer, and bleed through the truth that someone else has told us, because it may well be the truth about us, and it might hurt, and the truth may be calling us to change, hence spiritual pruning is at work!
Suffering can be another kind of pruning. Generally we don’t go looking for suffering in our life, it somehow finds us. Suffering can enable us to be more sensitive to other people, it can knock a few chips of the old block, which is me, and it can invite us to love more deeply. The great English writer C.S Lewis once said, “Jesus didn’t come to take suffering and pain away, He came to fill it with His presence”. That is something to chew on, because in lots of ways that is very true. Pruning can also be used as another metaphor when it comes to refining gold and silver in fire. Let’s check this out from the Old Testament Prophet Malachi.
THE SILVERSMITH’S REFLECTION
For he is like a REFINER’S FIRE, and like a FULLERS’ ALKALI.
He will sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like Gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord.
A person had observed that there is something remarkable in that expression of the Prophet Malachi:
‘He will sit as a REFINER AND PURIFER OF SILVER’.
It was agreed that a silversmith should be called in to give his opinion on the subject. Without disclosing the object, he was asked about the process of refining silver, which he described in detail.
‘But do you sit watching while the work of refining is going on?’ one asked. ‘Oh. Yes’, replied the silversmith, ‘I must sit with my eyes constantly fixed on the furnace, for if the necessary time be extended in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured’.
Christ sees it needful to put His children into the furnace; but He is seated by the side of it; His eye fixed steadily on the work of refining and purifying. His wisdom and His love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; even the hairs on their heads are numbered.
The silversmith said he still had to mention that he only knew when the process of purifying was complete, by seeing his own face reflected in the silver. Even so, when Christ shall see His own face in His children, He will know that the work of purifying is accomplished.
God’s Word can prune us as well. Every time that we hear God’s Word, there is an inbuilt invitation for us to respond. That response in us may call us to be pruned, to change our ways, our attitudes and values and hence endeavour to put on the mind of Christ. St.Paul goes into further details in his letter to the Philippians 2:1-5. You might like to look up the quote from the New Testament.
O Lord, grant that we may never be separated from you, so that we may produce in the world the fruits of faith, hope, and love. Amen,
God Bless you and may we never forget each other in prayer. Fr.Kev
SOME MORE HOMILIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
- Seeing with the Heart [www.bible.claret.org]
We see with the eyes of our hearts. If there is love in our hearts we will see love. If there is hatred and hurt in our hearts we will also see hatred and hurt. Unfortunately, these patterns can be passed on from generation to generation. We do to others what was done to us by people who had it done to them. It is a well known fact that those who have been abused, physically, psychologically or sexually by their parents are the most likely to abuse their own children. Read more…
- If A Man Loves Me [dailyscripture.net]
Jesus grants peace as his gift to his disciples. What kind of peace does he offer? The peace of Christ is more than the absence of trouble. It includes everything which makes for our highest good. The world’s approach to peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Jesus offers the peace which conquers our fears and anxieties. . Read more…
- 6th Sunday of Easter [www.catholicmatters.com]
Christ promised his Apostles, the night before his death, that when he returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them. He would teach them all things and recall to their minds all that Christ had taught them. In other words, the Church, through the Apostles, was promised the direct assistance of the Holy Spirit in preserving and interpreting what we call “the deposit of faith” or the sum total of the divine revelation given to us for our sanctification. Read more…
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 Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold 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: Let us pray for the strength to lay down our lives, keep God’s commandments, and love one another.
1. That all members of the Church might express their joy in the risen Christ’s love by loving others in word and deed. …………., we pray to the Lord: R/ Lord, let your light shine on us.
2. That national leaders model the self-sacrificing love of Christ for those they serve. …………., we pray to the Lord: R/ Lord, let your light shine on us.
3. That those in need be helped by the risen Christ’s disciples showing forth their love by generous deeds. …………., we pray to the Lord: R/ Lord, let your light shine on us.
4. That each of us here bear fruit by loving others as Jesus loves us. …………., we pray to the Lord: R/ Lord, let your light shine on us.
5. 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: R/ Lord, let your light shine on us.
Leader: Loving God, you sent your Son as expiation for our sins: hear these our prayers that we might also lay down our lives in love of others. We ask this through that same risen Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
Leader: The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.