VIEWING THIS BLOG
If you subscribe to this Blog, which of course is FREE, the format that arrives in your inbox is sometimes all over the place. Might I suggest to you that you use the Blog alert for you to go back to
And view it the way I originally posted it….hopefully it will appear neat and tidy. However, you might find a typo every now and then, sometimes they escape my eye, sorry. 🙂
LATE FINAL EXTRA::: I was just about to post this blog and I lost all my pictures… the whole lot is somewhere in the Solar System; I could pull my hair out…or what’s left of it…Sorry
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: Ezekiel 17:22-24
The Lord says this:
‘From the top of the cedar,
from the highest branch I will take a shoot
and plant it myself on a very high mountain.
I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel.
It will sprout branches and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Every kind of bird will live beneath it,
every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches.
And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one
who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow,
who withers green trees and makes the withered green.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Psalm: Ps 91:2-3. 13-16
R. Lord it is good to give thanks to you.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord
to make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your truth in the watches of the night. R.
The just will flourish like the palm-tree
and grow like a Lebanon cedar. R.
Planted in the house of the Lord
they will flourish in the courts of our God,
still bearing fruit when they are old,
still full of sap, still green,
to proclaim that the Lord is just.
In him, my rock, there is no wrong. R.
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… 🙂
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
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…..
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said to the crowd, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time; he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’
He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’
Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Chapter 17 of Ezekiel contains an allegory of an eagle, a cedar tree, and a vine (vv. 3-10), followed by explanatory material (vv. 11-21) that makes clear what the allegory is about: the events unfolding in the Babylonian exile under the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar and his puppet king in Jerusalem, Zedekiah, whose imminent rebellion against Babylon is doomed to failure.
Today’s reading follows immediately with a messianic prophecy (vv. 22-24)—again highly allegorical in form—in which the prophet asserts that Yahweh’s power will ultimately prevail and that the cedar (the Davidic dynasty) will be planted (reestablished) on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. The choice of this reading has obviously been determined by certain similarities with the day’s gospel, particularly the themes of reversal of fortunes and how small things become great, thanks to the power of the Lord.
A Christian reading of this text will recognize how it foreshadows the ultimate “flowering” of the Davidic dynasty in Jesus Christ and in his Church, the Body of Christ, which will spread throughout the world and last until the end of time.
Psalm 92 was one of the seven psalms sung by the Levites at the main temple services on each day of the week. This psalm, sung on the Sabbath (the seventh day), contains the name Yahweh seven times, and ancient tradition among the rabbis even suggested that it may have been sung by Adam on the first Sabbath in the Garden of Eden! Its selection for today is clearly associated with the way it refers to the faithful who have been “planted” in God’s house: they “flourish,” they “grow,” “bear fruit,” and are “vigorous and sturdy.”
Such metaphors capture the experience of many a Christian who has known in a personal way how God’s loving care has established us in the Church through baptism and nourishes and watches over us through the sacramental economy of salvation. How fitting, then, is the responsorial verse that invites us to join our voices to those of our ancestors in proclaiming, “Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.”
Chapter 4 of Mark is entirely focused on parables, offering several examples of them and giving Mark’s understanding of their role in Jesus’ ministry of proclaiming the kingdom. It is clear that parables both reveal and conceal, that not everyone comprehends their message, and that even the inner circle who do accept their message need help in understanding their full meaning.
These parables are helpful reminders this Sunday when our doctrinal focus is on the Church, since the relationship between the Church and the kingdom of God is a subtle one that requires careful nuance. The insights of these parables are relevant to our understanding of both the kingdom and the Church. They suggest that this is the end time, the time of fulfillment (“the harvest has come”), the age of both the Church and of the kingdom. The growth of each, like that of the seed, is a hidden reality that operates under God’s power rather than through human agency. The hopeful word of encouragement given in the parable of the mustard seed is that what at first seems so small and insignificant will ultimately, under God’s power, become “the largest of plants.”
Although the passage from 2 Corinthians is simply a continuation of previous week’s readings, rather than selected to match today’s gospel, it nonetheless fits well with the notion of the gradual, hidden nature of the Church’s growth. Paul says “we walk by faith, not by sight,” and affirms that our present existence is not complete in itself. Rather, we eagerly await the final judgment when we will “go home to the Lord” and when divine “recompense” will set all things right. The Christian Church continues to pray “Thy kingdom come,” knowing full well that we have not yet reached the full attainment of God’s promised reign. Always keenly aware of the ethical implications of his teachings, Paul is quick to point out that therefore we must always remain “courageous” and “aspire to please” God.
The Church and the Kingdom of God
Christ came proclaiming the kingdom of God, calling all to repentance from sin, announcing the Good News of salvation and the new life that he offered. With Christ’s advent, the kingdom of God was inaugurated. We believe that although the kingdom is present here and now, it is not yet fully realized. When Christ returns a second time to this world in glory, he will bring the fullness of the kingdom of God.
The reality that sustains us, prepares us for, and moves us closer toward that second coming and the fullness of the kingdom is the Church. The Second Vatican Council described the Church as “the seed” of the kingdom (LG 5). In the Nicene Creed we proclaim that “we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church” (RM, Profession of Faith). It is important to note that just as we specify placing our belief in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we also mention by name the Church as an object of our faith. Why? Because the Church is the Body of Christ, who is its head (CCC 792), in whom all the individual members are united with each other (CCC 788), and which is joined to Christ as bride to bridegroom (CCC 796).
Thus, the Catholic Church does not envision itself as a mere collection of individuals, like any other earthly society or grouping who have come together on their own. Members of the Church have been called out of a former way of life, called away from the chaos of sin, and have been joined together into the temple of the Spirit by Christ himself (CCC 797). The goal of this assembly is precisely life in Christ, that is, salvation and the restoration of all things.
This restoration began as Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of God and revealed his own mystery to us. But his mystery is the mystery of the Church. The Second Vatican Council pronounced: “The Church—that is, the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery—grows visibly through the power of God in the world” (LG 3). And while the visible structures and organizations of our Church are not to be equated absolutely with the mystical body of Christ, the heavenly Church and the earthly Church are also, at the same time, not to be thought separate. The Council clarified, “On the contrary, they form one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element” (LG 8). This is the singular Church professed in the Creed as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, entrusted to Peter’s care by Christ.
The Church exists because people need salvation. It is for this reason that the Second Vatican Council positively addressed the ancient statement “outside the Church there is no salvation.” The Council affirmed: “…the Church…is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism (cf. Mark. 16:16; John. 3:5), and thereby affirmed the necessity of the Church which [all] enter through Baptism…. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God…would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it” (LG 14). On the other hand, they mystery goes beyond the visible Church: all who seek God with a sincere heart and who try in their actions to do God’s will may also achieve salvation (LG 16).
The very nature of the Church implies a mission to preach the Good News of Christ to the whole world (Matthew 28:19-20). The purpose of this mission is not for the well-being of an organizational structure. Rather, it is for the good of all people—that all might be made one in the Body of Christ and therefore share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love (CCC 850).
John Paul II employs the vine and the branches image (John 15:1-5) that the council fathers applied to the Church: “The Church herself, then, is the vine in the Gospel. She is mystery because the very life and love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the gift gratuitously offered to all those who are born of water and the Holy Spirit…and called to relive the very communion of God and to manifest it and communicate it in history (mission) …” (CL 8.5).
The Church prays: “Father…your house of prayer is also the promise of the Church in heaven. Here your love is always at work, preparing the Church on earth for its heavenly glory as the sinless bride of Christ, the joyful mother of a great company of saints” (RM, Preface, Dedication of a Church II).
A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
There is an advertisement that we see on the Television in Sydney nearly every day around Tea time ( In Australia, that is Evening meal time…6.00 – 7.00PM) The repeated theme is: ‘ From little things, big things grow’ I think that the advert’ has something to do with financial investments…that will tell you how much I pay attention. But, that annoying phrase is so often on the tip of my tongue, and I suppose that’s what their intention is…. Well, I think that the phrase, ‘From little things, big things grow’ is spot on, for the first Reading and the Gospel of today.
Let’s have a look at the first Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel. Now, once again, we must always be curious with everything in the Scriptures. We can easily be in a bit of a hurry and miss some important moments enshrined in God’s Word. For starters, the Prophet Ezekiel’s name is paramount in our understanding of this Book. In Hebrew, Ezekiel means: – God will strengthen. That being the case, the whole of this Book has that inbuilt intention within it. So let’s see what he is trying to tell us. Oh, one more thing, Ezekiel is informing us what the Lord God has said…..it’s not what Ezekiel says…Very important. Also the context of this Divine pronouncement is very important, but it has an added shine…..it is evergreen in its meaning, that is, it is for all times and seasons.
Basically the background is devastating for God’s people in this Reading, Jerusalem is about to be taken over by Pagans, and yet there is a real glimmer of hope contained in the message, which will strengthen God’s people. The wonderful poetic way in which this is portrayed is using the Cedar Tree as an allegory for the Kingdom of God. The Cedar of old and of today is a stately tree; hence Lebanon has the Cedar as the main display in its national flag. Cedars grow very tall and their branches reach out, like giant perches for the birds of the air to find shelter. The mention of a high mountain must not be lost on us either. In Scripture, Mountains have a particular status of places where the Lord God unveils his name and purposes to people of insight and discernment. Once again, we must not think that an Old Testament Prophet is a fortune teller, or someone who is predicting the future like someone who reads hand palms; however, often God’s Word proclaims in no uncertain terms…’See the days are coming, it is the Lord who speaks, when…..etc’. No a Biblical Prophet is someone who can discern what God is saying within the complexity of the way things are at that time, but it doesn’t end there; God’s Word continues to echo throughout the ages, and hence future revelations and events deemed by God, fit into the never ending plan. Hence, future generations can link into the echo of God’s Word as it is addressed to them. This is all getting a bit involved, so you might need a Coffee break and a Tim Tam (Australia’s number one chocolate biscuit)
So with all that in mind, we see God’s Word here as Words of Hope and strength, and that at the end of the day, God does have a plan and when His Word is spoken, it will do what it is send to do…WHEN? In God’s own time. So, here we see that the plan of God is to never give up on us, His people, and that in the long run; a noble shoot will be planted by God on the top of a high mountain where it will become the place par excellence, where all nations and peoples of the world will find shelter and rest. Here we see a glimpse of universalism….or we could say CATHOLIC….meaning all people are called, and all are welcome in God’s Kingdom. So in the Scriptures, when we hear about the birds nestling in the branches, it means not only the locals, but all people throughout the world. All people are God’s children, and God does not have any grandchildren.
Note that the Lord God makes it quite clear in the last line that this will come about…..’I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’ So for us in 2012, the meaning and impact of this Word of the Lord God has the same power within it now has it had then, and in all the ‘in between’ times as well. For us in this day and age in the life of the Church, we have been experiencing the imminent collapse of Christianity in many first world countries. It would seem that the days will come when the third world will mission the first world, and pretty much everything that we have known, will be turned on its head! I personally look forward to those days of metanoia or ‘inner change of heart’, maybe I will be dead, but hopefully I will be in a position to know what’s going on. Time and time again, I am appalled when I see that some Christian Leaders, and I am not absenting myself, have exchanged the Basin, Jug and Towel of the servant, for places of honour, glory, and career climbing within the Church structures. When all that is disseminated and got rid of…the new shoot of the Cedar will continue to grow, and all will be welcome. It is so good to see that in many parts of the World, when the coffers are at a minimum, the light of Christ glows even brighter. As an adjunct to this, it all happens when we listen to the word in humility; it is then that we can speak words of love….., yes, God’s Words of Biblical loving kindness, compassion, challenge and strength.
In the Gospel for today, there is a very strong link with the First Reading, but the Gospel takes it much further in speaking about the Kingdom of God. The two short parables deal with precisely the burial of the word, and the conditions of its growth. Let’s take note that the seed is buried; something that we must investigate, and be very curious because in the Scriptures there is a very important nuance at hand.
Remember the Prophet Jonah; how long was he in the belly of the whale? Three days. It would have been very dark in there; and it was the place of CHANGE in him so that he was ready to go forth at the Lord God’s command to the Pagans at Nineveh. What was the result or message that he embodied? His name says it all, Jonah is derived from Yonah and it is the name for Dove, hence a connection to the Lord God’s loving kindness for His people in the time of the great flood…remember that the Dove was seen with a twig in its beak….indicating that land was nearby. The Dove is also associated with the confirmation of the Father on the mission of His Son…The Word made flesh. The Dove is also connected to peace….that shalom of YHWH. The Belly of the whale is somewhat like a tomb, and Jesus was in the tomb for three days and underwent a huge change, namely being resuscitated or ‘re-breathed into life’ by the Father at the moment of Resurrection. So therefore being buried means undergoing CHANGE, and here we see that the seed is changing day and night and its potential is fully realised when the Tree matures, so this is how it is with the kingdom of God – the seed carries within an extraordinary force of productiveness beyond any comparison.
Remember the Television advertisement that drives me mad which I told you about at the beginning….”From little things, big things grow…” The mustard seed certainly does this! So therefore the tiny deposit of faith grows if it is nurtured like a small tree, with a stake and fertilizer, water and sunlight. Our faith, our insight into the seeing the saving hand of God at work in Jesus, calls us to mission, and to a universal mission, where everyone is welcome, with no ‘ifs or buts’. The Kingdom of God is here, but not fully realised in our world. The mission entrusted to us by the Father in Jesus, is to bring Heaven to Earth, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer….’Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…’
I hope that these thoughts and sharing with you will be a help in understanding a little more about the allegories used in the Scriptures about Trees, Mountains, Seeds, Branches, Birds of the air, and the inner experience of Salvation as in being buried….
I would like to finish off with a most beautiful ancient Hymn from the Middle Ages by Symeon the New Theologian about the seed….
God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer, the next time that we are held in prayerful conversation,
Symeon the New Theologian
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD) was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet who was the last of three saints canonized by the Eastern Orthodox church and given the title of “Theologian” (along with John the Apostle and Gregory of Nazianzus). “Theologian” was not applied to Symeon in the modern academic sense of theological study, but to recognize someone who spoke from personal experience of the vision of God. One of his principal teachings was that humans could and should experience theoria (literally “contemplation”, or direct experience of God).
Symeon was born into the Byzantine nobility and given a traditional education. At age fourteen he met Symeon the Studite, a renowned monk of the Monastery of Stoudios in Constantinople, who convinced him to give his own life to prayer and asceticism under the elder Symeon’s guidance. By the time he was thirty, Symeon the New Theologian became the abbot of the Monastery of St. Mammas, a position he held for twenty-five years. He attracted many monks and clergy with his reputation for sanctity, though his teachings brought him into conflict with church authorities, who would eventually send him into exile. His most well known disciple was Nicetas Stethatos who wrote the Life of Symeon.
Symeon is recognized as the first Byzantine mystic to freely share his own mystical experiences. Some of his writings are included in the Philokalia, a collection of texts by early Christian mystics on contemplative prayer and hesychast teachings. Symeon wrote and spoke frequently about the importance of experiencing directly the grace of God, often talking about his own experiences of God as divine light. Another common subject in his writings was the need of putting oneself under the guidance of a spiritual father. The authority for many of his teachings derived from the traditions of the Desert Fathers, early Christian monks and ascetics. Symeon’s writings include Hymns of Divine Love, Ethical Discourses, and The Catechetical Discourses.
Hymn 17. Prie`re mystique by Symeon the New Theologian
The grain is the kingdom of heaven,
It is the grace of the divine spirit.
The garden is the heart,
That of each man or woman,
The place where those who receive it
Sow the Spirit and hide in their innermost depths,
In the recesses of their *guts, ( one’s entrails)
So that no one can see it;
And they keep it with utmost care
So that it may germinate,
So that it may become a great tree
And reach up to the sky.
Therefore, should you say, “It is not here below,
But after death,
That all those who will have fervently desired it
Will receive the kingdom.”
You turn upside down the words
Of the Saviour God,
For if you do not take the seed,
This mustard seed he has spoken of,
If you do not sow it in your garden,
You remain completely sterile.
When, if not now,
Will you receive the seed?
*In medieval times, the guts or entrails was the repository of one’s deepest feelings, passion, inspiration and desire for mission. A number of Medieval Saints, after their death, had their entrails buried in a small chamber called a Cistern under the Altar. Notice that these days we often say that we have a’gut feeling’ about something? Hence, the Cistern with its contents was to be an enduring sign of the presence of what made the Saint “Holy” and it would also be a sign and a place of reverence for all who celebrated the Eucharist in the place. One example that comes to my mind is St.Edmund’s Chapel in Dover, England. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to be silent in that place for about 20 minutes. The faith of all those who had been in there was deafening! Fr.Kev.
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: Having been made a priestly and holy people through our Lord Jesus Christ and entrusted with the message of God’s kingdom, let us pray for the church, the world, and all those in need.
- That God’s message of healing and wholeness may be heard and seen in the lives of Benedict our Pope, our local Bishop, and the lives of all the baptised everywhere, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That all who work to bring peace in the world may also work to sustain the cause of justice and give birth to reconciliation among people who are estranged, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That those who are grieving or lonely may find comfort and companionship among us and through our care come to know the goodness of God’s love, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That fathers find guidance for their tasks in the grace and mercy of God and that families that are broken or in crisis may trust that they are God’s special possession, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That those who work the fields and all of us who enjoy the fruits of the earth may share our abundance with the poor and the hungry, we pray to the Lord: 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 HEAR OUR PRAYER
Leader: Gracious and merciful God, in your Son Jesus Christ you have opened to us the world of your miraculous ways. Hear our cries and grant our prayers through Jesus 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.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.