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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: Isaiah 50:5-9
The Lord has opened my ear.
For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.
The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.
My vindicator is here at hand.
Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is coming to my help,
who dare condemn me?
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 114:1-6. 8-9
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord,
in the land of the living.
I love the Lord for he has heard
the cry of my appeal;
for he turned his ear to me
in the day when I called him. R.
They surrounded me, the snares of death,
with anguish of the tomb;
they caught me, sorrow and distress.
I called on the Lord’s name.
O Lord my God, deliver me! R.
How gracious is the Lord, and just;
our God has compassion.
The Lord protects the simple hearts;
I was helpless so he saved me! R.
He has kept my soul from death,
my eyes from tears
and my feet from stumbling.
I will walk in the presence of the Lord
in the land of the living. R.
Second Reading: James 2:14-18
Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind: ‘You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.’ 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 8:27-35
Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said, ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked, ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’
He called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’
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, 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
Who do people say I am?
You are the Christ.
Those who wish to follow Jesus must renounce themselves and take up their crosses and follow him.
I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
The Lord has opened my ear.
The Lord comes to my help.
I will prove to you that I have faith by my good deeds.
to the point
The key here is not the revelation of the identity of Jesus as the Christ, but Jesus’ proclamation of himself as suffering servant.
Connecting the Gospel
to the Lectionary
The passage from Isaiah 50:4-9, the so-called Third Song of the Servant of the Lord, is otherwise found only on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (all three years) and on Wednesday of Holy Week. The tradition of associating this reading with the passion of the Lord makes it an appropriate complement to this Sunday’s Gospel prediction of the Lord’s forthcoming death.
to our culture
So much of today’s culture is about ‘me’. Many self-help books and much advertising announce whatever the cost, ‘I’m worth it’. The Gospel is counter-cultural, announcing that the most important thing in life is ‘losing’ self in order to find something greater: eternal life.
This Gospel stands at the very middle of Mark’s Gospel and signals both a climax and a change in focus. The persistent question about the identity of Jesus which has shaped the Gospel to this point finds an answer in Peter’s response to Jesus: ‘You are the Christ’. But, like the blind man who is healed in stages (Mark 8:22-26, unfortunately omitted from the Lectionary), Peter’s profession is at first imperfect: he fails to see that this Messiah must suffer and die.
The meaning of Christ’s Messiahship becomes the focus of Jesus’ teaching for the remainder of the Gospel. In fact, his prediction (that the Son of Man ‘must suffer … be rejected … be killed … and rise’) is the outline of the plot from this point on. Along with Jesus’ teaching about the Messiah goes a pronounced emphasis on what it means to be a disciple of this kind of Messiah: the disciple is likewise to deny self, take up the cross, and lose one’s life. It is, therefore, ironic that Peter immediately attempts to become the Master and Teacher by remonstrating with Jesus! Jesus sharply reminds him that the proper place for a disciple is ‘behind’ (v. 33) or ‘following’ (v. 34) the Master. Disciples of Jesus can understand their proper role – their true selves – only when they understand that Jesus is a Messiah who suffers and dies.
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
It is fairly common these days in Business, and within People orientated Professions, to undergo an appraisal…..that is to see how one is performing, and highlighting personal presentation and giving attention on how one could improve. In contrast to the gospel today, the appraisal called by Jesus is not about His performance, but about His identity……..,’who do people say that I am?’ The response is a mixed bag of possibilities, but here we see Peter speaking up for the group, and the early Christian Community saying….. “You are the Christ….” However, Peter’s response is a hasty one; somewhat like his response to the observation made on the eve of Our Lord’s Death……”are you not one of His Disciples?” Peter swiftly denies the claim…..” I do not know the man….” Peter often shows himself to be somewhat impulsive from time to time in the Gospel…..Let’s not forget that there is a big possibility that Peter is not alone in that kind of quick response without thinking it through; we can easily be like Peter.
Jesus deepens the understanding of His identity with aligning himself with the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. It seems that this is a crucial ingredient of Our Lord’s identity, and urgently calls us to revisit its implications for living the Gospel message. Hence the prospective follower`s response to this fundamental aspect of Christian Discipleship is paramount.
In order to explore the implications of `the suffering servant motif ‘ we need to dig deep in to its understanding for the Prophet Isaiah! Let’s have a look at the opening line of the 1st Reading for today…..” the Lord has opened my ear’”. It is just so easy to read that over very quickly and not fathom its profound meaning. So without more ado, what does it mean? It seems that to have one’s ear opened is a ‘graced moment’ in listening. We are not looking at this from the point of an Audiologist as you would find in a Medical Centre, but Biblically speaking, it is the graced moment of holistic listening. These two words mean real obedience. So often we can so easily misunderstand the meaning of Biblical obedience; often we might think that it means just doing this or that! Absolutely no! In this case, it would seem that through Isaiah’s ‘lived response’ to his calling from the Lord God; he has learnt to listen deeply to The Word addressed to him all the time. Biblical listening has a lot to do also with holiness, which equals wholesomeness. In the 1st Book of Samuel, we hear the profound response to the invitatory from the Lord God…..”Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” However, even for young Samuel, it took some time for him to understand and know that the calling of his name was in fact the Angel of the Lord; he received some assistance from the old man Eli which cannot be understated either. We must treat this progress of refined listening to a result of intercession. Notice that Samuel makes the move in his investigations, the answers or the graces do not come on a silver spoon. In short, it is all about responding to an invitation, and earning the graced moment.
In Isaiah’s case, his experience within his vocation has told him why he can respond to suffering as a silent witness, and this comes to the surface when Isaiah can say: `The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults….My vindicator is at hand….The Lord is coming to my help.’ The Prophet knows in the Biblical sense that the Lord will never let him down, and through the ongoing suffering; ironically, he will learn to listen even more.
Now, this Biblical understanding in how to deal with conflict\suffering goes contrary to the world’s formula in dealing with unjust personal and communitarian reproach for one’s belief. In today’s Gospel we see Peter representing the “world’s way”. in responding to the ultimate suffering with Jesus at his imminent Passion, Death and Resurrection, the latter part of the triplet is incredulous to Peter at this time…..again, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same. That is why the inspired Word of God is applicable to all millennia and seasons. In short one as to grow into a Biblical listener.
There is still more to all of this than meets the eye: the silent suffering servant to many people can be seen as a sign of weakness, however, as St. Paul says ` when I am weak, then I am strong…’ How come ? We might ask? Because as for Isaiah and St.Paul, they knew that the Spirit-breath of the Lord was in them, therefore their vision was to a higher plain that just the earthly one. Notwithstanding the silent witness element, it does not rule out the process of conciliation, through to reconciliation when confronted with hostile people, who do not understand the stance of the Christian. Time and time again in the Scriptures, we are called to the desire of meeting others, in short, that means conciliation, which is always the first step to the bringing together within a healing moment…..true reconciliation. This desired process is a`by product’ of the Isaiahian and Christian approach to suffering, and the flip side to the silent witness. When this process happens in life with us…..that is true progress. If it doesn’t happen when we would expect it, we must remember that the Lord God has the bigger picture…..as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer…`thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven……in God’s own time. Here is another crunching factor: the letting go of controlling the outcome at a given time, this is another fruit of Biblical listening.
In the living out of this true Biblical listening, there is often an internal struggle…….these days, we often hear the word “jihad”, and according to the Macquarie Encyclopedic Dictionary, 2010, and let’s see its meaning:- Islam: spiritual struggle: efforts made in the cause of God. At a personal level, the struggle to be righteous and follow God’s path. At a communal level, a struggle or holy war in support of Islam against unbelievers. The major part of “jihad” could well be owned by the followers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…..Jews, Christians and Muslims, however being groomed in and by the New Testament, there is absolutely no room for a so called holy war, that is truly a misnomer.
For ourselves, time and time again within the circumstances of our day to day lives, situations arise when the question is asked of us individually…” Who do you say I am.?” The answer is lived out in our response to the situation as we sometimes internally wrestle with the “jihad” and come to some of answer to that burning question.
Do we make time ‘to listen’ to God; get into the habit of it, so that it happens automatically? Are we so filled with noise that we cannot fine tune into what silence has to offer? Do we see the value in having a personal or family review of the day; using the question….How have I seen the saving hand of God today? In people, through Scripture, in Sacrament, in silence? If we attend Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, does our gaze penetrate through the Host, into the living Body of Christ in our world? How do we respond to ‘FAITH’ hostility? Are we affirmed in the way that Isaiah was? Do we try to enter into conversation, so that reconciliation may happen? Or do we go for the throat? Believe me, these questions are for me, just as anyone else…..Go gently…
May the Lord Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other while held in conversation with the Lord,
Sincerely In Christ,
PS: I attach a little story to illustrate that really the Apostles, Saints and ourselves are on the same page…enjoy!
Jordan Management Consultants.
33 Angel Place.,
Thank you for submitting the resumes’ of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests. We have run the results through our computer, and also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologists and vocational aptitude consultants. The results of all the tests are included, and we advise that you study each of them carefully.
It is the opinion of the staff that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. Besides, they do not have the team concept. We have found ample evidence of jealousy and rivalry among them. Therefore, we would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience and proven ability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper – definitely not the man you would want to head your organization. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. He is just a follower. The two brothers, James and John, are too hot-headed. Besides, they place personal interests above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would undermine morale. Matthew, the tax-collector, is undoubtedly a man of ability, but would project the wrong image for an organization such as yours. James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus have radical leanings. Hence, their unsuitability.
There is one candidate, however, who shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, good with people, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. That man is Judas Iscariot. We recommend him as your controller and right-hand man.
We wish you every success in your new venture,
Jordan Management Consultants.
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: God calls us to life through death. Let us die to ourselves as we pray for the needs of the world.
That the disciples of Jesus may deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him even to suffering and death.
That those who exercise power and authority may think more as God does and less as humans do.
That all those suffering for the sake of the Gospel may find comfort in Christ.
That our community may be faithful to our journey with Christ toward the cross.
From what we have seen on our TV News during the week, we place the following events into the Lord’s keeping.
Leader: O God, hear our prayers that our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray may be full in you. We ask this through 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.