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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: Genesis 2:18-24
The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:
‘This at last is bone from my bones
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.’
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.
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 127
R. May the Lord bless us
all the days of our lives.
O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
by the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper. R.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table. R.
Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
in a happy Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children.
On Israel, peace! R.
Second Reading: Hebrews 2:9-11
We see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.
As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers. 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 10:2-16
Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them. ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing. 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
They were testing him.
From the beginning God made them male and female.
They are no longer two but one body.
It is not good that the man should be alone.
I will make him a helpmate.
Let the children come to me for it is to such that the kingdom of God belongs.
May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.
Lead us to seek beyond our reach and give us the courage to stand before your truth.
to the point
The Pharisees show ‘hardness of hearts’ in two ways: (1) by putting the Law of Moses (which allows divorce) ahead of the plan of God (‘what God has joined together, no human being must separate’); (2) by opposing Jesus in presenting this controversial issue as a test to trap him. The disciples, too, show hardness of heart in rebuking the children. Jesus challenges hardness of heart that hinders the kingdom by upholding the unity of marriage and welcoming children.
Connecting the Word
to last Sunday
Last Sunday invited us to follow Jesus by living and doing as he did. Many times this is very difficult as, for example, in the challenge this Sunday to discern where our hearts have hardened and to be transformed by the example of Jesus.
to Catholic experience
Mark’s account of Jesus’ teaching on marriage is only one of several New Testament passages (see, for example, Matt 19:9 and 1 Cor 7:15) that deal with marriage and divorce. These, together with the teaching of the Church, provide a fuller context for understanding marriage.
Understanding the Word
‘Hardness of heart’
In the Bible the ‘heart’ is the centre of mental functions – knowing, understanding, and comprehending. Thus, Solomon prays for ‘an understanding heart’ (1 Kings 3:9) to govern Israel justly; and the Psalmist asks God, ‘keep the thoughts of my heart before you’ (Ps 19:15). When God wants Israel to know the covenant, God will write it on their hearts (Jer 31:33-34). Because the heart is deep inside the body – hidden within – it is the place of secret desires (Gen 8:21), plans (Isa 32:6), and plotting (Zech 8:17). As the cognitive centre the heart governs all moral, spiritual, and volitional activities. In short, the heart determines behaviour.
The biblical expression ‘to harden the heart’ is somewhat like our expression, ‘to close one’s mind.’ It signifies both the inability and the unwillingness to comprehend; it describes an arrogance that refuses to be persuaded by evidence or argumentation. It is similar to another biblical expression, ‘to stiffen the neck’ which refers to an ox that will not bend its neck under a yoke in order to be driven. It is the opposite of bowing one’s head which is a sign of submission and respect. A stiff neck is arrogant and unyielding. In one of the Dead Sea Scrolls the sons of deceit are said to walk in ‘stiffness of neck, hardness of heart’ (‘Rule of the Community,’ 1QS 4:11), the two expressions being equivalent. The remedy for a hardened heart (a closed mind) is repentance, i.e., a change of mind (see Sunday 3).
In Mark’s gospel when the disciples fail to understand the two miraculous feedings, Jesus accuses them of hardness of heart: ‘Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?’ (Mark 8:17; see also 6:52). In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus accuses the Pharisees of hardness of heart, i.e., they failed to understand and closed their minds against God’s teaching about marriage as it was ‘from the beginning.’ The Law of Moses was a concession to their hardened hearts, i.e., their refusal to be instructed by God’s word. Jesus now sets them right by teaching them about marriage.
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
Today’s gospel gives us a summary of Our lord’s teaching about marriage, and he goes on to speak very powerfully about the place of children in his kingdom; this implies those people who have the openness of heart of a child towards God.
Let us have a look at some of the implications of the Gospel message for us today.
One suspects that there is an attitude out there today that would dismiss most of this gospel as something that does not apply to our times. I think that it is important to distinguish between what is actually a rule or a law, and how that law is applied. The application of law in the past was often seen to be somewhat insensitive. Not all marriages work out. Of course, people make mistakes, and some people just don’t have what it takes to live a healthy life-giving relationship. Nobody marries with the intention that this marriage will not work. A Wedding is for a day, but the aim of marriage is for a lifetime.
On their wedding day, a couple sets out on a journey, which will lead them into deeper love? They may believe that they love each other now, but that may just be the beginnings of love. It could well be infatuation, which is important at this stage of their relationship. The word comes from the Latin: ignus fatuus, which literally means a false fire! A relationship will not last on that! It is based on feelings, and feelings, while being good, can also be uncontrollable. Love is a decision, not a feeling. While I cannot always control a feeling, I can renew a decision each and every day. Decisions, which involve relationships, do need fire! They need the fire, which burns off unhelpful criticism, negativity and pride. Relationships need the fire of sensitivity towards others, compassion, forgiveness, patience, thoughtfulness, and a desire to be creative in deepening the relationship. Once the fires start to grow dim, the life of the relationship starts to die unless it is rekindled.
I remember well, in fact it only seems like yesterday, when I was preparing to take my first vows while in the Passionist Novitiate in Mary’s Mount Goulburn, New South Wales, way back in 1968; I asked the Novice Master about how sure can I be in taking my Vows? He asked me as to what percentage was I looking for? His question to me made me stop and think! Sheepishly I suggested that I would be looking for about 75% surety. I can still remember the way he looked at me……..that kind of look which caused me to think that I had given a wrong answer. He then said to me, ‘Kevin, how sure do you think that your Mum and Dad were about their Marriage Vows on their Wedding Day?’ This opened a deeper understanding in me about faith…that is seeing the saving hand of God at work, and was I in love with the Lord?’ Wow! This was real food for thought!
Over the last 39 years I have celebrated with young couples more Marriages than I have had Baked Dinners. I have been privileged to walk with all these young people. I say again it is a privilege, not a right! We must be mindful that it is the couple who confer the Sacrament. The Priest, on behalf of the local community, and the Church witnesses the Marriage and so does everyone else who is present.
Some couples that I have walked with to the Altar have been very conscious of the need to prepare well for their Wedding. Mostly they attend pre-marriage courses, organised by the Dioceses, and together with other couples they can share their questions and pick up on some lived wisdom for the Keynote speakers who work with the group. In all my experience, I have never had a young couple to knock back the opportunity to go to one of these courses. I have never set out to make them compulsory courses or I won’t marry them! I don’t believe in using a big stick to get the couples to avail themselves of these sessions. I believe it is how the course is presented to them, makes all the difference….it’s not a test! You will not get marks for how well you have done etc. Generally they enjoy them and find it worthwhile, especially in the sharing groups.
Marriage is the greatest, and the most important Sacrament. Marriage is the living image of God’s covenant-love-relationship with his people. It is the very core and centrality of God’s love as manifested throughout the Scriptures both Old and New that the Bible is the greatest love story of all, and we are all caught up in it!
We can learn much from Our lord’s reference to little children as we continue to reflect upon real love. In the time of Jesus, a child had no status at all, but here we see that the little children were brought to Jesus. The Disciples became upset at this, but Jesus paused and said, “Let the little children come to me, for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs”.
Just as a little child can sense trust and mistrust, they will warm to those who are trusting. Just as a child learns how to love and be loved from its first educators, the parents, we need to place our trust in God, and be nurtured from his love. This is the source of all love, this is what nourishes relationships, this is what enables a person to feel special when they are trusted, and they will in turn trust and love others. Hence the Marriage can be an ongoing, evolution of loving which its flip-side is reconciliation. I found these Beatitudes of the Heart in a Magazine last year while waiting to get to see the Dentist….I thought that they were pretty good…..see what you think?
BEATITUDES OF THE HEART
Blessed are those who have a forgiving Heart, they will see God.
Blessed are the humble of heart, they will find rest for their souls.
Blessed are the warm-hearted, they will radiate goodness.
Blessed are those who work with the heart; they will find joy in their work.
Blessed are those who do not lose heart, they will find the strength to persevere.
And blessed are those who set their hearts on the Kingdom of God; everything else will be given them.
God Bless you and your families and may we never forget each other in prayer. 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: We present our needs to God, so that we might feel the compassionate touch of Jesus.
That the Church be quick to embrace compassionately the least among us and all who come in need. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That all levels of government enact only laws which promote God’s plan for creation. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That the lowly, downtrodden, and the disadvantaged be embraced and given a new hope in life. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That all of us here gathered live in harmony and peace, with our hearts turned only to God. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
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 & tablets….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.
Leader: Compassionate God, you forgive our failings and keep us in peace: hear these our prayers that one day we might enjoy everlasting life. 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.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.