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29th Sunday Year B in Ordinary Time, 2012. Helpful Hints in reading and reflecting upon the day’s Readings, Deep Sea Diving into the Scriptures, a realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Family Prayer around God’s Word, and a Blessing from Iona Abbey. Number 91.

18 Oct

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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: Isaiah 53:10-11

The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering.

If he offers his life in atonement,

he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life

and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over

he shall see the light and be content.

By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,

taking their faults on himself.

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 :4-5. 18-20. 22

R. Lord, let your mercy be on us,

as we place our trust in you.

The word of the Lord is faithful

and all his works to be trusted.

The Lord loves justice and right

and fills the earth with his love. R.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,

on those who hope in his love,

to rescue their souls from death,

to keep them alive in famine. R.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.

The Lord is our help and our shield.

May your love be upon us, O Lord,

as we place all our hope in you. R.

Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.  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 10:35-4

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

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

Allow us to sit at your side in your glory.

Can you drink the cup that I must drink?

Anyone who wants to become great must be your servant.

The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

By his suffering shall my servant justify many.

We have a high priest who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin.

to the point

James and John desire glory. Jesus reveals glory’s stark demand: drink his cup of suffering, be baptised into his death, be the slave of all. Ironically, the path to glory is the path of servanthood.

                                          Connecting the Word

                                                                          to the first reading

This selection is read as part of the first reading on Good Friday, drawing us clearly and immediately into Jesus’ passion and death.

to religious experience

Like James and John, how readily we say ‘we can’ to a commitment which promises glory and appears easy. Jesus, however, hides none of the fine print – our ‘we can’ is to the cross.

Understanding the Word

‘Cup’ and ‘baptism’

What precedes this Sunday’s gospel is the third prediction of the passion (see Sunday 25). Even after having been told three times that Jesus must suffer and die, James, John, and all the disciples fail to understand Jesus’ identity and mission: all they can think about is glory. Hence, Jesus again instructs them about discipleship, this time speaking of ‘the cup that I drink’ and ‘the baptism with which I am baptised.’ These are images for his forthcoming suffering and death.

Cup. In the Old Testament the image of the cup is used to describe the suffering and punishment God visits upon the wicked: ‘You drank at the Lord’s hand the cup of his wrath: Desolation and destruction, famine and sword!’ (Isa 51:17, 19; also Ps 11:6; Jer 25:15; Hab 2:16; Ezek 23:31-33). The ‘cup’ that Jesus drinks may infer that Jesus took on himself the punishment intended for human sinfulness. He seems to indicate this when he says that he will ‘give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). Additionally, at the Last Supper Jesus says of the cup, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many’ (14:24) – indicating that the cup, ‘shed for many,’ is also a cup of suffering. ‘Cup’ understood as suffering is evident in his prayer in Gethsemane, ‘Take this cup away from me’ (Mark 14:36). Finally, it was customary for the head of a household to fill the cups of the family and guests at table. So the cup that Jesus obligingly pours out for James and John is the cup of suffering – and each, indeed, dies a martyr’s death.

Baptism. In the Old Testament a deluge of water symbolises trouble and suffering (Pss 18:17-18; 32:6; 69:2-3, 15; 124:4-5; Isa 8:7). John the Baptist uses ‘baptism’ with other images to signify the tribulations of the endtime (Matt 3:11-12). Jesus, too, uses baptism to describe his own anguish and suffering (Luke 12:50). As a symbol of Christ’s death, it may refer to the sacrament of baptism by which disciples are baptised into Christ’s death (Rom 6:3-4).

A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh

Dear One and All,

Today’s Gospel is a real cracker! It puts the so called climb for glamour, ambition and cold hearted authority right in a box where it should belong, and with a lid on top of it never to be lifted……but Oh no, once again we can say…’ the faces have changed, but the message remains the same.” Time and time again, the lid gets lifted off that box, and its contents get an airing.

It has always been part of human nature and still is today, when we try and wangle opportunities in our favour, in terms of climbing the professional ladder, getting more kudos,  because we have taken a big risk or given so much time or capital to given causes. It seems to be part and parcel of human nature. I cannot absent myself from this kind of bargaining, because I know that I have done something like it; it is very much part of the mercantile world. Here in Australia, it has always been one of the underpinning norms within mateship. There is a place for it too, but Jesus presents us with a real blockbuster response when it comes to following him!  Let’s have a look at it, through the eyes of the First Reading from the Old Testament, and the Gospel.

In the Old Testament Reading, we see that the Community of Isaiah, in digesting the Word of God and then proclaiming it, has a very curious blueprint for success. Suffering!!! This is completely contrary to the way ingrained human nature thinks with its genetic formula of success in getting to the top; success is often wielding cold authority; success is in being served! As we look at the Old Testament Reading from another angle, it would seem that “the suffering” ascribed to is seen as failure in the eyes of the world.  The question can then be put: – ‘What can we learn from the experience of suffering?’ It would seem from the Biblical point of view, and that is what matters here, is that we truly have the opportunity to listen! To listen to ourselves, the ability to really listen to others, and the capability of being able to listen to God.

If we strive to live for the opposite to this formula from God’s Word; we are truly then formed in the ways of the world, and can become part of the dog eats dog approach to everything. We have all seen this, maybe even experienced it from both sides, and the atmosphere which these kinds of ambitions create, is that of arrogance, selfishness, and ‘the world revolves around me syndrome.’ All that glitters is not gold! In the evening time of my years I would say that people like this are like water striders on  top of a pond….flitting over the water to stand momentarily on a Lilly leaf, but never really exploring the world beneath their feet.

On the other hand, Jesus makes it quite clear that true greatness is found within servant hood. Christ entered Servant hood has its roots deeply imbedded in Biblical listening, and true poverty of Spirit. Let’s just pause for a moment on the meaning of ‘poverty of spirit’. This vital Biblical concept forms the backbone for the Anawim…that is the ‘poor of the Lord God’….the faithful who hungered and longed for the promises of the Lord God to be fulfilled. The ‘faithful’ who hung onto and lived the tenants of the Marriage covenant, initiated by the Lord God with Abraham and Moses, and reinforced by later Old Testament Prophets was their vision, hope and direction. The Virgin Mary typifies the Anawim of the Lord God….’Let what you have said be done unto me…’  Mary is the absolute example of the true ‘faith-response.’ She epitomised ‘Servant hood’…..not being over concerned with herself, but deeply committed to her ageing cousin, Elizabeth.’ For true Servant hood expresses itself in total ‘ otherness’ without the loss of self, while pondering these mysteries within the heart.

True Servant hood does not look for suffering; suffering is found within Servant hood. This element is always a refining component, it is the true catalyst for Biblical love which makes new, enables the best in others and brings about the will of God, and welcomes unconditionally all people into God’s family. The growth in, and living of Biblical Servant hood, rests on a certainty which is foreign to worldly standards. Having an inner silver thread of God’s unfailing love within us, Servant hood does not outwardly guarantee greatness as the world sees it. That being the case, and in the 21st Century, we live with more uncertainty than ever before in world history. We live in times where many people in the world who has access to the Internet can not only view our suburb, but our house and garden on Google. Every financial transaction that is made through Credit or Debit Card can be tracked. Every ‘phone call, email or text message can be viewed many months after they have been sent. Some Nations in our Global Village have the capacity to destroy every living thing on our Planet! From within us, comes a latent desire for certainty, and this lives deep inside the human Psychic. Often within a social climate like this, sub terrainium fissures of ultra conservative movements often spring to the surface in a society while these conditions are ripe; ways of doing things become scrupulously exact, so that we can totally have within our power, the certainty of things that pertain to God, especially manifested in Law. Unfortunately, a bi- product of this ‘sticking to the letter of the law’ is the dissolving of the ‘spirit’ and a cold regementalism, which smacks of arrogance, in the face of our ‘thinking’ sisters and brothers in society. Unfortunately, but not unexpected, this is sometimes practiced and lived within the Church to some extent, when shepherd leadership gives way to the wearing of longer phylacteries and being greeted obsequisely in the market squares with titles of honour, and perfunctory laws which cross every T, and dot every I, from living Liturgy to Pastoral Letters which read like raw Government Gazettes.

As the People of God, we are called to be free, to be faithful in Jesus, as Servants of the Word. Laws and Regulations which try to monitor every movement of the follower of ‘The Way’ can be nothing short of modern day Pharisees at their computers, and some of these core practices Jesus condemned vehemently. The external expressions of this spiritual cancer is so often manifested in the plethora of Hierarchical titles, clothing to match, and self centeredness, which scorns the ‘Poor of the Lord God’ as being ignorant, and unworthy Prophets of the Word..

Having being ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament for 39 years, and being formed in Post Vatican II  visions and goals, and as we are celebrating 50 years since the opening of the council, I have seen a kind of pulling back from the Council’s overall vision, lest it gets out of control. I use the word control here in a specific way, namely the Spirit’s Vision getting to far ahead for the people steering the Carriage. Coupled with greater underlying uncertainty in our world, the culture is just right for retroactive slowing down in embracing the daring vision of the Gospel, and gives the green light for scrupulously exact liturgical practice and laws which can stifle the Spirit’s movements, and crush the inspiring thrills for daring Christians. Running hand in hand with this is sadness, lack of joy and a misguided creeping towards superstition, in order to harness lost mystical experience and wonder. One of the great sayings of St.Teresa, which raised a few eyebrows at the time, was…” Lord, save me from silly devotions and sour faced saints…”  It says it all doesn’t it? Gloominess and cold Rubrics often go hand in hand, warmth and a real sense of community in worship is often a sign that it is real Liturgy!

It’s not all doom and gloom! Throughout world history and today, God’s Holy Spirit can always outwit our handmade speed humps, which we built so as we can enforce our angle on truth and authenticity. Pockets of daring Christians pop up all over the world responding to the Spirit’s invitations to renew the face of the earth. Often this happens within areas of great suffering where joy abounds. Many Founders of Religious Orders had to deal with all kinds of persecution from those whom they would have thought would listen, and foster God’s new deed being done. One of the many profound themes which run through some of the Letters of St.Paul is: – Joy in the midst of Suffering.  See, we are back to the theme in the First Reading and Gospel of today; the Cross is always in the forefront of change and growth within God’s people. The Gospel today underlines the two sided coin of Our Lord’s call to us in mission……Servant hood/The Cross! I think that this Missionary activity is summed up ever so beautifully in the Blessing from Iona Abbey at the conclusion to this Blog…..let’s renew our commitment to be Servants of one another, living the Passion and Cross of Jesus, the greatest sign of God’s love.

God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other the next time we are held in conversation with the Lord, Fr. Kev.

PS: An interesting little story to read while you are having a Coffee/Tea and some Raisin Toast.

 MY ATTORNEY

After living what I felt was a “decent” life, my time on earth came to the end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defence table.

As I looked around I saw the “prosecutor.” He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him.


The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, “Let us begin.”

The prosecutor rose and said, “My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.” He proceeded to tell of lies I told, things I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins even I completely forgotten about. As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defence at all. I know I was guilty of those things, but I did some good in my life – couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’d done?

Satan finished with a fury and said, “This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.”

When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was allowed to see Him in His full splendour and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Saviour.

He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, “Hi, Dad,” then He turned to address the court. “Satan was correct in saying this man sinned, I won’t deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished.”  

Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so this person might have eternal life and he accepted me as his Saviour so he is mine.”

My Lord continued with, “His name is written in the Book of Life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.”

As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, “There is nothing else that needs to be done. I’ve done it all.”

The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips… “This man is free the penalty for him was already paid in full. Case dismissed”

As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, and I will win the next one.”

I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, “Have you ever lost a case?” Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that comes to me and asked me to represent them, received the same verdict as you, “PAID IN FULL.”

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 place our needs before God, very aware that we need God’s help in order to empty ourselves to be the servant of all.

For the Church, the body of Christ called to be servant of all. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For the world, the good creation of God, to be preserved for the common good of all. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For those having trouble following through on commitments, to be strengthened to be faithful. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For all of us here, the Church made visible, to embrace whatever suffering comes along the road to glory. 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: Almighty and ever-living God, you always hear the prayers of your humble servants: grant our needs that one day we might share in your eternal glory. 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.

 

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