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THE WRITTEN STYLE OF THE REALHOMILIE
It is my aim that I present the Homily to you in a way that you might hear me speaking.
I do not follow the strict rules of written prose as such; I use the techniques of oratory shared with me
in many Mission Sermons, and Mission Instructions by tried and true Mission Fathers,
from whom I am priveliged to
have been formed in that great tradition.
St.Paul of the Cross. Pray for us.
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: 1 Kings 17:10-16
Elijah the Prophet went off to Sidon. And when he reached the city gate, there was a widow gathering sticks; addressing her he said, ‘Please bring a little water in a vessel for me to drink.’ She was setting off to bring it when he called after her. ‘Please’ he said ‘bring me a scrap of bread in your hand.’ ‘As the Lord your God lives,’ she replied ‘I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.’ But Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, go and do as you have said; but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make some for yourself and for your son. For thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel:
“Jar of meal shall not be spent,
jug of oil shall not be emptied,
before the day when the Lord sends
rain on the face of the earth.”’
The woman went and did as Elijah told her and they ate the food, she, himself and her son. The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah. 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 145:7-10
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free. R.
It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just,
the Lord, who protects the stranger. R.
The Lord upholds the widow and orphan
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age. R.
Second Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28
It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf. And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself. Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him. 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 12:38-44
In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’
He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’ 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
Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes.
This poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury.
Everything she possessed, all she had to live on.
Happy the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
When Christ appears a second time he will reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.
to the point
The kingdom of God many times catches us by surprises, by reversals. We expect the scribes to be the models and the surprise is that the lowly one, the widow, is the model.
Connecting the Gospel
to the first reading
The Gospel widow gives her last monies; Elijah’s widow gives her last meal; the Gospel widow’s reward isn’t explicit, but implied; Elijah’s widow is rewarded with eating for a year.
to the culture
Often the poor tend to be incredibly generous; they understand what deprivation and need are. We are sometimes inclined to think of the poor as only on the receiving end; they often can teach us much about giving.
Apart from the temple discourse in Mark 13, the episode in this Sunday’s Gospel is the last public act of Jesus before his passion and death. With the sober reality of the cross looming large, the religious posturing of the scribes in the Temple precincts is especially onerous. Their clothing, seating, public acts of piety, and marks of respect are all designed to show them in a positive light. But their hypocrisy is clear for all to see as they ‘swallow the property of widows’ (see Isa 3:14).
By contrast, the otherwise unnoticed widow acts with genuine piety. We may presume that the ‘great deal’ of the rich were exactly calculated tithes, while the offering of the widow was complete and unstinting: she put in everything she possessed’. On the one hand, she is a model of discipleship as she humbly gives what she can. On the other hand, her offering everything has anticipates the offering Jesus will soon make when he, too, gives his entire life.
A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
If you travel into the city of Sydney these days by train, you can be pretty sure that someone either at Town Hall or Central Station will ask you for some spare change. It is ever so difficult to know who is needy, or who has adopted this ‘begging style’ as a way of life! I guess that when one is reasonably sure of the circumstances, the real test of a gift is not what it amounts to in itself, but what its loss means to the giver!
We have to give what will cost us something. This is just not giving what we can live without, but what we can’t live without, or don’t want to live without. This kind of giving hurts. But this is love in action. When the gift is as desperately needed by the giver as by the receiver – that is true giving. Then our gift becomes a sacrifice. And what a challenge, eh? Very difficult indeed.
In the Liturgy of the Word this weekend, the Old Testament passage from the 1st Book of Kings 17:10-16, situates a story which was real; in the middle of a famine, a poor widow shares the last of her food with the Prophet Elijah, and far from losing, by so doing, she is enriched. This theme links up with the Gospel story of ‘The Widow’s mighty mite!’ Mark 12:38-44. In the eyes of others, the offering of the widow was the least, but in the eyes of Christ it was the greatest.
Now let’s start digging deep into God’s Word, and once again, we must go back to the First Reading and prayerfully and reflectively pray the Reading. That might sound a bit strange, but when we are not rushed for time, this way of Reading can do wonders in our spirit, and the invitations within God’s Word become clearer; while we are more ‘readied’ to respond.
One of the most exciting surprises in deep sea diving into God’s Word is that nothing can just be taken for granted, and then you move on. No way! If we are tempted to do that, we can miss some fantastic insights into God’s evergreen Word. So, let’s start with the Prophet’s name…we have all heard his name mentioned hundreds of times before…but do we know what the name means???? Let’s do a little test; have you ever been looking around in a Gift shop…not some $2 place, but really nice Gift ideas? Of course, we probably have all been in those places. I was in a place nearby called Cardiology, last weekend, because I was looking for a Birthday Card for my sister. Now, when you just get in the doorway of this shop, there is a huge stand like a little Merry-go-round, full of Key rings with the Christian/Given names of people. I bet that you have sometimes stopped to see what they have to say about your own name…….Hands up who has ever done that? Yes, my hand is up as well. I have seen different meanings for my name, Kevin, and sometimes I walk away scratching my head thinking, how did they come up with that? Now supposing you saw the name Elijah, would that name interest you? It certainly would for me, and I would probably knock the Key Ring stand over in trying to get to Elijah’s Key Ring. Elijah’s name in Hebrew is this….eliyyah or eliyyaku, notice that the name starts with the letters el; this is a time when you cannot let that pass by without being curious. So what does that first part of the name mean??? The short answer is that el can be either a prefix or a suffix, meaning God. Now, what about the second part of his name together with the prefix? It means ‘my god is YHWH’ Now our ancestors in faith would never write nor say the name God as such, because the name contains the person! Out of fear, meaning awe, their respect and reverence for God would automatically cause them to ‘stand back, with face covered’. There is no name for God; that is why we leave out the vowels when we write Y_HW_H (I have omitted the a and the e). The common place name referring to God would be Adonai…..which is means Lord! However, other names referring to God, for example, el shaddai, which means, God of the Mountains, God most High, or Almighty God, comes with another window of knowing, because the name has much to do with the experience of being on a high mountain; looking at the view etc…what does it do to us? It catches our breath and causes us to GAZE……..into the moment. So that holistic experience is contained in the name…Almighty God………el-shaddai. So names in Hebrew, especially referring to God, contain a human experience which is part of the description of that aspect of God. There is no name that can express the fullness of God in God’s completeness.
Let’s look at the next part of the Prophet’s name……iyyah or yyahu; this is a very tricky name because the only English translation that makes any sense is…..my God is YHWH as I have mentioned already. So therefore, we can safely say that the way Elijah, and his community put together the Book of these experiences, and the way it is written, having been sensitive to the stirrings of the Spirit at the time, means that Elijah was deeply committed, or has responded and continues to responding to the marriage contract initiated by God, which his life depends completely on the ‘life’ which springs forth from the hearth or inner fireplace of God’s all powerful Word.
Now let’s move into the details of the story, not for historical purposes, but for deep spiritual outcomes which pose an enormous challenge to Israel – to us!
Firstly, the text says that ‘Elijah went off to Sidon’…Question: What for? Was it a holiday, or a shopping spree? Absolutely no; he was urged by the Spirit to go to this place, and be the message as his name implied, and proclaim a kind of renewal among the people to return to the Lord God, and be strengthened from the ‘life’ of this ‘God initiated Covenant’.
Back to the Old Testament text; when Elijah reached the city gate, he asked a woman to get him something to drink and eat. From our 21st Century perspective, this request seems a bit rude and pompous! But no, it has a very different meaning at the time this text was written. The people of the Ancient Near East were extremely hospitable people, as they are to this day. It would have been a very normal occurrence in those days…even that is a lesson for all time; it is from within normal events and interactions that God speaks to us. So, with that in mind what does he ask for? You see we must always be curious for the hidden meanings…..Elijah asks for water…… (A rich Biblical symbol for LIFE! Also, he asks for some bread! (Another rich Biblical symbol….the Manna in the desert….The Prophet Ezekiel ate a scroll of God’s Word as a symbolic action of the digesting of God’s Word which was seen as food – bread!)
It seems that the Widow, poor as she was, in fact was rich in spirit. She quotes God’s Word back to Elijah, not as a smart remark, but as a response to God speaking through his spokesperson – Elijah. The ‘spirit filled widow’ gives not what was left over, but what she had…..an admirable response….let’s hang onto this when we prayerfully read the Gospel for this Sunday…..it is a major link or bridge between the two readings.
Finally, the widow returns, and the text says ‘the woman went and did as Elijah told her, and they ate the food, she, himself, and her son’ indicating that God’s bounty always surprises and provides for our needs, over and above what we want. (The miracle of the loaves and fishes is another fine example in the New Testament of God’s bounty, especially with its Eucharistic overtones)
Now, at this stage a cup of Coffee might go down well…….Let’s move into the Gospel; a very challenging message for us these days.
Here we have an extraordinary contrast in spiritually; we have the Scribes presented to us as the ones who know all about God’s Law, and then we have a poor Widow living God’s Law;just like the poor lady in the first reading. But Jesus makes a very important point that our ways of being a ‘show off” are not God’s ways. The kind of exhibition that Jesus eludes too by some of the Scribes, also smacks of arrogant behavior. Well, we can safely say that the faces have changed, but the message remains the same! This kind of outward ‘showing off’ has nothing to do with God, but plenty to do with very needy and power consuming people. This kind of attitude can be like a cancer within the Christian Community; it has the latent energy to eat away at happiness and joy, in favor of being standoffish, legalistic, and unapproachable and being desperate in calling people to order, and addressing leaders with a plethora of honorific titles. This kind of atmosphere can be created when the relevance of the Church, and the way it conducts itself is called into question by ‘the poor’ of the Lord God. People like the poor lady in the first reading and the giving to others as was the widow’s mighty mite in the Gospel, speak volumes about true and sincere adhering to and living in obedience to God’s law. (Obedience being the listening to God’s creative Word with body, mind and soul)
Sadly, I believe that when the finances run really short in the Church, there will be a concerted effort to return to the true Christian image of God’s foot washers! All the glamour as presented in and through a real lack of a sense of occasion for the Church of the “now” will only perpetuate a ghetto mentality of superior and domineering people who lack love, truth, humility, forgiveness and joy. Food for thought!!!
However it is not all doom and gloom, the ongoing story of a ‘giving attitude’ without counting the cost is repeated daily in our communities, and so often ever so quietly. The spate of natural disasters over the last couple of years brings people to their knees in seeing what is really valuable and important in life. Time and time again, these unsung heroes go on quietly and lovingly. Only two weeks ago when that dreadful Mega storm Sandy, left behind a trail of misery from the Caribbean, U.S and Canada, we saw on the Television news the inspiring acts of giving and loving to others. I particularly remember seeing this young Teenage girl in the New York area who had put together a fantastic power board so that people could charge up their Cell phones. When interviewed this wonderful girl just too it for granted to offer to others what they don’t have themselves. These days it seems that one of the most costly items we possess is ‘time’. Yet, over and over again, people who do not count the cost offer their unbounded generosity of “time” to others. In our Celebration of the Eucharist this weekend, as always, our God offers us His Word and Sacrament. The cost of this was pure sacrifice….”This is my body which will be given up for you…This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you.” Luke 22:19-20.
We give thanks to God for the tremendous generosity and sacrifice, which people freely give to one another, which is the ‘life-blood’ of our missionary Parish communities. May this good work of love, continue to mould and fashion us, into the image of Christ.
God Bless you, and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer,
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: Bountiful God, you take care of the lowly ones and those in need. We are confident that when we speak our prayers you answer them with abundance.
That the Church beware of pretentiousness and eyes closed to the lowly. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That the leaders of the world beware of using their power for anything but the good of all. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That the newly re-elected President of the United States, be wise in his deliberations, listen carefully to the American people, and act with Justice and Truth at home and abroad. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That widows, orphans, and strangers be supported, protected, and received with generosity. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That we contribute generously from both our surplus and our poverty. 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, 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: O God, you hear the cries of the poor and reach out to those in need: hear these our prayers and help us always to rely on you for what we need. 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.