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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: Jeremiah 1:4-5. 17-19
In the days of Josiah, the word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.
So now brace yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them
all I command you.
Do not be dismayed at their presence,
or in their presence I will make you dismayed.
I, for my part, today will make you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron,
and a wall of bronze
to confront all this land:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the country people.
They will fight against you
but shall not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you –
it is the Lord who speaks.’
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 70:1-6. 15. 17
R. I will sing of your salvation.
In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
in your justice rescue me, free me:
pay heed to me and save me. R.
Be a rock where I can take refuge,
a mighty stronghold to save me;
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
Free me from the hand of the wicked. R.
It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my help. R.
My lips will tell of your justice
and day by day of your help.
O God, you have taught me from my youth
and I proclaim your wonders still. R.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13
Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.
If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.
In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.
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: Luke 4:21-30
Jesus began to speak in the synagogue, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.
They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son surely?’ But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to the widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
When they head this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
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.
Focusing the Word
Key words and phrases
This text is being fulfilled even as your listen.
They were astonished by his words.
A prophet is not accepted in his own country.
They took him to the brow of the hill.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.
I consecrated you.
I am with you to deliver you.
I will sing of your salvation.
If I speak without love I am nothing.
There are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.
to the point
As long as Jesus announces glad tidings, the crowd responds positively. But when Jesus challenges their narrowness with the examples of Elijah’s and Elisha’s outreach to Gentiles (Sidon and Syria), they grow furious. While the gospel is always good news, it is not always comfortable.
Connecting the Word
to the first reading
There are at least two points of contact between the first reading and the gospel. The first is the presentation of Jeremiah and Jesus as prophets who are rejected. The second is God’s promise of protection and deliverance.
So much of our contemporary culture is based on what is popular, for example, political polls, marketing samples, etc. Jesus based his message not on popular reaction but on the truth of God’s word.
Understanding the Word
Good news for Gentiles
This Sunday’s gospel repeats the last verse of last Sunday’s gospel and then continues the episode. It is important to remember that in Luke’s gospel we are still reading about the first public preaching of Jesus. He began with a quote from Isaiah which summarises his entire ministry. After an initial response of enthusiasm the people quickly move to hostile rejection. This episode is reported by Mark and Matthew only much later in the gospel and provides a context for such hostility. But in Luke this is his first public appearance. By Luke including it in the very first episode of Jesus’ public ministry he is clearly indicating both the fickleness of the crowd that will dog Jesus’ ministry and the rejection that will culminate in his death. Jesus’ prophetic words, ‘no prophet is accepted in his own native place’ (4:24) are tragically fulfilled by the end of this passage when his townsfolk ‘drove him out of the town’. (Note, too, how this episode fulfils the prophecy of Simeon in 2:34 – ‘this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted’.)
Why the hostility? The crowd was enthusiastic enough when Jesus announced the ‘gracious words’ of liberty, recovery, freedom, and a year of favour; they thought these blessings would be theirs, just as this prophet was apparently one of their own. But Jesus, in claiming to be a prophet, refers to two episodes in which Elijah and Elisha performed powerful deeds for the benefit of Gentiles. Readers of the gospel have been told of Jesus’ mission of universal salvation: Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles’ (2:32) and Luke had quoted Isaiah 3:6 to describe John’s ministry: ‘all flesh shall see the salvation of God’ (Luke 3:6). But this is the first time anyone in Jesus’ audience hears this word. The hometown crowd is angered to hear that Jesus will share their blessings with Gentiles. Apparently, they took this ‘good news’ for others as bad news for themselves.
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
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 privileged to
have been formed in that great tradition.
St.Paul of the Cross. Pray for us.
Dear One and All,
Often the First Reading at Mass comes from one of the Old Testament Prophets, today it comes from the Prophet Jeremiah. Perhaps we might be tempted to think that ‘a Prophet’ is someone who foretells the future! Well in Biblical terms, a Prophet is one who is called by God to speak ‘His Word’ before others, and to discern through an openness of heart and mind as to what is going on within God’s people. Sometimes God’s people need correction, other times they need affirmation and direction. It would seem that it is not the kind of vocation that one would be caught in the rush to take on! Yet, according to the Prophet Jeremiah, we catch a glimpse into the actual meaning of ‘the call’ to be a Prophet. Jeremiah is stunned to realize that he was known and set aside by God for this vocation, before he was formed in the womb! Jeremiah comes to understand that his ‘calling’ is not necessarily going to win him popularity! ‘Brace yourself for action’ says the Lord! But it is not all sad stories or battles; ‘I am with you to deliver you- it is the Lord who speaks.’
In the Gospel for today, we see Jesus living his Prophetic calling, speaking aloud ‘the Word’ in his hometown. The people’s reaction moves from amazement, to wonder, and then to resentment and anger! How can someone from the ‘home turf’ speak with such authority and directness, and bring God’s Word “alive” with such authenticity? As Jesus said, ‘no Prophet is ever accepted in their own country’! Well as we look back over two millennia, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same. So often we too, can easily fall into the very same trap as the people of Nazareth, when someone from within our midst humbly rises up, and shines. We may be tempted to say the very same thing…”I have known this person for so many years…how can they develop and mature beyond my expectations?” We know only so well how celebrities often make it to the top when they travel to another country, and get accepted for who they are, because there are no pre-judgments. Let us pray earnestly in response to God’s Word this weekend, that we will encourage the Prophets within our community, and when the slightest temptation comes our way to discard them, ignore them, or walk away from encouraging them…. let that be an inner sign for us saying: WRONG WAY, GO BACK!
Now let’s go back for a reconnaissance over the three Readings. Normally the Second Reading does not always connect with the 1st Reading and the Gospel, because it is a continuing Reading from week to week, but this Sunday it compliments them, and is truly the meat in the Sandwich between the other two Readings, giving us a 3D living image of God’s saving activity.
As I have already mentioned above, no one would be caught in the rush to be an authentic Biblical Prophet; far from it, to the contrary the Lord God captures or snares the person called to be a spokesperson for the Lord. As the chosen one responds to the Lord God’s invitation, in the midst of fear and unworthiness, a God-like element emerges from them, and that is true ‘poverty of spirit’….and authentic humility, not just some pious innuendo which skims the surface in a syrupy way; no it is deep founded openness and fear as to what this all means for them and their burgeoning mission!. In turn the Lord God assures the chosen one that they will never be alone, even though at times it might seem like that. Take the case of the Annunciation….the Blessed Virgin Mary radiated fear and unworthiness when she was called by the Angel of the Lord to be the Christ-bearer. Here with Jeremiah we see a dumfounded man who is totally astonished why he should be called by the Lord God to speak The Word in season and out of season. The Lord God tells Jeremiah in the strongest possible way that he has been known by God, is known by God, and will continue to be known by God. Here we are speaking of true Biblical knowledge, not academic knowledge. Biblical knowledge is that which enables God to know everything about us in a most loving, accepting and pardoning way. Biblical Prophecy is not necessarily telling the future by assumed knowledge and then making a prediction……no, those kind of Prophets can be found in interesting ‘write-ups’ in Magazines that we often find in the Doctor’s or Dentist’s waiting room.
So, the promise that is underpinning this address to Jeremiah is founded in the Lord God’s Covenant…..” I will be your God and you will be my people.” We also note that a bright future is not promised by the Lord God to Jeremiah, but there is something that we might easily overlook in this reading, and it is in the following sentence…’They will fight against you, but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you- it is the Lord who speaks.’ In bold type let’s look at this….the I am, is the Biblical name for God as revealed to Moses in the burning Bush in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3. What is I am going to do? Deliver you….this has profound meaning…..it means that Jeremiah will experience deliverance…not from some evil spirit, but more importantly, Jeremiah will experience the saving hand of God in and through all of what is outlined in this address to him, which is the substance of this first reading. In other words, Jeremiah himself, and those who listen to the Lord God’s invitations through the spoken Word will experience salvation……i.e being saved from something, for someone, and the someone is the Lord God……” You are precious in my sight says the Lord.” 1 Samuel 26:12
Now moving over to the Gospel for today is like gazing at a typical Diptych ….that is a double Oil painting with a Piano hinge down the centre, and for the fullness of meaning contained in the paintings, it needs to be ingested from left to right…in this case the First reading is the left hand oil painting, and the Gospel is the right hand oil painting….the artist? The supreme artist of all! The Lord God!
For a start, all that the Lord God said to Jeremiah in that opening address is taken for granted as being in Jesus…in fact in fleshed in Jesus as The Word made flesh – par excellence! The locals voice similar opposition to Jesus, as was the case with Jeremiah, saying that this is all too good to be true!….we know who this man is…….But notice it is not a Biblical knowledge, it is an academic knowledge, which Biblically only skims the surface like a water strider on a mill pond. As Jesus says…” a Prophet is not accepted in one’s own country…” That’s true isn’t it? The faces have changed over the years but the message remains the same…..the locals are the hardest ones to break out of their pre conceived notions and summing up of a person, which can progress to be totally blind and angry. It still happens in our world, and sadly in our Church! Notice that the anger fuelled by the truth of God’s Word was too much for them, and they wanted to do away with Jesus..Just as Jeremiah and all the other Prophets in the Scriptures, with Jesus, and in our lived History many have been and will continue to be led to the same fate either physically or by insidious versions of control.
Now, we go back to the meat in the sandwich…the second reading. Here we see an insight into the inner fortification and miss ion of one who is called to be a Prophet……Unconditional/Biblical Covenant Love. This Hymn to Charity/Love written by St.Paul, is not only a masterpiece in Christian Spirituality, but it is also a very good examination of conscience……very simply, substitute your own name for Love in this Reading, and see how you go? This Reading brings to the surface our ‘real self’. Now after reflecting on this reading, and the innate invitations it has for us to ‘change’ i.e experience true metanoia …that is simply looking at oneself and the relationships we have with people, and our environment, by metaphorically standing on our hands….it all looks pretty different, doesn’t it? It can even upset us, and make us sick…..may that be not lost on us in our meditation as well. Then as part of this examination of conscience, kindly go to Psalm 50…the great Act of contrition in the Old Testament……. Let the words of Contrition become our words, may is seep deep within us like liquid polish on hungry wood; this ought be practiced regularly and it will erode any arrogance, pompousness and any pursuit of ‘ power inclinations’ we might have….. ha-ha, but like Vitamin B12 Injections…one shoot is not enough, we need to have it regularly, so that we can build up that inner strength and vigor, so that the ordinary diet of living in love, encased by forgiveness, and elevated by compassion become our true spiritual food. This of course receives its distinctive Christ-likeness in and through the Eucharist, listening with the Heart to God’s Word, and hearing the heart beat in God’s people.
So, when we feel that not only our car needs a ‘tune-up’ but our spiritual selves as well…quietly sing the Song of St.Paul’s Hymn to Charity in the second Reading today…’ Love is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited, it is never rude or selfish….’ In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.’ Then Pray Psalm 50…
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Let us all work at this together as sisters and brothers in Christ.
May 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: God promises protection and deliverance to those who call out in need. And so we pray.
That all members of the Church have the courage to speak only the truth of God’s word. Lord, hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.
That leaders of nations speak just, encouraging, peaceful words. Lord, hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.
That those who speak harsh and uncharitable words truly hear God’s word gently inviting them to change. Lord, hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.
That each of us risk being prophets. Lord, hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.
For the many people in our Land Australia, who are suffering as a consequence of the devastating Bushfires and the overwhelming Floods, that the spirit of mateship will strengthen in these difficult times. Lord, hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.
For our sisters and brothers in Africa, and Egypt, and all other trouble spots in our world, that their efforts made towards peace and democracy, freedom and equality come to fruition. Lord, hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.
Leader: Saving God, you are with us through all trials and challenges: hear these our prayers that we might always speak only the truth of your word and live it faithfully so that one day we might enjoy everlasting life with 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.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.