VIEWING THIS BLOG
If you subscribe to this Blog, which of course is FREE, the format that arrives in your inbox is sometimes all over the place. Might I suggest to you that you use the Blog alert for you to go back to http://www.realhomilies.com and view it the way I originally posted it….hopefully it will appear neat and tidy. However, you might find a typo every now and then, sometimes they escape my eye, sorry. 😦 Thanks, Fr.Kev
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 flooring which is thirsty for nutrition and oil. 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: Ezekiel 17:22-24
The Lord says this:
‘From the top of the cedar,
from the highest branch I will take a shoot
and plant it myself on a very high mountain.
I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel.
It will sprout branches and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Every kind of bird will live beneath it,
every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches.
And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one
who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow,
who withers green trees and makes the withered green.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Psalm: Ps 91:2-3. 13-16
- Lord it is good to give thanks to you.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord
to make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your truth in the watches of the night. R.
The just will flourish like the palm-tree
and grow like a Lebanon cedar. R.
Planted in the house of the Lord
they will flourish in the courts of our God,
still bearing fruit when they are old,
still full of sap, still green,
to proclaim that the Lord is just.
In him, my rock, there is no wrong. R.
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… 🙂
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad. The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Reflection time again……. Can you see and hear the links, connecting the First Reading, Second Reading and the Gospel? After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said to the crowd, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time; he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’
He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’
Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone. The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
There is an advertisement that we see on the Television here in Sydney nearly every day around Tea time (In Australia, that is Evening meal time…6.00 – 7.00PM, we don’t normally call in Dinner, unless it is a splash up me, or we are going out to a Restaurant) The repeated theme in the advertisement is: ‘ From little things, big things grow’
I think that the advert’ has something to do with financial investments…that will tell you how much I pay attention to it. But, that annoying phrase is so often on the tip of my tongue, and I suppose that’s what their intention is…. Well, I think that the phrase, ‘From little things, big things grow’ is spot on, for the first Reading and the Gospel of today.
Let’s have a look at the first Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel. Now, once again, we must always be curious with everything in the Scriptures. We can easily be in a bit of a hurry, and miss some important moments enshrined in God’s Word. For starters, the Prophet Ezekiel’s name is paramount in our understanding of this Book. In Hebrew, Ezekiel means: – God will strengthen. That being the case, the whole of this Book has that inbuilt intention within it. God strengthen’s His people. So, let’s see what he is trying to tell us. Oh, one more thing, Ezekiel is informing us what the Lord God has said…..it’s not what Ezekiel says…Very important to keep that in mind. Also the context of this Divine pronouncement is very important, but it has an added shine…..it is evergreen in its meaning, that is, it is for all times and seasons.
Basically the background is devastating for God’s people in this Reading, Jerusalem is about to be taken over by Pagans, and yet there is a real glimmer of hope contained in this message, which will strengthen God’s people. The wonderful poetic way in which this is portrayed, is using the Cedar Tree as an allegory for the Kingdom of God. The Cedar of old, and of today, is a stately tree; hence Lebanon has the Cedar as the main display in its national flag. Cedars grow very tall and their branches reach out, with giant perches for the birds of the air to find shelter. The mention of a high mountain must not be lost on us either. In Scripture, Mountains have a particular status of places where the Lord God unveils his name, and purposes for His people. Once again, we must not think that an Old Testament Prophet is a fortune teller, or someone who is predicting the future like someone who reads hand palms; however, often God’s Word proclaims in no uncertain terms…’See the days are coming, it is the Lord who speaks, that a hopeful time in the future will bring about the purposes of God’s will.’ A Biblical Prophet is someone who can discern what God is saying within the complexity of the way things are at that time. It doesn’t end there; God’s Word continues to echo throughout the ages, and hence future revelations and events deemed by God, fit into the never ending plan. Hence, future generations can link into the echo of God’s Word, as it is has been addressed and is addressed to them. This is all getting a bit involved, so you might need a Coffee break, and a Tim Tam (Australia’s number one chocolate biscuit) to think this over.
So with all that in mind, we see God’s Word here, as Words of Hope and strength, and that at the end of the day, God does have a plan, and when His Word is spoken, it will do what it is sent to do…WHEN? In God’s own time. So, here we see that the plan of God is to never give up on us, and that in the long run; a noble shoot will be planted by God on the top of a high mountain where it will become the place, par excellence, where all nations and peoples of the world will find shelter and rest. Here we see a glimpse of universalism, and The New Heavens and the new earth in the Book of Revelation…..or we could say CATHOLIC.…meaning all people are called, and all are welcome in God’s Kingdom. So in the Scriptures, when we hear about the birds nestling in the branches, it means not only the locals, but all people throughout the world. All people are God’s children, and God does not have any grandchildren.
Note that the Lord God makes it quite clear in the last line, that this will come about…..’I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’ So for us in 2015, the meaning and impact of this Word of the Lord God, has the same power within it now, has it had then, and in all the ‘in between’ times as well. For us in this day and age in the life of the Church, we have been experiencing the imminent collapse of Christianity in many first world countries. It would seem that the days will come when the third world, will mission the first world, and pretty much everything that we have known, will be turned on its head! I personally look forward to those days of lived metanoia or ‘inner change of heart’, maybe I will be dead by then. But that does not matter in the least for me. Time and time again, I am appalled when I see that some Christian Leaders, and I am not absenting myself, have exchanged the Basin, Jug and Towel of the servant, for places of honour, glory, and career climbing, within the Church structures. When all that is disseminated and got rid of…the new shoot of the Cedar will continue to grow, and all will be welcome into the Church without a visa! It is so good to see that in many parts of the World, when the coffers are at a minimum, the light of Christ glows even brighter. As an adjunct to this, it all happens when we listen to the word in humility; it is then that we can speak words of love, in truth….., yes, God’s Words of Biblical loving kindness, compassion, challenge and strength.
In the Gospel for today, there is a very strong link with the First Reading, but the Gospel takes it much further, in speaking about the Kingdom of God. The two short parables deal with precisely the burial of the Word, and the conditions for its growth. Let’s take note that the seed is buried; something that we must investigate, and be very curious, because mentioning that in the Gospel, there is a very important nuance at hand. What is it?
Remember the Prophet Jonah; how long he was in the belly of the whale? Three days. It would have been very dark in there; and it was the place of CHANGE in him so that he was ready to go forth, at the Lord God’s command, to the Pagans at Nineveh. We must not get caught up as to how he breathed in the belly of the whale…..the Whale is a metaphor. What was the result or message that he embodied? His name says it all; Jonah is derived from Yonah, and it is the name for Dove, hence a connection to the Lord God’s loving kindness for His people in the time of the great flood….Remember that the Dove was seen with a twig in its beak….indicating that land was nearby. The Dove is also associated with the confirmation of the Father on the mission of His Son…The Word made flesh. The Dove is also connected to peace….that shalom of YHWH. The Belly of the whale is somewhat like a tomb, and Jesus was in the tomb for three days, and underwent a huge change, namely being resuscitated or ‘re-breathed into life’ by the Father at the moment of Resurrection. So, therefore being buried means undergoing CHANGE – BIG CHANGE AT THAT! Now here we see that the seed is changing day and night, and its potential is fully realised when the Tree matures, so this is how it is with the kingdom of God – the seed carries within an extraordinary force of productiveness beyond any comparison which as it grows invites the birds of the air to nestle in its branches.
Remember the Television advertisement which annoys me, which I told you about at the beginning….”From little things, big things grow…” The mustard seed certainly does this! So therefore the tiny deposit of faith grows, when it is nurtured from a seed to become small tree, and then a huge, strong, well-grounded tree with far reaching roots and enormous branches. Our faith, our insight, into the seeing the saving hand of God at work in Jesus, calls us to mission, and to a universal mission, where everyone is welcome, with no ‘ifs or buts’. The Kingdom of God is here, but not fully realised in our world. The mission entrusted to us by the Father in Jesus, is to bring Heaven to Earth, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer….’Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…’
I hope that these thoughts and sharing with you will be a help in understanding a little more about the allegories used in the Scriptures about Trees, Mountains, Seeds, Branches, Birds of the air, and the inner experience of Salvation as in being buried….
I would like to finish off with a most beautiful ancient Hymn from the Middle Ages by Symeon the New Theologian about the seed….
God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer, the next time when we are held in prayerful conversation, Fr Kevin
Symeon the New Theologian from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
St. Mammas Monastery
Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD) was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet who was the last of three saints canonized by the Eastern Orthodox church and given the title of “Theologian” (along with John the Apostle and Gregory of Nazianzus). “Theologian” was not applied to Symeon in the modern academic sense of theological study, but to recognize someone who spoke from personal experience of the vision of God. One of his principal teachings was that humans could and should experience theoria (literally “contemplation”, or direct experience of God).
Symeon was born into the Byzantine nobility and given a traditional education. At age fourteen he met Symeon the Studite, a renowned monk of the Monastery of Stoudios in Constantinople, who convinced him to give his own life to prayer and asceticism under the elder Symeon’s guidance. By the time he was thirty, Symeon the New Theologian became the abbot of the Monastery of St. Mammas, a position he held for twenty-five years. He attracted many monks and clergy with his reputation for sanctity, though his teachings brought him into conflict with church authorities, who would eventually send him into exile. His most well-known disciple was Nicetas Stethatos who wrote the Life of Symeon.
Symeon is recognized as the first Byzantine mystic to freely share his own mystical experiences. Some of his writings are included in the Philokalia, a collection of texts by early Christian mystics on contemplative prayer and hesychast teachings. Symeon wrote and spoke frequently about the importance of experiencing directly the grace of God, often talking about his own experiences of God as divine light. Another common subject in his writings was the need of putting oneself under the guidance of a spiritual father. The authority for many of his teachings derived from the traditions of the Desert Fathers, early Christian monks and ascetics. Symeon’s writings include Hymns of Divine Love, Ethical Discourses, and The Catechetical Discourses.
Hymn 17. Prie`re mystique by Symeon the New Theologian
The grain is the kingdom of heaven,
It is the grace of the divine spirit.
The garden is the heart,
That of each man or woman,
The place where those who receive it
Sow the Spirit and hide in their innermost depths,
In the recesses of their *guts, (one’s entrails, I will give a short commentary about that at the end of the Hymn))
So that no one can see it;
And they keep it with utmost care
So that it may germinate,
So that it may become a great tree
And reach up to the sky.
Therefore, should you say, “It is not here below,
But after death,
That all those who will have fervently desired it
Will receive the kingdom.”
You turn upside down the words
Of the Saviour God,
For if you do not take the seed,
This mustard seed he has spoken of,
If you do not sow it in your garden,
You remain completely sterile.
When, if not now,
Will you receive the seed?
*In medieval times, the guts or entrails was the repository of one’s deepest feelings, passion, inspiration and desire for mission. A number of Medieval Saints, after their death, had their entrails buried in a small chamber called a Cistern under the Altar. Notice that these days we often say that we have a ’gut feeling’ about something? Hence, the Cistern with its contents was to be an enduring sign of the presence of what made the Saint “Holy” and it would also be a sign and a place of reverence for all who celebrated the Eucharist in the place.
One example that comes to my mind is St. Edmund’s Chapel in Dover, England. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to be silent in that place for about 20 minutes. The faith of all those who had been in there over the centuries was deafening! Fr.Kev.
HOW GOD WORKS IN OUR LIVES: 11TH SUNDAY B
Fr Brian Gleeson CP. Passionist Community St. Paul the Apostle Church, Endeavour Hills, Vic firstname.lastname@example.org
When we want to explain something, particularly something so personal as falling in love, we may struggle to find the right words. Often we have to say that it’s like something else. When Jesus speaks about the kingdom – the reign and rule of God – and how God works among us to make his kingdom happen, he never says just what the kingdom is. Rather he speaks about what it’s like. So Jesus uses parables, comparisons, to teach his message that God is on the job, and that God’s kingdom is really and truly happening. All appearances to the contrary notwithstanding!
So in his first parable today Jesus compares the coming of the kingdom of God to what happens when a farmer sows seed in the ground. Once it’s sown, the farmer waits for harvest time. Even though nothing seems to be happening, the miracle of growth is taking place. The farmer cannot get a better crop by staying awake at night and worrying. The seed grows of its own accord and cannot be rushed. Neither can God’s work of making a better world, God’s kind of world, the world of God’s kingdom, be hurried. After all, it’s God’s kingdom, not ours.
A customer once went to a Farmer’s Market. Passing a stand heaped with luscious tomatoes, he asked the farmer behind it, ‘Did you grow these tomatoes?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ’I planted the seed.’ Afterwards the farmer said to God, ‘Thank you, Lord, for the fine harvest!’ Then he sensed God saying to him, ‘And thank you too for preparing the soil and sowing the seed! We did a good job together, didn’t we?’
In his second parable Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a tiny mustard seed that bit by bit grows into the largest shrub, big enough for the birds of the air to shelter in its shade. Once again in the work of God ‘small is beautiful!’
Both parables, then, are about the growth of seed. Jesus told them, and then writers like Mark retold them to encourage the first followers of Jesus who were worried about the slow growth of God’s kingdom. Their point in telling them was the need for their hearers and readers to be patient, to trust, and not to expect instant results.
That message is timely and encouraging to us too, particularly to those of us who are always rushing around, like that woman in the poster who has to admit, ‘The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get!’ We live in an age of instant soup, instant tea and instant photos, just about instant everything, in fact. We can make many things happen simply by pressing a button or turning a switch. We forget that certain things cannot be rushed. For example! To mature fully as a human being takes a lifetime. To build a good relationship with another usually takes lots of time. To get to know and understand one’s children or one’s parents never happens instantly or automatically. To overcome one’s sins and weaknesses may even take a whole life-time, even with God’s ‘amazing grace’ at work in us. When so much of life today is getting instant results we must remember that some things actually require considerable time and practice, e.g. the skills to play the piano, to sing opera, to play league football, or to successfully raise a family.
Those two lovely parables of the seed growing of itself show us that there is an almighty power working for us. Our part is to do a good job preparing the soil and sowing the seed. Then we must let God take over, as God usually does. Any farmer will tell you that if we do the right thing, if we do the very best that we can do, the harvest will surely come. God and God’s work in us and among us will ultimately triumph.
But can we be patient? Can we keep waiting? Can we keep on trusting that it will all work out in the end? In short, can we just let go and let God – let go of our anxiety and let God be God? Can we? Will we?
Today’s first parable reminds us of what we do when we share our faith. We scatter seed. Once we do that, the seed is out of our hands. Will people be affected by what we share? Will they be touched by the Word or not? It’s not, then, about our control. It’s about God’s active presence in the Word we share. That’s why the first parable should be particularly consoling and encouraging to everyone sharing their faith with others.
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: Having been made a priestly and holy people through our Lord Jesus Christ and entrusted with the message of God’s kingdom, let us pray for the church, the world, and all those in need.
- That God’s message of healing and wholeness may be heard and seen in the lives of Benedict our Pope, our local Bishop, and the lives of all the baptised everywhere, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That all who work to bring peace in the world may also work to sustain the cause of justice and give birth to reconciliation among people who are estranged, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That those who are grieving or lonely may find comfort and companionship among us and through our care come to know the goodness of God’s love, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That fathers find guidance for their tasks in the grace and mercy of God and that families that are broken or in crisis may trust that they are God’s special possession, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- That those who work the fields and all of us who enjoy the fruits of the earth may share our abundance with the poor and the hungry, we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
- 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 iPad….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 HEAR OUR PRAYER
Leader: Gracious and merciful God, in your Son Jesus Christ you have opened to us the world of your miraculous ways. Hear our cries and grant our prayers through Jesus 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.
- The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
- The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
- The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
- The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
- The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
- The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
- The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
- The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.
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