Monthly Archives: February 2017

Ash Wednesday…..Lent 2017. Some Food for thought from Fr Brian CP, Melbourne, Australia

Four thoughts on Lent With Saint Paul of the Cross

If St. Paul of the Cross–Paul Danei, founder of the Passionists–were to accompany you through Lent I’m sure he would be with you as you are and the world you live in as it is. He was never afraid of darkness and dark places, so you may find him a helpful spiritual guide. He trusted in Jesus Christ and his cross, ‘the wisdom and power of God;’ I’m sure he will bring some of that wisdom to you.

“May  it  be  the desire of our hearts to know Jesus in a greater way during these 40 days of lent.”

“Remain crucified with Jesus Christ, embracing every occasion to suffer for love of God with patience, with silence, and without ever justifying yourself, being resentful, or complaining.”

“I tell you that the life of men and women servants of God should be a continual Lent, that is, a continual exercise of mortification, internal and external. So distrusting yourself and depending much upon God, make your continuous Lent by always denying your will, being subject in exact obedience in the things most difficult and bitter to your self-love.”

“Build an oratory within yourself, and there have Jesus on the altar of your heart. Speak to Him often while you are doing your work. Speak to Him of His holy love, of His holy sufferings and of the sorrows of most holy Mary.”





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8th Sunday year A, 2017. A Gospel Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia. STOP WORRYING, START TRUSTING.



I can sing with John Denver, ‘Thank God I’m a country boy! My childhood was spent in the districts of Terang Victoria and Colac Victoria. In both places my father was a farmer and my mother the home-carer and heart of the home. As a farmer, Dad kept cows and pigs, and grew onions, potatoes and peas. Humanly speaking, life was a gamble. In some years he grew bumper crops. But so did other farmers, and then the price of produce dropped. In other years, drought or disease ruined the crops. There was nothing much to sell. Things got so bad one year that Mum had to sell her most precious and useful wedding present, an electric Singer sewing machine, on which she used to make most of the family clothes.

3rd Sunday of Advent Garden Lettuce

What amazed me more than what happened was their failure to worry about the future. Why didn’t they worry? How did they stay so calm and happy, cheerful and funny, no matter what? Because they kept trusting in God’s goodness and care for them and for their family of eight children! They lived the gospel words of Jesus: ‘Your heavenly father knows all you need … So do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.’ And it did!

But if my parents were not, as the saying goes, ‘worry warts’, like many other people I myself tend to worry. By disposition and by temperament many of us seem to be natural worriers, even when there’s nothing much to worry about. How and why do we become so anxious? And how can we stop worrying?

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Survey after survey show that most worries people have are about their relationships with others, about money and possessions, about health, exams, and job security. But life and living are much more than any of these. It seems that anxious people are not thankful enough for the gift of life itself and for all the good things that have come their way. They have also become too preoccupied, and even obsessed at times, about what might happen in the future.

When one is anxious, it’s hard to pay attention to anything other than one’s anxiety. But worry is unproductive and useless. It gets us nowhere, and may even harm and injure our health. While it may be next to impossible to live a life without any fear and anxiety at all, we can reduce their hold over us.


How can we do this? Jesus tells us how. Concentrate on doing all that God wants and on trusting God completely and we will rid our minds of worry and anxiety or at least reduce them. The other way is to live one day at a time, without worrying about the unknown future and about what in fact may never happen at all.

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At its heart, worry is actually failure to trust in God, to trust in the everlasting and unconditional goodness and care of God, whom we know as both our Father and Mother. When, as Jesus did himself, we place our lives and future in God’s hands and ask for what we need just for now, we are like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, that just get on with living.

We can then live every new moment of life just as it happens, and experience the strength that comes from trust in God as our King, Leader, Guide and Protector – at all times and in every situation. This is to follow the example of our Psalm today. God alone, we pray, is our rock, the rock of our strength. God is our stronghold, our fortress, our safety, our glory, and our deliverer. So, each of us might add with the Psalmist, ‘rest in God alone, my soul.’


St Augustine makes a wise suggestion about all this: ‘Entrust the past to God’s mercy,’ he says, ‘the present to his love, and the future to his providence.’ That, surely, is the way to peace, ongoing peace, even everlasting peace.


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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Uncategorized


8th Sunday year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney, Australia. Trust in God; put your worries in the worry box!


                                      Trust in God…put your worries in the worry box!

One of the biggest Industries not only here in Australia, but throughout the world, is Advertising! There is only one Television station here in Australia which does not advertise products, all of the others do! I find it very irritating when I am watching a good Movie on Free to Air Television and it is punctuated frequently by a string of Adverts’. But, I must confess, that some Adverts catch my eye, and of course that is the point of it all…….deep down, and even closer to the surface in our lives, we can easily get enticed by something to buy which is knew and attractive and has that ‘Wow’ factor which is the catch! We seem to be affirmed by the purchasing of ‘things’… the light of the Gospel, that does not mean that we are living life to the fullest!


Let’s dig a little deeper into this whole concept of desiring more in our life….especially ‘things’! It seems that within our human nature there is an innate desire to accumulate more possessions, clothes, electrical audio visual equipment, cars, home pools and houses. The advertising Industry by its very nature, plays on all our desires, so that it triggers a ‘thrilling prospect’ of a purchase, and it makes money. The Industry knows full well, that our purchase of a new curved screen Television set will be superseded in a couple of years by another development in the product, and we will want it as well; and so the endless cycle continues. Where does the excitement in all of this lie? It seems that the deepest excitement is in the prospect of buying this or that before we get it! Then if it is a brand new 4 X wheel drive SUV, after a week or so, we probably get attracted to newer models on the market. In all of this, the satisfaction factor is finite! Well, what feeling or possession has an infinite satisfaction ingredient? The answer is found in the first Reading from The Prophet Isaiah today……Chapter 49:14-15.


Today, in the evergreen Word of God, the Prophet is assuring the Jewish exiles, who have become discouraged, that God’s concern for them is more certain than a mother’s love for her children. Now, that is a real ‘Wow’ factor! We all deeply desire and need to know and have expressed to us that we are not forgotten! Just recently in Sydney, there was a heart breaking story on the News about a man who had been dead in his house for three months! What a dreadful story! Even though the man’s letter box at the front gate had been overflowing with envelopes with windows in them……the very ones that I hate receiving! Bills and more Bills. But, there were no letters or post cards, just Bills and advertising information about having one’s house rid of insect pests, and endless advertising pamphlets from local Real Estate Agents suggesting that they would love to sell your House, and that they know many people who would like to buy it! This poor man, was unknown, except to the Gas, Electricity Companies and the Local Government Council.

Lonely man

Fortunately, many good people rallied around and attended this man’s funeral, so that in his farewell, he was not alone.
Our God in Jesus affirms us that we too are never forgotten. In verse 16 of Chapter 49 of Isaiah, which is not part of today’s first reading, we read…..’See, I have branded you on the palms of my hand’ says the Lord.’ This verse deliberately enforces the fact that our name, our very personal identity is deeply imprinted on God’s hands; it cannot be erased! Let’s not overlook the fact that it says in the scriptures in the Jerusalem Bible Version…..I have branded….in the JPS Tanakh version from Hebrew into English it says, I have engraved you…. Let’s be curious now…..what has been branded or engraved? Our names? It seems not; our very personhood in etched into the hands of the Lord God. In the Hebrew understanding, if it is our name; the thinking or the saying of the name, makes present that person through the power on the word! As I look back to when I was at school, and that is really Old Testament times now, I don’t think that I was ever called by my Christian name……it was always:- Walshie, or a mate of mine was called Gibbsie. I didn’t mind it at the time, because I knew no better, except at home, where my name was certainly the real me! However inflections on how my Mum and Dad said it to me, told me pretty quickly if I was in trouble, or not…..I was a really a good boy at home, eh eh eh.


Now, let’s get back to the Scriptures. In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, as he and his community put together this version of the Good News, they see Jesus as the new Moses, proclaiming the new law built on the old law, and taking it a giant step forward by saying that the new law is a law deeply imbedded within our heart along with an undivided allegiance to Jesus, because we are Salt, and we are Light. This section of today’s Gospel speaks directly to our hearts…..We can’t be Salt and Light, if we serve God and possessions, at the same time and are thus possessed by them. If we give ourselves wholeheartedly to God, an essential bi product of that response, is the futility of worrying about this or that, because Divine Wisdom or more correctly, Holy Wisdom is at work in us all the time. Our duty is to listen to Holy Wisdom, and leave the rest to God! Now, that is a big Wow factor!!!! Let’s be clear about what kind of worry, are we talking about. It seems that ‘loving worry’ is good; we lovingly worry about someone close to us going for a medical check-up about some lump that they found on their body; or we lovingly worry for some family members who are caring for their Mother or Father or both in their declining years. It seems to me that this kind of worry is also a ‘prayer’. But if our worry stems from the point of our desire to be in control, and to control, to possess others, and not let them be free…..that kind of worry is sick, it is wrong and it is evil!


So in all, we are totally known by God, our personhood can never be erased; we are never lost in the crowd, when it comes to our God. The beautiful ‘Text message’ in the form of the RESPONSE to the Psalm today is a wonderful community response to the First Reading…..Rest in God alone, my soul. Then as the great Bishop of Hippo, Augustine is alleged to have said….’My heart will never be at rest, until in rests in God.’


Finally, there is only one way to serve God, and that is in God alone; nothing else. Today, as we approach Lent it is a good start to check out where our service lies………is it in the new SUV, or the new home which will tie us up in a mortgage for 80 years? Or is living life about something else…….living life to the fullest in every way…….a total surrender to Jesus in all things. It is a big ask, but the returns are infinite. Food for Thought!


Fr Kevin Walsh
‘The Hermitage’
Sydney, Australia
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6th Sunday Year A. 2017 a realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Some Laws take the fun out of life, other Laws invite us to live life to the fullest.

   Some Laws take the fun out of life, other Laws invite us to live life to the fullest.


It seems that nowadays, there are just so many do’s and don’ts in the workplace, in the shopping centres, in the National Parks, roads and railways. Rules in the workplace for instance are legion! Some rules in our society are just plain stupid! I’ll give you an example. At most road intersections in the Capital cities in Australia there are two types of Cameras to catch people. One is a speed camera, which is very important to catch people running a red light and risking the lives of themselves and people. The other Camera is there to catch people who try to get through the lights before they go red. Both incur nasty fines! And points taken off our Licence. Now, a friend of mind was driving in the metropolitan area of Sydney late one night….There were no cars to be seen, he pulled up in time at the lights when they went red, and there was absolutely no traffic in any direction! The red light seemed to go on forever; you know what it is like when one waits for the lights, and especially compounded by the fact that there was no traffic……So my friend slowly drove over the intersection on the red light, and to his amazement, he could not miss the flash, flash in his rear vision mirror….he was caught! The penalty notice and infringement came in the mail some weeks later…..yes, and a very nasty financial surprise to pay out, and three points off his licence. He decided to write a letter to the Roads and Transport Authority to explain the situation….he got a swift reply…Pay up, or we will see you in court! However, if this happened in Rome, a different kind of logic would take place….no fine, no points taken off the licence…..that is if the Camera was working….ha ha.


In the first reading and Gospel of today, we see the Wisdom writer in the Old Testament speak about the choice that we have of living life to the fullest according to God’s Ways, or going our own way! The responsorial Psalm takes up the community response to the first reading by saying….HAPPY ARE THEY WHO FOLLOW THE LAW OF THE LORD! It is not happy are they who follow their own designs…..

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Jesus issues in a completely new era when it comes to Law which leads to growth and quality life styles. God’s law is built on the old law and His law moves from external observations to internal matters of the heart. Jesus invites us to go beyond the letter of the law, into the spirit of the law, evenly mixed with a personal relationship with us, and us with God, in Jesus.

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Within the last 50 years there has been an enormous shift in Catholic-Christian culture in understanding and acting on the laws of God. I remember when I joined Religious life back in the 1960’s we were virtually told that we were not there to think, but to do! However, Seminary Training in the late 60’s and 70’s, was beginning to shift, and instead of priding ourselves in following the rules with exactitude, we discovered the life-givingness of the spirit, enshrined within the rules and laws of God.


Some personalities in Religious life thrived on following laws, they just loved it…..everything was black and white, and one really did not need to think! Just follow the rules. For me, I was a bit of a boundary rider when it came to rules… I don’t think that I will revisit that pathway now! Eh eh. However, I am extremely grateful to my Passionist formation, in being teased to be curious when it came to the Scriptures, Philosophy, Theology and Church History.

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Getting back to the Law of Christ: – in the Gospel today, Jesus makes it very clear that to lead others astray has grave consequences. Jesus challenges us always to go deeper into the spirit behind the laws which pertain to our relationships and relationships with God. In fact Jesus outlandishingly says that whatever we do to each other, whatever we say to each other, whatever we think about each other, we are doing to Him!


The First Reading and the Gospel today, carry a huge amount of ‘clout’ as we look at the implications of being, ‘the salt of the earth, and the light of the world’ in last week’s Gospel. Today, we see into the depths of being good Salt and bright Light, and we will see this all through St. Matthew’s Gospel this year.

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We are creatures of habit: I wonder that if in your Parish Community people generally sit in the same places each Sunday, or whenever they go to the Church? Along with this are our routines during the busy working and school week, and all the demands made up on us are increasing. On the Television News today I heard that the majority of adults only get about five hours sleep a night, and most people don’t get a sound sleep because they won’t turn off their phone while in bed. Ding Ding goes the phone at 3.30am…just another advertisement from Billy the Tree! Apart from the deprivation of life giving sleep, we can tend to become irritable to live with and an absolute pain in the neck to people around us. Where is the time for personal review of life? Where is the time in nurturing ones relationship with their spouse? Where is the time for ‘Listening to God’….or is it, ‘Listen Lord, your servant is speaking…..’ I can still remember Fr Gerard Mahony CP, giving us Novices our First Profession Retreat at Mary’s Mount Passionist Novitiate in Goulburn, New South Wales……one of the important things that he said to us, which I have never forgotten was…’ a religious without prayer, is a religious without reason’. That maxim holds good for every Christian, not just those in the Religious Life. Let’s think about what Fr Gerard said……..there is a lot in it, because without the nurturing of our personal relationship with God, we are not within a bull’s roar of listening to what the Lord has to say to us each day. Without the nurturing of our personal relationships with our spouses, children, family and friends, we are no better than some robot that hands you an American Newspaper in a Hong Kong Hotel Foyer!


So, it would seem that God’s Word today can take the wind out of our sails, and we can be ‘becalmed’ in order to listen to ourselves, listen to other people, and listen to God……….As a very ancient and profound Greek Orthodox Maxim goes…….’Know thyself; know God’. Food for thought!


Fr Kevin Walsh

‘The Hermitage’

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6th Sunday of year A, 2017. A Biblical reflection on the Readings by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. DEALING WITH OUR ANGER.

Lonely man

I wonder have you ever shared a house with someone whose moods are unpredictable? More often than not the person is friendly and peaceful. At other times, at the slightest provocation or none at all, he/she erupts in outbursts of anger and rage. Living with them is like living on the edge of a volcano.

Nelson Mandela had every reason to be very angry, but he was not. For many years, on behalf of his oppressed people, he led the movement against apartheid in South Africa. For that he was sentenced to prison for 27 years with hard labour. In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, he writes about the officers who guarded him and his fellow-prisoners. He insists that any hostility towards them was self-defeating, and that everyone, including our enemies, can change.

On the day that he was to be released from prison, February 11th, 1990, the crowd waiting outside, and millions more watching on television, became anxious when Mandela failed to walk out at the expected time. Would he, they wondered, get out after all? But after a long delay he did walk free. The reason for the delay was that he was saying an emotional goodbye and thank-you to all his prison guards. In his freedom speech that night, Mandela reminded the world that we can all imprison ourselves behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.

All of us carry inside us a certain amount of anger. From our earliest years we’ve been told that anger is a sin, in fact, one of the seven deadly sins. So what have we done about it? Probably we have either denied it or suppressed it.

In itself, anger is just a feeling, neither good nor bad. If we love and value ourselves, we will naturally feel angry if or when we are treated badly. This is normal and even healthy. If we simply deny or repress our anger this can be is very dangerous. It can result in self-hatred, depression, and even bodily ailments like asthma and ulcers. On the other hand, when anger is released in a constructive and wholesome way it can bring healing and relief.


When Jesus says: ‘Do not get angry with a brother or sister,’ he is not condemning anger in itself. After all he himself got angry when he drove the traders from the temple. There are times when we too should be angry, angry about unjust situations. Nevertheless our anger about injustice should not give rise to any lessening of love, let alone a build-up of hate.

Anger becomes dangerous when it turns into hostility. Hostility rather than anger as such is the really deadly sin. Hostility causes us to act out our anger. Acting out leads to deep resentments, negative attitudes, nastiness, insults, sarcasm, screaming at, hitting out at, and beating up the object of our anger.

If we find ourselves often getting angry, we should look at the cause of our anger. The cause may well be within ourselves. We may be too sensitive, too impatient, too impetuous, or too full of hurt and resentment. But the cause of our anger may, in fact, be coming from the anger of others. Some people are so full of anger that it makes them hard to live with, work with, or even be with. Think of ‘Doc Martin’ or ‘Mr Fawlty’ in the TV series! Instead of owning and managing their anger, they are powder kegs, ready to explode over others. If we keep feeling angry with someone, we need to look at our relationship with that person and how, if possible, it might be improved.

What is making us feel angry, however, may be some unjust situation, e.g. cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. If so, we should do whatever we can to put that situation right. If our anger can spur us on to help make right something that is unjust and wrong, then our anger can be good, positive and productive.

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Just the same, anger remains something dangerous. A Jewish saying has it: ‘Anger in the heart is like a worm in a plant.’ If our mind and heart are filled with anger and resentment, there is no peace, no sleep, no rest, no appetite, no smile, no laughter, and no joy. Our unresolved anger may ruin our health, our friendships, and just about everything we value.

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We cannot avoid getting angry, but we can avoid acting out our anger with rage. So Jesus tells us to seek to be reconciled – with ourselves, with other human beings, and with God. A little example! Before going to work one morning a man had a row with his wife. In the middle of the morning it was still bothering him. So he rang his wife and apologised for his part in the row. Later he said to a friend: ‘I didn’t want her to carry that around all day.’ His apology didn’t do him any harm either!

   Brian Gleeson special photo

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5th Sunday in Ordinary time year A. Realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia!

5th-sunday-year-a-4                                        5th-sunday-year-a-8                           

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and we are the light of the world! Jesus does not say that you should try to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world……it is a pre requisite for true Discipleship, to be Salt and Light! This is a tall order, but according to Jesus, we are both Salt and Light, or we are not!

These days we are so pre occupied about Salt in our diets that we need to just close that door on diets and get down to what the Biblical understanding of Salt in this context of Our Lord’s injunction about true Discipleship.

In the time of Jesus, Salt was used primarily to preserve good food! There was no Refrigeration, or Ice Chests in those days. Meat and fish would be salted, so that it would have a longer shelf life in their home larders. If the meat or fish was worth keeping, it was a waste of time using old salt. So, let’s hang on to this first point, salt was used to preserve and then share the life giving food with others; salt obviously gives and added kick of taste to the food but this was a bi product of the process. So, Jesus says you ARE SALT! But, not just salt alone, we are the embodiment of preserving and giving of the inner nutrients that pertain to God’s life within us. Salt in Biblical terms also means a pure heart, so bearing that in mind, we are the meat and the salt!!!! Let’s have a look at what the meat could mean in this context?……the answer by and large is found in the first reading today from the Prophet Isaiah: Here in this extract, we see the quality and meaning of meat in terms of ‘God-given attributes’ which is preserved and given to others. Let’s note, that it is the Lord God who speaking through Isaiah, tells us what our qualities must be….it is in ‘living the Word, and being the Word’ as proclaimed here in Isaiah, we then give God’s Word flesh, and life for the world.

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Being an ‘OTHER CENTERED PERSON’, is the opposite of being a ‘SELF SENTED PERSON’. The other cantered person who is true and full of integrity, automatically is urged to share their bread with the hungry, to shelter the homeless poor, to clothe those without and to remember that we are all Family in God…..sisters and brothers, no matter who we are, or who they are or whatever kind of human status we may be. Pope Francis lives these words of the Prophet Isaiah and actually does it, much to the annoyance of some, who see themselves above all this way ‘foot washer’ living. Our Lord, deals with these people too a bit later on. Some of these people might like to make known their mighty deeds to win people’s admiration…..but Jesus says that is false, crooked and self-destructive.

So we are good salt….not cheap stuff! We have been given the good salt by the Lord God, now we have to be ‘the salt’ and share our inner goodness with others freely and without hesitation. Yes, that is a tuff call!

The first reading underlines the inner goodness which is Biblical ‘integrity’ and is comprised of the God given attributes which are mentioned in the text. When we are tried and true, and authentically live these attributes, all we have to do is ask, and God’s ear will be close to our heart.

Prophet Isaiah scroll

Now again in this reading, the Lord speaking through Isaiah and his community, speaks clearly of the reality in which we see ourselves in the world. If we lack ‘God-given’ integrity, we are tasteless salt and a darkened tomb! If we rule by the clenched fist and put enormous burdens on people’s shoulders and make life hell for them…….we are truly going downhill, and taking others with us at full speed! That temptation is seemingly always in the background, and could well be some of the residue of original sin. But it is there always, and we all know it and have to renew our commitment and response to God’s invitation to live life to the fullest. Surely, this is what real holiness means; being a wholesome person, and striving for it! But there is another element which is vital in this whole equation; a contrite heart. It also eludes to a ‘pure’ life, in this situation purity means a contrite person. The flip side in being alive with God-given integrity is to be a person who patterns their lives on the living out of Psalm 51.


Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;

In your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

Thoroughly wash away my guilt;

And from my sin cleanse me.


For I know my transgressions;

My sin is always before me.b

Against you, you alone have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your eyes


So that you are just in your word,

And without reproach in your judgment

Behold, I was born in guilt,

In sin my mother conceived me.*d

Behold, you desire true sincerity;

And secretly you teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop,* that I may be pure;

Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.e

1You will let me hear gladness and joy;

The bones you have crushed will rejoice.


Turn away your face from my sins;

Blot out all my iniquities.

A clean heart create for me, God;

Renew within me a steadfast spirit.f

Do not drive me from before your face,

Nor take from me your holy spirit.g


Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;

Uphold me with a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways,

That sinners may return to you.

Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,

And my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.h

Lord, you will open my lips;

And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

For you do not desire sacrifice* or I would give it;

A burnt offering you would not accept.i


My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

A contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.



To conclude the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we are told that true goodness and loving outreach will be like a bright and comforting light in the darkness of the world, and that there will be no shadow about us, because we will be standing straight like the noon marker….because we are the embodiment of God’s integrity, surrounded by God’s Glory, and no darkness or evil will overshadow it.


Light is absolutely fundamental for human existence, and for every living thing in our world. When we have a ‘black out’ these days, it is shock horror for us all. Where are the candles we might ask when our world becomes dark through some natural or human disaster? More than at any other time in human history we depend on light and energy to live! Being in the dark can be a horrible experience, especially if we have no means of light. When a light appears, it gives us hope, it gives us energy and it gives us joy! We have all heard marvellous stories of people locked into darkness through Mine Cave ins etc. Jesus uses are great analogy when he says that YOU ARE the light of the world! Not maybe, but you are! The source and radiation of light can make life complete, and it enables us to see our world and see ourselves reflected in the light, or in need of ‘spiritual maintenance’ to get the light up to glowing brightness. Again, it goes back to the first Reading from Isaiah, if we embody God given integrity, and work with it, refurbish it and spontaneously act according to it, we are the light that Jesus speaks about.

15th Sunday year B 1

Fr Kevin Walsh


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5th Sunday Year A. A Biblical reflection on Today’s Scripture Readings by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. BEING SALT AND LIGHT.


A man called Mike tells a story:-

‘Several years ago I was doing a TAFE course. One of the subjects we covered was motivation. We were asked to make a short class presentation, about five minutes long, on a famous person who had motivated others and us. Subjects chosen ranged from Attila the Hun to John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King, Jr. I was one of the last to speak. I gave my presentation on Jesus Christ. When I had finished I felt embarrassed. I’m not sure why. Had I chosen a poor subject? Had I imposed my opinions on others? I cannot fully explain my feelings at the time, but they were not good. So I just hung my head and said, ‘I’m sorry!’

‘Mike goes on. ‘I was immediately howled down with cries of ‘What for?’, ‘Don’t apologise’ and the like. I then realised I had said something worth saying, even if I did not do it well. That was the last time I apologised for being a Christian. My class mates had taught me a valuable lesson.’

In this roundabout way Mike had discovered just how real, practical, and effective is the teaching of Jesus about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.


In the time of Jesus salt was connected, in the first place, with purity. So then, if a Christian is to be the salt of the earth, he/she must be an example of purity, single-mindedness and integrity, in thought and speech and behaviour.

By itself salt, however, is useless. You cannot do anything with salt on its own. When you are hungry you cannot eat it. When you are thirsty you cannot drink it. Salt is only useful when it is mixed up with other things, e.g. when it is sprinkled over fish and chips. So Jesus does not say ‘You are salt’, and leave it at that. He says: ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ As his followers, we are to be mixed up with the earth and the people of the earth. He doesn’t expect us to run away and lock ourselves up in an enclosed monastery or convent and have nothing to do with the people outside. That message comes through loudly and clearly in the very popular movie Sister Act. On the contrary, the message of Jesus to his followers is to identify with the people around us, and to get involved with their lives.


This is echoed in the powerful opening words of Vatican II about the Church in the Modern World: ‘The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men and women of our time, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well’ (#3).

In the time of Jesus, and before refrigeration, salt was a preservative. It kept meat and fish, e.g. from going bad. So when Jesus says to us. ‘Be the salt of the earth’, he’s asking us to save the world around us, the society to which we belong, from going bad or getting worse than it is already. Recent official enquires into police corruption suggest that it is more necessary than ever to put our beliefs into practice without fear or favour, so as to encourage those we work with or mix with, to act with honesty, integrity, justice and compassion.

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In the third place, salt adds flavour. Food without salt or a salt substitute is bland, insipid, unattractive, even depressing. In using this image Jesus is suggesting too that our task, our mission in the world, is not be negative kill-joys, but people like himself, who love life and live it the full, people who care so much, people who love so much, that we bring joy not sadness, hope not gloom, to those we meet daily. Just like Pope Francis does!


Both images Jesus uses – being salt to the earth and light to the world suggest that faith and good deeds, belief and action, cannot be separated. Walking the walk is, in fact, more important than talking the talk. So he says to you and me: Don’t hide or water down your love for Christ. Shine it, show it, prove it, do it! Your faith is a gift to be shared with others – with family, friends, colleagues, clients, parishioners, strangers, indeed with all human beings.

The Prayer of St Francis, ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace … etc.’, sums up the teaching of Jesus: ‘You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.’ Let us make it our special communion prayer at Holy Communion. Here it is!

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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: Where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. AMEN.

Brian Gleeson special photo