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About kevinwalsh1974

Having been formed as a Priest within my family and Passionist Life, I have a deep passion for listening to and digging deep into God's evergreen Word. For this passion I sincerely thank the Priests who taught me in the Seminary, my family, fellow religious, both male and female. I am deeply moved to acction by seeking common ground in Ecumenical circles, and I believe strongly in listening to and sharing with other people how the saving hand of God is seen in daily life. My ministerial experiences over the last 40 years has led me to teach in Schools, minister in Parishes,and guide Retreats. Globally, I have been fortunate to serve the Lord here in Australia, New Zealand,Papua New Guinea, England, United states, Israel, Jordan and Egypt. The texture of the Mission stateent that I strive for is found in the Old Testament, Micah 6:8

THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING year B, 2018 A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. CHRIST HAS NO BODY NOW BUT YOURS!kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Christ the King

(LAST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME)

Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 in response to the rise of totalitarianism. It celebrates Christ’s reign over the human race and human hearts. The feast emphasises God’s ultimate forgiveness as well as Christ’s eschatological return and final sovereignty over all creation. This last theme is continued during Advent.

 

We come to the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, and I guess that our celebration of Christ the King may cause us to think,” fair enough, but the year is not over yet!” End of year celebrations are all around us….for some, School exams are over, for others University exams have been marked, and for others, Office Christmas parties, and the like, will happen soon. Yet, in the midst of all this, we hear the resounding words of Jesus, (John 18:36) “Mine is not a Kingdom of this world”. And most certainly it is a Kingdom contrary to what our concept of a realm or Monarchy can be about. The modern Kingdom is often experienced as a reign of terror; and hence its rulers build huge images of themselves as signs of their power. We saw something like this years ago in Iraq with Suddam Hussein, and Kaddafi in Libya, let alone Syria!

Tyrannical Kings demand and command; they often rule through fear. Christ our King invites! He rules through love. Throughout the photographic album of the Gospels, we see the Shepherd-King, bringing hope to those who lived in despair and alienation, enabling the pagans and Jews to see in him, the saving hand of God.

figure5.jpg Icon of Christ the Good Shepherd

Remember the Roman Centurion soldier standing at the foot of the Cross-, seeing the way Jesus died; he was able to say, “In truth this was a son of God”. (Matt 27:54) Christ’s presence could change beyond recognition the lives of those around him. His attitude towards sinners was one of kindness and persuasion rather than condemnation and alienation. There can be great persons who make everybody feel small….but the really great person makes everybody feel great. In that sense, Jesus was indeed a King! We are called to see Christ in each other, and be Christ to each other. What a fantastic Kingdom! Now, let’s revisit the Scripture Readings for this Sunday, and then the full picture will be painted for us.

The Prophet Daniel’s dream catches our attention…the elements in this vision have caught Artists, Movie Makers and literal minded Preachers to colour up this Heavenly vision, so much so that it can distort the intention and inherent meaning for the listeners. So what are Dreams, what are they trying to tell us? We all have had dreams, and I bet from time to time you have said to other members of your family, ‘I had a strange dream last night…..and then immediately you go on to tell them about it….’ Sometimes in the telling of the Dream to others, some clues come into focus. Other times, they can be so random that it can be a very difficult process. Well, in a nut shell, it seems that dreams are a way of processing the parables within our daily lives. For example, something might happen to you out of the ‘blue’ as we say, and we might even spontaneously tell those around us that you will probably dream about that experience or issue. At this stage it won’t be within my scope of expertise to talk with any authority on ‘Nightmares….’ So, Dreams are a way of processing the parables of our daily life! Following that through, the elements in dreams are often symbolic, but they bring to the unconsciousness within our ‘sleep time’ often very vivid pictures, so much so that in the morning, we often wonder if this or that did really happen?

So, in looking at Daniel’s dream, he starts off by saying…….’I gazed….’ let’s stay with that; gazing has Biblical connotations; simply put, it means: – Meditating….in this context having God’s Word and design as Food for Thought. Meditating is like savouring a Fry’s Turkish Delight 98% Fat Free!!!!!!Daniel’s own name adds to the import of this dream, because his name in Hebrew means ….God Judges! So it would seem that the an approximate outcome of this dream, is saying something about God as Judge, as Supreme Initiator of a Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven! Meditating is like savouring honey from the comb! This wonderful experience is done slowly……so that it can be thoroughly tasted! God’s Word in Scripture is sometimes seen as food to be eaten. The next part of the process is: – Contemplating…….that happens within a creative silence which abounds within the experience, due to the Meditation….. So it is gazing within the dream or vision. So, Daniel gazes into the Nada…the nothingness, the night, and look what he sees? In typical Apocalyptic Literary Style, we see as Daniel sees, an anointed one being led to the One of great Age……he who is the personification of wisdom, creative love, mercy, and justice, sees in the one being led to him, a reflection of God’s true self! Then as a consequence, all peoples will recognise in him, who is like unto God, all that God has ever said, done and will do. This dream is an excellent vision of hope! God’s Servant-hood Kingdom will one day reign supreme! Hence, it is an evergreen Prophecy.

The Second Reading from the Book of Revelation is connected to the first reading and Gospel of this Sunday, because it is a Solemnity. On the Ordinary Sundays of the Year, the First Reading and Gospel are bridged, but the Second Reading is a continuous reading of New Testament Letter week by week, and generally it has no intended relation to the First Reading or Gospel.

The Author of the Book of Revelation….one named John, whom we call John the Divine, saw in Jesus, the Christ, all and more than the Prophet Daniel was looking forwarded to; John sees, the Wounded Healer, the Keystone, the Shepherd, the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the Son of God, the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Emmanuel, the pre-existent Word, in fleshed in Jesus, the Christ.

The Kingdom, not of Power and Glory, or Might and Strength as the world sees it, but of servant hood, with a foot washer King; dying was the Triumph of Jesus as the greatest sign of God’s love, re breathed into life as the Triumph of the Father…….. Resurrection…….’ Mine is not a Kingdom of this world’, as we hear in today’s Gospel, the Kingdom of God lives, breathes and creates ‘truth’, hand in hand with God’s loving kindness. It is a Kingdom that can be heard, with those who have the ears to hear…….. It is a Kingdom whose presence and future mission is experienced by the recipients’…it is heard through the ears, seen with the eyes, and lived within the heart and the mind, in and through unconditional love, and fortified through the two way street of ‘prayer’.. No fancy clothes for this King! No ornate Chair for this King. No honorific worldly titles for this King, no seeking the front seats to see this King…..He will come in the back door! As St. Teresa Avila once said, and then put to Music by John Talbot:-

Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through He looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.

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YOURS ARE THE HANDS, YOURS ARE THE FEET, YOURS ARE THE EYES, YOU ARE HIS BODY.

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Christ has no Body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through He looks, compassion on this world. Christ has no Body now on earth but yours.

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We gives thanks to God our Father, for his Son, the faithful witness to his truth. When we celebrate the memorial of his death and resurrection, we proclaim the kingship of him who was lifted up on the Cross.

judgment Christ the King

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The Celebration of Christ our King. Year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

When we think of a king, we tend to think of a throne, a crown, a palace, robes, great wealth, power and prestige, armed forces guarding and protecting him, and people bowing and kneeling before him.

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But when we think of Jesus, what do we see? He has no throne, crown, robes, palace, or soldiers. We see him walking the dusty roads of Palestine with a little band of disciples. He is surrounded by the poor and the sick, by sinners, outcasts, rejects, the ‘battlers’ and the broken. In short, he is surrounded by the kind of people who would never get inside the gates of a palace today, let alone talk to a king or queen.

Jesus healing a deaf manth

Jesus, then, is not that kind of king, and yet we don’t hesitate to say of him now that ‘Jesus is Lord’, to call him the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, and to acknowledge that he is ‘the king of the whole world’ and ‘the Lord of all’.

But even before God the Father raised him from the dead and crowned him with glory and honour and a place at his right hand, Jesus was already a king, as he admitted to Pilate in our gospel today. In the darkness of his own time and world, he was an endless source of light, goodness, and hope. He was what we might call today ‘a people person’. Just by being the kind of person he was, people were attracted to him. They sensed that he spoke and acted with authority, that he was a man of influence, and that he could make things happen for the better. Over and over again, his kind and generous heart went out to the poorest, most vulnerable and wounded people of his day. So much so, that whenever he saw a wrong, there and then he wanted to right it.

5th Sunday of Lent Jesus and the stones

He was a leader all right, consistently courageous and compassionate. He was so great a leader that to this day, he remains our inspiration. He is still your king and mine.

Contrast the leadership of Jesus to that of some of the rulers of our days.
Think of such tyrants as Sadham Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Robert Mugabe. One of the features of their iron control has been their ‘cult of personality’. They idolise themselves. They put themselves on pedestals. Everywhere they put around pictures or statues of themselves, pictures and statues that turn them into idols. But in the eyes of their people, those idols stand for oppression, cruelty, and terror. So when eventually their evil regimes collapse, the first thing people do is pull down those idols and smash them to the ground in pieces.

Cross of Jesus

In the years when Communism was collapsing in Europe, Time magazine published a touching picture, taken in the Ukraine, formerly a Russian satellite state. It showed a group of people gathered in prayer around a simple altar in a public place. Standing on the altar was a bust of Jesus. Time’s picture of that statue said it all. The idols have been toppled, and Jesus the Messiah-King is back in his rightful place.

What a contrast between his rule and the rule of the idols! The idols command; Jesus invites. The idols rule through fear; Jesus rules through love. The idols bring oppression and death; Jesus brings freedom and life. No wonder we give him an allegiance and a loyalty which we would never give to any other person or institution on earth!

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The Kingdom of Christ is made up of all those things we long for – all that is right and true, all that is beautiful, just, and good. Our Preface for the feast today calls it ‘a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace’.

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Christ our King doesn’t need or want soldiers and tanks. But he does need witnesses, people who are ready to stand up for justice, truth, peace, kindness, compassion and care. Both out there and within ourselves, one big struggle still goes on between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, between the kingdom of lies and the kingdom of truth, between the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of justice, between the kingdom of malice and nastiness, and the kingdom of acceptance and respect, of love and care.

On which side are we? Where do we stand? To whom do we belong? To whom are we bound? Who has our lasting loyalty and allegiance?
You and I know our answer to that. So today, let us renew our loyalty and allegiance to Jesus, our King, and the King of the Whole Wide World!

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Brian Gleeson special photo

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away. kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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Nearly every day when we go to our letterboxes to get the mail, there is always some “junk mail”!! Advertising for this or that, a note from a Real Estate Agent suggesting to you that many people would like to buy your house; should you wish to sell. Give them a call for a quick sale!!! I am sure that we have all seen that before. Then when you see in the midst of all this impersonal junk mail, a few letters with windows in them…. we may prefer to read them last; then up pops a Postcard from a friend who is overseas.

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Once you see the handwriting, a spark of joy flickers within, and when you read it, you can actually hear the person speaking to you. What a wonderful experience it is, to receive the written word from a loved one. It can be read over and over again, and it fills us with a communion of loving friendship all the time.

In today’s Gospel, Mark 13: 24-32,  Jesus says, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’ Words are very important and very powerful. Once spoken, they take on a life of their own, for good or ill. Some words spoken by wise and loving people can remain in our minds and hearts forever.

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I remember an old priest giving us a Retreat when I was a Novice at Mary’s Mount Passionist Novitiate, Goulburn, NSW Australia, and he knew that some of us were facing difficult times as we came to accept each other’s differences, which is part of growing up and living in Religious Community. In one of his talks he said, ‘If you can’t change a situation in your life, change your attitude towards it’. That has stayed in my mind ever since I was 18 years of age. These words are true, but to live them can be very hard; yet it is real wisdom. I am sure that there are words and sayings that you have had spoken to you over the years, and they will never leave you. In the Old Testament, the Prophet Isaiah 43:1, we hear these precious words,’ But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.’ These words, and the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are evergreen, and they remain with us to this very day and beyond, comforting us, guiding us, and challenging us. They turn our values upside down. Once heard, they can never be forgotten. It does us well, to listen to God’s Word with all our heart and attention….” Lord, what are you saying to me through your Word today?” Spend some time in silent waiting, as the Spirit stirs an inner response, thus making its own reply in Words beyond our imagining.

Now let’s have a look at the first Reading from the Prophet Daniel 12: 1-13…I suppose one of the first things that come to our mind is Daniel in the Lion’s Den! Well, that is a start; but let’s check out his name and what it means…..Dani el or daniy el. Now, you can see already that his name has something to do with an attribute of God, el being a prefix or suffix for El=God. Now the first part of his name means.. Judges or another English synonym would be adjudicator. So his name means, God Judges! That being the case, we see that inner and living aspect of God permeating like a silver thread running through this Book in the Old Testament. It is so important for us to have this kind of background, so that the milieu of the intention and delivery of God’s Word, has its origin within this Godly quality of El.

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The next name that pops up is Michael…we have all heard of this Archangel of the Lord; look at his name….Micha….el. So, following our dissection of Daniel’s name, this one means mica el…..who is like el, God.

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So, taking all that into account, when Michael begins to speak…the sense of occasion here mutes any chatter…JUST LISTEN! The literary form of this extract is what is called apocalyptic literature, it is a form of writing which is deliberately intended to shake up people who maybe hearing impaired to God’s Word or their possible lethargic responses to living out the God initiated Covenant, ratified in Jesus. It’s a bit like what we do to our swimming pools…..when it goes green through neglect or a broken down filtration pump….we shock it with chlorine, to get it back to its pristine beauty!

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This kind of literature was never meant to be taken literally……no way, enough Hollywood Film Producers have done that for us…… But it works!!!! As we look at the natural disasters that have been happening in recent times, they have an apocalyptic flavor about them, and many people like to play on that as well, and make various predictions about the end times, or why this or that is happening as a manifestation of God’s wrath. This is where we can miss the point, and get sidetracked, and get embroiled within the fantasy of sensationalism. Notice what happens to the majority of people in and through natural disasters? Look at what happens ‘in’ them? It is a crisis, which means an ‘opportunity’ or ‘turning point’ to resurrect inner Divine attributes, like reaching out to others selflessly, bringing in the homeless to shelter, feeding anyone in need, as we saw on Television News with that dreadful Mud slide in Mexico, and the catastrophic effect of the recent Typhoon in the Philippines. In short, the results of the Disaster, even though horrendous, can bring us back to the basic humanitarian building blocks of community building. Unfortunately, it also gives an opportunity for some people to take unfair and unlawful advantage of others, and their goods. Wherever goodness abounds, evil often raises its ugly head…….even in some of the holiest of places. So, to cut a long story short, surely part of the message of the First Reading is………No time for resting on our laurels, because if we do, we might miss opportunities of being Christ to each other, and meeting Christ in each other.

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Now, let’s go to the Gospel….here we have another fine example of apocalyptic literature in the New Testament, here in Mark’s Gospel, the first paragraph is like the setting for a huge 3D, surround sound stage, and the curved backdrop is a living collage of natural disasters,

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cataclysmic as they may seem, interwoven with a multitude of ‘life-scenes’ focusing on unconditional loving moments of our global sisters and brothers, together with moments where opportunities for recognizing the ‘divine’ in each other has been bypassed. It’s like a JUDGEMENT! It’s like the personification of DANIEL! Then after all this apocalyptic commotion, the eye of the storm is present, and there is an eerie feel as what it is like being within the eye of a Hurricane. There is an unnerving silence, while the swirl of the water filled clouds surround us! Then with the Voice of Michael whose timbered tones resound and enter the inner quick of people’s spirits….the words in paragraph two are proclaimed……..‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you, when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

                 ‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’

At this stage of our realhomilie, you might be thinking that I have seen too many Movies……..Well, such a ‘shake-up’ calls us to be very sensitive to Christ’s presence in His people, His Word and Sacrament, just as our awareness of what happens with the Fig Tree, as summer approaches. May we be ever mindful, of the nearness of Christ to us in each other. Let us be alert by graced insight, that God’s Word once issued forth, continues to resound around the Universe through its own perpetual motion. However, we must make the move to tune in to God’s frequency. Words from God for all times and Seasons….As we pray while Blessing the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil:-

Christ yesterday and today

The beginning and the end,

Alpha,

And Omega;

All time belongs to him,

And all the ages;

To him be glory and power,

Through every age for ever. Amen.

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‘Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my Words will never pass away,’ says the Lord!

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Fr Kev with his dog Shauna

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33rd Sunday Year B, 2018. A reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE PASSION OF THE EARTH. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

 THE PASSION OF THE EARTH.

We’ve all heard, and heard with sadness, of the Passion of Jesus Christ. We are well aware of our own sufferings, and to some extent the sufferings of whole populations of people such as those in Myanmar, Syria and Iraq. What we need to become far more conscious of, however, is the passion of Mother Earth, the one and only planet inhabited by human beings, the one and only place where human beings can live, the one and only place where God has put us. Tragically, as a result of massive industrialization, our earth, is being exploited, assaulted, ravaged and destroyed at a rate unprecedented in history. For me, ‘the time of distress’ mentioned by Jesus in his gospel prophecy today, is the distress of the earth at the present time, and the distress of the peoples of the earth who, more than ever before, are asking questions of survival and sustainability: ‘Is it all over, Red Rover? Or is there anything we can do to save God’s good and beautiful world, not only for ourselves, but for all the generations of human beings who will come after us?’

Consider just a few facts about the damage that has been inflicted and continues to be inflicted on the finite resources of our earth by our modern, technological, industrial, consumer, throw-away society. In general terms and global terms our modern industrialized society is destroying our air, water, sunlight and soils, and causing the extinction of a vast number of creatures that God has placed on this earth with us. Every part of the globe and every ecosystem on earth is now affected, in some instances in an irreversible way.

There is a terrible problem with LAND. Poor land management, overgrazing, chemical agriculture, crops of one kind only, deforestation and population pressures have caused soil poisoning, soil erosion and desert territory on an alarming scale. About 3500 million hectares – an area the size of North and South America are affected by land degradation resulting in reduced cropping and ultimately desert territory. Experts at Cornell University, New York, estimate that world-wide about 85 billion tonnes of soil are lost each year. Here in Australia from a total of 5 million square kilometres used for agriculture and grazing, about 2.7 million square kilometres are affected by wind erosion, water erosion, and salinity. Applying the brakes will involve tree planting, improved farming techniques, organic farming and better land use, with or without government assistance.

There is a terrible problem with WATER. Human activity is polluting water in the oceans, rivers and lakes. More than 97% of all the water on earth is sea water. During the 1998 UNESCO Year of the Ocean it emerged that the oceans are being seriously over-fished and polluted. Areas of the ocean close to the continental shelf are contaminated with human, agricultural, industrial and radioactive waste, much of it toxic and carcinogenic. Because we human beings have tended to treat the oceans as sewers, the Baltic, Mediterranean, Black, Caspian, Yellow and South China Seas, are all seriously damaged. Even Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which runs for 1,284 miles, is under threat to its coral and sea creatures because of rising ocean temperature and agricultural pollution. According to a report by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 1995, over 70% of the world’s marine fish stocks are either ‘fully-to-heavily exploited, overexploited, or slowly recovering’. Many countries face problems in the supply of clean water for domestic purposes including drinking.

There is a terrible problem is with AIR. Chemical pollution is changing the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, destroying the ozone layer, producing climate changes and exposing human beings to higher levels of dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, carbons and other ‘greenhouse’ gases are expected to increase by 30% during the next 50 years. This build-up is likely to raise Earth’s temperature by between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees centigrade by the year 2030. As the oceans warm up and expand, sea levels will rise, leading to ferocious storms and severe flooding over lowland areas. Some of our Pacific Island neighbours must either evacuate or perish. In the run up to the Kyoto meeting on climate change in December 1997, there was a call for a 60% reduction in the use of fossil fuels. The politicians settled for a miserly 6%. Australia opposed even that. Dependence on supplies of polluting oil for transport, building materials, cars, plastics and pharmaceuticals, means that our capitalist economies would simply collapse if the oil wells run dry.

There is a terrible problem with FORESTS. Tropical forests once covered 20% of the land area of the earth. They are now disappearing at an extraordinary rate. An area greater than the United Kingdom is cleared and destroyed each year, for logging, cattle ranching and agriculture. Since 1780 two-thirds of Australia’s native forests and three-quarters of our rainforests have been removed, with drastic effects on land fertility, climate, rainfall, agriculture, human health, the health of rivers and estuaries, and the mega-extinction of species. In Australia 2,200 plant species are endangered, half of our mammals are threatened, 10% of our native birds, 20% of our reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish. Megaextinction is the direct result of the expansion of the industrial economy into fragile eco-systems like rainforests.

But so far too many of us have failed to even register what is happening, let alone respond to it in sustained and creative ways. How then, should we respond to the ecological crisis, this passion of Mother Earth? Unless and until we do so collectively and creatively, the question remains as the elephant in the room.

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Brian Gleeson special photo

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31st Sunday year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Speaking the truth in love = listening to the truth in humility. kevin.w3@bigpond.com https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

All of us have a tremendous capacity to love! It is, and can be the most explosive force within our universe! Its power can build enduring vectors of relationships, which can radiate extraordinary light and warmth, which nurture the building blocks of solid and all-embracing community-life in Christ! Remember the great American actor Steve Reeve who was famous, as you know for his portrayal of Superman in the movies. However, as a result of a fall from a horse, he ended up in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. He said he got 100,000 letters of sympathy and support from people. This led him to ask: ‘Why does it take a tragedy before we show our appreciation for one another?’ Well that is the big question!! It is really unfortunately true!

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Over the last forty years, I have presided at hundreds of Funerals. Sometimes it takes the death of a loved one to bring about Family Reconciliations. Over the years I have heard many Eulogies, and I have often asked myself the question: “I wonder if the deceased person has heard even half of what was said about them in their life time?” I don’t really have an answer to that question of mine, but I would not be too surprised if it is true to some extent.

In the ‘high tech’ times in which we live, we are surrounded by wonderful systems of communication; yet are we able to have more time for each other, love for each other, and accept each other’s differences? Again when there is a tragedy anywhere in the world, within second’s outpourings of grief and extraordinary stories appear on Face book! However, the social media can also be the vehicle for evil and blackmail, using the iPhone or Tablet as a coward’s pulpit!

So often when we go to the shops or professional services we are forced to take a number, and join the never ending queue, or hear the words on the ‘phone, ’ Your call is important to us, you have progressed in the queue’ please hold on! Unfortunately we are experiencing more than usual calls. Approximate waiting time is 45 minutes! For what? Then in frustration, you might hang up! In your mind you are saying to yourself, “all I want to do is speak to someone…not a robot”

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The twofold commandment to love God, and our neighbours, which we hear from the lips of Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel, ( Mark 12:28-34) echo the very same words found in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy 6:4., and in Leviticus 19:18. Yet, this twofold commandment was almost smothered within the 613 commandments of the Jewish ‘law’!! At this point I think we need to go back to the Old Testament reading and reflect upon it very deeply.

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Notice that in the pronouncement of the commandment there is Invitatory to LISTEN! Then built on this listening is a sense of urgency to implement it. The icon or image where the implications of the great commandment reside is in the heart! It seems that we could safely say that the overall icon or image displayed throughout the Scriptures is the heart! Then the total confirmation of this image is the Cross with its base deeply embedded within the heart. Let’s explore this for a few moments so that its impact can be appreciated.

In all civilizations of the world, the heart has a dominant place. Being the central organ in the body, the heart is the centre of ‘Life’; its functions enable the entire body to ‘Live’. The heart has been and still is the main symbol for ‘Love.’ That in itself is very telling….without love, nothing works! Nothing is sustained, nothing develops. A heartless person is someone who is devoid of human feelings, is hardened to the plight of the ‘suffering’ in this world, and has lost the sense of compassion. Unfortunately in our world it seems that the heartless acts perpetrated by people get the headlines, inherit the ‘breaking news’ slots in the media, and tend to dominate Thriller Novels and late night Movies. So, does that mean that hard heartedness is on the front line of human advancement? I believe that the short answer is no! The countless millions of heartfelt people far outweigh its opposite. People with big hearts, don’t go looking for publicity, people who are awash with love don’t make the headlines on digital media or Television News time. Occasionally, a short segment of true love is shown on Current Affairs Program’s as a kind of a Postscript or appendix, just to give a little reminder that the world’s people are not all bad…………..

I think that we need to dwell on the imperative given in the Old Testament Reading of today, (Deuteronomy 6:2-6) when it says: ‘LISTEN ISRAEL’ it’s more than saying, ‘Pay attention!’ It means, Children of El…Meaning children of God listen with body, mind and spirit….’holistic listening’……which is really Biblical Obedience! This is a far more positive and embracing concept of Obedience, then leaving it just with the following of Rules (well trained Dogs can do that)…or quoting Rules. So, in terms of loving, how does Biblical obedience come in to the full picture of loving? It would seem that according to the Scriptures: Listening to the truth in humility, is the precursor for us to truly love as God loves. Humility here is more like ‘poverty of spirit’ which is that constant hunger and thirst for hearing God’s Word and digesting it. It can be a very arrogant statement to say we speak the truth in love! Unless it is grounded in humility, it’s just window dressing.

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Finally, in an attempt to answer the big question: ‘Why does it take a tragedy to happen before we show our appreciation for one another?’ We so often leave it too late to love, and then we are full of regrets. We wait until it is too late to tell or show others that we love them. We often leave it too late to mend a quarrel, too late to enjoy health or the gift of our children or our parents. It seems that if we are going to be on time, we need to be listening to God while our hearts are being touched, and that we in turn respond in the ‘now’ not maybe, and then the words of Jesus to the scribe in today’s Gospel are then spoken to us: ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’.

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31st Sunday year B 2018. A reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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Jesus has just told you and me what is the most important thing in the world. That’s to be a loving person. So, we are meant to love our God with our whole self, i.e. with our whole mind, whole heart, and whole will – in fact, with every fibre of our being. The second part of being a loving person is to love and care for our neighbour every bit as much as we love and care for ourselves.

30th Sunday year A lovely kids

It’s only right that we should do so. After all God has loved us first. The very fact that we are alive and here today is because our God has loved us into life. In the second place Jesus calls us to love God with our entire being because his whole life and death have been a manifestation, and even a pouring out, of God’s tender love for every single one of us. Being loved into life by God as both our Creator and Redeemer, we are called to mirror and reflect the love that has made and redeemed us, by reaching out in love to other persons.

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Reaching out to others with loving hearts involves our emotions. We feel for the different people in our lives. However, what is more essential and more important than any feelings we have about them is that we act for their well-being and happiness. When e.g. the gospels speak of the love in the heart of Jesus, they highlight his specific acts of kindness and generosity. To put this in a personal way: In loving another person I value that person. I value that person so much that I seek through my own resources, whatever they may be, to assist him or her in their wellbeing, happiness and development. I will seek to do so in concrete and practical ways. In the process I will extend myself beyond my personal needs, interests and concerns, to the interests, concerns and needs of the person I am seeking to assist.

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This approach to loving one’s neighbour as another self is the opposite of selfishness and self-preoccupation. It overcomes a natural and inborn tendency to think of myself first, to put my needs before the needs of anyone else, and to keep telling myself that they must paddle their own canoe and I mustn’t get involved. So, it overcomes our natural instinct to keep thinking: ‘Just mind your own business!’ even when that other person in my life is in acute pain and clearly needs me now. But when I truly care for another person, I put the needs of that other person first and let their needs influence and alter my personal choices, priorities and actions.

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For us Christians, our concrete ways of loving others are intimately connected with our love for God. Love for God, in fact, can be expressed only in a way which corresponds to our way of being in the world. It can function, then, only within the network of our interpersonal relationships. In fact, our love for God and neighbour are, in fact, one and the same love. So, our love and loving care for other human beings is not in competition with our love for God but the concrete and practical ways in which we express our love for God. In practice, the two commandments to be a loving person are just one commandment.

Let me give you one striking example of all this: – When Paul O’Reilly, a Jesuit priest, was working in the Amazon rain-forest in South America as a medical doctor, he had a young patient called Jeffrey. When Jeffrey was ten, his mother died. Three months later, his father abandoned Jeffrey and his two sisters and emigrated to a rich country. The three children were taken in by an uncle who worked as a teacher in a very poor village deep in the rain-forest. One day, when Jeffrey was 12, he and his sisters did not have enough food to eat. So Jeffrey climbed a mango tree to try to get some fruit.

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His uncle had told him not to, but Jeffrey couldn’t stand seeing his sisters going hungry. But he fell down 30 feet from the tree and broke his back. He was left paralyzed from the middle of his chest downwards. The people with him carried him on a stretcher 20 days walk through the forest to a little hospital in the nearest town. There he lay for a whole year. At the end of that year in hospital, he was in a bad way. He was just skin and bones and had pressure sores all over his back. He was in constant pain and was obviously dying. His uncle and sisters cared for him as best they could. But day by day he got worse and worse. So they decided to take him home ¬since they couldn’t bear for him to die in hospital. But unable to carry him another 20 days journey through the forest, they appealed to their local church community for help.

God touched the hearts of their next door neighbours Henry and Colette Melville, a married couple with children of their own, to take in the whole family and care for them. Colette, in particular, looked after Jeffrey night and day for six months till he died. And when he died she wept for him as for one of her own children.

Of all the people he has ever known, Paul says, she was the one who loved the Lord her God with all her heart, all her mind, all her strength and all her might. And more than anyone else he has ever known, she is the one who truly loved her neighbour as herself. What an amazing example for us of true love at work!

13th Sunday of Year A Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa 2

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

30th Sunday year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. LET ME SEE AGAIN! kevin.w3@bigpond.com https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

Bartimeaus being healed

There are many stories of ‘the blind’ being healed in the Gospels, but this one about Bartimaeus is the most well known example. It is loaded with simple and easy-to-understand teaching, and its implications remain the same for all generations.

Before we can begin to appreciate the evergreen message of this Gospel passage, we must go to the Old Testament Reading as a background which gives colour and meaning to the moments which the Gospel presents; especially with its promises ‘of old’ being fulfilled in Jesus, and how the long awaited ‘gathering of the nations’ might be accomplished by a Shepherd Messiah, a suffering Servant, a merciful Father.

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Firstly, let’s listen to the tone of the First Reading? Jeremiah 31:7-9 Notice that there is a distinct atmosphere of jubilation and expectation? Jeremiah is absolutely ‘over the moon’ as we say these days….is could not contain himself as the revealed word took root in his heart. He just had to yell it out! We have all had experiences of that kind of event in our own lives! The birth of your child….’it’s a girl, it’s a boy’!!!!! This runs through this section of the Book of Jeremiah, culminating in Chapter 34: 31-34…..the joy of anticipated new deeds that the Lord God will accomplish in the New Covenant at some future time. Notice who will have their hopes realised? Yes, it is the ‘Poor of the Lord’, the anawim, the faithful few, the remnant of Israel. Let’s keep in mind that the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth were representative of the ‘Poor of the Lord’.

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It is important to note that there are hints in this reading which are subtle reminders that ‘The One’ who is coming to the rescue has shepherd-like characteristics…. The text says, ” See, I will bring them back….” further on it says, ” and gather them….” and still further on it says, ” I will comfort them…..” Question? Who are some of these people? ‘The lame, the blind, the so called ‘fringe people’. Another question that should be asked could well be: What will these people receive when they are gathered together? The answer is ‘new life’, and this is demonstrated in the text, where it says ‘ I will guide them to streams of water’. Water being a rich Biblical symbol for “new life”. Now, we need to keep all of the above in mind as we look at the growing relationship in faith, between Jesus and Bartimaeus, and Bartimaeus and Jesus. I have deliberately phrased it that way…you will see why as we move on. Mark 10:46-52

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It was a moment of grace! Bartimaeus was blind, and Jesus of Nazareth was passing by; but notice that it is Jesus accompanied by a crowd, who were passing by…could this mean that the remnant, the ‘Poor of the Lord’ are being gathered and following Jesus? Most certainly that would seem to be a possible Biblical meaning of this procession from Jericho to Jerusalem! Bartimaeus had a choice, and what he did was a response to an innate invitation from the Lord God in Jesus. Notice what he shouted, “Son of David, “have pity on me!” Let’s stay with this for a moment….Bartimaeus, in his shouting, was praying the opening line of Psalm 50….’ Have pity on me of God….’ This Psalm is one of the greatest Acts of Contrition in the whole of the Scriptures.

Now Bartimaeus could have let Jesus go by, or he could seize the moment, and seek healing. Within an act of ‘spiritual poverty’ he called out to Jesus in the midst of opposition. Jesus did not go around healing anybody and everybody. But let’s not forget that Jesus heard ‘the cry of the poor’ Ps 130:1 ‘out of the depths I cry to you O Lord’. Jesus asked others to bring Bartimaeus to him. Here is another example of Intercession, in fact the Intercessors place a prayerful word on the lips of the blind man”Courage” he is calling you! There are just so many occasions in the Scriptures where we see Prayers of Intercession at hand, and we see that people are often the vehicle for Intercessions to be forwarded to the Lord God. This is one of those examples. The ‘gathering of the poor of the Lord’ who were accompanying Jesus reinforced the invitation to others along the way, by triggering an experience of salvation in those who freely responded to the Lord’s invitation. In this case, the man by the roadside had to make a decision about stopping him in the midst of opposition or letting him go on. Notice that Jesus says, ‘It is your faith that has healed you’. Faith in this instance, is the graced moment of being able to see the saving hand of God at work in Jesus.

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We can see that Bartimaeus was very determined. When he called out, some of those around him tried to tell him to ‘shut up’, and stay quiet. That in itself could have been enough to put him off. However, he shouted all the louder and kept shouting until Jesus stopped, and called him over. Don’t forget, Bartimaeus was blind, and yet Jesus called him over to him. Jesus remained where he was, and waited for Bartimaeus to come to him. Perhaps in throwing off his cloak as he went to Jesus was symbolic of him leaving his old way of life behind, and finding security and truth within the mantle of Jesus’ merciful and healing love. Let us pause for a moment on the request of Bartimaeus….” Let me see again!” This request has even deeper implications for all of us….the again means that he had eyes to see before; he was now in the dark! Another chance to see? This was enough to urge the man to walk towards the voice of Jesus! What a fantastic experience. Think back to the many times when you were in a dark place, and a voice from a loved one, or even someone who may not have been on your Christmas card list, call you into light. Like the Intercessors in the Gospel story, they were people just like you and me. Bartimaeus is a person just like you and me. A return from this man (representative of many others) to the author of all new life! A graced moment of Reconciliation.

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To complete our task in this realhomilie, I would like to dwell for a moment on another action which is extremely symbolic for Bartimaeus, and equally profound for all of us. The local Intercessors who placed their prayer on his lips…’courage’, also placed an action-response on him as well…..’Get up, He is calling you’. In his response to this Intercession, the throwing off the cloak of the past, and the rising up, jumping up is a combined action of throwing off the past, and rising to new life can well be seen as being part of the external signs of the inner experience manifesting his being saved……salvation! To finish off there is still something precious that we cannot overlook; notice what Jesus said to Bartimeaus at the end of this encounter…..’Go, your faith has saved you’…..the question is then asked: Go where? It would seem that the dismissal from Jesus is not…..Go now you are OK, but GO and procliam to all the world the nearness of the Kingdom!

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Make Disciples of all nations…..It was in the GOING, that his sight was returned, because through his spiritual sight, Bartimeaus could see in Jesus the saving hand of God at work. Another question……where did the healed man go to? The answer is profound: he followed Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life with the others who had gathered with Jesus along that road which leads to Jerusalem, and then post Passion/Resurrection to the New Jerusalem! And then to top it off, at this time when the Gospel of Mark was written, the followers of Jesus were not called Christians, they were called THE WAY! SEe the play on words? Isn’t that fantastic? This is why we walk slowly through God’s Word with heightened sensitivity, so that we do not miss anything.

God's Word

As we read the Scriptures, we see the need to take it slowly or we will miss some of its meaning. I think that we should read the Scriptures with a Geiger Counter attached by USB into our heads so that we don’t miss anything. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of reflective listening while reading God’s Word. At this point I want to publically thank Fr. Robert Crotty CP, who inspired me, and many others who enabled us to be ‘caught’ by God’s Word. As students for the Priesthood way back in the late 1960’s and 70’s we were so fortunate to have Biblical Scholars, like Robert Crotty CP, Jerome Crowe C.P and Angelo O’Hagin OFM at Yarra Theological Union, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia to inspire us.

Every one of us has moments of grace in the course of any day. Unlike Bartimaeus, we may not be ready, or we may not be determined enough to avail ourselves of the opportunity being offered. Jesus of Nazareth is passing by each moment of every day. We have a choice, and we know it at the time. I am sure that all of us can remember times when we have let opportunities of grace pass by, and they never return in the same way.
We all have our blindness, but there are none so blind as those who do not want to see. If Jesus is to be effective in our lives, then we must be open and honest before him, and we must rid ourselves of any attempts to impress, to deny or to pretend. Jesus sees us exactly as we are. Jesus is real! Jesus knows where healing is needed within us. It is up to us like Bartimaeus, to know our need of inner healing, seize the moment, and go to Jesus amidst the distractions which would have us stay still; blind, or excuses saying we have no time to see the saving God before us, narrow-mindedness, hardness of heart, or a preference to live within our inner darkness where growth is impossible. Our lives can be full of miracles if we choose to permit them to happen. Let us all be daring and adventurous in seeking healing just like Bartimemas, and Jesus will say to us, “Your faith has saved you.”

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Heart Flame 4