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Corpus Christi…..The Body and Blood of Christ. Year B, 2018, from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. ’Behold what you are, become what you receive’. kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Solemnity
This feast, originally Corpus Christi, arose in thirteenth century Belgium in response to debates about the real presence and as a result of an upsurge in Eucharistic piety. Its extension to the entire Western Church was first decreed by Urban IV in 1264. The feast celebrates the mystery of the nourishing and enduring presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

Gods Word th36RKBOOR

First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8 Blood-the symbol of life – is cast both on the altar, which is a symbol of God’s presence, and on the people, who promise to be faithful. From now on, God and Israel are united in a living covenant.

Psalm: Ps 115:12-13. 15-18
I will take the cup of Salvation, and call on the name of the Lord

Second Reading: Hebrews 9:11-15 The blood of Christ shed on the Cross purifies the hearts of people.

Gospel: Mark 14:12-16. 22-26 Just as the prophets had mimed coming happenings, Jesus, at the Last Supper, by sharing the bread and the cup, proclaims his body and blood given for many.

Deep Sea Diving 2

Today, I would like to go DEEP SEA DIVING again in this realhomilie with you. I am very curious as to the bottomless underlying Biblical meanings in the First Reading and the Gospel, because what awaits us is like various types of Reef Coral, in their splendid colours. What does the vista of such beauty do to the human spirit? It takes one’s breath away, it causes us to tread water, in other words our whole being calls us to Gaze and Wonder! This experience has the power to prepare us for the great mystery of the Eucharist. So, let’s get our gear together, and down we go……….

Many times I have said that we must be curious when we read God’s Word, so that the empowerment of the Holy Spirit can invite us to the great depths contained in it. For me, God’s Word is like a continuing echo, somewhat like the echoes that we hear in the Mountains, where the words contained in our voice, bounces off the rock walls, and we hear it many times over. When God speaks, the words continue to echo or bounce continually till the end of time. Whereas when we yell out, ‘Coo ee’ as we do in Australia, the bounce gets softer and softer. Not so with God’s Word; it never gets softer! It’s in perpetual motion. Its volume is self-contained. We don’t need and sophisticated equipment like a Radio Telescope to hear the resounding words from our God. All we need is the desire to listen in silence, within faces of those around us and be sensitive to the subtle invitations within the Word, so that we can respond!

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In the first Reading from the Old Testament, the place where this is happening is towards the base of Mt.Sinai/Mt.Horeb in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. Here in this reading we have a primitive Liturgy taking place, which externalises the internal reality initiated by the Lord God in the Covenant. (I will be your God and you are my people) Hence the Decalogue or Ten Words of God outline the Mission Statement which enables our side of the Covenant to stay intact. As for the Lord God, there is no question about God’s fidelity.
This Liturgical activity contains very deep significance for God’s people. Firstly the killing of the animals was seen to be a preamble in this Liturgy, thus cleansing the way for LISTENING, RESPONDING AND PARTICIPATION.

Somewhat like our Penitential Rite within the Celebration of the Eucharist, prior to the Liturgy of the Word, and Eucharist. Notice the symbolism of the Altar of sacrifice; sacred in its own way of the Lord God’s presence. The twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of God’s children – Israel.

The actual setting and purpose of the people, and Leaders, is very important; here we have the beginnings of a Covenant renewal Liturgy. Let’s go on; the blood had been gathered and placed in a Pannier that is a large metal dish, and positioned on the Altar. What is so special about the blood, you might ask? Well for our ancestors in faith, blood was a symbol and sign of LIFE! For example, during a battle when someone drove a spear into one of the enemy, the blood came out…the life spills away. Also remember when the Hebrews where held captive in Egypt during the celebration of the first Passover? Blood was a sign of liberation, and new life which was starting to percolate within the Hebrews; the blood from the Lambs was painted over the lintel, the joist or beam over the door way. The Angel of Death would then Passover them….so here we see blood as a symbol of being spared, given new life. On that basis, simply put, it is BLOOD which is the symbol of LIFE.

Mt Horeb

Getting back to the Liturgical action at the foot of the Holy Mountain of the Lord God, it is important to see that after the ‘Covenant – Commands’ of the Lord God were proclaimed, the community response was, “ We will observe, all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.” Now here we have come across a stunning action! Let’s take it slowly……to observe can mean to study, to examine, to perceive, to scrutinize, to survey etc. But in this case it is all of that plus more, and that comes out in the next word that is a real gem…….’we will obey’ The verb to obey has a very profound meaning for our ancestors in faith. For them, it was more than do this or do that; for them it was a special kind of listening with the body, mind and spirit. Nowadays, we would call it holistic listening. This it would seem runs with, and is entwined to ‘gazing’…….i.e. reflective looking, and hearing and savouring. So for the people of Israel to obey in this context is also communitarian……’we will obey’. It would seem that the community response is beyond doubt linked with others as well as self, thus enabling ‘grace’ to manifest itself in and through the living out of God’s Decalogue. (Ten Commandments) Covenanted Life in God.

Ten commandments in stone

Let’s go back to the significance of ‘the blood’ in this Ritual; notice that half the blood was cast on the altar, and the rest was ceremoniously sprinkled on the community. What do you think that this Ritual – albeit, Liturgical action meant? Now, don’t give up too quickly…look back at what we were talking about earlier on…….. Yes, you got it right! The life of the Lord God was truly among His people offering renewed life through this Covenant Renewal Ceremony as a response. However at all times we must remember that it is the Lord God who initiates, and it is up to us to respond.
Now, let’s take another look at the Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews…….this is in fact a commentary on the connection of the first reading with the Gospel. Let’s move on to a deeper understanding of the meaning and significance of bread!

In the Old Testament, it is a common understanding that Bread can also be a symbol for God’s Word, and it’s inherit benevolence, see Exodus 16:4 ‘I am going to rain down bread from Heaven’ (That is the Manna in the desert.) Ezekiel 3: 1-3 is deeply profound, let’s have a look at it.’ He said, ‘Son of man (Ezekiel) eat what is given to you, eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel’. I opened my mouth; he gave me the scroll to eat and said, ‘Son of man, feed and be satisfied by the scroll I am giving you’. I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey’. This is a spectacular reading from the Old Testament which would do us good to keep in mind as we think about God’s Word at all times. Notice that it tasted like sweet honey; even here there is a profound meaning. Honey by itself is not something that we scoff down…..no, it has to be tasted, it has to infuse our tastebuds, and generally while this is happening we are ‘caught’ within these moments as if it were a gazing experience. So the action of savouring is related to the deliciousness of God’s Word which causes our taste buds to dance! So, to be in tune with God’s Word we must let it sink into us, slowly, reflectively within an atmosphere of stillness. Food for thought, eh?

Listening

When we listen to God’s Word in future, and taking this into account, it cannot be rushed…..’Lord, what are you saying to me through your Holy Word, how can my life be changed?’ Conversely, if we rush listening to someone else while engaged in conversation, or have our minds on other things, we have Buckley’s chance of knowing what it is all about!

Staying with the concept of Bread, I would like to speak about a special custom that used to be ‘common place’ in ancient times, when groups of people would move through the Desert and Mountains to either trade or buy goods. Usually these journeys took a number of days, very different to us; we just get in the car, and off to Woolworths or the local Shopping Mall. But in the days of our ancestors of faith, they would share their bread with each other at the Camp site, and they would only have in their company, trusted people, for obvious reasons. It would be unthinkable for each person to have their own hamper; sharing the Bread together was a ritual of trust and companionship. From that beautiful word, companionship we can break it up into com from the Latin cum, meaning ‘with’, and panis from the Latin meaning ‘bread’. So here we have the meaning of companionship……’sharing bread with. There is a wonderful and simple meaningful song which is sometimes used when there is a greater number of Children present at the Celebration of the Eucharist…..Titled:-’We are companions on the journey, breaking bread and sharing life.’ By Carey Landry.

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So now, let’s take all the above into account as we listen, savour, and gaze on the Words of today’s Gospel. As Jesus and his disciples make their way to the Cenacle for the Supper, they had to pass over a small stream which flowed from that part of the Temple where the Lambs had been slaughtered, it is good to note that the little stream would not have been clear water, but water mixed with blood…….very symbolic at this time. Now within the Gospel reading, we see Jesus taking the Bread, offering it and handing it out saying…’this is my Body’. And then with the Cup….’this is the cup of my Blood…The blood of the covenant…’ A very Liturgical action which would seem, was used by the early church in the ‘Breaking of Bread’. It was never called The Mass at that time…..The Lord’s Supper, The Eucharist…..I think that the Name Mass these days misses the main point….it is not just about the sending out; it’s about the Celebration of the Word and Eucharist.

So to conclude, this Feast is very important in the Church Calendar, because it not only causes us to PAUSE, but to reflect deeply upon Our Lord’s Communion with us through His Word, in the Eucharist and in His people.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be a very fruitful practice, when the prayer of ‘gazing’ urges us to go out and be in conversation with the world and its people. To have a greater sensitivity to Christ’s presence in His Word and in His people. St Augustine sets the right tone when he said, ’Behold what you are, become what you receive’. Corpus Christi is not entirely about the Bread and Wine becoming transformed into the sacramental body and blood of Christ…..but the transformation in us as a result of our AMEN at Holy Communion.

Corpus Christi Chalice

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Corpus Christi Year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. EUCHARIST MEANS MISSION.

Corpus Christi Chalice

In all our Catholic churches, the main way we pray together is the Eucharist, the Mass. From start to finish, Jesus Christ is active and alive in us who are parts, indeed limbs and cells, of his risen body. The climax, the high point of our celebration, is when we receive him in Holy Communion. There he gives himself to us in love and nourishes our relationship with him. There he wants to sets us ‘on fire’ with his ‘powerful love’ (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #10). So, from our intimate sharing with him in communion, we are meant to go back to our homes and neighbourhoods with a new heart, a new spirit, and a new commitment. In other words, Jesus sends us out from his table to nourish others with our body and blood, i.e. with the gift of ourselves, our love, and our lives. He sends us out to bring to others a love like his – a love that is unselfish, caring, forgiving, generous and constant.

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At the very the end of Mass Jesus has one final word to say to us. Through our priest or deacon he commands us in this or similar words: ‘Go and announce the gospel of the Lord.’ His intention is ‘[that] each [of us] may go out [from his table] to do good works, praising and blessing God’ [General Instruction of the Roman Missal 2002, #90c].

We cannot, in fact, truly share the consecrated bread and wine without also sharing the daily bread of our personal and community resources of one kind or another. Communion with him is essentially defective, and even an empty sham, if we ignore or neglect him in our poor and needy sisters and brothers.

Long ago St John Chrysostom had something to say about this that is particularly strong, sharp and challenging. Here are his words:

Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do you not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same who said: ‘You saw me hungry and gave me no food; and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers [and sisters] you did also to me’ … What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother [or sister] is dying of hunger. Start by satisfying his [or her] hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.1

In a nutshell, our Holy Communion with Christ requires us to identify with poor, suffering, troubled and afflicted persons all over the world: Did not Vatican II say: ‘The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well?’
[‘The Church in the Modern World’, #1]

Bread and wine Mosaicmass-and-worship

Our whole Mass is a matter of remembering, celebrating and joining in Christ’s wonderful work of liberating and transforming human beings. So our celebration is meant to send us out to liberate oppressed and struggling persons from all that is not of God, from all that crushes or inhibits their dignity as his sons and daughters. This is so true that until Jesus Christ comes back to the earth at the end of time, the strongest sign of his presence and self-giving in the Eucharist is our life-style afterwards. It’s meant to be a life-style of service, of binding up wounds, of reaching out to persons in need with caring, unselfish, and generous love in dozens of different ways, all the ways that Jesus himself reached out to others during his days and years on earth.

The Eucharist, then, means that we are people sent out on mission, and people who find in the Bread that is Christ and the wine that is Christ our nourishment and strength to reach out to others. A beautiful ecumenical document known as the Lima Statement puts it this way: ‘The Eucharist is precious food for missionaries, bread and wine for pilgrims on their apostolic journey’ [Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, E26].

Last Supper untitled

The truth is that shared prayer and shared life before and after prayer go together. This is particularly true of the Eucharist. For it is there that we remember, celebrate and encounter the presence and person of Jesus Christ giving himself in love to God the Father, and giving himself in love to human beings.

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So, to sum up my message to you on this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, one of the quite special meanings of the Eucharist, but one that is too often overlooked or neglected, is that it is about ‘going out to make a better world’ (Christiane Brusselmans).

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1 John Chrysostom, In Evangelium S. Matthaei,hom, 50:3-4; PG 58, 508-509. Cited by John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia [Encyclical Letter on the Eucharist in relationship to the Church],

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

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THE LITURGY OF THE WORD. Helpful hints from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.

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Trinity Sunday Year B 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com OUR CREATIVE, REDEEMING AND SANCTIFYING GOD.

Trinity 3

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. With such a Feast as this one, we might be tempted to think … ‘Well, it’s all a bit of a mystery, and far too deep for me, and I’m not sure where to start in trying to understand it; so perhaps I’ll come back to it another time’. Yes! It is indeed difficult … and mysterious … having provoked some of the greatest thinkers in the world to offer explanations. In reaping the benefits of their efforts, we come to realise the immeasurable depths of our creative, redeeming and sanctifying God.

Deuteronomy 4:32-34. 39-40
Let’s briefly look at God’s Word. The First Reading talks about the power and glory of God, who nonetheless, entered into a close and loving relationship with his people Israel, and of the obligations and blessings that flow from such a relationship. This reading stresses the oneness of God.

Romans 8:14-17
In the Second Reading this relationship is taken deeper; we are not just members of God’s people, but related members as in God’s wider Family. We are also reminded that the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and has made us co-heirs with Jesus. This reading makes clear reference to the three persons in God.

Matthew 28:16-20
The Gospel also makes reference to the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus, who has total power over the whole universe, now empowers his apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world. He also highlights for them that they, and the Church, (the new Israel) will never be left as orphans, but will be accompanied by their Risen Lord.

Trinity 1

Now, let us look deeper into the mystery of the Trinity. By acknowledging God’s loving outreach to everyone; ‘WE’ are called through Baptism to continue the Lord’s mission, empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is given to us by the Father.

Another angle to reflect upon the celebration of our Triune God is the defining of the creative, redemptive and sanctifying God-Head, who in Jesus calls us to follow suit. Thus these three aspects are really the inner core of the Christian, whose mission to the world is God’s mission! Through the constant incorporation of the Word of God, through prayer and sacred listening, we become creative instruments in continuing to fashion the Kingdom of God here by responding to the leadership of the Holy Spirit……a Kingdom in process …….an ongoing work in action! This is done in the simple and profound ways of being ‘in Christ’, and Christ for each other.

The human experience of salvation which is truly Sacramental, i.e., entering into the Holy Mind of God, and taking hold of those moments, which unexpectedly arise, where the Lord uses us, or we respond to the Christ in our community; within those moments the saving hand of God is seen, felt and experienced. Possibly, the only response to those moments, is like that of Thomas himself, when he was invited to enter into the woundedness of Christ….’My Lord, and My God!’

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Moments that arise daily, which often happen ‘out of the blue’ can be experiences of Salvation if we respond with spiritual curiosity to given moments, thus listening to how the Spirit urges us forward. Here we need to pause for a moment in deep reflection about the Holy Spirit urging us to move forward. Let’s look at the Second Reading, where it says, ‘Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son and daughter of God’. Now, in order to focus in, let’s look at the Greek translation in order to have a deeper appreciation of what is being said….For as many as by (the) Spirit of God are led these sons(siblings) of God are….. It seems to me that in the process of people being moved, we know it is the Spirit that does the nudging. Question: We are we being moved to? It seems that we get the answer in what happened to Jesus in Luke 4:1. In the Greek translation is says, ‘Now Jesus, full of (the) Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was being led by the Spirit in the Desert.’ Here it is clear that Jesus was fully aware of the Spirit’s presence within Him and that he was being led by that same Spirit.. In short, the Apostles and Mary at the time of Pentecost where aware that they too were experiencing the fullness of the Spirit, and it was the same Spirit which led them out of the closed room, flung open wide the doors in loving boldness, to speak the one language of God’s irresistible loving kindness. In other words, the movement of the Holy Spirit in its drive was :- ‘Go and tell my people that I love them, Go and show them that I love them and gather them and bring them back to me.’

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The being and the doing of this activity becomes ‘sacred’ ‘holy’ ‘sanctifying experiences happen on ‘holy ground’. I am not saying that these events only happen in Church; no way, because wherever the Lord is, and within the creative, redeeming and sanctifying moment, the ground, the place, the people, are ‘holy’. Remember in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3, we see that when Moses was invited to come closer to the Burning Bush, the Angel of the Lord said that it was holy ground, hence take of your sandals! But there is more to that than meets the eye; the action of Moses taking off his sandals without someone keeping guard, most be noted: because in the process of taking off the sandals, it is not like kicking off one’s slippers or shoes…..for Moses, it would have taken some precious minutes to be fully engaged in undoing the platting of the leather thonging. (Thin strands of leather or twine which not only hold the sandal on, is connected to the leg for support.)

Sandals

Hence, while undoing his sandals, someone could have attacked him from behind. Therefore, this action for Moses becomes an action of trust in the messenger. The taking off of one’s sandals is always done as part of the hospitality ritual that an Adult would do in the presence of their host, and then the washing of the guest’s feet completes the ritual. For Moses, and the meaning behind and within this story, is that of a profound act of trust which had to be made by him as a response to the Angel of the Lord’s invitation. Hence, the conversation and the actions are in a way Sacramental and the place becomes Holy – Ground, because of those precious invitations and responses. So with all that in mind let’s have a further look at our mission! In terms of allowing oneself to be moved; to be led by the Spirit it must be built on a foundation of TRUST!

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Jesus announced that the Kingdom is here within us, but not yet complete, and it is the constant love of the Father, which draws us on. Jesus’ message is life, which invites us to seek the Father. Its demands, which the Spirit makes known to us, are always new, surprising and life-giving. ‘The Spirit will guide us into all truth which comes from the Father’: John 16:13. Jesus shows us the way to the Father, and the Spirit guides us and leads us on the journey.

If the Feast of the Ascension reminds us that we must take the Lord’s work into our own hands, Pentecost assures us that because the Spirit is with us, leading us, such a mission is possible. The Feast of the Blessed Trinity teaches us that we must be creative, redeeming and sanctifying in our commitment to God, and to one another. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. As we pray so frequently….

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Hence, we must be mindful that our God is a God of surprises, inviting us to trust, to follow, and be daring in our Christian living and loving outreach. We must rid ourselves of doubts, which tempt us to cling on and immerse ourselves in securities, which cripple our ability to live as a truth-seeking community. We are called to proclaim with loving boldness that we can do all things through Him who gives us the strength. (St. Paul). If we cling with all our might to paltry security, how can we be in solidarity with human suffering and love? If we are not imaginative in our ways of exploring, expressing and listening to God, our spirituality and life will stagnate, and hence we become uninspiring, lacking life and totally pessimistic about most things, and we would probably look like Death, warmed up!

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Today’s Feast invites us to give thanks and praise to our God, and there is no better way of doing this than through the Celebration of the Eucharist.
Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: to God who is, who was, and who is to come. Alleluia!

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TRINITY SUNDAY, YEAR B, 2018. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. GOD IS ONE AND GOD IS THREE.

Trinity 1 thAYBA8X4Y

One of the most fascinating things about being alive is the other people in our lives. Just as fascinating is the fact that the more we know them, the more there is still to know. Husbands and wives regularly report that even after more than twenty years together they are still getting glimpses of new things about the other. So it’s only bit by bit that they can revel and rejoice in all the different and charming things about the other, who will always remain something of a mystery. It’s the same with our knowledge and love of God – of God as Father, of God as Son, and of God as Holy Spirit. While God is anything but a closed book, it may take years of keeping company with God before we become deeply aware of particular pieces in the puzzle of who God is.

There are at least three ways of delving into the Mystery of the Trinity. One is to search for how something that is one can also be three. In this approach it might help to compare the Trinity to a tree. The Father is like the trunk of the one tree, the Son is like a branch of the same tree, and the Spirit is like the fruit the same tree produces. Or we might compare the Father to the sun in the sky, the Son to its rays, and the Spirit to its heat. Or we might think of the three as like three musical notes played together as one harmonious chord.

Another approach is to concentrate more directly on the relationship of the Trinity to us. The first thing that has to be said about this is that, strictly speaking, God is self-sufficient. In the interpersonal relationships that have existed for ever among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God has been completely and perfectly happy and satisfied. But it is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God to create us human beings in God’s own image and likeness. It is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God’s Son to become a human being like us and live his life for others. It is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God to give us our beautiful world to both preserve and develop in a harmonious balance. And it is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God to destine us for everlasting life with Godself on the other side of this life.

The next thing that needs to be said is that the interpersonal relationships of our three-in-one God, show us that to be a person we need other people in our lives, other people to love us, and other people for us to love. In the 1960’s there was a popular song that said: “I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.” That message is a lie. For while there are times when healthy human beings like to be alone and deliberately choose their own company, there is something wrong if they’re always saying like the famous Swedish actress, Greta Garbo: ‘I want to be alone.’ This is because we need the company and influence of others to animate us, to draw us out of ourselves, to complete us, to challenge us and comfort us. It’s not for nothing that in the Genesis story of the creation of woman, God says: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” (2:18).

Begging for money

Some time ago I heard about a man who was so utterly alone in this world that nobody ever shook his hand, patted his back, gave him a hug, a friendly dig in the ribs, or even a wave. He became so desperately lonely that the only thing left for him to look forward to was a monthly visit to his hairdresser, where at least for a few minutes someone would touch him and care for him.

Job 1

Loneliness can be a sad and cruel experience. This is particularly so for people placed in solitary confinement. I read a while back about a particular prison ward. The prisoners were given enough to eat. But they were not allowed to talk to each other. They were not allowed to work together because work leads to contact and conversation. They were not even allowed to listen to others on the radio or watch television. And of course they were never allowed visitors. After months of this cruel treatment there was not a single prisoner with even a skerrick left of self-esteem or self-confidence.

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I hope and pray that none of us here will ever feel so isolated or alone, and especially when we have to face that particular human experience, which no one else can face for us – our death. What happens on the other side of that experience? What will we find there? Our faith tells us, that whatever else there will be, we will enjoy the company of other human beings. And more than that, on the other side of our death God will be waiting for us. The God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The God who made us. The God who has loved us. The God who has understood us. The God who has forgiven us. The God who has kept us going. The God who has finally taken us to Godself.

Trinity 1

This is what we are celebrating in our feast of the Trinity. This is why we are giving praise and thanks to God in this Eucharist. Because God is not alone and because we are not alone, and never will be. And so let us pray together and mean every word we say: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. AMEN.”
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Brian Gleeson special photo

Passionist logo in glass thKDM7CEFT

 

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Pentecost Sunday, 2018 Year B. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘Go out to the whole world in loving boldness as my Foot washers’, says the Lord. kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost: we hear in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that the Spirit of God, poured out as ‘gift’ on the Apostles, who had gathered together out of fear, were transformed into a group filled with the breath of God, and boundless energy and Joy. They then became fearless, daring and joyful proclaimers of the nearness of God’s Kingdom. Today in God’s Word we hear echoes from the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel 36:24-28, who hundreds of years before, looked forward to an outpouring of God’s Spirit in a ‘gob smacking’ way! Let us see what the Prophet had to say: ‘I will gather my people from among the nations, and bring you home to your own land. I will pour clean water over you, and cleanse you of all defilement. I will take away your hearts of stone, and give you hearts for love instead. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will keep my laws and sincerely observe my commandments. You will be my people, and I will be your God.’

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Christian tradition has called this Feast, the Birth of the Church! However, its Religious origins go back to Old Testament times, when our ancestors in faith celebrated the initiating of the Covenant between Y-HW-H, (Adonai) and His people, through Moses on Mt. Sinai. This Covenant is summed up in the last line from the Prophet Ezekiel: ‘you will be my people, and I will be your God.’ That event marked a ‘special’ stage and advancement in the ‘corporate mind’ of our ancestors in faith, as they realized that they were truly God’s People and they in fact belonged to God. It was around this time each year, that coincided with the Feast of Harvest; what an appropriate time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the maturing Apostles? At Pentecost, the Apostles and Mary, were transformed from a community gathered out of ‘waiting & questioning’ into a community of loving out-reach, and gentle boldness in their missionary ventures. The language of Pentecost defies all spoken language…. it is the word of loving action, and identification with, and a belonging to the Living Lord, who urged the Apostles and urge us to ‘Go out’ to all nations as living witnesses of our God, who ‘is with us’… at all times, even to the end of the world.

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Now let’s look at today’s Gospel under the microscope! In the fourth Gospel, the Johannine community has the coming of the Holy Spirit in the evening of the day of Resurrection. Now, this becomes one of the appearances of the Risen Lord to Mary and the Disciples. For John and his community the evening is really the beginning of a new week, a new creation, the beginning of a new order of things within the economy of Salvation for all. In Scripture, evening time is a special time of stillness and at-oneness with God in prayer and gazing. There are many instances of this in the Old and New Testament. Notice that the doors were closed, hence the room where the disciples could be looked upon as a tomb, a place of waiting for the breath of new life to be infused into the gathered community. Notice that it was FEAR which instigated the gathering into the room of the Disciples. We see that our Risen Lord enters into their fear, and offers them the first Easter gift; PEACE! What kind of PEACE is this? It would seem that it is the PEACE of a new beginning a new creation, but it is a PEACE for all people won through His wounds. The Wounded Risen Lord’s impact at their recognition was a transformation from FEAR to JOY! Once again the Easter Gift from the Risen Lord was imparted again. However, this gift, this transformation which took place within the Disciples carries with it a responsibility of Mission! ‘As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’. This is truly a Mission from God, because it is the I AM, or Y-H-W-H implied in this inspired text confirms that what happened to Jesus at his Baptism in Chapter 1:32 is now happening to the Disciples.

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There is still more! Notice that Jesus breathes of his disciples and says, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit…..’ now this cannot be done from a distance; no, it implies a very intimate communion between the Risen Lord and His Disciples. Let’s examine this….Think about the people who have breathed on you during your life. Your parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, lovers. In the evening time of life for our parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and lovers, we breathe on them. In this instance, it would seem that John and his community see this also as the moment of creative movement within the Disciples. Similar to the creative movement of the breath of God at the beginning of time, over the darkness of the deep as we read in Genesis. As with the work of creation, we were made to be caretakers and stewards of the creative order, here in this Pentecost experience, we see a new kind of stewardship that is of the forgiveness of sin and the Mission to bring Heaven to Earth as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer.

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So keeping that all in mind, we are called through Baptism and Confirmed in the Spirit, that we are called and sent out with the embodiment of PEACE…..in other words we are all called Jonah…… As Old Testament Prophet Jonah was called to convert the Nineveites after his experience of Salvation with the three day sojourn in the Belly of the Whale; his inner change manifested in and through peace was the invitation for the people to ‘change’. As Jonah embodied that Peace, he himself was the message…….or rather the conduit for God’s peace to trigger a ‘change of heart’ among the Pagans. A similar Mission goes for us and with us…….the first gift of Easter/Pentecost is that creative inner PEACE which runs deep within the fibre of our being, and is truly a gift from God for others. It is not a Gift to be put in the Pantry of our lives, where the moths will destroy. It is not a gift of timidity, but a gift of loving boldness in the midst of all odds that may seem to be against us.

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In this so called post Royal Commission era here in Australia into Institutional Sexual abuse, it seems to me that whilst the findings have set the alarm bells ringing, and ‘change’ in this whole procedure and understanding are most important, it saddens me to hear so many of our Bishops, continuing to be besotted by these findings, and they don’t seem to be able to get out of the rut of depression about it. Our ancestors in faith were in a rut whilst in Egyptian Slavery; Moses had to not only deal with people who easily gave in, but he had to boost the overall morale through his intimacy with the Lord God. I believed that here and now in our world, we have the clouds of shame on every horizon, but the Sun shines on the other side! Our Lord’s Passion, Death, Resurrection and the Holy Spirit, is alive and well, if we are alive and well in the Lord. We MUST be people who are daring for the Lord and not Control Freaks! We must own our past, and rejoice that the New Heavens and the New Earth are not going to just ‘happen’, WE, through and impelled by Christ, must make it happen in true love, absolute engagement with all cultures and religions…….but not out to Baptise everything one of thing that moves! It is not entirely up to us! It is up to us to have a 3D surround-sound vision of our world, and as Jonah walked through Nineveh, we have to walk with each other in the Lord as we walk our streets every days.

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So, now let’s have a closer look at the Spirit’s Gifts.

This Solemnity is a strong reminder to all of us of the Gifts of the Spirit that we have been given, and the responsibility that we all have in nourishing and using the Spirit’s Gifts. Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgment, Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Awe and Wonder.

We live in a multi-cultural society, and the differences in language and custom can easily reinforce the barriers which are counterproductive in the process of local and national identity. If we are truly spirit-filled people the language barrier is dissolved through listening, acceptance of diversity, and a desire to look for the goodness in each other. If we are intent in pursuing nit picking and negativity in new comers to our country, and in those who have their roots deep within this land, we run the high risk of cramping the creativity of the Holy Spirit. If we are in positions of leadership in the media, we should enable our Television shows and advertisements to be representative of the multi culturalism in our country. How representative are our Parliamentarians of our people? Australians have the grand opportunity to first desire to meet our new brothers and sisters, and it is only from the desire to meet, listen and share do we then have the formula for Reconciliation. It is absolute and total arrogance to dismiss our First Australian indigenous people as pre European civilizations! We who comes from Overseas, and I might add that I am a duel citizen like most Australians, we must get off our High Horse, and sit around the camp fire of storytelling and love with the people who have been wedded to this Land for over 50,000 years. Here we are as Europeans……just here 200 years! Food for thought!

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Perhaps the following prayer could be in our hearts and on our lips this day.
‘Holy Sacred Spirit, breathe your breath on us. Holy Sacred Spirit, breathe your life in us’. Words by Monica Brown, Song Album: A REMEMBERING HEART. God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer.

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Pentecost Sunday Year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE SPIRIT AT WORK.

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For this Pentecost Sunday let me start with a true story about how strongly the Holy Spirit works for good outcomes in human situations. The story comes from Northern Ireland (with thanks to Paul O’Reilly SJ for its core).

Northern Ireland is a particularly beautiful scenic place. But until recently it was a nation at war between two groups of people, Catholics and Protestants, divided along ethnic, social, cultural and religious lines. But after more than 40 plus years of violence, murder, injury, pain and suffering, peace has at last come to places where people simply did not expect to see any outbreak of peace in their lifetimes.

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How and why has peace been happening? Because the Holy Spirit of God has been at work. The long and drawn-out peace process has been the work of the Spirit. Slowly and tentatively – two steps forward and one step back – this peace process has gradually been replacing what people there have called ‘the Troubles’.

It seems, looking back, that there was one decisive turning point when the cycle and spiral of violence came to a sudden full stop. It was when a bomb exploded on Remembrance Day, November 8th, 1987, in the small town of Enniskillen (population about 10,000 persons). 12 people were killed and 72 were injured. Among those killed was a young woman called Marie Wilson. It was her 21st birthday. Some birthday present! Her last dying words to her father, Gordon Wilson, the Methodist minister of the town, were these: ‘Daddy, I love you very much.’

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An hour after the blast the BBC interviewed him. The journalist asked how he felt about the people who had just blown his daughter to bits on her birthday. Without a moment’s hesitation Gordon answered: ‘Of course I forgive them. I only hope that her Spirit may be with us and bring us to Peace.’

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The interview was played on the news that night. It was a moment that touched the nation. Since that moment of faith and forgiveness the momentum towards peace has changed for the better the long, violent and tormented history of Northern Ireland.

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That must surely be the work of the Spirit of Pentecost, the Spirit that Jesus let loose among us on the first Pentecost Sunday, the Spirit that breathes where it chooses, the Spirit that will never be snuffed out. That Spirit of God keeps on overcoming resistance and breaking down barriers.

Here in Australia, the Catholic Church has begun today the countdown to a very vital and promising event, scheduled to take place in 2020. It’s called ‘the Plenary Council’. It will be an assembly of the whole Catholic Church of Australia. It will engage the entire People of God, by means of its representatives. It will involve a comprehensive process of deeply listening to one another, of seeing, feeling, judging and acting together, and all this for the sake of a complete review, renewal and reform of the Church’s mission, outreach, structures and workings. The Holy Spirit present to the gathered Council can shine a spotlight on everything to do with the Church – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

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Surely, this planned Plenary Council cannot succeed and will not succeed without the powerful presence and action of the Holy Spirit, who is the love of God at work within us and among us, the love that empowers us to listen to one another, understand one another and work together for the good of the whole Church. It will be concerned with every group and every individual within the Church, and especially, one hopes, with the poorest, the last and the least, those particularly dear to the heart of Jesus.

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That wise international Jesuit scholar, Gerald O’Collins, has said so well: ‘What we DO with the Church depends upon what we THINK about Jesus.’ So, in short, the Plenary Council 2020 will focus most of all on discerning, discovering, and applying the dream of Jesus for his Church in Australia.

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So let us pray today and every day, and over and over again, to the powerful Spirit of God that can overcome all resistance and break down every barrier: ‘Come Holy Spirit! Be for us the love of God at work, the love that “changes everything” and everyone. Create among us all a new, ongoing, and lasting Pentecost!’

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

 

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