Category Archives: Christian Spiritual

20th Sunday year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!

Do you get tired of seeing so many advertisements on TV, especially during Sport or during a riveting Movie? I certainly do. The people who organise the ‘breaks’ in these TV programmes seem to know just when is the good time to insert and advertisement……just when someone is about to make a try in Footy, or a vital clue is about to be found in a British Murder Mystery like the Endeavour series or Vera. Have you noticed that many of the advertisements are about Multi vitamin tablets, fizzy drinks to overload us with Vitamin C, or prompts to get some really fatty foods like KFC or McDonalds……Food, glorious Food………We need it, we love it, and we can easily fall into the trap of feasting ourselves silly on it.

Let’s see the kind of food that Jesus talks about today!

Jesus speaking with disciplesIn the gospel Jesus, and the Community of John, who put together this version of the Good News, goes to even greater lengths in teaching his listeners the central truth of Eucharist. In persevering with this teaching many of Our Lord’s listeners refused to accept it, and he loses them as followers. Let us now explore what Jesus is talking about.

Bread of life 1

What we call ‘Holy Communion’ is but a part of what we understand as ‘Eucharist’. In our celebration of Mass we have the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We are nourished by the word of God and by the Bread of life. We bring what gifts we have, what talents or good will we possess, and we offer these to God, embracing it with the deepest expression of praise and thanksgiving. ‘Eucharist’ comes from the Greek word: eucharistia, which means “thanksgiving”. We may think that we may not have much to give to God, but whatever we have is enough. We are reminded of this in the beautiful Hymn written by Deidre Browne:

Family photo

‘Come as you are, that’s how I want you, come as you are fell quiet at home. Close to my heart, loved and forgiven; come as you are, why stand alone?’ GA 212.

If time permits, it would be a worthwhile prayerful exercise to read today’s gospel once again before we approach the Altar for Holy Communion. By receiving the Eucharist, we are saying ‘Yes’ to the gospel, and we are declaring our acceptance of the offer that Jesus is making, and therefore our response in faith to the Bread of Life is to take seriously that we are a people who are connected together in Christ on our way to the Father, and are therefore we are commissioned not only to live the Good News in daily life, but to be what we have received….namely the Living Body of Christ.

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So, everything to do with Eucharist is pure gift. Even the willingness and readiness to accept and believe it is, in itself, a gift. ‘Flesh and blood does not reveal this…but my Father in Heaven ‘says the Lord.’ We should pray frequently asking the Spirit of God to enlighten us, to increase and strengthen our faith, to enkindle within us the fire of divine love, and to stir up within us a zeal and enthusiasm for things of God.

Corpus Christi Chalice

Finally, the teaching and invitation that comes to us through God’s Word today calls us to check out our inner dispositions as we prepare for frequent Holy Communion. Are we thinking about other things, like what will we be doing after Mass? Are we looking from side to side and seeing if we know the people? Or are we engaged in silent prayerful communion, as we move in procession to receive the Bread of life? After receiving Holy Communion at Mass what do we do? Read the Bulletin? Or do we sing the thanksgiving Hymn prayerfully, which has been especially chosen to respond to God’s word? Or do we pray silently?

Jesus washing feet thT00NU9P6

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord! Is that just a Liturgical way of saying, ‘Bye, Bye, see you next week!’ No way! Having partaken of the Bread of God’s Word and the Sacrament of the Bread of life, in communion with others, we are sent forth to be who we have received, and to relate to each other as living and vibrant editions of the Good News. Often these virtues are tested in the car park, when confronted with 4 Wheel Drives’……or at the next set of traffic lights, or in the line of customers at the checkout in Woolworths or Coles, especially, when the Register runs out of paper! Are we tested as we wait in the long line at the Post office, and when it is almost our turn, the person in front of us has a very complicated transaction, and they have trouble speaking English……..the Litany goes on. Let us do our best to go gently……in loving and serving the Lord in our sisters and brothers.

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20th Sunday Year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. HOLY COMMUNION…..A PACKAGE DEAL.

Bread 13

The message of Jesus to us today is a promise. He promises to be for us just what he is. He’s our Bread of Life, and he promises to be our nourishment, sustenance and support, all along our journey of life. Unlike some people, perhaps ourselves, Jesus keeps his promises. So today let us move in our thoughts to where he keeps his promise, the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

Last Supper untitled

As Jesus is about to take leave of his disciples, and submit to the suffering and death which awaits him, he shows his intention to continue to be present to his friends and followers, but in a new and different way. The new form of his presence will be the bread and wine of a community meal celebrated in his memory. Just as human beings must eat and drink if they are to stay alive, so must the followers of Jesus eat and drink if they are to live by his teachings and example, and remain united with their Lord and one another. In becoming food and drink for their journey to God Jesus adapts himself to the need which all human beings have to both eat and drink in order to stay alive and well. This is to say that the new form of his presence will be one based on nourishment and refreshment, and will involve both eating and drinking.

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It’s important to remember, however, that communion with Jesus is not simply a private conversation with him. No, it’s a package deal. When we receive and meet the risen Christ in Holy Communion, we are challenged to open our hearts to everyone else who belongs to Jesus, to everyone else who shares the same food and drink in the same meal, and to everyone else who forms one body with him. We are challenged to love others as he loves them. For this reason some words that have been put on the lips of Jesus by an anonymous writer seem very much to the point. Let’s hear him saying those words to you and me now: –

Pentecost Abbey 2

I tried to catch your attention this morning.
Remember when you came back to your seat and closed your eyes and put your head down and talked and talked to me.
I wanted you to listen.
I wanted to tell you to open your eyes and look at my broken body all around you.
I tried to catch your attention that time the toddler stood on the seat and spoke to you, but you gave me a dirty look and humiliated me and didn’t hear me.
I was the unmarried mother at the end of your seat, the old man in front of you, the family of seven children across the aisle from you – and I almost had the impression you disapproved of me.
I was the woman in the green coat whose husband left her this week and whose heart was being eaten out right through Mass, and a friendly smile or word would have been a little support to me.
I am your wife who cooked the lunch and coped with the children and all the burdens of the house while you read the Sunday newspaper and then went out.
I am your husband and your children and you stamped and huffed and gave us your cold silent treatment for three and a half long hours after Mass. You blackened and deadened the whole atmosphere of our home.
I am your mother and father and you have ignored and mocked and criticised and tortured as only a teenager knows how.
I am your teenage son whom you’ve lost belief in and your nagging is driving me crazy.
I am your next door neighbour whom you spend so much time gossiping about and criticizing.
I am your fellow parishioner whom you meet every day in the street and you ignore me, busy about your own concerns.
And it sickens me, all the coldness, all the squabbling and division and those endless running battles that scourge me and crown me with thorns. And then you pierce my side at Holy Communion with your empty words of love.
If you love me, feed my sheep, my starving sheep, and start in your own home.
Please don’t keep me at bay any longer.
Don’t talk to me. Listen.
I don’t want you to go on loving my spirit and ignoring my body. I don’t want you to open your mouth to receive my body and close your eyes and ears to shut it out.
When will you understand that you cannot have Holy Communion with me if you don’t have communion with your brothers and sisters in your own family and parish?
Stop thinking of me as some kind of spiritual being in the skies. I am one with these people and you cannot have me without them.
On the last day, I won’t ask you how many times you went to Mass – that is not your holiness. I will ask how your own family and neighbours fared, how your spouse and children grew in love and faith.
How did they live their Mass?
Please. Open your eyes and ears. Stop, look and listen, and make time for me by making time for them.

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP


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The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don’t know how it first came to be celebrated.
Its origin is lost in those days when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city, at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). By then it had been a pagan city for two centuries, ever since Emperor Hadrian (76-138) had leveled it around the year 135 and rebuilt it as <Aelia Capitolina> in honor of Jupiter.

For 200 years, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city, and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.
After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the “Tomb of Mary,” close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.
On the hill itself was the “Place of Dormition,” the spot of Mary’s “falling asleep,” where she had died. The “Tomb of Mary” was where she was buried.

At this time, the “Memory of Mary” was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.
For a time, the “Memory of Mary” was marked only in Palestine, but then it was extended by the emperor to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the “Falling Asleep” (“Dormitio”) of the Mother of God.
Soon the name was changed to the “Assumption of Mary,” since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that she had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven.

That belief was ancient, dating back to the apostles themselves. What was clear from the beginning was that there were no relics of Mary to be venerated, and that an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem near the site of her death. That location also soon became a place of pilgrimage. (Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.)

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.”
In the eighth century, St. John Damascene was known for giving sermons at the holy places in Jerusalem. At the Tomb of Mary, he expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.”

4th Advent Mary and the Angel

All the feast days of Mary mark the great mysteries of her life and her part in the work of redemption. The central mystery of her life and person is her divine motherhood, celebrated both at Christmas and a week later (Jan. 1) on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) marks the preparation for that motherhood, so that she had the fullness of grace from the first moment of her existence, completely untouched by sin. Her whole being throbbed with divine life from the very beginning, readying her for the exalted role of mother of the Savior.

The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God’s crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.

The feast days of the Church are not just the commemoration of historical events; they do not look only to the past. They look to the present and to the future and give us an insight into our own relationship with God. The Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.

The prayer for the feast reads: “All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory.”

In 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution <Munificentissimus Deus>, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church in these words: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.”
With that, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.

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Prayers of Intercession
Leader: In the assumption of Mary into heaven,
we see the glory that God calls us to share.
As we celebrate the mighty deeds
that God’s love accomplished in her,
we confidently ask God to hear our prayers.
1. That the church, like Mary,
will rejoice to share Christ’s victory
over death,
let us pray to the Lord:
2. That world leaders
will ensure that their countries’ might
and wealth
are used for peace and not for war,
let us pray to the Lord:
3. That those who lift up the spirits
of the poor, the homeless, and the oppressed
will never lose hope in the saving power
of God,
let us pray to the Lord:
4. That we who celebrate this Eucharist
will imitate Mary’s example of trust and love,
let us pray to the Lord:
5. That those who have died,
especially ___________ and ___________,
will find everlasting joy in God their Savior,
let us pray to the Lord:
6. Let us remember our own intentions.
[pause for silent prayer]
For these, let us pray to the Lord:
Leader: Mary’s God and our God,
you have blessed us with the gift of your beloved Son
and his most-holy mother.
Look with favor upon our prayers
for your continued blessings.
Grant that we, like Mary,
proclaim your greatness in all that you accomplish for us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Researched by Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia


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19th Sunday Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY.


Jesus speaking with disciples

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus takes off the gloves, as it were, and he confronts his listeners with the stark truth of why he has come, and what they must do to benefit from what he offers them. Most of today’s gospel has Jesus speaking, as if he has listened to their debating and rationalising long enough. However, it is very important to remember that the fourth Gospel was written at least some sixty years after the Resurrection of Jesus, hence it would seem that today’s Gospel is a pretty good reflection on how ‘the Way’ ( the first name given to followers of Christ) were understanding the Christ of Faith by the time that this was written.

Loaves and Fishes plate images (1)

A couple of weeks ago we saw the miracle of the loaves and fish, which paved the way for an understanding of the Eucharist. It would appear that Jesus had got their attention and their interest. They asked him in last week’s gospel, ‘What does God want us to do?’ and they seemed interested enough to listen to the answer. But in today’s story, once again Jesus began to speak about a personal God, a God among them, a God who was no longer in the Holy of Holies within the Temple or in the burning bush; but the people closed their ears, and became inflexible once more. Again we hear the echoes of Ps 95 Verse 8 ‘If, today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.’ This Psalm was well known by the people of Israel. We in modern times pray that Invitatory Psalm most mornings.


Jesus got straight to the point when he said that he was speaking about pure gift. Even the desire to come to him, to listen to him, to respond to him was a gift from the Father. It had nothing whatsoever to do with religious practice of the time, it was a whole New Covenant, and compared to the inflexibility of the Old Covenant they had inherited, this was a radical change! Jesus had come in person to teach them, to lead them, to nourish and save them. They had a decision to make. They were either for him or against him.

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Before we move on, we must pay attention to the implications of what Jesus said in the opening part of today’s reading, because it gives us a deeper understanding of another underpinning statement made by Jesus which really got their shackles up. Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from Heaven.” We can easily miss the direct import of the words, ‘I am’. In the Greek text we would know exactly what the implications are, so not to hold you in suspense any longer….’I am’ is the Divine Name. In other words…YHWH. The Bread; what does that imply? Manna for sure, but what is the translation of the word MANNA? God’s Mercy and Goodness. Jesus, the human face of the Father! Wow! Now look at the claim of Jesus and why this caused such a response among His critics? But we must not forget that this Gospel was written about 100AD; therefore plenty of time had been given to the question, who was Jesus Christ?

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As we look back through history and explore the varied responses to the all-powerful Word of Jesus, we can easily say that the faces have changed but the message remains the same. We see here in this teaching from Jesus that by and large it was falling on deaf ears. What caused this? Was it the humanity of Jesus, ‘the son of Joseph’ which automatically closed off the creative options in their minds, because it was too good to be true? It would seem that fixed minds have been the stumbling blocks for many people throughout the ages, and they still are today! So fixed, that even the greatest miracles do not enable a flexible response, and in this case, it was directly to Jesus the Word made flesh. Together with fixed minds goes blindness; the inability to see God’s power to save, linked with judgements based on helplessness. The end result; many walked away from Jesus! As John’s Gospel later tells us, many of them rejected it, walked away, and no longer followed him.’ John 6:60-61.

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We probably do not walk away from Jesus, but we can easily be so comfortable within inflexible mindsets that we can run the risk of not being fully open to the Lord through prayer, in response to His Word, and the consequences of receiving Holy Communion. Sometimes my mind quivers somewhat when I hear and see instances where some Leaders in the Church are so black and white, with a touch of arrogance when dealing with greyish human problems. It can be comfortable and tidy to think that one has the whole truth, rather than listening to the truth in humility as manifested in ‘the poor of the Lord’.

Job 1

Within this deep Gospel, there is something else which the First Reading from the Old Testament reminds us…..namely the need for food and nourishment for the journey. As we saw in the First Book of Kings……Elijah while on his journey was famished! He said……’Lord, I have had enough and he wished he were dead’. Oh my goodness, I bet that we have all felt like that in our Christian Journey………..however, fortified by the bread and water, Elijah woke up to a new day and kept going.

14th Sunday year A Harbour hotel

There is another speed hump in believing that Jesus is The Word made flesh, dwelling in His Spirit among us…….and that is Lethargy! Many people could not really care less about God, or God’s Word of the presence of God in our world. Our commercial, high tech’ living can rob us of the time to ‘be still and know God.’ Over the many years of Ministry in and among God’s people, Death and the Funeral can be the stopping point! It can be so terribly uncomfortable for many, because Death involves and will involve all of us. The ‘be still and know God’ moment often happens prior to a loved one dying, at death, and then in the Funeral. These days we can easily take death for granted; we see in nearly every night on the Television News. Death, killing and horrible suffering sell ratings. However, when the sting of death, enters us, it has the power to make us STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN to what is life all about.

Over 45 years I have heard more Eulogies than I have had Baked Lamb Dinners! I have often wondered if the person in the Coffin had in their life time heard one quarter of what had been said about them. Just as it is vitally important to reflect back to people while they are alive of their wholesomeness, so it is also vitally important to ‘be still and know God’. To be open and wanting to listen about Jesus who is not some distant person walking around the district of Palestine. No, it is about tuning it to the frequency of the mystery of God’s presence and influence on us. To know from human experience that ‘in death, life is changed, not ended.’ To be aware that many animals are also aware of the death of their loved ones, and upon reflection knew instinctively that their ‘beloved’ has gone to God’s embrace. Just as we are on the ‘look out’ for the new iPad or iPhone and can’t live without it…… to if we had that energy for Jesus our Bread of Life and desperately wanting to know everything our high Teck’ gadget can offer us, as we listen meditatively to God’s Word and digest it……we would have more ‘healthy spirituality’ to walk with our sisters and brothers every day.

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Hence we can be like the people in today’s Gospel. God is always doing a new deed, hence we are invited to ‘Go and be Jesus, and live what we have heard, seen and partaken at the Eucharistic table.’

Our Prayers of Intercession

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Leader: We turn now to our God in heaven who hears all our prayers and grants our needs.

+For all members of the Church to come to know Jesus better through their participation in the Eucharist. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+For all peoples of the world that they seek God with all their hearts. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+For those whose lives are characterised by grumbling and murmuring, that they might experience joy in coming to know God. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+That each of us here may give to others the gift of our self-giving. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+For the poor and suffering people on the Indonesian Island of Lombok; grant that neighbouring Nations will come to their help. We pray to the Lord. : Lord, graciously hear us.

+ For our Island nation, Australia, grant that the Drought be broken very soon, and that fellow Australians will continue to support, love and befriend our people in this sun burnt country. We pray to the Lord. Lord, graciously hear us.

+Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and iPads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Leader: God in heaven, you draw us to yourself and desire that we have eternal life with you: hear these our prayers and help our unbelief. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

img_f0134512aa1 World Cross


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19th Sunday of Year B 2018. A Biblical Reflection on the Readings from Fr.Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY


‘Elijah got up and ate and drank [the food and drink provided by God], and strengthened by that food walked for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.’

Sinai pensula thHXB43XDS

People of God, you and I are familiar with Holy Communion. We receive it when we are healthy. We receive it when we are sick. Today, in the light of the Scripture readings, and especially the sentence just quoted from our First Reading, I would like to speak to you about receiving Holy Communion when we are dying. This is to speak of receiving Jesus Christ as viaticum, i.e. as food for the journey to the other side of life, receiving him as food that will empower us to reach that mountain of God which we call ‘heaven’.


The term ‘viaticum’ means ‘food for the journey’ (literally and exactly, it means ‘on the way with you’). Originally, viaticum was not a Christian word. In the ancient pagan world of the Greeks and the Romans, it was either a farewell banquet or money given for a journey. It came to be applied to the last journey of dying persons. For that journey, a coin was placed in their mouths to pay the fare to the ferryman Charon for rowing the deceased across the river Styx to the company of gods and heroes. The early Christians adapted these pagan ideas and practices. For believers, the Eucharist became a farewell nourishment for the journey to heaven, a pledge of eternal life, and an assurance of resurrection.

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In the Middle Ages and up to Vatican II, confession and forgiveness of sins, viaticum, and anointing (as extreme unction or last anointing) were given in a continuous ritual for the dying. Since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the Church no longer speaks of ‘extreme unction’. The emphasis in the Church today is on viaticum as the sacrament for the dying. The Church’s prayer-book for the sick and the dying insists: ‘The sacrament of the anointing of the sick should be celebrated at the beginning of a serious illness. Viaticum, celebrated when death is close, will then be understood as the last sacrament of Christian life’ (#175). Viaticum is the ultimate provision for Christians on their way to their eternal destiny, their final homecoming. The Church says it signifies ‘that the Christian follows the Lord to eternal glory and the banquet of the heavenly kingdom’. Since the Eucharist is a pledge of the resurrection, the words used after giving viaticum are these: ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life.’

Bread 8

The value of viaticum for the dying Christian is illustrated in words of Jesus in today’s gospel: ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever…’ Those words of Jesus are echoed by St Ignatius of Antioch calling the Eucharist ‘the medicine of immortality, that antidote that results not in dying, but in living forever in Jesus Christ’.

Many indications in the Church’s revised official prayer book for the sick and dying suggest that viaticum should be given some time before the final agony of death, when the dying are in full possession of their senses. The preferred setting is within the full celebration of the Eucharist, which is to include the renewal of the promises of baptism, the sign of peace – in which all who have come together embrace the dying Christian – and then Holy Communion under the signs of both bread and wine. Viaticum may be repeated as long as the danger of death continues. The most appropriate time for viaticum may well be when the dying Christian has reached that stage which Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross, expert on the stages of dying, has called the stage of ‘acceptance’.

In revising its celebration of the sacraments for the sick and the dying the Church has shown a double concern: – 1. to ensure the presence to the dying of the praying Church, and 2. to help the dying person complete the Christian life on earth.

It helps to remember that Jesus was frightened by the nearness of his death. He asked for the comfort of his friends to watch one hour with him. He prayed with a certain desperation: ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want’ (Mt 26:39). It’s a Christian responsibility to help a dying brother or sister through the loneliness of their last days and moments on earth. This is particularly true of family, relatives, and close friends.

When my mother was dying in Melbourne in 1991, the biggest consolation I received was the news that my brother Passionist Tom McDonough had rushed from Templestowe to Mum’s death-bed, and gave her viaticum, and the news of how Mum struggled to respond to all the Church’s prayers as she was passing over to eternal life.

When the time comes for my last moments on earth, will I be wanting viaticum as food for my journey to God? You bet I will. When the time comes for your last moments on earth, will you be wanting viaticum as food for your journey to God? I certainly hope so.

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Brian Gleeson special photo

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18th Sunday Year B 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. Jesus, our Bread of life.

Corpus Christi Chalice

Last week we heard about the multiplication of the loaves and fish. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tries to teach the people about the eternal food He is offering them. He answers a very core and central question, which they put to Him … ‘What does God want us to do?’
Looking at the question, it’s a very simple yet very essential one. However, the answer is much more important. ‘This is what God wants you to do: To believe in the one he has sent.’ The answer is about faith which leads to action, otherwise, it remains up in the head, as mere knowledge. It’s not faith to know that Jesus is God … even the Devil knows that much, but that doesn’t change things. Faith dwells within the heart and is often in our feet as we step out in faith. It’s in our eyes as we look at others in Christ’s way. Faith is in our ears as we listen to our sisters and brothers and it is on our tongues as we speak to one another.

Bread 9

Last week I touched on the subject of Faith when I said ‘it seems that Our Lord’s under-`standing of FAITH had a lot to do with VISION: in other words, seeing the saving hand of God in and through the SIGNS given to us in everyday life’. However, before we go any further there is a prerequisite within ourselves……’Are we interested in looking for the SIGNS?’ In the first Reading today from the Book of Exodus, God’s people had to get out of bed and collect the Manna that had been deposited on the Bushes in the early hours of the morning. They had to do something, because they wanted that nourishment. Do we want that special nourishment from the Bread of God’s Word, the Bread of Sacrament? As we continue to look at the message within the Gospel, it’s so simple that we can run the risk of complicating it! It is a simple message for very complicated people. If we could become less complicated, our ability to accept and believe the Gospel would become so much easier. For instance; when Jesus speaks about eternal life, He says simply … ‘which I, the Son of Man, can give you.’ In other words, we don’t need a map or GPS to search for it. We know where it is and where and how to get it. The fitting words of James McAuley in his Hymn In Faith and Hope and Love underlines this point, ‘Christ, our star our map our road, to the Father’s high abode.’ GA 442.

Jesus speaking with disciples

The people asked Jesus to give them that bread every day of their lives. The response given by Jesus is mind blowing; ‘I am the bread of life!’ In the prayer He taught them – the Our Father – they were told to ask for their daily bread. Hence the Celebration of the Eucharist is the central action of worship for the Christian Community alongside with God’s Living Word in the Scriptures.

Mass 8

The Church has underlined time and time again and for a very good reason, why we should come to Mass on the Lord’s Day. The Celebration of the Eucharist is the highlighted time for us to gather as the living body of Christ, to listen and absorb the Bread of God’s Word, and receive the Bread of life in Holy Communion. It’s then that we are strengthened to go forth and ‘LIVE’ what we have received as an active response to God’s loving nourishment freely given to us. Hence, faith and action go hand in hand.

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Finally, in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for daily bread – not yesterday’s bread. Do we take the opportunity of seeking the Bread of life through daily prayer … in reflective reading from the Scriptures … responding sensitively to the Christ in one another. It’s all about seeing, believing and doing. But there is even more! In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’ So the Mission of all Christians, thus fortified with the Bread of God’s Word and the Bread of Communion is to go out and through words, actions and thoughts, to bring Heaven to Earth!

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JESUS, OUR BREAD OF LIFE: 18TH SUNDAY B, 2018. A Biblical Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia

A Biblical Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia

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‘Food, glorious food …!’ Among the most popular shows on television are those about food. ‘Masterchef’, ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and Jamie Oliver’s cooking demonstrations draw large TV audiences. Many more people than so-called ‘foodies’ are drawn to them. The sheer number of fans tells me that there is a widespread and ongoing fascination with food – getting it, cooking it, and eating it. It’s not that most of us live to eat. Rather, it’s because we eat to live, and maybe just sometimes because we love to eat, that such shows are so appealing.

Over one hundred years ago, Nicolai Berdyaev, a Christian Russian philosopher, made this wise comment about bread: ‘Bread for myself is a material matter; bread for other people is a spiritual matter.’ I think that just about sums up the attitude of Jesus too in his teaching today. Only the day before has he fed the people on the far side of the lake with more bread than they can eat. But they are not satisfied, for on the very next day they return to him at his base in Capernaum, expecting another generous hand-out. So he challenges them: ‘You have seen,’ he says in effect, ‘wonderful things. You have seen how the goodness of God enabled a big crowd to be fed. Your thoughts ought to have turned to the God who did these things. Instead, all you are thinking about is yourselves, and filling your bellies with bread.’

His point was that they were interested only in physical satisfaction. On the famous ladder of human needs first identified by Abraham Maslow in 1943, they are clinging to the bottom rung of the ladder – bodily needs. But what about those higher needs higher up the ladder? How can a hearty meal and a full stomach replace e.g., belonging to others and being connected to others in loving relationships? Being approved, respected, and esteemed by others? Exploring, knowing and understanding the truth in facts and faith? Encountering and savouring order and beauty everywhere? And most of all realizing our potential to be everything we can be for the service of others and for a better world?

Most of all Jesus wants to lead these seekers (and outselves too) to ‘work for the food that endures for eternal life’, for the bread that lasts and which God is offering. Jesus spells out just what that food is. It’s nothing less than a personal, interpersonal, life-giving and everlasting relationship with himself. He sums this up in powerful words, and especially in these:
1. ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ 2. ‘Very truly, I tell you … the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ 3. ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’

His first hearers eagerly ask for this bread – ‘always’, they say – but they don’t understand what this bread really is. Jesus, the man standing before them, is himself the bread. In the way he lives, loves and dies for them, they are meant to see the face of God, entering into an intimate relationship with them.

Surely this gospel speaks strongly to us as well. But it also reminds us that there is some difference between knowing Jesus personally and simply knowing about him. To know Jesus personally is to respond to his person and message, to share our lives with him, to follow him, and as a result, to change our lives and become better people, more human and humane people. This is the knowledge that involves an experience of his presence, friendship with him, trust and prayer.

But the knowledge which comes from an inter-personal relationship with him gives rise to a desire, and perhaps even a yearning and a hunger, to know more about him, to learn more about his beliefs, his values, and how he lived his life. Faith in him, then, is a matter of both the head and the heart. When we hear or read about him, we also expect to meet him in the voices we hear and in the pages we read. But we do not seek a Jesus hidden behind the texts but a Jesus shown to us inside the texts, and most expecially in the selected Readings about him Sunday after Sunday at church.

But the challenge remains to keep discovering how this great man from the distant past is also in significant ways one of us, and therefore very real and relevant. So much so, that as the song from the stage show Godspell has it, a song that echoes the prayer of St Richard of Chichester, we would want to keep praying for three things. These three, as the song puts it, are to ‘see him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day’.

Let’s keep taking up that challenge!

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

Brian Gleeson