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6th Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A Homelitec reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. BEING TRUE TO OURSELVES AND OTHERS.

 BEING TRUE TO OURSELVES AND OTHERS.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Holy Spirits gifts

Truth matters. So much so that Jesus says to us today: ‘I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive…’ (Jn 14: 16-17a).

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There’s a well-known saying: ‘Honesty is the best policy!’ I tend to agree. Some time ago, I saw a very touching movie, one of the best I’ve ever seen, called Secrets and Lies. It’s about a white woman who gave birth to a black daughter, and who was kept from seeing and sharing with her daughter all through her growing-up years. The story unfolds and undoes the secrets and lies that had kept mother and daughter strangers to each other during that long time.

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The movie illustrates just how much the truth matters. So we want the facts and nothing but the facts, we call for truth in politics and truth in advertising, and in a court of law, we are expected to swear to the truth of what we say – ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’. We experience more and more protesters calling on us to ‘speak truth to power’, in both civil society and the Church.

The actual facts tend to speak for themselves. Just as important as sticking to the facts and telling it like it is, however, is to be known and valued as honest, sincere, genuine, trust-worthy people, who don’t deceive, mislead, or cover-up. Experience too tells us that to sustain and develop our relationships, openness, honesty, and transparency are not simply optional but absolutely necessary.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Truth 2

It’s also a fact of life that we human beings cannot cope with too much reality. So we don’t take kindly to anyone blurting out our faults and failings to our faces, attacking and abusing us, even though they may be telling the unvarnished truth. For the sake of our self-esteem and self-respect, something more is needed than just telling the truth to another. That something more is courtesy and politeness, patience and gentleness, understanding and tact. While deep down we want to face the truth for the sake of our integrity, we will take it much more readily from those who show they are on our side – people who care about us, people who support us.

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What’s all this got to do with the teaching of Jesus today? A great deal, I suggest. Jesus, who has just called himself ‘the truth’, as well as ‘the way’ and ‘the life’, is telling his friends, ourselves among them, that he has to go away. That’s the plain truth. But some day he will come back to earth, and his followers will see him again. That’s the second truth he tells. He goes on to share a third truth. For the time in-between, he is sending us the Holy Spirit, his second self, to be our adviser, mediator, advocate and support.

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Holy Spirit Brian

We rejoice, then, that the same Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who was the source of Jesus’ own honesty, truthfulness and integrity, is given to us and stays with and among us. Unless, of course, we deliberately decide to be ‘people of the lie’ – an expression of the writer F. Scott Peck – living lives of spin, hypocrisy and deception! To illustrate! The Nestle food company recently claiming that the gift of water belongs to corporations and not to the whole human race! The slogan of those clamouring for abortion on demand – ‘my life, my body, my choice’! The advocates of so-called ‘clean coal’! The ‘trickle-down’ theory of free market economics! The recent line – or is it a lie? – that 65 billion dollars of company tax cuts will benefit low and middle income earners, and not just company millionaires! The problematic claim of our National Anthem that ‘for those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share’! True for some, no doubt, but not for all! Definitely not true for those thousands of human beings who arrived by boat seeking protection from persecution in their homelands, but who today find themselves languishing in indefinite offshore detention!

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Go tell the world

That same Spirit of Jesus that animated him ‘to go about doing good’ (Acts 10:38) and only good, is available to us 24/7 to empower us to be as truthful as Jesus. Jesus is also assuring us today that the Spirit of truth given to us is also the Spirit of love, empowering us to also imitate Jesus in the ways he communicated the truth. This was not only in straight-forward ways, but also with courtesy, politeness and gentleness, along with patience, understanding and tact.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Holy Spirits presents

For that gift of Jesus to us of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of love, given for our day-to-day dealings with our fellow-human beings, let us give thanks in the rest of our prayer together today! And let us pray that when we need to speak the truth to others, including speaking truth to power, that supported and guided by the Holy Spirit, we will always speak it without fear or favour, as well as with respect and love, care and concern!

6th Sunday after Easter year A God's purposes

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Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

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3rd Sunday after Easter, Year A, 2017. A Biblical Reflection on this Readings by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia.

 LEAVING THE CHURCH OR STAYING?

3rd Sunday after Easter Year A decisions

For many of us life is a series of changes. Some of these are forced upon us, others freely chosen. We decide, for example, to move to a new suburb, look for a new job, replace our old car with a new model, go on a diet, enrol the children in a different school, or support a particular charity. When we make such decisions we usually expect that the changes will work out, and that our lives will be so much better and happier. But things don’t always turn out as planned. A wise proverb puts it this way: ‘Man proposes but God disposes!’ Sometimes, in fact, all our efforts to change situations for the better bring only failure and frustration, disappointment and disillusionment.

3rd Sunday after Easter year A Question mark

This is just what has happened to those two disciples with the sad faces whom we meet in our gospel today. To their credit they have previously responded to the invitation of Jesus to be his friends and workmates. They have learned from him a great deal about the meaning of life. They have shared his work of teaching and healing. They have enjoyed his company and done a great deal of good to others. As the influence of Jesus has spread, they have been filled with hope for a better world – a ‘kingdom’ one of justice, peace, and joy for everyone.

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Now, however, this has all come to an abrupt end. For in these past few days Jesus, their beloved Leader and Teacher, has been arrested, tried, sentenced, tortured and killed. Right now they are feeling that without his presence, his inspiration and guidance, his support and encouragement, they simply cannot go on. So disappointed and disillusioned are they, in fact, about the fate of Jesus that they have actually decided to leave the community of his followers, the Church. This is just what they are doing when we catch up with them today. Slowly but surely they are walking away from it all. Slowly but surely they are putting Jerusalem and the other disciples further and further behind them. We find them instead heading to the village of Emmaus, some seven miles away, in the hope of starting there a new chapter of their lives.

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But as they trudge along the road, with their eyes cast down and their shoulders hunched, they can’t help chatting to each other about all that has happened. It’s precisely within this situation of disappointed hopes and broken dreams that all of a sudden Jesus himself joins them, although they don’t recognise him at first. This time he re-enters their lives, no longer simply as Jesus of Nazareth, but as the Risen Lord, powerful and empowering! They answer his every question with the basic facts. They add that they have even heard a rumour that he is no longer dead but alive. Yet while they state the basic facts about him, they have no idea how to join the dots. They desperately need Jesus to explain to them from the Scriptures that the Messiah would reach victory and glory only through the path of acute suffering. So influential and impressive is his explanation of the facts that later we find them saying to each other: ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road…?’

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By now the sun is setting and they’ve reached their destination. Jesus pretends to go on. They have enjoyed his company so much that they plead with him to stay with them. He graciously accepts their invitation. There at table their guest becomes their host. He takes bread, says the blessing over it, breaks the bread, and gives it to them. Just as he did at the Last Supper! There and then they recognise him as he was for them then, but even more as he is for them now.

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So moved are they by the impact of meeting him as Jesus raised from the dead, that there and then they reverse their previous decision. They turn right round and go walking back to the other disciples in Jerusalem. They go home to the Church they have so recently left.

3rd Sunday after Easter year A Questions

In recent years there have been big changes to the image and reputation of the Church. Some people have struggled to understand what has happened, the how and the why. Others have been in denial about the Church’s sins, weakness and wounds. Others have bravely soldiered on through it all, while working harder for a better, a more authentic, a more Jesus-like way of being Church. Some, broken-hearted, have simply walked out, perhaps permanently.

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What we all need in these times of let-down and discouragement is stronger faith, stronger faith in the on-going presence of the Risen Lord to his Church, and as he acts through his Spirit, his second self. We need this stronger faith and the hope and love that go with it, especially when we come together at the Eucharist to celebrate his presence and influence.

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Our Risen Lord is with us right here right now today, in ways that match his presence to his disciples on the way to Emmaus. He is here in the midst of our gathering. He is here as he tells his story and ours in the readings and the homily. And very shortly he will be here among us again in our Eucharistic meal of bread and wine. We look to him, as both our host and nourishment, to keep empowering us for the next stages of our journeys of life. ‘Stay with us,’ is our prayer to him, over and over again.

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May we welcome him among us, then, with trust and love, and with our minds and hearts and lives open to his powerful influence! May we embrace him as he comes to us with his mighty power and his outstretched loving arms!
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Brian Gleeson special photo

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3rd Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. WITHIN CONVERSATION THE LORD OFTEN SURPRISES US.

 WITHIN CONVERSATION THE LORD OFTEN SURPRISES US.

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There is nothing better than to have a good conversation with a friend about something that bothers us. These days, we generally do it over a cup of Coffee, accompanied by a couple of lovely Hot Doughnuts with a generous dusting of Cinnamon Sugar.

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However, Doughnuts and Coffee is not always the appropriate scene for some conversations, especially when we are dealing with a confusing, tragic and confounding situation in which the two Disciples are depicted in today Gospel….a reflective walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus! (About 7 miles!) Once again, while we read the Gospel, we don’t do it to obtain facts, we read it slowly, reflectively and with curiosity, so that we try not miss anything! The strange thing is, we always miss something, and the next time that we reflectively read the Scriptures, something else will pop out at us, because the Scriptures are the ever green Word of God.

Keeping that in mind, we don’t need to examine it like a Geologist reading every layer in a sedimentary rock shelf……it is not a clinical read, it is a ‘burning’ read! Let’s hang on to that description, because we will savour it a bit later on in this realhomilie.

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Now, as I have suggested before, let’s go deep sea diving into the Scriptures: Notice that it was two Disciples who were on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus…..How many miles from Jerusalem? Seven! So, as these two friends of Jesus are on a journey from Jerusalem…..let’s pick up on the seven miles! In Biblical reading, we need to be curious about symbolism, because it has been written using various literary forms of the day, and with Biblical tradition behind it. What else has happened in Biblical terms using the number seven? Well, seven is seen as the perfect number in Scripture, and remember that creation took seven days, and on the first day of the new week…God rested. No he was not worn out because of all the creating, God paused, God reflected upon the unfolding mystery of creation, in short God gazed!!!!! We all gaze from time to time. After I have mowed the lawn, I stand back and gaze: I’m not patting myself on the back for such a nice job, I am gazing at the beauty of the lawn, and the surrounding garden and taking it all in. I bet that there are lots of ‘life events’ in which you ‘gaze’ as well. We gaze at a new born baby, we gaze on our loved one taking their last breath. Let’s fortify that contemplative element, because it continues to make us into thankful human beings; in short, Eucharistic people.

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So, with these two Disciples, a new creation is about to happen in them, and the catalyst will be Jesus. In their walk, they were deeply involved in reflective conversation about what had been happening to Jesus in recent days, and what other people were saying about these events. As was the custom in those days, if other people were walking in the same direction, they would catch up and chat with them along the way…..that’s a beautiful thing to do. However, nowadays, if I was to do that in Sydney or you were to do it where ever you live in the world, we would be probably arrested by the Police!

16th Sunday B

As we journey along together in conversation with each other, about ‘deep down things’, the Lord often walks with us, and sometimes we are not really aware of Him. In the midst of our confusion, agitation and sense of dilemma, the Lord asks us questions to help us to clarify matters. In this case, the two disciples did not recognise that it was Jesus, and that is a didactic tool used here in the Scriptures, because the real awakening and realisation as to how the stranger will be recognised takes place after another important event which will happen at their destination. The content of their conversation with the hidden Lord, is fantastic! They could really empty their minds and hearts to Him, just as we can do the same…..Jesus wants to hear from us! He is not one of those people who tells you the answer to the question before you have asked the question!!!!

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The Disciples were able to tell the stranger, who was slowly becoming a friend to them, all their hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams for Israel……God’s Children. Then they speak about the confounding words of the women who had been to the empty tomb, and the Angel of the Lord had prompted them to know that He was alive!
The next part of the Gospel really can blow our minds. Jesus tells them outright, that they were on the wrong track……yes, they were on the right track in going this way to Emmaus, but they were on the wrong track about ‘getting’ the real message and mission of Jesus. Here, it is important from us to realise that so often, WE ARE the two disciples on the road to the Emmaus! We are sometimes on the wrong track and have to listen and really hear the message from Jesus, in order to ‘wake up’ that Jesus IS the human face of the Father, and that He walks with us in His living Body – the Church. Furthermore, when it comes to Jesus knowing us, we can never be lost in the crowd!

3rd Sunday after Easter year A 15

You know that being with friends in solid conversation, times flies…..it was the same for the two disciples. They had ‘warmed’ to Jesus and they pressed him to partake of their hospitality! But, it turned out to be Our Lord’s hospitality within ‘the breaking of the bread’ that their eyes were ‘opened’. As we go back through the Scriptures, many times the eyes of people were ‘opened’ they could then see things clearly, they could then see that the saving hand of God was alive and at work in Jesus, and that experience of Salvation invigorated, renewed and enabled them through the power of the Spirit, to go out and live, what they had experienced, and proclaim the message, that the Kingdom of God is near.

3rd Sunday after Easter Year A 11

After the elusive Jesus vanishes from their midst, his seeming absence enabled the two Disciples, the early Church and us today, to carefully reflect on what had happened. In fact this is a ‘gazing time’ for the two disciples, to savour the Risen Lord’s presence, guidance and future sustenance through ‘the breaking of bread’, the Eucharistic Meal. Within their reflective moments, the disciples were able to say, ‘Did not our hearts, burn within us, as he unravelled the Scriptures for us?’ This question is for all time! We have all experienced that ‘burning’ within us during our life. In terms of our Christian Spirituality, it is the result and action that defies clinical proof. Why? Because we just know it! Look at the times in your life as I look at mine when we recall those ‘special’ moments, as we brush along the membrane which is that fine veil between Heaven and Earth. We can return to those moments at any time we like, and we should do that as part of our Review of Life. The result will not be a warm fuzzy feeling, but more importantly, that grace enables us to help and walk with others on the road of life towards our Heavenly Father. I believe that ‘spiritual sensitivity and wholesome living’ is the bi product of ‘graced moments’ of encounters with the Lord, the Saints, and our own Saints, our dearly departed. We must remember that we are but a breath away from them. We ought to be alert to the possible times of pressing against the membrane between Heaven and Earth, but also to be Christ within our sisters and brothers, so that their hearts may burn within them, as they too recall and re member, those moments of grace. The word re member is a powerful word, it means to ‘bring back into mind’ which speaks of a real presence of mind, not the recall of our 5 times tables; my pet Parrot could do that better than me. Therefore, to remember in the Biblical sense, is to bring back together in a ‘real presence’ which is non clinical, but real, and it burns within us! It is a human, spiritual experience, which conversations through Text messages, Twitter and the like are on the wrong track for a complete understanding of this revelation……we need to be one to one, or within a conversational group, so that all aspects of our communication skills can be on alert and in tune, emoji’s won’t deliver the depth of meaning.

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Finally, we all love to share good news, it’s in our human nature. See, the two disciples were the same…..they raced back to confirm what they had heard earlier, and what they had experienced in recognising the Lord as the unseen companion, the Breaker of the Bread, and the One who always walks with God’s people.

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I would like to conclude with a short yet powerful reflection from the Glenstal Bible Missal, Third Sunday after Easter year A, Page 293.
‘We thank God our Father, for his Son, Jesus Christ. When the Father offered him the cup of bitter suffering he opened for him the way to life. We share in the cup of that Son’s death, may our hearts burn within us as he talks to us on the way.’

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Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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Easter Sunday, 2017. A Biblical Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. EASTER LIGHT AND JOY, HOPE AND CHALLENGE.

EASTER LIGHT AND JOY, HOPE AND CHALLENGE.

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When the Easter Vigil starts it tends to be totally dark, except for the light coming from the fire burning at the entrance to the church. One year a little girl grasped her mother’s hand tightly, looked up and said: ‘Mummy, why is it so dark?’ Her mother thought for a while and then she answered: ‘To remind us what the world would have been like if Jesus had not been raised from the dead.’

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Just two days ago you and I were remembering the sufferings and death of Jesus our Saviour. As we looked at his crucified body with sorrow, love and gratitude, we came face to face with the dark side of human nature that led his enemies to torture and humiliate him before killing him on the rough wood of a cross. On that black day in Jerusalem, the capacity of human beings to hate, hurt and harm one another went completely out of control.

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Good Friday found us wondering over and over again: Why was this good man, this innocent man, this man with so much humanity and compassion, so much honesty and integrity, so much warmth and generosity, violated, humiliated, tortured and murdered?

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The motives which led his enemies to persecute and destroy him are those which have always influenced human beings to hurt and harm one another – arrogance and pride, power-seeking and ambition, envy and jealousy, anger and fear, hatred and revenge. Good Friday has reminded us of the dark side of human nature and of its associated evils – poverty, ignorance, crime, malnutrition, hunger and disease.

Fortunately, however, this is not the whole truth. In fact, it is far from it. For if we experience so much evil we also experience an abundance of goodness. The crops keep producing food for our tables. The summer heat gives way to cooling autumn breezes. Most diseases are now curable. Tyrants are sometimes overthrown. Social reforms like pensions for the needy are here to stay. Conflicts end in reconciliation. Shaky marriages get patched up. Love survives misunderstandings, thoughtlessness, and indifference. Wars come to an end. Enemies become friends. We forgive others and are forgiven. In a word, there is goodness everywhere, more goodness than evil. Clearly the influence of the Risen Christ, which is to say the light of Easter, keeps shining upon us.

Easter 11

Yet there can be no doubt that one mighty struggle goes on between good and evil. It goes on in the material universe, in human societies, and within our own personalities. Evil even seems stronger than good. But it has not yet finally triumphed. Good is remarkably resilient. Though too often it seems to be in danger of being crushed, it manages to survive, and even to win many victories. The words of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Independent India, are so true: ‘When I despair I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but, in the end, they always fall.’ Words from our Easter Vigil Service express the same truth in an even more appealing way: ‘The power of this holy [Easter] night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy. It casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.’

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Our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that evil will not have the last say ether in us or in our world. It leaves us in no doubt about the ultimate triumph of goodness, not only in ourselves but everywhere around us.

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Jesus was buried at sunset, to all appearances a victim and a failure. But on the third day the sun came up on him alive and powerful, influential and victorious. It will be the same for us who celebrate Easter above all by renouncing and rejecting anything and everything dark and evil in our lives, and by renewing our determination to always walk with Jesus in his light. That’s why we are going to renew our baptismal promises today, and renewing them with conviction, commitment, and enthusiasm.

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Remember! We are turning our backs on evil and sin in every shape and form, and we are promising to keep following Jesus in a life of goodness and love, one shaped by his own shining example, and one sustained by his powerful presence and influence.

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Brian Gleeson special photo

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Easter Sunday, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney, Australia. Let your light shine!

 Let your light shine!

Easter 11

Easter Sunday is with us again! Is it with a sigh of relief that we have a ‘break’ at this time of the year? Has the subtle autumn morning chill this week, reminded us that times and seasons are changing? The Easter Liturgy speaks in harmony with Spring in the Northern Hemisphere; here we are ‘Down Under’in Australia celebrating new life, while the Willow leaves are starting to die, and the Liquid Amber trees are showing signs of colour changes in their leaves, before they drop to the ground.

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Resurrection implies new life! This is the gift we receive every morning when we wake up! Today is a totally different day from yesterday. Part of something being a gift is that someone gives, someone else receives, and there is no price tag attached. If there is a snag, it is that God gives me nothing for myself! If God gives me the gift of life today, it is because I can be a life-giving person to someone else. The Easter Liturgy celebrates the Father re breathing ‘life’ into His Son, and that ‘new life’ is to be shared among all people, and by all people.

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Easter is about hope; it is unthinkable that a Christian should ever entertain the ideas of hopelessness, even when we live in a world, which thrives, and makes money on bad news! North Korea and the USA snapping at each other’s feet; Syria and its complications make it extremely difficult to fathom ‘fake news’ from real tragedy! Jesus triumphed over darkness, sin and death, and in the words of St. Paul, ‘having given us Christ Jesus, will the Father not surely give us everything else?’ There is a tremendous need for people of hope in today’s world, and in today’s Church, because the doomsday prophets have never had it so good! The ongoing threats of terrorism all over the world, puts everyone on ‘edge’! St. Peter wrote these words to the early Christian community:
‘Always have an explanation to give to those who ask you the reason for the hope that you have.’ Peter had experienced, witnessed, and lived through many a failure, so his point about hope is deeply relevant. I am sure that he is not alone in this regard… no doubt, we can identify with him.

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Easter time is a reminder of our Baptismal responsibilities. We have very real signs of that within our communities in the welcoming and admission of our Elect. We are therefore reminded strongly, that we must be a community of hospitality, a community of mission, and a community of thanksgiving and joy. Underpinning all that, we are as St Paul’s says, ‘planted on love and built on love, so that together with all the Saints we will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, we are filled with the utter fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:18.

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Easter time in not a ‘one off occasion’ to celebrate Christ Our Light! Easter time always offers us an enormous challenge to everyone. Do we personally believe in the community, which we call the Church, to that point of wanting to really know, and care about each other? Or are we sometimes tempted to see the Sacramental life of the Church as some kind of Spiritual Service Station, where we fill up every now and then, tap and go? The Sacramental Community nourishes us, and we are called to nourish it by our active participation and genuine outreach to newcomers! We must be passionate about belonging to the Body of Christ which is called the Church! We must be people who can inspire and be inspired; we must be motivated and urged along, because of the love of Christ which has been freely given to us….not just for ourselves, by a long shot; but to invite, and be Christ’s loving face, in a world that frowns so often. The Passion and Cross of Jesus, is the greatest Sign of God’s love for us, according to St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists. In the Second Reading for the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, we hear the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminding us that Jesus learnt obedience through suffering and silent tears! That means that Jesus learnt to truly listen to His Father’s Will, and also to the woes and joys of God’s people. Easter is the greatest invitation to listen with our body mind and spirit to God’s Word, inviting us through Scripture, Sacramental experience and Christ’s living Body; His people; to be Christ our light! Our Liturgy must never be just cold rubrics, as though we are reading a Recipe to make a cake! Liturgy by its very nature speaks about everyone being involved in Sacramental experiences which can be understood, engaging and sustaining, so that we are then ‘sent out’ in Mission, and return next week for more nourishment with the community.

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We must be a living community which breathes Christ; and is energized by His Spirit-filled breath. We must never fall into the trap of just maintaining ‘the plant’ like that of a Corporation; we must never be smug enough to think that WE have all the answers, and are fearful of constructive conversations with all people, from all races and creeds on earth. We must never be people who think that they see God’s will only in Black and White and Mono sound! God’s will is manifested in living colour, surround sound, and in 3D.jesus-washing-feet-tht00nu9p6

Easter, invites us to be daring and confident, without being arrogant and pompous in Christ’s mission, entrusted to us as foot washers! How can anyone speak the truth in love, without listening to the truth in humility? The Easter message, by value of the very meaning of the word Easter, means that we all must be creative, innovative and spirit-filled as we grow in our Communities, and as the living body Christ, see new horizons and dream new dreams! No one can be left isolated, unwanted and devalued; we in Parish communities did not choose each other, we have been randomly placed within each other’s care, and pastoral concern, always respecting cultural norms.

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We pray that through this Easter Season, we will be stronger in our hope, lively in our love for one another, and sensitive to see, with the eyes of faith, the saving hand of God in our lives and within our community. God Bless you and your families.

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Fr Kevin Walsh
Sydney. New South Wales. Australia
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. COME, FOLLOW ME!

COME, FOLLOW ME!

Palm Sunday Holy Week

One week from today is Easter Sunday! We will celebrate the triumph of Jesus over the final enemy … death! It is only correct and just that if we wish to join in the victory, then we should enter into the struggle, which precedes it. During Lent, we have been given the opportunity to reflect upon the quality of our lives in the face of the Lenten Invitation: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. To help us in our Lenten response. The Readings for the five Sundays of Lent have given us a great deal of Food for Thought, and ample opportunity to reawaken our inner spirit to follow Christ wholeheartedly. As we said at the beginning of Lent, this is our Spiritual Training time. Any athlete who is serious about staying in good nick knows that if the training fades away, we don’t fade away…we just get bigger in body weight. The same applies to our Spiritual life, Lent is the perfect opportunity to put our Spiritual Fitness First! The rest of the year is not ‘holiday time’ it is all about keeping in practice the lessons and guidelines that we have embraced during Lent. This will help in a big way to keep us on track till next Lent.

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Today, as we receive our Blessed Palm, and give thanks and praise to God, we are given the chance to enter into the spirit of Holy Week. We can take this opportunity to walk with Jesus through this week in all its moods and complexities, and to finally rejoice in the Father’s glory when ‘life’ was re breathed into Jesus His Son: that new life which is offered to everyone which is celebrated on Easter Sunday.

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When we speak about Jesus in the Mass, for example, we use the past tense. “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life” … “By your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free”. In other words, Jesus has already completed his part of the formula for salvation; now the rest is up to us. Of course, we are not alone in this venture; the Holy Spirit is alive within God’s household. This week is a sacred time; it is up to us whether we wish to enter deeply into the spirit of it or not. The secular world is well and truly geared up for huge Easter egg sales, Hot Cross Buns, and massive attendances at the Easter Show, let alone getaway holidays, Bab B Q’s at home, and just taking it easy. The beginning and the end of these secular activities is often the $$$$ … but for us, the end of this week is New Life!

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When we enter into the Church’s Liturgy at the Easter Triduum … Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil/Sunday, this newness of life and attentiveness to God’s Mission for us can be nourished and sustained in us. If we take ‘time out’ as family and individuals to make this journey, the results will is far more lasting for us than from a Chocolate Easter Bunny or a dozen Hot Cross Buns!

Hot cross Buns

There is a time and place for celebration, but it becomes all the more worthwhile when it has been earned through solid attentiveness to Jesus, who invites us to be truly servants of each other; to be responsive to His constant invitation to be with Him in prayer; to walk the Way of the Cross; and to allow the Cross to speak to our hearts. By entering into this mystery, we can rejoice in our God who loves us into life and gives us the responsibility through our Baptism, to share it with others.

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Now is the time to plan our week! Now is decision time! There will be many inviting alternatives, which could take up our time and promise us rewards. However, this is the week of all weeks in which we as a community can be renewed through prayerfully and seriously walking the road to Calvary together … and then into the light of Resurrection.
Our reward? A greater alertness to the suffering Christ in His people today and the strength and quality to be ‘Easter People’ in a world where His Word is still to be proclaimed and heard.
May this week be a source of blessing for all of us? God Bless you all and your families and May we never forget each other in Prayer.

PRAYER REFLECTION: What Faith does?

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Some people think that if you have enough faith life will be plain sailing. But this is not so.
The fact that we can swim doesn’t prevent us from being knocked about by the waves.
In the same way faith doesn’t shield us
from the hard knocks of life or death.

What, then does faith do?
It gives us bearings, and thus enables us
to live in a fragile world
without getting lost or giving in to despair.
Just as swimmers trust that if they don’t panic,
and if they do a few simple things,
then the power of the sea will uphold them.
So believers entrust their lives
to a greater power than us all.
This power is the creative power of God,
who rebreathed new life into his Son at the moment of His Resurrection!

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Fr Kevin Walsh
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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5th Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Unbind Lazarus, and let him be free!

Unbind Lazarus, and let him be free!

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Each week as we listen to the various Gospel stories, the risk is that as they are so familiar to us, we can be blinded to the significance of the evergreen Word being proclaimed to us now. Whenever God’s Word is proclaimed, an invitation is extended to us, and our response depends on the ‘alertness’ of our minds and hearts to the activity of the Spirit within us.

Today we hear the familiar and so very touching story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. Notice that Jesus cried! As we journey through the Gospels there are many examples of Jesus being moved with emotion. Jesus sighs; Jesus is angry; Jesus loves with a heart set on fire by His Father … a heart, which reaches out, to all people in ordinary and difficult situations. Sometimes, His response causes a negative reaction among the people around Him.

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At this point we need to be totally curious about this wonderful story of Lazarus within the context of the Johannine community and their own aims an objectives in terms of Catechesis. So, let’s jump into the deep end of the pool! Lazarus……what does his name mean? The Greek name lazaros comes from the Hebrew el azar, meaning ‘God has helped’. Keeping in mind the overall intent of John and his community in the construction of this the Fourth Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as the SIGN par excellence as giver of life, when all hope is gone! The description of the exit of Lazarus from the Tomb, and the lapse of time between his burial and resurrection are surely anticipations of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We must remember that this Gospel was put together about 100 AD, so John the Evangelist and his community had the benefit of many years of reflection upon the man Jesus, and the Christ of faith, together with the Spirit filled Apostles who were living editions of The Good News.

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Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the impact of this story. The text says that Jesus LOVED Mary, Martha and Lazarus. This is manifested in a particular way when Jesus, seeing the tears of Mary and the Jews, said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from his heart; ‘where have you put him?’ Let’s ponder this for a moment or two; we all know that Jesus was turned inside out with grief….we have all suffered that kind of experience during our life….here we have the human face of God, Jesus, doing this for us! This ‘internal agony’ was to be relived again in Jesus during the vigil before his death while at prayer in the Garden. ‘Father, if it be possible, let ME experience your saving hand through the drinking of this cup!’ Once again, I refer to Jesus weeping during this ordeal with Lazarus. Let’s not forget that Jesus wept for Jerusalem before his death!!!! Even in the sight and presence of Jesus, some people were skeptical…….in other words, their faith still had to be matured, and upon the exit of Lazarus from the Tomb, they too had the opportunity of being un bound! The famous words of Jesus which echo around us eternally was….’Unbind him, let him go free’. Notice that Jesus was the Intercessor in this prayer to God. Jesus asked others to enable Lazarus to walk free! We might ask, where was he going to walk? A good question. It would seem, according to the Biblical intent, that the walking of Lazarus in freedom is what each one of us is called to do and be! We, at the intercession of Jesus, are called to unbind ourselves with others their help, and in turn, we assist in doing the same for others.

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Many of the Legal Eagles in our Lord’s time were bound up through legalities and thus had smothered the ‘life of God within in.’ others were bound up in living a life in opposite to the Covenant love of God……they were bound in another way. Surely, part of the Mission of the Church in the world is to ‘unbind people in the name of Jesus, and enable them to be free, to be faithful!

However, there seems to be a real genetic push within people, to bind up others. This is sometimes shown through some Church practices, and often straight out desiring power over others. Often the inadequacies within ourselves show their ugly faces through putting people in boxes, stamping a label on them, and putting them in a corner, all roped up! If that happens, we are the ones that are blind, we are lacking in God’s inner life, and once labeled; there is no room for change. Finally, notice that many of the people who saw this LIVING SIGN of God’s new life in Jesus, believed in Him. Conversely, when we as Intercessors of the Lord, go about unbinding others, the on lookers have a big chance of believing in the Lord. Let’s move on to looking at some further human outbursts of Jesus, and the effect that it had on others in terms of unbinding!!!

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Throughout the Gospels, Jesus does not hide His feelings. He is moved with love whenever He sees people like sheep without a shepherd … He wept over Jerusalem before His Passion. In a scream of surrender from the Cross, Jesus cried out ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ The Roman Centurion, standing at the foot of the Cross and hearing Jesus breathe His last, was brought to faith by observing that ‘This was a great and good man.’ In raising Lazarus from the tomb, Jesus was saying not only to His friend, but also to all of us … ‘Death could not bind you. I have come to bring you to life and to make you free!’ But there is more being said here in this Gospel story. We see the anguish of Mary and Martha over the death of their brother! We also see that for Jesus, their place was His home away from home! Jesus enters into the anguish of these two sisters and shares genuinely in their grief. At the same time, He challenges them to believe ‘I am the Resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will never die (eternally) Do you believe this?’ And Martha said, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, and the one who has come into the world.’ Jesus was not only putting this question to Martha, He is also putting it to us! And what will our response be? Lent is the perfect time to think this over.

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When the chips are down, faith is our great ally in facing death. It does not mean that we have all the answers or that we are absented from grief or loss. On the contrary, the walking through grief and loss and the shedding of tears, either as individuals but hopefully as a community, is necessary for our spiritual/human development. Surely, true compassion for those who suffer loss is really sharing in their suffering so that they know that they are not alone. As the famous English writer C. S. Lewis once said, ‘The greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much’. Finally, did you know that we are all called Lazarus? Well, we are! The fact that we are ‘salt of the earth and light of the world’, our relationship with God in Jesus, enables us to be all called: ‘God has helped’, because it is true! Can you remember times when Intercessors, acting in the name of Jesus have unbound you? Something to ponder as we come closer to Holy Week! Let us give thanks and praise in our Sunday Eucharist for all that God has done, is doing and will continue to do in us!

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Fr Kevin Walsh
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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