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Category Archives: Devotion to Our Lady

3rd Sunday of Lent Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. ‘I thirst for you, O Lord’. kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Here in Australia we live in a land of extremes!!! Droughts, floods, cyclones, thundering surf, gentle breezes, blue skies and warm sunshine! A sun burnt country surrounded by jewel seas! The Holy Land in lots of ways is somewhat like our own. When one is thirsty, there is nothing more that matters…..’I want some water’! In the first reading today, we hear of God’s people grumbling, because they were thirsty, and I guess that even though they were experiencing liberation from slavery in Egypt, the consuming need to drink, engulfed all their thoughts and desires. The desire to be refreshed caused a haze within their corporate minds, which blurred their memory of the saving activity of a loving God among them.

READINGS: I have selected the alternative Readings for this Sunday, with its particular thread: The Water of life! Year A.

Exodus 17:3-7. Psalm 94. Romans 5:1-2;5-8.

John 4:5-42.

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In the midst of their questions and grumbling, God once again hears the cry and appeal from His people, and comes to their aid. The water gushing from the rock at Meribah was more than just a free drink! It had a far deeper spiritual significance; it was an outward sign of God’s life within his people, and enabling them to respond to Him in fidelity, and loving commitment. Moreover, the gushing water was a definite sign of God’s absolute never ending covenant love, with His people.

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This theme is taken up in today’s Gospel, where Jesus enters into a conversation with a Samaritan woman. Adding to the depth and meaning of this story, is the fact that Jews and Samaritans had a terrible dislike for each other, and it was improper for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan, and the same went for the Samaritans towards Jews. This means nothing to Jesus: he initiates a dialogue, which has far deeper implications than just the breaking with local customs! Through the discussion with the Samaritan woman, we see that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law; the Torah, (the first five Books of the Bible) and he in fact is the in fleshed Word of God offering new life, and salvation for all. Let’s not miss the number of Husband’s that the Samaritan Woman had had; five! Jesus is the Bridegroom par excellence, and we are the Bride! In short, the Gospel Community who put together this extract today, were very keen to express underlying meanings in some of the expressions used. The Kingdom of God does not depend upon certain places or spaces of worship; but it is an inner conversion which opens one up to see in Jesus the saving hand of God at work. In short, the water from Jacob’s well reminds us of the bottomless reservoir of God’s love and life, offered to us and everyone all the time……but it is up to us to want it!

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The Sacrament of Baptism is the beginning step for us as we journey towards full incorporation into the body of Christ. The fact that we have candidates in our midst who are preparing for entrance into our community at Easter, is a reminder to all of us, that the life which our God offers us is not solely to quench our personal thirst for His love, but as the Lord’s Prayer reminds us, it is ‘Our Father’ to whom we pray, and that companionship which we share in and through the Eucharist, urges us in love to reach out to one another, as Jesus did to the Samaritan. It is a challenge to break through the social so called ‘correctness’ to know that God’s Household is for all! May this time of Lent invite us to recognize the Lord in those, who unexpectedly, may offer us the life giving waters of love and compassion. May we in turn be sensitively alert to welcome those who come and sit at the well with us in daily life, and may we realize, like the Samaritan woman, that we are not alone, our God never abandons us!

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I would like to include an Examination of Conscience which I have often used on the Third Sunday of Lent, because we are nearly half way through this season of Spiritual Training. Now, in this Reflection there are a number of women who come to the well…please note that the depositions that these women bring with them, are similar to what us blokes bring to the well. See what you think of this…. THE WOMEN AT THE WELL.

A woman named SAD-OF HEART met Jesus at the well. Sighing with relief she placed the burden of her leaden heart at his feet. “No one cares”, She cried to him. He turned her face to him and held it in his strong hands. He just loved her.

A woman named BURNED-OUT CASE found Jesus at the well. “I’m too tired to go on. No one really understands. I feel used up, nothing more to give. I want to quit, but I don’t know how” she sobbed as she held out the worn out pieces of her life, faded, frayed, and fragile. Jesus offered her his arm and said, “Come to me and I will refresh you and restore you to wholeness”.

A woman named ANGRY discovered Jesus at the well. “Why isn’t anyone willing to listen to me?” she shouted. “What do I do that turns away my chances of being heard? Must I be a first class story teller just to get a hearing?” Jesus took her anger as one receives a gift and said, “Speak to me. My heart is ready, my heart is ready.”

A woman named RESENTMENT approached Jesus at the well. Her face could not hide her feelings. “No matter how much I do, it never seems enough,” she complained. “I resent that my performance is measured against someone else’s accomplishments. I can only be who I am.” Laying his hand on her head, Jesus whispered into her ear: “you are my chosen, holy and beloved.”

A woman named WANTING-TO FALL-IN-LOVE-AGAIN sought Jesus at the well. The light in her eyes spoke the questions in her heart. “How can I fall in love all over again? What will it look like when I do and how will I know I have?” Radiant with joy, Jesus smiled at her and said, “if only you recognised God’s Gift…the desire to love is already loving…!”

A woman named NEEDING-FORGIVENESS came to Jesus at the well. Tears of repentance like gentle rain washed over her face and fell on his sandalled feet. “Forgive me, for I have sinned, and my sin is always before me. Do not cast me away from your presence”. Holding her to his heart, Jesus promised, “With great love I take you back, my love. I will never leave you and my covenant of peace shall not be shaken. As far as the east is from the west, so far have I cast your sins from you.”

A woman named WAITING-IN-STILLNESS sat with Jesus at the well. She looked at his face. She said nothing. She held her heart in readiness. ‘Give me your heart.” Jesus said, ‘I want to fill the emptiness. I want to mend the brokenness. I want to give it the shape of my own.”

A woman named CONFUSED-OF-HEART dragged her feet in the dust as she approached Jesus at the well. She couldn’t raise her eyes to him. “I don’t know what I want or how I feel. I have volcanoes and tidal waves inside me and I’m so afraid they will destroy me and those I care about.” Jesus called her to the rim of the well: “See how deep it is, probably so full. But we can only draw up one bucket at a time.” He dropped the bucket over the ledge, filled it a brought it to the top. “Take it slowly,” Jesus urged, “One bucket, one feeling at a time. The well of you is so deep, but I will help you draw yourself into light.”

A woman named APOSTLE raced to Jesus at the well. “Hurry,” she cried, “There’s so much to do! I’m busy, I’m tired, but come on, let’s get moving!” Jesus replied: “Let me stay with you awhile. You are bread for the world, but let me take you, bless you, break you open. Let ME give you to others…”

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5th Sunday in Ordinary time Year B, 2018. A Biblical Reflection on the Readings from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia JESUS SMASHES THE CHAINS OF MISERY:

 JESUS SMASHES THE CHAINS OF MISERY:

On his way to his office each morning, a married deacon drops in to the same café for a cup of coffee. He is always served by the same waitress. She is a bright and breezy person who always adds to her ‘Good Morning’ greeting the words ‘And how are you today?’ in return the deacon always asks the waitress: ‘And how are you?’ One morning not so long ago she answered: ‘OK, I suppose, but somehow I’m not living life to the full, even though I have the best husband in the world and a beautiful new baby.’

That young woman was indicating mild disappointment and dissatisfaction with her life. There was something missing, but she could not name just what it was. But her mild restlessness was nothing to the dissatisfaction that in our First Reading today poor old Job is feeling. The bottom has dropped out of his world, and his friends are no help at all. They keep teasing and taunting him. So he finds himself in a state of acute depression, and even thinks he’d be better off dead.

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Probably we all know people who are longing and craving for fulfilment in their lives, but who remain bundles of misery. Their conversations are all about ‘poor me’. Perhaps, at least sometimes, we ourselves feel so down and depressed that we come close to despair, and even feel we have nothing left to live for.

It’s clear from the gospel that Jesus felt deeply for people whose lives were out of whack with their hopes, dreams, aspirations and expectations, and that he reached out to them whenever, wherever, and however he could. To break their chains of misery and give them meaning, hope and support was his life project, as he said: ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’ (Jn 10:10).

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Jesus himself must have been feeling tired and even exhausted after taking part in the evening service at the synagogue in Capernaum that day, then curing Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever, and going on to heal the many sick and troubled persons crowding round the front door of Peter’s house. Yet the very next morning he gets up before sunrise and leaves the house for an isolated spot where he can be alone with God in order to renew his strength and commitment in prayer. But even there Peter and his band of brothers track him down, and beg him to go back to the house. Simply because still more people have arrived and are clamouring for his help!

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Jesus knew, though, that it was impossible to help and heal every needy person. Yet it must have saddened and troubled him to think that whenever he moved on, as move on he must, he would be leaving some persons behind, who would still be feeling as miserable as old Job. He would console himself with the thought that he would keep doing whatever he could for any needy person who came his way. He would keep telling them of God’s ‘amazing grace’, i.e. of God’s awesome and unconditional love for them. But as well as telling them in powerful and challenging words about God’s strong and constant love for them, he would keep showing them that love. BUT HOW? By his interest in, and attention to every troubled person pouring out their hearts in sobs and tears! By accepting them without any condemnation, by forgiving and encouraging them, and as much as he could by removing the source of their misery!

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Sometimes he set them free from their physical ailments and disabilities. Often he delivered them from their personal ‘demons’ – their feelings of restlessness, worthlessness, failure, guilt and shame. Or from their ‘demons’ of bad memories of the evil and ugly things they had done, or of the bad and ugly things that had been done to them. He would do all he could to put them back together again and to help them to start living life as fully as they longed to do.
Our hope too is in the power and compassion of Jesus for us. He is alive in our midst all through our prayer together today. He is our way. Leave him and we may well get lost. He is our truth. Ignore him and his teachings and we may mess up our lives. He is our life. Turn our backs on him, and our spirits, minds and hearts, might just shrivel up and die.

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But perhaps we are afraid that we have let our years crackle and go up in smoke, and have for so long left him out of our lives that it’s just no use coming back to him. But surely if we cannot bring goodness to him, we can at least bring him our mistakes, our failures and our sins. And surely too we can bring him our trust, our renewed trust in him, not only as the Saviour of the world, but as our very own personal Saviour, who is still and forever our way, our truth, and our life! Surely we can!

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Christmas Carol…The Twelve Days of Christmas….What does it mean? by Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CAROL

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans and especially the partridge that won’t come out of the pear trees, have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Catholics in England were not permitted to practise their faith openly. The song has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning, plus the hidden meaning, known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality, which children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testament.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and charity.
Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Five golden rings recalled the torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
Six geese a laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
Eight maids a milking were the eight Beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self control.
Ten lords a leaping were the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
Twelve drummers drumming symbolised the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

So there is your history lesson for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening. So I now share it with you. Now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.

May God grant you peace and happiness throughout this season!!
Fr Kevin Walsh
kevin.w3@bigpond.com

 

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Christmas Day, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia We celebrate, Jesus born in History; We celebrate Christ now in mystery, we celebrate with expectant faith our waiting for Him to come in Glory.

We celebrate, Jesus born in History; We celebrate Christ now in mystery, we celebrate with expectant faith our waiting for Him to come in Glory.

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Christmas, is the reward for waiting: We spend so much time in our lives waiting! We wait to be born! We wait to grow up; we wait for love to come into our lives, we wait to see our children grow etc. On the day to day level, we wait in endless queues at the Post Office, Woolworths, Harrods, and then on the telephone as we are continually being told that ‘your call is important to us, you have moved along in the queue’, and so on. Waiting is part of life, and we can make valuable use of it or we can drive ourselves mad by trying to fight it! I have been prone to being a little impatient at times…to say the least, so I am no model of this virtue. However, waiting gives us the prime time to prepare for important moments, especially personal growth, and personal examination as to what drives us, and what is the real meaning in living life to the fullest can happen while we wait!

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During Advent, God’s Word has led us on a pilgrimage of ‘waiting’ episodes. The ‘waiting’ that took place during and up till the time of Our Lord’s birth, was a test in more ways than one for Israel. However, the ‘faithful few’…the Anawim (the poor of the Lord God), reaped the benefits of waiting as the Lord God’s promise was fulfilled in the birth of a Baby, named Jesus. Christmas is the reward for waiting.

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Christmas is a time of hope: The prophets of doom have never had it so good! It seems that the world thrives on ‘bad news’ Television News programs increase their ratings when the most gruesome of stories can be told while we are having our Tea (Supper, Evening Meal in Australia) within the comfort of our own home. Yet, every now and then we see a really good story, an uplifting moment when people are truly reaching for their potential, and are supported by others or inspired by them. We say to ourselves….’isn’t it great to see some ‘good news’?

When all seemed lost for God’s people, we see that God is always faithful to His promises. In looking forward to a time when a young woman of marriageable age would bear a son, who would be called, Emmanuel…God-is-with-us, that took some waiting! Our Lady is a sign of hope, and a model of faith for us, the flowering Lily of the Anawim, and the representative of the faithful few….Only real trust in God’s Word is lived in hope….’Let what you have said be done unto me’. Nothing is impossible to God!

In our world of today, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same…..’Let what you have said be done unto me’ is an evergreen wisdom saying which bears fruit…the fruits of Hope. We are called to be people of hope in the midst of seeming hopelessness. Evil may seem to triumph so often, as we have seen this in the terror attacks of Paris and Berlin and in many other places in our world; we have witnessed the absolute genocide by blood thirsty maniacs, in the name of Islam in the Middle East. However, the fruits of hope are mostly not seen nor heard; but we know it happens, and it begins always with us. Christmas is a time of hope.

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Christmas is a moment of challenge: God’s Word to humanity has always, been and is, a mighty challenge and invitation to us….the RSVP is now! Not tomorrow! If there was no challenge, there would be no everlasting value. Christmas challenged the world of Mary and Joseph; there was no place for them to stay while she who was with child could give birth. When all seemed lost; there was no room in the Inn, the Stable became ‘home’. This time and place is the opposite of what the world sees as ‘greatness’, yet again, God’s ways are not always our ways. Greatness is not seen in foot washing either, yet the Jug of water, the towel, ministered by the Word made flesh, are the real symbols of true greatness. Jesus invites us to copy his example. Jesus calls us to be challenged by it. If we dare to say that we ‘speak the truth in love’, it can only happen when we listen to the truth in humility.

Our Church is facing an almighty challenge; in so many places, the corporate world with its own trappings has infiltrated the Church. Running the Church like a business, with its so called efficient style, so often is ‘deaf’ to the ‘little ones’. Impersonal dealings with individuals from ‘on high’ demeans the very nature of the personal touch of the Lord Jesus. The ‘dressing up’ in cloth of gold by some of our leaders and the extravagance of so called odds and ends on the altar, turn the altar and sanctuary into a Garage sale! And a performance equal to Gilbert and Sullivan. I am appalled at many of our so called Liturgical extravaganzas these days, which is not true Liturgy, but a painful performance of sad looking people acting out in order to please God, while the gathered community sits in awe and feels out of the picture. Let’s remember one of the great sayings of St Therese, ‘Lord, save me from sour faced saints and silly devotions’ food for thought and a challenge for the Church. Pope Francis is trying to refresh the real meaning of mission and liturgical expression in our Church, but sadly for so many of our local Leaders, it falls on deaf ears. To me the ‘change’ to become a poorer, church, a simple church and spirit filled church, and embracing church is like trying to turn around a three masted sailing ship in a canal. Christmas is a time of challenge!

Jesus, the human face of the Father being born amongst us, was an immediate challenge to King Herod! The quest for power is the opposite of servanthood, and again the action of God causes a challenge for all of us. In our place of work, in our relationships with other people, in our acceptance or rejection of new comers to our land, in our response to be living editions of the Good News; or its opposite, is being part of the Dog eat Dog attitude which shows up every now and then in our society and in our Church. Some of these attitudes might be related to King Herod’s problems. Christmas is always a moment of challenge.

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Christmas is an opportunity for reconciliation: Within that wonderful word, Reconciliation, is ‘conciliation’. Conciliation comes from its Latin root meaning ‘a desire to meet’. So therefore before any lasting reconciliation can happen, there has to be that desire, otherwise it can all be ‘window dressing.’ Christmas can be a time of deep sadness for families due to various forms of estrangement or divisions. Some of these rifts between people may only be healed in the next life. Sometimes the pain can run so deep. It can be a form of ‘fake news’ to say to oneself…’ well all is forgiven…let’s start again.’ Maybe because the again and again has worn thin. However, we can let that inner sadness simmer for years like a Slow Cooker, and it can either make us bitter and crusty, or more loving and compassionate. Some of the greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much. Lest we forget, that ‘the greatest sign of God’s love is His Passion and Cross.’ Says St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists.

The desire to meet each other is the first step to reconciliation; maybe that opportunity might arise for us during this Christmas time. If so, let’s take it!

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Christmas is a time of celebration:
The various Christmas Carols bristle with Joy! All that the Lord God had said in the Old Testament became flesh in the Living Word – Jesus! Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to His people on earth!

The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone……Lord Jesus Christ you are the light of the world, you are the corner stone and our centre. Light of Christ, light flaming bright, burn in our hearts Holy Fire. It is that ‘fire’ within, that sparks the celebration and give meaning to authentic Liturgy. If the Christmas Masses are just cold rubrics, exactly acted out, and the Music and song worthy of the Sydney Opera House; that needs to be questioned as to whether it is all a performance, or something so deeply moving that it changes us and consolidates us in Christ as a community. The Christmas Masses, especially Midnight Mass, has that extra special electric feeling of Holy Joy when it runs through to our very bones. Then there are the family celebrations at home with relatives and friends, the strengthening of the bonds of love and acceptance. Once again there can be the sadness of empty chairs due to members of our family going off to the Lord’s loving embrace, through the gateway of death, or have gone overseas for Holidays. Visits to our Cemeteries at this time, is a stilling moment of ‘presence’ and ‘love’ as we kneel on the Holy Ground of our loved one’s graves. There can also be the sadness of being thousands of miles away from our families who live overseas. This aspect rings true for my family, and most families these days. May that spark of ‘fire’ continue to be kindled through the coming New Year? May God’s Word be a light for our path at all times, and may we continue to be nourished, through regular Sacramental moments, carried by His Word with our community-the living body of Christ into the Mission of bringing Heaven to Earth!

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God sent His Angels to Shepherds to herald the great joy of our Savior’s birth. May he fill you with joy and make us heralds of his Good News, today, tomorrow and always. Amen.

We celebrate, Jesus born in History, We celebrate Christ now in mystery, we await for Him to come in Glory.
Fr Kevin Walsh
Sydney, Australia
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

 

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Christmas and us! A Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeeson CP, Melbourne Australia

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Christmas and us!

‘Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11)

When we look deeply into ourselves and our lives this Christmas, what do we discover? If we look deeply enough, I think we will find a longing and a desire to be better people, a longing and a desire to be whole people, genuine people, and people of integrity. We want others to think and say of us: ‘He’s genuine. She’s authentic. What you see is what you get.’ On the other hand, surely none of us wants to be ‘people of the lie’ (Scott Peck) or two-faced.

Deep down inside us we are also likely to find two other kinds of spiritual longing – a longing for meaning and purpose in life, and a longing to belong to others in family and community. Such longings are likely to intensify during our Christmas celebrations.

When we look outside ourselves at our world this Christmas, what do we see? For a start, we see a still beautiful universe that was created in love by God, and which he abundantly endowed with animals, vegetables, and minerals to serve human needs, but in sensible, sustainable and responsible ways. But we also notice that people, perhaps we too, have gradually and at times ruthlessly degraded and destroyed air, water, and soil. In the process human beings have helped extinguish hundreds and even thousands of species of animals, birds and fish, and consumed a lion’s share of earth’s mineral resources. Every day the picture grows bigger and grimmer of the harm inflicted by global warming caused by wholesale human pollution and degradation of the physical environment. We even seem to be moving to the edge of a precipice of ecological catastrophe and disaster.

That’s one view of the world we live in, the world of our physical and material environment. But within the world of human beings, what do we also see? We notice, of course, many, many wonderful people. They are persons filled with what Paul in his Letter to the Galatians calls ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (5:22). He names them as people of ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control’ (5:23). On the other hand, as Paul notes, there are many who do not ‘live by the Spirit’ of God (5:16), but are selfish, greedy, and self-indulgent. He names their irresponsible behaviour as ‘works of the flesh’, and includes in his list impurity, having false gods, antagonism, rivalry, jealousy, bad temper, quarrels, factions, malice, drunkenness and orgies (5:19). He warns that ‘those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (5:21b).

In fact, all such bad behaviour is in conflict with, and incompatible with, the good and joyful news God has spoken in our Christmas Gospel and which we echoed in our Responsorial Psalm: ‘Today is born our Saviour, Christ the Lord.’ Consider ourselves reminded, then, by the highest authority on earth that we are not completely our own masters and that we are not free therefore to live just any way we like and do just anything we want. No! The one born at Bethlehem remains the King and Lord of our lives.

Jesus, our King and Lord, then, has great expectations of us in our relationships with other people, in our relationships with all other living creatures, and in our relationship with the material universe as well. Indeed, our King and Lord is calling on you and me to become the best people we can be. He is calling on us this Christmas Day to turn away entirely from a life of selfishness, sin and self-indulgence, on the one hand, and to turn totally to a life of goodness, integrity, truth, love, justice, peace and joy, on the other. This may require a complete change of mind, heart and lifestyle.

In the here and now, our determination to follow Jesus Christ from this day forward, will mean accepting his offer of mercy and forgiveness for the wrong things we’ve done in the past, and making a brand new start with the help of his ‘amazing grace’. In fact, in our total turning away from sin and evil, and in our total turning to Jesus and his teachings, the kingdom of God will be happening among us.

All through his days on earth, Jesus our Friend, Liberator, Lord and King, made it very clear that the kingdom of God was already happening in concrete ways. It was happening in his loving service of others. It was happening when he pictured the coming of the kingdom in parables, sketches and short stories. It was happening when he healed physically sick people and restored them to their family and community. And it was happening when he delivered others from demonic forces, fear, worry and anxiety. So Jesus emphasized that ‘the kingdom is already among you’ (Lk 17:21).

But he also declared that the kingdom has not yet arrived. Its full and final phase, when God will abolish all evil and rule over everyone and everything perfectly for ever, is still to come. So Jesus told us to pray: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come’ (Lk 11:2), and to be ready and on the alert for its arrival (Mt 25:1-13; Lk 12:35-40). But when the full reign of God does finally happen, it will be beyond all our planning and all our organising. So ultimately we must let God give us his kingdom as pure gift. Meanwhile, what we can do is to completely cooperate with God to hasten its arrival.

When the fullness of the kingdom, reign and rule of God, does finally arrive, that consoling promise which we hear tonight [today] will also be happening more strongly than ever before, the promise expressed in the song of the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men and women who enjoy God’s favour.’

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4th Sunday of Advent Year B, 2017. A reflection on the Readings by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. SURPRISED BY GOD.

SURPRISED BY GOD.

A few days before Christmas a woman received a beautiful string of pearls in the mail. She could only guess who sent the gift. But when she didn’t find any message with the present she burst into tears. Three times she turned the packet inside out and upside down. But there was no note, no words, and no message, wrapped up with the gift. What she really wanted was a card that said ‘You mean a great deal to me. I love you!’ That message would have meant more to her than the pearls themselves.

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By contrast, when God’s messenger Gabriel greets Mary, the first thing Mary hears is words of love from God: ‘Rejoice, Mary! The Lord is with you. God has chosen you. You are special, you are precious, and you are loved.’ God, then, doesn’t leave out the important words.

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On hearing those words of God’s special love for her, Mary can indeed rejoice. But joy is not her only response. Here she is, a girl about fourteen years old, living quietly in an out-of-the way village of Galilee, far from the rich and famous and movers and shakers of this world, and yet hearing those amazing and stunning words from God! ‘What is God up to?’ she wonders. The gospel could not be clearer when it says: ‘She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what the greeting could mean.’

The messenger of God reassures her: ‘Don’t be alarmed! Don’t be afraid, Mary! Listen to what I have to say! Of all women on earth, God has chosen you to be the Mother of the Saviour of the World!’ But Mary is a virgin and so she asks the perfectly obvious and reasonable question: ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ The messenger answers: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.’

4th Advent Christ bearer

Mary doesn’t ask any more questions. She doesn’t need to. She simply responds freely and deliberately to the God of surprises, the God who has picked her out for the greatest mission in the world: ‘I am the servant of the Lord,’ she says, ‘I say “yes” to God. I accept my part in God’s plans. Let what you have said be done to me.’ From that moment Mary conceives the child Jesus in her womb. From that moment ‘the Word of God became a human being and dwelt among us’. St Augustine comments that Mary first conceives her child in her heart and only then does she conceive him in her body. Our Preface today makes the beautiful observation: ‘The virgin mother longed for him with love beyond all telling’, i.e. with indescribable love.

You and I are living in an age when many people find it difficult to make permanent commitments to others, commitments that require life-long love, fidelity, perseverance and endurance. So it’s particularly appropriate for us to wonder and marvel today at Mary’s total commitment to God, and to all the changes that her pregnancy will bring to all her plans for the future. What a striking example she is, then, of living that life-motto, ‘Let go and let God!’ She teaches us to put our faith and trust in God at all times, but especially in difficult, demanding, and seemingly impossible situations. But she also teaches us to be people who bring Jesus Christ to others, just as immediately afterwards Mary set out to bring him to her elderly cousin, Elizabeth.

20th Sunday 8

During the past year, and particularly during this past week, we have become aware of how much darkness there is in our world as well as how much light. In the rituals we have watched on TV for people killed or maimed in particular catastrophes, we have noticed that grieving people often light candles of remembrance. Those small pieces of self-consuming wax and flame say with undimmed hope that the light in our world is stronger than the darkness. That is the message too of the lighting today of the four candles of our Advent wreath. Those candles will burn out, but our commitment as his followers to be the light of Christ in the darkness of insensitivity and indifference, ignorance and malice, should never burn out or never be put out.

4th Advent Candles 2

During the rest of our Eucharist, then, let us renew our commitment to be that Light of Christ that drives out the darkness of evil, and especially for those for whom this Christmas is more a time of darkness, sadness, depression and desperation than an experience of light, joy, love and peace. I’m thinking particularly of people who are homeless, separated, bereaved, friendless, or abused. At this time of Advent and Christmas they more than any others need our commitment to bring them the light and love of Jesus Christ.

May we, then, just like God, surprise and encourage them with our loving words and our kind, caring and generous deeds!
bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

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4th Sunday of Advent Year B. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com SPEAK LORD, YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.

SPEAK LORD, YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.

4th Advent Mary and the Angel

Today’s Gospel sets the scene for the birth of Jesus. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. In the meantime, the angel had appeared to Mary, and announced the amazing news! After feeling disturbed by this news, and encouraged by the Angel she ‘YES’ to God. Mary was wrapped in mystery; in something she humbly accepted as being from God, and something she could not totally understand. Her role, the role of the humble servant, was to obey, and leave it to God to take care of the details. I think that it is important at this stage for us to unravel the true meaning of obedience as seen in Sacred Scripture. Obedience comes from the Latin word obedientia, which, literally means, “To listen, attend” or in a more picturesque way of explanation: “to hold one’s ear against”, like that of a Doctor listening to a patient’s heartbeat through a stethoscope.

Listening

This kind of listening is often attributed to that of a Prophet. It is listening with the whole body and mind, when one really wants to know what to do, or what road to take. It is also an attention to the inner stirrings of the Holy Spirit within the Temple of our being…within that stillness we can gaze attentively on the signs and words of God addressed to us…not so much our words to God, but God’s words to us: “ Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
(1Samuel 3:9)

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Samuel

Let us get closer to the great mystery that Mary was faced with….’ Do not be afraid’ the Angel said, “you have won God’s favour.’ Mary knew her place before God; she belonged to a group of people known as ‘the poor of the Lord God’ or ‘ the faithful few’ who longed to see God’s saving hand rescuing His people once again, like the days of old in Egypt and Babylon. Mary embodied true humility before God, and she nurtured that extraordinary gift of spiritual poverty, which moved her to thirst and hunger for God. Here we see the fundamental ingredients for real Scriptural listening. Let’s have a look at the meaning of Mary and Elizabeth’s name. The name of Mary in Hebrew is called Miriam, its origin seems to be Egyptian meaning “beloved”. Now Elizabeth’s name in Hebrew is eliseba, meaning El (God) is fullness…in Biblical Hebrew, El can be prefix or suffix meaning God. For example, Gabriel, means God is strong. We can never underestimate how important names are in Scripture.

14th Sunday Year A Prophet Zechariah the lord remembers

Now let’s turn to Mary’s & Elizabeth’s poverty of spirit and humility, as lived in their lives, it is a very desirable characteristic for us to aspire to. However, its opposite often blurs our vision and desire, in acquiring such a vital spiritual quality.

22nd Sunday 22

The opposite of poverty of spirit and humility, is pride! This can be so destructive to self and others, and its expressions are obnoxious: arrogance, haughtiness, aloofness, disdain, sarcasm, negativity etc. In the case of Mary and Joseph, they did not actually do anything. They said their YES, and left the doing to God. Here we can also see the ‘flip side’ and implication of their YES… namely not wanting or desiring to be in control of the present or the future. Their poverty of spirit enabled them to be free and open to the surprises that God had in store for them.

4th Advent Candles 2

As we are virtually on the ‘Eve’ of Christmas, perhaps our desire could well be the renewed development of our personal and community obedience to God, and thus be tuned to His nourishing Word through our poverty of spirit. ‘God’s greatest gifts fall into the hearts that are empty of self’. (St. John of the Cross)

OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………

Family photo

Leader: Comforted by the promise that you care for us as a shepherd cares for his flock, we bring these needs to you with great trust.
1. For all those in leadership positions in our Church, in Rome, in our diocese, and in our parish, that they may be guided by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
2. For all who work in various governmental offices at every level, that they be true servants of the people who need their expertise and help in their daily lives, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
3. For all those who need consolation in their lives, because of the loss of a loved one or financial insecurity or fragile physical or emotional health, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
4. For all the homebound and hospitalised of our parish and for all those who care for them, that they may know joy in their lives, we pray to the Lord: Come, Lord Jesus!
5. As our new week begins, let’s look back to last week. Did we see events and situations in our world which invite prayer from us? If so, would anyone like to share a prayer……..?
6. Let’s gather all our prayers spoken and shared and those that are deep within our hearts as we pray the great Prayer of the Church…….Our Father…

Leader: O God, comforter of all your people, make us ever aware that we have been baptised in the Holy Spirit and redeemed in the blood of your Son, Jesus, who lives and loves forever and ever. Amen.

Iona 10 stock-photo-iona-abbey-scotland-118113469

The Blessing……..
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness……………. ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.
32nd Sunday Year A Christ the light of the world 2

 

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