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21st Sunday Year B. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne – Australia. PERSONAL COMMITMENT REQUIRED.

untitled.png Moses view of the Promised Land

Joshua says to the people he has led across the river to the Promised Land: ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’

Peter says something like that too. He’s answering the question Jesus put to his inner circle of disciples, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too? Peter replies: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the holy one of God.’

Jesus speaking with disciples

The movie Lady Sings the Blues is an oldie but a goodie. It’s the life story of the famous singer, Billie Holliday. Diana Ross spent months preparing for her role as Billie. She read miles of print about Billie’s life. For hours on end she listened to Billie’s songs. ‘I was committed to doing a good job,’ Diana said, ‘I tried very hard to know her as much as I could.’

On the other hand, Mario Lanza was shaping up to be the greatest tenor in the world. He was chosen to play the part of Enrico Caruso in the movie The Great Caruso. It was a smash. Fame and fortune followed the handsome singer. Soon he was lured to Hollywood. But there he went off the rails with booze, babes, and drugs, the usual temptations in show biz. At age 38, he died mysteriously in a slimming clinic, apparently a victim of the Mafia. Basically what went wrong with Mario Lanza is that he fell away from his commitment. And failing in his commitment, he failed in the necessary self-discipline to keep practising in order to keep singing at his peak.

A crisis point has come into the relationship between Jesus and his followers. Many are outraged by all he has said of himself as the Bread of Life. They walk away. We can imagine the sadness of Jesus. But it brings him to the point of putting out a challenge to those who are left. ‘Do you want to stay with me?’ he asks. ‘Or do you want to go away? Make up your minds. Make your choice, one way or the other.’ Peter speaks up for the group. You know what he said.

Jesus praying thJPZCHQII

Perhaps there are times when we too feel like walking away from our contact with Jesus the Bread of Life, when we feel like staying away from the Eucharist, either occasionally or permanently. It may be that we are tired of words about it. It may be that we are tired of poor celebrations of it. It may be that some changes in the new wording have upset us. Perhaps we find it too slow. Perhaps we find it too fast. Perhaps we are saying to ourselves: ‘It’s all so mysterious. It’s all over my head.’ Or perhaps the problem is: ‘I don’t know anybody much at the church.’ Or ‘there’s not enough time to say my own prayers.’ Or else ‘the priest is too old. He’s out of touch with what’s happening in the world. He doesn’t understand what’s happening in my life.’

May I suggest that when all is said and done, all such explanations may just be excuses and rationalizations for the one big thing that may be missing, viz., personal commitment, and what goes with personal commitment, perseverance and fidelity? Personal commitment, perseverance and fidelity! Those tried and true values no longer seem to count the way they used to and the way they ought to. Being entertained, having fun, going out, going shopping, watching TV, playing sport, watching sport, doing home renovations, anything else at all nowadays seems to matter more and be more attractive and appealing than on-going commitment to Jesus and ongoing commitment to God. Anything but Jesus seems to be valued more than loving commitment to God and God’s people.

Jesus washing the feet thBQ6O7DS4

Unless and until we value our Sunday Eucharist as the renewal of our covenant relationship with Jesus, as time shared with him during its celebration, and as the renewal of our commitment to go out from his table to make a better world, we just won’t be ready to say to the Lord those wonderful words of commitment spoken by Joshua and Peter: ‘As for me and my house’, said Joshua, ‘we will serve the Lord.’ Peter said: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of everlasting life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY: A BELIEF SINCE APOSTOLIC TIMES

Assumption

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.

img_f0134512aa1 World Cross

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:
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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
kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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Heart Flame 4

 

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.

3rd Sunday of Lent Year A Pic 6

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.

3rd Sunday of Lent Year A Pic 9

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!

Baptism of baby 5

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!

Gods Word th36RKBOOR

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…”

3rd Sunday of Lent Year A Pic 18

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Heart Cross

 

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.

Job 1

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).

Palm of God's Hand 41O3C+l3fYL__AC_UL115_

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!

Jesus in the Synagogue Nazareth thKKNONFDC

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!

Brian Gleeson special photo

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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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.

Christmas stars

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.

4th Advent Christ bearer

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!

4th Advent shepherds 6

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.’

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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