Category Archives: Faith

23rd Sunday Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Handle with care!

 6th Sunday after Easter Year A Speak Lord Pic 2

First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9. Responsorial Psalm: 94:1-2. 6-9 If today you hear his voice, Harden not your hearts. Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

 23rd Sunday year A St.Matthew 3

I think that it would be normal to say that most of us have been corrected by others during our lives! It is not the kind of experience that one would rejoice in, but I bet that most of us have received worthwhile correction and unhelpful forms of correction. Being a person who went to school in the 1950’s and 60’s getting the Cane or the Strap from our teachers was somewhat common place! I certainly had my share of corporal punishment being dished out to me in my time, and as far as I know, it didn’t do me much harm. But more importantly, did I learn anything from it? That’s big debatable question….as for me, I don’t think so.

23rd Sunday year A the Cane

I remember a true story from my Novitiate days, at the Passionist Monastery in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia. There were seven of us Novices in the group. Generally, after three 0’Clock each week day, we were assigned to work somewhere on the Monastic Farm. On this particular occasion, our Novice Master, told us that we had to go to the orchid and pick Plums, box them ready to be taken to two Orphanages in Goulburn the next day. It was also a solid custom in the Novitiate not to eat anything in between meals. Can you imagine 17 and 18 year old boys being restricted to not eating between meals? So, off to the Orchid we went, with grins on our faces……..however, we made sure that the Novice Master did not see how happy we were in going to do this job.

Fruits Violet Plums Fruit Fruit Basket Ripe

The Plums looked great! A deep purple/red, soft to touch and a powerful temptation to fight! Did we fight the temptation?   Well may be for 5 mins; then we got stuck into them, as well as putting a few Plums in the boxes. Suddenly, we heard the Novice Master coming to check on us…….he had this little cough that always announced his arrival….this little cough happened before he came into the Chapel, be meals and so on.

IS098R173 Priest

As you would know, ripe Plums can be very messy! We had Plum juice on our shirts, shorts everywhere…..We were caught! The Master said in a stern voice, ‘Put less in your mouths and all in the boxes……examine yourselves tonight’. Examine ourselves?????? What was that all about? One bright spark Novice said, ‘We might have committed sin while eating these Plums.’ Yes, we then thought that we were all sinners and would have to go to Confession after Vespers in the evening. Who was going to be the first one to go to Confession????? I told them, ‘I’ll go first!’ Not appearing to be a pious Novice, I was more curious to know what type of sin it was that we had committed, I really was not looking for extra grace…..this time!

In the darkness of the Chapel, after chanting Vespers, and commencing our half hour of Meditation, it was the opportunity to go to Confession. That evening there was only one priest at Vespers, and he was the regular Confessor. He was a really kind and lovely old man. As was the custom, if you wanted to go to Confession during meditation time, you got out of your Choir seat and went to the Priest and genuflected in front on him and that was the que for Confession, on tap!!!!

23rd Sunday Year A Confession Box

Going into the Confessional, I commenced with the usual prayers, and then said….’for these are my sins…….and I name a few old favourites on mine, just to make it worthwhile for the Priest. Then I said, ‘Father, can I ask you a question?’ ‘Yes, Brother’, was his reply. I then said, ‘Father, we were picking fruit for the Orphans this afternoon……’ and h interrupted,’ Yes, I saw you all down there, and there seemed to be a lot of laughing and chatter…..’ well, yes, there was’, I replied. ‘Father, what kind of a sin is it to eat plums in between meals????’ ‘Well, it’s not a serious sin Brother, but it is a mild imperfection!’ ‘A mild imperfection’ I said in response……..’Now, for your Penance three Hail Mary’s’. So, I scurried out of the Confessional so that I could make the announcement to the other Novices…I stood in the middle of the chapel, and mimicking the old Priest, I said to them…..’It’s a mild imperfection!’ With that the old priest was hard on me heals, and said to me in a cheeky voice.’ Sit down you silly man…….’

Ezekiel 1

In the first Reading today from the Old Testament, the Lord God is giving Ezekiel a job! It was a job that carried a very heavy responsibility. He was asked by the Lord God to be a Guard on the House of Israel, to keep people on line with adhering to the Covenant, and to correct people if they were straying for the Law of the Lord! Now, by our standards today, we all know that correcting people can be a very difficult thing to do, without starting a massive Row! These days, we are not as receptive to being corrected as we once were in the 1950’s and 60’s. In those days, one expected to be corrected! Not so these days!!!!!!!! Everyone has their rights! Who are you to correct me?

Jesus teaching his disciples thLU2L98CD

There is something a lot deeper in this Biblical meaning of correction; it contains a deeper understanding and awareness that we are connected together and belong together as God’s Family. The Biblical sense is about responsibility towards each other in love and forgiveness. It is also about the ability to be lovingly called by others, in a loving way, to see an alternative path to walk.

In the Gospel today, St. Matthew and his community, respond to Our Lord’s invitation to take care of each other, with a love that will enable another to see that they are not being accused, but loved enough to be invited to see life differently; in the light of The Good News.

23rd Sunday year A St.Matthew

Now, all this might sound like that I am ‘beating around the bush’ as we say, in Australia! For our overseas readers, that means……not getting to the point of Our Lord’s directive on correction! In the Gospel, Jesus is using a particular style of admonition which comes under the heading of ‘shock tactics’. It was a common literary form of Rabbis and Teachers at the time. If we were to take it literally today, we would be missing the point and not translating the truth behind Our Lord words into a cultural setting and meaning for today.

23rd Sunday Year A R U OK

In Australia, we have an awareness programme, called R U OK? (Are You OK?, its basic premise is this: ‘a conversation can change a life’) We are encouraged by Televisions commercials to gently ask this question if we know people that seem to be, needing direction, or a person who might need some correction, or a person who maybe depressed, stressed or ill. Now, let’s put on God’s Word for today! Like Ezekiel, who was given the Vocation of a Guard, a person who is trusted, looking out for weaker people who might need to hear the question, R U OK? It then gives the person the opportunity to come out with a response like….’I don’t know where I am going…….I am so stressed, I feel so sick!’ In living with these conditions, and does affect our behaviour, and the simple question asked in a non-threatening way, but in a loving and compassionate way, can sometimes be the very question that they have been longing to hear, but up until then, had not heard it from anyone. Our Lord’s admonition in today’s Gospel, is all about responsibility and duty or care for each other……Duty of care is this big phrase these days… short, according to God’s Word, we have a duty of care for each other…….Remember the Parable of the Good Samaritan? Who was the one who had the duty of care for the person in the ditch? And what did he do? That’s right, walked on the other side of the road, to avoid caring. Who was the one who cared and said R U OK? The answer being no, I’m in a wretched state! That carer was the Samaritan, whose community really hated the Jews! This Samaritan, showed compassion in abundance….not just the minimum.

23rd Sunday tear A R U OK 2.png

Well, the message is clear for us all……..correction can be cut off at the pass, by being astute and being more keenly aware of each other as part and parcel of being God’s people. Where do we stand in all that? Or do we say, ‘It’s a big world….just walk away from it?’

3rd Sunday after Easter year A Questions

Finally, in terms of direct correction, from the point of view teaching experience in schools, we know that it is a far better way of correcting in enabling the person in question to be helped to discover their wrong choices…..does that apply just in the school situation?   I don’t think so…… A conversation can change a life……R U OK? Food for Thought.

Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia


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23rd Sunday year A, 2017. A Reflection on the Readings by Fr Brian Gleeson C.P. Melbourne Australia. DEALING WITH AN OFFENDER

23rd Sunday year A St.Matthew 3

About the year 80 of the first century when Matthew wrote his gospel the Church was no longer a part of the Jewish community and Christians were no longer living like Jews. Being on their own they needed guidelines for their lives together. Today, speaking through Matthew, Jesus reminds them how to sort out any differences, frustrations and anger with one another.

This leads to the questions Christians still ask: – What to do when somebody hurts or offends us? Do we keep the hurt to ourselves and brood over our wounds? Or do we approach the offender and say just how we are feeling?

When somebody hurts or offends us we might tend to respond, ‘It’s a big world, and life is short. I’ll just go my own way and ignore him or her.’ Or else we might deal with our anger by moaning and groaning about that person. In short, we may do anything but speak to him or her about what is bugging us.

Unlike our big parishes today, the early Church was a group of very small communities, communities that were surrounded by non-believers. Christians going to church were easily recognised, and so too was how they behaved towards one another. It was like being a family in a small town. Neighbours know quickly when a family is fighting. So it was very important for squabbling Christians to resolve their differences and preserve the unity of their group. For that reason, Matthew draws on the attitudes, example and teachings of Jesus to put to his community a three-step process for achieving forgiveness, reconciliation and harmony.

3rd Sunday after Easter year A 13

At first just two people are involved: ‘If your brother or sister sins against you go and have it out with him/her alone.’ Notice that it is the one sinned against who must take the initiative. At this stage the privacy of the two is respected. There are no third parties. The guidelines don’t say how the conversation is to go, but the aim is to tell the truth in love, rather than to humiliate the other. It is hoped, then, that the two at loggerheads will speak in a calm and matter-of-fact way about how each has experienced the other.

That’s certainly the ideal. But life doesn’t always work out in an ideal way. So, if Step One fails, Step Two is to get support for a second approach to the offender. The next conversation is to include just one or two more persons, who can act as unbiased witnesses, and help to settle the matter before it goes viral and public.

The instructions of Jesus continue. If the offender is stubborn and still refuses to admit that he/she has done anything wrong, the process moves to another level: ‘If he/she refuses to listen [so far], then tell the local church [community]’, by going perhaps to the Parish Council. Here Jesus gives the whole community the power ‘to bind and loose’, the power to settle the matter. If the community establishes that the offender is now truly sorry, it makes peace between the parties. If not, it may discipline the offender, even to the point of excluding him/her from the group, at least for a time. This is because such offenders have shown that their unloving attitudes and behaviour are simply unchristian, and they don’t really belong. It’s understood all along that the decision of the community is actually the decision of Christ living and acting within his community.

All this is so different from the ‘my lawyer will talk to your lawyer’ kind of thing. We’re living in a society which emphasizes ‘three strikes and you’re out’ and even ‘zero tolerance’, i.e. ‘one strike and you’re out’. But that’s not the full picture. Here is one instance of reconciliation and peace at work in a courtroom. It comes from The New York Times.

23rd Sunday year A New York Times

Ryan, aged nineteen, was charged with tossing a turkey through a car windshield. He nearly killed the driver, Victoria, aged forty-four. She suffered severe injuries which required many hours of surgery to rebuild the bones of her shattered face. Ryan pleaded guilty in court. In the adjournment he came face to face with his victim for the first time. He said he was truly sorry and begged her to forgive him. She did just that. She cradled his head as he sobbed. She stroked his face and patted his back. ‘It’s OK, it’s OK.,’ she said over and over again, ‘I just want you to make your life the best it can be.’ When the case resumed, Victoria took her forgiveness further. She saved Ryan from twenty-five years in gaol, by insisting that the prosecutor offer him a plea bargain instead – six months in gaol and five years probation.

Love of God th8I3C729H

Surely, her forgiveness could hardly have been more generous and more genuine than that! Surely too her forgiveness bears out the truth of what Paul has taught in our Second Reading today: ‘Love is the one thing,’ he says, ‘that cannot hurt your neighbour.’

Brian Gleeson special photo

Passionist logo in glass thKDM7CEFT


22nd Sunday Year A, 2017.   A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘Lovingly ambushed by the Lord God.’

 22nd Sunday year A Jeremiah 2

God’s Word today calls us to look deeply into the meaning of Discipleship. We have all been called to be Disciples of Christ. This is a bitter/sweet vocation! The Glory of the Kingdom can only be accessed by us through the pain of the Cross. Let us pause for a moment to focus.

What does it entail for me, what does it mean for me to be one of Christ’s Disciples?


17th Sunday 9

O God, you are our God, for you we long. We praise you. LORD HAVE MERCY.

My body and soul long for you, like a dry weary land without water. We thank you. CHRIST HAVE MERCY.

For your love is better than life itself, our lips will speak your praise. We glorify you. LORD HAVE MERCY.

Butterfly 2

You can feel SPRING in the air! (I’m speaking from Sydney in the Land Down Under, Australia.) I really enjoy this time of the year, as the Garden starts to awake after its winter sleep, heralded by the Daffodils, Blossoms, and new shoots starting to burst forth on the Rose Bushes. I also start to feel more ‘alive’ because of the prospect of summer just around the corner. This time of the year sometimes sparks enthusiasm in people, and it has always been a good time of the year for Parish Fetes, Scriptural Study Groups, Adult Formation, and in the good old days; the Parish Missions, and other faith and community ‘fun-raising’ events. (Notice I deliberately left out the d in fun….)

God's Word

First Reading: Old Testament, the Prophet Jeremiah 20:7-9

Responsorial Psalm: 62:2-6, 8-9

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27.

In the first reading today from the Old Testament the Prophet Jeremiah, we get an insight into a man of God who is totally fired up with enthusiasm for the living and proclamation of God’s Word. Although, he tried to escape from it…but God won in the end! I really like the word enthusiasm; in checking out the latest Macquarie Encyclopaedic Dictionary, we see that its root derivative is Greek. En means in, and Thusiasm is a very hard word to describe…meaning an absorbing or controlling possession of the mind by any interest or pursuit. Inspiration as if by a divine or superhuman power; ecstasy; hence, a conceit of divine possession and revelation, or of being directly subject to some divine impulse. Now, for the next idea, we could look at two other Greek words….En Theo, meaning ‘In God’……..Or as St. Paul says, putting on the mind of Christ. Now, we’re talking! As you ponder the 1st Reading….come on, let’s go back to it; try and read it by letting the words themselves inspire you with the feeling of being lovingly ambushed by the Lord God, and there is no escape! It can be frightening and thrilling as we see this experience of God and its social repercussions spilling over from Jeremiah’s mouth. He feels lovingly trapped, by being possessed by the Lord God. Even as he speaks about the insults and derision that his vocation draws from him, he knows deep within his spirit that the living truth of the Lord God is unstoppable, and all embracing!

Jesus in the mountains 2 th

Now look at the antiphon of the responsorial Psalm: a brilliant Twitter message for today! The antiphon is the community response to the first reading. As I have said before, ideally, we should pause after hearing the first reading, and we ought to ask ourselves this question: Lord, what are you saying to me through your Word? Then can’t you see that after we have had the chance to chew over God’s Word, like absorbing a fantastic Fry’s Turkish delight, we are truly putting into action the Biblical truth; the just one meditates wisdom….chews over, enjoys like sucking honey from the honey comb. Now, look at that extraordinary Psalm…’My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.’….this is an extraordinary timeless and evergreen prayer! Remember the words of St. Augustine, ’My heart will not be at rest until it rests in Thee.’

8th sunday year a 4 wisdom

Now taking that all into account, let’s look at Peter in the Gospel: the same Peter who spoke up for the group in last week’s passage….; You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’; the very man who the week before, when feeling the force of the wind, cries out to the Lord…..’Save me!’ Today, we see the same enthusiastic Peter who is true to his spirit and self, saying to Jesus…’.this must not happen to you!’ A swift reply is given by the Lord, which is not meant to hurt Peter, it was a typical tactic used by Rabbis and Teachers at the time….shock tactics to get the message across. Then we see the ultimate price of Discipleship…..the experiencing of Salvation; of being saved, by wearing the Cross of Jesus, we are then only fit and suitable to experience the re breathing of new life into us through the dying and rising. The dying to self, in order to rise to a new life, a new way of seeing the world, a new way of relating to all people, in fact the entire planet, due to the stewardship entrusted to us in chapter One of the Book of Genesis and crowned in the Resurrection and Breath of the Holy Spirit within the new Israel.

Jesus healing a deaf manth

So let’s look at some of the human experiences of salvation in daily life in which the saving hand of God is seen and experienced. I would like us to look at the words of an old Song, these days…it is called: You needed me! By Anne Murray, from her Album, ‘Let’s keep it that way’.

I cried a tear, you wiped it dry,

I was confused, you cleared my mind,

I sold my soul; you bought it back for me,

And held me up, and gave me dignity,

Somehow you needed me.

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And I can’t believe it’s you, I can’t believe it’s true,

I needed you, and you were there,

And I’ll never leave, why should I leave, I’d be a fool,

‘cause I’ve finally found someone who really cares……..

 iProdigal son 2

You held my hand, when it was cold,

When I was lost, you took me home,

You gave me hope, when I was at the end,

And turned my lies back into truth again,

You even called me friend.

 28th Sunday Year C 2

Aren’t those lyrics something? Let’s check them out! I cried a tear…who wiped them dry? YOU!

I was confused, who cleared my mind? YOU!

I sold my soul, you bought it back for me? YOU!

And held me up, and gave me dignity

….who did that? YOU!

Now, this is a very important line…..the one who rescues, needs the one being rescued! Surely, that is the reason that the Lord rescues us!

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Now, I believe that the experience of Salvation happens in the here and now every day in the REAL LIFE situations….Our Lord comes to our rescue in the real life situations… and that’s what the Gospel is all about! Experiencing the Lord God in REAL LIFE!

22nd Sunday year A Jeremiah

Looking at the first reading and the Gospel…..what is it that can dampen our enthusiasm for the Lord? Surely it is becoming bitter towards other people, having a chip on our shoulder and blaming everybody, harbouring grudges and hate from some of the horrible ways that we have been treated by others, who should know better……well, that’s what we might think, but not necessarily true. It seems that all the pain that we go through during life can be a fantastic catalyst for us in being able to truly LISTEN TO GOD! We hear in the New Testament that Jesus learnt to OBEY through suffering! Now at first glance that might sound terrible. But it’s not because the Biblical understanding of the verb to obey, is to LISTEN with every fibre of our being! Biblical obedience can enable us to be great lovers of people, if we respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to do so. If we don’t carry this through, we can end up being bitter, horrible people who have nasty shell’s on them thicker that the shells of the Tortoises on Easter Island! Let’s have a look at this final story in the REALHOMILIE today and see what it says to us, as we think about the implications of the above as Disciples of Christ.

22nd Sunday year a old man

The story of the old man and the scorpion.

22nd Sunday year A scorpion

Once, there was a very old man who used to meditate early every morning under a large tree on the bank of the Ganges River in India. One morning, having finished his meditation, the old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the strong current of the river. As the Scorpion was pulled closer to the tree, it got caught in the long tree roots that branched out far into the river. The scorpion struggled to free itself, but got more and more entangled in the complex network of the tree roots.

When the old man saw this, he immediately stretched himself onto the extended roots and reached out to rescue the drowning scorpion. But as soon as he touched it, the animal jerked and stung him wildly. Instinctively, the man withdrew his hand, but then, after having regained his balance, he once again stretched himself out along the roots to save the agonized scorpion. But every time the old man came within reach, the scorpion stung him so badly with its poisonous tail that his hands became swollen and bloody, and his face distorted with pain.

At that moment, a passer-by saw the old man stretched on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted: “Hey, stupid old man. What’s wrong with you? Only a fool risks his life for the sake of an ugly, useless creature. Don’t you know that you may kill yourself to save that ungrateful animal?”

Slowly the old man turned his head, and looking calmly into the stranger’s eyes, he said: “Friend, because it is the nature of the scorpion to sting, why should I give my nature to save?”

Well, that’s the big question: Why should we give up our nature to be compassionate even when we get stung in a biting, stinging world? The story about the old man and the scorpion holds out a great challenge to a society in which we are made to believe that mutual struggle dominates the process of human development. It challenges us to show that to embrace is more human than to reject, that to kiss is more human than to bite, to behold more human than to stare, to be friends more human than to be rivals, to make peace more human than to make war – in short, that compassion is more human than strife.

Bread and wine

FRACTION RITE (This is at the time of The Lamb of God)

We give thanks to God our Father, for his Son Jesus Christ: turning his back on the too human thoughts of his disciples, he faced up to suffering and death. In this meal, we who are many are called to be one in the Lord. Through his love we are called to live and proclaim the Good News of Salvation.

Heart Cross 2

Fr Kevin Walsh

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22nd Sunday Year A, 2017. A Reflection based on the Readings of the day by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS.

God's Word

Sunday after Sunday we are either here or there, listening to the Word of God in the first major part of the Mass. Nearly always the message from God that we hear gives us some comfort, consolation, hope, reassurance, and even joy. But sometimes God challenges us with words of tough love, and we hear something quite demanding. Without his ‘amazing grace’ we may find that Word from God a bridge too far to cross. That’s the kind of message we get from Jesus today.

14th Sunday year A Sharing the cross

He says to his friends and followers, and therefore to you and me: ‘If you want to become my followers, deny yourselves, and take up your cross and follow me’ (Mt 16:24). The word ‘cross’ Jesus is talking about has been softened. For Jesus it doesn’t mean, at least not in the first place, your arthritis e.g., your indigestion, that difficult relationship. We don’t choose those pains; they choose us. In the NT the ‘cross’ means that suffering that comes into our lives because of the choices we make for the kingdom, which is to say the choices we make for the coming of the reign and rule of God over everyone and everything. This to say that the ‘cross’ means the deliberate but difficult choices we make for integrity and truth, justice and love, peace and joy – the values of God for the coming of the kingdom of God on earth.

22nd Sunday year A Nelson Mandela long road to freedom.png

An illustration! Nelson Mandela, the Father of modern South Africa, spent twenty-seven years in prison. But before that he was on the run for a couple of years. This is what he has written of those earlier years:

22nd Sunday Nelson Mandela 1

It wasn’t easy for me to separate myself from my wife and children, to say goodbye to the good old days when, at the end of a strenuous day at the office, I could look forward to joining my family at the dinner-table, and instead to take up the life of a man hunted continuously by the police, separated from those who are closest to me, facing continuously the hazards of detection and of arrest. This was a life infinitely more difficult than serving a prison sentence.
(from his Long Walk to Freedom)

His motivation to make such great sacrifices was his love for his country and its well-being. The ‘cross’ he carried was his love for his people.

Cross of Jesus

There’s a religion of devotion and there’s a religion of commitment. A religion of devotion tends to be a religion of comfort. It’s often centred on self, on what I get out of it rather than one centred on others, on what I do for them. A religion of commitment is a religion of challenge and risk expressed in unselfish and generous service of others and their needs. There can be no doubt that it’s a religion of commitment and dedication that Jesus is asking of you and me.

Jesus praying thJPZCHQII

This does not mean, though, that suffering is something Christians should actively seek for its own sake. Jesus himself did not seek to suffer. Gethsemane makes that clear. But suffering is the price we pay, as Jesus did again and again, for acting justly, loving tenderly, and walking humbly with God.

It helps to remember that following Jesus doesn’t have to be in great leaps and bounds but in small steps. But what does it mean in practice to follow him? It means being faithful to one’s way of life. It means concern for others in every way – the caring gesture, the kind word, speaking truth to power. These all count, when love turns the cross from a stumbling block, an obstacle, into a steppingstone and even an experience of fulfilment and joy.

Holy Week 2

The road to Jerusalem brought Jesus to Calvary. But it did not end there. It led to Easter. Along our Way of the Cross Jesus supports us to the very end, and shares his Easter victory with us.

There’s a saying: ‘No cross, no crown!’ For you and me personally, how comforting and reassuring is that? Do you and I really believe it and live it? Do we?

Carry the cross thQN90JEOZ

Brian Gleeson special photo

Passionist logo in glass thKDM7CEFT




20th Sunday Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney, Australia. God welcomes everyone! Even without a Visa!

 20th Sunday year A Canaanite woman 3


First Reading: Isaiah 56:1. 6-7. RESPONSORIAL Psalm: Ps 66:2-3. 5-6. 8. Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

 Gods Word th36RKBOOR

Now do sit back and relax; I really hope that you do enjoy this realhomilie, because as I am sitting here tapping away on the keyboard, I picture all of you right here with me.

20th Sunday Year A Church of St.Joseph's

Way back in the 1990’s I was sent by my Provincial to the Passionist Parish of St.Joseph’s in Highgate, North London; When I arrived at Heathrow Airport, and finally made my way to the Passport/Visa clearance areas, I proceeded to the checkout marked British Subjects! To my alarm, I was told by the person on duty, after he glanced at my Passport, that I was on the wrong line, and had to proceed to the Foreigners Queue! I said to him, in no uncertain terms “I beg your pardon!” As with the British wit, and a smile on his dial, he said, “Sorry, mate, I can’t help it if you come from Australia, even though we sent you there……” With smiles on our faces, and tail between my legs, I ate humble pie, and went to the proper queue! I suppose that we can be all somewhat selective from time to time!

20th Sunday Year A Customs Airport

The readings today always held a very strong message; but today more than ever the message retains its richness, depth and invitation to us. In the first Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the Author, together with the community who heard this message, and put it into practice, were faced with a question that is timeless! Namely, who can come into God’s Kingdom? Over the centuries our ancestors in faith, and the early Church had to grapple with this question, just as we do today. However, God’s Word is very clear on the issue. We are the ones that sometimes make it unclear!

20th Sunday 8

On a local issue, we see the question of Asylum seekers who travel by risky means of marine transport across the seas in search of a new homeland. Then there is the ‘human’ responsibility which we owe to these people when they reach our territorial waters. Question? Who can come into our country, especially if they are fair dinkum Asylum seekers? We are talking here about moral responsibility……A lot of rational conversation still needs to happen about all of this.

Exodus Moses-leading-Israelites

In the first Reading, we see the answer to the burning question about foreigners seeking admittance to the Lord God’s Family, and hence enjoy the benefits of the Covenant initiated by the Lord God. The lived reply being, to be loving of all that God has requested from his Bride…Israel as a response. We also see the disposition required for those who welcome them…..’Have a care for Justice, act with integrity…’ So here we see a two way street of living and celebrating; culminating on the Sabbath.

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The Sabbath, is that day to be kept Holy, it is the Lord’s Day! Let’s dig deep into what in essence is requested by the Lord God on the Sabbath. If we go back to the Creation Epic in the Book of Genesis, we see that on the final day of creation, God rested…. Was he tired after all the creating? Absolutely not! When we delve into the Hebrew meaning of the Lord God ‘resting’ it seems that its real meaning is ‘gazing’. To gaze is not the same as looking, it is not the same as staring, it is the process of ‘being truly present to all in stillness;’ to all that has happened, is happening and will happen. Gazing is somewhat like a higher state in mental prayer….it is being in ‘nothingness’ or as the Spiritual writers would say. Being in the NADA! The activity of ‘gazing’ is not only for Monastic people; it does come naturally to all of us, if we give it a chance. Let’s explore this precious and necessary activity. For starters, we must give time to waste, may I say, to be truly involved in this activity.

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For example, when we are driving down south to the Snowy Mountains in Australia, it is a thrilling experience heading up the Mountains from Jindabyne in search of the Snow. As we drive along we might see some snow along the verges of the road, and then suddenly, as we turn a corner, and there in front of us….is a huge vista of snow-capped mountains and valleys….so do we just keep driving, and say …’that’s nice’, whose got the potato chips?’ We generally would stop, and take it all in…….because the 3D view catches our breath! That’s precisely what gazing is……taking it all in and being caught by it! One cannot do that with music blearing through headphones! So, when it comes to Sabbath gazing, it means taking all that God has done, and is doing, and will continue to do into our very bones and being still and fully alert as we do it. It also means the reawakening of the Missionary legacy entrusted to us…namely, to bring Heaven to earth, as we pray frequently in the Our Father. It means a kind of stillness which is filled with God’s Words…God’s echoes, within a community which is called ‘family’/Church. It is what we do as we celebrate The Eucharist! It becomes a thin moment when Heaven is close to earth!

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If we say that we are too busy to do this exercise regularly, the simple answer is that we are TOO busy. As human beings we need to process what is happening….otherwise, we really begin to lose it! We fear that our work tasks will be done by Robots, while in fact we can easily become Robots with flesh and bones! Food for thought! Towards the end of the first reading we see, the Lord God saying that ‘my house will be called a house of prayer’….See how prayer can be a listening, and a responding to God, it is about being still to be in tune with God, it is about opening our minds and hearts to special graced moments, called ‘thin moments’ when we gently brush against the membrane which separates us from Heaven!

Examination of conscience

Let’s move onto the Gospel; notice that Jesus and his companions move deliberately into an area of foreigners. This woman from Canaan, knows who Jesus is…she sees in him the saving hand of God…Faith has a lot to do with seeing, hence the seeing and believing become the one activity. Faith here equals insight! This is not lost on Jesus, nor is it lost on the early Christian community who had to grapple with the Missionary task of proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth…meaning to the foreigners!

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This woman uses part of a very well-known Psalm of David, the first line of Psalm 50/51…’Take pity on me’…notice that Our Lord’s disciples become intercessors of her prayer when they plead with Him, ‘Give her what she wants’! It could well be said that the prayerful assistance of the Disciples, gave her that extra bit of courage to ‘come up and kneel’ at Our Lord’s feet. As we deep sea dive here, it can be seen that this woman was in the very process of experiencing salvation…that is, the understanding that in Jesus she was being ‘raised’ to a new life which culminated in her prayer…’Lord, help me’. Remember last week while Peter was experiencing the headwind on the lake, and he began to sink in the miry waters – that symbolic place where evil, and doubt reside; he said, ‘Lord, save me!’ What did Jesus do to Peter? He lifted him up…he raised him up by one hand! The impossible becomes possible for us because of our God’s invitation/intervention; just as the impossible became possible at the moment of Resurrection when the Lord God breathed into the nostrils of Jesus, the breath of new life – Christ is Risen!

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In today’s Gospel, it develops in a slightly different way from last week’s story, but we see a kind of conversation which could well belong to ‘Apologetics,’ the Canaanite woman argues her case, hence she is seeking to ‘serve the Lord and love his name’, as we saw as a requirement not only for foreigners, but for all God’s family, as outlined in the first Reading. Our Lord honours that WORD, and sees in this woman…..great faith! Great Covenant fidelity. Finally, to cap it off, this woman is not so much interceding for herself but for her child! Her prayerful wish was not only granted, but she received new life as well; this new life is open to all foreigners! To all the children in Canaan! However, that does not mean that we go out and Baptise everything that moves and tell them the implications later!!!!! There is no force!

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Well, what about us? As God’s Word unfolds this weekend, we can easily see that it is packed with repercussions for us, and our outlook on ‘newcomers’ to our country, to our City, to our suburbs, to our family, and seeking requests of closeness through marriage to be with us. This raises big questions in my mind, especially as I look at my inner attitudes towards newcomers, and it really questions my truth in real hospitality, and acceptance. This also runs sideways as I keep my mind and heart open to other ways of doing things, other ways of living, of being true hospitality of God’s loving action. God’s Word this weekend especially calls me to my knees, as I take heed once again of Our Lord’s command……’whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to me’……..Real Food for Thought, and action……..

Fr Kevin Walsh

‘The Hermitage’

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The Gospel according to St. Matthew. An Introductory Commentary by Australian Michael Fallon MSC. This is available at St. Paul’s Book Shops throughout the world, and you can order on line.

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REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS::::::: POINTS TO PONDER ‘Lord, what are you saying to me through your Holy Word today?’

  • Lord, what are you saying to me through your word? What response can I make to your invitation?
  • What strikes you as you read this Gospel reading? Why?
  • What do you think is the meaning within God’s Word in the first Reading?
  • The Sabbath Day is the one that concluded the creation story epic; what did the Lord God really do on that day, and why?
  • Think back over your life time…when and how have you heard God nudging you, and encouraging you to act with Justice and Integrity?
  • In the first reading, we see the Lord God, inviting the people to come to the Holy Mountain; Mountains and Hills in Scripture are places where the Lord God is revealed in a special way; it can cause people to pause and be silent so that all that is happening can be taken in. As you look back over your life where have been those Holy Mountains, where you have been literally ‘speechless’ because of all that is being revealed to you? (This is a tough question, but you can easily answer it after some reflection.)
  • In the Gospel reading we see the radical reality that ALL are welcome at God’s Holy Mountain. What challenges do you see for our Christian community nowadays in regards to this issue?
  • From your reading and reflection, can you make out the subtle thread which runs between the first reading, and the Gospel? If, so what is it?


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Leader:  Gathered in this house of prayer,

               Let us call upon our God. PAUSE FOR A COUPLE OF MOMENTS……

Family:  1.That Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and all people of faith

               May find renewed strength in God’s mercy,

               Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

  1. That all nations and peoples may find lasting peace

               In God’s guidance,

               Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

  1. That the ill, the infirm, and the dying

               May find abundant comfort in God’s deliverance,

               Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

  1. That all who worship here

               May find welcome joy in God’s gifts,

               Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

  1. That those who have died,

               Especially the members of our family and people that we have known or heard about in the news,

               May find everlasting glory in God’s salvation,

               Let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Leader:  Lord,

               With the persistence of the Canaanite woman

               We boldly call out our needs,

               For you always listen to the prayers of your people.

               Grant us your generous blessings in Christ Jesus,

               Both now and forever. Amen.

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20th Sunday Year A. A Biblical Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson, CP, Melbourne Australia. BEING INCLUSIVE LIKE JESUS.

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The Canaanite woman answered Jesus back. ‘Even house-dogs,’ she snapped, ‘can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’

An Irish Jesuit called Paul O’Reilly is trained as both a priest and a medical doctor. He has written for this Sunday about something that happened to him as a priest-doctor in South America. He went out on a medical patrol to a remote village. He and his team finished early. So his team suggested: ‘Let’s go over to the next village. They’re having a Sports Day.’ On arrival, he settled down with the others to watch a game of soccer and to sip on a small glass of beer. It was all very pleasant and peaceful.

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Then a local woman came up to him and said: ‘I know who you are – you’re the doctor at the hospital in Lethem.’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘that’s right.’ She said: ‘we’ve got a sick baby here and we need you to look at it.’ So Paul got up, walked over to the house, and saw the sick baby who wasn’t all that sick, and gave him some medicines to make him a little better. Next, thinking he had done a good job, he went back to watch the soccer and finish his glass of beer.

And then the same woman said: ‘Aren’t you also the priest at St So-and-So’s?’ He answered: ‘Well, actually, yes I am.’ And so she asked: ‘Why don’t you come and hold service here?’ He said, ‘because there aren’t any Catholics here.’ But she said: ‘Yes there is – there is a Catholic family here.’ So to prove it she went off and found a woman, stood her up in front of Paul and badgered her until she admitted that yes, she was a Catholic, hadn’t been to church for a long time, but she had been baptised a Catholic.

By now, there were quite a few people standing around and they all proclaimed triumphantly: ‘There, you see, there is a Catholic here. So will you come and hold church for us?’ So Paul said, ‘yes, certainly I will, but if you’re not Catholics, why do you want so much to come to the Catholic Mass?’ They replied: ‘Well, we are members of such-and-such another church (it would be unfair to give the name) but our pastor hardly ever comes here. Will you please hold church for us? Please?! Oh Please?’!!!

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In his mind Paul was thinking: ‘Oh no! I just know I am going to get into big trouble for this. I am sent only to the lost sheep of the Catholic Church and now all these other sheep are trying to get in as well. But, as the T-shirt says, “what would Jesus do?”’ He simply could not say ‘no’ to the Indian woman, any more than Jesus could say ‘no’ to the Canaanite woman who begged him on her knees for any scraps of the bread of life that fell from his table. He just knew that Jesus would have said to this Indian woman too: ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’

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Fr Paul finishes his story with this plea: ‘But if my bishop ever asks what happened, just tell him I was there for the Sports Day and a glass of beer!’

Brian Gleeson special photo

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Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia


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.”
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.
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:
Priest: 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.