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Christmas Day 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney, Australia. WAITING! IS WORTH IT IN THE END! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Advent 5

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, 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 happens while we wait!

Advent Jesus is the reason

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.

Advent joy time

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, and 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’?

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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 flowing 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!

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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, but 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, is, and will be a challenge. 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; and 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.

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Jesus, the human face of the Father being born to 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 being part of the Dog eat Dog attitude which shows up every now and then in our society. 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 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 window dressing 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, or more loving. 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.

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The desire to meet each other is the first step to reconciliation; maybe that opportunity might arise for us during this Christmas time.

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

Advent 6

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. The Christmas Masses, especially Midnight Mass, has that extra special electric feeling of Holy Joy. Then there are the family celebrations at home with relatives and friends. 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. 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.

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4th Sunday of Advent Year C. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com COME, LORD JESUS!

 COME, LORD JESUS!

Christmas shopping

Here we are at the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and only a couple of days till the Christmas Celebration! According to the Television News, this is going to be a bumper time ( Big Sales) for the Shops and Department Stores…the economy is starting to move, good times are coming, while the Australian $ is way above it’s worth! Come, Lord Jesus!!The weather here in Eastern Australia is topsy turvy (Upside Down, inconsistent) …one day cold, the next day hot! Flooding Rains, and mainly a sunburnt country. What about the tourist industry that we depend on so much for income, if the weather is not going to perform nicely for us? Come, Lord Jesus! What about the plight of the poor people in Pacific Islands of Samoa and Fiji; divested by the recent Cyclones? What about the distraught people in Syria who are constantly in the middle of dreadful warfare? Come, Lord Jesus! What about the Holy Land….the place of Christ’s birth where the sound of gun fire and rocket grenades takes the place of Church Bells? Come, Lord Jesus is the Advent cry of God’s people!!!! Maranatha!!!!!!!!!

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The link between the close of Advent, and the Birth of Christ, bursts forth in joy with humility, in the sharing of the Word, within the context of visitation! With our God, the impossible becomes possible! The Prophet Micah 5: 1-4 in our First Reading, lifts up the ‘faithful few’ in hope who were looking forward intently to God’s saving action as he says, ‘ You, Bethlehem, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel’. What would that ‘rule’ be like? Would it be that of the pursuit of power and glory, and local domination? No! In the Prophet’s final words today he says,’ He (the promised One) himself will be peace’.

Advent Jesus is the reason

In the Gospel Luke 1:39-44, we see Mary as not only the representative of the New Israel and the ‘faithful few’, who longed for the fulfilment of God’s promises; she was about 15-16 years of age!! Her “Yes” to God’s invitation was nurtured through her pondering, and inner hopeful expectancy, that God is doing a new deed in an era, which lacked that general expectancy! Have the times changed? The short answer is NO! After receiving the mind blowing news that God was going to overshadow her with blessedness, and she was to be the Christ-bearer, through the birth of the Emmanuel, “ God-is-with-us”, she immediately responds with loving sensitivity to be with her older cousin, in her time of seeing the impossible become possible. The meeting of these two women at the Visitation is truly a moment when God’s Spirit rejoices. As St Luke and the community who weaved the story of this precious moment says:’ Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ And blessed are we who believe, and know that God will never let us down; no matter how much darkness may be in the skies of our lives.

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Like a shooting star, the saving hand of God can surprise us and beckon us with light and love at the most unexpected times, and through the most unusual people and circumstances.

Christmas invites us to be people of ‘visitation;’ to be bearers of God’s love, to respond to the inner stirrings which call us to ‘make haste’ to be with someone. Christmas invites us to listen with the heart, through deep sensitivity, and like Mary, to be people who are alert to the opportunities in daily life which urge us to cross the hills of indifference, and intolerance, and celebrate with joy in Him who calls us to be the ‘Living Word’ every day.

Advent joy time
‘Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face in our sisters and brothers, and we shall be saved.’

 

kevin-3

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GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS: 3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT C Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia

One day a preacher on the Melbourne Yarra Bank tried to make real for his listeners, the message of John the Baptist today. ‘If you had two houses,’ he said, ‘you would give one of them away to the poor, wouldn’t you?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ said the man closest to him, I certainly would.’ The preacher went on: ‘And if you had two motor cars, you would keep one and give the other away, wouldn’t you?’ ‘Yes, of course’, said the same man. The preacher continued. ‘And if you had two shirts, you would give one away, wouldn’t you?’ ‘Just a minute,’ said the man this time, ‘I haven’t got two houses. I haven’t got two motor cars. But I have got two shirts. I’m not so sure now that I would give one away.’

This time the message hit home. Here was something personal, something pointed, something practical. Here was a real challenge that triggered off a genuine struggle to respond to the demands of the message.

Something like this is happening to the people who go out to the desert to listen to the preaching of John the Baptist. He implores them to turn away from sin and turn to God, and to express their sorrow for their sins and be forgiven by being washed in the waters of the Jordan River. He is offering them what they know deep down they really need – a brand new start, a brand new way of living. But they are not sure what it all entails.

The people in general and particular groups among them ask John the same question: ‘What must we do, then?’ They receive answers which boil down to three straight-forward rules of life: – 1. Share with others both food and clothing. 2. Be fair and just in your dealings with others, never cheating anyone. 3. Don’t bully others or push them around.

baptist.jpg St. John the Baptist

The power of John’s preaching and personality makes a deep impression on the crowds. They begin to ask one another: ‘Can this be God’s chosen leader, the messiah?’ John puts them right: ‘I have washed you with water,’ he says, ‘as a sign that your hearts should be made clean. But someone stronger than I is on his way; I am not good enough even to bend down like a slave and untie his sandals. He will bring you the full power of God, the Holy Spirit. He’ll really change your mind, your heart, your attitudes, your behaviour, your whole self. He’ll be like a farmer at harvest when, wooden shovel in hand, he’s cleaning the grain on his threshing floor – storing the wheat in the barn and making a bonfire of the straw.’

Advent 5

This message of John the Baptist hits the spot with us. We are living in the time of the first coming of the Messiah, his coming at Bethlehem. Right now we are preparing to celebrate his birth, and, as our Opening Prayer puts it today, to celebrate it with love and thanksgiving.

So, our time of preparation for the feast of Christmas is much more than getting in the goodies for eating and drinking and making merry on Christmas Day. It’s a time for heeding the message of John the Baptist on the meaning of God’s special coming into our lives in the person of His Son.

Advent 6

So we are led to ask ourselves. 1. How widely and deeply will I share with other people this Christmas, especially with those who are the poorest and the most neglected in my community? 2. How fair and just am I going to be with the people in my life? 3. Will I stop once and for all putting others down, hurting their feelings, or bossing them around?

‘The Lord is very near,’ St Paul reminds us in the second Reading. So near in fact that the other Readings insist: ‘The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst’, and ‘among you is the great and Holy One of Israel’.

Advent 2

The presence and the gift of Jesus Christ to us invite us to make a triple response. In the first place, God says to us in the Readings, ‘Shout for joy … shout aloud’, ‘cry out with joy and gladness’, ‘rejoice, exult with all your heart’, ‘be happy, always happy in the Lord’. In the second place, God asks us to change our lives, as John the Baptist has suggested. In the third place, God suggests that we pray: ‘There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it …’

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As we move now from the celebration of the Word of God to our meeting with Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, let us remember the triple response to the coming of Christ which God invites. 1. Let us rejoice, 2. let us ask God for whatever we need, and 3. let us open our hearts and lives to living as both John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah have taught us to live.

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

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2nd Sunday of Advent Year C, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. PREPARE A WAY FOR THE LORD! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

 

 

On this the second Sunday of Advent, we hear the shout from John the Baptist…’Prepare a way for the lord, make his paths straight’. Is it like the sound of the man at the entrance to Wynyard Station here in Sydney, who shouts out the headlines…?’ Read all about it, people from outer space captured!” Would we really hear the man’s voice with that stunning news? Would that be enough for us to scramble among all the other people to get a copy of the newspaper? Or just saunter down to the station, keeping our wits about us, just in case we get tripped up by some person riding a scooter or texting on their Mobile ‘phone! Maybe the words, “people from outer space” might trigger our minds, and cause us to: ’Read all about it’. Why? Perhaps it might have an impact on us!

Let’s have a look at the first Reading, and again the three readings are thematically connected during Advent. The Prophet Baruch’s 5:1-9 proclamation is fantastic! God’s Word is so rich in content and import; and again, it is totally evergreen. It is for all seasons and ages….the faces have changed, but the message remains the same! No matter how gloomy and dark our world and its people can become, our God is Lord of all, overall and God’s mercy and integrity are our escort!

In the second Reading, Philippians 1:3-6.8-11, if you listen carefully as you meditatively read it, you will hear the gentle-strength in the Apostle Paul. We cannot help but be touched by his sincere love for the fledgling Philippian Church. His pastoral letter to this community is so uplifting, isn’t it? As I suggested in last week’s realhomilie, what another example for Leaders to flesh out Pastoral letters to the Church of today, using the Pauline way as a menu………….Notice his prayer for the community…….’ Is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception, so that you can always recognize what is best……’ What a wonderful prayer for the Church as it meets Christ unexpectedly, every day. Look how personal it is! Much more personal than a Christmas card in the mail, and the sender’s signature part of the printing……

Today’s Gospel 3:1-6, Luke paints a vivid picture of a man with a mission! His name is John! His message is: “Change your ways; Repent!” Does that impact on us? He quotes the Prophet Isaiah from the Old testament:” Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight!” But how was the Lord going to appear? Would he manifest himself like a meteor blazing a trail across the heavens before losing itself once again within the infinite galaxies? Would people perhaps glimpse him only for an instant before darkness closed in upon our world once again? No! For this “Word” who quietly and gently came into our world would be born in the poverty of a stable; lying in an animal’s feeding box for his bed. What heat there was, came from the breath of the animals, the love that nurtured Him, was from the hearts of Mary and Joseph as well as the inquisitive Shepherds, and the wise men from the East.

Advent 5

The Word was made flesh; Jesus the human face of the Father is the Emmanuel of Isaiah 7:14….’God is with us!’ Maybe it is the hills in our hearts, and the valleys within our being which need to be leveled, and filled in. The words of our Opening Prayer today say it all: ‘God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom, and become one with him when he comes in glory…’

May we continue with our self-appraisal in this time of Advent, using the Gospel of Jesus as our Invitation and Guide. May we have a complete ‘change of heart’ so that nothing may hinder us from seeing, and receiving Jesus in one another, and in ourselves.

Advent 1 C

Beginning Advent…..

What does it mean that we do this again?

Four weeks, four candles, ‘the people who walk in darkness” Looking for light?

What does it mean that we do this again-?

We who rush through everything who sometimes hardly notice where we are.

Having to slow ourselves enough to light one candle at a time and to understand what it is for?

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What does it mean that we do this again-?

Proclaiming yet once more the One whose birth we’ve

Announced every year

As long as we can remember?

Are we such creatures of habit that we’ll keep a festival?

For no good reason?

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Or can it possibly be that He keeps being born?

Probably so. Most assuredly so.

Otherwise the “again” would have no power for us.

But in our one candle hearts our ever-waiting-for-the-Christ candle hearts,

We somehow know that all the power is in the “again”.

The Word becomes flesh….and the people who walk in darkness rejoice again.

kevin-3

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2nd Sunday of Advent Year C, 2018. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. PREPARING THE WAY.

A brand new priest went to the lectern to preach his first homily after ordination. He was as nervous as a kitten. But when he reached the lectern he broke into a broad smile. Someone had left a note for him: ‘What’s it to be, man? Will you give us heaven, or give us hell?’ Well, I like to give you the gospel, i.e. good news from God, news we have on God’s authority, news of hope, news of encouragement. The good news that our God loves us, the good news that our God is always with us, the good news that our God is never finished with us, the good news that our God is going to prepare us for both Christmas and Christ’s Second Coming by changing us, the good news as Luke puts it from the prophet Isaiah, that ‘all are going to see the salvation of God’.

Of course, God’s presence and action require our cooperation. John the messenger of God tells us what this includes. It includes repentance. This is more than sorrow for our sins, even for the best of motives. True repentance requires an about-face, a real change in what we think about our world, ourselves, and our relationships. It requires a thoroughgoing change in the ways we think, feel, value, speak, act and live. It involves nothing less than taking on the mind and heart of Jesus. True repentance, John also says, demands an outward sign of interior change. So John says, ‘be baptized. Have your sins washed away in the waters of repentance, and get a life, a new life, a new way of living’. For us it means letting the meaning of our Christian baptism keep bubbling over into new and better ways of living and relating – to ourselves, to other human beings – especially poor, sad and lonely people – to our environment, and to our God.

So, letting God save us is a matter of co-operating with the action of God by preparing the way of the Lord. Unlike me, many of you are mothers and fathers. You know what it’s like to prepare for the arrival of a new baby. A room has to be cleaned out of all useless junk. It has to be washed or wiped clean from top to bottom. Usually a new coat of paint has to be applied or new wallpaper. A blind to keep the sun out of baby’s face has to be hung, and pretty curtains put up to decorate the space. A bassinette, a cot, a pram and a stroller, must all be around. Fresh, soft baby clothes are to await baby’s arrival. Maybe some soft toys must be added to the scene, and some shapes hung from the ceiling to capture Baby’s attention and to keep Baby calm and content. There is just so much to be done.

In ancient times preparing for the visit of a king to one of his cities or towns would be just as demanding. The king would send a courier to people to tell them to mend the roads, fill in the pot-holes, and smooth out the bumps, so that the king’s journey might be as easy, pleasant and trouble-free as possible.

It is this image that Luke uses to describe the mission of John the Baptist. The word of God comes to him as prophet, as messenger of God to the crowds who go out to the desert to hear him speak. ‘The King is coming,’ John says in effect, ‘So mend God’s roads to you, by straightening out your lives.’

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So, in the light of our celebration of Christ’s first coming on Christmas Day and of our hope in his Second Coming at the end of time, we have a double task before Christmas 2018:- 1. to rejoice and give thanks that we do not save ourselves, but that our God is coming to save us, and 2. With the help of the grace, the presence of God to us, to fill in those potholes, level out those bumps, and remove every road-block that is getting in the way of God coming to visit us. All our efforts to prepare the way of the Lord will then make it so much easier for God to do his work of coming to save, transform, change and renew us.

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Concretely, what are those road-blocks we need to shift? In your case, you know what they are. In my case, I know what they are. So, let us make our own Paul’s prayer in our Second Reading today! May our meeting with Christ in our holy communion with him lead us to understand and appreciate that ‘[God] who has begun this good work in you [and me] will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus’, both at Christmas and on the last day. May he find you and me, then, as Paul puts it, both ‘pure and blameless’. How might that be? Because with the help of God we will have, removed ‘the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy….’ (Opening Prayer) When that day comes, then, may all our tears and all our struggles be turned into whoops of joy and shouts of victory!

 

 

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1st Sunday of Advent Year C, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. COME, LORD JESUS! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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Christmas is nearly here! Well, as far as the shops go, Christmas has been here for at least a month or two!

Advent does not exist for most people. Here in Australia, the time of Advent is usually celebrated with Shopping Sprees, Office Parties, summer heat with flies and mosquitoes, relaxing around Bar-B-Q’s, sharing a Beer or Wine and even Maxi Coke! Lots of our Houses are covered outside and inside with all kinds of coloured lights in the form of Reindeers, Santa Sleighs, and maybe one or two Angels; occasionally there are a few Nativity scenes in our shopping centres.

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Maranartha! Come, Lord Jesus! Advent is a fantastic time to sharpen our awareness to the Christ who continually comes to us. Advent is a time for us to STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN to God’s Kingdom present, but not yet fully realised. Advent is a time for us to check out the virtue of Hope! It is a time for us to re-evaluate our relationship with God, and each other. It is a time to be strengthened by the Gospel, and to facilitate the Spirit’s activity within us. It is a time so that we may discern with sharper spiritual vision, the signs and the times in which we live, as an invitation to renewed personal and community mission. Come, Lord Jesus!

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So that being the case, let’s dig into God’s Word for the First Sunday of Advent. The Prophet Jeremiah 33:14-16 speaks God’s Word to a people who needed uplifting. They needed that kind of Radar that our Armed Forces use these days at sea; over the horizon views, so that they can be just that little more prepared for what may be coming towards them. Jeremiah, empowered by God’s Word, invites his listeners to see outside themselves to a future time when God’s saving hand will be manifested in a particular way, which will be seen and praised by those who hunger and thirst for this Epiphany. The city will be called: the Lord our Integrity…Jeremiah 33:16. Are we talking about a City like Jerusalem or Bethlehem? Or could the City be within an itinerant group of people called the Anawim, “the Lord’s poor”…….Food for thought! And us!!!!!!!

4th Advent Mary and the Angel

The Responsorial Psalm 24:4-5. 8-9 is the “community response” to the First Reading; hence its Antiphon is like a Text message for our hearts. To you O Lord, I lift up my soul! The verses of this wonderful Psalm flesh out why we can pray that Antiphon. At this stage you might like to scroll back to the Psalm. The first verse is full of imperatives! Verses two and three outline why the Psalmist/Us can ask the Lord God so directly in verse one. We need to prayerfully pray the Responsorial Psalms with the assistance of Music, or the community representative who is praying this Psalm on our behalf should take it slowly so that we can pray it, and not say it…..See the difference? Fortunately, while at home viewing this Blog on your Tablet, Smartphone or PC, you can take your time in savouring God’s Word.

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The Second Reading from St. Paul 3:12-4:2 is such a warm, uplifting and encouraging Pastoral Letter to the Christian Church/Community in Thessalonica. The content, tone and wording of this Letter is evergreen, and should well be a guide for all Christian Leaders for all times. Modern day Pastoral Letters sometimes read like cold, calculating Government Gazettes; many of them are not pastoral but clinical and legalistic, more appropriate for BHP Executives. The spirituality of the Gospel is being affirmed and encouraged by the Apostle, within the fledgling Church. This is truly an Advent extract from this Pauline Letter. See how the Second Reading builds on the First Reading, and then the Psalm? The savouring of God’s Word this Sunday will enable us to truly enter into the spirit of Advent. We MUST make time for it! Why not re visit these Readings during the week, and as you go through them, have in the back of your mind a good question like; “Lord, what are you saying to me through your Word, how can my life be changed in response to your Word.” As the so called ‘silly season’ (I absolutely hate that name) is thrust upon us everywhere we go, we have to make a special effort to enjoy, and be nourished by the Advent season.

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The Gospel Luke 21:25-28. 34-36 today develops the ” Advent” theme even more; the first paragraph calls us to be sensitive and astute as to what goes on around us. If there is one situation that scares the life out of all us, is when the ‘ earth moves under our feet’, or when other potential cataclysmic events rock the world, we begin to realise once more, how fragile we are, and how vulnerable we are in the face of natural disasters, and Bombings in war torn places, or horrible surprise Terrorist attacks on innocent people. In fact, it seems that the world’s population is ‘on edge’ all the time these days! These events can bring out the best/the divine elements within human nature, and it can bring out the worst in us as well! The state of ‘readiness’ and sensitivity which is brought to the surface as a by-product of natural disasters and war, ought to be a sign in us for something greater. We need to be on a spiritual ‘standby’ mode within us all the time. This ‘readiness’ for Mission and encountering Christ is the key to what Advent is all about! Advent puts us into auto focus, as we realise the need to be more alert in responding to Christ within our sisters and brothers, in His Word and Sacrament. The ‘Grace’ of this preparedness gives us the inner courage to live and actualise the internal integrity within our society, which is something like the Prophet Jeremiah was speaking about in the last line of the first reading today………‘the city will be called, ‘ the Lord our integrity’.

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The second paragraph of the Gospel tells us very clearly as to what can anesthetise our response to our Christian calling. So the first Sunday of the Liturgical Year in this season of Advent, has a very important place in our lives. If we jump to Christmas and dismiss Advent, it is a bit like skipping the Entre’ and Main course at Dinner, and going straight to the Sweets!

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Advent has more social opposition than Lent! December in the Southern Hemisphere is ‘party time’, ‘beach time’, and holidays. The weather is warm to hot, and there is a feeling of lethargy in the air! This is not a good combination, especially for Australians who are so ‘laid back’. Whereas for our Northern Hemisphere sisters and brothers, it is mostly cold, dark, wet and gloomy, punctuated by dazzling coloured lights in the Cities, Towns and Villages. In the country areas, the gathering around gorgeous fire places, preparing to eat Baked Ham and Turkey, Plum Puddings with Brandy Custard, and shopping for presents are on our minds. Christmas is right in your face from the moment you hop in your car to go somewhere. Advent is a subtle undercurrent which when visited, ingested, and savoured, has the ability to nudge us in see the world, and its people, as truly God’s people, with the latent Missionary adventure of bringing Heaven to Earth, as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer. Advent has the innate power to transform all of us into the living and walking city of ‘the Lord is our integrity ‘The season to of Advent is a time and opportunity for inner renewal, the discarding of numbing ways which can inhibit our feeling for, and response to, the Christ who comes to us all the time in Word, Sacrament and His People.

May we all be blessed during this time of Advent, and as we engage in savouring God’s Word, may the Spirit of God find a responsive heart in all of us.

Come, Lord Jesus!

kevin-3

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1st Sunday of Advent Year C 2018 A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE CHALLENGE OF ADVENT – CHRISTMAS bgleesoncp@gmail.com

We people celebrate important events, such as marriages and birthdays, especially of family members and friends that we know, love and appreciate.

On this first Sunday of Advent we begin our countdown to Christmas, when we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world and our personal Saviour. So what are we meant to do, during our four weeks of preparation for Christmas? (I hope nobody is thinking ‘shop till we drop’, because that’s definitely not the reason for the season).

Advent is a time to stop, look and listen, a time to look back and look forward, a time to take stock of our lives, a time to see ourselves as part of the bigger picture of both the Church and the world, a time to appreciate where we have come from and where we are going, a time to remember that all through the days, months and years of our lives, our God has been with us and beside us, and has kept loving us, no matter what.

More specifically, Advent is a time to hear God speaking to us about ourselves and our record, our Church and our world. It’s a time for letting God remind us in our Advent Readings about becoming the kind of people we are meant to be and deep-down want to be – people of warm love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity and self-control. In responding to God’s Word, we will express sorrow for the ways we may have become pre-occupied and wrapped up in ourselves instead, for the ways we may have become distant from God and others, and for any person we may have hurt, neglected or rejected.

Advent is also a time for doing justice, i.e. in the biblical sense, it’s a time for recognising and promoting the dignity of others. In keeping with the Mission Statement of Jesus that he unrolled in the Synagogue of Nazareth, the time has arrived to use our personal, family and church resources to assist poor, ‘havenot’, malnourished and undernourished people, especially those close by.

We recognise too that this Advent-Christmas season does indeed suggest ‘let’s party’! So let’s show outwardly our inner joy for being alive, for having a safe roof over our heads; food on our tables; clothes on our backs; shoes on our feet; money in our wallets or purses; health and strength for our tasks and responsibilities; and for our shared concern to preserve God’s gift of our good and beautiful Earth in a harmonious balance. This Advent-Christmas season is a time for giving thanks for God’s gifts of music to our ears; for movies, books, computers, internet, radio, television, DVDs and videos which inform and entertain us. It’s a time for giving thanks for God’s gifts of family and friends for company, support, fun and laughter; for the treasure of the person of Jesus Christ in our church community to guide and challenge, comfort and encourage us; and for the gift of his Mother Mary as Mother of the Church, to inspire us by her total commitment and dedication, and to support us with her prayers. So, in short, Advent also means making time to count all our blessings and give thanks to the One ‘from whom all blessings flow’.

In more Christian times, Sunday as a day of rest, relaxation, reflection and prayer, was taken seriously. In our mad, materialist, profit-motive, consumerdriven society, in which having has become more important than being, and style and image more important than substance and sincerity, Sunday has become like any other day. The result is a far more hectic pace of life than any previous generation ever experienced, and more and more people with frazzled nerves, screaming inside them but unable to do anything about it, ‘Stop the world, I want to get off!’ The result of so much hyper-activity and so much overwork is too much pill-popping, too much drinking and too much drug-taking. The result, in short, is a deteriorating quality of life, with far less time just to be, to stop and think, to look and listen, and to contemplate e.g., the beauty of the ocean, a sunset, or the face of a child. The result is far less time to share and to care, and to savour and appreciate those best things in life that are free!

4th Advent Candles 2

This Advent-Christmas season is therefore a new gift from God, who is inviting us both as individuals and as a church community to deliberately let go, on the one hand, of all the clutter of useless and unnecessary activities and of things which are crushing or diminishing us, and, on the other hand, to let God re-make us, our values and priorities.

1st Sunday of Advent 1

This First Sunday of Advent is actually New Year’s Day of our new Church Year. It is therefore an opportunity, like no other, to deliberately take time out for better care of ourselves, so as to be more available and generous to others. It’s a precious opportunity to deliberately re-plenish our inner resources, reorganise our priorities and relationships, and to make time, more time than ever before, for family and friends, and for all those other people for whom our becoming new persons in this new Church Year, will make a difference.

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So, dear People of God, what are we going to do about it?

Brian Gleeson special photo

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