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1st Sunday of Lent Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. LENT IS SPIRITUAL ATHELETICS TIME, FOR ALL OF US.

 

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Well Lent is with us once again…….it comes around quickly, doesn’t it? And once again we often say to ourselves and to others…time flies! I’ve noticed like you that Coles and Woolies (Woolworths for our overseas friends) have had Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies for Sale for the last few weeks. Baker’s Delight here in Australia have beautiful Hot Cross Buns for Sale already, and we are not even near Good Friday. Once again, we see that the commercial world is more interested in making money, as it uses the Religious significance for its own ends.

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In the Southern Hemisphere, we are getting close to autumn, even though many of us say in Australia, when will this hot summer end? However, for our sisters and brother in the Northern Hemisphere, they may be thinking ‘When will Winter end?’ However, Lent is that time of the year in the North when the sunlight during the day is getting longer, and there is movement in the ground, because the plants are starting to wake up and begin to shoot! However taking into account the variance of Global Climate at this time of the year, let’s just get down to the meaning of Lent!

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In short Lent can be looked upon as a ‘Training time’…a toning up time for our spiritual life. We see enough Sport on Television, Sky Channel, and Foxtel all year round, but behind all of that, there is solid training by the athletes. The Winter Olympics are on at the moment and we all marvel at the ability of the athletes and their absolute and full hearted desire to go for gold for their country. As the old saying goes, “the prize cannot be won without effort!” Actually, I don’t know who made up that phrase, but all I know is that the Marist Brothers who taught me at school used to often say that to us.

So, looking at the Readings for this weekend, we see the first Reading from the Book of Genesis, that our God’s strength and protection is symbolised in the giant bow within the rainbow. However, there is a response that is required from God’s people as a result of the Covenant with Noah……and this is summed up in the Antiphon if the responsorial psalm….’Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.’

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So Lent can be seen as a time of renewal…both personal and communitarian. Let’s look at the Lenten Invitation in Mark’s Gospel for this weekend…..’The time has come’, he said,’ and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good news.’ Here we have a mega clue as to what to do, and what to become, during Lent. Repent comes from a Greek word, metanoia which means change…not just on the outside but to change all the way through. One way of visualising this is to ask you to stand on your hands, right now! In doing that, we would see the world differently. I think that if I were to stand on my hands right now, I’d be rushed off to Hospital! But, I’m sure that you get my drift. So, let’s go back to the scripture quote….Repent and what? Believe the Good News. Believe in this case is not just some academic approach, but to BE ‘Good News’. I’ll come back to this before I sign off…..

Many years ago when I was stationed at St. Brigid’s Passionist Parish in Sydney, I drove the car to the local shopping centre, and as I look back, I know that I should have walked….but I was in a hurry. I committed a terrible sin…..I parked the car in a loading zone! I justified that by saying to myself, ‘well it is Saturday, who would be LOADING OR UNLOADING TODAY? I went off to the Newsagent, got what I wanted, and made for the car. Now there was an intersection with traffic lights and I had to get to the other side; of course it was showing RED….No walking! Just then a couple of well-meaning Preaching Christians, must have caught sight of the Gold Cross on my shirt, and said in a loud voice so that all of Sydney could hear, ‘ Brother, have you been saved by Jesus?’ At that very moment I spotted a Parking Policeman making his way to my car to obviously write a ticket…with that I replied to these two guys, ‘The short answer is YES! But at the moment I need to be saved from that parking Policeman over there….’ They smiled and understood. So here we have another clue as to what we should be working on in Lent; namely freeing up time in ourselves to trawl through our personal story and to spot those moments when we have experienced being SAVED! Or more simply, and to the point, experiencing the saving hand of God in our daily life. Question: When have I seen the saving hand of God in my life and in the lives of others? That’s the key question…….if we can sit with that question and discover some answers, we are well on the way for ‘spiritual training time’.

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Now let’s get down to tin tacks, as we often say in Australia; how and what to do during Lent? I stated above that Lent can be looked upon as a ‘Spiritual training time’….toning up our spiritual life. We are only going to do that if we really want to. It’s very much like wanting to diet: We can read all the books and Google all the information that we like, but if we don’t want to do it……we don’t get thin! Honest training is often hard, demanding and sometimes boring, but the end result can only happen with concerted effort and discipline. It can be helpful to be involved in your Parish Lenten Programme because you are doing it in a group, and one of the spin offs is the deepening and building of community. Also, in going it alone, there is more chance of giving up or giving in. Why not do it as a family? Perhaps the quotes from Scripture and reflective questions might be a start. Please remember that Jesus is our Trainer! He is our Fitness First Consultant!

God's Word

MARK: 1:35-38
Jesus quietly leaves Capernaum and travels through Galilee.
In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Every¬body is looking for you’. He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’

1) Quiet moments of prayer were important to Jesus. When do I feel the need to pray?

MATT: 7: 1 – 5
‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How dare you say to your brother, “Let me take the splinter out of your eye”, when all the time there is a plank in your own? Hypocrite.’ Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.’

2) Jesus didn’t judge others, he accepted people as they were. To copy his example, what attitudes towards my family and friends do I need to change?

MATT: 9:10-13
While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’

3) Jesus mixed with socially unacceptable people – the poor, the dull, and the sinners. What type of people do I make friends and associate with?

MATT: 19: 16-22
And there was a man who came to him and asked, ‘Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is one alone who is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said, ‘Which?’ ‘These: ‘Jesus replied ‘you must not kill. You must not commit adultery. You must not bring false witness. Honour your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?’ Jesus said, ‘if you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor), and you will have treasure in heaven: then come, follow me’. But when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

4) The young man’s self-interest became a barrier to his complete following of Jesus. If I were that young man, what barriers would Jesus find in me?

MATT: 16:24-25
The Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me’.
5) What crosses are most difficult for me to carry?

LUKE: 17:4
‘If your brother or sister does something wrong, reprove them and, if they are sorry, forgive them. And if they wrong you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, “I am sorry”, you must forgive them.’

6) Jesus taught that we must always forgive. Are some things more important to me than this constant forgiveness of others, such as pride, impatience, pettiness? If so, what are they?

MATT: 18: 12-14
‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays: will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost’.

7) Jesus tell us that no matter how far we move away from him, he always wants us back. In saying this to me, what does he want me to learn?

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “There would be more Christians in the world if you Christians were a bit more like your Christ.”

8) What things within me need changing for me to be more like Jesus?

I contribute to the web of sin in our community by………..and I ask God and this group to forgive me…LORD HAVE MERCY.

The Prophet Micah says in Chapter 6, verse 8:

‘What is good has been explained to you man; this is what Yahweh asks of you:
Only this, to act justly, to love tenderly,
And to walk humbly with your God.’

9) Taking this Word from our God, speaking through His spokesperson, Micah; what resolutions are you going to make for future living out of this word in your own life?

6th Sunday after Easter year A God's purposes

 

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

 

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1st Sunday of Lent Year B, 2018. A Biblical reflection from today’s Gospel by Fr Brian Gleeson C.P., Melbourne – Australia CHANGING OUR WAYS FOR GOOD:

 

“Repent,” Jesus says, “and believe the Good News [about me].”

God's Word

It’s not often that a person’s life is changed in a single day. A man called Chris, who lives a long way from here, has revealed that between the ages of 16 and 22, he did absolutely nothing with his life except play football, drink booze, smoke tobacco, take other drugs, and chase girls, mostly without success. Every night he came home drunk. After six years of this his mother was frantic, distraught and desperate. She simply couldn’t cope any longer. She spoke to her parish priest. He wasn’t much help, she thought. He just suggested that Chris should go on a Day of Recollection – a kind of one day parish retreat, during which people think about their lives, their human and Christian dignity, and where they are going right or wrong in life.

It didn’t seem like much of an idea, but she didn’t have any better one. So she suggested it to Chris. He simply said “No”. She waited a while and asked him again. Again he said “No”. Then she said that she would give him $100 if he would go. He thought about that for a while and ended up saying “Yes”.

When the day came, he went along to the group. The priest talked for a while. Chris found the priest boring – talking far too much and far too long. So he didn’t really listen closely. Then they all had to pray for a while. So he walked round the garden instead and smoked a cigarette. Then there was a second long and boring talk. This was followed by another cigarette as Chris walked round the garden a second time. Most of the day went on like that. But gradually, because he couldn’t help it, he did start thinking about his life and where it was going.

Finally, he couldn’t take it any longer. He left late in the afternoon and went down to the local bottle shop. Now as he picked up his bottle of beer to drink, he suddenly saw a picture in his mind of his mother crying. It frightened him so much that he put down his beer without even tasting it and left. The next night he went to the same bottle shop. He picked up a beer and the same thing happened. Once more the picture came to him of his mother crying. So again he was too anxious and too frightened to drink. The next night, he went to a different bottle-shop. But still the same thing happened – once again he imagined his mother at home crying.

From that day to this, Chris has never drunk alcohol. And now he looks back on the suffering he caused his family and it makes him cry. But his mother says it’s the best $100 she ever spent.

That, I think, is the authentic spirit of Lent. It’s a time when we stop and consider our lives in the light of God’s Word. We consider especially how we must become better people if we are to become the people that God created us to be.

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What are the ways that God needs us to develop if we are to belong more closely to God and be good citizens of his Kingdom? What is it both inside us and around us that is stopping us from becoming more authentic and better people and living more productive lives? What are the ways that those who love us most need us to change, i to become better husbands or wives, better brothers or sisters, better sons or daughters, better friends and companions ?

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We can find the answers to those questions in the grace that God gives us all through Lent. St Paul has said that “faith comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17). So, as Lent unfolds, let us pay special attention to what God will say to us in the good news of the Scriptures and especially in the good news about the great person of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Then we will be able to say sincerely with the Psalmist today: “Lord … make me walk in your truth, and teach me: for you are God my Saviour” (Psalm 25:5)

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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Four thoughts on Lent With Saint Paul of the Cross…..shared by Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney – Australia

Four thoughts on Lent With Saint Paul of the Cross…..shared by Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney – Australia

If St. Paul of the Cross–Paul Danei, founder of the Passionists–were to accompany you through Lent I’m sure he would be with you as you are and the world you live in as it is. He was never afraid of darkness and dark places, so you may find him a helpful spiritual guide. He trusted in Jesus Christ and his cross, ‘the wisdom and power of God;’ I’m sure he will bring some of that wisdom to you.

“May it be the desire of our hearts to know Jesus in a greater way during these 40 days
of lent.”

“Remain crucified with Jesus Christ, embracing every occasion to suffer for love of God with patience, with silence, and without ever justifying yourself, being resentful, or complaining.”

“I tell you that the life of men and women servants of God should be a continual Lent, that is, a continual exercise of mortification, internal and external. So distrusting yourself and depending much upon God, make your continuous Lent by always denying your will, being subject in exact obedience in the things most difficult and bitter to your self-love.”

“Build an oratory within yourself, and there have Jesus on the altar of your heart. Speak to Him often while you are doing your work. Speak to Him of His holy love, of His holy sufferings and of the sorrows of most holy Mary.”

This meditation comes originally from the Passionist Provincial Office in Sydney Australia. Thank you. Fr Kevin Walsh

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6th Sunday of Ordinary time Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.’

6th Sunday of Ordinary time Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.’

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, cloud and outdoor

In today’s gospel, we have Jesus healing a leper. It is an extraordinary prayer of simple faith and, in healing him; Jesus touched him, which was an extraordinary expression of love, and something that, incidentally, was totally against the law!

Let’s have a closer look at this evergreen story, because it has direct implications for us today.

The man had leprosy. What was he to do? In this case, he went straight to Jesus, with a very simple uncomplicated prayer. ‘Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean.’ No long speeches, no promises about a reformed lifestyle, and no pronouncement to Jesus of unworthiness. It was one of those precious moments of grace, when the truth was evident at that moment. The man was powerless, and he saw with the eyes of growing faith, that the healing hand of God was in Jesus. This was the basis for the miracle, as it is for all miracles in the Scriptures, and in our own lives.

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Notice that Jesus touched him. It’s almost impossible for us to appreciate what that meant. I think that Fr.Varillon in his Book titled:- La parole est mon Royaume, ( Paris: Centurion, 1986) 69-70 delves into the depth of this action and the profound meaning of Our Lord’s compassion for this man, and for us, ‘Jesus’ compassion is not skin-deep; it is an upheaval of the depths of his being. There is no true compassion without passion: those who are compassionate really suffer in their own persons. Compassion is a Communion in suffering. It is impossible for the Father to remain impassive when the children suffer – and among them the eternal Son made a human being. The Father’s suffering is a great mystery, and when we want to speak about it, we stammer miserably. However, it is urgent to reject from our mind the idea that the Father, because of the perfection of his nature, looks from afar on human suffering without himself being painfully involved and wounded…… The cure of the Leper orients my meditation in this direction. I cannot believe that Jesus does not suffer as much as the poor sick man and that the Father does not suffer as much as the Son.’ Lepers were outcasts and untouchable. With the medical science at our fingertips, most of the sores, blemishes or spots were not Leprosy. Nowadays Calamine Lotion, or Savlon or some other cream would bring about healing. But there was something else within the corporate mind of our ancestors in faith, which brought back a terrible memory, and went right back to the time when the Hebrew people were freed from slavery in Egypt. One of the ten Plagues consisted of terrible and unsightly skin boils, so that was generally in the mind of our ancestors in faith. It was seen as a punishment. Now, notice that Jesus stretched out his hand within the moment of healing……this was seen by the early Christian community and for us today as a Sacrament action….the laying on of hands….the sign of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. However, getting back to the miracle, to touch a leper made the other person unclean and untouchable as well. It would be absolutely unthinkable for a religious Jew to come next to or even near a leper, much less touch one. The law was totally lacking love and compassion when it came to the obligations of cleanliness that it imposed on society at that time. There is no doubt that Jesus saw something totally different from everyone else when he looked at the leper, and he was urged by the Holy Spirit to reach out to this person who lived on the fringe of society, within a lonely world which the law imposed on such people. Jesus broke that law, and enabled him to be free!

refugees Boat people

The Gospel story causes us to pause in more ways than one: Who are the Lepers in our society today? How do we respond or react to them? Are some of our attitudes a bit like the prescriptions in the first reading? This certainly is food for thought for me, and maybe for you too. Perhaps it might be a good idea to really PAUSE at this point of the realhomilie and reflect upon this….then quietly move onto the next section

untitled Leper

‘Lord, if you want to, you can make ME clean.’ What a simple prayer! Jesus’ answer was instant ‘Of course I want to’. That is true right here, right now. ‘Lord, I know that you want to heal ME, to forgive ME, to free ME.’ I ask that you do that right now. Prayer is really easy if we keep it simple. The facts are very clear, and the facts are friendly. In the sight of God, I am who I am, and Jesus is who he is. When I meet Jesus, and understand my place before Him, miracles can be expected. If I were to pause for a few minutes right now, what would my prayer be?

OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………

Leader: We prayerfully stretch out our hearts and hands to the Lord who stretched out his hand to touch and heal a leper.
For our Holy Father the Pope and for all leader-servants of the Church that they stretch out their hearts and hands to heal discrimination and injustice, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For our civic leaders that they stretch out their hearts and hands to help the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the victims of war, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For all of us here today, that we stretch out our hearts and hands to help those who need our spiritual and material assistance, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For the people of this faith community that we stretch out our hearts and hands and invite fallen-away Catholics to return to the healing home of the Church we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For those who care for the ill, the elderly, and the dying, that they continue to stretch out their hearts and hands to heal and comfort their patients, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
For all who have died, including N. and N., that they be welcomed to glory and embraced by the stretched-out heart and hands of our loving God, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and iPad….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Leader: Merciful, loving God, we ask you to grant these prayers we make through Christ our Lord. Amen.

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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6th Sunday in Ordinary time year B, 2018. A Reflection from FR Brian Gleeeson, CP, Melbourne Australia. LEPERS IN OUR LIVES:

6th Sunday in Ordinary time year B, 2018. A Reflection from FR Brian Gleeeson, CP, Melbourne Australia. LEPERS IN OUR LIVES:

Shine

I guess some of you have seen the movie ‘Shine’ starring Geoffrey Rush. It tells the amazing story of the successful concert pianist, David Helfgott. Early on, even as he improves as a piano-player, he falls into a serious mental illness and starts to disintegrate as a person. He is suffering from manic depression. His moods keep swinging from the bright heights of elation, joy and excitement to the black depths of sadness, loneliness and despair. Very soon he loses his job, his home, his family, and is placed in a mental hospital. His psychiatrist even bans him from playing the piano. He ends up feeling acute pain, the pain of feeling worthless, hopeless, rejected and isolated. He is suffering all the symptoms of a social leper.

One day a woman named Gillian comes to visit one of the other patients at the hospital. Having been a long-time fan of his music, she sees David mooching around and recognises him. She says in the movie, ‘at once I knew what the rest of my life would be about’. She takes him into her home, looks after him, and takes on the responsibility for his recovery. Bit by bit he gets better, and with the help of medicine, he is able to control his mood swings. Most importantly to them both he returns to playing the piano. Soon he is on the concert platform again, and his performances to exuberant and enthusiastic audiences all over the world are a continuing personal triumph.

Of course ‘Shine’ is only a film. But its story is true. It really happened. It really happened through the providence of God and the love of a good woman. It’s a story too that is still happening because David Helfgott continues to enchant concert audiences. It will happen again for instance on April 28th, when he performs at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

Jesus healing a deaf manth

That story is an extension of the message of Jesus in the Word of God today, which is about accepting and welcoming the broken, the despised, the rejected, the odd bods, the misfits, and the outcasts into our company and community, and about offering them help and healing by our openness and generosity. In fact Jesus challenges us to go out of our way to make contact with outcasts in the way that he put himself out to befriend that poor leper of our gospel story.
As a leper, the man was barred from going to the temple. He was not allowed to associate with others in any way. He was not allowed to even see his family or friends. If anyone came anywhere close he had to warn them by shouting ‘Unclean!’ ‘Unclean!’

Since today we don’t usually run into anyone with physical leprosy, we might identify at least some of those who are often treated as social lepers in society. Who might they include? Let me suggest the following: – Persons with AIDS; alcoholics; drug addicts; neurotics; psychotics; the very fat; the odd dressers; Gays and Lesbians; the handicapped; and even the homeless. At times the outcasts of society include persons with dementia; teenagers; asylum-seekers and refugees; Immigrants; those who speak different languages; and believe it or not, sometimes even the elderly.

Palm of God's Hand 41O3C+l3fYL__AC_UL115_

We can work out who we would consider outcasts by asking ourselves whom do we regard as not our kind of people. Whom would we avoid? Whom would we shun? Whom would we not want to be seen with or mix with? Whom would we leave off our Invitations to parties?

By contrast, it was said of Jesus, the great mixer with all kinds of people, high and low, rich and poor, successful or so-called ‘losers’, influential or ordinary: ‘This man welcomes outcasts and [even] eats with them’. His care, his kindness, his welcome, his compassion, his generosity and his healing-touch towards outsiders come through loudly and clearly in all the details of today’s story of his meeting with the leper. He not only healed the man of his hideous and embarrassing skin disease, but he also healed him of his social isolation by bringing him back to his friends, family and community.

20th Sunday Year A Canaanite woman best pic

Today Jesus is challenging me to rethink and alter my attitudes, my judgments, and my behaviour, towards all kinds of people who are different from me. What about you? Do you find him challenging you as well? How might Jesus be challenging both you and me? Let’s think about that for a minute or two at least!

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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5th Sunday of Ordinary time Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. The Lord heals the broken-hearted!

6th Sunday of Ordinary time Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. The Lord heals the broken-hearted!

First Reading: Job 7:1-4. 6-7. Psalm 146:1-6.
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39.

job-jacob-jordaens

As usual, the sentiments and the messages in God’s Word are evergreen…..they are timeless words for all ages and seasons of life. Many times have I heard the echoes in the 1st Reading from Job, not only in other people, but in myself too. At times ‘life’ can be uphill, and full of speed humps along the way, and we wonder why? Or our prayer may be, “Dear Lord, give me the strength to keep on going, help me to see your purpose and your will.” If we remain a little bit open to the glimmers of hope; sure enough they come up ‘out of the blue’, as we say. It seems to me that in the Reading from Job, we have a hidden invitation to have an IMAX screen view of life, the world, and ourselves, and not be caught up in the old narrow Black and White Cinema of yester year. However, in getting ‘real’ if we have a horrible tooth ache, that experience colors everything doesn’t it?

Job 1
Let’s look at the Text Message of the Responsorial Psalm: Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted. What a fantastic community response to God’s Word. At the end of the day, the Lord is the faithful one par excellence, and will not leave us in the doldrums. I remember a great and wise old Priest, Fr. Bonaventure, CP who had us Junior Professed Students for a day of Recollection many years ago at Holy Cross Seminary, Templestowe VIC, and he said something like this….” If ever you may feel that you are at the bottom of the barrel, you probably are! But you are most probably resting on the palm of God’s hand, and you probably don’t know it…” As a young Seminarian, that made a deep impression on me, and it still rings true today. I believe that Fr Bonaventure was dead set right! Let’s look at the last verse of the Responsorial Psalm; it is a timeless prayer, which can rise from our heart when graced insight or faith comes out into the sunshine.

Our Lord is great and almighty;
His wisdom can never be measured.
The Lord raises the lowly;
He humbles the wicked to the dust. R
Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.

Jesus in the Synagogue Nazareth thKKNONFDC

In the Gospel Reading, we can literally see Jesus walking out of the Synagogue with James and John to the House of Simon and Andrew. Now, the Synagogue in question here if I can remember correctly is only about the size of Tennis Court, if that! Then Simon and Andrew’s House was on the opposite corner, so it was not a long journey…..but notice Jesus went straightaway….let’s hold on to that. These days, the Synagogue is in ruins, but there is enough structure for one to get the idea of what it was like. Simon and Andrew’s House has a beautiful church built on top of it. The church floor is solid glass over the house. The Franciscan Friars have done a wonderful job in restoring, and excavating the site, and there is a real ‘feeling’ inside the Church of the holiness of this place, due to the experience of Salvation that Simon’s mother in law encountered, together with all the ‘faith’ of thousands upon thousands of Pilgrims who have visited this sacred site over the millennia.

Jesus washing the feet thBQ6O7DS4

Now let’s look in detail at what happened in this house…..Notice that Jesus immediately responds to the news that Simon’s mother in law was very sick. They did not have to ask Jesus to go to the House, he went to the House…now let’s look at what Jesus did in the house; because this is not just historical information, this is an incident of Salvation for the sick woman, and an example for all times. Salvation in this case means ‘experiencing and seeing’ which is a ’faith response’ the saving hand of God, in Jesus. Let’s go on with the details of this faith experience…..He went to her, and took her by the hand……and then what did Jesus do, He helped her up! Now, look at this in the light of Our Lord’s own Resurrection………The room in which the sick lady was could have been her possible tomb, and in this case it is more like a Tomb; in Jesus helping her up, she rose to new life!

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Then what did she do? It says in the Gospel that she began to wait on them…does that mean that she went back into the Kitchen and prepared Hot Scones, Jam and Cream? Maybe not! But more importantly it means that through this experience of Jesus breathing and touching ‘new life’ into her, she was now a changed person, and went on and ‘ministered’ the Good News of experiencing ‘healing’ and then seeing with the eyes of faith, God’s saving hand at work. Isn’t that fantastic? Now combine this experience with Jesus having ‘life’ re breathed into him by The Father at the moment of His Resurrection!! See the parallel? Remember the story of Zacchaeus up the tree, waiting to catch a glimpse of Jesus? Jesus called him and what did he do? He came straight down from the tree, because Jesus wanted to Dine in his House. Salvation came to Zacchaeus and in turn his life changed dramatically because he saw, and experienced the world differently because of the ‘new life’ that Jesus gave him. Jesus said to him, ‘Salvation has come to your House’. This is also a situation where the ‘power’ of the most high refutes evil. Not in a Hollywood style, but look at the last verse of the Psalm again….’The Lord raises the lowly;’ who then are the lowly? Those who have a poverty of spirit…those who hunger and hope in the Lord, as one who will never let them down, that is the spiritual condition that we Christians should always aspire to……but it just doesn’t happen! Like a fire in a beautiful stone hearth, it needs to be fed, it needs to be tendered, hence we have to look, and listen to the Words of God that are continually being spoken to us and His people all the time, every day! If we feel like Job going through a very dry and hopeless period of life; we a not alone…look at Our Lord on the Cross….” My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. Yet it was in that cry of dereliction from the Cross, that the pagan Roman soldier came to faith….” ‘In truth’ he said, ‘this is the Son of Man…’ Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.

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Finally, let’s go back to the Gospel where Simon Peter’s mother in law immediately began to wait on them….in other words she realised her life would never be the same again, and she embarked into Ministry…..Zacchaeus after his experience with Jesus, did an about turn, and entered into Ministry……Jesus, after His Resurrection calls his Disciples to Go out in Mission and Ministry to the whole world. Then with the empowerment thus realised at Pentecost the timidity of the Disciples was transformed into loving boldness. Everyone understood them.

Well, what about us, and how can God’s Word of Hope come alive in us? That’s the big question! Taking the 1st Reading, and the Gospel together, we know for sure that God hears us; In God’s own time. (Not my will but yours be done…as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer) So in our day to day lives, in our ‘down’ times the Lord visits us with Angels in human form. Why not take a little trip down Memory Lane, and re visit some of those times when you thought that you were at the bottom of the Barrel. Who came to you in your distress? What did that mean for your ‘faith-life’? As you reflect back on this human experience of salvation, did you ‘change’ as a result of it? Were you in a better position to see the face of Christ in your brothers and sisters? Unless, we revisit some of these experiences, our inner spirit will not be enabled into Mission/Ministry/Service of others in renewed ways. So, I conclude with a sentence from Psalm 92, ‘If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts’

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SOME REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS FOR YOUR FAMILY OR PRAYER/BIBLE STUDY GROUP
1. Looking back over your life, as there been a special person(s) who have been the HUMAN FACE OF GOD to you? Who was this person? Alternatively, who were the people, and what was it about them, that mirrored the face of Jesus for you?

2. Would you like to share with your family or group, a time when you were unexpectedly ‘touched’ by the Lord through a friend, staff member, boy or girl, parishioner, neighbour, Religious or Priest?

3. Often in our place of work, and at home we can be taken for granted or take others for granted….not out of malice, but just because we have lots to do, and we have many things on our minds. Have you seen efforts made by other staff members at your place of work, or family members ‘reaching out’ to other people?

4. Do you have any creative suggestions as to how we can be more aware of our individual, community and family giftedness?

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION

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Leader: The Lord who healed the sick and preached the good news is with us now to hear and answer our prayers.

• That the leaders of God’s People continue to guide the Church courageously and creatively, we pray to the Lord:

• That our national, state and local leaders serve us successfully and unselfishly, we pray to the Lord:

• That our faith community work and pray together to help those in need of spiritual and material support, we pray to the Lord:

• That all who are ill, including N. and N, may be healed, we pray to the Lord:

• That doctors and nurses be blessed for their care of the sick and the dying, we pray to the Lord:

• That the fevers of greed, violence, hatred and discrimination be healed, we pray to the Lord:
• That all who have died, including N. and N, may rest in peace and glory, we pray to the Lord:
Leader: God of the good news, help us this week to be generous in our service and love of those who need our helping hands and hearts. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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

 JESUS SMASHES THE CHAINS OF MISERY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Gleeson special photo

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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