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Category Archives: Lent

Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday & Easter Sunday Year C, 2019. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘COME, AND JOIN ME’, SAYS THE LORD! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Holy Week 2

One week from today is Easter Sunday! We will celebrate the triumph of Jesus over the final enemy … death! It is only correct and just that if we wish to join in the victory, then we should enter into the struggle, which precedes it. During Lent, we have been given the opportunity to reflect upon the quality of our lives in the face of the Lenten Invitation: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. To help us in our Lenten response. The Readings for the five Sundays of Lent have given us a great deal of Food for Thought, and ample opportunity to reawaken our inner spirit to follow Christ wholeheartedly. As we said at the beginning of Lent, this is our Spiritual Training time. Any athlete who is serious about staying in ‘good nick’ knows that if the training fades away, we don’t fade away…we just get bigger in body weight and sluggish in most of our ways. The same can apply to our Spiritual life.

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Lent is the perfect opportunity to put our Spiritual Fitness First! The rest of the year is not ‘holiday time’ it is all about keeping in practice the lessons and guidelines that we have embraced during Lent. This will help us in a big way to keep us on track till next Lent.

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Today, as we receive our Blessed Palm, and give thanks and praise to God, we are given the chance to enter into the spirit of Holy Week. We can take this opportunity to walk with Jesus through this week in all its moods and complexities, and to finally rejoice in the Father’s glory when ‘life’ was re breathed into Jesus His Son: that new life which is offered to everyone which is celebrated on Easter Sunday is refreshed in us.

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When we speak about Jesus in the Mass, for example, we use the past tense. “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life” … “By your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free”. In other words, Jesus has already completed his part of the formula for salvation; now the rest is up to us. Of course, we are not alone in this venture; the Holy Spirit is alive within God’s household, to stir is, guide us and remind us of all that Jesus has said and done. This week is a sacred time; it is up to us whether we wish to enter deeply into the spirit of it or not.

Holy Week Good Friday

The secular world is well and truly geared up for huge Easter egg sales, Hot Cross Buns, and massive attendances at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney; let alone getaway holidays, BBQ’s at home, and just taking it easy. The beginning and the end of these secular activities is often the $$$$ and relatively short intervals of happiness. … But for us, the end of this week is New Life! A renewed zest in living the Good News, and being part of THE ultimate joy, that God’s plan will always win out, even as it’s opposite forces try to stamp on it. The Faces have changed, but the methods of God, remain the same.

Holy Week Paschal candle 2

Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega; all time belongs to him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power, through every age for ever. Amen 

By his holy and glorious wounds, May Christ Our Lord, guard us and keep us. Amen

May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds!

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When we enter into the Church’s Liturgy at the Easter Triduum … Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil/Sunday, this newness of life and attentiveness to God’s Mission for us must be nourished and sustained. If we take ‘time out’ as family and individuals to make this journey, the results will be far more lasting for us than from a Chocolate Easter Bunny or a dozen Hot Cross Buns! Lent/ Holy Week is the most important time of the year. It’s all about the fortifying of our inner selves; it is about letting God’s Word shape and reshape our Spirituality so that we can deal with the real issues of day to day life as a Christian. If we let Holy Week pass by as just time off from work, holidays, fishing, camping or just laying around at home….we can’t expect our spiritual selves to deal with anything much. In short, as people, we can become just living objects who just exist, and are generally a pain in the neck to most other people, lacking life and drive….vegetables with legs!

Holy Week Holy Thursday

There is a time and place for celebration, but it becomes all the more worthwhile when it has been earned through solid attentiveness to Jesus, who invites us to be truly servants of each other; to be responsive to His constant invitation to be with Him in prayer; to walk the Way of the Cross; and to allow the Cross to speak to our hearts. By entering into this mystery, we can rejoice in our God who loves us into life, and gives us the responsibility through our Baptism, to share it with others.

Now is the time to plan our week! Now is decision time! There will be many inviting alternatives, which could take up our time and promise us rewards. However, this is the week of all weeks in which we as a community, can be renewed through prayerfully and seriously walking the road to Calvary together … and then into the light of Resurrection.

Our reward? A greater alertness to the suffering Christ in His people today, and the strength and quality to be ‘Easter People’ in a world where His Word is still to be proclaimed and heard.

May this week be a source of blessing for all of us.

 

PRAYER REFLECTION: What Faith does?

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Some people think that if you have enough faith life will be plain sailing. But this is not so.

The fact that we can swim doesn’t prevent us from being knocked about by the waves.

In the same way faith doesn’t shield us

from the hard knocks of life or death.

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What, then does faith do?

It gives us bearings, and thus enables us

to live in a fragile world

without getting lost or giving in to despair.

Just as swimmers trust that if they don’t panic,

and if they do a few simple things,

then the power of the sea will uphold them.

So believers entrust their lives

to a greater power than us all.

This power is the creative dynamic of God,

who rebreathed new life into his Son at the moment of His Resurrection! We are called to re breathe new life into our sisters and brothers, our Society, our country, our world!

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kevin-3

 

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A Pep talk for Palm Sunday year C 2019 by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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We are beginning today the best week in the whole liturgical year. Centuries ago it was called the ‘Great Week’. Nowadays we call it ‘Holy Week’. We follow Jesus every step of the way. We have started with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where he is welcomed, applauded and acclaimed, by a big crowd of followers. On Thursday we will join him at table and receive the gift of himself in bread and wine. After dining with him we will walk with him along the path that leads from the Upper Room to the Garden of Olives. There we will see him falling to the ground in fear and anxiety about the cruel death that awaits him. Friday will find us standing beside his mother at the foot of the cross, and feeling compassion for him in both his physical agony and his mental torment.

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We will be feeling especially some of his sense of being alone and abandoned, betrayed and deserted, not only by friends and followers, but even by God. On Saturday we will be quiet and silent around his tomb, as we remember the injustice, hostility and cruelty, of all those evil men who murdered him. Then, late on Saturday, we will move from the darkness of our journey to the place of the brightly burning fire. There we will join the procession of the great Easter Candle, representing the risen Christ, as he lights up the darkness of our church and lives.

Holy Week Paschal candle 2

There and then, the pain and sadness of our journey with Jesus to Calvary, will give way to the hope and joy that comes with our awareness. Jesus Christ is not dead and gone. No, he is alive, strong and powerful, alive in himself, and alive in us. And so we will be hearing in our hearts those assuring words that the mystic Juliana of Norwich, in her vision of Christ crucified, heard from his own lips: ‘All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.’    Do we also believe that?

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Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP and Fr Brian CP

 

 

5th Sunday of Lent Year C 2019. A realhomilie by Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com ‘NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU’ said Jesus to the woman.

5th Sunday of Lent year C 2019

Every day when we watch the T.V News, or read the Headlines and stories on line, most of the eye catching events are about people getting into trouble. Either this one was caught robbing a Jewelry Shop, or someone has ripped off the Tax Office, and has been caught, or some unfaithfulness in marriage, or some personal argument about a couple players in a Cricket team etc. I wonder if the TV ratings would be the same if they were all good stories about the positive and noble things that people have done?

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Most probably the ratings would really slip. There is something within our human nature that gets enjoyment and satisfies our curiosity in seeing someone get caught, and the issue made public. Most certainly there are times when you would hope that some people do get caught for the way that they have gravely disturbed and abused other decent people, through robbery, murder etc.

5th Sunday of Lent Jesus and the stones

In today’s Gospel John 8:1-11, we see some excited Scribes and Pharisees, who were really trying to catch Jesus out by using a person, in this instance, a woman, who they really didn’t care about, but abused her by making a spectacle of her in front of the crowd, and in front of Jesus. For the Jewish Leaders they treated her like an object, not a person, in order to satisfy their sinister curiosity. The woman was really used and re abused in order to try and trick Jesus. So, their overall motives were not meritorious….far from it; they were scoundrels! The faces have changed, but their methods remain the same!

Prophet Isaiah scroll

Let’s go back to the first reading for a minute…Isaiah 43:16-21 is recalling to the ‘community mind’ of Israel, that the Lord God would always do new deeds, like the deeds that God did in the great Exodus from Egypt, and the initiation of the marriage contract with His people on Sinai…In fact the brotherhood of Isaiah, were looking forward to a time when their God would do new deeds again and again, so that the world order of people would be turned upside down in a totally new way of relating, loving, forgiving and living as a Community in a Marriage relationship with their God. Notice, it is God in Jesus who sets about restoring Israel’s relationship with God. It is always God’s initiative to alert a response in us. Our God breaks a stipulation in the Book of Leviticus, where it says that it is unlawful to receive back and adulterous wife………we, God’s People are the wife….the sometimes adulterous wife; the unfathomable love of God, breaks God’s own law in order to have us back! Doesn’t that cause us to pause? My O My, that in itself is enough from us to respond to the Lenten call…..’Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel.’

3rd Sunday of Lent Year A Brian 6

PERSONAL REFLECTION TIME:
Do we want to be part of that new world order? Are we daring enough, like the brotherhood of Isaiah to pin all our hopes on our God’s present and future hopeful actions, while the dark clouds of apathy and indifference cover the skies? Do we stay rock solid and become unmovable when it comes to being part of a ‘new deed’ of the Lord? Are we willing to launch out into the deep with Jesus, during the storms taking place in our global village? Or are we prepared to stay on the Wharf were it is seemingly safe and secure? Are we prepared to ask our God in Jesus, to do with us what He wills for the good of all? Are we willing to be unfettered from traditions in the Church, and in Society, so as to be free in order to be faithful to Christ’s call to be a vital part of a ‘new deed’??

5th Sunday of lent stones

In today’s Gospel passage I can’t imagine the Scribes and Pharisees gently and respectfully bringing this lady to Jesus! We can only guess from the tone of their words that she probably would have been jostled, man handled and roughly brought to Jesus. There is an atmosphere created by the Scribes and Pharisees or delight in what they were doing. In short, it was a low act! Here in this Gospel story we see Jesus, the human face of the Father precisely doing a new deed……’neither do I condemn you, go away and sin no more’ Notice Jesus did not give a quick response to their question….they had to wait, they had to stew, and perhaps given the chance to review their condemnation. Jesus turned the tables on the Jewish leaders, and any onlookers who sided with them….’one by one, they left the scene’ because the simple message of Jesus hit the ‘quick’ in all their fingers that pointed in condemnation of the woman.

5th Sunday of Lent adulterous woman on the ground

PERSONAL REFLECTION TIME:
Are we on red alert to catch someone out? Are we more ‘at home’ with negative thoughts about other people than positive ones? Do we sometimes get pleasure in seeing good people being condemned? Even though we fast……this is Lenten Food for thought!

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Kevin and Shauna

Shauna, with her companion Fr Kevin Walsh

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4th Sunday of Lent year A (special readings, not Year C) a realhomilie by Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘Lord, that I may see the saving hand of God at work!’ kevin.w3@bigpond.com

One of the many hazards in driving a car along any road is when you are in the middle lane and another car sneaks up on your left hand side, then sits in your blind spot! (In Australia and Britain we drive on the left hand side of the road) No doubt you have been in a car or perhaps you have been the driver when this has happened to you. In responding to the situation you indicate your intention to move into the left lane, and suddenly you see the car in your rear vision mirror just in time before you collide with it. The feeling of shock and horror can cause a weakness in the knees, eruptions in the stomach, let alone a reaction to the breaks! If the unfortunate smash occurs, one could be tempted to say: “I didn’t see you there”.

Now there is another important aspect about SEEING that we need to investigate…..Sometimes, while we are deeply engaged in conversation and we are trying to explain a point, we may not think that the other person is on the same frequency, we sometimes say, ‘Do you see what I am talking about?’ So we can also use the verb to see, in this way, because it’s about tuning into a real picture about a concrete situation.

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The Gospel reading today is about the cure of a blind man. But the story has far deeper implications than just a person receiving his sight back…this story contains a great challenge to all of us, because it is about the ability to see with the eyes of faith! It’s also about the blindness of others who don’t see with the eyes of faith. Like the driver in the car, not knowing that there was another vehicle in the blind spot, we all have our own personal blind spots. Lent is a time to have a look at some of these, and with the help of God’s grace, we can make steps to develop a clearer vision, so that we may see with more clarity God’s saving activity in our lives, and in those around us.

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So, at this point we need a working definition of Faith, so that we are all on the same page. The definition that appeals to me in this instance is the word INSIGHT! By that I mean, the ability to see the saving hand of God at work in Jesus. FAITH = INSIGHT. Now, if we have the definition in mind as we troll through this Gospel passage, lots of opportunities open up where we see the growth in insight, and then its opposite, downright blindness…….the inability to SEE the saving hand of God at work. Now, this has far reaching consequences for all of us in every age and season.

Let’s go a bit deeper into the ability to see! Just imagine that you are on a mountain, which has a fantastic view; and you and the family are having a picnic. Delicious Ham sandwiches, made on fresh bread, with a little tings of English mild mustard…..and a beautiful cup of tea from your Thermos. One of the members of the family says, ‘Hey, look at the clouds, there is a man’s face!’ So, you all put down your Tea cups and look at the clouds…..one person says, ‘OH yes, I see it too.’ You say, ‘I can’t see it at all!’ And in saying that you might inwardly think that you are a bit of an idiot! Eh eh….Then the little boy who screamed out to the family, ‘Look at the man in the clouds’ says to you….’I’ll show you’, and very gently the little boy helps you to see the man in the clouds, and then all of a sudden you say, ‘I can see it too…….it just came to me…..I am so stupid that I didn’t see it right away’. Well, let’s get the record straight, you are not stupid! This little boy helped you to see it how good is that?

Now the same goes in our faith life…..God puts intercessors on our pathways to help us to see the saving hand of God at work! Often these people don’t know that they are intercessors, they just spontaneously share their ‘faith life’ that is their insight, with you and then something clicks inside us, and then we too can say……’Yes, I can see it’…. Let’s move on…….

Our sinfulness can be a form of blindness; recognizing our inner blind spots is half the battle in getting rid of them. Today’s Gospel makes a very clear point that the blind man had no problem in admitting his blindness. The amazing thing about the story is that the blind man saw more than the religious leaders could; in the sense that he saw the goodness in Jesus, and he saw the saving hand of God in Jesus. The Pharisees had perfect eyesight; yet Jesus called them blind! And sadly they remained in their blindness because they refused to acknowledge it, and seek the help, which Jesus was offering to them. There are many forms of blindness. These other forms of blindness are in some ways just as crippling to the human spirit as being visually impaired. Here are a few examples:

Selfishness: this blinds us to the needs of others;
Insensitivity: this blinds us to the hurt we’re causing others;
Snobbery: this blinds us to the equal dignity of others;
Pride: this blinds us to our own faults;
Prejudice: this blinds us to the truth;
Self-centeredness: this blinds us to the beauty of the world around us;
Materialism: this blinds us and makes us numb to spiritual values.

All these things do to the window of the eyes what curtains do to an ordinary window; they prevent the person inside from seeing what is outside. It also prevents them from recognizing what needs to be healed by the Lord within their very selves. The most important eyes of all are those of faith. The smallest child who has faith sees more than the smartest scientist who has no faith. Faith is all about seeing! It is about seeing the saving hand of God in our own lives, and within the lives of others. This kind of sight is insight; namely the ability to really see not only what God has done, but is doing right now. May the words of the song: Open my eyes Lord by Jesse Manibusan help us in our Lenten response to ‘Turn from sin and be faithful to the Gospel…

’Open my eyes, Lord; help me to see your face. Open my ears Lord help me to hear your voice. Open my heart Lord, help me to love like you.’

Heart Flame 4

kevin-3

 

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4th Sunday of Lent year C, 2019. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

On all his days on earth Jesus shows pastoral care for all sorts of people. But he shows a special affection for poor unfortunate persons, and even for extortionists and prostitutes. His opponents sneer: ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’ (Lk 15:2).

The warmth and generosity of his human caring and welcome show that in the eyes of God they are not ‘rejects’, ‘outcasts‘, losers’ and ‘no-hopers’. On the contrary, God wants to put them back together again. So in and through Jesus, those labelled the ‘lost’ come to meet the God of the lost. It’s for their sake and in their defence, that Jesus speaks his famous parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.

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The story of the lost son, the most famous just shared, has been called ‘the greatest short story in the world’. It’s not really the parable of a prodigal, i.e. of a spendthrift, as it’s usually called, but the parable of an incredibly generous father of two sons (see v.11), who in different ways have both lost their way in life.

The parable tells us a great deal about Jesus himself. His own way of acting is the starting-point of the story. He’s explaining why he ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them’ (v.2). They’re the lost ones, the ones he’s bringing home to God. For Jesus, all persons who have strayed from God are not truly themselves. So, in the midst of his failures and mistakes the lost son comes to understand that he will be happy again only in the company and home of his father. Meanwhile his father is longing for him to return, and as soon as he catches a glimpse of his son returning, he starts running along the road to embrace him and bring him home (v.20).

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When they reach the house, the father cuts short the son’s prepared speech. There’s no reprimand, not even a small dose of ‘I told you so …’ There’s no pay-back, no penance, no punishment and no recriminations. Instead the father is so glad to have his son back with him again that he gives him the robe of honour, the ring of authority, and the sandals of a son.

The Pharisees, to whom Jesus was telling this story, would have been shocked to the core at how Jesus was keeping company with people who were not only outsiders but ‘sinners’, contact with whom would bring defilement. In a sadistic way they were looking forward not to the saving but to the destruction of those whom they so easily and so self-righteously labelled ‘sinners’.

At the sound of music and dancing the eldest son comes in from the fields. His father goes out to him and pleads with him to come to the party (v.38). This eldest son believes he has done everything ‘right’, and has spent his whole life slaving away on the family farm. His attitude to his wayward brother is one of utter contempt. He even calls the prodigal not ‘my brother’ but ‘your son’.

In the details of his story, Jesus is saying that our God is not a mean book-keeping God at all, but a warm, gracious and generous Father who never stops loving, simply because he never stops wanting to save. No matter how often we may turn our backs on God and go away to do our own selfish thing, God, as in the story, waits patiently for us to come to our senses and return home. The moment we begin to admit that our selfishness has brought us only frustration and misery, shame, guilt, and self-loathing, God comes running to hug us and take us back. There he treats us not as our mistakes and sins deserve, but with tenderness and compassion. In the Eucharist he even throws a party and lavishes ‘welcome home’ gifts upon us – Christ himself in his body and blood.

Christ's body

In conclusion, let me share with you a variation on the story Jesus told. Once there were two priests in the same diocese. One of them drank too much, he was often late for appointments, the parish was deep in debt and his bookwork was a mess. Yet the people loved him. The other priest was a very capable and careful manager. He was very meticulous and exact in everything. His book-keeping was impeccable and he always treated everyone according to all the rules and regulations of the diocese. His parish had no debt. In fact, it owned substantial investments. Yet his people didn’t think much of him or warm to him at all.

That’s amazing. It seems unfair. It begs the question: ‘What did the first priest have going for him that the second one lacked?” Let’s try to figure that one out for ourselves!

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Brian Gleeson special photo

Passionist Province

 

3rd Sunday of Lent Year C: A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney, Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com Readings are taken from Year A. ‘Lord, I thirst for you, I am hungry for your Word, fill me with your life’!

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The liturgy of today reminds us strongly of our baptism. That is why I have chosen the Readings from Year A. It is the water that began to quench our thirst for all that is good and worthwhile, above all for God himself. It is the water that never dries up; for baptism is not just a ritual but life, a new way of living, a lasting attachment to the person of Christ and a union with the community of the Church. It is the life of Christ that keeps growing in us. Jesus himself nourishes this life here in the Eucharist. Let us ask him to keep giving us this living water and to make us share it with others.

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Opening Prayer

Let us pray to God
that the life of Christ in us
may be rich and full
.
(PAUSE)
Father of life
and giver of all that is good,
we want to drink your life to the full.
Let Jesus, your living Word,
speak to us from heart to heart.
Give us an unquenchable thirst
for the things that matter:
for faith and for meaning in our lives,
for hope in a better world
filled with your justice and peace,
for a spirit of committed love
that knows how to share itself.
Generously give us all these
through Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Realhomilie……..Year A readings NOT Year C. Because of the Catechumens who will be received into the Church at Easter.

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The names that we give to our children at Baptism are generally well thought out beforehand, because a person’s name is very precious; it is their identity. As we grow older, the sound of our name can be music to our ears, or the sound could herald something serious. It all depends on how our name is said. Many years ago when I went to school, we were generally called by our Surnames…Walshie has always been my name, and it continued in Seminary days even to this day, especially by the Priests and Brothers; over time it has been a name of endearment.

For our Australian Aboriginal sisters and brothers, they are generally not in a hurry to give their child a name after birth, they wait until they start to see aspects of its personality emerge. Sometimes the names that we give our children are handed down from generation to generation or they might be a special Saint’s name whose life we might strive to imitate. Our name is us! When we re call the name of a person in conversation, the whole person comes to mind….hopefully bringing smiles to our faces.

2nd Sunday of Lent year B Family

In the first reading this Sunday, we have the unveiling of God’s name through loving action. This begs the question: how do we get to know God? Well, believe it or not, we get to know God in the same way as we get to know each other. How did you meet you wife or husband? How, and when did you meet your best friend? The gradual knowledge of who that person is, becomes known to us through: 1. Intrigue…chemistry attraction. 2. A thrilling adventure opens up. 3. Trust is required. 4. Conversation fuels the development of the relationship. The same applies to God…….however, there is something a bit different. WE could never have found God, if God had not found US first!!

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Let’s have a look at Exodus Chapter 3…Moses in the quiet of the evening, sees a Bush on fire, but not burning up….what does he do? Curiosity seizes him, and he goes to check it out. The Lord God saw him going forward….and the Lord God called Moses by his name! Wow! What a surprise that must have been for Moses? The Lord God tells Moses to unstrap his sandals because the ground is holy. Here we have an act of trust required by Moses, because as he undoes his sandals, his back is open to attack! What makes this new ground holy? The budding conversation that is changing Moses forever! Then the Lord God shares a little more with Moses about who he is…..’Ah! Thinks Moses, this is the God of my ancestors…we have stories about this God’. Here the Lord God identifies with the suffering of his people, and hears their cry for help. The Lord God will deliver his people from misery, and give them their own fertile land. As this conversation gets deeper between the Lord God and Moses, another huge act of trust is required by Moses….Guess who was to be the spokesperson on behalf of the Lord God? Moses himself!!!

14th Sunday Year A Prophet Zechariah the lord remembers

Here we have the unveiling of the Divine Name….not a usual name, because a usual name cannot contain God! ‘I am who am’…..YHWH…Meaning: – You will know who I am from what my people who have experienced me say about me in their stories. You will know who I am through what I do for you. You will know who I am from what I say to you. Hence the household name for God is Adonai…Lord!

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Now today, we have a thread or theme of Water running through the three readings. Exodus 17:3-7. Romans 5:1-2. 5-8 John 4:5-42. Let’s

Have a good look at the theme of water and its profound meaning for all times and all people. Without water…we cannot exist. Without water, we would die. If our plants do not have water, they die. In fact nothing would live. When we are really thirsty, that is the only thing on our mind. We just need a drink! Our bodies are substantially made up of water. Water is the supreme symbol of LIFE!

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In the first Reading we hear God’s people screaming out for water…..they complain to Moses….the instrument of the Lord God, for bringing them out into a horrible desert. However, this means more than just wanting a cool drink; it was also a test of the people’s trust in the lord God, and a trust in Moses. But it would also turn into a real SIGN of the Lord God’s love for his grumbling people, by giving them cold water from the Rock at Meribah.

2 Lent Reflection

The response to the Psalm today is a fantastic twitter message: If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts! This message should be on every day of our Outlook Express Calendar! This saying should be one of the most significant magnet messages on our Fridge, this message should become part of our bone marrow, and should be tattooed on our arms and heart.

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Holy Spirit Brian

In the second reading from Romans, we see that the life of the Holy Spirit has been freely poured like water into our hearts! As we listen to and respond to the Holy Spirit, the ‘life’ of God runs through us, and enables us to positively respond to the Lord God’s Mission, and be Christ in the world! The Gospel today is just and incredible expose’ of the ongoing life of God offered to all! Yes, all people, no matter who they are.

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Let’s look at the Well; an ancient site of God’s benevolence to His people….a place of refreshment, a place of Life. Now, we are dealing with John’s Gospel, it is packed with symbols and deep meaning and today’s Gospel has its fair share of all of that. Let’s go deep sea diving into the symbolism. Firstly Jesus is in foreign territory…the Samaritans and the Jews really did not like each other. Jesus, followed by his companions are deliberate in making their passage into this territory and to this well. Notice that Jesus breaks a custom for a greater good by asking the Samaritan woman he she could draw some water from the well to give him a drink. She is well aware that Jesus is a Jew and takes note of the break in custom. However, this beginning of the conversation prepares the way for something ‘life changing’ for the woman and is deeply profound for all of us in all times and ages. The Johannine Community who put together this Dramatic presentation in Chapter 4, which is part of The Book of signs, is filled with evergreen meaning. Remember the conversation that Moses had with the angel of the Lord at the Burning Bush? That place became hallowed from the conversation…..here at the Well, this conversation is enabling the place and the message to be hallowed. Jesus, questions her about her Husband, and it seems that she had had a checkered career with husbands….but let’s not get hooked on that aspect, because here there is a far deeper parable at work. It would seem that the five husbands stand for the first five Books in the Torah….the Law for Israel. Jesus is saying that on that Law, He, surpasses that, but is built on that….Jesus is offering New Life, and He is the living Water. Just as in the Book of Exodus, the Lord God unveils His name…’I am who am’ YHWH, he we see the Divine name being revealed by Jesus to the Samaritan woman. Note that in the Gospel text Jesus says to the woman, ‘I who am speaking to you’, said Jesus, ‘I am he’. Notices that Jesus also says that He is food….food like the Manna in the Desert……another action….SACRAMENT of nourishment, inclusion and mission!

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Notice that it the Gospel today as always, Jesus invites us to wholesomeness…..I believe that means holiness! Holiness is not measured by the calluses on our knees, but by the nimbleness of our hearts…the sweetness of our relationships, not by arrogance, not by superiority, not by pomposity in the name of Religion…nor appearing like an Emperor of the Church….but the real symbols of holiness is a towel, a basin and a water jug!

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God speaks to us through his Word, because it is always evergreen. God speaks to us through His living Body – God’s People, the Church. God is present with us, and in us, through the Eucharist………We become, what we eat! God speaks to us through His Word….God shows us his voice in our sisters and brothers. Maybe our Lenten prayer could well be…’Speak Lord your Servant is listening’…..instead of, ‘Listen Lord, your servant is speaking’. Food for Thought! In the Biblical Scriptures, WATER is a very important and strong theme. Its theme focuses in on the very nurturing from God….namely, ‘life giving’.

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We are now half way through Lent….let’s do a different kind of examination of conscience…

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THE WOMAN AT THE WELL.

ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.

A woman named SAD-OF HEART met Jesus at the well. Sighing with relief she placed the burden of her leaden heart at his feet. “No one cares”, She cried to him. He turned her face to him and held it in his strong hands. He just loved her. ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.

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

A woman named ANGRY discovered Jesus at the well. “Why isn’t anyone willing to listen to me?” she shouted. “What do I do that turns away my chances of being heard? Must I be a first class story teller just to get a hearing?” Jesus took her anger as one receives a gift and said, “Speak to me. My heart is ready, my heart is ready.” And so we pray: – If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.

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

A woman named WANTING-TO FALL-IN-LOVE-AGAIN sought Jesus at the well. The light in her eyes spoke the questions in her heart. “How can I fall in love all over again? What will it look like when I do and how will I know I have?” Radiant with joy, Jesus smiled at her and said, “if only you recognized God’s Gift…the desire to love is already loving…!” ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.

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

A woman named WAITING-IN-STILLNESS sat with Jesus at the well. She looked at his face. She said nothing. She held her heart in readiness.

‘Give me your heart.” Jesus said, ‘I want to fill the emptiness. I want to mend the brokenness. I want to give it the shape of my own.” ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.

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

A woman named APOSTLE raced to Jesus at the well. “Hurry,” she cried,

“There’s so much to do! I’m busy, I’m tired, but come on, let’s get moving!”

Jesus replied: “Let me stay with you awhile. You are bread for the world, but let me take you, bless you, break you open. Let ME give you to others…”

And so we pray: – If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.  

Listening

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Shauna with her companion, Fr Kevin

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3rd SUNDAY OF LENT year C, 2019. by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. OUR SPIRITUALITY

If we browse through the magazines in our doctor’s or dentist’s waiting-rooms, we will probably come across an article on spirituality. Lately too, the lists of best-sellers often include works related to the human spirit or soul. People are no longer satisfied with material things only. So, in their search for satisfaction and self-fulfilment today, people have been looking for meaning and value beyond the material and the physical.

So far, so good! But not all agree on what is meaningful and valuable in life. For some, being ‘spiritual’ is focussed on a sense of harmony with all living things, and openness to the great power upholding our intricate universe. For others it includes meditation and relaxation exercises for the sake of inner peace and calmness and for the sake of greater physical and mental energy. For some it’s mixed up with trances or alleged messages from outer space or from dead friends and relatives. In so-called ‘New Age Spirituality’ it often involves tarot cards and crystals.

In some searches for the spiritual there is a concentration on the ‘self ‘ rather than on the ‘Other’ or ‘the others’. There is little or no awareness at all of such people in need as the poor and the suffering. In other searches for the spiritual there is little sense of the reality of evil. Everything in the garden is rosy. Everything is viewed through rose-coloured glasses. Such spiritualities seem rather selfish and inward-looking, or an escape from reality and a flight into fantasy.

But there’s another kind of spirituality – Christian spirituality – which you and I have been sincerely trying to live. It’s based on the conviction that a meaningful life is all about good relationships. In relation to ourselves we know that ‘God doesn’t make junk’. So we value ourselves and respect our own dignity, and we work on becoming better persons, knowing that God is patient with us, and hasn’t finished with us yet. In relation to other people, we look for the good in them, and deal with them with acceptance, trust, affection and care. In relation to God we treat God as our origin, the ultimate source of our existence. We treat God too as the one who sustains us through all the ups and downs of life. And we treat God as our final destiny, the one who is waiting to take us into his embrace at the end of this life.

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So for us life is both personal and interpersonal. God is much more than the great Architect, who designed this amazing universe, and much more than the great Clockmaker, who keeps it ticking over. No! God is Father, Mother, Friend, and Love Itself with a capital ‘L’. We hear God speaking to us, and we respond to God. With thoughts, words and actions of praise and thanksgiving! With thoughts, words and actions of love and self-offering! We converse with God as familiarly as friends talk with one another, as intimately as a wife speaks with her husband, or as children chat with their parents.

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So, in today’s First Reading we hear God say (directly to Moses, and indirectly to us): ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of your fathers and mothers. ‘I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt. I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave-drivers. . . . I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them up out of that land to a land rich and broad, a land where milk and honey flow.’ In response to this powerful assurance from God that God cares when people suffer, that God is a liberator who acts to deliver people from oppression of every kind, we have answered again and again: ‘The Lord is kind and merciful; the Lord is kind and merciful’.

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Our conversation with God continues in this Mass we are celebrating together. In a few moments we will be declaring in the Creed all that God has done for us and for our people down the ages. In our Prayer of the Faithful we will speak words of trust and petition. In our Eucharistic Prayer, we will start with words of joyful praise and thanksgiving, and go on to words of petition for a variety of people both living and dead.

In short, our spirituality as Christians is immensely and intensely personal and interpersonal. We sense that our God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. We cannot stop ourselves from reaching out to the love and goodness which is God. In fact we cannot even understand ourselves or describe ourselves, except in relation to God. So much so that we are convinced that God enters into the very definition of who we are as human beings. We find meaning and value in a personal and community relationship with a personal God, a God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the God whom we meet in our readings from scripture! This is our kind of spirituality!

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

Passionist Province