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31st Sunday Year A, 2017. A Sunday Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. LEADERSHIP AND AUTHORITY.

31st Sunday Year A, 2017. A Sunday Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. LEADERSHIP AND AUTHORITY.

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A major in the army, wearing his epaulettes and service medals, was in his new office, when an army private knocked on the door. To impress the private the major called out in a pompous voice: ‘Come in, soldier! I’ll be right with you after I answer this phone call.’ Then speaking into the phone the major said: ‘Well, General, it’s good to hear your voice. How can I help you?’ A pause followed. Then the major said: ‘Fine, General, I’ll call the Prime Minister within the hour.’ Then he said to the private who was staring at the floor nervously: ‘Now, soldier, what can I do for you?’ Without looking up, the private said in a low voice: ‘Sir, my sergeant sent me to connect your phone for you.’


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That major caught himself out. He showed himself to be something of a liar, a fake, and a hypocrite, the very things that in the gospel today Jesus both accused the Pharisees of being, and cautioned his followers not to be.

When I read those words of Jesus, however, and ask myself how they apply to me, I have to admit they make me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Here I am up the front, wearing long robes, and being called ‘Father’. Let me assure you, then, that I’m not here to parade, or show off, or to make out that I’m a better or superior person to any one of you. I sincerely strive to make my own the words of the psalmist today: ‘O Lord, my heart is not proud nor haughty my eyes. I have not gone after things too great nor marvels beyond me’.

13th Sunday year A Africa

Authority in any organisation, the Church included, is meant to be a gift. It is meant to be shown in loving service and support of others, not in domination and control. It’s just not good enough to make people simply comply and obey. People may do that on the outside, while on the inside they are seething with rage and resentment. The challenge for all leaders is to get others onside, to win their hearts and minds, to persuade and convince them that this or that is the right thing to do. That, of course, requires all the skills that go into winning friends and influencing people. In fact, that’s the only kind of authority that works in any community nowadays, the family included.

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Again and again in his teaching Jesus insists that we must not dominate, lord it over, or oppress others! He teaches over and over that God invites, calls, attracts and charms, rather than controls, directs, and regulates! He teaches too that the greatest in any group are those who love and serve the others!

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So that we might do a better job than we have done so far of living those teachings of Jesus, let us pray together to the Lord, in the rest of our Eucharist today, for both ourselves and one another!

Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP


30th Sunday Year A, 2017. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia, based on the Readings…..LOVING GOD IN LOVING NEIGHBOUR.

30th Sunday Year A, 2017. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia, based on the Readings…..LOVING GOD IN LOVING NEIGHBOUR.

30th Sunday year A street kids

A mother in a country town a long way from here became very concerned about the children she saw in the streets of her town. She was convinced that they were wild, unruly and disrespectful. She called them ‘ferals‘, and to anyone who would listen she would say: ‘Parents no longer teach their children to be obedient.’ She made up her mind this would never happen in her family, and so she insisted on total and absolute obedience. Either her children did exactly what she told them to do, or they were punished very severely.

30th Sunday year A obedient dogs

For disobeying any of her orders or breaking any of her rules, she stopped them going out to play or going to their friends’ homes, sent them to bed without a meal, gave them no pocket money, stopped them from getting or giving Christmas presents, cancelled their birthday parties, refused to let them get a driver’s licence when they were old enough, and stopped them going to university. She was a real tyrant.

30th Sunday year A strict mother

Her campaign was very successful. Her children were very obedient and respectful. On the outside, that is. On the inside, they were seething. Finally, when they were older, every one of them moved away from their mother as far as they could. As things turned out, they were all very successful in their careers. One day the mother got on the phone to her youngest daughter and complained: ‘Why don’t any of you love me? Didn’t I teach you the discipline you needed to succeed in your work?’ ‘Yeah,’ said the young woman, ‘but you never loved us.’

30th Sunday year A lovely kids

That mother goes to church every Sunday. Every Sunday she receives the risen Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine. Every Sunday she hears the teaching of Jesus. But she completely misses the point of his teaching. His teaching that the most important thing in life is having good, happy, harmonious and peaceful relationships, relationships of love! Having love for God and love for fellow human beings as the two hinges on the door to life!

Jacobs well 3

The need and the requirement to both love God and care for others as much as we care for ourselves, were already well known in the Jewish community of Jesus. What is new and original with him is his insistence that you cannot have one without the other. What is new and original with him is that the test and proof of our love for God is our love for others. What is also new and fresh about the teaching of Jesus is that obeying any of the laws of God has to be done with love. Love must be the energy that empowers all our efforts to be good people and all our efforts to do good things.

13th Sunday of Year A Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa 2

In the teaching of Jesus too, love for neighbour includes every other human being without exception. Wasn’t his answer to the question put to him, ‘who is my neighbour?’ to tell his famous story of the Good Samaritan. And isn’t the point of that story that the neighbour God calls me to love is always the person who needs me and needs me now? For example, the man up the street who has just lost his wife to cancer; the woman over the road who is old and bedridden but has no family to visit her; the asylum seeker languishing in detention in Villawood or Maribyrnong with no-one to support his claims for a safe home and a new life for his family; the drought-stricken farmer watching his sheep die one by one, his breeding-stock among them.

30th Sunday year A asylum seekers 2

Of course we could not possibly be ready to love all other persons, were it not for the example of Jesus himself, and for the gift of his Spirit, the Holy Spirit of love. Without Jesus and the Spirit, we could not forgive those who hurt and harm us. Without Jesus and the Spirit we could not reach out to someone we don’t like, or to someone who is not part of our comfort zone of family and friends. But with Jesus and his Spirit, we can do good and great things for others, even for complete strangers we have never met before. This is just what was happening during the nightmare of the two Bali bombings that happened over seventeen years ago this month. It brought out the best in those generous people – quite a few – who cared more for the safety of other victims than they cared for themselves. More recently it brought out the best in all those brave people who rescued the wounded in the Los Vegas massacre.

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For that gift of love – generous, unselfish, and wholehearted love for God, and generous, unselfish, and wholehearted love for neighbour – let us come to the table of the Lord today! Let us also pray to the Lord during the rest of our Eucharist together, that bit by bit every single one of us here will become a more loving, a more caring, and a more self-giving person!

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Brian Gleeson special photo

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28th Sunday Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. COME TO THE WEDDING, READY OR NOT!

00005585_h Wedding Banquet

From time to time, we receive Wedding invitations; some of them, when we open the envelope hundreds of little glitter hearts fall out, and eventually end up of the floor…..what a mess! Then the dog starts licking them up and we get worried for its health…and then the Vacuum cleaner has decided not to work! Oh bother!

So, a typical Invitation could well be like this……….

Mr and Mrs Hughes request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their son Jason, with Suzanne Fairburn, at St. Polycarp’s Church, Cherrybrook , on the 22nd of November, 2017 at 2.00 PM, afterwards at the Wedding Reception Centre ‘Romeo and Juliet’s’, 210 Lovers jump Creek Road, Dural. Dress Formal. RSVP: November 1, 2017. Our email address is:

No Confetti to be used, just gold coins!

To assist you with Gift ideas, please visit our website:


(Gifts range from $50 -$5,000)

So runs a standard invitation.

28th Sunday year A wedding invite

After we have wiped up all the glitter with a damp cloth and rinsed the Dog’s mouth out, we really are not in a good mood to look at the Calendar…..But we do! Oh No!!!!!!!!!!! Its Aunty Maye’s 100th birthday, and we are having a celebration at the Lady of Grace Nursing home, and a letter from Queen Elizabeth, marking the grand occasion will be read out!….. Then we say to ourselves……we’ll deal with it later………do we????? Or is it like a whole Litany of things lately, like the following: – TO DO CHECK LIST:

28th Sunday year A to do lists

  • There is that email letter I know that I should write, but just now I’m just not in the mood.
  • There is that sick person I know I should visit, but right now my favourite TV programme: ‘Vera Stanhope’s Murder Mysteries is due to start in 5 minutes.
  • I know I need to pray, but I just don’t seem to be able to find time for it.
  • I know I should make an effort to get to Mass on time (or just to get to Mass at all) but something always gets in the way, and somehow I am sort of pleased about the outcome.
  • I know that I should be more charitable towards X, but I just can’t summon up the will to make the effort.
  • I know that dishonesty is wrong, but I tell myself that everybody does it, and what I do is minor compared to what others are up to.
  • I know I don’t do my job as well as I should, but why should I break my back when others aren’t pulling their weight?
  • I know that I should go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the Church, but I just can’t be bothered…the list goes on….. ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock……whoever hears my voice and opens the door…..’
  • Christ the light of the world

  • READINGS: Isaiah 25:6-10  Psalm 22 Matthew 22:1-14

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  • Today in the First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we get a lovely picture painted for us about the joy and excitement of the Lord God’s deep desire to celebrate a huge Party on the Mountain of encounter between the Lord and His people. The description of the foods for sharing and the accommodation for God’s people far exceeds that of the Dorchester Hotel, in Park Lane, London!
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  • For God’s people who recognise the quality, the call and the hope that the Lord God has for us is limitless. With that in mind the Responsorial Psalm is just as appropriate as our community Response to the First Reading….’I shall live in the House of the Lord, all the days of my life.’  In St. Matthew’s Gospel for today, this theme of the Wedding Invitation, the need for a RSVP, and the Banquet itself, takes on a deeper meaning………Namely, that the Lord God has been inviting His beloved people to His Wedding Banquet for Centuries…..Let’s remember that in the great Marriage relationship, par excellence, is the Marriage between the Groom….God, and His Bride….Us….yes, men and women just like us. The clarion call has been going out for Millennia; the Gospel invitation is about that constant invitation and a variety of responses……the face have changed, but the message remains the same…..However, there is an important development in today’s Gospel, which should not be put in the TOO HARD BASKET. What about the person who as a last resort, with all the others, responds to this fantastic invitation, but is not wearing his Wedding garment?
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  • Can’t he be forgiven for not having time to go to the Department Store in Jerusalem and hire a suit? Let’s be careful not to slip in to a literal explanation for showing up in his jeans and T shirt, and not in a suit! Let’s be curious then………What did not Gospel community of Matthew have in mind as they put together this important story which throws heaps of light of the mystery of God’s call to all of us? It would seem that the Wedding garment which in this case, is missing, is the fruits of heeding the Law of God, and wearing the fruits of a positive to the Lord God’s Covenant love……In short, if God’s Word has not been responded to after hearing it proclaimed throughout history, the unfortunate chap, who gets kicked out, represents those of like mind. Remember that grand judgement scene where the good people will say, when did we feed you and clothe you and visit you? The just Judge will respond…’Whatever you did to the least of my sisters and brothers, you did it to me.’…..The opposite reply comes from the bad people! Let’s not get caught up in feeling sorry for the bad people: – the Lord God’s mercy and love is always asking us to return to the sheepfold, so it is deafness and selective hearing on behalf of the bad people.As we come closer to the end of the Church year, and the Year of Matthew, we really need to SEE, JUDGE AND ACT on our ongoing response to God. We can easily fall into the trap of lethargy as we saw in the Litany of the TO DO LIST, earlier on. We can easily drift on and on as if there is unlimited time for us, when in fact our human life will definitely come to an end in death, and our life will continue in a changed state of being. The measure of that quality of ‘new life’ after death, will be commensurate with the living of our faith, good works, and mercy and love today

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  • FRACTION RITE: This takes place at the Lamb of God. (you might like to pray this at that time.)  We give thanks to God our Father. He invites us today to celebrate the Wedding Feast of His Son, with His Church. From all the sea roads of the World, we who are many, gather as one, around this Eucharistic Table. From here, we are sent out to all the crossroads to give His invitation to everyone we meet.

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Fr Kevin Walsh   Sydney Australia

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28th Sunday Year A, 2017. A Biblical Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. SHARING AND CARING.

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If we look deep into our hearts, we will discover that among our many longings there is one for good relationships with other people. We long to be at peace with them, to be at home with them, to live in peace and harmony, to get on well with them, to cooperate with them, to be, to support them, and to enjoy their company. In a nutshell, we have a very deep longing for companionship, community and communion. We know deep down, that try as we might to be masters of our own fate, to be captains of our own souls, to be rugged individuals, to make it on our own, to be self-made and self-sufficient, we simply cannot survive and we certainly cannot thrive without other people in our lives. Our longing for belonging makes that very clear.

Picture-21 Wedding pic outside the church

While the French philosopher, John-Paul Sartre has said: ‘hell is other people’, he was surely overlooking the greater truth that so too is heaven. I suggest too that the call to community, to togetherness, is some part of what Jesus meant when he said that the kingdom of God, the reign of God, is like a wedding feast to which all sorts of people have been invited to come together. In fact, we cannot have the company of God, and we cannot experience and savour the love of God, without being connected with and in contact with, other human beings. This is so true that the Second Vatican Council, in its document on the meaning of the Church, said that God saves us (and therefore re-makes and transforms us), not as isolated individuals but as members of a people – the people of God, a sharing people, a people in communion. (The Church #8)

00005585_h Wedding Banquet

But perhaps in response to God’s invitation to share Jesus Christ as embodied in one another, to dine together at the table of the Lord, to enjoy one another’s company, to offer friendship and love to others both at Mass and beyond, and to reach out to them with acceptance, interest, care and concern, that like those selfish and self-centred individualists in the gospel today we keep saying: ‘No! Not now! Not yet! I have to work my farm. I have to look after my business. I have no time to mix with others, no time to socialize. I don’t want to get involved and mix with them. Don’t expect to find me standing, kneeling, and sitting down with all those strangers, let alone meeting them personally. I’m just not coming to the feast. What do you take me for?’

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If we find ourselves saying ‘no’ to others, no to companionship, no to communion, no to community, no to caring and sharing, how are we ever going to make God’s dream come true for us all – people of our faith, people of other faiths, and people of no faith? How on earth are we going to help God’s dream come true, his dream for us all, his dream that is reflected in that popular anthem: ‘We are one, and we are many, and from all the lands on earth we come … I am, you are, we are Australian?’ If we keep on saying ‘no’ to others, blocking them out of our lives, or worse, discriminating against anyone who is different, how are we going to make that dream of Jesus come true for his followers: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all’ (Ephesians 4:5), so ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15:12)?

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There is yet another application of the image of the wedding feast. It is summed up in the challenge that is expressed in a fourth-century inscription on the wall of an ancient church in Syria. It says to the people as they assemble for every Sunday Mass: ‘Let no one stay away. If you do, you will deprive the body of Christ of one of its members.’

Family photo

So let’s remember that, any time we would rather stay home from church – to surf the net, wash the car, prune the roses, bake a cake, walk the dog, paint the spare room, anything at all but join with the rest of the body of Christ in praise and thanksgiving to God. For God’s gifts of life and health, and for God’s gift of life together, life shared, life in common, the life and soul of our parish community!

Examination of conscience

Brian Gleeson

Bro.Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP


27th Sunday year A, 2017. A Biblical Reflection on the Sunday Readings from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. BEING FRUITFUL AND PRODUCTIVE.

27th Sunday year A Paul O Riely

Paul O’Reilly, an Irish priest and doctor, has written about his experience of working in a dysfunctional hospital overseas. It had a bad reputation and patients didn’t want to go there. The staff was always angry, bickering, and rude to the patients. Many came late to work. Some didn’t come at all. Some came drunk.

As a result, the patients didn’t get good service. Equipment seldom worked. When one tried to call the maintenance persons, no one answered. Or they couldn’t come. Or they wouldn’t. The pharmacy didn’t have most of the medicine it was supposed to have. So when a doctor tried to get medicines for patients, the medicines were never available, or only available by handing over a bribe.

The laboratory had only a few tests that the technicians would do, even though they had the equipment for many more. The whole place was dirty and untidy. In fact, the total scene was one giant mess.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Truth

Then one day, the management called a meeting. It was a tense, horrible meeting. The chief executive explained that because of the very poor performance of the hospital, it was threatened with closure in six months’ time. If that happened, everyone would lose their jobs.

Cleaning lady 2 is

Very quickly there was a change in the attitude of the staff. They didn’t like to work, but what they did like was getting paid at the end of each month. Suddenly, people started coming to work on time, staying their full hours, and working hard and cheerfully. And almost immediately the whole atmosphere in the hospital changed. People were co-operative.
Pieces of equipment were nearly always working when needed. Clinics worked efficiently. The pharmacy was well stocked with medicines. The laboratory did all its tests. Staff became very polite to patients.

Six months later, the management called another meeting. The CEO reported that the hospital had come within three days of closing. But now it had a reprieve and could continue. So management and staff threw a big party, pooled food and drink, and danced the night away.

So, what happened next? Did it slip back to the way it was before it was threatened with closure? Or did it stay good? A most pleasant surprise, Paul reports, is that it remained an efficient hospital.

At first the staff had made a big effort for one reason and one reason only. That was to save their jobs! But now that that their jobs were safe, they discovered that they actually liked the feeling of being good workers in a good hospital with a good reputation. They also now realized exactly what it had taken to make their hospital good. It was a price they were prepared to keep on paying. So, just in time, they had learned what their lives as health workers was all about, and how a hospital exists to serve people.

We Christians like to think of ourselves as the new tenants of God’s vineyard, God’s people today. We have taken over from the old tenants, the scribes and Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders of the Jewish people. They failed to care properly for their people. They neglected, bullied and oppressed those in their care. They tortured and killed God’s messengers, the prophets. They even rejected and killed Jesus, God’s very own Son and God’s greatest messenger. In short, they kept letting God down, turning their backs on God, and failing to produce the fruit that God expected from his vineyard.

27th Sunday year A Vineyards

What about us and our responsibilities and commitments? How fruitful and productive are our lives? How well are we caring for our people, the ones who are our responsibility and concern? How much time and attention are we giving them? How much do we put ourselves out to serve them? How strong is our love for them? How generous and unselfish are we towards them? Can we truly say that we have made other people the centre of our lives, just as Jesus, known as ‘the man for others’ [Dietrich Bonhoeffer] made his people the centre of his life? What have we done so far for Jesus and for the people in our care? What do we intend doing for him and for others from now on? More immediately, in this coming week, how will we make our lives more fruitful and productive? How?

Brian Gleeson special photo

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25th Sunday Year A, 2017. A Biblical Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson, CP, Melbourne Australia. WINNERS AND LOSERS.

25th Sunday year A Fairytales

Fairytales bring special joy to children because they are full of surprises. Losers become winners. Cinderella gets her prince. Goldilocks escapes from the three bears. Hansel and Gretel get rid of the wicked witch. Princess Fiona recognises something beautiful in Shrek, the green ogre. Nemo, the clown-fish boy, comes up with great plans to swim out of the dentist’s fish-tank and thwart the dentist’s fish-killing niece.

Things are more complex for adults. We go through life with fixed ideas about justice. This comes out in such sayings as ‘if you want something you must earn it’; ‘you get what you work for’; ‘you get what you pay for’; ‘if you fall down, you’ve only got yourself to blame’; ‘never expect a hand-out’; ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’; ‘you’ll get yours’, i.e. your just desserts.

14th Sunday year A Mother Teresa

Yet we know, on the other hand, that the most important thing in life, which is being loved by another, is not something that we earn, or something that we deserve. It’s something which is given to us, something which depends simply on the choice and goodness of the one who loves us with no strings attached, the one who loves us out of sheer generosity.


In the pages of the gospels we meet many people who start out as losers but end up as winners. They are the physically crippled, the emotionally crippled, the spiritually crippled, and the economically crippled. They are the prodigal sons, the outcasts, the overlooked, and the ones whom the powerful and respectable simply ignore or shun. The losers end up winners because Jesus makes a clear choice in their favour. Why does he do so? Simply because Jesus knows and teaches that God’s ways are not our ways, that God does not work from the mathematics of a calculator but from the fullness of God’s loving heart.


Jesus illustrates this in his parable today about a landowner and his employees. The employer’s generosity to the latecomers in paying them a full day’s wage, the same amount he paid the first workers, makes the first group as mad as hell. So they complain bitterly to their employer. The landowner defends himself with three questions to the grumblers: – 1. ‘Did we not agree on one denarius?’ he asks; 2. ‘Have I no right to do what I like with my own [money]?’; and 3. ‘Why be envious because I am generous?’

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The landowner, of course, is God – our gracious, loving, merciful God, who gives us far more than we could ever earn, deserve or hope for. The story Jesus told illustrates the difference between God’s generosity and our sense of strict justice.

Every year, round about the start of Advent, our church draws our attention to the four last things – death; judgment, heaven, hell. To speak for myself, the prospect of the judgment, both at the end of my life and at the end of time, fills me at times with fear. I ask myself: ‘What will God say to me?’ ‘What will God do to me?’ ‘What will become of me?’ When thoughts like that start to trouble me, I turn my thoughts to Jesus Christ, our Saviour. I remember how he was known as ‘the friend of sinners’, and that it was said of him: ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ I remember the prayer of the repentant tax collector just inside the temple doors: ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ I remember too the words of St Paul to the Romans (4:25): ‘he died for our sins and rose for our justification [our transformation)’. Thinking of all that Jesus our loving and forgiving Saviour has done for us, I keep placing my trust in him, and keep saying to him with St Peter as he starts to sink beneath the waves: ‘Lord, save me!’

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Thinking also of all that Jesus has taught about God and God’s ways, I take heart and hope from the words in our first Reading today: ‘Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near’, and from those in our Psalm: ‘The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.’

13th Sunday of Year A Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa 2

There is something else that comes out of God’s message to us today. This is it! Since God is so kind to all, and since God has a special preference for the strugglers, the battlers, the broken, the lost, the lonely, and the losers of this world, and does everything possible to make the last came first, so should we. So the children in our parish community should not be judging other kids by their looks, or whether they get to play sport for the school, or whether they wear the latest jeans or sports shoes. None of us should feel smug or superior or contemptuous towards someone who lives in a fibro house, or works in a factory, or earns less than we do, or who cannot afford full school fees. Or towards someone who makes their great come-back to God only on their death-bed, or towards somebody who has only recently joined our church, or towards people who have come among us only the other day as migrants, asylum-seekers or refugees.

13th Sunday year A Africa

In fact, there is only one standard to follow in all our dealings with others. This is the standard of the acceptance, the welcome, the goodness, the graciousness, the kindness, the mercy, and the generosity of God. Surely our approach all boils down to that WWJD question, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’

Brian Gleeson special photo


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

God's Word

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

14th Sunday year A Sharing the cross

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

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

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

22nd Sunday Nelson Mandela 1

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

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

Cross of Jesus

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

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

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

Holy Week 2

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

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

Carry the cross thQN90JEOZ

Brian Gleeson special photo

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