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Ascension Day Year A, 2017. A Biblical reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. HOORAY FOR JESUS!

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HOORAY FOR JESUS!

In our Creed today we will be saying of Jesus: ‘He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.’ What picture comes to mind when we think of Jesus ascending to heaven? Do we picture him conquering space by going up into the stratosphere like a space ship at Cape Canaveral? If we do, we show that we don’t realize that the words of scripture about this are not to be taken literally. They are a poetic and picture-book way of saying that Jesus is no longer on earth in a physical and material way. In his risen transformed body he has gone to God and lives with God in light and glory. They mean that God who raised him from the dead has honoured and exalted him.

His going to God is the climax of his life on earth. He now enjoys full face-to-face encounter with God. That’s what we call ‘being in heaven’. But being with God in heaven he became, in the words of our Psalm today, ‘great king over all the earth’, in close contact with our world and its inhabitants.

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For forty days he kept appearing from God to different groups of his followers, to strengthen their faith, trust and love. Since Easter Sunday we too have had forty days for thinking about all the different ways in which we still experience Jesus meeting and guiding us. Vatican II has emphasised this: ‘Christ is always present in the church [community], and especially in her liturgical celebrations’ (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #7). For the last forty days, then, we have in fact been giving particular attention to his presence in the liturgy and especially the Eucharist. There in special ways his love keeps radiating from him to us.

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We experience his presence and love in our being with one another, our fellow-followers of Jesus. We experience his presence and love in listening to and taking to heart the message of the Readings, in which he keeps speaking to us words from God. We experience his presence and love when we come to his table. There he gives us his body broken for us and his blood and life poured out for us. We experience his presence and love also in our priest leading us in prayer, and in our readers, ministers of communion, musicians, singers and altar servers, all servants of Christ in our shared celebrations. Finally, we experience his presence and love as we go back into the world from which we came, but now strengthened, refreshed, and more determined than ever to make our world a better place by our loving outreach to all sorts of needy people.

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Go tell the world

As we keep on being ‘good news’ people, people who live what we hear and believe, Jesus our Risen Lord stays with us. In the words of the Gospel today, he stays with us ‘always … to the end of time’. The forty days of his continuing presence to his first disciples are, in fact, a powerful symbol of the Christian journey of our lives as well. It’s a journey in which he walks and talks with us every step of the way, just as he walked and talked with those two friends travelling with him from Jerusalem to Emmaus on that first Easter Sunday afternoon.

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Today, however, we might want for a little while to forget about us and just look at him, and express our joy that at the end of his life’s journey, God raised Jesus to life and took him to himself in the eternal embrace of love that is ‘heaven’. Just like us, Jesus spent his life dreaming of this day. His whole being longed to see God face-to-face, and to enjoy without distraction the sharing of love for which we are all created and for which at least deep down we are all yearning. So today we say ‘Hooray for Jesus!’ that he has reached his destination. His time of waiting and his time of suffering are over. Nothing now can ever come between the longings of his heart and the joy of their fulfilment in God.

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So, in short, we rejoice that he remains forever in communion with God the Father and with you and me, his body on earth. Nothing, nothing at all, can stop the love that keeps beating in the great heart of Jesus.

Lastly, our celebration of his ascension reminds us to let ourselves experience the absence of Jesus as well as his presence. Like his first followers we are sad at his no longer being here with us in the flesh, where we might have seen him, heard him and touched him. But missing his physical presence reminds us that we are not meant to find our final home in this world. Our journey continues, a journey of both joy and suffering, as was his.

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Meanwhile, let us experience encouragement from his Last Supper words to us: ‘I will come again and take you to, myself, so that where I am, you may also be’ (John 14:3)!

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6th Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A Homelitec reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. BEING TRUE TO OURSELVES AND OTHERS.

 BEING TRUE TO OURSELVES AND OTHERS.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Holy Spirits gifts

Truth matters. So much so that Jesus says to us today: ‘I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive…’ (Jn 14: 16-17a).

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There’s a well-known saying: ‘Honesty is the best policy!’ I tend to agree. Some time ago, I saw a very touching movie, one of the best I’ve ever seen, called Secrets and Lies. It’s about a white woman who gave birth to a black daughter, and who was kept from seeing and sharing with her daughter all through her growing-up years. The story unfolds and undoes the secrets and lies that had kept mother and daughter strangers to each other during that long time.

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The movie illustrates just how much the truth matters. So we want the facts and nothing but the facts, we call for truth in politics and truth in advertising, and in a court of law, we are expected to swear to the truth of what we say – ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’. We experience more and more protesters calling on us to ‘speak truth to power’, in both civil society and the Church.

The actual facts tend to speak for themselves. Just as important as sticking to the facts and telling it like it is, however, is to be known and valued as honest, sincere, genuine, trust-worthy people, who don’t deceive, mislead, or cover-up. Experience too tells us that to sustain and develop our relationships, openness, honesty, and transparency are not simply optional but absolutely necessary.

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It’s also a fact of life that we human beings cannot cope with too much reality. So we don’t take kindly to anyone blurting out our faults and failings to our faces, attacking and abusing us, even though they may be telling the unvarnished truth. For the sake of our self-esteem and self-respect, something more is needed than just telling the truth to another. That something more is courtesy and politeness, patience and gentleness, understanding and tact. While deep down we want to face the truth for the sake of our integrity, we will take it much more readily from those who show they are on our side – people who care about us, people who support us.

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What’s all this got to do with the teaching of Jesus today? A great deal, I suggest. Jesus, who has just called himself ‘the truth’, as well as ‘the way’ and ‘the life’, is telling his friends, ourselves among them, that he has to go away. That’s the plain truth. But some day he will come back to earth, and his followers will see him again. That’s the second truth he tells. He goes on to share a third truth. For the time in-between, he is sending us the Holy Spirit, his second self, to be our adviser, mediator, advocate and support.

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Holy Spirit Brian

We rejoice, then, that the same Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who was the source of Jesus’ own honesty, truthfulness and integrity, is given to us and stays with and among us. Unless, of course, we deliberately decide to be ‘people of the lie’ – an expression of the writer F. Scott Peck – living lives of spin, hypocrisy and deception! To illustrate! The Nestle food company recently claiming that the gift of water belongs to corporations and not to the whole human race! The slogan of those clamouring for abortion on demand – ‘my life, my body, my choice’! The advocates of so-called ‘clean coal’! The ‘trickle-down’ theory of free market economics! The recent line – or is it a lie? – that 65 billion dollars of company tax cuts will benefit low and middle income earners, and not just company millionaires! The problematic claim of our National Anthem that ‘for those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share’! True for some, no doubt, but not for all! Definitely not true for those thousands of human beings who arrived by boat seeking protection from persecution in their homelands, but who today find themselves languishing in indefinite offshore detention!

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Go tell the world

That same Spirit of Jesus that animated him ‘to go about doing good’ (Acts 10:38) and only good, is available to us 24/7 to empower us to be as truthful as Jesus. Jesus is also assuring us today that the Spirit of truth given to us is also the Spirit of love, empowering us to also imitate Jesus in the ways he communicated the truth. This was not only in straight-forward ways, but also with courtesy, politeness and gentleness, along with patience, understanding and tact.

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For that gift of Jesus to us of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of love, given for our day-to-day dealings with our fellow-human beings, let us give thanks in the rest of our prayer together today! And let us pray that when we need to speak the truth to others, including speaking truth to power, that supported and guided by the Holy Spirit, we will always speak it without fear or favour, as well as with respect and love, care and concern!

6th Sunday after Easter year A God's purposes

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Brian Gleeson

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6th Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. JESUS STANDS BY HIS PROMISES.

JESUS STANDS BY HIS PROMISES.

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I don’t like saying Goodbye to people, especially if they are part of the family, or have become so, through being loyal great friends. However, Goodbyes are part and parcel of our human existence. That sounds like a cold, philosophical statement to me. So, in our homes we often have little ornaments or pictures which have been given to us by people who are ‘close‘to us, which reminds us of them!

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Photograph album

Our photograph albums, in days gone by contained many of our closest memories. These days, we seem to take more photos than ever before…..most of them seem to be selfies! However, many others in our photos files within our Mobile phones, to the tune of thousands of pics, are not generally pics of us, but include other special people with us. We don’t look at all these pics every day, otherwise we would not have time to eat and sleep, let alone go to work! But we know where our treasured pics are! When we look at them or show them to other people, the memory of them comes alive, and we are filled with the ‘thrill’ of that memory shared. That kind of ‘thrill’ I believe is the first cousin to the experience of the two disciples after they recognised Jesus, as the Christ when He broke bread with them at Emmaus! Then upon reflection after the events on the road, coupled with The Supper, they said….’Did not our hearts burn within us as He unravelled the Scriptures to us?’

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In today’s Gospel, Jesus is preparing his friends for his departure in the way in which they have known Him and loved Him. But it is also a change for Jesus, too. He will love His followers in a different way as well. But the bottom line is that it is the same Jesus whom they followed in His earthly life. It is the same Christ who revealed Himself to them after the Resurrection, and it is still the same Lord; who will reside with them in a new way, and with us for all time.

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In the opening sentence Jesus says something profoundly simple…’If you love me you will keep my commandments.’ It’s not about following a set of rules, like we do the Rules of the Road; no the RULE of Jesus is much more than that! At this point we need to clarify exactly what a RULE is all about. People in Religious Orders and Congregations follow a RULE. The RULE contains the secret which makes the Order or Congregation unique, inspiring and charismatic. A Religious Order or Congregation starts with an inspiration, it starts with a person or persons who embody the particular flavour of the fledging Institute and its response to Mission! It would seem that the universal character of a Founder or Founders of Religious Institutes have some stalwart personal and spiritual characteristics; namely a real sense of being daring, optimistic in the face of pessimism and a deep relationship with the Lord. Other people who see in the Religious and their response to follow Christ in this particular way, are triggered by what they see, and what they experience, and hence it rings a bell in them to join up and be one of them. So, the RULE in Religious life contains an outpouring of what the inner life of the Founder is and what they are being called to do and be in the world. In Jesus, we see the RULE of God being lived par excellence in such a way which attracts people to follow Jesus, as the Way, the Truth and the Life in a radical way.

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The RULE of Jesus is the containment of the ‘mystical inspiration’ which is alive in the Lord, and offered to us as a pure invitation to follow and become a living, walking and serving ‘mystical inspiration, in Mission!’! Our response is not about living the letter of the Law, but about ‘being’ the ‘mystical inspiration’ which is to be shared with others……so much so, to the ends of the earth! Following Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, is not just a moral highway, it is a mystical journey, en route to the Father. We are all on THE JOURNEY….we are Pilgrims on this earth, we don’t permanently belong here. In fact in the grand scheme of things, we are but a Nano second on this earth compared to the next stage for all of us…..In death, life is changed, not ended, as we read in the Preface for the Dead at the Celebration of a Funeral Mass.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Holy Spirits gifts

Now, in order for us to be reminded and nudged along in the right direction, Jesus promises a Helper, an Advocate who will accompany us en route to the Father. Jesus says that we will be given another Advocate…..that implies that Jesus is the primary ADVOCATE; we will be given another ADVOCATE, who will embody all that Jesus has said and done, and who will creatively form us, be in us and assist us in bearing witness to our loving God. This ADVOCATE will be in essence the impelling force with us, to go out and proclaim the Good News of Salvation. This ADVOCATE will minister Gifts to us to use and ‘be’ Christ’s living Body-the Church in the world. It is precisely the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who will enable us to truly love and serve, as our Servant Leader, Jesus. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the TRUTH of the Lord God as manifested through all revelation. This TRUTH is not the absence of lies and trickery, it is the very core that radiates out from the Father, in the Son, with the Holy Spirit. It is that creative, redeeming and sanctifying living element which is what the Scriptures have unfolded to us over thousands of years. This ‘core of wholesomeness’ is freely given to us if we love the Lord.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Airport

When a family member or friend goes overseas, especially when it is one whom we love, we are always quick to ask, ‘When are you coming back?’ We ask this often before they leave! That says something very deep!!!! In other words, we are saying, ‘I wish that you were not going….come back soon, because I need you here…’ Jesus anticipates, this very human and loving element within His disciples, and says that ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come back to you.’ How loving is that? Here again, Jesus manifests the loving kindness of His Father, because He and the Father are one, and the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. Hence, the Trinity is a loving commune, and an example, par excellence of true community. In short, when we are living the RULE of Jesus ‘in love’, we are participating in the life of the Trinity, and in fact we then become a living answer to part of The Lord’s Prayer…’Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’

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Finally, Jesus says that when we live the RULE of the Lord God in love, we share in the intimate life that Jesus shares with His Father….In the Gospel extract for today, Jesus says, ‘On that day you will understand that I AM in my Father, and you in me and I in you.’ Notice that in the last quote, Jesus says, ‘On that day’. The curious side of me asks…..what day is that?? According to the above Scripture, it would seem that THE DAY could well be when Jesus returns in Glory! Or moreover, THE DAY could well be the moment of our transition in death for each of us, when life is changed, not ended. Is the knowing of THE DAY, a big deal in any case? For some, it has been, and is, and will continue to be very important….but when the chips are down, I think that we have much more to think about, pray about, reflect on in living the RULE of Jesus, and THE DAY will look after itself. What do you think?

6th Sunday after Easter year A Holy Spirit

What can we do to continually reform ourselves in living the RULE of Jesus? Firstly, as I have said, we are not talking about rules…..the RULE of Jesus is the inspirational text, and the person who is Jesus, who contains the ‘core of wholesomeness’ He is the secret to our life as individuals and our corporate life in God. God’s Word is always ALIVE, EVERGREEN and TIMELESS. ‘Lord, what are you saying to me through your WORD, how can I reform myself to be an enfleshed edition of your Good News?’ We need to be nourished through Sacramental experiences where we come together as a group…a community regularly and celebrate our oneness in Eucharistic Praise and Thanksgiving. Just like any loving relationship, our bond with Jesus, the human face of the Father, embraced within the life giving Spirit needs conversation…… Not just yapping to God! My pet Parrot can do that! No, it is in restful listening, it is sometimes within ‘silence’ that we can humbly utter…..’Speak Lord, your Servant is listening.’

6th Sunday after Easter Year A Samuel

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

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5th Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A Gospel Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. OUR NEED TO BELONG

 

 

Marshall McLuhan, commentator on means of communication, once wrote: ‘We drive into the future looking through the rear-vision mirror.’ The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, once said: ‘We live forward, but we understand backwards.’ So on Sundays and at other times, we go backwards to the life of Jesus, so that for now and for the future, we might become better people, his kind of people.

dali-last-supper-1955-granger  The Last Supper

Today we find ourselves tuning in to the start of the conversation between Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper. But before we do that, I’d like to start with something sad and disturbing that is happening in Australia, in order to highlight that particular need which Jesus talks about, the need to belong and feel at home.

On the edge of Melbourne’s suburbs, the bodies of more than one hundred ‘street kids’ lie under mounds of red earth in the Bulla cemetery. Nothing marks their graves, not even a simple cross. The only signs there in a stretch of dry, cracked earth, warn of snakes and rabbit burrows. Only one young person is identified by a gravestone and a name. The Herald-Sun has described this place as ‘Melbourne’s saddest cemetery’. For whatever reason, those buried there, homeless in death were also homeless in life. They were found dead in dark alleys and ‘squats’, unnamed and unclaimed by any relative or friend. For them ‘home’ was about relationships deprived, denied, or abused. We can at least trust, as Jesus has asked us to do, that they have finally found a home with the risen Lord in his Father’s house, where there are more than enough rooms to go round.

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All of us need to belong and feel at home. All of us long for a haven of peace and rest, a kind of oasis where we can recover from the storms of life. Jesus was aware of this felt human longing, and found it himself in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany. He tells his followers, you and me included, that he is going to prepare a home for us at the end of our journeys of life.

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He says too that no map is needed to get there. For he himself is the way, the way to our destination, which is nothing less than the company of God forever.

Not only is he the way to living with God, he is also the truth about God. For he himself is God embodied in a human being, the human expression of God, the flesh and blood mirror of God, the human face of God, God’s body-language. In short he is telling us that God is like Jesus.

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Jesus also lives within himself the life of God. By his being present to us, and our being present to him, we live in God and God lives in us. Though he is no longer with us on earth as a physical person, whom we can look at, listen to, and speak to face- to-face, he is always with us just the same, always with us as our way, truth, and life. ‘Believe in me,’ he says. ‘Trust me,’ he says.

Not to do so is risky. For out there in our complex and difficult world, it’s just too easy to become puzzled and confused about the ultimate meaning of life and about our final destiny, and just too easy to get quite lost in all our searching and exploring of this, that, and the other.

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So today, in our Eucharist, let us acknowledge Jesus Christ as our way, our truth, and our life, and re-commit ourselves to being with him in life and in death. And today too, let us ask Jesus to help us recognise his face in the faces of fellow human beings, the lost and the broken, and to do all we can to wipe away their tears and comfort them in their distress, brokenness and bewilderment. Among those who come to mind immediately are the many asylum seekers languishing in cruel, inhuman and inhumane detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru!

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By continuing the work of Jesus on earth – seeing his face in the distraught or disfigured faces of fellow human beings, and relieving his sufferings in those whose lives are wracked with physical, mental or emotional pain – we will keep up with Jesus, as we journey with him along that road that leads to goodness and God.

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Surely an ongoing relationship with Jesus is the road leads to peace, a fulfilling, satisfying and lasting peace, a peace too that is not available in any other way.

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5th Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. It feels great to be ‘at home’. Based on John 14:1-12.

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Do any of us not keep in the depth of our hearts, a nagging longing for a place called ‘home’ – a haven of peace and rest – a place where we can recover from life’s storms, a place where we can truly be ourselves? Sometimes, we come across a place like that in the mountains or by the sea, and we probably say to ourselves ‘If only I could stay here; it would be so beautiful and good’. Then we realise that it’s not possible. Maybe its part of a National Park or it is privately owned. Besides, we would probably never be able to afford to buy it even if we could! So … back to reality we come! When it is all said and done, we come back to the old saying…’Home, sweet Home’.

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I must say, that is exactly how I feel: – ‘there is NO PLACE LIKE HOME!’

Jesus makes us a promise in today’s Gospel … and it’s not ‘Too good to be true’ … it’s for real. He says to us, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, I should have told you. I am now going to prepare a place for you …’

We frequently make promises. Just recently for instance, we renewed our Baptismal promises at Easter and we made resolutions at New Year. We might even promise ourselves that as from today, it will be the end of eating chocolate! It puts on weight! What do we do when we have those inner cravings for sweets as we pass the shelves of lollies in the Supermarket? (As we say in Australia and the UK.) Sweets or Candy in the supermarket in other places of the world. Whether we give in, or walk on by, depends on the seriousness of the promises that we have made. If we really want to carry them out we will do so, even if it’s not easy, provided that the ultimate goal is worthwhile. However, when the chips are down, if we really WANT to do it, we will! We can read all we like about diets, but that won’t take off the Pounds and Ounces!

I Will Not Forget You I Have Carved You on the Palm of My Hand Isaiah 49:15 Bible Scripture Verse Inspirational Quote Christian Vinyl Wall Art Decal by VWAQ, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C9JKVMW/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_fui9rb0YKNJTW

In the Gospel passage today, we hear the promise made by Jesus which assures us that we are all worthwhile, and that we are all precious in God’s sight. In fact, as we hear in the Old Testament Isaiah 43:1b, ‘I have called you by name, you are mine.’ This acknowledgement by God, of His love for us, is the very basis on which Jesus makes all His promises. That basis is love … and trust. It is also the basis for all the serious promises we make in our personal relationships, in our relationship with the Church, and for the commitment that we make to love and serve one another.

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The discussions which take place in the Gospel between Thomas, Philip and the Lord, are so like our own conversations with Jesus. We all look at a map for the right road to take if we are going somewhere unfamiliar. However, this is all made easier with our modern GPS in car systems! Jesus says that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! Jesus is our GPS system! Like last Sunday’s Gospel, we must be good listeners!! Like Philip however, we still look for more identifying signs. ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ To which Jesus answers ‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father’. Yes, it’s all about seeing … not only with the eyes, but with one’s whole being. Faith is therefore born from being known and loved by God. We can only know and love God if we really want to, and if are ready for the surprises that God has in store for us, along the road of life. It’s only when we stop, look and listen to God’s presence that we can truly say, as the Apostles said on the Emmaus Road ‘Did not our hearts become inflamed, as He broke open the Word and Broke Bread with us’.

Now, so far in this realhomilie we have been really only water skiing over the waves and ripples of the Scriptures; let go deep sea diving!

The Fourth Gospel Community who put together this version of the Good News, prepared it for a Greek audience. That being the case, when it is read in the original Greek, there are certain words that stand out in neon lights at us. There is also the structure of a dramatic dialogue, which would captivate the listeners! This Menu of contents and delivery is all about listening, it’s about seeing through listening, and it is about seeing the saving hand of God at work in Jesus. It is also about looking back after many decades since the Resurrection of Christ to see through the eyes and hearts of deep listening to know that Jesus IS the human face of the Father, and after His Resurrection he was the ‘I AM’ of the Lord God! The Divine Name personified in Jesus, the Christ!

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Let’s go back to the first part of the Gospel: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled etc……’ In that first paragraph, Jesus says, ‘ I am now going to prepare a place for you…….a bit further down He says, ‘so that where I am, you may be too.’ If we were in the audience of listeners to this passage as we heard it in Greek, these two sentences would really tell us who Jesus is? He is one with the, ‘I am who am’ in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3. This recurring theme in John’s Gospel would be gradually sinking into our minds and hearts; it is the full and complete identity of Jesus Christ. So, in this first paragraph of the Gospel, Jesus, the human face of the Father desires all of us to reside where God lives! Remember, the great St. Augustine of Hippo, said…’That my heart will not be at rest until it rests in thee.’ After a great deal of human/spiritual experience, we would all agree that the North African Saint, was, ‘spot on’.

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In the next paragraph, in answer to Thomas’ question, Jesus again says, ‘I am, the Way the Truth and the Life’. That sentence of Jesus is packed with Biblical meaning, which goes right back to the Creation story in Genesis. But, let’s not forget Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel…….My O My, that is a new Genesis version of God’s creative Word. Why not have a coffee break, and then look up Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel, and read it ever so slowly, so that the nuances can jump out at you!

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Briefly, The Lord God throughout the Old Testament, has led His people (Israel) at all times. Even when Israel lost their way in the Sinai Desert, the Lord God still showed them His loving kindness through the Manna, and the water at Meribah! The Lord God speaks the TRUTH about all things at all times, therefore through embracing THE WAY of God as traced through the Old Testament, and adhering to the TRUTH of the Lord God, this combination in turn gives us LIFE! Real life! Let us also remember that the early Christian Community were called, THE WAY!

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Finally in the concluding request of Philip in today’s extract, we hear the timeless question……’Let us see the Father!’ Here we grasp the Johannine community coming to grips with this question for people in their own time, but for all ages……’To have seen me, is to see the Father’ ‘I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.’ Now, this takes a bit of time to get our heads around this, but let’s not forget that WE ARE the living Body of Christ! So therefore, to see Christ in each other, opens the opportunity for us, hopefully, to see the Father’s creative, redeeming and sanctifying nature at work! Is this all too good to be true????? The short answer in NO! The imperfections that we carry within us, also gives us the opportunity to seek forgiveness, and receive another very important attribute of God……His mercy!

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As you can appreciate, this is a very powerful Gospel message for us, and that these post Easter Readings are necessary for us to contemplate, to feed on, and act on…..which is living life to the fullest! That in a nutshell it is the end and goal of Humanity……..we are all en route to our Heavenly HOME, SWEET HOME!

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May the promises made to us by God in Jesus, strengthen our promise to love and serve God in our brothers and sisters …

Fr Kevin Walsh

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

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3rd Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. WITHIN CONVERSATION THE LORD OFTEN SURPRISES US.

 WITHIN CONVERSATION THE LORD OFTEN SURPRISES US.

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There is nothing better than to have a good conversation with a friend about something that bothers us. These days, we generally do it over a cup of Coffee, accompanied by a couple of lovely Hot Doughnuts with a generous dusting of Cinnamon Sugar.

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However, Doughnuts and Coffee is not always the appropriate scene for some conversations, especially when we are dealing with a confusing, tragic and confounding situation in which the two Disciples are depicted in today Gospel….a reflective walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus! (About 7 miles!) Once again, while we read the Gospel, we don’t do it to obtain facts, we read it slowly, reflectively and with curiosity, so that we try not miss anything! The strange thing is, we always miss something, and the next time that we reflectively read the Scriptures, something else will pop out at us, because the Scriptures are the ever green Word of God.

Keeping that in mind, we don’t need to examine it like a Geologist reading every layer in a sedimentary rock shelf……it is not a clinical read, it is a ‘burning’ read! Let’s hang on to that description, because we will savour it a bit later on in this realhomilie.

3rd Sunday after Easter year A 1

Now, as I have suggested before, let’s go deep sea diving into the Scriptures: Notice that it was two Disciples who were on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus…..How many miles from Jerusalem? Seven! So, as these two friends of Jesus are on a journey from Jerusalem…..let’s pick up on the seven miles! In Biblical reading, we need to be curious about symbolism, because it has been written using various literary forms of the day, and with Biblical tradition behind it. What else has happened in Biblical terms using the number seven? Well, seven is seen as the perfect number in Scripture, and remember that creation took seven days, and on the first day of the new week…God rested. No he was not worn out because of all the creating, God paused, God reflected upon the unfolding mystery of creation, in short God gazed!!!!! We all gaze from time to time. After I have mowed the lawn, I stand back and gaze: I’m not patting myself on the back for such a nice job, I am gazing at the beauty of the lawn, and the surrounding garden and taking it all in. I bet that there are lots of ‘life events’ in which you ‘gaze’ as well. We gaze at a new born baby, we gaze on our loved one taking their last breath. Let’s fortify that contemplative element, because it continues to make us into thankful human beings; in short, Eucharistic people.

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So, with these two Disciples, a new creation is about to happen in them, and the catalyst will be Jesus. In their walk, they were deeply involved in reflective conversation about what had been happening to Jesus in recent days, and what other people were saying about these events. As was the custom in those days, if other people were walking in the same direction, they would catch up and chat with them along the way…..that’s a beautiful thing to do. However, nowadays, if I was to do that in Sydney or you were to do it where ever you live in the world, we would be probably arrested by the Police!

16th Sunday B

As we journey along together in conversation with each other, about ‘deep down things’, the Lord often walks with us, and sometimes we are not really aware of Him. In the midst of our confusion, agitation and sense of dilemma, the Lord asks us questions to help us to clarify matters. In this case, the two disciples did not recognise that it was Jesus, and that is a didactic tool used here in the Scriptures, because the real awakening and realisation as to how the stranger will be recognised takes place after another important event which will happen at their destination. The content of their conversation with the hidden Lord, is fantastic! They could really empty their minds and hearts to Him, just as we can do the same…..Jesus wants to hear from us! He is not one of those people who tells you the answer to the question before you have asked the question!!!!

3rd Sunday after Easter year A 10

The Disciples were able to tell the stranger, who was slowly becoming a friend to them, all their hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams for Israel……God’s Children. Then they speak about the confounding words of the women who had been to the empty tomb, and the Angel of the Lord had prompted them to know that He was alive!
The next part of the Gospel really can blow our minds. Jesus tells them outright, that they were on the wrong track……yes, they were on the right track in going this way to Emmaus, but they were on the wrong track about ‘getting’ the real message and mission of Jesus. Here, it is important from us to realise that so often, WE ARE the two disciples on the road to the Emmaus! We are sometimes on the wrong track and have to listen and really hear the message from Jesus, in order to ‘wake up’ that Jesus IS the human face of the Father, and that He walks with us in His living Body – the Church. Furthermore, when it comes to Jesus knowing us, we can never be lost in the crowd!

3rd Sunday after Easter year A 15

You know that being with friends in solid conversation, times flies…..it was the same for the two disciples. They had ‘warmed’ to Jesus and they pressed him to partake of their hospitality! But, it turned out to be Our Lord’s hospitality within ‘the breaking of the bread’ that their eyes were ‘opened’. As we go back through the Scriptures, many times the eyes of people were ‘opened’ they could then see things clearly, they could then see that the saving hand of God was alive and at work in Jesus, and that experience of Salvation invigorated, renewed and enabled them through the power of the Spirit, to go out and live, what they had experienced, and proclaim the message, that the Kingdom of God is near.

3rd Sunday after Easter Year A 11

After the elusive Jesus vanishes from their midst, his seeming absence enabled the two Disciples, the early Church and us today, to carefully reflect on what had happened. In fact this is a ‘gazing time’ for the two disciples, to savour the Risen Lord’s presence, guidance and future sustenance through ‘the breaking of bread’, the Eucharistic Meal. Within their reflective moments, the disciples were able to say, ‘Did not our hearts, burn within us, as he unravelled the Scriptures for us?’ This question is for all time! We have all experienced that ‘burning’ within us during our life. In terms of our Christian Spirituality, it is the result and action that defies clinical proof. Why? Because we just know it! Look at the times in your life as I look at mine when we recall those ‘special’ moments, as we brush along the membrane which is that fine veil between Heaven and Earth. We can return to those moments at any time we like, and we should do that as part of our Review of Life. The result will not be a warm fuzzy feeling, but more importantly, that grace enables us to help and walk with others on the road of life towards our Heavenly Father. I believe that ‘spiritual sensitivity and wholesome living’ is the bi product of ‘graced moments’ of encounters with the Lord, the Saints, and our own Saints, our dearly departed. We must remember that we are but a breath away from them. We ought to be alert to the possible times of pressing against the membrane between Heaven and Earth, but also to be Christ within our sisters and brothers, so that their hearts may burn within them, as they too recall and re member, those moments of grace. The word re member is a powerful word, it means to ‘bring back into mind’ which speaks of a real presence of mind, not the recall of our 5 times tables; my pet Parrot could do that better than me. Therefore, to remember in the Biblical sense, is to bring back together in a ‘real presence’ which is non clinical, but real, and it burns within us! It is a human, spiritual experience, which conversations through Text messages, Twitter and the like are on the wrong track for a complete understanding of this revelation……we need to be one to one, or within a conversational group, so that all aspects of our communication skills can be on alert and in tune, emoji’s won’t deliver the depth of meaning.

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Finally, we all love to share good news, it’s in our human nature. See, the two disciples were the same…..they raced back to confirm what they had heard earlier, and what they had experienced in recognising the Lord as the unseen companion, the Breaker of the Bread, and the One who always walks with God’s people.

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I would like to conclude with a short yet powerful reflection from the Glenstal Bible Missal, Third Sunday after Easter year A, Page 293.
‘We thank God our Father, for his Son, Jesus Christ. When the Father offered him the cup of bitter suffering he opened for him the way to life. We share in the cup of that Son’s death, may our hearts burn within us as he talks to us on the way.’

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Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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2nd Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Every gift has a responsibility in return!

 Every gift has a responsibility in return!

Easter 10

It hardly seems a week since we celebrated Easter Sunday! The Scripture Readings during the week have been highlighting the Resurrection appearances of Jesus, and also linking it to Pentecost. Today we are faced with the meaning of faith, as demonstrated in doubting Thomas. Maybe we see something of ourselves in Thomas….that may not be a bad thing. Let’s come back to that a bit later!

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Unlike Thomas, we have not seen, and yet we are asked and expected to believe. At least that is what it looks like on the surface. In reality, that is not so. I can get all the proof I want that Jesus is alive and well, and living in me, if I myself am alive and well, and living in him! We are living two thousand years later, Pentecost has happened, and the message of the gospel, and the person of Jesus has been debated and written about in almost every language on the globe. What signs do I want? What signs do I need? In order to answer this….let’s go deep sea diving into the Gospel for today, it will blow your mind!!!!!!

Let’s remember that this is the 4th Gospel: the Johannine community are putting together this version of the Good News in at least 100 AD. That means that the ‘living memory’ of Christ have been experienced, preached and lived by the faithful community of The Way for a couple of thousand years! The stories of Jesus have had plenty of time to be reflected upon, and understood with the Old Testament as a backdrop to this great stage of proclamation….therefore symbolism is rich and the details are carefully put together, so that we, not only as hearers of the Good News, will see the spirit of the Gospel being lived out in our times…….In all, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same. Jesus, yesterday, today and tomorrow, the alpha and omega, all time belongs to Him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power, through every age for ever. Amen.

At this stage if you can grab a copy of the New Testament, John 20:19-31, it will come in handy as we check out the jewels of its meaning.

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The Gospel starts off at the evening time of Easter Sunday…so, according to the Johannine purpose, that means a new creation is underway…..The Book of Genesis Chapter 1, is the stage backdrop. We have new creations taking place all the time….thank God! Notice that the disciples were not gathered out of Joy…they were scared stiff!! Jesus stands among them, within their fears, and confounds them with the creative words, ‘Peace be with you’. Now this is not just a Biblical ways of saying…’HI, I’m back’…far from it! As the new creation begins on the first day of the week as we heard in the first line of today’s Gospel, so the Lord’s Easter Gift is a special kind of Peace; that peace which reigned before the sin of Adam! Jesus, is seen as the new Adam restoring us to that pristine time when all was at one!!! But there is something very different here……That Peace given by Jesus as Gift to His Disciples, is linked with His wounds! That couplet of Peace as a gift came about through Jesus as the Suffering servant of Isaiah, and the Christ, the Promised one, the Human Face of the Father in Jesus, can transform our agitation into joy! Just as at the beginning of time, darkness filled the Earth and its surrounds, then with the creative Word of God…God’s breath transformed the Earth from a formless void, to a place of life and growth, and a responsibility of stewardship from us. Now with this Easter Gift of Peace comes as a bi product; the responsibility for us to be ‘Christ in Mission’ with the same mandate as given to Jesus by His Father…..Namely: Go and tell my people that I love them, Go and show them that I love them, Go and gather them and bring them back to me!

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Now, the next part of the Easter Gift, is an extraordinary action by Jesus. It says in the Gospel, that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven…..’ The 4th Gospel has the Giving of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday…. But let’s look closer at this……Jesus breathes on them……No one can breathe on someone from a distance. It is a very intimate action of trust, to allow someone to be so close, let alone that they wish to do it to us! That kind of closeness presupposes a very intimate relationship with the Disciples…..That same kind of closeness when the Lord God breathed into the Nostrils of Humankind in Creation, the breath of life…..it is that same kind of breath that was breathed into Jesus at the moment of His Resurrection!

Looking at the paragraph above where I have written…Go and tell my people etc. No one can be part of that Mission without the ‘rush’ of the Holy Spirit to empower them…to empower us!!

Easter 11

The story gets even more complex as we move further on in the Gospel…There is someone who misses out on the action…..Thomas, was the man, this time……sometimes it is us!!!!! He would not believe what his friends had told him about their experience of the Risen Lord. It still happens to us, too. Thomas wanted absolute proof! So much so that he wanted to not only see Our Lord’s wounds, but to touch them! Thomas was making a very prophetic comment, and in fact, he was right! Let’s see what happens!

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Notice in the Gospel it says that eight days later…..that is a hint that another new creation is about to take place….this time in Thomas. Thomas, most certainly represents us…..In fact new creations within God’s people are happening all the time!!!! Again, Jesus greets the disciples with the gift of Easter Peace, and then singles out Thomas, just as Jesus so often singles out us. Jesus says, ‘see put your finger here; see my hands’. Then Jesus says, ‘reach out your hand; put it into my side’. It would be safe enough to say, that after Thomas touched and saw Our Lord’s wounds in His hands, that might have been enough for him, but no, Jesus says reach out and put you hand into my side? That is a big wound!!! Could we say, a Cavity wound? Could it be the entrance, mystically into the dying and rising with Jesus? Could it be that for all of us, unless we enter into the woundedness and cavity wounds of our sisters and brothers, we will have difficulty in meeting the Risen Lord? Seeing and touching the Wounds in Our Lord’s hand are not enough! There is much to reflect on here……this is a story for all times and seasons…….it is timeless. Let’s look at the faith response of Thomas: ‘My Lord, and my God’ It says everything, doesn’t it? What more could a person say? And yet, this response has been in our hearts, minds and on our lips many times already in our lives. When we experience entering into the wounded living body of Christ today, we meet Christ! But we must underline a very important act of seeing the saving hand of God at work, and that is living our Faith! Faith is about SEEING the saving hand of God at work in ourselves, in others, in His Holy Word and Sacrament. It is full time living, not just for Sundays. Our Sunday Eucharist should be the celebration of what has happened in our faith life and the lives of others during the week. When we gather to ‘give thanks and praise’ in Sacrament, we are being nourished for the ongoing Mission and from the Mission at hand. We are empowered by the Spirit to be Christ to each other; it is that ‘rush ‘of the Spirit that I was talking about earlier in this realhomilie….Let’s have a look at some of the surrounding aspects of faith…..

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Faith requires a generous dose of humility, and a large amount of common sense. Every time I buy a car, every time I go to Hospital for an operation, every time I board a Jet, I continue to make acts of faith in someone or in something. Without faith, I would end up doing nothing! No one would get married if they didn’t have faith in themselves, and in each other, through the love that binds them, no one would commit themselves to a life of partnership and ministry.

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Faith will always be accompanied by doubt. If there were certainty, there would be no need to have faith. Jesus compares faith to a tiny grain of mustard seed, that continues to germinate and grow, and ends up as a large tree. Just as the Mustard seed needs, moisture, nutrients, and sunlight, to bring it to fullness of life; our faith needs nourishment, light and the fine mist of life-giving love to bring it to fullness. Remember the story in the Gospel about the man being lowered down through the roof by his friends, so that Jesus could heal the sick person? Jesus said, “seeing THEIR faith” he healed the man.

The faith of the community can be so contagious; this was felt during the Easter Ceremonies here at The Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo, New South Wales, Australia, where my sister and I were part of the Easter Ceremonies; it is seen and experienced within the most profound and ‘user friendly’ Liturgies when local people and holiday makers gathered with the Nuns at the Abbey, and together, in the name of Christ, we shared ‘life’ and Eucharist within the Easter Triduum. It has happened in lots of Parishes enable real Liturgy to happen, instead of it being some Holy Performance by the Choir together with cold and meticulous rubrics, that touch nobody’s Heart and Soul……just the residue of some fuzzy, religious feelings that could be received at the Sydney Opera House. Through the experience of “faith” we get “insight”, that is, the God-given grace to see within life-situations, Religious Communities, random gatherings of people, Liturgies, and prayerful stillness, the saving hand of God at work and not forgetting the walking wounded in our midst, ‘the poor of the Lord.’

Finally, like Thomas, we are all called to enter into the brokenness of Christ in His people today. When we dare to enter into the wounds of God’s people, it is then we can say not only from our hearts, but from every fiber in our being: “My Lord and My God!” We are truly within the holiness of life when this happens.

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Fr Kevin Walsh
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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