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Good Friday, 2019, a realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. ‘It is accomplished!’ kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said: ‘It is accomplished!’

With these words, Jesus gave up his spirit.’

These Words are taken from the Passion of Our Lord according to St. John. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

25th Sunday year B Military General

I wonder what kind of a Messiah the people in Our Lord’s time were really looking for? Was it a Messiah who would gather an army around him, and drive out the foreign occupation of the Romans? Could it have been a Messiah, who would restore the ancient tribes of Israel into one community again? Would it be a Messiah who would spread Israel’s Spirituality by force throughout the known world? The simple answer to all of this is: – NO! None of these……

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From the poverty of the stable in Bethlehem, to the cruelty of Crucifixion, Jesus, the Human face of the Father, was the Messiah who ruled in loving service; not from the stance of power and glory! Jesus the radical Son of His Father, Jesus the new ‘trend setter’ of loving outreach to the ‘poor’ and to those who lived on the fringes of society. Jesus the daring Son of the Father, who was not afraid to break traditional Religious rules, if they got in the way of loving unconditionally! Jesus was not tied up and paralysed by Religious Customs which saw God’s Governance in black and white terms, and unforgiving practices, which created an image of a cruel God, a power filled God, or an untouchable God. Jesus challenged all those images!

Jesus healing a deaf manth

Jesus, through his birth in the stable, and then taking on the status of a Refugee, entered into the mess of this world! A Mess whose answers could not fit into neat tidy boxes of Religion’s way of seeing the world, through pompous and arrogant lenses. Jesus, saw the world and its people through the Eyes and Heart of His Father. This way of seeing the world and its people, was new, it was real, it was true, and it was forgiving and loving!

Jesus the Messiah, could truly say the opening words of our Homily today…….’It is accomplished’….

Can we say with all our heart, ‘It is it accomplished’? If we say YES!!! That means that we are taking the responsibility given to us at our Baptism, to be Christ in our World. The YES that we say, is not like a yes that we would say for a Bucket full of KFC! It is a serious yes! It is a solemn yes! It is a challenging yes! It’s an exciting yes!

It is a thrilling yes, because we are not called to take up the Cross daily just by ourselves! We are called to take up OUR Cross daily……that means a community project, not just for now, but for always. Christians are not lone rangers…….we are a Community, we are a group, WE ARE the living Body of Christ. With this ‘community strength’, we must act ‘as one body’ in responding to our sisters and brothers in our midst. As a community we must act as one body in our loving outreach to those who are in personal, family and International difficulty.

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As a community we are to serve each other like Jesus ministered to His apostles, by washing their feet, prior to celebrating the Passover meal; the meal of Christ’s body. We, as a community in Christ, are called to be Foot washers of the Lord! We are not called to be self-centred, or grasping for only that which satisfies us. We are not called to be a community of Christ who has no backbone…..which is courage! We are not called to be a Community who has no wishbone….which is hope, and above all we are not called to be a community of sad sacks who have no funny bone. We are called to live life to the fullest in every way, and to be strong, to be hopeful and to have a sense of humour, and be funny.

Good Friday, places the suffering Servant into our minds, hearts and hands…..Our yes, has the most serious consequences for a life which is open to all that God asks of us. We fail, if we put conditions on our YES to Christ, we pass with flying colours when our Yes to Christ has no conditions. Following the faith response of Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary the Mother of the Church, our YES, like hers, is open to the endless designs of God for us.

I would like to conclude with a verse from a Song, composed by John Michael Talbot, using the words of the great St Therese….

Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through He looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.

 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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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.’

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7th Sunday In ordinary time Year C 2019. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. kevin.w3@bigpond.com TO ERR IS HUMAN, TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE.

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Today’s Gospel summarises something that was very new to the religious leaders and people in Jesus’ day. They had a law which said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!’ The teaching that Jesus puts forward was very radical, and is still radical in today’s world, with our continued dog-eat-dog mentality. The process of salvation, which Jesus had come to establish, would be based on unconditional forgiveness! Therefore, if we are to be part of this process we must be in the front line in aspiring to be tolerant, forgiving and loving. That’s a mighty big challenge!

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There is an extraordinary power in forgiveness, gentleness, meekness, and love. ‘Blessed are the meek’ says Jesus, ‘they shall possess the earth.’ (Matthew 5:4) We have all seen movies, read books or heard first-hand accounts of the lives of people like, St. Thomas Moore, Mahatma Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa; the bully cannot deal with the power of the one who will not strike back, and therefore, such people are either killed, or sidelined, tortured or laughed at as the only way of stopping them. It reminds me of a little saying which I read on a Sugar packet at the local Coffee Club Café recently, ‘To err is human, to forgive is divine.’ Forgiveness, which is honest and true can bring forth divine gifts in others, as well as in ourselves…one might have to be patient, and wait some time, but if we hang in, and hand over to the Lord what is in us that makes it hard to forgive…. we are then moving into miracle territory. Forgiveness does not happen of its own accord! Forgiveness is to do with Divinity! The greatest sign of forgiveness and love is Jesus and His Cross! ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ Luke 23:34.

Forgiveness is like salt, which in the olden days was used to keep food from going bad! If we refurbish our inner selves and be nourished by the God’s Word and Sacrament, all that is ‘Divine’ within us will be preserved and hence be ‘on tap’ to deal with in dealing with the ups and downs of daily life. The fruits of it will be a power, which can dissolve resentment, it can dilute harmful attitudes before they take hold of us, and change us. Otherwise its opposite can cause untold damage to others and to ourselves.

There is something else which is mixed up in this crockpot of forgiveness and a contrite heart and that is respect for each other. There is something very nasty at work in our world today…..it manifests itself in the way some Church Shepherds, Religious Superiors, Parish Priests, Moderators, Parish Council leaders, Chancery staff, Administrators of Retreat Houses, and Business Leaders and Personnel Heads and the list could go on like a Litany….the response being, FORGIVE US O LORD! There is this dreadful lack of human courtesy and respect for one another in the Church and in our Society. This ‘take a number’ mentality or your call is important to us, we will get back to you within two days, smacks of impersonal and corporation relating styles at its worst; and often it is rudeness and ignorance in the ways of relating to others. Why is the corporate mentality eating into the fabric of human goodness and niceties?? Why is it that the common respectful tones of thank you, you have done a great job, thank you for your time and energy seem to be becoming scarce in our relationships? It seems to me that with the advent of High Tech’ communications, we are losing the plot when it comes to human pleasantness……it seems to be out the window! Jesus the foot washer, suffering servant, the one who does not condemn is being lost within a corporation mentality which is growing in the Church in the 1st World!

The next aspect within the Church Governance and so called pastoral relationships is the failure to be really human with one another. There is far too many check lists to be ticked, Monkey Questionaries given out which cramps the opportunities for conversations within groups, and one to one in the Church today. We are not talking and listening to each other in ‘real time’. What has happened to the old ‘How are you going?’ ‘What’s on your mind?’ What have been some of the graced moments in Ministry for you lately?’ What are some of the challenges that we can help you with in your Pastoral, Family interpersonal life?’ So much of this does not even get a ‘look in’ these days. In the Gospel today it says, ‘Treat others as you would like them to treat you.’ As an old priest of 45 years of ministry, I see a definite decline in our one to one respect for each other.

There needs to be more ‘listening’ to each other, and less programmes given to us without knowing where we are at! What can assist in remoulding us, enabling us to be more humane towards each other……It seems to me that we ought bury ourselves in Psalm 50 and then rise to Micah 6:8. ‘All that is asked of your humankind, is to act justly, love tenderly and to walk humbly with God and each other’. Let’s get back to the Gospel……

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There is only one condition laid down by Jesus when it comes to forgiveness…’ Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’ Then it boils down to practical terms…how can we forgive and love others better? Maybe we might need to love and forgive ourselves a bit more; then taking to heart the wise and ‘lived’ words of St. Paul, ‘ I can do all things through Him who gives me the strength,’ let the 3rd verse of today’s responsorial Psalm seep into our bones…’ The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.’ Ps 102.

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Fr Kevin with his companion, Shauna.

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

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Christmas, is the reward for waiting: We spend so much time in our lives waiting! We wait to be born! We wait to grow up; we wait for love to come into our lives, we wait to see our children grow etc. On the day to day level, we wait in endless queues at the Post Office, Woolworths, and then on the telephone as we are continually being told that ‘your call is important to us, you have moved along in the queue’, and so on. Waiting is part of life, and we can make valuable use of it or we can drive ourselves mad by trying to fight it! I have been prone to being a little impatient at times…to say the least, so I am no model of this virtue. However, waiting gives us the prime time to prepare for important moments, especially personal growth, and personal examination as to what drives us, and what is the real meaning in living life to the fullest happens while we wait!

Advent Jesus is the reason

During Advent, God’s Word has led us on a pilgrimage of ‘waiting’ episodes. The ‘waiting’ that took place during and up till the time of Our Lord’s birth, was a test in more ways than one for Israel. However, the ‘faithful few’…the Anawim (the poor of the Lord God), reaped the benefits of waiting as the Lord God’s promise was fulfilled in the birth of a Baby, named Jesus. Christmas is the reward for waiting.

Advent joy time

Christmas is a time of hope: The prophets of doom have never had it so good! It seems that the world thrives on ‘bad news’ Television News programs increase their ratings when the most gruesome of stories can be told while we are having our Tea (Supper, Evening Meal in Australia) within the comfort of our own home. Yet, every now and then we see a really good story, and uplifting moment when people are truly reaching for their potential and are supported by others or inspired by them. We say to ourselves….’isn’t it great to see some ‘good news’?

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When all seemed lost for God’s people, we see that God is always faithful to His promises. In looking forward to a time when a young woman of marriageable age would bear a son, who would be called, Emmanuel…God-is-with-us, that took some waiting! Our Lady is a sign of hope, and a model of faith for us, the flowing Lily of the Anawim and the representative of the faithful few….Only real trust in God’s Word is lived in hope….’Let what you have said be done unto me’. Nothing is impossible to God!

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In our world of today, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same…..’Let what you have said be done unto me’ is an evergreen wisdom saying which bears fruit…the fruits of Hope. We are called to be people of hope in the midst of seeming hopelessness. Evil may seem to triumph so often, but the fruits of hope are mostly not seen nor heard; but we know it happens, and it begins always with us. Christmas is a time of hope.

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Christmas is a moment of challenge: God’s Word to humanity has always, is, and will be a challenge. If there was no challenge, there would be no everlasting value. Christmas challenged the world of Mary and Joseph; there was no place for them to stay while she who was with child could give birth. When all seemed lost; and there was no room in the Inn, the Stable became ‘home’. This time and place is the opposite of what the world sees as greatness, yet again, God’s ways are not always our ways. Greatness is not seen in foot washing either, yet the Jug of water, the towel, ministered by the Word made flesh, are the real symbols of true greatness. Jesus invites us to copy his example.

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Jesus, the human face of the Father being born to us, was an immediate challenge to King Herod! The quest for power is the opposite of servanthood, and again the action of God causes a challenge for all of us. In our place of work, in our relationships with other people, in our acceptance or rejection of new comers to our land, in our response to be living editions of the Good News, or being part of the Dog eat Dog attitude which shows up every now and then in our society. Some of these attitudes might be related to King Herod’s problems. Christmas is always a moment of challenge.

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Christmas is an opportunity for reconciliation: Within that wonderful word, Reconciliation, is conciliation. Conciliation comes from its Latin root meaning ‘a desire to meet’. So therefore before any lasting reconciliation there has to be that desire, otherwise it can all be ‘window dressing.’ Christmas can be a time of deep sadness for families due to various forms of estrangement or divisions. Some of these rifts between people may only be healed in the next life. Sometimes the pain can run so deep. It can be a form of window dressing to say to oneself…’ well all is forgiven…let’s start again.’ Maybe because the again and again has worn thin. However, we can let that inner sadness simmer for years like a Slow Cooker, and it can either make us bitter, or more loving. Some of the greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much. Lest we forget, that ‘the greatest sign of God’s love is His Passion and Cross.’ Says St. Paul of the Cross.

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

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

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The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone……Lord Jesus Christ you are the light of the world, you are the corner stone and our centre. Light of Christ, light flaming bright burn in our hearts Holy Fire. It is that ‘fire’ within that sparks the celebration. The Christmas Masses, especially Midnight Mass, has that extra special electric feeling of Holy Joy. Then there are the family celebrations at home with relatives and friends. Once again there can be the sadness of empty chairs due to members of our family going off to the Lord’s loving embrace through the gateway of death, or have gone overseas for Holidays. There can also be the sadness of being thousands of miles away from our families who live overseas. This aspect rings true for my family, and most families these days. May that spark of ‘fire’ continue to be kindled through the coming New Year? May God’s Word be a light for our path at all times, and may we continue to be nourished, through regular Sacramental moments, carried by His Word with our community-the living body of Christ into the Mission of bringing Heaven to Earth!

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God sent His Angels to Shepherds to herald the great joy of our Savior’s birth. May he fill you with joy and make us heralds of his Good News, today, tomorrow and always. Amen.

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

 COME, LORD JESUS!

Christmas shopping

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

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

Advent Jesus is the reason

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

baptist.jpg St. John the Baptist

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

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

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

Advent 6

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

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

Advent 2

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

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

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Brian Gleeson

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come, Lord Jesus!

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