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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………

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

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

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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

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

Shine

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

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

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

Jesus healing a deaf manth

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

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

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

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

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

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

 JESUS SMASHES THE CHAINS OF MISERY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Holy Family of Nazareth. Year B. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia.

 

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In the week before Christmas a little boy who lives near a church had a part in his school’s Nativity play. It wasn’t a big part – in fact it was just one line: ‘Let the crooked be made straight.’ But it seems that he put more work into his one line then any actor before or since. At the performance itself he stood up, and with a big smile on his face delivered his line perfectly. At the end, at the back of the church-hall, his parish priest asked him how he had found it. He answered proudly: ‘I did my part good.’

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That, I think, is what Simeon and Anna are saying to us in today’s gospel. They have only small parts to play in the story of salvation. But they played them well, as well as they could. So Simeon can say: ‘Now Master, you can let your servant go in peace … because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see …’

Simeon, then, is thanking God for this special favour: At the very end of his life, God is letting him meet Jesus the Messiah, the Saviour and King of the world. Anna too, another elderly person, is sharing this privilege of meeting the Saviour of the world in the person of the Christ-child. For this special grace she too begins to praise God. But more than that, she speaks to anyone who shows any interest, of the greatness, goodness and destiny of this baby.

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For both Simeon and Anna their experience of meeting the Christ-child is one of relief and peace, light and life, hope and joy. In a word, their meeting with Jesus is an experience of being saved. They are also aware that the Christ-child himself is meeting his God in God’s own house.

For us who have come together today to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the feast is a reminder of all that Christ has meant to us, and all that he continues to mean to us. We came into his presence and company on the day we were led into the House of God to be baptised. We have met him many times since. For example, in the guidance and protection, the goodness and kindness, the love and support, of our parents! In the friendship of many other family members and of many other significant people in our lives! In particular things too that have happened to us! We have also met Christ in other sacraments we have celebrated, and especially in those of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Marriage.

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It is precisely because of the length and depth of our relationship with Christ, that we can praise God in our Eucharist today with words taken from the Christmas Preface which we will be praying: ‘In him we see our God made visible and so are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see.’

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Moreover, it is precisely because of the length and depth of our relationship with Christ that we will ask God in the words of our Prayer after Holy Communion: ‘Eternal Father, we want to live as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in peace with you and one another. May this communion strengthen us to face the troubles of life. AMEN.’

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Christmas Carol…The Twelve Days of Christmas….What does it mean? by Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CAROL

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans and especially the partridge that won’t come out of the pear trees, have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Catholics in England were not permitted to practise their faith openly. The song has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning, plus the hidden meaning, known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality, which children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testament.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and charity.
Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Five golden rings recalled the torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
Six geese a laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
Eight maids a milking were the eight Beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self control.
Ten lords a leaping were the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
Twelve drummers drumming symbolised the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

So there is your history lesson for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening. So I now share it with you. Now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.

May God grant you peace and happiness throughout this season!!
Fr Kevin Walsh
kevin.w3@bigpond.com

 

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Christmas and us! A Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeeson CP, Melbourne Australia

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Christmas and us!

‘Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11)

When we look deeply into ourselves and our lives this Christmas, what do we discover? If we look deeply enough, I think we will find a longing and a desire to be better people, a longing and a desire to be whole people, genuine people, and people of integrity. We want others to think and say of us: ‘He’s genuine. She’s authentic. What you see is what you get.’ On the other hand, surely none of us wants to be ‘people of the lie’ (Scott Peck) or two-faced.

Deep down inside us we are also likely to find two other kinds of spiritual longing – a longing for meaning and purpose in life, and a longing to belong to others in family and community. Such longings are likely to intensify during our Christmas celebrations.

When we look outside ourselves at our world this Christmas, what do we see? For a start, we see a still beautiful universe that was created in love by God, and which he abundantly endowed with animals, vegetables, and minerals to serve human needs, but in sensible, sustainable and responsible ways. But we also notice that people, perhaps we too, have gradually and at times ruthlessly degraded and destroyed air, water, and soil. In the process human beings have helped extinguish hundreds and even thousands of species of animals, birds and fish, and consumed a lion’s share of earth’s mineral resources. Every day the picture grows bigger and grimmer of the harm inflicted by global warming caused by wholesale human pollution and degradation of the physical environment. We even seem to be moving to the edge of a precipice of ecological catastrophe and disaster.

That’s one view of the world we live in, the world of our physical and material environment. But within the world of human beings, what do we also see? We notice, of course, many, many wonderful people. They are persons filled with what Paul in his Letter to the Galatians calls ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (5:22). He names them as people of ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control’ (5:23). On the other hand, as Paul notes, there are many who do not ‘live by the Spirit’ of God (5:16), but are selfish, greedy, and self-indulgent. He names their irresponsible behaviour as ‘works of the flesh’, and includes in his list impurity, having false gods, antagonism, rivalry, jealousy, bad temper, quarrels, factions, malice, drunkenness and orgies (5:19). He warns that ‘those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (5:21b).

In fact, all such bad behaviour is in conflict with, and incompatible with, the good and joyful news God has spoken in our Christmas Gospel and which we echoed in our Responsorial Psalm: ‘Today is born our Saviour, Christ the Lord.’ Consider ourselves reminded, then, by the highest authority on earth that we are not completely our own masters and that we are not free therefore to live just any way we like and do just anything we want. No! The one born at Bethlehem remains the King and Lord of our lives.

Jesus, our King and Lord, then, has great expectations of us in our relationships with other people, in our relationships with all other living creatures, and in our relationship with the material universe as well. Indeed, our King and Lord is calling on you and me to become the best people we can be. He is calling on us this Christmas Day to turn away entirely from a life of selfishness, sin and self-indulgence, on the one hand, and to turn totally to a life of goodness, integrity, truth, love, justice, peace and joy, on the other. This may require a complete change of mind, heart and lifestyle.

In the here and now, our determination to follow Jesus Christ from this day forward, will mean accepting his offer of mercy and forgiveness for the wrong things we’ve done in the past, and making a brand new start with the help of his ‘amazing grace’. In fact, in our total turning away from sin and evil, and in our total turning to Jesus and his teachings, the kingdom of God will be happening among us.

All through his days on earth, Jesus our Friend, Liberator, Lord and King, made it very clear that the kingdom of God was already happening in concrete ways. It was happening in his loving service of others. It was happening when he pictured the coming of the kingdom in parables, sketches and short stories. It was happening when he healed physically sick people and restored them to their family and community. And it was happening when he delivered others from demonic forces, fear, worry and anxiety. So Jesus emphasized that ‘the kingdom is already among you’ (Lk 17:21).

But he also declared that the kingdom has not yet arrived. Its full and final phase, when God will abolish all evil and rule over everyone and everything perfectly for ever, is still to come. So Jesus told us to pray: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come’ (Lk 11:2), and to be ready and on the alert for its arrival (Mt 25:1-13; Lk 12:35-40). But when the full reign of God does finally happen, it will be beyond all our planning and all our organising. So ultimately we must let God give us his kingdom as pure gift. Meanwhile, what we can do is to completely cooperate with God to hasten its arrival.

When the fullness of the kingdom, reign and rule of God, does finally arrive, that consoling promise which we hear tonight [today] will also be happening more strongly than ever before, the promise expressed in the song of the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men and women who enjoy God’s favour.’

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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