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Category Archives: Mariology

THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY: A BELIEF SINCE APOSTOLIC TIMES

Assumption

The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don’t know how it first came to be celebrated.
Its origin is lost in those days when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city, at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). By then it had been a pagan city for two centuries, ever since Emperor Hadrian (76-138) had leveled it around the year 135 and rebuilt it as <Aelia Capitolina> in honor of Jupiter.

For 200 years, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city, and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.
After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the “Tomb of Mary,” close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.
On the hill itself was the “Place of Dormition,” the spot of Mary’s “falling asleep,” where she had died. The “Tomb of Mary” was where she was buried.

At this time, the “Memory of Mary” was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.
For a time, the “Memory of Mary” was marked only in Palestine, but then it was extended by the emperor to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the “Falling Asleep” (“Dormitio”) of the Mother of God.
Soon the name was changed to the “Assumption of Mary,” since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that she had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven.

That belief was ancient, dating back to the apostles themselves. What was clear from the beginning was that there were no relics of Mary to be venerated, and that an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem near the site of her death. That location also soon became a place of pilgrimage. (Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.)

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.”
In the eighth century, St. John Damascene was known for giving sermons at the holy places in Jerusalem. At the Tomb of Mary, he expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.”

4th Advent Mary and the Angel

All the feast days of Mary mark the great mysteries of her life and her part in the work of redemption. The central mystery of her life and person is her divine motherhood, celebrated both at Christmas and a week later (Jan. 1) on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) marks the preparation for that motherhood, so that she had the fullness of grace from the first moment of her existence, completely untouched by sin. Her whole being throbbed with divine life from the very beginning, readying her for the exalted role of mother of the Savior.

The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God’s crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.

The feast days of the Church are not just the commemoration of historical events; they do not look only to the past. They look to the present and to the future and give us an insight into our own relationship with God. The Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.

The prayer for the feast reads: “All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory.”

In 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution <Munificentissimus Deus>, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church in these words: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.”
With that, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.

img_f0134512aa1 World Cross

Prayers of Intercession
Leader: In the assumption of Mary into heaven,
we see the glory that God calls us to share.
As we celebrate the mighty deeds
that God’s love accomplished in her,
we confidently ask God to hear our prayers.
1. That the church, like Mary,
will rejoice to share Christ’s victory
over death,
let us pray to the Lord:
2. That world leaders
will ensure that their countries’ might
and wealth
are used for peace and not for war,
let us pray to the Lord:
3. That those who lift up the spirits
of the poor, the homeless, and the oppressed
will never lose hope in the saving power
of God,
let us pray to the Lord:
4. That we who celebrate this Eucharist
will imitate Mary’s example of trust and love,
let us pray to the Lord:
5. That those who have died,
especially ___________ and ___________,
will find everlasting joy in God their Savior,
let us pray to the Lord:
6. Let us remember our own intentions.
[pause for silent prayer]
For these, let us pray to the Lord:
+
+
Leader: Mary’s God and our God,
you have blessed us with the gift of your beloved Son
and his most-holy mother.
Look with favor upon our prayers
for your continued blessings.
Grant that we, like Mary,
proclaim your greatness in all that you accomplish for us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Researched by Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia
kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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19th Sunday Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY.

FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY.

Jesus speaking with disciples

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus takes off the gloves, as it were, and he confronts his listeners with the stark truth of why he has come, and what they must do to benefit from what he offers them. Most of today’s gospel has Jesus speaking, as if he has listened to their debating and rationalising long enough. However, it is very important to remember that the fourth Gospel was written at least some sixty years after the Resurrection of Jesus, hence it would seem that today’s Gospel is a pretty good reflection on how ‘the Way’ ( the first name given to followers of Christ) were understanding the Christ of Faith by the time that this was written.

Loaves and Fishes plate images (1)

A couple of weeks ago we saw the miracle of the loaves and fish, which paved the way for an understanding of the Eucharist. It would appear that Jesus had got their attention and their interest. They asked him in last week’s gospel, ‘What does God want us to do?’ and they seemed interested enough to listen to the answer. But in today’s story, once again Jesus began to speak about a personal God, a God among them, a God who was no longer in the Holy of Holies within the Temple or in the burning bush; but the people closed their ears, and became inflexible once more. Again we hear the echoes of Ps 95 Verse 8 ‘If, today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.’ This Psalm was well known by the people of Israel. We in modern times pray that Invitatory Psalm most mornings.

Listening

Jesus got straight to the point when he said that he was speaking about pure gift. Even the desire to come to him, to listen to him, to respond to him was a gift from the Father. It had nothing whatsoever to do with religious practice of the time, it was a whole New Covenant, and compared to the inflexibility of the Old Covenant they had inherited, this was a radical change! Jesus had come in person to teach them, to lead them, to nourish and save them. They had a decision to make. They were either for him or against him.

Yahweh th

Before we move on, we must pay attention to the implications of what Jesus said in the opening part of today’s reading, because it gives us a deeper understanding of another underpinning statement made by Jesus which really got their shackles up. Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from Heaven.” We can easily miss the direct import of the words, ‘I am’. In the Greek text we would know exactly what the implications are, so not to hold you in suspense any longer….’I am’ is the Divine Name. In other words…YHWH. The Bread; what does that imply? Manna for sure, but what is the translation of the word MANNA? God’s Mercy and Goodness. Jesus, the human face of the Father! Wow! Now look at the claim of Jesus and why this caused such a response among His critics? But we must not forget that this Gospel was written about 100AD; therefore plenty of time had been given to the question, who was Jesus Christ?

Jesus in the Synagogue Nazareth thKKNONFDC

As we look back through history and explore the varied responses to the all-powerful Word of Jesus, we can easily say that the faces have changed but the message remains the same. We see here in this teaching from Jesus that by and large it was falling on deaf ears. What caused this? Was it the humanity of Jesus, ‘the son of Joseph’ which automatically closed off the creative options in their minds, because it was too good to be true? It would seem that fixed minds have been the stumbling blocks for many people throughout the ages, and they still are today! So fixed, that even the greatest miracles do not enable a flexible response, and in this case, it was directly to Jesus the Word made flesh. Together with fixed minds goes blindness; the inability to see God’s power to save, linked with judgements based on helplessness. The end result; many walked away from Jesus! As John’s Gospel later tells us, many of them rejected it, walked away, and no longer followed him.’ John 6:60-61.

Jesus washing the feet thBQ6O7DS4

We probably do not walk away from Jesus, but we can easily be so comfortable within inflexible mindsets that we can run the risk of not being fully open to the Lord through prayer, in response to His Word, and the consequences of receiving Holy Communion. Sometimes my mind quivers somewhat when I hear and see instances where some Leaders in the Church are so black and white, with a touch of arrogance when dealing with greyish human problems. It can be comfortable and tidy to think that one has the whole truth, rather than listening to the truth in humility as manifested in ‘the poor of the Lord’.

Job 1

Within this deep Gospel, there is something else which the First Reading from the Old Testament reminds us…..namely the need for food and nourishment for the journey. As we saw in the First Book of Kings……Elijah while on his journey was famished! He said……’Lord, I have had enough and he wished he were dead’. Oh my goodness, I bet that we have all felt like that in our Christian Journey………..however, fortified by the bread and water, Elijah woke up to a new day and kept going.

14th Sunday year A Harbour hotel

There is another speed hump in believing that Jesus is The Word made flesh, dwelling in His Spirit among us…….and that is Lethargy! Many people could not really care less about God, or God’s Word of the presence of God in our world. Our commercial, high tech’ living can rob us of the time to ‘be still and know God.’ Over the many years of Ministry in and among God’s people, Death and the Funeral can be the stopping point! It can be so terribly uncomfortable for many, because Death involves and will involve all of us. The ‘be still and know God’ moment often happens prior to a loved one dying, at death, and then in the Funeral. These days we can easily take death for granted; we see in nearly every night on the Television News. Death, killing and horrible suffering sell ratings. However, when the sting of death, enters us, it has the power to make us STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN to what is life all about.

Over 45 years I have heard more Eulogies than I have had Baked Lamb Dinners! I have often wondered if the person in the Coffin had in their life time heard one quarter of what had been said about them. Just as it is vitally important to reflect back to people while they are alive of their wholesomeness, so it is also vitally important to ‘be still and know God’. To be open and wanting to listen about Jesus who is not some distant person walking around the district of Palestine. No, it is about tuning it to the frequency of the mystery of God’s presence and influence on us. To know from human experience that ‘in death, life is changed, not ended.’ To be aware that many animals are also aware of the death of their loved ones, and upon reflection knew instinctively that their ‘beloved’ has gone to God’s embrace. Just as we are on the ‘look out’ for the new iPad or iPhone and can’t live without it……..so to if we had that energy for Jesus our Bread of Life and desperately wanting to know everything our high Teck’ gadget can offer us, as we listen meditatively to God’s Word and digest it……we would have more ‘healthy spirituality’ to walk with our sisters and brothers every day.

Mass 8

Hence we can be like the people in today’s Gospel. God is always doing a new deed, hence we are invited to ‘Go and be Jesus, and live what we have heard, seen and partaken at the Eucharistic table.’

Our Prayers of Intercession

World 2
Leader: We turn now to our God in heaven who hears all our prayers and grants our needs.

+For all members of the Church to come to know Jesus better through their participation in the Eucharist. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+For all peoples of the world that they seek God with all their hearts. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+For those whose lives are characterised by grumbling and murmuring, that they might experience joy in coming to know God. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+That each of us here may give to others the gift of our self-giving. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

+For the poor and suffering people on the Indonesian Island of Lombok; grant that neighbouring Nations will come to their help. We pray to the Lord. : Lord, graciously hear us.

+ For our Island nation, Australia, grant that the Drought be broken very soon, and that fellow Australians will continue to support, love and befriend our people in this sun burnt country. 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 iPads….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: God in heaven, you draw us to yourself and desire that we have eternal life with you: hear these our prayers and help our unbelief. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

img_f0134512aa1 World Cross

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Corpus Christi Year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. EUCHARIST MEANS MISSION.

Corpus Christi Chalice

In all our Catholic churches, the main way we pray together is the Eucharist, the Mass. From start to finish, Jesus Christ is active and alive in us who are parts, indeed limbs and cells, of his risen body. The climax, the high point of our celebration, is when we receive him in Holy Communion. There he gives himself to us in love and nourishes our relationship with him. There he wants to sets us ‘on fire’ with his ‘powerful love’ (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #10). So, from our intimate sharing with him in communion, we are meant to go back to our homes and neighbourhoods with a new heart, a new spirit, and a new commitment. In other words, Jesus sends us out from his table to nourish others with our body and blood, i.e. with the gift of ourselves, our love, and our lives. He sends us out to bring to others a love like his – a love that is unselfish, caring, forgiving, generous and constant.

Jesus washing feet thT00NU9P6

At the very the end of Mass Jesus has one final word to say to us. Through our priest or deacon he commands us in this or similar words: ‘Go and announce the gospel of the Lord.’ His intention is ‘[that] each [of us] may go out [from his table] to do good works, praising and blessing God’ [General Instruction of the Roman Missal 2002, #90c].

We cannot, in fact, truly share the consecrated bread and wine without also sharing the daily bread of our personal and community resources of one kind or another. Communion with him is essentially defective, and even an empty sham, if we ignore or neglect him in our poor and needy sisters and brothers.

Long ago St John Chrysostom had something to say about this that is particularly strong, sharp and challenging. Here are his words:

Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do you not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same who said: ‘You saw me hungry and gave me no food; and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers [and sisters] you did also to me’ … What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother [or sister] is dying of hunger. Start by satisfying his [or her] hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.1

In a nutshell, our Holy Communion with Christ requires us to identify with poor, suffering, troubled and afflicted persons all over the world: Did not Vatican II say: ‘The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well?’
[‘The Church in the Modern World’, #1]

Bread and wine Mosaicmass-and-worship

Our whole Mass is a matter of remembering, celebrating and joining in Christ’s wonderful work of liberating and transforming human beings. So our celebration is meant to send us out to liberate oppressed and struggling persons from all that is not of God, from all that crushes or inhibits their dignity as his sons and daughters. This is so true that until Jesus Christ comes back to the earth at the end of time, the strongest sign of his presence and self-giving in the Eucharist is our life-style afterwards. It’s meant to be a life-style of service, of binding up wounds, of reaching out to persons in need with caring, unselfish, and generous love in dozens of different ways, all the ways that Jesus himself reached out to others during his days and years on earth.

The Eucharist, then, means that we are people sent out on mission, and people who find in the Bread that is Christ and the wine that is Christ our nourishment and strength to reach out to others. A beautiful ecumenical document known as the Lima Statement puts it this way: ‘The Eucharist is precious food for missionaries, bread and wine for pilgrims on their apostolic journey’ [Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, E26].

Last Supper untitled

The truth is that shared prayer and shared life before and after prayer go together. This is particularly true of the Eucharist. For it is there that we remember, celebrate and encounter the presence and person of Jesus Christ giving himself in love to God the Father, and giving himself in love to human beings.

Jesus walks on the water thL24LHJLV

So, to sum up my message to you on this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, one of the quite special meanings of the Eucharist, but one that is too often overlooked or neglected, is that it is about ‘going out to make a better world’ (Christiane Brusselmans).

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1 John Chrysostom, In Evangelium S. Matthaei,hom, 50:3-4; PG 58, 508-509. Cited by John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia [Encyclical Letter on the Eucharist in relationship to the Church],

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Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

 

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THE LITURGY OF THE WORD. Helpful hints from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia kevin.w3@bigpond.com

God's Word thBV613COL

It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.

Gods word 2

 

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TRINITY SUNDAY, YEAR B, 2018. A Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. GOD IS ONE AND GOD IS THREE.

Trinity 1 thAYBA8X4Y

One of the most fascinating things about being alive is the other people in our lives. Just as fascinating is the fact that the more we know them, the more there is still to know. Husbands and wives regularly report that even after more than twenty years together they are still getting glimpses of new things about the other. So it’s only bit by bit that they can revel and rejoice in all the different and charming things about the other, who will always remain something of a mystery. It’s the same with our knowledge and love of God – of God as Father, of God as Son, and of God as Holy Spirit. While God is anything but a closed book, it may take years of keeping company with God before we become deeply aware of particular pieces in the puzzle of who God is.

There are at least three ways of delving into the Mystery of the Trinity. One is to search for how something that is one can also be three. In this approach it might help to compare the Trinity to a tree. The Father is like the trunk of the one tree, the Son is like a branch of the same tree, and the Spirit is like the fruit the same tree produces. Or we might compare the Father to the sun in the sky, the Son to its rays, and the Spirit to its heat. Or we might think of the three as like three musical notes played together as one harmonious chord.

Another approach is to concentrate more directly on the relationship of the Trinity to us. The first thing that has to be said about this is that, strictly speaking, God is self-sufficient. In the interpersonal relationships that have existed for ever among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God has been completely and perfectly happy and satisfied. But it is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God to create us human beings in God’s own image and likeness. It is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God’s Son to become a human being like us and live his life for others. It is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God to give us our beautiful world to both preserve and develop in a harmonious balance. And it is God’s overflowing goodness that has led God to destine us for everlasting life with Godself on the other side of this life.

The next thing that needs to be said is that the interpersonal relationships of our three-in-one God, show us that to be a person we need other people in our lives, other people to love us, and other people for us to love. In the 1960’s there was a popular song that said: “I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.” That message is a lie. For while there are times when healthy human beings like to be alone and deliberately choose their own company, there is something wrong if they’re always saying like the famous Swedish actress, Greta Garbo: ‘I want to be alone.’ This is because we need the company and influence of others to animate us, to draw us out of ourselves, to complete us, to challenge us and comfort us. It’s not for nothing that in the Genesis story of the creation of woman, God says: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” (2:18).

Begging for money

Some time ago I heard about a man who was so utterly alone in this world that nobody ever shook his hand, patted his back, gave him a hug, a friendly dig in the ribs, or even a wave. He became so desperately lonely that the only thing left for him to look forward to was a monthly visit to his hairdresser, where at least for a few minutes someone would touch him and care for him.

Job 1

Loneliness can be a sad and cruel experience. This is particularly so for people placed in solitary confinement. I read a while back about a particular prison ward. The prisoners were given enough to eat. But they were not allowed to talk to each other. They were not allowed to work together because work leads to contact and conversation. They were not even allowed to listen to others on the radio or watch television. And of course they were never allowed visitors. After months of this cruel treatment there was not a single prisoner with even a skerrick left of self-esteem or self-confidence.

prodigal-son-6

I hope and pray that none of us here will ever feel so isolated or alone, and especially when we have to face that particular human experience, which no one else can face for us – our death. What happens on the other side of that experience? What will we find there? Our faith tells us, that whatever else there will be, we will enjoy the company of other human beings. And more than that, on the other side of our death God will be waiting for us. The God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The God who made us. The God who has loved us. The God who has understood us. The God who has forgiven us. The God who has kept us going. The God who has finally taken us to Godself.

Trinity 1

This is what we are celebrating in our feast of the Trinity. This is why we are giving praise and thanks to God in this Eucharist. Because God is not alone and because we are not alone, and never will be. And so let us pray together and mean every word we say: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. AMEN.”
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Passionist logo in glass thKDM7CEFT

 

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5th Sunday of Easter Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney-Australia. Together, we can make it happen! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Vine and Branches

Together, we can make it happen!

This week’s gospel is linked closely to that of last week. Like the gospel about the Good Shepherd, Jesus uses another simple image of the vine and the branches, to teach the people about his relationship with them, and theirs with him. He uses an image with which all of his listeners would be familiar, and it would be very easy for them to understand. It is also easy for us to understand too. So let’s have a look at it.

This is really a very powerful teaching. We are attached to Jesus, just as he is to the Father. We can draw our life from him, so that he can produce fruit in us and through us, if we want to respond! In another part of the gospel Jesus tells us, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you, and appointed you to bear fruit, fruit that will last”. He speaks very simply and very clearly, even to the point of telling us that, apart from him, we can do nothing.

Vine and branches  thYW77FN7S

Taking this theme even further, Jesus establishes and speaks of a direct chain of connection between the Father, himself, and us. It is obvious that he sees and thinks of us as being called to share in the divine life of the Trinity. We really need to pause and reflect upon that point…it is just so powerful, and thus we are empowered through the Holy Spirit to be The Living editions of the Good news! Not Museum artefacts! They are dead! Sometimes I wonder where the joy has gone with some of our Leaders and faithful.

Notice that a pruned Vine looks very much like a modern art form of Jesus on the Cross, or even a yolk for Oxen.

Pruning is necessary if fruit is to be brought forth in abundance from a vine, bush or tree. However, the Gardner has to have the wisdom to know what to prune, and how much, and what the possibilities could be as a result of this action. Branches are pruned to strengthen the tree’s growth and sometimes to produce more abundant fruit or flowers. Quite often, through trials and tribulations, we are pruned. Any worthwhile growth in our lives takes place during times of struggle, and never when everything is smooth, calm, and even. Sometimes we are pruned by each other. This can come about within a real spirit of love and forgiveness; it is on this basis of trust that we can tell the story just as it is to each other. In this act of faith, we can sometimes suffer, and bleed through the truth that someone else has told us, because it may well be the truth about us, and it might hurt, and the truth may be calling us to change, hence spiritual pruning is at work! What can hamper this growth??? Pride, Jealousy etc.….all the opposite gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Suffering can be another kind of pruning. Generally we don’t go looking for suffering in our life, it somehow finds us. Suffering can enable us to be more sensitive to other people, it can knock a few chips of the old block, which is me, and it can invite us to love more deeply. I once heard a great old Passionist Father Bonaventure CP, say to me….’Sometimes Our Lord puts us on our backs, so that we can look up into His eyes’ a great wise saying from a man who lived and grew through his relationship with Jesus and mission to His people. The great English writer C.S Lewis once said, “Jesus didn’t come to take suffering and pain away, He came to fill it with His presence”. That is something to chew on, because in lots of ways that is very true. Pruning can also be used as another metaphor when it comes to refining gold and silver in fire. Let check this out from the Old Testament Prophet Malachai
THE SILVERSMITH’S REFLECTION

READER 1.
For he is like a REFINER’S FIRE, and like a FULLERS’ ALKALI.
He will sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like Gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord.

READER 2.
A person had observed that there is something remarkable in that expression of the Prophet Malachi:
‘He will sit as a REFINER AND PURIFER OF SILVER’.
It was agreed that a silversmith should be called in to give his opinion on the subject. Without disclosing the object, he was asked about the process of refining silver, which he described in detail.

READER 1.
‘But do you sit watching while the work of refining is going on?’ one asked. ‘Oh. Yes’, replied the silversmith, ‘I must sit with my eyes constantly fixed on the furnace, for if the necessary time be extended in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured’.

READER 2.
Christ sees it needful to put His children into the furnace; but He is seated by the side of it; His eye fixed steadily on the work of refining and purifying. His wisdom and His love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; even the hairs on their heads are numbered.
READER 1.
The silversmith said he still had to mention that he only knew when the process of purifying was complete, by seeing his own face reflected in the silver. Even so, when Christ shall see His own face in His children, He will know that the work of purifying is accomplished.

God’s Word can prune us as well. Every time that we hear God’s Word, there is an inbuilt invitation for us to respond. That response in us may call us to be pruned, to change our ways, our attitudes and values and hence endeavour to put on the mind of Christ. St. Paul goes into further details in his letter to the Philippians 2:1-5. You might like to look up the quote from the New Testament.

27th Sunday year A Vineyards
O Lord, grant that we may never be separated from you, so that we may produce in the world the fruits of faith, hope, and love. Amen

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3rd Sunday of Lent Year B, 2018. A Biblical Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. REVERENCE FOR GOD

3rd Sunday of Lent year B 1

We heard it said of Jesus in the gospel: ‘Zeal for your house will devour me.’ An Irish Jesuit priest, Paul O’Reilly, has told a story against himself about zeal and reverence for the house of God. When he was still a deacon, Paul was put in charge of the altar servers. He was a flop in the job. So they took it away from him and gave it to a zealous layman called Adrian.

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Now Adrian is one of those people who are naturally good with young people. He’s outgoing, cheerful, down-to-earth and easy to get along with. He liked the altar servers and they liked and respected him. Within a few weeks of his taking over, the number of servers had doubled, and they started turning up on time for practices. Most importantly their work on the altar was much improved. Everybody, including Paul, was very pleased that Adrian had taken over the job and was making such a big success of it.

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Then one day Paul happened to be in the church when Adrian caught two of the altar servers chewing gum in church. He went absolutely berserk. He shouted, he screamed, he yelled at them for what must have been ten minutes. And all through that time he kept saying one thing over and over again: ‘You are altar servers. You are here to reverence God in the church. You do not chew gum in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.’

Paul thought this ticking off would be the end. Surely after that the altar servers would rebel. There would be deputations to the parish priest, and one big hullabaloo. And worst of all Paul was afraid that the job of training them would come back to him.

In fact, none of those things happened. By the very next day it became clear that the servers respected and followed Adrian more than ever. It made Paul stop and think. He reached this conclusion: – What the altar servers respected in their leader was that he was angry for the right reasons. He was not angry because they had done anything personal against him. He was angry for the Lord, for the reverence that is due to God‘s house. Zeal for God’s house had devoured him.

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The whole point of being an altar server is to bring reverence to the Mass, the reverence that is due to the greatness and goodness of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Mass is the way we Catholics fulfil the first three of the Ten Commandments which were presented in our First Reading tonight (today): –

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You will have no gods but me.
You will do nothing to dishonour my holy name.
You will keep holy the day of rest, my special day.

The reason we come to Mass every Sunday is not just to hear a homily. It is not simply out of a sense of duty, custom, or tradition. It is not merely to have the pleasure of meeting our friends and fellow parishioners. It is not only to receive Jesus our Saviour in Holy Communion. No, we come to Mass in the first place to give praise, honour and thanksgiving to God, from whom all blessings flow. And if we too have enough reverence, respect and love for God, then zeal for his house and for his interests will devour us too.

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But please, Paul concludes his story, let’s not take out our zeal for God and the reverence due to God on out altar servers. We need them as much as ever. Anyway, they’re doing the best they can! Don’t you agree?

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson 12033412_811506865636699_12714191_n

Bro Vicente CP with Fr Brian Gleeson CP

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