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25th Sunday Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. WITH JESUS: WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET! kevin.w3@bigpond.com WEBSITE: https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

14th Sunday year A Sharing the cross

There is a certain sense of urgency about today’s Gospel. Jesus suspects rather strongly that the road that he is on will eventually lead to his death. He therefore uses every opportunity he can get to teach his disciples, and prepare them for what will probably happen to him. In the midst of all this, he is probably disappointed to hear that their main concern was which of them was the greatest? The faces have changed over the centuries but this message remains the same.

I can’t resist in sharing this story with you…. A PARABLE ABOUT PRIDE AND HUMILITY CAUGHT OUT

A newly commissioned colonel had just moved into his office. A private entered with a toolbox. To impress the private, the colonel said, ‘Be with you in a moment, soldier!’ I just got a call as you were knocking.’ Picking up the phone, the Colonel said, “General, it’s you! How can I help you?” A dramatic pause followed. Then the colonel said “No problem. I’ll phone Washington, and speak to the President about it.” Putting down the phone, the colonel said to the private, “Now, what can I do for you?” The private shuffled his feet, and said sheepishly, “Oh, just a little thing sir. They sent me to hook up your phone!” Here is another one on a slightly different angle, but focused on a similar theme.

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A very meaningful parable was sent by email to me a couple of weeks ago together with a lot of meaningless rubbish! I would like to share this parable with you, because it has some bearing on today’s Gospel passage. It goes like this: A man, who was full of himself, and loved to show the vastness of his knowledge, asked his wife this question. ‘Do you know how many truly great men there are in the world today?” To which she replied, ‘No, I don’t. But I know there is certainly one less than the number you think there is!’ With that, he cancelled the Dinner for two at The Waldorf Hotel in London! They had Fish n’ Chips wrapped in Newspaper instead, sitting on deck chairs outside Buckingham Palace.

     25th Sunday year B Fish n Chips

READINGS: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20   Ps 53:3-6 Mark 9:30-37

25th Sunday year B DNA

The Word of God this weekend speaks to us about “true greatness” in the sight of God and humankind. Let’s go back and have a look at the first Reading from the Book of Wisdom………..There is something deep within our DNA as human beings which is twisted! We see it here in the first reading how virtuous people seem to get under the skin of other people, and the inner irritation turns towards cruelty towards the wholesome person. It seems that this inner exasperation evokes creative and nasty ways to trip the wholesome person into experiencing trials and un called for difficulties, or rather as the Scripture says, to see if the good person is for real!

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It has always happened, and it continues to happen under various guises within all circles of people, Religious and those who claim no Religious affiliation. It also raises its ugly head within the ranks of the clergy and religious of the Church. When we drill down in search of its direct cause, we often come across jealousy, arrogance, superiority and the abuse of power! The sufferings Servant Songs in the Prophet Isaiah which we hear during Lent and especially on Good Friday speak so eloquently of the one who has no guile! Jesus uses the profound image of a small child, as one who is welcome in God’s household.

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It seems that Jesus was not saying that we should stay immature, but just as a child is ‘open’ to life and love without question from loving parents and others, we should always have a similar disposition towards God, and practice it in our daily lives with one another. Ha ha that’s the challenge.

25th Sunday Year B Keeping up appearances

There is a fantastic BBC Series called: Keeping up Appearances…..the great actress Mrs Bucket, always prefers to be called Mrs Bouquet!!!! She spends her time keeping up appearances to the neighbours so that she appears to be from ‘the elite’ and not just an ordinary person from Brixton…… Sometimes we are tempted to Keeping up Appearances of someone that we are not! Boasting of what we have when we don’t have it at all. In other words being a living fraud!

25th Sunday year B Why am I afraid to tell you who I am.jpeg

There was a Book in the 1970’s called: Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? By John Powell SJ; the short answer to the question as the title of the Book is……’if I tell you who I am, you might not like what you see!’ I am no Psychologist by a long shot, but let’s look at Jesus………He is not afraid to say who he is……in fact Jesus is so real, that the harsh reality of following him totally is glossed over in today’s Gospel by the Apostles arguing who is going to get the Box Office Seats in the Kingdom? Jesus sits them down and says……being first and having the best places of honour is NOT the Way of Jesus!!!!!

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Isn’t it refreshing to meet someone who is ‘for real’, no put on, no show; what you see is what you get! These people appear to be FREE in a very real way. That’s what Jesus wants us to not only be like but ‘be’ all the time.

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A child in the society in which Jesus lived had no status; Jesus exalts that status by saying, all are equal in God’s sight, and those who embody that childlike quality, are really welcoming Jesus into their lives as He welcomes them.   In the Celebration of the Eucharist, God speaks to us through His Word, always inviting a response from us. In Communion, we are united to Christ and to one another. May we continue to allow ourselves to be strengthened through Word, Sacrament and Community, so that we can truly seek the greatness of Christ-cantered service of each other. Our Liturgical Dismissal at the conclusion to our Eucharistic Celebration…is not just a Liturgical way of saying……Bye, Bye, see ya next week!!! No, it is a commission to go out and BE who we have received, to be SERVANT to each other, and to assist in bringing Heaven to Earth as we so often pray in The Lord’s Prayer.

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25th Sunday Year B, 2018. A reflection on the Readings from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. BEING FAITHFUL TO THE WAY OF JESUS. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

25th Sunday year B Brian Newspapers

It’s a well-known fact that many men read a newspaper backwards. This is because of their great interest, even fanatical interest, in sport. Their interest extends to all kinds of sports, even sports played in other countries. They may have noticed, then, that a while back the New York Yankees baseball team paid $30 million for a new star performer. As a result, they began to win games galore.

What’s clear here, there, and everywhere is that the club with the most money can buy a champion team. What’s also clear is that the famous saying of American football coach Vince Lombardi rings bells with many people: ‘Winning isn’t everything,’ he said, ‘It’s the only thing.’

25th Sunday year B New York Yankees

No doubt about it! Achievement, winning, success, being number one, and beating all opposition are among the strongest values of human beings everywhere. For that very reason, the parish bulletin, like cigarette packets, might have carried a counter-cultural warning today. It might have read: ‘Warning! Hearing and listening to the Word of God today might cause you dizziness, confusion, and disorientation!’

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Why do I say that? Because the message God gives us today is so different. In a nutshell, WHAT GOD IS TELLING US IS THAT HE IS NOT ASKING US TO BE SUCCESSFUL BUT TO BE FAITHFUL. Jesus in particular is putting that path of fidelity to us no matter what our fidelity may cost us. In his case the price he paid for fidelity was the way of the cross – the way of pain, torture and humiliation. It was a path that would finally lead to victory, the victory of the resurrection. But to reach that victory he had to first pass through all the agony of his Passion and Death.

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While I sense that the way of Jesus is ‘the road less travelled’ for most human beings, there are significant exceptions. One striking exception is a Sister Mary, who works in a health service for homeless people in London. After working most of her life as a doctor in Africa, she came home to England. She was horrified to discover enormous numbers of people living homeless on the streets of the capital. It made her angry that in such a wealthy country there could be so many people who were so poor, so uncared for, and so unloved. So rather than retire, she set herself to work for the homeless people she saw everywhere, including the offer of a free medical service.

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One day, a man who had been homeless for about 30 years came into one of the hostels for the homeless. He was about 55 and had been abusing alcohol and other drugs for nearly forty years. When he arrived he couldn’t have been any dirtier. His entire body, clothes, hair and face were covered with a thick matted mess of dirt, vomit, and dried blood. There were even lice crawling on his skin. To protect the other residents, the warden of the hostel insisted that he could stay only if he had a bath. But the man refused point-blank.

Even on a bitterly cold January night in London, he would prefer to go back to the streets rather than take a bath. A male volunteer tried to talk to him, to reason with him, but he kept raving and shouting all kinds of nonsense and would not listen at all. So, the volunteer called his boss, Sister Mary, for advice. She said she would come and talk to him. She arrived after a few minutes. She said nothing. She just sat down beside him and held both his hands in hers. Instantly, he stopped shouting and began to weep. For a long time, he said nothing and just sobbed his heart out. And then, after what seemed like an eternity he said: ‘That’s the first time anyone has touched me like that in twenty years.’

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Softened by that touch, he had a bath, a shave, and a haircut, and put on a clean set of clothes. Within an hour he was a new man. But the real miracle was what happened next. From that day to this he has never again drunk alcohol or used drugs. Within three months he found a job and moved out of the temporary hostel into his own flat. That one moment of grace – of love and compassion communicated – has changed his life for ever

0f course such a dramatic change does not happen often or easily. But that’s exactly what did happen to that particular homeless man.

So Jesus really means what he’s saying to us now: ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me…’ I cannot think of a more powerful illustration of his teaching than the story of Sr. Mary and the homeless man. It leaves me in no doubt that the essence of true greatness is found in loving, serving, and helping others, and being the best, we can be in doing that.

Surely, then, an authentic life is not about seeking out those people who can do things for us, but those for whom we can do things, and do them with the humility, kindness, gentleness, care, compassion and grace practised by Jesus himself, and doing them without any thought of reward or recognition other than believing and knowing that this is the way and will of Jesus.
His way and his will surely, for both you and me! Can we rise to his challenge?

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Brian Gleeson special photo

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24th Sunday Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. ‘But you,’ Jesus asked ‘who do you say I am?’ kevin.w3@bigpond.com

It is fairly common these days in Business, and within People orientated Professions, to undergo an appraisal…..that is to see how one is performing, and highlighting personal presentation and giving attention on how one could improve. In contrast to the gospel today, the appraisal called by Jesus is not about His performance, but about His identity……..,’who do people say that I am?’ The response is a mixed bag of possibilities, but here we see Peter speaking up for the group, and the early Christian Community saying….. “You are the Christ….” However, Peter’s response is a hasty one; somewhat like his response to the observation made on the eve of Our Lord’s Death.…..”are you not one of His Disciples?” Peter swiftly denies the claim…..” I do not know the man….” Peter often shows himself to be somewhat impulsive from time to time in the Gospel…..Let’s not forget that there is a big possibility that Peter is not alone in that kind of quick response without thinking it through; we can easily be like Peter.

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Jesus deepens the understanding of His identity with aligning himself with the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. It seems that this is a crucial ingredient in Our Lord’s identity, and urgently calls us to revisit its implications for living the Gospel message. Hence the prospective follower`s response to this fundamental aspect of Christian Discipleship is paramount. This question which Jesus put to Peter, is a question which we face daily. Our actions speak the answer.

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In order to explore the implications of `the suffering servant motif ‘ we need to dig deep in to its understanding for the Prophet Isaiah! Let’s have a look at the opening line of the 1st Reading for today…..” the Lord has opened my ear’”. It is just so easy to read that over very quickly and not fathom its profound meaning. So without more ado, what does it mean? It seems that to have one’s ear opened is a ‘graced moment’ in listening. We are not looking at this from the point of an Audiologist as you would find in a Medical Centre, but Biblically speaking, it is the graced moment of holistic listening. These two words mean real obedience.

So often we can so easily misunderstand the meaning of Biblical obedience; often we might think that it means just doing this or that! Absolutely no! In this case, it would seem that through Isaiah’s ‘lived response’ to his calling from the Lord God; he has learnt to listen deeply to The Word addressed to him all the time, hence he was obedient to the Lord God. Biblical listening has a lot to do also with holiness, which equals wholesomeness. In the 1st Book of Samuel, we hear the profound response to the invitatory from the Lord God…..”Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” However, even for young Samuel, it took some time for him to understand and know that the calling of his name was in fact the Angel of the Lord; he received some assistance from the old man Eli which cannot be understated either. We must treat this progress of refined listening to a result of intercession. Notice that Samuel makes the move and is curious in his investigations, the answers or the graces do not come on a silver spoon. In short, it is all about responding to an invitation, and earning the graced moment. Curiosity is a vital component in a follower of the Lord God; curiosity can be a trigger for real listening.

Listening

In Isaiah’s case, his experience within his vocation has told him why he can respond to suffering as a silent witness, and this comes to the surface when Isaiah can say: `The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults….My vindicator is at hand….The Lord is coming to my help.’ The Prophet knows in the Biblical sense that the Lord will never let him down, and through the ongoing suffering; ironically, he will learn to listen even more.

Suffering Servant

Now, this Biblical understanding in how to deal with conflict\suffering goes contrary to the world’s formula in dealing with unjust personal and communitarian reproach for one’s belief. In today’s Gospel we see Peter representing the “world’s way” in responding to the ultimate suffering with Jesus at his imminent Passion, Death and Resurrection, the latter part of the triplet is incredulous to Peter at this time…..again, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same. That is why the inspired Word of God is applicable to all millennia and seasons. In short one as to grow into a Biblical listener, it does not just happen!

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There is still more to all of this than meets the eye: the silent suffering servant too many people can be seen as a sign of weakness, however, as St. Paul says ` when I am weak, then I am strong…’ How come? We might ask? Because as for Isaiah and St. Paul, they knew that the Spirit-Breath of the Lord was in them, therefore their vision was to a higher plain than just the earthly one. Notwithstanding the silent witness element, it does not rule out the process of conciliation, through to reconciliation when confronted with hostile people, who do not understand the stance of the Christian. Time and time again in the Scriptures, we are called to the desire of meeting others, in short, that means conciliation, which is always the first step to the bringing together within a healing moment…..true reconciliation. This desired process is a `by product’ of the Isaiahian and Christian approach to suffering, and it is the flip side to the silent witness. When this process happens in life with us…..that is true progress. If it doesn’t happen when we would expect it, we must remember that the Lord God has the bigger picture…..as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer…`thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven……in God’s own time. Here is another crunching factor: the letting go of controlling the outcome at a given time, this is another fruit of Biblical listening. The desire to control the outcomes and the process, is like trying to listen a Beethoven Symphony, while the Motor car races are at full volume of the Television.

In the living out of this true Biblical listening, there is often an internal struggle…….these days, we often hear the word “jihad”, and according to the Macquarie Encyclopaedic Dictionary, 2010, and let’s see its meaning: – Islam: spiritual struggle: efforts made in the cause of God. At a personal level, the struggle to be righteous and follow God’s path. At a communal level, a struggle or holy war in support of Islam against unbelievers. The major part of “jihad” could well be owned by the followers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…..Jews, Christians and Muslims, however being groomed in and by the New Testament, there is absolutely no room for a so called holy war, that is truly a misnomer. However the ‘struggle’ concept with in is common to all, with particular meanings.

For ourselves, time and time again within the circumstances of our day to day lives, situations arise when the question is asked of us individually…” Who do you say I am.?” The answer is lived out in our response to the situation as we sometimes internally wrestle with the “jihad”/ ‘the struggle’ and come to some answer to that burning question as our actions will reveal to all.

Do we make time ‘to listen’ to God; we should get into the habit of it, so that it happens automatically? Are we so filled with noise that we cannot fine tune into what silence has to offer? Do we see the value in having a personal or family review of the day; using the question….How have I seen the saving hand of God today? In people, through Scripture, in Sacrament, in silence? If we attend Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, does our gaze penetrate through the Host, into the living Body of Christ in our world? Or does our gaze stop at the Monstrance? How do we respond to ‘FAITH’ hostility? Are we affirmed in the way that Isaiah was? Do we try to enter into conversation, so that reconciliation may happen? Or do we go for the throat? Believe me, these questions are for me, just as anyone else…..Go gently…

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24th Sunday Year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne – Australia. PERSONAL Vs.SECOND-HAND FAITH.

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There are two kinds of faith. The first is inherited faith. This is the faith that comes from ancestors, our forefathers and foremothers. More immediately it is the faith practised and passed on by parents. The second kind of faith is a personal faith. It is the faith of those who, helped by the ‘amazing grace’ of God, believe because of their own reasoning and reflection. There are gains and losses to be had with each kind.

2nd Sunday of Lent year B Family

Those who inherit their faith have the advantage that they are not easily tempted to doubt or denial. Even when confronted with attractive arguments against what they believe, their faith stays strong. This is because of their strong family traditions about it, and because it has never been part of them to analyse what they believe. But they also have a disadvantage. They have not thought enough about their faith. It is more a habit and a routine than a matter of personal conviction. So too they find it hard to put into words just what they believe or live what they believe. It’s not yet a big part of their personal identity. Until it is, they may be more cultural than convinced Christians.

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Those with a personal faith have this particular advantage. They have discovered God for themselves. They have reached their convictions with their own minds. But they too have a disadvantage. What they believe can be shaken by arguments to the contrary, and when that happens they may be tempted to ditch their faith, to toss it completely overboard. For them to keep on believing, their faith has to be grounded in something more than themselves and their own thought processes.

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The best kind of faith is a mixture of both inherited and personal faith. While affirming and valuing what has been passed down to them, such believers also count on their capacity to question the origin and meaning of what they believe, to think things out for themselves, and to conclude that their personal beliefs are solidly-based, meaningful and helpful.

Family photo

It’s just not enough to say, ‘My family has been Christian. My parents are believers.’ Because an inherited faith is a second-hand faith! Every generation has to own and personalise the faith that has been passed on. It has been said that some church-goers are little better than baptised pagans. That’s unduly harsh. But just the same, we see some glum and tired, bored and indifferent faces in church, the faces of people who come late and leave early. Words of the 19th century philosopher Frederick Nietzsche come to mind in their regard: ‘Christians should look more redeemed.’

It’s important for us to come up with our own answers, and to be able to state our beliefs and values as Christians. It is not sufficient to repeat the official answers and state the official formulas, such as ‘consubstantial with the Father’. For faith to be alive and influential in our lives, we have to make inherited faith our personal faith. What our family believes is not ours until we are walking the journey of faith ourselves, and ‘walking the walk, not just talking the talk’, as the rappers put it. The more convinced believers we have in the Church, the more it is founded on rock, not on sand.

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The questions Jesus asked his apostles today are the most important in the whole gospel. First he asks: ‘Who do other people say I am?’ The answers they give him were way off the mark. Then he turns to them and asks: ‘And you, who do you say I am?’ Peter speaks up for the group, ‘You are the Christ.’ He says, ‘you are the Messiah, the Saviour’.

Peter got Jesus right. Jesus was and still is the Messiah. But he did not get Jesus fully and perfectly right. He did not know or accept that Jesus would be a suffering Messiah, not a military and political leader. That was something he had to learn, and learn the hard way.

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What Peter did get right were his words as far as they went. But when he came to acting on his faith, he failed. His lowest point was when he denied that he ever knew Jesus. This shows that we need God’s grace, not only to profess our faith in words, but also to live it, to practise it, and especially if or when we find ourselves under pressure. In fact, in asking us what do we think of him, Jesus also implies that additional question: ‘So, what are you going to do about it?’

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So, for the great grace of an active and practical faith, let us pray to the Lord, both for ourselves personally, and for one another!
bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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23rd Sunday of the Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening’ kevin.w3@bigpond.com

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Today we hear a story about Jesus healing a deaf and dumb man. Was this to be a one off story or is it perhaps a never-ending story, which can be lived out today? Let us have a closer look at the words and actions of Jesus.

Jesus with deaf and dumb man

The story begins with a prayer/action of intercession. Others brought the man to Jesus. We don’t know who they were, but they obviously believed that Jesus could do something for this man, just by laying his hand on him. This situation appears frequently in the Gospels, when the person concerned is unable to get to Jesus, or, in this case, is unable to speak for himself. So other people take the prayerful initiative in walking with the man to Jesus. Such prayerful actions are always pleasing to the Lord. Remember the story of the lame man being lowered down through the roof and his stretcher being placed in front of Jesus? Jesus marvelled at their faith, and he healed the man. Each week in our Parish Bulletin we have a list of people that we are invited to pray for who are ill or deceased. Maybe you might know one or two of the people who are sick; why not make some contact with their family and perhaps visit them and let them know that you are praying for them. Let’s never forget just how important it is to pray for the sick, because often the sick person will feel a special comfort, which is the fruit of our prayers. For our deceased relatives and friends, our prayer is an act of faith, hope and love.

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Jesus takes the man aside in private; this is most certainly an act of trust by the deaf and dumb man in Jesus. This man would have been very careful in what company he kept. The man was obviously on the right page. Trust is the first requirement for healing! Jesus touches the man’s ears and his tongue, and with a sigh, or a groan, which itself is a prayer from the Spirit within Jesus, enables the miracle to take place. In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans Chapter 8: 26-27, He tells us, ‘…through our inarticulate groans the Spirit himself is pleading for us’. As part of this inner groan and looking up to Heaven, Jesus says ‘Ephphatha’ which means ‘Be opened now!’ And it happened: The man could hear and speak clearly? What could he hear? He could hear the saving and healing Word of God. What could he say? That in Jesus the saving, healing hand of God is at work!

God's Word

There can be levels of deafness in our ability to really hear the Word of God. It is a ‘graced moment’ to really hear God speaking to us. So often when we are chatting and listening to people, our mind goes somewhere else! We can become distracted and not listening…when we come to our senses, we then try to work out what the other person’s story is all about. Listening to God in His Word, within the Sacrament and face to face with His people is a ‘full on focus’ of not only our ears, but our whole person. We have to be deeply engaged in the process, if not, our minds can easily wonder off thinking about what we will be having for Lunch today, or do we have enough petrol for the motor mower. Mary had this grace of ‘listening’ in abundance, she was a great listener to God’s Word. Remember the part in the Gospel after Simeon had received baby Jesus in the Temple, that Mary treasured all these things in her heart. That does not mean that she put that memory in a box within her heart!

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To treasure something is to savour something. That means prayerfully going over these treasured words and then letting the words speak within in the inner silence. These treasures can be revisited any time that we like. She was ‘full of grace’. It is a free gift, but only to those who want it, receive it. Let us ask the Lord today to touch our ears and tongues, and to free us from any blockages of deafness and dumbness.

22nd Sunday B 1The Pharisees and the Herodians Conspire Against Jesus

What about the dumbness? This can so often cause us to be silent when we should speak. At times in can be moral cowardice. Being freed from this dumbness enables us to speak out against injustice, to give a word of praise, or to proclaim the message of Jesus. Speech is a wonderful God given gift. People can be built up by words of encouragement and praise, just as they can be destroyed by words of sarcasm and criticism. We live in an age of social media which floods our iPad and iPhone. There are lots of really comments and photos, but there are a lot more negative comments and cruel photos. Our society seems to thrive on negativity. Just imagine if we could turn that negativity into positivity, I’m sure that we would be happier, more graced and more productive people. We can do well to examine ourselves on this issue. So let us conclude with this little prayer which we might like to savour from time to time.

Open my ears Lord help me to hear your voice,
Touch my heart and tongue O Lord, so that I may speak
Your words of love, compassion and forgiveness. Amen

kevin-3

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23rd Sunday year B, 2018. A Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. HEALING OUR HANDICAPS AND WOUNDS.

Every time we find ourselves listening to the stories of God at Mass, we need to ask ourselves two questions: – 1. Where am I in the story? 2. Where are we in the story? Let’s apply that now to the story we hear today about the healing by Jesus of a handicapped man, handicapped by being both deaf and dumb.
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Our first response to this story might be: ‘Well, I’m not deaf, and I’m not dumb. I’m not handicapped. Or if I am, not much! So what’s the story got to do with me?’ The fact is, we’ve all got limitations, we’ve all got handicaps, and we’ve all got wounds. Just because ours are not as visible and as obvious as that of the man in the gospels, doesn’t make them any less real.
In one way or another we are all wounded and hurting. We see this in husbands who take refuge in work because they are no longer attracted to their wives. We see it in wives who are wounded by lack of attention and affection from their husbands. We see it in parents who are fighting and arguing with one another or with their children. We see it in children who are not getting the love they need, or who are feeling smothered by ‘helicopter parents’ hovering too closely over them.
30th Sunday year A strict mother
Some people carry deep wounds from bad experiences as a child. Others are wounded by sickness, or by the death of a loved one. Some are wounded by the infidelity of their partner, or by not being able to accept themselves as they are. Some are wounded by failures at work or in relationships. Others are wounded by being unable to forgive or forget. Some are wounded by being rejected by someone they love.
Some of us are more wounded than others. But the deepest wounds may be those not visible to the eye. Inside each of us there might be a whole hidden world of suffering.
Drugs
With some people their inner wounds have driven them to drugs, drink, depression or pornography, or a combination of all of these. In others their inner wounds have led to a compulsion to prove themselves, to appear successful, to win, to dominate, to show off, and even perhaps to an obsession with helping and saving others – to acting out a kind of ‘messiah complex’.
On the road to healing, the first step is to own that we are indeed wounded and hurting. Counselling with a caring therapist or even deep conversations with a trusted friend, may help us find the source of our frustration and put us on the road to recovery.

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But no matter what our wounds are, what needs healing most of all is our heart, our mental and emotional outlook. If only our heart could change we could move on and give so much more to our relationships. But as a result of particularly painful experiences, the heart is often left empty, cold and unwelcoming, hard and unyielding, and weighed down with worry and anxiety. Maybe we even find ourselves suffering from a broken heart?
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We should not be surprised by any of this. It means simply that we are human beings, who have hearts of flesh, not hearts of stone. Just the same, our wounded hearts ache to be relieved and healed, so that we can find freedom and deliverance, love and peace, joy and contentment.
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This miracle Jesus did on that deaf and dumb man reminds us that hearing is a precious gift. But it is only with the heart, a heart like the heart of Jesus, that we can hear what is hurting others most of all. The cry of someone in need may reach our ears, but if it does not touch our heart we will not feel that person’s pain, and we will not do anything about it. The miracle that Jesus worked reminds us too that the gift of speech is a precious gift. But if we do not speak our words from the heart, they will be empty, hollow, and a waste of time.
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In touching the ears and tongue of that handicapped sufferer, Jesus also touched his wounded heart. More than anything else it was that touch which made him a different person, a new man in fact. That was the real miracle.
It’s the same for us. So, for the healing of our wounded, damaged or broken hearts, we must look to Jesus, just as Pope Francis has recently advised:
If there are times when you experience sadness, depression, negative feelings, I would ask you to look at Christ crucified. Look at his face. He sees us; in his eyes there is a place for us. We can all bring to Christ our wounds, our pain, our sins. In his wounds, there is a place for our own wounds. There they can be soothed, washed clean, changed and healed. He died for us, for me, so that he could stretch out his hand and lift us up.
We must also be ready to look to other human beings, persons who can and will put us together again, who can and will put us on the road to recovery. In this great work, we can experience them as agents of Jesus – the greatest and best healer there has ever been – of wounded, handicapped, and broken people – of people like us, you and me.
Brian Gleeson special photo
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22nd Sunday Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia. If the heart is not praying, the tongue labours in vain. kevin.w3@bigpond.com https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

We are faced with death and dying every day. As soon as we turn on our Television 24/7 News, there are always cases of sudden road accidents, bombings in war torn places. Blowing up Religious shrines as we saw in China last week, and so many innocent people are either killed instantly, or a left with dreadful wounds, physically and mentally. These sudden deaths and barbaric actions do not allow people to die naturally, and they don’t have the time and disposition to say their Good Byes to loved ones and friends.

On the other hand, when we are able to be with our loved ones and friends prior to and while they are dying, it can be mostly an inspiring experience for the people around the bed. Fortunately, as a Priest I have had the privilege of being with lots of people while they are dying, including my own father and mother. During the process of dying, it is absolutely important for people around the bed to listen and speak to their loved ones in their ear! Hearing is the last sense to go. Also to touch them, kiss them, and caress them. During these moments, we are in Heaven’s Foyer! We listen to the words that might be said by our loved ones, and hold onto them. We need to be on ‘high alert’ for other experiences during this time, which might make our hair stand on end! This is all natural, it is real, and we will remember it forever. I might add that in certain circumstances it is appropriate to tell our loved ones that they can go! Hard as it is for us!

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In the first Reading today, from the Book of Deuteronomy, we have Moses saying his farewell words to God’s people prior to his death on Mt Nebo, while he and God’s people were facing the promised land and the River that they would have to cross to enter into the Promised Land. Moses did not ‘beat around the bush’ in what he had to say to the assembled community! Moses knew that he was dying, so what he had to say was deeply important. Like the words spoken by our loved ones prior to their death, it is not the time for flowery language! What Moses had to say was a neat, complete and a serious summary of the implications of the Lord God’s people remaining faithful to the Covenant that God had initiated with them. It also reminded the people of the guidelines given to them from the Lord God as to how to live a righteous life in the community of Israel!

22nd Sunday B 1The Pharisees and the Herodians Conspire Against Jesus

Today’s gospel sees Jesus coming face to face with one of the biggest obstacles he had to face in his ministry. The Jewish religious leaders were totally preoccupied with externals, with law, and with conformity to ritual. Jesus was interested in the human heart, and what was going on in there. This brought him into direct conflict with those leaders, and they were the ones who eventually plotted his downfall. Like Moses in the first Reading, Jesus did not ‘beat around the bush’ in what he had to say to them. Even though Jesus at this stage of the Gospel was not about to die, what he had to say was the truth, and the reality of the Lord God’s understanding of real commitment begins inside a person’s heart and soul. This is what matters, not just applying the externals to try and hoodwink the Lord God. Again, we can say, “the faces have changed but the message remains the same” in our own day; for all time. This message is for every season. In our own times, there are many people clerics and faithful who try to catch our Pope Francis out! Modern days Pharisees have never had it so good……analysing to the letter of the law the Good News that our Pope brings us. I might add that most of the people I see on TV or Facebook who are looking at the letter of the law as soon as our Pope opens his mouth are usually very sad and bitter looking people. Food for thought!

Many years ago when I was a young kid (Almost Old Testament Times, 1950’s) there used to be an advertisement on the Radio for some brand of Health Salts, I cannot remember the name of it; perhaps you might know it…you might like to tell me over the weekend if it rings a bell with you.

Anyhow, if I remember rightly the blurb said something like ‘inner cleanliness comes first.’ I see this linked to what Jesus was getting at in the Gospel of today. It is really very important that we try to see things as Jesus sees them, and as he would want us to see them. Jesus sees through the masks that we might ware, the colour of our skin, the sicknesses that we may have, and even the vacant stare! When we stand before the Lord we are really like an opened-out canvas, opened right out to the edges, with the whole picture exposed to view, the good, the bad, the ugly and our inner beauty; with no picture frame to brighten it up! In the Book of Genesis, we read that when Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God. We can’t hide from God, and we should not even waste time trying to do it. As the Psalm says, ‘You know me through and through. You knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb. If I went up into the highest mountain, you are there….’

The organ God gave us with which to pray is our heart, not necessarily our tongues.

‘These people honour me with lip service, but their hearts are far from me’. As we heard in today’s Gospel.

I remember when I was in Assisi some years ago, being struck by the words on the wall above the high altar in the Basilica, ‘Si cor non orat, in vanum lingua laborat’. The translation is: If the heart is not praying, the tongue labours in vain.’ Jesus virtually said that the worship of the people who were perfectionists in keeping to the externals of the law was a farce, because they replaced God’s commands with their own hand made teachings and were somewhat proud in ticking these rituals off, as a job well done! How foolish! But we can be just as foolish too!

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We need to clean our hearts (Psalm 50/51 is a great Act of Contrition) Repentance, conversion, whatever you like to call it, is to have our hearts cleansed, and to have our inner being totally reconditioned. That is where the Holy Land is intended to be. That is our Bethlehem, our Calvary, our Upper Room, and our place of Pentecost!

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Our hearts are intended to be a ‘prayer room’; our words, actions and deeds are the fruits of what happens in that room! Everyday life within our families, our work place, in the Shopping centres, the roads (this one is a mighty challenge for me, I must confess, but I am not the perfect driver) All these places are where the fruits of the Lord’s message, digested within the heart through reflection, are lived out! We can listen to some of the greatest Sermons in Church, but if that is not lived out sensitively in Pastoral care by the Homilist, or listeners, it’s all window dressing! If the so called ‘good’ Christian in their own eyes, cannot even take the time to share some compassion with people who have lost their loved ones in death, they need to re-examine themselves, and see who is fooling who? This is a wakeup call for me too! As Jesus said, ‘let they without sin, cast the first stone.’ A very important reminder…or pop up alert, as we have on our Computers. Food for thought!

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Heart Flame 4