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Category Archives: Spirituality

28th Sunday Year B 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia. Fruit of Biblical Wisdom: SEE, JUDGE & ACT! kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Today’s Gospel gives us Jesus’ teaching on the dangers of attachment to riches, and he speaks about the rewards awaiting those who put him and his message before their earthly ambitions, of building up their wealth on earth.

28th Sunday year B Rich young man 3

The first obvious thing in today’s gospel is that the young man seemed to be a very good person. He was most respectful to Jesus, and he was honest in his search for eternal life. He had kept all the commandments since his youth, and Jesus looked on him with love. To all appearances, he was an ideal person. Yet, without condemning, Jesus just had to show him something about himself of which he may have been very unaware. He was too dependent upon his wealth, and therefore without knowing it, he was not truly free! Jesus invited him to freedom, but the cost was too much for him. So, what did the young man lack in his life seeing that he had seemingly led a pretty good life? The answer is in the first reading today. So, let’s have a look at it. Wisdom 7:7-11

28th Sunday year B Wisdom

The author of this Old Testament Reading speaks about an interior value that supersedes a fat wallet, and millions of $$$$’s in the Bank Account. Notice that it is a feminine characteristic of God…..WISDOM. Well, what does Biblical Wisdom mean? Firstly it is a Spirit filled Gift which we need to ask for….Wisdom is somewhat like a nice Red Wine….it matures with age. However, it needs good intentions from the one who wishes to acquire it. As Biblical Wisdom matures, it enable us to discern what is of lasting value, what is of temporary value and what is rubbish! In fact, according to the Scriptures, God-given-Wisdom is the most valuable spiritual possession one can have in this life. If it becomes part of our bone marrow, Wisdom will guide us, challenge us and strengthen us. In order to engage the Gift of Wisdom, a simple rule of thumb can help us….SEE, JUDGE AND ACT! This motto was the core of a Youth Movement which I belonged too as a teenager, and I have never forgotten it.

The response to the Psalm 89:12-17 Fill us with your love, O Lord and we shall sing for joy. The Prayer sentiments in this Psalm are a great community response to the first Reading…..if we took on board the prayer in this psalm…..our only response would be: – Fill us with your love, O Lord and we shall sing for joy.

28th Sunday year a divided heart

Now, let’s hang on to the SEE, JUDGE AND ACT trio; you might find it handy as well. Let’s apply it to the young man in the Gospel story today. Mark 10:17-30. Let’s ask the obvious question: Why did he go away from Jesus sad? Most probably because he lacked Wisdom to discern the all-embracing gift that Jesus was offering him. He couldn’t see it! So Wisdom might have a great deal of meaning when it comes to seeing someone, who is the saving hand of God at work in Jesus. It could well be said to be the 1st cousin of faith! Food for Thought! So let’s get a balance in Our Lord’s view on wealth.

14th Sunday year A Mother Teresa

There is nothing wrong with wealth, or with being wealthy. Some of the world’s greatest people, who have given much of themselves to others, have been very wealthy people. So it’s all about our attitude and inner secret attachment or detachment that matters, which gives us the freedom to embrace the Gospel fully, or due to enslavement to riches we can walk away sad!

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Well what kind of poverty is Jesus speaking about when he says that we should have a sense of detachment from things in order to be truly free? The answer is ‘poverty of spirit’ which is a spiritual gift. It is that genuine thirst for God and a hunger to seek God, and in living that spirit, our attitude towards material things and people take on a new meaning. Poverty of spirit enables us to be open minded to what God asks of us. It flavours our life so much that we are deeply appreciative of our inner gifts, and can tune into the richness within other people without being jealous or envious of them. Poverty of spirit is an inner truth which sets us free to use the gifts that our world provides with a sense of appreciation and moving on, and not wanting to cling on to what we have got as a source of true identity and self-esteem. After all, when it is all said and done, a burial shroud has no pockets! Something to think about! When I was clothed in the Passionist Habit in 1968, we had no pockets because it was a black burial shroud! However, very inconvenient what you felt a sneeze coming on and one could not get to the pockets in our trousers under the habit to get a handkerchief, or hanky as we used to call them.
We give thanks to God who alone is good, for his Son, Jesus Christ. By handing over his body and blood for us, Jesus gives us everything; and turning on us his look of love, he says: ‘Do this in memory of me.’

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28th Sunday Year B, 2018. A Reflection on the Readings from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. RICHES GETTING IN THE ROAD. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

A questionnaire was once distributed to a class of high school students. It asked: ‘What would you like to be?’ Two thirds answered: ‘A celebrity!’ Not an answer Jesus would have given!

Mark, today’s gospel storyteller, tells us that Jesus is setting out on a journey, when this young man – he is not named – comes running up to him. All enthusiastic, he asks Jesus what he must do to make the most of his life and time on earth. What he is wanting is a greater closeness to God and a greater sense of fulfilment. It’s true he has already been walking the right path for any good young Jewish man. He hasn’t killed anyone, cheated anyone, or robbed anyone. He hasn’t fooled around with another man’s wife. He has always shown his parents love and respect. But right now this doesn’t seem enough to feel completely at home with God and completely at peace with himself. There must be more that he can be, and there must be more that he can do. ‘What is it?’ he asks Jesus.

28th Sunday year B Rich young man 3

Jesus takes a shine to this rich young business man for his evident honesty, sincerity and good will. But Jesus wants to free him from his addiction to possessions and to help him share more with others. Looking him straight in the eye Jesus puts to him one massive challenge: ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’

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Let’s hear Jesus saying that to us 21st century people. What would we think? What would we feel? What would we do? Let’s hear Jesus, then, asking any one of us to give up every single thing we value and treasure. My family! My friends! My home! My garden! My kitchen with its new cupboards and appliances! My air conditioner! My computer! My smart TV! My smart phone! My IPod! My iPad! My digital camera! My swimming pool! My Jacuzzi! My secure job and pay packet! My superannuation! My pension! My gym subscription! My holidays! My concerts! My books! My movies, my videos, my CDs and DVDs! My restaurant meals! My motor car! My football! My cricket! My tennis! My squash! My basketball! My health insurance! Just imagine Jesus asking us to give up just about every possession, every pursuit, and every hobby we have that gives meaning to our lives and makes life worth living!

3rd Sunday after Easter Year A decisions

And all for what? To keep walking with Jesus along those dusty roads of Palestine? Not being sure of having a roof over my head on any night you care to name! Never being sure of where, when or whether my next meal will be coming! Being exposed to the jeers and sneers of the enemies of Jesus! Travelling light all right, unbelievably light!

If, then, like that rich young man we did meet Jesus on his journey and he were to look steadily at any one of us and say: ‘Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor . . . then come, follow me,’ it would be very understandable, perhaps even predictable, that our jaws too would drop, and we too would walk away sad, sad because we would probably be thinking and feeling: ‘Jesus is asking too much of me. The cost is too great. It’s beyond me. It’s unreal. I can’t do it.’

13th Sunday of Year A Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa 2

Jesus, in fact, knows that what he asked of that young man is quite beyond the great majority of human beings. ‘For mortals,’ he comments, ‘it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ He is speaking, surely, of the special grace of God, and of the power of that grace given to particular individuals, who all through history have literally left everything to follow and imitate Jesus. St Francis of Assisi is a striking example. In 1206 Jesus crucified spoke to him three times from the crucifix in the church of San Damiano. ‘Go, repair my church,’ Jesus said. (He was speaking of his church community). So at the age of 25 Francis completely renounced his inheritance, stripped himself of all his fine clothes and all his possessions, and consecrated himself totally to God. From that day he began to live the teachings of Jesus as literally as possible. He put all his trust in God as his one and only source of security.
The amazing thing is that from that day on Francis found more joy in living than in the entire first twenty-five years of life. It can be done, then, but not by everyone.

Where does the gospel story leave you and me? Right now we can’t pack up the bare necessities and hit the road. For most of us that would even be irresponsible. But let our gospel remind us that we can let our lives get too cluttered and too complicated by too much stuff and too much attachment to what we have. It’s not that possessions are bad in themselves. But they can become a terrible hindrance if they start to possess us and block our minds and hearts from what matters most – surely our freedom to be loving persons to family and friends, but also to those poor people not far away without even the basic necessities of life. What matters most of all is our relationship with Jesus. He was calling that young man of the story into his company. He keeps calling us too to share his company – to spend time with him and to share our lives with him. Let’s do just that, then, in the rest of our Eucharist together today!

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27th Sunday Year B, 2018. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney – Australia. JESUS SEES THE BIGGER PICTURE: DO WE? kevin.w3@bigpond.com WEB: https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

26th Sunday year B Cinema

Many, many years ago, when I was a young boy….say about 5 or 6 years of age, Saturday afternoons used to be very special for us kids! Because if we had been good to our parents during the week, and made sure that we ate our vegetables at meals, we would sometimes be rewarded by being allowed to go to The Pictures!

In Australia, that is what we call the Cinema! We would look forward to watching many Walt Disney’s cartoons of Bugs Bunny, and Donald Duck, and funny movies like Abbot and Costello and Superman! It was so good! And it was all in Black and White, on a small screen! We used to think that we were so lucky, and we were! But then as the years moved on, Television arrived, and then Movies and cartoons used in living Colour!!!!!! Then as time went on, there came the stunning vision of IMAX – SURROUND SOUND in 3D!!!!! This was an absolutely amazing change from the narrow box screen at the Picture shows when I was a kid! Now, it is the all-embracing view and experience of Cinerama -IMAX-3D!!! We actually feel and sense, and see ourselves in the Movie!

26th Sunday year B 3D

By illustration, let’s imagine that our human view of the world is the black and white films of the Picture show, years back, and God’s view of the world is CINERAMA-IMAX-3D-SURROUND SOUND PLUS! We are so often limited in our understanding of God’s plan and desired involvement with us, because of our tunnel vision! Over the millennia, the Angel of the Lord, has opened our minds to see the bigger picture, but to be within the bigger picture!

Let’s look at the first reading today from the Book of Numbers 11:25-29. We see something absolutely astonishing, which speaks about the smaller picture as seen by us, and the bigger picture interpreted by one of the Lord’s Prophets!

26th Sunday year B Holy Spirit over all

Within a moment of mystical experience, the Spirit of the Lord God having rested on Moses, moved onto the seventy elders, and they began to speak the Word of the Lord immediately! It seems that two other men who were not with this larger group, were back in the camp, also received an outpouring of the same Spirit, and began to speak the Word of the Lord! To the amazement and concern of a young man in the camp, he rushed off to tell Moses and Joshua of this so called ‘unofficial outpouring of the Spirit’ on Eldad and Medad! And what was Moses going to do about it? (Let’s pause here and be curious; question? Could these two names give us a deeper understanding of those who are ready to receive an outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit? The short answer is, YES!) (Eldad means: beloved of God, Medad means: beloved one, or exemplary LOVER!) So, it seems that for a person to be a Biblical Prophet, these two meanings in the names of Eldad and Medad, give us an important clue as to the kind of inner disposition within the human spirit which can be open to an outpouring of the Spirit! Food for thought!

The same goes for us! Moses set them straight in their thinking, and opened their minds, by letting them see the bigger picture which the Lord God had painted for them through this incident……’just imagine, Moses said, that if all the people had an outpouring of the Spirit?’ Moses was not perturbed nor upset that Eldad and Medad had received an outpouring of the Spirit, even though they had not been formed like the 70 elders under the Mantle of Moses! The response of Moses to this issue at hand, speaks volumes of the maturity of Moses as a Biblical Prophet and the IMAX Vision that he had of God’s work. Let’s hang on to this issue when we take a look at the Gospel for today; it will be very important for us to have this understanding under our belts, as we see Jesus responding to the questions of his Disciples about something similar.

26th Sunday year B Jesus with disciples discussing

In this weekend’s Gospel, the disciples are concerned, because a stranger is claiming to be acting in the name of Jesus! Jesus is not upset nor disturbed by this; he reminds his disciples, as Jesus reminds us today, that anyone who lives and acts in a Christ-like way, is living in the way that God wants. Not only those who bear the name Christian, but anyone of good will can reflect the goodness of God to others. Now isn’t that something? We really need to understand, own and appreciate that fact! As we saw in the first reading today, the two men in the Camp who received an outpouring of the Spirit, were not part of the official graduating class of the 70! And let’s remember how Moses responded to this fact! He did not react to it! He responded to it! Jesus does the same in this case in the Gospel today. Now, this is real food for thought for us, and we need to digest it fully!

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Nearly every Sunday morning my sister and I watch a BBC 1 Programme called, Song of Praise. It is a half hour segment, and is taken from a different Church in the British Isles each week. It is a mixture of Protestant and Catholic Congregations. I must confess a weakness in my thoughts to you about this Programme. When it is a Catholic Church, I am a little happier, than when it is in a Protestant Church. As soon as the programme starts, I automatically look for the tell-tale signs of the Sanctuary Lamp, Tabernacle and Stations of the Cross to see if it is one of ours! Now, I put that down to my genetic heritage, because my immediate ancestors put their lives, literally on the chopping block in order to protect the Catholic Church against Cromwell, and his henchmen! I own that realisation, but these readings for this Sunday remind me, through this clarion call, that the Lord works also through those people and Ministers who do not belong to the Catholic Denomination. Deep inside me, I am completely overwhelmed with the goodness, the love and forgiveness being lived by these Christ like people; in truth the Lord is present in them too! I believe that I have a clinging touch of arrogance inside me to say, ‘the Lord is present in them too!’ Over time that must be eliminated from my mind! WORK IN PROGRESS!

26th Sunday year B Ecumen

Therefore, one special message contained in the Gospel today, is that we must be ‘open minded’ and be free from bigotry in our attitudes and actions. The bigot or extremist, is the last one to see what is happening. It is a form of blindness, and it is very destructive! We see it today, on our Television World News! It is often most evident under the appearance of Religion. It is essential, that if we call ourselves Christians, we must have an open mind and heart to all others who follow Jesus. There is a great difference between unity and uniformity. We can be very united with members of other Christian Churches, and we can worship in different ways, or have different ways of seeing and understanding things; we belong to a broad Church, a Catholic (Universal) Church. However, this does not start and finish within the entire Christian Church! If we thought that, we are being very narrow minded, just like looking at the Cinema screen in the 1950’s.

26th Sunday year B Brian Ecumenical 2

We need to be IMAX people, in 3D, who due to our massive communications networks throughout the world, we can get real glimpses of God’s almighty influence, not only in the World religions who have as their core teaching, the Golden Rule, but we in many other religions too. This is not about saying that we are better than others because we are Christians, but rather being mindful that our God has unveiled His love and purposes for us in many and varied ways…..who are we to judge! By their fruits, you will know them.

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How can we break down the barriers of misunderstandings between Religions? Well, it is a bit like striving and working towards Reconciliation between different races and cultures of people. Before reconciliation, comes conciliation, which means ‘meeting’. If we do not want to really talk and listen to people from other religions and cultures, we will never get near reconciliation or common understanding. We must want to understand other Religions…not in a window dressing fashion, but through solid listening, and asking good and respectful questions without any preconceived ideas that they are wrong and we are right. Unfortunately, there are extremists in all Religions, and Christianity has their fair share of them too. One only has to check out FACEBOOK to see some of the oddest, conservative and narrow minded views about God, and His Church! So many, many people in the world today think that some Catholics have all the answers, all the proper doctrines, and it is all set in concrete! What strikes me with some of these people, is that they are not SERVICE CENTERED, as Eucharistic Foot washers of the Lord! They often present as morbid people, who lack joy, and tend to appear like the Pharisees in the Gospel, who like to be greeted with special titles, and dress with longer tassels and phylacteries, thinking that this is all impressive and righteous.

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Then on the other side of that ultra conservative extremism, we have the secularisation and demythologisation where both the baby and bath water have been tossed out! Jesus did not come to bring us a new Religion; He came to show us the way to the Father, and the Way is a mystical experience founded deeply within the Heart of Love, and the Cross. This way to the Father is the antithesis of secularism, but intensely imbedded within the human experience of life and all its features! Look at the stir that our fantastic Pope is creating in the world today, because of his humane approach to the Gospel, and the living out of its message? His freshness of approach, has sent shivers down the spines of many people who think that they KNOW IT ALL! And control God!

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The Gospel today puts before us a challenge; do we see the importance of learning about the culture and spiritual ways of our Muslim brothers and sisters, as well as the culture and customs of our Hindu, Buddhists etc., who live in our streets, suburbs and cities? What about other Christian Religions; are we interested enough to go to Ecumenical Services, and pray with our sisters and brothers from other Churches or attend Lectures which will educate us about them? We hope that the answer is YES to both questions. There is only one drawback….”I couldn’t be bothered…” Lethargy!!!!!!!

Finally, hospitality is one of the fruits of open mindedness and welcoming people who come to our Parish Churches. It is so good to have a teams of ‘welcomers’ at Parishes; there is absolutely no substitute for the personal way, in which people are welcomed, not only with the giving of a Parish Bulletin, but the smile that goes with it. It is a tremendous sign to newcomers, and regulars, of the unique spirit of hospitality in our communities. As the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: HEB 13:2 ‘Do not neglect hospitality, for through it, some have unknowingly entertained angels.’

Finally, in today’s Gospel, we see the absolute sanctity of faith = insight which is fragile, and needs to grow unhindered by people who would like to destroy it! The severity in which Our Lord speaks about this evil intervention from people, who are set upon destroying that sacred fiber between God and His people, are given a severe warning! The method that Jesus uses in speaking about those who would destroy the faith of another, was a typical rabbinical form of shock tactics to get the message over! These shock tactics underline the absolute integrity and sanctity of the gift of faith. This warning is for all times and seasons, it is appropriate for all millennia……it is one of the gravest violations against humanity and God! Faith, as small as a Mustard seed, can grow in a large tree, where the birds of the air can nestle in its branches…….

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26th Sunday year B, 2018. A Reflection of the Readings by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. BELIEVERS TOGETHER. bgleesoncp@gmail.com

26th Sunday year B Brian Greta Garbo

A Hollywood star of the 1930s and 1940s, Greta Garbo, is famous for saying ‘I want to be alone’. But it’s only human and natural to want to be with other people. Many of us join a group or club for that reason. It may be a group at work, such as a football tipping competition one. It may be a sporting group like a football, cricket, netball, bowls, golf, fishing or tennis club. It may be a social group, e.g. one that plays cards together. It may be a political party. It may be a church group, such as ‘Passionist Family Groups’. Some of us, in fact, belong to several groups at once.

26th Sunday year B Brian Family Groups

We join because we want to meet other people, join in the activities of the group and work for the goals of the group. Being with other people widens our horizons and gives us the satisfaction of feeling wanted, accepted and respected. Life in a group, however, can become a problem if the group becomes exclusive, and if its members become either fearful or contemptuous of persons outside the group.

26th Sunday year B Jesus with disciples discussing

In our gospel today, the apostles are feeling very threatened by a man outside their group who is successfully casting out demons in the name of Jesus. Perhaps they are afraid Jesus will invite him to replace them. But like some selfish child who has more than enough toys but won’t share any, they seek to stop the man in his tracks. But Jesus is much more generous than they. He tells them to let the outsider be: ‘You must not stop him,’ he says, ‘Anyone who is not against us is for us.’

26th Sunday year B Holy Spirit over all

Some of us were brought up to believe that ours is the one and only true Church. The Second Vatican Council did not push that line. While it did assert that our Catholic Church is directly descended from Jesus Christ and the apostles, and while it did assert that our Catholic Church has all the means of salvation – ways of being at right with God – it recognised that Christians in other denominations can be real and genuine followers of Jesus. Just like Catholics! (As the famous Irish writer James Joyce once put it: ‘Here comes everybody!’). Vatican II recognised that through baptism non-Catholic Christians too are joined to the person of Jesus, are members of his body on earth, and are destined to enjoy the company of God for ever in heaven. Just like Catholics!

26th Sunday year B Brian Ecumenical outreach

So, even though we have our differences, some of them quite serious, Vatican II called them ‘brothers and sisters’, not outsiders, and certainly not heretics or impostors. It also recognised that their churches are anything but fakes and shams. Their churches in fact, bring the grace of God – the presence and love of God – to their members. Like the Catholic Church they too are expressions of the Christian church as a whole.

26th Sunday year B Brian Ecumenical 2

So, while we rightly take pride in all the many good features of our Catholic community, we also recognise and affirm all the good people and all the good deeds that exist in the Anglican, the Uniting, the Baptist, the Pentecostal, and the Lutheran forms of the one Church of Jesus Christ, just to name a few. We do this even as we also pray that we and they will in time become more united in faith, hope and love than we are already.

26th Sunday year B Golden rule

Another great truth proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council, one that also leads to tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, is that the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit – influences the minds, hearts and lives of persons in the other great world religions, e.g. the Jewish religion – known as ‘Judaism’. There are people in other world faiths living near us wherever we are. Some, like us, believe in one true God. So, it’s important that we meet them, accept and affirm them, as good people too and as children of God, children of the one Creator who through our human parents has made us all. Like us, they too keep striving to know and live that truth which the Spirit of God keeps making known in our various faith communities.

26th Sunday year B Growing in Christ

As Jesus said it so well, ‘the wind (of the Spirit) blows where it pleases’ (John 3:8)!

26th Sunday year B Ecumen

So, for the continuation of the presence and influence of the Spirit of God among all our communities of faith, let us keep giving praise and thanks to God – their Lord, their King, and ours!

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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.

Go make disciples of all nations thO8B4G764

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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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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