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4th Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. ‘I can hear you, can you hear me’, says the Lord!

   ‘I can hear you, can you hear me’, says the Lord!

 Christ the light of the world

A teacher’s role is to guide others from the unknown to the known. A good teacher, who is really ‘on the ball’ can visualise within his or her students what they are capable of in terms of ‘learning through discovery’. But more so, a teacher who is also engaged in long term learning, gets surprised and thrilled when the students go beyond what they are seemingly capable of, and that ‘brilliance’ can haunt the teacher in an extremely positive way: That’s an attempt to describe Christ the Teacher! Jesus was a vivid teacher, and His listeners would all have been familiar with the unique relationship which existed between a shepherd and his sheep. Our God in Jesus, is haunted by us, and longs and waits for surprises from us. Let’s go deep sea diving into this weekend’s Gospel, and we will be amazed at what we will discover.

figure5.jpg Icon of Christ the Good Shepherd

A good shepherd in Our Lord’s time knew every one of his sheep by name, as we might our pet cat or dog, calling them by name. At most, a shepherd would have had about twelve to fifteen sheep. However, the shepherd would go to extreme lengths to protect his flock and would be with his sheep all day in the scorching heat, and at night, he would often sleep across the entrance to the cave to ensure their safety; the shepherd was the Gate! Let’s pause for a moment or two on the concept of hearing his voice. The process of hearing a voice is paramount to all our experiences of trust or fright! Every voice is different; the voice of someone who has proved their trust to us by loving and through loving, becomes a person of reliance and this immediately registers in our mind that all is OK, this is good, I feel ‘at home’ I can be myself! Whereas, the voice of someone who has equally proved to be distrustful, hurtful, arrogant and self-righteous, immediately causes an angst, a stressful buzz within us, and can put us on edge, cause us to flee, or to fight! That was a mouthful, wasn’t it?

We can also hear a loved one’s voice through writing and art; when we come to know someone really well, we can actually hear their voice through their writings. Remember the good old days, when we would receive Postcards from our loved ones while they were overseas? In seeing their hand writing, we HEAR their words. It’s not the same when we get a text message from someone overseas……that form of media cuts out to some degree the hearing of their voice! A loving voice is also a creative voice! As we look and listen to God’s Word in Scripture, we can switch on, to God! His words to us are always creative, loving, forgiving and challenging.

Book of Isaiah

A person’s handwriting is a work of art! We KNOW the person as his or her handwriting is distinctive. Great works of art speak about the Artist, look at some of the most famous paintings in the world’s Galleries, they speak volumes about the Artist, if you KNOW the Artist. If you don’t know the artist, one can learn about the Artist, and then once we get ‘in tune’ with them, we can HEAR them. Now, look at our World, our Galaxy the entire Universe always speaks about our Creator. One of the greatest Scientists of our time, Professor Brian Cox, from Manchester University, has a wonderful way about him as he unfolds for us the beautiful and stunning mysteries of our Universe, our Solar System, our Planet, and Humankind, the crown of creation. Let’s move onto Jesus the LIVING WORD!

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The very WORD of God became flesh and blood like us in Jesus. Jesus is the human voice and face of the Father. As we listen to a well known and loved voice as coming through a postcard or hand written letter, we see in the listening, the face of our loved one. In Scripture, there is a repetitive theme….’let us see your face O Lord, and we shall be saved!’ So, in today’s Gospel from the Johannine Community, all these aspects and many more, are contained within the didactic message of this passage.

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The Fourth Gospel segment for today, makes it clear that many of Our Lord’s disciples, did not get his message about the Shepherd, the voice and the gate! But, they are not the only ones….this is a timeless reading, and so many of us still don’t ‘get it’! In the second part of this Gospel, where the early Church in Jesus, gives forth and explanation, we see quite intensely that Jesus says….’ I am the gate’. Now, unless we are really ‘on our metal’ that phrase would slip us by, and we would fail to hear and see its meaning. In short, in the Greek, let’s take note of I AM!!!! That is the Divine Name of The Lord God!!!!!

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If anything is enough to wake us up, and get the message, it is this! Wow! The Divine Name is in Jesus! Jesus is the Divine Name! What then is the purpose of this text? That is expressed in the last line of the Gospel …….’I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full’. So, therefore, in conforming to Jesus in his message and within His living Body, the Church, we are on track to live life to the fullest! To share that life with others so that the words of the Lord’s Prayer may continue to be present, yet not completely fulfilled….’thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven’. The Mission, and our Mission, impelled through Christ’s love, namely to bring Heaven to Earth! Wow! That is sure food for thought!

On a lighter note, I would like to include this…..For us here in Australia and New Zealand, and in other places in the world that graze sheep; there are hundreds of them if not thousands of sheep on a Property, or Station as we call them in Australia. I remember my dear old Uncle Harold who used to herd sheep and transport them in huge trucks to take them to slaughter, he had one name for every one of them…..but I can’t tell you what it was because it would take this realhomilie out of a G rating into something else……..

Finally, notice in the Gospels, we hear that the Shepherd leads his sheep … he never drives them. He simply walks ahead, and they listen to his voice, and follow him wherever he goes. Sheep also express their loyalty to their shepherd in many very beautiful ways, somewhat like our pets do to us at home. On the other hand, goats have to be driven … they won’t follow their goat-herd. It’s interesting to hear Jesus using the shepherd separating the sheep from the goats to describe the participants in the final judgment. In other words, separating those who followed, from those who needed to be driven. Interesting thought to ponder, eh?

A few years ago, I spent some time ministering in the Holy Land and while there, frequently drove English speaking Pilgrims around in a mini bus, visiting different Religious Sites. On one occasion, we visited the Shepherd’s Cave and as we got down from the bus, a Shepherd appeared over the brow of a hill, leading a dozen or more sheep. They were a bit different to our sheep as they didn’t have as much wool on them as our Merinos – and they had black snouts. We all thought ‘What a great picture this would make to take home’, so we took our snaps and as we began to move towards the Cave, the Shepherd came toward us smiling. Suddenly, he began to shout and carry on, waving his crook at us, and yelling ‘Shekel, Shekel!’ He wanted money, but we only had American Dollars, and he could see that we weren’t going to pay him. So I said, ‘We’d better get back to the Bus’. We ran for our lives and got into the Bus, and here he was, banging his stick on the windows, shouting words we didn’t understand and probably that was a good idea.

One of the great scandals in history is the extent to which the Body of Christ has been so splintered. While a number of groups claim Christ as their Shepherd, many deny the same right to those who do not walk in their way. But there is hope in the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel, where He declares that someday, there will be one fold, and one shepherd. But this can happen only when we stress the need for unity … not necessarily conformity. What Jesus is saying is that we must listen, and be open to others – Christians and non-Christians alike – just as we would welcome a guest into our home. Is this something about being trustful and loving, which will set the spark of ‘welcome’ and safety in others? Look at Pope Francis in his recent visit to Egypt! The ways in which he becomes a LIVING BRIDGE in his Ministry? The loving outreach to Muslims and Christians of various persuasions? What do I see on Facebook? So much criticism of the loving outreach by the Vicar of Christ! In truth, the modern day Pharisees have not had it so good!

In our Eucharist this weekend, let us pray that we may devote quality time to being attentive to the voice of our Good Shepherd, Christ the Lord, in prayer … that we may put into action the stirrings of ‘response’ from the Holy Spirit, to be Christ’s living Word now, and always.

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Let us give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love has no end.

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Fr Kevin Walsh

Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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3rd Sunday after Easter, Year A, 2017. A Biblical Reflection on this Readings by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia.

 LEAVING THE CHURCH OR STAYING?

3rd Sunday after Easter Year A decisions

For many of us life is a series of changes. Some of these are forced upon us, others freely chosen. We decide, for example, to move to a new suburb, look for a new job, replace our old car with a new model, go on a diet, enrol the children in a different school, or support a particular charity. When we make such decisions we usually expect that the changes will work out, and that our lives will be so much better and happier. But things don’t always turn out as planned. A wise proverb puts it this way: ‘Man proposes but God disposes!’ Sometimes, in fact, all our efforts to change situations for the better bring only failure and frustration, disappointment and disillusionment.

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This is just what has happened to those two disciples with the sad faces whom we meet in our gospel today. To their credit they have previously responded to the invitation of Jesus to be his friends and workmates. They have learned from him a great deal about the meaning of life. They have shared his work of teaching and healing. They have enjoyed his company and done a great deal of good to others. As the influence of Jesus has spread, they have been filled with hope for a better world – a ‘kingdom’ one of justice, peace, and joy for everyone.

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Now, however, this has all come to an abrupt end. For in these past few days Jesus, their beloved Leader and Teacher, has been arrested, tried, sentenced, tortured and killed. Right now they are feeling that without his presence, his inspiration and guidance, his support and encouragement, they simply cannot go on. So disappointed and disillusioned are they, in fact, about the fate of Jesus that they have actually decided to leave the community of his followers, the Church. This is just what they are doing when we catch up with them today. Slowly but surely they are walking away from it all. Slowly but surely they are putting Jerusalem and the other disciples further and further behind them. We find them instead heading to the village of Emmaus, some seven miles away, in the hope of starting there a new chapter of their lives.

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But as they trudge along the road, with their eyes cast down and their shoulders hunched, they can’t help chatting to each other about all that has happened. It’s precisely within this situation of disappointed hopes and broken dreams that all of a sudden Jesus himself joins them, although they don’t recognise him at first. This time he re-enters their lives, no longer simply as Jesus of Nazareth, but as the Risen Lord, powerful and empowering! They answer his every question with the basic facts. They add that they have even heard a rumour that he is no longer dead but alive. Yet while they state the basic facts about him, they have no idea how to join the dots. They desperately need Jesus to explain to them from the Scriptures that the Messiah would reach victory and glory only through the path of acute suffering. So influential and impressive is his explanation of the facts that later we find them saying to each other: ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road…?’

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By now the sun is setting and they’ve reached their destination. Jesus pretends to go on. They have enjoyed his company so much that they plead with him to stay with them. He graciously accepts their invitation. There at table their guest becomes their host. He takes bread, says the blessing over it, breaks the bread, and gives it to them. Just as he did at the Last Supper! There and then they recognise him as he was for them then, but even more as he is for them now.

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So moved are they by the impact of meeting him as Jesus raised from the dead, that there and then they reverse their previous decision. They turn right round and go walking back to the other disciples in Jerusalem. They go home to the Church they have so recently left.

3rd Sunday after Easter year A Questions

In recent years there have been big changes to the image and reputation of the Church. Some people have struggled to understand what has happened, the how and the why. Others have been in denial about the Church’s sins, weakness and wounds. Others have bravely soldiered on through it all, while working harder for a better, a more authentic, a more Jesus-like way of being Church. Some, broken-hearted, have simply walked out, perhaps permanently.

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What we all need in these times of let-down and discouragement is stronger faith, stronger faith in the on-going presence of the Risen Lord to his Church, and as he acts through his Spirit, his second self. We need this stronger faith and the hope and love that go with it, especially when we come together at the Eucharist to celebrate his presence and influence.

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Our Risen Lord is with us right here right now today, in ways that match his presence to his disciples on the way to Emmaus. He is here in the midst of our gathering. He is here as he tells his story and ours in the readings and the homily. And very shortly he will be here among us again in our Eucharistic meal of bread and wine. We look to him, as both our host and nourishment, to keep empowering us for the next stages of our journeys of life. ‘Stay with us,’ is our prayer to him, over and over again.

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May we welcome him among us, then, with trust and love, and with our minds and hearts and lives open to his powerful influence! May we embrace him as he comes to us with his mighty power and his outstretched loving arms!
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Brian Gleeson special photo

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3rd Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. WITHIN CONVERSATION THE LORD OFTEN SURPRISES US.

 WITHIN CONVERSATION THE LORD OFTEN SURPRISES US.

3rd Sunday after Easter year A 13

There is nothing better than to have a good conversation with a friend about something that bothers us. These days, we generally do it over a cup of Coffee, accompanied by a couple of lovely Hot Doughnuts with a generous dusting of Cinnamon Sugar.

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However, Doughnuts and Coffee is not always the appropriate scene for some conversations, especially when we are dealing with a confusing, tragic and confounding situation in which the two Disciples are depicted in today Gospel….a reflective walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus! (About 7 miles!) Once again, while we read the Gospel, we don’t do it to obtain facts, we read it slowly, reflectively and with curiosity, so that we try not miss anything! The strange thing is, we always miss something, and the next time that we reflectively read the Scriptures, something else will pop out at us, because the Scriptures are the ever green Word of God.

Keeping that in mind, we don’t need to examine it like a Geologist reading every layer in a sedimentary rock shelf……it is not a clinical read, it is a ‘burning’ read! Let’s hang on to that description, because we will savour it a bit later on in this realhomilie.

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Now, as I have suggested before, let’s go deep sea diving into the Scriptures: Notice that it was two Disciples who were on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus…..How many miles from Jerusalem? Seven! So, as these two friends of Jesus are on a journey from Jerusalem…..let’s pick up on the seven miles! In Biblical reading, we need to be curious about symbolism, because it has been written using various literary forms of the day, and with Biblical tradition behind it. What else has happened in Biblical terms using the number seven? Well, seven is seen as the perfect number in Scripture, and remember that creation took seven days, and on the first day of the new week…God rested. No he was not worn out because of all the creating, God paused, God reflected upon the unfolding mystery of creation, in short God gazed!!!!! We all gaze from time to time. After I have mowed the lawn, I stand back and gaze: I’m not patting myself on the back for such a nice job, I am gazing at the beauty of the lawn, and the surrounding garden and taking it all in. I bet that there are lots of ‘life events’ in which you ‘gaze’ as well. We gaze at a new born baby, we gaze on our loved one taking their last breath. Let’s fortify that contemplative element, because it continues to make us into thankful human beings; in short, Eucharistic people.

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So, with these two Disciples, a new creation is about to happen in them, and the catalyst will be Jesus. In their walk, they were deeply involved in reflective conversation about what had been happening to Jesus in recent days, and what other people were saying about these events. As was the custom in those days, if other people were walking in the same direction, they would catch up and chat with them along the way…..that’s a beautiful thing to do. However, nowadays, if I was to do that in Sydney or you were to do it where ever you live in the world, we would be probably arrested by the Police!

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As we journey along together in conversation with each other, about ‘deep down things’, the Lord often walks with us, and sometimes we are not really aware of Him. In the midst of our confusion, agitation and sense of dilemma, the Lord asks us questions to help us to clarify matters. In this case, the two disciples did not recognise that it was Jesus, and that is a didactic tool used here in the Scriptures, because the real awakening and realisation as to how the stranger will be recognised takes place after another important event which will happen at their destination. The content of their conversation with the hidden Lord, is fantastic! They could really empty their minds and hearts to Him, just as we can do the same…..Jesus wants to hear from us! He is not one of those people who tells you the answer to the question before you have asked the question!!!!

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The Disciples were able to tell the stranger, who was slowly becoming a friend to them, all their hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams for Israel……God’s Children. Then they speak about the confounding words of the women who had been to the empty tomb, and the Angel of the Lord had prompted them to know that He was alive!
The next part of the Gospel really can blow our minds. Jesus tells them outright, that they were on the wrong track……yes, they were on the right track in going this way to Emmaus, but they were on the wrong track about ‘getting’ the real message and mission of Jesus. Here, it is important from us to realise that so often, WE ARE the two disciples on the road to the Emmaus! We are sometimes on the wrong track and have to listen and really hear the message from Jesus, in order to ‘wake up’ that Jesus IS the human face of the Father, and that He walks with us in His living Body – the Church. Furthermore, when it comes to Jesus knowing us, we can never be lost in the crowd!

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You know that being with friends in solid conversation, times flies…..it was the same for the two disciples. They had ‘warmed’ to Jesus and they pressed him to partake of their hospitality! But, it turned out to be Our Lord’s hospitality within ‘the breaking of the bread’ that their eyes were ‘opened’. As we go back through the Scriptures, many times the eyes of people were ‘opened’ they could then see things clearly, they could then see that the saving hand of God was alive and at work in Jesus, and that experience of Salvation invigorated, renewed and enabled them through the power of the Spirit, to go out and live, what they had experienced, and proclaim the message, that the Kingdom of God is near.

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After the elusive Jesus vanishes from their midst, his seeming absence enabled the two Disciples, the early Church and us today, to carefully reflect on what had happened. In fact this is a ‘gazing time’ for the two disciples, to savour the Risen Lord’s presence, guidance and future sustenance through ‘the breaking of bread’, the Eucharistic Meal. Within their reflective moments, the disciples were able to say, ‘Did not our hearts, burn within us, as he unravelled the Scriptures for us?’ This question is for all time! We have all experienced that ‘burning’ within us during our life. In terms of our Christian Spirituality, it is the result and action that defies clinical proof. Why? Because we just know it! Look at the times in your life as I look at mine when we recall those ‘special’ moments, as we brush along the membrane which is that fine veil between Heaven and Earth. We can return to those moments at any time we like, and we should do that as part of our Review of Life. The result will not be a warm fuzzy feeling, but more importantly, that grace enables us to help and walk with others on the road of life towards our Heavenly Father. I believe that ‘spiritual sensitivity and wholesome living’ is the bi product of ‘graced moments’ of encounters with the Lord, the Saints, and our own Saints, our dearly departed. We must remember that we are but a breath away from them. We ought to be alert to the possible times of pressing against the membrane between Heaven and Earth, but also to be Christ within our sisters and brothers, so that their hearts may burn within them, as they too recall and re member, those moments of grace. The word re member is a powerful word, it means to ‘bring back into mind’ which speaks of a real presence of mind, not the recall of our 5 times tables; my pet Parrot could do that better than me. Therefore, to remember in the Biblical sense, is to bring back together in a ‘real presence’ which is non clinical, but real, and it burns within us! It is a human, spiritual experience, which conversations through Text messages, Twitter and the like are on the wrong track for a complete understanding of this revelation……we need to be one to one, or within a conversational group, so that all aspects of our communication skills can be on alert and in tune, emoji’s won’t deliver the depth of meaning.

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Finally, we all love to share good news, it’s in our human nature. See, the two disciples were the same…..they raced back to confirm what they had heard earlier, and what they had experienced in recognising the Lord as the unseen companion, the Breaker of the Bread, and the One who always walks with God’s people.

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I would like to conclude with a short yet powerful reflection from the Glenstal Bible Missal, Third Sunday after Easter year A, Page 293.
‘We thank God our Father, for his Son, Jesus Christ. When the Father offered him the cup of bitter suffering he opened for him the way to life. We share in the cup of that Son’s death, may our hearts burn within us as he talks to us on the way.’

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Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia

kevin.w3@bigpond.com

https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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2nd Sunday after Easter Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. Every gift has a responsibility in return!

 Every gift has a responsibility in return!

Easter 10

It hardly seems a week since we celebrated Easter Sunday! The Scripture Readings during the week have been highlighting the Resurrection appearances of Jesus, and also linking it to Pentecost. Today we are faced with the meaning of faith, as demonstrated in doubting Thomas. Maybe we see something of ourselves in Thomas….that may not be a bad thing. Let’s come back to that a bit later!

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Unlike Thomas, we have not seen, and yet we are asked and expected to believe. At least that is what it looks like on the surface. In reality, that is not so. I can get all the proof I want that Jesus is alive and well, and living in me, if I myself am alive and well, and living in him! We are living two thousand years later, Pentecost has happened, and the message of the gospel, and the person of Jesus has been debated and written about in almost every language on the globe. What signs do I want? What signs do I need? In order to answer this….let’s go deep sea diving into the Gospel for today, it will blow your mind!!!!!!

Let’s remember that this is the 4th Gospel: the Johannine community are putting together this version of the Good News in at least 100 AD. That means that the ‘living memory’ of Christ have been experienced, preached and lived by the faithful community of The Way for a couple of thousand years! The stories of Jesus have had plenty of time to be reflected upon, and understood with the Old Testament as a backdrop to this great stage of proclamation….therefore symbolism is rich and the details are carefully put together, so that we, not only as hearers of the Good News, will see the spirit of the Gospel being lived out in our times…….In all, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same. Jesus, yesterday, today and tomorrow, the alpha and omega, all time belongs to Him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power, through every age for ever. Amen.

At this stage if you can grab a copy of the New Testament, John 20:19-31, it will come in handy as we check out the jewels of its meaning.

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The Gospel starts off at the evening time of Easter Sunday…so, according to the Johannine purpose, that means a new creation is underway…..The Book of Genesis Chapter 1, is the stage backdrop. We have new creations taking place all the time….thank God! Notice that the disciples were not gathered out of Joy…they were scared stiff!! Jesus stands among them, within their fears, and confounds them with the creative words, ‘Peace be with you’. Now this is not just a Biblical ways of saying…’HI, I’m back’…far from it! As the new creation begins on the first day of the week as we heard in the first line of today’s Gospel, so the Lord’s Easter Gift is a special kind of Peace; that peace which reigned before the sin of Adam! Jesus, is seen as the new Adam restoring us to that pristine time when all was at one!!! But there is something very different here……That Peace given by Jesus as Gift to His Disciples, is linked with His wounds! That couplet of Peace as a gift came about through Jesus as the Suffering servant of Isaiah, and the Christ, the Promised one, the Human Face of the Father in Jesus, can transform our agitation into joy! Just as at the beginning of time, darkness filled the Earth and its surrounds, then with the creative Word of God…God’s breath transformed the Earth from a formless void, to a place of life and growth, and a responsibility of stewardship from us. Now with this Easter Gift of Peace comes as a bi product; the responsibility for us to be ‘Christ in Mission’ with the same mandate as given to Jesus by His Father…..Namely: Go and tell my people that I love them, Go and show them that I love them, Go and gather them and bring them back to me!

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Now, the next part of the Easter Gift, is an extraordinary action by Jesus. It says in the Gospel, that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven…..’ The 4th Gospel has the Giving of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday…. But let’s look closer at this……Jesus breathes on them……No one can breathe on someone from a distance. It is a very intimate action of trust, to allow someone to be so close, let alone that they wish to do it to us! That kind of closeness presupposes a very intimate relationship with the Disciples…..That same kind of closeness when the Lord God breathed into the Nostrils of Humankind in Creation, the breath of life…..it is that same kind of breath that was breathed into Jesus at the moment of His Resurrection!

Looking at the paragraph above where I have written…Go and tell my people etc. No one can be part of that Mission without the ‘rush’ of the Holy Spirit to empower them…to empower us!!

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The story gets even more complex as we move further on in the Gospel…There is someone who misses out on the action…..Thomas, was the man, this time……sometimes it is us!!!!! He would not believe what his friends had told him about their experience of the Risen Lord. It still happens to us, too. Thomas wanted absolute proof! So much so that he wanted to not only see Our Lord’s wounds, but to touch them! Thomas was making a very prophetic comment, and in fact, he was right! Let’s see what happens!

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Notice in the Gospel it says that eight days later…..that is a hint that another new creation is about to take place….this time in Thomas. Thomas, most certainly represents us…..In fact new creations within God’s people are happening all the time!!!! Again, Jesus greets the disciples with the gift of Easter Peace, and then singles out Thomas, just as Jesus so often singles out us. Jesus says, ‘see put your finger here; see my hands’. Then Jesus says, ‘reach out your hand; put it into my side’. It would be safe enough to say, that after Thomas touched and saw Our Lord’s wounds in His hands, that might have been enough for him, but no, Jesus says reach out and put you hand into my side? That is a big wound!!! Could we say, a Cavity wound? Could it be the entrance, mystically into the dying and rising with Jesus? Could it be that for all of us, unless we enter into the woundedness and cavity wounds of our sisters and brothers, we will have difficulty in meeting the Risen Lord? Seeing and touching the Wounds in Our Lord’s hand are not enough! There is much to reflect on here……this is a story for all times and seasons…….it is timeless. Let’s look at the faith response of Thomas: ‘My Lord, and my God’ It says everything, doesn’t it? What more could a person say? And yet, this response has been in our hearts, minds and on our lips many times already in our lives. When we experience entering into the wounded living body of Christ today, we meet Christ! But we must underline a very important act of seeing the saving hand of God at work, and that is living our Faith! Faith is about SEEING the saving hand of God at work in ourselves, in others, in His Holy Word and Sacrament. It is full time living, not just for Sundays. Our Sunday Eucharist should be the celebration of what has happened in our faith life and the lives of others during the week. When we gather to ‘give thanks and praise’ in Sacrament, we are being nourished for the ongoing Mission and from the Mission at hand. We are empowered by the Spirit to be Christ to each other; it is that ‘rush ‘of the Spirit that I was talking about earlier in this realhomilie….Let’s have a look at some of the surrounding aspects of faith…..

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Faith requires a generous dose of humility, and a large amount of common sense. Every time I buy a car, every time I go to Hospital for an operation, every time I board a Jet, I continue to make acts of faith in someone or in something. Without faith, I would end up doing nothing! No one would get married if they didn’t have faith in themselves, and in each other, through the love that binds them, no one would commit themselves to a life of partnership and ministry.

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Faith will always be accompanied by doubt. If there were certainty, there would be no need to have faith. Jesus compares faith to a tiny grain of mustard seed, that continues to germinate and grow, and ends up as a large tree. Just as the Mustard seed needs, moisture, nutrients, and sunlight, to bring it to fullness of life; our faith needs nourishment, light and the fine mist of life-giving love to bring it to fullness. Remember the story in the Gospel about the man being lowered down through the roof by his friends, so that Jesus could heal the sick person? Jesus said, “seeing THEIR faith” he healed the man.

The faith of the community can be so contagious; this was felt during the Easter Ceremonies here at The Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo, New South Wales, Australia, where my sister and I were part of the Easter Ceremonies; it is seen and experienced within the most profound and ‘user friendly’ Liturgies when local people and holiday makers gathered with the Nuns at the Abbey, and together, in the name of Christ, we shared ‘life’ and Eucharist within the Easter Triduum. It has happened in lots of Parishes enable real Liturgy to happen, instead of it being some Holy Performance by the Choir together with cold and meticulous rubrics, that touch nobody’s Heart and Soul……just the residue of some fuzzy, religious feelings that could be received at the Sydney Opera House. Through the experience of “faith” we get “insight”, that is, the God-given grace to see within life-situations, Religious Communities, random gatherings of people, Liturgies, and prayerful stillness, the saving hand of God at work and not forgetting the walking wounded in our midst, ‘the poor of the Lord.’

Finally, like Thomas, we are all called to enter into the brokenness of Christ in His people today. When we dare to enter into the wounds of God’s people, it is then we can say not only from our hearts, but from every fiber in our being: “My Lord and My God!” We are truly within the holiness of life when this happens.

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Fr Kevin Walsh
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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2nd Sunday of Easter Year A, 2017. A Biblical reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia.

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‘Jesus breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit” ‘(Jn 20:22)

Easter means a great deal more than Easter bunnies, Easter eggs and Easter parades. As outward signs of joy and hope they have a place. But they only skim the surface of what Easter truly means, at least for Christians. The English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, speaks of the meaning of Easter as being what must happen to us, because of what happened to Jesus. ‘Let him easter in us,’ the poet writes, ‘be a dayspring [a dawn] to the dimness of us …’ The poet’s message, expressed more simply, plainly, bluntly, is that the Risen Lord must rise in us – in our minds, attitudes, hearts and actions – if Easter is to happen to us. So much so that Sister Joan Chittister suggests that our celebration of Easter puts before us a ‘momentous question’: ‘Will we ourselves,’ she asks, ‘touched by Jesus now rise and do things differently?’ She spells out what this might mean:

… we must be prepared to be surprised by God in strange places, in ways we never thought we’d see and through the words of those we never thought we’d hear. … It presumes that we will reach out to the other – to the … immigrants and the blacks, to the strangers, the prisoners and the poor – in order to divine [discover] what visions to see with them, what cries to cry for them, what stones to move from the front of their graves.

The Word of God today spells out HOW Jesus both can and does easter in us. Particularly telling are these words of Jesus to his followers, words which go with his gift. They are the words: ‘RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.’ Recalling them today reminds us that the Risen Lord is with us now and until the end of time, in the form and person of the Holy Spirit.

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This is an important aspect of our Easter Faith, one we declare every Sunday when we state In the Creed: ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit.’ But if asked to explain what we mean, perhaps we would become tongue-tied. Part of our difficulty is that we cannot imagine or picture the Holy Spirit as easily as we can put a face on the Father and the Son. We all know fathers and mothers and their children, and this helps us to think of God as Father and Mother, and to think of Jesus as God’s Son. But we simply cannot put a face on the Holy Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit is just as real, and some images may help us realize that. The Hebrew word for ‘spirit’ means ‘wind ‘or ‘breath’ and occurs 378 times in the Old Testament alone. So in sharing his own Spirit with them, Jesus first eathes on his gathered apostles. Earlier he said that like the wind the Spirit of God ‘blows where it wills’ (John 3:8). In fact, all his teaching on the Spirit suggests that like the wind the Spirit of God [Love itself] moves things along, warms them into life, drives them into action, and changes situations for the better. In a beautiful song Andrew Lloyd Webber puts it this way: ‘Love, it changes everything.’

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We do not experience the Spirit of God directly but in its effects on us. So much so that we can say that the Holy Spirit is the power of God and the love of God at work in our lives. To speak this way is to speak of grace. The grace that is the Holy Spirit gets things done in God’s way – in us personally, in our Church, and in our world. All through the Acts of the Apostles (that New Testament book we read throughout Easter), Luke highlights the Holy Spirit as the chief apostle, the divine apostle behind the human apostles. The Spirit keeps prompting them, guiding them, energizing them, restraining them, reassuring them, and comforting them. Again and again they sense the Spirit saying to them: ‘Do this’, ‘Do that’, ‘Go here’, ‘Go there’, etc., etc.

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What a gift, what a wonderful gift! The very same Spirit of God who formed Jesus in the womb of Mary his mother, the very same Spirit of God who empowered him at Baptism to go about doing good and healing all sorts of wounded and troubled people, the very same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, has been shared with you and with me! So that yesterday, today and tomorrow we can be the comforting and healing presence of Jesus to all kinds of people!

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This Easter gift of Jesus to his followers ought, then, fills us with that same peace and joy, that same exuberance and enthusiasm that led St Augustine to shout out loud: ‘We are an Easter people and Alleluia [praise God] is our song!’
Just imagine! Jesus Christ keeps coming to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, his other self, to change us for the better, and to keep sending us out to make a better world!

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Simply amazing! Absolutely awesome!
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Easter Sunday, 2017. A Biblical Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. EASTER LIGHT AND JOY, HOPE AND CHALLENGE.

EASTER LIGHT AND JOY, HOPE AND CHALLENGE.

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When the Easter Vigil starts it tends to be totally dark, except for the light coming from the fire burning at the entrance to the church. One year a little girl grasped her mother’s hand tightly, looked up and said: ‘Mummy, why is it so dark?’ Her mother thought for a while and then she answered: ‘To remind us what the world would have been like if Jesus had not been raised from the dead.’

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Just two days ago you and I were remembering the sufferings and death of Jesus our Saviour. As we looked at his crucified body with sorrow, love and gratitude, we came face to face with the dark side of human nature that led his enemies to torture and humiliate him before killing him on the rough wood of a cross. On that black day in Jerusalem, the capacity of human beings to hate, hurt and harm one another went completely out of control.

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Good Friday found us wondering over and over again: Why was this good man, this innocent man, this man with so much humanity and compassion, so much honesty and integrity, so much warmth and generosity, violated, humiliated, tortured and murdered?

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The motives which led his enemies to persecute and destroy him are those which have always influenced human beings to hurt and harm one another – arrogance and pride, power-seeking and ambition, envy and jealousy, anger and fear, hatred and revenge. Good Friday has reminded us of the dark side of human nature and of its associated evils – poverty, ignorance, crime, malnutrition, hunger and disease.

Fortunately, however, this is not the whole truth. In fact, it is far from it. For if we experience so much evil we also experience an abundance of goodness. The crops keep producing food for our tables. The summer heat gives way to cooling autumn breezes. Most diseases are now curable. Tyrants are sometimes overthrown. Social reforms like pensions for the needy are here to stay. Conflicts end in reconciliation. Shaky marriages get patched up. Love survives misunderstandings, thoughtlessness, and indifference. Wars come to an end. Enemies become friends. We forgive others and are forgiven. In a word, there is goodness everywhere, more goodness than evil. Clearly the influence of the Risen Christ, which is to say the light of Easter, keeps shining upon us.

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Yet there can be no doubt that one mighty struggle goes on between good and evil. It goes on in the material universe, in human societies, and within our own personalities. Evil even seems stronger than good. But it has not yet finally triumphed. Good is remarkably resilient. Though too often it seems to be in danger of being crushed, it manages to survive, and even to win many victories. The words of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Independent India, are so true: ‘When I despair I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but, in the end, they always fall.’ Words from our Easter Vigil Service express the same truth in an even more appealing way: ‘The power of this holy [Easter] night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy. It casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.’

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Our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that evil will not have the last say ether in us or in our world. It leaves us in no doubt about the ultimate triumph of goodness, not only in ourselves but everywhere around us.

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Jesus was buried at sunset, to all appearances a victim and a failure. But on the third day the sun came up on him alive and powerful, influential and victorious. It will be the same for us who celebrate Easter above all by renouncing and rejecting anything and everything dark and evil in our lives, and by renewing our determination to always walk with Jesus in his light. That’s why we are going to renew our baptismal promises today, and renewing them with conviction, commitment, and enthusiasm.

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Remember! We are turning our backs on evil and sin in every shape and form, and we are promising to keep following Jesus in a life of goodness and love, one shaped by his own shining example, and one sustained by his powerful presence and influence.

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Easter Sunday, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney, Australia. Let your light shine!

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Easter Sunday is with us again! Is it with a sigh of relief that we have a ‘break’ at this time of the year? Has the subtle autumn morning chill this week, reminded us that times and seasons are changing? The Easter Liturgy speaks in harmony with Spring in the Northern Hemisphere; here we are ‘Down Under’in Australia celebrating new life, while the Willow leaves are starting to die, and the Liquid Amber trees are showing signs of colour changes in their leaves, before they drop to the ground.

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Resurrection implies new life! This is the gift we receive every morning when we wake up! Today is a totally different day from yesterday. Part of something being a gift is that someone gives, someone else receives, and there is no price tag attached. If there is a snag, it is that God gives me nothing for myself! If God gives me the gift of life today, it is because I can be a life-giving person to someone else. The Easter Liturgy celebrates the Father re breathing ‘life’ into His Son, and that ‘new life’ is to be shared among all people, and by all people.

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Easter is about hope; it is unthinkable that a Christian should ever entertain the ideas of hopelessness, even when we live in a world, which thrives, and makes money on bad news! North Korea and the USA snapping at each other’s feet; Syria and its complications make it extremely difficult to fathom ‘fake news’ from real tragedy! Jesus triumphed over darkness, sin and death, and in the words of St. Paul, ‘having given us Christ Jesus, will the Father not surely give us everything else?’ There is a tremendous need for people of hope in today’s world, and in today’s Church, because the doomsday prophets have never had it so good! The ongoing threats of terrorism all over the world, puts everyone on ‘edge’! St. Peter wrote these words to the early Christian community:
‘Always have an explanation to give to those who ask you the reason for the hope that you have.’ Peter had experienced, witnessed, and lived through many a failure, so his point about hope is deeply relevant. I am sure that he is not alone in this regard… no doubt, we can identify with him.

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Easter time is a reminder of our Baptismal responsibilities. We have very real signs of that within our communities in the welcoming and admission of our Elect. We are therefore reminded strongly, that we must be a community of hospitality, a community of mission, and a community of thanksgiving and joy. Underpinning all that, we are as St Paul’s says, ‘planted on love and built on love, so that together with all the Saints we will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, we are filled with the utter fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:18.

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Easter time in not a ‘one off occasion’ to celebrate Christ Our Light! Easter time always offers us an enormous challenge to everyone. Do we personally believe in the community, which we call the Church, to that point of wanting to really know, and care about each other? Or are we sometimes tempted to see the Sacramental life of the Church as some kind of Spiritual Service Station, where we fill up every now and then, tap and go? The Sacramental Community nourishes us, and we are called to nourish it by our active participation and genuine outreach to newcomers! We must be passionate about belonging to the Body of Christ which is called the Church! We must be people who can inspire and be inspired; we must be motivated and urged along, because of the love of Christ which has been freely given to us….not just for ourselves, by a long shot; but to invite, and be Christ’s loving face, in a world that frowns so often. The Passion and Cross of Jesus, is the greatest Sign of God’s love for us, according to St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists. In the Second Reading for the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, we hear the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminding us that Jesus learnt obedience through suffering and silent tears! That means that Jesus learnt to truly listen to His Father’s Will, and also to the woes and joys of God’s people. Easter is the greatest invitation to listen with our body mind and spirit to God’s Word, inviting us through Scripture, Sacramental experience and Christ’s living Body; His people; to be Christ our light! Our Liturgy must never be just cold rubrics, as though we are reading a Recipe to make a cake! Liturgy by its very nature speaks about everyone being involved in Sacramental experiences which can be understood, engaging and sustaining, so that we are then ‘sent out’ in Mission, and return next week for more nourishment with the community.

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We must be a living community which breathes Christ; and is energized by His Spirit-filled breath. We must never fall into the trap of just maintaining ‘the plant’ like that of a Corporation; we must never be smug enough to think that WE have all the answers, and are fearful of constructive conversations with all people, from all races and creeds on earth. We must never be people who think that they see God’s will only in Black and White and Mono sound! God’s will is manifested in living colour, surround sound, and in 3D.jesus-washing-feet-tht00nu9p6

Easter, invites us to be daring and confident, without being arrogant and pompous in Christ’s mission, entrusted to us as foot washers! How can anyone speak the truth in love, without listening to the truth in humility? The Easter message, by value of the very meaning of the word Easter, means that we all must be creative, innovative and spirit-filled as we grow in our Communities, and as the living body Christ, see new horizons and dream new dreams! No one can be left isolated, unwanted and devalued; we in Parish communities did not choose each other, we have been randomly placed within each other’s care, and pastoral concern, always respecting cultural norms.

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We pray that through this Easter Season, we will be stronger in our hope, lively in our love for one another, and sensitive to see, with the eyes of faith, the saving hand of God in our lives and within our community. God Bless you and your families.

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Fr Kevin Walsh
Sydney. New South Wales. Australia
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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