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12th Sunday in Ordinary time Year A, 2017. A Biblical Reflection on the Readings from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD

 LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD

 3rd Sunday after Easter year A Questions

Have you ever become involved in a project that you thought was worthwhile, and one that would benefit others? Then, having starting it, you realize that your involvement was getting out of control? The hours you put in, the interruptions to your usual routine, the energy and concentration required, have all been eating too much into your time. So much so that’s there’s simply no ‘me-time’ left. So you begin telling yourself and hearing from friends: ‘Your project is starting to take over over your whole life!’

3rd Sunday after Easter year A Question mark

Or else, have your efforts to do good in your local community and make a positive difference, been stirring up opposition from some group or other, that is absolutely determined to keep things just the way they are? ‘Don’t rock the boat,’ they keep warning you. ‘Don’t try to do anything different.’ ‘Don’t start anything new.’ ‘Back off now!’ But it’s too late to back off, cost what it may, so convinced are you of the value of what you are doing.

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If you can identify with any part of what I’ve been saying, then the prophet Jeremiah in the First Reading today is your patron saint, the first of many people moaning and groaning to God about the rotten time they’ve been having for all their efforts. Now in temperament Jeremiah was a gentle soul. When God first called him to be a spokesperson for God, he protested that he was too young for the job (1:4-10). But God told him not to be afraid and promised to be with him and deliver him from his fears and doubts. In his current situation, as described in the Reading, he’s going to need that deliverance, because even his friends have ganged up on him, and been giving him a rough time.

Jeremiah has done what God asked him to do. He has accused his people of turning away from God by entering into shady and shaky political alliances with their enemies. For this Jeremiah has predicted doom and gloom. But so far there has been none. So his hearers have mocked and jeered at him, belted him up, and even put him in prison. On his release, he feels compelled to let God know how angry he is with God for all the rotten things he hae endurred. On the other hand, he has also felt compelled to keep warning people about their need to change their ways in order to avoid the catastrophe that’s definitely looming.

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Can you and I identify with Jeremiah? Do we ever feel like shaking our fists at God and shouting, ‘How could you let me get into this mess?’ But there is more to the story of Jeremiah than his moans and groans. In that part of his story we’ve been hearing today, Jeremiah changes his tune. He thanks God that in all his troubles he has experienced God right by his side, has experienced God as his hero and champion providing maximum support. So while the prophet is in solidarity with us in our moans and groans, disappointments and complaints, he is also urging us to keep trusting God. No matter what we have to do and what we have to endure in our lives, God will never abandon us, and will keep staying right beside us.

6th Sunday after Easter year A God's purposes

In our Gospel reading today Jesus is just as encouraging. Don’t be afraid, he says. Don’t be frightened even of those who might murder you. For they cannot kill your soul, they cannot break your spirit. When all is said and done, the only fate to fear is ending up in hell. (Jesus interpreted hell as being like ‘Gehenna’, literally that big rubbish dump to the south-west of Jerusalem, where fires raged continually).

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Jesus is telling his followers – ourselves included – that they will face opposition, just like he did. It will come from even saying that we are Christians, people for Jesus. It will come from being Jesus’ kind of people. It will come from walking in his footsteps, telling his truths, sharing his wisdom, and living his values and teachings.

6th Sunday after Easter year A Truth 2

But Jesus assures us that God will never stop taking care of us. Jesus also assures us that God is going to reward us for all our efforts to stay faithful to Jesus, no matter what ridicule, mockery and nastiness other persons might dump on us. After all, if God cares even for two sparrows that can be bought for a coin in the market, how much more caring will God be of those persons who keep following Jesus his Son as closely as they possibly can?

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God is so aware of us, so much in love with us, and so much on our side, in fact, that he has counted every hair on our heads. We can trust, then, that on the Day of Judgment Jesus will be acknowledging us and praising us before God. We can trust that he will be reminding God of just how loyal and true we have been to Jesus, and of just how hard we have tried to live as wise and faithful servants of Jesus, even if we have sometimes messed up.

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We are to live in hope, then, are we not? We are to stop worrying, are we not? We are to let go and let God, are we not?

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The Body and Blood of Christ. Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh. Sydney Australia. What would life be like without memories?

 What would life be like without memories?

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One of the most enjoyable experiences that I have in the evening time of my life, is catching up with old friends. Whether it is over a cup of coffee in a Café, or being invited to celebrate the Eucharist with fellow Religious Sisters and Brothers, or being with long standing family friends; it is a bit like time standing still…well at least for a moment. Faces speak thousands of words just at a glance. Memories of past experiences flood through the mind at a great rate. The appreciation of the moment, by saying, ‘it is so good to see you’ says it all! But it says even more! Very quickly we begin conversations with…’remember when……’ at that, faces light up; we know that we are on the same page, and whatever happened yester year is made present right now, and we smile! A real presence is happening!

6th Sunday after Easter Year A saying good bye at the airport 2

In our houses, if we did not have memorabilia in the form of Pictures, nick knacks, ornaments, our Homes would be an empty box, devoid of character, life and memory. Often if we go overseas, or for a holiday in our own country, we buy something small to give to our precious loved ones upon our return, as a memory that they had been included, thought of and treasured even while we were away. By giving them a small gift, it is a way of saying that you are part of my living memory. Let’s hang on to that phrase, because we will re visit it a bit later on.

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Now, with the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, most of the above plays a very important part, not only in understanding the Feast, but cherishing this Celebration as a vital part of our human condition and a pivotal aspect for our spirituality, faith development and mission.

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Let’s get some clues from the Readings for today’s Feast. In the first Reading from the Old Testament. The Book of Deuteronomy, Masses says to the people….’Remember how the lord our God let you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you….he fed you with manna…’ We need to RE MEMBER! So often, it is only when we re member does the present make sense! ‘Moses goes on to say a little further down in the passage, ‘Do not forget that Lord your God brought you out of the land of Egypt….’ It is also in our human nature to forget! We need to be reminded of past events, so that we can get the ‘present’ in perspective! It is a bit like driving a Car…..we have the power to move on, we look through the windscreen to navigate where we are going, but we need the rear vision mirrors to keep us on track. Biblical speaking and thinking, we need to see the whole picture not only in 3D but surround sound as well. Nothing can be understood in isolation……everything is connected. That does not mean that we have to consciously re think the whole gamut of Salvation History before we make a decision; no, again it is like driving a car; we have learned the rules of the road, we have become accustomed to handling the mechanics of the car……all of this becomes part of us. The same applies with Salvation History, when all of that has become part of us through our DNA and learned experience, we are in a good position to answer the response to the ongoing question, ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening.’

Let’s briefly have a look at some other important elements which are all connected for a wholesome understanding of The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

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Let’s look at Bread! This was part of the main diet of the people of old, just as it is for most of us. But, the Biblical understanding of Bread was far wider than just some lovely hot Bread rolls! God’s Word was seen as Bread! God’s Word needed to be digested, so that we can become part of its vitality. The Manna in the desert, was seen and understood as God’s benevolence being shared with his people to fill their hunger; but not just their bodily hunger, their spiritual hunger as well. Notice that Moses said earlier on as I quoted that Humility is a necessary quality for understanding God’s loving kindness to His people. Humility is linked with poverty of spirit, a desired attribute of the Anawim…the poor of the Lord, the faithful few, of us – the Living Body of Christ.

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Let’s look at Blood! In Old and New Testament times, Blood was understood as – LIFE ITSELF! If a person’s blood came out of their body during a battle, that person’s life was running out and death was the next step. Blood being painted on the door posts of the Hebrew Houses at the time of the Exodus, was symbolic of LIFE within the household, and that family was spared. So, blood was a symbol of life!

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As we come together to celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we are as a world-wide community recognising the boundless benevolence of our God in sharing the life giving presence of His Son in the Eucharist, His Word and People. As we honour and ritualise our celebration of this wonderful action of re memberance, it must be done sensitively and thoughtfully, and with a real sense of balance. It is so easy for superstition practices to creep in, or get carried away in piety which then misses the point of the Celebration. In our Adoration of the Eucharist, it must not commence and end at the Eucharist in the Monstrance! Mystically, we must see through the Eucharistic presence of Christ, to his living presence within His people. The more ornate the Monstrance, does not increase the presence of, nor the efficacy in our adoration. A Simple Monstrance, supported by the number of Candles which we would use for the celebration of the Eucharist; keep it all in perspective. There is an impulsive urge among people to be extravagant in their adornment of the Eucharistic presence; if that is commensurate with the adornment and reverence that we have for our sisters and brothers, well and good, but if not…..it is purely a distraction. I worry from time to time that for some people the Eucharistic Host is more like a lucky charm, or a Holy Tablet! We must always have a sense of balance in these things, because as human beings we seem to have a propensity to desire to be ‘in charge’ of Holy things, of God! It is a bit like the image of the Golden Calf in the Old Testament……that kind of superstition often just sits under the surface of our quest for spiritual things. To be honest and fair, some of the Church hierarchy push the superstition button out of their own quest for power. Food for thought!

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The second reading today from St.Paul, hits the nail on the head by saying that we all form the Body of Christ as we are in one loaf!

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In the Gospel today, the Johannine version of the Good News, in its reflection on the Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith, see Jesus as the I AM….the Word made Flesh, the I AM WHO AM of the Old Testament. Jesus is the new Manna, giving life to God’s people. We are called to partake of that ‘new life’ in the Eucharist. That new life is continually offered in the Word which is food, and God’s people who are the living Body of Christ.

I would like to end up with the words from a beautiful Song, sung by John Michael Talbot, attributed to St.Theresa.

ST.THERESA’S PRAYER

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Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through He looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.

YOURS ARE THE HANDS, YOURS ARE THE FEET, YOURS ARE THE EYES, YOU ARE HIS BODY.

Christ has no Body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks, compassion on this world. Christ has no Body now on earth but yours.

Fr Kevin Walsh

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Sydney Australia

 

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The Body and Blood of Christ Solemnity, Year A 2017. A Homelitic reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. BECOMING ANOTHER CHRIST IN HOLY COMMUNION.

 BECOMING ANOTHER CHRIST IN HOLY COMMUNION.

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In a nursing home the residents were gathered in the chapel for the feast we are celebrating today, that of the Body and Blood of Christ. One old woman, wheel-chair bound, was wearing two hats. A carer from the home tried to take one off, but the woman clung on tightly to her two hats. In her efforts to tidy up the situation, the carer saw that she was now defeated. So she backed off, and let the old lady be.

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Perhaps that elderly lady, like the old-time prophets, was acting out a message to the gathered group. Perhaps she was saying: you all should wear two hats, i.e. you all should be your own individual selves – Peter, Rhonda, Brian, Xena, Reg, Helen, Joshua, Bernadette, Brendan, Brigid, Denver, Sandra, Mark, Karen, whoever.- But you should also be what you are as a baptised follower of Jesus – i.e. as another Christ, a second Jesus.

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Speaking of Holy Communion, St Augustine in the 400s in North Africa, said many wonderful things about who we are as members, and limbs, cells and organs of the body of Christ. Among other things he said: ‘You are what you have received.’ In fact the first of the two signs in which we receive him is the sign of bread. In the course of digestion, bread and the person eating it become one. It is assimilated into the body of the one eating it.

So, when we receive him as the Bread of Life for our journey of life, we become ever more one with him. But there’s a big difference. Jesus is not changed into our bodies, into us. No, we are changed into him by becoming a more alive, active and energetic part of his body. This is to say that we are further incorporated into that extension of himself which is his Church – the body of Christians in the world today.

Profound implications follow for living our communion, our being joined and bonded to Christ and one another. These could hardly be better put than in these striking and beautiful words attributed to St Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes. You are his body.
Yes! Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands, no feet on earth but yours.

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At his Last Supper, in a stunning way, Jesus acted out his care and concern for, his union and bonding with, his followers. Getting down on his knees like a slave, he went round the gathered group and washed their feet, one by one. It’s interesting that in his gospel of the Last Supper, John does not mention the action of Jesus with the bread and wine. Instead he tells us of the action of Jesus with a basin of water and a towel. In this way John tells us the meaning of both actions of Jesus. They are about belonging to one another in the same community of Jesus – the community of faith, hope and love, the community that is the Church. They are about bonding and union with one another, and about humbly serving one another. They are about reaching out with warmth and care, with welcome and hospitality to our neighbour, the neighbour who could hardly be better described than ‘the person who at any time needs me, and needs me now – right here, right now’. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta has said so eloquently:

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I know you think you should make a trip to Calcutta, but I strongly advise you to save your airfare and spend it on the poor in your own country. It’s easy to love people far away. It’s not always easy to love those who live right next to us. There are thousands of people dying for a bit of bread, but there are thousands more dying for a bit of love or a bit of acknowledgement. The truth is that the worst disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis; it’s being unwanted, it’s being left out, it’s being forgotten.

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Love and service, welcome and hospitality, kindness and compassion, self-forgetfulness and generosity, that’s what it means to follow Jesus. That’s what it means to come to Holy Communinon. That’s what it means to live his Last Supper command: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’!
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Trinity Sunday Year A 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. TWO IS COMPANY, THREE IS A COMMUNITY!

 TWO IS COMPANY, THREE IS A COMMUNITY!

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This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. With such a Feast as this one, we might be tempted to think … ‘Well, it’s all a bit of a mystery and far too deep for me and I’m not sure where to start understanding it, so perhaps I’ll come back to it another time’. Yes! It is indeed difficult … and mysterious … having provoked some of the greatest thinkers in the world to offer explanations. In reaping the benefits of their efforts, we come to realise the immeasurable depths of our creative, redeeming and sanctifying God.

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Let’s briefly look at God’s Word. In our first Reading from the Old Testament – the Book of Exodus, we read that our God is ‘full of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness’. In the Second reading – from his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul calls his listeners to be united and live in peace … ‘and the God of love and peace will be with you.’

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Then in John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus who, according to the Scriptures, had come to Him by night. This is a significant moment, because Nicodemus had literally been ‘in the dark’, searching for light and truth. In Jesus, the light of the world, he found what he was seeking! In this important conversation, Jesus shares with Nicodemus (and with us) that it’s God’s ultimate intention that we all be gathered together as one family through the experience of salvation freely offered to us. Therefore, by acknowledging God’s loving outreach to everyone, we are called through Baptism to continue the Lord’s mission, empowered by the Holy Spirit which is given to us by the Father.

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Jesus announced that the kingdom is here within us, but not yet complete, and it is the constant love of the Father which draws us on. Jesus’ message is life, which invites us to seek the Father. Its demands, which the Spirit will make known to us, are always new and surprising. ‘The Spirit will guide us into all truth which comes from the Father’: John 16:13. Jesus shows us the way to the Father and the Spirit guides us on our journey.

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If the Feast of the Ascension reminds us that we must take the Lord’s work into our own hands, Pentecost assures us that because the Spirit is with us, such a mission is possible. The Feast of the Blessed Trinity teaches us that we must be creative, redeeming and sanctifying in our commitment to God and to one another.

Hence, we must be mindful that our God is a God of surprises, inviting us to trust, to follow and to be daring in our Christian living. We must rid ourselves of doubts which tempt us to cling on and immerse ourselves in securities which cripple our ability to live as a truth-seeking community. We are called to proclaim with loving boldness that we can do all things through Him who gives us the strength. (St. Paul). If we cling with all our might to paltry security, how can we be in solidarity with human suffering and love? If we are not imaginative in our ways of exploring, expressing and listening to God, our spirituality and life will stagnate.

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Today’s Feast invites us to give thanks and praise to our God, and there is no better way of doing this than through the Celebration of the Eucharist.

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: to God who is, who was, and who is to come. Alleluia!
God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer.

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Trinity Sunday Year A 2017. A Homiletic Reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. Overflowing goodness and love.

Overflowing goodness and love.

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

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

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

The other thing that needs to be said is that the interpersonal relationships of our three-in-one God, shows us that to be a person we need other people in our lives, other people to love us, and other people for us to love.

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

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

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

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

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

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The Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity is celebrated this coming weekend! 

Keep watchful for two down to earth and reflective Homilies from Frs Brian Gleeson and Kevin Walsh – Australia. They will be posted by Thursday night Eastern Australian Time 😇

 
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Pentecost Sunday Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. The Holy Spirit’s Gifts are as numerous as the sand on our Beaches.

The Holy Spirit’s Gifts are as numerous as the sand on our Beaches.

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Acts 2:1-11. 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13. John 20:19-23

Sorry All, I have big tech’ problems with posting Pics this week.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost: the Spirit of God, poured out as ‘gift’ on the Apostles, made them who had gathered together out of fear, into a group filled with the breath of God, and fearless proclaimers of the nearness of God’s Kingdom. Today in God’s Word we hear echoes from the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel 36:24-28 who hundreds of years before, looked forward to an outpouring of God’s Spirit. Let us see what the Prophet has to say: ‘I will gather my people from among the nations, and bring you home to your own land. I will pour clean water over you, and cleanse you of all defilement. I will take away your hearts of stone, and give you hearts for love instead. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will keep my laws and sincerely observe my commandments. You will be my people, and I will be your God.’

Christian tradition has called this Feast the Birth of the Church! However, its Religious origins go back to Old Testament times, when our ancestors in faith celebrated the initiating of the Covenant between the Lord God, and His people, through Moses on Mt. Sinai. This Covenant is summed up in the last line from the Prophet Ezekiel: “you will be my people, and I will be your God.’ That event certainly marked a ‘special’ stage in the ‘mind’ of our ancestors in faith, as they realized that they were truly God’s People. It was also celebrated as the Feast of Harvest. What an appropriate time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the maturing Apostles! At Pentecost, the Apostles and Mary, were transformed from a community gathered out of ‘waiting’ into a community of loving out-reach, and gentle boldness in their missionary ventures. The language of Pentecost defies all spoken language…. it is the words of loving action, and identification with, and a belonging to the Living Lord, who urges us to ‘Go out’ to all nations as living witnesses of our God, who ‘is with us’… at all times, even to the end of the world.

Now, this year’s understanding of the Gift of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles is taken from the Fourth Gospel. This description of the ‘Spirit filled events’ being showered onto the Apostles, takes place on Easter Sunday Evening! Whereas, St. Luke’s Acts of the Apostles has this ‘mind and Spirit changing event at the time of the 50th Day after the Resurrection. Now, let’s not get caught up on the actual day as being the most important aspect of this outstanding event. Each Gospel Community had their own flavour of telling the Good News about Jesus Christ. In order for us to appreciate this wonderful phenomena, we must get inside the ‘mind’ of the Evangelical Community who wrote their version for their own specific purposes. We must be careful not to fall into the trap of looking and listening to God’s Word in a literal way! If we do that, we would not be within a Bull’s roar of getting the message. The particular Literary Forms that are used in these Biblical Texts, have a specific purpose and convey the message of truth- from the Lord God. While I am on this note; when we study the Scriptures, it is a very useful tool to have The Jerome Biblical Commentary by our side to help us get into the ‘mind set’ of our ancestors in Faith.

Now, let’s look at the Gospel for today in the light of the above. Notice that it begins in the Evening, of the First day of the week. Evening times are very special times in Biblical stories. Evening time is a time of listening, of reflection and encounter with the ‘Divine’. It can well be called a time ‘of prayer’. As I have already said, the Johannine Community depict the giving of the Holy Spirit, along with the ‘Mission’ entrusted to the Disciples by the Risen Lord. Keeping in mind the intention of the Author, this event marks the time of a new creation taking place within their community. Hence the first day of the week, as we read in the Book of Genesis, marked the beginning of God’s cause of Creation. In this situation, it is the Holy Spirit who is the prime cause for a remarkable change within the fearful disciples. Notice that the Risen Lord comes and stands within their fear and trepidation. His first words, were not, ‘Hey, I’m back with you all now’. Now way; Our Lord’s first words were, ‘Peace be with you’….and He was not expecting the response from the Disciples, ‘and with your Spirit’. The ‘PEACE’ that the Lord speaks about, is that pristine Peace that during and after the Creating acts, as we see in the Book of Genesis. The Risen Lord first offers his friends who were gathered out of Fear; the gift of the Peace that comes from God! So, we could say that in this case while reflecting on John’s Gospel, the first Gift of the Spirit, is the Lord God’s Peace…..SHALOM. However, the Risen Lord in turn shows his disciples his wounded hands and his side. In short, the suffering Servant in Isaiah as we heard on Good Friday’s Liturgy of the Passion, is the Risen Lord! Now, through this manifestation of the Crucified and Risen Lord, their fear is immediately dissolved, and they are then filled with Joy! Could we say that Joy is the second Gift of the Holy Spirit? It’s a special kind of joy…..not the kind of joy that we get, when we buy a new car! This joy infiltrates every fiber of our being. I would like to use the analogy of taking a dip into a volcanic heated natural lake……this hot water goes right into one’s bones; nothing like the hot water from an electric hot water system in our house. After being in this natural heated water for about twenty minutes, it is just so hard to stand up and get out of the water, because of the heat’s intensity. Now, keeping that in mind, let’s look at the Joy which comes from God! It is similar to the Hot Spring, His Joy goes right through us, and instead at going limp at the knees, it fills us with loving boldness, and active energy …….we become re-created…..renewed, gifted and Spirit filled. Jesus gives His Disciples another creative word of PEACE………

Now, this is the crunch time; with every gift, comes a responsibility. Jesus commands them to go out entrusted with a similar Mission to His own which was entrusted to him by the Father…..Well, briefly, what was implied by Our Lord’s command to His Disciples…..We could summarize it like this….’Go, and tell My People that I love them, Go, and show my people that I love them, Go and gather together my people, and bring them back to me!’

Now, the part of this Gospel is extremely important for us to understand its implications….The Risen Lord, then ‘breathed on them and said…’ Let’s Pause and carefully reflect on this action of the Risen Jesus. When have you been breathed on by someone else? Our Mum’s breathed on us as little babies, so did our Dad’s. When we are very close to someone, we breathe on them. While our loved ones are dying, like our Parents, siblings and grandparents and close friends, we breathe on them. How beautiful is that life giving action, even on our dying ones? Again, referring back to John’s Gospel, just as the Lord God breathed into the nostrils of humankind, the breath of life in the Creation story……..just as God the Father rebreathed into Jesus, the breath of new life, so Jesus breathed on His Disciples to receive the Holy Spirit’s breath……..Remember that beautiful Hymn that we used to sing years ago…..’O breathe on me, breath of God, Fill me with life a-new; that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do….’ Then Jesus in the Gospel says, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’……and then comes the responsibility….’for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven etc.’ There is no mention there that Confession will be heard on Saturday afternoon between 4.00 and 5.00 PM……… Surely this command to forgive sin, is for all of us! Food for thought!

The seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgment, Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Awe and Wonder. Probably today is a good time to reflect on these gifts and see what ones we are aware of, and what ones we put into action? If we need to put our spiritual selves in ‘For Service’, like we do with our cars, we might need to spend some time regularly checking out our usage of these gifts. Also, when we see the Gifts alive and well in other people, that could well be an opportunity to give thanks and praise to God for having seen these Spirit filled Gifts ‘at work and alive’.

In the Second Reading from St. Paul today, he makes it clear that there are lots and lots of Gifts from the Spirit and they all work differently in multitudes of ways in different people. These Gifts are free!

Let’s take a quick look St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians 5:22-26. He says, ‘What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control……You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires. Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit. We must stop being conceited, provocative and envious.’

Now, here we see the overabundance of the Spirit’s Gift, and as we reflect on what St.Paul has just said, it really causes us to PAUSE! However, if we hunger for these gifts and acclaim that Jesus is our Lord, then we are well on the way for discovering Spirit filled Gifts in ourselves that we never thought existed. However, we might just learn about our gifts from other people, too. It would do us well to affirm the Spirit’s gifts in each other.

Perhaps the following prayer could well be in our hearts, and on our lips this day……Pentecost Sunday, 2017. Our world is hungering for the real SHALOM from the Lord God…..it all starts with us!

‘Holy Sacred Spirit, breathe your breath on us. Holy Sacred Spirit, breathe your life in us’. Words by Monica Brown, Song Album: A REMEMBERING HEART. God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer.

Fr Kevin Walsh – Sydney Australia

Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com

 

 

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