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3rd Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. The Water of new life, never runs dry!

 The Water of new life, never runs dry!

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We live in a land of extremes!!! Droughts, floods, cyclones, scorching heat waves, thundering surf, gentle breezes, blue skies and warm sunshine! A sun burnt country surrounded by jewel seas! The interior of the Holy Land in lots of ways is somewhat like our own. When one is thirsty, there is nothing more that matters than to have some water. In the first reading today, we hear of God’s people grumbling, because they were thirsty, and I guess that even though they were experiencing liberation from Egyptian slavery, their consuming need to drink, engulfed all their thoughts and desires. The desire to be refreshed caused a haze within their corporate minds, which blurred their memory of the saving activity of their loving God among them.

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In the midst of their questions and grumbling, God once again hears the cry and appeal from His people, and the Lord God comes to their aid. The water gushing from the rock at Meribah was more than just a free cold drink! It had far deeper spiritual significance; it was an outward sign of God’s life within his people, and enabling them to respond to Him in fidelity, and loving commitment, even while they were somewhat wayward.

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This theme is taken up in today’s Gospel, where Jesus enters into a conversation with a Samaritan woman. Adding to the depth and meaning of this story, is the fact that Jews and Samaritans had a terrible dislike for each other, and it was improper for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan, and the same went for the Samaritans towards Jews. This means nothing to Jesus: he initiates a dialogue, which has far deeper implications than just the breaking with local customs! Through the discussion with the Samaritan woman, we see that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law; the Torah, (the first five Books of the Bible) and he in fact is the in fleshed Word of God offering new life, and salvation for all; life giving water is the greatest symbol par excellence of ‘new life’.

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The Kingdom of God does not depend upon certain places or spaces of worship; but it is an inner conversion which opens one up to see in Jesus the saving hand of God at work. In short, the water from Jacob’s well reminds us of the bottomless reservoir of God’s love and life, offered to us and everyone all the time, in some of the most unusual places and through people that would never have come to our mind.

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The Sacrament of Baptism is the beginning step for us as we journey towards full incorporation into the body of Christ. The fact that we have candidates in our midst who are preparing for entrance into our community at Easter, is a reminder to all of us, that the life which our God offers us is not solely to quench our personal thirst for His love, but as the Lord’s Prayer reminds us, it is ‘Our Father’ to whom we pray, and that companionship which we share through the Eucharist, urges us in love to reach out to one another, as Jesus did to the Samaritan. It is a challenge to break through the social so called ‘correctness’ to know that God’s Household is for all! Fortunately, we see this all the time in Pope Francis who welcomes everyone, much to this distaste of some of his Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and people. May this time of Lent invite us to recognize the Lord in those, who unexpectedly may offer us the life giving waters of love and compassion. May we in turn be sensitively alert, to welcome those who come and sit at the well with us in daily life, and may we realize, like the Samaritan woman, that we are not alone, our God never abandons us!

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I would like to include an Examinations of Conscience which I have often used on the Third Sunday of Lent, because we are nearly half way through this season of Spiritual Training. Now, in this Reflection there are a number of women who come to the well…please note that the depositions that these women bring with them, are similar to what us blokes bring to the well. See what you think of this….

THE WOMEN AT THE WELL.

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A woman named SAD-OF HEART met Jesus at the well. Sighing with relief she placed the burden of her leaden heart at his feet. “No one cares”, She cried to him. He turned her face to him and held it in his strong hands. He just loved her.

A woman named BURNED-OUT CASE found Jesus at the well. “I’m too tired to go on. No one really understands. I feel used up, nothing more to give. I want to quit, but I don’t know how” she sobbed as she held out the worn out pieces of her life, faded, frayed, and fragile. Jesus offered her his arm and said, “Come to me and I will refresh you and restore you to wholeness”.

A woman named ANGRY discovered Jesus at the well. “Why isn’t anyone willing to listen to me?” she shouted. “What do I do that turns away my chances of being heard? Must I be a first class story teller just to get a hearing?” Jesus took her anger as one receives a gift and said, “Speak to me. My heart is ready, my heart is ready.”

A woman named RESENTMENT approached Jesus at the well. Her face could not hide her feelings. “No matter how much I do, it never seems enough,” she complained. “I resent that my performance is measured against someone else’s accomplishments. I can only be who I am.” Laying his hand on her head, Jesus whispered into her ear: “you are my chosen, holy and beloved.”

A woman named WANTING-TO FALL-IN-LOVE-AGAIN sought Jesus at the well. The light in her eyes spoke the questions in her heart. “How can I fall in love all over again? What will it look like when I do and how will I know I have?” Radiant with joy, Jesus smiled at her and said, “if only you recognised God’s Gift…the desire to love is already loving…!”

A woman named NEEDING-FORGIVENESS came to Jesus at the well. Tears of repentance like gentle rain washed over her face and fell on his sandalled feet. “Forgive me, for I have sinned, and my sin is always before me. Do not cast me away from your presence”. Holding her to his heart, Jesus promised, “With great love I take you back, my love. I will never leave you and my covenant of peace shall not be shaken. As far as the east is from the west, so far have I cast your sins from you.”

A woman named WAITING-IN-STILLNESS sat with Jesus at the well. She looked at his face. She said nothing. She held her heart in readiness. ‘Give me your heart.” Jesus said, ‘I want to fill the emptiness. I want to mend the brokenness. I want to give it the shape of my own.”

A woman named CONFUSED-OF-HEART dragged her feet in the dust as she approached Jesus at the well. She couldn’t raise her eyes to him. “I don’t know what I want or how I feel. I have volcanoes and tidal waves inside me and I’m so afraid they will destroy me and those I care about.” Jesus called her to the rim of the well: “See how deep it is, probably so full. But we can only draw up one bucket at a time.” He dropped the bucket over the ledge, filled it a brought it to the top. “Take it slowly,” Jesus urged, “One bucket, one feeling at a time. The well of you is so deep, but I will help you draw yourself into light.”

A woman named APOSTLE raced to Jesus at the well. “Hurry,” she cried, “There’s so much to do! I’m busy, I’m tired, but come on, let’s get moving!” Jesus replied: “Let me stay with you awhile. You are bread for the world, but let me take you, bless you, break you open. Let ME give you to others…”

OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………

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This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Lent you might like to place some purple material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…

Baptism

LEADER: By the water of baptism we become members of Christ’s Body, the Church. With complete confidence we make known our needs to the Lord.
1. For all Church leaders from pope to parish ministers, that their work be blessed and made fruitful, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
2. For the leaders of our country and of every nation, that they work together to meet the needs of the poor, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
3. For those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, justice and peace, that they be satisfied, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
4. For those who are preparing for adult baptism at Easter, that they look forward to this celebration with fervent joy, we pray to the Lord:
5. For all of us who worship together, that the love of God be abundantly poured into our hearts so we may pour out that love to others, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
6. For the ill, the aged and the dying, that their hope in God’s merciful love give them comfort and peace, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
7. For all who have died, especially N. and N., that they rejoice in the glory of God, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
8. Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and iPads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
LEADER: Gracious and generous God, help us to worship you in spirit and in truth and to be ever more grateful for your gifts of life and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Blessing……..
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.

Leader: The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.

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

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14th Sunday in Ordinary time Year B. The three Biblical Readings. Two Homilies from well-seasoned Aussie Priests. Frs Brian Gleeson CP Melbourne, & Kevin Walsh, Sydney, Australia

The three Scripture Readings from the Liturgy of the Word for this Sunday

Reading 1 EZ 2:2-5

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As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me
and set me on my feet,
and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites,
rebels who have rebelled against me;
they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart
are they to whom I am sending you.
But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

Responsorial Psalm PS 123:1-2, 2, 3-4

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  1.  Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
    To you I lift up my eyes
    who are enthroned in heaven —
    As the eyes of servants
    are on the hands of their masters.
  2. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
    As the eyes of a maid
    are on the hands of her mistress,
    So are our eyes on the LORD, our God,
    till he have pity on us.
  3. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
    Have pity on us, O LORD, have pity on us,
    for we are more than sated with contempt;
    our souls are more than sated
    with the mockery of the arrogant,
    with the contempt of the proud.
    R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

Reading 22 COR 12:7-10

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Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

AlleluiaCF. LUKE 4:18

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 6:1-6

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Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

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THOSE THAT SPEAK FOR GOD: 14th SUNDAY B

By  Fr Brian Gleeson CP

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When people from ordinary backgrounds become celebrities, e.g. Ricky Ponting, the former Australian Cricket Captain, and the pop idols Guy Sebastian and Missy Higgins, journalists and television crews often seek out the family and neighbours of the new star to find out what they think of their  local boy or girl made good. Mixed impressions and reactions are given. Some show their surprise, some their shock, some their delight, some their pride. But others show their disbelief or jealousy. While some locals claim they saw it all coming, others refuse to admit that anything out of the ordinary has happened. They urge caution, and claim that all the hype and hoopla will soon fizzle out. It’s just too true: ‘Familiarity breeds contempt.’

In our Gospel today Jesus comes back to his home town of Nazareth. This is not a social visit. Like the other towns in Galilee, Nazareth has to hear the Good News that with Jesus God has stepped into this world and begun to rule over everything and everyone as their King. When Jesus highlights this in the local synagogue, his listeners are amazed. They wonder about the wise things he has said, about where he got his ideas, and about how on earth he has been curing so many sick and handicapped persons. But despite their favourable impressions of him at first, they let their prejudices, their prejudgments, take over. They decide that all along Jesus has been fooling them into thinking he’s someone special. ‘Just who does he think he is?’ they sneer, ‘Local boy made good? No way!

They try to cut him down to size, their own size. They sniff: ‘Once a carpenter always a carpenter! Don’t we all know his mother, his sisters and his brothers? There’s nothing special about them. He’s just got too big for his boots!’ Mark summarises their negative reactions in six words: ‘And they would not accept him.’ For them his sheer ordinariness as their local tradesman cancels out their first impressions of his new and special wisdom and of the reports reaching them of his extraordinary deeds.

How does Jesus react to these locals and their prejudices against him? In the words of the story-teller, he is ‘amazed at their lack of faith’. He tells them: ‘A prophet [i.e. one who speaks for God] is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house.’ Mark has told us already that even relatives of Jesus were convinced he was out of his mind (3:21). Now their rejection seems complete.

Jesus’ experience of rejection in Nazareth makes him powerless to work any miracle among his own people.  The negative way they react to him and their lack of trust actually limits his ability. So after curing ‘a few sick people’, he moves elsewhere, and it seems, sad to say, that he never sets foot in Nazareth again.

In the 1960s there was a popular song called ‘The Sounds of Silence’. One remarkable line says: ‘The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.‘ The messages of prophets are two-way communication. They state what God wants to tell people for their good. But rejection or resistance to the message tells God what the people think of both the message and the messenger.

I think you will probably agree that it’s an extremely painful thing to try to tell someone what they need to hear for their own good only to be told: ‘Back off, butt out!’ Parents know that pain, when their children tell them ‘What would you know? You’re last century, out of date, a has-been, a loser!’, or something else just as rude and insulting. Teachers know the pain of it when their pupils just scoff or giggle at the lesson they’ve so carefully prepared and presented. Police know the pain of resistance and opposition when they try to restore order in the midst of mob madness or violence, and for their trouble are spat at and called ‘pigs’ or worse by drunken revellers.

Day by day you and I face situations in which God is calling us to stop, look and listen, in order take in and accept some message for our good, a message being delivered to us by another person in our lives, someone who is on our side, someone who is also a real prophet, a spokesperson for God, a godsend.

So in our prayer together today let us ask God both for ourselves and one another that we might always be open to hearing and heeding the Word of God, in whatever way God speaks to us, and through whatever person or persons God sends us as his messengers, his agents, his angels.  bgleesoncp@gmail.com

A realhomilies by Fr.Kevin Walsh

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Many years ago; way back in the 1980’s, it seems almost like Old Testament times, as I think back, I remember attending a ‘live in weekend’ to undergo a Myers-Briggs Programme, which would enable myself to understand my personality better. In those days, and back in the 70’s, there were a number of these kinds of programmes available, a couple of them I thought somewhat strange, and deeply introspective, to the point where the only person that mattered in life was me! Tempted as I am to share lots with you on those topics, I must stick to God’s Word……thank God! However, there is a point that I would like to make about the ‘live in weekend’ with the Myers-Briggs Programme which does have a link with today’s Gospel.

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We started the Programme after Dinner on the Friday night, and it would be completed by 3.00PM on Sunday. I was looking forward to Sunday afternoon before we even started!  During the course of the Programme we were introduced to a method to recognise personality types. As we discovered the various elements which make up these personality types they were gathered, and fitted under certain headings, and given a letter from the alphabet….like a C or a B or an N, to capture the specific personality type. We were also told by the Presenters not to ever tell someone what we thought was their personality type; it was more a process about self-discovery. However, when you are with a group of people that you do know, to some extent, it is hard not to think about their personality type: is Fr an X or Br a Y, or Sr a D? Well on Sunday morning I was down to the Breakfast Room early for once, hoping that there would not be too many people around, so that I could duck off, and go for a nice walk along the Beach! There were three other people reading the Sunday papers at the table, so simple pleasantries were exchanged by all, but it was not the time for a deep and meaningful conversation.  As I was opening the fridge door to get some Milk, a voice said to me, so the whole world could hear…..”Walshie, I think that you are an N!  (Meaning my type of personality) All three heads in that Breakfast room were looking at me! Being a person who sometimes does not suffer fools gladly, I slowly turned around to get a little bit of theatre at work, and with an equally strong voice for the world to hear, I then said,” the only person in this world who is entitled to put me in a box, will be the Undertaker at the Funeral Directors….”……..Silence descended over the Breakfast room, and settled like a fine mist! I hate being put in a Box or categorised by people, especially by people in authority!  But so often, we do put people in Boxes, saying terrible untrue things about them, which in a sense cripples any possibilities for them to change, especially within the sight of the one who wrongfully makes the claim. Boxes, categories, and assumptions about others, belittling them publically, which in effect, wraps the chains of stillness around them, so that they don’t change, and then WE the ones putting others in a Box, or category, will be the ones who are safe!

Babylon

In today’s Gospel, we see something very much like what I have been talking about! Jesus, and his missionary group go to Our Lord’s home town, Nazareth!……mostly there is always a good feeling when you go back home after one has been away for a while. That is, providing nothing really disastrous happened in one’s home town, to dislike the place.

On the Sabbath, Jesus goes into the local Synagogue and begins to teach! The Gospel says that the community were astonished when they heard him…..I think that we would all be like that in our first response, especially if we had known Jesus growing up in the Village. Now, the covering question on their minds was:,” Where did the man get all this wisdom and ability for miracles etc?” Let’s not forget that the central question that runs through the first Gospel like a silver thread is: “who is Jesus”? So we see a little complication growing within Our Lord’s hearers in his home town……but NOT all of them! …….Hence, the majority of the local community put Jesus in a Box!!!!!!! ‘We know his family, we know all about him etc’ Did they????????  In writing a line under His name, it caused the locals to be ’Faith-blind’ and ‘not see’ the saving hand of God at work, in Jesus!

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It seemed that the Mission to Nazareth was almost a failure! The failure was not because of Jesus; the failure was within the people who believed that they had Our Lord’s number, and nothing extraordinary could come from a person like a local carpenter, who had spent all his life among them. How sad is that? But, when we look at this fairly and squarely, we can say with a great deal of surety, “the faces have changed, but the message remains the same!” All of us are prone to falling into the same trap of unbelief! Are we?

The first reading in the Liturgy of the Word today, throws some light on what makes a Prophet, a Prophet? Today we hear from Ezekiel…….remember how I always say that we must be curious when deep sea diving into the Scriptures? So, let’s not take this Prophet’s name for granted: What does it mean? According to the scholars, it means….”May EL (God) strengthen”. When did he live, and were there any outstanding problems at that time? It seems that he lived around 590-970 BC, and he was in Babylonia…present day Iraq! He, and hundreds of other people from the Promised land had been deported, and driven into  Exile…….Remember years ago, I think in the 1980’s there was a popular song…..’ By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we remembered Zion’

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 Well that’s where Ezekiel was at this time. Let’s remember that the Prophet’s name is important because it has a lot to do with the mission entrusted to him by God. He needed all the strength he could get from God, so that the mission could be completed! The Mission was a really hard one; go and tell his own people that they were rebels before God. That they were obstinate and defiant, and that they needed to change, and return to the Covenant, which the Lord God had initiated with them, through Moses of old!…..well that is not good news, is it?  So, linking this up to Jesus in the Gospel, the Father sent Jesus also to obstinate people in Israel, but particularly so in His home town of Nazareth, and he was rejected! Although he cured a few sick people who had the eyes of faith to see who Jesus was!

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Ezekiel, says in the first sentence that ‘the Spirit came into me, and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me’  It is very important for us to take that sentence slowly, and understand it’s meaning then, and it’s meaning for us now!

Ezekiel, obviously knew some of the major problems within his people. But to take it on oneself and just say, “Well I’m off now, and I am going to tell my people the error of their ways”. No one would really do that, unless they were going to get a fat pay packet! So here we see the Spirit of the Lord entering him, and opening his heart to see that God’s Word; together with his own faith, the Spirit enabled a ‘harmony’ within Ezekiel, which gave him, the ‘get up and go.’ Ezekiel stood up, and listened to His instructions, and then went to God’s people in Exile, to proclaim the Word to them.. Being true to the meaning of his name, Ezekiel went forth, strengthened by the Lord God, and proclaimed God’s Word to them! Ezekiel was a true Biblical Prophet! We must be careful of our understanding of Biblical Prophets….it’s not about telling the future; it’s about saying it as it is, to God’s people, so that they might change, and return faithfully to the Lord God.

The age of the Prophets is not over; there have always been Prophets, and there will always be Prophets. One notable Prophet at the moment is Pope Francis!

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He is very much in the mould of Biblical Prophets. Right from the time of his election, and then saying ‘Good evening’ to the people in St. Peter’s Square, and asking for them to pray for him….he has seemed to be another Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. And as we see Pope Francis confronting the issues right now in 2015, he bears Ezekiel’s name…..May God strengthen! And we can all see that our Pope needs plenty of God’s strength in order to address some of the defiance, arrogance, obstinateness, ego centric, clerics and people, within the Church. The Pope’s way of life speaks volumes about the living Gospel alive in him. Pope Francis calls for the reverse of power which can corrupt, in order to become again the living editions of defenceless power, as the Lord’s foot washers.

We are all called to be the Lord’s Prophets! Yes, every one of us! And already we know many people who ARE the Lord’s Prophets……The quiet achievers in our Parish communities, the ones who feel compelled to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless! The quiet achievers who are compelled by a saturation of God’s love to speak out, bad news for many of the hearers, so that a CHANGE may take place in them, and that they return to the sheepfold, and be Christ to each other.

Baptism

In the Baptism Ritual, and then confirmed by the person themselves at Confirmation; it was then, that we received our calling to be Prophetic! When the child or adult is anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, this prayer is said:

We anoint you with the oil of salvation,

In the name of Christ our Savour;

May he strengthen you

With his power.

(May you be like Ezekiel)

Then after the child or adult has been baptised, we anoint them with the Oil of Chrism, and the accompanying Prayer is prayed…..

God the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ as freed you from Sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.

To sum up: – Let’s beware of the traps of putting people in categories or putting labels on them….this could lead to a spiritual blindness. Grant O Lord that we may have the eyes to see you saving hand at work in your people.  A Prophet is not heard in their own country….that happened to Ezekiel and Jesus and to many Prophets; it can happen to us. May we be good listeners, O Lord.

Grant to us O Lord, the courage required in us, so that we may be open to your strength, as manifested through your Holy Spirit as a free gift. May we be inspired from those men and women who speak your Word, in season and out of season. May we be open to all the possibilities that can happen through your grace within your people, so that we may listen to them with open hearts, acclaim them with true love and support them through our prayer. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen

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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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