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32nd Sunday Year C. A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. IN DEATH, LIFE IS CHANGED, NOT ENDED.

 IN DEATH, LIFE IS CHANGED, NOT ENDED.

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As we look back over the Gospel stories we usually see Jesus at loggerheads with the Pharisees, who are demanding strict adherence to the law. Today he comes up against the Sadducees, who do not believe in the possibility of resurrection, and it is interesting to see how he deals with them.

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Some people do not know how to deal with death! Do I face up to the reality now, or do I keep my head down, and wait till it comes? One thing is certain: We shall all one day die. “I shall one day die.” Can be too close for comfort. Under normal circumstances, it is always the other person’s funeral! There is a humorous story about an elderly couple who agreed that when one of them died, the other should mourn for a short time, then take out the insurance money, and have a good holiday. After a few moments of thoughts, the husband casually remarked: “Do you know what I was thinking? When one of us dies, I think I’ll go to the Gold coast!”

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I guess that when it is all said and done, we ought to be concerned with the quality of our lives before death. Everybody dies, but not everybody lives! Some people settle for existing, and, when they eventually die, a doctor is called to certify that fact, because there was never much life in the first place. You could write on the tomb stone, ‘Died at forty, buried at eighty!’

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Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. The Gospel gives us all the invitations on how to live life with enthusiasm. It is up to us to keep the inner fire burning with adventure, with love and forgiveness, with being absorbed by the wonder and awe of our Planet and Galaxy and all forms of mystery. If we ever get bored by the sense of discovery of little children or show little interest in the tried and true wisdom of our people in the evening time of life, then we are not really living, we are existing! When I was a baby, I was carried into a church, I was not consulted; and the next time I am carried into a church, I will not be consulted either; I will be in a Box!!! So will you!

The Gospel today is a wake up call about living life to the fullest in the here and now, and then we have the certainty through our faith, that what God has in store for those who love him, no eye has seen nor ear heard…This month we are especially reminded about praying in thanksgiving for our deceased, and truly remembering them. May the many Blessings which have been part and parcel of the lives of our loved ones, continue to grow in us.

Let’s go deep sea diving into life, where we find people that we know and don’t know who are dying, or have died; what can we learn over time by the experiences of people in these circumstances. This is very serious, and it will do as well to keep reading…..’Maybe go and make yourself a nice Coffee, or a drink like……like……some nice fresh Orange juice that’s full of lovely pulp!

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As a Deacon and Priest, I have been walking with people to Heaven’s Foyer for nearly 43 years. When I was 23 years old, I was appointed to a Hospice for the Dying here in Sydney. I had covered the Theological aspects of dying and death, studied lots of material on the subject, but I was very hesitant to be involved with it at that age. However, I knew in theory that it was one of the most important parts of Ministry. My Superior in the Monastery at the time, was a very wise man…a bit prickly by nature, but also he was a lot of fun…..at times. In those days you were told where to go….if you get my drift, and what you were going to do….None of this, ‘How would you feel about doing this or that kind of ministry.’ That was OK. That was the time in which I commenced Pastoral work, so I am not complaining. I was told to go to this particular Hospice at 3.00PM one afternoon to meet Matron Beverly, and as we say and ‘learn the ropes’. That was to be my Ministry for three years….plus other Parish duties.

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The Books and study in the Seminary where good, but now it was learning by listening and ‘being’! Notice I did not say doing…..Over the years, it’s not what you do for a dying person that counts, it is being a real LISTENING PRESENCE. When people are in Heaven’s Foyer, our whole being needs to be like a huge Radio Telescope, so that we can listen, be tuned in and respond……not react! Some people linger on while waiting to die…..some are sometimes waiting for a loved one to come from overseas, interstate, or even next door! Yes, being in Heaven’s Foyer is the time for Reconciliation, for ‘just being there’ touching and holding our loved one, and telling them over and over again, that we love them, and savouring every moment! Now, even if our loved one may seem to be unconscious, don’t give up on speaking gently and lovingly into their ear! The sense of hearing is the last sense to go. If our loved one during this time, wanders in and out of consciousness, be acutely aware of what they say, who they want, and don’t be skeptical about who they might see in the room apart from yourselves! It’s not the Morphine that maybe the cause of that.

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Please remember that we are in Heaven’s Foyer! I have been with so many people while they are dying over the years, and it is one of the most beautiful and privileged positions for a Priest to be invited into the family during the farewell time. It is not the right of the Priest to be there…it is a gift! Please try and be ‘present’ while your loved one is dying…….keep speaking into their ear, that you love them and give them permission to go! Dying people often wait to be given leave!!!!

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Animals and pets, have a wonderful sense of a loved one dying. Please take your dog or cat into the room of your dying loved one, if they have an attachment to it. Animals know what is going on! Animals can help us in those moments, too. After a loved one has died, take note of the animal’s behavior. We must always remember, that ‘in death, life is changed, not ended’….our loved ones are only a breath away, and after the moment of earthly dying, they still have much to remind us of and tells us. It seems to me that between Heaven and us…you and me, there is a very thin membrane…..sometimes we get glimpses through the foggy membrane, other times we experience unusual things which might call us to scratch our heads, or even say to ourselves….’Am I going a bit stupid?’ Rest assured that when our loved ones are living the changed life, don’t be surprised that some unusual things might happen; some thoughts that seem to come from someone else’s ‘being’ not ours. If you’re loved one particularly loved the Garden, and special flowers……keep an eye on them, especially at Birthdays, Anniversaries and annual special family events, you never know what surprises you might find! For me as a Priest, the most wonderful, beautiful, surprising, and most difficult Ministry has been and is, walking with others into Heaven’s Foyer.

HOMILY REFLECTION
There were twin boys in their mother’s womb. After some time, they became aware of each other, and they began a conversation. They noticed the cord, and they decided that their mother must love them very much, when she was prepared to share her very life with them. After a while, they noticed little finger nails appearing, and several other changes to their bodies. One of them asked what it could mean. The other replied that they were probably getting ready to be born. The first one shivered:-

READER 1: “I don’t want to be born. I want to stay where I am.”

READER 2: “But you have to be born, we can’t stay here forever.”

READER 1: How do you know there is any life after birth? Have you ever seen anyone who was born? Has anyone comeback to tell us? How do you know that we have a mother, anyhow? I’ll bet we only invented her for our own comfort”.

READER 2: ‘I really don’t know, but it doesn’t make any sense that this is it, and that there’s nothing after this!”

One of them was already a little atheist! While the other was a person of faith, which means that he has proof for nothing! After some time they were born. When they felt safe to do so, they opened their eyes, and looked up at the face of their mother. They looked at each other with a look that spoke volumes.

READER 1: “Weren’t we two right fools. Sure how could we possibly understand something as beautiful and as wonderful as this?”

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In death, life is changed, not ended.

Heart Cross

Fr Kevin Walsh
‘The Hermitage’
Stanhope Gardens – Sydney, Australia
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

Kevin in Garden June 010

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30th Sunday Year C, 2016. A Gospel Reflection by Fr.Brian Gleeson,CP., Melbourne, Australia. Coming Clean with God.

Coming Clean with God.

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I once knew a priest, now deceased, who was always telling his people that only he and his housekeeper would get to heaven. Needless to say his congregation got smaller and smaller. I was reminded of this when thinking about the story Jesus told of the two men who went into the House of God to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax-collector.

The Pharisee is not a bad man. In fact the people listening to Jesus regard him as a model citizen. He does everything expected of him and more. He fasts once a week as required by his religion, but also on one extra day. He gives not only one tenth of his farm products to the Temple, as required, but also one tenth of everything else he earns. He is faithful to his wife, and in his dealings with fellow men and women, he is neither greedy nor unjust.

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On the other hand, the people listening to Jesus regard the tax collector as a rogue, a villain, and a traitor. There are plenty that would rough him up, if they could. For as a tax collector for the occupying Romans, he has been making money from the sufferings of his fellow-Jews, cheating and swindling them.

Yet it is the shady tax collector, who goes home ‘OK’ with God, not the respectable Pharisee. God accepts the villain, but rejects the saint. We have to ask: ‘What’s going on here? Why is it so?’ The difference is in their fundamental attitude to God, the way that each of them prays before God. The Pharisee does not really go to the House of God to pray, but only to tell God and himself just what a fine fellow he is, and just how bad other people are. What he says is not really a prayer, only a piece of proud and arrogant boasting. Deep down he does not feel any need for God.

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The tax collector, on the other hand, far from standing up and telling God how good he is, stands just inside the back door. As he thinks of all the wrong things he has done, he cannot bring himself even to look up. He just keeps beating his chest with his fist, and saying over and over again: ‘O God have mercy on me, because I’ve been a real rogue, to you and just about everybody else. And please help me. I need your assistance much more than I say.’

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Brothers and Sisters! It’s important for you and me to remember that Jesus first told this story to ‘people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else’. For Jesus knew that good religious people sometimes have a tendency to add up their religious devotions and practices before God, and tell God just how wonderful they are. He knew too how good and religious people sometimes become self-righteous, on the one hand, and critical and contemptuous of others, on the other hand. He knew too that to outsiders, to people who don’t go to church, self-righteous people can seem hypocrites, phonies in fact. He knew too what a mess their arrogance can make of their prayers.

So today, Jesus Christ, present among us, and speaking to us again in the words of this powerful gospel story, is reminding us of three helpful home truths: –

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1. No proud person can pray sincerely. Every one of us has the need to see ourselves as we really are before God – to see ourselves therefore as sinners, and yet sinners loved by God, embraced by God, and hugged by God. Every one of us needs to humbly ask this God of mercy to forgive our past mistakes and to give us the help, healing and strength we need to live in God’s way through the rest of our time on earth.

2. No one who despises and condemns their fellow human-beings can pray properly. For in prayer we don’t lift ourselves above others, but come before God as one of a great mob of sinning, suffering, struggling human beings. (The sense of his own sinfulness used to lead Archbishop Lanfranc, a famous Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, to get down on his knees with every penitent, and pray for forgiveness of his own sins, before presuming to hear the sins of others in confession).

3. Everything good about us comes from God. Everything bad about us comes from ourselves. True prayer comes from setting our lives before God just as they are. In the light of God’s goodness, in the light of the life of Jesus, we have nothing to boast about. All that is left to us is to thank God for the many good things about us, and, like the tax collector, to pray about the evil that is ours: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner. Help me, cleanse me, and change me.’ All that is left for us is to heed the gentle invitation of God in that popular hymn, an invitation which Christ speaks to us in our holy communion today, our sharing with him.

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Come as you are, that’s how I want you.
Come as you are, feel quite at home.
Close to my heart, loved and forgiven;
Come as you are, why stand alone?
Come as you are, that’s how I love you.
Come as you are, trust me again.
Nothing can change the love that I bear you.
All will be well, just come as you are.
bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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Ascension Sunday, 2016. A realhomilie by Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney, Australia.

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In today’s gospel Jesus gives his final message, his final instructions, his final promise, and his final blessing to his disciples. It is obvious that they believed what he said because, after the Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, they went forth to do exactly as he had told them, and they discovered that all his promises were being fulfilled.

Let’s now look at the meaning of the Ascension. This Solemnity is a very important part of that unique jewel we call the Easter mystery. It is not an event in the life of the Risen Lord that is studied in isolation. Between Easter Sunday and Pentecost we celebrate that time of adjustment or change, during which the risen Jesus vanishes from the sight of his disciples, only to open up a new way of relating to them – a way so desirable that every person has the potential to be filled with his presence.

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As if by a bridge spanning a river, so the disciples had now to leave the familiar bank of the natural presence of Jesus and cross to the other side – as yet unknown territory – where they will be taken hold of by the Holy Spirit.

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The synoptic Gospels that is Matthew, Mark and Luke present Jesus to us from the angle of their particular purpose in writing the Good News, and from their own community background aimed at a specific audience. For example, the new Elijah has been removed from them (Luke’s Gospel), but Emmanuel, God with us, remains ever present to his Church (Matthew’s Gospel), enthroned by God in his kingdom in Mark’s Gospel.

Certainly, after his last appearance, Jesus seemed to depart from his disciples. But his invisible presence became more concentrated in depth and scope in a way that would have been impossible had his former bodily presence continued.

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Thanks to the Holy Spirit, this new presence promised by the Father is established forever. Jesus uses a very beautiful way of expressing the Spirit’s presence that will come to the disciples in today’s Gospel, “Stay in the city until you are clothed with the power from on high.” Therefore, the Ascension is not a question of ’looking into the sky’, but of being confirmed believers in the Risen Lord, because He is alive and well in the ‘Galilee’ of our lives, that is in the day to day events which call us to respond to the Christ in each other.

There is something which we can easily overlook at the time of the Ascension of the Lord; notice that the gathered group, were not crying, or upset; quite to the contrary, they were filled with joy! That strongly reminds us that His Disciples believed with their heart and soul that the promises of the Lord would be fulfilled in due time. There were no questions, like when? What’s the date when we will be clothed from on high? The Disciples are examples for all times and generations, that we must be patient and have an ‘Advent expectancy’ at all times, knowing that the promises of the Lord will always be fulfilled, in God’s time.

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The Ascension is that middle picture or image within a triptych, which one would see in an Art Gallery. It is a set of three associated pictures, hinged or tied together. The only way that one can understand the complete meaning is by looking and reading the pictures from left to right, thus seeing them as a whole containing three important parts. Let us pray:

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O God, we believe that Jesus, the Word made flesh,
Is with you, and in us.
Strengthen our faith, hope and love that your reign
Will be proclaimed in our lives,
And the presence of your Spirit
Be manifested in our thoughts,
Words and actions.
This we ask of you through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr Kevin Walsh
‘The Hermitage’
Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com

Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mum, with Rosie our Tibetan Spaniel, and son.

My Mum entered eternal life on the 29/12/2014. Rosie, kissed Mum on her cheek at the moment of passing…..My sister, Genny RSC and me, give thanks to God this Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016, for our Mum, and all Mums, Grandmothers and all who supply the loving dimension of the generations ahead of us, who have loved us.

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Sydney Opera House

 

 

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Ascension Sunday, 2016. A Biblical Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson,CP, Melbourne, Australia

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MAKING SENSE OF ASCENSION SUNDAY

In the Creed today we will be saying of Jesus: ‘He ascended into heaven.’ What picture comes to mind when we think of him ascending into heaven? Do we picture him going up into the stratosphere like a space ship at Cape Canaveral? If we do, we show that we don’t realize that the words of scripture about this are not to be taken literally. They are a poetic way of saying that Jesus is no longer on earth in a fleshly, physical and material way. The words of scripture mean that he has gone to God in his risen body and lives with God in light and glory. What they mean is that God who raised him from the dead has therefore honoured and exalted him.

Does his being with God mean he is no longer with us? Certainly not! He is actually with us more strongly, more powerfully, than when he walked the roads and streets of Palestine. He is with us in spirit, i.e. in his gift to us of the Holy Spirit. He acts on us in all the down-to-earth ways that the Spirit influences us.

So we don’t go looking for him on the clouds or in the sky. We find him in our reading, hearing and heeding of the scriptures, which speak of him. We find him in our celebration of the sacraments. Each of the seven sacraments is a sign of his presence and action upon us here and now. This is especially true of the Eucharist, which is specifically the sign and presence of his now glorified and spiritualized body. We find him in our practical love for our neighbour, and especially for our fellow human beings who are poor, neglected, sad, sorrowing, afraid or despairing.

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But if Jesus is no longer visible in the old familiar ways, how will people come to know of his presence? The answer is that he is present through us. So on this Feast of the Ascension we remember too the mission he gave us his followers before he went home to God. This is to go and tell everyone everywhere the good news that Jesus is alive and is our Saviour – the one who changes people for the better through his gift of the Holy Spirit. So, before he disappears from sight he says to his followers in every century, ‘You are my witnesses’, and that in order to witness to him ‘you will be clothed with the power from on high’, the power that is the Holy Spirit. On the subject of witnessing, it’s worth remembering that Pope Paul VI said that ‘the world needs witnesses more than it needs teachers’. In fact, the world is full teachers, most of them true and good, but has far fewer witnesses, i.e. people who speak with their lives. Between the two roles there is the same difference as between saying and doing. A well-known proverb underlines this difference: ‘Actions speak louder than words’, more recently put by the rappers as: ‘Walk the walk, not just talk the talk.’

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Being witnesses to Jesus is a very important role for parents of children, and especially when they are asked to help their children get ready for First Reconciliation, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. The words which parents say in each of these steps about meeting Jesus and belonging to the Church will mean nothing if the parents don’t practise what they preach. What will the children think if their parents don’t go to Mass on Sunday, don’t ever make the sign of the cross with them, and don’t ever pray with them? The souls of children are like sheets of photographic film. Everything they see and hear in their childhood years leaves a trace, an imprint. One day the ‘film’ will be ‘developed’ and it will have its effects, good or bad.

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So, in summary, in ascending to heaven, Jesus has not left us. He has merely disappeared from our sight. This is similar to the Eucharist. So long as the host is outside us, we see it and we adore it. When we receive the host we no longer see it. It has disappeared from sight, but it has disappeared so that Jesus in the host can be within us, and be present to us in a new way, and an even more powerful way than when he walked our earth in the flesh. So, like the first disciples, we are not sad that Jesus has disappeared from sight but glad, because he is still with us and still loving us in very many ways.

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At Mass today, let’s make a point of thanking God that Jesus is not only risen and exalted into glory with God, but that he is still with us in powerful and loving ways, and above all through the gift of his Spirit, his alter ego, his second self!
bgleesoncp@gmail.com

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Fr.Brian Gleeson, CP in white, next to Novice Vicente, who is about to be professed as a Passionist on the 8th of May, 2016

 

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6th Sunday of Easter Year C. A Biblical Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia. JESUS’ FAREWELL GIFT

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I wonder in how many different places and in how many different houses you’ve lived over the years of your life. I’ve just about lost count. It’s not easy leaving a place, especially when we’ve formed close ties. Unless it’s leaving a destructive relationship or some other difficult situation, most of us, I think, hate goodbyes. Just the prospect fills us with sadness and dread, even if we’re leaving to get married or take up a better job, or to go to some dream home. There’s still the pain of packing up and leaving for an unknown future. There’s still the pain of saying goodbye to family members and friends. Saying such things as ‘I’ll visit when I can’, ‘I’ll ring you’, ‘I’ll text you’, ‘I’ll e-mail you’, ‘I’ll catch up the first chance we get’, might ease the pain of separation to a certain extent, but it doesn’t take it away completely.

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The gospel today takes us to the Last Supper, to Jesus’ last meal, his farewell meal with close friends. He tells them that he is going away and they will no longer have him with them in the old familiar ways. But he softens the sting, the pain which they are feeling, with three very comforting and connected promises. He says that he is going away to prepare a place for them (Jn 14:3). So they can look forward to a great reunion with him one day. He goes on to promise: ‘I shall not leave you orphans, I shall come to you’ (14:18)

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In his third promise, Jesus spells out how he will come to them and how he will still be with them when they can no longer see him, touch him, hear his voice, and walk with him. He will come to them in his gift of his Spirit. He will give them the very same Spirit that animated him, as he went about Palestine doing good, preaching and teaching, healing and helping in every way. He will give them his Spirit to continue his presence to them. The Spirit, then, will be a kind of second self, Jesus’ alter ego. The Spirit, just like Jesus himself has been for them all along, will be their great Comforter and Defender in all their conflicts and trials.

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When the Spirit comes to them, Jesus assures them, the Spirit will remind them of everything that Jesus has said, and everything that Jesus has meant to them. So they will still sense his living and loving presence among them. So, the Spirit will be the permanent bond among them all.

When the Spirit comes to them, they will also receive Jesus’ special gift of peace. So he says to them: ‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid’ (14:27).

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We all know the kind of peace we need in our hearts and lives right now. It’s a peace that only the Spirit of Jesus can give. We need wise leaders to bring the terrible war in Syria to a complete stop. We need his Spirit to bring divided Christians together into one united world-wide community. We need his Spirit to assure people who are feeling alienated and isolated in their churches that they are important to the community, and that they are still loved, no matter what. We need peace in our workplaces, to bring an end to gossiping, bitterness and backbiting. We need peace in our homes to replace tension and misunderstandings, as well as any verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. We need peace among the players of our sporting teams, so that those who strive to be best on the ground will also be the fairest.

It’s true that we don’t have the physical presence of Jesus with us the way his first disciples did when he talked with them around his table, washed their feet, and gave them his reassuring promises. His farewell to them was a real farewell. He would no longer be with them as he had been. But he assured them and us after them, that he is present in a different way, in his gift of the Holy Spirit. If only we keep on trusting in the presence of the Spirit to us, we will have peace in the midst of any personal, family, or community turmoil that comes our way!

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But this peace is not something we can manufacture ourselves or spray on by our own power. It’s a gift that comes from Jesus, who doesn’t want to lose touch with us. Can we be more open to receiving that gift from him, that gift that will keep strong our ties with him?
Surely that’s something to pray for during this Eucharist, and in the rest of the days of Easter leading to Pentecost!

bgleesoncp@gmail.com

Brian Gleeson special photo

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5th Sunday of Easter, Year C. A Biblical Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson,C.P Melbourne, Australia

THE LOVE WE NEED:

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Some people say they don’t read newspapers anymore because there’s too much bad news in them. They have a point. A while back e.g., a national newspaper ran stories about footballers knowingly or unknowingly taking banned performance-enhancing substances; a pedestrian killed by a hit-run driver; the drug cocaine being extracted from items of clothing and sold for a fortune; a factory collapsing in Bangladesh and killing two hundred and seventy-three persons, and hundreds and thousands of persons killed in Syria’s civil war. News like that may well turn people off newspapers.

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Thank God such bad news is not all the news there is! On its front page a while back the same paper ran a story about Eugene (‘Curly’) Veith, a rich man and a Christian, aged 94. As business prospered, Curly says that he ‘used to lie awake at night thinking of the hungry and homeless children all over the world. So I decided to give all my money away to help them!’ About $23 million so far! Mr Veith has set up Mission Enterprise Limited to channel funds to worthy causes everywhere – American Indians in Colorado, street kids in Bangkok, water wells in East Africa, land for a school in Queensland.

More than that, with the courage of his convictions he has been going to other rich businessmen and businesswomen and challenging them to give generously to people and projects in need. Clearly this elderly gentleman has taken strongly to heart today’s message of Jesus to his friends and followers the night before he died for them: ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples’ (Jn 13:34-35)

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At an isolated roadhouse in North West Queensland, two children aged 8 and 6 tell a visiting traveller about a play they have staged at their local church. They have teamed up with a friend to dramatize how Jesus wants us to love one another. The first child gets a phone call from Jesus to say he will be coming along that day and will want some help. The two children are to keep a lookout for him. Well, Jesus does arrive in the guise of a third child who has hurt her knee and is looking for some first aid. One of the first two reaches out to help and asks the second who is talking to Jesus on the phone to also help. She says she is too busy talking to Jesus, and is still waiting for him to arrive. But in the end she too goes to help the injured one. At the end of the day she receives another phone call from Jesus. He thanks her for helping him. She says she doesn’t understand. She waited and waited for him, she points out, but he didn’t turn up. Then Jesus explains that he did arrive after all, in the form of the child that needed help.

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That’s the wonderful thing about the kind of love that Jesus wants of us. It’s a love modelled on his kind of love. He showed his love for people in so many wonderful ways – in kindness, compassion, generosity, patience, perseverance, endurance, faithfulness and forgiveness. There was no limit to what his love would give or where it would go.

The love which imitates the love of Jesus for others is therefore a practical, down-to-earth kind of love. It’s a kindness and compassion kind of love, a self-forgetting kind of love, a self-sacrificing kind of love even to the point, as shown by so many brave soldiers in two World Wars and others since, of giving up their own lives so that others might be free. Free to be good, kind, unselfish, generous and loving persons too!

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It’s our love for others that keeps the great love of Jesus for people alive in our world today. An American journalist, watching Mother Teresa of Calcutta caring for a man with gangrene, remarked to her: ‘I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.’ Mother Teresa replied: ‘Even I wouldn’t do it for that amount, but I do it for love of God.’
True love is the opposite of selfishness. Selfishness confines us, keeps us shut in. It builds barriers, even walls, between us and others. What frees us is caring about others and caring for others – being friends, being sisters and brothers, being good neighbours. In short, it’s love alone that frees us from the cage of selfishness. A doctor, who has shared some of the deepest moments in the lives of many patients, says that people facing death don’t think about the degrees they’ve earned, the positions they’ve held, or how much wealth they’ve amassed. What matters at the end is just whom you have loved and who has loved you.

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Love always demands the best from us, and brings out the best in us. Being loved gives us a surprising energy and courage. Love makes us fruitful and productive, strong and constant in doing good. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, famous for her work on the stages of dying, has written: ‘Love is the flame that warms our soul, energises our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It’s our connection to God and to one another.’

To love is to heal, both those who receive it and those who give it. To refuse to love is to die. To decide to love is to live. But love is a choice, not a feeling, and when we choose to be loving, caring, healing, helping, and forgiving persons, we experience well-being, contentment and happiness.

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Freedom from selfishness and freedom to love and care for others, surely that’s what life is all about! There’s really no other way. So Jesus insists, strongly insists: ‘Love one another, as I have loved you’ (Jn 13:34)

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2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER C. A Biblical Reflection on today’s Readings from Fr.Brian Gleeson, C.P. Melbourne, Australia.

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                                                                     BELIEVING IN JESUS:
When we come together for Mass every Sunday we come to remember Jesus. Our presence and participation in the Eucharist is an act of faith – an act of personal faith and an act of shared faith. In praying together we also help one another believe, hope and love more strongly. So we become a stronger Christian community. It might be said of us what was said in our First Reading today about the infant Church in Jerusalem: “… the numbers of men and women who came to believe in the Lord increased steadily”.
Our shared faith is above all faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that he has risen from the dead that he is alive in himself and alive in us, and that he is our Teacher, Lord and Leader. But nobody can do our believing for us. This is powerfully illustrated in our gospel story today.

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It’s Easter Sunday and the disciples are huddled together in a locked room. After what happened to Jesus just two days before, they dare not venture out because of fear for their lives. But Jesus himself does not hide away. Suddenly he comes among them. His greeting is peace. Their response is joy. For the story-teller John, Easter Sunday is Pentecost, and the gift of the Spirit is the breath of the Risen Christ. The disciples breathe in the Spirit and the Spirit becomes part of their lives. Soon they will leave the Upper Room changed persons – fearless and courageous, energetic and zealous people. In short they will leave as persons animated and fired up by the Holy Spirit to go and tell the good news that is Jesus.
But one of their group is missing. His name is Thomas. He’s one of the apostles, part of the group. But he’s also a distinct, independent self, a real individual. He cannot be both loyal to the group and disloyal to his own inner self. That would make his loyalty deceitful and worthless. For Thomas honesty and sincerity are, in fact, more important than loyalty and belonging. So when the others say, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he declares strongly and emphatically that before he is willing to believe that Jesus is really risen and alive he must see and test the evidence for himself. He won’t accept that claim just on their say-so. So it’s his honesty that makes him doubt and leads to him being called ever afterwards ‘Doubting Thomas’. We learn from the gospel story that Thomas comes to believe in the Risen Jesus in the same way as the other disciples, i.e. when he sees the Lord for himself. But in the way John tells the story Thomas stands for all those who have not yet seen the Lord in the flesh but who are called to believe in him just the same. That’s where we come into the story. We are among those many generations of believers ever afterwards of whom it may be said: ‘Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
It’s understandable that Thomas was so slow to believe. One reason is that he was such a rugged individual, a real self-starter. The other is because he was not present when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into his fellow-disciples.

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But Jesus has given the Spirit to you and me, first at Baptism, then at Confirmation, and subsequently at every Eucharist we celebrate. The Spirit which Jesus gives is the Spirit of truth. It’s the same Spirit that empowers us to say to Jesus with Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God!’
Our faith is one of the main gifts the Spirit has given us. But it is not a one-off gift that we lock away in a safe like some precious jewel. As a form of life we must let our faith grow and mature. On the other hand, like other forms of life, our faith can wither and die from neglect and lack of exercise. We need to pray about our faith, think about our faith, and express it in works of love.

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This does not mean that we will never have any doubts. After all even the great Mother Teresa had to struggle with doubts her whole life long. But if like Thomas we care about what we believe, surely sooner or later our faith, revived by the Holy Spirit, will bring us into the presence of God.
The centre and focus of our revived faith will once again be on the great person of Jesus, whom our Second Reading today has called ‘the Living One’, the very one recognised by Believing Thomas as ‘My Lord and my God’.

Easter 11
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