Tag Archives: Lent

1st Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A Gospel Reflection from Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne, Australia. FACING AND FIGHTING TEMPTATION


A fruiterer was watching a boy standing in front of his fruit stall and gazing at all the beautiful fruit on display. After a while he could restrain himself no longer. ‘What are you trying to do, young man,’ he asked, ‘steal my apples?’ ‘No sir,’ said the boy, ‘I’m trying not to.’ That little story says that the child had come to understand that he was not a puppet on a string, but faced a choice: Will I do the right thing or the wrong thing? It also says just how real temptations of all kinds can be, and just what a tension and struggle it can be not to give in to temptation.

Thank God we still have the living memory of Jesus – his teaching, example and presence – to remind us that by turning to him for strength and support, we can overcome our temptations. Even if our past record in resisting temptation has been spotty to say the least, we can eventually triumph, not by our own sheer will-power and determination, but through our faith and trust in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a priest once put it to a man he met outside the monastery gate. ‘We fall down, we get up. We fall down, we get up. We fall down, we get up. The saints are just the sinners who fall down and get up.’


Today we remember Jesus’ own secret in resisting temptation. But doing so was no easier for him than it is for us. As a matter of fact he went through a terrible struggle to choose between God and self. The tension and agony of it all is spelled out for us today in Matthew’s dramatic story of the temptations in the desert. What they have in common is that they are temptations to selfishness.

First the tempter suggests to Jesus, who is terribly hungry after his forty-day fast in the desert: ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into [loaves of] bread.’ In other words, make use of things, not for the benefit of others but for your own satisfaction, comfort and convenience. But even though Jesus’ stomach is rumbling and he is near to desperation for a bite to eat, he will not dally with this desire, not even for a moment. Instead he seeks nourishment of a different kind in God’s clear message in Scripture – ‘One does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

The second temptation which taunts Jesus is to go to the very top of the temple in Jerusalem, and defy the law of gravity by taking a flying leap from there. Surely a stunt like this, a bit of razzle-dazzle, will attract a horde of followers, and prove to Jesus personally whether God cares about him or not. The very thought of it is fascinating. Jesus, however, completely banishes the idea from his mind as he remembers and relishes God’s clear command in Scripture: ‘You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Jesus has survived two kinds of temptation. But the idea that comes to him next is even more subtle and more appealing. This is to use his intelligence, his ability to organise, and his personal charm, to gather round him the rich and powerful from every nation, and become a great political leader, even king of the world. This is a temptation to seek world attention and become a celebrity, and a temptation to be a political messiah pursuing fame, fortune, and empire-building. The attraction of this temptation is the very opposite of what God has said in Scripture about his chosen messiah, the saviour of the world. God clearly means his messiah to be a humble, suffering servant, someone willing to sacrifice his young life in love. Jesus remembers this and takes it to heart. And so he simply blitzes the suggestion with yet another clear command of God in Scripture: ‘You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’


Remember! Jesus is feeling very weak, very fragile, and very vulnerable. He has had nothing to eat or drink for forty days. And yet his fidelity and love towards God don’t waver for a moment. What, then, is his secret? His secret is his reliance on hearing and heeding the Word of God in the Scriptures. He just keeps nourishing his mind, his heart, his attitudes, his life, by remembering the Word of God.

You and I have often been exposed to temptations of one kind or another – to pride, anger, lust, gluttony, greed, jealousy, sloth, etc. Like Jesus we have turned to God for guidance and strength when we’ve been tempted. Perhaps we have relied especially on the power of those healing sacraments – Reconciliation and Eucharist.


But for better results when we are tempted, we would do well to also do what Jesus did – read the Scriptures, reflect on the Scriptures, and pray the Scriptures. The texts of the Masses for Lent provide us with a guided reading program, a program for changing our minds, hearts and lives. It is not too late to make Lent what it is meant to be, a time for correcting our faults and raising our minds and hearts to God. A time for personal and community conversion! A time for personal and community renewal! A time for coming face-to-face with God – our origin, purpose and destiny – and being changed for the better and forever by that healing encounter!

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1st Sunday in Lent, year A, 2017. A realhomilie –Spiritual Training- by Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia

–Spiritual Training-


Well Lent is with us once again…….it comes around quickly, doesn’t it? And once again we often say to ourselves, and to others…time flies!  I’ve noticed most probably like you that Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have had Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies for Sale for the last few weeks. Baker’s Delight here in Australia has beautiful Hot Cross Buns for Sale already, and we are not even near Good Friday!  Once again, we see that the commercial world is more interested in making money, as it uses the Religious significance for its own ends.

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In the Southern Hemisphere, we are getting close to autumn (21st March, Lunar Time), even though many of us say in Eastern Australia, that summer has come and gone so quickly. However, for our sisters and brothers in the Northern Hemisphere, they may be thinking ‘When will Winter end?’ However, Lent is that time of the year in the North, when the Lights on the Advent Wreath truly suggest that the days are getting a bit longer and there is a slight ‘feeling’ in the air and in the earth that it is ‘wake up time’; Spring is coming! However with the variance of Climate, let’s just get down to the meaning of Lent, no matter what the season is. Let’s have a brief look the origins of its meaning, so that we know what we are talking about.


Lent (n.)

“period between Ash Wednesday and Easter,” late 14c., short for Lenten (n.) “the forty days of fasting before Easter” in the Christian calendar (early 12c.), from Old English lencten “springtime, spring,” the season, also “the fast of Lent,” from West Germanic *langitinaz “long-days,” or “lengthening of the day” (source also of Old Saxon lentin, Middle Dutch lenten, Old High German lengizin manoth). This prehistoric compound probably refers to increasing daylight in spring and is reconstructed to be from *langaz “long” (source of long (adj.)) + *tina- “day” (compare Gothic sin-teins “daily”), which is cognate with Old Church Slavonic dini, Lithuanian diena, Latin dies “day” (see diurnal). Compare similar form evolution in Dutch lente (Middle Dutch lentin), German Lenz (Old High German lengizin) “spring.” But the Church sense is peculiar to English. The -en in Lenten (n.) was perhaps mistaken for an affix.

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In short, Lent can be looked upon as a ‘Training time’…a toning up time for our spiritual life, which has immediate repercussions in our relational life with each other and strengthening of the Christian Community. So, looking at the Readings for this weekend, we see in the first Reading from the Book of Genesis, that our God breathed into Humankind the His life giving breath, which enabled us to know that we share in a special existence with God, and each other. However, humankind got too big for their boots and said, WE WANT TO BE IN CHARGE! That was the total misuse of God’s Gift to us. Sin is turning away from God individually and as a community in a deliberate way. The Response to the Psalm takes up a conscious collective response…Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. This little text message could do well by resting in our minds as we begin Lent. It is not a way of going around looking sad, like a Cocker Spaniel Dog, but just like a catchy turn which we hear on the Radio stays with us for a long time….this sense of Contrition is the first foundation for a real ‘turn around’ in our Spiritual lives.

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So Lent can be seen as a time of renewal…both personal and communitarian. Let’s look at the Lenten curtain raiser in Matthew’s Gospel for this weekend…..The Temptations of Jesus in the Desert! Here we have a mega clue as to what to do, and what to become, during Lent. The Temptations that Jesus faced, and his response them, gives us a solid hint, for our dealing with them. These Temptations are not unlike the very same Temptations which follow us around in life too, and pop up when we are at our weakest! Under three headings: – PLEASURE, POWER AND THE AVOIDANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY. These Temptations were attractively presented to Jesus by the Devil as a preferred life orientation…Jesus, refuted these Temptations and unconditionally chose the orientation of LOVING SERVICE. Repent comes from a Greek word, metanoia which means ‘change’…not just on the outside but to change all the way through. One way of visualising this is to ask you to stand on your hands, right now! In doing that, we would see the world differently. I think if I were to stand on my hands right now, I’d be rushed off to Hospital! But, I think that you get my drift. So, let’s go back to the scripture quote….Repent and what? Believe the Good News. Belief in this case, is not just some academic approach, but our aim ought to BEING ‘Good News’. Lent is the time to STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN to what really flavours our Life. Lent is the time to do something about it. As a Community…Let’s get on with it! Spiritual Gym-time is now, and our personal and communitarian Trainer is Jesus, the Word! God’s Word each week, invites us to TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND BE FAITHFUL TO THE GOSPEL. What are you saying to me Lord, through your Word? This is the big question all through Lent.



Programme your iPhone or whatever to remind you of this question: What are you saying to me Lord, through your Word? From this constant reminder, next Sunday when you celebrate the Eucharist in your Parish Community, you have a ready-made question to respond to God’s Word. Maybe in the Church have your phone on Vibrate to alert you……eh eh eh



Leader:  In the spirit of Jesus, who offered fervent prayer to his Father in the desert, let us call upon our God of mercy.

Family:That hesitation and doubt in those chosen today for Christian initiation at Easter, especially the Elect in our Parish and all those in our Diocese, be taken away by God’s faithfulness, let us pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

That lukewarm-ness in our discipleship be overcome by God’s Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

That poverty and injustice in this land and every land be ended by God’s compassion in human hearts, let us pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

That the commitment of wives and husbands be renewed by God’s grace, let us pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

That the death of our loved ones, especially members of our Family and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time and the thousands of displaced people In our world who have died through famine, war and neglect, be turned into everlasting life by God’s gift, let us pray to the Lord: Lord hear us. Lord, hear our prayer.

Time for shared prayers………….

Leader:    Lord God, you created Humankind for your glory, but they turned away from your love. Now you have re-created us, their descendants, through the obedience of your beloved Son. In his name, we ask you to answer our prayers, so that we may love you with all our hearts, and do all that his Gospel requires of us. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Fr Kevin Walsh

Sydney. New South Wales. Australia

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Ash Wednesday…..Lent 2017. Some Food for thought from Fr Brian CP, Melbourne, Australia

Four thoughts on Lent With Saint Paul of the Cross

If St. Paul of the Cross–Paul Danei, founder of the Passionists–were to accompany you through Lent I’m sure he would be with you as you are and the world you live in as it is. He was never afraid of darkness and dark places, so you may find him a helpful spiritual guide. He trusted in Jesus Christ and his cross, ‘the wisdom and power of God;’ I’m sure he will bring some of that wisdom to you.

“May  it  be  the desire of our hearts to know Jesus in a greater way during these 40 days of lent.”

“Remain crucified with Jesus Christ, embracing every occasion to suffer for love of God with patience, with silence, and without ever justifying yourself, being resentful, or complaining.”

“I tell you that the life of men and women servants of God should be a continual Lent, that is, a continual exercise of mortification, internal and external. So distrusting yourself and depending much upon God, make your continuous Lent by always denying your will, being subject in exact obedience in the things most difficult and bitter to your self-love.”

“Build an oratory within yourself, and there have Jesus on the altar of your heart. Speak to Him often while you are doing your work. Speak to Him of His holy love, of His holy sufferings and of the sorrows of most holy Mary.”





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Palm Sunday, 2016. A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia.

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Why Palm Branches?
In the ancient Middle East kings could enter a city in two ways. Horses were used for war, so if the king road on a horse, it usually meant trouble. If they came in peace, they would ride a donkey, a humble act. Jesus was sending two clear messages to the people of Jerusalem. The first was that he is a king, the second message is that his intentions were peaceful. The point was not lost on the religious leaders.

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Jesus came down the Mount of Olives into the Kedron valley, to the east of the temple. It is a very steep descent. The road was a dirt path. The spring rains made the passage slippery. The people hailing Jesus placed branches and clothing on the road so that the footing was safe. John is the only gospel that mentions that the branches were from palm trees. Matthew and Mark only refer to “branches”. Luke leaves out the branches entirely and simply says that the people put their clothes on the road.

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In medieval Europe, people used willow and other branches to celebrate this day, rather than palms which were rare. Some people braid three or more strips of palm to make crosses or crowns of thorns. Next year we will burn the palms to make ashes for Ash Wednesday.

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One week from today is Easter Sunday! We will celebrate the triumph of Jesus over the final enemy … death! It is only correct and just that if we wish to join in the victory, then we should enter into the struggle which precedes it. During Lent, we have been given the opportunity to reflect upon the quality of our lives in the face of the Lenten Invitation: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. Today, as we receive our Blessed Palm and give thanks and praise to God, we are given the chance to enter into the spirit of Holy Week. We can take this opportunity to walk with Jesus through this week in all its moods and complexities, to finally rejoice in the Father’s glory when ‘life’ was re breathed into Jesus His Son: that new life which is offered to everyone.

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When we speak about Jesus in the Mass, for example, we use the past tense. “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life” … “By your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free”. In other words, Jesus has already completed his part of the formula for salvation; now the rest is up to us. Of course, we are not alone in this venture; the Holy Spirit is alive within God’s household. This week is a sacred time; it’s up to us whether we wish to enter deeply into the spirit of it or not. The secular world is well and truly geared up for huge Easter Egg sales and massive attendances at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, let alone getaway holidays. Yesterday, I heard a man ask one of the staff at Baker’s Delight that they should bake Hot Cross Buns all year around, because it reminds him of Easter!!!! The beginning and end of these secular activities are $$$$ … but for us, the end of this week is New Life! When we enter into the Church’s Liturgy at the Easter Triduum … Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil/Sunday, this newness of life and attentiveness to God’s Mission for us, can be nourished and sustained in us. If we take ‘time out’ as family and individuals to make this journey, the results will be far more lasting for us than from a Chocolate Easter Bunny, or a giant Easter Egg filled with Mars Bars!

There is a time and place for celebration, but it becomes all the more worthwhile when it has been earned through solid attentiveness to Jesus, who invites us to be truly servants of each other; to be responsive to His constant invitation to be with Him in prayer; to walk the Way of the Cross; and to allow the Cross to speak to our hearts. By entering into this mystery, we can rejoice in our God who loves us into life, and gives us the responsibility through our Baptism, to share it with others.

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Now is the time to plan our week! Now is decision time! There will be many inviting alternatives which could take up our time and promise us rewards. But this is the week of all weeks in which we as a community can be renewed through prayerfully and seriously walking the road to Calvary together … and then into the light of Resurrection.
Our reward? A greater alertness to the suffering Christ in His people today, and the strength and quality to be ‘Easter People’ in a world where His Word is still to be proclaimed and heard.

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May this week be a source of blessing for all of us. God Bless you all and your families and may we never forget each other in Prayer. Fr Kevin Walsh

Kevin Walsh in Car

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Palm Sunday 2016. A Reflection from Fr.Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia A PEP TALK FOR PALM SUNDAY

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‘Keep in mind that Jesus Christ has died for us and is risen from the dead. He is our saving Lord, he is joy for all ages’ [Lucien Deiss]

We have already begun the best week in the whole liturgical year. Centuries ago it was called the ‘Great Week’. Nowadays we call it ‘Holy Week’. We walk with Jesus every step of the road to Calvary.

We have started today with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. There we joined the crowds acclaiming, welcoming, and applauding him as their Saviour. We have done so with boundless enthusiasm and joy.

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On Thursday we will gather around his table. Once again we’ll hear and take to heart his own commandment: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ Once again we’ll receive the loving gift of himself in bread and wine. Then at the end of the meal we will set out with him along the path from the Upper Room to the Garden of Olives. There we’ll see him falling to the ground in fear and anxiety over the cruel and unjust death awaiting him. And as we see and hear him sobbing his heart out and even sweating drops of blood, our hearts will go out to him and our own eyes will fill up with tears.

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Friday will find us standing with his mother and a few faithful friends at the foot of the cross. We will be moved with compassion both for her and for him in their mental and physical torments. We’ll feel some of his sense of being alone and abandoned, betrayed and deserted, not only by friends and followers, but even by God.

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On Saturday we will be quiet and silent around his tomb as we keep remembering the injustice, cruelty, hatred and hostility of all those evil men that murdered him. Then late on Saturday we will go from the darkness of the Way of the Cross to the place of the brightly burning fire. There we’ll join the procession of the great Easter Candle, that stands for the risen Christ, the Light of the World, lighting up the darkness of our church, our world, and our lives. There and then the pain and sadness of our journey with Jesus will give way to the hope and joy that comes from our rekindled faith. Jesus Christ is not dead and gone after all! No! He is very much alive, strong and powerful, alive in himself, and alive in us through his Spirit!

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And so we will hear in both our heads and hearts those comforting and re-assuring words which Jesus Christ Crucified spoke to Juliana of Norwich in the quiet of her convent cell: ‘All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well!’

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5th Sunday of Lent Year C. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia

Newspaper headlines

Every day when we watch the T.V News, or read the Headlines and stories on line, most of the eye catching events are about people getting into trouble. Either this one was caught robbing a Jewelry Shop, or someone has ripped off the Tax Office, and has been caught, or some unfaithfulness in marriage, or some personal argument about a couple players in a Cricket team etc. I wonder if the TV ratings would be the same if they were all good stories about the positive and noble things that people have done? Most probably the ratings would really slip. There is something within our human nature that gets enjoyment and satisfies our curiosity, out of seeing someone get caught, and the issue made public. Most certainly there are times when you would hope that some people do get caught for the way that they have gravely disturbed and abused other decent people, through robbery, murder etc.

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In today’s Gospel we see some excited Scribes and Pharisees, who were really trying to catch Jesus out by using a person, in this instance, a woman, who they really didn’t care about, but abused her by making a spectacle of her in front of the crowd, and in front of Jesus. For the Jewish Leaders they treated her like an object, to satisfy their sinister curiosity.

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Let’s go back to the first reading for a minute…Isaiah is recalling to the ‘community’s’ mind’ of Israel, that the Lord God would always do new deeds, like the deeds that God did in the great Exodus from Egypt, and the initiation of the marriage contract with His people on Sinai…In fact the brotherhood of Isaiah, were looking forward to a time when their God would do new deeds again and again, so that the world order of people, would be turned upside down in a totally new way of relating, loving, forgiving and living as a Community.

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Here in this Gospel story we see Jesus, the human face of the Father doing precisely a new deed……’neither do I condemn you, go away and sin no more’ Jesus turned the tables on the Jewish leaders, and any onlookers who sided with them….’one by one, they left the scene’ because the simple message of Jesus hit the ‘quick’ in all the fingers that pointed in condemnation of the woman. Are we on red alert to catch someone out? Are we more ‘at home’ with negative thoughts about other people than positive ones? Do we sometimes get pleasure in seeing good people being condemned? Food for Thought!

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Tea pot

A couple of years ago, a group of men were relaxing in a very nice Café’ called ‘The Leaf’ at Rouse Hill, in Sydney, after a hard day’s work. As a waitress was walking past their table with a pot of Irish Breakfast Tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to emphasise a story he was telling. His hand collided with the tea pot and sent it crashing against the beautifully painted wall, where its contents left and irregular brown splotch.

Tea pot stain

Standing nearby, the Manager surveyed the damage. “That stain will never come out”, he said in dismay. “The whole wall will have to be repainted.” “Perhaps not”, was the reply from one of the customers”. All eyes turned to the person who had just spoken. What do you mean?” asked the Manager. Let me work with the stain,” said the man, standing up from his table in the corner. “If my work meets with your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall.” He then picked up a box and went to the wall. Opening the box, he withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill in here and there with dabs of colour and swishes of shading. Soon a picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea had been turned into the image of a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers.


And this is what God wants to do to each one of us! He wants to take the stains and disappointments of our lives and not merely erase them, but rather turn them into a thing of beauty.

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4th Sunday of Lent Year C. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney, Australia.

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The Parable of the Prodigal Son, or the another way of naming it, the Parable of the Forgiving Father, is one of the most profound examples of the extent to which our God will love us, welcome us back and embrace us. I think that we could safely say that real love is often manifested in the desire to forgive, and demonstrated by the words and gestures of forgiveness. Another aspect of this story is the opportunity to see bits of us in all the characters, as displayed in their attitudes and actions. The trump card of course, is the Father; and the way that he deals with his Sons, and his inner wisdom which causes him to wait and wait, for the return of his son.

On the other hand let’s not forget why Jesus told this parable; it was to answer the misgivings of the so called Legal Eagles of the Jewish Law. They watched Jesus, and the company that he was keeping, not only in this instance, but most of the time; these people were like and ongoing Royal Commission into Our Lord’s past and present activity.

The Father knew his boys, like most people do, who are involved with the formation of their children. Sometimes we can predict what they are going to do, which may not be to their benefit, and there is that distinct desire to save them from it. On the other hand, there is a somewhat more balanced measure taken as we see in this story, and that is to let him go and experience what he needs to know….The story tells us that after he had lost all his worldly goods and reputation, he decided to eat humble pie…in this case, pig food, because he had hit rock bottom, and from that point, he could see more clearly what he still does have, and that nothing could take it away from him; all he had to do was respond positively with a contrite heart.

Moses looking at the Promised land from Mt Neboth

Notice it says in the story…..’While he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and was moved with pity…’ What an extraordinary expression…..moved with pity! We ask the question: where in the Father’s body did that movement take place? It would seem that there was a similar movement in Jesus when he called his friend Lazarus out of the tomb! The movement took place where we too are moved to tears, moved to laughter, moved to fright and moved to love…….from our guts! That is where true compassion is manifested, and then conveyed through action. Compassion….com, means with, passio means suffering….Compassion is the ability to suffer with someone. The Father did exactly that!

So often when dealing with our Teens, and with adults, it can be right on the tip of our tongue to say to them…’I told you so….you deserved all that you got.’ Not here; we see the Father so absorbed in compassionate loving forgiveness, he knew that his son had learned the hard way. It would not have entered the Father’s mind to say….anything; the Father’s hug was the sign of forgiveness, and the beginning of celebration!

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Finally, let’s have a brief look at the older son; the complete opposite to his father; filled with anger, he could not get over that almighty speed hump of his arrogance and pride. So filled with self importance, and being a goody-goody, his reservoir of compassion had a concrete slab over it. If anyone could melt his arrogance and pride, it was his Father…..” My son, you are with me always, and all I have is yours, it is only right that we celebrate and rejoice, because your brother has come to life.” Question: Where are we in this evergreen story? Food for Thought!

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The Story of Abbot Anastasius and Brother James

Once there was a very holy Abbot called Anastasias who belonged to the Order of St.Anthony in the Desert and he lived in the area of Mt.Sinai in Egypt. In fact, he was considered a saint by his fellow desert Monks. One day when a Monk by the name of Brother James sinned, and was told to leave the community, Anastasius got up and walked out with him, saying, ‘I too am a sinner.’ James, however, did not reform and fell very low. Years later, he came to visit Abbot Anastasius as he was saying his evening prayer.
‘Forgive me for interrupting your prayer and making you break your Monastic Rule,’ James said.
‘Don’t worry,’ Anastasius replied. ‘My Rule is to receive you with hospitality’.
And he gave him food and lodgings for the night. Now Anastasius had an old copy of the Bible, which was worth quite a bit of money. Seeing the book, James took it with him when he was leaving next morning. When Anastasius realized that he had stolen the book, he didn’t follow him, fearing that he might only make him add the sin of perjury to that of theft. James went to a nearby merchant to sell the book, asking a high price.


‘Give me the book for a little while so that I can find out whether it’s worth that much’, the merchant said.

He took it to Abbot Anastasius. Anastasius took one look at it and said, ‘Yes, this is a splendid book. In fact, it’s worth much more.’ The buyer came back and told the thief what Anastasius had said.
He asked, ‘was that all he said? Did he make no other remarks?’
‘No,’ said the merchant,’ he didn’t say another word.’
On hearing this, James was deeply moved, and said, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to sell the book after all.’ And he hastened back to Anastasius, and, with tears in his eyes, gave him back the book and begged his forgiveness. Anastasius received him with the same kindness as before.

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He simply said, ‘I forgive you. Keep the Book. Read a little from it each day, and pray to Christ who received sinners like us, and brought them back to God’s love and friendship. Now go in peace.’
His fellow Monks were surprised to see him wasting his time on someone like James, but he said, ‘Tell me, if your Religious Habit (Robe) is torn, will you throw it away? And they replied, ‘No, we will mend it and put it back on.’ Then he said, ‘If you take such care of your robe, will not God be merciful to one who bears his image?’
And the kindness of Anastasius paid off. James changed his life. He returned to the life of a Monk and became known for his goodness and holiness.

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Anastasius placed kindness, hospitality and mercy towards fellow human beings above the practice of penance and the observance of his Monastic Rule. He modeled himself on Jesus. Jesus sat down and ate with sinners, which means he became their friend.
When a person combines true religion and deep humanity, you have a powerful combination. It’s like well-polished mahogany. Here you have true holiness.


Fr Kevin Walsh
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