Friday, May 22, 2015

Paul's Reflections 492 :

Homily 24th May, 2015  -  Pentecost Sunday. Year B 



Today’s feast day of Pentecost is, in many ways, a birthday celebration.  With the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, on that first Pentecost Sunday, Christ’s church was born.  And, as the readings this weekend tell us, we become beloved sons and daughters of God, and heirs to God’s kingdom. We have been given the freedom of the children of God.  But the second reading supplies an essential ‘qualifier’ (lest we get too proud and indulgent), that this freedom is given to us in order that we too can live as Christ did. So we are reminded that Pentecost, and our membership of God’s family is never meant to be self-serving or indulgent, but all about service, sacrifice and self-forgetting love.

If you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you. When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious…………//  … What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course. You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires. Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.

The Gospel this weekend also reminds us that the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of the church, will always work to remind us of all that Christ did and said, and keep us close to Christ and his values. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Truth." All who live by the Spirit, strive to live authentic, honest, integrated lives built on truth

The Gospel today, from Saint John, tells us that Jesus gives his followers the peace they need, because that is the first greeting of the Lord to them:  Peace be with you!  May we (too) know the peace of Jesus in our own lives!  With peace comes the capacity to forgive the sins of others.  This forgiveness is clearly a gift of the Lord who loves us.  This gift is given to each of us individually and also to the Church, through its ministry.

At the heart of our Christian life, fear is taken away, peace and forgiveness are given.  May we dispel the fears of others and proclaim the peace and forgiveness given to us in Jesus.
In the first reading too…   the disciples were not yet able to go out and speak publicly and to proclaim Jesus to others… even though they now knew he was Risen and Ascended to the Heavenly Father.  They had to wait for the Holy Spirit to take hold of them and give them courage in the face of doubt, persecution, ridicule and rejection.  Perhaps at times we too may be shy about proclaiming our faith in the Lord Jesus.  Perhaps today we can pray for this Spirit to come on us and to give us courage so that our faith becomes so much a part of ourselves that it is so natural and easy to speak of our faith, in an unforced manner.

Our gifts are different, each person having different gifts.  We need all the gifts that each person has so that we can continue the work of Christ in our world.  How different our world looks when we begin to recognize that each person brings his or her own gifts and that we need everyone’s gifts to live in the fullness of Jesus Christ.

In the ‘everyday’ and unexceptional, that is also where we encounter and KNOW the Spirit is at work in our lives; especially when the love and sacrifice we show is clearly coming from a loving hand bigger than our own lives and our own limited motives and actions

When we do actions that are loving and unselfish, we are deeply aware that there is a power and a loving presence at work in us that is outside of just ourselves.  ….Transcending our limitations … and not explainable by our own actions… but bigger, ……. And “of which are just a cooperating part….”

It is God, …. It is God’s Spirit at work in and through us.  At work in the world.   A power of unselfish, sacrificing love and service. Unconditional love. That is at the heart of creation.

Finally…  just an interesting insight that I hadn’t thought of before…  we often read this text about how (after the Spirit descended) people of different languages and cultures could all hear and understand….. but what is interesting is…   the people were not speaking the same language… they were still speaking in the language of those different cultures…..  but even so… they could understand….  This is a reminder that the Spirit brings not uniformity, but diversity and variety…. But we are all one in that diversity, because the common language we speak is the language of God… and that is LOVE…..

 

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REFERENCES:

 ·       FR. PAUL W. KELLY

·       MISSION 2000  – PRAYING SCRIPTURE IN A CONTEMPORARY WAY. YEAR B. BY MARK LINK S.J.

·       SHARING THE WORD THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ.

·       MONASTERY OF CHRIST IN THE DESERT. ABBOT’S HOMILY.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Paul's Reflections 491 : Fr Paul's Reflections.  Ascension -

Fr Paul's Reflections.  Ascension -

The Ascension marks the completion of Jesus' earthly and bodily presence on earth…..   Jesus had to return to the Heavenly Father, because his rightful place was with the Father in Heaven, ruling heaven and earth from his place in Heaven…..  He needed to return to his Father so that he could send the Holy Spirit to make his work continue in and through his disciples…..

Our Catholic faith is big upon seeing beyond appearances….. to see deeper into things than just the surface….. it is a recurring theme throughout our faith and worship….

Jesus tells us, that God judges not by appearances but sees straight into the heart, into the inner dispositions and attitudes of the human person, and knows the truth of each one of us…..  Jesus encouraged us to ensure that our lives, our attitudes, our values and our actions flowed from a deep inner life connected with God and built upon love…….  mere outward appearances don't mean a lot in the gospel's scheme of things.  This is a valuable lesson for us, and for the world….in a time and culture where appearances seem to be taken on more of a value than they should…..    sometimes at the cost of inner value…

Jesus returned to the Father, and disappeared from our sight, so that we would look for and find the continuing real presence of Jesus, in different forms… that are not so obvious……  If Jesus still walked the earth the same way he did while he was with his disciples, there would be no need for us to look for him elsewhere. But Jesus' mission is to be "ALL IN ALL"…. to be draw all things to himself and to to bring to life God's Kingdom in and through all of creation……  this requires Christ to transform and fill up with his presence … all people and all the world…….. He achieves this with the Holy Spirit, and with the cooperation of his followers who continue his mission.

Jesus Christ is not visible in the same way as he was when he walked the earth with his disciples…..  but we believe Jesus is still present and active amongst us in new ways…. and through the power of the Holy Spirit….(which reminds us of all Jesus did and said and makes effective all that we do in Jesus' name). So, we all would become the hands and feet and heart of Jesus in our daily lives……

St. Teresa of Avila composed a prayer poem which the confirmation and communion students have been learning about.  

As St Teresa writes….

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
….

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

And we become the body of Christ, by taking in the body of Christ in communion. We receive Our Lord as food and drink, and take in his presence, his grace and his values…. becoming, (with God's grace) more and more like Jesus with every day)…….   

The outward appearance of the bread and wine does not change….but its inner reality does….into Christ's presence….  we look and seem the same, but inside, we believe Jesus has made a home in our hearts… and hopefully our actions and attitudes show that living presence within us…


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REFERENCES: FR. PAUL W. KELLY




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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Paul's Reflections 24th May, 2009 Ascension - B

Ascension - B.  24th May, 2009 .

 

The Ascension marks the completion of Jesus' earthly and bodily presence on earth…..   Jesus had to return to the Heavenly Father, because his rightful place was with the Father in Heaven, ruling heaven and earth from his place in Heaven…..  He needed to return to his Father so that he could send the Holy Spirit to make his work continue in and through his disciples….. 

 

Our Catholic faith is big upon seeing beyond appearances….. to see deeper into things than just the surface….. it's a recurring theme throughout our faith and worship….

 

Jesus tells us, that God judges not by appearances but sees straight into the heart, into the inner dispositions and attitudes of the human person, and knows the truth of each one of us…..  Jesus encouraged us to ensure that our lives, our attitudes, our values and our actions flowed from a deep inner life connected with God and built upon love…….  mere outward appearances don't mean a lot in the gospel's scheme of things.  This is a valuable lesson for us, and for the world….in a time and culture where appearances seem to be taken on more of a value than they should…..    sometimes at the cost of inner value…

 

Jesus returned to the Father, and disappeared from our sight, so that we would look for and find the continuing real presence of Jesus, in different forms… that are not so obvious……  If Jesus still walked the earth the same way he did while he was with his disciples, there would be no need for us to look for him elsewhere. But Jesus' mission is to be "ALL IN ALL"…. to be draw all things to himself and to to bring to life God's Kingdom in and through all of creation……  this requires Christ to transform and fill up with his presence … all people and all the world…….. He achieves this with the Holy Spirit, and with the cooperation of his followers who continue his mission.

 

Jesus Christ is not visible in the same way as he was when he walked the earth with his disciples…..  but we believe Jesus is still present and active amongst us in new ways…. and through the power of the Holy Spirit….(which reminds us of all Jesus did and said and makes effective all that we do in Jesus' name). So, we all would become the hands and feet and heart of Jesus in our daily lives…… 

 

St. Teresa of Avila composed a prayer poem which the confirmation and communion students have been learning about.   

As St Teresa writes….


Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

….

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

 

 

And we become the body of Christ, by taking in the body of Christ in communion. We receive Our Lord as food and drink, and take in his presence, his grace and his values…. becoming, (with God's grace) more and more like Jesus with every day)…….    

 

The outward appearance of the bread and wine does not change….but its inner reality does….into Christ's presence….  we look and seem the same, but inside, we believe Jesus has made a home in our hearts… and hopefully our actions and attitudes show that living presence within us…

 

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REFERENCES: FR. PAUL W. KELLY

 


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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Paul's Reflections 490 : Homily . May 10TH, 2015. Sixth Sunday of Easter. Year B.

Homily .   May 10TH, 2015. Sixth Sunday of Easter.  Year B.



All of the scripture readings this weekend say a lot about the core of Christ’s message.  There are quite a few lines that jump out at me as we listen to the readings this weekend.

Lines such as these:

Saint Peter said to Cornelius: “Get up. I myself am also a human being.”….. “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

“the believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles ….”

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.

God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. ,…..he loved us first and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you  this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

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These lines from the readings this weekend are profound and important, and worth deeper thought and reflection.

 In summary, what these lines say to me is, we must keep in mind that our Christian faith is not ultimately about us, but it is about God. That might, at first glance, seem to be an obvious truism, however, we do acknowledge that in a world where ME, ME, ME  is often front and centre,  we as a whole, can sometimes forget that we are merely men and women and not gods in charge of our destiny, and we are ultimately not the centre of our own world or the world around us. 

The other striking thought is that God does not have favourites.   Again, one could say, well of course!!,  but is it not true that we can fall into the trap of thinking God does have favourites and that you and I are one of those favourites and that there are others are not. Those who do not agree with me, are out and those who do are in.  SO, in that case, Saint Peter’s message of God’s love and favour for all,  is an important corrective. How wonderful that the Holy Spirit of God took initiative and fell upon Gentiles even before they were baptised. God’s Spirit blows where it wills and inspires and acts upon people in and outside the visible confines of religion and church and does what God wants.  That is also an important and humble corrective. We will never be able to limit God’s generous and proactive activity in and among the peoples and cultures of the world. Nor should we ever want to stop this divine right of God to do as God wishes and act in and through whom God wants.

Also, the readings today remind us that God’s very nature is LOVE. One cannot know God if we do not know love and do not show love. This love is to show itself in the way Jesus showed love. And the kind of love Jesus shows us is self sacrificing love which gives and does not count the cost, and reaches out to give rather than grasping to possess. 

And in connection to this, God’s desire and plan for us is to have joy to the full and to be not servants or slaves but friends who are willing co-workers and colleagues with God, in God’s plans. We are indeed friends and colleagues, but also friends who know our place; in the sense that we never get a ‘big head’ and think that since we are “co-workers” and “friends” of Christ, we could ever “play God” over others. This love, this participation is all about going and doing and being in order to build up the things that endure. And the things that endure are the values and vision of God as opposed to self interest.

So, today’s readings say to me: Be joyful, be loving, be free, be friends, be not slaves and begrudging labourers, and be as Christ showed us, because God is all about self-giving, sacrificing love which reaches out to everyone without fear and favour, and which is about practical and joyful service and compassion which reduces ego and self-interest and acts and thinks more as a brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity rather than “them and us”    These are sound foundations upon which to build our true discipleship of Christ.   



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Friday, May 01, 2015

Paul's Reflections 489 : Homily 5th Sunday of Easter, Year B 3rd May, 2015

Homily 5th Sunday of Easter, Year B 3rd May, 2015



At this time of year, throughout the archdiocese and the wider church, we are very aware that there are many children preparing to receive their Confirmation and make their First Holy Communion.

First of all, just a bug-bear of mine. We should NOT call it “First Eucharist” because that description for what they are preparing to receive is wrong, wrong wrong!!!!

We used to call it “First Holy Communion” and we STILL call it “First Holy Communion” because this is NOT their first Eucharist… but it will be their first Holy Communion. There is a major difference !

Every time a child has attended Mass they have celebrated in the Eucharist. So it simply is NOT their first Eucharist. People participate very much even if they are not yet able to receive communion. It would be sad indeed if the only people who participate in eucharist are only the ones who take communion. Eucharist is the whole celebration, Eucharist is the “MASS”- whilst Communion is the act of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. So, we do NOT call it preparing for their first Eucharist, but we do call it preparing to received their first Holy Communion. (I wo not even go into the fact that it is quite possible to make a “spiritual Communion” - that is to receive Jesus in his Body and Blood by praying deeply that although I may be – for one reason or another- unable to actually take the host and drink from the chalice, I do sincerely and truly wish to share in that communion that this action enacts and conveys!!).

No amount of amazement can be put down to the graces of God. The gifts of the sacraments are priceless and eternal. We keep all the children in our prayers.

They are working very hard to work out the teachings so carefully handed down by the church.
Around 68 A.D. was the time that St Paul preached
To the various church communities of his time. He let so many faithful Christians know of the good news of Jesus.
let us always give thanks to God. Myself, I give thanks daily for God’s gifts to us, which are countless.

In the gospels this week we hear of the commandments of Jesus and particularly the commandment to love.

Very many commandments are given in the Scriptures, but there are essential and core aspects to this.
So we constantly pray to our God for the grace of conversion, lest we miss the point of what it means to be a disciple and lose sight of how we should be acting and what should be our priorities when we really understand and “get” and follow Jesus’ way.

The amazing thing about God’s graces is that here and now they are effective. In our prayer and not just in our thoughts, but also in real actions, our God is good to us. For we trust in God’s constant presence. your prayer and my prayer and the prayer of others truly unites us.

This weekend’s gospel, Our Lord tells us what it means to be a true disciple and friend of Jesus…….. and it is all about LOVE.

Love is the heart of Jesus’ relation to his Heavenly Father….. the Holy Spirit is the bond of Love between the Father and the Spirit…….. and Our primary duty and goal (as disciples) is to become people of true and abiding love - which is also described by another word – in the widest sense of that word…. “charity”. We are asked to put all our efforts, prayers and actions into being people who are motivated, directed and focused on being the most loving person we could possibly be. This needs God’s help and grace, but would not the world be a more wonderful place if everyone was putting all their energy, passion and personal development into being an ever-more-loving human being, towards God and neighbour and self.

Of all our duties and goals in life, the most important goal is to be a loving, giving and gracious person, because when we are truly these qualities, God is alive in us and we are alive in God.. Jesus is not being sentimental or romantic when he says this…. true., Christ-like love, is self-sacrificing, challenging and at times, awfully hard work…….

To love God, and to love one another, is the essence of our Christian life. And love is not primarily about how we feel towards others, but rather how we act and respond towards others. Love is a decision not a feeling.

Jesus commands, pleads and encourages us always to love each other as he loves us. This love is shown by respect, gentleness, forgiveness, honesty and always seeking what is truly in the best interests of the other, and not just myself..


Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit to help us become more like Jesus in everything we do and say … and in everything we are….. Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit who gives life and effectiveness to everything we do….. and this Spirit gives us special gifts to help us to achieve what God is wanting to build in our lives and our world.

In our sacraments, (in the life of the Church), there is a special sign of the giving and descending of the Spirit upon us and that is the sign of the 'laying of hands.' (a fancy big Greek word called “epiclesis” )… where the priest or bishop holds his hands over the person or the object to be blessed and prays that the Spirit may come down upon them to give them the effectiveness to do what they need to do, and to become what they are called to be….

Each sacrament of the church has this sign of the 'laying of hands, and the calling down of the spirit, and I always invite the young people preparing to receive the sacraments, to watch for when these signs occur in our prayers….

In confirmation, the Bishop places his hands on the head of the candidate and prays that the Holy Spirit be poured down upon them, and gives the person the special gifts which are spiritual building blocks to help you live as good disciples of Jesus….

Traditionally, the church sees that there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the young ones preparing for confirmation and first holy communion are learning about them:

the spirit gives the gift of :

Wisdom - the gift of being able to see things the way God sees them. To accept my life from God and be able to learn and grow through all that happens to me. God sees all people with love, and relates to us always as our loving parent.

Understanding - the gift of being able to capture the meaning of God's message. To listen, to think things through and to be able to put myself in others' shoes

Right Judgement - the ability to see what to do in a given situation. to be able to choose and act for what is right and good and true.

Courage - the ability to be able to keep doing something we know to be right and good even when it is difficult. to accept difficulties and challenges in my life cheerfully and firmly and strongly.

Knowledge - the gift of knowing that God is the Father and that Jesus is his son, and knowing about what God teaches us. to willingly learn about and develop my relationship with God and other people.


Reverence - a deep respect, gentleness and care shown towards God, God's creation and people.. To have respect and care for myself, all people and all things of our world.

Wonder and awe in God's presence. Gift of being able to appreciate and enjoy and be aware of all the amazing beauty that is in our world and the ability to see that God is at work still in our world.. to be deeply impressed and in amazement about all the wonders God has done for me, and for others and for the world and for the things that happen in life, big and small.

Now, whether we are just about to make our Confirmation and whether we are just about to receive Holy Communion for the first time, or whether this is our twentieth year of having received those sacraments or our seventieth year….. May we ALL be open to the gifts of the Holy spirit, and say 'yes' to God building us up into living stones in God's house of kindness, practical action and “charity”… that is, love…

Here are some further thoughts based on the Scriptures of today:

I heard a scripture reflection during the week that I really did not agree with … it went like this “we Christians are ‘in Christ’ (I agree with that bit), we are connected to Christ…”  But then the speaker went on to say, “because we are in Christ, Christ cannot be disappointed in us because he has already forgiven our sins and already saved us… so we are in Christ and we cannot be ‘out’ of Christ.. “

I think that is going too far!! .. and this kind of statement ignores scriptures like today’s Gospel… where it is clear that you will only remain IN Christ when you do as he teaches.. When you do what he commands..You will bear fruit only so long as your actions stay connected to the vine (as we heard last week)… and there is most certainly a moral imperative.. we may be permanently connected to Christ. As closely connected to Christ as a hand is part of, and connected to the body…

But  do not forget that Jesus taught some jarring and stirring messages to shake people out of injustice and complacency too./. For example, the dramatic statement by our Lord that “it would be better to cut off one’s hand than to have the whole body thrown into the furnace”… This is probably also referring to Matthew’s community which would be prepared to “cut off” (excommunicate) one of its members rather than for them to mislead and distort the message of Christ.


Some other thoughts on the readings this weekend:
and in this section I am relying on inspiring reflections from spiritual writers:
Jesus said to his disciples...
"No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
Love is one commandment with many faces, many opportunities to put it into practice. If there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend, then we can begin by reflecting on what way and in what aspect of our lives must we "lay down" for the sake of another?
So we ask ourselves:

·                     What prejudice, angry feelings and grudges must I lay down out of love for my sisters and brothers?
How willing am I to "lay down" my free time when another has need?(A)
In what ways am I called to ‘die to self-interest’ in my dealings with others. 

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For so many of us today, love is a completely misunderstood reality. It is most often confused with a longing for another person, a longing to possess (in some way), that person for myself. Although that desire and longing could be a part of the feeling of love, but it is not love itself.

Love is choosing what is good for the other person and then doing what is good for the other person, even if that means entirely putting the other person out of my life. We have all kinds of examples of heroic love in the person of so many fire fighters who give their lives for the good of others. We have that same heroic love with those who are willing to give their lives for their country. Most of us understand those large examples of self-giving love.

Christ invites us to love as He loves. He gives His life even for those who reject Him and kill Him. He gives His life for all of us sinners. He invites us to love in that same way. It is clear in these examples that falling in love, feeling a longing and a desire for another person, are simply not the fundamental aspects of this deepest love, even though they can lead us to understand this great love and can help us give ourselves to such a love.

We see this great love at work in the first reading today. In this section of the Acts of the Apostles we see the struggle of the early Church, which was Jewish, to accept non-Jews, the Gentiles. In order to understand this situation, we have to recognize that the Gentiles wanted to become Christians. They wanted to change their lives. Today there is an enormous movement to try to make people feel good without asking anything of them. This is not a Christian movement. Yes, we must love all other peoples, not matter what they believe—but we ca not pretend that they are Christians unless they accept the Christian faith, as did these early Gentiles.

The Christian faith included believing in the Lord Jesus and walking the way that He taught us. Jesus comes to love us and to teach us the way of salvation. The way of salvation includes beliefs and practices. In our Christian history, there are at times conflicts over the beliefs and the practices. We Catholics, if we are Catholic, accept that there is a teaching authority in the Church.

Today we find all kinds of people and movements who claim to be Catholic but who do not accept the teaching authority of the Church. The early Christians would not have accepted them as followers of the way. Today, because of so many challenges to Christian and Catholic faith, there is a counter movement to clarify what it means to be Christian and Catholic.
There are extremes on the right and on the left. For those of us who are not so fiercely extremist, there is the simple way of accepting the Church as She is, the body of Christ;

We come back to the central theme of today: Love one another as I have loved you. Remain in My love. It is I who have chosen you.

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REFERENCES:

-  FR. PAUL W. KELLY

Also,  later part of the reflection is from Abbot Philip, OSB – Monastery of Christ in the Desert.


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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Homily 4th Sunday of Easter, YEAR B

Homily 4th Sunday of Easter, YEAR B  

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This weekend, with the gospel reading about the Good shepherd, it is also Prayer for Vocations weekend…. It is interesting, looking at Pope Benedict’s letter on the occasions of Vocations week and various resources put out on the occasion… there is a common factor…….    The key to vocations    and discipleship is  love….  And particularly God’s unique brand of love

God’s love is at the centre of all discipleship…    and all vocations…  and essentially in the vocation to priesthood and religious life….   

This central theme of God’s love was emphasised by Archbishop, Mark Coleridge. The first thing Archbishop Mark desired to do after arriving to take up his role as Archbishop,  three years ago to this date, was meet and pray with his priests, who are his assistants in his mission of pastoral care of this place.  He was very impressive. He is a wonderful and captivating speaker, intelligent, gentle but forthright. He knows what it means to be a leader and isn’t afraid to lead, but he is also humble and a listener and a man of great intelligence.   I think we have been very blessed.  He quoted the late Pope Saint John Paul II (for whom he himself was a speech writer in his role in Rome for many years),  and how Saint John Paul described Christianity not so much as a ‘religion’  but rather an “encounter” with God in Jesus”.   He says that this powerful image has stayed with him and deepened over his years.   He says that our discipleship is about  Encounter with Jesus and the wonder that it brings, then communion with Jesus and then Jesus sends us out with a task – a mission…  so, in similar echoes to our archdiocesan motto  - “Jesus Communion and Mission,”  he says it as ENCOUNTER< COMMUNION< MISSION !   same, but deeper.  He says that he has always felt that the Brisbane church was a vibrant and missionary church and says that the Church needs to become more and more missionary in its outlook. This is no time to circle the wagons, but to go out in mission to live and proclaim the message of Jesus. 
Archbishop-elect Coleridge,  was very impressive in his talk.

He also said that he sees his prime responsibilities as    promoting:
-      The mission of the Church
-      Unity and communion with the universal church. He empashised that we are the church IN the archdiocese of Brisbane and not the church OF Brisbane.  
-      Vocations
-      Liturgy.
He also said that “fear” is the great enemy and that Jesus came to give us his peace so that we overcome Fear and boldly live and proclaim his message without fear or favour. 

He also reminded all of us that God calls us to go out of our comfort zone and to go on a journey. He noted the difference between  JOURNEY and mere “wandering”  - wandering is aimless and confused and time-wasting, whereas, a journey has a goal and a plan and a direction.   We will hear much more of this impressive man in the time to come…  I was impressed and energised

As disciples of Jesus….  We are not trying to merely imitate God’s actions, which is commendable,… nor are we merely trying to do what God, in Jesus, did, (as far as any human being could try to imitate Jesus – who is God made flesh---    but rather…  we are ultimately striving to become more connected to WHY Jesus acted as he did .. the reason and cause of all his actions and words…  which (at its core and centre)  is God’s unfathomable love… ….to become instruments of God’s love, ………………servants of God’s love…  and the become the love of God inside and out…

One of the reflections on vocations..  makes a wonderful illustration about the depths of God’s love, care and faithfulness to each one of us,,,,,    the writer mentions the famous songwriter Irving Berlin, who is well known for writing hit songs like "Easter Parade," and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Berlin was once asked, "Is there any question you've never been asked that you would like someone to ask you?" "Well, yes, there is one," Berlin replied. He posed the question himself: "What do you think of the many songs you've written that didn't become hits?" Then he answered his own question: "My reply would be that I still think they are wonderful." Then he added, "God, too, has an unshakable delight in what--and whom--He has made. He thinks each of His children is wonderful, and whether they're a ‘hit’ in the eyes of others or not, He will always think they're wonderful." Irving Berlin hit it right on the head. Here is the critical truth about faith--it is grounded in God's wondrous LOVE for us. We may not feel worthy to be loved, we may even push that love away at times…--but we cannot keep God from loving US. That is God's very nature. God is a shepherd – (a very, very good one – the best, in fact). God is love. Today on Good Shepherd Sunday we remember the truth that God always searches for the one who is lost, or who feels unworthy or unloved and carries them in His arms. Anyone who would follow Jesus (the good shepherd)  as a disciple or especially in the vocation as a priest or religious…..  must be prepared to have a love for God’s precious ones – after the example of the good shepherd himself. 

As the readings tell us this weekend “We are (all) God’s children.  We are God’s flock.  Jesus Himself promises us that we are no longer slaves but children of God. 

(And since God has given us freedom, he then invites us to give our freedom totally in service and love for others…, as Jesus himself did with his freedom).  It is ironic but beautiful.

Jesus tells us that He will lay His life down for us.  He has already died for us, but every day He is will to lay down His life for us once more.  Salvation is not something in the past, salvation is today.

Today’s readings begin with one from the Acts of the Apostles.  Peter is trying to explain how a crippled man was cured and why.  What is really important is not so much the cure of the crippled man but the love of Jesus for His people.  Even today we do not always understand this.  Jesus will do anything and everything for us if we have faith in Him.  He heals us every day from so many things. (true, sometimes we ask for help or healing in certain  specific ways, and we don’t always get it. But God always answers our prayers in some way or another..  and even if God does not take all burdens from our shoulders, we can know that at least God is love and God is faithful and God does not will any bad thing for us or for others…. God only wants  to cherish us always). 

The second reading, from the First Letter of Saint John, is a wonderful prophecy of what heaven will be like:  we shall be like Him and we shall see Him as He is.  So much of our life here is spent trying to be like Him, trying to live as He lived, trying to love and He loved.  In heaven, we shall be like Him, and we will LOVE like him. That is the goal of all discipleship and vocation …   to love like God. If we LOVE as God does.. then all other things flow from it.

The Gospel today reflects that this is Good Shepherd Sunday.  We have readings that explain to us what a Good Shepherd is like.  This is an image trying to explain to us the care and the love that God has for us in Christ Jesus.  Truly there is no way in this life fully to comprehend the love that God has for us.

We should be able to speak every day of God’s love and care for us.  If we can quieten our hearts and our minds, we will more easily see this love and care of God at work every day in our lives.  It may not always be the love that we want from God, but it is truly love always wished good for us. 

Let us rejoice and be glad today.  Let us be still and listen and look for the signs of God’s love in our lives.  Let us be aware of how much healing God has already done in our lives” (A)

And may God keep transforming us into instruments of his love and grace…  that we might show God’s love and care to others we meet…  and slowly but surely be transformed from hired workers into shepherds after the Lord’s own heart…  (with love at its very centre)….



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REFERENCES:

  • I was very impressed by the following resources and have relied heavily on them for this homily this weekend, (quoting them extensively).
    • (A) MONASTERY OF CHRIST IN THE DESERT. ABBOT’S HOMILY. Abbot Philip, OSB
    • Vocations day resources.  
  • FR. PAUL W. KELLY

Homily 3rd Sunday of Easter - B

Homily 3rd Sunday of Easter - B     

Save a tree. Don't print this e-mail unless it's really necessary

In the gospel this weekend, the absolute truth of PHYSICAL resurrection of is again reinforced.

Jesus even shares a meal with them and makes a point of eating what sounds like a delightful piece of grilled fish to show his disciples he is flesh and blood. 

It is quite a claim to suggest that Jesus was risen again. The Disciples initially couldn’t believe what they were hearing when reports started coming in  that Jesus was risen again.  If it were merely a made up story, it would be easy to suggest that he was merely Spiritually risen, and experienced  a kind of ethereal and spiritual way, but that is not what is being said and not what has ever been claimed.  Jesus is RISEN, and he is truly risen!  His disciples saw him, touched him, at with him and spoke with him on several occasions.

The true genius of the Christian faith is our belief in the Resurrection and what it says about the relationship and connection between the BODY and the SOUL. For Christians, the body is not just some annoying outer shell that encases the pure spirit of a person and which would be better off being cast off so that the person can achieve perfection.  
The Greek philosophy (which was very popular and influential in the time of Jesus, and has been very influential throughout history, tends to see a bit of a divide and a distinction between body and spirit. The Greek philosophy, I think, tends to see Spirit as pure and divine and good, and the body (and that is physical) is corruptible and sinful and bad.

Even in the Jewish faith, the spirit or the soul was considered (by many) to indeed live on after death,  but only some believed in resurrection of the body. The Jewish understanding tended to see the flesh as earthly and the soul as heavenly. 

The Christian belief in the incarnation of Christ (God becoming flesh.. and dwelling among us)  and that Jesus is truly God and truly human, shows a profound  understanding of the human person which believes in the holiness and the dignity of the body and the material world.  We have been saved by Jesus – (God made flesh) - who took on our nature and never cast off that human nature nor did he ever cast off the human body when he returned to the Father in Heaven --  This belief informs our teachings on justice and the dignity of the human person and of the sanctity of the human body and why suffering is not something to take lightly.

Jesus Resurrection takes this a step further. The destiny of the human person is that they will one day live with God in Heaven (body and soul). The body is sacred and will be raised up and is not to be cast off in order to attain perfection. God will perfect us physically and spiritually.  The earthly, the physical and the material DO matter in Christian spirituality, and cannot be ignored or put out of the picture.

The disciples, in today’s gospel, are shown to be in fear and doubt when suddenly Jesus appears to them and reassures them, giving them literally a solid and tangible foundation for their belief (his physical resurrection),  the truth of which will keep them going in good times and in bad,,.,, in peacetime and in persecution,…..  

Jesus opened the minds and hearts of the disciples….   Otherwise they would have gone on sitting and hiding in the upper room, and they would still not have understood and they would still have not gotten out and preached the Gospel, irrespective of whether they saw him eat some fish…   - It was essential that the disciples (and each one of us) are “OPEN” to Jesus’ message.

Our discipleship and following of Christ (if it is to remain authentic) must always have a deeply practical element of action and right-behaviour to it.  Our faith must show itself in practical implications for our physical world and the physical body.  One of the readings today pointedly reminds us “anyone who says ‘I know him” (I know God)’…  but doesn’t keep God’s commandments is a liar.” …  Anyone who says ‘I know Jesus’…  but does not live according to Jesus’ actions, teachings, values.. and behaviours… /….anyone who does not show real respect for the world and the human person, does NOT have the TRUTH in them.

The other important point from today’s readings is that the Resurrection of Christ and his sacrifice on the cross,  tells us a lot about sin and its forgiveness….. ///…  Also, as I wrote in the newsletter: We sin. That is what humans do. But that is never where we leave things. We cannot ever make a concession to weakness and wallow in the lowest common denominator of our frailty. We can often do the wrong thing and sometimes it is knowingly, sometimes it is out of ignorance, and sometimes it is out of negligent failure to know what we ought. We humans are flawed, but nevertheless, infinitely loved by God who created us.

God knows what we are like and loves us unconditionally as a parent loves their child. And, just like a parent’s love for a child, a parent does not condone or encourage bad behaviour or ‘wilful refusal to change one’s ways’ because of the lame excuse that “we are all human and we all make mistakes.”  Just because we are human and prone to sin is no excuse to stay in our bad habits and remain in ignorance.  We are called, as beloved children of God, to grow and change constantly. We are called to spend our whole lives on a journey of learning, openness, repentance, conversion and transformation, with God’s grace. 

So, a major victory achieved through Christ’s death and resurrection must be seen as the forgiveness of human sin. “The scriptures point out is not easy for us to admit that we are sinners and that there is sin in the world.  Today we speak of ‘mistakes,’ of ‘faults,’ of ‘misunderstandings’—but sin is also there and not to be denied. Sin is a reality that is still a very unpopular topic, even though really, it is not being falsely humble to say…  we are all sinners.

We are all invited to look into our hearts and to know that we need salvation.  Jesus needed to die for each and every one of us.  We do well to recognize that our own choices against God are part of the sins in our world.  Can we accept that Jesus came to die for us and for our sins and that in Him we are redeemed (purchased back by God) – Body and soul.

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FR. PAUL W. KELLY;  and, Abbot’s Homily. Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

homily. Easter Week 2. Divine Mercy Sunday

Easter – Sunday Week 2. Year B.
This weekend, is Divine Mercy Sunday, where we recall the absolute mercy and love that Jesus has for all humanity. The world needs…  we need to ever deepen our understanding and experience of the depth and breadth of God’s divine mercy and love for us and for all the world…..    it is at the heart of God’s nature.. and the heart of God’s relationship with us, his beloved people.. his sons and daughters.     
This same Sunday is the day the Pope last year canonized both Saint and Pope John Paul II (who was beatified only three years ago on this same weekend, and whose feast day will now be October 22nd every year…  to coincide with the start of his papacy)  - and also Pope John XXIII, (feast day 11th October annually). Saint John xxiii, instituted the Second Vatican Council and his feast day matches the date of the opening of Vatican II.  Both extraordinary and strong examples of the faith. 
The Risen Lord twice says the words “peace be with you.”   Jesus is offering us true PEACE….   and it is something we desire very deeply…..     Jesus appears to his disciples to reassure them of the reality of the forgiveness he has won for us by his death and resurrection….. we can truly be at peace and trust in Jesus’ promise that he does mean to free us from our burdens and forgive us our sins…..    this is a message of enormous hope…. 
He implores us….  doubt no longer… but believe…. trust in my love….    trust in my forgiveness…..    believe that I do offer you the means to real and lasting peace in life…. 
Also, the gospel today ends with the writer of John’s gospel saying….   there are more things that happened in relation to Jesus….    but they are not all written here…..    WE, (these many, many years after Jesus walked the earth)…..   we too are witnesses to what Jesus continues to do in our world even now…..   we are called to be ministers of reconciliation, ministers of forgiveness…. and ambassadors of Christ’s peace….. 
 The importance of the community cannot be understated either……   in the first reading we hear of an ideal community…. they pray together… they learn together… they share their resources to help and support each other….     our faith community exists so that we might assist, build up and strength each other…. especially those most in need, most struggling……   Jesus calls us to be a community of disciples looking outward towards the world and ready to make a difference for good….
Our faith tradition tells us that to understand and believe in Christ, we must read the Scriptures and meditate on them.  We must also come to know other believers and listen to each other.  Christianity is a religion that preaches Jesus crucified and risen, but always in the context of the community of those who believe in Him.
Today let us ask Saint Thomas to intercede for us that we can believe more deeply in the great mystery of salvation.  Let us be patient with our doubts and keep looking for the truth of Christ's presence in the midst of the everyday events and people of life.  Most of all,  let us rejoice in the Lord who loves us, forgives us our sins, and invites us deeper into these mysteries.
May we continue to be built up by the risen Christ to be disciples who rejoice in being a community for the good of each other and for the common good of all……    ministers of Jesus’ graciousness and care…..Jesus brings us peace and immediately commissions us to go out and put his message into action, by acts of charity, love and support for all we meet….
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