Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Catholic Reflections 565 : 22ND OF ORDINARY TIME - YEAR C.

22ND SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME -  YEAR C. 

Ecclesiasticus 3:19-21,30-31
Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 67:4-7,10-11. “God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.”

Second reading. Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24

Gospel. Luke 14:1,7-14
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Our prayers and thoughts are with all people who are suffering throughout the world, particularly those affected by the earthquakes in Italy and Myanmar. We pray for help and strength for all those who are enduring hardship. 

“What’s in it for me?”
“What can I get out of this?” 
“What can this person do for me?”

People in Our Lord’s day asked these kind of questions often. And indeed, these kinds of attitudes are still quite common in this day and age.

God must be so disappointed in this kind of mindset. Because this kind of thinking is just so alien to God’s way of thinking.

Today’s gospel is about Jesus teaching us the virtue of humility….  But….

“The challenge today is not about watching others practice humility but rather focusing upon whether we ourselves are willing to be truly humble. Humility does not mean merely acting like a humble person, but actually being humble and drawing no attention to ourselves. This is why truly humble people are loved so much. They make life easier for people around them, no matter how ‘great’ they might be considered by others. Humble people take up the burdens and responsibilities of community without drawing attention to themselves. 

Humble people serve others with joy, without counting the cost or expecting payback.1

Humility is really about being honest about how things really are between us and God. We are truly humble when we live the truth of the fact that all good comes from God…. And that if we do any good in this world, it is ultimately thanks to God’s grace and guidance and not really of any merit we have achieved on our own. This can be a jarring way of looking at things because the mindset of some aspects of modern society seems to promote the opposite worldview to this. 

If we help the poor, or include the marginalized, and when we serve others  without counting the cost, we are not actually doing something praiseworthy but rather we are just living the way God acts all the time. God always acts out of love (by nature). God does not base God’s actions on duty but out of compassion and love.

The message of today’s gospel can possibly be best summed up by a saying the Jewish rabbis would have known well..  even if they did not practice it in this gospel…..   it’s a saying that goes like this…  “ the best kind of giving is when the giver does not know to whom they were giving, and the receiver does know know from whom they are receiving.”[2]  Because, then it is pure gift of   giving for the sake of giving itself.. with no self interest and no hope of return

Another way of putting it is to quote the words of a witty cynic.. when they said… “hospitality is a lively sense of the favours to come.”   Jesus wants to totally break this mindset….   

Hospitality and engagement with others is not for what it can gain.. but for including those who cannot presently participate by the rules and expectations of a calculating culture….

Also, in this gospel today…

“What Jesus is teaching are not fine points of etiquette or the best way to show table manners and the like. Rather, Jesus is promoting an interior attitude that really demonstrates where we stand, that is, do we consider ourselves to be  the centre of the universe, or are we willing to be truly the servant of others?

The way of Christ is the latter, for the self-centred will end up lost, but those who serve others and open their hearts to all will find fulfilment. Such persons, and we are invited to be among them, will gain everything needed for a life on fire for God and the things of God. As Jesus acted in his lifetime, so should the followers of Christ. There is an Amish teaching that says (in instructing their young people): "Joy" stands for …..Jesus first, Others in between, and Yourself last.”[3] which is really beautiful.

The so called religious leaders of Jesus time had really gone off the point….  They sat there glaring at Jesus and trying to find fault with him when all they were really doing was hobnobbing with people who could benefit them.,.. and ignoring those most in need….and all Jesus was doing was acting out of love and curing those in need and welcoming those God loves whom others felt were of no value to them.,……/…  . sometimes ones breath is taken away about how we can be tempted to get things so wrong with our actions and attitudes….   Let us pray to Jesus that we are always given a wonderful sense of proportion, generosity and  self-giving service….and of course, honest and deep-seated humility…
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[1] Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abbot’s homily (2010)

[2] Daily Study Bible. Luke. By William Barclay (1954)

[3] Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Fr. Christian Leisy, OSB  (2010)


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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Catholic Reflections 564 : Homily Twenty-first Sunday of the Year C 21st August, 2016

Homily Twenty-first Sunday of the Year C  21st August, 2016
 
First reading. Isaiah 66:18-21
Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 116:1-2. Go out to all the world, and tell the good news
Second reading. Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13
Gospel.          Luke 13:22-30
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I wonder what it would be like for me to be knocking on Heaven's doors and saying “let me in, look I have the badge and the membership"… only to hear God say in reply: ‘Who are you? ...
I don’t know you! I don’t know where you come from!”
That, for anyone, would be devastating .....… and terrible !

Who we truly are, includes how we live and act.  How we respond to God’s invitation to be disciples is essential. Everyone is invited to respond to God's invitation as well. We are warned not to become complacent. Our Lord also warns us not to become elitist. We are not to become people who exclude others.

We gain entry into the Kingdom not by our badge of membership alone, but by being recognisable as a disciple of Christ by our love and faithfulness to God’s message, and by being true friends of Jesus … in action as well as in name…. Knowing Jesus and being known by Jesus….. in our lives and choices….  This is a
 shocking message of today's Gospel. 

The people listening to Jesus’ parable (his own people, the people of Israel), would have been very concerned by his message and they would say what is on the lips of the people in the parable.

The people are really saying words to the effect of this: “But, we ate with you, we heard your teaching! We are your fellow People of Israel. We are the chosen people who have Abraham as our Father and the Prophets as our inheritance. We are the saved people, and the privileged people of God’s promise.” 

The shocking reply would be too awful to contemplate: “Sorry, I don’t know where you come from!” What does he mean ‘I don’t know where you come from???????” They come from his own PEOPLE, but this is clearly not enough, according to Jesus. 

People from other nations and cultures, who are not part of the chosen people, are welcomed into God’s family and God’s house ahead of those who have gotten cosy and self-satisfied in the presumption that their place in God’s house is assured. Jesus is warning all who follow him that a place in God’s house is offered to all who actually respond to his values and teachings and to his invitation, irrespective of their background and culture. 

It is a sobering reminder to us all that we need to be constantly open to God’s surprising wisdom and teachings. We must never fall for the trap of thinking that we have gotten the message and that we having nothing more or new to learn about God’s ways.

Jesus, throughout the Gospels, constantly has to teach his disciples that they have an enormous amount to learn, (a lifetime and beyond to learn), about God’s ways and God’s wisdom. Anyone who thinks they have already arrived at the fullness of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, anyone who thinks they are living out the perfect example of what a follower of Jesus should be, ought to be very humble and very careful. 

Discipleship in Christ demands of us constant vigilance, an openness of heart and mind and a willingness to be transformed and changed by God’s wisdom. Jesus also seems to be inviting us to be welcoming and open to an ever-increasing group of people throughout the community and beyond, to whom God is also extending a warm welcome.

To be a follower of Jesus is to be open and always ready to be surprised and to respond in different ways to what God is doing. Being a faithful disciple of Christ also means being always alert to the dangers of taking our membership of God's family for granted and resting on our laurels. It is rather about being ready with an open mind and heart. 

The irony is, God will say “I KNOW you”  because we have, through our lives and actions shown that we really and truly KNOW and (at least) start to comprehend Jesus and his very different ways…. 
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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly



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Archive of homilies and reflections is at:
http://homilycatholic.blogspot.com.au
To contact Fr. Paul, please email: 
paulwkelly68@gmail.com

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Twenty-first Sunday of the Year C

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
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Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you are mighty God and Prince of peace. Lord have mercy//  You are Son of God and the Son of Mary. Christ have mercy// You are Word made flesh, the splendour of the Father. Lord have mercy.
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Memorial Acclamation

1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.

2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
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Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
       Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
       Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
     May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

SUNDAYS I p.28

Euch prayer two p.56

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Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Catholic Reflections 563 : Homily 20th Sunday of the Year. - C 14th August, 2016

Homily 20th Sunday of the Year. - C 14th August, 2016
 
First Reading: Jeremiah 38:4-6. 8-10
Psalm: Ps 39:2-4. 18.  R. Lord, come to my aid!
Second Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

………

Poor Jeremiah, the prophet ! It couldn’t get any worse for him. The enemy is holding his people to siege. There is no way out. God tells his faithful prophet Jeremiah: "This is what you must tell the people.. and also tell the King - Surrender !  Leave the city, or you will surely perish !"

This is definitely NOT what the King and his people want to hear. They want to keep resisting. They want to win.  But Jeremiah will not tell them what they want to hear. there are plenty of others who will tell them what they want to hear, if not to save their own skin and so as not to annoy, but in order to climb up the ladder of influence, or so they think. \

Jeremiah, however, only speaks God’s word and he does so at a great cost.  So, what do they say about him for doing his job faithfully?  “Let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. The fellow does not have the welfare of this people at heart so much as its ruin”  It makes one wonder how often people have been accused of disloyalty and lack of care for the welfare of others just because they see a major disaster resulting. The problem for poor Jeremiah, is that he can do nothing else but speak the truth, irrespective of the response.   And so, he gets thrown down a muddy well for his troubles, and sinks deep into the mud and becomes hopelessly stuck. he will die there unless someone helps him.  As it is, someone does indeed feel sorry for him manages to drag him out of the muddy well.
 
There is a name in the Bible for people who tell others only what they want to hear: They are called "false prophets."  False prophets get pretty short shrift from God.
Then, by contrast, we see the likes of Jeremiah,  who steadfastly and devoutly speaks God’s word, in season and out of season, irrespective of popularity or whether or not people want to hear it.  he simply MUST speak the truth…..


 
But just as there are "false prophets," who tell people things they want to hear even when the truth is quite different, there are also "false critics."  These are people who go around telling people unpleasant things and "telling things like it is" in a way that divides and hurts. These too are not necessarily real prophets just because they are getting rejected and causing divisions.  That would be a grave mistake too. 

There may be people walking around with a 'kick me'  sign on them whose words and behaviour almost provokes or invites rejection or uproar. The test of whether a person is speaking prophetically is not that they are causing trouble and having to hire security guards, nor merely because they have ruffled others feathers.  Such people may be self-defeating stirrers. 

The true test of a prophetic person is the consistency of their words and behaviour with that of Christ and his Kingdom, and the whole picture, not just selectively chosen elements.  Jeremiah spoke what God asked him to speak and not just his own hobby-horse or for his own adulation (or for his own rejection, for that matter).  That is a major difference.  

I also think to myself, if we are tempted to be challenging, we ought to start with ourselves, and challenge and unsettle the deep-seated pride and selfishness and enmeshment that we find in our own hearts, before starting on changing the world and getting others offside.  

And also, no matter how "true' something is, no matter how much we might want to "fix up" a situation or a person, (which is probably an uhelpful way of approaching matters), if we do not act with love, or speak with love, it will (as Saint Paul says) "do me no good whatsoever." I doubt our words would have any effect if we spoke the truth without love. 

True prophets are not self-proclaimed nor are they self-appointed. And really, I think we need to live the gospel more than go around pointing out errors. Putting the gospel values into action by our lives, which is one of the greatest acts of discipleship: proclaiming the Gospel by our actions. 

It has always struck me that Jesus went around doing good and living the gospel and it was most often others who followed behind him saying "why did you do that?"  or "stop doing that." Meanwhile Our Lord had already moved on to the next project for the building up of the Kingdom and the next set of good work and actions.  He indeed preached but even more he acted; and mostly it was others who were doing the questioning and the finger wagging.  

A light example of this:  Martha was rushing around busily getting the meal ready and getting steamed up that Mary was sitting at Our lord's feet listening to him instead of helping her. Martha got flustered and asked the Lord to tell Mary to come and help her. He gently declined, saying Mary had chosen the better part.  Martha's request could very well have been irritating and unpopular but she was not speaking or acting prophetically by speaking out, even though she felt strongly about it. Just because we feel strongly about something and speak up to the annoyance of others does not make us a prophet and nor does it make us right.  
This theme continues in the gospel, which seems to be one of those really challenging and confounding scriptures. For the most part of the gospels we see Jesus as the Good and gentle Shepherd. He usually tells the wonderful parable of the foolishly doting and forgiving father of the prodigal son, and yet now in this passage there seems a real shock.  Our Lord says the surprising words:  “Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”   this seems rather surprising to say the least and out of character. Surely we are not mistaken when we understand Jesus as loving, forgiving, gentle, peace-loving, and fore-bearing??....    In other situations, Jesus speaks of Peace, and "turning the other cheek"  and putting down one's sword. So what is all this talk of "division"  and "fire"  and setting one person against another and families against each other? 
 
This is not the first passage where Jesus warns his would-be disciples to be very clear about what it means to follow him.  Jesus has warned his disciples….  Be aware of the cross…   COUNT THE COST of what it means to follow him……  There is indeed a high personal cost to be paid for being a faithful servant of God. It  is a very difficult role.  Following Christ will lead to times of rejection, ridicule and opposition.  Being a faithful follower of God's values will sadly lead to divisions, and even the real possibility of alienation between family members and social structures, and so much more.  
 
However, Jesus is really just warning his followers to be aware of what they are getting into.  Jesus is absolutely not encouraging and desiring conflict, opposition, and division, but, rather, he KNOWS that there are no "fence-sitters" in the Kingdom of God. You are either with him or against him.  Jesus is declaring the sad reality that he and the Good news he is proclaiming, and the Kingdom of God that he is establishing will become like a "lightning rod" to all who hate what the Kingdom represents.  Despite deeply desiring peace and love, he KNOWS that people will line up on one side or another.  This division (based on conflicting values) will not fall along political, religious or even filial (family) lines, but will tragically mean that people of the same social standing or people who belong to the same household could quite likely find themselves opposing each other in their values and actions. Even the closest of family members might find themselves standing for different sides. Jesus wants us to know the cost…… 
As the great scripture commentator, William Barclay writes:  “Jesus’ coming would inevitably mean division; --- in point of fact it did!! That was one of the great reasons why the Romans hated Christianity--it tore families in two. Over and over again a person had to decide whether he loved better his kith and kin or Christ and his Gospel. The essence of Christianity is that loyalty to Christ has to take precedence over the dearest loyalties of this earth. One must be prepared to count all things as loss, but for the excellence of Jesus Christ.”
 
You know the irony of all this?  The divisons were over values we cherish so deeply.  The divisions occurred because Jesus taught us to be gentle, to reach out to the outcast and offer the hand of forgiveness to the sinner and the outcast. The conflict and division occurred because Jesus was really LIVING the message of true peace… and the fullness of the new image of God’s Kingdom, which included all people.  This led to the most virulent opposition by those whose interests were not served by such an otherworldly world-view.  Jesus turned on its head the unjust and "un-Kingdom-like" standards which kept some on the 'inner' and a lot of people hopelessly left on the 'outer,' with no way of inclusion.  Those few who were the 'inside' wanted things to stay just the way they were. It was very cosy and profitable for them as things were. No wonder Jesus went to great lengths to prepare his disciples for trouble. He taught them to be as "wise as serpents but as gentle as lambs."  
 
As Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, neither family ties nor fear of submitting to rejection, ridicule or persecution should stand in the way of salvation which comes from an uncompromising and costly proclamation of the good news, and of standing up for the truth as taught by Christ. **
 
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REFERENCES:
·         FR. PAUL W. KELLY
·         THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE. GOSPEL OF LUKE. (REVISED EDITION). BY WILLIAM BARCLAY.
·         **Joel Schorn:  PrepareTheWord.com. PrepareTheWord.com, ©2012, TrueQuest Communications, LLC. 20th Sunday of the Year. - C. 18th August, 2013.
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Archive of homilies and reflections is at:
http://homilycatholic.blogspot.com.au
To contact Fr. Paul, please email: 
paulwkelly68@gmail.com

You are welcome to subscribe to Fr Paul’s homily mailout by sending an email at this address:    
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20th Sunday of the Year. - C

The Lord be with you.
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Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
You were sent to heal the contrite of heart. Lord, have mercy.// You came to call sinners:Christ, have mercy. //You are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us:Lord, have mercy.//
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Memorial Acclamation

1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.

2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
     Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
     Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
     May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

Sundays Ordinary II p.29

Euch Prayer One p.49

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Go forth, the Mass is ended.






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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Catholic Reflections 562 : Nineteenth Sunday of the Year C. 7th August, 2016

Homily Nineteenth Sunday of the Year C 

Wisdom 18:6-9. Anticipating the saving action of God, the holy children of the good await deliverance.

Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22. God’s kindness is shown to those who trust in it and expect it.

Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19. Abraham lives in tents all his life while putting his faith in the land of promise.

Luke 12:32-48. You have to live as you believe in order to achieve what your faith promises.
...
With security heightened across the world and random (and not so random) acts of violence and hatred, the value of fostering a sense of our membership of one human family and of the importance of intentionally living the gospel values of compassion, respect, love and peace becomes ever more apparent . Daily we are reminded of the fragility of human life and of the social and ecological  environment which we are called to care for. 

I was having coffee at a Cafe (as one does) and when I went up to pay, the bloke on the counter absentmindedly said  "enjoy the rest of your life". Ha ha,   I think he meant, "have a nice day"  but goodness me, it made me smile and gave me a bit of a surprise. I thought to myself, I hope he doesn't know something I don't ! 😂. But in some way we all should not only enjoy the rest of our lives but, even more importantly, cherish our lives and the lives of those around us and appreciate and reverence the fragile gift of life and make the most of them in our service of the gospel. 

Jesuit writer Mark Link tells an engaging story:
“Linda Taylor was putting her three tiny tots to bed, when suddenly her daughter Peggy, who had just begun prep class, said thoughtfully, "Mummy, if the world came to an end, right now..."

Linda gulped and said a quick prayer for guidance.

"Yes, dear," she said, "go on."

Peggy finished her question, saying, "Would I have to take my library book back, or would it be okay to leave it at home?"**

Peggy's amusing and innocent question and Jesus' sobering words invite us to ask: How prepared am I, and how does my awareness of the need to ‘always be ready’ to respond to our Master affect our everyday actions, choices, behaviour and priorities.**

It reminds us of the sobering meaning: of making us think about what we want to achieve in this life, because time is comparatively short, and there is only a relatively limited time to build upon the things that last….

The readings today focus on two major themes…..    Faith…..   and  Readiness…..

Faith is about putting our trust and belief into something even if we cannot see the results now or in the near future.   Faith allows us to keep going forward according to our vision and values even when the goal seems out of sight and even at times when the prize seems unlikely to be achieved.  

The Second reading reminds us of Abraham, our father in faith, who trusted in God’s Promise, even though he did not live to see the full results of it. But God kept his promise, and Abraham trusted in this promise and was rewarded.   So too with Moses. Moses is promised by God that God will always be with him and his people and that God will lead them to the promised land.  God does indeed achieve this promise, after a very long and trying journey of forty years… and Moses only gets to glimpse the achievement of this promise at the end of his life, but he does indeed know that God fulfilled his promises.  

Our faith and trust in God allows us to keep going, especially when things are tough, because we are right to trust in God’s promises…..  but we also know God’s timelines are not our own….

The other theme this weekend is READINESS>……  Be watchful ! …   stay alert !.   Be ready !…..   Be about the work that the master has given you! , for none of us knows the time or hour….  This can be understood in several ways….

There is no time like the present to do God’s work, because life is short and no one knows how long they have…..  even a long life is too short to achieve everything that could be done to build up the Kingdom. Also, the end of world may come at a time that no one expects…..  but also….even if our lives turn out to be very long, and even if the end of time is indeed a long way off, there is still good reason to be urgent in our work….. A faithful disciple of Jesus should be alert and ready and busy, because, the Lord may want us to respond immediately to something God is doing in our lives, and if we are not ready, we may miss the opportunity or we may be unprepared to respond or unable to respond in a way that helps to cooperate with God’s activity in our lives.   God’s grace and activity is constantly coming into our lives and if we are not alert… if we are not ready…. We could miss countless opportunities in our daily lives to participate in building up God’s Kingdom. God invites us to participate eagerly and swiftly and respond to God’s many initiatives in our lives and in the lives of others… and in the lives of the community..

There are so many ways God is at work in our lives and in our community… we simply cannot afford to miss the many opportunities that come our way because our attention is distracted or because we are focusing on the wrong priorities…

There is a strange passage in the gospel…  if the master finds the servants at home doing his work, the master will put an apron on and get the servants to sit down and the master will wait on them. The image of slaves or servants is not a pleasant concept at all, in our eyes in this day and age.  But to me I rather like being a servant of God given how gracious and loving God is. The image of beating is an archaic and shocking image to us who read this today. But if we look to the core message, it is still quite powerful. This image of the boss sitting down to serve the workers is delightful. … Jesus had said in another gospel and in a different passage ... "I come among you as one who serves."  It is clear that if the master finds his servants at work doing good, then their minds and hearts have become more like the masters, and so they deserve to be treated more like a member of the family than a servant. They now have the mind and values of the master…. And they are no longer acting like a mere slave who only does work because they are forced to, or only does what is right when being supervised, We are disciples who are active, alert and immersed in the work of the Kingdom; like shareholders in the Kingdom and not mere hired workers who are not necessarily committed to the bigger vision and the project…

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REFERENCES:

FR. PAUL W. KELLY
**ACTION 2000  – PRAYING SCRIPTURE IN A CONTEMPORARY WAY. YEAR C. BY MARK LINK S.J.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Catholic Reflections 561 : Homily Eighteenth Sunday of the Year C 31st July, 2016

Homily Eighteenth Sunday of the Year C  31st July, 2016




Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23. Do not bet your life on the house. There’s more to the good life than goods.

Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17. Time passes quickly and flesh is like grass. What lasts is friendship with God.

Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11. Appearances are deceptively divisive because we live in the hidden-ness of Christ.

Luke 12:13-21. We make plans for the future based on certitudes which are far from certain.

The continuing events of recent days and the suffering and violence experienced by so many, including the attacks on innocent patients in Japan and a Holy, defenseless priest celebrating Mass in France, and so many more horrific actions reminds us yet again that people can use their great gifts and resources for the purposes of great harm and suffering, or people can use their creativity and their talents, their time and their planning to do enormous good. It is quite clear that God implores us to do good and to use our time and our energy and our plans and schemes to make the world a better, more compassionate, more tolerant and more loving place. let us never lose sight of the fact that whilst there is no doubt that many acts of cowardice and destruction occur regularly in our world, there are far more acts of kindness and compassion and selflessness. Many of these good actions, which restore our faith in humanity, can get overlooked and forgotten when things go wrong. Many countless acts of kindess and love are so ordinary that they will never reach the front page of our news services, but this does not take away from their value.  


The first reading this weekend (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23), is rather sobering and poignant, almost depressing. The writer is bemoaning the vanity and futility that goes with some of our earthly strivings. It is not meant to depress us, though, or to bog us down. Instead, these words are meant to “snap us out” of our torpor and back into reality. Some of the things we can be tempted to spend an enormous amount of our time, energy and resources on will produce limited fruits and some of very questionable quality.

I cannot help thinking of news reports in recent years of financial disasters that affected many everyday people; ordinary mum and dad investors who put a large slab of their life savings into what looked like fruitful and fairly solid company investments only to watch everything they had worked for; (all they were saving up for a nice retirement), just evaporate overnight when those investments went bust. It is absolutely unimaginable. The suffering and pain is palpable as they realized that all the hard work and striving of their working years was effectively gone. So they could be forgiven for thinking they had worked all that time for nothing! They had toiled in vain.  Might they have said, “I could have had a part time job all my life for all I now have to show for it.” Hopefully many might be able to recover from their terrible predicament.  Recent news shows that some victims, after a very, very long legal fight have managed to get something back in compensation for their terrible losses. So, it is great to hear some good news sequels. And also, their work over those many years did provide for them and their families, and the pride and effort they put into their vocation would surely have produced enormous spiritual fruits and satisfaction, for in a vocation we do not just work for a living, but all our strivings are also put at the service of God’s grace too. In any case, our hearts go out to those whose toil (from a merely financial perspective’) appears to have been in vain………. 

We reflect on all the Fruits that do not last beyond this life and which might not be worth all the effort. So we are invited, as Paul says in the second reading, (Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11), to keep our eyes on the ‘things of heaven’ – the things that last… and to avoid merely earthly desires.

The gospel today is very challenging too. All the parables Jesus told are meant to be challenging and jarring. They are meant to unsettle us and turn upside-down our expectations. And this parable is particularly unnerving… 

It seems quite sensible to plan for one’s future and to ensure against a rainy day. It is wise to save up for the future and for a comfortable life. Many people do it. It is considered prudent. So, why is this man in the parable this weekend considered to be unwise??…  Why is he considered ‘foolish’?  He is called a fool not just by ANYONE… but by God himself….  If God calls someone a fool, then surely they must be the worst kind of fool!

Jesus tells this story not to people who are foolish. Neither does he tell this story to people whose lives are actually about to end (one hopes for a long life, but life is short and unpredictable and so one never really knows)…. So rather, this Gospel is directed at people who Our Lord hopes are sensible, and who are also open and loving people, with resources at their disposal and who (God willing) have a long healthy life ahead. And he is inviting them to trust in God’s providence and care and use their resources for the good of others now at this time and in this place. It is no good to worry only about all the endless possible future needs, which may never come to be. It is good to be sensible and to save for a rainy day, but not at the expense of our commitment to others whose needs are right here and right now and are all-too-real and immediate!  Jesus seems to want to make sure we are not stopped from being generous because of unreasonable fear and over-protection for events that may never come.

In the parable, “God intervenes to show the man how foolish and misguided his plans are. This does not mean that in the next life he is condemned to hell…** It does not suggest that at all. Rather, the point here is to be clear about the priorities we make in this life so that we respond to the meaning of life itself. Jesus rejects the accumulation of riches for oneself because it is not in accordance with God’s will of selfless and generous loving service towards God and others.** This is so important that our priorities are encouraged to always keep this in mind.

That rich man thinks only of himself. He even talks to himself. This man also works for himself and stores food for himself. It is mean! It is lonely! It is a distorted world-view where he is trapped in a very selfish and isolated world of his own making.  Rather, Jesus reminds  us that we are in union with others around us. We are actually diminished as people if our purposes and actions do not go beyond self-satisfaction.  This foolish man lets his fear and self-focus absorb him completely…

…… In a way., we already know what a good ending to this parable would be….
The rich man has a good year and he is so happy that he says to himself and those around him, “this is a wonderful year. God has blessed us. Quick, tell others to come along and take some grain. Let us share it, for I want all of us to celebrate in this wonderful blessing, so that we might all have some more, and have a bit for a rainy day too. Then God will come to him and say, well done my good  and faithful servant,  you have made yourself rich in my sight, now enter into your inheritance. We know that God will do this because other parables of the kingdom show that kind of situation. And this vision fills our hearts with joy….

This is how the man could make himself rich in the sight of God. May our love, gratitude, generosity, service and care for others flow out in gracious care and compassion for others. May we use our gifts for the good of all; for the greater good of God’s Kingdom…
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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

**SHARING THE WORD THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ.
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Eighteenth Sunday of the Year C

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
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Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault,* through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
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Memorial Acclamation

1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.

2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
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Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
       Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
       Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
     May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

Sundays Ordinary VIII p.32

Euch prayer III p.58

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Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.




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