Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Catholic Reflections 571 : Homily Twenty - seventh Sunday of the Year C 2nd October, 2016

Homily Twenty - seventh Sunday of the Year C  2nd October, 2016




First reading. Habakkuk 1:2-3,2:2-4

Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 94:1-2,6-9
.
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Second reading. 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14

Gospel      Luke 17:5-10

In the gospel this weekend Our Lord reminds us that we are servants and disciples of God's word….  Our duty is to teach, to witness and to live the values of the gospel, no matter how challenging they are, and irrespective of the opposition or the ridicule we will receive from some sections of secular society.


Living the gospel is difficult… and challenging… and it will often meet with trials, opposition or challenges…….   Hence the request of the Apostles' in today's gospel….that Jesus increase their faith. The Apostles realise the seemingly impossible demands of discipleship. However, Jesus does not grant their request; rather he reminds them (and us), that abundant faith is not required for discipleship. Even a little bit of faith is sufficient to do great things. It is not quantity of faith, it is how one puts it into action, and put our actions in the hands of God's grace.

We sometimes think people of faith are those who do great things for God and Church. Actually, faith is as readily expressed in ordinary, everyday acts of service and love and kindness.

Such growth or love and faith comes in answer to prayer and it is something the Lord accomplishes in disciples. We cannot 'will ourselves' or 'make ourselves' have more faith, it is an act of God's grace. 

Jesus' reply to his disciples is a stinging rebuke. In effect he says, 'More faith? If you had any faith at all - faith as puny as a tiny mustard seed - you could do great things!' But doing great things is not the point, as the parable goes on to explain. What is required is merely doing what is expected. A servant's job is not in itself extraordinary, and nor is it dramatic or histrionic.  The work of a servant does not draw attention to oneself.  A faithful worker does what the master commands, namely, both the field work as well as serving at table. Similarly, disciples who are servants of the Lord must do what they are commanded, even forgiving others seven times a day. Though this may seem extraordinary, it is in fact merely required.

Doing what is required is stressed three times: the servant must do 'what was commanded' (17:9), disciples must do what they were obliged to do (17:10), and finally, (Jesus using a striking and dramatic example)….the mulberry tree, when commanded to be uprooted and transplanted would DO what the disciples demanded (17:6). Jesus thus instructs disciples that 'faith' is expressed in action… and even more precisely in obedience to him. THE GOSPELS teach us that obedience to God is not something that lessens us or demeans us, but it actually an expression of love, and of faith.

The image of the "servant" or the "slave" in this weekend's gospel is rather jarring, (even more-so to modern listeners!).  Jesus is telling us that we should have the mind and heart of a servant, not of an arrogant master…. Sure, we are indeed heirs to God's Kingdom and sons and daughters of God….  But pride is the mother of all sins…. And if we develop a sense of entitlement, of presumption.. if what we do fills us with a sense that God or others owe us something…  this is utterly corrosive….   Everything we do must be for the building up of God's Kingdom alone, or else it will unwittingly contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of self, at the expense of God's Kingdom….  It becomes a form of idolatery,.,,,,,,In this weekend's gospel, Jesus teaches that in the life of a community all must deny their own self-focused designs, and be detached from their own selves, Jesus uses the example of the servant.

In those days, a servant (or a slave) could not merit anything. The master, (hard and demanding), was entitled to and expected only their service; and it was not normal to thank a slave for doing what was their job. The servant could be the hardest working, most dedicated worker for his master, but should he demand gratefulness for this? ... isn't he only being diligent in performing what is expected of him?  It is very sobering, and it really is rather deflating for any disciples who might be tempted to be proud and make their discipleship about themselves and meeting their own needs; or drawing attention to oneself….  One who might dare to have illusions of grandeur or superiority…..   For, the servant is never greater than their master. For God we are like a slave before his master.  This is calling us to humility. Like a slave before his master we cannot and must not seek to obtain merits before our brothers and sisters in the community.
I must admit,  as jarring as this image is, I really, really like it. Isn’t it true that pride and an inflated sense of one’s own importance is at the centre of a lot of conflict, a lot of misunderstanding, disunity and frustration and resentment.

This image is put forward by Our Lord as the ideal image of how we should see our calling to be disciples – to be servants with tasks in relation to God and God's Kingdom, rather than any sense of entitlement, or reward, or even the idea that we can somehow earn or merit God's love or that God should thank us for doing what is merely necessary in our task of building up God's Kingdom, and for giving back to God and giving unceasing thanks to God for what is rightfully God's. (And, of course, what is rightfully God's is….. everything!) 


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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

Ray Campbell, Ph.D.; Director, Queensland Bioethics Centre.

Living Liturgy – Homily reflection notes.

Prepare the Word, reflections 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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Twenty - seventh 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.
+++++++++++++
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you were lifted up to draw all people to yourself: Lord, have mercy//You shouldered the cross, to bear our suffering and sinfulness: Christ, have mercy// You open for your people the way from death into life: Lord, have mercy//
++++++++++++++
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 VIII p.32

Eucharistic Prayer III p.58

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Go forth, the Mass is ended.



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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Catholic Reflections 570 : Homily Twenty - sixth Sunday of the Year C 25th September, 2016

Homily Twenty - sixth Sunday of the Year C  25th September, 2016



The Parable in this weekend’s Gospel is often called The Story of Lazarus and “Div├ęs”.

These are supposedly the names of the poor man, who certainly is Lazarus, and the rich man, who I think is deliberately not given a name. .

The word “Dives” is a Latin word that is a description, not a name, and it translates as “Rich”.


 In many Biblical stories the importance of the person is often shown by the fact that they are given a “name”.


It is an error, then when commentators attempt to give a name to the rich man when it is clearly not the intention. The important person in this story is Lazarus. The whole point of the story is to turn on its head the usual expectation of status and importance. Even in torment, the rich man still doesn’t “get it.”

He ignorantly requests that God would command Lazarus to cross over to Hades to serve him. However, his request is rightly denied. Lazarus is poor no longer!


As St. Basil said in one of his homilies on this parable, “Tell us the reason why you have received your possessions. Is it so that God may be unjust, God who unequally distributes those goods necessary to life? Why are you rich and another poor? To the hungry belongs the bread that you keep; to the naked, the cloak you keep tucked away… You commit as many injustices as there are people to whom you could give.”

One of the great failings of the rich man in this parable is that he is ignorant and apathetic to the poverty and need of people around him; people who turn out to be his brother, his sister… and thus, co-heirs to the Kingdom of which he will never actually become an heir….  

Consequently, this parable is inviting us to change our ways of seeing things. The gospel tells us in countless ways that the last will be first. Jesus calls upon us to truly build up a world based upon true gospel values….. and made up of many people like Lazarus, who are despised now by those who, according to the parable, do not deserve to have a name.


The parable leaves no room for doubt. To the unnamed rich man's attempt to allege the ignorance of his peers as the reason for the indifference to the plight of poor Lazarus, "Father Abraham" categorically answers that they have the word of God to listen to. The words and teachings of the Scriptures are more than enough to guide us in how we should live…….   (for those who are truly open to its powerful challenges). In spite of the clarity of the gospel message, today we admit that we too can also look for subterfuges or ask for miracles in order to avoid the gospel demands; that are really plain enough without any further embellishment….


Those who ignore the poor are rejected by the Lord. Saint Paul gives us the reason for such a behaviour: "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Greed leads us to place our trust in money, when this trust and all true power comes only from God. This is why Paul calls it idolatry. And the poor are victims of this distorted worship.  This conduct — and its consequences — separates people by a great chasm which is unable to be crossed over to the Kingdom…..


But all is not lost… this parable continues on from the earlier parables….   Although we are told that the rich man faced a great chasm between himself in Hades, whilst Abraham and Lazarus are in Paradise….   Jesus has already given his attentive listeners a hint… and a key…   There is actually a way that the rich man can be saved…..   But he is so ignorant he cannot even comprehend it; and may never access this reprieve…   He must act just as the foolish younger son did in the parable of the prodigal son….   He must say to his heavenly Father….  “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against earth…  I no longer deserve to be called your son, treat me as one of your hired servant….    “…..   because we KNOW, from Jesus’ own lips what the father’s response will be to those who realise their error…  awake from their apathy…  repent… and turn back…….    

 
Finally…   there is a true story told:
One day a person received an appeal from a reputable foreign mission, asking for an aid donation. The person wrote a little cheque out to support the mission appeal and felt good about it. Then they went out to the local shopping centre and promptly spent twice as much on inconsequential things. In the midst of all this, something about this struck the person deeply,  and they were overcome with a sense of shame. This person quickly returned home and wrote five more cheques,  “to catch a few more lazaruses, at the door”….or even further afield…….
 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

A BOOK OF GRACE-FILLED DAYS. BY ALICE CAMILLE. (2010)


SHARING THE WORD THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ.

Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD, Sabbatical Lectures 2007. Rome. (notes of PWK)

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Archive of homilies and reflections is at:
http://homilycatholic.blogspot.com.au
To contact Fr. Paul, please email: 
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Twenty - sixth Sunday of the Year C

The Lord be with you.
+++++++++++++
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you call your people to turn away from sin: Lord, have mercy//You teach us wisdom, and write your truth in our inmost heart: Christ, have mercy//You forgive sins through the ministry of reconciliation: Lord, have mercy//
++++++++++++++
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.

own preface p.69

Various Needs and Occasions 2.  p.69

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Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Catholic Reflections 569 : Homily Twenty - fifth Sunday of the Year C 18th September, 2016

Homily Twenty - fifth Sunday of the Year C  18th September, 2016


First reading    Amos 8:4-7.

Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 112:1-2,4-8. Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

Second reading.  1 Timothy 2:1-8.


Gospel. Luke 16:1-13.
…..

It is safe to say that Our Lord had an extremely cautious approach to the idea of money and worldly wealth.  However, unlike some religious leaders of the time he did not teach his followers to remove themselves from general society or distance themselves entirely from business or commerce. However, Jesus also had a disdain for money and material wealth as it was tainted and not of the Kingdom of God. He taught his disciples to be detached with the things of the world but still engage with the world. He also taught them not to put their trust or hope in money or worldly riches as these would not last. Jesus, (particularly in the focus of Luke’s Gospel)  is addressing the rich and influential people of that time, who wish to be his disciples.   The short summary of this rather mysterious and intriguing Gospel seems to be:  use your influence, your resources, your ingenuity and your earthly advantages to do as much good as you can for the good of all, and for those most in need and most vulnerable.


Our Lord is addressing the way things are done in business and society back in his time; and it is a familiar attitude even in this day and age. He points out the way many people “make friends in order to win favours and influence people”….   For example, they throw great big dinner parties;  they do each-other favours…  they give favourable discounts to those whom they wish to be morally indebted to them in return….    This gives them more prestige, more power and influence….

Jesus points out that the poor, the needy and the sinner do not have anything to offer such people, but they are very dear to God’s heart. God wants them to be included back in the “community of the faithful” and to be “brought in out of the cold”….  But of course, these people have no way of influencing others… so they are left out of society with no practical way of getting back inside again.

Our Lord points out that the poor do not have the resources to invite others to dinner, (for example), and they actually may only have enough food to feed themselves – if that! ). And because they have not got anything to offer, they would be ignored and excluded by the influential; who see nothing to be gained (financially or socially) from the poor.   In this unfair system, the sinner and the poor have no way of ever shaking off their past, and the “stranger” does not fit in anywhere. People who cannot benefit others in some way are treated as though they are worth nothing at all. So, Jesus is offering a new vision, that starts with their  rather “earthly ways of thinking,” but then turns it all on its head….

Jesus is saying to his listeners….   IF you want to “get in the good books” of the ones who really count… according to God’s values ..… If you really want to gain the things that matter…  then you need to “curry favour” with those who are dearest to the heart of the Master…  so…. Help the poor… forgive the sinner….  Give practical help to the widow, the orphan and the stranger…  Practice justice…   include those who have nothing to give back ….   BECAUSE…  God has a special concern for THEM….  These people will be the first to enter the Kingdom of Heaven… and if you have helped those who are dear to God’s heart… THEY MIGHT (just might) remember your friendship and kindness and allow you too, to enter into the banquet feast which (otherwise) one might find oneself excluded. (Our Lord is telling his listeners this not to make them lose hope but rather he is trying to shock his listeners into changing their attitudes and using their resources for good and not for indulgence and exclusion.

If only people were as eager and ingenious in their attempt to attain goodness as others are in trying to make money, it would be an astoundingly good world. If only people would give as much attention to the things which concern their souls as they do to the things which concern their business, their fitness and their comfort; they would be able to be such wonderful co-operators in God’s work…..

 
Over the last two months the world has been enthralled by the excellence of athletic endeavour in the Olympic Games and then the Paralympics which finish today.  We cannot help to be astounded and inspired by the feats of excellence by these people who are at the top of their respective sports. We know that top athletes do not attain their  status without utter commitment, focus, constant training, sacrifice, prioritization and single-minded dedication. And that is great.  we have been enthralled by it.  This sporting endeavour is a sign of what the human can achieve when they set their sights and strive with all their being.  

However, surely,  the Christian vision, the fullness of discipleship of  Christ, requires the same levels of training (that is,  not getting into a pool at 5am every morning or the like, but prayer, penance, fasting, good works, reflection, study of the scriptures and the lives and writings of the Saints and the Scholars).   Similar or in fact greater levels of focus, prioritization, sacrifice and passion are required to be a 'spiritual athlete for Christ' as any elite Olympic or other sporting athlete would put into attaining an earthly glittering prize. But for the Christian, the prize is not gold, silver or bronze and the admiration of many, but participation in the life and vision of Christ. Our Lord seems to be saying…  if only more were involved in the intense training for the “prize that truly lasts”, for a kind of 'spiritual olympics'.  I do realise that there are many athletes whose lives have been commited to both sporting excellence and spiritual and religious excellence too, so its not either or. In some ways such all-rounders put many of us to shame.  But indeed, i cannot help but be struck by the irony that thousands of people can get up at the crack of dawn to go running a marathon but we do hope that greater numbers are also arising to pray and contemplate and act in ways that deepen ones discipleship of Christ.  If there were more people staying up all night plotting and scheming how to be a better, more loving, more reverent person and to make the world a more compassionate, merciful, charitable place as opposed to sitting up at night working out how to get the next buck or the how to get back at our enemies or goodness knows what else. 

Not to fall into the trap of thinking that our success as Christians is all about our own efforts.  We know it is by God’s grace and our humble cooperation that we achieve anything..   … The heavenly prize takes all we can give…   and is worth every bit of effort …..and it is an effort towards becoming an ever more loving, more compassionate and reverent person to God and all people..  quite irrespective of whether or not they have anything pragmatic to offer us.      
 

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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly


William Barclay. Commentary on St. Luke.

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Archive of homilies and reflections is at: 
http://homilycatholic.blogspot.com.au
To contact Fr. Paul, please email:  
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Twenty - fifth Sunday of the Year C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
+++++++++++++
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you came to reconcile us to the Father and to one another: Lord, have mercy//You heal the wounds of our sin and division: Christ, have mercy// You intercede for us with the Father: Lord, have mercy//
++++++++++++++
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 VI p.31

Euch prayer III p.58

++++Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.




Friday, September 09, 2016

Catholic Reflections 568 : HOMILY FOR THE ANNUAL CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN 2016 - Brisbane, Australia

HOMILY FOR THE ANNUAL CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN 2016

(For the ordinary homily for 24th Sunday of ordinary time, please see the earlier post on this blog)

(By Archbishop Mark Coleridge DD. Archbishop of Brisbane, Queensland)
Please watch this homily here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_NCEstlsSg&feature=youtu.be

In this Year of Mercy we see more clearly than ever that mercy isn’t passive but active.  It’s not a matter of waiting for those who need mercy to come to us.  We have to go out in search of them, wherever and whoever they may be. 

In the Gospel we’ve just heard, the shepherd doesn’t sit down with the ninety-nine and wait for the lost sheep to wander back to the fold.  He’d be waiting for ever.  He has to go in search of the lost sheep who’s in mortal danger and bring it back to the fold.  If he does that, then there’s safety for the lost sheep and joy for the shepherd. 

So too the woman who’s lost the coin doesn’t just sit down moping and wait for the lost coin to pop into her lap.  She searches high and low for the lost coin, and her hard work is rewarded with the joy she shares with her neighbours.  Mercy then is active; it goes in search of the lost; and it has as its fruit joy. 

A merciless world will always be a joyless world – a world of passivity that drowns in depression.  A merciful world is a joyful world – full of the energy that never ceases to reach out and search.  That’s the world of the Gospel.  That’s the world of God.  It’s the space of the Church – the space that the Church seeks to expand more and more.  That’s the Church’s true mission.

Mercy, then, is a verb rather than a noun.  It’s an action-word; it’s something we do.  That’s what drives the Annual Catholic Campaign that we focus upon today throughout the Archdiocese.  The Campaign isn’t about just thoughts and feelings: it’s about action.  It’s about the works of mercy without which our faith is either dead or dying. 

The Annual Catholic Campaign was established to do away with the many Sunday appeals that filled the year in other times.  We decided to gather the Archdiocesan ministries into one big appeal – but also to help people learn more of what the Church is actually doing and to seek their support for the Church’s works of mercy, for her mission. 

The Campaign focuses on four of these works:

The MacKillop Brisbane Catholic School Fund which helps Catholic children from families in difficulty to have a Catholic education.  It seeks to do now what St Mary MacKillop did years ago.
Holy Spirit Seminary which trains the priests of the future to be missionaries of mercy, going out in search of the lost wherever and whoever they may be.
The Priests Foundation which supports the pastors of the Church who have laid down the burden of responsibility but who are still a vital part of the Church’s life.
Centacare’s Pastoral Ministries which reach out in mercy through services like psychiatric counselling, family support, hospital chaplaincy and prison ministry.

So today, I ask you to support the Annual Catholic Campaign – perhaps by making a regular monthly gift of an amount which means something to you, something more than loose change.  Every dollar given will be carefully spent, I can promise you – and spent for the purposes I’ve mentioned.  The money isn’t given to the Archdiocese; it’s given to those we serve.  It’s not our money; it’s their money.  That’s why we’re very careful about how it’s spent. 

Pope Francis has shown us all what it means to do mercy.  It’s not rocket science.  In the end, it’s very simple – as simple as showers in the Vatican for the homeless or a barber to cut their hair or a laundry service to wash their clothes, as we have here in Brisbane. 

It’s also as simple – and as important – as the gift you give to the Annual Catholic Campaign.  Simple it may be but a difference it does make – in the lives of real people in real need.  So I encourage all of you this morning to give generously to the Campaign, so that the Church in this part of the world can continue to go in search of the lost, expanding the space where mercy and joy can find a home and flourish. 

Catholic Reflections 567 : Homily Twenty-fourth Sunday. Year B 11th September, 2016

Homily Twenty-fourth Sunday. Year B 11th September, 2016

First reading. Exodus 32:7-11,13-14

Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 50:3-4,12-13,17,19.
I will rise and go to my Father

Second reading. 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Gospel. Luke 15:1-32
--


First reading. Exodus 32:7-11,13-14


Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 50:3-4,12-13,17,19.
I will rise and go to my Father

Second reading. 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Gospel. Luke 15:1-32
--
“My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”
(In Brisbane Archdiocese this weekend, we are holding the annual Catholic Campaign and the Archbishop will be giving a special homily to be played or read. i will send this out, but here is my ordinary homily for this weekend)

The whole parable of the “prodigal son” and the other parables in this section are best explained by the first two sentences of Today’s gospel…. ….“The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them”

It would seem then, that this set of parables is primarily aimed at all who, like the Scribes and Pharisees, are acting like the resentful, begrudging older son, acting more like ‘good righteous slaves’ rather than ‘beloved sons’……. The parable reveals how shockingly resentful the so-called righteous leaders of the time were towards their heavenly Father and begrudging towards all who turn back to God and seek mercy.

The most striking theme today’s readings is God’s infinite mercy. What a wonderful set of readings this weekend, given this year being the “Year of God’s Mercy.”  We are reminded that first and foremost we are God’s beloved sons and daughters, by virtue of God’s great love and not because we have earnt this position. God is an unconditionally loving parent…. A child does not earn the love of his or her parent… They just simply and fully HAVE that love…. It exists as from the beginning…. Well before they were even born…. It is there throughout their lives….. It is always there…. Irrespective of the child’s actions and choices…..

Naturally a doting parent can get terribly disappointed, even severely hurt by their child’s actions…. But they do not stop loving them…. They cannot stop loving their child because it would be like denying their very self…. Which they simply cannot do…… 


As with an unconditionally loving parent, so infinitely more-so is God’s love for us. …
God LOVES us. God will always love us. As a doting parent.  The parable portrays God the Father as an almost foolishly generous parent would.

We often call this parable the prodigal son… I used to think prodigal meant bad…. But it simply means prodigious… that is overflowing… and in that sense … all three characters are prodigal… the father is prodigious in his love, generosity and mercy…. And the younger son is prodigious in his waste and recklessness.. he is also very correct and generous in his assessment of his father who he knows he has wronged (he realises that now, foolishly)… but who he knows is a good and fair man who would at least treat him better than the people he was slaving for at the pig-farm, as he found himself starving to death….

And the older son is prodigious in his resentment and his “working and slaving resentfully”… and all the time thinking that this somehow entitles him to a reward, but ends up just making him bitter and ironically he becomes more distant from his father than the younger, wasteful son. But at least the younger son realizes his error. The older son does not even realise his folly.  

Fortunately for us, God the Father, revealed by his beloved son Jesus, (our brother), is the best kind of parent… truly a loving, unconditionally doting and giving Father….. who makes us his children …. We do not earn it …. And it cannot be lost by ‘undeserving’ actions…… but of course… we wander away from the Father and his love and care at our own peril…. For, we NEED our loving God…..and who knows what will happen if we stray too far and do not turn back….

A less obvious, but profoundly important theme relates to the older son. He is faithful to his father, working hard to serve, but very hesitant to celebrate the return of his brother. Why?

Is it jealousy or an ‘it’s not fair’ attitude? Is he feeling let down or unimportant? Such toxic thoughts are certainly not aligned with the love his father has for him. ‘My son…everything I have is yours.’ How often do we feel like that older son? Do we feel there is nothing to celebrate in our lives? Do we actually believe what the father promises is ours; that is EVERYTHING is ours, from God???? Today, let us allow the Father’s love to fill us with joy.^^


Saint Luke's Gospel today is long and wonderful. First Jesus tells us the reason for eating with sinners and enjoying their company: He can know us and invite us to share His life. Jesus explains that seeking out sinners is not a rejection of the just people. It is clear, however, that a truly just person will love sinners the way that Jesus does and the way that Moses did in the first reading. The truly just person wants all people to be saved and perhaps in a special way wants the salvation of those who wander far from the truth and from God's love.

Saint Luke's Gospel also shows us that we can hope even for those who run as far away as possible from love. The story of the son who takes his inheritance and completely uses it up in bad living of every type is a clear teaching of Jesus. Even those of us who run the farthest from God may still return and be loved. There is more than one story like this in the Gospel, showing that whenever a sinner wants to return to the Lord, the Lord is always there to receive Him with open arms. How many times? As many times as it takes to show the love of God.

Brother and sisters in Christ, you and I are the sinners of the Gospel. We can choose between the younger son or the older son. Perhaps at different times (and in some way) we may have been in the position of both of the brothers? We are invited to return to the Lord time and time again. We can turn around each day, each moment, and know that God is always loving us and forgiving us. This is the heart of the Gospel of Jesus: God is compassion and love. God is forgiveness for a countless number of times. God wants us to know His love, even when we doubt that love. May this Sunday give us a full taste of God's love and an ever-deepening desire to live constantly in that love and care which is fully and completely ours…** which is also fully and completely the possession of all who accept it; our neighbour, our friends; - Those we meet: everyone…


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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

^^Madonna Magazine. http://www.pray.com.au/gospel.php?date=091513

**Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Abbot’s homily.

+++
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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Twenty-fourth Sunday. Year B

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
+++++++++++++
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you came to reconcile us to the Father and to one another: Lord, have mercy//You heal the wounds of our sin and division: Christ, have mercy// You intercede for us with the Father: Lord, have mercy//
++++++++++++++
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 III p.30

Euch Prayer II p.56

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Go forth, the Mass is ended.





Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Catholic Reflections 566 : Homily Twenty- third Sunday of the Year C 4th September, 2016

Homily Twenty- third Sunday of the Year C  4th September, 2016





First reading. Wisdom 9:13-18

Responsorial Psalm. 89:3-6,12-14,17. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge

Second reading. Philemon 1:9-10,12-17

Gospel. Luke 14:25-33
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It is a rather shocking Gospel reading on the day that (by coincidence) we celebrate Father's Day.
Happy Father’s Day to all our Dad's in the community. May God bless you and grant you peace and joy. And we pray for all Dads who have gone before us, that they now be enjoying the peace, joy and mercy of the eternal banquet kingdom.

The Gospel today says the rather jarring words: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” What in the world does this mean? 


Why would Jesus counsel his followers to "hate" their families or their own lives ? Again, it seems contrary to the consistent message of love, inclusion, mercy and graciousness that Our Lord has been proclaiming throughout his whole ministry.

The point of Jesus’ message today is actually to WIDEN our vision of FAMILY… not to reject it, or abandon it…..

When Our Lord says in the Gospel that we should ‘hate our lives or families”…. (Our Lord’s constant practical example and his wider teachings show us effectively quite the opposite; that we must love and cherish our family and loyally keep our commitments and our duties that we owe to our parents and family………)….Our Lord saved one of his most sting criticisms for people who used religious excuses to justify neglecting their duty to their parents and family. SO, Jesus is literally widening our definition of “family” to include not only our traditional ties of “blood relations”…… but also to include all who follow Jesus and act on his word and in fact all people…….. (which he means to be taken absolutely seriously)..

In this passage Jesus uses an exaggeration that is typical of the language and way of speaking of his time, (the Jewish culture two thousand years ago…. That is, a really emphatic point is made by extreme exaggeration. Jesus is trying to make an impressive point about discipleship. Hate in the context of this bible passage is better described as “put in second priority”….The Greek word used here can mean, in a comparative sense in relation to something else: “to give less preference to.” The examples Jesus uses in this reading have to do with calculating the cost of discipleship and spelling out what that cost will be. And the key to following Christ is renunciation of all that comes between the disciple and a total commitment to the Lord:-- Such obstacles include, attachment to possessions, pressures from family loyalties, and even over-concern with safety and preserving one’s life at any cost – even at the cost of one’s gospel values. Not that these other things have no value, but their worth must be seen in the perspective of what's ultimately important – discipleship of Christ….
.and the Kingdom of God. 

Also, we DO know that Jesus had a deep respect and love for his family, both his earthly family and his Heavenly Father. So, faithfulness to Christ and love and respect for our family need not be any kind of contradiction. If there has to be a choice made between following God and remaining a part of our loving family, then something must have gone horribly awry in that family. What Jesus is asking here is that “You've got to be in this ‘discipleship thing’ 100 percent! Half measures will never do. ………. Being the Body of Christ makes us complete sharers in the life of Jesus! And Jesus was never known to do things halfway….

There may very well be a bit of “hating” going on, though, but not by Jesus and his followers… Rather.. some people may hate and persecute disciples of Jesus precisely because they are seen to be welcoming outsiders and strangers into the “family-fold” whom they think should not be there… // Unintended (but very real) conflict and loss will be suffered because of choosing to following Jesus; because people are included in Jesus’ plan who others think should be left out…….. 


The plain truth is: Our goal is not merely to avoid being a bad person…… Being a disciple of Jesus is the goal, and that's a lot more challenging and. ..Discipleship is an expensive proposition. It costs everything we have and everything we are. . (Jesus expects us to give all we have in energy and time). Why is the price so high? Because the stakes are just as high.

 
Jesus isn't asking us to throw our stuff away. He's begging us not to throw our lives away. (Rather, he is asking us to put our lives, our energy and our resources into the service of his plan for building up the Kingdom of God and its different and transforming values).
 
The second reading is a great example of the gospel in practice. Saint Paul… a true and inspiring disciple of Christ… speaks about a fellow Christian.. a runaway slave … who has now become like a son to him because he is a fellow disciple in Christ….. Paul writes to another disciple and begs him to accept his runaway slave but not as a slave anymore but as a brother….. this is consistent with Jesus’ gospel….. there is a considerable change to our lives and our relationships when we become a true disciple of Christ…. Things change quite dramatically… old values and old ways of doing things.. END…… and old advantages and arrangements are changed forever… the owner of that slave has paid a big price for becoming a Christian… he has lost his slave.. who is now a free person… because in Christ there is no distinction between slave and free.. we are all free… 
 
Jesus knows that following him will lead to tensions and pain…. Not because he wants us to reject family but because his message INCLUDES more people into the family than others (under the old system) can cope with…. IN Our Lord’s Kingdom… water is thicker than blood….. (the water of baptism, that is)…. In Our Lord’s vision of the Kingdom…the waters of Baptism relate us more and are infinitely more important than even the utterly-deep ties of family …. And so this turns the whole system on its head….//. If people everywhere extended that same love, loyalty and unconditional bonds of generosity we share with people related to us, to all those we meet… what a different world it would be… and it would be a world ever-closer to the Vision of Christ’s Kingdom. 
 
So, it is worth spending some time in reflection …….. asking ourselves….. “what am I building in my life…”….. “what am I willing to spend?” and “What am I willing to lose to attain that precious goal?”

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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

(Italicised Quotes from Alice Camille and Fr Dominic Grassi).

SHARING THE WORD THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ.

+++
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:
paulkellyreflections+subscribe@googlegroups.com




Twenty- third Sunday of the Year C

The Lord be with you.
+++++++++++++
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations into the peace of God's kingdom: Lord, have mercy// You come in word and in sacrament to strengthen us and make us holy: Christ, have mercy//You will come again in glory with salvation for your people: Lord, have mercy.
++++++++++++++
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 IV p.30

Euch Prayer Three p.58

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Go in peace.