Friday, July 31, 2015

Paul's Reflections 502 : Homily Eighteenth Sunday of the Year - B

Homily Eighteenth Sunday of the Year - B     

Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
John 6:24-35


The people of Israel started to grumble…….    And also the people in the gospel start murmuring or grumbling amongst themselves after hearing Jesus’ message about the bread of life. 

In the wilderness when the people grumbled against God and against Moses….  they were short of food and tired and hungry and were regretting putting their faith and hope in God and his servant Moses. They started shockingly looking back to their time of slavery and fooling themselves that it was not so intolerable after all and that slavery might have been better than what they were now enduring.  They had forgotten the horrors of their time of slavery and subjugation in Egypt.

In response to their needs and despite their grumblings, God gave the people bread (manna) in the desert to sustain them….. 

 In this gospel passage, the grumbling people also receive bread....  in the the person of Jesus, who is the true bread of life…….. Jesus  as the bread of life feeds us by the bread that is his Word, (the word of God),  and he feeds us with the bread that his his presence and values, and most importantly, he feeds us with his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. 

But unlike the wilderness experience….   Jesus gives them eternal life…..  not just short term satisfaction…

It is good, in the face of this gospel for each of us to ask ourselves some important questions….

Are there things about our lives //or about how we stand with God // that are a source of grumbling or discontent. Are there aspects of our lives where we are tempted to lose heart and not trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God and that God does care about us and only wants the best for us. Do we sometimes doubt that God wants us not only to exist but to thrive,  and experience eternal life….   to the full…

In what ways might we be invited to more open, more willing to learn from God? …..  
How might we allow an even more open attitude to being taught by God…… // 
As with any student/ teacher relationship…..    we can learn the most if we are willing to put aside our preconceptions, and be challenged to look at things in a new way, according to the mind and wisdom of the teacher…  
In ways different from the usual attitudes and approaches we have habitually taken…. 

The challenge is for us to accept the gifts and graces and small miracles of daily life, when and where they occur….    
For the converse if not always true….    God does not always answer our requests and demands in the time or in the ways that we demand … And this can tempt us to grumble or complain or tempt us to lose hope….

But God does send us what we need, and God constantly teaches us the ways to put on HIS mind and his ways and transform our mind and heart to that of Christ, and most importantly he gives himself to us, to strengthen our life journey…

The people in Jesus' time grumbled, because they doubted Jesus' assurance that he would be with them in a real and tangible way always…..    As the bread of life…..  as the Chalice of eternal salvation………….

There is a saying in the bible…. "God spoke and it was created"…. So it is not so hard to believe that Jesus, at the last supper said to his disciples…. I want to give you something that will make me present to you in a real way..,… so… I am saying to you…. Every time you eat this bread and drink from this chalice .. you are receiving me… you are encountering me…..  I guarantee it…..

And why could not Jesus do that? … Why would he not do this necessary thing?….. and of course.. this is exactly what he did….. 
Let us pray that each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist… it will strengthen us to live as Christ in the world….

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

REFERENCES:

 

·          FR. PAUL W. KELLY



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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Paul's Reflections 501 : Homily Seventeenth Sunday of the Year B 26th July, 2015

Homily Seventeenth Sunday of the Year B  26th July, 2015
2 Kings 4:42-44 -- Twenty loaves
Ephesians 4:1-6 -- Preserve unity
John 6:1-15 -- Five loaves



“Bread with Dignity


This weekend's first reading and Gospel are closely connected. They speak of God’s compassionate feeding of the people in their times of need.

In the Gospel, it has been noted that Jesus is very careful to make it clear that his actions, (in feeding the crowd), are not meant to be any kind of “show of power and wonder” and was not intended to win him popularity. In fact, Jesus shuns popularity and swiftly leaves the scene after the extraordinary event, in order to prevent the popular enthusiasm of the crowd from rising up and people trying to make him an earthly King.

Jesus’ actions are motivated only by compassion and from concern for the real needs of his people. He calls on his disciples, (us too!), to do everything we can, and to use all the resources we have available to be “food for the hungry and help for those most in need.”

In the context of our life journey, it is so encouraging and reassuring to remember that God is the one who gives us what we need in due season. God has our concerns in his heart. God works to give us what we need, and he calls upon others to assist in meeting of the real human needs of others. When we are tempted to lose hope or to question, then the words of the Scriptures remind us that God is completely faithful and desires that we be fed. God is generous, but God does not want us to waste even a crumb of the graces and blessings he gives us.

I read an excellent reflection during the week. It was attributed to Mother Teresa, but it was more likely written by another. However, a copy of the following reflection was kept on the wall in her office.

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred;  
forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior
motives; be kind anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you;
be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others may destroy overnight; create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;
be happy anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten;  
do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough;
give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never simply between you and them anyway.”
 
The only thing I would add is that the Gospel does not make
'judgement' or 'self-justification' into the common bond between us, but rather God makes ‘love’ and ‘goodwill’ and ‘generosity’ as the true bond that unites us. We recognize the presence, action and love of Christ in everyone around us, (so in that sense it is also between us and others) and ultimately it is between us and God.  We "love our neighbour” precisely because God's presence is in everyone around us, whether the others recognise it in return, or whether (or not) they recognise the beauty of God’s indwelling Spirit in themselves or in their own actions.

The second reading has Saint Paul imploring us, (pleading with us), to “live a life worthy of our vocation.... in humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,”
I think it is fair to say that Saint Paul would not have needed to plead with us to “bear with each other” if it was already an easy thing to do. It is not easy to follow the way of Jesus. It does not always come naturally to ‘bear with one another in patience and love,’ even if it is what we were made for, and destined for. Because, we are being called to live in communion with God and to allow God to transform our humanity into images of God’s Divine life and values///

Following the way of Jesus’ gospel is life-giving and true, but it is also the ‘road less travelled’ and not the easy path. It requires clear and resolute “decision, commitment and a life-long and determined change of vision, values, head and heart.”
The first reading and the gospel remind us that it is very good to continue to trust in the Lord. These passages of Scripture teach us to continue to believe that we will always have enough and even a little left over. They teach us to rely on God's providence in our own lives and also in God's teachings.
 
This weekend’s gospel is again a reminder of the contrast between God’s power and our concept of possibility.

In human eyes, we often cannot imagine how God could intend and also manage to achieve the good news for all people. We humans, who are naturally finite in our physical form, (and are all too well aware of our limitations, and the limitations of resources, money, food, energy, ability), struggle to imagine how God might be able to achieve the things that are so essential in the good news.

But Jesus, in the gospel reminds us that God makes use of our finite and limited offerings and transforms them into things that can be used by God to achieve things beyond our wildest imagination.  God does not even ask us to comprehend it, (if that is even possible), Jesus just asks us to keep offering what we have, so that God can transform it.

Echoing this gospel, every Sunday we come forward with humble and basic gifts of bread and wine, and ask God to transform them into the very real presence of God for our strength and nourishment. And God generously grants our request.

So too, we go out from here, offering ourselves and our humble, finite skills and talents to God; asking God to transform these into tools for the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the daily events and places of our lives. And, God graciously grants this request too.

There is another really beautiful thing, that again shows that Jesus never stops at half measures. Jesus’ miracle with the loaves and the fishes is amazing enough. But, HOW he distributes the miraculous loaves and fishes is also PROFOUNDLY important. Jesus could have had this huge and plentiful supply given out by saying something like: “Okay everyone, line up!!  We will hand this out.” That is to say, Our Lord could have insisted in handing out the bread and fish like the recipients were just beggars, recipients of charity….  People merely grabbing and clutching at the food. But no!! Jesus respects each person’s dignity. He asks that everyone sits down, in groups….  In little community groups. The food is brought to the people and they eat it, as equals and with all dignity.  Truly a second miracle has occurred…..an equally needed miracle.  Yes,  we have people who are in physical need; and we also have people in our society who are crying out for a sense of dignity, for equality and who do not want to be treated just like a number. We have people still, who cry out for human and respectful interaction and an experience of real and nurturing community.

Jesus gives us both nurturing and dignity, and asks us to do the same. And so, in a little while, we will again bring forward our humble gifts of bread and wine and, along with them: ourselves. We come as humble, graced, finite and sinful people; asking God to transform us and our gifts into the gracious things that God will use to change the world to be a place of generosity and respect and dignity.

Let us come to the table of life and be generously fed.

+++++
References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly
+ Some ideas taken from: Gustavo Gutierrez, “sharing the word through the liturgical year.”

 



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Friday, July 17, 2015

Paul's Reflections 500 : Homily 19th July, 2015 - Sixteenth Sunday of the Year B

16th  Sunday in Ordinary Time—  Year  B   -   19th July,  

Jeremiah 23:1-6 The prophet gets the true measure of the custodians of the nation, and it's not good news.
Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6 God alone is the true shepherd of those who seek peace and prosperity.
Ephesians 2:13-18 Peace to those far and near is achievable in Christ, who is the one true peace.
Mark 6:30-34 Jesus is never too tired to exercise compassion for those who seek him.
 
 
There is a beautiful line in the second reading that one could spend the whole week, a whole lifetime contemplating the meaning of:

 Jesus is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall ........, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace “ 

 This is really fascinating...

 So, peace is not just a state of mind or body...,
And Reconciliation and forgiveness is not just something we do or do not do......  
"Peace" is actually a person, 
"Forgiveness" is a person,
...and that person is Jesus, who is the Lord of Peace, the Prince of forgiveness...

 In the words of Alice Camille, there is much food for thought here:

 There was no way I was going to speak to that guy who offended me again. NO WAY!!! I repeated this mantra several times to fortify my resolve. I was outraged. I was hurting. As I rehearsed for the twentieth time the righteousness of my position against my enemy who had offended me. Then I remembered, peace wasn’t something that was mine to give or deny. Jesus is our peace. Jesus is the WAY of peace... unity with him is unity with peace and reconciliation.  To withhold reconciliation is to withhold Christ and what Christ can do...”

The balance between reflection and action, prayer and good works, work and rest,  comes into focus in this weekend’s Gospel.  It is often hard to get this balance right in our lives. So many demands on our time, many good projects that can call to us, and so the balance of work/rest, prayer/action is quite challenging.  Jesus knew this balance and whilst he had to respond and be flexible and even change his plans when situations unexpectedly arose, but at the same time there is a deep sense about Jesus that he kept that balance within his heart and so was able to be peaceful and loving in response despite the many demands.

Jesus knew the benefit of taking some time to get away from it all and revive, rest, pray and have time to nourish ourselves, in body and soul,. 

He showed that care for himself and his disciples, (even in the midst of the demands of his ministry), and the crushing needs shown by countless people who came to see him, hear him and to touch him…..
 
Among the natural benefits of taking some time out:  namely renewal and physical and spiritual recuperation….  there is also a valuable chance to 'stop, take a breath and look at where we are, where we are heading and what we are trying to achieve…"….  
If we constantly respond to the urgent…  we may miss getting a chance to weigh up whether it is also 'important'……  
A thing can be urgent, but not necessarily important………  and some of the most important things in life may never present themselves to us as "urgent"  but (if neglected) could cause major difficulties and cause us to lose sight of the things that really matter…
 
Also, we believe that our God can be encountered in the silence and the stillness…. 
I am impressed by a quote from Saint Teresa which says "settle yourself in solitude… and you will come upon him in yourself."
Another really striking thing about today's gospel passage is that, although Jesus knew he needed to get away from it all and give himself and his disciples time to rest and pray and gain renewal and focus………  

His attitude towards the needy crowds when he saw them is really inspiring……  
He gets to the place he was heading for rest… and the crowds are there too……   
We could be forgiven in some way if in exasperation we reacted by saying… " Oh go away.. I am too tired….   leave me alone…."…… but Jesus reaction is one of compassion and inclusion……    He did not see the crowds as if they were nothing to do with him. These needy crowds were not disconnected from him……  he identified himself with the people who were there….  he and his disciples were not  a case of "them and us"  when it came to relating to the crowd…… So….  it seems as if Jesus' compassionate reaction to the crowd was because, although he was not denying his needs and his disciples needs for rest and prayer and reflection;  when he came across the crowds he recognized their needs as also important……  So … for Jesus it was always a case of "not them and us"   but "us and us"…….His needs and the needs of the disciples were as important as the needs of the crowds and the crowds needs were as real and important to him as his own. He solved the slightly conflicting needs by responding in compassion to the lost and desperate needs of those he encountered…
 
 I am sure he then went off and gave himself and his disciples the space they needed…….afterwards..  

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Paul's Reflections 499 : Paul's Reflections 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year B

Paul's Reflections 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year B

 

Called to be faithful holy disciples, not professional Prophets:

 

I was struck by a simple statement based on this weekend's gospel; . by a bible commentator and 12th century Greek bishop, who writes:

"WHO would not blush in embarrassment, and get rid of all their possessions and embrace a life of poverty when they saw an apostle carrying neither bag, nor even bread; all of which is so very essential?"  [THEOPHYLACT (C. 1050-1109)]

Jesus must have known the effect and the "radical originality" of what he was proposing. The gospel this weekend highlights the differences in the first reading; . //  There were people in Jesus time, who were "professional prophets";  they were born into a family of prophets;  This was the family business;  just like others might be carpenters; some were prophets; And they made their money and earned their bread and shelter from plying their business of being a prophet; which was often a lucrative occupation. 


But Amos in the first reading makes it clear that he is no "professional prophet," but rather, Amos is simply a poor shepherd;  called by God to speak God's words to the people. Jesus calls his followers to that same authenticity and simplicity --  to be open and faithful to God's word and God's vision, no matter how challenging, no matter how difficult. However, at the same time, Jesus is calling us to an attitude and practice of simplicity in our lifestyles, desires and wants;  to live more simply and to travel more lightly and with less baggage;  both physical baggage and spiritual baggage too.

The second reading this weekend is truly beautiful too. I like its call to simplicity too. The letter of St Paul says: "Blessed be the Lord who gives us every spiritual gift; and calls us to be holy and spotless and 'live through his love."  It reminds us that God made us to live in simplicity, trust, holiness;  and freedom; and that we were designed to be people filled with God's Spirit. We are invited to gently walk with God in justice, love and peace. It is such an attractive and reassuring message, which seems so fresh and so inviting to us, in a world where we seem to be being called to the opposite - to possessiveness;  to indulgence; to self-actualisation; to materialism and to an unapologetic participation in unwholesome words, practices and thoughts.  

 

If, as Saint Paul says, God has showered us with EVERY spiritual gift, how are we making use of all of these gifts to live our lives in harmony with God's love, and with God's vision for the world.?

 

The spiritual gifts include: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel (discernment), courage, reverence, and wonder.

It makes me think…..although we often hear people describing our modern society as civilised and enlightened, (and in many ways this may be apt), but in other ways it is not true! It seems to me that one of the greatest tragedies and scandals in our modern society is that although we live in an age of enlightenment and with thousands of years of history and wisdom to tap into; nevertheless so many people seem to be NOT using their highly developed brains and their capacity for thinking things through when it comes to their daily actions and decisions.

For example, one only has to look at the way many people drive and the way they treat each-other in the shopping centre carparks and aisles. Sometimes one could be mistaken for thinking Neanderthals are at the wheel of many cars on the road – because they are driving like maniacs and not like civilised men and women who are driving on the same road as their fellow brother or sister; some people seem to show impatience and irrational aggression, and apparently are quite enslaved by the basest of passions and motives from the values they have. If one could get through to these people, and ask them, "what were you thinking?"  I wouldn't be surprised if the reply they got back was "I wasn't thinking anything, i just acted !" 

 

We have seen some of the greatest insights into science, technology, ethics, scripture and so on; and as today's scriptures attest: we have all the spiritual gifts offered to us by God; But what good are they if there are people out there acting without thinking??? If people live their lives without reflection, wisdom and counsel (or prudence), then all the gifts of heaven and earth will be useless.

 

Perhaps one of the greatest sins of our modern time is the sin of not using our gifts when we have the power to do so. We are capable of working through the complex issues of life and weighing them up carefully in such a ways that is self-sacrificing and in ways that are 'the road less travelled'//    


There seems, at times, various examples of people acting in ignorance or lack of evaluation  without sufficient consideration about just what kind of world we are creating by our decisions and actions.

The scriptures tell us that our lives are designed so that we will walk in accordance with God's vision for the world; which is a life giving and freeing vision, but one that is a way of love and service and self-giving; (certainly not an easy or indulgent path).

 

Jesus' gospel shows no trace of living and acting without thinking, and without counting the cost;  (in fact, quite the opposite), and it certainly is not about the easy path or self-serving choices.

 

However we are assured that Jesus' path is ultimately about truth, and fulfillment. If we trust in God, we can walk along with God who leads us along the right paths. 

 

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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Paul's Reflections 498 : Homily Fourteenth Sunday of the Year B 5th July, 2015

Homily Fourteenth Sunday of the Year B  5th July, 2015



The first reading is about the rather mysterious vocation of a prophet. It is sad. The prophet does what God asks… speaks the words God wants him to speak, and all he gets is rejection….. But this reading reminds us… the success of the message should not be based on the positive reaction, but rather on the faithfulness of the message to God's vision…..   God has given people the freedom to accept or reject that message and that is very important. People's rejection of the message of God does not make their rejection correct or discerning; this is the antidote to an overly "popularistic" attitude to morality and ethics. 

The church is called to be prophetic. To remain faithful to God's ways and to care for God's people always and everywhere. This is a challenging role but a life-giving role. The church, and all of its members, is called to take the road less travelled, along with Jesus who is our leader and guide. The church is called to take the difficult decisions and weather the storms for the sake of the gospel of Jesus, no matter what the cost or response. No matter what the reaction. 

You have probably read in the papers, heard on the radio and watched on the television about news of some shocking and terrible incidents of the most gross and appalling abuses allegedly suffered at the hands of priests and or religious who were in positions of sacred trust.  All incidents of abuse are truly appalling and do untold damage to the victims and their families and also deal a devastating blow to the church community. It is more than sad to hear of these shocking crimes. People who suffer from abuse are usually scarred for life, emotionally if not also physically, by these events.  The church (and all of its members) is called to live the gospel message completely, and not just when it suits us or is most convenient.  No matter what the cost to the church's reputation and no matter what negative light the church might be thrown into by the revelation of these issues, it is naturally essential that the church responds compassionately and caringly to those who are hurt and work with them for healing and peace and justice.  This is the prophetic way that we are all called to. Even if we risk losing everything, we must be true to Jesus' call of truth, integrity, justice and healing. We must have a special care for those who are victimised and marginalised in society and seek to do everything we can to assist them. We all pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us to a deeper understanding of our primary calling to be a place of compassion, healing, integrity, openness and transparency.  Let us pray for all who have suffered from abuse of any kind at the hands of people in positions of trust and authority. Let us pray for all who become aware of this abuse, that they will respond in a cooperative and helpful way to get assistance to those affected and cooperate proactively and fully with those who are charged with bringing justice to bear.  Any time a person has tried to hide grave wrongdoing and cover it up, it is inconsistent with Jesus’ Gospel message, and hiding away grave harm is participating in a lie that goodness is all about us as if we have all ‘arrived’ – as if we it is all about us and our human efforts to have knocked evil on the head, and every time we bring human evil into the light, face it and never dare to hide it and do not condone it by action or inaction, then we entrust ourselves to Jesus’ Gospel which is about truth and honesty and reliance on God’s grace and justice and which is not just about pretending to suddenly having arrived at perfection but honestly walking the true journey which must never hide the real challenges to the good.  May the revelations of recent times in the media and the past revelations, spur the church on to continued openness and ways of responding that truly make a difference and help all people work together to deal with past wrongs and seek to prevent them ever occuring again and responding swiftly and flawlessly if they ever do happen again. Let us all pray to God for grace, justice and healing. 

All three readings from this weekend show the reality of vocation. 

The second reading shows Saint Paul, struggling with the realities of his vocation to proclaim Christ’s message. Saint Paul is experiencing, as we all do…  thorns in the flesh…..  That is, physical, emotional or spiritual weaknesses or infirmities that often cause great struggle and difficulty and seem to be barriers to achieving what we believe we are called to do…….   But St Paul has learnt a very important lesson and wants to share it with us all… …. It is quite understandable….  We tend to assume that the way to achieve important things in life is naturally under our own steam… by our own talent… by our own inner qualities and strengths….. 
WE might be tempted to think that something as important as spreading God’s word and proclaiming the gospel of Christ must require the best, the strongest, the most charismatic, and the most perfect of people????  And yet…. This is clearly not the way God thinks……   A quick look through the bible indicates that God has called to serve him people who one could be tempted to say, were a “motley crew”….   A group of weak, often confused, yes – even sinful -- and many times people who have served God despite some pretty disabling physical or spiritual struggles or conditions……    it cannot be a coincidence

Even Jesus struggled to get people to understand the very different way God works and thinks….. people had in their heads quite different conceptions… for example… people believed the Messiah, would be a powerful warrior and King, who, by amazing signs of power and strength would work the most extraordinary miracles and bring down the oppressive government,….. and Jesus frequently confused people….. He often refused to do “signs and wonders”, and woud only heal (out of compassion, not for effect!!) …..    he mixed with outcasts and sinners and preached a message of peace..not war……. He did not appear to be someone who could take on the powers of the time……      it was very confusing…..

The thing is, Jesus was trying to get across to people… that true power was not to be found where people think… So, doing signs that reinforced incorrect concepts of power or authority or reality… would simply be a great big lie….

Jesus showed us that God was to be encountered in the ordinary.. in the human..  in those who are weak and marginalized and needy………   since love and forgiveness and graciousness are the true powers in the universe…. Then suffering and freedom and openness and the possibility of loss and rejection are the tools in trade,……. This is why the cross is the true power of God… it symbolizes love willing to suffer for all that is good…

I must admit… it is a constant struggle for me… as it was for St Paul and as it is for all of us, (I am sure).. to understand why God will not remove suffering or weakness from us…..   and would say to us… “my grace is sufficient….    My power is revealed in weakness.” 

What does it mean??….   When I am weak I am strong… How can this be……   
It would seem that it is like this….  When people rely solely on their own talent, their own strength, their own competence… as good as that is….  It is clearly all about THEM…….  It is not clear if it is anything to do with God or God’s way of thinking… God’s way of acting…  particularly if God’s ways are about love and freedom and choice….. and inclusion……   force has not place in God’s ways,….

When we experience weakness..  or lack… there is the opposite situation….
Our weakness creates a space for God to work in us…. In the area that is not about us… but about THE OTHER….    Our “lack,” creates a space for freedom… which is one of God’s values….  People are free to listen or not….. People in Jesus’ time (and even in our time) want God to reveal himself in dramatic and powerful and obvious ways, because it saves us from looking for God’s presence in the ordinary… in the people in the margins…  in those who are weak……  



+++++
References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

(Adapted ideas from Sunday Seeds and also Gustavo Gutierrez “Sharing the Word).




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Friday, June 26, 2015

Paul's Reflections 497 : 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
 God is the author of life, not death, and destruction is not of God's design.
Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13 The Lord turns mourning into dancing and weeping into rejoicing.
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 Jesus surrenders richness for poverty that we might become rich.
Mark 5:21-43 A man's dying daughter and a sick woman's distress call forth the power of Jesus.


Today's readings speak of the mystery of suffering and death in the lives of all people. It is made clear that God made us for life and for health and that whatever the meaning of the existence of suffering and death in this world, we must continue to trust that God only has our good in mind.


God does not desire that there be suffering, illness and pain in the world. God designed us for life, and life to the full and for health and strength.  God is present in our midst, offering comfort and strength and God is at work amongst us offering us healing (of one form or another) in times of illness, difficulty and pain.

God is at work constantly bringing about life from adversity and renewing his covenant with us.

We cannot fully explain why God does not remove all illness, suffering and pain from this world, except to be certain that God's compassion and love and care, revealed in Jesus, show where God can be found in the midst of this suffering.  For reasons that are not often clear to us with our limited human vision and perspective, this is the best of all possible worlds that God could have designed; though we do not know why God could not have made a world that did that excludes all misery, pain, suffering and death.  But we are invited to trust in God's goodness and that God only wants our good and not our ill.

We are invited to trust that God is always with us and that Jesus shows us God who is suffering along with all those who labour and are heavily burdened and how God is working to lift their burdens in this life and give them fullness of life in the next.
The faith and the trust of the two people in the Gospel this weekend, (namely Jairus and also the nameless women who touches Our Lord's garment as he passes by), fill us with hope too. Jesus' compassion towards them shows us God's deep and abiding compassion towards all people too. God cares deeply and eternally about all people, especially those suffering and in pain. God is eternally faithful to them and keeps them in God's care and love. God will never forget us or abandon us.

This gospel also tells us the difference between "incidental" actions and "purposeful" actions. We do many different things in any given day, some are unthinking and mechanical, some are well-thought out and purposeful.  The disciples were utterly astounded in the gospel this weekend when Jesus, surrounded by jostling crowds, stopped and asked "who touched me?"  The disciples rightly pointed out that a lot of people were touching him, because he was in the middle of a pushing crowd. Whatever did Jesus mean???   But Jesus could tell the difference between the ordinary incidental touching that occurred in a surging crowd and the faith-filled and deliberate action of a woman who trusted in God and in his ability to make a difference in her life.  That woman's actions were deliberate, purpose-filled and faith-filled and this is what Jesus commended.  Whatever we do in life, whenever we pray and think about what we should be doing and then set about purposefully doing what we believe is right and good and according to God's plans, then we too are commended and encouraged by our Lord in our faith-filled decisions and choices.
This weekend’s Gospel is wonderful. I love that part where the lady quietly touches Jesus clothes in the trust that Jesus had the power to save her. Jesus reaction is amazing. He IMMEDIATELY knew that power had gone out from him. He asks a question that stumps the disciples: "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to Jesus, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ';Who touched me?'" The reaction of the disciples is understandable: "What is he talking about, everyone is touching his clothes, there is a crowd pressing in on him from every side, but still he asks, ‘who touched me.’???

But Jesus knew exactly what he was asking. He KNEW that all manner of people were touching him, but he knew even more that only one person had touched him with the purposefulness and clarity of faith and trust in WHO he is and WHAT he could do, and the SIGNIFICANCE of his mission. Jesus stopped because he sensed that this wonderful lady who had suffered so long had dared to break cultural taboos and risk ignoring the rules of the religious law because she believed that Jesus had the power to save her. She was right and Jesus praised her for her faith.
We too trust and believe in Hope that Jesus has the power to save us, to heal us and to forgive us, and to give us the eternal life that he has promised us.

Fr Paul




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Friday, June 19, 2015

Paul's Reflections 496 : Homily Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B. 21st June, 2015

Homily Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year B.  21st June, 2015

Jesus Calms the storms of life. Jesus is God, whom even the Wind and the Waves obey.

“Jesus was asleep in the boat; how few souls there are that let him have his sleep out! He can't be always doing all the work, responding to all the calls made upon him; so for my own part I am content to leave him undisturbed. I dare say he won't make his presence felt till I start out on the great retreat of eternity; I don't complain of that, I want it to happen… our Lord doesn't supply me with provisions for my journey – he just gives me food unexpectedly when and as I need it. [St Thérèse (1873-1897)]

I have never had much luck with boats. One time, whilst on Lake Cootharaba, in a tin boat we were coming close to the pier and the captain yelled out, "quickly, jump out and moor the boat.' I had always been taught that the captain must be obeyed in all things, so I immediately leaped out of the boat. Sadly, the captain had meant, "when the boat gets close enough to the pier please jump out.' The boat was not near enough to the pier so I leapt out and disappeared into the lake, but not before hitting my chin. The whole thing could have been terribly disastrous (even fatal), so I was very much relieved to discover that my head must be made of concrete because I leapt up out of the water, which was thankfully only three feet deep at the pier, and emerged sheepish, but fairly well. Later, I was lying in the back of the boat, half dazed and injured, as they took me back to the other side of the lake, and I thought about how Jesus has lain in the back of a boat as it crossed another river. I was in such a dazed state, I began musing on ponderous topics…..  such as this…."I reckon Jesus would have been calm even if the storm had not quietened, and even if the boat had sunk. This is because Jesus was totally and utterly at one with his Heavenly Father and had surrendered his will and his trust totally in his Father's will. So, come what may in his life and ministry, he was content to be calm and rest in God's will."

For my part, I vowed to be very hesitant to leap into or out of a boat very soon!

Not many of us would be fast asleep in a small boat which was tossing around like a cork on a stormy sea! Jesus must have been extremely exhausted, needing rest, and fearless. We may think the disciples should have had strong faith after the miracles they had witnessed. When we are going through difficult times, we, too, often forget that Jesus is there with us.

God in Jesus calms even what seems like the most unconquerable disturbances, just like the storm at sea.  

What "storms" assail my faith? How do I look to Jesus to quiet my fears?  The disciples wonder, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?" ; How can I go beyond the "signs" of faith and grasp who Jesus is in my daily life?

Life is a challenge. Couples sometimes struggle with their relationships. Parents have to deal with their children growing up in a world that is sometimes hostile to the values we hold sacred. Kids sometimes live with parents who don't necessarily understand the distant horizons that call to a new generation. Every life has its storms that come up and threaten to sink our boats. Doesn't God care that we feel tossed about and lost? Can we believe that Jesus is with us, in our boat, snoozing on a cushion? We are confident and trusting that he will awaken to our calls and calm the storms that frighten us so?

“Why therefore be disturbed? Your heart is agitated by the tribulations of the world, as the boat in which Jesus Christ was asleep.... This boat in which Jesus Christ is sleeping is your heart in which faith is slumbering. What news do you hear, O Christian, what news do you hear?” —AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354-430)

“When he established the Heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him.” —PROVERBS 8:27-30

 

 

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Extra

"We begin to reflect on who God is for each of us. What do we think of God? How have we experienced God in our lives? Like these early followers of Jesus, if we meet someone who can stop a storm, who can still the wind and the waves, we would surely be impressed and wonder about that person. Today we can imagine Jesus sleeping in this boat. It could not have been a very large boat and the storm would have been tossing it all over the place. And Jesus sleeps!

How many times have we experienced storms in our lives and thought that the Lord was asleep, that God was not concerned, that God was simply ignoring us? The Gospel today lets us know that God is always aware of what is happening in our lives, even when He seems asleep, unconcerned and uncaring. The Gospel invites us to a deep level of trust in our God. God loves us and cares for us always and will not let us perish. We don't always understand the ways of God—and that should never surprise us. God sees all and knows all and our vision and knowledge is so restricted!

The first reading today, from the Book of Job, is part of our learning about the divine also. Job finally realizes that God is God—and Job understands so little of all reality. We also must learn that lesson. We can easily think that we know what is best in any situation. So we don't pray and we don't even ask God to give us wisdom and understanding. We also need to repent, as Job does at the end of the Book of Job. We stand in the presence of the Almighty and think that we have more wisdom and knowledge than does the Almighty! Again, we can reflect on our personal image of God and of the power of God."

(excerpt from Abbot's Homily, Monastery of Christ in the Desert).

 

References:

 

* Fr Paul W. Kelly

* Abbot's Homily, Monastery of Christ in the Desert

* Some questions from Prepare the Word

 

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