Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fr. Paul's Reflections 519 : Homily 1st Sunday Advent. Year C. 29th November, 2015

Homily 1st Sunday Advent. Year C. 29th November, 2015

This coming Sunday the  29th  of November, the first Sunday of Advent , has also been nominated as a Day of Prayer, surrounding the United Nations climate summit in Paris.


 Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Brisbane Archdiocese) has asked that we join others in prayer this Sunday as we pray for the best outcomes possible from this crucial gathering of world leaders.  You might like to include the following prayer in the General Intercessions in your parish masses this weekend:


 “For world leaders as they meet in Paris for the United Nations climate summit.  May they be motivated to act for the common good of all peoples and the entire creation, finding creative and effective ways of responding to climate change so that our fragile planet may continue to be a nurturing place for all life.”


 You also might find helpful these prayers from Laudato Si’


A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

A Christian prayer in union with creation

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!

Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!

Advent has begun.
A new church year has also begun.
It is a time of renewal and ‘new beginnings.”
From a church perspective, now is the best time to bring out those inspiring ‘new year resolutions’ and for us to ask God to direct and guide us as we immerse ourselves deeper into the reality of God’s love, compassion , mercy and justice.

We have commenced our four-week preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. It is such a short time of preparation that we have to be vigilant, because the busyness of the season could mean that we “blink and miss it.”

The readings this weekend are all about preparing and being ‘ready’ and ‘staying awake’ and being watchful.

I particularly like Saint Paul’s words in the second reading:

“May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness …. (And to) make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants….”

The whole point and purpose of our “lives of faith,” is to continue along the path of loving our God by means of deepening our love and reverence for one another.

Our attitudes, our thoughts and actions are intended to foster each day an ever-deeper love, charity and concern for all our fellow brother and sister; that is, all people.

What a wonderful calling. To strive (with the necessary help of God’s grace), to be everything God desires us to be. We are called to grow daily in love, goodwill, peace and forgiveness.

The readings also ask us some important questions: Do you believe that God will indeed fulfil his solemn promises to us? Do you truly believe that in the end, God will come in power and glory to establish in its fullness the Kingdom of God’s peace , justice and mercy? Do you believe that ultimately, honesty, peace, integrity and love will be at the centre of all creation, through Christ?
Come Lord Jesus, teach us your truth and love. Establish your Kingdom in its fullness.

Each year, at this time, Our Archbishop, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, sends us an Advent Pastoral Message. It is a pleasure to include a copy of his message here below:

The Road of Mercy.  A Pastoral Message for Advent 2015
Advent Pastoral Message of Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane.
First Sunday of Advent 2015
At the recent Synod of Bishops, there was a lot of talk about mercy; it’s become the key-note of Pope Francis’ ministry. Two other words often heard in Rome were closely related to mercy. The first was “accompaniment”; the second was “discernment”.
“Accompaniment” presumes we’re on a journey. The God who is “with us” leads us on our journey. Like Abraham, we’re given no road-map by the God who calls us to take a new road and then accompanies us on the way. Instead, we’re asked to keep our eye on the God who is with us, because He alone knows where we’re going and how to get there. That’s one reason why prayer is crucial.
“Discernment” means that we have an eye that sees where and how God is with us on the journey. The process of discernment can be messy, even unsettling. Road-maps and rule by decree are clearer and quicker. But they may not be what we need now. We walk by faith – which means that we don’t look for the clear and the quick to discern how and where God is leading us, step by step, into the future He has promised. We trust the one who journeys with us, and therefore we pray – listening to God, especially as we prepare for Christmas.
As Advent begins, we cross a threshold into the Year of Mercy which, for Pope Francis, is deeply connected to the recent Synod process which included the two Synods and all that went before and after them.  
When the recent Synod ended, it was clear that the journey wasn’t over. We still have a long way to go. The Year of Mercy is the next phase of the journey. In convening these two Synods, Pope Francis wanted to lead us to a deeper sense of a permanently synodal Church. This is something he’s said since he became Pope. He wants us all to understand that we’re on the road together – journeying, like Abraham, as a weak and sinful people, but called and accompanied by God who won’t leave us where and as we are.
One thing I came to see more clearly through the recent Synod was that synodality – to use one of the new buzz-words – is a permanent feature of the life of the whole Church, not just an occasional feature of episcopal life. We all journey together all the time, not just some of the bishops some of the time. This has many implications.  
Journeys are very physical things, as I learn each time I take a long flight. The time of Advent prepares for a birth – and birth is a very physical journey of another kind. According to Scripture, mercy is also a very physical thing. The Latin for mercy is misericordia which means a compassionate heart. But the Bible sees it more physically: for Scripture, the source of mercy is the entrails, even the womb.   

The Bible sees mercy as like the love a mother has for her child. A mother loves her child unconditionally. She sees the child just as she or he is. A mother sees all that’s weak or wrong in her child, but she sees much more. Whatever is weak or wrong is surpassed infinitely by the mother’s love for her child, the one she bore in her womb.  
It’s the same with God and us. God sees us just as we are – weak and wounded, all of us. God sees our sinfulness far more clearly and comprehensively than we ever do. But God sees more – and because he sees more, God is infinitely merciful, like a mother.
Mercy is a vision of possibility. It sees that much more is possible. In that sense, mercy is the mother of hope. The time of Advent, then, prepares not just for the birth of a child who is God-with-us. It also prepares for the birth of mercy which is also the birth of hope.  
As we journey together, the Church becomes a womb. If the Church is a mother, then the Church is also a womb – bringing forth Jesus in the world and therefore giving birth to mercy and hope.
A mother never ceases to accompany the child she conceives and bears in her womb. Mary gives birth to Jesus whom she has borne in her womb; and she stands by the Cross as He dies, just as she shares the joy of His Resurrection. This is the kind of accompaniment mother Church has to offer to all her children, not just some, not just those who are good. The only question is how. That’s where discernment is crucial.
The question isn’t abstract. It’s very practical: what do we have to do to be a more merciful, hope-bearing Church, a Church that really does accompany everyone on the journey, especially the stragglers? One thing we’ll do is welcome refugees from the Middle East into our midst. But there are many others things we’ll be called to do through this Year of Mercy, which will be a challenge to our imagination and our generosity.
If we’re all talk and no action, then we may feel pangs – but they’ll be the pangs of death not the pangs of birth. Advent is about the pangs of birth, which are as physical as the Incarnation when the Word took flesh. The real God is very physical. My hope is that this Advent and our journey through the Year of Mercy will be just as physical, just as real, as we travel the road together.
Archbishop of Brisbane
First Sunday of Advent 2015

Fr Paul W. Kelly

Advent Pastoral Message from Most Rev Mark Coleridge,
Archbishop of Brisbane, First Sunday of Advent.

Intercessions for climate change, brisbane archdiocese. 
& prayers from pope francis' encyclical: 
Laudato Si’ 
Archive of homilies and reflections is at:

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fr. Paul's Reflections 518 : Homily Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - B 22nd November, 2015

Homily Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - B 22nd November, 2015

It is perfectly fitting that the last Sunday of the church's liturgical year, (this Sunday!), we celebrate the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.

This is a celebration which looks forward to the fact that ultimately, at the end of time, Our Lord Jesus will definitively take his place as the Ruler of all Creation. All things will be placed under his authority and power forever.

In one sense, this has already begun. The Reign of God is already here. God’s Kingdom is already amongst us. However, at the end of time, the Reign of God will be established in all its fullness, with any opposing powers comprehensively defeated and vanquished.

In these unsettled times, where forces diametrically opposed to the values of Christ’s Gospel would readily attack everything that people of goodwill hold as precious, this is a reassuring and timely message. The forces of violence, hatred, deception and injustice will ultimately be defeated.

Today in the Gospel, Jesus stands on trial before Pontius Pilate. Pilate is questioning his apparent prisoner. Pilate's questions are arrogant and confident. He thinks he is in control. But we Christians have long been challenged to see beyond appearances. We are invited to see the truth behind the surface . Jesus is actually at all times in control, even though he is a prisoner and on trial for his life. He is really free. Christ is more free than Pilate, who actually is rather keen to release Jesus but is scared of what other people might think or say. Pilate is actually a prisoner. Pilate compromises the truth for political expediency.

Jesus is not the only one on trial in the gospel. In a sense, we too are on trial. And so is Jesus' Gospel way of life. Our values and principles are on trial too.

We have all heard the saying. "nice people finish last," or even the seemingly harmless words: "you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette; (which is a nice way of saying that “in order to succeed in this world, it is okay to hurt, betray or back-stab the person next to you…"/. Other rather common words one hears is: “All's fair in love and war,” and "This is not personal; it is just a financial decision!"

As Christians. we are called to buy into Christ’s view of life that does not always come naturally to human understanding.

Christ’s way is this: Living authentically. Living according to truth and integrity is all that really matters. If we succeed at something by deception or hypocrisy or disregard for the dignity and welfare of our brothers and sisters around us, we are really losing.

But let us be honest. This way of thinking will sometimes get us laughed at. People have sometimes looked at us and said: “how foolish you are. Your integrity makes you a sitting duck. You are a dumb lamb, muddling around in an antagonistic world, and you are headed for the slaughter. But we are in Good Company. That is exactly what Jesus is getting in the gospel passage this weekend. Pilate is virtually calling him a fool for pursuing this non-violent, passive resistance approach. "Do you realise that you are going to get yourself killed? And what good will come of your values then?"

However, Jesus knew that if he compromised his principles merely to try to avoid death, then the really important things of life would have been lost anyway. Jesus’ principles and their practical application is the true message

Christ stands firmly for the fact that the ends do not justify the means, and in fact how we get to the goal is part of the journey.

Jesus tells us all that the truth is all that matters. however Pilate has an answer for this…."and what is Truth???????". He --- like so many --- has turned truth into a commodity to be bought and sold at will. Yet, we know that truth is not a statement; truth is a person, truth is a way of living: Jesus and his life and everything he stood for is the Truth.

Can we dare to follow this radical King? The one whose way of thinking is not of this world but is certainly intended to transform and change this world and the people in it.

We are risking everything. We risk “appearing to lose” in order to win the only thing that really matters”: the establishment of the Reign of God in its fullness, with Justice, peace, mercy and above all Love !

On this feast of Christ the King. We notice that Jesus also shows us what true kingship and true power really looks like in practice. And it is shocking, because true power and true Kingship looks nothing like what the world understands these words to mean. True Kingship is about service. True power is actually “power FOR” others and not actually “power OVER” others. Instead of dominating and subduing others, this true service of leadership helps us to become truly the people God wants us to be. Christ has a vision for the people he created us to be.

In order to be transformed into the people Christ wants us to be, we must accept the Kingship of Jesus Christ and allow Him to transform us and challenge us. He not only frees us from our sins, but he transforms us into a holy people and changes us into a people who are happy to do God’s will and rejoice in knowing the ways and values of the Lord.

And Jesus’ Kingdom is built on the TRUTH; on what is real and honest. All people who desire to follow Jesus as King are saying “YES” to truth and honesty in their lives and values.

There is a nice quote that I find very insightful. The writer Paul Tillich says. “Distrust every claim for truth where you do not see truth united with love; and be certain that you are of the truth and that the truth has taken hold of you only when love has taken hold of you and has started to make you free from yourselves. (Paul Tillich).
It is similar to a motto I have told myself often. Telling the truth without love will render the point useless. No one wants to listen to someone, even when they are pointing out something that might quite true, if the other person senses that this truth is being told to them without love or compassion, or given in a genuinely constructive and gentle way. If the truth is not given in order to build up a person and assist them to be more whole, then it will be rejected. In any case, truth is a way of being and living, more than words handed to someone to swallow like some kind of pill. People deflect even the “truth” when they fear it is being thrown at them like a weapon. And yes… even the truth can be used as a weapon when placed in unloving hands. 
I love the preface to the Eucharistic prayer for this feast day today. because it names some of the qualities to be found in Christ’s Kingdom:

Christ’s Kingdom, which has already begun to take hold in our hearts and in our world is ….. 

“A kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.”

This week, my mind has kept coming back to the concept of Jesus being the Universal King. This means that we are not only his disciples and followers, but we are also his subjects.

What does it mean to be a loyal subject of a “King.” Well it puts our lives into a new perspective.

If Jesus is our King and we are his subjects, then our Christian faith and discipleship can never just be a little side-interest or “hobby” or a part-time diversion in our otherwise segmented lives. Christianity, (which is really another word for committed service of our King and his Kingdom), means being “servants” or even (dare I say it), “slaves for Christ.” I really quite like the idea of being a ‘slave’ for Christ, because it really does not mean in this context a loss of freedom but the attainment of true freedom in our nature as subjects of Christ.

I am sure this is ‘preaching to the converted’ but it is good to reflect upon it explicitly: We give our time and our worship to Jesus not for what we can get out of it, and not merely for giving whatever little spare time we can give, but whole-heartedly.

As fulltime subjects of Christ the King, we celebrate Eucharist not just on special occasions but regularly. (After all, to use the image of a King and his court; what servant tells his King, I do not feel like coming to give you honour this week. I want to take it easy and do other things. PAH… rubbish, says the King). Where did we ever get the other presumption? How did it evolve??? . Jesus is KING !! We are his servants. This King calls us to serve him in action and in each other. We have commitments and responsibilities to others around us and to the community, not just our own needs.

If these words seems rather tough, Jesus himself used such a powerful image in one of his parables, where he writes: "Would a master thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' " (Luke 17).
Jesus is King… we are his servants. I find this concept quite liberating and helpful. We pray daily: May God’s Kingdom come. We are not praying that our own personal Kingdoms come! The Lord’s Prayer thankfully does not say “may my own designer world come!”

God’s ways, values and priorities, are about giving without expecting return and giving without counting the cost. This is such a refreshing corrective to a consumerist, “me-generation” mindset which can seem so prevalent in some sectors of our modern societies.

Come Lord Jesus ! Come, Lord, in all your fullness. Take your rightful place as King of Heaven and Earth! Come, Lord, as King of our hearts and choices.
Fr Paul W. Kelly

To contact Fr. Paul, please email:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fr. Paul's Reflections 517 : Homily Thirty-third Sunday of the Year B 15th November, 2015

Homily Thirty-third Sunday of the Year B  15th  November, 2015

(Updated 15/11/15) :
Our prayers and thoughts are with the people of France, after the shocking acts of terrorism suffered in Paris.  Let us pray for all those suffering from the aftermath. Let us pray for peace in the world and peace in the hearts and minds of all people. May God’s compassion and love fill our hearts and our world with his grace. Let us pray for people all over the world who are suffering from violence, hatred and war. May the world recognise the bond of belonging to one human family and may human rights and justice grow in every culture. 

In some ways, all this talk (in the readings this weekend) of ‘end times’  and ‘the last judgement’  and ‘the Day of the Lord’  and the like, is really about saying ‘all things come to an end, except the things that last forever’  - the things of abiding (eternal) value.  Only that which lasts should be sought after….and the one thing that endures forever is Love, for God is love and all who live in love, live in God.

There are so many things that we can be tempted to put our trust and energy into….  Things that we value, that are not necessarily of abiding value-  which we can try and wrap up and spend so much time protecting and storing away…..    but then when we go to check on it, it is gone….   It has slipped through our hands…..

I cannot help but thinking of that poor old tennis player… Andre Agassi,  who, in a candid biography of his life, revealed that through much of his career he was on drugs. Even when he was “on top of his game,”his insecurities and weaknesses were a prison for him. The most extraordinary example too… was …. (and I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read of this), the revelation that his famous hair style, (known in Australia as a "Mullet" - that it, short at the sides and long hair at the back), was actually a preposterous wig” and that he actually lost one of his important tennis championships because he was scared to exert hinself too much in the match, lest his energetic movements might have dislodged his wig and caused him immediate and profound humiliation and led to mockery. How absolutely extraordinary. He was scared to put all his skill, energy and all his priorities into the goal of playing the best tennis possible, because of his fear relating to something peripheral that simply would not last…..(in this case, his hair!). To paraphrase a line of scripture:  What does a man gain if he keeps his wig on and loses the very championship? This is really a parable about the absolute necessity for good priorities and values. Andre is to be congratulated for his humility in sharing this embarrassing lesson for people to share in his later wisdom.

He lost the game because he valued something of secondary value, something passing….

Much more importantly, as we think of the ultimate goal and destination of all of our lives, priorites and values….   It is very, very relevant food for thought….

In this weekend’s gospel, Jesus is not merely warning about the impending end of the world….  (which two thousand years later has still not come….despite countless predictions to the contrary……).. but rather asking us, his disciples, to make sure our values and actions are directed to the coming of Christ’s Kingdom into every aspect of our lives, here and now, and in the future (in its fullness).   That’s why I love this quote…

“I OBSERVE, THEN, that though Christians throughout the centuries may have been mistaken in what they took to be signs of Christ’s imminent return in glory, (in the second coming), yet they were not wrong in their state of mind, and they were not mistaken in looking out for Christ and being ready to respond to Christ (in their daily lives).”  [John Henry Newman (1801-1890)].

As one scripture scholar points out, (Gustavo Gutierrez), in the context of the whole chapter of this gospel passage… Jesus is speaking about the imminent destruction of the temple, which people had come to take as the “be-all and end-all” of religious experience and achievement.  Jesus was saying, it is not the end, even when the temple lies destroyed!  His Good news is NOT about turning his word into a safe, secure, exclusive and privileged object for people to get complacent about. His good news, is about loving service. The Good News is about paying the price for the values that last. It is about standing with those who are suffering. It is about realising that this is going to come at an enormous cost, not just for Our Lord, but for all who follow his values and his path.

The most re-assuring thing about this weekend’s gospel is the line by Jesus ….  “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will NEVER pass away.”   Jesus’ words, Jesus Gospel, Jesus values, Jesus Kingdom will never, ever pass away. They are of eternal value.  Let us cling to his word,  let us nurture his word and values in our daily lives….  Let us build our lives and priorities on his Kingdom values… because these cannot be taken and cannot be destroyed…..    investing in other priorities and values is pure folly….

The Lord’s word remains forever….  Including these words…

. “ What good is it if you gain the whole world, and lost your soul?”
And these words too…
·        Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you…

·        The greatest amongst you is the one who serves….

·        There is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 who did not need to repent…

·        …..Neither do I condemn you….

·        Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these other things will be given you…

·        The law was made for humanity, and not humanity for the law…

·        What I desire is mercy and not sacrifice…

·        Is it against the law to do good or to do evil….

·        I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put in more than all of the treasury…..

·        Unbind him…  set him free..

·        Anyone who is not against us is for us….

·        Whatsoever you do to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine… you do it to me….

·        In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

·        he who is forgiven little, loves little.

·        If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? ……. And if you greet only your brothers ad sister, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

·        Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

·        FR. PAUL W. KELLY

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Fr. Paul's Reflections 516 : Homily Thirty-Second Sunday Ordinary Time. Year B 8th November, 2015

Homily Thirty-Second Sunday Ordinary Time. Year B 8th November, 2015

It is an understandable error into which we might all potentially fall:
“Only if I was a millionaire would I be able to help so many people. I would do this, and do that! I would help this person, or use the money to support this or that worthy cause.” I am sure we all would do that!

And of course, from time to time you hear of just such a thing happening. A very rich person is exceedingly generous to many people and many causes. Or, a person has a huge win in a lottery and donates a huge chunk of it to make the world a better place. We can often hear of a mega-rich celebrity who has donated millions, sometimes billions to charity or to help in a wonderful humanitarian programme. This is, of course, wonderful. Such rare things certainly do make a difference…..
However, the error of which I speak, is one of assuming that UNLESS we are that rich, we cannot make a difference. However, that kind of thinking has been proven wrong time and time again. Many of the poorest and most under resourced people throughout history have done more than humans have ever imagined, with the grace of God.
In fact, an enormous amount of the aid and charity given every year, if not the percentage of individual persons donating, is not given by just a few millionaires. The countless millions of dollars in value of contributions to worthy causes and practical help to eradicate poverty, disease, starvation, or to help rebuild in times of natural disaster or as aid in time of war; a sizeable chunk has come from ordinary everyday people who have given what little they could. It is astounding to see, time and time again, that all those small donations add up to making an enormous difference throughout the world. A similar error is when people point at others, including the church and say "sell everything you have, and give it to the poor, you are rich enough."  But they fail to see that the church's assets are committed to the service of the needy, income creating for the mission of Christ to the world, and often mortgaged to the hilt to provide hospitals, nursing care, education, work for the poor and the needy, spiritual welfare, worship spaces and so much more.... whilst some of the harshest critics are not giving much or anything, but rather expecting the rich and the perceived rich to do all the giving. If we all give, rich and poor, the world is transformed. As it is, Pope Francis has done many things to show a generosity and priority for the poor and needy, as the church has done throughout the many ages. But it cannot and does not stop there. It starts with you and me. 
The gospel today is a reminder of this miraculous truth. By all means, let us give of what we have. God can transform whatever we give when we give fully of ourselves. God can make our humble giving as effective as if it was a donation of millions. Let us not forget that even a poor person in our Western nations might be seen as living like a millionaire to those who are starving on the other side of the world. It is all comparative. From little things, big things grow!
I once heard a saying, (which really changed my mindset) “do not say, when I win gold lotto I would do such and such; act as if you have already won gold lotto and MAKE the difference.” (Well, actually I forget the correct quote but that is the gist of it, that has stuck in my head). This saying was not meant to be a recipe for reckless spending, but just somehow trying to capture the fact that the widow in the gospel gave from her poverty. She gave fully of herself. That total commitment of herself to what she believed in as a worthy cause will always make all sorts of a difference.
One of the points of today’s gospel is if we all only gave of what we had spare, we might err on the side of safety whilst others went completely empty. Jesus was asking of his followers a radical commitment to transforming that which was wrong. Jesus wanted a wholehearted commitment to including those who were most in need.
After all, we could all justify priorities and needs that mean we could be less and less generous of time, talent and treasure. However, there are those in our world who are, here and now, indisputably in dire need and have no such luxury when they are desperate to meet their most basic and most urgent of human needs. They do not even have the luxury to save for a rainy day.
There is something that we often miss in this gospel, but it is worth stopping and noting. It says that Jesus enters the temple and sits down and watches people as they go to the treasury to donate. Jesus is making a point of observing and looking And SEEING what is really happening. What does he see? So many people come and go. He sees some people coming in and making a big show of putting in a lot of money. Others might be impressed. But, Jesus is watching the scene with his eyes and his heart open. Jesus sees with a perfectly “kingdom centred heart.” He sees things as they really are. He can see the truth. He notices what others do not. Sure everyone is donating! . Yes, it is true that the rich have so much excess to spare that they are giving enormous amounts out of what they do not need. But look here, this woman is truly committed to the Kingdom because here is a person who has given everything she owned. She contributed to the project wholeheartedly (literally), because she gave not merely out of what she could afford to spare, but out of what was really essential to her. And it is the seemingly insignificant person with a comparatively insignificant contribution, whom no one else noticed, who is the person who is totally committed to what she values. She gives what is in monetary value not worth a pinch of salt. But in fact it is she whose generosity is the most absolute. This widow puts the others to shame. And only the eyes that are tuned to a new Kingdom value system; (a new way of looking, a new way of understanding), could ever have picked up such a seemingly insignificant moment).
But there is even more. Jesus has attacked and criticized the leaders of his time. They are meant to be reliable and trustworthy and defenders of the poor and needy. Instead, by ostentatious living and by unreasonable demands for power, prestige and privilege, they are devouring the funds that are meant to be for the care of widows, orphans, strangers and all those in need. They are taking generous giving from people of commitment, faith and goodwill and devouring it themselves. They are not only taking ‘food from babies mouths’ but also from widows. What a scandal. What a disgrace. Jesus is inviting them to rethink their priorities….. 
If people were to let go of their claims to certain priorities and privileges and even some understandable luxuries and comforts, and give from their own need, they would be in solidarity with others in need. They wouild identify with those who are in need and put themselves as respectful equals with them as we all begin to resolve the inequalities of life by putting more than is merited, at the service of all that is worthwhile and good….. 
This is very powerful food for thought…… 
It is world-shaking and transforming.
The widow was completely trusting and committed in her faithfulness and trust in God and THIS FLOWED OUT into her very practical and generous contribution in faith. She kept her eyes and her actions, fixed on the Lord

Fr Paul W. Kelly
Some reflection ideas from G Gutierrez, Sharing the Word through the liturgical year.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Paul's Reflections 515 : All Saints. Year B. Sunday 1st November, 2015 and All Souls 2nd November, 2015

Homily All Saints. Year B 1st November, 2015

In quite a few of St Paul’s writings to different communities, he addresses his letters to “the saints in …” This term referred to the still living members of the Christian community … that is, all who were reborn into Christ by Baptism and who were leading lives of discipleship of Christ, by practically following his gospel. This picks up the sense that, for all who follow Christ, eternal life begins NOW. Eternal life is here already, although as the second reading says today, the fullness of this eternal life will not be fully revealed and experienced until the next life, with God in heaven.
The writings of both Saint Paul, and Saint John are both strong on this concept that the disciples of Jesus are already saints and witnesses and already have the eternal life of Christ abiding in them; even if not fully revealed or realised. 
Nowadays, when we think of “saints,” we usually refer to those who have died and are now enjoying the glory of God in heaven. We normally would not dream of calling ourselves ‘saints’ on this side of heaven because it is a word nowadays associated to those who have lived exemplary lives which deeply reflected the Gospel, and who are now officially declared by the church to be in heaven with God, enjoying the eternal rest and reward of the Kingdom. Nevertheless, in the broader sense of the word, we are all called to be saints and to live this reality here and now.
Sometimes on this Feast of All Saints, it can be tempting to focus on the famous saints, such as Saint Peter or Saint Paul, and the likes. Although these are very important saints and certainly prime examples of those who belong to the communion of saints, making a big thing of them in this feast today is like two bites at the same cherry. These great saints have their own special feast days (some more than one) to commemorate their sainthood and heroic virtue. Whilst the “big saints” are most certainly included in All Saints Day, this feast is most importantly a celebration of all the unsung saints who don’t have an official feast day of their own. These may not even be officially recognized by the church (yet). Some may never officially be recognized by the church, or officially proclaimed a “SAINT.” However, THEY are in heaven enjoying the reward and the communion of the saints. These are family members, friends and colleagues whom we have known and who have gone to their reward having lives exemplary lives of quiet, unassuming virtue, love and service.

These are people from our own experiences whom we personally are quite sure are in heaven, or strongly believe to be already enjoying the full joys of a life of goodness and kindness. This is THEIR day. They have found the complete fulfilment of their faithful living of the good news in their lives.

On the theme of sainthood now…. I was reading the commentary from the publication Magazine called “Madonna” and it picks up on the second reading where St John says “We are your children now”.

“I wonder why we are always putting this in the future: we will be your children; we will be happy with you; we will be saints.

We act as though the people we call saints were, all through their lives, taking out insurance to make sure that they made it, were earning their reward.

Weren’t they, rather, living all along as your children, in your presence here and now……., content to have nothing but you? They weren’t living the future…. but were living in the here and now……(didn’t someone once say that a saint is a person who can live in the present…. not looking back or forward but fully living in the present moment….?),,,,,,,, They holy men and women we admire so much……..knew how things really are between you and us (here and now):/ they knew what living the eternal life of the gospel meant for this life and for now…….and not just how they will be later …. in the next life…

God the Father sent his Son to show us how things are between us, right now…….what depth of relationship is available right now. Help us to grasp this today.

2nd November, 2015  All Souls Day
In every gathering for Eucharist, we believe that we become deeply united / joined (irrespective of time or location)…. to the ONE heavenly banquet feast of Heaven…. the supper of the Lamb of God…… whose once and for all sacrifice on the cross (re-presented in every eucharist) washes us clean of our sins… renews us…… and re-unites us as “children of the One God”……
Today, and every day, we remember that we are unimaginably close to our dearly departed, whenever we celebrate eucharist….. because we remain IN COMMUNION with all people… all the faithful…. all those living…. and also those gone before us ….. This is an enormously powerful and reassuring reality…… are loved ones are always with us… and never more than when we celebrate our unity, our communion in Christ and with eachother…. a communion not broken with death……. we are assured of that… always…
we believe that the prayers we make for our loved ones and friends are heard…. and effective….. in this life…… and we also believe that the bond of love between us and God… and us and our loved ones….. endures eternally….and finds its final home on God’s heavenly kingdom.
we also believe that we can continue and should continue to pray for those who have completed this earthly life….. we can continue to pray for our departed loved ones, friends and colleagues…. and that these prayers are also heard and effective….. just as they would be if we were praying for a loved one who is still here amongst us….. 
Today’s feast day.. is ultimately about the resurrection… and God’s promises to us…… Today is about Hope and trust…..
We hope with firm confidence in Christ’s promise of faithfulness to us…. and we trust that Christ’s resurrection most definitively had the “final word” on all things… including our ultimate destiny……
We believe that because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection…. he has firmly tipped the scales in favour of our salvation…… the salvation of all…… we are right to trust in this promise……
Today, we also stop to think and pray for those people who lived ‘forgotten lives”,,,, (although no one is ever forgotten by God… all are loved and remembered in Good’s eyes….)…. but there have been some… many… whose lives were overshadowed by so many factors…. so many tragedies… mistakes… or hurts…. that they maye have been considered ‘lost’ to the world or society… or to their friends…. we keep in our prayers people who may have no one to pray for them….. who lived hard, broken, tragic, loveless, flawed, self-centred, lives…. and whose death’s challenge and test our hope…… we believe that out prayers, our Christian hope, our faith in Christ, the Good shepherd…who is never satisfied with just the 99 found sheep…… we pray for those people … that through God’s infinite… and unimaginable love and mercy….. by Christ’s all persuasive love and compassion….. they may be brought rejoicing and at peace into the love, the light, the peace and the rest of God’s heavenly kingdom….we are right to commend all those who have gone before us…to our God who understands, loves and knows us, better than we can even know ourselves……
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord…. may perpetual light shine upon them… may they rest in peace..
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Fr Paul W. Kelly

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Paul's Reflections 514 : Homily Thirtieth Sunday of the Year B . 25th October , 2015

Homily Thirtieth Sunday of the Year B .  25th October , 2015

“What is it that you want me to do for you?”

There are a couple of very striking moments in the Gospel today. There is a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus. He simply will NOT be silenced. He calls out for help even when well-meaning (but wrong-footed) people tell him to be silent. He persistently cries to Jesus for help, because he KNOWS that Jesus is the Messiah. He also KNOWS that Jesus can help him.

I can’t help wondering if Bartimaeus is not the inspiration for Jesus’ parable of the persistent neighbor. He keeps knocking and keeps calling out until he gets what he needs. As Jesus said in that parable, other people would have given the persistent neighbour what they needed just because they wanted him to stop irritating them and to give them peace. So, how much more can we expect God to turn a real listening ear, a sympathetic ear to people who cry out in their need. Naturally, God is very much concerned with our welfare and with what we need. God doesn’t answer us merely to shut us up but out of the deepest care and compassion.

The Gospel passage also says that Bartimaeus does something very powerful: he 'throws off his cloak' (the cloak being the "badge" of a beggar), and goes to Jesus. He is already showing that he KNOWS he is not going back to his old life and doesn't want to. 

Jesus asks him "what do you want me to do for you?"

Jesus asks all of us, "What do you want from me? Think about what you are really asking of me. What do you really want? What do you really NEED?" 

Naturally Bartimaeus is asking for his sight back. But Jesus is asking him a deeper question: “Do you realize the consequences of what you are asking? Do you understand what this request is going to lead you to receive?” For Bartimaeus, it will mean a completely new life. When he receives his sight, he will no longer be a beggar, and he will have to face a new life, a new vocation, and a new everything. This is both exciting and scary.  

A true encounter with Jesus is always a joy and a challenge. Our encounter with Jesus, is a two way dialogue; We speak to God of our needs and hopes and fears and God replies with a (silent) question: “what is it that you are really asking?”…. and “Are you prepared for the whole change of circumstances that goes with the encounter?”

Apparently, Bartimaeus is one of the few people Jesus cured who we are explicitly see indications in the text that he also went on to become one of his disciples. So, it is clear that as well as re-gaining his physical sight, Bartimaeus (equally importantly) has shown enormous clarity of spiritual insight, into who Jesus is and what following him means.

When Bartimaeus regained his sight and Jesus tells him "go your way" and beautifully, Bartimaeus ' "way" is now to FOLLOW Jesus, because it says he follows him along “the way.” He became a follower, a disciple. As he walks along following Jesus he will continue to gain NEW (spiritual) sight and knowledge. In another sense, we all gain new sight as we cast off the “cloak” of old ways and old excuses and faithfully walk along the new ways of Jesus. 

Pope Francis has declared this next twelve months is a year of Jubilee celebrating God’s mercy. The present Synod of bishops in Rome is working with Pope Francis to let Christ show them and us how the Church can see ways that we can be more loving, more merciful and more compassionate in our living of the Gospel. We are like Bartimaeus, asking Jesus to show us and teach us deeper ways to combine mercy and justice, faithfulness to his teaching and loving compassion for those who have stumbled and are searching for answers.

As we walk along the road of God’s mercy, let us explore and celebrate the richness of God’s mercy and love. Like Bartimaeus let us continue to see with the eyes of faith and love, and follow the Lord along the exciting ways of newness of sight. 

We need to be very careful about spiritual blindness. It can be a very subtle thing. We must all be on our guard against spiritual blindness and we would do best to suspect that we have aspects of Spiritual blindness in our lives and search for it and put any aspects of it before our Lord for the purpose of healing.

I will give an example… when I was first ordained, some eighteen years ago, I was in a parish that had an enormous number of visitors coming through. It was a popular holiday spot and so it had a lot of people coming and going and that was a wonderful atmosphere. Like every parish, we made a special intention to be a very welcoming community to all our visitors who were of course brothers and sisters in Christ. I remember giving a homily one Sunday, about how Jesus often dealt with those who seemed to be just focusing on the little nit-picking details and missing the big picture. I preached about how those who were opposed to Jesus were trying to find fault in Jesus’ words and constantly criticizing everything Jesus did rather than being open to his transforming and challenging message. We have to be very careful about negativity and criticism and missing the big picture. Anyway, I finished mass, and the first person who bundled up to me after mass was a visitor from somewhere else who then proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong with this particular church and its physical setup and then went on to list a series of things they didn’t like about the mass. It took my breath away…. After the list of defects, I turned to the person and said: ‘welcome to this church, oh and, my name is Fr Paul Kelly, sorry, I don’t think you introduced yourself.” (This person was so intent on listing errors that they just launched into the speech without even a greeting or saying who they were). I am not saying that there is no room for people expressing their concerns or observations. Every church needs to do that process of evaluation and be open to constructive comments and questions. However, the means and the time matter greatly.

It was a bit upsetting for another reason too. I thought, It is astounding. Didn’t this person listen to the gospel? Didn’t they listen to the theme of today’s homily?? We have been reflecting on not nitpicking and rather listening deeply about Christ’s message and values, and here is this person who clearly does not realise the irony of their own actions; appearing to do the exact opposite of what the gospel was saying, The mass has barely even finished and it looked quite clear that this litany of errors had occupied the speaker rather than the mass we have just completed celebrating. (It is sobering. I certainly always ask myself; in what ways do I not see how the message of the gospel challenges MY life. What are some contradictory values and actions that I can hold onto?)

Sad to say, over the years, that has happened a few times,(usually on particularly key and rather clear aspects of Jesus’ teachings - Almost as if the raising of the issues brought out the counter-reaction……but often quite unconsciously in the other… so it seemed )….

I have virtually come to expect that after some key homilies on really quite clear gospel teachings, it was “odds-on” that someone would immediately afterwards (and quite unconsciously) do or say something that was the exact polar-opposite of what the theme of the weekend’s gospel was just saying.
It is so consistent that I wonder if it’s a bit like when a doctor lances a wound, the foul matter rises immediately to the surface. It is too consistent.

We can shake our heads about this but we, in all probablility, all do the same thing. You and I may very well have glaring blindness to some aspects of Jesus’ explicit teachings and message.

How is it that we can hear the gospel and not always realise that this very gospel is ‘convicting’ us of precisely that quality. How is it that when we listen to gospels we do not realize that this message is directed at us, and that we might also be the Pharisees and the critics or the hypocrites. Christ asks us to be open to this possibility. To ask ourselves constantly, do I do that? How do I do this? And not too be too quick to say, “as that is not me, that is other people!

Christ invites us to be transformed…. If we ask the Lord to free us from spiritual blindness, the Lord will do it, and show us the contradictions.. if we know what it is we are asking for…. And what it means for us….

TO what extent are we capable of being blind to the challenging message and vision of Jesus? In what ways do we “listen and listen and yet ‘not hear’”? In what ways do we look and look and not see……?? 

I am a great fan of bible commentaries and books of homilies based on the readings… I have quite a few… but there are very few (in this very large collection) that are very satisfying…. Most of them fail to get down the concrete challenges of daily life, because it is so difficult to do the hard work of listening and seeing….. and reflecting on the real, earthy and practical implications of these readings for us, here and now, in this place… That is very hard work, and it is easier to give generalised sayings….
Lord, show us the light…. Help us to see… and to trust in your challenging, but healing word…..
Fr Paul W. Kelly

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Paul's Reflections 513 : Twenty-ninth Sunday of the Year - B. 18th October, 2015

Twenty-ninth Sunday of the Year - B. 18th October, 2015

Jesus Chris loved us SO much, that he gave himself up for us, completely. Jesus, sacrificed himself to save us. He became like a slave for us.
As the second reading says; We have a God who is able to sympathise with us in our weaknesses, because Jesus has shared our human nature and experienced human weakness, suffering, pain and temptation just like we all have.
Jesus DOES indeed know what it is like for us to experience difficulties of every kind, and he promises to walk with us, and support us in the challenges and suffering of life.
There is a saying, “I am only human,” and whilst it is good to acknowledge that we are fallible, and that we can all make mistakes, that excuse can sometimes be used to justify remaining stuck in behaviours that are destructive and which are not consistent with Jesus’ gospel.
Whilst we are most certainly human, we are also called to share in Christ’s divine life….
So, whilst God is understanding, sympathetic and forgiving, this is even more reason why we need to dedicate ourselves to rising above the sinful and destructive behaviours that we find ourselves in.
God’s forgiveness, and our human weakness is never an invitation to say, ‘this is all I am and this is all I can be. I will not change, and will always wallow in my weaknesses.’ Rather, let us be inspired by God’s tender mercy and compassion so that we then take up our cross and keep travelling along the journey of conversion -  keeping along the path of holiness, and continuing to ask God to foster in us the virtues that will transform our weaknesses and make us more and more like Jesus and his values….
Our weakness is an obstacle in our path to holiness. However, it is never an excuse for stopping in our tracks! Our weaknesses are real, but are never an excuse to stay ‘stuck in a rut.’ We must continue to ‘reach for the stars’even if at times we have found ourselves wallowing in a gutter.  We need the help of God’s grace to achieve this.
Jesus is the ultimate example of not only “God made flesh” but also of humanity fully alive and glorified. The saints; (those holy women and men who led lives of service, sacrifice and holiness), remind us that, despite our infirmities and limitations, it is possible and necessary to keep moving forward in the path of holiness. Settling for less is never acceptable.
The journey we are on is one that is ‘walking a fine line.’ We live in a way that means we never give up because of the sins and failures we experience in our lives, and we always gratefully accept the new start that God gives us through God’s compassion and mercy, but at the same time we never allow our weaknesses to cause us to presume on God’s mercy in a way that allows us to choose to do wrong because we know God will forgive us afterwards.
The gospel today is very fitting too…..
The disciples, (poor disciples!) have got it wrong again!
Here is James and John coming up to Jesus and insisting that he give them places of honour and privilege in his Kingdom. How selfish, how proud, how indulgent!
The other disciples are angry at them, but perhaps because they too wanted those seats, (those privileges), and how dare others ask for them! Jesus tries to show them (and us) that they have totally missed the point.
It is not even JESUS who allots everyone’s place in Heaven. It is THE HEAVENLY FATHER. And the places will be allotted to people who have suffered; (those who have sacrificed themselves in loving and self-giving service), and certainly not to those seeking self-indulgence, privilege and prestige. How wrong they are! These places cannot be earned without the CROSS in every disciple’s life.
Jesus asks us to get rid of any kind of self-satisfaction, self indulgence and pride. He shows us how to let go of our selfishness and give ourselves to others in service.
Let us ask ourselves, “ what motivates my actions?”  Really, what are my motives and priorities? What are the things that motivate us in what we do in the church and in our daily lives….” Do we do things because we expect something back? Do we do it because we want a prestigious place of honour or benefit?” We must know, that this is not what Christ is calling us to.

Service and love, (done with Jesus’ gospel values), is its own sweet reward.
Personal reward, personal accolades, self-satisfaction – none of these are consistent with Jesus message.
Self-surrender, being servants to God and his message, compassion, self-sacrifice, loving-service, mercy; this is consistent with Jesus’ message.  
Lord, help us to see our weaknesses, help us to trust in your mercy and compassion. Prevent us from ever presuming on your mercy in order that we would boldly continue to live wrongly and indulgently. Graciously spur us on, to keep going along the path to holiness. And. Lord, please inspire us to give selflessly and lovingly and to serve as you did. 

Fr Paul W. Kelly

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