Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Catholic Reflections 616 : Homily Sixteenth Sunday of the Year A - Sunday, July 23, 2017



Homily Sixteenth Sunday of the Year A  - Sunday, July 23, 2017

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
       First Reading: Wisdom 12:13. 16-19
       Psalm: Ps 85:5-6. 9-10. 15-16. “
Lord, you are good and forgiving.
       Second Reading: Romans 8:26-27
       Gospel: Matthew 13:24-43
      
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Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Sixteenth Sunday of the Year A  - Sunday, July 23, 2017 by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-16th-sunday-ordinary-a-2017
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A Quality that describes God in the readings this weekend is : “Forbearance”  -  “patience, long-suffering, sufferance, tolerance, or the act of refraining from enforcing a debt, obligation or right.”  

[“’gospel’ values included in the readings:”
mercy, kindness, forbearance, wholeness, consistency, slowness to anger, allowing time to change and to grow, hope- (because of allowing for repenatance and forgiveness), graciousness, steadfastness in love, faithfulness, being a person of encouragement, The Spirit prays in us, God forebears to leave freedom of will and wrongdoing – God plays the “long game,” so as to gain as many people as possible - the presence and action of the Kingdom is not grand and overwhelming but subtle and down-to earth…..modest eg -shrub, leaven in the dough… ]

The first reading, the psalm and the gospel all tell us something very important…. “God is all-powerful, but is gentle and always wants to give us time for change, for transformation, and for repentance.” (Abbot’s homily, Monastery of Christ in the desert).

I love the lines in the first reading… They are so beautiful… it gives us a deep insight into God’s nature and God’s message: Lord… Although your strength is sovereign.. you judge us in mildness, you govern us with forebearance… and by these you teach us to be KIND… and have hope, because you allow us to repent of our sins…….
(paraphrased)
 

The gospel this weekend, uses, among other examples, the image of the kingdom of God being like ‘the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’ Surely our mission as Christians is very fittingly described as that. We each seek to implement the good news of Jesus in an “holistic” way… in a way that is not segmented…. // We desire that our discipleship distributes and combines ‘right through every aspect of our lives’ ………so that the gospel is part of every aspect.. and not merely something that has been “tacked-on” to the end of an otherwise “non-Christian set-up”… but rather… it is “worked-in” and becomes an integral part of who we are and what we do. … just like yeast is mixed seamlessly into flour….. It becomes part of it, and then raises it up into a new and more beautiful creation…. All of us are like that too in our daily lives…… // Daily, we get glimpses of the kingdom at work in our everyday lives…// The Spirit is working into and amongst the everyday events and values of the our days………
 
We are all, as Christians, to be “leaven in the dough”…// We are called to be ‘So much part of society’ as to be integral… and all-the-while bringing the life, joy and compassion of the Gospel effortlessly into all we do and say… (and often not even in a very ‘obvious’ way, but perfectly naturally)…… being part of God’s transformation of all things into God’s image…. 
 
Finally, Jesus tackles the age old question… why are there bad things in the world? …. Why does God allow seemingly bad people to do bad things?…. Why does God allow the ‘destructive’ to thrive alongside of the ‘constructive’?…….. I suppose we can all be glad that God doesn’t dispose of anyone or anything that is imperfect… or “hit with a bolt of lightning” anyone who has ever sinned or made a mistake or who was weak and not entirely living up to the Gospel message……. I for one am very glad that God is patient..  ….That God gives us time to be fully transformed by the gospel…….. I am sure we have all benefited from that most reassuring of Divine qualities… “forebearance and mercy.”
 
Contradictions exist not only around us… but also in our own individual lives too. – We too live with the “wheat and the weeds” within our own heart. ……For all our good intentions and efforts, we will probably continue to struggle with some issues, some contradictions all our lives. The garden of our soul will always need a little weeding. These inner struggles will continue to call us to conversion and we will continue to need to call on the Lord and allow God to be the gardener of our souls. Knowing the weeds and wheat within our own individual lives, can help us be a little more patient, and compassionate of the weeds and wheat around us – in our families, communities, our Church. This is not an invitation to complacency but a reminder for us to ‘stay real’ and see the bigger picture.***

God has unconditional love for us…. God made us, ///and Lord sees into our hearts…..and sees the enormous potential and possibilities that lie within us….. God sees us as we truly are… and still loves us…… giving us time and grace…in order that we might foster the virtues and positive attributes of ourselves … and allow God to transform and heal those areas that are in need of forgiveness, transformation and conversion….. 

 
God appears to err on the side of human freedom so that we may be fully free to respond with love to all that God wants for us…….. (this is both an enormous gift and a powerful challenge and responsibility).
 
One thing is certain…. without denying the reality of suffering, injustice and downright evil within the world….. nevertheless… we are invited not to be thrown by all this, and to focus more than ever in doing good, in being people of kindness, mercy, justice and compassion….. let us not allow the hurts and sins of the world stop us from deepening our constant calling to do good, to love more deeply. When the weeds around us might otherwise prompt us to respond with negativity and bitterness…. where sin and hurt abounds.. let us ensure that the grace, kindness and forbearing love of Christ all the more abound…. in all that we do and say…
 
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REFERENCES:

 FR. PAUL W. KELLY

 
***Mary Coloe. LiturgyHelp.com

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

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

You are welcome to subscribe to Fr Paul’s homily mailout by sending an email at this address:
paulkellyreflections+subscribe@googlegroups.com

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year A

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

Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.

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

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

Preface VI of Sundays of Ordinary time

Euch Prayer II

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Go in peace.



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Monday, July 17, 2017

A Feast Worth Savouring

A Feast Worth Savouring

We have different names to describe the wonderful experience we participate in every Sunday.  Traditionally it has been called “The Mass”  which comes from the latin exhortation the priest proclaims at the end of the celebration:  “Go forth!”  That is a great name, because we are nourished by God’s Word and by the Body and Blood of Christ and then we “Go forth” to live as we proclaim. 

Another great word for the Sunday Liturgy is “Eucharist” - A Greek word meaning “Thanksgiving.” We have so much to be thankful for and we remember and give voice to our praise of God’s many gifts.   

The Eucharist is truly a sacred Banquet where we are fed by the Lord with his life-giving  word and presence.  

I often think about the Eucharist being a Holy Meal.  Whenever we gather for any formal meal, we want to savour the company and take time to appreciate the food we are being offered.  In a special dinner gathering we gather and spend some time acknowledging the presence of those present and engaging with the host. We might be given a first course, and we take our time to savour its goodness.  It would be very odd to have the plate taken from us as soon as the last bite has been taken and find the second course sitting there in its place. It is nice to sit and savour the beauty of each course at least for a short time. After a pause to allow the food to be appreciated, we gently move to the second course. Again, it is so important to savour each dish and take our time.  If we rush, it all becomes a blur, and we may miss the subtlety of each source of nourishment.  We might also get indigestion if we feel rushed or hurried.  One could not imagine arriving at a dinner party, being sat straight down and handed the first course and then immediately the second and third without pause and then led to the door at the end of all the dishes and thanked for our presence as the door closes behind us. Our heads would be spinning and our stomach labouring.

This is the case for any great dinner party, and this applies even more to the Sacred and unique Banquet feast of the Eucharist, which is the Supper of the Lamb of God.   

In Mass, there is a saying, “never omit silence”  - Pauses for reflection and silence are integral to the Mass and are not just gaps in the action.  They are actually expressly noted in the instructions for the celebration of the Liturgy. Each reading and each prayer we savour and take our time,  pausing afterwards to allow it to sink in and be “digested” spiritually.  There are even special times when the Priest says “Let us Pray.”  The Missal indicates at these times that a pause is then taken so that the whole assembly silently prays briefly at this point, before going on.  It is wonderful to savour this most sacred meal, where each reading and each prayer is a rich source of holy food to us.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Catholic Reflections 615 : Homily Fifteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time. Year A - Sunday, July 16, 2017

Homily Fifteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time. Year A - Sunday, July 16, 2017

       First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
       Psalm: Ps 64:10-14. “
The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.
       Second Reading: Romans 8:18-23
       Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23

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Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Fifteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time. Year A - Sunday, July 16, 2017 by clicking this link here:   https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-15th-ordinary-a
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(https://www.vangogh.net/images/paintings/sower-at-sunset.jpg)
 
The wonderful image of the sower and the seed that falls on all sorts of different environments is a truly excellent parable.  It reminds us that just as a seed has within it everything needed to produce a viable plant, it will produce nothing unless it is properly watered and nourished and finds the right soil or medium to take hold.  It is similar to the idea of a delicious meal which contains all the nutrition needed to help a person stay healthy - But the meal is useless unless it is eaten. It is also like a light bulb that has the potential to light up a room but only if it is fitted into the socket and the switch turned on!    
 
Our Lord tells us that the seed represents the WORD of GOD…  and we could also say that the seed also represents FAITH in Jesus (and faith in WHO he is, in what he teaches and (just as importantly) how he lived…..   AND……., faith in the gospel.

This “seed”  could also represent the many opportunities that we all have been given to help build up the Kingdom of God.  


We cannot underestimate how important the response and the environment with which the Word of God is received by us in helping God's values to flourish everywhere. God wants and needs our cooperation and our working with him in helping God's Kingdom Come.

True, like the first reading, God is absolutely determined that the Word that comes from his mouth will NOT return empty and will achieve what God wants.  However, we humans can cooperate with what God is doing and (sadly) we are capable of resisting and even trying to block what God is doing.  God is determined to get around our resistance and to achieve his plans, but we should not take this lightly --   The non-cooperation of people, or the resistance of people could seriously slow down the progress of God's vision for the world. God may have to take alternate steps or 'go the long way around' in achieving God's goals, due to human resistance or lack of openness.   

Just as a seed needs good soil, water, shelter, nourishment and protection, so too our faith, our knowledge, our life needs to continue to be planted and lovingly nurtured in an environment that will foster continued growth and learning.

There are many challenges in life too, we must be careful that the precious seed of faith is planted; nurtured and attended-to daily, or else it will not grow. Other things, other priorities and values might “crowd-out” the growth of faith. Setbacks and hardships have the potential to stifle what we have. We need to actively protect, promote and encourage the good treasure we have received so that it will indeed bear much fruit.


We believe that the sacraments of the Church are concrete guarantees and tangible experiences of an inner reality. So, when a priest says the words of forgiveness in the sacrament of penance, (in the name of the church and in the name of Jesus), we believe that this effectively conveys the sacrament of God’s forgiveness and healing. And when the church baptizes a person, we believe that the “God-given gift of FAITH is very much really and truly passed on in this action of pouring the water, professing Trinitarian faith and conducting the prayers.  
And if a person is baptized, faith is definitely given, (100% guaranteed)….but just like this gospel reminds us today.., if one has baptism and then hardly does anything to nurture, deepen or nourish that faith, then that real and effective “seed of faith” (which is surely there), would be rather like a seed in 'un-watered, un-tended and unplowed, hardened ground,' it can hardly be expected to bear much or any fruit. 

Mind you, God can achieve amazing results of grace and love in what seems to be the most inhospitable situations, but we never take this for granted.. and strive to give God’s word the most nurturing environment possible…  with prayer, reflection and good works.  

Have you ever seen a rather healthy looking plant springing up from a roof gutter of a house?  It shouldn't be there and how has it gotten what it needs to grow?  We don't quite know; however, life finds a way! But again, we do not underestimate the power of working in every way we can to give the seed of God's word the very best environment and every opportunity to produce the greatest harvest.  
 
Interestingly Jesus even realized that the results in his kingdom would be at times patchy, because notice he says that the good seed produces One-hundred, sixty, thirty. Notice, that is actually a declining sequence of numbers. So we have to be prepared for all sorts of results in the sowing of God’s effective word. And, although God’s word never returns without bearing fruit, it still remains very much our task to ensure that the word is given the nourishment and encouragement it needs to bear the most fruit.
 
So, in baptism, and the other sacraments. They are certainly effective, but they cannot be disconnected from the concepts of conversion of heart,// of the practice of the faith,// of personal engagement,// daily prayer, participation in the sacraments regularly, regular spiritual reading and faith-study and reflection, and of course practical, loving and compassionate  action in our daily lives and priorities. The forgiveness and healing given in the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance) are quite real,  but the sacrament bears most fruit when watered by the moving tears of repentance and nourished by a change of heart, attitude and behaviour.     
   
Our Lord frequently begged his disciples…  pray and fast often ..  so that you will not come into the time of trial…   he appeared also to be saying..  pray and prepare so that God will give you strength during times of trial,   to avoid the cares of this world crowding in around us,…..

Our Lord teaches us that we not only ought to pray, reflect and prepare for the possibility of hard times, (and difficult environments), but we must expect them, and use every spiritual resource God gives us to nurture and strengthen the graces and gifts from God,  -   lest the wonderful seed of faith and the fruits of the Kingdom it produces might be very poor. …

God has sown the seed in the hearts of each of us, and now we must nurture and feed and water and nourish that seed of faith and love daily…/.   And even more so when we sometimes find the environment around us rocky, weedy, scorching or crowded…   then staying constantly connected to the water of life, will sustain us come what may.


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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly

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

You are welcome to subscribe to Fr Paul’s homily mailout by sending an email at this address:    
paulkellyreflections+subscribe@googlegroups.com

Fifteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time. Year A

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

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

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

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

Sundays Ordinary V p.31

Eucharistic Prayer II p.56

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Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

{below is a longer version of this homily,  an earlier draft with longer reflection:
The wonderful image of the sower and the seed that falls on all sorts of different environments is a truly excellent parable.  It reminds us that just as a seed has within it everything needed to produce a viable plant, it will produce nothing unless it is properly watered and nourished and finds the right soil or medium to take hold.  It is similar to the idea of a delicious meal which contains all the nutrition needed to help a person stay healthy - But the meal is useless unless it is eaten. It is also like a light bulb that has the potential to light up a room but only if it is fitted into the socket and the switch turned on!     
Our Lord tells us that the seed represents the WORD of GOD…  and we could also say that the seed also represents FAITH in Jesus (and faith in WHO he is, in what he teaches and (just as importantly) how he lived…..   AND……., faith in the gospel.

This “seed”  could also represent the many opportunities that we all have been given to help build up the Kingdom of God.  


We cannot underestimate how important the response and the environment with which the Word of God is received by us in helping God's values to flourish everywhere. God wants and needs our cooperation and our working with him in helping God's Kingdom Come.

True, like the first reading, God is absolutely determined that the Word that comes from his mouth will NOT return empty and will achieve what God wants.  However, we humans can cooperate with what God is doing and we can also resist and block what God is doing.  God is determined to get around our resistance and achieve his plans, but we should not take this for granted --   The non-cooperation of people or the resistance of people could seriously slow down the progress of God's vision for the world. God may have to take alternate steps of 'go the long way around' in achieving God's goals, due to human resistance or lack of openness.   

Just as a seed needs good soil, water, shelter, nourishment and protection, so too our faith, our knowledge, our life needs to continue to be planted and lovingly nurtured in an environment that will foster continued growth and learning.

There are many challenges in life too, we must be careful that the precious seed of faith is planted; nurtured and attended-to daily, or else it will not grow. Other things, other priorities and values might “crowd-out” the growth of faith. Setbacks and hardships have the potential to stifle what we have. We need to actively protect, promote and encourage the good treasure we have received so that it will indeed bear much fruit.

We believe that the sacraments are concrete guarantees and tangible experiences of an inner reality. So, when a priest says the words of forgiveness in the sacrament of penance, (in the name of the church and in the name of Jesus), we believe that this effectively conveys the sacrament of God’s forgiveness and healing. And when the church baptises a person, we believe that the “God-given gift of FAITH is very much really and truly passed on in this action of pouring the water.  
And if a person is baptized, faith is definitely given, (100% guaranteed)….but just like this gospel reminds us today.., if one has baptism and then does not much to nurture, deepen and nourish that faith, then that real and effective “seed of faith” is still there, (for sure), but it is like a seed in un-watered, un-tended and un-plowed, hardened ground, it can hardly be expected to bear much or any fruit. Mind you, God can achieve amazing results of grace and love in what seems to be the aridest of situations, but never take this for granted.. and strive to give God’s word the most nurturing environment possible…  with prayer, reflection and good works.  Have you ever seen a rather healthy looking plant springing up from a roof gutter of a house?  It shouldn't be there and how has it gotten what it needs to grow?  We don't quite know but life finds a way. But again, we do not underestimate the power of working in every way we can to give the seed of God's word the very best environment and every opportunity to produce the greatest harvest.   
 
Interestingly Jesus even realised that the results in his kingdom would be at times patchy, because notice he says that the good seed produces 100, sixty, thirty. Notice, that is actually a declining sequence of numbers. So we have to be prepared for all sorts of results in the sowing of God’s effective word. And, although God’s word never returns without bearing fruit, it still remains very much our task to ensure that the word is given the nourishment and encouragement it needs to bear the most fruit.
 
So, in baptism, and the other sacraments. They are certainly effective, but they cannot be disconnected from the concepts of conversion of heart, of the practice of the faith, of personal engagement,  …… daily prayer, participation in the sacraments regularly, regular spiritual reading and faith-study and reflection, and of course practical, loving and compassionate  action in our daily lives and priorities.
The forgiveness and healing given in the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance)  is quite real,  but it bears fruit when watered by the moving tears of repentance and nourished by a change of heart, attitude and behaviour.     
In the Baptism ceremony, the Priest says -
 ‘You have asked to have your child Baptised. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith.’
 
Elsewhere, at the Blessing, in the Rite of Baptism- -
‘The parents will be the first teachers
of their child in the ways of faith. May they also be the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
 
The Church teaches that an important part of being a Catholic is understanding that we belong to a community. We are not just individuals. Being Catholic means agreeing to be formed by the message of the Gospel, and regularly listening to how the universal, Catholic, Church understands its meaning for here and now.
 
By Baptism a child has both a right and a duty to be given the fullness of their Catholic Teaching. This includes regular contact with the Catholic faith community at Sunday Mass.
 
When a child is Baptised and then rarely is given an opportunity to go to Mass, surely the child is being given something less than the “Fullness of,”(the breadth and depth), of the “practice of their faith.”
 
From time to time I am sure we have all heard someone say…..  “I am going to let my child choose whether or not to go to church when they are old enough to decide for themselves.”  
 
Parents play an important role in imparting values and habits for their child’s life. Long before a child realises the value of going to school or even healthy practices like “brushing their teeth,” their parents have INSISTED, point-blank, that these things will be done. No amount of arguing-back will stop a parent insisting that things that are good for the child must be done, // even when the child does not (yet) fully appreciate WHY it is so important.// Children depend on their parents’ wisdom to insist on what is good for them. Children’s religious knowledge and faith formation are no different. So, I say, you wouldn’t wait till your child is an adult to let them choose whether they want to brush their teeth every day, or else by the time they do choose they may not have a tooth left in their head.  So, why let someone wait until too late to choose experience and practice their faith? ……..   it is completely bamboozling….     

It is just like a seed expected to water itself. By the time a child is old enough to ‘decide for themselves’ what they want, they will not have experienced growing up as a regular member of a faith community. If the church has not been part of their life up to this point what are they freely choosing to accept or reject?  How could that really be a free choice? Do they really know what they are ‘not choosing’ since one can hardly say they were given the fullness of ritual, community and faith formation? And if the Catholic parents do not go to Mass, the child will probably get the message that this is not a life value for them either.

 
Jesus in the gospel says to us that we must nurture the seed that we have been given. And, like this nurturing, there are risks, and there are challenges. It does mean moving well and truly out of our comfort zone.
 
God has sown the seed in the hearts of each of us, and now we must nurture and feed and water and nourish that seed of faith and love daily….   And even more so when we sometimes find the environment around us rocky, weedy, scorching or crowded…   then staying constantly connected to the water of life, will sustain us come what may.}

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Catholic Reflections 614 : Homily Fourteenth Sunday of the Year A - Sunday, July 9, 2017

Homily Fourteenth Sunday of the Year A  - Sunday, July 9, 2017

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

       First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-10
       Psalm: Ps 144:1-2. 8-11. 13-14
       Second Reading: Romans 8:9. 11-13
       Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30
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Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Fourteenth Sunday of the Year A  - Sunday, July 9, 2017 by clicking this link here:   https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-14th-ordinary-a
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There are so many wonderful readings and many of them we know so well,  yet every time we hear them again we can get something new from them – a deeper richness to their timeless message.

For example, just the other day I discovered something about this familiar passage of the Gospel, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”…..    The Greek word in the original text of this gospel uses the word for easy or gentle as “Chrestos”    which is astounding.  IT is so similar to the word Christos, meaning the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah and King.

In the time of Our Lord, people expected that the Messiah was going to be a warrior King who would come with power and force and violently overthrow the occupying forces of the Roman Empire and establish a new Kingdom on earth.  They also believed that this Messiah or Christ would seek retribution upon anyone who had not lived up to God’s law and bring down vengeance upon them. Then, along comes Jesus as the true messiah and he is not violent, forceful or military, but he is gentle and humble…  The Christos turns out to be Chrestos…   that is…  The Christ is gentle..  his burdens on us, easy.   Astounding and beautiful.   Our Lord says himself,  learn from him for he is gentle and humble…

Often when we describe a yoke….. or a burden….. these words create the impression of hardship and difficulty……… and yet… it is good to remind ourselves…… that a yoke was ultimately designed to be used in order to make the task easier….. to make it manageable… and tolerable…. // With a heavy task, a yoke allows a person or an animal to lift a weight and carry a weight in such a way that distributes the weight and makes it possible and tolerable… over an extended period of time……..

So, it is in that sense that Our Lord uses the image of a yoke and a burden…… He has frequently warned his disciples (and anyone who proposed to follow him as disciples) that there is a definite cost to discipleship……. //That the path would be far from easy….//  Following Christ does not promise us earthly success or freedom from hardship or persecution. Jesus gave no guarantee of a dream run…….. it is a task…...... a burden….. 

However…, it is a bit like that moving song…..  (based on an even older Scottish Legend)……   '"He''s not heavy…; he''s my brother.'"

The focus is not on the difficulty…, but the passion for the cause. The goal…… of  our mission is to spread God''s love to all the world… in word and action…… and this is a wonderful vocation…….. It is a beautiful burden. It is a wonderful duty and a superb task…. And… it is a task of love….. and in that sense ….. it makes the burden a light one….. and Christ always offers to bear for us the greater load….

Jesus also invites us to learn from him……. And, what we have to learn is that Jesus is loving in all his dealings….. and he is gentle….. and humble…… and just.   A true disciple must be humble and gentle and compassionate and loving.  How do we learn to be these things in a hard and tough world?  We watch and learn from Our Lord, whose actions and teachings were all about humility and justice and gentleness and compassion.

It makes me wonder…..many hardships and burdens come our way throughout life…. Some are avoidable, some seem unavoidable………. But to what extent are some burdens made all the more heavier (more unbearable) …by the opposite of gentleness and the opposite of humility…….. Jesus also seems to be offering to teach us…… a path of gentleness….. compassion and love….. and a path of true humility of spirit….. which can make many burdens so much lighter than they might otherwise be.  I think of things like natural disasters.    Some of them are seemingly unavoidable…  but isn’t it true that even in unavoidable situations, there are many things that can be done to lighten people’s suffering and ease their burdens and sadly there are many things that people can do to make peoples suffering even worse.  I am thinking of when a natural disaster strikes, people come out and help in any way they can. We see amazing heroism and assistance.. we see generosity and help at a time that nothing else can be done.  And isn’t it also true that in times of disaster and suffering people can also be capable of making things so much worse…   we see looters and people taking advantage of those who are suffering…  we see people being thoughtless and selfish. This makes the suffering ten times worse.   Our Lord is seeking to make healing and love out of even the worst situations and God is at work trying to lighten the burdens of people in their lives, and we can too.

I think of an illustration. Imagine that two people are experiencing the exact same difficulty…; a major burden and hardship in their lives…. And picture these people have the exact same circumstances…… the only difference is that one of them is extremely proud…, unreasonably self-sufficient, and refusing to face even the truth of their difficulty and railing against every development and turn of bad fortune…. Whilst the other is gentle, humble…, accepting that which cannot be changed…and battling that which can be, and (not so much giving up, but rather surrendering to God's care in a spirit of humility) to the new situations and circumstances that this person now faces…. Could it not be said that the one who is proud and forceful might be putting on themselves an even greater, unbearable burden than the other? Perhaps in this sense, Jesus means us to learn from him… and open up to his vision and response to the world and its unpredictable and often capricious turns. …

A yoke is also something used to join two creatures together so that they act as one entity…

Was Jesus saying… "join yourself to me… and join your hopes and cares…, your fears and struggles to me…. And let me work with you as one…… and see what wonders will result….."

I love the meaning of this gospel today…. there is a deep and sturdy realism to the Gospel message Jesus offers us….. it is the perfect combination of idealism AND realism…… Jesus does not promise an easy ride…. But he does promise us that his WAY makes any burdens capable of being transformed by love and service. 

Our Christian joy and hope is not a joy borne out of denying the reality of the struggles and pains of life….. Rather, ours is a joy that says…: "We are at peace,… we are at rest… and we continue to love… even with the tragedies and tensions of sin and pain……." This is a message the world needs to hear more than ever. This is the faith we unite in witnessing in our lives.

May God richly bless us and give us the joy, the rest and the relief that comes with this faith…, hope and love. 



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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly


William Barclay - Commentary on Matthews Gospel.   
"In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood; the ox was brought, and the measurements were taken. The yoke was then roughed out, and the ox wigs brought back to have the yoke tried on. The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast. The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox.
There is a legend that Jesus made the best ox-yokes in all Galilee, and that from all over the country men came to him to buy the best yokes that skill could make. In those days, as now, shops had their signs above the door; and it has been suggested that the sign above the door of the carpenter's shop in Nazareth may well have been: "My yokes fit well." It may well be that Jesus is here using a picture from the carpenter's shop in Nazareth where he had worked throughout the silent years.
Jesus says, "My yoke fits well." What he means is: "The life I give you is not a burden to gall you; your task is made to measure to fit you." Whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly.

Jesus says, "My burden is light." As a Rabbi had it: "My burden is become my song." It is not that the burden is easy to carry; but it is laid on us in love; it is meant to be carried in love; and love makes even the heaviest burden light. When we remember the love of God, when we know that our burden is to love God and to love men, then the burden becomes a song. There is an old story which tells how a man came upon a little boy carrying a still smaller boy, who was lame, upon his back. "That's a heavy burden for you to carry," said the man. "That's no' a burden," came the answer. "That's my wee brother." The burden which is given in love and carried in love is always light."
Also in William Barclay is this observation:


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Archive of homilies and reflections is at:
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Fourteenth Sunday of the Year A

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

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

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

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

Sundays Ordinary IV p.30

Eucharistic Prayer I p.49

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Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Catholic Reflections 613 : Homily Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. - Sunday, July 2, 2017

Homily Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.  - Sunday, July 2, 2017

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

       First Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-11. 14-16
       Psalm: Ps 88:2-3. 16-19
       Second Reading: Romans 6:3-4. 8-11
       Gospel: Matthew 10:37-42
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.  - Sunday, July 2, 2017 by clicking this link here:   https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-13th-ordinary-a
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There is something very beautiful and central about the readings this weekend.They speak of the "cost" of discipleship. A very big difference when we follow Christ and "die to sin" - We die with Christ so that we can rise to newness of life, as the readings say.

It reminds us that when we become followers of Christ, it really does change our priorities. We "die" to selfishness and live to "generosity"  -   And, although we know that there is indeed a cost to following Christ, we do not keep a ledger - we don't count the cost. Because we follow Jesus' ways, we can be opposed by others who feel threatened by Christ's values.  We can be rejected by others who are challenged by the Gospel.  We must be prepared for the fact that we may lose earthly "things" because of our discipleship and be put at a material disadvantage in terms of material priorities. Still, we are greatly encouraged to know that we are living something greater - life with and in Christ!  

I think of that wonderful generosity of that lady in the first reading. This lady just wanted to help a holy man, a servant of God, and she supported him in his holy work. She did it unselfishly, without expecting anything back, but because she and her husband had been so kind, they were blessed in ways they could never have imagined or expected. 

I was reading a reflection by the Jesuit commentator, Mark Link, and he was speaking about this Gospel message of "taking up one's cross and following Christ"  -  I must say, that at times I have said to the Lord,  "Look, Lord, I will follow you and I will keep your message and values and proclaim it...  but this "taking up the cross"  and "suffering" thing....  that part!...  can we talk about that...   maybe re-negotiate it ...   I find that difficult!   "   -  I think most people baulk at the idea that there will be pain, loss and suffering in life and in our decision to follow Christ's ways.....   

Even Our Lord hesitated at the enormousness of the cross..  at the garden of Gethsemane he prayed that this cup of suffering would be taken from him...  but then added (wonderfully) but not my will be done, but yours!   Nobody rushes towards suffering or prefers a cross.   The mystery of the cross is a difficult but central reality in the life of Christ and of us all.....  And in life, there are many little crosses as we journey along our path.........

Mark Link tells a story of a movie he once saw called "American Anthem"  -  it shows a young man who is having great difficulties coming to terms with the loss of a limb in an accident.  The man falls into a deep depression and stays in his room, with curtains drawn, not speaking to others, - passing his time in darkness....       he then contrasts this scene with another incident reported by a man called Robert Bruce... who recounted the day he was walking down a crowded street -  He heard the voice of someone singing joyfully.....and when he located the source of this uplifting singing.....He could not believe his eyes.... it was a man without legs, pushing himself along in a wheelchair, and singing joyfully and beautifully at the top of his voice....//  it is a reminder  that one person's rejection of a cross brought sadness, whilst another person's acceptance of a cross was the source of peace and joy.  This is not at all an easy message.  This is something that Our Lord not only taught us about, but he also lived this message so wonderfully.

There are crosses in our lives that we will surely find very difficult to accept or to carry.

Can we turn to the Lord and allow his grace to help us carry these burdens...   

Helen Keller...   the American author, political activist, and lecturer, who was both deaf and blind.  She said the most extraordinary thing once....It is challenging and difficult to comprehend this message but it is the message of the Cross.......The following are her words and this is what she said motivated her life....."I thank God for my disabilities. For through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God!"     -    WOW.   What an amazing outlook...... one that transformed everything she did and said.   Because of... and despite many major obstacles in life, she did not let stop her.

May the Lord and his grace help us in our crosses and struggles...   May the Lord pass by the desert spaces and make them into a place of life-giving waters.......   and may we trust in the Lord when he bids us   ..  come to me all you who labour and are heavily burdened... and I will give you rest.....    learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and I will give rest for your souls..."...
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References:
Fr Paul W. Kelly


Mark Link S.J.  Vision 2000: Praying Scripture in a Contemporary Way: A Cycle. 

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

You are welcome to subscribe to Fr Paul’s homily mailout by sending an email at this address:    
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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A.

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

Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.

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Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
        Blessed be God forever.

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

Sundays Ordinary III p.30

Euch Prayer Three p.58

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Go forth, the Mass is ended.