The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Year C, 14th August 2022

‘The Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name.’

The scripture for this Marian feast day reveals how the coming of Christ into our world through the poverty of Mary can change our lives. The radical message of the Gospel and the promise of resurrection can transform our own understanding of power and authority.

The First Reading portrays a vivid dream full of symbolism. It emphasises the turmoil and struggle for power surrounding the early church at the time. Although the language may seem strange to our generation, the themes of fragile beginnings, of power struggles rooted in evil motives, and of the overcoming of fear and sin through Christ, all hold an important message of hope for us today.

The Second Reading speaks of the sovereignty of Christ, who calls all people to the fullness of resurrection. Christ’s kingdom is not based on selfish human notions of power and authority.

Today’s Psalm is full of the imagery of royalty and power in praise of God’s kingdom. However, the true nature of that kingdom is shown to us in the beautiful Gospel passage. A joyful meeting between two humble women, Mary and Elizabeth, is a revelation of the Gospel message. A new order of justice and mercy for all time will be proclaimed. The powerful will be brought low and the humble exalted.

Let us take responsibility for proclaiming and living out this Gospel message today. We pray for that true peace that only Christ can bring, remembering especially the people of Ukraine and all places where people are suffering.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 7th August 2022

Jesus said, ‘For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also’. 

Today’s readings remind us that God has chosen us all as his own. They also highlight the importance of our humble faith and trust in God, who calls us to ‘joyfully take courage’ in the world.

The First Reading recalls the night of the Passover, when the Jewish slaves put their trust in God and escaped the oppression of Pharaoh.

In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that while the Kingdom of God has, in one sense, already arrived, in another it is still to come: it is both a gift and a challenge to us. It is therefore vital that we are awake to meet the Master whenever he returns, committing our hearts to the unfailing treasures of his kingdom.

The Second Reading meditates on the history of Israel, inviting us to imitate people like Abraham and Sarah as models of faith. Faith is the virtue that enables us to keep watching and waiting for the Lord’s presence in the ups and downs of our daily lives.

The Psalmist celebrates all peoples: women and men who are chosen by the Lord, and in turn, place their trust and hope in him.

Perhaps this week we might take our prayer from today’s theme:
Father, please deepen our trust in you,
so we may live joyfully and with courage.

We also continue to pray for peace across the world.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 31st July 2022

There is more to life than wealth and riches

Today’s readings are about material things and our attitude towards them. Are they at the centre of our lives? The texts also suggest that what we are is more important than what we have.

Qoheleth, ‘the Preacher’, who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes 300 years before Christ, gives a pessimistic view of the world. Is it worth working hard and worrying about our wealth, since we have to leave it to others after our death? He declares: ‘All is vanity!’ (First Reading)

The Gospel develops the same theme. The main problem with wealth is that it risks taking centre stage in our life, and displacing God from his rightful position. What really matters is making ourselves rich in the sight of God.

St Paul, in the Second Reading, develops similar ideas. As Christians, we should put aside our former preoccupations – in particular greed – and turn our thoughts to ‘heavenly things’, for Christ is ‘in everything’.

As the Psalm encourages us, we ought to praise and thank the Lord in word and song rather than grumble and worry. We should listen to his voice today.

This week, I might want to make some time each day to listen to what the Lord is telling me about myself, and about my relationship with others and with money. I also pray for peace in the world.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 24th July 2022

‘Ask, and it will be given to you’

The readings for this Sunday remind us again of the boundless love God offers to those who believe. Our faith in God will be rewarded more than we can imagine, if we but ask in prayer.

God’s mercy for the sinful people of Sodom and Gomorrah is revealed in the First Reading. Abraham pleads with the Lord not to destroy them, even though few good people remain there. Abraham’s persistence and belief in God are an example for us of the power of prayer.

The Psalm similarly speaks of God’s constant faith and mercy. The psalmist offers praise and thanksgiving to the God who hears the cry of the people in distress.

In the Second Reading, Paul reminds the community in the city of Colossae – and ourselves – that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross has brought everlasting life and forgiveness for all our sins.

As Jesus teaches the disciples in the Gospel how to pray to the Father, he also encourages us to believe that we can ask God for anything, and that our faith will be rewarded simply because of the immensity of God’s love.

In the week ahead, we might renew our efforts to take every opportunity to show our faith and trust by placing the needs of those who are suffering before the God who loves us all. We particularly remember those who are suffering in war and conflict in Ukraine and beyond.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 17th July 2022

Jesus our Guest

This Sunday’s readings lead us to ponder the gift of hospitality;
the giving and receiving we experience. May we learn to welcome our Lord who wishes to dwell with us.

In the First Reading, Abraham gives us the example of Bedouin hospitality. In welcoming three strangers, he welcomes his Lord and receives the good news that Sarah will conceive a son.

In the Psalm it is we who are invited to come into the Lord’s presence. And what are our dispositions?

In the Second Reading from Colossians, Paul speaks of sharing in the sufferings of Christ. It is our choice to receive this message –that of Christ among us, the hope of our glory.

In the Gospel, the story of Martha and Mary, we learn of the importance of presence to the other, of stillness, of attentive listening, and of hospitality.

May we be aware this week of our attitude to others.
Do we welcome them, do we listen …?

We continue to pray for the peace of the world, and for all who suffer.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 10th July 2022

And who is my neighbour?

Today’s readings celebrate the nearness of the Lord to us. Created through God and for God, we are drawn ever closer by peace and reconciliation. Not only that. We are also called to become like the Lord in our service to all.

The First Reading commands us to love, and gives us the means to do it. The law, or word, is not beyond our reach but is as close to us as our very hearts. And the help and compassion of the Lord for the poor and needy can be seen by our service. It is through this that, hearts will revive (Psalm).

The Second Reading makes clear that all is possible by Christ and his cross. He holds everything in being from the beginning and, even now, is drawing us together in deeper unity.

Finally, the parable of the Good Samaritan (Gospel) gives us a concrete example of what this service, this command to love, this deeper unity without bias or prejudice, looks like.

Let’s pray, this week, that we might have renewed confidence, trust, and hope in the Good Samaritan who comes close to us in our need, that we might go out so that God’s desires for all people might be seen by our loving response.

We continue to pray for the peace of the world, and for all who suffer as a result of conflict and violent attack.

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, 3rd July 2022

The Kingdom of God is very near you!

We are called and sent to bring the deep peace of the kingdom of God into the world.

The prophet Isaiah (First Reading) proclaims a joyful time of peace that flows like a river from the healing, comforting love of God, which is compared to the intimate, tender bond between a mother and a baby.

The same spirit of contented happiness is reflected in today’s Psalm of jubilation, where the whole earth cries out with joy to the Lord.

The members of the Early Church community in Galatia are encouraged to be at peace with one another through Christ, who makes us a new creation in him. Christ is the source of all peace and unity in the world (Second Reading).

In the Gospel, Jesus sends seventy-two of his followers ahead of him. He is confident that they will have all they need for their mission through all they have learnt from following his way. He instructs them to bring his peace and healing into the communities that they visit.

In a world that cries out more than ever for the peace of Christ, especially for the people of Ukraine, this is our calling today. Jesus stands among us and sends us before him, to declare his peace and to heal and encourage people in the knowledge that the Kingdom of God is very near. Let us pray that the whole Christian community will joyfully answer this call.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 26th June 2022

‘Follow me’

This Sunday’s readings focus on the commitment needed to respond to the Lord’s call, a reminder that true faith comes from the heart.

The Gospel tells of the wholehearted commitment required by Jesus of his followers – not coercion, as suggested by James and John. Jesus makes the three who come forward aware of what following him really means: it is not to be imagined as a part-time or ‘easy’ option. Jesus does not want his disciples to hesitate.

In the First Reading, Elisha responds quickly to being ‘anointed’ by Elijah. He shows his desire to serve the Lord by leaving his livelihood and home, empty-handedly following Elijah.

In the Second Reading, St Paul emphasizes the importance of freedom. However, he warns the Galatians, and us too, that this is not an excuse for self-indulgence. The Spirit will guide us so that we love our neighbours as ourselves. Living in freedom encourages us to take total responsibility for our own lives, rather than blame others for any personal difficulties.

If, like the Psalmist, we trust and follow the Lord’s path of life, it will lead us to eternal joy.

Let’s pray this week for the grace of freedom in being able to accept unconditionally God’s will for us. We also continue to pray for peace throughout the whole world, and especially for the people of Ukraine and eastern Europe.

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 19th June 2022 (Europe)

The Lord is the strength of his people

This Sunday we are invited to consider God’s invitation to each one of us—to repentance, to knowing God as our deepest desire, to oneness with others in faith, to following Jesus by imitating his way of life. The readings give us much to ponder.

Zechariah (First Reading) is writing at a time of exile, but there is hope. The Lord will pour out a spirit of kindness and prayer over the people of Israel, and springs of new life will be opened, cleansing the people from their sins. What seems a catastrophe will open them to God in a new way.

First-hand testimony is given in the Psalm. The yearnings of the psalmist are met with the fullness of God’s love.

St Paul (Second Reading) shows that this fullness of God really means that we are all children of the One God. In Christ there are no distinctions, only unity.

Finally, the Gospel reveals the source of this new life and unity with God. The cross, which is Christ’s destiny and the beginning of his life in us, sends us out with strength to bear our own crosses.

This week, we might pray especially for all those around us who carry a heavy burden, asking that they feel able to seek shelter and be strengthened in the shadow of the wings of the Lord. We also continue to pray for the peace of the world, and especially the people of Ukraine.