Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 21st June 2020

Jesus instructed the Twelve: ‘Do not be afraid’.

Today’s readings are very apt for our current times, where many of us are experiencing vulnerability, tension, and unpredictability. Yet as followers of Christ, we are being called to trust in God our Father, who knows us intimately and understands our needs.

In the First Reading, we hear Jeremiah’s challenging voice giving an unpopular message to the people, who must change their self-centred way of living. In his isolation, Jeremiah turns to the Lord to ask for help, for he needs friendship in very real ways in his difficulties.

The Psalm is a cry of anguish from one in great danger. Yet despite his distress, the psalmist has confidence in the great love of God.

Paul teaches that the consequence of sin is ‘death’: a death that includes the death of our friendship with God. But Paul also emphasises the abundant reality of divine grace; a free gift introduced into the world through Christ Jesus (Second Reading).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds the Twelve that they are not promised success; they will suffer. Yet he bids them repeatedly, ‘Do not be afraid’. The Father’s tender care will never desert them. God is on their side: not as a remote figure, but as a Father who has intimate knowledge of and care for each of them.

In these our own times of trial and vulnerability, we pray for God’s guidance and teaching. ‘Lord, you invite us to cry out with complete confidence in the Father’s boundless love. This day we offer you praise and thanks for your abundant gifts to us in our poverty and weakness.’

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Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 14th June 2020

Lord, you are my help; my Saviour God.

In today’s readings we are encouraged to trust in a God who has already saved us and who calls us his very own. Despite what may be going on around us, we are his people and we are loved with an everlasting love (Psalm).

The First Reading recalls the salvation of the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. They were carried back to God on eagle’s wings. This prefigures the salvation brought by Christ who died for us while we were still helpless and unworthy (Second Reading).

The heart of Christ, and, therefore, the heart of God, is full of compassion for us (Gospel). This, surely, is the source of our ‘joyful trust’. Because God has given to us so freely, so we should freely give in return.

This week, let’s entrust ourselves ever more deeply to the loving compassion of God. May it lift us up on eagle’s wings, strengthening both the conviction that we are already saved, and our response to give as freely as we have freely received. Amen.

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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, 28th January 2018

Let us allow the Lord to speak through our lives!

In today’s First Reading we hear Moses announcing God’s intention to raise up a new prophet, into whose mouth God will put his own words.

The Gospel shows how this new prophet is Jesus himself, the great prophet for all times. In speaking with God’s own voice, Jesus makes a deep impression on the people. He speaks with a deep authority we cannot ignore.

The Psalm also urges us to listen to God’s voice. Focusing our attention on God’s word and deeds helps us move towards a deeper awareness of him.

St Paul, in the Second Reading, expresses his concern for the effect of worldly distractions on the faithful. He encourages us to avoid anything that might distract us from listening to God, so we can give the Lord our ‘undivided attention’.

Perhaps this week, we, too, might pray to ‘listen well’ to the Lord – asking him for a greater realisation and appreciation of the activity of God in our lives, and leading to a desire for heartfelt service.

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3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, 21st January 2018

‘Follow me!’

In the weeks following Christmas, we have been invited to reflect on Jesus’s call, beginning with him being drawn out of the waters of baptism and into his missionary life. This week (in St Mark’s Gospel) we see the fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James and John – respond immediately to that same call. They are drawn from the waters by Jesus to become fishers of people.

The First Reading tells of the second call of Jonah, who initially refuses the Lord’s request, and tries to run away. Then, in a humorous reversal of fishing logic, Jonah is caught by an obedient fish. The Lord continues to be with him, however, for, at the command of the Lord, Jonah is saved from the water and is empowered to respond to the Word.

In the Second Reading, St Paul urges the Church at Corinth that nothing should be allowed to interfere with their obedience to the Word. He says that time is short and that everything, from domestic to international affairs, should be seen from the context of Christ.

There is much calling to which we are invited to respond. As with Jonah and the first disciples, we are called by the same voice, inviting us to take steps on the path toward that which is good and true.

Today’s Psalm also offers a simple, initial response for both new and not-so-new disciples alike. It is a good prayer for the coming week: ‘Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths.’

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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, 14th January 2018

‘Here I am Lord!’

Christ calls us to follow him. The readings for this Sunday invite us to listen for Christ calling us.

Samuel, in the First Reading, responds willingly to the call of God, at first thinking it is his master Eli. Eli leads him to the truth, and teaches him to listen with an open heart. Samuel grows strong in the love of God and his holy word.

This is what God asks of us: an open heart to wait for the Lord; an open ear to listen; an open spirit to respond to the Lord’s will. (Psalm).

St Paul, writing to the Corinthians (Second Reading), reminds us that we are one in mind, body, and spirit with Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells within the heart of the believer. This knowledge will guide our actions and prompt us to desire only that which will deepen our love of God.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist recognises who Jesus truly is. John’s witness to his disciples leads them to follow Jesus. Jesus asks them what they desire. Their answer may seem unusual to us, but Jesus invites them to ‘come and see’, and experience for themselves his love in action. These first followers cannot keep the Good News to themselves, but invite others to come and see, and to listen.

Let us ask for the grace to hear God calling us, and to be ready to respond to that call with an open and willing heart. Whom can we invite to come and see?

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Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 10th September 2017

Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour

‘No man is an island’. We all live in different groups, families, communities, neighbourhoods. Today’s readings invite us to reflect on the best way to behave so as to live peacefully with everyone around us.

In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel is portrayed as a watchman warning society of potential dangers. Failure to do this will result in him being held responsible for not encouraging the wicked man to renounce his bad ways.

The psalmist urges us to listen to the voice of God and to trust him.

For Paul, the best way to live peacefully in society is by mutual love. The Commandments can all be summed up by the phrase ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (second reading).

In the Gospel, Jesus gives us practical advice for smooth relationships between people. Meeting and praying as a group, however small, will ensure that he is present amongst us.

This week, then, I may want to focus my prayer on any area of conflict that I know of – and to resolve, with the help of Jesus, to play my part, however small, in contributing to its resolution.

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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 20th August 2017

Let the peoples praise you, O God; Let all the peoples praise you.

The readings this week highlight that the gift of faith in God is for everyone. God’s blessings are not confined to one group or nation. We are all called to share in the love and mercy of God.

The First Reading speaks of the foreigners who will receive the same joy and acceptance as God gave to his chosen people, the Jews.

St Paul (Second Reading) in writing to the Romans takes this one step further. He hopes that the gifts God has given to the Romans will encourage his own people, the Jews, to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, because God’s mercy is for everyone.

The Gospel speaks of Jesus’s encounter with a woman he would not have expected to speak to him. She comes to him pleading great need. Jesus’s initial response may surprise us, but he is won over by her persistent faith and grants her request.

We pray with the Psalm, asking that God will be gracious and bless us, guiding all the nations on earth, so that God’s ways may be known and all people receive his saving help. “May God still give us his blessing, till the ends of the earth revere Him.”

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 13th August 2017

Courage! It is I!

Like Jesus in this week’s Gospel story, we try and find the time to pray with our heavenly Father. Our readings this week reveal God’s presence in our lives, especially in times of trial.

The dispirited prophet Elijah in the First Reading recognises God in ‘the sound of a gentle breeze’, rather than in impressive manifestations.

May we hear God’s voice that speaks of mercy and faithfulness, justice and peace (Psalm).

St Paul in his Letter to the Romans (Second Reading) reveals his love and respect for his Jewish heritage and its people. He would even forgo his greater love for Christ to help them.

Jesus distances himself to find the space and peace to pray. The storm in the Gospel reflects the storm in Elijah’s life. Can the disciples recognise the Lord? The question to Peter, “Why did you doubt?” is also addressed to us.

The God of power comes in dramatic crises but also in the quietness of our daily lives. Perhaps this week I can listen and become more aware of this.

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The Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, Year B, 22nd November 2015

Mine is not a kingdom of this world

The Feast of Christ the King marks the end of the Church year B. From next week, the 1st Sunday in Advent, the readings will be taken from Year C in our Missals and we shall be reading and praying Luke’s gospel.

Both the First and Second Readings focus on the eternal sovereignty of the Lord. Daniel has a vision of a “son of man” to whom glory and kingship is conferred whereas, for the author of the Apocalypse, Jesus Christ is the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He made us all kings and priests to serve God the Father who is the “Alpha and the Omega”.

The Psalm verses are part of a song praising the Lord as King of creation. He has conquered chaos and made the world firm. He is now sitting on his throne for ever more

John’s Gospel reminds me, though, that Jesus’ kingdom is different from those I see in the various other monarchies around the world. Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is one of truth, not war.

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, 15th November 2015

The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not affliction.
You will call upon me, and I will answer you,
and I will lead back your captives from every place
Ent. Ant. (Jeremiah 29:11.12.14)

At the end of the liturgical year, this Gospel passage from Mark draws Jesus’ public ministry to a close. It precedes the story of the Passion, by which we are all made perfect (Second Reading).

Mark shows Jesus looking to the future, drawing on imagery about the last days (especially those found in the Book of Daniel, First Reading) to encourage his disciples before their ‘time of distress’. By including this piece, Mark gives support to the early Christian communities who were facing persecution under Nero and the loss of the Temple.

This same message is appropriate for us, today, who are called to ‘stay awake’, secure in the loving kindness of the One who gives his life as a ransom. It is a message of hope: that, in spite of disunity, all will be gathered; that, even in the face of death, God protects and shows us the path of life; that the important thing is to keep our eyes set on this one high priest and to entrust ourselves to his loving care.

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