Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 29th September 2019

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever

This week’s readings remind us that we are called to share our gifts and possessions with those who have less than we do. Our faith in the promises of Jesus is demonstrated by the way we live.

In the First Reading the prophet Amos speaks forcefully to those who enjoy a life of luxury and leisure but ignore what is happening in the world around them. He tells them that God deplores the way they are living.

The Gospel story illustrates how those who want to follow God’s values must take care of the poor and those in need. Jesus points out to his hearers that he is not saying anything that Moses and the prophets have not already told them.

The Psalm is a hymn of praise to the Lord who is on the side of those who are oppressed, who gives food to the hungry and sets prisoners free, who raises up those who are bowed down. In our day, we can help to fulfil these promises for those in need.

Paul exhorts Timothy to live as a man dedicated to God should live (Second Reading). By doing so he will be a witness for Jesus, speaking up for the truth.

This week we pray to live even more faithfully as Jesus’s disciples.

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Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 22nd September 2019

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor

This week’s readings challenge us to reflect on our attitude towards money. It should never displace our generous and just God from being at the centre of our lives.

In the First Reading, Amos attacks those who take advantage of the poor and attempts to enslave them. God will remember their evil deeds.

The Psalm calls us to praise the Lord who from the height of his throne in heaven bends down to lift up the lowly and set them in the company of princes.

The Second Reading stresses that God wants everyone to be saved. So we are to pray for all, especially for those with authority over others in business or government.

In the Gospel extract, Jesus tells us to be careful with money. Riches can rule us as a master would a slave, preventing us from using our God-given freedom to love and serve the Lord. Being faithful in small things helps us to focus on the ‘genuine riches’ in our lives.

This week, I might ask God to help me be more aware of the real riches in my life, and better able to love and serve the Lord through that.

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Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 15th September 2019

There will be rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner

This week’s readings invite us to rejoice in a God who longs to forgive us. No-one is beyond God’s reach: we are loved sinners who are welcomed home with great joy, regardless of how far we have strayed.

In the First Reading the Israelites have lost faith both in Moses and in God himself, and are worshipping an idol – the golden calf that they have made. But God listens to Moses’s pleading and forgives them.

The Psalm shows that whatever crisis we may face in our relationship with God, his mercy ensures we can always find a way back to him.

The Second Reading speaks of the mercy of God from first-hand experience. Paul is the ‘greatest of sinners’, once set on persecuting the followers of Jesus, but now God’s grace has filled him with love and faithfulness, and his response is one of gratitude and loving service.

In the Gospel extract, Jesus tells three parables about seeking the lost, and the joy when they are found. He compares God’s unfailing mercy to a shepherd searching out the one stray in a flock of ninety-nine; to a woman who drops everything to look for a lost coin; and to the father who watches out for his ‘prodigal’ son and runs out joyfully to meet him. (Though this last parable isn’t included in the text of the Prego, it is well worth savouring its wonderful message if there is time.)

This week, let’s ask God to help us become ever more deeply aware of his love and compassion, and his desire to forgive the penitent sinner. Wherever and whatever our circumstances, God will always seek us out.

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Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 8th September 2019

‘I call you friends’, says the Lord.

Usually attributed to King Solomon, the First Reading shows God as one who is always ready to grant the gift of wisdom to those who truly seek it.

The Second Reading is taken from St Paul’s letter to Philemon, a leader in the Colossian church.  Paul is writing about slavery.  He knows he cannot do much to change this deep-rooted social structure, but seeks instead to change people’s hearts.  He invites the recipients of his letter to see everything and everyone in relation to Christ, in whom there is only unity.

The Psalm reminds us that, compared to the wisdom of God, our greatness is as nothing – yet the Lord is a faithful refuge for us.

Christ’s call en route to Jerusalem (Gospel) is a radical one.  Indifference to all the things that distract us is the way of the disciple.  God’s life can deepen in us through his many gifts to us, but also in our letting go of them.

In the coming days, let us place ourselves within the friendship of the Lord, which is both a place of refuge and source of strength.  May we go forward in joy as we try to embrace the crosses of our lives.

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Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 1st September 2019

Gentle and humble of heart

Today’s readings are a mixture of exhortations to be gentle and humble in our own lives, and to give practical hospitality to the poor.

The First Reading gives advice on humility in our behaviour and warns against pride. A wise person is attentive to God and gentle in all aspects of our dealings with others.

The Psalm is a song of praise to the God who, in turn, is attentive to the orphan and widow, the poor and the lonely.  The psalmist rejoices in the generous God who gives us new life.

The Second Reading, from Hebrews, is full of awe at the revelation of God’s power. We have been given Jesus as our mediator, and our home is the heavenly Jerusalem.

Jesus’s teaching in the Gospel is in the setting of a meal.  His parable touches into our feelings of pride or shame and instructs us to be humble.  Invitations to his banquet show a definite preference for the poor and lowly.

This week may we follow Jesus, who is ‘gentle and humble of heart’, in all that we say and do.

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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 25th August 2019

Strong is his love for us!

Today’s Psalm places the truth of God’s love for all of humanity at the centre of this Sunday’s liturgy.

The prophet Isaiah in the First Reading speaks of a time when the Lord will gather all people to himself. God’s love is so strong that people of every nation, race, and belief – and even those of no faith – will be counted as his children.

But we are reminded in the Gospel to be careful; to avoid being complacent about our own faith and religious practice. There are no limits to where the spirit of God is at work, and God has no favourites. There is an urgency in Jesus’s teaching here that links directly to Isaiah, for he speaks of a time when all will be gathered into God’s kingdom feast, but those who take their faith for granted may find themselves shut out.

This spiritual teaching may seem harsh, but the Second Reading from Hebrews explains that our spiritual and temporal trials can only be understood when we are aware of the truth of our relationship as daughters and sons of God. God’s love for us is strong, and God only wants what is best for us.

At a time when there is much division and animosity within political life and between nations, races and religions, let us pray that we, who belong to a community united by prayer, may by our words and deeds be a powerful sign of God’s strong love for all of humanity.

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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 18th August 2019

‘I have come to bring fire to the earth!’

Today’s readings help raise our morale in the fight against evil. Jesus Christ, who came to bring fire on earth, gives us courage and hope to persevere in challenging times.

In the First Reading, Jeremiah advises the authorities to surrender to the Babylonians and put their trust in God. This unpopular message stirs the leaders, who try to kill him. In the persecution he suffers for speaking out so fearlessly, he foreshadows Christ himself.

The Psalm is a song of confidence and makes much of personal trust in God, the One who comes to our aid.

The Second Reading is a stirring appeal to a Christian community to persevere on their road of faith. The author argues that the witness of all those who have gone before them, as well as the example of Christ himself, means there is no reason to lose heart.

In the Gospel, Jesus shows his human anxiety at the prospect of facing the ‘baptism’ of death, and also reveals he has already encountered opposition in his work. There are many who don’t find the ‘good news’ helpful. This will cause division as sinful humanity fails to seek the ways of reconciliation and true peace that he preaches.

This week, let’s pray for the grace of courage – to allow God’s life to deepen within us, and also within all of our sisters and brothers.

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