Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 30th January 2022

 Christ the prophet

Following Jesus’s own use of words from the prophet of Isaiah in last week’s Gospel, the readings for this Sunday bring us to consider the rejection faced by God’s prophets. But we also receive words we can rely on, words of love and trust.

God’s words to Jeremiah, in the First Reading, confirm him in his calling, and reassure him that despite trials he will never be abandoned.

The Psalmist sings of God’s help, justice, strength and dependency. From his youth God has never failed him.

The Second Reading is Paul’s beautiful hymn to love in the letter to the Corinthians. Love is the only true way of life which sustains us whatever happens.

In the Gospel, the people of Nazareth react to Jesus’s challenging words with anger and some even try to kill him.

Early on in Luke’s Gospel we see Jesus reaching out to outsiders, and in his rejection the cross is already present. Perhaps this week we may pray for the gift of trust in God’s love that conquers all things.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (The Sunday of the Word of God), Year C, 23rd January 2022

‘Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life’

On this ‘Sunday of the Word of God’, we are invited to deepen our relationship with the Lord through our devotion and dedication to reading and praying with scripture. In each reading, we hear how the Spirit of the Lord revives, liberates, sustains, unites and gives life.

The law of the Lord is read out by Ezra (First Reading), and the people are taught to celebrate it. The joy of the Lord is their stronghold.

The Psalm celebrates God’s law of love: each line is a litany of the comfort, joy and strength that can be drawn from the Word of God.

Paul teaches that although the Christian community is very diverse, with different strengths and perspectives, we are all united in the Spirit of the Lord though our baptism (Second Reading).

Jesus, filled with the spirit of the Lord, reads from the word of God and proclaims that Isaiah’s prophecy is embodied and fulfilled in him (Gospel). Jesus liberates, heals, transforms and brings good news.

As followers of Jesus who are united by the living Spirit of God, this is our calling too. With our lives centred on Scripture, the living word of God, we are not alone as we pray. We belong to a living, transforming community of believers united by our baptism. We share the same joy expressed by the Psalmist, and are guided by the word of God that the prophets proclaimed. Let us pray that our lives will be a testament to the liberating, healing teachings that Jesus embodied.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 16th January 2022

‘Do whatever he tells you.’

In the First Reading this week, Isaiah uses the beautiful imagery of a wedding to describe the ways in which the deep love of God for his people will transform our lives.  God delights in us:  ‘As the bridegroom rejoices in his bride so will your God rejoice in you’.

Another wedding scene is described in today’s Gospel.   At the beginning of his public life, Jesus’s love and care transform a wedding feast from disaster to joyous celebration by turning water into wine.

St Paul teaches the church in Corinth about how God works through the many different people in the church so that they (and we) can use their gifts in a variety of ways in his service, united by the one Spirit working through them all to transform the lives of others. (Second Reading)

The Psalm invites us to praise God and to proclaim the good news of God’s transforming love to all peoples.

In what ways do we need the Lord to transform our lives this week?

The Baptism of the Lord, 9th January 2022, Year C

‘He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms’

Today marks the end of the Christmas season, as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. It heralds the beginning of Jesus’s public mission: the work of teaching, preaching and healing. God’s great love and mercy offer salvation to all through Jesus, by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel, God proclaims Jesus as his beloved Son at his baptism in the Jordan. St Luke draws our attention to the descent of the Holy Spirit while Jesus is at prayer.

The First Reading offers hope and joy. God has seen his people repent and will bring them home across the desert. He is both their defender and their shepherd, who gathers, guides and nourishes.

The image of God gathering and nourishing is echoed in the Psalm. The Lord renews with his Spirit all who look to him.

St Paul (Second Reading) tells us it is entirely due to God’s mercy, love and compassion that we are offered salvation; not for anything we have achieved. God’s loving kindness is revealed through ‘the cleansing water of rebirth’ and renewal with the Holy Spirit in Christ.

Today is an opportunity to reflect on the gift of baptism. We remind ourselves that the words spoken at Jesus’s baptism also apply to us.

We, too, are beloved daughters and sons of God, called to make known the love of God to all we meet. Let’s pray this week, and in the weeks ahead, for whatever grace God feels we need to help us.

Christmastide 2021-22

St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham, UK, wishes you a blessed and holy Christmas, and a Happy New Year

In the weeks coming up to the Christmas period, and especially in the wake of the Glasgow COP26 conference, concerns about the environment and climate change have been widely reported. Everyone has at some stage spent time reflecting on the situation depicted by the media. Some have been incredulous; others saddened and despairing; yet others galvanised into action.

 As a Christian, for whom life and prayer are inseparable,
Where do I stand?
What can I do in practical terms?

This year, St Beuno’s Outreach gives you the opportunity to consider these questions as you pray throughout the Christmas period, pondering both with the traditional Scriptural texts and some words from the encyclical letter of Pope Francis: Laudato si’ (‘On care for our common home’: 2015).
As we step into the New Year, you may like to reflect more deeply on what we can each do in response to these words:

‘I would like to ask … all men and women of goodwill:
Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation,
protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature,
protectors of one another and of the environment.’

                                            Pope Francis, 19 March 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C, 19th December 2021

“Blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

Christ is coming! The readings this weekend are full of an expectation. God’s promise through Micah is fulfilled in the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth, and their faith.

In the First Reading, Micah proclaims that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem and lead his flock back to their land in peace.

The Psalm is a plea to the Shepherd of Israel for this return, and for the sending of the Messiah, the chosen one.

The Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews emphasizes the fact that the Christ who redeemed us took on a human body, like ours.

The Gospel helps us gather all these themes: obedience to God’s will; faith in his promises; and especially faith in the Incarnation – Jesus our Saviour, already becoming flesh in Mary’s womb.

May we journey through these last days of Advent in Mary’s company, so that Christ may be born in us.

Third Sunday of Advent, Year C, 12th December 2021

The Lord is very near: Rejoice!

This Third Sunday of Advent is often called ‘Gaudete Sunday’ from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon in Latin: ‘Gaudete!’ that is, ‘Rejoice!’

It is as though, like small children, we can barely wait to celebrate the wonder and joy of Christmas, the coming of Christ Jesus into our world. Indeed, we rejoice now because he is already here in the midst of us. We see that God exults in us, his people, renewing us by his love (First Reading).

We might want to pray using the words of the Psalm: ‘The Lord is my strength, my song, he became my saviour’. ‘Give thanks to the Lord, Praise his name!’. ‘Sing and shout for joy!’

St Paul (Second Reading) encourages us to have confidence in God, to be happy in the Lord. We do not need to worry, because if there is anything we need, we can ask God for it. God will give us a peace of heart and mind that is far greater than we can grasp or understand, keeping us safe in Christ Jesus.

In the Gospel, the people come to John the Baptist to ask him, ‘What must we do?’ to prepare for the coming of the Christ. The answer is not the same for everyone, but all are asked to share with those who have less than themselves.

Perhaps I ask the Lord: What must I do to prepare for your coming this Christmas?

Second Sunday of Advent, Year C, 5th December 2021

‘Prepare a way for the Lord!’

Today’s readings offer the gift of joy, and the invitation to hear and respond to God who is reaching out to draw us ever closer.

In the First Reading, the Prophet Baruch reminds us that, despite all the challenges to our faith and hope in the Lord, we are called to follow God by the light of salvation.

Today’s Gospel puts this salvation of the Lord in a specific political, historical and geographical setting.  By firmly anchoring the ministry of John the Baptist to a particular point in history, St Luke also gives weight to the reality of Jesus in a time and place. (Some scholars have deduced from these historical references that Jesus was baptised in the October of AD 27 – just after his thirtieth birthday and was crucified on 3rd April AD 30). In addition, Luke introduces us to ‘the voice’ that will announce the Saviour with insistence and urgency.

The Psalmist heralds the marvels worked for us by the Lord.

St Paul (Second Reading), writing this letter of gratitude to the church at Philippi from prison, acknowledges his confidence in the one who, in us, will complete these good work of faith. 

In the coming week, how may I be a ‘voice crying in the wilderness’? How can I more fruitfully respond to Christ’s wonderful call? How will I continue to discern what is always best?

First Sunday of Advent, Year C, 28th November 2021

‘Stay awake, praying at all times’

Today marks the beginning of Advent, a time of watchfulness, waiting and renewed hope, as we get ready to welcome the Lord into our hearts and lives this Christmas.

The First Reading focuses our gaze on God’s promise to David to raise up a ‘virtuous branch’. God fulfils that promise by sending his only Son, Jesus, into the world: our Saviour and King in whom we can have total confidence, who rules with honesty and integrity.

The Psalmist recognizes the Lord as his Saviour, desiring to follow his ways of truth, love and faithfulness. We too join in the psalm refrain, ‘lifting up our souls’ in prayer as we wait for the Lord.

Jesus foretells the end times in the rather ominous-sounding Gospel,  telling his disciples to ‘stay awake’ and not get distracted by the ‘cares of life’. But he has a message of hope too: we don’t need to be afraid, for we will see the Son of Man coming to save us. God keeps his promises, so we can hold our heads high and stand confident in his presence. Meanwhile we can pray and try to lead good lives.

St Paul tells us how we can do this in the Second Reading. We are to live as Jesus teaches, ‘loving one another and the whole human race’, and putting Jesus and his values at the centre of our daily lives.

This week as I wait for the Lord, I may like to spend some time each day prayerfully taking stock of how ready I am to receive Jesus, however, wherever and whenever he comes to me.