Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 24th February 2019

The Lord is compassion and love

This week’s readings speak about the compassion, love and mercy of God, and of our calling as Christians to allow the love he has given us to be expressed in our thoughts, words and actions.

In the First Reading, David has been pursued by King Saul, who intends to kill him.  By chance, he and his men come upon Saul asleep in a cave.  Saul is totally in their power, but David chooses not to kill God’s anointed king.  Instead he simply removes Saul’s weapon from him.  By his actions, David makes his righteousness clear to everyone.

The Second Reading speaks of our human nature.  We are created by God, as was Adam, in finite bodily form that lives on this earth. In Christ Jesus we find our true eternal being, made in his image. We are called to live our lives according to his likeness.

The Psalm speaks of the ways in which God loves and heals us. He does not treat us according to our faults, but with mercy and compassion.

“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate”, Jesus urges us (Gospel).  His sayings are challenging and perhaps seem hard to live out.  But we need not be sad: our recognition of weakness is also a cause for  joy.  We cannot live the life of a Christian without his help but need to rely on him, allowing him to deepen his life in each one of us.

This week I pray for the grace to depend more fully on Jesus, that his compassion, mercy and love may be shown in my life.

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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 17th February 2019

Happy are those who trust in the Lord

This week we are invited to reflect on the happiness which can be ours when we trust in the Lord.

In the First Reading, the Prophet Jeremiah teaches us through curses and blessings (the language of the time), that we need to make a choice – either to trust in human beings or to trust in the Lord. Depending on our choice, we will inhabit a dry wilderness or feel fulfilled and happy.

The same ideas are echoed in the Psalm, which also uses the image of a luxuriant and fruitful tree. It starts with a Beatitude: ‘Happy indeed are those who …’, thus introducing the Gospel from St Luke. Shorter than the more famous Beatitudes passage from Matthew’s Gospel, it contains a series of parallel warnings for those who make the wrong choices: ‘Alas for you …’.

St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians (Second Reading), points to another source of our happiness: the resurrection of Christ. If Christ had not been raised, we would not have been saved, and would remain in our sins. As he rose again for us, we are the happiest of all people.

This week, then, we might want to reflect on what makes us happy and on how much we trust in the Lord – and to wonder whether we might need to adjust some of our choices in order that others should have a greater share in this happiness.

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 10th February 2019

Here I am, Lord, send me …

This week’s readings are full of reassurance and inspiration. However aware we are of our own human limitations, God never stops believing in us, and he needs us to be his messengers. We only need to find the courage to respond to his invitation.

The First Reading describes Isaiah’s mystical vision before the divine court in the Temple. Before God’s glory and holiness, Isaiah feels lost and unworthy. But once his lips have been cleansed, he hears God’s call for a messenger and offers himself as the one to be sent out.

The Psalmist also imagines himself adoring with the angels in the Temple, as he glories in the God who hears us, loves us, and stretches out his hand to save us.

St Paul sees himself as the least of the apostles, but he has complete faith in the risen Lord and in the gift of God’s grace working within him. (Second Reading)

Peter agrees rather unwillingly to ‘put out into deep water’ (Gospel), and is then overwhelmed as he witnesses God’s power at work in the miraculous catch of fish. But Jesus tells him to set aside his fears and sense of unworthiness, for even greater work now awaits him. The other disciples, too, leave everything to follow Jesus.

This week, we pray that God will help us to listen to his call as courageously as did Isaiah and Peter, and then be generous in offering ourselves fully for whatever work he needs us to do.

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 3rd February 2019

‘Make it our glory to praise you!’

Today’s First Reading takes place in 627 BC.  Jeremiah, a shy and gentle teenager, is called, against his better wishes, to proclaim a message contrary to the expectations of those around him.  As a result, his life will have more than its fair share of rejection and failure.

The liturgy connects Jesus with this rejected prophet figure of Jeremiah.  Jesus, having read from the prophet Isaiah (last Sunday’s Gospel), is met with hostility in his home synagogue.  His own people, knowing him merely as Joseph’s son, cannot accept the challenge to respond to his message.  Jesus’s rejection at Nazareth is found in each of the Synoptic Gospels.

In the early church community based at Corinth (Second Reading) there were disagreements about which charism was best.  St Paul offers a way above all others – the way of love.  It is the greatest of God’s gifts and the one that endures.

Today’s Psalm is a song of hope and trust.  The prophets of the Lord do not travel alone, but in the face of rejection, persecution and even death, they are delivered and saved.

This week, I pray for the hope and trust that allows me to go forward with confidence, even in the face of misunderstanding and rejection.

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 27th January 2019

The Law of the Lord is perfect

As we step further into our New Year, this Sunday’s texts provide us with solid teaching to build up ourselves, our communities, our church, and our society in the light of God’s word, and in the clear direction of Jesus’s mission.  And we are urged to do this with joy and conviction.

Ezra the priest, in the First Reading, reads to the people from the Book of the Law. They are newly returned from exile to rebuild the city walls and the Temple. Moved to tears, they are told, ‘Do not be sad; the joy of the Lord is your stronghold’.

Psalm 18 (19) is a hymn of praise to God’s law.  His words give spirit and life.

St Paul, in the Second Reading, tells us that through baptism, we have all become members of one body, with Christ as our head.  We are dependent on each other, sharing our gifts and our sorrows.

The Gospel passage begins with St Luke’s opening preface, then moves on to show us Jesus, newly returned from the desert after his baptism.  In the synagogue, Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah – this is Jesus’s own ‘mission statement’.

As we ponder the essential place of God’s word in our texts, may we also pray for a deeper appreciation and reverence for it.

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 20th January 2019

‘Your words are Spirit, Lord, and they are life.’

We begin the Sundays of Ordinary Time in Year C with readings that remind us of God’s eternal relationship of love for his people.  The imagery of a wedding as a symbol of that everlasting bond is used in both the First Reading and the Gospel.

The Prophet Isaiah paints a poetic picture of how the Jewish people in exile will be delivered from their suffering. God delights in his people and the intimacy of that love is compared to the way that a bridegroom rejoices in his bride. (First Reading)

This relationship of rejoicing is mirrored in the way that the Psalmist describes his love for God.

In the Second Reading, the Church in Corinth hears how God’s Spirit of love is at work in each of them, in very different ways. There are many gifts and talents in the community, but they are united in this one Spirit. Paul would later teach the Corinthians that Christ is married to the Church.

This first Gospel reading of Ordinary Time is from the Gospel of John. The wedding at Cana sets the scene for the beginning of Jesus’s ministry in the world.  This passage is full of symbolic meaning. Although the scene is a wedding, the imagery is not of Jesus as bridegroom, but as a guest who brings new wine to the wedding feast.  He will fulfil the promises of the old prophets. Later he will become the bridegroom who rejoices in his bride, the Church.

Let us pray that we will be drawn into a deeper relationship with the God who rejoices in each one of us.

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The Baptism of the Lord, 13th January 2019, Year C

‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

In today’s joyous readings we are reminded of God’s kindness, compassion and love for all mankind; so much so that he sent his beloved Son, and poured out the ongoing gift of his creative Spirit upon us to redeem us.

The First Reading offers words of consolation and hope to God’s people in exile. The Lord comes with power to restore and protect his people, like a shepherd who guides and nourishes them.

The Psalm is a meditation on the glories of God in creation, where he looks after all he has made. The psalmist also reminds us that God’s spirit is the spirit of life, rebirth and renewal.

Paul’s letter (Second Reading) tells us that through his life and his giving of himself, Jesus embodied the kindness and love of God. The life-giving gifts of the Holy Spirit were revealed and shared with all.

Today’s Gospel describes the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus whilst he was at prayer, emphasizing the importance of both the Spirit and of prayer in Jesus’s life.
This week, let us pray for an openness and understanding of what the Holy Spirit is offering us and asking of us.

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