Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 9th August 2020

‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’

In the readings this week, Elijah and Jesus both seek out quiet places to pray alone. They reveal an ever-present God who reaches out to us and brings peace, especially amidst the storms of our own lives.

The First Reading sees a dejected Elijah finding a place of solitude. There he recognizes and responds to God’s still, small voice in the gentle breeze, rather than in the more dramatic events of wind, earthquake and fire.

The Psalmist asks for the Lord’s saving help as well as listening to his voice – one that speaks of justice and peace, mercy and faithfulness.

In the Second Reading, St Paul shows his love for his fellow Jews, agonizing because most of them reject Christ. Paul is ready to be cut off entirely from Christ himself, if that would help his Jewish kinsfolk recognise Christ as their Lord.

The storm in Elijah’s life is echoed by the storm in the Gospel. We see the disciples overcome their fears and doubts as they eventually recognize Jesus. Seeing the power of his presence, they proclaim their belief in who he is: ‘Truly, you are the Son of God’.

The events of recent months may have made us more aware of God’s presence in times of chaos. As we continue to move through these uncertain times, we pray for the grace always to be aware of God’s presence in our lives, and confident in the peace he offers us.

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 2nd August 2020

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ!

In today’s readings, we celebrate the great love of God, who not only gives us life, but desires to sustain and nourish us generously too.

In the First Reading, it is God himself who urgently pleads with his troubled, scattered people to listen. Through his prophet, he issues an invitation to a sacred meal. God offers ‘water’ for thirsty souls; ‘corn, wine and milk’ will also be made freely available for hungry hearts, without charge.

In the Psalm, one traditionally sung at meals, we praise the God who cares for all his creatures, supplying them with nourishment.

Paul writes in very stirring language, assuring us of the ever-present love and power of Jesus Christ. Divine love gives us grace and encouragement to live life to the fullest, even with and through the unavoidable trials and sufferings of life. This is the Christian gospel, the Good News! (Second Reading)

Even whilst stricken with grief, Jesus’s response to the people is one of compassion (Gospel). He heals the sick and feeds the hungry, and there is still plenty of food left over to share. Jesus feeds the crowd in a way that foresees the food and drink he will offer us in the Eucharist.

Let’s pray this week for courage to take the risk of really hearing what God is saying to us; what sacred nourishment he is freely offering us. May we put ourselves into his hands, asking that he will deepen his life in us and in our anxious, unjust world.

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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 26th July 2020

The Kingdom of Heaven …

As Ordinary Time continues, we are still in the central part of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus is teaching by means of parables. Today we have four more parables to add to the four already heard over the last couple of Sundays. These parables stress in particular the great value of the kingdom.

In the First Reading we have the narrative of the young king Solomon asking God for the gift of wisdom, so as to discern the true value of things and rule his people with understanding.

The verses taken from the Psalm extol the value of God’s law, a treasure that brings true happiness.

St Paul, in the Second Reading, reveals the mutuality between the faithful follower and the generosity of the Father, who will justify and glorify those he has called.

In the Gospel the kingdom of heaven is likened to finding a treasure and selling everything to possess it. Good and bad coexist until the time of final judgment.

Maybe this week we can pray for the grace to recognize the kingdom amongst us and around us.

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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 19th July 2020

The Lord is our Merciful Judge

This Sunday we are, again, reminded of God’s central characteristic – merciful love. We are always in need of forgiveness, and the readings today assure us both of God’s mercy and compassion and the promise of assistance. The Holy Spirit is given freely, to help us in our weakness.

Today’s First Reading reaffirms that God’s mighty strength is demonstrated through fair judgement. And, because God is lenient and kind to us, we might be moved to treat others in the same way.

The Psalm continues the theme of God’s quality of mercy. God is full of compassion, abounding in love and truth. God is forgiveness.

The Gospel deals with the problem of evil. God’s kingdom is one of truth, justice and integrity, but it exists in an imperfect world. St Matthew tells us that God will be faithful to those who have tried to seek him in the midst of the reality of evil.

St Paul tells us that when we need help in this regard, the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. When I struggle to pray for what I need, the Spirit prays for me! (Second Reading)

Let’s ask, this week, for the help of the Spirit, who prays in and for us. May we receive what we need to cope with the evils of the world and with our own weaknesses, and may we find our strength in the loving mercy of God.

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 12th July 2020 (corrected text)

Please find below the correct text for the Fifteenth Sunday (12th July 2020) – today’s earlier post mistakenly shows that for the Fourteenth Sunday.

‘Imagine a sower going out to sow …’

The readings this week are linked by images of nature, water, rain, growing crops and harvest.

In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah compares the word of God to the rain falling on the world, which ensures a good crop and thus feeds the people.

Continuing this agricultural theme, the Psalm gives thanks to the Lord for his care for the earth. The whole world rejoices and sings at the abundant harvest.

For Paul, in the Second Reading, the whole of creation still hopes to be freed. All of us have the responsibility to be its good stewards.

The Lord, of course, is constantly at our side, helping us to achieve this. Using images from the countryside familiar to his listeners, Jesus tells the crowds who follow him a parable. Here God acts as a sower, scattering seeds freely on ground which is not always ready or able to receive it. (Gospel)

This week, we might want to focus our prayers on the needs of our environment, the Lord’s creation. We might pray for those who care for it, but also for those who seem intent on destroying it.

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 12th July 2020

‘Come to me, and I will give you rest’

There is a very welcome thread of joy and encouragement woven throughout the readings for this Sunday.

The First Reading is a foretelling of the joyous Kingdom over which Jesus will reign, and a prophecy of his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem before his death and resurrection. His way is a way of simplicity and humility, bringing peace to all nations.

Today’s Psalm is at the heart of Jewish worship, and is recited three times a day. It joyfully declares that God our King rules the whole of creation with compassion and love; he is faithful and lifts up all those who are bowed down.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reminded that we are not fully alive until we wake up to the reality of Christ’s Spirit living within us (Second Reading).

It is in this same Spirit that Jesus declares in the Gospel – that he is one with the Father, and that all things have been entrusted to him. He invites all those who are overburdened to come to him, for his yoke is easy, his burden light.

The Spirit of Christ living within us gives us hope, that even in the midst of the trials of our times, Jesus is with us, sharing in our suffering, carrying us in ways that we may not yet even recognise. Let us pray that we, as the body of Christ in the world today, will have the courage and strength to carry compassionately all those who feel weighed down by the effects of the recent pandemic.

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Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, 5th July 2020

‘Come to me, and I will give you rest’

There is a very welcome thread of joy and encouragement woven throughout the readings for this Sunday.

The First Reading is a foretelling of the joyous Kingdom over which Jesus will reign, and a prophecy of his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem before his death and resurrection. His way is a way of simplicity and humility, bringing peace to all nations.

Today’s Psalm is at the heart of Jewish worship, and is recited three times a day. It joyfully declares that God our King rules the whole of creation with compassion and love; he is faithful and lifts up all those who are bowed down.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reminded that we are not fully alive until we wake up to the reality of Christ’s Spirit living within us (Second Reading).

It is in this same Spirit that Jesus declares in the Gospel – that he is one with the Father, and that all things have been entrusted to him. He invites all those who are overburdened to come to him, for his yoke is easy, his burden light.

The Spirit of Christ living within us gives us hope, that even in the midst of the trials of our times, Jesus is with us, sharing in our suffering, carrying us in ways that we may not yet even recognise. Let us pray that we, as the body of Christ in the world today, will have the courage and strength to carry compassionately all those who feel weighed down by the effects of the recent pandemic.

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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 28th June 2020 (Europe, USA)

‘Follow in my footsteps …’

In this week’s readings we hear about the choices that have to be made in living a life in Christ, as well as of God’s generosity to anyone who welcomes a prophet or disciple.

This is illustrated in the First Reading, where God rewards the repeated kindnesses of a childless couple towards the prophet Elisha with the gift of a child.

The Psalm is full of praise for the Lord, expressing the psalmist’s joy and trust in the Lord’s everlasting love and faithfulness.

In the Second Reading, St Paul emphasizes that in baptism we are dying to our old self, to sin, and moving into a new life lived in Christ.

The Gospel sees Jesus continuing to instruct the disciples in their mission, telling them of the demands in following his way. But he also assures them of God’s great generosity– both to them and also to anyone who welcomes them. In doing so, they are welcoming Jesus himself, and even the smallest kindness will be rewarded.

This week, perhaps I might pray for the grace to follow Christ more nearly, to see him more clearly, and to love him more dearly as I welcome him in others.

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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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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Year A, 14th June 2020

Christ is our Food and Drink

This Sunday the Roman Catholic church celebrates the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, traditionally known by its Latin name ‘Corpus Christi’. It is an opportunity to reflect on the fact that Christ gave us his body and blood as spiritual sustenance.

The First Reading reminds us that God fed his people with manna and water as he brought them out of Egypt. Their faithful God did not abandon them.

The Psalm continues on the same theme. God provided the finest food, gave them peace, and through his word ensured that Israel could follow the right path.

In his letter to the Corinthians, St Paul reminds his audience of the intimate relationship between the bread and wine we partake in the Eucharist, and the body and blood of Christ. We are united through this one bread and form one body of Christians. (Second Reading)

In the Gospel, Jesus explains to the Jews that his body and blood will give them spiritual nourishment. This food is not the same as the food God gave Israel in the desert; what Jesus offers here is a way for us to be living in him and he in us.

By sharing his body and blood through the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist, there is an intimate relationship between ourselves and the Lord. This week, let us pray for all those who do not know this close union or who are not able to be part of it. We also remember all deprived of the Eucharist because of the pandemic.

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