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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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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The Most Holy Trinity, Year A, 7th June 2020

‘The God of Love and Peace be with you!’

One God, three persons united in a constant flow of love and tenderness! On this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we are all invited to be drawn deeper into the rhythm of this eternal dance of love.

Moses met God in the form of a cloud (First Reading). God revealed the foundational truth that underlies the commandments Moses was carrying: the Lord is compassion and tenderness, slow to anger and rich in kindness.

The Psalm from the Book of Daniel is an excerpt from a joyful song of praise, attributed to three men whose faith had saved them from a fiery furnace: ‘To you glory and praise for evermore’.

In Paul’s letter (Second Reading) we hear how the early Christian community were encouraged to embody this Trinitarian loving relationship, in how they lived and greeted one another. As we slowly start to emerge from the restrictions we have been living under, may we truly value and cherish our bonds of friendship.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus reveals to Nicodemus the depth of God’s love for all people. God sent his Son so that all may have eternal life.

Our Creator God became fully human and lived as one of us, physically living out the compassion and tenderness revealed to Moses centuries before. At Pentecost, the Spirit of God was poured into the hearts of Jesus’s followers. This same Spirit of love and kindness unites us now as we pray, whether we do so alone, with a group, or in a virtual gathering. May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

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Pentecost Sunday, Year A, 31st May 2020

‘Peace be with you!’

Pentecost, seen as the birthday of the Christian Church, is the culmination of Eastertide. It is the day when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the start of the Church’s mission to the world – a mission to bring people to God. We hear of this in the Gospel, when the risen Jesus comes to the disciples in the locked room bringing peace. He shows them his wounds, encouraging them to believe that he is indeed risen from the dead, and sends them out.

In the First Reading the disciples receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, bringing them courage and the ability to speak different languages. Now they can reach out to all nations, telling the peoples about God.

The Psalm praises God’s greatness, celebrating all the riches and goodness that the Spirit freely gives to ‘renew the face of the earth’.

The Second Reading speaks of the gifts that God’s Spirit gives to each one of us. Working together in different ways towards a common aim, Paul compares us to a human body – each part working towards the well-being of the whole.

As we celebrate Pentecost and the birthday of the Church, we might like to reflect on the particular role that God has for each one of us. This week, I might ponder the contribution that I myself can make to the mission of the Church, and to all those around me.

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The Ascension of the Lord, Year A, 21st May 2020

The Lord goes up with shouts of joy!

With the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we come to the end of Jesus’s earthly life. For the Apostles, it has been a journey from suffering and death to the joy of the Resurrection. The Ascension is another huge step in experiencing the Lord’s presence as they continue his work.

The First Reading gives an account of the Ascension from the Acts of the Apostles. Having been instructed by Jesus for forty days, they now witness his Ascension and are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Psalm exults in praise for the Lord, who is raised on high and is acclaimed as king of all the earth.

St Paul, in the Second Reading, prays that we may fully realise our own glorious hope. God our Father, in raising Jesus high, bestows on us the hope of sharing in his glory.

The Gospel is short and to the point. The eleven receive Jesus’s blessing, as they are sent out to spread his word throughout the earth. They are also given the promise that Jesus will be with them always.

Following some very hard, demanding and painful months, we too are reminded that the Lord is always with us as we are being continuously sent out in his name.

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Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord, Year A, 5th April 2020

Let every tongue acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord!

This Sunday we begin the prayer of Holy Week as Jesus enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, accompanied by crowds shouting joyfully ‘Hosanna!’ and waving palm branches. Very soon, the mood of the people changes and their cry is ‘Crucify him!’ (Gospel). We accompany Jesus as he goes to his death.

The other readings help us to understand what is happening.

We see that Jesus fulfils the Old Testament prophecies of the suffering servant from Isaiah; in the face of his Passion, he knows and trusts that the Father will help him (First Reading).

Psalm 21 (22) moves from utter dejection: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ to praise and trust in God: ‘Give him glory … revere him’! You may wish to read the whole psalm from your Bible during Holy Week to understand the prayer that Jesus prayed from the cross.

St Paul’s explanation of the meaning of Jesus’s incarnation, death and Resurrection ends with a firm declaration of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Second Reading).

Even as we find ourselves confined and isolated, walking in sorrow with Jesus this Holy Week, we look forward to Easter joy in his Resurrection, the ultimate victory over death and suffering.

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Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A, 22nd March 2020

Wake up from your sleep and Christ will shine on you!

Each year Laetare (‘Rejoice’) Sunday gives encouragement to all those travelling the Lenten road  to Holy Week and Easter.

Today’s readings affirm that I do not make this journey alone.  I am offered a helping hand by the Lord who is my shepherd and guide (Psalm).  By leading me on the right path in goodness, he is being true to his name.  I want for nothing.  Though I may have been walking in darkness, even sometimes feeling as if I am trapped in the valley of the shadow of death, I am now exposed to the light of the Lord.

And the Lord, looking with love at my heart rather than at external appearances (First Reading), illuminates me, turning me into light (Second Reading).

Jesus curing the man born blind is a well-known piece of scripture (Gospel).   Perhaps I am like the one without sight who can suddenly see.  And finding myself looking at the Son of Man, I can come to believe and to trust in him even more deeply.

Reason, indeed, to rejoice today!

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