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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Saint Peter and Saint Paul Apostles, Year A, 28th June 2020 (UK)

‘Who do you say I am?’

Following Eastertide and several major feasts, we now celebrate Saints Peter and Paul before returning to the regular Sundays of Ordinary Time. We pray that their faith and example will encourage us at this time.

The First Reading gives us an account of how Peter escaped prison while the Christian community prayed continuously for him.

The Psalm is a song of praise and thankfulness for the psalmist’s own delivery, as he encourages us to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good.’

St Paul, too, in the Second Reading, is full of gratitude. He praises the Lord for rescuing him and enabling him to continue proclaiming God’s message.

The Gospel narrates the important moment when Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ Peter’s reply earns his designation as leader of the community.

May the faith of Peter and Paul and their dedication to spreading Jesus’s message encourage us this week in our daily living.

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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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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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