Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, 27th September 2020

‘In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus’

In this week’s readings, we are invited to reflect on our need for a change of heart. We are called to follow the Lord‘s way, as we try to model our actions and words on his.

The Jews in exile complained that the Lord was unjust, but the prophet Ezekiel tells them they should look at their own behaviour rather than blame others. God will save those who are law-abiding and honest – those who follow his way. (First Reading)

St Paul encourages the Philippians to be united in love, purpose and mind, which they should model on the mind of Christ himself. Although divine and equal with God, Christ was humble enough to become as we are, and even then to die on a cross. (Second Reading)

The Lord is merciful and forgiving; he is always ready to show us the way and guide us to walk in his paths. (Psalm)

No matter which group in society we belong to, only a true change of heart, where we welcome the Good News, will open the way to the Kingdom of God. (Gospel)

This week, I may want to focus on trying to live according to Jesus’s values. I ask the Lord to help shape my mind to be like his, so that people around me will see that love is shown in deeds more than in words.

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Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 23rd August 2020

‘The Lord is high yet he looks on the lowly’

Today’s readings give thanks to God who, though from on high, looks to the lowly.

The Gospel reveals a God whose choice of the very human Peter shows that the wisdom of God is indeed unfathomable.  By reflecting on the way God builds on the faith of this ordinary man, whose name would be similar to ‘Simon Johnson’ in English (‘bar Jonah’), our own faith can be deepened allowing us to proclaim, along with Peter, ‘You are the Christ’!

The prophet Isaiah (First Reading) appears to foretell this choosing of Peter.  The Lord will entrust a servant with authority, and this servant will become as a father to the nation and as a throne of glory for the kingdom.

The Psalm continues this theme of choice: through the Lord’s faithful love for us, we are indeed chosen and our strength increased.

St Paul (Second Reading) speaks of love and wisdom, the motives behind God’s choice, the depths of which are impossible to comprehend.  And our response to that?  Simply to be grateful for that all is freely given and to trust God’s choice of us.

Let’s do that this week, both in our prayer and in our joyful response.

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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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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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Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A, 29th March 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak

At this time when praying in groups isn’t an option for many of us, please do use the weekly Prego to help you pray on your own. As we settle to pray this coming week, let’s hold each member of the St Beuno’s Outreach family across the world in prayer, and remember especially all those who are affected in any way by the virus. If you know someone who is self-isolating and feeling lonely, a friendly phone call or email can make a big difference. Some might also welcome having a copy of a Prego leaflet pushed through their letter box.

With the Lord there is Mercy and Redemption

Although our liturgy brings us nearer this week to the climax of Passiontide, our readings are full of hope and life.

In our First Reading, the people of Israel are exiled in Babylon. The prophet tells them that God will put a new spirit in them and raise them from their graves.

The Psalm is a prayer of trust in God, who is full of mercy and compassion. He will redeem Israel.

In the Second Reading, St Paul tells us that because we have received the Spirit of Christ, then ‘he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies.’

The Gospel unites all these themes of mercy and trust, of death and life, of redemption and resurrection, in the miracle of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This great sign of Jesus being ‘the resurrection and the life’ leads us into the coming weeks.

As we contemplate these readings this week, may we draw closer to our Lord and accompany him as he sets his face towards Jerusalem.

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Third Sunday of Lent, Year A, 15th March 2020

‘Listen to his voice!’

This Sunday’s Gospel centres on a very personal encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus sees into the heart of her being: he understands her true longing and invites her to draw from the well of living water.

In Lent we are all invited to meet Jesus in a personal way. Jesus understands all that we truly need. So as we try to make time to pray during these weeks, we too can come to the living waters and drink from the wellspring of life that Christ pours out for all people.

In the First Reading, the Israelites, exiled in the desert, express their desperate thirst. They doubt the future that has been promised to them. The Lord provides water from a rock in the desert.

The Psalm is a collective song of praise expressing a longing for God, where we also hear the voice of God himself. It calls us to soften our hearts, to listen to his voice, and to trust in his grace. It is a reminder that God will always respond to our thirst for him.

The letter to the Romans offers encouragement to remain faithful to God’s wonderful grace that has been freely given to us. We can be hopeful because of the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is that same love that was shown to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. (Second Reading)

Let’s pray for each other that this Lent, we may listen and respond with open and welcoming hearts to Christ’s invitation to drink from the wellspring of his love.

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First Sunday in Lent, Year A, 1st March 2020

Be off, Satan! For scripture says: ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.’

As we move into this holy season of Lent, the readings slowly begin to prepare us to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

The First Reading teaches us how God created a good world, giving life to man and woman. But Eve and Adam had ambitions for equality with God, leading to the beginning of our sense of alienation from the Divine.

The Psalm is recognised as a prayer of penitence, particularly suited for the Lenten season. It sees sin not purely in individual terms, but as an evil that can affect the whole community.

For Paul (Second Reading), the imagery of life and death provides a key to understanding what Jesus has done for us. Death signifies being cut off from a relationship with God, whereas life invokes an image of friendship and union with God. Through the life of Jesus, the new Adam, we are all restored to that friendship.

In the Gospel, Jesus, though genuinely tempted in the wilderness, remains faithful to his Father. He is resolute in resisting the devil’s seductive, reasonable-sounding temptations.

Let’s begin the season of Lent by inviting God to show us how to find the freedom of spirit to live with open-hearted generosity, and to rediscover the joy and freedom in living for others, as did Christ himself.

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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 16th February 2020

‘Be my protector, O God … lead me, guide me for the sake of your name’

Today’s readings reveal God’s law as something different from human-made laws, which are imposed on people to keep them in check.  God’s law is born in love and given in love, and is fulfilled by our loving response to it.

Because God does not impose the law, we are always free to choose our response.  God’s loving and wise care (Second Reading) means that we are supported in our response (First Reading).

When we do respond lovingly, we will experience happiness on earth (Psalm) and know greatness in God’s kingdom (Gospel).

Let’s ask for the grace, in the coming week, to really seek the Lord with all our hearts.  And to respond to the circumstances of our daily lives with loving wisdom, knowing that in everything we are being guided, held and encouraged by God’s law of love.

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Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, 17th November 2019

Acclaim the King, the Lord!

As we come towards the end of the Church’s year, the readings encourage us to look at our world with open eyes, without pretence;  to be filled with hope because God is faithful, working always for good. Even if we have to suffer, God is with us.

The prophet Malachi, in the First Reading,  promises that arrogant evil-doers will not always prosper.  The day of the Lord is coming when evil will be punished but those who know the Lord will experience healing, like the warming rays of the sun.

The Psalm is a joyful invitation for all creation to praise the Lord, who is coming to rule with fairness and justice.

St Paul reminds us we should work quietly and humbly at our daily tasks while waiting for Christ’s return. Without anxiety, we are to contribute to our families and community (Second Reading).

In the Gospel, Jesus warns of the future destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. His disciples will face persecution and hostility, illness and famine, but these catastrophes do not mean the end of the world. God will care for them and give them the words to speak to those who persecute them.  By enduring, they will give witness to their faith and receive all that he has promised.

This week, I may like to pray for trust and gentle perseverance in following Jesus, so I am able to live according to his values.

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