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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Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 17th May 2020

Speak out with a voice of joy … the Lord has set his people free!

Even though we remain conscious of the real trauma that many continue to struggle with today, there is a sense of joy in this week’s readings. We hear of it arising from the marvellous acts of the apostles (today’s First Reading), and also in the Psalm, a hymn rejoicing in the great things the Lord has done for his people.

In the same way, we have a taste of this joy in the Gospel promise: the Spirit will be given to us, and the Lord will be in us and we in the Lord.

Even the sufferings meted out to the followers of Christ (Second Reading) could not diminish their gratitude for the Lord. This was bound up in the hope of the Resurrection which gave them, as it today gives us, the reason to respect one another and to reverence the Lord.

This week, let’s pray that the trials we have faced over the past months, and the sufferings we continue to endure, will not hold back the life of the Spirit in us. In all things, may we speak with joy of the good things the Lord has done and continues to work in our lives.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 10th May 2020

Ring out your joy to the Lord!

This week’s readings speak powerfully of faith, hope and trust in God. During the coming week and for the weeks ahead, God’s word inspires, sustains and encourages us as we continue to live with the impacts of current events.

We learn how the early church devised a way to ensure the fair sharing of food and material necessities among all the faithful, so that the apostles could continue preaching and teaching about Jesus (First Reading). They accomplished this task with prayer, seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit in their decision-making.

St Peter (Second Reading) speaks of the difficulties of living without faith, and rejoices that those who are believers can be close to Jesus and become a holy people living in the light of God.

We are reminded that our hope is in God who is faithful, who loves justice and right, and who seeks to rescue the people who hope in his love (Psalm). I am invited to remember God as the source of my hope in difficulty, and to offer praise and thanksgiving with joy.

The Gospel is part of Jesus’s farewell to his disciples. Although he will leave them physically, he asks them not to be troubled, to trust in God. He invites us also to trust. We will not be left alone, but will know our Risen Lord as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and be enabled to live the way, truth and life of Jesus for others.

I may like to ponder how am I making my decisions during this difficult time? Perhaps I am called to try to spend some time each day with Jesus, growing closer to him and his values.

I ask Jesus for the grace to live this week in hope, trust and joy.

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Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 3rd May 2020

Good Shepherd Sunday

Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, for the Gospel is always taken from St John, where Jesus speaks of himself as the ‘Good Shepherd’. A shepherd leads his flock and Jesus is the shepherd who leads his followers. The sheep know his voice, trust him, and will follow only him. In the same way, we also keep today as Vocations Sunday, when the Church prays for new ‘good shepherds’ to lead our Christian communities, especially at this difficult time.

In the First Reading, Peter proclaims to the crowd that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. They are invited to have faith in Christ, and by repenting and being baptised, they will be forgiven. Peter reminds them that God’s promise is for everyone.

This familiar Psalm demonstrates the hope and trust of the psalmist in the Lord who is my shepherd, and who cares for me providing guidance, comfort and rest.

In the Second Reading, Peter continues encouraging the people to follow Christ’s example and to put their trust in God, particularly when times are difficult or unjust. By dying on the cross he has healed us and brought us back to God.

Jesus tells his disciples – and us – that he is the gate of the sheepfold; it is in following him that we can have the fullness of life. (Gospel)

In my prayer this week, I may want to take time to speak to Jesus as my shepherd and reflect on what that means for me. On this Vocations Sunday, perhaps I can also consider how I am responding to the way Jesus is calling me, and pray that others also hear his invitation.

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Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), Year A, 19th April 2020

His love has no end!

At the heart of today’s Easter liturgy, we witness God’s unending love and mercy at work in the midst of very human doubt and weakness.

In the Gospel, the risen Christ appears amongst the disciples in their hiding place. Blessed with the Holy Spirit, they are sent out to spread Christ’s message of love, forgiveness and peace. Thomas is not with them and cannot believe what they tell him, but eight days later, Jesus returns and the reality of resurrection is revealed to Thomas in a personal way.

The Second Reading reminds us that the resurrection has reclaimed our birth-right as children of God. We are encouraged to be mindful and joyful at this reality. This changes us and everything forever. Even in the trials and anxieties of the times we are living though, faith will always be enough.

The First Reading shows how the Early Church, filled with the Spirit of the risen Christ, lived out its faith. Its members are united in the breaking of bread, communal prayer, a spirit of shared generosity, and in compassionate acts of love. This is the life we are called to live too, even as today we face the challenge of maintaining our bonds of fellowship when we can no longer safely gather as a community.  Christ is with us totally in the suffering of our longing to be  together again.

United  with Christians everywhere, and against a tide of doubt and scepticism, our faith-filled actions, expressed in small acts of kindness will declare with the Psalmist: ‘His love has no end’.

At one with the Easter spirit of the Early Church, let’s pray for each other, and especially for those facing trials because of their health or isolation. May we remain joyful in the certain knowledge of God’s great mercy that has made us his children.

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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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Second Sunday in Lent, Year A, 8th March 2020

‘Stand up, do not be afraid!’

Traditionally, on the second Sunday of Lent, we read and pray with the Transfiguration of Jesus: the event that Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us took place up a high mountain. It is an episode that gives us a glimpse of both Jesus’s humanity and his divinity. Here Jesus is also able to reassure his friends and us that there is no need to be afraid, even as we witness such extraordinary events. (Gospel)

Before the Gospel, we hear of the Lord speaking to Abram, telling him to leave everything he knows with the promise of great blessings. (First Reading)

The Psalm reflects on the faithfulness of God’s word. He will be our help and shield if, like Abram, we place our hope in him.

Both Abram’s call and the disciples’ witnessing of the Transfiguration do not occur as a reward, but by ‘God’s own purpose and grace’ (Second Reading). Paul encourages Timothy to accept the hardships he encounters and rely on the power of God, strengthened by the grace of the appearing of Jesus Christ.

This week, then, as we continue on our Lenten journey, we might want to focus our prayer on all those who are afraid, asking that they place their hope in the Lord and experience his comforting love.

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Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 23rd February 2020

The Lord is Compassion and Love

An understanding of the true teaching of the Law is presented in different ways in this week’s readings.

In the First Reading from Leviticus, Moses receives instructions to tell the people to become more like their God in their dealings with others. ‘Be holy for I am holy.’

St Paul, in the Second Reading, reminds the Corinthians that the indwelling of the Spirit makes them sacred. This is more important than all their divisions. In Christ we are all the temple of God.

The Psalm, uniting these readings, is a prayer of praise and gratitude to the God who is love and compassion: he heals, forgives and redeems us.

Jesus, in the Gospel, is like the new Moses. He is the new law-giver, taking the teaching of the Law to a deeper, more demanding level.  Being ‘perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect’ asks us to assume Jesus’s values and treat our neighbour as a brother or sister in Christ.

Maybe this week, we can consider these values – perhaps not always shared by those around us and pray for the grace to be more accepting of all whom we encounter.

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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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