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3rd Sunday of Lent – Year C

 鈥淪trong is His love for us鈥 鈥 we could say that this phrase from the responsorial psalm sums up the message of today鈥檚 Mass readings.Our God is a 鈥榗onsuming fire鈥 who 鈥渇orgives all our guilt鈥 and 鈥渉eals our ills鈥 (Ps 102).  He is 鈥渃ompassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.鈥滻n the Gospel Jesus explains in the parable of the fig tree which did not bear fruit that he is always prepared to give us a second chance, to give us more time, in the hope that we will repent of our sins and failures.  鈥淕ive it (ie the fig tree) one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it 鈥 it may bear fruit next year!鈥 (Gospel – Lk 13:1-9).It is the same God who appeared to Moses while he went about his daily work of tending the flock and spoke to him from the burning bush.  Moses was standing on 鈥渉oly ground鈥 without knowing it!  God reveals His name as I AM.  When we live in the present we live in the PRESENCE of our God who knows all about the plight of His people and their desires for freedom.  As God sent Moses to the people of Israel to be His mouth-piece and His instrument in freeing them from their bondage, so today He needs each of us to tell others of the love, compassion and forgiveness of our God.  We need not be afraid to open to Him for He will surpass all our expectations and dreams with the abundance of His love – 鈥淪trong is His love for us!鈥濃淥nly where God is seen does life truly begin.  Only when we […]

1st Sunday of Lent – Another Reflection

Having set for myself a headline for Lent 鈥淚t is your face, O Lord, that I seek, hide not your face鈥 鈥 it is encouraging to find that Jesus in today鈥檚 gospel gives me inspiring texts to guide me on my way. His responses to the devil can become ours. Indeed each of these quotes are taken from the book of Deuteronomy, that story of the people of Israel鈥檚 forty years wanderings through the desert to the promised land 鈥 a blue print of our struggles too on our journey home to our Father鈥檚 house. 鈥楳an does not live on bread alone鈥 鈥 Though immersed in, and in need of many material and tangible things to sustain us in life, yet our faith tells us that this is not our real life, no, our real life is the faith we have in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us. 鈥︹檅ut on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.鈥 First and foremost, the Word, with a capital 鈥榃鈥欌, Jesus Christ, was breathed forth by the Father, to become man eventually, to suffer and die and be our Saviour. It is only through, with and in Him that we can return to the Father. Because of our love and faith in Jesus, the words of Scripture, 鈥榯he revealed love letter鈥, as it has been described, came to enlighten and lead us home. 鈥榊ou must worship the Lord your God and serve Him alone.鈥 鈥淓xalt the Lord in your praises as high as you may 鈥 still he surpasses you. Exert all your strength when you exalt Him, do not grow tired, you will never come to an end. We […]

By |February 19th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

First Sunday of Lent – Reflection on Deuteronomy

In today鈥檚 First reading at Mass, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, we are presented with the prayer of the Jewish man to God on presenting to Him the first-fruits of all the Lord had given to him. In a few short – actually long! 鈥 sentences, he summarises all the Lord has done for him since the call of Abraham, through the formation and election of Israel; her persecution at the hands of the Egyptians; to her deliverance and after wandering in the desert, at last, entering into and taking possession of the land given to her by God. (That was a fairly good imitation of the long sentences!!)And this is the First Sunday of Lent; that time of year again 鈥 already 鈥 when we know we would like to make a concerted effort to be cleansed of everything that separates us from God; prevents us from living as He invites us to, in Jesus. And with all our good intentions, for most of us, we鈥檒l have fallen by the end of the first week, if we haven鈥檛 fallen already.What can we do that would seem worthwhile and a real expression to God of our love for Him and our gratitude for His mercy and unfailing nearness: for the wonder of His love?In this prayer, I would dare to suggest, is a very profitable and healthy undertaking; one that may not seem to be much 鈥 but in this age of dismissal of God as a necessary 鈥榚lement鈥 of our lives 鈥 maybe after all, it would be well worth considering. An act of faith in this Year of Faith.Two Big Words!Acknowledgement and Thanksgiving鈥楬e brought us here and gave us this land, […]

By |February 17th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

Palm Sunday

During the past week as I reflected on St Mark鈥檚 Passion narrative,(Ch 14 &15) which we heard at Mass this morning, my attention was drawn to the woman who broke the jar of ointment and poured it out on Jesus鈥 head 鈥 a very good symbol of our monastic contemplative way of life. St Mark tells us that she broke the jar and poured out the precious ointment while the disciples murmured and criticised her action as being wholly foolish and wasteful: 鈥渨hy this waste? Ointment like this could be sold and the money given to the poor! And they were angry with her.鈥 We hear similar comments regarding our way of life: 鈥渨hy waste your life away within an enclosure apparently doing nothing while there is so much need in our modern world.鈥 However Jesus praised the woman鈥檚 action saying: “leave her alone 鈥︹. You have the poor with you always 鈥he has done what was in her power to do 鈥.. wherever the Good News is proclaimed what she has done will be told also in remembrance of her.”Jesus and the woman were looking at life from a different perspective, both understood each other, they had a deep contemplative vision which penetrated beyond the external appearances to the heart – in a word they were seeing from God鈥檚 point of view. Later in chapter 14 Jesus is present at another meal when he will take bread saying: 鈥渢ake it, this is my Body鈥 and he will take the cup saying: 鈥渢his is my Blood which is poured out for you鈥.The woman breaks the jar and does 鈥榳hat was in her power to do鈥 鈥 she gives […]

5th Sunday of Lent

The Gospel passage we read at Mass today from St. John, is very full and pregnant with food for thought and reflection as we approach the holiest week of the year. As I reflected on the text I could see glimpses of the entire life of Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry, his death, Resurrection and glorification 鈥 a text that can surely help us 鈥榗ome to know the Lord鈥 and put us in touch with what is happening at this stage in his life.The pilgrims are arriving in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, including some Greek converts who want to 鈥渟ee Jesus鈥. This is the desire in the heart of all of us. 鈥淚 would like to see Jesus鈥. Jesus responds as He always does throughout the Gospels, and very pointedly in St. John鈥檚 Gospel, which always has many layers and levels of meaning, e.g. in response to 鈥渨here do you dwell?鈥, Jesus says 鈥渃ome and see鈥. In response to John the Baptist鈥檚 disciples’ questions 鈥 鈥渁re you the one who is to come or are we to look for someone else鈥? Jesus鈥 replies 鈥済o and tell John all you see and hear 鈥 the blind see, the deaf hear 鈥 lepers are cleansed and happy the one who does not lose faith in Me鈥. Here in our text today Jesus鈥 reply was 鈥淣ow the hour has come鈥 the kairos time of God for the 鈥楽on to be glorified鈥 is at hand. His words or his reply to the questions are never direct, but they are authenticating who He is.鈥淚 tell you most solemnly unless a wheat grain falls on the ground […]

3rd Sunday of Lent

Towards the end of today鈥檚 Gospel passage (Jn 2.35) , St. John shares with us the empathy he has with Jesus. He tells us: 鈥渕any believed in Jesus鈥 name when they saw the signs he gave 鈥 but he knew them all and did not trust himself to them 鈥 he could tell what a person had in him鈥 鈥 or as another translation puts it 鈥︹滼esus would not give them his confidence; he had knowledge of them all, and did not need assurances about any one, because he could read all hearts鈥. (R.Knox).Among those referred to in this passage, there were obviously some who were enthused about Jesus and his miracles but it seems there was no real depth to their enthusiasm; among the crowd too, would no doubt have been some of the hypocrites who so often tried to catch Jesus out in what he said and did during his ministry. How Jesus detested hypocrisy; with sinners he was always so compassionate and forgiving, but hypocrisy brought forth strong condemnations from him. How dear the quality of sincerity is to Jesus is highlighted in his words to Nathanael (Jn.1:45-51) – 鈥榖ehold an Israelite in whom there is no guile鈥欌揳 beautiful compliment which utterly amazed Nathanael; truly Jesus could read his heart, as he can read all hearts, and that can be a source of great consolation because it means he so well understands our weaknesses.There is not one of us who would wish to be included in the group in whom Jesus had no confidence, no trust 鈥 yet many of us realise when we reflect on our lives that we have failed his confidence, his trust, perhaps many […]

Lent Week 2 – Monday

A few words on to-day鈥檚 Gospel 鈥 Lk 6:36-38:It opens with the words: 鈥淛esus said to his disciples: 鈥楤e compassionate as your Father is compassionate.鈥 Perhaps the most important words in this passage are: 鈥榓s your Father鈥. God is our Father! As the Christmas Preface puts it: 鈥渢he wonder of our making is only surpassed by the wonder of our coming to life in Christ鈥 (old translation) 鈥 i.e. by our Baptism we are inserted right into the heart of the Blessed Trinity 鈥 into the family and inner life of God. We are sons and daughters of God the Father, sisters and brothers of Jesus, the Son of God and we have the Holy Spirit living in our spirit- thus making us cry out 鈥楢bba, father鈥 and to proclaim Jesus as Lord. So that is why Jesus can ask us to have the beautiful attitude He annunciates in this Gospel passage – being compassionate, not judging, not condemning, granting pardon and giving. These attitudes do not come naturally to us 鈥 they must be desired and prayed for, cultivated and practised 鈥 then the light of Christ will shine forth in our life and actions and so glorify our Father in heaven.

2nd Sunday of Lent – The Face of Christ

This morning鈥檚 Gospel account of the Transfiguration is so rich and full in ideas and teaching (as is every event in the life of Christ) that it is difficult to pick one out for reflection. We all know the story so well 鈥 Jesus becoming radiant 鈥 aglow 鈥 transfigured in the presence of the three chosen Apostles, Peter, James and John 鈥 then Moses and Elijah appeared in glory also and were talking with Jesus about his 鈥榩assing鈥 which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem.There is one little detail I want to say a few words on 鈥 鈥淗is face shone like the sun鈥 this is in the account given by Matthew and Luke not in Mark from which today鈥檚 account is taken. I have been struck very, very often by the number of times the word 鈥榝ace鈥 comes into the Psalms, the Hymns etc. in the Liturgy, e.g. 鈥渉ow long will you hide your face from me?鈥 鈥淚 will behold your face in righteousness鈥 and in Psalm 26 鈥淥f you my heart has spoken, seek his face鈥 鈥 鈥淚t is your face, O Lord, that I seek, hide not your face鈥 鈥 鈥淭urn your face against my sins鈥 – and Psalm 41 鈥 The Psalmist longs to stand once more in the Temple, to appear before God鈥檚 face 鈥 鈥渨hen can I enter and see the face of God?鈥 Ps.69 鈥 鈥淗ide not your face from me鈥 鈥 鈥淚 diligently seek your face鈥.The face or countenance is so important a part of every person. We know we cannot see the Face of God. In Exodus 33.20 the Lord says to Moses: 鈥淵ou cannot see My Face, […]

1st Sunday of Lent – Desert Experience

In this morning鈥檚 Gospel St Mark tells us that 鈥渢he Spirit drove Jesus into the desert and he remained there and was put to the test by Satan鈥 (Mk 2:12f)鈥 a very stark picture at first glance!Immediately before this passage we read about Jesus鈥 Baptism when He, the sinless One, took on the burden of our sins and was baptised by John. The heavens were opened and the Spirit descended on him and the voice from heaven declared: 鈥淵ou are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you.鈥 Strengthened in the conviction of being the Beloved of the Father, at once the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert鈥..In the Old Testament the desert symbolised both the place of testing and the place of intimacy with God. We read in the Book of Deuteronomy: 鈥淩emember the long road by which the Lord led you for forty years, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart 鈥 whether you would keep his commandments or not 鈥earn that the Lord was training you as a man trains his child.鈥滷or the Old Testament prophets the desert symbolised the place of intimacy with the Lord as we read in the Prophet Hosea: 鈥淚 am going to seduce her and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart 鈥here she will respond to me鈥. Hosea continues: 鈥渨hen that day comes I shall make a treaty for them with the wild animals 鈥nd I will let them sleep secure.鈥 (2:21) and there follows these beautiful lines: 鈥淚 shall betroth you to myself foreverI shall betroth you in faithfulness and loveAnd you will come to know the Lord.鈥滷or me these lines throw […]

By |February 26th, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

Lent and Vocation Discernment

A few thoughts for the beginning of Lent.I have always found Lent to be a very fruitful time for Vocation Discernment. I think it was because since I was a small child the high point of Easter for me was Holy Saturday night when, having intensely lived all that God had done for us in Christ (during the Triduum) I renewed my Baptismal Promises. I think part of the attraction was that it was a real, public, solemn, formal commitment to God that I could make before I was old enough to make my First Communion. So I always saw Lent as a time to prepare to make this re-commitment. To examine my life and see where I was failing to live as a Christian; to give more time to God (prayer, 鈥榟oly鈥 reading, daily Mass etc.) and also to do things for others 鈥 Jesus said 鈥淭ruly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me鈥. This meant that my renewal of Baptismal Promises would not be just words but something I was living. Lent showed that I was serious about what I was saying, and of course it was meant to expand out to the rest of the year. But it is good to have that set time to stop and take track and re-centre my life on God.I think this ‘way of doing Lent’ really helped my Discernment during the years when I was discerning my Vocation. Since every Lent was a preparation for a solemn re-commitment and inherant in that commitment was my determination to do God’s will, whatever it was. So not only was I […]

By |February 23rd, 2012|Vocations|1 Comment