Saturday, 16 June 2018

Eleventh Sunday - 2018

This past Wednesday, June 13, was the feast St. Anthony of Padua. On June 13, 1985 I had the privilege of celebrating this feast with the people of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Kincardine ON. as their newly arrived pastor. 

Now, you may recall that this past June 1, the gospel text for the mass included the account about Jesus cursing a fig tree. 
The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, "May no one ever eat of your fruit again!" Mk. 11:11 
St. Anthony gives us some excellent insight into the meaning behind Jesus action. In the Office of Readings for the feast of Anthony, referring to preachers and teachers, Anthony says: “Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves.”

As Christians, we might be full of words about religion but empty of the actions that demonstrate the truth of which we speak. The fig tree Jesus encountered was not in season, and so not expected to bear fruit. But for us, disciples of Jesus, every season is in season – in season for us to bear fruit – the fruit of the Spirit which we received in baptism.

Listen to Jesus charge to St. Timothy: 
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires.… 2 Tim4:2
We are in one of those times. More and more the message of the gospel is falling on deaf ears. Now is a time for our actions to speak louder and louder. Paraphrasing St. Peter in his First Letter he exhorts: 
“Knowing we are all residence of this world only for a time, do not let yourselves be lured into a life of indulgence. Living as we often do among unbelieving neighbours, you must conduct yourselves honorably. Then even if they accuse you of acting wrongly, they will come see your honorable behavior as the true way, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 1 Pt. 2:11
Taking direction from Jesus in today’s gospel, let us spread the seeds of our true and honorable good deeds wherever we go, that a harvest of goodness may come to pass.


Saturday, 9 June 2018

Tenth Sunday - 2018

History clearly demonstrates the truth of the principle of, "divide and conquer", which Jesus sites in his defense. But Jesus is not talking about politics, rather about spiritual warfare - the battle between Satan and the Kingdom of God that Jesus is bringing into the world. The most powerful weapon that Satan has in his arsenal is DIVISION. 

It is deployed by spreading falsehood, lies that directly oppose the TRUTH. Today it has been given an interesting new title, "Alternative Facts".
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’? ” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3:
Jesus makes clear how destructive a weapon this is. To call falsehood truth (thus making the Word of revelation from the Spirit appear false) is blasphemy, and as long as one embraces it they cut themselves off from salvation. 

From earliest times, the Church has suffered trials over theological disputes among Christians that have caused divisions within the churches, thus weakening the effectiveness of their witness to an unbelieving world. But in recent times genuine efforts have been undertaken to reach out and heal these divisions. St. Paul, addressing the Christian community in his second letter to Timothy writes;
Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen. Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation. 2Tim. 2:14
It would be most helpful for each of us to examine our own contribution to the work of healing and reconciliation among Christians today. We are not the enemy, Satan is, and he works tirelessly to divide the Church and discredit the gospel message. Today "Alternative Facts" comes largely through the proponents of atheism. As deniers of God, they relentlessly harp on the faults of believers, with the result that this emerging generation is less and less drawn to the Church.
But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. Mk 3:27
The question we must ask ourselves in light of today's gospel: am I becoming bound by "disputes over words", "alternative facts", and the many controversy's that we encounter today? 
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. 2 Tim 4:3
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. ..... For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Gal 5:
At an ecumenical prayer service this past January Pope Francis addressed the importance for Christians to strive to heal the wounds of disunity that have plagued the Church these past five centuries.
    "Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other's gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first,"
  In the year marking the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation, Pope Francis said Christians must acknowledge the past but not allow themselves to be fixated on it and on the injuries suffered at the hands of the other.
   Christians must allow God, "who makes all things new, to unveil before our eyes a new future, open to the hope that does not disappoint, a future in which divisions can be overcome and believers, renewed in love, will be fully and visibly one," [ . . LINK . . ]

The Relatives of Jesus

In today's gospel reading there is also mention of the relatives of Jesus and mention of Jesus' brothers and sisters. Just who are these brothers and sisters?

For a Catholic perspective on this question visit Catholic Answers and their examination of this question.   [ . . . LINK . . . ]

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Image of the Spiritual Life

The following is an insightful image of the spiritual life taken from the Moral Reflections on Job by Saint Gregory the Great, pope. 

The Church moves forward like the advancing dawn.

Since the daybreak or the dawn is changed gradually from darkness into light, the Church, which comprises the elect, is fittingly styled daybreak or dawn. While she is being led from the night of infidelity to the light of faith, she is opened gradually to the splendor of heavenly brightness, just as dawn yields to the day after darkness. The Song of Songs says aptly: Who is this who moves forward like the advancing dawn? Holy Church, inasmuch as she keeps searching for the rewards of eternal life, has been called the dawn. While she turns her back on the darkness of sins, she begins to shine with the light of righteousness.

This reference to the dawn conjures up a still more subtle consideration. The dawn intimates that the night is over; it does not yet proclaim the full light of day. While it dispels the darkness and welcomes the light, it holds both of them, the one mixed with the other, as it were. Are not all of us who follow the truth in this life daybreak and dawn? While we do some things which already belong to the light, we are not free from the remnants of darkness. In Scripture the Prophet says to God: No living being will be justified in our sight. Scripture also says: In many ways all of us give offense.

When he writes, the night is passed, Paul does not add, the day is come, but rather, the day is at hand. Since he argues that after the night has passed, the day as yet is not come but is rather at hand, he shows that the period before full daylight and after darkness is without doubt the dawn, and that he himself is living in that period.

It will be fully day for the Church of the elect when she is no longer darkened by the shadow of sin. It will be fully day for her when she shines with the perfect brilliance of interior light. This dawn is aptly shown to be an ongoing process when Scripture says: And you showed the dawn its place. A thing which is shown its place is certainly called from one place to another. 

What is the place of the dawn but the perfect clearness of eternal vision? When the dawn has been brought there, it will retain nothing belonging to the darkness of night. When the Psalmist writes: My soul thirsts for the living God; when shall I go and see the face of God?, does he not refer to the effort made by the dawn to reach its place? Paul was hastening to the place which he knew the dawn would reach when he said he wished to die and to be with Christ. He expressed the same idea when he said: For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

From the Office of Readings, Thursday of the 9th Week.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Corpus Christi - 2018

To grasp the deep meaning of today's Feast of Corpus Christi it is necessary to have some insight into the place of sacrifice in the Old Testament. Bishop Robert Barron helps us with this in his homily for today's feast. [.... LINK ....]


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