Sunday, 18 August 2019

Twentieth Sunday - 2019

Sometimes Jesus says things that leave us quite puzzled, like when he said, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” Lk. 14:26 – or in today’s gospel, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” Lk 12:51. What are we to make of these kinds of pronouncements?

Well in this instance in today’s gospel Jesus is actually quoting directly from the prophet Micah and appropriating the prophet’s words to himself. The prophet Micah is giving a scathing rebuke to the leaders of his time, for their failure to lead God’s people properly; for preferring to listen to prophets who spoke falsely, saying what the leaders wanted to hear. The prophet Micah is prophesying that God is going to send a Messiah who will shake things up and bring God’s will to order among the people. And when he does this it will cause divisions right down to individual households.

Micah says, “… for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household.” Micah 7:6
“But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

Jesus is confirming that he is that messiah whom the prophet is foretelling God is sending. And as the prophet warned he is bring a cleaning fire upon the people. When God speaks it is not to say things people would like to hear rather it is to say what people need to hear, whether they like it or not. Because of this God’s word can and does divide between those who are willing to listen and accept God’s word and those who are rebelling.

Our generation is no exception, we are witnessing much disorder in our society and rejection of God’s truth as it has been revealed through the gospel – so we are not surprised to see divisions, even in the household of the Church. Hear again these words of Jesus, 
"I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!”
We must not be scandalized by the struggles we are witnessing today, rather we need wise and careful discernment. What is God’s word to us today, who is speaking the truth for us to hear? Let us not forget that the Lord promised ever to remain with his Church, leading, guiding and protecting it. Our confidence comes through this promise. 

The Holy Spirit remains in the Church and will guide us through these days of confusion and uncertainty. The worst response one could make would be to leave the Church and the practice of the faith. The Holy Spirit has not abandoned the Church, he is here to guide us to hear and understand Jesus’ living word to the Church today – and by it to guide on lives through uncertain times.


Sunday, 11 August 2019

Nineteenth Sunday - 2019

Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,

for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Mtt 24:42

It is likely few of us have experienced being a servant – that is in strict sense of word – no rights, no say, no union, no where to go if you try to leave. More likely our experience is more about being served; we are all the masters expecting to be served. This is my life, my stuff, I paid my dues (my condo fees) – I expect to be served and if not just watch me complain. This way of thinking may well colour our view of religion. “I have church membership, I profess my belief, follow the rules, so now God must meet my needs, answer my prayers, serve me when I prayer.”

In today’s gospel Jesus talks about this view of servants. 
“Which of you whose servant comes in from plowing or shepherding in the field will say to him, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? Instead, won’t he tell him, ‘Prepare my meal and dress yourself to serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what he was told?” Lk. 17
So let us get this straight, we are the servants; God is the master who is to be served. As today’s gospel continues Jesus goes on to describes three kinds of disordered servants who must be dealt with:

1.       Those who say my master is delayed in coming - and to eat and drink and get drunk – might these be the ones risking a trip to hell?
2.       Those who knew what their master wanted, but were careless about doing what was expected of them – might these be those who require a stay in purgatory?
3.       Those who did not know they were servants at all – they must face a time of testing, repentance and conversion.

Today, in our hearing of this word of God the question is put to us, what kind of servant am I? Luke ends this section with Jesus telling us how God actually will serve us:
Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 "But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Lk 37-40

Am I ready for His coming?


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Epistle of Barnabas

From the Office of Readings 
Aug 8, 2019

 From a letter attributed to Barnabas
The Way of Light

Consider now the way of light; any man who is bent on reaching his appointed goal must be very careful in all he does. Now these are the directions that have been given to us for this journey: love your Creator; reverence your Maker; give glory to him who redeemed you when you were dead; be single-minded but rich in spiritual treasure; avoid those who travel down death’s highway; hate whatever is displeasing to God; detest all hypocritical pretense; do not abandon God’s commandments. Do not put on airs, but be modest in whatever you do; claim no credit for yourself. Plot no evil against your neighbor, and do not give pride an entrance into your heart.

Love your neighbor more than your own life. Do not kill an unborn child through abortion, nor destroy it after birth. Do not refrain from chastising son or daughter, but bring them up from childhood in the fear of the Lord. Do not set your heart on what belongs to your neighbor and do not give in to greed. Do not associate with the arrogant but cultivate those who are humble and virtuous.

Accept as a blessing whatever comes your way in the knowledge that nothing ever happens without God’s concurrence. Avoid duplicity in thought or in word, for such deception is a deadly snare.

Share with your neighbor whatever you have, and do not say of anything, this is mine. If you both share an imperishable treasure, how much more must you share what is perishable. Do not be hasty in speech; the mouth is a deadly snare. For your soul’s good, make every effort to live chastely. Do not hold out your hand for what you can get, only to withdraw it when it comes to giving. Cherish as the apple of your eye anyone who speaks to you of the word of the Lord.

Night and day you will bear in mind the hour of judgment; every day you will seek out the company of God’s faithful, either by preaching the word, earnestly exhorting them, ever considering how you can save souls by your eloquence, or else by working with your hands to make reparation for your past sins.

Never hesitate to give, and when you do give, never grumble; then you will know the one who will repay you. Preserve the traditions you have received, adding nothing and taking nothing away. The evildoer will ever be hateful to you. Be fair in your judgments. Never stir up dissension, but act as peacemaker and reconcile the quarrelsome. Confess your sins, and do not begin to pray with a guilty conscience.

Such then is the way of light.


Saturday, 3 August 2019

Eighteenth Sunday - 2019

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."  But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?"  And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions."  

Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, "What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?'  Then he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'  But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'  So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
* * * * * * 
The man in gospel finds himself overflowing with good fortune. An abundant harvest is a blessing from God, something every farmer prays for, indeed what all pray for. The problem here is not with harvest or the need for new barns, rather what happens in his heart. It changes him, blinds him to his true purpose in life and becomes the god he servers.

Listen to his words ….. and I shall say to myself, now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, relax, eat, drink, be merry!”

His problem is forgetting why he’s here, the true purpose of his life, what God he should be serving. Why am I here is the first question in the catechism: – to know, love and serve God. To use our allotted time to create a harvest of good works.

The Gospel ends with that well known truth – “you can’t take it with you.” Materials things no, but there is something we do take with us; as the farewell blessing in funeral liturgy says, “Let them rest from their labours, for their good deeds go with them.”

Remember these words … “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Mtt.25:35.

I thought of Mother Teresa on her moving day when packing up to return to the Father’s House, how many truckloads it would take to bring with her all her good deeds done.

* * * * * *
The First Chapter


HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord. By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort; therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ. The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ. What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone. This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. Often recall the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing." Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.
* * * * * * 

First Reading for this Sunday - Ecclesiastes  1:2; 2:21-23

“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities!  
All things are vanity!”

(Here is a link to an excellent video reflecting on this passage.)


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