Saturday, 25 June 2016

Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary Time 2016


And to another Jesus said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." 
Lk 9:57-62

At first reading, these words of Jesus may seem dismissive of the importance of love and mutual caring within the family; especially for us now in light of the recent Vatican Synod on the Family and the great importance the family is given. Some context here will help with an explanation.

In Jesus time the Jewish burial customs where strict and place a serious obligation on family members, especially on the eldest son. When a person died they would be entomb that same day. This would be followed by a month of mourning. Then after one year, the bones of the deceased would be gathered up and placed in an ossuary (a small box) and reburied. After this second burial the son's obligations would be fulfilled and he would be free to carry on with his life.
At this point there were two main viewpoints as to what all this meant. The Sadducees believed that death was the end of the story. There is nothing more, other than to recall with fawned memories those now gone. The Pharisees believed there was to be a "coming-back-to-life-again", a resurrection of sorts, back to this life, in this world. These old bones would take on new flesh and live again.
No doubt Jesus is fully aware of the Fifth Commandment, "Honour your father and your mother." Jesus considers this obligation to honour the deceased to be fulfilled after the first burial, thus freeing one to come and follow him. Waiting for a whole year would directly conflict with the urgency to proclaim the gospel now. [ link to a commentary on this subject ]

At the heart of the gospel is a new and profoundly different understanding of human existence - of who we are, why we are here now, and what is our destiny. There is a future. There is to be a "New Heaven and a New Earth"
but they will be a wholly new creation and preparation for this new life begins now. Already now, through the Holy Spirit, this new and eternal life begins in us.

Knowing this and understanding it will begin to reshape the way we live our lives now. Now we see through the eyes of Jesus. Now we shape our lives and model them on the vision we see through Jesus' eyes; not as the world sees, not as we used to see. To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

What vision of reality is shaping our world today? Clearly, one is a secular, atheistic world view that professes that "what you see is what you get". That's all there is, nothing more. The question put to us in today's gospel is, "what and who is shaping your mind and heart. Are you looking only on what has passed, or is your life full of great expectation of what God has in store for those who love and follow him?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In 1969, singer Peggy Lee won an award for her recording of a song entitled, "Is That All There Is?" The following is the link to the song and a link to the background of the song.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2016

The gospel reading for today begins with this question from Jesus:
"Once when Jesus was praying by himself, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Lk 9:18-24
 This question from Jesus has remained the central question for every generation since to answer, and so for our generation now.

Increasingly, it is the rationalist/scientific answer that is gaining momentum today. It sees Jesus as that mere man, who lived two millennia ago, who was executed and buried, and who is the inspiration for one of the great religions of our time. End of story, bottled and put on the shelf with all other obscure religious figures from ancient times.

Bishop Robert Barron has an interesting take on this view in a review of a new movie entitled, "Last Days in the Desert." Here is the link to this review.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Eleventh Sunday Ordinary Time 2016

Some suggest that "mercy" is nothing more than a "get out of jail free pass." This fails to understand that mercy is a dynamic between two - the one showing mercy, and the one shown mercy. When mercy forgives it expects that something new and good will emerge. 
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezek. 33:11
Death is the fruit of evil. Mercy is the antidote to death. Mercy restores the possibility for good things to happen again. For this to happen, there must be a turn around. Repentance begins a rebuilding of a new person. Conversion orientates the repentant heart to work for good. Reparation undertakes the rebuilding of all that evil had destroyed.

Jesus gives a chilling description of what happens when mercy is forsaken.
 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” Mtt. 12:43 
If indeed they have escaped the corruption of the world through their knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, only to be entangled and overcome by it again, their final condition is worse than it was at first. 2 Peter 2:20
Pope Francis is exhorting us to see that "Mercy" is the work the gospel sets before us. Without mercy there can be no healing, and the world remains broken. True mercy does not compromise with evil, nor does it fear rejection; it seeks the truth for only truth can set us free. 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Homily by Fr. Rosica for the Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Ordinary Time in the Liturgy

Ordinary Time after the Baptism: Monday after the Feast of the Baptism through Shrove Tuesday
After the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Ordinary Time begins. Ordinary does not mean plain. The name comes from “ordinalis” meaning "showing order, denoting an order of succession.” It is used in this sense to refer to the order of the counted weeks. That is to say, it is a season of counted weeks.

Ordinary Time after the Baptism focuses on the early life and childhood of Christ, and then on His public ministry. The liturgical color of Ordinary Time is green; however, as in all seasons, other appropriate colors are worn on particular feast days. (For example, white is typically worn for Marian feast days, except in some Spanish countries where blue is an approved liturgical color.)

Ordinary Time after Pentecost: The day after Pentecost through the final day before Advent
The second period of Ordinary Time is the longest liturgical season. Ordinary Time resumes after Pentecost and runs until the final Saturday before Advent. This period of Ordinary Time focuses on Christ’s reign as King of kings, and on the age of the Church. 

This is the age we live in now, which is the time between the age of the Apostles and the age of Christ’s second and final coming for which we are ever preparing. The final Sunday in Ordinary Time is the Feast of Christ the King; the Saturday after this feast is the final day of Ordinary time.
Again, the liturgical color of Ordinary Time is green; however, as in all seasons, other appropriate colors are worn on particular feast days.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Call to Holiness


May grace and peace be yours in abundance
through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has bestowed on us
everything that makes for life and devotion,
through the knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and power.
Through these, he has bestowed on us
the precious and very great promises,
so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature,
after escaping from the corruption that is in the world
because of evil desire.
For this very reason,
make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control,
self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion,
devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. 2 Pt 1:2-7 

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