Saturday, 28 January 2017

Meditation On the Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are seen as a summery of the Jesus' teaching; an outline or index of the gospel. In anticipation of what is to come, this Sunday's gospel invites us to spend some time reflecting on the Beatitudes.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
 “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 
What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done. Mtt. 16:24-27

"Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted."
 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask Him.”
“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.
Martha replied, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:

"Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land."
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:14

"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied."
 Then they inquired, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”
Jesus replied, “This is the work of God: to believe in the One He has sent.”
So they asked Him, “What sign then will You perform, so that we may see it and believe You? What will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “give us this bread at all times.”
Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst. But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not believe. John. 6:28

"Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy."
 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!
Because of this, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
As he began the settlements, a debtor was brought to him owing ten thousand talents. Since the man was unable to pay, the master ordered that he be sold to pay his debt, along with his wife and children and everything he owned.
Then the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Have patience with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’
His master had compassion on him, forgave his debt, and released him. >>>
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe me.’ >>>
So his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. >>>
The master summoned him and declared, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?’ In his anger, his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should repay all that he owed.
That is how My Heavenly Father will treat each of you, unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matt. 18:21

"Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God."
 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus called a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Mtt. 18:1

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God."
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . . . . if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them . . . . . love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. But beware of men; for they will hand you over to their councils and flog you in their synagogues. On My account, you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to respond or what to say. In that hour you will be given what to say. For it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. Mtt. 10:16

Saturday, 21 January 2017

3rd Sunday 2017 - Struggle For Unity

 As you are aware, as of this date, we are in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It began Wed. 18th and continues through to Wed. 25th. Theme this year: Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-20).

I’m sure you are all familiar with ancient saying,
“United we stand – divided we fall.” - often used in a political context to emphasize the importance and need to build strong alliances; realizing that our enemies are applying its antithesis, “Divide and concur!”

 As important as it is in a political sense, it is no less true in a religious and spiritual sense as well. 
Clearly, our religious life is not immune to this destructive behavour. In the book of Sirach,  - "My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal." (chapter 2: 1-18) Ever since Cain killed his brother Able, this original sin has been locked into our very D&A, as it were; evidenced by our long, long history of human conflicts, both political and religious. 

Our religious/spiritual life is a work unfolding in the midst of a spiritual warfare. We have an enemy intent on our destruction. The weapon of choice against us is
“disunity”, separating us from God and one another. Our enemy drives wedges of doubt, confusion, half truths and lies between us and God. Once separated from God’s truth and his divine plan for us, we are easily lead down a path of self destruction and death.

That is why we see Jesus preparing for his ministry by going into the wilderness to engage the Great Deceiver in spiritual warfare, warfare that will end with Jesus victory on the Cross. St. Paul, in our second reading, is crystal clear in his understanding of this reality. He sees evidence of this divisiveness already infiltrating the fledgling Christian Church in Corinth, so he is warning them.  
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
But sadly, throughout the history of the Church, divisions have afflicted the Church from within. But from the time of the Second Vatican Council, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a powerful movement to heal these wounds of division has been at work, an ecumenical movement. In an article on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Fr. Thomas Rosica describes this period this way.
"So much has been achieved in joint efforts for Christian unity over the past 50 years. Separated Christians no longer consider one another as strangers, competitors or even enemies, but as brothers and sisters. We have largely removed the former lack of understanding, misunderstanding, prejudice, and indifference; we pray together, together we give witness to our common faith; in many fields we work together. We have experienced that “what unites us is much greater than what divides us.” (Part Two)
But he goes on to caution:
"Yet after the first rather euphoric phase of the ecumenical movement that followed the Second Vatican Council, the last decades have seen us experiencing signs of tiredness, disillusionment and stagnation. Some go so far as to speak even of a crisis, and many Christians no longer understand the differences on which the churches are arguing with each other." 
(Part Two)
St. Paul’s direction to the church in Corinth and now to us is to Focus on Jesus, person to person.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the Gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom so that the Cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.For the message about the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Second Reading (1Corinthians 1.10-13, 17-18)
This exhortation is the same for us today. The names have changed but the condition of loss of focus is the same. Before the theological issues, before the political issues are addressed, our deep, personal and spiritual union with Jesus must come first. Then as Pope Francis is directing us: "Go forth to build bridges to unite us with our brothers and sisters, now separated, who are likewise focused.


Links to Fr. Rosica's three part series, quoted above.

The Decree on Ecumenism: 50 Years Later.
Link to a previous VOICES Post: Link ...... ->


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Liturgical Seasons

Some Thoughts On Ordinary Time and the Liturgical Year

First, the word ordinary as it is used here, does not mean plain. The name comes from the Latin word, “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 in the Liturgical Year; Week One, Week Two ………….etc.

Ordinary Time is divided into two main parts. The first begins on the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and continues through to Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. This first part 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.)

The second period of Ordinary Time is the longest liturgical season. It 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.

So why this ordering of the seasons of the liturgy in this way? It is done this way so that as we worship in the liturgy, we also are taught our Faith. The method of teaching here is by experience. As we progress through each liturgy, a new lesson is taught to us in person. The gospel readings tell the story chapter by chapter; and as the Church's document on the liturgy tells us: when the gospels are read in the liturgy, it is Christ himself who is speaking to us. Now, having been taught by Jesus in the liturgy of the Word, we are ready to encounter him in a deep, personal communion in the Eucharist.

Remember how Luke begins his gospel account:  
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.
This is the reasons why the church wants us to come weekly to the Sunday Liturgy. It is so that the bond that ties us to Jesus deepens and grows ever stronger, week after week. Our religious life is not a hobby or something to do to feel good on special occasions. It is a person-to-person relationship that requires loving attention if it is to mature and bloom into a fruitful and bountiful communion of love.

It is visibly evident that the number of empty pews in our churches each week is growing. Many will say that they do not need to go to church to be a good person; that they still believe in God. But, remember the words of St. James, in chapter 2 of his letter: "You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror." (New Living translation) 

Perhaps the best way to grasp the importance of maintaining this communion with Jesus is to recall Jesus' word to us in chapter 15, of John's gospel.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


Saturday, 7 January 2017


I always enjoyed watching the little children visiting the Nativity scene in the church each Christmas. Their attention to the details and their innocent commentary on what they were seeing was both delightful and interesting. Yet do we not remember this verse in Luke’s gospel:
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. Lk 10:21
The word “epiphany”, means a manifestation, a showing forth, something seen and recognized, the beginning of understanding; we say, “ah, now I see, now I understand!” And what is being made manifest here is nothing less than God, our God made visible. Recall Jesus’ words to Philip: “… anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Jo.14:9.

In John’s gospel, we are actually given three epiphanies, three manifestations to ponder. The first epiphany is the birth of Jesus, with the three Wise men representing all nations and peoples coming to see. The second, the proclamation from heaven at Jesus baptism by John. The third manifestation seen is the first miracle of Jesus, the changing of water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana.

The church takes us back to these first three epiphanies to get us started in a new year of grace. But now it is for us to have our own epiphanies. This starts when we start, when we too go in search of him. This “searching is non-other than our personal prayer life. Without this practice of prayer, we will remain in the dark; simply guessing about God. Recall again Jesus’ words to Philip: 
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Lk 10:22
The Christmas season in the Church is not simple meant to be a sentimental trip down memory lane. It is a serious time, of highest importance. It is a new gift of the Lord’s presence, a new gift of time and opportunity to become ever more attached to Jesus, to join with those who follow, and prepare for what the future holds for us. 


You may also wish to go to the side panel, to "Labels" and klick on "Epiphany" to look at past Posts on the Epiphany. 


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Season of Christmas Voices

Some task can be difficult and frustrating, seemingly impossible in some cases. That's when we look for help from someone to help us. 

In the Old Testament we see man's struggle to build a relationship with God; so often a mirror of our own struggle.  

And so he came to help us to gain that relationship we are unable to achieve on our own. 

Now with Christ "presence" comes the "opportunity" to know personally our God and who we really are as God knows us. Personal prayer, prayer as we have explored here, is where we begin - to seize this wondrous gift of TIME & PRESENCE & OPPORTUNITY.


Featured Videos

Featured Videos.