17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 1-15)

Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.

Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

Thought

Jesus fed the hungry, and did so with great generosity.  Today he feeds us with the food of the Eucharist.  We receive this precious food, not because we are worthy of it, but because we need it… and he invites us to receive it.

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COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 6 Weeks

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Illustration by Elizabeth Wang, T-01327-OL, ‘Christ walks amongst his people, with the pilgrims and the sick ones, a child on his shoulders’, copyright © Radiant Light.

The Eucharist is food for the journey

We know that if we do not eat we get weak, sick and we will eventually die. If we do not receive the “bread of life” we will get spiritually sick and the life of faith will struggle to stay alive in our hearts. That is why Jesus said: “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never be hungry; the one who believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:34).

Pope Francis

“How can we practise the Gospel without drawing the necessary strength to do it, one Sunday after another, from the inexhaustible spring of the Eucharist? We Christians need to participate in Sunday Mass each week because only with the grace of Jesus, with his living presence in us and among us, can we put into practice his commandment to love, and thus be his credible witnesses.” The Eucharist and Mass, he said, are where we find our strength for daily life (13th December 2017).

Prayer Moment

Pray the Diocesan Prayer for the Eucharistic Congress and for Synod 2020:

We thank you Father for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
Keep us grateful each day for the blessings that surround us.
As we are fed by you,
so now send us out to share what we have received
with our hungry brothers and sisters.
We humbly ask your help to become the Church
that you are calling us to be:
a community that listens, that trusts, that lives with courage
and that puts out its nets into new waters.
May the gentle presence of Christ in our hearts
be a source of healing, of new life
and of a deeper trust in you.
We ask this in faith through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 6: 30-34)

The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

Thought

In last week’s Gospel, Jesus sent the apostles out to continue his work of proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.  In today’s Gospel, the apostles return and share their experience with Jesus.

Jesus invites them to come away and rest for a while.  We all need to do this.  I’m sure that’s why we have summer holidays – time to rest and recharge.  All of us need to have a break from time to time.  Holidays, annual leave, whatever you call it is a holy time because it renews and refreshes us, and can remind us of the important things in life which can get lost in the busy schedules so many of us have each day.

Take some time to rest this summer, and may our Lord bless the time you take.

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COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 7 Weeks

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Illustration by Elizabeth Wang, T-00430-OL, ‘God’s light and wisdom pour upon those gathered around Christ’s Body and Blood at Mass’, © Radiant Light. Excerpt from ‘Soul of my Saviour’, ascribed to John XXII.

The Eucharist is the place where we remember

Every Mass is the place of remembering the truth that sets us free. Here we see and hear Jesus tell us that we are loved. He says that there is no greater love than this – to lay down your life for your friend. He tells us that this is his body which is broken and given for us; this is his blood which is poured out in mercy so that we can be forgiven.

Problems in our lives can overwhelm us sometimes. We can be pulled in different directions and find no time to stop and listen to the voice of the Lord. But at Mass, we are still. We see him. We hear him. We remember. Here our lives can make sense again. He died for me. I am here to live for him. I want to live my life showing some small love for the infinite love he has shown to me.

Here we can cast our worries and fears knowing that we are heard, knowing that we are loved.

Pope Francis said to take part in the Mass “is to live once again the redemptive Passion and Death of the Lord. It’s a hymn of praise: the Lord makes himself present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world” (Homily, St Martha’s Residence, February 10, 2014).

Pope Francis

“Jesus died for love! And in the Eucharist, he wishes to communicate to us his paschal, victorious love. If we receive it with faith, we can also truly love God and our neighbour, we can love as he loved us, giving his life. This is the Mass: to enter in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus; when we go to Mass it’s as if we went to Calvary, the same thing. But think: if we in the moment of Mass go to Calvary – let us think imaginatively – and we know that that man there is Jesus, do we then permit ourselves to chat, to take photographs, to engage somewhat in a show? No! Because it’s Jesus! We will certainly be in silence, in the joy of being saved. When we enter the church to celebrate Mass we should think this: I am entering Calvary, where Jesus gives his life for me. And thus chats disappear, comments and the things that remove us from this most beautiful thing that is the Mass, disappear. It’s the triumph of Jesus!” (22nd November 2017).

Prayer Moment

Write a prayer for yourself or for someone you know who is struggling with life. Ask God to touch their hearts with his love.


15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 6: 7-13)

Jesus made a tour round the villages, teaching. Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

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Reflection

In today’s First Reading, God asks a simple farmer called Amos to go and preach to a self-sufficient people who were paying lip service to God.  In the Gospel, Jesus asks his apostles to go and continue his work of proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.

At the end of every Mass, we are sent out too.  The deacon or priest tells us to “Go” – “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.  Like Amos in the First Reading and the apostles in the Gospel, we are to go and proclaim the Good News of God’s love by the lives we lead.

But how do we do this?  Perhaps this little story will help.

One winter’s day, a man came upon a small boy sitting begging on a wind-swept city bridge. The boy was shivering from the cold and obviously in need of a good meal. On seeing the boy, the man got very angry and said to God: “God, why don’t you do something about this little boy?” And God replied, “I’ve already done something about him.” This surprised the man, so he said, “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but whatever you did, it doesn’t seem to be working.” “I agree with you there”, replied God. “By the way, what did you do?” the man asked. “I made you” came the reply.

 

COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 8 Weeks

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Illustration by Elizabeth Wang, R-60018-CW, ‘The Good Shepherd’ © Radiant Light.

The Eucharist is our vocation

Jesus said that no one lights a lamp only to put it under a tub. The lamp must be in a place where it can give light to take away the darkness.

In the same way the Eucharist, that we are so blessed to receive, cannot be hidden away. It needs to show itself in our words and actions. It is a gift not only for ourselves, but through us, it can be the gift of God’s presence and God’s love for the world.

Wherever we go we carry Christ within us.

At the end of every Mass, we are blest and sent out renewed and clear about who we are and the work God has given us to do.

Pope Francis

“Repeat frequently that “I am on a mission” and not simply that “I have a mission.” To be on a permanent mission “requires courage, audacity, imagination and the desire to go beyond, to go even further” … “The Lord invites those called to go out of themselves in order to be a gift for others” (5 January 2017).

Prayer Moment

Prayer written by Blessed John Henry Newman:

God has created me to do him some definite service;
he has committed some work to me
which he has not committed to another.
I have my mission – I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.

I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for nothing.
I shall do good. I shall do his work.
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
in my own place while not intending it
– if I do but keep his commandments.

Therefore, I will trust him.
Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him;
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him;
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him.
He does nothing in vain.


14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Urgent Call to Prayer

Let us pray for the many people involved in trying to rescue the twelve young boys and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand.  So far, four boys have been rescued safely, thanks be to God.  But there’s still a long way to go.

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Gospel  (Mark 6: 1-6)

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

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Reflection

The hardest thing about living out the call of God in our own life isn’t always opposition from ‘enemies of the faith’.  Sometimes it’s being misunderstood by those close to us – the people we rub elbows with, our friends, our relatives.  They know us.  They know we’re one of them.  They know our faults.  We’re hesitant to become more involved in our Church, or in issues of justice and peace because we can hear them say, if only to themselves, “Who are you to be saying and doing such things?”

Dorothy Day was a laywoman who lived in New York and dedicated her life to the poor, and to the cause of justice and peace.  Cardinal John O’Connor, not long before his death, asked Rome to begin the process of considering whether she should become a canonized saint, and perhaps one day she will be canonized.

That’s interesting because during her lifetime, Dorothy Day resisted those who would refer to her as a ‘saint’.  She said that when they call you a saint, people no longer have to take you seriously.  They put you in a different category and excuse themselves from having to even think about doing the same things you do.  After all, you’re a ‘saint’ and they’re not.  They’re just regular people.  Dorothy Day once quipped, “Don’t trivialize me by trying to make me a saint.”

That’s the problem.  We think that regular folks aren’t holy.  Regular folks don’t get involved in working for the poor.  Regular folks don’t pray much.  Regular folks just more or less go to church and lead a ‘normal’ life.

Trouble is, a ‘normal’ life for a disciple of the Lord isn’t always what others might consider normal.  At baptism we symbolically die to one way of living and rise to a new and different way of life.  That’s what Christianity was called before it was ever called ‘Christianity’.  It was called ‘The Way’.  Christianity is a way of life.

The truth is, we’re sometimes reluctant to follow this ‘way of life’ not because of godless people who might persecute us.  The truth is, we’re sometimes uneasy about living out our faith because we might get the same reaction Jesus got from his own townspeople:  Where did this man get all this? Why… he’s just one of us.

(Bishop Ken Utener, 9 July 2000)

COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 9 Weeks

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Illustration by Elizabeth Wang © Radiant Light – ‘The Mass is like a window into time, through which we are present to the Saving Sacrifice of Christ, as Mary looks on’.

The Eucharist is our thanksgiving to God

In the Mass, Jesus is making the greatest prayer there has ever been. He gives himself to his Father to the last drop of his blood. He holds back nothing. He gives everything. It is this prayer of self-giving in love for sinners like us that is at the very heart of the Eucharist. Here we see what love looks like.

How can we say thank you to God in a way that even comes close to being worthy of the great gift he has given us in his Son? God makes it possible. We offer what we can – the fruit of the earth and the work of our hands. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God accepts these simple offerings and transforms them into the Body and Blood of his Son.

Pope Francis

“At every celebration of Mass, our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world. The liturgical renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council sought to help the faithful understand more fully and share more fruitfully in the Eucharist. At Mass, Jesus becomes truly present and allows us in some way, like the Apostle Thomas, to touch his flesh and renew our faith in him” (15 November 2017).

Prayer Moment

Take a moment to thank God for the gift of his Son, Jesus.
What gift are you most grateful for in your life?
How can you show God that you are grateful to him not just in words but in your actions?

Repeat the words on the banner:
This is my body… broken for you
broken for me…
broken for… (name someone who needs prayer).

Excerpt from ‘This is my Body’ by Jimmy Owens & Damian Lundy © 1978 Bud John Songs/EMI/Christian Music Publishing/CopyCare. www.kevinmayhew.com