17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 11: 1-13)

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’  He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:

‘“Father, may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come;
give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test.”’

He also said to them: ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

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Thought

Today, why not take a few minutes to pray the Lord’s Prayer, but pray it slowly – pausing at the end of each line for a moment to think about the words you’ve just said.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

 

SYNOD REFLECTION

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God in an apron!

Supper was special that night.
There was both a heaviness and a holiness hanging in the air.
We couldn’t explain the mood.
It was sacred, yet sorrowful.
Gathered around that table eating that solemn, holy meal
seemed to us the most important meal
we had ever sat down to eat.

We were dwelling in the heart of MYSTERY.
Though dark the night, hope felt right—
as if something evil was about to be conquered.

And then suddenly
the One-Who-Loved startled us all.
He got up from the table
and put on an apron.
Can you imagine how we felt?
GOD IN AN APRON!

Tenderness encircled us as he bowed before us.
He knelt and said,
“I choose to wash your feet because I love you.”

God in an apron, kneeling.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I was embarrassed until his eyes met mine.
I sensed my value then.
He touched my feet.
He held them in his strong, brown hands.
He washed them.
I can still feel the water.
I can still feel the touch of his hands.
I can still see the look in his eyes.

Then he handed me the towel and said,
“As I have done, so you must do.”
Learn to bow. Learn to kneel.
Let your tenderness encircle everyone you meet.
Wash their feet – not because you have to –
but because you want to.

It seems I’ve stood two thousand years
holding that towel in my hands.
“As I have done, so must you do,”
keeps echoing in my heart.

“There are so many feet to wash”, I keep saying.
“No.” I hear God’s voice resounding through the years.
“There are only my feet.
What you do for them, you do for me.”

Macrina Wiederkehr in ‘Seasons of your Heart’ (p 79)


16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 10: 38-42)
Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’
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Reflection

It’s the kind of story everyone loves to hear:  an ordinary person treats a stranger kindly and the stranger turns out to be someone extraordinary.  In today’s 1st Reading, that’s what happens.  Abraham welcomes three strangers during the afternoon heat of the desert.  He and Sarah go above and beyond in serving them.  Only at the end of the story do the strangers reveal themselves – not wandering travellers, but the Lord.

In the Gospel, Martha and Mary make Jesus welcome – each in their own way.  Martha cooks for their guest while Mary attends to Jesus by listening to him.  Don’t we try and do the same when we have guests?

Contrast those two stories with what is going on at the border between America and Mexico.  Children are separated from their parents and held in cages – they have no adequate access to medical care, no basic sanitation, they’re exposed to extreme cold at night and don’t have adequate access to drinking water or food.  For adults, there is dangerous overcrowding in detention centres.  People held up signs with the word ‘help’ written on them as Mike Pence toured the facilities last weekend.  President Trump talks about making America great again.  Is this making America great?

Some Christians have responded by saying migrants should come to America legally, then there would be no problem.  What they fail to realise is that America has raised the bar so high it’s very difficult for an asylum seeker or refugee to get into America legally.

In our own country, we’re not much better.  We take one of the lowest quotas of refugees in Europe.  We keep asylum seekers in detention centres that are worse than any prison.  Contrary to popular rhetoric, our immigration policies are among the strictest in the world.

In his message for this year’s World Day for Migrants and Refugees in September, Pope Francis writes: “The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalization of indifference”. In this scenario, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion. In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture. In fact, if it continues, anyone who does not fall within the accepted norms of physical, mental and social well-being is at risk of marginalization and exclusion.”

Fr Dave

SYNOD 2020 REFLECTIONS

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On Listening

Teach me to listen, O God, to myself.
Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside
in the deepest part of me.
Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice
in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt,
in noise and in silence.
Teach me, Lord, to listen.
Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me,
my family, my friends, my co-workers.
Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear,
the message is:
“Accept the person I am. Listen to me”.
Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me
the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten,
the cry of the anguished.
Amen.

Fr John Veltri SJ

A People Place

If this is not a place where tears are understood,
Where do I go to cry?
If this is not a place where my spirits can take wing,
Where do I go to fly?
If this is not a place where my questions can be asked,
Where do I go to seek?
If this is not a place where my feelings can be heard,
Where do I go to speak?
If this is not a place where you’ll accept me as I am,
Where can I go to be?
If this is not a place where I can try to learn and grow,
Where can I be just me?

William J. Crocker

Blessing

May we be blessed with companions on the journey,
friends who will listen to us
and encourage us with their presence.
May we learn to live with what is unsolved in our hearts,
daring to face the questions
and holding them until, one day, they find their answers.
May we find the still, quiet place inside each one of us
where we can know and experience
the peace that passes all understanding.
May love flow in us and through us to those who need our care.
May we continue to dream dreams and to reach out into the future
with deeper understanding of God’s way for us.
Amen.

(Source unknown)

 


15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 10: 25-37)

There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’

But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’

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Reflection

“Today’s liturgy presents us with the parable of the “Good Samaritan”, taken from the Gospel of Luke. This passage, this simple and inspiring story, indicates a way of life, which has as its main point not ourselves, but others, with their difficulties, whom we encounter on our journey and who challenge us. Others challenge us. And when others do not challenge us, something is not right; something in the heart is not Christian. Jesus uses this parable in his dialogue with a lawyer when asked about the twofold commandment that allows us to enter into eternal life: to love God with your whole heart and your neighbour as yourself. “Yes”, the lawyer replies, “but, tell me, who is my neighbour?” We too can ask ourselves this question: Who is my neighbour? Who must I love as myself? My parents? My friends? My fellow countrymen? Those who belong to my religion?… Who is my neighbour?

“Jesus responds with this parable. A man, along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, was attacked, beaten and abandoned by robbers. Along that road, a priest passed by, then a Levite, and upon seeing this wounded man, they did not stop, but walked straight past him. Then a Samaritan came by, that is, a resident of Samaria, a man who was therefore despised by the Jews because he did not practise the true religion; and yet he, upon seeing that poor wretched man, “had compassion. He went to him, bandaged his wounds, brought him to an inn and took care of him”; and the next day he entrusted him to the care of the innkeeper, paid for him and said that he would pay for any further costs.

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“At this point, Jesus turns to the lawyer and asks him: “Which of these three — the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan — do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell victim to the robbers?”. And the lawyer, of course — because he was intelligent, said in reply: “The one who had compassion on him”. In this way, Jesus completely overturned the lawyer’s initial perspective — as well as our own! I must not categorize others in order to decide who is my neighbour and who is not. It is up to me whether to be a neighbour or not — the decision is mine — it is up to me whether or not to be a neighbour to those whom I encounter who need help, even if they are strangers or perhaps hostile. And Jesus concludes, saying: “Go and do likewise”. What a great lesson! And he repeats it to each of us: “Go and do likewise”, be a neighbour to the brother or sister whom you see in trouble. “Go and do likewise”. Do good works, don’t just say words that are gone with the wind. A song comes to mind: “Words, words, words”. No. Works, works. And through the good works that we carry out with love and joy towards others, our faith emerges and bears fruit.

“Let us ask ourselves — each of us responding in his own heart — let us ask ourselves: Is our faith fruitful? Does our faith produce good works? Or is it sterile instead, and therefore more dead than alive? Do I act as a neighbour or simply pass by? Am I one of those who selects people according to my own liking? It is good to ask ourselves these questions, and to ask them often, because in the end we will be judged on the works of mercy. The Lord will say to us: Do you remember that time on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho? That man who was half dead was me. Do you remember? That hungry child was me. Do you remember? That immigrant who many wanted to drive away, that was me. That grandparent who was alone, abandoned in nursing homes, that was me. That sick man, alone in the hospital, who no one visited, that was me.

“May the Virgin Mary help us to walk along the path of love, love that is generous towards others, the way of the Good Samaritan. My she help us to live the first commandment that Christ left us. This is the way to enter into eternal life.”

Pope Francis, 10 July 2016

SYNOD REFLECTIONS

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A New Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God, grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m not you.
Amen.

(Fr James Martin SJ)

It’s Christ’s Church – not ours!

“Remember, it’s Christ’s Church, not ours.  Jesus founded the Church, died for the Church, sent his Spirit to the Church, and will someday return for his Church.  As the owner of the Church, he has already established the purposes, and they’re not negotiable.  Our duty is to understand the purposes Christ has for the Church and to implement them.”

(Rick Warren in ‘The Purpose Driven Church’ © 1995 Rick Warren)

In his biography of St Francis of Assisi, St Bonaventure tells the story of Francis entering the little dilapidated chapel of San Damiano.  As he prayed before the crucifix, he heard a voice say: “Francis, rebuild my church, which has fallen into disrepair.”  At first, Francis took this literally, physically restoring the ruined chapel.  Later, he came to understand his mission in a more spiritual sense: to recall the Church to the radical simplicity of the Gospel and to the image of Christ in the poor.


14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Gospel  (Luke 10: 1-9)
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you”.’
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SYNOD REFLECTIONS

The Empty Chair

A priest went to visit a patient in his home. He noticed an empty chair at the patient’s bedside and asked what it was doing there. The patient said, “I had placed Jesus on that chair and was talking to him before you arrived. For years I found it extremely difficult to pray until a friend explained to me that prayer was a matter of talking to Jesus. He told me to place an empty chair nearby, to imagine Jesus sitting on that chair and to speak with him and listen to what he has to say to me in reply. I’ve had no difficulty praying ever since”.

Some days later as the story goes, the daughter of the patient came to the rectory to inform the priest that her father had died. She said, “I left him alone for a couple of hours. He seemed so peaceful. When I got back to the room, I found him dead. I noticed a strange thing though: his head was resting not on the bed but on a chair that was beside the bed”.

From “A Way to God” by Anthony de Mello SJ

Pope Francis’ Five Finger Prayer

Using the fingers on your hand, start with the thumb and pray these intentions in this order:

1) The thumb is the closest finger to you. So, start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “sweet obligation”.

2) The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

3) The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.

4) The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

5) And finally, we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective and, also, you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.