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Displaying items by tag: Celebrating At Home

Missionaries of the Kingdom
(Luke 10:1-12)

On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus teaches the disciples the meaning of ‘following’ him. Part of that following is the proclamation of the Kingdom - drawing attention to the reign of God in the world and in its peoples.
There is a sense of simplicity and urgency as Jesus commissions the seventy-two to spread the Good News of God’s involvement in human life. The Gospel, of course, is not about an historical 72 people being sent out. It is about the mission of every disciple of Jesus. Spreading the message of the Gospel is always to be done in a non-threatening way – by winning over hearts and minds through good example and good living. It is best accomplished by making oneself vulnerable and keeping oneself focussed on the mission rather than on comfort. Real rejoicing is not to be had in the conversion of great numbers of people, but in knowing that one has done the word and the will of God.
Disciples can’t afford to be weighed down by too many things or lost in idle conversation (gossip). They are to be bearers of the peace of God - a peace which heals, strengthens, soothes, frees and restores. Difficulties will be encountered, but the disciples will not be overcome.
That is the cause for the rejoicing sung about in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah. God is at work among his people like a nurturing mother and a flowing river bringing nourishment, peace, comfort and delight. People flourish when the presence of God is recognised and welcomed.
May that presence be always seen and felt in us.

A committed missionary
knows the joy of being a spring
which overflows and refreshes others...
Only the person who feels happiness
in seeking the good of others,
in desiring their happiness,
can be a missionary.

The Joy of the Gospel n. 272

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The journey begins
(Luke 9:51-62)

Very often in life we know what the right thing to do is, yet we can find it very difficult to do. There is a sense of that in the Gospel reading for today. The very first lines of today’s Gospel set the tone of what we will read over the next eleven Sundays about the qualities needed by and the costs involved for those who want to follow Jesus.
As the Gospel opens, we are told that Jesus ‘resolutely took the road for Jerusalem’. This long journey from Galilee to Jerusalem will be Jesus’ final journey. There is a sense of determination. Jesus knows what he must do. I think there is also a sense of reluctance. Just knowing it is the right thing to do does not make it easy to do, as we see in Jesus’ encounter with the three would-be disciples in this passage.
And, what happens when we feel we are doing the right thing and get treated badly because of it? Will we act like James and John, wanting to call down fire from heaven to punish the offenders? Or will we follow the way of Jesus and just go ‘to another village’? We can be filled with such a sense of righteousness that we turn ourselves into God’s avengers, but we are really avenging ourselves.
Jesus speaks so often about non-violence and non-resistance. Most of us find that very challenging. Why shouldn’t I strike back against the person who strikes me? Don’t I have a right to defend myself? Yet we know that retaliation simply locks us into a continuing cycle of violence and only forgiveness can break that cycle.
It is also worth contemplating the three would-be disciples in this Gospel passage. All seem to have been touched in some way by Jesus and drawn to him. All seem genuine in their desire to follow him. Jesus reply to the first begs the question: are enthusiasm and desire enough? Jesus’ reminder that he has ‘nowhere to lay his head’ seems to say that there has to be a sense of healthy realism in our decision to follow Jesus. Can we really do it? What does it ask of us? Are we prepared to live with the uncertainties?
The other two would-be disciples are also genuine in their desire and intention, ‘but first’ want to go off and fulfil their family obligations. Again, Jesus’ reply begs the question about what comes first – family obligations or our relationship with him. This is not an either/or question. When our relationship with Jesus comes first, then all our other relationships find their proper place in our lives. We can’t really put our relationship with Jesus ‘on hold’ while we sort out the rest of our lives.
The key to keeping everything in right relationship is our relationship with Jesus as the centre of our lives and who we are.

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The real presence of Jesus in us
(Luke 9:11-17)

Today’s feast celebrates the enduring sign of Christ’s presence with us in the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist.
It also celebrates Christ’s presence with us in the community of the Church. The Eucharist is our sacrament of communion, not only with Christ and God, but also with all those called into the Christian community. Our communion binds us to one another in a sacred union of mind and heart with Jesus.
The word ‘communion’ means to share in common. In Holy Communion what we share in common with God and each other is Jesus Christ present in the Bread and the Wine. Another meaning of ‘communion’ is to be of one mind and heart. It is the Holy Spirit who keeps us in communion of mind and heart with God, with Christ and with each other.
We are very used to thinking about the Real Presence of Jesus being in the Blessed Sacrament. But the real presence of Christ is also in the community when it gathers in his name to feast on the Word of Scripture, to recall what Jesus said and did at the Last Supper (not only the words over bread and wine, but also the washing of the feet), when it shares the food of the Eucharist together, when it goes out and continues to break and pour out that food in acts of loving kindness, in soothing and nourishing words which brings others to life.
The Eucharist is not an object to be looked at, but an action to be done so that the living presence of Jesus continues to touch and heal.
Maybe we need to think more deeply about the real presence of Jesus being in real, living human beings. Bread and Wine have no eyes to gaze with love, no face with which to smile, no mouth to speak soothing words, no arms to hold the grieving and the sick, or to lend a hand, no ears to hear the pain. But we do.
So we are called to become the Eucharist that feeds those around us with the nourishment of breadth of heart and vision, respect, love, compassion, hope and forgiveness.
May we become what we receive. (St Augustine)

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Thursday, 09 June 2022 09:45

Celebrating At Home - The Most Holy Trinity

God enfleshed in us
(John 16:12-15)

The Feast of the Trinity is a day for reflecting on who God is, not for trying to figure out how there can be three persons in one God.
The Church’s focus today is on experience, not theology.
In intellectual terms, God remains a mystery. For people of faith, God is known not by the mind, but by the heart. That is what spirituality and mysticism are about - exploring our experience of God.
Through our public liturgy, private prayer and contemplation we come to experience - to ‘know’ and feel in our hearts - that God loves us, accepts us, forgives us and constantly invites us into an ever deeper experience of love.
When we allow God’s heart to speak to ours in love we begin to absorb more of God’s life into our own.
We are being transformed. Our values and attitudes, our ways of looking at and being in the world start to change. We begin to see with God’s eyes and feel with God’s heart.
We become passionate about the things God is passionate about: speaking truthfully, acting with justice and integrity, looking out for each other and especially for the vulnerable, promoting peace and understanding, ending competition and discrimination, respecting life.
That makes us better people and our lives become a blessing for each other and for the world.
That is what it means to live out of God’s great gift to us, the Spirit of Jesus Christ which God has placed in our hearts. God becomes enfleshed in us and we become stewards of God’s grace and life.

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Friday, 03 June 2022 07:16

Celebrating At Home - Pentecost Sunday

Let God’s love be seen
(John 14:15-16, 23-26)

At Pentecost we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the first group of Christian believers - the disciples.
This gift of the Holy Spirit is the culmination of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
It would be wrong to think that this gift happened only once, in one moment of history. In fact, the gifting of the Holy Spirit is a continuing event in the life of every believing person and, therefore, in every age of human history. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God with us - the enduring way in which Jesus remains present in the Church and in the life of each person.
Today we do not pray to receive the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in us has been affirmed and proclaimed in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Instead, we pray to grow more aware of the Spirit’s presence in our lives and to allow that Spirit to grow within us, gradually re-shaping our minds and hearts in the image of Jesus.
Pentecost brings to a close the fifty days of the Church’s Easter celebrations. Soon we will begin Ordinary Time again. So, our feast today helps us understand that we take the Holy Spirit with us into the ordinary events and tasks of each day. That is how we allow the sacred to touch, heal and transform us and the world around us.
The spiritual search is for the heart of God within our own. When we enter into relationship with Christ through the Spirit, the gifts begin to flow more abundantly. The Spirit is the source of reconciliation with ourselves and with each other. Reconciliation is essential if we are to ‘hold and guard’ each other in the midst of all that life throws at us, especially at the moment.
The Spirit brings gifts of wisdom, courage, understanding, right judgement, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe in God’s presence. May we be graced by them all as we discern and decide how we can best work together to build up each other and to let God’s love be seen at work in each of us.

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Friday, 27 May 2022 12:24

Celebrating At Home - Ascension Sunday

Called to be the living presence of God
(Luke 24:46-53)

The feast of the Ascension commemorates the return of Jesus to the Father. Jesus leaves in body but remains with us through the gift of the Spirit.
We will celebrate the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit in next Sunday’s feast of Pentecost.
The true meaning of our feast today is not found in Jesus’ leaving, but in the way he calls his disciples back together, to re-form them as a new community entrusted with the spread of the Gospel. Jesus sends the disciples out to make disciples of all nations and to teach them his way.
But the disciples are not left to do all that on their own. Jesus promises that he is with them always.
Jesus has called the ragged, group of disciples, scattered after his crucifixion, back to himself to form them, fragile and doubtful as they are, into a community for mission in the name of God. The task of the historical Jesus is complete; the task of the church as the living Body of Christ has just begun. It is comforting to recognise that Jesus doesn’t insist on perfection before he calls us and entrusts us with his mission.
This mission is authorised by God and passed on to us through Jesus. It is not about authority over others. It is actually a call to act as God would act, true to God’s heart as Jesus has taught us.
Ever since Easter, we have been proclaiming that Jesus is alive. The feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost help us to realise that we are part of a long tradition of faithful disciples. We have our faults and failings, but our call is to witness to and teach the way of Jesus by the kind of people we are, the values and attitudes we hold, in thought, word and action - to be the living presence of God in the world today.

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Remembering & making present
(John 14:23-29)

Our reading of The Farewell Discourse in John’s Gospel (13:31-17:26) continues in the Gospel for today as Jesus makes a number of promises to the disciples.
The opening words say that those who love Jesus will keep his word. This is not like keeping road rules. It is about allowing the word of Jesus to form our hearts and shape our lives. Throughout John’s Gospel the word that Jesus speaks is about his boundless affection for the Father and the disciples.
Another favourite theme of John is that, just as the Father and Jesus abide together in love, they will also come to abide in the heart of the disciple.
It is this bond of love that creates the ‘dwelling place’ for God in the heart of the disciple. There is no separation from the Father; the disciple does not need to look to a heavenly place in order to experience the presence of God.
Jesus promises that the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to help the disciples ‘remember’, that is, to understand more deeply the words and actions of Jesus, especially his death and resurrection. This remembering will make Jesus present to them.
Abiding in the love of Jesus and the Father brings a peace that cannot otherwise be found in this world, so the disciples have no need to be afraid of the future, not even the impending departure of Jesus. In fact, if they are already truly abiding in the presence of God and Jesus in their hearts, why should his physical departure disturb them?
Jesus does not speak these words in the sense of foretelling the future, but rather to prepare the disciples for their daily ‘remembering’ of, and making present, his words and actions in their own lives.
This Gospel begs us ask ourselves if we are truly people who remember Jesus and allow his Spirit to shape our words, thoughts and actions so that he may remain present to us and to those around us.

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Thursday, 12 May 2022 07:16

Celebrating At Home - Fifth Sunday of Easter

Farewell, glory & discipleship of love
(John 13:31-35)

Given during Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, these words begin what is called The Farewell Discourse in John’s Gospel (13:31-17:26). They are Jesus’ last words to his disciples before his death.
In the course of offering assurance and comfort, Jesus develops various themes that have been introduced earlier in his ministry, including in particular glory, mutual indwelling and love.
His main point is the experience of life in God the disciples have and will continue to have. The relationship between the Father and the Son, which has been revealed in the first twelve chapters of the Gospel, Jesus now declares to be realised in the disciples.
The relationship between the Father, the Son and the Spirit are described in more detail here than anywhere else in the Bible. In these chapters, therefore, is the most profound teaching on God and discipleship in the Bible.
The first part of today’s Gospel reading is a bit confusing unless we understand that ‘glory’ in the biblical tradition has to do with the revelation of the unseen God. So, in these lines there is a sense of mutual glorification - the Father is revealed in the Son and the Son reveals the Father in his death on the cross. The Son will reveal the love of the Father most patently when he gives up his life.
Using the intimate form of address, ‘My little children,’ Jesus gently begins to prepare the disciples for the difficult reality of his leaving them.
Just as Jesus has been God’s love in action in the world, so now, the disciples must be.
The indispensable nature of abiding in love is underlined by the use of ‘commandment’. It is through their mutual love that all will recognise them as disciples of the One who loved even to laying down his life.

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Thursday, 05 May 2022 09:06

Celebrating At Home - Fourth Sunday of Easter

Shepherd and sheep,
bonds of life and love
(John 10:27-30)

This fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday because the Gospel for this Sunday always portrays Jesus as the Good Shepherd. 

Being a shepherd in the time of Jesus was not anything like the large-scale, commercial farming enterprises of today. Then, a shepherd usually had responsibility for about fifteen or twenty sheep whom he accompanied day and night. Both shepherd and sheep got to know each other. The shepherd was responsible for keeping the flock together and safe, for leading it to good pasture, for binding up wounds. The sheep depended on the shepherd for life.

No wonder the image of the Good shepherd became so popular as a description of the relationship between Jesus and his followers.

Today’s Gospel is full of warmth and intimacy in the way it speaks about Jesus’ relationship with us.

The sheep who listen to Jesus belong to (are in relationship with) him. There is a sense of intimacy in the idea that Jesus knows each of the sheep who follow him. He knows them and they follow him because they are bound together by the bond of love.
The sheep have life through their relationship with Jesus, a relationship which brings eternal life, not just after death; the sheep already live the eternal life of God here and now.

This relationship with Jesus and the eternal life it brings can never be lost or snatched away.

We are the gift that the Father gives to Jesus.

And because the Father and Jesus live in deep communion with each other, we, too, are caught up in this enduring communion of love.

This love God has for us makes us part of God’s family: God’s beloved daughters and sons.

Any reflection about Jesus as the Good Shepherd also keeps us mindful that shepherding each other according to the heart of Jesus is part of our vocation as disciples.

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Thursday, 28 April 2022 12:01

Celebrating At Home - Third Sunday of Easter

Breakfast with friends,
leadership of love
(John 21:1-19)

The readings of the Easter Season continue to unfold for us the great Easter Mystery - the enduring presence of Jesus among us and what ‘new life in Christ’ might mean.
The Gospel today recounts the third appearance of Jesus to the disciples after his resurrection. At first they don’t recognise him; then there is a huge haul of fish followed by a meal; then, in the long version of this Gospel, Peter’s commission to lead the flock in love.
It takes faith to recognise the presence of Jesus among us. Reality can be changed and good things result when we do. All the meals we share are reminders of the Eucharistic Meal which keeps us in communion with the life of the Risen Christ and with one another. Jesus continues to be nourishment and strength for the journey. Our faith is built on love.
In his dialogue with Christ, Peter reaffirms his love for him three times, reversing his triple denial of Jesus before the crucifixion. Peter is leader, but his leadership is built on his love of Christ. It is not the authority of tyranny, but of pastoral care. Peter is to ‘Feed my lambs’ - the young, the vulnerable. He is to ‘look after my sheep’ - feeding and caring for the flock, seeing to their needs.
Whenever Jesus shared a meal with his followers he opened their hearts and minds. As we continue to share in the Eucharistic Meal, Jesus continues to feed and nourish us with fresh insight, deeper understanding and greater love.

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