26th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

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Scripture Reading    (Matthew 21: 28-32)

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go”, but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir”, but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

Reflection – Actions speak louder than words

A manager of a well-known firm was told by his officials that one of his officials was swindling money. The culprit was called by the manager and given a promotion to be a supervisor. He was surprised, but continued with his old habit of swindling money. When the manger was informed, he promoted him to a yet higher level as one of the officers. But the man did not change. Finally, he was appointed as the personal secretary of the manager. In his dealings with the manager, he discovered that the manager was aware of this man’s greed and yet had not punished him but given more and more opportunities to improve. He was embarrassed and changed his ways. Within a year, he had become popular among his co-workers for his sincerity and transparency. It was little wonder that after the retirement of the manager, he was chosen to replace the manager.
Robert D’Souza in ‘The Sunday Liturgy’

Prayer

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.
(Psalm 24)


25th Sunday of the Year (A)

Scripture Reading     (Matthew 20: 1-16)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go to my vineyard too”.

In the evening, the owner of the vineyard sad to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last-comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’

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Reflection

Can we allow God to be so good to everyone?  The parable today is about the generosity of God, not an encouragement to idleness nor a way out of finding employment for our people, each of whom has the right to work.  It is Jesus using an unusual example from life to highlight the unconditional love of God, stressing as he so often did, that God’s love depends on God, not on our good works.

Is Jesus pointing the way to the first truth of our faith:  that God is good in love to all?  From believing that in the heart, we are empowered to love others like him, or try to.

It is only human to object to this approach. We very often repay love with love, and withdraw love when it is not given.

Pope Francis writes: “There are two aspects of love. First, love is more about giving than receiving. Second, love is more about deeds than words. Love is always given or transmitted to another, he said, and “love always gives life, fosters growth” (Feast of the Sacred Heart 2016).

The joy of God is in giving love; this is a prime meaning of the parable. He calls on us to enjoy his giving of love to everyone, even the ones we do not think deserve it.

Teach me, Lord to be generous in love, as you are to me and to all.

Fr Donal Neary SJ  (Sacred Heart Messenger)
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Prayer

For all those who are sick or suffering in mind, body or spirit.

For the many people killed in the earthquake in Mexico this week, and the thousands who have been left homeless.

†For all those who have been impacted by Hurricane Maria and those involved in the rescue effort.

†For the 410,000 people now estimated to have fled to Bangladesh, escaping violence in Rakhine State in neighbouring Myanmar.

†For fairer trade rules so that all may receive a just wage for the work of their hands.

 

 


24th Sunday of the Year (A)

Scripture Reading

Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time,” he said, “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me,” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying. “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’   (Matthew 18: 21-35)

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Reflection

Jesus asks us to believe that forgiveness is the door which leads to reconciliation. In telling us to forgive our brothers and sisters unreservedly, he is asking us to do something utterly radical, but he also gives us the grace to do it. What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant, he makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his cross. The cross of Christ reveals the power of God to bridge every division, to heal every wound, and to re-establish the original bonds of brotherly love.

From a Homily of Pope Francis, 18 August 2014

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Prayer

Undaunted you seek the lost, O God,
exultant you bring home the found.
Touch our hearts with grateful wonder
at the tenderness of your forbearing love.
Grant us delight in the mercy that has found us
and bring all to rejoice at the feast of forgiveness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

(c) 1998 International Committee on English in the Liturgy


23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 18: 15-20)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’

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Reflection

Corrie ten Boom often thought back over the horrors of the Ravensbruck concentration camp. How could she ever forgive the former Nazis who had been her jailers? Where was love, acceptance, and forgiveness in a horror camp where more than 95,000 women died? How could she ever forget the horrible cruelty of the guards and the smoke constantly coming from the chimney of the crematorium?

Then in 1947 Corrie was speaking in a Church in Munich, and when the meeting was over she saw one of the cruellest male guards of Ravensbruck coming forward to speak to her. He had his hand outstretched. “I have become a Christian,” he explained. “I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, will you forgive me?” A conflict raged in Corrie’s heart. The Spirit of God urged her to forgive. The spirit of bitterness and coldness urged her to turn away. “Jesus, help me,” she prayed. Then she knew what she must do. “I can lift my hand,” she thought to herself. “I can do that much.”

As their hands met it was as if warmth and healing broke forth with tears and joy. “I forgive you, brother, with all my heart,” she said. Later Corrie testified that “it was the power of the Holy Spirit” who had poured the love of God into her heart that day.

(Garrie F. Williams in “Welcome, Holy Spirit” (c) 1994)

I don’t know any other way true forgiveness can take place. We turn our hurt over to God. We ask God for the ability to forgive.

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World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

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Two years ago, Pope Francis declared September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, as the Orthodox Church has done since 1989.

According to Pope Francis, “The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvellous works that he has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

A Prayer for our Earth

All-powerful God,
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognise that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

(Prayers from Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis)

Mass for the Care of Creation at 12.15 pm on Friday 1 September at St Benedict’s.