19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 41-51)

The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ ‘Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph’ they said. ‘We know his father and mother. How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop complaining to each other.

‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.

‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

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Thought

In today’s First Reading (1 Kings 19: 4-8), the prophet Elijah is very low and on the point of giving up.  He even asks the Lord to take his life.  The Lord sends an angel to minister to him and restore his strength and hope.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes himself as ‘the bread of life’ and ‘the bread that comes down from heaven’.  Like the angel in the First Reading, Jesus gives himself to us in the eucharist to nourish us and strengthen us for life’s journey.  We need to come to him often.

I think an old Latin hymn, ‘O Esca Viatorum’, puts this well:

O food of travellers, angels’ bread,
Manna wherewith the blest are fed,
Come nigh, and with thy sweetness fill
The hungry hearts that seek thee still.

O fount of love, O well unpriced,
Outpouring from the heart of Christ,
Give us to drink of very thee,
And all we pray shall answered be.

O Jesus Christ, we pray to thee
That this presence which we see,
Though now in form of bread concealed,
To us may be in heaven revealed.

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COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 4 Weeks

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The Eucharist is a place of mercy

In the story of the Forgiving Father (or the Prodigal Son), we see the Father who welcomes his son home with open arms and with tears of joy in his eyes. No condemnation. No angry words. A feast is prepared. “Welcome home my child.” We also see the older brother standing outside, refusing to celebrate and refusing to take a place at the table with his wayward brother.

Jesus knows that sometimes we think there should be justice, not mercy. But he asks us to be people of mercy. If we are sinners who have been forgiven by God, how can we deny this to our fellow sinners? It’s at Mass that we learn what mercy looks like so that we are able to be merciful in our turn to our brothers and sisters.

Throughout his years of ministry, Jesus didn’t only talk about mercy and forgiveness, he showed it. He went to the homes of sinners and ate with them. Every Mass is a place of mercy. Jesus calls us, sinners though we are, to take our place at his table as his friends.

Pope Francis

“If we don’t feel in need of God’s mercy and don’t think we are sinners, it’s better not to go to Mass. Do you go to Mass because it’s a habit or a time to see friends or is it something more?”

“When we go to Mass, we find ourselves with all sorts of people. Does the Eucharist we celebrate lead me to consider all of them as brothers and sisters? Does it increase my ability to rejoice when they do and to weep with those who weep?”

Pope Francis said it is not enough to say one loves Jesus; it must be shown in love for those he loved. Attendance at Mass should lead to “the grace of feeling forgiven and able to forgive others” (12 February 2014).

Prayer Moment

Reflect on these words Pope Francis spoke at the end of the Year of Mercy:

“The Holy Door is now closed, but the door of mercy in our hearts continues to remain wide open. We are called to travel along the road of mercy on which we meet so many of our brothers and sisters who reach out for someone to take their hand and become a companion on the way.”

Make a promise to God to walk with someone who needs to see the face of mercy.

 

Illustration above by Elizabeth Wang, T-01088-OL, ‘Even in the darkness of our sufferings Jesus comforts and guides us’ © Radiant Light. Excerpt from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

 


18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 24-35)

When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’

Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’ So they said, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’

‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:

‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’

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Thought

We hunger for many things – for love, for acceptance, for forgiveness, for healing, and so on.  Where do we go to satisfy these hungers?  Jesus invites us to come to him:  ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry’.

Prayer

Living God,
we hunger for lasting life and happiness
and the fulfilment of all our hopes.
Satisfy all our hungers
through your Son, Jesus Christ, the bread of life.
And when he has filled us with himself,
may he lead and strengthen us
to bring to a waiting world
the food of reconciliation and joy
which you alone can give to the full.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 5 Weeks

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Illustration by Elizabeth Wang, T-01038B-OL, ‘Jesus Christ comes to us in Holy Communion when we are sick or housebound’, copyright © Radiant Light. Excerpt from ‘In Bread We Bring You Lord’ by Kevin Nichols © 1976 Kevin Mayhew Ltd.

The Eucharist is Jesus our healer

Now Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him. ‘Sir’, he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once (cf. Luke 5: 12-13).

No one touched lepers. You simply didn’t do it. If you saw a leper you would do everything you could to avoid them. Not Jesus. All he sees is someone in pain, isolated and in need of a friend. Jesus reaches out to touch and to heal.

When we approach Jesus, when we come to receive Holy Communion, all the needs we carry in our hearts are touched by him. He himself comes to be the answer to our deepest needs: the answer to the prayer that we hardly know how to put into words. His power is at work inside us. Trust in his healing presence in your heart. It’s the slow action of love through Holy Communion, oneness with God that can be a source of blessing and healing throughout our lives.

Pope Francis

“The Lord surprises us by showing us that he loves us even in our weakness.” In the Mass, in our encounter with Jesus, “the Lord encounters our fragility in order to bring us back to our first calling: that of being in the image and likeness of God.” This, Pope Francis said, “is the environment of the Eucharist, this is the prayer” (15th November 2017).

Prayer Moment

Repeat this prayer… do it for yourself and then do it for others by saying “…enter under N.’s roof…”

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Pray for anyone you know who receives Holy Communion at home or pray for someone you know who is in need of the healing power of Jesus in their life.


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


13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 5: 21-43)

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.

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Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’

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While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

PICTURES FROM WALKING DAY 2018

St Mary’s

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St Benedict’s

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Many thanks to those who forwarded these photographs.  If you have any pictures to share, please email them to mailto:frdave@rcaolp.co.uk


The Nativity of John the Baptist

Gospel  (Luke 1: 57-66, 80)

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

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Reflection

Just three birthdays are celebrated by the Church in the liturgy each year – that of Jesus at the winter solstice, his mother’s on 8th September and that of his cousin John the Baptist near midsummer’s day.  John’s birth comes just after the longest day of the year when the light begins to decline — just as Jesus’ birth is celebrated as the days begin to lengthen.  The placing of these two feasts summarises John the Baptist’s mission: ‘I must decrease, he must increase.’

Prayer

O God,
you raise up prophets in every age.
Let your Spirit, who filled John the Baptist from his mother’s womb,
fill us with joy as we celebrate his birth.

May the example of his life,
the urgency of his preaching,
and the power of his prayers
make us ready to receive the one he announced,
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 ICEL


11th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 4: 26-34)

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

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Reflection

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime
only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

© 1979 Ken Untener (Bishop of Saginaw)

Let us pray

For fathers and grandfathers, godfathers and stepfathers, and for those who have been like a father to us.

†That every human life may be protected and cherished from conception to natural death.

†For the victims of human trafficking – that they may be helped to rebuild their lives after the traumatic experiences they have gone through.

†For the people of Lourdes and surrounding regions in France following the floods this week.

†That the courageous meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un may bear fruit, especially for the suffering people of North Korea.

 


10th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 3: 20-35)

Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.

The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.

‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’

His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’

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Reflection  (Fr Jude Botelho)

In today’s gospel passage, we see some of the frustrations Jesus had to contend with. He had to contend with the constant opposition from his enemies and sometimes even misunderstanding from his own family.

News of people’s reactions to him reached Nazareth and, worried about the direction of his life, his relatives set out to rescue him and bring him back home. Many great people were at times believed to be mad by their contemporaries. When they reached the house where he was preaching, they sent him a message: “Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.” On hearing this, Jesus replied. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”

When Jesus left Nazareth he ‘lost’ his natural family, but gained another family – the family of his disciples. He was calling people to a spiritual family, built not on bonds of blood and nation. Blood relations are important, but it is not everything. Jesus refused to go back home with his relatives. Though his mission was proving to be frustrating, he refused to quit. He had a mission to accomplish.

Jesus gives us an example of faithfulness in a time of darkness. Jesus was calling people to a new community, into a spiritual family. Belief in Jesus and the practice of God’s will are what create community. With his example to inspire us, and his grace to strengthen us, we too can be faithful to our vocation as his disciples.

Prayer

God of wisdom and love, source of all good,
send your Spirit to teach us your truth
and guide our actions in your way of peace.
Through Christ our Lord.

(Adapted from Opening Prayer (c) 1973 ICEL)