Fr Dave's Blog

Second Week of Advent

Second Thursday of Advent

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“Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.”

From an essay entitled, “The Time of the End Is the Time of No Room”, by Thomas Merton in Raids on the Unspeakable, pages 51-52 .

Second Wednesday of Advent

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As we prepare for our Archdiocesan Synod in 2020, today let us pray:

Father, we thank you
for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
We thank you for the gift of the Church,
through which you show us
that you are always with us
and are always at work in our lives.

As we journey together to Synod 2020
help us to become the Church that you are calling us to be.
May your Holy Spirit be powerfully
at work among us.
Strengthen each of us and guide Francis, our Pope
and Malcolm, our Archbishop.

Help us to respond
to the challenges of our times in new ways
to bring your love to all our sisters and brothers.
We make this prayer
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blaise decided to join the Liturgy Group at their recent meeting preparing for the Synod which took place at St Benedict’s…

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So far, she’s got more likes on Synod 2020’s Instagram than anyone else!

Second Tuesday of Advent

Another beautiful passage to ponder from the Advent Scriptures today.  God consoles his people who are in exile.  The passage concludes with the image of God as “a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast”.

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Isaiah 40: 1-11

‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice commands, ‘Cry!’
and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’”
– ‘All flesh is grass
and its beauty like the wild flower’s.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on them.
(The grass is without doubt the people.)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God remains for ever.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Second Monday of Advent

Today, let’s take a moment to thank God for the beautiful gift of creation which he has entrusted to us.

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Prayer

Creator God, as we prepare for the coming of your Son,
we give thanks for the gift of creation.
We give thanks for its beauty
and the joy the beauty brings us.
We give thanks for light that shines in the darkness,
for the stars and the sun,
for the air we breathe
and the plants and animals that you have created,
for earth and water,
and for the daily sustenance we draw from them.

Inspire us to see you, Creator,
through all that you have created —
all that you look upon as very good.
Help us to care for creation as you instructed us.
Help us be stewards of its abundant life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(c) 2018 Global Catholic Climate Movement

Thought

Is there something little I could do today to show my appreciation for the gift of creation?  It might be picking up any litter I see as I go about the day, it might be taking care of a plant or tree I’ve neglected in the garden, it might be ensuring the animals in my garden or yard are safe and fed especially as the cold weather sets in, etc.

Fr Dave

Second Sunday of Advent (C)

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As we begin the second week of our preparation for the great feast of Christmas, the Scriptures introduce us to one of the great characters of Advent, John the Baptist, who came to ‘prepare a way for the Lord’.

Gospel  (Luke 3: 1-6)

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Prayer

God of our salvation,
you straighten the winding ways of our hearts
and smooth the paths made rough by sin.
Make our conduct blameless,
keep our hearts watchful in holiness,
and bring to perfection the good you have begun in us.

We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 1997 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.


First Week of Advent

First Saturday of Advent

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.  We celebrate the conception of Mary, but the Gospel is the account of the conception of Jesus.  This is not an accident.  As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, today’s solemnity invites us to ponder Mary’s role in the story of our salvation.

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Gospel  (Luke 1: 26-38)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

First Friday of Advent

A Prayer before sending Christmas Cards

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Blest are you, Lord, our God and Father.
You have graced our lives with friends and relatives near and far.
May these Christmas cards arrive at their destinations
as signs of affection and as tokens of peace.
Send your Son to reign in glory among us.
He will lead us all to glad reunion in your holy city,
where we will sing your praise for ever and ever.
Amen.

First Thursday of Advent

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No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor…

The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have everything,
look down on others,
those who have no need even of God
—for them there will be no Christmas…

Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone to come on their behalf,
only they will have that someone…

That someone is God.
Emmanuel.
God-with-us…

Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God….

St Oscar Romero

First Wednesday of Advent

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As we prepare for our Archdiocesan Synod in 2020, today let us pray:

Father, we thank you
for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
We thank you for the gift of the Church,
through which you show us
that you are always with us
and are always at work in our lives.

As we journey together to Synod 2020
help us to become the Church that you are calling us to be.
May your Holy Spirit be powerfully
at work among us.
Strengthen each of us and guide Francis, our Pope
and Malcolm, our Archbishop.

Help us to respond
to the challenges of our times in new ways
to bring your love to all our sisters and brothers.
We make this prayer
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

First Tuesday of Advent

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Today’s First Reading presents some of the best loved images of Advent. The images are a sign of the kingdom of justice and peace that God’s people have longed for through the ages.

Isaiah 11: 1-10

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.

Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion feed together,
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.
That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.

First Monday of Advent

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THE ADVENT PAUSE

Our habits to consume are very strong. They are reinforced by our culture that tells us that our happiness is dependent on owning the latest gadget, product, or experience.  To break this consumerist habit, we need to become aware of this internal energy to consume, so that we don’t blindly follow it. This is a contemplative practice–to begin to see how the market and cultural forces shape our interior world.

1. Notice your internal impulse to buy more, to eat more, to do more things that are not essential. This can be owning the latest electronic gadgets and buying the trendiest clothes. It can also be over-consuming more information or social media than is necessary, eating (and often wasting) too much food, or trying to pack in too many activities. It might feel like a subtle tug or pull in the body which we are conditioned to give into. This is normal and natural, but it doesn’t mean you have to follow the tug to consume more than you need.

2. Pause and take a breath. Then find a phrase to ground you such as “Less is more”, “Jesus is the reason” or even “Do I need to get/do this?” in order to remind you of your commitment to not over-consume and to keep your eyes on Jesus.

3. Make a choice based on your commitment to live simply, in order to create space and time to focus on what is essential: God, relationships, service, and caring for our earth community.

From the Global Catholic Climate Movement


1st Sunday of Advent (C)

Blessing of the Advent Wreath

If you have an Advent Wreath at home, you might like to gather as a family, light the first candle on the wreath, and say the following prayer:

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Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ;
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples;
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us;
he is the Saviour of every nation.

Lord God, let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers 
(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2008)

Gospel  (Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’

From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

Reflection

That passage from St Luke is very dramatic.  There are two parts.  In the first part, Jesus shares a vision of the end of the world.  The second part is a response to a question: “If this is going to happen, what should we do?”

We believe the world will come to an end one day.  We don’t know when that will be, and we don’t know what it will be like.  The first Christians thought it would happen in their lifetime and every generation of Christians since has thought the same.

But Jesus has a message of hope for his faithful followers – there is no need to be afraid.  When the time comes, they will see him coming to save them. Meanwhile, we are to pray and to try to live good lives.  St Paul tells us how to do this in today’s 2nd Reading: “love one another and the whole human race”.

Fr Dave

Advent is a Season of Hope

Thanks to the Catholic News Agency for capturing this encounter of a little boy and Pope Francis:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxWXkvOCoio&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 


Solemnity of Christ the King (B)

National Youth Sunday

On this, the last Sunday of the Church’s year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.  It’s also National Youth Sunday when we pray especially for our children and young people.  This year, I wanted to write to our young parishioners – particularly those who join us for Mass each week – to say ‘thank you’.  Here is the letter I have written and will share during the Homily this weekend.

Dear Young People,

On this National Youth Sunday, I want to speak to you personally.

The first thing I want to say to you is:  ‘Thank you’.  Thank you for the way you come and join us for Sunday Mass.  Whether you realise it or not, it really means a lot to the rest of us gathered here.  We know that it’s not always easy for you to come to Mass – you may find it boring sometimes and wish you were somewhere else; you may want to stay in bed on Sunday morning or go out with your friends; you may be worried about your peers making fun of you for coming to church, even calling you names.  Despite all this, you’re here.  Thank you.  Thank you for the sacrifices you make to be here.

You may come to Mass because your parents ask you to come.  It is a beautiful thing to come to Mass because someone else asks you to come with them.  It may not feel like a beautiful thing when other things tug for your attention, but putting yourself out for someone else is a beautiful thing to do.  It says a lot about the kind of person you are.

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You may come to Mass because that’s what your family does.  You may feel that it’s not a big deal.  But in today’s world it is a big deal because, as you and I know, a lot of Catholics no longer keep Sunday special or come to celebrate the eucharist as our Lord asks us to do.  You are being what Pope Francis describes as “counter cultural” – going against the tide to do something for God and his people, the Church.  In doing so, you set a good example.  You are, to quote last Sunday’s First Reading, like “bright stars” shining in a world that can be dark and hard, confusing and selfish.

Some of you have felt able to help out at Sunday Mass too, whether that’s as an altar server or reader, collector or ringing the bell, carrying the gifts of bread and wine or in other ways.  Our celebrations of Sunday Mass would be poorer without you because suddenly we would struggle to find people for all these important ministries.  And they are important.  Lots of people, young and older, work together to make the Mass happen, as it were.  So thank you for helping us to celebrate and to celebrate as best we can as a community.  When you volunteer to help, or when you respond to a plea from me, you encourage others to step forward and help as well.

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Being a teenager is not always easy.  We all know that because we’ve all been teenagers.  There’s a lot on your plate in the teenage years.  Suddenly, your hair becomes important and you have to spend a lot of time getting it right!  Friends become more important in your life.  You have to learn to balance doing what your parents ask of you and what you want to do yourself.  There are many other challenges too – how you fit in at school, discovering you have opinions that may be different to your parents’ opinions or those of your friends, the surge of new emotions and confusing moods, and of course finding time to play Fortnite!  But, jokes aside, we know the teenage years are not always easy because we’ve been there too.  And that gives us a deep respect for you because, despite all that’s going on in your lives, we see you here trying to develop a relationship with God and his people, the Church – a relationship you may find difficult to understand and may not always be particularly attractive.  So, as they say:  “Respect!”

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A few weeks ago, there was a big meeting of bishops and young people in Rome.  Pope Francis wanted to hear what young people really think about the Church.  He wanted to hear their gripes as well as their ideas.  Our Archbishop wants to do the same.  He has called a similar meeting for everyone in the Archdiocese in October 2020 called a Synod.  Part of the preparation for that big meeting is genuinely listening to each other.  It could be easy for young people to get missed out of this listening because most of us grown ups have probably got a lot to say!  But your voice is equally, if not more important to hear, not only because you will be around long after we’re gone, but also because you see things in new and different ways to us.  So I’m going to provide opportunities for us to meet in the New Year so that you can have your say.  I hope you’ll come and meet with me and our Parish Member for the Synod to share your thoughts and ideas about the Church.  This is so important if we’re going to become the Church Jesus wants us to be.  The Holy Spirit is speaking to us through you too!

Finally, thank you for being you!  In the words of St Paul, “You are God’s work of art” (cf. Ephesians 2: 10).  God loves you and will always be with you as your friend and companion.  And no matter what happens, even during those moments we all have when we mess up or make mistakes, God will always be there smiling upon you with his love and forgiveness.

May God bless you and keep you close to himself.

Fr Dave


33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 13: 24-32)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.

‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’

From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

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Reflection

As we hasten towards the end of the Church’s year, the readings focus on the end of time when Christ will come again and gather us all into his kingdom.  This gathering into his kingdom is the task of every Christian.  People are attracted to Christ and his way of love when we, his followers, show his welcome, his love, his compassion and his mercy.

On this World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis writes: “Very often the poor hear voices scolding them, telling them to be quiet and to put up with their lot. These voices are harsh, often due to fear of the poor, who are considered not only destitute but also a source of insecurity and unrest, an unwelcome distraction from life as usual and needing to be rejected and kept afar. We tend to create a distance between the poor and the rich, without realising that in this way we are distancing ourselves from the Lord Jesus, who does not reject the poor, but calls them to himself and comforts them.”

In the run up to Christmas, how can we show the face of Christ to the poor in our own communities?

Fr Dave

Prayer

God of Justice,
open our eyes
to see you in the face of the poor.
Open our ears
to hear you in the cries of the exploited.
Open our mouths
to defend you in the public squares
as well as in private deeds.
Remind us that what we do to the least,
we do to you.
Amen.


32nd Sunday of Ordinary time (B)

REMEMBRANCE DAY

Today is Remembrance Day.  This year, we mark the end of the First World War one hundred years ago.  We keep silence with the rest of the nation at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  As we do so, let’s remember and pray for all those who lost their lives in war and armed conflict.

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
Amen.

Prayer

Father of all, look with love on all your people, living and departed.

On this day, we pray especially for all who suffered during the First World War – those who were killed and those who returned scarred by warfare, those who waited anxiously at home, and those who returned wounded and disillusioned; those who mourned, and those communities that were diminished and suffered loss.

We remember too those who acted with kindly compassion, those who bravely risked their own lives for their comrades, and those who in the aftermath of war, worked tirelessly for a more peaceful world.

And as we remember them, remember us, O Lord: grant us peace in our time and a longing for the day when people of every language, race and nation will be brought into the unity of Christ’s kingdom.

We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

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Commitment to Peace

The ‘Peace Prayer’, often attributed to St Francis, was promoted by Pope Benedict XV in January 1916.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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After Mass today, parishioners are invited to a ‘Peace Party’ in St Benedict’s Parish Centre.

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Many thanks to Ruth Ramsay for the photographs.

 


31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 12: 28-34)

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

From The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

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Reflection

In replying to the scribe, Jesus quotes the great creed of the Jewish people – the Shema – found in the book of Deuteronomy (6: 4) which is the First Reading given to us today:  “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The Shema is at the heart of Jewish daily prayer, just as the ‘Our Father’ is at the heart of Christian prayer. Jewish people recite the Shema twice each day – once in the morning and once in the evening. They are the first words a Jewish person learns to speak and the last words uttered at death.

To this, Jesus adds a second commandment quoting the book of Leviticus (19: 18):  “You must love your neighbour as yourself”.

Jesus teaches us that we love God by loving other people.  This is at the heart of being a Christian.  As the hymn goes, “And they’ll know we’re are Christians by our love.”

Fr Dave

Prayer

Lord our God,
all true love comes from you and leads to you.
You have committed yourself to us
in a covenant of lasting love
in the person of Jesus Christ.
Help us to respond to your love
and to live your commandments,
not as laws forced on us,
but as opportunities to love you
and your people, our brothers and sisters.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted from Bible Claret © 2016 Bibleclaret. All Rights Reserved.

 


30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 10: 46-52)

As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road.

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Thought

Perhaps make Bartimaeus’ cry to Jesus, all those years ago, your prayer today.  Take a few minutes – in church, or at home, in the back garden or while you’re out for a walk – and simply say over and over, very slowly, the words:  ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me’.

If you feel like chatting with the Lord, how about answering the question Jesus put to Bartimaeus:  ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

Fr Dave

Prayer

A blind man sees and follows the Lord.
May the Lord make us people
who see with eyes of faith.
May the Lord help us to see the road to follow
and to recognise the Lord in our life.
May he give us joy in following him.

Scripture Reading from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.  Prayer adapted from Bible Claret  © 2016 Bibleclaret. All Rights Reserved.


Synod Sunday

Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop

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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 20/21 October 2018

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Last month the Bishops of England and Wales went to Rome for a visit and pilgrimage known as the Ad Limina Apostolorum (to the Threshold of the Apostles). Every seven or eight years or so each national hierarchy is called to Rome to give an account of what they are doing. It is not just reporting to the Pope and the heads of Vatican departments, it is also an opportunity to listen to each other. The different departments of the Vatican listened to us. Pope Francis listened to us too, and of course we listened to him.

This listening is at the heart of his authority. It is the way Pope Francis lives out one of the titles of the Pope – the servant of the servants of God. It is sometimes hard to imagine the Pope as a servant, even Pope Francis who has done away with much of the trappings that surround the Pope – but that is what he is – a servant. That is something of what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel today. He was saying that people in authority are to be servants of His people. True authority is lived out in service and that turns the way the world thinks on its head. Jesus saw authority as a way of service, to promote the good of others rather than to promote one’s own honour and glory. This is at the very heart of all our Christian service, as we each try to imitate Jesus in our daily lives.

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The only way I can live out my calling to service as your Archbishop is by listening. I need to hear the hopes and fears of our people, the challenges facing our priests and deacons, our schools, and the reality our families have to deal with each day. I have decided to call a Synod to help us to meet some of the pressing issues that we face at this time in the life of the Archdiocese. How are we to witness to the Gospel message of God’s love in a culture that seems to have little room for faith? How can we better organise our resources of priests, deacons, people and buildings so that we can become the Church that God is calling us to be? How can we best support the work of Catholic education so we pass on our faith to the next generation? How can our Catholic lives be better supported by the ministries of the Church?

The word Synod means “Together on the Way”. The Synod is a moment when together we can choose a path to walk on, guided by the voice of the Holy Spirit who will speak to us. The Synod is not just another meeting. It is a journey. We have just had a year of prayer which reached its climax for us in the Eucharistic Congress. Over the next two years we will be trying to discover the will of God through listening and learning. The voice of each one of us needs to be heard. Parishes and pastoral areas will be invited to choose members for the Synod. I hope that there will be many different opportunities for all of our people to share their hopes, their fears and their dreams of the way the Holy Spirit is at work among us to bring fresh life into our Church.

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In October 2020 our Archdiocese, priests and people together, will meet to reflect on what we have heard and vote on specific proposals that have arisen from the discussion and sharing in our parishes and pastoral areas. I have decided to work in this way because we believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the bishops, priests and people of the Archdiocese. So, I need each one of you to play your part in our Synod process. Without you we will not hear the call of God guiding us and walking with us on our journey.

You will be given the chance to learn more about the Synod in the months to come. There is a leaflet available today which is for all of us. Please do your best to pass a copy of this leaflet on to people who may not get one from Church. The leaflet has an invitation to a meeting near you to tell you more about the Synod and how we can get involved.

I will officially convene the Synod at a special service in the Cathedral on Sunday 3rd February next year. All five hundred members of the Synod will be present at this service. From here they will be sent out to do their work of listening, reflecting and discerning, supported by the prayers of all of us. I need your help so that we can truly be a Church that listens. We all have members of our families, neighbours and friends who are Catholics, but have little contact with our parishes. Is it possible for us to listen to their experiences and their needs so that we can be a Church that serves them too? We are going to try to listen to our young people, to families with children, to those who work in our schools. What will our Church be like for them in twenty or thirty years’ time? We want to hear the experiences of those who may have made their home in our parishes only recently and to learn how we can welcome them in a better way. In all this listening and learning let’s pray that we might hear a call from God to change, to try to be His Church in a new way.

The letter to the Hebrews, our second reading today, speaks to us of God who walks with us; a High Priest who feels our weaknesses with us. It speaks of the power of prayer, reminding us that we never approach the throne of God in vain. As we prayed in the Psalm today: ‘May your love be upon us O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.’

Today is also World Mission Day. We are invited to reflect on the call of God to be His missionary disciples. God’s gifts are not given to us to be hoarded but to be shared. Please keep in your prayer the work of all those who seek to share the Gospel message across the world.

Today, with real enthusiasm in my heart, I invite you all to join in the journey which will enable us to become the Church that God is calling us to be. That is our Synod 2020 journey!

+ Malcolm McMahon OP

Archbishop of Liverpool

Have a look at the Synod website:  www.synod2020.co.uk 

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28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 10: 17-30)

Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’ they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’

Peter took this up. ‘What about us?’ he asked him. ‘We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.’

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Reflection

There are three sections in today’s Gospel passage: a narrative about Jesus’ encounter with a rich man, Jesus’ sayings about wealth as a possible obstacle to following him, and Jesus’ promise of reward for those who share their material possessions with the poor.

Jesus reminded the rich man of the commandments that deal with relationships with other people and challenged him to sell what he had and to give the money to the poor.    This shocked the disciples because it challenged the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity were signs of God’s blessings.  Instead, Jesus declared that true religion consists in sharing our blessings with others rather than hoarding them and getting inordinately attached to them.

(Adapted from Fr Anthony Kadavil)

Prayer

God of Wisdom,
whose Word probes the motives of our hearts;
with you all things are possible.
Let worldly treasure not keep us from Jesus,
who looks on us with love.
Free us to leave all things and follow him,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.


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