Fr Dave's Blog

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 8: 27-35)

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’

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Reflection

At the time of the Lord Jesus, the cross was feared by the peoples who were occupied by the Roman Empire. It was a brutal form of torture and death that was used for extreme offenses against political stability or the collection of taxes.

People who were under Rome’s authority trembled at the possibility of the cross and imperial Rome relied on that fright for the facilitation of control and commerce. The cross was so savage that by Roman law no formal citizen of the empire could be crucified. The Roman philosopher Cicero argued that no civilized person should even utter the word “crucifixion” since it was such an affront to civilization and decency.

And yet, in the forum of this heinous and infernal reality, the Lord Jesus – gentle and humble of heart – calls his followers to “take up their cross.” We can only imagine the initial shock and disbelief of the original listeners to his message. This teacher wants us to take up the cross? Is he serious? Is this rabbi sane?

It light of this realization, it might also help us to appreciate why the imagery of the cross was not predominant in Christian worship or art until Christianity was given legal tolerance in the fourth century. Up until that time, the popular images of the Lord Jesus were of him as the Good Shepherd or the Good Teacher. Even Christians, who accepted the hypothetical of the cross, feared its reality and avoided its depiction.

And yet, the cross is what the Lord gives as a condition to following him. How is such an invitation to be understood?

The cross stands as the world spins. It strips away any romanticism, idealism, or any such fluff. It cuts to the core of our fallen world. It lifts up the thin veneer of civilization and implodes artificiality. It shows us – in all its severity – the darkness and nothingness of sin and the real capacity for evil in our own hearts and in our world.

The Lord is not a divine handy man. He does not offer false comfort or empty promises. He does not commit himself to remove suffering from us. The Lord offers the cross and he asks his disciples to accept it.

Rather than one more self-help guide, the message of Jesus Christ is a radical call to embrace what is most feared and evil, so that they can be fought and conquered from the inside out. The Christian way of life is an empowerment by God’s grace to boldly announce good news to despair and generous redemption to sin.

The life of the Christian believer is one marked by the acceptance of the cross, in imitation of the Lord Jesus, so that goodness can be championed and glory can be revealed.

(Adapted from an article by Fr Jeffrey Kirby in www.cruxnow.com 16 September 2018)


ADOREMUS Day 3

Adoremus – Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress

Day 3 – Sunday 9 September 2018

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Pilgrimage Day

Watch live on www.catholic-ew.org.uk or www.shalomworldtv.org

Time Item
9:30 Solemn Mass
Celebrant: Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
11:30 Solemn Mass
Celebrant: Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Preacher: Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
13:00 Outdoor Eucharistic Procession
14:45 Benediction
15:00 Finish

Reflection by Cardinal Vincent Nichols

We are here in the presence of Jesus in this Most Blessed Sacrament. He is always present to us. But here we can see, touch, even taste that Presence in the Bread which is its sign and sacramental reality. Bread. Bread given, and received, so that we can have life.

This Sacrament is the presence of Jesus in the very act of Him giving Himself totally for us. Remember: Then He took some bread and said ‘This is My Body given for you’ (Lk 22:19). And so it is, to this very moment.

He gave His body, His entire self, so that we may live. It is the Bread of Life (John 6:34). He gave Himself, in death, so as to absorb all the anger of our hearts, like a sponge soaks up water. He gave Himself to take away the sins of the world. My sin, our sin. He alone can do this. He alone is not crushed by this reality of evil because He alone is truly God and truly also one of us. In His power of God He overcomes; in His humanity He takes us into that victory.

Today we come before Him knowing our failings, sensing the anger in many hearts, knowing the face of evil. I feel this with great keenness, and sadness, for the failings of my fellow bishops are there for all to see. As bishops we are bound to each other. As one of this College of bishops, I come before the Lord with little to offer; only to ask for a share in His new life. I come as a beggar, seeking forgiveness, laying the load of the hurt, damage and mistrust we have caused at the foot of the cross. Please join me in this, for me, for the Church, for yourselves, too.

The Lord is here, waiting for us to come, so that He may embrace, comfort and restore us. His presence here, in this Blessed Sacrament, is the work of God’s Holy Spirit, poured out by the will of the Father, in response to our pleading, a pleading uttered by the Church through the words and actions of the priest.

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In many places an image of the Holy Spirit is to be seen above the altar, for it is through the creative action of the Holy Spirit that this Sacrament of the Altar is brought about. This is the ‘creator Spirit’, the Spirit who hovered over the original chaos and brought forth an ordered world: the cosmos (Genesis 1:2). This is the Holy Spirit who recreates with a fountain of new life flowing from the Risen Christ. This

Spirit works within our lives to bring about the holiness which is the Father’s plan for each of us. Because of this work of re-creation by the Holy Spirit we can say that at every celebration of Mass, the Church is made new again. Yes, the Eucharist makes the Church afresh, each day! And as we stand so much in need of renewal, here, in this Sacrament, we come to its source.

Lord, create in us a new heart. Give us a new spirit in which to know You more clearly and love You more dearly. Recreate your Church, the visible Body of your Son, so that we may bring joy not grief, trust not betrayal, love not anger in the hearts of all people, especially your poor and little ones.

In our silence and prayer we ask the Lord to gather us in, to heal our wounds, to bind us to Himself. Yes, Yes, He says. But He also whispers to us, firmly, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Gospel to all creation.’ (Mark 16:15).

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Every one of the gifts He gives us is to be shared. He caresses us with His mercy, so that we may be merciful to others; He heals, so that we may heal; strengthens so that we may strengthen others; fills us with His unique joy so that through us that joy infects the whole world. In this Eucharist, this Thanksgiving, lies the source of our mission. From this Adoration we run forth, wanting, longing to share with others this great secret outpouring of life and goodness which has been disclosed to us. There is no true mission in the Church that does not start here, in prayer, before the Lord.

Tomorrow we will walk the streets of this City in our Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. We will carry this visible, sacramental reality of the life-giving death of Jesus into our world. There is not one iota of triumphalism or pride in our steps. In many ways ours is a penitential procession for we are focused on Jesus whom we have crucified. Yet we walk with a humble joy for He takes our failure, cruelty and deceit and overcomes it all with His love and mercy. He is our salvation and it is our humble joy to let His face be seen – his face of tender compassion and hope for our broken world.

Congress Prayer

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.


ADOREMUS Day 2

Adoremus – Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress

Day 2 – Saturday 8 September 2018

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Congress Day – Reflecting on the centrality of the Eucharist

Watch live on www.catholic-ew.org.uk or www.shalomworldtv.org

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Time Item
8:15 Morning Prayer and Mass at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, for those wishing to attend
9:30 Arena opens
10:30 Welcome & Opening Prayer: Bishop Robert Byrne, Greeting by the Apostolic Nuncio and Welcome from Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
11:00 Keynote 1 – Bishop Robert Barron
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Keynote 2 – Bishop Robert Barron
14:30 Exploring the themes of the congress with Drama, Testimony and Presentations
15:30 Break
16:00 Exposition and Benediction with Evening Prayer of Corpus Christi to include a reflection from Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales
17:00 Finish

 


ADOREMUS Day 1

Adoremus – Eucharistic Pilgrimage & Congress

Day 1 – Friday 7 September 2018

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Symposium Day – Exploring the Place of Eucharistic Adoration

Watch live on www.catholic-ew.org.uk or www.shalomworldtv.org

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Time Item
10:00-10:30 Arrival and Coffee
10:30-11:00 Welcome & Opening Prayer: Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP and the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain
11:00-11:45 Keynote 1: The Scriptural Context. A deepening of our adoration and understanding of the Holy Eucharist must begin with the Scriptures. This presentation examines various relevant texts of both the Old and New Testaments and their Jewish and wider backgrounds. Rev Canon Mervyn Tower, MA, SSL, PhD. Parish Priest, Corpus Christi, Oxford
11:45-12:00 Short Break
12:00-12:45 Keynote 2: The Eucharist in the life of the Church. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission. Canon David J Oakley, Rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott
12:50-13:35 Keynote 3: Teaching the Eucharist. The Eucharist won’t make sense unless it is taught from a lived context that makes sense of it. Sr Margaret Atkins CRSA. A member of the Augustinian Community at Boarbank Hall in Cumbria. A former teacher of Theology at Trinity and All Saints College, Leeds
13:35-14:30 Lunch
In the afternoon delegates can attend 1 of the 3 presentations for each time slot
14:30-15:15 Presentation Set 1
Preparing Children for the Sacraments of Initiation.
Dora Nash is the author of popular Sacramental Preparation Courses Confirmed in the Faith and Jesus Comes to Me. She was Head of RE for over twenty years at Newman’s Oratory School, now near Reading.
The ministry of the Eucharist in hospitals and prisons.
The Right Reverend Paul Mason is an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Southwark. Fr Paul Douthwaite is the Bishops’ Conference National Chaplain for Prisons.
Eucharistic Liturgical Rites outside of Mass.
Father Paul Gunter OSB, a monk of Douai Abbey, holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome where he taught for many years. He is Secretary of the Department of Christian Life and Worship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and parish priest of Our Lady and St Joseph Alcester.
In the afternoon delegates can attend 1 of the 3 presentations for each time slot
15:30-16:15 Presentation Set 2
The Eucharist as a sign of the Church’s Unity: “One Bread, One Body” revisited
Dr Dominic Robinson SJ teaches Dogmatic and Pastoral Theology at Heythrop College and Allen Hall Seminary and is the Vice-Chair of the Society for Ecumenical Studies and of Churches Together in Westminster. He will be assisted by Canon John O’Toole, National Ecumenical Officer for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Anglican, Methodist and Salvation Army ecumenical colleagues.
 “A kingdom of justice, love and peace”: The Eucharist and Social Justice
Dr Phil McCarthy is the Chief Executive of Caritas Social Action Network, the domestic social action agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. He is a former family doctor with a strong interest in Catholic Social Teaching.
 “Teaching children to pray before the Eucharist”
Julie Rourke is a Primary Religious Education Advisor and Section 48 Inspector for the Christian Education Department at the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
In the afternoon delegates can attend 1 of the 3 presentations for each time slot
16:30–17:15 Presentation Set 3
“John Henry Newman and Dominic Barberi: An historical moment in Eucharistic Adoration”
Fr Ian Ker is generally regarded as the leading authority on the life and writings of Bl John Henry Newman, on whom he has written the definitive biography as well as several other books.
“Musical resources for Adoration”
Dr Christopher McElroy is the Director of Music at Liverpool’s iconic Metropolitan Cathedral.
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion: Ministry and Practice
Fr Chris Thomas is a priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool and the Director of its lrenaeus Project.
Sr Moira Meeghan is a Sister of St Mary of Namur who grew up in St Helens and followed a career in teaching. After a period of further study in pastoral theology and spiritual accompaniment Moira joined the Irenaeus Project in 2015.
17:30–17:45 Conclusion & Closing Prayer
18.15 Choral Vespers followed by Mass at 1900 is available at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral for those wishing to attend

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:

This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.

You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

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Reflection

She was a religious woman in her seventies and spoke to me about her grandson who was gay and was now inviting her to his marriage to his same-sex partner. She knew what she wanted to do – to go to the wedding and wish him well out of her love for him.

Deep-down she wondered – did she agree with what he was doing. She had heard of church rules and regulations. Her heart told her that love for her grandson was more important, and that meant never closing the door of love.

There can of course be a great security in human customs and church traditions. Jesus knows this, and he knows that he has to speak strongly to get beneath religious traditions, rituals and laws to the real love-message of the Gospels.

God looks at the heart. Of people who are too focused on ritual and law for their own sake, he says, ‘their hearts are far from me.’

Our Christian faith is based on a love-relationship with God. From this love, our actions and our rituals flow. From this love flows our non-judgemental attitude to others. Into this love, happiness enters from God and flows from us to others. Words of Pope Francis reiterate this: “Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor’ (to Sacred Heart Missionaries, May 2018).

Of course she should go to the wedding!

Thank you to Fr Donal Neary SJ for this reflection

COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 1 Week

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‘Adoremus’ – the National Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage will take place in Liverpool next weekend. Some 10,000 Catholics from all over the country will arrive in Liverpool for the first Eucharistic Congress to be held in this country since 1908.

Friday 7 September

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Pilgrims will be welcomed to the city by Archbishop Malcolm and Archbishop Edward Adams, who is the representative of the Holy See in the UK. During the day, delegates will hear presentations on the Eucharist in the life of the Church and how this is seen in hospitals and prisons, through social justice and ecumenical relations, and in education and music.

Saturday 8 September

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The main speaker will be Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of ‘Word on Fire’ Catholic Ministries, which attracts millions of visitors to its website each year. Internationally renowned Bishop Barron uses the tools of new media to promote the Catholic faith. Following his address, the themes of the Congress will be explored through drama, testimony and presentations.

Sunday 9 September

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There will be two Pilgrimage Masses in the Cathedral: one at 9.30 am with Archbishop Malcom, and one at 11.30 am with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. The Congress will conclude with an outdoor Eucharistic Procession through the streets surrounding the Cathedral at 1.00 pm. While the Masses are now fully booked, anyone can turn up to the procession.

Youth Congress

Alongside the main Congress there will be a Youth Congress for 1,000 young people in the Echo Arena Auditorium on Saturday 8 September. For further details: www.adoremusyouth.co.uk

Parallel Programme

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In addition to the main events, a Parallel Programme of 27 different events has been organised in churches and other venues close to Liverpool City Centre. For details of all these events: www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/adoremus

Congress Prayer

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.

STOP PRESS

Lost & Found – Gospel Concert

You are invited to a great night out in Liverpool next Saturday at 8.00 pm in the Echo Arena Auditorium as the well-known author, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, and the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir perform a soulful retelling of the Prodigal Son. Tickets are £10 from 0344 8000 410.


21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 60-69)

After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?

‘It is the spirit that gives life,
the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit
and they are life.

‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.

Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’

Thought

Fr James Martin SJ writes:  “In today’s Gospel, some of the disciples leave Jesus at a critical time, even after the miracles. Yet when Jesus asks Peter if he will abandon him, Peter says: “Master, to whom shall we go?” Peter wanted to be with Jesus, and the others, even in the tough times.  Peter would fail in this during the Passion, but then he was forgiven by the Risen Christ, and remained faithful until the end of his life, throughout the darkest times.”

Lord, help us to stay with you, especially when things get tough.

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COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 2 Weeks

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From 7–9 September, 10,000 pilgrims from across England and Wales will come to Liverpool for the first national Eucharistic Congress to be held by the Roman Catholic Church in this country for 110 years – the last one was in London in 1908. Pilgrims will meet at the Echo Arena and Convention Centre on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 September before two Pilgrim Masses are celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on Sunday 9 September, followed by a Eucharistic Procession through the streets surrounding the Cathedral.

A Eucharistic Congress is a gathering of clergy, religious and laity to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church.

On Friday 7 September, the pilgrims will hear presentations on the Eucharist in the life of the Church and how this is seen in various situations, including hospitals and prisons, through social justice and ecumenical relations, and in education and music.

On Saturday 8 September, the main speaker will be Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of ‘Word on Fire’ Catholic Ministries. Internationally renowned Bishop Barron uses the tools of new media to promote the Catholic faith. Following his address, the themes of the Congress will be explored through drama, testimony and presentations.

There will be two Pilgrim Masses in the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 9 September: at 9.30 am with Archbishop Malcom McMahon as the celebrant, and at 11.30 am with Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrating and Archbishop McMahon preaching. The Congress will conclude with an outdoor Eucharistic Procession through the streets surrounding the Cathedral and Benediction.

Alongside the main Congress there will be a Youth Congress for 1,000 young people in the Echo Arena Auditorium on Saturday 8 September. The main speaker will be international educator and author, Katie Prejan-McGrady, from Louisiana. For more information:  www.adoremusyouth.co.uk

In addition to the main events, a parallel programme of 27 different events has been organised in churches and other venues close to Liverpool City Centre. Details of all the Parallel Events: www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/adoremus

Full information on the Congress: www.catholicnews.org.uk/adoremus2018


20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 51-58)

Jesus said to the crowd:
‘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.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’

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To Ponder

In this Sunday’s Gospel,
Jesus invites those around him to believe in him;
to be in communion with him;
to live in him and draw life from him
just as he himself draws life from the living Father.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me and I live in them.

Prayer

O God,
who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
Through Christ our Lord.

COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 3 Weeks

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The Eucharist is a challenge to become what we receive

St Augustine said, “you become what you receive.” By this he meant that when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we become the very Body of Christ ourselves. We become, in the words of St Teresa of Ávila, the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today.

The ‘Amen’ we respond with at the moment of Holy Communion is an act of faith in the great mystery of the Eucharist – this is no longer bread or wine, this is now the Body and the Blood of Jesus himself. But it is also our ‘Amen’ to being the Body of Christ in the world. We say, “Yes I will be the love and the care of Christ to all whom I meet.”

Pope Francis

“Celebrating the Eucharist should make a difference in the way a parish community lives. At Mass, Christ gathers people around him “to nourish us with his word and his life. This means that the mission and identity of the Church begin and take form there.” “A celebration could be perfect from an aesthetic point of view – it can be beautiful – but if it does not lead us to an encounter with Jesus Christ, it risks not giving any nourishment to our hearts and lives.” There must be “coherence between our Eucharist and our lives” (12 February 2014).

Prayer Moment

Pray this prayer and then pray it again replacing the word ‘yours’ with the word ‘mine’. How different does it feel?

Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world,
yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes,
you are his body.

Teresa of Ávila (1515 – 1582)

 

Illustration above by Elizabeth Wang, T-00042A-OL, ‘When we pray at Mass we are united with Christ in glory and with the gathering of his saints and the souls of Purgatory’, copyright © Radiant Light. Excerpt from the English translation of ‘The Roman Missal’ © 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.


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.’

bread-of-life

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

eucharist-jesus-our-healer

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.

sun17b2

COUNTDOWN TO ADOREMUS… 6 Weeks

eucharist-food-for-journey

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.


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