20th July.

Jesus n Violence

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

Today’s article follows on from what I said yesterday about Fr McCarthy. This year the email bulletins he sends out about Christian nonviolence are based on the writings of a little known scholar of the last century  Rev. Dr. Johannes Ude, a Catholic priest, holder of 5 earned doctorates, including one in theology, 26 times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and  imprisoned conscientious objector in Germany in WWII.

The death of Christ on the cross reveals the divine mystery of sacrifice, the profundity and glory of the kingdom of God compared with all the glitter of the world.  He (Christ) knows with what means God conquers evil and death as compared with the means used by the kingdom of the world:  By drinking one’s cup and accepting the baptism by blood. This means that one does not practice violence or pay back injustice with injustice; rather by suffering and sacrificial love he transforms evil into good, the curse into a blessing, hate into love, death into life; by not baptizing others with bloodshed by the sword but by taking upon oneself the baptism of blood.  The freely accepted cross of love is the eternal condemnation of violence.  It is the turning point of history. Whoever proclaims one’s allegiance to the cross condemns the world and its perpetual sermon on justified violence. (Taken from the book  You Shall Not Kill (1944))

All FAST FOOD Helpings for AD 2017 can be found at the URL below:

http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org/events/

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Figuring out the moral universe by putting Jesus and his teachings on love and nonviolence at the centre is a mammoth task. If you would like to take it further, this is a link to a set of 24 online talks by Fr McCarthy: http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org/audio-files/ The first 16 are BEHOLD THE LAMB – AUDIO and the second set of 8 talks are QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON GOSPEL NONVIOLENCE.

 

19th July.

I have spoken before about encountering Fr Emmanuel McCarthy. This happened whilst in seminary in 1996 and this is a photo from that occasion taken along with my friend Fr Eamon Murray, a priest currently serving in Brooklyn, NY.

Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

Fr McCarthy gave me a whole other view of the BIG PICTURE based on the centrality of Jesus’ New Commandment of Love: “Love one another as I have loved you. The way that you will be known as my disciples is by the love you have for one another.” (John 13:34-35). I came to appreciate that this New Commandment receives nothing more than mere lip service within Christianity. One primary expression of this is the disregard we have for Jesus’ teaching that we should do everything possible to love rather than kill enemies. All of this is taught by Jesus with Divine Authority. Fr McCarthy quotes a source that Christians have done more worldwide killing since the fourth century than any other social group. The fourth century is significant because that was when we became the state religion of the Roman empire and Jesus’ teachings had to be adapted to fit in with this role.

Fr McCarthy is a remarkable person for lots of reasons, being the greatest mind and most ‘charismatic’ person that I’ve ever met. He is a Catholic priest of the Melkite Eastern Rite. This domain of the Catholic Church never had mandatory celibacy and thus Fr McCarthy is a married man with 13 children. One of his daughters was the miracle cure for the canonisation of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein. The little girl ingested an 18 times lethal overdose of a pain-relief medicine and experienced an instant healing when family and friends prayed to St Teresa.

Every year Fr McCarthy does a 40 day fast from July 1 – Aug 9 so that the Church would reawaken to the truth of Jesus’ teaching on Love and Nonviolence. During this fast he sends out daily bulletins called FAST FOOD to his email list. I will give one of these tomorrow. Here is the background to the 40 day fast as given by Fr McCarthy.

The spiritually symbolic low point of this false proclamation of and witness to the Gospel occurs on August 9 during World War II. On August 9 in 1942 Christians in Auschwitz, Poland—because of the nurturing they received in their Churches—believed they were following Jesus when they destroyed Edith Stein, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross—in a gas chamber. On August 9 in 1943 Christians in Berlin, Germany—because of the nurturing they received in their Churches—believed they were following Jesus when they beheaded Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, a Christian who refused to join Hitler’s military. On August 9 in 1945 Christians from the United States—because of the nurturing they received in their Churches—believed they were following Jesus when in nine seconds they incinerated tens of thousands of human beings in Nagasaki, the oldest and the largest Christian community in Japan.

Today, as for most of the last 1700 years, most Christians continue to be nurtured by their Churches into the belief that those energies, understandings, emotions and spirits—which have lead inevitably to hundreds of millions of August 9s, large and small, over the centuries—are consistent with faithfully following Jesus Christ. Today most Christian Churches and their leaderships still do not unequivocally teach what Jesus unequivocally taught on the subject of violence and enmity. Today most Christian leaders and most Christians still adamantly and obstinately refuse to proclaim that violence is not the Christian Way, that violence is not the Gospels’ Way, that violence is not the Apostolic Way, that violence is not the Way of Jesus, and therefore violence cannot be the Way of the faithful follower of Jesus.

18th July.

Last Sunday’s gospel spoke about the seed of God’s Word that fell among “thorns” and was choked by the worries of the world and lure of riches. This is a related reflection by Dr Micha Jazz of Premier Christian Media on “But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:33.

prayerAs a child I was not known for my obedience. It wasn’t that I was deliberately disobedient, rather, I failed to pay much attention as I was easily distracted. Indeed, I still am. As a teenager I became increasingly frustrated with boredom of bureaucracy. It is little wonder that following university, any job that invited me to join the legions of bureaucrats provoked me to run far away.

Also perhaps little wonder that my friendship with God developed so slowly. I certainly devoured knowledge about God, yet in reality found little time or space to grow a relationship. So when MS crashed through the roof of our life, I had very few resources to manage my own inner turmoil. Listening means obedience. It’s recognising that I have limitations. God is only discovered by taking time for personal encounter. Making space for that time proves challenging if one is easily distracted and finds it difficult to pay attention. Yet, our personal frailties are not intended to rob us of God’s presence.

One of the challenges I face is my own anxiety over my future. Recently the Teacher’s Pension office wrote to tell me that the small income that they passed onto me following Katey’s death was not, as I had assumed, a survivor pension, but concluded with my remarriage. Six years on from that date they informed me I owed them £23,000. Now, I don’t do savings, apart from my tax account that held £3,500. Anxiety over how I could deal with this woke me in the early hours and prevented me from sleeping. I recognised how shallow my confidence in God really was. Here was I frustrated because I couldn’t work out how to resolve it rather than benefiting from God’s invitation to live at ease, without dread of disaster.

I learned that although I knew I had journeyed some distance, yet I still had some distance to go. I was wasting listening time by fretting. No obvious answer has emerged, yet I am confident in God’s love for me, however this situation ultimately resolves itself. [Jesus I trust in you!]

QUESTION: Does worry about the future rob you of knowing God in the present?

PRAYER: Lord, teach me how to discern your ways and your will in my life.

 

17th July

This is the daily gospel followed by commentary.

Gospel                                Matt 10:34-11:1
It is not peace I have come to bring but a sword.

Lord SwordJesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.

‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Gospel Reflection        Monday,           Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time        Matthew 10:34-11:1

The opening saying of Jesus in this morning’s gospel reading might strike us as strange, ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth; it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword’. Jesus recognizes that his presence on earth will be divisive; some will welcome him and others will reject him and those who reject him will persecute those who welcome him. He goes on to elaborate on how we can welcome him. He says to those he sends out as his ambassadors, ‘anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me’. All of us who have been baptized are always being sent out by Jesus as his ambassadors. In welcoming each other, we are welcoming Jesus, and in welcoming Jesus we are welcoming God the Father. Jesus identifies himself very closely with each one of his followers, to such an extent that how we relate to each other determines how we relate to him. Even the smallest act of kindness to another disciple of Jesus, such as the giving of a cup of cold water, will not go unnoticed by the Lord. The Lord whom we are to prefer more than even our closest family members nonetheless comes to us in and through each other. The ground which we share with our fellow pilgrims is holy ground, sacred space, where the Lord is present.

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The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONSTo know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by  The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie
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16th July – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Normally (apart from Sundays) July 16th is the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the foundation day of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in 1958.

This was my Sunday homily for today. Gospel follows.

sowerparableAt Denis Hanlon’s funeral last Tuesday I spoke about going to his house and giving the Last Rites. This was Saturday evening, a few hours before he passed away. To anoint his hands I had to pull back the bed clothes. I was touched to see that he had wrapped his Rosary beads around his left hand, maybe his last conscious action before becoming unconscious.

Fr Peyton who did much to promote the Rosary in the last century said that holding Rosary beads in our hands is a way of holding Mary’s hands in ours. What a holy and beautiful thing it is for us to leave this world in the close company of our beloved spiritual mother.

Furthermore Denis made every effort to get to Mass on Sundays. Up until recent times he would come in his wheelchair which involved considerable effort given his 90+ years and poor health. Yet if Jesus had said “Do this in memory of me”, Denis would make every effort to comply with this request.

Jesus is clear in the gospel that we should not judge anybody – one way or the other. Only he knows the depths of the human heart. But from all external appearances, Jesus and the Catholic faith was a very important part of who Denis was.

I begin with this today because the gospel we just heard talks about the different ways that God’s Word is received by people.

At one end of the scale we have the true believers who are likened to rich soil that produce a rich harvest unto eternal life. At the other end of the scale are those who don’t appear to respond to the Word and who are likened to the seed that falls on the edge of the path and which never even sprouts.

In the middle there are another 2 types of response. There is the seed that falls into thin soil that withers under the sun’s heat and doesn’t produce a harvest. Likewise the seed that falls among the thorns doesn’t produce a crop either. Jesus compared the thorns to the worries of life and the lure of riches.

So what are we to do if we are to be the rich soil that produces a harvest unto eternal life?

What we need can be summed up in one word: COMMITTMENT. The seed that fell on the edge of the path, the thin soil and among the thorns quit early and gave up the fight. On the other hand the seed that fell on rich soil endured to harvest time.

Once in the seminary we had a workshop on marriage that was given by a couple who did marriage preparation courses. They said that one can do endless compatibility testing prior to marriage. The only guarantee however that a marriage will endure is if both parties bring unlimited amounts of stick-at-it-ness to the relationship. I have always remembered that. All of you married couples – especially those married a long time – can testify to this, I am sure!

We too need unlimited amounts of stick-at-it-ness in our faithfulness to Jesus and the gospel.

What are we to do if we find ourselves in the wrong type of soil? The good news is that we don’t have to stay there. We have the wonderful gift of repentance provided by making a sincere confession. In this way we recommit ourselves to the Lord and are transplanted into the rich soil that produces the harvest.

In summary: We should aspire to be the rich soil that responds generously to the Word of God and produces a harvest of eternal life. An enduring commitment to Jesus and Christian living is key in this regard.

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Gospel                               Matthew 13:1-23
A sower went out to sow.

Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

Then the disciples went up to him and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ ‘Because’ he replied ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them. For anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled:

You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
see and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,
their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,
for fear they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and be converted
and be healed by me.

‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.

‘You, therefore, are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

15th July – St Bonaventure.

Yesterday I had another routine 2 weekly chemotherapy clinic. All was GRAND!

One of the things I do at the start of each year is to write significant anniversaries into my diary. Today was the anniversary of John Breen, my mother’s father who died when she was 12. Granny was left with 4 children to rear – aged 12, 10, 8 and 6.

This is today’s gospel and the Bishops’ website commentary.

GOSPEL                           Matthew 10:24-33God Holy Spirit
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body.

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘The disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. It is enough for the disciple that he should grow to be like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, what will they not say of his household?

‘Do not be afraid of them therefore. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.

‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

The Gospel of the Lord.
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Gospel Reflection      Saturday,       Matthew 10:24-34

Jesus makes a striking statement about God in this morning’s gospel reading. Not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing about it. Jesus claims that God lovingly watches over the life and death of even his smallest and least valuable creatures. How much more, Jesus declares, is God watching over all of us, who are worth more than hundreds of sparrows. Jesus goes so far as to say that every hair of our head has been counted by God. Jesus is using an image here to express God’s care for the smallest detail of our lives. We can find ourselves wondering whether or not God really cares about me personally. I am only one of such a vast throng. How can God possibly be interested in the details of my life? Yet, Jesus assures us in that gospel reading that God is indeed interested in the details of our lives. God relates to us in a way that is unique to each one of us. We are called into a personal relationship with God. Because God cares about the details of our lives, Jesus assures us that we can entrust ourselves to God, without fear. ‘There is no need to be afraid’. This is the kind of relationship Jesus himself had with God. He knew in his heart that God was concerned about the details of his life and he entrusted himself to God, even when his enemies seemed to have triumphed over him. Jesus wants us to know that we can all have the same relationship with God that he has. He invites us to share in his own personal relationship with God and he makes such a sharing possible by sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts, his own Spirit. Through the Spirit, his God becomes our God, his Father becomes our Father.

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The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONSTo know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by  The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie
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14th July – St Camillus.

st camillusOur saint of the day Camillus (*1550 +1614) was born in Italy of a noble family. He became a soldier but his taste for gambling and riotous living eventually lost him everything. At the age of 25 he converted as the result of hearing a sermon. He twice tried to join the Capuchin friars but was rejected because of his poor health. Having had experience of hospitals from the inside, he determined to improve them, and he devoted the rest of his life to the care of the sick. He offered himself to the hospital of San Giacomo in Rome and eventually became its bursar. Hospitals were filthy and hospital staff brutal & inadequate in those times. He introduced many reforms and founded a congregation of priests and lay brothers, the Servants of the Sick (later known as the Camillians) to serve the sick both spiritually and physically. He was ordained priest in 1584. He resigned as head of his congregation in 1607 but continued to look after and visit the sick almost until the day of his death.

In the Office of Readings is an account of his life. In it we can see how he related to the poor as if they were Christ himself.

Let me start with holy charity, the root of all the virtues and the gift most characteristic of Camillus. He was so fired by this virtue, both towards God and towards his neighbours, especially the sick, that just to see them was enough to melt his tender heart and to make him forget every pleasure, every earthly delight and attachment. Indeed, even when ministering to just one sick man, he seemed to burn himself up and wear himself out with the utmost devotion and compassion. Gladly would he have taken upon himself all their sickness and sufferings to alleviate their pain or take away their weakness.

So vividly did he picture and honour the person of Christ in them that often when distributing food to them he thought of them as his ‘Christs’, and would beg of them grace and the remission of sins. Hence he was as reverent before them as if he were really and truly in the presence of his Lord. Of nothing would he speak more frequently or fervently than of holy charity. He longed that it should take root in the heart of every man.

To fire his brethren in religion with this fundamental virtue, he would impress on them these sweet words of Jesus Christ [Matt 25 – the account of the Final Judgement]: ‘I was sick and you visited me.’ Indeed, so often did he repeat these words, he seemed to have them engraved on his heart.

Camillus’ charity was so great and wide-ranging that he took to his kind and loving heart not only the sick and the dying but also all other poor and wretched people. His heart was so full of devotion for the needy that he used to say: ‘If ever there were no poor to be found on the face of the earth, people would have to search them out and even pluck them from below the earth in order to do good to them and show them mercy!’