22nd January – St Vincent the Deacon, Martyr.

This is today’s reflection from Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries followed by the gospel of the day.

unborn-baby-imageFriends, today’s Gospel speaks plainly of Satan and sin. And in light of today’s anniversary of the infamous [US Supreme Court / 1973] Roe v. Wade decision, we still feel the echoes. When we look realistically at the society around us, we can become pretty discouraged. The conservative estimate regarding the number babies aborted since Roe v. Wade is 58,000,000. That’s almost ten times Hitler’s holocaust. Assisted suicide is now legal in a half dozen states, including California, and the death penalty remains a blight on a half dozen others. And most people in our culture now feel that these states of affairs are simply a fact of life. The culture of death, as St. John Paul II called it so bluntly, seems to be on the march.

But I want everyone to attend to what the prophet Habakkuk tells us: “Write down the vision clearly on the tablets…for the vision…will not disappoint.” What is he talking about? He’s describing the arrival of salvation to a people who had grown weary and desperate – convinced that God had abandoned them. And he is urging them to have faith, to trust.

And so on this somber anniversary, we continue to raise our voices and to walk according to faith. Our vision will not disappoint.

Gospel MK 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided,
he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

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21st January – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

This was today’s homily.

angels ascending descendingLast Sunday I spoke about why we gather here every week: we are Catholic Christians, we are followers of Jesus, his disciples who discipline our lives according to his teaching about right living. In times past we didn’t have to think much about what being a Christian involved. We lived in a Catholic country and culture. Everybody practiced the faith, attended Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, participated in family prayer, etc. We were carried along by a current taking us in the right direction.

In 2018 we no longer live in a culture that is really Christian so we have to think things out for ourselves and make a personal commitment to Jesus and his gospel. Quite often we will find ourselves swimming AGAINST a current which seeks to take us away from Christian living.

Why do I say that we live in a culture that is not really Christian? Last week’s news and media highlighted the debate in the Dail [parliament] about legalising the killing of unwanted babies. If we were living in a country that was even half-ways Christian, we would never be having such a debate!

Being a Christian isn’t just about following the rules for right living. More centrally it is about belonging to God’s family and all the relationships that result from this, especially the friendship with Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

Last Sunday’s gospel told us about the call of the first disciples who duly spent the whole day with Jesus. In today’s gospel we heard about the call of Simon, Andrew, James and John. They too went off, lived with Jesus for the next 3 years and committed their lives to him. Now if we are to follow this blueprint, how are we to encounter Jesus and live with him – in his presence?

At first glance it seems like an impossible task. Nobody yet has invented a time machine that could take us back to the early 30’sAD where we could meet Jesus.

Now the good news is that there is a way that we can connect with Jesus, talk to him and live in his presence; and we can do this through the wonderful gift of PRAYER.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St Alphonsus Liguori as saying that prayer is necessary for salvation. This is so because as I said, Christianity is fundamentally about friendship with God and we can never be friends with somebody if we don’t communicate with them. It is that simple. If God is our Father, if Jesus is our Brother, if the Holy Spirit is our Helper, Mary is our spiritual Mother and if the saints are our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we must spend time with them. If we don’t spend time with our natural family members then we become strangers – so too with our spiritual family in the Kingdom of God.

How much time should we have for our daily prayers? Is it enough to rattle off a quick 15 second prayer every morning and evening? This wouldn’t count for much if it was all the time we had for our closest family relationships. My standing recommendation is that we should devote 20 minutes to God every day. This may sound like a lot but think about the amount of time we spend watching TV and on the smart phone or computer? In 100 years time all of our life’s endeavours will have passed away like the froth of the river. However the time we have devoted to God in prayer will stand to our credit for all eternity. It will be true treasure in heaven.

St Francis de Sales said that if we are too busy to pray, we are too busy. Namely, we have our priorities wrong.

In summary: To be a Christian is to be a part of God’s family and to be taken into all the personal relationships that this involves. Prayer builds friendship with God and is the most important part of our daily lives.

20th January.

medjThis is the Jan 2nd Medjugorje message.

our lady queen of peace“Dear children, when love is beginning to disappear on earth, when the way of salvation is not being found, I, the mother, am coming to help you to come to know true faith – living and profound – so as to help you to truly love. As a mother, I am longing for your mutual love, goodness, and purity. My desire is that you be just and that you love each other. My children, be joyful in your soul, be pure, be children. My Son used to say that he loves to be among pure hearts, because pure hearts are always young and joyful. My Son said to you to forgive and to love each other. I know that this is not always easy. Suffering makes you grow in spirit. For you to spiritually grow all the more, you must sincerely and truly forgive and love. Many of my children on earth do not know my Son, they do not love Him; but you who do love my Son, you who carry Him in your heart, pray, pray and in praying feel my Son beside you. May your soul breathe in His spirit. I am among you and am speaking about little and great things. I will not grow tired speaking to you about my Son – the true love. Therefore, my children, open your hearts to me. Permit me to lead you as a mother. Be apostles of the love of my Son and of me. As a mother I implore you not to forget those whom my Son has called to lead you. Carry them in your heart and pray for them. Thank you.”

19th January.

Sr. Maria of Merciful Love, SOLT shares a reflection for last Sunday’s readings. She reminds us that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit and points us toward prayer when discerning the will of God in our lives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWmzDG-BHAw

Sr Maria Merciful Love

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If you have the time, today’s Office of Readings has a commendable reflection by Diadochus of Photiké on Spiritual Perfection. It is rather deep (about ‘honours course’ Christianity) and needs to be read slowly to absorb its message.

Whoever is in love with himself is unable to love God. The man who loves God is the one who abandons his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator.

Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognised from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own submission. It is fitting that God should receive glory, because of his great majesty; but it is fitting for us as human beings to submit ourselves to God and thereby become his friends. Then we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish.

I knew someone who was sad that he could not love God as he would have wanted, but who nevertheless loved God so much that his soul was always in the grip of desire for God, for God’s glory to manifest itself in him, for himself to be as nothing in comparison. Such a person cannot be touched by verbal praise or convinced of his being, since his overwhelming humility means that he simply does not think about his own dignity or status. He celebrates the liturgy as, according to the law, priests should; but his love of God blinds him to all awareness of his own dignity. He buries any glory that might come his way in the depth of his love of God, so that he never sees himself as anything more than a useless servant: he is estranged, as it were, from a sense of his own dignity by his desire for lowliness. This is the sort of thing we ought to do, to flee from any honour or glory that is offered us, for the sake of the immense riches of our love of God who has so loved us.

Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.

Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As St Paul says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake.

Responsory

. God loved the world so much that he gave us his only Son,* so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

. This is what love is: not our love for God, but God’s love for us, shown when he sent his Son,* so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

 

 

18th January.

Hands ForgivenessYesterday in the Dail (Irish Parliament) the Minister for Heath(!) made a very polished argument in favour of legalising abortion. He appealed to serving the needs of women as if helping them to ‘terminate’ their children would ever be for their ultimate good! Independent Michael Healy-Rae who wouldn’t be considered as sophisticated as the Minister expressed the voice of Christian common sense. He said that we should be as concerned for the unborn baby in the womb as we would be for a born baby in a pram who was in danger from something or another.

This is a related quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that I read in my breakfast reading:

“Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility. Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.”

17th January – St Anthony of the Desert.

This is today’s gospel followed by commentary from the Bishops’ website.

GOSPEL   

Jesus-heals-a-handA reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark          3:1-6
Is it against the law on the Sabbath day to save life?

 Jesus went again into a synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand.  And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath day, hoping for something to use against him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up out in the middle!’  Then he said to them, ‘Is it against the law on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?’ But they said nothing.  Then, grieved to find them so obstinate, he looked angrily round at them, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’. He stretched it out and his hand was better.  The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him.

The Gospel of the Lord.
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Gospel Reflection   
     Wednesday        Second Week in Ordinary Time      Mark 3:1-6

The clash between David and Goliath in the first reading is the quintessential conflict between weakness and power, with the weaker one triumphing over the more powerful one. We see a similar clash in today’s gospel reading. The Pharisees and the Herodians, who had great political power in that culture, begin to discuss how to destroy Jesus, who had no such power. Even though they went on to put Jesus to death, it was Jesus, the powerless one, who triumphed over his powerful opponents, because God raised him from the dead and sent his Spirit upon his followers. David said before his conflict with Goliath, ‘the Lord will rescue me’, and it was the Lord who rescued Jesus from his enemies. Both readings remind us that when we find ourselves up against impossible odds, the Lord is our greatest resource. Writing from prison with the possibility of execution facing him, Paul could say, nevertheless, ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’. In our own lives, when our resources seem no match for the challenge, we too can experience the Lord as ‘my stronghold, my saviour’, in the words of today’s responsorial psalm. A little later in Mark’s gospel, Jesus will say to his disciples, ‘for God, all things are possible’.

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The Gospel reflection comes from: Weekday Reflections for the Liturgical Year 2017/2018; ‘LET THE WORD OF GOD DWELL IN YOU’ by Martin Hogan, published by The Messenger c/f   www.messenger.ie/bookshop/
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16th January.

This is the commentary on today’s gospel by Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire Ministries.

jesus-and-the-rich-young-manFriends, in today’s Gospel Jesus calls us to recognize him as Lord. Acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus means that your life has to change. For many this is liberating good news. But for others, it is a tremendous threat. If Jesus is Lord, my ego can’t be Lord. My religion can’t be Lord. My country, my convictions, and my culture cannot be Lord.

The Resurrection is the clearest indication of the Lordship of Jesus. This is why the message of the Resurrection is attacked, belittled, or explained away. The author of Acts speaks of “violent abuse” hurled at Paul. (I have a small taste of this on my YouTube forums.) We all should expect it, especially when our proclamation is bold.

This reveals a great mystery: we are called to announce the Good News to everyone, but not everyone will listen. Once we’ve done our work, we should move on and not obsess about those who won’t listen. Why do some respond and some don’t? We don’t know, but that’s ultimately up to God.

Gospel MK 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”