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20th September – Korean Martyrs – Ss Andrew Kim & Companions.

In today’s gospel (below) we have the contrast between the calculated, limited hospitality of Simon the Pharisee and the lavish generosity / love of the Woman with the Bad Reputation. We also have the lavish commitment and sacrifice of the Korean Martyrs to aspire to. Below is a reflection from the Sept edition of the ALIVE newspaper that encourages us to be generous with God.

fr pedro arrupeBe practical, find God THE Jesuit priest, Pedro Arrupe (d.1991) (left) was one of the most recognisable leaders of the Catholic Church in the 1960s, the years after Vatican Council II. He was in love with God. And being in love with God enabled him to see God in all things. He wrote in 1981: “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. “It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything. May we, like Arrupe, strive for such a love so that it may decide who we are and what we become.

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GOSPEL

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke         7:36-50
Her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love.

One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.

forgiveness

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is that is touching him and what a bad name she has’. Then Jesus took him up and said, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you’. ‘Speak, Master’ was the reply. ‘There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. They were unable to pay, so he pardoned them both. Which of them will love him more?’ ‘The one who was pardoned more, I suppose’ answered Simon. Jesus said, ‘You are right’.

Then he turned to the woman. ‘Simon,’ he said ‘you see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love. It is the man who is forgiven little who shows little love.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven’. Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man, that he even forgives sins?’ But he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’.

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

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19th September – St Januarius.

Recently my breakfast reading was this article by Breda O’Brien who is a columnist  for the Iona Institute and Irish Times. She is speaking about a presentation given at the WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES. It is from the Irish Catholic of Sept 6th.brb 0brb 1brb 2brb 3brb 4brb 5brb 6

18th September.

Fr. Jeremy Davis, SOLT shares with us a reflection for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, encouraging us to spend time with Our Lord that we may grow and desire what He desires.

 

17th September – St Robert Bellarmine.

Today’s saint St Robert Bellarmine (*1542 +1621) was born in Tuscany and became a Jesuit. He taught theology in Rome, and was active in disputation against the Protestants, where his effectiveness was increased by his charity and moderation. He was a moderating influence in the Galileo affair, and gave Galileo much friendly advice. In due course he was nominated a cardinal and archbishop of Capua; but it is for his writings that he is chiefly known. He did not only write controversial works: he also wrote two catechisms and some devotional commentaries on the Psalms and on the Seven Last Words.

jesus-heaven-cloudsIn the Office of Readings we have an excerpt from his work ‘The Ascent of the Mind to God’ about the one thing in life that really matters.

Realise that you have been created for the glory of God and for your own eternal salvation; this is your end, this is the object of your soul and the treasure of your heart. As James the apostle says: ‘The Lord has prepared the crown of life for those who love him.’ What is the crown of life? It is a good greater than all we can think of or desire. Paul quotes these words from Isaiah: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’

You will be blessed if you reach this goal, but miserable if you are cut off from it. Therefore consider those things to be for your real good which brings you to your goal, and those things to be really bad which cuts you off from this goal. Prosperity and adversity, riches and poverty, health and sickness, honour and ignominy, life and death should not be sought after for themselves by the wise man nor are they to be avoided for themselves. If they contribute to the glory of God and your eternal happiness, they are good and to be sought after; if they are obstacles to this, they are evil and to be avoided.

 

16th September – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

This was my homily for today followed by the gospel reading.

If you can think back to a week ago, I spoke about the epitaph written on the headstone of the great Irish writer WB Yeats: “Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman pass by.” It strongly suggests that on face value, Yeats saw death as the Big End of his existence. In one sense the man was DEAD right. Without a saviour, death is our entry into eternal oblivion.

Peters-confession-of-Faith

St Peter’s Profession of Faith

 

Last week I also spoke about the origins of Christianity. Jesus’ first followers who came to know him and live with him came to believe that he was the Saviour that Israel awaited for some 1000 years, a saviour to rescue us from all the mess and limitation of our human condition.

Their primary reason for believing in Jesus as Saviour was his Resurrection from the dead which was witnessed by hundreds of people after it happened. Foremost of the witnesses was doubting St Thomas who put his fingers into the wounds of the Crucifixion. So convinced was he by the whole experience that he travelled as far as India to tell everyone about it and eventually died as a martyr for this new religion.

Now the big question that I want to pose today is this: Do YOU really believe that Jesus is the Saviour? Is this Christianity really REAL? Because if Jesus is just somebody like Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy then his Salvation is just an illusion and Christianity is the biggest cruellest deception of all history. If Jesus isn’t really the Saviour, death is really the Big End of all our lives, the lives of all our loves one – the lives of my parents and grandparents and in my turn, death will be the Big End of me as well.

This is the most important matter we will ever consider in our lives. If anybody thinks there is a most important question, then please see me in the sacristy immediately after Mass so we can discuss it!!! It is an incomparably greater question than BREXIT, how much we will get out of the next budget, who is going to win the next general election, etc.

In the gospel just read, Jesus asked his followers a question: “Who do people say I am?” Contemporary opinion saw Jesus as one of the prophets who had come back to life – John the Baptist or Elijah. Now it is important to get one point clear. We know that Jesus really existed back in the first century. He made such an impact in that period that the historians who wrote about the Roman Empire mention him, the chief writer being Josephus.

Next Jesus asks his followers a personal question: WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? This personal question involves the need to make a commitment to the answer, whatever it may be. This is the most important question ever asked in the history of the world. It is presented anew to all of us here gathered in St Naul’s church in Ardaghey in the year 2018. WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?

CS Lewis was one of the great Christian thinkers of the last century. Given that we know that Jesus was a real person, Lewis said that he was one of 3 possibilities:

  1. Jesus was MAD. Lots of people with mental health problems think they are the Son of God and the world’s saviour.
  2. Jesus was BAD. He was sane but got some sort of perverse satisfaction in deceiving people about salvation. In this case he was the greatest and most reprehensible confidence trickster that ever lived.
  3. Jesus was really the person that he said he was – the Son of God, the divine Saviour who came to rescue us from sin and death.

As an aside, I’d like to interest you in a classic book written by CS Lewis called MERE CHRISTIANITY which is an excellent commentary on all these fundamental issues. It can be got online at AMAZON books or in any Christian bookstore.

In today’s gospel, St Peter with the gift of faith, answers the question “Who do say I am?” with “You are the Christ.” ‘Christ’ means ‘Messiah’, the anointed one, the long awaited Saviour of Israel and indeed the whole world.

My last point: the one thing that Jesus could not be was just a NICE person, a social reformer with a message for how we could all live together in peace and harmony. He was all of these things but he also claimed to be divine, God. In this he was either telling the TRUTH or the biggest LIE every. Such a big liar can never be a nice or good person.

So in summary: The most important question ever asked was by Jesus when he said “WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?” There are only 3 valid answers: MAD, BAD or GOD. We need the gift of faith to believe in him as our Saviour from sin and death.

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GOSPEL                                Mark 8:27 -35
You are the Christ. The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously

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.

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

15th September – Our Lady of Sorrows.

Mary_cross Our Lady of SorrowsToday we commemorate Our Lady’s participation in Jesus’ Suffering and Death – the fulfilment of Simeon’s prophecy at the Presentation that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart. Because Mary’s heart was so fully united to Jesus’ heart, she spiritually endured all the pain that he endured physically. St Bernard in today’s Office says: “We rightly speak of you as more than a martyr, for the anguish of mind you suffered exceeded all bodily pain.”

Because Mary shared so completely in Our Lord’s Passion, she shared so completely in his glorious Resurrection and Ascension into heaven. This is manifest in her Assumption into heaven at her life’s end without experiencing the corruption of the grave. Finally she was crowned Queen of heaven and earth.

What does this mean for us, practically? Today’s Concluding Prayer for the Office says: GRANT THAT IN UNION WITH HER, THE CHURCH MAY SHARE IN THE PASSION OF CHRIST, AND SO BE BROUGHT TO THE GLORY OF HIS RESURRECTION. This tells us that we must share as well in Jesus’ Passion if we are to participate in his glorious victory over sin and death. Jesus will tell us in this Sunday’s gospel  ‘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.’

So how do we share in Jesus’ Passion? One primary way is by FASTING OR PENANCE. This is pretty much a ‘dirty’ word in today’s world that exceeds in instant gratification – and we are all affected by this. Our Lady at Medjugorje has asked that we fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays (!!!) but how many ever do this? Our Lady similarly asked for fasting for sinners at Lourdes and Fatima.

They say that the longest march begins with the first step! What about practicing a little penance each Friday in memory of Our Lord’s Passion? Maybe we could fast from media – TV, newspapers, Facebook, etc. Maybe we could fast from alcohol, desserts, sweets, sugar in our tea or breakfast cereal or something else that we like?

This is an extended article on the importance of fasting in the spiritual lives. Try to read it if you have time.

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Why Should I Fast? 7 Examples of Fasting in the Bible

Kristen Feola

January 17, 2017

Although the Bible doesn’t give a direct command on this issue, examples of fasting appear in both the Old and the New Testaments. One of the most telling passages in which fasting is mentioned is Matthew 6:16, where Jesus is teaching His disciples basic principles of godly living. When speaking on fasting, He begins with, When you fast,” not “If you fast.”

Jesus’ words imply that fasting will be a regular practice in His followers’ lives.

Fasting prepares you for the works God has ordained for you to do.

People fast for a number of reasons. Following are seven circumstances in the Bible in which believers sought God through this discipline.

  1. To prepare for ministry.Jesus spent forty days and nights in the wilderness fasting and praying before He began God’s work on this earth. He needed time alone to prepare for what His Father had called Him to do (Matthew 4:1-17Mark 1:12-13Luke 4:1-14).
  2. To seek God’s wisdom.Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted for the elders of the churches before committing them to the Lord for His service (Acts 14:23).
  3. To show grief.Nehemiah mourned, fasted, and prayed when he learned Jerusalem’s walls had been broken down, leaving the Israelites vulnerable and disgraced (Nehemiah 1:1-4).
  4. To seek deliverance or protection. Ezra declared a corporate fast and prayed for a safe journey for the Israelites as they made the nine-hundred- mile trek to Jerusalem from Babylon (Ezra 8:21-23).
  5. To repent.After Jonah pronounced judgment against the city of Nineveh, the king covered himself with sackcloth and sat in the dust. He then ordered the people to fast and pray. Jonah 3:10says, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened.”
  6. To gain victory.After losing forty thousand men in battle in two days, the Israelites cried out to God for help. Judges 20:26says all the people went up to Bethel and “sat weeping before the Lord.” They also “fasted that day until evening.” The next day the Lord gave them victory over the Benjamites.
  7. To worship God.Luke 2 tells the story of an eighty-four-year-old prophetess named Anna. Verse 37 says, “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” Anna was devoted to God, and fasting was one expression of her love for Him.

Despite biblical examples throughout Scripture, many Christians are slow to fast. I believe there are three main factors that cause believers to be hesitant — fear, ignorance, or rebellion.

 

14th September – Triumph of the Holy Cross.

cross 1Today is the feast of the Holy Cross when we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death. This is the Bishops’ website commentary followed by the gospel of the day.

Gospel Reflection    Friday,     The Exaltation of the Holy Cross       John 3:13-17

The words ‘triumph’ and ‘Cross’ don’t normally belong together. Yet, as Christians, we don’t find the phrase, ‘triumph of the Cross’, in any way strange. When we look on the Cross of Jesus with the eyes of faith, we don’t simply see the tragic ending of a good man’s life. We behold what Paul called the power and wisdom of God, the power of a love greater than any human love, the love spoken about in today’s gospel reading. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’. Our own capacity to love is very influenced by the extent to which our love is returned. It is not so with God. On the Cross, Jesus revealed a love so powerful that that it embraced even those who brought about his death. The love that burst forth from the hill of Golgotha two thousand years ago continues to flow into all our lives. The Eucharist that we celebrate makes this love present to us in a special way. God so loves the world that he continues to give us his Son in the Eucharist. Not only are we the beneficiaries of the triumph of God’s love on Calvary, the triumph of the Cross, but our own lives can reveal to others the triumph of the Cross. The triumph of the Cross shows itself in all kinds of simple ways, in the tolerance and humour we show to each other against all the odds, in the willingness to let go of old hurts, in the bearing of terminal illness with patience and dignity, in the fidelity to significant commitments when they become costly, in the loving service that endures even when it is not appreciated. We pray on this feast that the triumph of the Cross would continue to take flesh in all of our lives.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia, alleluia!
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you;
because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
Alleluia!

The Gospel                                 John 3:13-17
The Son of Man must be lifted up.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes
may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.’

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The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONSTo know the love of Christ by Martin Hogan published by  The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie
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