If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

3rd. Sunday, Year (B)

Third Sunday, Year (B)

(Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1st. Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20)

            Repent and believe the Good News
That is what many believe to be the first -- and perhaps original -- Gospel’s summary of Jesus’ teaching, and the quintessential core, marrow, and backbone of Christian preaching:
            Repent and believe the Good News of Jesus.
Now ‘repent’ is not the same as ‘regret’ in the Christian proclamation.  It does not mean look back fixedly, ever reviewing your past life and lamenting, wishing it had been otherwise; but rather:
look up, look forward, to God, Whose goodness and truth is now -- in and through Jesus -- ready to begin the ultimate transformation of mankind and the whole world;
look at God in Jesus, and change your old attitudes of selfishness and pride, acknowledging with  Peter, ‘Lord, you have the words of eternal life’;
 look around, for God, and with mind, heart, soul and strength, indeed, with your whole being, seek to promote His glory and serve His purposes in all life’s circumstances and apparently chance happenings; for:
            The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the Good News.
In Jesus’ Good News, and Mother Church’s proclamation, God is Love and He is Life; to listen to Him is to hear Truth and to obey Him is to practice Wisdom; to look at Him is to see Beauty, to trust in Him is to have Strength; while to experience His hidden presence is to find peace and taste beatitude.  ‘Repent’ means: turn to God and prepare yourselves to receive these gifts from Him; stop seeking to promote your own interests of prestige, power, or pleasure; stop turning to and trusting in men who, like yourself, are fragile creatures of flesh and blood, by nature inconstant.   As Our Lord Himself puts it:
Do not labour for food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.
Surely then, ‘repent’ is a joyous word, something like ‘renew yourself’, ‘be refreshed, restored’, indeed and in all truth, ‘be revitalized’.  Such Christian repentance makes our religious practice authentically human, for a human being, no matter how well placed in life, always aspires to yet more of what is (or at least seems to be) good.  Christian repentance means that a new horizon has dawned, a new destiny is opening up; and how essential that is to a truly human life!  What is the tragedy of unemployment today?  It is not (in our society at least) so much that those without work are starving, barely able to exist, but rather that they have no future to look forward to; for a human being can endure, can triumph over, almost any odds so long as he or she has an ideal, a future, to aim at, to hope for, aspire towards.   Christian repentance opens us up to that new hope, that new future, which promises not merely earthly well-being, but divine, eternal blessedness; it continually urges us to leave behind the past and to look forward, aiming ever higher; for being a response to the proximity of the Kingdom of God, it is always coupled with divine power.
It is not enough, however, to just repent on hearing Jesus’ call; for true repentance, it is also necessary to ‘believe’ the Good News which Jesus reveals about the goodness and mercy of God, about the lovableness of His truth and beauty:
            Repent and believe the Good News.
Obviously, hearing alone can never lead us to repentance if we do not believe what we have heard, and so, we cannot repent without believing; nor, on the other hand, can we believe without repenting … the devils know, but without believing what they know, they cannot repent:
Go into all the world and preach the Gospel …. He who does not believe will be condemned.  (Mark 16:16)
To believe in God and the Gospel’s Good News is to see truly something of God’s holiness and majesty, His goodness and mercy, His wisdom and beauty, and it is impossible to thus realize, and in some slight measure appreciate, such infinite Beauty without at the same time – though painfully and fearfully recognizing one’s own disfigurement, alienation and ignorance -- being nevertheless drawn to it.  And there, precisely, is the root of repentance: for despite the conviction of one’s own nothingness, lovelessness, and culpability, before God’s all-holy Goodness and Beauty, the fact of being so irresistibly drawn by yearning admiration and longing desire towards that Goodness and Beauty urges and gently compels us to a new calm and deep-rooted, fresh-water so to speak, re-appraisal of our life, past, present, and future, together with whole-hearted trust in, and trembling response to, Jesus’ Gospel call.
People of God, we should never allow ourselves to be satisfied with past progress or present well-being.  Christian repentance and Catholic belief should grow in us daily so that, when the call comes for us to embrace death, we might be found forgetful of self and filled with humble joy, hope, and trust in the Lord Who first called us by His Gospel message of Good News, has long guided and sustained us by His Spirit of Truth and Love, and is now preparing  for us a room in His Father’s house.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Epiphany 2012

The Epiphany

(Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

Why do we love certain people more than others? … because of their goodness, perhaps, or their beauty? or might it be due to their understanding, sympathy, wisdom, strength, courage?  We could go on trying to find such reasons but to no purpose, for the point is that we love someone because of who they are, because of their unique personality, as known and experienced by us.  We cannot love someone who is personally unknown to us.  Although we can admire what we know or hear of another, nevertheless, such admiration can only become true love after having met, personally encountered, and, in some measure, learned to personally appreciate, the other.
Since that is undoubtedly true, don't you think it strange that Christians and Catholics speak so little about the beauty, goodness, wisdom and love, of God?  Ostensibly Christian witness, also, is too often couched in terms of an impersonal ethic: doing good to the needy and underprivileged; loving one’s neighbour and especially children; social involvement and comments in favour of international peace.  Worthy people usually, promoting, as a rule, admirable projects and good proposals, but all too often with little to suggest a committed Christian giving convincing witness – even when perhaps necessarily implicit and indirect -- to the Faith as a source of hope and joy, a power for personal fulfilment and eternal salvation, for true social justice, international cooperation and cohesion, and for human advancement.

However, the heavenly fulfilment to which we all aspire as disciples of Jesus will not be ours just because we have kept what acknowledged rules demanded of us or general expectations desired of us: the ultimate criterion for the Christian and Catholic appreciation of our whole life will be "Did you love (or sincerely try to love) the Lord your God with your whole mind, heart, soul, and strength?"   Without such personal love for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, our Christian life can only be -- and inevitably appear to be -- bleak and formal, our Christian witness only lifeless and uninspiring; all in stark contrast to the words of the prophet Isaiah we heard in the first reading:

Arise, shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. 

Christians -- above all we who are privileged to be Catholics -- should indeed shine out because we are called both to reflect, and make known, the glory of the Lord which has shone upon us through our faith in the Good News of Jesus.  We are not like our brothers, the Jews and the Muslims.  They speak of God: at times, they speak good, holy, and beautiful things about God; indeed the Jews speak of Him in ways very close, at times, to our own appreciation.   And yet, the Christian faith is so much more glorious than either Judaism or Islam: for we speak not only of the external glory of God, but of the supreme and unimaginably beautiful Personal beatitude of the Father, with His Son, in the Holy Spirit; a beatitude in which we can hope to share in and through Jesus our Saviour, Son of Man and God Incarnate.
We do not know God simply because He has spoken inspiring words through His prophets; nor do we praise Him just because He has reportedly done great and wonderful deeds; above all, we confess, love and worship God, as Father, Son and Spirit: the Father Whose voice is our most secret and original calling, and whose Presence will be our ultimate destiny; the Son Who took our flesh and became our Brother that He might show Himself as our Saviour, and Who, to this very day, continues to give Himself as flesh and blood for you and me to eat and drink in Mother Church, thereby enabling us to live with His life, by His Spirit; and the Holy Spirit Whom we love and praise, in Whom we trust and rejoice, since He is ever with us as our Advocate, our strength and comfort, our light and guide, our hope and our joy.
People of God, today's great solemnity of the Epiphany, the shining forth of God's glory, especially invites us to glory in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by telling us, in the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Lift up your eyes all round (that is, appreciate the Faith you profess and the Church in which you live); then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy.

Jesus came to teach us with Him to recognize and in Him to appreciate the Father as a Person, His Father, our Father; He gave us His own Spirit -- comforting and encouraging our hearts, enlightening and strengthening our minds -- to form us in Jesus, and in His likeness, for the Father:

When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; He will tell you things to come. 

The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses; for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.        (John. 16:13; Romans 8:26)

The Father is so personally committed to us that, having given His only Son for us, He speaks to each of us personally and most secretly that we might turn to Jesus and find our salvation in Him:

No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.  (John 6:44)

He looks for, and expects in return, a similarly personal and whole-hearted response and commitment from us.  Jesus assures us that the Father wants to be our most perfect Father:

It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:20)

And He wants to be recognized and loved -- in Spirit and in Truth -- by children who will ultimately have learned to lay down their lives and confidently turn to Him, saying in deepest trust and self-abandonment: "Abba, Father"

Our Lord Jesus is indeed the Messiah foretold by the prophets; proclaimed by angels and manifested by a star at His birth; revealed by the Father at His baptism in the Jordan; He is, indeed, the Messiah come to change the water of our life into the finest wine.  And this wonderful Jesus Who died on Calvary for our individual sins -- yours and mine -- rose on the third day for the salvation of all; and from His throne in heaven now embraces us so closely to Himself that we live in Him and by His Spirit given to each of us at our baptism in Mother Church, and to be continually honoured and increasingly reverenced in us by our faithful living as her children, and, above all, to be most gratefully and lovingly refreshed and renewed by our reception of the Eucharist at Holy Mass.

And then, this Holy Spirit -- relating to each and every one of us individually – works His divine purposes in the secret depths of our minds and hearts forming and attuning us to recognize and appreciate His presence and urging us to respond to His inspirations.  Indeed, He is so personal to us that it is His task to lead each one of us to our own individual and personal fulfilment and perfection in Jesus for the Father.

People of God, Christians and even Catholics today are often afraid of the wonders of our faith.  Many, each according to their own make-up, want to imagine what they can easily accept or appreciate: some, a distant God Who demands, not personal communion and commitment in love, but merely the impersonal observance of laws, such as Sunday Mass, baptism, first Communion etc.; others like to fancy a God who is so like us as to be satisfied with actions serving no higher aims than those largely humanistic ideals of doing good to everyone so that we may all live in peace and prosperity.  They want to be able to tick-off the laws they have complied with, or tot-up the accepted good things they have done; and this, because they cannot bear to feel unsure of themselves, because they are afraid to trust totally in God’s merciful goodness and in His unknown plans and future purposes for us.

Jesus, however, came to lift His disciples up to heavenly glory, lift them up, that is, with Himself, from human nothingness and need, as experienced by Himself on Calvary, through selfless trust and unconditional love, to share with Him in the depths of divine charity where Father, Son and Holy Spirit are eternally and indivisibly one.  For we belong to Jesus, as St. Paul tells us, just as Jesus belongs to God; our relationship with God is that personal:

For all things are yours, whether (it be the Church) or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Cor. 3:21-4:1)

There, in the Son, by the Holy Spirit, caught up into the mystery of the personal charity uniting the Most Holy Trinity, and echoing the songs of myriads of angels, you and I are called to personally share in the great, eternal, and unimaginable, ecstasy of praise to the glory of Him Who, as St. Paul (Eph. 4:6) tells us, is:

             The one God and Father of all, Who is over all, through all, and in all. 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

(Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21)

In the second reading we heard St. Paul telling his converts in Galatia:
As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Those words of St. Paul invite us today to consider how wonderfully the Spirit dwelt in the heart of Mary!   They show us, indeed, the magnitude of her blessing when we consider that the Spirit abided in and filled her whole being to such an extent that, whereas we are enabled by the Spirit, Paul tells us, to express our love for God with the word 'Father', Mary, on the other hand, was so devoted and open to God, that the Spirit dwelling with her was completely free to work most wondrously in her, enabling her to respond to God’s calling with a love of such total commitment and a trust of such selfless abandon that the angel’s message could come to total fulfilment with Mary’s ‘Fiat’, and she conceived in her womb the Divine Word Himself -- now Incarnate, the Father’s co-eternal Son -- now  Son of Man!   Indeed, such was the faith with which Mary responded to God’s word delivered to her by the angel Gabriel, that Jesus always and openly praised her for that above all else:
It happened that, as (Jesus) spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!"  But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:27-28)
"Who is My mother, or My brothers?"  And (Jesus) looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother." (Mark 3:33-35)
And, although in this respect the following teaching from one of the Cappadocian Fathers in the early Church is both beautiful and uplifting:
Whenever you receive Christ’s word within you, and let it live in your heart, and build it up with your thoughts as in the womb, then you can be called Christ’s mother;
perhaps the teaching of St. Augustine is more direct and inspirational:
Whoever believes with all his heart and is ‘justified by faith’ (Romans 5:11), he has conceived Christ in the womb.  And whenever ‘with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ (Romans 10:10) that man has given birth to Christ.   Be you therefore overflowing with fertility in the spirit, and at the same time unchanging in the soul’s virginity.
We can also compare and contrast Mary with Moses who, as you heard in the first reading, brought great blessings down on Israel.  There, we were told how God would bless the Chosen People of the Old Testament through the use of certain words of priestly blessing that He gave to Moses for the use of Aaron the priest, his sons, and their descendants:
Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: “This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you!   The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!  The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!   So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.” 
Those are truly beautiful words used to confer a treasured blessing.  But consider how God the Father blesses us, and all who share with us in the New Testament covenant, through Mary and her Son.  For, Mary does not simply hand down, pass on, God-given words for occasional, though repeated, blessing in Israel; she receives and clothes with her own flesh and blood the One Eternal Word of God, and giving Him birth offers mankind its supreme blessing for all time and for eternity.  No longer simply a prayer invoking blessing for Israel, but God's gracious presence in Mother Church for the salvation of the whole world!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.  (Eph. 1:3-8)
Holy Mary, you are indeed blessed above all women by God the Father, for you have given us the One through Whom and in Whom all the blessings of heaven itself are ours!
Again, in our Gospel reading we learned that those who searched for the Child found:
            Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger.
So it is for all of us, today: in our search for Jesus, we find Him with Mary.  For, when Jesus was on the point of dying on the Cross of Calvary, He addressed all His future disciples in the person of John, the one apostle standing there at the foot of  the Cross, and told him to take Mary to his heart as his own Mother.  And so, Mary is no mere optional extra, and -- most certainly -- no unwarranted or unwanted complication, for Catholic spirituality.  For we recognize and appreciate that Mary leads each and every one of us to Jesus when we also recall that she is not simply  the model of the Church, but is the Church itself in its origins, and only in Mother Church can each and every one of us find Jesus truly and love Him fully:
            ‘Woman, behold your son!’   Then, to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother’
Finally, we also need to understand that Mary, who is, as it were, Mother Church’s conductor for the Holy Spirit’s lightning and a channel of countless blessings, is also our model and inspiration in our personal relationships with Jesus, in so far as the Scriptures tell us that she, our Mother, was always sublimely one with Jesus:
keeping all these things (that she had experienced and heard concerning Jesus),  reflecting on them in her heart.
There is to be found the supreme example and the ultimate guidance for anyone  longing and hoping to find God our most loving Father in and through Jesus:  imitate Mary by treasuring the Good News of Jesus handed down to us by Mother Church who, with her teaching of the Scriptures, illuminates our minds to understand and appreciate the promised Christ of God; and, through the economy of her sacraments, enables us to fittingly welcome and worship His very presence in our midst and receive Him with whole-hearted and personal love into our  individual hearts and minds.
As children of Mary, therefore, hear the Word of God proclaimed in Mother Church, with reverence and joy; treasure the goodness of His grace in your heart; and, above all, seek to respond – by the Spirit – to the Father, the Giver of all good gifts, with that wholehearted trust and gratitude to which Mary herself gave perfect expression when she said:
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.   (Luke 1:38)
Let us close our considerations with heartfelt words of gratitude and praise for Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour, and His most loving gift to us:
You are the glory of (heavenly) Jerusalem, you are the great boast of (God’s Chosen People), you are the great pride of (all reborn in Christ)! … You have done great good and God is well pleased.  May the almighty Lord bless you forever!”  And all the people said, ‘Amen.’     (Judith 15:9-10)
So be it, today: Amen, amen!  Deo Gratias!!