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.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Corpus Christi Year C 2013

 Corpus Christi (C)

(Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; Luke 9:11-17)

In our first reading from the book of Genesis we heard of Melchizedek, the mysterious priest-king of Jerusalem, whom the Psalmist (Ps. 110) would later refer to as a priest-for-ever of God Most High.  This great figure, Melchizedek – whose name means King of righteousness – came to meet Abraham and his men as they were returning victorious from battle with Chedolaomar, the former overlord of the land.  Abraham and his 300 strong force of warriors were exhausted after the battle, and Melchizedek arrived with bread and wine to refresh them.

Let us just stop here for a moment and wonder at the wisdom of our God!  Our psalm reading today -- based on ancient traditions going back perhaps a thousand and more years before it was composed some 400 years before Jesus – puts Melchizedek before us as a King of Righteousness, a Priest of God Most High, bringing bread and wine to meet the battle weary Abraham and his exhausted men.  Since Abraham is our father in faith, as St. Paul tells us and as we say in the canon of the Mass, who cannot recognize that here Melchizedek foreshadows Jesus?  For Jesus comes to meet us, children of Abraham, wearied and wounded in our battle not merely with flesh and blood but, much more importantly, with Satan’s baleful power over the world and our very selves.

Jesus once took upon Himself our load of sin and death and, by rising from the dead, destroyed Satan’s dominion and power over us, before ascending to heaven in His own now glorious Body of flesh and blood and thereby opening up heavens portals to human kind once more.   Now, Jesus comes to us offering a share in His victory and in His triumph through our faithful partaking of His bread and wine become the sacrament of His own most precious Body and Blood, the only food fit for the spiritual refreshment and eternal nourishment of all, who, like Abraham our father in faith, are answering God's call to journey towards a newly-promised and heavenly homeland.

People of God, my brothers and sisters in Christ, there we can catch a glimpse of  God’s all-embracing wisdom and wondrous beauty; enough surely to encourage us to lovingly trust His great goodness and gratefully praise His most holy Name.

Next we are told that:

Melchizedek blessed Abram, with these words: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.  And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand".

With such words we have some indication of the nature and purpose of our Eucharist; and we are helped in such an appreciation by taking note of the difference between Jesus’ fulfilment and that which Melchizedek had originally  foreshadowed.  Melchizedek was, we are told, a priest of God most High; a very mysterious figure indeed, but one who could not fail to do what all priests of ancient times were appointed and expected to do: bring God’s blessing down upon mankind in need.  Such priests were also channels for ascending gifts of praise and sacrifice for God from men … but those gifts being offered up were not always expressions of pure praise and heart-felt thanksgiving, many being ultimately made simply to facilitate the bestowal of further targeted blessings from God.  

When the time of fulfilment came, none could have imagined that the ultimate Priest of God most High would be His very own Son, made man; whereas Melchizedek had been a merely functional link between God and man, Jesus, on the other hand, is an infinitely Personal link uniting God and man in His very Self; and the reciprocal love between Jesus and His Father would always, and in everything, be the originating source, definitive model, and eternal fulfilment of every blessing received and expressed by men:

            Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to people of good will. 

Such is the Christian fulfilment of the original prophetic words of Melchizedek: 

Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the Creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High Who delivered your foes into your hand. 

            Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to people of good will.

Such is Jesus' purpose present in Holy Communion: to give glory to His Father by bestowing blessing and -- through His Spirit -- salvation upon His disciples.

Therefore, as disciples of Jesus, it is our first duty on receiving Communion to join wholeheartedly with Jesus in giving praise and glory to God the Father Who, through the death and resurrection of His beloved and only-begotten Son, has saved us from death’s thraldom, and wills to protect and preserve us from the ever-recurring insidious power and poisonous presence of sin by His Eucharistic Gift of the Holy Spirit:

If, by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For you have received the Spirit of adoption through Whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”   The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him.  (Romans 8:13-17)

In our response to Jesus' second purpose for our reception of Holy Communion, ‘peace to people of good will’, we must bear in mind the teaching of St. Paul who tells us: 

Those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith;

(God) redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3: 9, 14)

Notice that teaching of St. Paul, People of God: reception of the Eucharist only bears fruit on the basis of our faith; Jesus' purpose can only come to its fulfilment through our co-operating faith.  

Jesus still provides food for His People through the unfailing faith of His immaculate Spouse, our Mother Church; but His demand for our personal and individual contribution still remains too, and the contribution each of us has to bring to the Eucharistic Table is our own faith in Jesus; a faith not simply to be presumed in adults but repeatedly, actively, renewed and deepened, if the food He gives us is to be absorbed and become spiritually fruitful in our lives.

God has redeemed us through Christ Jesus; from Whom, by faith and the Eucharist, we receive His promise of the Spirit Who will guide Mother Church into all truth, and form all of us, her children, into an abiding and ever-closer oneness with, and ever-surer likeness to, Jesus our Lord and Saviour, for the glory of the Father. 

However, we too often think of ‘being one with Jesus’ in an exclusive sense: extending our individual commitment to Him in all situations; intensifying our personal aspirations towards, and deepening our personal love for, Him at all times.   But there is more than that required, because Jesus prayed repeatedly and most explicitly that we should all enter into a true oneness-of-disciples, into the Church His Body, the fullness and crowning glory of which He Himself is, as its Head.   Only as living members in and of that oneness, in that whole which is His Body because He is its Head, can we become, individually and personally, one with, like ‘unto’, Jesus.

I do not ask for these only but for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are One, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.  (John:17:20-23)

Our awareness of belonging to, and being in, the Church one with our brothers and sisters all over the world, should occupy a most serious part and be given most serious expression in our catholic living, as many people from very different backgrounds can show us.  How often do you hear of those who have received blessings of all sorts committing themselves to great personal efforts to show their gratitude for what they have received?  Why should terrorists, fanatics and radicals, be the only ones to claim bonds with brethren suffering the world over? Have not we Catholics and Christians thousands, indeed millions of co-members of the Body of Christ suffering deprivation and want, trials and persecutions, because of their – and our – faith?

On receiving Holy Communion, therefore, first of all be most eager and ready to give sincere thanks, glory, praise and honour, to our heavenly Father.  Then, renewing your faith in Jesus’ presence and the Father’s goodness, welcome the Spirit whom Jesus bestows; for though Jesus' own Eucharistic Presence in us passes quickly, He comes, however, to bestow the abiding Spirit to remain with us in all the circumstances of our subsequent life.  Welcome, therefore, open your heart to, both Jesus and His Gift; and pray that the Spirit may abide in you and rule in your life so that you may be radically re-formed in the likeness of Jesus for the glory of the Father in heaven.

Finally, never forget Mother Church.    As we heard in the Gospel reading:

(Jesus) gave (what He had blessed) to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied.

It is still the same today: we are satisfied with heavenly food from the table prepared by Mother Church.  The food is, indeed, from Jesus, but It is given and presented to us, as Jesus willed and established, through the priests of His Church.  Jesus has promised that He will never forget His Church; and so, although children here on earth do easily and all too frequently forget to give thanks to and for those nearest and dearest to them, we who, as children of Mother Church, are disciples of Jesus aspiring to become true children of the heavenly Father, must never fail to thank God for Mother Church, and to ask His continued blessing on her, and on her world-wide family, whenever we receive God’s food from her table at the Eucharist sacrifice.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Holy Trinity Year C 2013

The Holy Trinity (C) 

(Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15)

Our first reading makes clear one most beautiful aspect of our relationship with God: the fact that the very wisdom of God is not alien to us, it is not a closed book to us; in fact, it is delightful for us to learn of and learn from, to appreciate and understand, the wisdom of God manifested in all His works and experienced in all His dealings with us:

Thus says the wisdom of God: ‘The Lord possessed me ... the forerunner of His prodigies of long ago, at the first, before the earth.  When the Lord established the heavens I was there ... beside Him as His craftsman.  I was His delight day by day, playing on the surface of His earth, and I found delight in the human race.

There, wisdom brings about the closest union between God and man, in that God delights in His wisdom, and His wisdom delights in us...

And now we turn to the New Testament:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  (From John 1)                                                                                         
Oh the wonder of God!  The book of Proverbs written at least 600 years before Jesus is found to be in such profound harmony with the Gospel of St. John whose words open up to us the marvellous beauty of the wisdom hidden in those Proverbs written to prepare God’s People for the coming of Jesus so far in advance, so long ago!!

But that is not all, far from it!  Jesus in the Gospel reading assures us:

The Spirit of Truth will guide you to all truth.  He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.  Everything the Father has is Mine.

It is indeed, as I have just said, delightful for us to learn of and learn from, to appreciate and understand, the wisdom of God manifested in all His works and in all His dealings with us; but it is still far more delightful, and indeed sublime, for us to be able to appreciate and understand, and even to share in – according to our natural capacity and personal measure – the very life and love that flows between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for:

The Spirit of Truth will guide you to all truth. 

He will guide us into all the truth that is Jesus’ about His Father and all the truth that is the Father’s about His Son; the Spirit will guide us into all truth, truth that enlightens and truth that inflames, truth that guides and truth that comforts; and in all the stages of our growth and spiritual development the Father will be our Goal, Jesus our Guide and Companion, the Spirit our Strength and our Sustainer.                                                                                                                                                                   

All this is, I say, delightful for us, because, by our very nature, we desire and long for happiness; but, without God’s calling us to Himself we – fallen, sinful, and weak creatures that we are – so easily seek for happiness where it cannot be found: in selfishness and pride of all sorts.

As our first reading showed us, creation was indeed a joyful work of wisdom and love, and there are bonds of deep compatibility and joyous sympathy between ourselves and the rest of creation because God created the whole universe with mankind as its crown through His Wisdom (God’s craftsman and His delight) and His nurturing and hovering Spirit of love.  Son and Spirit, the Father’s two creating hands!    And such bonds with creation are not just the indirect result of God’s creative activity, they are directly willed by Him for our well-being and creation’s greater good, for mankind is the channel of God’s presence to creation and also creation’s voice for the praise and glory of its creator:

The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.  The Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and He brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.   (Genesis 2:15, 19)

Praise the Lord from the heavens, sun and moon, all you stars of light!  Praise Him from the earth, mountains, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl.  Let them praise the Lord for He commanded and they were created.  (From Psalm 148)

Mankind is part of, and open to, the whole of creation as its custodian before God.

He is, however, unique in the whole of creation in that he is made for, and called to, God; to share in God’s own life and blessedness as His true children through faith in Jesus by the power and working of His Spirit:

God created man in His own image; in the divine image He created him, male and female He created them

Selfishness and pride -- in all and whatever forms -- are directly contrary and always harmful to man’s very being.  That is what Our Lord made clear to us when, asked what was the first commandment of all, He answered (Matthew 12:29-31) saying:

‘The Lord our God is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.’ 

There we can appreciate that love of neighbour is associated with and conducive to love of God, whereas selfishness – be it self-love or self-solicitude – is alien to both.  Ultimately love of neighbour becomes one with love of God when Jesus Himself is seen as our neighbour ‘par excellence’.

Dear brothers and sisters, we should indeed rejoice and delight in today’s solemn worship of the most Holy Trinity, because of the glory and the beauty of the Divine Personal relationships being gradually revealed to us, with the Father as our Origin and  Goal, the Word-made-Flesh our Saviour and our Guide, the Holy Spirit our Strength, our Sustainer, and our Comfort ... relationships into which we are invited and being gradually initiated here on earth, through our life as disciples and members of Jesus in Mother Church.

We thank the Father for calling us to Jesus first of all.  We love and admire the Father for the wondrous beauty of His truth (for Jesus spoke what He heard with, received from, His Father; while the Spirit speaks not of Himself but calls to our minds all that Jesus taught us) and for the splendour of His grace in Mother Church, and for the often secret gifts and sometimes quite personal blessings that have kept, helped, guided and rejoiced us on our way with Jesus.

We look to Jesus with boundless gratitude for revealing the Father to us, for bestowing the Father’s Promise, His own most Holy Spirit, upon Mother Church and endowing her with His own most precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist; for His total love for us in His sacrifice of absolute commitment to His Father’s will; and for the Church He founded -- His Body and our Mother -- which treasures and infallibly hands down to all succeeding generations the ever on-going inspiration of His words of wisdom and love, beauty and truth, in her Scriptures, and lovingly pours out His healing and sustaining grace through her Sacraments of His abiding Presence with us.

We look and listen for the Holy Spirit Whom we can neither see nor hear, nor even point out any certain tracks or proven traces ... but Who is constantly opening our eyes and ears to appreciate and embrace the living memory of Jesus Our Lord, His unforgotten and unforgettable teachings, His Eucharistic and sacramental presence with us at all times and in all situations.  We humbly await and even tremulously expect Him Whose presence we can never experience with present awareness but Whose condescension and favour we can most gratefully and joyously recall in the secret depths of our hearts new-born with the life of Jesus for, and before, our heavenly Father.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


Friday, 17 May 2013

Pentecost Sunday Year C 2013

 Pentecost Sunday (C)

(Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

It is strange that, since Our Blessed Lord’s work of our redemption consisted in rescuing, freeing, us from the chains of death, and restoring us to life with Him before the Father by opening up the way to our heavenly home long closed to us since Adam’s sin; it is strange I say, indeed most strange, that we pass over -- generally with little consideration -- His glorious Ascension: we celebrate His Resurrection for 6 joyful weeks and then His Ascension is almost immediately swallowed up by our thoughts of and preparations for Pentecost.

What is first and fundamental?  Surely it is because Jesus triumphed over Satan – the personification and author of sin -- first of all, in the desert after His baptism by John and in preparation for His Public Ministry; and secondly, at the consummation of His Public Ministry on the Cross of Calvary.  Only when sin’s power over us on earth had been destroyed in Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead could our life-for-heaven be restored by Jesus’ Ascension into heaven and His subsequent bestowal on Mother Church of His most Holy Spirit.  Spiritual sin leads to spiritual death, exemplified in, and ultimately manifested by, physical death.  The link between sin and death is total because sin is death, whereas God is love and life.   Because Jesus was sinless -- totally sinless -- even as man He could not be held by the chains of death, because He was sinless-for-heaven He rose from among the dead on earth.  His heavenly Ascension was thus the ultimate aspiration of Jesus and the eternal fulfillment of His earthly Resurrection.

If you (the Eleven at the Last Supper) loved Me, you would rejoice because I said ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

And what joy and rejoicing (poor earthly words!) encompassed His Ascension!!  His Father, the Prodigal Father, most lovingly embraces the returned Son Who had – out of love for and obedience to His Father -- been where He was burdened by sin, so alien to Himself and so deeply-rooted in us, His adopted brethren.  And having triumphed over all sin on earth by His truthful proclamation and loving manifestation of His Father’s heavenly glory, He has returned, ascended to His home and taken up His former state at the right hand of His Father!!  How loving the embrace between Father and Son at that re-union!  And it is an embrace that enfolds us too, for the Son is now, and eternally, Son of Man, God made man, whose disciples are we, members of the Body of which He, Jesus Our Lord, is the  Head!  How close we are now – in and with Our Ascended Lord -- to the Father!!

Such fulness of glory and depth of love demand gifts (according to our human estimation) and there is only one, God’s own Gift of the Holy Spirit, fit to celebrate such an occasion; a Gift to be bestowed anew on Mother Church this coming Pentecost!!  And since gifts are to be exchanged on such occasions, our response to God’s Gift of the Spirit can only be our gift of self, in loving praise for and longing aspiration towards our heavenly Lord and Saviour, the Father’s most beloved Son, in the power and purpose of that same Spirit.

And yet, having enjoyed six weeks of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances and then found the Ascension pass by so quickly, many Catholics -- openly recognized and approved as such -- want to live their lives in a care-free resurrection-period type of life.  They do not want to acknowledge, in their attitude to life, that the Ascension is the supremely fundamental aspect of our faith, whereby we are called to heaven where Jesus is preparing for us.  Far from that, they aspire and rejoice to live a full earthly life ... but one where Jesus, as it were, keeps popping up.  Their earthly aspirations, they would say, do not deny heavenly ones, but in fact they far outweigh them as regards immediate importance, long-term concern, and close attention.  They keep the Church’s (Jesus’) rules generally, and Jesus does take on more special importance for them on a restricted number of occasions such as Sundays, baptisms, weddings, and deaths; but they cherish no abiding Ascension-with-Jesus aspirations to what is higher, more demanding.

This religious, spiritual misapprehension is to be seen faintly reflected in the ordinary lives of many parents (portrayed and praised so much in Hollywood movies!) and responsible adults (especially grandparents!!) who so often want to enjoy being with their infants and young children.  They love so much to descend to the child’s level: talking their language, playing their games, and having so much, and such delightful, fun with them.   Parents (and helping grandparents) are often loath to lose out on such delight, and so they do not truly want to educate (= lead from, lead out of) their children, do not seriously try to gently and gradually raise them to appropriate and enlightened adult levels of appreciation of, and response to, life.

Jesus said,  ’Do not cling to Me for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’  (John 20:17)

God, however, is no such over-indulgent, doting, Father for us: He calls us to love His Son, Our Lord: to learn of, live for, Him more and more; and that is where our awareness and appreciation of the Ascension of Our Blessed Lord is so important.  If we are true Christians, true disciples of Jesus, we are on the Ascension curve upwards, not resting here, even though it be in the Elysian joys of the 40 days!  We are seeking and aspiring to Jesus our Heavenly Lord, not resting comfortably in His Resurrection appearances.  How frequently do we mention, refer to, Our Risen Lord; how rarely do we then intend our Heavenly Lord!

Our Blessed Lord appeared to His disciples for forty days in order to make manifest to them WHO HE – though taken from them into heaven – IS in His Personal relationship with and for them.  He appeared as the Risen Lord for a short time in order to help them relate to Himself as their eternally-abiding Saviour, Lord, and Brother Who is working now to make a home for them in heaven, and He emphasized that by His Gift of another Paraclete to be with them on earth, through Whom they themselves would in their turn be prepared, by the power of that Spirit, to become ever more worthy of such a home, such a destiny, and such a fulfilment.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Pentecost is the most wonderful time because it is the culmination of the Son’s saving descent among men on earth and in the underworld, and of His victorious rising and ascending to the embrace of His Father in Heaven and to a seat, His very own, at the Father’s right hand.   The coming of the Spirit to our aid is the fruit of that meeting of Father and Son.  Delight, therefore, in the Father’s love which already embraces us because we love the Lord and are living members of His Body the Church; aspire to follow and be one with the Son-made-man, our God and Saviour, for that is our calling; and welcome, work with, the Spirit Who comes to fit us for heaven by forming us in Jesus as children of God, adopted indeed, but most true and most truly beloved, children of the Father.