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, 29 April 2016

6th Sunday of Easter Year C 2016

6th. Sunday of Easter (C)
(Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29)

Today, dear People of God, let us give careful attention to these words of Our Lord:
Whoever loves Me will keep My word;
for they will help us deal with difficulties easily arising from life in modern society which can, at times, serve to weaken the confidence and lessen the commitment of some Catholics and Christians.   Something of that sort happened at the very beginning of the Church as we heard in our first reading:
The Apostles and the elders (in Jerusalem) to the brothers of Gentile origin: “Greetings.  Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have decided with one accord …”  to set things right.
Sometimes, in our own days, well-intentioned but fragile believers are puzzled now, not by apparently-official Judaizers pushing observances of the Mosaic Law onto Christian neophytes, but by friends and reasonably well-known individuals who do not practice any religion and yet consider themselves ‘as good as any religious person’ because, as they assert, they live a good life, and seem to be accepted as such by others who say that it is not necessary to go to Church in order to live a ‘good’ life.  Such encounters, such experiences, can generate vague feelings of insecurity, sow tiny seeds of anxiety and doubt, in remote corners of the hearts and minds of some believers; and should they, subsequently, encounter others who are more positively antagonistic towards religion, scornfully referring to the faithful as "church-goers" and deriding them with words such as “hypocrites" and other terms of disdain or even contempt, then, they can find themselves deprived of a measure of that peace, joy, and confidence which should normally accompany their practice of the faith.
Of course, upsets and doubts of that nature arise because such believers allow themselves to be far too easily impressed by appearances and popular opinions.   Moreover, it is not infrequently the case that, despite their measure of devotion, these believers are not sufficiently aware of and alive to the implications of their faith, with the result that they have too few personal convictions and are, consequently, easily led to accept the world's criteria by the fact that they find themselves always needing to catch up, so to speak, with what others around them seem to be so confidently thinking, saying, and doing. 
Now, all disciples of Jesus, can and should have sure faith and calm confidence in His teaching in Mother Church:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.   Not as the world gives do I give it to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid;
and that faith and confidence should, in turn, lead them to the clear awareness and firm conviction that only those approved by God, who love Jesus and obey His teaching, will be finally found and accepted as truly good, because goodness necessarily involves godliness, and men become such, not by safely following popular opinion and gaining worldly acceptance, nor even by striking out and winning worldly acclaim for themselves, but by the gift of God’s grace leading them, first of all, to a measure of love for and delight in the Person of Jesus, and then gradually forming them into an ever deeper and more authentic likeness of Him – ultimately their own divinely intended and unique likeness of Him (for true love of Jesus does not smother but enhances and confirms human personality) through persevering obedience to, and, if necessary, patient suffering for, His teaching.
My peace I give to you.   Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
So, the first thing to be aware of and put into practice is the fact that those words of Jesus tell us that we will most certainly have times when we have to fight for peace … not fight against others but against ourselves, our own faithlessness and weakness.   Jesus gives us peace, we have to be prepared to fight to keep a firm grip on His gift!
Yet, how can those others, who don't acknowledge God or profess any faith, still seem at times to be so nice, so pleasant, and sometimes even so ‘good’?
In order to understand this apparent dilemma we must remember those other words of our Lord in today’s Gospel reading:
Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words; yet the word you hear is not Mine but that of the Father who sent Me.
To our eyes, those unbelievers who disturb us do not always appear to love evil; and if we have friendly acquaintances among them, we may be inclined to say that they generally seem to want what is good; and we can even find ourselves, at times, thinking them to be better than us. Nevertheless, those who do not accept Jesus' teaching do not love Him, and cannot love the Father, and consequently can be far different from what appears to our earthly eyes and weak spiritual understanding:
The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for that which is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.  (Luke 16:15)
Ultimately, when confronted with Jesus and His Truth, the Truth He received from the Father Who is God and Lord of all creation, they -- as unbelievers -- prefer themselves and their own thoughts.  They love themselves to such an extent that they are not only content, but even prefer, to follow their own idea of a good life rather than embrace Jesus' teaching.  Indeed, they can have such a low idea of God that they imagine themselves to be in no need whatsoever of a Saviour, considering themselves ready to meet God -- if indeed He does exist -- standing up proudly in His presence, head held high and face to face!  Yes, they are proud: not, indeed, manifestly before us in their observable behaviour, but before God in the hidden depths of their heart’s desires, and in the secret recesses of their minds and the hidden folds of their purposes, where they can be subject to pride in its most insidious and deadly form.  Murderers and rapists, thieves and muggers can be, relatively easily, brought to see the evil of their ways, because such actions are patently ugly and inadmissible; but how difficult is it for non-religious people who see themselves as nice and good-living to accept and appreciate that they are in any need of a Saviour before God!   The Scriptures and Our Lord, however, have no doubt about the situation of mankind without a Saviour:
            No one is good but God alone!  (Mark 18:19)
Nevertheless, on the human level the fact still remains, and we can still at times wonder, how irreligious people and indeed even evil people, can seem, at times, to be both charming and attractive.
For the answer to this, we must continue to ponder Our Lord's words, for we have much more to learn from Him that may seem strange to us if our patterns of thought have been over-influenced and mis-formed by commonly held opinions rather than Christian teaching.
Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 
Notice that pronoun "My".  Today, people are very familiar with the supreme Christian prayer, taught by Jesus Himself, which goes: "Our Father, who art in heaven..."   Many call that prayer the "Our Father", but that is not accurate enough, it should be called "The Lord's Prayer" because it was a prayer given by Jesus to His disciples, not to anyone and everyone.   God does indeed love all His creation because He created and sustains it; and mankind -- the culmination of His creation -- is especially loved by God: they alone being made in His likeness.  Now, it is just there that we come across the reason why we can, at times, find certain non-religious people so puzzlingly attractive: it is because we (as practicing Christians and Catholics) are able to see in them aspects of the rich endowment and subtle beauty of God’s crowning creation; and, indeed, the closer we ourselves are drawn to God the more such people can move us, at times, to appreciate what is before us, while also – alas – at the same time sorrowfully regretting what might have been.
Of those disciples who learn to love and obey His teaching, we are told that Jesus said,
My Father will love them.
Now, the Father loves such disciples because of their love for His only begotten, well-beloved Son, He loves them for Jesus’ sake, as His children in Jesus.  And because of Jesus, the Father endows such disciples with a new and supernatural creation-beauty: a beauty given them as members of the Body of the Risen Christ sharing, even here on earth, in something of His Resurrection beauty and glory.  Now, there is a world of difference between God's love for creation, between God’s love for mankind as the crown and culmination of natural creation, and the Father's love for His supernatural children, born of the Spirit, in Jesus His only-begotten and uniquely-beloved Son.
People of God: we can only hope to experience God in this new way, as our heavenly Father, if we prove our love for Jesus by obeying Him.  Again, such an experience is not something we can grasp or achieve for ourselves, nor is it automatically given to all -- so to speak – ‘signed-up members of Jesus’ club’; it is a Personal gift from God the Father of Jesus, and it is given, as He wills, to those whose love and obedience binds them, by the Spirit, into an ever deeper longing and loving search for Jesus.  Listen again to Our Lord's words:
Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 
The one who lovingly obeys Jesus, Jesus' Father will love; and not only will Jesus' Father love him, but both He and Jesus will:
Come to him and make Our dwelling with him.
My dear people, our God is not cheap:  His love is the supreme treasure of our lives, His greatest blessing and most gracious Gift; for when the Father and Son come to us, they bring also with them the Holy Spirit to be our very own Advocate, Counsellor, and Guide:
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and will remind you of all that I told you.
When He, the Spirit of Jesus, is present as divine Gift in our lives, guiding, comforting, strengthening, delighting, and inspiring us for Jesus' sake, then, indeed, we can begin to truly experience God’s presence to us, here and now, as the heavenly Father's love, as Jesus' companionship, and as the Spirit's own deep comfort and sure strength, calm peace and all-embracing joy.
Finally, Jesus goes on to say with clear authority that His ways are not like the ways of this world:
Not as the world gives do I give peace to you.
St. Paul, too, made this abundantly clear to his converts in Corinth:
The wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.    (1 Corinthians 3:19)
As you heard in the first reading, the Christians at Antioch were troubled when they allowed the teaching of unauthorized preachers to influence them in their practice of the faith:
We (the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem) have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings, and disturbed your peace of mind.
That was, and still is, quite wrong, because it is the last thing Jesus wants for His disciples:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.   Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
In order to experience the Easter fulfilment which Jesus has won for us, we have to allow the love of the Father, the teaching of Jesus, and the guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit, to enlighten and begin to rule our whole life, as we heard in the second reading today:
The (holy) city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.
People of God, you are called, destined, to become full-citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom; do not therefore look over-much at the world around you -- the world you are leaving behind -- but as one hymn puts it, "Walk, walk, in the light of the Lord", doing your very best to walk ever forward with a confidently firm step, a steadfast heart, and in the Spirit of pure Easter joy.    

Friday, 22 April 2016

5th Sunsay of Easter Year C 2016

5th. Sunday of Easter (C)
(Acts 14:21-27; Rev. 21:1-5; John 13:31-35)
I, John, saw a new Jerusalem, God’s dwelling with His people as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  The One who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
            I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you.
God's work of making all things new began with Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, Son of God and Son of Man. The Son shared with His Father and the Holy Spirit in the original creation when God made all things through the Son in the Spirit; that is why -- now that all things are in the process of being made new – the Son Incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth, having been crucified and raised from the dead in the power of the Spirit, appeared to His Apostles locked in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews and breathed His Spirit on them.   His breathing upon them was precisely the sign of a new creation being made. Just as God had breathed on the original creation:
The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7),
so Jesus, appearing in the midst of His disciples and having shown them the wounds in His hands and His side, said to them:
Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:19-22)
God is making all things new, and Jesus, the Risen Lord, shares in His Father’s work by breathing the Holy Spirit upon His Apostles, thereby making them into the nucleus of that new creation where sin is to be overthrown by the cleansing and empowering presence of God's Holy Spirit.  A new creation indeed: the Family of God, Mother Church, work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, where God bestows new life in Jesus and where Jesus calls upon all members -- of Himself and of God’s family -- to love one another by the Spirit He bestows on them, as He, Jesus, loved those to whom His Father had sent Him on His earthly mission.
LIFE and LOVE!  That is what Christianity is all about!
What is LIFE all about in our modern world and society however?  Governments of all kinds prescribe life-styles for their countrymen or those under their power.   Even … I was actually going to write, ‘even Christian governments’ … but then I thought, are there any Christian governments?   Certainly not in England, America, Europe etc. …  Those governments of what used to call themselves Christian countries now proclaim and impose nothing better than their own up-to-date version of officially approved, politically correct ‘ethical’ living, smattered here and there with vestiges or memorials of what was formerly Christian practice … speaking, for example, of marriage where husband and wife can now be two elderly men, and of family where un-natural children (un-natural – not of themselves indeed – but for such a union) are bestowed with government blessing upon ‘couples’ chosen for all sorts of abilities and qualities except that if being able to give, bestow, life!
What again do the majority of our contemporaries think LOVE is all about?  It is the most bastardized word or concept of all in our modern society because its origin is sublime and its purpose is eminently dignifying and fulfilling.  However, ‘love’ in the Hollywood sense of the word and in the lurid pictures and images it provides, is used to touch-up and justify a most degrading and destructive mixture of lust and pleasure, violence and vengeance, instead of bringing beauty and purpose, joy and hope, to even the bleakest of human situations.
‘Family’ and ‘love’, two most sublime words when lived in accordance with their original Christian significance and open to their innate spiritual power, become poisonous when used by specious scholars as propaganda or by irreligious (proudly so!) modern men and women as words to cover up or excuse what are merely worldly aspirations of the flesh (which inevitably turns to corruption) and appreciations that look no further than the grave (proving themselves to be ultimately selfish)
LIFE and LOVE in the Eucharist!  That is what Christianity is all about.
Our closest bond is, humanly speaking, flesh and blood, and God’s new creation is not alien to, at variance with, such deep-rooted natural human awareness: that bond, however, is made supernatural and becomes capable of sustaining eternal life and the ultimate love by our partaking of and sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ!  In Jesus our Lord, Who gave Himself for us and offers Himself to us as food for eternal life, we are made uniquely and supremely one as adopted Children of God, family in Jesus of Him Who is pleased to be our Father.  It is not human family, not shared sufferings, most certainly not racial superiority or hatreds (ISIS), that can truly and sublimely unite us, but only and exclusively our being one with and in Jesus -- the supreme, divine, reality in the whole of God's creation -- by the Spirit, for the Father, and for His plan and purpose to make ‘all things new’:
As the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me;  ( John 6:57)
So then, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith; (Galatians 6:10); and again (1st Peter 2:17):

            Honour everyone.  Love the family of believers.  Fear God.  Honour the 

To further understand this essential aspect of Jesus let us look yet more closely at the Gospel.
Jesus was proud, humanly speaking, to be a Jew and member of God’s Chosen People serving the salvation of all mankind:
The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.   Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”  Jesus said to her, “Believe Me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.   You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.  (John 44:19-22)
Again, recall Jesus emphasising His solidarity, oneness, with another particular group:
While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, His mother and His brothers appeared outside, (asking) to speak with Him.  But He said in reply to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?”  And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers.  For whoever does the will of My heavenly Father is My brother, and sister, and mother.”  (Matthew 12:46–50)
‘Whoever does the will of My heavenly Father is My real family’, Jesus makes abundantly clear.
Our modern rationalists -- political propagandists, and others deeply opposed to religion -- love to show and abuse their remembrance of certain Christian teachings and ultimate aspirations by ever reasserting modern versions or adaptations of the famous revolutionary trinity, Liberty, Fraternity and Equality; most beautiful Christian concepts indeed, which they, however, idealize beyond truthfulness and practicality by excluding the very, very, human reality of sin which requires the Christian awareness and practice of repentance and -- most objectionably for such revolutionaries -- the awareness and practice of Christian humility before God and man.
Dear People of God, our liturgical Sacrifice of the Eucharist and our personal sacramental reception of and commitment to the fruit of that sacrifice is the supreme seal of mankind’s saving oneness with Jesus, of our filial appreciation and embracing of the Father’s good-will for  His adopted children, and the bonding of our human togetherness in mutual reverence and rejoicing.    Treasure your Mass; pray with confidence for Mother Church.