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

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Trinity Sunday Year C 2016

Trinity Sunday (C)
(Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; St. John 16:12-15)

What is happiness for a human being?  How is it to be found?   Can it be ultimately, definitively, acquired?
In answer to that last question ‘can happiness be ultimately acquired, gained for oneself?’ the Christian answer is ‘No!’; but according to the Christian promise, it is offered and will be given by God, to all who recognize, love, and obey His Son, Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Let us now turn our attention to the other questions: what is happiness for a human being and how is it to be sought?   My answer is short, and, undoubtedly, all the more sure because it is short: happiness is to live in harmony with and accordance to our original, fundamental, make-up as we aspire to our ultimate human potential and personal fulfilment in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
In our first reading from the book of Proverbs we heard of the remarkably close relationship that exists between mankind and the rest of creation:
Thus says the wisdom of God: The Lord possessed me, the beginning of His ways, the forerunner of His prodigies of long ago;   From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. … When the Lord established the heavens there was I; when He marked out the vault over the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above; when He fixed fast the foundations of the earth, when He set for the sea its limit; then was I beside Him as His craftsman, I was His delight day by day, playing before Him all the while.
Creation was indeed a joyful work of wisdom and love!!  And the wisdom of God rejoiced supremely when:
Playing on the surface of His earth I found delight in the sons of men.
There we can sense how close are the bonds uniting us with the whole of creation: bonds of deep compatibility and joyous sympathy bestowed by God Who created the whole universe -- with mankind as its crown -- through His beloved Son, the wisdom of God, by His nurturing and hovering Spirit of love.  Son and Spirit, the Father’s two creating hands!
Such ties 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 integrity; for man, as lord of earth and of the universe, was made indeed the channel of God’s presence to creation:
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 all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and He brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.  (Genesis 2:15, 19)
God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.”  (Genesis 1:28)
Behold the richness of our human make-up, conditioned by so many and such varied, original and joyous, bonds: bonds of root compatibility with the whole of inanimate creation; bonds of appreciation and gratitude for all living sources providing food and serving the furtherance of society; bonds of most intimate knowledge and deepest sympathy with all animals claiming our stewardship before God!!
We are wide-open, so to speak, by our very position in creation; we are not beings closed-in on self!  Selfishness is not in harmony with and accordance to our original, fundamental, make-up; and, going in that way against our very grain, it can never bring us happiness, not even on the natural level.  And how that picture is confirmed by the relationships we go on to build up among ourselves in human society, relationships relentlessly multiplied by scientific and technological advances!
Nevertheless, our faith proclaims that we are not, like the rest of creation, to be satisfied with a merely natural destiny; for, being specially created in the image and likeness of God, we are endowed with a supernatural calling and potential for an eternal destiny: 
God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  (Genesis 1:27)
Given, therefore, along with our serious and pressing concerns for the environment and future generations of men here on earth, the wide-spread alarm at the developing break-up of human society and mutuality all over the world, let us look more closely at the relevance of the teaching we have just reviewed with regard to that aboriginal concern of human-beings, "How is true happiness to be found today?”
Why are we human beings wide-open on so many fronts, yet, as individual persons, so deeply sensitive to intimate concerns?  Why are we personally enmeshed in such a complexity of relationships and ties?
Because, as our faith teaches us, we are called to share, eternally, in the happiness of the eternal and infinite God Who made us, the God Who is One and Three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three divine Persons in the One Godhead.
There is constant development, from our very origins in creation, through our natural experience of personal life and social commitments, to our God-given calling to share in the social life and beatitude of God Who is Personally three and essentially One.
We cannot accept, surely, that our life here on earth – be it apparently good or bad, happy or sorrowful -- is of no consequence for our eternal destiny: our life on earth must be some sort of a preparation for the calling with which we have been endowed.  And, indeed, Jesus has taught us that, in accordance with the faith and commitment we show in answer to our divine calling, we can begin, even here on earth, to experience a foretaste of the blessedness of heaven:
 I have told you this, that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.
My Father, Who has given (you) to Me, is greater than all; and no one is can take (you) out of the Father's hand.  (John 15:11, 10:29.)
Therefore, since our eternal blessedness is bound up with the Three Persons in One God, selfishness is once again found to be, fundamentally and totally, opposed to any aspirations for true happiness; for, the intimate life of the Holy Trinity in which we -- in Jesus by the Spirit -- are called to participate, is a most sublime mystery of love, life, and total commitment. 
Life, the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, is the expression of what is a divinely mutual and totally comprehensive knowledge:
No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him (Matthew 11:27),
together with what is the only possible response to such comprehensive knowledge of divine Being and Beauty, namely, a transcendent love and commitment, as manifested in human flesh by Jesus in His Passion:
The hour is coming, and has arrived, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone.  But I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (John 16:32)
Father, the hour has come. Give glory to Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit"; and when He had said this, He breathed His last. (John 17:1, Luke 23:46,)
Love, based on knowledge of the truth, and issuing in commitment, is ultimately the best guidance that can be given to humanity in its supreme quest for happiness.  Because mankind is made in the image and likeness of God, and because our eternal destiny and divine calling is to share in God’s intimate life and beatitude, therefore our happiness as human beings here on earth is only to be found in love, commitment, and life; sharing in that love, commitment, and life revealed in the Father Who, knowingly and lovingly begets His only Son, and in the Holy Spirit of love proceeding from the Father and the Son in their mutual comprehension and total commitment.
Selfishness is totally destructive of human nature and human aspirations.
The Father's love is total: He loves His Son to such an extent that the Son is the equal of His Father in all things:
            Everything that the Father has is Mine.
Similarly, the Son loves His Father with His whole Being, with the result that, when, as the Son of Man on earth, He was faced with the greatest torments known to the ancient world, the torments of a Roman flogging followed by death on a Cross, He wholeheartedly embraced them for His Father's glory (John 12:27-28):
I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!"
The Spirit likewise in His earthly mission manifests His Divine Character by His total commitment to Jesus, as Jesus himself said:
He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.
People of God, even in everyday, ordinary, experience, those who are committed are also to some extent admired or even envied, because, having a purpose in which they can lose themselves they are seen to have become more or less free from the stifling bonds of self-solicitude and concern; and, most wonderfully, the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in what we call the Holy Trinity, though recognized as the supreme Christian mystery of the nature of Divine Being is, nevertheless, so close to our experience and appreciation of life, in so far as it is the total and eternal expression of the selflessness of Divine Love!  Made in the image and likeness of God, Who is never far from, never alien to, us!!
We are called to share in that Divine Blessedness as members of the Son: members of that Body of which He is the Head.  In Him, by His Spirit, we are destined to see the beauty and experience the majesty of the Father in all truth; and, in a beatific response of love, to be entirely committed -- in total self-forgetfulness -- to praising the glory of the Father, and come thereby to the fullness of our life and being in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son makes you free, then you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)      
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)
People of God, our human nature, created by God for Himself has, indeed, been vitiated by sin but it has not been destroyed; and so we are always liable to have what Wordsworth has described as ‘intimations of immortality’: insights, in this case, into ourselves and the realities of our life and calling which far surpass in their penetration our normal observations and awareness.  Our human longings for that freedom and fulfilment which alone can give us true happiness can be penetratingly clear, but too frequently that clarity of vision becomes clouded over when we turn to our own devices, and experience the deceits of men, or discover the vanity of the world’s easy promises.  We should learn today, and never again forget, to appreciate the treasures of our faith, and above all to look with ever deeper admiration, reverence, and awe, to the Holy Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- for that inspiration, enlightenment, and power, that will enable us to seek aright in this life and ultimately to receive in the next God’s Gift transcending all earthly imaginations and desires: the Gift that will transfigure and glorify in the likeness of the Risen Lord Jesus the whole family of God’s adopted children and establish the heavenly and eternal Kingdom where God is All in All.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Corpus Christi by Catholic Priest

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 that Melchizedek -- the mysterious priest-king of Salem whom the Psalmist (Ps. 110) also refers to as a priest forever, and whose name means King of righteousness -- came to meet Abram (to become Abraham) and his men returning victorious from battle against the former regional overlord of the land.  Abram and his 300 strong force of warriors were exhausted after the battle, and Melchizedek arrived to praise the victory, bless the victors, and refresh them with bread and wine.
Here at Holy Mass we, who have been fighting to do God’s Gospel will, praise His glory, and serve our neighbour, are met by Jesus on this His day, offering Himself to us under the species of bread and wine.  In line with Melchizedek’s congratulations, blessing and refreshment, for victorious Abram and his army of old, Jesus wills to show Himself with the utmost clarity as our great Reward and most loving Saviour, for under the likeness of Bread and Wine He offers Himself directly as our Food for Heavenly Life; and as the One Lifted Up heavenwards, originally on the Cross and now by the celebrating priest at Mass:
When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw everyone to Myself (John 12:32),
where Bread and Wine though One are symbolically separated that we might recognise and appreciate that the spiritual joy and refreshment His Food and Drink now offers us, cost Him so very dearly Whose Blood once dripped  agonizingly down on the earth for love of us.
Let us just stop here for a moment and wonder at the wisdom and the beauty of our God!  Our psalm reading today -- based on ancient traditions going back perhaps a thousand and more years before it was finally composed some 400 years before Jesus – puts Melchizedek before us as a King of Righteousness, a Priest of God Most High, coming to bless and refresh the battle-weary Abram 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?  Jesus once took upon His very own shoulders 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 now glorious Body of human flesh and blood and thereby opening up heavens portals to human kind once more.
Now, Jesus comes to us offering us a share in His victory through our faithful partaking in His gift of Eucharistic Bread and Wine become the sacrament of His own most holy and living (and therefore One) Body and precious 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 onwards and upwards with and in Jesus towards the heavenly homeland He has promised us.
People of God, my brothers and sisters in Christ, here we have a truly glorious example of  God’s all-foreseeing wisdom and sublime providence; enough surely to encourage us to lovingly trust ourselves unreservedly to His great goodness, and with whole-hearted gratitude to sing life-long praise to 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 to God from men … though those gifts being offered up were not always expressions of pure praise and heart-felt thanksgiving, many, indeed probably most, being made simply to facilitate the bestowal of further hoped-for 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 a supremely intimate 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 from God and every word of thanksgiving or act of gratitude offered by men.
Such is the Christian fulfilment of the original prophetic words of Melchizedek: 
            Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to people of good will;
the only full and authentic appreciation and expression of Jesus' purpose in His Eucharistic presence: to give glory to His Father by bestowing – in Himself and through His Spirit -- blessing and salvation upon the disciples given Him by His Father.
Therefore, as disciples of Jesus, it is our first duty on receiving Holy Communion to join with Jesus in giving praise and glory to God the Father Who, through the death and resurrection of His most-beloved and only-begotten Son, has saved us from death’s thraldom, and wills to protect and preserve us from the ever-threatening power and poisonous presence of sin in our lives through our Eucharistic companionship with His Son and 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)
Then, as regards 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:
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: though reception of the Eucharist bears fruit on the basis of our loving and obedient faith, nevertheless, Jesus' purpose only comes to its fulfilment through our whole-hearted, co-operating, faith. 
Jesus provides food for His People through the unfailing faith of His immaculate Spouse, Mother Church; but His demand for our personal and individual contribution still remains, and the contribution each of us has to bring to the Eucharistic Table is our own faith in Jesus and our gift-of-self to Jesus and His continuing work.   That is a faith not merely to be presumed in adults but to be repeatedly, actively, renewed and deepened, if the food He gives us is to be personally digested and become spiritually fruitful in our lives.
God has redeemed us through Christ Jesus; from Whom, by faith and through 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 still more 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 and mutually co-operating members in the oneness, in the wholeness which is His living and therefore active Body, can we become truly, individually and collectively, 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 Catholic and Christian brothers and sisters (for they are ‘family’ – as St. Paul’s says – to us) all over the world, should occupy a most serious part of, and be given most serious expression in, our Catholic living, as many people from very different backgrounds rightly 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 our 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 wills, however, to bestow His abiding and active 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 rule in your personal and public 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 beseech His continued blessing on her and on her world-wide family, whenever we receive God’s food from her table at this, our God-given Eucharist sacrifice.