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, 27 January 2017

4th Sunday of Year A 2017

4th. Sunday (Year A)
(Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1st. Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12)

The Sermon on the Mount is indeed a compendium of the Good News brought by Christ our Saviour to promote ‘glory to God in the highest’ and bring ‘peace on earth for men of good will’, and we are guided to approach it from the point of view of today’s accompanying readings from the prophet Zephaniah and St. Paul in his first letter to the Church he founded in Corinth.
Our reading from the prophecy of Zephaniah started with the words:
Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth, who have observed His law; seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the LORD’S anger.
Note the word ‘justice’ in our Catholic translation (aka ‘integrity’); it translates quite literally the Latin (New Vulgate) ‘iustitiam’, but unfortunately leaves itself open to misuse by self-promoters who are so frequently to be heard these days saying they want ‘justice’, especially when crying out against authorities!   For that reason, I prefer to put before you a more widespread translation of the verse I have quoted, which, instead of ‘justice’ uses the word ‘righteousness’ which can only mean ‘God’s righteousness’:
Seek the LORD, all in the land who live humbly, obeying His laws; seek righteousness, seek humility.
People of God, observe how wisely, how lovingly, Mother Church tries to lead us to a true and fruitful understanding of Jesus in the Scriptures!  The teaching of these two readings from Zephaniah and St. Paul are essential if we are to rightly understand and try to live Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.  Our human pride, self-esteem, self-integrity, so blind us at times that we are rendered unable to clearly recognize and distinguish what is true and  what is false, what is real and what is illusory, what is from us and what is of God.
A worldly man cannot understand what he regards as the weakness of those who do not fight for power, the indecisiveness of those who are unwilling to condemn, the flabbyness of those who, in order to preserve peace, are loath to speak ill of others.   And such a person is bound to be equally disgusted with what he would regard as the insipid and servile attitude of those whom the prophet so lovingly mentioned in our first reading:
The remnant of Israel will do no wrong and tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths.
However, revolting above all for such proud lovers and promoters of this world and its standards, are those words of Jesus in the final Beatitude:
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
For today’s worldlings those are not mysterious words but utterly ridiculous words depicting a truly despicable attitude.  And that is an attitude most surprisingly exemplified (I trust unintentionally) last week-end in a well-known Catholic periodical by a doctoral student of theology (!!): “The Gospel, in flagrant defiance of such a reasonable course of (Buddhist) treatment, makes us more susceptible to suffering.  Taking Christ as our example, the holy response to situations of loss and agony is quite simply to suffer: to fall upon the ground and weep, to beg for deliverance, to sweat drops of blood.”(!!!)  However, there would seem to be something in her human heart better than what is in her student’s head, for she ends up by writing,  ”But something in me knows that suffering is a truthful response to this world.  So I am not a Buddhist.”
For us, however, those words of Jesus are mysterious words of the utmost moment to which we must give some special attention.
‘Blessed are you when they … ‘   Who are they?  Up to now Jesus has spoken about ‘those who mourn’, ‘the meek’, ‘those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’, ‘the merciful’, ‘the peacemakers’, ‘those who are persecuted for  the sake of righteousness’ …. But, then, all of a sudden, He speaks of they who do hateful things:
            Blessed are you when they insult, revile, and persecute you.
Who, I ask again, are they?  Surely Jesus must be referring to some, perhaps many, who have already begun to show hostility and contempt to Himself and, in some measure, to His disciples also.  And they are still with us today, most confidently showing their faces and proclaiming their critical opinions of and practical opposition to whatever makes us Catholic and Christian.  You should appreciate, therefore, People of God, why you, why we Catholics and Christians generally, are the butt of so much ribaldry and the objects of so much antipathy and distaste, it is because of Jesus:
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
The opposition, mockery, and loathing shown to Christians and Catholics is not because you are John ‘So-and-so’, Margaret ‘What’s-her-name’, Mr. ‘This’ or Mrs. ‘That’, but simply and solely because you are a Catholic and/or a Christian.   In the world’s estimation, you are -- as an individual -- lost in the fog of hatred for and contempt of Christ; and that is why Jesus said ‘Blessed are you’ when such things happen, because that is the sort of Catholic and Christian God has called you to be and the world is now recognising you (let us pray, truthfully!) to be, that is, totally Jesus’ …. Living in the Church which is His beloved Spouse and supreme Witness, by His own Body and Blood whereby He nourishes us and bestows His Holy Spirit upon us; proclaiming and loving the Faith in the hope which His words have generated within us; aspiring towards our only Father and His Whose Kingdom is in Heaven and Whose lordship extends through all the earth, and by Whose loving Providence countless brothers and sisters who have already witnessed before us are awaiting and encouraging us in our pilgrimage of testimony.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
For all authentic disciples of Jesus, children of God and of Mother Church, who -- having abandoned the sordid garments and worldly aspirations of personal integrity and self-satisfaction, popular approval and political correctness -- seek by prayer and obedience to put on instead the righteousness of Christ, those words are, indeed, both eternal and true; words that lead us to confess the truth about Jesus together with the very first disciples -- Peter and the holy apostles -- who said:
Lord, You alone have the words of life.
Yes dear Lord, sent by Your Father into this world, You have become for us:
Wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, “ Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”
And we do indeed ‘boast in the Lord’ because, in the words of the Psalmist:
            The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Our Blessed Lord took upon Himself the sins of the world to save the whole of mankind from sin in all its ramifications and manifestations, and ultimately from eternal death.  Under such a burden, and deliberately emptying Himself of all forms of glory for our sake, He Himself had to: ‘fall upon the ground in the garden of Gethsemane and weep, to beg for deliverance, to sweat drops of blood’ (so mockingly recalled by our student writer) precisely because He was suffering for all in whatever need, so that even  among those reduced to the profoundest depths of human suffering and humiliation, there might be none so low or so desperately lonely that they could not turn to Him for understanding, forgiveness, and redemption.  He endured that for love of us, so that we, His most gratefully proud disciples might be able to better bear our own sufferings and trials in the power bestowed upon us by His Gift of the Spirit Who, many centuries before, inspired the psalmist to prepare and sing for us:
Trust in the LORD and do good that you may dwell in the land and live secure. Find your delight in the LORD Who will give you your heart’s desire.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will act.  He will make justice dawn for you like the light, bright as the noonday shall be your vindication.
By the LORD are the steps of a man made firm, and He approves his way. Though he fall, he does not lie prostrate, for the hand of the LORD sustains him.
The salvation of the just is from the LORD; He is their refuge in time of distress.  The LORD helps and delivers them, He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.   (cf. Psalm 37) 

Friday, 20 January 2017

3rd Sunday of Year (A) 2017

 3rd. Sunday of Year (A)
(Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1st. Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23.)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, in our readings today it is somewhat difficult for us to focus closely on Jesus because of the beautiful messianic quotes from Isaiah; therefore I will now recall to your minds the actual, on the ground, situation when Jesus began His public ministry:
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested He withdrew to Galilee, (and then) leaving Nazareth He went to live in Capernaum by the sea.  From that time on Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’  As He was walking by the sea of Galilee He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.  He said to them, ‘Come after Me and I will make you fishers of men.’
How very intriguing those few words must have been for the two brothers!  This was not the very first time they had encountered Jesus, they had learned of Him from John the Baptist (JB to Andrew to Peter), and at the recent Passover festival in Jerusalem they had witnessed, or at least heard eye-witness reports of, His remarkable activity and confrontations with Temple authorities, plus subsequent marvellous happenings on the way back to Galilee.  In other words, Peter and Andrew already knew quite a bit about Jesus. 
Today however, things were different somehow, very different.   Jesus was starting something new --- His divinely commissioned Public Ministry --- and He was authoritatively intent on directly choosing disciples to follow Him now and accompany Him on His missionary journeys, that they might thus learn at first hand His purposes and His ways, so that, ultimately, they might be able not only to continue His work in Israel but even extend it world-wide.
                Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men!
What an ideal, perfect, call for men for men such as Simon and Andrew: few words indeed, but full of meaning, promise, and challenge!  At once, they left their nets and living and followed Him.  See, there, People of God, how imperious a vocation to follow Jesus can be, and is, essentially!
Going further He saw James and John in a boat with their father Zebedee,
He called them,
and though we do not know what specific words of invitation He used, the fact is that His words lit up a firebrand in their hearts which remained with them throughout their lives with Him and for Him, earning them the appropriate nickname of ‘sons of thunder’:
 and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed Him.     
Now, People of God, can we, dare we, say that Jesus wants all of us -- who like to think of ourselves as modern-day disciples of Jesus -- to have something of that original spirit of absolute, unquestioning commitment manifested by those first specially chosen Apostles, in our relationship with Him?
Could it, perhaps, have been the ‘fresh flesh’ of Jesus (so to speak) that so inspired those brothers?   Not really for, as I have said, they had been with Him, close to Him, at the recent festival for any novelty about His physical proximity and Personal companionship to have by now run its course.  Here there something other … absolutely new evidence of the Spirit ‘driving’ Jesus (remember after His baptism by John in the Jordan?) and bursting out manifestly and irresistibly -- for those sensitive to Jesus -- at this the very beginning of the divine mission for which He had been sent by His Father: the re-ordering of Israel and ultimately, through the disciples He would choose and His future Church they would establish, of the whole of mankind for their eternal salvation and His beloved Father’s great glory!!
With these first-choice and most powerfully-chosen (leave everything at once!) disciples Jesus went immediately upon an introductory mission throughout all Galilee to teach them His ways and purposes:
Teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom (‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand’), and curing every disease and illness among the people.            
Above all, however, He wanted these chosen disciples to come to know Him Personally: ‘Come after Me’, ‘Come follow Me’, ‘Come and see’ …. Such was Jesus’ way with those who wanted to know more about Him Personally; and in those ancient times it was a possible, and possibly attractive project: the two pairs of brothers certainly saw much that was interesting, remarkable, and inspiring as they accompanied Him around Galilee: devils were not allowed to disclose Him, human titles and dignities He rejected, and the people’s earthly expectations He made no attempt to satisfy.   Obedience and self-commitment were all that Jesus required of them at first; but a humble awareness of and responsiveness to His Holy Spirit -- inclining and gradually inspiring them to sincere acknowledgement of His dignity and ever deeper love for His Person -- was that to which He aspired for them.
Their daily work on His mission was to help Him by finding food and lodging, preparing food, protecting Him from over-enthusiastic crowds, warding off troublesome individuals, answering simple questions of the people, and perhaps reporting to Him concerning the people’s mood and/or expectations, the variety of needs in their society, and inevitably, helping individuals taken ill, children lost etc., etc.   All very helpful for Jesus but not what Jesus had chosen them for in the first place.
Their supreme work, however, was to be that of themselves coming believe in, and learning to love, Jesus’ Person:  and for that purpose, their imbibing of His very Spirit as best they could by observing not only His guidance but His every gesture and even the tenor of His general bearing and facial emotions;  and most importantly, by always trying to get better at waiting before forming any personal opinions about what He would do, should do or had done, or about possible reasons for His behaviour.  
Dear People of God, that picture of the originally chosen Apostles setting out to follow Jesus on His inaugural public mission is a remarkable and truly inspiring model for all of us wanting and longing to give authentic witness to Jesus and help in His work today.  For that end, there is nothing better than Catholic faith and a measure of spiritual sensitivity that can be determined only by the sincerity and depth of our humility and the infinitely wise and generous measure of God’s Gift, which is His Spirit, in our lives.   Faith, that is in Jesus directly, mediated to us through His Church indeed, but not with her substituting for, or taking the place of, Jesus Himself; spiritual sensitivity, that is, awareness of and responsiveness to, the guidance and inspiration of His most holy Spirit working in His Church and in our lives. 
True, we do not have Jesus walking before and alongside of us; but we do most certainly have His presence with us in Holy Mother Church, in her Scriptures, especially those of the Gospels and New Testament, in her Sacraments, above all His physical Presence in her Eucharist, and indeed,  in her very own ‘self’ established by Jesus as a sign and medium of and for His own perennial triumph over Satan; moreover we do most certainly have the presence of His Most Holy Spirit ‘gifted’ to Mother Church and her liturgy, and also to be copiously found in her traditions and saints long before coming to us this day, but ‘gifted’ in order that He might all the better come to us and form us who are willing into  true likenesses of Jesus for the glory of His Father and ours, and for the well-being and salvation of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.
My dear People, let us now, at the end of these short considerations recall, understand more fully, and rightly delight in, some words from the most comforting and inspiring psalm we heard earlier:
The Lord is my light, my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?  One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord (and) gaze upon the beauty of the Lord all the days of my life.  I believe I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living!  Wait for the Lord with courage; be stout-hearted, and wait for the Lord.