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, 25 August 2017

21st Sunday of Year A 2017

 21st. Sunday of Year (A)
(Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20)

In the first reading we heard of one Eliakim of whom it was said:

When he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.

That statement is mirrored in our Gospel passage where Jesus said to Peter:

Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

However, that mirror-likeness of structure would seem to be the strongest resemblance between those two statements.  For, the authority given to Eliakim had been the politico-religious authority of demoted Shebna, whereas the authority bestowed on Peter was essentially spiritual, indeed, one might even say heavenly, given by Jesus responding to His Father’s inspiration of Peter:

          I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.

Simon Peter, speaking in the name of all the Apostles had answered Jesus’ question, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ by a most categorical statement:

          You are the Christ the Son of the living God.

Now Nathanael from Galilee had earlier spoken every bit as decisively as Peter on hearing Philip tell him about Jesus, when he said, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’  On meeting Nathanael, Jesus in turn had said, ‘Here is a true Israelite.  There is no duplicity in him.’

And yet, when at that their first meeting Nathanael went on to declare to Jesus:

          Rabbi, you are the son of God, you are the King of Israel!

Jesus did not think Nathanael had been inspired by His Father even though his words were very much like the subsequent words of Peter; indeed, He would seem to have thought Nathanael believed too much too easily, for He somewhat casually said, ‘You will see greater things than this’.

With Peter’s statement, however, the situation was totally different; for, on hearing it, Jesus immediately recognized a revelation by His Heavenly Father behind Peter’s typically enthusiastic and decisive words, and He therefore most solemnly declared:

And so, (because of My Father’s revelation to you) I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

People of God, the ‘rock’ supporting Jesus’ Church is Peter-confessing-Jesus-as Son-of-God.  That is Peter’s supreme function in Mother Church, to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, and nothing must be allowed to detract from or overshadow that function for which Peter was chosen by the Father and confirmed by Jesus for His future Church: confessing and proclaiming, Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God, to all the world.

The history of Eliakim shows what could hinder any Pope’s fulfilment of his office.  Eliakim’s elevation brought honour for his family; we are told the Lord said:

          I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honour for his family.

It was there that the trouble began:

On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.

The family began to take over the man: relatives of all sorts came to him with their requests and needs and, in that way, the family began to gradually smother the public servant authorised by God:

On that day, says the Lord of hosts, the peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.

The Old Testament examples of Shebna and Eliakim thus enable us to espy something of the wisdom of God of which St. Paul spoke in the second reading, a wisdom that never ceased to astound him the more he considered the wonders of God's saving Providence:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!

For, despite the vagaries and duplicities of, the hidden and dark corners to be found in, the human mind and heart, the Gospel shows us a new ingredient, so to speak, which will transform the peg of the Old Testament into the Rock of the New Testament: that is, Jesus’ Personal choice of Peter and promise to His future Church, made in totally loving and trusting response to His Father.

The new, transforming, ingredient is to be found in the fact that Peter was given authority ‘in the name of Jesus’: since Peter -- inspired by the Father -- had proclaimed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God, Jesus would build His Church on that Rock of His Father’s inspiration of Peter’s faith and confession.  Only Peter was chosen by Jesus as the foundation stone, the Rock, on which to build His Church, because of His Father’s revelation/inspiration given uniquely to Peter, and also because of Peter’s unhesitating and wholehearted response to that inspiration.  Both Jesus, and the Father Himself, are thus to be seen behind Peter.

Therefore, People of God, our readings today help us see clearly just who is the supreme head and ultimate leader of the Church: it is the heavenly Jesus.  True, Peter is the head of the Church on earth, he is the visible head called to proclaim Jesus as Son of God and Saviour, and called also to strengthen his fellow apostles in their proclamation of the Gospel, thus making Jesus’ Church truly one on earth.  But Peter is only able to be that visible head, because Jesus is the heavenly, ultimate, Head Who prays unceasingly for Peter that he may – despite bad Middle Ages and Renaissance popes -- continue through time to fulfil the rock-like function of prime proclaimer of Jesus as Son of God and mankind’s Saviour towards his brethren and to Mother Church on earth.

The proclaimer of Jesus as Son of God and Saviour is not called to be a specialist in liturgy, or one given to philosophical considerations concerning the Gospel, he is not necessarily an ethicist responding to mankind’s moral dilemmas and errors as he sees best.  No, although Popes may and indeed have been any of those things earlier, their subsequent  Petrine calling supersedes all such talents and propensities.

Our Gospel passage shows with supreme clarity that Peter, that every Pope, should strive to be, first and foremost a proclaimer of the Person, the truth and the beauty, the inspirational glory and power, the comforting and saving love and compassion of Jesus.  Any failing in the desired fulfilment of that unique vocation, even when done sincerely for love of another aspect of service in the name of Jesus, can bring dissension and doubt into the Church.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, dear People of God, let us therefore today give heartfelt thanks for St.  John Paul II the latest manifestly faithful Peter to grace our lives and strengthen our confession, and let us whole-heartedly pray for our present Pope Francis and pope-emeritus Benedict in all their many needs and aspirations.

Friday, 18 August 2017

20th Sunday Year A 2017

20th Sunday of Year (A)
(Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28)

Or, as another eminent translation words it:

God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that He may be merciful to all.

But where are we today, People of God, when ‘disobedience’ is denied, and sinfulness is not recognized?  Jesus came to the Jewish people proclaiming ‘Repent’, and the word meant something to those who heard Him as members of God’s Chosen People, trained by God over thousands of years.  However, they were, ultimately, only willing to understand it in relation to liturgical faults and failings, they would not accept the fulness of Jesus’ teaching offering them eternal salvation for acknowledging their failure as sons and daughters of a heavenly Father wanting their hearts and minds in total love and humble obedience, not merely their sacrificial offerings of bulls and goats, sheep and oxen.

Today it is much worse: the word ‘repent’ has no meaning at all with people who have rejected their Christian heritage and can no longer no longer relate to Him Who said:

                        Why do you call Me good?  No one is good, except one.  God!

That is why Jesus did not go around ‘doing good’; doing, that is, His idea of good:

            I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

In today’s Gospel event, He did actually cure the woman’s daughter but only after He had been able to admire His Father’s wisdom and grace behind the woman’s persistence and humility.  Jesus did His Father’s will, did that only for which He had been sent, the only ‘good’ He knew was His Father’s good, planned for Him, Jesus, to fulfil for God’s glory and men’s salvation.

Today, any and every Tom, Dick and Harry, any and every Jill, Jennifer and Jane, think they know, and often loudly claim they know, what is good without turning to God for guidance … for what God is there for the great majority of 21st century Westerners other than the gods of health, wealth, success, pleasure and power??

Scripture tells us (Romans 5:12) that suffering and death came into our lives through sin:
Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned.

Jesus, as the Saviour sent by His all Holy, Wise, and Loving Father, came to destroy sin, the root of all human suffering, for all who would be willing to give their lives into His hands, to walk along His ways through their earthly life by the power of His most Holy Spirit so as to be made worthy children of God, able to live in eternal life as members of the family of Him Who is the Father of all.

The aim of ‘do-gooders’ (meant neither mockingly nor contemptuously) in our world today is to try to combat only suffering and death; and yet all of them know as professionals or experienced practitioners, that no ailment, disease, no suffering of any sort, let alone today’s previously unheard-of ailments, can be tackled without knowledge and deep understanding of their cause or causes.

Sadly, the great majority of the learned and leaders in today’s society are too proud to turn to God for their own healing from sin and consequently are incapable of truly relieving mankind’s ever-increasing -- both in threat and in number -- sufferings, anxieties, and tragedies.

The Canaanite woman turned to Jesus in her desperation; none in her little world were able to give her demonized daughter any help.  She had heard of Jesus being described as Son of David, words that meant nothing to her but obviously meant much to those Jews she knew who spoke thus of Jesus.  There was no other to whom she could turn, so, turn she did to Him Who ignored her, to Him Whose disciples tried to send her away, to get rid of her.  Ultimately it was those very disciples themselves who turned to their Lord asking Him urgently:

            Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.

Jesus had not changed since His earlier words, but the woman had changed: still humbled by her need, and still persistent in her love for her dear daughter, but somehow as she pushed closer towards Jesus and began to cry directly to Him Personally saying:

            Lord, help me!

She found herself no longer troubled by those disciples and began to feel a certain measure of confidence and hope, for His words though uncompromising, somehow provoked her to hope, they did not crush her down into yet greater despair.  He said:

            It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs!

She remained humble (something beyond modern self-righteousness!!) but now strangely more confident, and somehow at peace, because she felt she now knew something about Him she was facing, a majestic Man indeed, but humble; yes, a humble Man familiar with the peasant’s table and the family’s dogs:

She said, “Please (notice, she is still humble!!), Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

The self-righteous modern turners-away-from-Jesus-and-His-Church should hear that Canaanite woman with shame and tears, for she had heard the silent voice of the Father Who calls to Jesus, and having learned from Him was blessed to find Jesus turning to her and addressing her directly:

“Woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”  And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Dear People of God, what can bring our western spiritual wilderness back to life with the refreshing waters of the Spirit of Jesus?  Will it require the suffering, agony, and ‘despair’ of the Canaanite woman, or will the smouldering coals of former faith help some to remember that:

            God has delivered all to disobedience that He might have mercy on all.


Friday, 11 August 2017

19th Sunday of Year A 2017

19th. Sunday, Year (A)
(1st. Kings 19:9, 11-13; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, today’s Gospel reading took place about half-way through Jesus’ public ministry.  A short while before, Jesus and His disciples had been caught in a storm while crossing the Sea of Galilee with Jesus asleep in the stern of the boat.  His disciples -- in great alarm -- awakened Him most urgently and He calmed both wind and waves by words of authority and a gesture of peace.  The disciples had been amazed and said to one another:

            Who then is this?  Even the wind and the sea obey Him!   (Mark 4:41)
In today’s Gospel reading, even though Jesus had just miraculously fed the 5,000, the disciples were still unclear about Him – Who is this? – for when Jesus approached walking on the sea towards them as they were struggling under yet another of the unpredictably sudden and quite vicious storms on Galilee, they thought they were seeing a ghost!   Instead, therefore, of taking comfort at the sight of Him, they were even more frightened of Him than they were of the dangerous storm, all of them, that is, except Peter whose particular love for Jesus together with his native courage and personal confidence on the waters of ‘his own’ Sea of Galilee, led him to cry out:

            Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water! 

People of God, when the bark of Peter is struggling today, not now on the Sea of Galilee, indeed, but in storms all over the world, the cry shouted by so many is, ‘Change the teaching of the Church, make it easier for modern people to accept!  Peter had thought he recognized Jesus and wanted to walk to Him and then with Him facing up to the stormy waters; a most laudable desire but one that Peter was not yet quite strong enough in faith to sustain.  You might say that Jesus was only half-way-through training Peter at this point in His public ministry.  But Peter’s love for Jesus, and God’s subsequent special blessings and forgiveness, would eventually lead him to that degree of fidelity he had long aspired to.
In today’s storms of all kinds, but more particularly concerning marriage difficulties and gay/lesbian life-styles, the world’s advice and popular cry is not to ‘face the storm along with Jesus’ but rather -- having lost or repudiated their own Catholic faith and Christian upbringing -- to take over from Jesus and seek to calm the storm themselves by setting up secular institutions, changing and distorting the meaning of pertinent Christian words such as ‘marriage’ and ‘love’, ‘fidelity’ and ‘sin’, thus making things easier for those  not committed to faith, and betraying what Jesus taught and Mother Church has always believed and proclaimed!    Mother Church from the very beginning knew of such Greek and Roman sexual habits -- she could neither avoid nor ignore them they were so widespread among the ‘great and the good’, the powerful and the literate, in the Roman world -- but not only did she in no way approve of them in her pattern for a Christian way of living for redemption and eternal fulfilment in Jesus under the power of His Spirit, in fact, she explicitly forbade such practices for her faithful.  How could Catholics so close to Jesus walk in the Spirit according to the flesh??   Compromise and fudges, dear People of God, have nothing to do with doctrinal and doctrinally-connected teaching that is authentically Catholic – universal, for all peoples, of all times and places – which Mother Church’s countless saints and martyrs (many famous throughout the world, but many, many more now un-nameable but not unknown) have lived to the full, being prepared, willing, and even considering themselves privileged, to die for such teaching.

The great fallacy invoked by those who want to obliterate all difference and difficulty is their assertion that Jesus came to convert the whole world.   He did indeed come to evangelize the world, but He was always aware that though many would be called, nevertheless, few would allow themselves to be chosen, few would want to take up their cross and follow Him.   Didn’t He feel it necessary to speak frequently and publicly in parables?   Indeed, He questioned most seriously whether He would find faith on earth when He would return as Son of Man in glory.

Unlike so many prominent Catholics and publicists of today, Jesus was not afraid of allowing former followers to leave His side:

“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him.”  Then many of His disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”  Since Jesus knew that His disciples were murmuring about this, He said to them, “Does this shock you?  What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?  It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray Him.  And He said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by My Father.”  As a result of this, many (of) His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.  Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.    (John 6:56,60–68)

Dear People of God, St. Paul, in our second reading, felt deep anguish of heart because most of his own Jewish people were failing to recognize, and showing themselves unwilling to turn to, Jesus for the salvation Paul and his fellow Apostles so whole-heartedly proclaimed in the name of Jesus.  And ultimately, it was not to be a storm of nationalist emotion calling all Israelites to arms, not a political earthquake brought about by secret plotters and schemers against Rome, not even the consuming fire of divine justice proclaimed by John the Baptist, that would inaugurate salvation; no, each and every one of Paul’s fellow Israelites, like each and every Christian in the world today, would have to hear and recognize, recognize and respond to with love, love and follow faithfully to the end, that tiny whispering-sound of conscience, of the Father calling to Jesus all who are of good will and longing for salvation:

The LORD was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, there was fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound.  When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave and the LORD spoke to him.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Transfiguration of Our Lord Year A 2017

The Transfiguration of Our Lord (Year A.)
(Genesis 12:1-4; 2nd. Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9)

When a dog looks at the world around it sees all the objects that are naturally visible to our eyes, but only as objects … it cannot appreciate what for us is, often enough, the most wonderful aspect of the world around us: its beauty.
Scripture speaks on one occasion of scales falling or being taken away from before a person’s eyes:
Immediately there fell from (Saul’s) eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. (Acts 9:18)
We might therefore be permitted to say that a dogs’ eyes are ‘scaled’, which prevents them from recognizing the beauty of what they see.
Likewise, it is eminently possible – as we heard last week -- for men to hear words but not recognize truth:
The Lord said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.'   "Make the heart of this people dull and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and return and be healed."  (Isaiah 6:9-10)
On the mount of Transfiguration the Father opens up a new experience of life and being to Jesus’ chosen disciples, Peter, James, and John; an experience they are only able to bear and begin to appreciate thanks to the fact that Jesus, their Lord, is the subject and focus of all that happens around them.
The world has long known of God but not appreciated Him; mankind has long had some understanding of the words ‘good’ and ‘goodness’, but Jesus quite deliberately assured the rich young man knelt before Him and asking Him most earnestly about eternal life, that true goodness is well-nigh unknown to us:
Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (Mark 10:18)
O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do.   (John 17:25)
Moses, thousands of years ago, after having spoken with God on Mount Sinai and coming down to the people, found it necessary to:
Put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory (on it), even though it was destined to fade away.  (2 Cor. 3:13)
People of God, how many veils need to be lifted before men can ‘face’ the beauty of the world around us and recognize, love, and praise God its creator as they aught?   How many, many, scales need to fall from our eyes if we are to more fittingly appreciate and truly love what God has given to and for us in the supreme wonder of all creation, Jesus of Nazareth, His very own Son-made-flesh, the promised Christ of Israel, the Lord, God, and Saviour of all mankind??
As regards today’s feast, it is usual to think that Jesus -- having just spoken of His coming death to His disciples for the first time -- decided to lead them up the Mount of Transfiguration for their comforting and strengthening in Him, by letting them see something of His glory.  I do not think that is a fully satisfactory appreciation of the event.
So very often little notice is taken of the Father’s Personal relationship with, and solicitude for, His Son-made-flesh.  Just as -- I believe -- He, the Father, moved Jesus to leave Nazareth and make His way to John baptizing contrite sinners, for the fulfilment of His, the Father’s Own purpose to reveal, prepare, and glorify His Son for His public mission; so here, Jesus did not decide to glorify Himself on the mountain top, even though it be for His disciples’ well-being.  No, it was the Father Who drew Jesus to that mountain-top for Jesus’ own Personal comforting and strengthening with regard to His impending Passion and Death; and also – having chosen to be accompanied by His Own specially chosen disciples -- for Jesus’ pastoral concern with regard to the understanding, wisdom, and strength of the Apostles for their establishment of His future, world-wide, Church and their right proclamation of His Gospel.
The Father’s solicitude and care is so wonderful in the Scriptures and the life of Jesus and Mary, and so very little of it is recognized, admired, and loved.
Jesus had learnt, as man, to know Israel’s God to be His very own Father; that He had learnt from His sublimely Personal affinity and acquaintance with, ever-growing knowledge and existential awareness of, and supremely sympathetic and loving understanding of the words of Scripture and the spirit of Israel’s liturgy and worship.   And, of course, having learnt, as man, to know His Father in all truth, He also learnt of Himself and His own destiny and purpose as man on earth:
Just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I will lay down My life for the sheep. (John 10:15)
That is why now, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the Father sent both Moses and Elijah to assure Jesus, as man, that He had most certainly learnt aright about God and Himself as Son and Saviour from Israel’s Law and her Prophets.
If you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, because he wrote about Me.  (John 5:46)
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”  (John 1:45)
 He said to them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
The ever-faithful St. Paul succinctly proclaimed this truth in his Roman captivity:
They arranged a day with Paul and came to his lodgings in great numbers. From early morning until evening, he expounded his position to them, bearing witness to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from the law of Moses and the prophets, (saying) ‘Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets.’    (Acts 28:23 and Romans 3:21)
And so it was that Jesus -- fully aware that the ‘world’s situation’ was demanding His Passion and death though being in the most desperate need of the still totally unsuspected glory of His saving love – could descend the Mount with calm resolution about, and unshakeable preparedness for, His own Personal destiny, and with a sure and confident trust that His Father had just most clearly shown His caring will and wise preparation for the Apostles’ proclamation of Jesus' Gospel and the future establishment of His Church among men.
O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know You sent Me.  (John 17:25)
That calm assurance was to be the hallmark of the Transfiguration for He solemnly advised His three Apostles on their approach to their brethren and the people:
                Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.