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, 26 January 2018

4th Sunday of Year B 2018

 4th. Sunday Year (B)       
(Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1st. Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)


Moses had found the Israelites very hard to teach and very reluctant to obey the words given him by the Lord for their observance; so perhaps there was some overtone of irony in his voice when he said to them:

A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen.

We, however, are not like those Israelites of old and so, let us recall and try to profitably consider what is of supreme importance from our first reading today:

Moses spoke to the people saying: ‘The LORD said to me, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put My words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him”’.

We then hear why it will be so very important for them to listen to the promised prophet better than they had listened to Moses himself: 
       
If any man will not listen to My words which he speaks in My name, I Myself will make him answer for it.

After Moses, the Lord did indeed raise up a series of prophets: prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others, whose messages live on in the Bible, and yet others whose names alone are remembered; but even though they spoke faithfully in the name of the God of Israel, we find throughout the Bible that their message was largely ignored:

I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but you have not inclined your ear, nor obeyed Me. (Jeremiah 35:15-16)

Or, as Isaiah put it more dramatically (42:18-20):

Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see.  You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; your ears are open, but none hears.

A prophet was called and sent to speak a message given him by God.  However, should a prophet betray his calling by substituting his own words for the word of God – which was always a possibility because of human sinfulness and the importance and attention accorded to a recognized prophet – God had most solemnly warned:

If a prophet presumes to speak in My name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.

When, therefore, such a prophet did presume to speak falsely in the Lord’s name, he had to die, as happened in Jeremiah’s time (Jeremiah 28:15-17):

The prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie.  Therefore, thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.”’  So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.

It happened also in the time of Ezekiel (13:6-9):

‘You say, “The LORD says”, but I have not spoken.  Therefore, because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,’ says the Lord God.  ‘My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.’ 

And so, though the Lord took great care to have His word faithfully proclaimed and publicly appreciated in Israel, nevertheless, His true prophets -- though proclaiming His authentic message -- were frequently ignored by the people, opposed and even physically oppressed by their leaders who inclined only to listen to what they wanted to hear, rather than to the word the Lord their God chose to send them:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! (Matthew 23:37)

Nevertheless, despite such disregard, resistance, and opposition over many ages, Moses’ promise of a prophet to come was not forgotten by pious Israelites, neither was their conviction that his message would be of decisive importance for the fulfilment of Israel’s destiny; for that, they believed, was the very reason why the Lord had most explicitly said to Moses:

If any man will not listen to My words which he speaks in My name, I Myself will make him answer for it.

Now you can appreciate the significance of that question a delegation of Jews put to John the Baptist: “Are you the Prophet?”   Moses had only spoken directly of a prophet, but Israel’s faithful, guided in their prayer and through their sufferings over many centuries by the God of Israel, were, by the time of Jesus, expecting and invoking one who will be the prophet of God, for them and for Israel herself as God’s Chosen People:

To Him you shall listen.
 
Recall also in this connection the voice of the Father speaking from heaven to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Jesus’ transfiguration:

This is My beloved Son.  Listen to Him!  (Mark 9:7)

Now, believers of today know the reason why the Prophet speaks infallibly in God’s name: it is because the Prophet is the very Word of God Himself made flesh:

Jesus answered, "My doctrine is not Mine but His Who sent Me.  I and My Father are One."  (John 7:16, 10:30)

And so, People of God, you are in a position to understand that when Jesus spoke, He did indeed speak with authority, a God-given authority; and it is a testimony to the renewed sincerity of religious life in Israel in the times of the Messiah, that those in the synagogue listening to Jesus’ words, recognized and appreciated what they had not encountered before:

The people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:22)

Now, that same Jesus speaks to us today, indeed, He is speaking now, in your midst, as I proclaim His word in His name; and we must always bear in mind that He was, and still is, the Saviour of those, and only those, who want to be saved: many to whom He spoke and who heard His teaching would not accept such teaching with authority and, consequently, did not acknowledge His Person; those He left them to themselves, He did not seek to force Himself upon them.

And now, each of us here today must be prepared to answer a question arising from the secret depths of our Catholic mind and heart: “Do I want Jesus to be my Lord and Saviour, or do I want to be left in the indolence of my own comfort and indifference; do I want to be rescued from my sinfulness or not?  What, indeed, do I want before God?

Dear People of God, if you really want Jesus to be your Saviour, a Rock of strength and security for you; a Light to reveal to you the authentic beauty of life, and to open up for you the joy of walking with Him by His  Spirit along the path He has traced for you; if you want Him to be your earthly fulfilment and promise of eternal blessedness, your earthly wisdom and heavenly glory; in other words, if you want to become -- in Him -- a true child of God and to share in His eternal blessedness in the heavenly Kingdom of His and our Father, then you must give Him authority in your life now, here on earth.  Jesus is no tyrant, He will not arrogate such authority to Himself; but if you humbly and faithfully give it to Him He will make use of it for your great, great blessing.

Listen now to Our Lord Himself again (John 7:16-17):

My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

“If anyone wants to do God’s will, he shall know, he will realize …”   God has done His work by giving us His Son Who died and rose again for us, and His Spirit to guide and form us as His children in His beloved Son; but we have to choose: “If anyone wants”, Jesus said, “to do God’s will, he will know the truth of My teaching.”  
Jesus never fails His People; the fact, however, is that not all those who call themselves Christians and Catholics actually want and do choose Jesus to be their Lord and Saviour: too many give Him the titles of Lord and Saviour indeed, but not the authority of Lord and Master in their lives.  People of God, even the unbelieving Jews acknowledged Jesus as a man of authority; therefore, if He is not authoritative in your life through His divine teaching in the Scriptures, through His Church’s faithful witness in her doctrine and the holiness of her worship and her sacraments, then, in fact, you are very, very far from Him and He, most certainly, is not in your life.

Authority is not an objectionable, domineering sort of word, that has to be submerged and forgotten in a flood of emotional words and deeds too frequently professed and performed out of hidden self-love and for human approval. True love cannot be exercised without right authority … that is why a world of authority without caring, or a world of caring without authority are both loveless worlds, cold or unstable, where selfishness reigns and children are disadvantaged.   God the Father sent His Son among us; His Son obediently came into our world at the behest of, and out of supreme love for, His Father.  See, People of God, what Jesus included in the full meaning of those words of His, The Father and I are One:  authority and love, command and obedience, are expressions and manifestations of the absolute one-ness of divinity and dignity, love and understanding, uniting the Father and His Son for our salvation.

Likewise, the authority that God wills in and for His Church is wholly so, that the love with which the Father has loved us in Jesus can -- by His most Holy Spirit -- bring forth the truly beautiful flower of Catholic peace and Christian joy in our lives here on earth, before ripening into the sublime and heavenly fruit which will be our eternal salvation.  Therefore, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let Jesus’ true love, His authoritative love, touch and transform your devout Catholic and truly Christian lives.     


Friday, 19 January 2018

3rd Sunday of Year B 2018

 3rd. Sunday, Year (B)
(Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1st. Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20)


          Repent and believe the Good News

That is what many believe to be not only the first Gospel’s summary of Jesus’ teaching, but also the quintessential core, marrow, and backbone of all Christian preaching:

          Repent and believe the Good News of Jesus.

Now ‘repent’’ in the Christian proclamation does not mean the same as ‘regret’.  Christian repentance does not look back fixedly, ever revisiting and reviewing one’s past life and lamenting, wishing it had been otherwise; but rather, once having acknowledged and wholeheartedly rejected one’s past sins, it then:

looks up, looks forward, to God, Whose goodness and truth is now -- in and through Jesus -- ready to begin the ultimate transformation not only of oneself, but also of mankind and the whole world;

looks at God in Jesus, and changing former attitudes of selfishness and pride, joyfully acknowledges with Peter, Lord, you have the words of eternal life;

looks for God in all life’s circumstances and apparently chance happenings, ever seeking to promote His glory and serve His purposes; for Jesus was sent by, and at great, great cost to, His Heavenly Father to proclaim to mankind, this supremely Good News:

          THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND,

and Jesus’ proclamation of that fact is also His invitation to each and every one of us to seek entry into that kingdom by Christian repentance.

In Jesus’ Good News, and Mother Church’s continuing proclamation of that Good News, God is Love and He is Life: to listen to Him is, therefore, to hear Truth; to obey Him is to practice Wisdom; to look at Him with full trust is to see Beauty and have Strength; while to experience something of His hidden presence in your personal life and self-awareness is to discover peace and taste what beatitude might be mean for you.

‘Repent’ therefore, also means turn to God and prepare yourselves to receive these gifts from Him; stop seeking to promote your own interests of worldly prestige, power, or pleasure; stop turning to and trusting in men who, like yourself, are fragile creatures of flesh and blood, inconstant by their very nature.   As Our Lord Himself puts it:

Do not labour for food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.

Surely then, dear People of God, in view of all this, ‘repent’ is a fundamentally joyous word, something like ‘let yourself be renewed, refreshed, restored’, indeed and in all truth, ‘be revitalized’, ‘be set off on a new life track with sure hope to guide and all necessary power to achieve what is required of you and promised by God’.  Such repentance makes our religious practice authentically human, for a human being, no matter how well placed in life, always aspires to what is more or what is better.  Christian repentance means that a new horizon has dawned, a new destiny is opening up, one offering what is infinitely more and better; and how essential that is to a truly human life!

What is the tragedy of unemployment?  It is not (in our society at least) so much that those without work are starving, barely able to exist, but that they have no prospects, no future to look forward to; for a human being can endure, can triumph over, almost any odds so long as he or she has an ideal, a future, to aim at, to hope for, aspire towards.   Repentance – as required by Jesus and taught in Mother Church -- opens us up to that new hope, that new future, which promises not merely earthly well-being, but divine, eternal blessedness; it continually urges us to leave behind the past and to look forward, aiming ever higher.

Being a response to the proximity of the Kingdom of God, repentance is essentially coupled with divine power, and merely to regret our past sins on hearing Jesus’ call could in no way prepare us to be endowed with such power.  For authentic repentance, it is absolutely necessary both to acknowledge the truth about Jesus’ very own Person as Lord and Saviour, and to believe the Good News which He reveals concerning God’s eternal plan of salvation for mankind

          Repent and believe the Good News.

Such indeed is our glorious Christian and Catholic vocation: to hear Mother Church’s proclamation -- in the name of Jesus -- of God’s great goodness, beauty, and truth, and indeed His Personal love for each and every one of us; and, turning away from our sinful selves, to humbly embrace God’s offer of salvation in and through our faith in Jesus.  The devils know but will not believe, and so they cannot repent:

Go into all the world and preach the Gospel …. He who does not believe will be condemned.  (Mark 16:16)

To thus believe in and embrace with Catholic faith Jesus’ very Self and the Good News He proclaims, is to recognize – even here on earth – the truth about God’s sublime goodness and mercy; and it is impossible that one humble enough to thus truly appreciate such Beauty, should not, at the same time, be drawn almost irresistibly towards it.  And there, precisely, is the root of repentance: for despite the convincing us of our own nothingness, disfigurement, and culpability, before God’s  infinite Holiness and Beauty, the fact of being so irresistibly drawn by admiration, yearning, longing and desire, towards that Beauty is, as it were, a deep, deep, God-given tap root, searching out a hitherto unseen and unknown source of fresh, ‘living’ water, and all the while, urging and gently compelling us to a newly discovered calm re-appraisal of our life-situation past, present, and future, one now unshakeably based on Jesus’ Gospel call.

People of God, we should never allow ourselves to be satisfied with what may appear to be past progress or present well-being in our life.  Our Christian repentance and Catholic belief should grow daily in us so that, when the call comes for us to embrace death, we might be found to be truly forgetful of self and filled with humble joy, hope, and trust in the Saviour Who first called us by His Gospel message of Good News, the Lord Who has long guided and sustained us by His Spirit of Truth and Love, the Son Who is now preparing for us a room in His Father’s house.







Thursday, 11 January 2018

2nd Sunday of Year B 2018

 2nd. Sunday of Year (B)
(1 Sam 3:3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42)

As an infant, Samuel had been dedicated by his mother to service in the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, at Shilo under the high priest Eli.  How long he had been thus living and working in the Temple we do not know, but he must have still been little more than a boy or very young man when the event we are about to consider took place; and although he had been working for a few years in the Temple, he did not as yet know the Lord P/personally.  However, because Samuel was destined to become a great prophet in Israel he had to come to such P/personal knowledge of the Lord, and, as you heard, Eli was able to help him make his initial authentic experience of, and give his very first appropriate and personal response to, the Lord God of Israel.

The prophet Jeremiah (31:33-34) had foretold:

“This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.   They will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

That all the people would know the Lord was to be the sign of a time yet to come, it would be the outstanding characteristic of the future Kingdom of God and the time of salvation.  Therefore, since Samuel was to be a prophet of that coming Kingdom, he himself had to come to know the Lord P/personally, and in that he would be foreshadowing what was to be most sublimely fulfilled in and with Jesus.

The gospel reading told us of two disciples of John the Baptist, of whom we know the name of only one, Andrew.  They did not, as yet, know the Lord Jesus, but, being drawn by God towards the Kingdom which Jesus was soon to proclaim and reveal, they felt compelled to seek to know Him better after hearing their master, John, speak of Him so reverentially as being ‘the Lamb of God’:
           
The two disciples heard (John) speak, and they followed Jesus.   And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?"   He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day.

People of God, the reason why Jesus established Mother Church is so that in her, and through her, all who seek Jesus might -- as the prophet Jeremiah had foretold -- learn to know the Lord, each and every one of them, personally.   Jesus has endowed Mother Church with the fullness of His Holy Spirit so that she can, beginning at our baptism and continuing throughout our sacramental lives, gradually bestow upon us something more of that same Spirit Who is given to form us in the likeness of Christ, and to enable us -- in that likeness -- to follow Him until He leads us into the presence of the Father of All Glory, where, knowing the holiness and beauty, goodness and truth, of the infinite and All-Holy God to the utmost of  our personal  being will be our consuming delight for all eternity.

The devils whom Jesus cast out of sufferers during His time on earth frequently cried out claiming to know Him, as St. Mark tells us (1:24; 3:11):

What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy One of God!

Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, "You are the Son of God!"

There we have a clear picture of the Devil, who, on recognizing the Person and holy power of Jesus, could only react with detestation and fear, and whom Jesus would later describe as a liar, the supreme Liar:

You (Jews) are of your father the devil, and you willingly do the desires of your father. …  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

The devil is, by his very nature, first and foremost, a liar: not a murderer, a fornicator, a paedophile or whatever else, no, he is first and foremost, a LIAR and the FATHER OF LIES; and he generates, encourages, and delights in, all forms of sin because he is the Liar.  Therefore, when we find the devil promoting lying imitations of Christian virtues or attitudes -- showing himself for what he really is -- we can be sure that he is at his most dangerous and deadly.  For example, he loves to imitate Christian charity, and in doing so spawns on the one hand, sexual lust calling it ‘love’, and, on the one hand, that ‘laissez faire’, ‘let things be’ attitude, characteristic of irresponsible parents who so “love” their children that they can never teach, correct, or discipline them.  The devil also delights to imitate the Christian virtue of knowing the Lord and he does this by encouraging many Catholics to be quite content with knowing about the Lord but not knowing Him P/personally; and accordingly, they are by no means solicitous about doing His will: they hear the gospels but never take them to heart; they attend Mass, at the Lord’s command, but are always looking forward to the time to leave Church; in fact, they know the Lord’s love for them so well that they like to think that receiving Holy Communion is all that matters.  In all these corruptions we find a people never seriously seeking to personally know the Person of the Lord: they are content with their own fullness, with the result that they never experience any need to open themselves up to Him, in longing for Him.  If you were to question them they would say that they have already found Him, they are in His Church and they keep His main commandments as far as they reasonably can; than that, they cannot see what else might be needed of them.   Being thus deceived by the devil who is the consummate liar, they are content with that stagnant situation, being, apparently, quite unaware of the words of the Lord:

Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

People of God, how different was the attitude of those two disciples of John the Baptist who heard him say on seeing Jesus pass by:

Behold the Lamb of God!

Those two disciples, already no longer disciples of John but disciples-in-desire of Jesus the Lamb of God, were now ardently, almost painfully, aware of their own emptiness, need, hope and longing.   And to those disciples seeking to know Him as Teacher (Rabbi), Jesus simply said:  Come and you will see.

They did just that.  They followed Jesus to His dwelling not to curiously look round it, to know about Him, but to know Him P/personally, to hear, be near to, to admire and learn from, Him; quite possibly they would also have taken the opportunity to open up their souls to Him, before darkness came requiring them to leave and go back to their own dwelling.

People of God, what does Jesus say to you coming out of the crowd perhaps to receive Him in Holy Communion?   His very first words to Andrew and his companion had been:

            What are you looking for, what do you seek?

Could you, queuing in Church to receive Him in Holy Communion, answer such a question?  Could you tell Him what emptiness might be forcing you to Him; what you might be longing for that He alone could give you?

People of God, we must realize that He, the Lord Himself, is in Mother Church, with her, in order to be contacted, found, there, by us, in a one to one relationship of loving appreciation and obedience, in which we will gradually learn from Him to worship the Father as His true children in Jesus.   Mother Church is our atmosphere, she is indeed the only environment in which we can fully prosper, but she is not our end, she is not our goal, she is not our supreme love and longing.

It is quite legitimate, and profoundly true, to take those words of St. Paul which we heard in our second reading today, words spoken directly against all forms of sexual immorality:
           
            You have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body,

in a further perfectly relevant, profitable, and fruitful sense, relating them to our membership of the Body of Christ. You who belong to Mother Church are all members of the Body of Christ, and therefore, the Body of Christ is, in that sense, your body.  Do, then, as St. Paul tells us:

            Glorify God in your Body.

You members of the Body of Christ, you members of His Church on earth, should never allow yourselves to settle down as an anonymous Catholic; it is not enough just to be in Mother Church, to be merely present at Mass as members of the Body of Christ: you should seek above all to personally know and glorify God there, either in your own hearts filled with His praise and love, or among His people, your brethren, whom you seek to serve and exhort as His disciples, for His glory.   Each of you, personally, has been bought at a price, that is your supreme dignity: nobody else, absolutely no one, can thank God, thank Jesus, for you, on your behalf; that is exclusively your own, personal, calling and privilege.  And only if you respond to that individual calling, only if you are personally aware and appreciative of that unique privilege, will you come to know what God still wants to make of you, individually; for without that response you are, and will ever remain, imperfect, and what is more, unfulfilled.      
                                   




Friday, 5 January 2018

Epiphany 2018

The Epiphany of Our Lord (2018)

(Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)



This great solemnity of the Epiphany evokes the majesty, glory, and power, of the Promised One Who comes: a majesty testified to by the Father Himself speaking from heaven at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan; a glory manifested and confirmed again by the voice of the Father at His Transfiguration of Jesus on the mount; a super-abundant power and saving compassion displayed at the wedding feast of Cana where Jesus inconspicuously changed water into rich and copious new wine.  These signs, not only of Jesus’ majesty, glory and power, buy also of His sympathy and compassion, give us unshakeable confidence that what Jesus has promised, He can and will fulfil in and for His Church, in and for you and me gathered here today to praise His most Holy Name. 

As you heard in the Gospel reading, this humble Lord of majesty, glory, and power, is the One to Whom the heavens themselves -- nature’s primeval powers -- gave obedient witness by means of the guiding star; the One Whom the inspired prophets and the ancient scriptures had foretold would come, even disclosing the very place of His birth, Bethlehem in the land of Judah; the One recognized and worshiped by the Magi -- the first-fruits of the Gentiles -- as supreme King, Prophet, and Priest.  Yes indeed, we worshiping People of God are in tune with creation itself, and are united with our ancient fathers and all who, throughout the ages, have humbly searched for God to the best of their abilities; and, being endowed with such a privilege, we have very, very good reason to rejoice on this most holy day.

Our Blessed Lord and Saviour does not reserve this His glory to Himself, as a right understanding of our first reading shows:

Rise up in splendour, Jerusalem (Mother Church)! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.   See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears His glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.

In these days of scandals, contradiction and rejection, we must never forget the truth of Isaiah’s prophecy, for Mother Church is -- even today -- supremely privileged as the spouse of Christ: for her proclamation of Jesus’ Gospel still enables whole peoples surrounded by the darkness of this world to walk safely and surely by the Holy Spirit along the way of Jesus’ teaching; and the shining radiance of her saints is further inspiration for those called by God to themselves triumph by the Spirit and reign with Jesus over the sin of the world.

Let us consider those prophetic words a little more closely:

          Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.

Mother Church can, and does, enrich the world with her proclamation of the truth of Jesus; nevertheless, besides the light of Mother Church’s teaching, the shining radiance of her people’s lives is required that the nations may be brought to walk with confidence and joy in the footsteps of the Lord.   That means, that all of us, each and every ordinary member of the Church. has a necessary role to play in enabling her to fulfil the commission given her by the Lord Jesus to continue in our world today the work of salvation that He started by His own life, death, and resurrection.  How are we to rise to such a calling?

Jesus once told the Samaritan woman asking Him for the water of life:

You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed, the Father seeks such people to worship Him. (John 4:22s.)

The world around us does indeed worship what it does not understand … money and power, pleasure and plenty, self-satisfaction and popular esteem, all so harmful to the well-being of modern, sin-weakened men … while rejecting and mocking that true salvation coming from those ‘Jews’ who believe in Jesus and live by His Spirit, as St. Paul teaches (Romans 2:28s., Philippians 3:3):

One is not a Jew outwardly. True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh.   Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter.

We are the (true) circumcision, we who worship through the Spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put our confidence in flesh.

However, let us not truncate Jesus’ words for, having denied the world’s gospel and exposed its false gods, He went on to tell us how we can show forth the shining radiance of Mother Church:

The hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed, the Father seeks such people to worship Him.

That is the only, worthy, programme we can set before ourselves as disciples of Jesus in the world of today, to worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, that is, to worship the Father in the Spirit and according to the Truth of Jesus’ Good News.

The Word of God, the Good News of Jesus’ proclamation made during His time on earth and continuing in His Church through all ages and all lands, is a word that does not return empty to God:

The word that goes forth from My mouth shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

That means, that if we hear and embrace the truth of Jesus’ Good News in sincerity, seeking to understand, love, and serve Him, and thus come to knowledge of the One Who sent Him; that is, if we sincerely seek Jesus and not ourselves, then that Word, that Truth, will achieve the end for which it has been passed down for our hearing and will set the Spirit at work in us: the Spirit of prayer Who supplies for our inability to pray at times, the Spirit of power Who enables us to do what is beyond our natural powers. 

Having found Jesus and worshiped Him in Spirit and in Truth, the Magi did not find it hard to leave without meeting Herod again.  There was much splendour awaiting them in Herod’s palace, there were many gifts on his tables and flattery a-plenty from his own lips and those of his courtiers, but what was that in comparison with the peace and joy they had just experienced in the cave at Bethlehem?  Could those who there had been so privileged to hear or hear of the angels’ chorus, ever want to hear, let alone be seduced by, the siren music of Herod’s dancers and the lascivious pleasures of scents and cushions, voluptuousness and wine?

For all who have made the Magi’s trip to Bethlehem and have begun to worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, the following words of St. Paul (Philippians 3:13s.) express all that is necessary and desirable:

Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

However, it is essential for us in the present troubled times for Mother Church to realize just what we are meant to be fighting against … what programme of Jesus we are called to give our lives (and deaths!) to furthering.

The stark challenge of Jesus to the world of today is the same as that which He made abundantly clear to the leaders and people of the Jewish theocracy at the beginning of His public ministry: He had come to destroy sin in the Chosen People’s practice of their divinely-covenanted faith, and – for love of His own Person, and through faith in His spoken words and in the Father Who had sent Him to speak those words – to eradicate sin from the hearts and minds of His authentic disciples by the Gift of His own most Holy Spirit and the solemn promise of eternal life as children of God.

That challenge of Jesus is Mother Church’s commission, her work in and for the world of today.  She must seek to destroy sin in the religious, social, political, and economic world man has created, and to do that she must seek to destroy sin in individual men, and above all in each and every one of us who profess ourselves proud to have received our Catholic inheritance.

Mother Church’s task today is not to re-convert peoples who have tasted and rejected Christianity, by making things easier, cosier, more natural (not so super-natural!), for their practice.  Her task now is to propose to all men and women of good will the glory of Jesus   proclaimed by the Apostles and maintained throughout the ages by her dogmatic Tradition and her enduring response of disciplined obedience; to help men and women of today look humbly at Jesus and -- glimpsing something of His Personal goodness, beauty, and truth -- to gladly and gratefully recognize their own suffering from sin, yes, their own sinfulness, and to joyfully accept the privilege of being able to hope for the purity of  eternal life in Jesus, by the Spirit, as prospectively glorious members of God the Father’s heavenly family.

As you therefore seek in all sincerity to keep fresh in your hearts and hear ever-anew in Mother Church the Word of God, the star that God’s unfailing Word will most certainly cause to rise for you and within you -- usually without you noticing it – will guide you if you try to follow it as did the Magi of old. 

People of God -- you chosen of the Father -- let that leading light draw you to worship Jesus whole-heartedly as the Father expects of each of you personally.  In that way your meeting with Jesus will be one of incomparable joy for you; and, as you give your gifts to Him you will begin to find your true selves, each of you being gradually trans-formed into a unique likeness of the Son, by the Holy Spirit, and as a personal gift for the Father, one to be endowed with a family place of honour at His eternal banquet of divine love.