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 July 2019

17th Sunday Year C 2019


17th. Sunday, Year (C)
(Genesis 18:20-32; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13)







Our Gospel reading today is all about prayer: Jesus gave us what we call the "Lord’s Prayer", and then He told us a parable exhorting us to persevere in prayer.



I was very struck by those final words of His:



If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"



How many people, in their prayers, ask to be given the Holy Spirit?  Surely, most who, in their prayer, ask to be given something, ask for a blessing suited to this world: health, food, success, comfort, strength, or whatever, for themselves or for those dear to them.  Now, it is clear from the prayer Jesus gave us that He does not disapprove of such requests: for He gave us words asking for bread, forgiveness, and protection; and He Himself, in His own personal prayer, frequently asked His Father to strengthen and guide Him.  So how is it then that He speaks, in the verse I have just quoted, as though the heavenly Father gives only the Holy Spirit, no matter what we might request?



We have here a wonderful example of the hidden riches of Holy Scripture!  We do pray for all sorts of blessings for ourselves and, as the example of Abraham encouraged us to do, also for others.  When, in such prayers, we pray according to the will of God, He hears our prayers and grants our requests: but He does this through the Holy Spirit, ever secretly at work in our lives and in our world. 

Even more important, however, is the implicit teaching contained in those words of Jesus: namely, that we can ask for nothing better than the gift of the Holy Spirit: and this is because He is, Personally, the "Gift of God" which means that He, the Holy Spirit, is the Gift-above-all the Father wants to give us, and Jesus wants us to receive; and therefore He is, indeed, the supreme Gift for which a disciple of Jesus can, and should, pray.

Let us try to understand why.



In the first reading we had the vague hint of the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity - three Persons in one God – found in the furthest layers of the Old Testament:



The Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the outcry against them that comes to Me.  I mean to find out.”  Then Abraham’s visitors walked on farther toward Sodom, but the Lord remained standing before Abraham.

Three "men" had come to Abraham's camp in the heat of the day and had accepted his hospitality; then, as you heard, they spoke as one: "The Lord said … I will go down to Sodom."  Not, "we will go down", but "I will go down".  However, we are then told that it was two of the three who "turned away and went toward Sodom” while Abraham was still standing before the Lord.  Somehow those heavenly guests of Abraham were one and three. 



As you know, the Son and the Holy Spirit were sent by the Father on earth -- as it were to sinful Sodom -- for our salvation.  The Son was born of Mary and was called Jesus because He it was Who would die and rise again to free us from our sins.  And in fact, after dying on the Cross Jesus rose to heaven as He had foretold (Luke 22:69):

               

Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God. 



Then it was that the Holy Spirit came down upon the Church to extend Jesus' salvation to all mankind.



This had been foreshadowed in Psalm 110:



The LORD said to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool."



Jesus, therefore, having conquered sin and death, is now seated at the right of God the Father in glory, while the Holy Spirit -- working in and through Mother Church for all men and women of good will -- makes His enemies and the enemies of our salvation into a footstool for His feet.



Now, perhaps, you can begin to see why we should want to receive, above all other gifts, this Gift of God, the Holy Spirit, into our lives.



For He is, first of all, the Spirit of Truth, Who alone can lead us to the fulness of truth concerning Jesus, His purposes, and His will:



When the Helper comes, Whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (John 15:26)



Again, He is the Spirit of holiness:



Jesus Christ our Lord was declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead. (Romans 1:4)



Who, therefore, can lead us to holiness of life more surely than the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Holiness?



Moreover, He alone knows God's will for us, what He expects of you and me individually, and what He has prepared for us:



            No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11)



The Holy Spirit knows us through and through: for if, according to the Scriptures, no other human being can know us as we know ourselves:



What man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?

           



How much more true is it then, that the Holy Spirit -- Who knows the things of God Himself and Who dwells in the hidden depths and secret folds of every human heart -- knows us infinitely better than we could ever know ourselves?



Finally, we should pray for God's Gift because Jesus Himself has put this request first and foremost in the prayer He taught His disciples:



            Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.



Only the Spirit of holiness can hallow the Father's name; and He, moreover, is the One Who has been sent by the Father to make Jesus' enemies a footstool under His feet and thus bring in the Kingdom of God:



            Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.



People of God, Mother Church is suffering greatly today for the sins of the world no doubt, but also for the sins of too many of her own children.  Mother Church suffers in, and is influenced by, a society that today, is bound, thwarted, and corrupted by a self-righteous political correctness, moral abandonment and spiritual lawlessness, which grows ever stronger among men in our western world.  The law, politicians, and government ministers of all sorts, here and abroad, strike attitudes and use pretentious words that, often enough, serve no other purpose than to hide, cover up, not only human ineptitude and institutional malfunctions, but also personal greed and malpractice of all sorts.  The desire for power over others and personal pleasure can and does lead men and women of apparent rectitude to do great evil in secret; while the desire for popular acceptance together with the fear of public disapproval, motivate many much more forcefully than does obedience to God or respect for their fellow man.  Therefore, we must remember:



We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)



We must treasure "the things freely given to us by God", that is, our faith, His truth and grace, and the hope which it inspires in us.  We have to reject the worldly craving for power, pleasure, and popularity if we would hope to have the Holy Spirit of God at work in us: forming us, secretly but surely, in the likeness of Jesus.  The world loves to plan and plot now for its own future profit and advantage; we, as disciples of Jesus, must live in the present in such a way as to give witness to the truth of Jesus’ Good News, and to sustain and nourish our hope for an eternal destiny of human full-filment and heavenly beatitude in the family of God our Eternal Father, with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of Divine Love and Life.   And that, we can only do by the active rejection of sin in the present and the persevering practice of prayer for the future.  



Which one of you convicts Me of sin? (John 8:46)



We can, as did Jesus in the desert, turn away from temptation and reject sin in our lives by His grace and the power of His Spirit Whom He shares with us; and in thus fighting to overcome sin in our lives we will, ultimately, grow in true virtue. The acquisition of holiness, however, is not within our sphere of competence, so to speak: we cannot plan to become holy of and for ourselves, for such endeavours, be they moved by spiritual simplicity or, more likely, by spiritual ambition, by virtue of their being fatally flawed with presumption, can result in nothing more than an imitation holiness for human appreciation and praise.  God alone is Holy, and true holiness for a child of God is not a worldly commodity to be humanly conceived and fabricated, so to speak; neither is it even the faithful following of a predetermined path apparently walked by saints or taught by spiritual guides: it is a human sharing in the very nature of God, and only persevering prayer can help us toward that which is essentially God’s Gift alone;  and even then, such prayer is largely a matter of listening and longing, looking, waiting and aspiring, trusting and delighting, come what may.



The Holy Spirit, the Gift of God, alone can lead us to that holiness which God wants of us individually: He is the Spirit of holiness; indeed, He is the Spirit of Love, and the love of Jesus is the only truly authentic holiness for human beings.  We have to humbly and perseveringly pray for that; firmly trusting that the Father, of His great mercy and goodness, will give it to us for Jesus' sake, in His own way and to according to His own measure, not as the world or our own pride would have it.



Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on a day such as this, let us confidently and whole-heartedly renew our hope in His promise:



If you who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?




Friday, 19 July 2019

16th Sunday Year C 2019


16th Sunday of Year (C)

(Genesis 18:1-10; Colossians 1:24-28; St. Luke 10:38-42)






Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if you remember, last Sunday’s Gospel reading about the Good Samaritan taught us that love of neighbour should be the norm of any authentic Christian life; and St. Luke now continues in today’s Gospel reading to tell us how Martha and Mary expressed their love for their very near and very dear friend, Jesus of Nazareth.  This is of supreme importance for us since all love of neighbour must spring from love of God and Jesus is uniquely our Neighbour, being both our God and our nearest and dearest Friend, Who comes closer to us in Holy Communion than any other can possibly do.

Yes, in the Eucharistic Sacrifice Jesus, by the power of the Spirit and out of love and obedience for His Father, gives Himself entirely to us and for us.  Oh! How our Catholic and Christian faith reaches to the very marrow of our human life and being!  For, as life in human society would teach us, the greatest sign of love for another is not doing things for people, but giving oneself to or for them.  One can have friends who would gladly and generously do things for us, but only one spouse or supreme friend who will actually give themselves to us or for us.  Again, one can pay many to do things for us, but if one were to try to pay such a spouse or friend for their gift of love, then it would be a great insult. 

Martha was intent on doing something for Jesus; Mary was so taken up with Jesus’ presence and teaching that she forgot everything else: she forgot her own self and her own sister’s expectations and opinion as she sat engrossed. listening to His words.

The Catholic Church has always had, fundamentally, a very concrete response to her Lord and Saviour, and that is why she has always considered and taught that the contemplative life – one given over entirely in love and attention to Jesus – is a supreme manifestation of Christian love, and her Tradition has always seen this story of Martha and Mary as teaching and vindicating that attitude.

Martha was a capable and industrious woman who loved Our Lord.  She seized every opportunity to do things for Him.  Mary also loved Our Lord but she was more inclined to:

            Sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to His teaching.

To sit at the feet of an authoritative person was to be that person’s pupil, disciple, as St. Paull tells us that he, as a young Jew:

Was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel and educated according to the strict manner of the Law of our fathers. (Acts 22:3)

Martha was concerned about Jesus’ physical needs most especially as she saw them affecting her.  Mary, on the other hand, had forgotten all about herself as she heard Jesus’ teaching which demanded her listening.

Do you remember how King David, once securely settled on his throne, thought that now he would do something for Israel’s God: he would build God a proper house to dwell in, a splendid new temple.  However, God sent the prophet Nathan to remind David who was who.  He, God, would build David a house; as for Himself being offered a temple He had not asked for, that could come later when it would be given more appropriately.  You noticed, I trust, that there had been a measure of condescension in David’s attitude to the Lord and Master of All?

Mary, however, had no such tendency to forget her place before the Lord: He was the One giving as He spoke, she was the needy one who should listen with love and gratitude.

For Jesus was not just sitting around waiting for something to eat; no, He was teaching everyone in the house and although Martha would not consciously say that such teaching was not for her, nevertheless, her basic attitude was showing itself, was being revealed.  She loved Our Lord, undoubtedly, but with a tendency to make Him dependent on her, not really and certainly not fully, realizing her need of Him.  And what was making things worse was the fact that Mary was not following her lead as the elder sister!  Martha obviously thought that there would be time enough when the food had been given and the household work finished … though we may suspect that Martha was one of those persons whose work is never finished.

Jesus, fully aware of Martha’s emotional involvement, urged her to get her priorities right, by saying quite bluntly the simple and necessary truth … how many Bishops and priests water down the Faith by trying to make things sound nice, fearing they might possibly offend listeners by proclaiming the Faith truth-fully!! …

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.

Dear People of God, as we continue with this Mass let us pray that we may love Our Lord truly as did both Martha and Mary; let us also pray that -- with Mary - we may never allow ourselves to be distracted by the cares of this world, above all by self-imposed and self-satisfying tasks that are not part of God’s plan; let us pray too that we may ever be ready both to listen when He speaks to us and work when He calls on us; and finally, let us beseech our heavenly Father that, as His true children in Jesus by His Spirit, we may come to ultimately experience the joy of finding that we too have chosen the better part.










Friday, 12 July 2019

15th Sunday Year C 2019


 15th. Sunday, Year C
(Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37)





My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading from the book of Deuteronomy we heard:



The Word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.



Now listen to the New Testament and recognize the difference:



The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  (John 1:14)



That first reading almost all religions can accept, for all have their own teachings which they hand down over the generations with like encouragement: ‘the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it’.  And the peoples thus shepherded do think that they can obey the teaching they have received -- whatever it may be -- and find the salvation promised by, for example, Mahomet, Confucius, Buddha, and others; all following the same principle: listen, learn, do, and you will find what is promised.  And, in the book of Deuteronomy, we heard what actually was promised in the Old Testament:

The Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock, and the crops of your land.   The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers. (30:9)



Promises were made which would attract mankind: prosperity, children, success and security ... everyone can appreciate such things, and most indeed want them ardently.  Such promises were given to encourage the Chosen People to do what all religious mankind likes to think they can do: listen to the teaching, learn from it, and then practise it in order to then receive the promised rewards.



However, the People of Israel were God’s Chosen People and though they tried for nearly two thousand years they never fully succeeded in keeping God’s Law, and that was the purpose of God’s Providence, because they alone of all peoples had to learn and could learn the existential fact and spiritual truth that sin was in the world and was indeed ruling over men:



            As it is written, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’ (Romans 3:10)



The revelationary fact is that God was leading His Chosen People – ultimately for the good of mankind -- to a previously unappreciated awareness of the human  condition and the unfathomed depth of human sinfulness; and thus –  most gently and gradually -- opening their minds and hearts to an initial comprehension of the hidden presence and power of sin in mens lives and of Satan’s personal dominion over them ... before ultimately leading them to a stark and crystal-clear realization that their need for salvation and the price of their redemption could only be met by the infinite goodness, power, and faithfulness of the one true God of their fathers: ‘don’t think you have only hear the truth and you will recognise it and be able to practise it; you are in far, far greater need than that!’



The Word became flesh and lived among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)



The Word was not just audible sounds making instructive teaching; no, the Word was a Person, the very Person of the Son of God, and Christian salvation would come from faith in Him, communion with Him, and obedience to the Spirit He bestows on His disciples:



Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.  (John 14:6)



The promises made in the New Testament are not for earthly joys on a bigger and grander scale, for as we learn from St. John (1:12-13):



To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God; children born not of natural descent, not of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.



Through faith in, communion with, Jesus, we are called -- by His Spirit -- to love God our Father as His adopted children:



With all our heart and with all our soul, and with all our strength and with all our mind.



And for the ultimate glory of the Father Who loved us and sent His beloved Son among us as our Saviour and Redeemer, we must also come to:

           

To love our neighbour as ourselves. (Luke 10:27)



Only thus would the ultimate prayer of Jesus (John 17:23) be fulfilled:



That they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that You (Father) sent Me, and have loved them even as You have loved Me.



And so, People of God, let us all clearly recognise that we are not just to hear the teaching handed down – the teaching of Jesus and of His Church – and try to keep it of ourselves; because we most certainly cannot keep it of ourselves and any attempt to do so would be thinking presumptuously of ourselves and showing no true appreciation of Jesus our Saviour.  We have to aim in all things at communion with Jesus, that is why He gives Himself to us in the Eucharist:



Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remain in Me and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (John 6:53-57)



Through Jesus’ presence, and obedience to the Spirit He bestows on us in the Eucharist, and through the manifold helps provided by our sharing in the life and communion of Mother Church, we can, and must, learn to love Him supremely Who became a human being like us, because, as St. Paul tells us (Colossians 1:16, 20):



All things were created through Him and for Him, and God the Father wants all things to be reconciled through Him and for Him;



and then will be fulfilled those words of the Psalmist:



Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn and your cause like the noonday sun. (37:5-6)




Friday, 5 July 2019

14th Sunday Year C 2019


14th. Sunday (C)
(Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians: 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20)





In the Gospel reading for last week, the 13th. Sunday, St. Luke told us that: 



Jesus, resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and sent messengers ahead of Him.  On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for His reception there, but they would not welcome Him, because the destination of His journey was Jerusalem.



Today we learn that, subsequently:



The Lord appointed seventy-two others whom He sent ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit.



We can appreciate that Jesus had originally sent a single pair of messengers (the sons of Thunder, James and John!!) to the Samaritan village appearing before Him on His way to Jerusalem; but what a difference now: He sends 72 others ahead of Him, two by two!!  Why such a striking difference, why such a specific number? 



The first disciples had been sent to a village on the way to prepare an overnight resting place for Jesus and His disciples, but they had not been welcomed by the villagers concerned. Today’s mission would seem to have been sent symbolically to the whole world, in preparation for Jesus’ coming to the whole of mankind in the persons of the twelve Apostles and His universal Church; for there were 70 ancients of Israel, plus Moses and Aaron, to ratify the Covenant of Sinai; there were also 70 leaders in Israel, plus Eldad and Medad who were given a share in Moses’ prophetic spirit when he found it too hard to lead Israel alone; there were also 70 nations on earth we are told in Genesis (10).



These are the clans of the sons of Noah, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. (Genesis 10:32)



In sending out the 72 messengers to foreshadow – for Jesus Himself and for the 72 participants -- the proclamation of God’s saving word by the Apostles and Mother Church to mankind in need, Jesus was recalling both the Old Covenant ... now to be replaced by the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood, and the old prophetic message of Moses … now to be replaced by the Good News of Jesus.  On the return of the 72 – rejoicing -- we are told, Jesus revealed the momentous, indeed the apocalyptic, import of their symbolic work of evangelization:



I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.  Behold, I have given you the power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.



You will remember the following incident from the Acts of the Apostles when the Gospel message of Paul and Barnabas (one of the 72) was rejected by the Jews at Antioch:



When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul say saying.  Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ‘We had to speak the Word of God to you first.  Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.  For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”’  (Acts 13:45-47)



Paul, a supreme disciple of Jesus, may well have known of Jesus’ rejection by the Samaritans (regarded, in those days, as bastard Jews) and of course -- thanks to his missionary companion Barnabas -- of His symbolic ‘world’ mission of 72 followers of which Luke alone gives us information.   However that may be, the fact is that Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey in the name of the Church of Christ, followed Jesus’ command and, in the power of His Spirit, took the word of God – after its rejection by the Jews of Antioch -- to the nations, thereby initiating the demise of Satan’s power so dramatically seen in anticipation by Jesus.



Oh, for a mind and heart able to see and appreciate something of the wonder of God’s wisdom and beauty to be found in the Scriptures of Mother Church:  Jesus sending out the 72 not only recalls the beginnings of mankind and of God’s direct dealings with His Chosen People but also foresees,  from their endeavours in His name, the ultimate downfall of Satan, and the heavens opened to welcome back those washed clean in the blood of the Lamb!!



Let us now look at another aspect of today’s Gospel reading:



Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.  Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand.’  I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.



And we have verse 16 omitted in our reading today:



He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me.



Notice; those who reject – indeed, even those who do not welcome, will not listen to -- the Word, will be rejected.  How can that be?  It can only be because mankind, being made in the image and likeness of God, is made for the Word of God, as Jesus said at the very beginning of His Messianic struggle with Satan;



Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  (Matthew 4:4)



How Mother Church suffers today from those who are constantly seeking to adapt that Word to the world’s expectations, desires, and even demands!



The authentic Good News of Jesus in all its integrity is the natural food for those whom God has made in His own likeness.  Just as a child finds its natural food at its mother’s breast, so too mankind is made in such a fashion as to find supernatural nourishment and indeed spiritual delight from the Word of God and the Sacrament of His Church:



For thus says the Lord: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.  As nurslings you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.  When you see this your hearts shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the Lord’s power shall be known to His servants.



We are made for God; and if, ultimately, we cannot rejoice over, will not welcome, do not trust, His Word of Truth and His Spirit of Love, then we will die. And there can be no excuse for we would have destroyed our very selves.



People of God, today the Western world is, in so many ways, literally falling over itself to separate itself from any acceptance of the wisdom of an authoritative and loving God: when ‘husband’ is not to refer, necessarily, to a man, nor ‘wife’ to a woman, when, in fact, ‘husband’ can be a woman, ‘wife’ can be a man;  when children are no longer God’s gift to human nature, but can be of individual procurement: proclaimed as loving and caring, of course, but against the very nature of the ‘procured, loved’ child, born of the union of  man and woman to receive the fulness of humanity:



He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’.   (Matthew 19:4)



In these modern times of moral darkness when passing ideas and current fancies, mistaken ideals, and febrile, fruitless, hopes are picked up and proclaimed by so many seeking to be their own masters in all things, and attempting so proudly to masterfully guide their society and the world around from their own pitifully and appallingly limited awareness and understanding, we can profitably notice and learn from St. Paul’s words in our second reading:



Peace and mercy to all who follow the rule of Christ; for through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the world is being crucified to us, and we ourselves to the world.  Let nothing make trouble for you, for you are part of a new creation.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.