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, 10 July 2020

15th Sunday Year A 2020


15th. Sunday of Year (A)
(Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23)
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You may well have thought that the sower in the Gospel parable did a pretty careless job: sowing on patches of rock, and among thorns; and one popular translation apparently tries to make the sower seem a little more accurate in his work by saying that some seeds ‘fell on the edge of the path’!   That, however, though verbally more precise, is not accurate enough for most modern translations, which say quite clearly:

            Some seed fell on the path and birds came and ate it up.         

All this is, however, can be understood if we realize that in Palestine of Jesus’ day sowing preceded ploughing; hence, in the parable, the sower is depicted as striding over the unploughed stubble.  As he sows on all hands, he knowingly allows some seed to fall on the path which locals have made walking through the stubble, since he thinks that such seed should be able to take root well enough when he comes along to plough up that unwanted footpath.  Also, we should not be surprised that some grains fall upon rocky ground, for the underlying limestone -- thinly covered with soil -- hardly shows above the surface and is not noticed until the ploughshare jars against it!   It is more surprising that he allows seed to fall among the thorns in the fallow, but that may well be because he is a working man who simply has neither the time nor the energy ... even if he has the patience! ... to keep stopping and starting, avoiding first this and then that; he needs must work over the whole field in order to get the job done in preparation for the seasonal weather and, as I have said, to have some hope for, possibly, just a little bit extra this time – most welcome to his relative poverty -- from what might appear to be the otherwise fruitless patches of land.  How many circumstances there were to frustrate, even thwart, the sower’s labours!  How much there was that could dishearten him!   
Nevertheless, he had known a few years – so treasured in his memory – when quite wonderful crops had resulted:
            Some a hundred-fold, some sixty, some thirty!!
Crops beyond expectations, larger by far than those other harvests that he had also known and remembered for the paucity of their yield!
Dear People of God, this was a parable meant by Our Blessed Lord to show – on the one hand -- that the rich blessings of God’s Kingdom here on earth will come to fruition despite what might be the insignificant beginnings, and slow, laborious, development of that Kingdom, and despite all human opposition that might make it appear -- humanly speaking – impossible for it to succeed.
My 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.
The Kingdom of God will, indeed, come for those who have firm faith in Jesus and patient trust in God’s great goodness and mercy; because those wonderfully prophetic words from Isaiah are fulfilled most sublimely in the very Person of Jesus Himself:
My Word (My beloved Son-made-flesh) shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent (Him).
And so, in Our Lord’s own life on earth among men, He suffered ‘social obstructions and human opposition’ to such an extent that He – the very Son of God made man -- died maligned and even hated, left alone and deserted: an abject failure in the sight of men.  But, His trust in His Father was unshaken; He committed Himself without reserve to Him:

            Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.
The Kingdom of God in our souls expands to its full extent in the same way.  With the sower we must do our best: first, to set out with confidence each recurring season to work well and then to trust, calmly and firmly, in the goodness of God, our Father.  We must, however, work at the whole field: not only in the good parts, but also in those which are thorny and stony, on the trodden down and hard pathway;  we must work not only at that which comes easier to us, but also in those areas of life which we find it more difficult, where the rough, stony, mediocre ground seems more abundant than the fertile.  The point is, we must work at our whole being-before-God with simple sincerity, and quiet, persevering, endeavour, and then trust in God with calm peace, and confident expectancy.  Results are His gift, for His glory, and for our greater well-being and true joy.
Then the disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Why do You speak to the people in parables?’  He said to them in reply, ‘Because they look but do not see, and hear but do not listen or understand.’
It was no arbitrary decision of Our Lord which led to Him speak in parables to the people.  No, it was the inevitable consequence of, and a most appropriate accommodation with, the poor dispositions of those who listened to Him.  With a parable He offered them wisdom and life, hidden in a tale, in a little human story, they might find interesting enough to remember, one in which, one day, they might be able to glimpse and appreciate something of the hidden life contained in it.
That is why we, dear People of God, as disciples of Jesus, must work at the whole field of our lives.  It is not enough to be good to our own family, if we are deaf and blind to the needs of others; it is not enough to be sober and thrifty if we are also ill-tempered or wrapped up in the things of this world; it is not enough to say, ‘I don’t do anyone any harm’ if we don’t seek to promote anything good because it is good; it is not enough to be a ‘good mum’ if you want children more for your pleasure or your imagined fulfilment, rather than for your children’s prospective good.
What beauty we see or what truth we hear, what love we conceive, depends so very much on who we are; that is, on what we have made of ourselves thus far:
            They look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
A man who is lustful may be generous hearted and hard working – but he cannot rightly conceive or meditate upon the love of God, because love for him has a twisted meaning; he cannot really imagine or appreciate a disinterested love or deep soul-satisfying joy because pleasure and passion clouds and distorts his outlook.  And such distortion spreads elsewhere and can come to contaminate all we do unless we react firmly against it and any other such vices which have found a place in our character and a part in our life.  If we are slaves in one aspect of our life, we cannot be truly free in any other, because we are not really ourselves, the selves God intended us to be.  As Jesus said in this respect:
To anyone who has, more will be given, and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
And so, People of God, I would recommend you today to aim at being consistent in your endeavours to let God’s W/word take root, and God’s Kingdom come to reign, in your lives ... not just in one part, but in the whole of your lives, for that alone will bring true, lasting, joy and peace into your hearts:
Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear!  Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it; to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
Yes, you will find God at work in your life, you will become aware of Him speaking in your heart, and you will rejoice as they alone can rejoice who have found a love beyond compare, a love which time can never tarnish nor changing circumstances disturb.  That, indeed, is the aim of all our religious practices: to recognize and respond with love to God in all aspects and occurrences of life; to see God’s beauty and loveable-ness in all persons and in all things, and to rejoice in Him with all our heart:
             I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
May we have that purpose fulfilled both here and in eternity, through Jesus Christ Our Lord, and may His Gospel parable for today influence and guide our whole lives, for the sower did his utmost to get the very best out of the land he had; and so should, so must, we!




Friday, 3 July 2020

14th Sunday Year A 2020


 14th. Sunday of year (A)
  (Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30)

Recall the picture painted of the King-to-come in the first reading from the prophecy of Zechariah:

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your King shall come to you; a just Saviour is He, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; The warrior’s bow shall be banished, and He shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 
 
The King-to-come whom the prophet foretold is, of course, Jesus, who will establish God’s kingdom over all the earth, proclaiming peace and banishing war, in all, a just Saviour, Who by His victory over sin and death, will conquer the power of Satan and free mankind from its thraldom to sin.

How will He free mankind?  St. Paul told us in our second reading that Jesus, the Risen Lord, embraces all who turn to Him at His Father’s call, and bestows on them a Gift, the Holy Spirit, Who will abide with them and in them:

If the Spirit of the One Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, you are not in the flesh, and the One Who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you.  If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

A just Saviour, indeed, is He Who gives the Gift of His Spirit to those who, answering His Father’s call, believe in Him; that is the background painted by the prophet Zechariah and by Saint Paul, and with that background in mind we can well understand Jesus’ words in the Gospel:

Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden light.

Jesus is inviting those who believe in Him and His Good News to come to Him and take His yoke upon themselves, that is to embrace and obey His gift of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of Truth and of Love, that He might free them from their thraldom to sin and introduce them into His Kingdom where the Spirit rules:

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

We come across Jesus calling out publicly ‘Come to Me’ again on the occasion of one of Israel’s greatest feasts when crowds were everywhere to be found:

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture says, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 
 
And then St. John (7:37-39) goes on to tell us:

He spoke this concerning the Spirit, Whom those believing in Him would receive; for the  Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet  glorified.

We have other words of Jesus reported by St. Matthew (25:31-36) where He speaks openly of His Kingdom:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory ... all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.

The Kingdom to be thus fully manifested when Jesus comes in glory was inaugurated in the very first ‘church’ preaching of the word of Jesus as St. Luke (10:1-2.9) tells us:

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go (saying): ‘Heal the sick there, and say to them, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.”’

And so, dear People of God, know yourselves, your situation, and your calling: you have heard the call of the Father, and the Good News of Jesus proclaimed to you by Mother Church; you have been made -- through baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit – an adult member of the Body of Christ and a privileged citizen not indeed of the Roman Empire but of the Kingdom of God, and as such, the Holy Spirit is now reminding you that, as a responsible citizen of that Kingdom and loyal disciple of its King and Lord, you should learn to fight against the enemies of that Kingdom in  the strength that He gives now and will give you, that is, against sin in your own life first of all, and then -- according to the measure of your endowment by the Spirit – against sin in the world around.

Let us now turn back to St. Paul in our second reading that we may learn what this, our Christian struggle and fight against sin, involves:

Brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Life lived according to the flesh: a settled practice, that is, of living in accordance with our bodily lusts and vengeful desires, will lead us to death, eternal death; because such passions when indulged make slaves of those who give way to, and learn to delight in, them: slaves who take no account the needs of others, have no respect for the harmonious balance and blend of nature, and who totally ignore the fullness and beauty of our being as planned for each one of us by God, our heavenly Father.  The restraining of such native selfishness, the curbing and destruction of blind bodily lusts and longings for revenge, the restraining discipline and careful training of all unruly impulses, is what St. Paul means when he speaks of ‘putting to death the deeds of the body by the S/spirit’, for it is only through the Spirit communing with our spirit, recalling and enabling us to appreciate the teaching of Jesus, that we can find strength to walk perseveringly in accordance with the light of life.

However, dear friends in Christ, there is another aspect of Jesus’ teaching to be found in promises such as this:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 10:10-11, 15:11)

For ultimately, dear People of God, it is joy in the Lord that most truly saves us, because Jesus came as Saviour that we might have life in fulfilment of our being: not earthly life as we know it, not an earthly life to delight in and learn to wallow in, but the life for which we were originally made, the life for which we are intended, the life of the Risen Jesus, Who has conquered sin and death on our behalf, and Who now calls us to follow Him where He -- our Head – awaits us, urging us to let ourselves be born anew, by His Spirit, as members of His Body.  Our Head, Jesus, is in heaven, and we, His disciples on earth, can be born anew to a life leading heaven-wards where HE our Head awaits us as His Body, born anew to a life of total fulfilment for us, because it will be a life in the context of the Divine Life of Beatitude, where the bonds of mutual Truth and Love, Troth indeed,  eternally embrace Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.






Saturday, 27 June 2020

SS. Peter and Paul 2020


SS. Peter & Paul 
(Acts 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Saint Matthew’s Gospel 16:13-19)


Today we are “called out” – that is what the word ‘ecclesia’ translated into English as ‘church’ – means.  Today we are called out to church (where coronavirus allows!) to praise and glorify God in and through His beloved Son; for, gathered together in Mother Church we are in true contact with, and are called to have intimate P/personal communion with Jesus, and to be filled with His most Holy Spirit Who is the very Life of the Church.  Therefore, with joy and great gratitude we should today celebrate Peter and Paul as chosen and commissioned by Jesus -- each in their own way -- as founders of Mother Church.

Let us first of all notice the differences between the two as founders.  Take Peter first of all.  Jesus said to him:  

And so I say to you, you are Peter (which means ‘rock’ in Aramaic the language Jesus spoke) 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. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus willed to build, establish, His Church on the rock of Peter’s confession of faith, that faith for which Jesus Himself prayed:

I have prayed for you, Simon (Peter) that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.  (Luke 22:32)

Now listen to the Lord telling Ananias about the work Paul would do for His name among the Gentiles and Jews of the Diaspora (Acts 9:15):

The Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go!  The man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.

Peter was established by Jesus as the foundation rock for the faith of the universal Church; he was also, as the ultimate support and defence for the Church, given supreme authority in the Church.  Paul, on the other hand, was commissioned by  Jesus for the spread of the Church and the world-wide proclamation of His Gospel message; he it was who would take the name of Jesus to the Gentiles and still today, Paul as the first and greatest theologian of Mother Church, continues in his mission by helping us to an ever richer appreciation of Jesus’ Good News as we try to deepen our understanding of his writings.

There is yet something more about Peter which I wish to draw to your attention, dear People of God, because in the Gospel we are not only told that Jesus chose Peter as the foundation rock for His Church, but also why Jesus made that choice:

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Notice that!  When Jesus asked ‘Who do people say I am?’ all the apostles answered Him.  But when He then went on to ask:

            But who do you say that I am?

then only one of them answered, one speaking clearly for himself and also for all the others silently accepting his words:

             Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus then chose Peter as ‘Rock’ because He saw that His heavenly Father had already chosen him by giving him a unique awareness of Jesus’ true identity:

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father.

What confidence we should have in Mother Church!  She is founded on the rock of Peter’s confession of faith which, as the Foundation Rock, can never be denied, lost or taken from the Church and which is therefore, a Rock still with us today in the figure of the Pope; and Jesus Himself still prays for the faith of that foundation rock of His Church because, as God’s well-beloved Son, He sees that such is His Father’s will. 

Moreover, we should also have sure trust in God’s loving Providence at work in Mother Church for the continual spread, unfolding, and appreciation of the authentic understanding of Jesus’ Gospel, begun in Paul’s lifetime and committed to posterity in his letters (heard  and approved first of all by the other Apostles gathered in Jerusalem (cp. Galatians 2:1-5) some of which are the earliest, surely acknowledged, pages of our New Testament Scriptures, a continuing process which is being guided and sustained by the Holy Spirit given, as Jesus promised, to lead Mother Church into all truth.

Notice that, People of God: Jesus prays for the faith of Peter -- the Rock – with us in the person of the Pope; the Holy Spirit spreads and deepens, purifies and confirms, the faith of Paul proclaimed to the Gentiles in his letters.  There have been troubles for Mother Church only when men (even cardinals!) have tried to use the person of the Pope to the detriment of the teaching of Paul.

Notice also that we celebrate Peter and Paul together in one great solemnity which seems a little strange when you think that there is a Pope among us, a living successor of Peter, but there is no named and acknowledged person who is successor to Paul.  What therefore is the ‘duality’ we celebrate today with such pomp and with such fitting and enduring gratitude and expectancy?  It is the oneness of their duality in Rome, the oneness of their duality in Mother Church.

Ancient Rome was the ideal place for both of them, for, being the capital and the world-wide, supreme, social authority and power, it was, indeed, the most fitting location for Peter’s authority in and over the new-born Catholic and universal Church.  It was also the ideal place for Paul, chosen Personally by the Risen Lord Himself to proclaim His Gospel to the Gentiles, because people from all nations – especially the flower of those nations – came to Rome for a multitude of reasons and purposes: people with important missions and who were, therefore, educated; people searching for guidance, for contact with, teaching from, and the acquaintance of, powerful individuals and important thinkers, prestigious holders of rare talents and skills in the arts and sciences necessary and desirable.  That was the place where large sectors of the Gentile world – not forgetting the Jews of Rome -- first came into close contact with Paul proclaiming Jesus despite, nay, even inspired by his chains.  Rome was most truly the ideal place for Paul’s Christian dynamism to forge a vibrant unity of Jews and gentiles as one flock for Jesus’ shepherding in the pagan world ruled by Rome.

Thus we have the centripetal authority of the Rock of Peter, holding all as one, and proclaiming for all the common faith of the Apostles, and the centrifugal, expansive dynamism of Paul’s teaching and theological development of Catholic universalism; both are absolutely necessary to give suitable expression to the vitality and life of the One Body of Christ; and that is what we gratefully celebrate and ardently pray for, above all, on this special solemnity of Peter and Paul.  What God has joined together let not man separate!

Perhaps our greatest failing in Mother Church today is lack of trust in God.   Our Western technological and consumerist society is characterized by the will to make things for our use and enjoyment in many fields of activity; and people thereby come to think they should be able to produce desired results even in spiritual matters.  For such people it is not always easy to wait for God when His blessings seem slow in coming, nor are they inclined  to beg even Him, let alone Mother Church and human guides, for wisdom to understand better His laws and teaching when they seem to conflict with their modern attitudes and their own, very personal, desires.  Indeed, too many modern disciples are inclined to produce their own version of the truth they seek and to supply their own justification for what they want to believe.  There is little trust afforded to a seemingly silent God.  And yet, it was such trust that characterized Abraham, our father in faith, and the great Patriarchs and Prophets of Israel, and above all perhaps Saint John the Baptist, alone in a dark, damp and cold dungeon awaiting death whenever the whim of a weak and dissolute monarch -- goaded by a bitter woman -- might order it.  And that monumental and inspiring trust reached its apogee in the patience of Jesus throughout the course of His Passion and Death after His agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Following the example of their Lord and Saviour, the Apostles and teachers of our faith, Peter and Paul whom we celebrate today, undertook, in similar patience, confidence and faith, to evangelize and convert the mighty, pagan, Roman Empire, trusting totally in God alone.  Did we not hear in the first reading:

Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”

Likewise, St. Paul learned to trust God in all circumstances and situations:

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.  To Him be glory for ever and ever.   Amen.

Peter and Paul each had a unique role to fulfil for the Church and both were blessed and spared for the good of all who were to become children of God and Mother Church.  They were given to Mother Church by the choice of Jesus and the heavenly Father Himself; let us, therefore, take seriously and wholeheartedly the words of the letter to the Hebrews (12:1):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.   

Yes, let us throw off the sin that so entangles many in Mother Church today, the sin that hinders all progress in the ways of God, namely lack of confidence and trust in the Lord Whose Goodness and Providence governs all times and circumstances for the fulfilment of those who believe in Jesus and the Good News He brings from the Father of all.       


Friday, 19 June 2020

12th Sunday of Year A 2020


  12th.Sunday of Year (A)
(Jeremiah 20:10-13; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33)


Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. (Mt. 10:1)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Our Blessed Lord was preparing to send the Twelve on a mission to Israel, exclusively; and in today’s gospel episode we heard Him warning them what to expect and how to deal with it as disciples of His: witnessing to, and practicing, His Truth.

He wanted to encourage them to fear neither those who would speak evil of them nor, indeed, those who might even seek to kill them:  Fear no one!

If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!  Therefore, do not fear them.

Or, in today’s world-society, one might transcribe it, ‘If they have called Me and My Gospel discriminatory, divisive, how much more will they call you, ‘Racist, racist, racist!’, for preaching what is not popular: preaching what calls for disciplined courage and humble understanding now, while promising and even initiating rewards that transfigure life as we know it.

Then, continuing, He tells them as you heard in today’s Gospel reading:

Fear no one!  Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, no secret that will not be known.

St. Paul (1 Corinthians 4:5) helps us understand those words when he writes:

(When) the Lord comes, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God;

so, let us now, with that guidance, give close attention to one who heard the words of the Lord, treasured them in his heart, and brought forth fruit in due time.

The prophet Jeremiah suffered much from malicious tongues, and survived the attempts of powerful enemies to kill him.  As you heard him speaking in the first reading:

I have heard the whispering of many, "Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!" All my trusted friends, watching for my fall, say: "Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him."  But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; therefore, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, with an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten.   Yet, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, who sees the mind and the heart, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have set forth my cause.  Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, for He has delivered the soul of the needy one from the hand of evildoers!
  
You can guess from that passage that Jeremiah had a hard time proclaiming the word of God to a people who did not want even to hear the word, let alone obey it.  However, notice what was happening to Jeremiah as he persevered in his work for God: he was himself being formed into the likeness of Jesus by the very sufferings which he encountered as he walked obediently along the way of God’s command.

I have heard the whispering of many, "Terror on every side! Denounce (him), yes, let us denounce him!" All my trusted friends, watching for my fall, say: "Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him."

Surely you recognize there the Scribes and Pharisees, the Sadducees and the lawyers, whispering about Jesus, maligning Him before the people, and plotting to hand Him over to the Romans?  Can you catch a glimpse of Judas too, his trusted friend setting a trap for Him and taking 30 pieces of silver as a reward?

Jeremiah soon had occasion to praise the Lord for His goodness to him for we find him crying out shortly afterwards:

Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, for He has delivered the life of the poor from the hand of evildoers!!

But only when Jesus is freed from the sufferings of His crucifixion and the ignominy of His burial by His Resurrection from the dead are those words of Jeremiah to be seen in all their beauty and understood in the fullness of their significance:

Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD!  For He has delivered the soul of the needy one from the hand of evildoers!!

As you heard, Jeremiah prophesied concerning those who were persecuting him:

The LORD is with me, like a dread champion; therefore, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, with an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten.

Were not those words fulfilled absolutely in the case of the opponents of Jesus?  Did the soldiers sent to take Him not fall back?  Have not the Scribes and the Pharisees, the doctors of the Law and the Temple authorities, one and all, been covered with an everlasting disgrace for their persecution of the Lord of Light?

So you can see, People of God, that Jeremiah, by remaining faithful through his tribulations, was being formed, by those very sufferings, into a likeness of Him Who was to come, that he might thereby be enabled to share in Jesus’ future glory, and to live a life that would serve for the comforting and strengthening of all who – like himself  --  would faithfully hear and proclaim the words of their Lord.   For Jeremiah not only courageously proclaimed the Word of God in his time, but he also served to forewarn and thus to protect God’s Chosen People of Israel for what would eventually turn out to be their great stone of stumbling, the Messiah coming as a Suffering Servant:

            Meek and riding on an ass and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden (Mt. 21:5),

not as a warrior-champion reining-in his prancing stallion.

And so, though Jeremiah lived some 600 years before Jesus, we Christians hold him in special honour today: as a prophet of God, indeed, but also as more than a prophet: one who not only (like the great Isaiah) foretold the Suffering Servant, but one who was most specially privileged to personally pre-figure the suffering Son of Man.  Finally, however, above and beyond the expectations and needs of the Jewish people, Jeremiah has also a special significance for us Christians in so far as he helps us to recognize and appreciate more of the truth and the beauty, the wisdom and the goodness, of the Father Who loves us to the extent that He gave His only begotten Son up to such suffering and to such a death for our salvation.

People of God, that is what happens to all disciples of the Lord who walk according to His word fearing neither malicious tongues nor violent threats: they are gradually formed in the likeness of Jesus by the Spirit of Jesus Who, dwelling within them, sustains and uplifts them in and through all their trials.  Those who turn away from the Lord through fear of verbal and physical violence break off contact with the Spirit of Jesus, being unable to entrust themselves to His power, and are left in their sinfulness and powerlessness.  On the other hand, those who trust, abide, and at times suffer, in and with the Lord, enjoy the sweetness of the Gift of God, that is, the presence of the Spirit of Jesus, Who abounds in them -- as St. Paul told us – and, becoming increasingly powerful within them, forms them ever more closely in the likeness and love of Jesus.

Remember, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the words of Jesus at the end of today’s Gospel: 
         
Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father Who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny before My Father Who is in heaven.”

Let those words be etched in your memory and on your heart: fear the Lord Who will make those words reality at the end; and, fearing Him reverentially, do not fear subserviently any man’s violence or any woman’s tongue.
           

Friday, 12 June 2020

Corpus Christi Year A 2020


  Corpus Christi (Year A)
(Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; 1st. Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58)




Anyone who loves Jesus will occasionally think “How wonderful it must have been to actually see Him, hear Him speak, experience His presence and Personality!”  At such times it would be easy also to think that those who did actually see, hear, and experience His Personal presence, were privileged far beyond all subsequent generations,  and to wonder what  difference it might have made to me in my own life if I had known the Jesus Who walked and talked in Palestine, Who taught and guided His disciples, blessed, and at times admonished, the following crowds, Who looked on the poor and needy with Personal sympathy and an understanding deeper than words.   Oh, to have seen Him thus!  Surely nothing could compare with that, and I myself might have been so much better for it!

Let us now, however, recall these words of Jesus to His disciples distressed at the thought of losing Him:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. (John 16:7)

It was for our good that He was going away, Jesus said; what, then, about our longing to have been actually present among His disciples as they followed their Master around?

The fact is that we do not always value the blessings we have: we tend to take for granted what is commonly to hand and overestimate absent blessings.  Now, the blessings which are ours today and which Jesus gave us in place of His earthly presence, are the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Scriptures, and the Eucharist Sacrifice and Blessed Sacrament in Mother Church, and we need to look much more closely at them in order to appreciate them more.

Had we heard and seen Jesus Himself, we would have been looking upon One other than ourselves, looking outside ourselves to Another.  Moreover, we would have been listening to Him with ears and eyes that – at times due to our lack of attention, admittedly -- do not always hear clearly, and often see only a very general picture; with ears and eyes, moreover, that hand over their data (so to speak) to a memory we have made our own over years and which may have become prone to overlook the unexpected, forget what was not easily understood, and even reject emotionally unwanted items.

Then, having thus seen, heard and recalled in our own way that which others have seen and heard somewhat differently in their own way, it is not difficult to appreciate how hard it can be at times for researchers to reconcile eye-witness accounts in their search for objective facts.  It would have been indeed a wonderful blessing to personally hear and see Jesus on earth, but let us not fail to appreciate what He has bestowed on us who have the fulness of faith in the Church.

He has given us His own Spirit, to be Guide and Guard for us all in Mother Church, and in our individual lives as Comforter and Strength through all the circumstances of our daily lives, no matter what the joys or sorrows, the difficulties or trials.  We can now know more of Jesus’ words than did those disciples of old because the Spirit has brought, and is constantly bringing, to the Church’s mind all that Jesus said and did, all that He intended to be for us and now wants of us.

In fact, the real difference between then and now is that then it was Jesus Who was preparing for our salvation, now it is we who have to respond to and co-operate with the Spirit He had given us that we might work out our salvation on the basis of the teaching Jesus left us, all the while aspiring with Him to the Father Who originally called us to Jesus, and Whom – Jesus assures us – is sublime beyond all measure in Fatherly Goodness and Love.

Then, in company with His disciples, we would have watched and admired Jesus in His work but we would not have realised just how much that work was for love of us, for our saving and exaltation; neither would we have been able, as the disciples themselves proved unable, to reject the fear that originally closed their mouths from confessing His Name and turned their feet to leave Him alone and go each on their own way.

Now, however, we are enlightened by His Spirit to understand much more clearly the Love that drove Jesus to sacrifice Himself for us, and to learn from the original disciples initially poor example; with the result that recognizing more readily the devil’s snares, we can now -- empowered by that same Spirit – give our all to working with and for Jesus, and using to the full the plenitude of blessings He has left us.

All this is what was shown when Our Lord ascended to heaven and left the disciples gazing after Him:

"Men of Galilee," (the angels) said, "why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11)

“Why stand gazing up into the sky?”  Admiring indeed, but not involved.  That is what we were doing at the beginning thinking about how wonderful it would have been if …

Now we are not just watching, we are involved, having been given riches beyond all our imaginings, riches given to enable us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” as St. Paul said.  We are now no longer children who, innocent of any responsibility, watch, wait, and wish; but rather we are called by the Spirit of Jesus at work within the Church and in each one of us, to actualize what Jesus planned, suffered and died for, by bringing forth acceptable fruit in our lives and growing to full maturity in Christ, sharing with Him in His work and sufferings for the salvation of mankind, thereby attaining to a share in His Resurrection under the guidance, and in the power of, His Spirit within us.

The Spirit was indeed given to each of us at our Baptism.  However, the Spirit is a Divine Person to Whom we must respond; He is not a thing we can irrevocably possess; and the presence of the Spirit to us, His activity and effect in our lives, is dependent upon our response to His initiatives in our minds and hearts.  To enable us to respond to the Spirit Who is invisible we have been given the sacramental presence of Jesus in our midst, in Mother Church:

And Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My Blood, which is shed for you.”  (Luke 22:19-20)

Dear People of God, we must never forget that Jesus, though now in heaven at the right hand of the Father, is still one with us bodily: He has taken to heaven -- in His own Person --  our body and blood, the body and blood He received from His mother Mary, our sister, and that Body and Blood was glorified at His Ascension.  Because of that abiding bodily oneness with us Jesus is able – through His own glorious Body and Blood becoming sacramentally present to us – to confer His Spirit upon us by our reception of Holy Communion in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

In our Holy Communion, Jesus is present to us as He promised – under the appearances of nourishment, bread and wine -- He comes, however, offering us nourishment for eternal life, indeed, a share in His glory. He bestows His Spirit on us in Holy Communion because we – earthly flesh and blood though we be – can be adapted (so to speak most un-theologically) for life with Him in heaven by our embracing the rule of that most Holy Spirit in our lives here and now.   In that way our continued growth in understanding of, love for, and likeness to, Jesus may know no limits until we are totally one with Him for the Father.  On earth, Jesus was necessarily leading His disciples from the outside; now, through His Spirit, Whose presence in us is refreshed and renewed in unfailing abundance through our loving reception of the Eucharist, He wills to make us ever more intimately one with Himself -- He in us and we in Him by the Spirit -- so that we might be loved by the Father as His adopted children, and He might show Himself to be for us the most true Father, loving and good beyond all imagining.


Friday, 5 June 2020

Trinity Sunday Year A 2020




Trinity Sunday (A)  

(Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18)

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The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is the ultimate and defining mystery of the Christian faith, but has sometimes been liturgically constructed and expressed in such a way as to be appreciated as something not only beyond our understanding but also far from plucking our heart strings, with repeated variations of one in three and three in one, unity in trinity and trinity in unity, and even ‘una Unitas’, one Unity (!), with the overall result sounding something like a mathematical extravaganza or a collection of cold, abstract, concepts.

And yet, as our readings today illustrate, the Holy Trinity, though most certainly the supreme mystery of Christian faith, is not far from our human make-up and personal heart.   

God created all things by His Word John tells us in his Gospel (1:1-3):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was in the beginning with God.   All things c\me to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. 


“In the beginning was the Word”; what is a word?   Commonly, it is understood to be an expression of intelligence or meaning using breath: when we communicate with a word, we express our thought by using the breath of our mouth; and in Psalm 33: 6 we are told:

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

This led St. Irenaeus, when writing his famous work "Against Heresies" around the year A.D. 180, to say: "God has created the world with His two hands -- the Son and the Spirit – by His Word, that is, and by the Breath of His mouth. 

And when it came to the creation of human kind there is a vibrancy in Scripture which is far, far removed from dry mathematics and abstract conceptions; for there, the Son -- the Word of God -- gives form and structure to God's creation, while the Spirit -- the Breath of God -- gives life and vitality:

God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."  And the LORD God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.  (Genesis 1:26; 2:7)


And that scriptural, background, impression of Personal and loving involvement on the part of the mysterious God of Israel creating by His two hands, so to speak, is now maintained and indeed intensified in His loving commitment to saving fallen Israel according to an ancient tradition concerning the Prophet Moses as recounted in our first reading (Exodus 34:5-6):

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him (Moses) there as he called upon the name of the Lord.   Then the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in goodness and truth.  

In the New Testament St. John never tires of telling us that God is a God of love Who demonstrates His love for us most sublimely through the gift of His Son, as we have just heard in the Gospel reading:

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

And St. Paul -- Jesus’ choice to be Doctor for, and teacher of, us Gentiles -- proclaims that same truth to our Western world when comforting his converts at Corinth, as you heard in the second reading, by reminding them of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit:  

Brethren, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ, the Holy Trinity is not some abstract concept but a Personal Reality mirrored at the very centre of our being, a Reality that is capable of fulfilling us and, indeed, transfiguring us by drawing us -- as members of Jesus’ Body -- into sharing the glory of Its own plenitude of Personal Love and mutual Commitment.

Let us now, therefore, give our minds and hearts to a short, appreciative, overview, so to speak, of this sublime mystery of God which can only be adequately expressed in terms of love, manifested throughout our human history, and experienced now through faith in Jesus Christ by hearts warmed by the Holy Spirit of Truth and Love. 

The devil had deceived Eve, and Adam subsequently followed Eve into sin, with the result that the world,  originally created for the glory of God and the joyful well-being of mankind and creation as a whole, became degraded, with humankind -- intended as creation’s crown and glory -- being subjected to suffering and death, ignorance and selfishness. 

God the Father, out of love for mankind thus degraded, sent His only-begotten Son to become a sinless man in a world where sin, suffering, and death, now held sway, that He might save mankind so dear to Him: and, taking human flesh from the pure and sinless Virgin Mary, the eternal Son of God became Jesus, the Son- of-God-made-man.  He thereupon spent His sinless life proclaiming saving Truth and witnessing to divine Love: setting at naught the devil's snares, thwarting his power, exposing his deceits and lies, until the contest reached its ultimate and inevitable climax in the suffering and death of the Pure and Holy One on Calvary, in the fulfilment of which divine love definitively triumphed over Satan’s power and the world’s sin, when Jesus the Son of man rose from death into heavenly glory leaving man free NOT to sin, able to respond anew to God’s great goodness.

Then there began a re-creation of mankind in the Son by the Spirit of Holiness, the two hands of God the Father, moulding us anew as in the beginning, though this time not without our consent and co-operation: His Love would heal and renew each and every one of us if we would embrace His Good News of salvation.  God the Father would thus make -- in the Son and by the Spirit -- a new creation: a saved humanity, which, in its turn, would itself learn to triumph over the devil who once had brought it low.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The new humanity would, as I said, be formed in Jesus -- sent by the Father -- from those who would believe in the name of God's only Son and who, committing themselves to Him through faith and baptism, would, in loving obedience, follow the lead of His Holy Spirit bestowed at Pentecost to guide His Body, the Church, to follow where He, her Head, had already ascended to the Father.

People of God, let us here recognize the true nature of love; for God’s love does not just do things for us, it leads Him primarily to make something of us.  It is true that He does for us what we could not do for ourselves: He saves us from sin.  Subsequently, however, He goes on to make something of us and do something with us: in true love He dignifies and even glorifies us with a share in His own glory!   For, once baptized into Jesus and washed clean of sin, we are then -- as temples of His Most Holy Spirit -- to be guided, glorified, and sublimely dignified as adoptive children of God able to call upon God as ‘Our Father’.  Moreover, even while still here on earth, all these our blessings are to be crowned by our being enabled to become instruments of the Holy Spirit and co-workers with Jesus our Saviour for the glory of the Father, as Jesus Himself said (John 14:12):

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

That work, to which we and all Christian peoples are privileged to contribute under the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is spoken of by the Psalmist who reveals that:

The LORD said to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool". (Psalm 110:1)

The ultimate fulfilment -- when Jesus returns in glory as Judge, when our work will be finally seen to be fruitful, and when God’s plan is ultimately revealed in all its wisdom and beauty, goodness and glory -- will come, St. Paul tells us,:

When everything is subjected to Him, then the Son Himself (the whole Christ, Head and Body), will also be subject to Him Who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.  (1 Corinthians 15:28)


People of God, the mystery of the Holy Trinity is a mystery because it is infinitely beyond the full comprehension of our minds; but it is not a mystery in the sense that it is something foreign to us: for Divine Love, which is the essence of the Trinity, is able to penetrate and transform our lives, and indeed become the motivation and fulfilment of our very being, and in that way the most Holy Trinity becomes present to us, living in us, forming us, even working through us (John 14:23, 26):

Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.  

On this day, People of God, let us therefore take to ourselves, with pride and gratitude, the words first addressed by the prophet Moses (Deuteronomy 4:7) to Israel of old; words which only now, thanks to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, begin to reveal something of their full beauty and significance:

What great nation is there that has gods so close to it, as the LORD, our God, is to us, whenever we call upon Him? 








Friday, 29 May 2020

Pentecost Year A 2020


 Pentecost (A)
(Acts 2:1-11; First Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)





My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the reading from the Gospel of John should have seemed a little strange to you because Jesus first of all gave the Holy Spirit to the Apostles gathered in the upper room:

Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."   And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Jesus was preparing His Apostles, whom He was soon to send out in His Name to forgive sins and transmit a new and potentially eternal life, by giving them the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in their personal lives and public ministry.  You might ask, then, what was strange about that?

This is what was strange: after thus receiving the Holy Spirit from Jesus, the disciples did not, in fact, start preaching everywhere; actually, they went back to Galilee and to their fishing, where Jesus appeared to them once more.  Now that is strange; but it is also very instructive.

In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we were told of another, subsequent, bestowal of the Spirit, and this time a public bestowal, where the Spirit descended upon the Church as a whole:

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Let me bring out clearly for you the difference between these two occasions:

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."

On that first occasion, mentioned by St. John in his Gospel, there was only a small group gathered -- gathered in fear -- a group where not even all the future apostles were present, because we are expressly told:

Thomas, called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

Now let us reconsider the second occasion actually heard in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles:

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  

That was indeed a gathering of the whole Church, as is made clear by the emphatic words: all with one accord in one place; and it was after this public bestowal of the Spirit upon the whole Church gathered together as one that the disciples spontaneously began to praise God:

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance … speaking the wonderful works of God.

And it was only after this giving of the Spirit to the whole Church that the Apostles -- in the person of Peter -- began to carry out their individual commission(s) to proclaim and to offer salvation, through faith in the Gospel, to all their hearers:

Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.  For these are not drunk -- as you suppose -- since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh.’ Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:14-18, 36).  

The Spirit, therefore, is primarily bestowed upon the Church as the Body of Christ -- the whole Body -- not just to one part of the Body, even though that part be the college of Apostles.  Once the Spirit had been poured out upon the whole Church, the special grace and blessing the Apostles had already received became active within them, but not before.  This is what the Apostle Paul taught us in our reading from his letter to the Corinthians:

The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

As the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ: by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.   For in fact the body is not one member but many. (1 Corinthians 12: 7, 12-14)

A false emphasis on unity has sought, in the past, to impose a strait jacket on Catholics: we are one Body, under one head, the Pope on earth, walking in conformity along the publicly approved road.  But that is not the whole of Paul’s teaching, because he tells us that “the Body is not one member, but many”; for diversity, as in natural so also in supernatural life, is best able to bear adequate witness to the inscrutable depths of the wisdom and beauty, goodness and power of God.

Today, however, whereas our political set-up seems to ape the old-church conformity through its promotion of political correctness, in the Church, on the other hand, the necessary unity under one head -- with the Pope as visible and temporal head of the Body whose supreme, invisible, and eternal Head is Jesus the Risen Lord -- is much enfeebled by individuals claiming the right to pick and choose what to believe and how to behave whilst still, paradoxically, asserting themselves to be true members of the one, universal, Body.

On this day of Pentecost, dear People of God, in our rejoicing, let us rejoice in the Truth: Variety and Unity are both essential in the Church.  She is not what the Corinthians wanted to imagine, that is, a gathering where each and every one could strive to display and develop themselves and their personal egos:

You are still carnal: for where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?   (1 Corinthians 3:3)

On the other hand, neither is Mother Church like some marble obelisk that abides untouched by the passage of time; it is essential for her to grow and develop because the Spirit has been given to provoke change by gradually leading her into the fullness of truth.

If there were only liberal-lefties in the Church, she would be like that herd of Gadarene swine that went off in a wild and unrestrained rush and drowned in the waters of Galilee.  Were there none but died-in-the-wool traditionalists -- more conservative than Rome and more papal than the Pope -- she would be like a lifeless bulk held fast and immovable by its own inertia, impervious to the gentle breathing of the Spirit of Life ever seeking to prepare her gradually for what will be her heavenly fulfilment.

And so, People of God, today we – both as a body and individually – are being offered God’s best Gift: the Spirit of Love, Truth, and Life.   To fruitfully receive what is being offered we must want, we must strive, to use God's Gift for God's purposes, and in God's way; therefore, we should always bear in mind the supreme purpose of God’s Gift offered to us this day: it is for the Glory of God, the good of Mother Church as a whole, and for the saving of souls.

The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

We must also realize that we cannot hide away in some corner of the set-up and let somebody else do what has to be done, because (1 Corinthians 12:18-19):

God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.   And if they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say "I am not needed"; nor again the feet, "There is no need of us”. (1 Corinthians 12:18-21)

Dear People of God, the high and mighty – even though set on high by the p rovidential purpose of God – are, maybe individually, but above all as a group, always prepared and easily persuaded to think too highly of themselves e.g. using servile language to show their obedience and devotion with regard to the Pope, a practice inviting the old charges of ‘Popery’, and so alien to the ‘feet’ and humbler members of the one Body which we all are in Christ.

On that first Pentecost, as you heard,

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance, speaking of the wonderful works of God.

Today the same Holy Spirit wills to come to us for a purpose: not frequently “to speak with other tongues” in our modern times, but certainly to lead us to “speak of the wonderful works of God” in creation, in Jesus, in Mother Church, and in our own lives.  Each and every one of us should be prepared to give humble glory to God by speaking, in his or her own way according to gifts received, of the effect which the truth and the grace of Jesus has had on our lives: the beauty our minds have been enabled to recognise and appreciate, and the joy and hope which have come to abide and hold peaceful sway in our hearts. We would fail God if we were afraid to be our humble, individual, selves in thus joyfully giving sincere and truthful witness to Him and to the Faith; for our first duty, as the angels proclaimed is to give:

            Glory to God in the highest.

However, because we are all members of the one Body of Christ, besides individual sincerity and truth there must be humility and charity in our mutual relations, because, our lives, with all their gifts and talents, are meant to serve the common dignity and common good of the whole Body, as the angels went on to declare:

            Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His People on earth.

The song once sung by the Angels at the birth of Christ has now to become a sublime and eternal chorus in which heaven and earth unite, because Jesus, having finished His mission on earth and being risen from the dead, has now ascended to heaven where He is seated at the Right Hand of Power.  And, as the Psalmist (110:1) prophesied, God the Father has embraced His victorious and glorious Son with the words:

Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool.

People of God, today, Mother Church is urging and encouraging us to join ever more wholeheartedly in that paean of praise; for the Spirit is being offered us in and through her that we might work to make the enemies of Jesus a footstool for His feet as the Father wills: that is my vocation, it is also yours, indeed it is the vocation of us all together in Mother Church.  What a privilege we have: let us get on with it, with grateful praise on our lips and trustful confidence in our hearts!