Daily and Weekly Reflection
The following sources of reflections are recommended:
1. Grow your Soul with Madonna Magazine from Jesuit Publications with daily reflection
2. Subscribe to Daily Prayer on Line FROM Jesuit Communications: http://churchresources.info/pray/subscribe.php
3. Daily Prayer on line from Catholic Australia – http://www.catholicaustralia.com.au/page.php?pg=prayer-index
4. Bendigo Cathedral – Oceania Spiritual Counsellor – Mons. Frank Marriott
Fourth Sunday of Easter. Year C
“And no one will ever steal them from me.”
It has been a week of ‘stealing’, locally nationally and internationally, highlighted by the continual anguish of the 250 girls in Nigeria, the saga in Lebanon and the tragedy in outer Melbourne.
Belonging is something fundamental to the desires of the human being, yet mysterious in its delivery and acceptance.
Just who are we to belong to our footy club, our book club, our family, our spouse, our Church community or our God? These are not new questions. Obviously they were on the agenda in Jesus’ time. The whole search and desire for the Messiah seems to have a foundation in their desire to be, let alone belong to, God’ people…yet when the chips were down they could not believe or accept the invitation: “I give them eternal life.”
What more could we want? But we, too, find the invitation challenging.
The Oceania Team has been grappling with these questions this weekend, and is not finished with the task at time of writing. But the great successes of the Teams, in no small way, is the creation of a positive community based upon the fullness of a regular Teams meal.
In a way, Teams become the Good Shepherd incarnate in our meetings. If that be so, then let us take comfort in the other Gospel words spoken this day: “The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father.”
Third Sunday of Easter
Well he’s done it again…he’s captured the headlines and perhaps given hope to some, no doubt disappointed others, and will undoubtedly be accused of selling out yet again by the ancient regime. The new Apostolic Exhortation. ‘Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love): On love in the Family’ has hit the airways and all pages, I am told, can be downloaded from that great instrument, the internet (https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf or the Australian Bishop’s web site at https://www.catholic.org.au/ which also contains a summary of the Exhortation). I have not read it but the commentators are at it and one suggests that three verbs should really be noted: accompany, discern and integrate! Could be a new topic for Teams!
What a document to release in time for the Gospel to be read this weekend!
I had been thinking about a phrase in the second reading: “The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom strength, honour, glory and blessing.” Seven gifts almost nominating seven Sacraments years before we finally discovered these paths to life with Christ. The author, I think, had an enormous understanding of the gift of Jesus and what he had done for the world and was looking for words to convey his excitement that “hope had come into the world.” Which leads easily to the first paragraph. That our lives rest ultimately on JOY, because of what He has done: “they left the presence of the Sanhedrin GLAD to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the NAME.”
Can we bring greater joy to our lives and, despite the current sufferings, show the world the wonders that members of our church are doing “for the sake of the name?”
Second Sunday of Easter
“You may have life through his name.”
Many of you are aware of the fracas surrounding the Mosque being proposed for Bendigo. Confronting that, raises questions for all. It has caused me to chat with people that I would not normally meet, to read what was not on my radar, to attempt to find a way to support the newcomers and their differences and to alert basic goodness in those condemned for what crazed fanatics are doing in their global name, without their local approbation.
A column by Henry Ergas in the ‘Australian’ on Monday was drawn to my attention. It was obviously written before the cowardly attack upon the Christian and others in Lahore on Easter Sunday. Ergas compiles a list of attacks and associated words such as “what I must tell you is that our youth cherishes death as much as yours values life.”
We are a people of the Resurrection and as such are to bring life in all its fullness to our world. Hence, we don’t simply say our prayers. We build schools, organise health clinics, run hospitals.. . . in a sense do what Peter did in today’s reading. Very early, Jesus’ proclamation “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full,” stirred those hearers to make a break from the restrictive shackles of the old order and to accept that Jesus “was the living one.“ “I was dead but now I am to live for ever and ever.”
The image of the Disciples huddled together “in the room where the Disciples were for fear of the Jews” can never be the truth we convey to the world. Our Faith is a life-giving faith and today is called to confront the cult of death in so many ways.
We proclaim “my Lord and my God” and get on with the mission to bring LIFE to the World.
Easter Sunday. 2016
“They have taken the Lord from the Tomb and we don’t know where they put Him. ”
And maybe that is the point of Easter!
“They” have been putting “Him” where they have wanted.. .
-nothing good has come out of Nazareth
-they seized Him and took Him to the brow of the hill to throw him over
-they nailed Him to a Cross
-they sealed the tomb and placed a guard…etc. etc.
I have been assisting in a cluster of our semi remote rural parishes: Kerang, Cohuna, Pyramid Hill.. . . . all are doing it tough, some still recovering from the one in a hundred year flood of 2012. And now the big dry. In some sense, the fifty people who gathered at Pyramid Hill yesterday to honour the Passion and Death proved the point. Who, other than the Lord Himself, would choose to be there, as is true in a million other sites all around the globe:
– the grand economic theorists would scorn such wasting of valuable resources. A little like Judas’ comment after Mary’s outpouring of costly ointments.
– the politicians would not see any votes. Only five loaves and two fish…
– news and TV cameras would judge. No disputes, nonviolence. Who is interested in Good News?
And Easter is about Good News. In spite of all the suffering, torment and destruction. He is to be found in all the forgotten places, in all the tortured hearts, because they have not been able to chain up the Good News and He can be found anywhere, if we allow Him to find us.
Our witness to the joy of the Resurrection, in all the likely and unlikely places, continues the proclamation: “He is not here. He is risen. He goes before you to Galilee. ”
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
Keep proclaiming the Good News.
Palm Sunday 2016
Holy Week begins.
The gospels all relate the entrance into Jerusalem. Luke reminds us that having said these things, “Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” If you have time, read in Luke the parable called by some “the Lucan Kingship Parable” (19:11-27). This parable, in effect, is about how to obtain and maintain a kingdom. It resonates with the power hungry today as it did in Jesus’ time, and it happens fast. Again, a little sign for all intended plotters…valid today as in bygone years.
Further, note the long verse (19:11) introducing the parable. Two elements are distracting both the teller and the listeners. One, they were getting close to Jerusalem, two, that’s where they expected the coming of the kingdom and when did they want it? We WANT IT NOW.
So we press on to Jerusalem, but the caveats begin: A King on a donkey. The roaring enthusiasm of the crowd. Palm branches!
Points taken. Points missed. My kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom is like to the smallest of all seeds. A mustard seed.
But, a big BUT, Jesus is still a King but he does things differently; soon he forgives the errant Peter, welcomes the thief, shares his most precious gift with all his followers, His body and blood, and entrusts the working out of his legacy and what we call the Kingdom to his disciples and followers…and returns to the Father!
And in a sense he says. “That’s how you will make a difference.”
We are meant to be different as the much maligned donkey was.
As Chesterton wrote:
“Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet;
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.”
Have an energising HOLY WEEK.
Fifth Sunday of Lent 2016, Year C
“Only two remain, the wretched woman and the Incarnation of Mercy” (St Augustine).
So many people today are ‘CAUGHT’! The past week has been no exception: a sports person, a politician, a husband, a wife, an insurance executive and the UN peace forces. Human nature is prone to be ‘CAUGHT’. And on the sidelines there are still the Scribes and Pharisees and, indeed, the Media who have a duty to inform the people who stand still on the sidelines…but insulated from face to face contact by the daily paper or the TV screen. We are all there!
Scapegoats are still important. Provided it is not ME. Mercy is back on the agenda for today’s Church, our Pope has seen to that. However we do have our modern Scribes and Pharisees objecting to the applications of the gift of mercy.
Jesus found a way to save the woman. In doing so he added to the charges that some were to bring against him and they departed, their sins piled even higher, others were left to ponder. One remained…repentant, alive and with the hope of eternal life. It was a big price for Jesus but “there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner” etc.
We too need to recall the offered gift of mercy, to repent of our sins, faults and failings and work to reveal the gift of mercy to our world.
Fourth Sunday of Lent 2016, Year C
Well that was a week!
I wonder what the historians will say about it in 100 years’ time. Some words from the Second Reading may offer a clue: “For anyone who is in Christ there is a new creation.”
It would be my hunch that the Holy Spirit used this week to send a message to the world that the abuse of minors is a bigger challenge for the world and for all of the institutions and families of the world than we realise or wish to acknowledge. At this stage we do not have “The Answer.”
Our Liturgy, today, calls for a response in a joyful spirit for it announces a message of reconciliation for those who can listen and hear…and for all who fail but still sit, as it were, in darkness.
This gift of RECONCILIATION is based upon the truth that we are sinners, something that many will not, or refuse to, acknowledge. Remember Pope Francis’ response to the question “Who are you?” His reply, “I am a Sinner,” stunned the world and floored the hard line self-appointed protectors of the tradition.
Today we celebrate the gift of reconciliation with God in Christ Jesus Our Lord and Saviour.
“This man, they said, welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Wonderful words for the human race.
“But it is only right that we should celebrate and rejoice because your brother here was dead and has come back to life, he was lost and is found.”
Or as Paul wrote years later, with more than a little appreciation and understanding and much more than most of us, “It was God who reconciled us to himself.” And then the Crunch line follows: “and gave us the work of handing on his work of reconciliation.”
In March 2016, the events in Rome illustrate that there is a great deal of work to do!
But another beginning was made.
I think Pope Francis would have been moved. We have certainly experienced a “smell of the sheep.”
Third Sunday of Lent 2016, Year C
The TV programmed a session with several Theoretical Physicists this past week, discussing the new breakthrough in the missing link in Einstein’s theory of relativity. It also reminded me that space is not a vacuum but a place of intense activity and that they now think there are, maybe, SIX universes like ours. So much for the Galileo Debates some centuries ago. All this made me think again, about Paul’s words today: “And it was written down to be a sign for us who are living at the end of the AGE.” And he was not referring to the daily paper published in Melbourne.
Paul might be surprised to learn, if such things bother them now, that the age is still ongoing. He was right theologically. The gift of Christ “yesterday today and forever” is, in a sense, the last age in the great revelations of the Truth about God, but it should not be interpreted as chronologically accurate. I am inclined to think we may have a day or two left in us and maybe more discoveries are on the horizon, with or without our assistance. But what do we make of all this? I am inclined to suggest that it is another moment in which we are being led to “a burning bush” and that, like Moses, we may yet hear a voice calling to us and reminding us “to take off our shoes. For the place on which you stand is Holy Ground.”
We may need another year or two to accept this latest discovery of the scientists, but if it comes about, the God of surprises has struck again.
May the universe delight you.
Second Sunday of Lent 2016, Year C
We hear a lot about JOURNEY these days and not always in the religious or spiritual sense. The church proposes this thought in the yearly cycles as well as the particular seasons. Lent is obviously one!
Note this week that the famed Old Testament Leaders, Moses and Elijah, were speaking of “his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem.” Another Lucan hint! Jesus coming through the desert ordeal as heard in last week’s reading. It is like the key premiership Captain taking the new leader aside to give him some tips for the coming season. What a conversation it must have been…did any expect to hear the words “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.”
On our Lenten journey we may be given a small taste of the Mountain. Let us not reject that possibility…particularly if we have in some way gone into the desert, or perhaps ascended a mountain, however small! But one thing we can do is “Listen to him.”
That can happen in all sorts of ways. And even with our own Moses and Elijah.
Journey on this weekend. If we have stumbled, fallen over or not even got out of the blocks well, let that not disturb us. Let us resolve again to “go up the mountain to pray “hoping to hear His voice and echoing the words of Paul “I miss you very much, dear friends, you are my joy and My crown.”
First Sunday of Lent 2016, Year C
In the three year cycle of readings, the first Sunday asks us to reflect on the desert experience of Jesus. It is told with subtle changes by the different authors. Remember Luke’s audience, it was more Gentile Christians than Jewish. Remember, too, the turmoil in Palestine, the occupation by Rome, the mini revolts by the Zealots and others, the desire for an all-conquering and triumphant Messiah.
Many of the readers of Luke would have been taught the three categories of VICE: love of pleasure, love of possessions and love of glory. It might help to read the three accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
So the battle is joined. Two Kingdoms: God’s and that of evil. It seems that Luke places today’s reading, a real battle of the heart, early in his account to emphasise a key truth spoken of later in the Gospel.
“If by the finger of God I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is upon you” (Luke 11:20 ).This encounter demonstrates the truth: Jesus is a true Minister of God’s kingdom obedient to the one who commissioned him and teaches that in all that he does, God is with him!
We are all conscious of the daily tussle. “I want to do good but find myself doing, not so good or even something bad”. How do I find a way forward for Governments? How do you resolve Syria? For First Century Palestine, how do we get rid of the hated Romans? The common word was a Messiah with a bigger army. Jesus proposed another way.
This Sunday invites us to recommit to that other way: to reaffirm our Baptismal commitment and to be wonderful Daughters and Sons of God.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2016, Year C (Sunday before Lent)
In the cycle of Year C readings, only occasionally are we presented with these readings at this time. Lent asks us to once again have a good look at ourselves. And if we discover bits and pieces that need refurbishing we are called to do something about the situation.
The three men named today were all privileged to have a profound experience of ‘The Other’
Isaiah……..”I saw the Lord seated….”
Paul. ……..”and last of all he appeared to me too”
Peter………”When Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus.”
‘The Other’ comes in various guises: the traditional Lord of All, Lord of Majesty, Lord of power and might… or the Resurrected Jesus for Paul, and the simple presence of the preacher from Nazareth. The three men each had profound, but different, experiences. This gives hope for you and me. It is sometimes helpful to recall moments of the presence of God in our lives. Some have more, some have profound experiences, some struggle to identify a presence. One such experience for me was returning home to Nagambie one afternoon. The sunset over the Lake hit me with a touch of the Lord of beauty. I tried to describe it the next Sunday but the Locals who saw it often were a little concerned about my sanity. What was yours?
The reaction of the men is similar.
Isaiah…Awe. What a wretched state I am in. I am LOST
Paul…Awe. I hardly deserve the name of APOSTLE
Peter…Awe. Depart from me. I am a sinful MAN
Few get the experience of his elumen. All of us in some way are sharing an insight or a touch of the Divine. All can be drawn into a more profound relationship and the works of Lent are there to help and encourage us to take a significant step forward through:
- The daily scripture readings
- The call to acts of penitence
- The call to fast
- The call of Project Compassion
- The call to moments of added prayer, both family and private
Let this Lent make a difference.
A reflection from our Spiritual Counselor
A Reflection on Rome September 2015
A wonderful moment in the life of Team as Pope Francis affirms Teams’ couples.
Pay particular attention to Pope Francis’ remarks on
- The value of the SIT-DOWN
- The affirmation of the lay led movement
- The affirmation of the role of the Spiritual Counselor journeying together with the couples
- The call to mission to go out into the deep, in the troubled world of RELATIONSHIPS!