Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts & Reflections’ Category

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: October 15, 2019 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections
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Purity of heart, mind and spirit through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the mark of a Catholic fully alive in faith and in love of our Risen Lord. A holiness that permeates from within and shines forth on our faces and in our actions. And possessing an increasing zeal to share the good news of our Risen Lord who desires the salvation of all of God our Father’s children.

When the Lord our God is absent in the minds and hearts of men; and women alike, then all is vanity. For they chase for themselves superiority in knowledge, honour, power driven by greed and have insatiable desires for self gratification. By this token they worship themselves or their fellow men by their accomplishments and carve for themselves images of false gods. All in vainglory! For all shall crumble into dust and blown away.

Let us therefore look, not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:18) Amen

St Theresa of Avilla pray for us..

First reading

Romans 1:16-25
These people knew God and failed to honour him

I am not ashamed of the Good News: it is the power of God saving all who have faith – Jews first, but Greeks as well – since this is what reveals the justice of God to us: it shows how faith leads to faith, or as salvation says: The upright man finds life through faith.
The anger of God is being revealed from heaven against all the impiety and depravity of men who keep truth imprisoned in their wickedness. For what can be known about God is perfectly plain to them since God himself has made it plain. Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. That is why such people are without excuse: they knew God and yet refused to honour him as God or to thank him; instead, they made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened. The more they called themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew, until they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for a worthless imitation, for the image of mortal man, of birds, of quadrupeds and reptiles. That is why God left them to their filthy enjoyments and the practices with which they dishonour their own bodies, since they have given up divine truth for a lie and have worshipped and served creatures instead of the creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen!

Gospel

Luke 11:37-41
Give thanks for what you have and it will all be clean

Jesus had just finished speaking when a Pharisee invited him to dine at his house. He went in and sat down at the table. The Pharisee saw this and was surprised that he had not first washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, ‘Oh, you Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness. Fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside too? Instead, give alms from what you have and then indeed everything will be clean for you.’


Today this wonderful start of the week we give thanks to the Lord our God for His loving embrace of us His children. Through our baptism we have been inserted into the life, death and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Through Him we have life to the full and hope for eternal life with Him. The hold of sin has been broken and death has been conquered! So while we grief the loss of loved ones dear to us we must stop mourning and rejoice for they have returned to our Lord and are praying for us. We must move forwards with our call to holiness so that we can one day soon be reunited with the Saints who are now in heaven.

On our pilgrim journey as saints on earth, we are called to be the light of Christ. Signs of His everlasting love and mercy. So our job is to point and lead others to Him. This is our mission to preach and teach the Good news of our Risen Lord! Through repentance of sin and the reception of His divine mercy and grace of new life in Him through baptism; the Prince of Peace will reign in our hearts, minds and all of our land!

Jesus my Lord, just as You are the greatest sign of God our Father’s love for His children. Let me be a sign of Your love. Amen

First reading

Romans 1:1-7 ·
Our apostolic mission is to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations

From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.
This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.

Gospel

Luke 11:29-32
As Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be a sign

The crowds got even bigger, and Jesus addressed them:
‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’


I had in the past seen today’s Gospel text as a reminder of sorts not to entertain lofty ideas on how blessed we are to bring forth blessings upon on others through the grace of God, but to embrace more deeply the source of all life, the Word of God through faithful obedience. In a milder sense it is a lesson in humility.

But today I see it as Jesus elevating Mary His mother’s Blessedness as a model for all of us to follow. For all her life she heard the word of God and kept it ever so close to her immaculate heart. (Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Lk 2:19) Yes Mary our Blessed mother is blessed indeed among all women for the Word made flesh was born into world through her. And yet more deeply she is Blessed for her total obedience and submission to her Creator who was there from the beginning of time, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. She is truly a wonderful model for us, her humility, faithfulness, gentleness, most of all her great devotion to the Word and love for the Lord our God.

You O Lord are our shelter, our stronghold, our salvation! May we always be true to Your Word as You reign in our hearts. Amen

First reading

Joel 4:12-21 ·
The day of the Lord is near; sun and moon grow dark

The Lord says this:

‘Let the nations rouse themselves, let them march to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for I am going to sit in judgement there on all the nations round.
Put the sickle in: the harvest is ripe; come and tread: the winepress is full, the vats are overflowing, so great is their wickedness!’

Host on host in the Valley of Decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the Valley of Decision!

Sun and moon grow dark, the stars lose their brilliance. The Lord roars from Zion, makes his voice heard from Jerusalem; heaven and earth tremble.

But the Lord will be a shelter for his people,
a stronghold for the sons of Israel.

‘You will learn then that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain.
Jerusalem will be a holy place, no alien will ever pass through it again.’

When that day comes, the mountains will run with new wine and the hills flow with milk, and all the river beds of Judah
will run with water.
A fountain will spring from the house of the Lord to water the wadi of Acacias. Egypt will become a desolation, Edom a desert waste
on account of the violence done to the sons of Judah whose innocent blood they shed in their country.
But Judah will be inhabited for ever,
Jerusalem from age to age. ‘I will avenge their blood and let none go unpunished’,
and the Lord shall make his home in Zion.

Gospel

Luke 11:27-28
‘Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked!’

As Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, ‘Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked!’ But he replied, ‘Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it!’


Time does not stand still for us. Day by day we awake to a new day, and in that new day we have grown older. Once young and carefree we now carry the world on our shoulders with new aches and pains. Will it be today or tomorrow? That we are called back to our Lord. Whether we want to accept it or not the reality remains that the Kingdom of God is indeed at hand.

We have a choice to make on how we are responding to the call to live in the Lord our God’s Kingdom. We can live fully alive in the Lord our God by living in the Spirit according to His Will and striving day by day to grow in holiness. To dwell in the shadow of His wings. Or we can live shallow empty lives where unclean spirits are ‘welcomed’. We cannot afford to remain lukewarm or choose to live partially in Him, for that is like choosing to leave the doors unlocked in a neighbourhood constantly targeted by robbers!

Lord I choose to gather with You. Be thou my light and my guide. Amen

First reading

Joel 1:13-15,2:1-2 ·
Let all tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming

Priests, put on sackcloth and lament.
Ministers of the altar, wail.
Come, pass the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God.
For the house of our God has been deprived
of oblation and libation.
Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly;
elders, call together all the inhabitants of the country to the house of the Lord your God.
Cry out to the Lord, ‘Oh, what a day! For the day of the Lord is near, it comes as a devastation from Shaddai.’

Sound the trumpet in Zion, give the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the country tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, yes, it is near.

Day of darkness and gloom, day of cloud and blackness. Like the dawn there spreads across the mountains a vast and mighty host, such as has never been before, such as will never be again to the remotest ages.

Gospel

Luke 11:15-26
The finger of God has overtaken you

When Jesus had cast out a devil, some of the people said, ‘It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.’ Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses. So too with Satan: if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? – since you assert that it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils. Now if it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils, through whom do your own experts cast them out? Let them be your judges then. But if it is through the finger of God that I cast out devils, then know that the kingdom of God has overtaken you. So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he is attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.
‘He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.
‘When an unclean spirit goes out of a man it wanders through waterless country looking for a place to rest, and not finding one it says, “I will go back to the home I came from.” But on arrival, finding it swept and tidied, it then goes off and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and set up house there, so that the man ends up by being worse than he was before.’


Be persistent, persevere and endure in other words remain steadfast in your love for the Lord our God. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Cor 13:7) For His love for us is steadfast and everlasting and by His love we can love the same way.

So too must our prayer and desire to grow in Holiness be steadfast. For through our faithfulness we shall become powerful instruments of His grace. We need only ask and He will give us what we need to build His Kingdom. And we have been granted a powerful ally, the Holy Spirit to guide and counsel us.

May all that we say and do be for the glory of God our Father who loves us dearly. Amen

First reading

Malachi 3:13-20 ·
The day that is coming will burn up the wicked
steadfast
You say harsh things about me, says the Lord. You ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ You say, ‘It is useless to serve God; what is the good of keeping his commands or of walking mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? everlasting. Now we have reached the point when we call the arrogant blessed; yes, they prosper, these evil-doers; they try God’s patience and yet go free.’ This is what those who fear the Lord used to say to one another. But the Lord took note and heard them: a book of remembrance was written in his presence recording those who fear him and take refuge in his name. On the day which I am preparing, says the Lord of Hosts, they are going to be my own special possession. I will make allowances for them as a man makes allowances for the son who obeys him. Then once again you will see the difference between an upright man and a wicked one, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve him. For the day is coming now, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and the evil-doers will be like stubble. The day that is coming is going to burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, leaving them neither root nor stalk. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.

Gospel

Luke 11:5-13
Ask, and it will be given to you

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’


We can just as easily lose the light received in obedience of the Lord our God when our mission is completed out of obligation rather than love. That is love without condition.

Let’s see Today’s first reading in a different way, perhaps you alone witnessed an accident in which a bus drove off road and flipped. You rushed to the crash site to offer assistance. As you draw near you see the passengers are convicts who were being transported to the correction facility. Few you recognise from reading the news papers of their heinous crimes. You want to quickly get back into your car and drive off but your Christian sensibilities and the voice in your head tells you that it is your responsibility to help. So you do everything you can to save them. You learn later on that everyone on that bus survived! Instead of rejoicing or giving thanks to God for His love and mercy you are dismayed. In your mind and heart they deserved to die. How different are you from Jonah?

There are many other forms of prejudices some often subtley hidden even within the hearts of those in Church. There are folks treated as social outcasts egs. Foreign workers, domestic helpers, divorcees, those with same sex attraction to name a few. Are all of these not God’s children? Does God our Father love you any less if the same love and mercy is given to them?

So let us reflect more deeply on the prayer our Lord taught us as we pray…..

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

[‘The Lord’s Prayer ‘is truly the summary of the whole gospel.’ ‘Since the Lord… after handling over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, ‘Ask and you will receive, ‘ and since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer (the Lord’s Prayer) is said first, as the foundation of further desires.’ – Tertullian, De orat. from the Catechism of the Catholic Church; 2761.]

First reading

Jonah 4:1-11 ·
Jonah is angry at God’s mercy

Jonah was very indignant; he fell into a rage. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Ah, Lord, is not this just as I said would happen when I was still at home? That was why I went and fled to Tarshish: I knew that you were a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, relenting from evil. So now, Lord, please take away my life, for I might as well be dead as go on living.’ The Lord replied, ‘Are you right to be angry?’
Jonah then went out of the city and sat down to the east of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God arranged that a castor-oil plant should grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head and soothe his ill-humour; Jonah was delighted with the castor-oil plant. But at dawn the next day, God arranged that a worm should attack the castor-oil plant – and it withered.
Next, when the sun rose, God arranged that there should be a scorching east wind; the sun beat down so hard on Jonah’s head that he was overcome and begged for death, saying, ‘I might as well be dead as go on living.’ God said to Jonah, ‘Are you right to be angry about the castor-oil plant?’ He replied, ‘I have every right to be angry, to the point of death.’ The Lord replied, ‘You are only upset about a castor-oil plant which cost you no labour, which you did not make grow, which sprouted in a night and has perished in a night. And am I not to feel sorry for Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, to say nothing of all the animals?’

Gospel

Luke 11:1-4
How to pray

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:

‘“Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come; give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins,for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.”’


Why did the ninevites have an almost instantaneous change of heart? Why would they listen to a stranger shouting out to them to repent of their ways when they were living comfortably?

Many of us like Jonah often choose to run in the opposite direction when called to serve the Lord our God and His people. Especially when chosen to speak up for Lord and to be His mouthpiece. No I cannot, I am not good enough, oh the people are more learned than me they will not listen, why embarrass myself? Besides they are neither family nor friends let their own kind speak to them!

The powerful word of God transforms us from within such that a light shines out and is seen on our faces. I believe this same transformation took place in Jonah. He knew he was being sent by an almighty, merciful and loving God and so proclaimed with conviction to the ninevites what was going to take place if they did not listen. And they saw the face of God as he spoke to them and so they listened and obeyed!

Therefore we must always spend time at the feet of our Lord and be attentive to His Word. His life giving Word will minister to us and transform us from within. We will experience His perfect love for us, grace filled we can go out to minister to others. For we ourselves have experienced the ‘better part’. Amen

First reading

Jonah 3:1-10 ·

The Ninevites repent, and God spares them

The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers, as follows: ‘Men and beasts, herds and flocks, are to taste nothing; they must not eat, they must not drink water. All are to put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil behaviour and the wicked things he has done. Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?’ God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour, and God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.

Gospel

Luke 10:38-42

Martha works; Mary listens

Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’