A Homily – The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus

First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

(NJB)

The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus
Listen!

God, the creator of the universe, God wants nothing more from us than this: that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly through the length of our days.

This is way Jesus taught us. Listen to Isaiah, who made straight the way before him.

Be mindful.

The savior is the person who brings justice to the nations, you will not hear him shouting for the sake of vanity in the streets or on the airwaves, you will not see her cutting people off from their potential, putting them down or diminishing them.

The savior teaches us that justice is expressed through mercy, and that the law subservient to it.

As Jesus taught in his own day: love God with all your strength, and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the Shema, and it is the first article of our faith.

Be kind to the stranger, be of service to your neighbor, love and forgive even your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and do not do to them what you would not have done to you.

This, Jesus told us, is the whole of the law and the teaching of the prophets.

Keep to this law, keep it as a covenant, keep it as promise between yourself and God. Preach it until the blind see and all those who are the captives of sin have been freed.

Consider the psalm for today:

It wise to believe in the God of creation.

God’s power is infinite and it undergirds everything that exists.

God’s power is present in all times and places.

Truly God is everywhere, there is no place where God is not.

God knows all things, God knows you, even as you know yourself.

Know this: it is not God’s voice we here in the wind above the waves. We do not hear God in the thunder. God does not splinter trees or rend them asunder. God is not active in the affairs of human beings; rather God has made creation, and us in it, free.

God is not a king.

Listen!

God does not intervene in creation, or the free choices of human beings.

God did not so much anoint Jesus, as did Jesus accept the mantle of sonship to God, and the full burden that this entailed, even to the extent that he went to his death and suffered on the cross.

Jesus was free to reject the ministry that was before, but he did not. He was faithful to the end. Setting an example to us all.

Few people will be called to serve in the capacity that Jesus served; few will be called to be tortured, and executed for bearing witness to what is right and good.

Few of us have the capacity to love justice so much that they could humbly endure what Jesus endured, and that is why we call him the Christ.

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; be a source of healing in the world.

This is the way of Christ. Do the best you can, not for the sake of your salvation, but for the good of your sisters and brothers, for all women and men.

Be mindful

The reading for today is a pure distillation of mythological tropes common among the Hebrew people.

It carries forward a set of theological themes that were very important in the first century.

It also situates the early Jesus Movement clearly within Rabbinical Judaism, which is otherwise known as Pharisaical Judaism.

In the reading for today Jesus is presented as a Pharisee, as a Jew of the Synagogue, his followers address him as Rabbi, and the central concern among the actors: Jesus, Peter, James, and John, concerns the foretelling that Jesus will rise from the dead.

Know this.

In ancient Judaism, only the Pharisees taught the resurrection of the dead.

Beyond these immediate concerns the writers of Mark’s Gospel were also interested in conveying the message that their teachings were in total alignment with historical Judaism, therefore they depict Jesus as another Abraham, who was also visited by divine messengers, and they show him changed, as Moses was changed on the mountain; furthermore, they show him being given the endorsement of Moses, and also of the prophet Elijah.

This trope is a concrete expression of the faith of the Jesus Movement that their teaching was in alignment with the tradition of the Patriarchs of the Covenant, with the Law Giver and the Prophets.

The writers of the Gospel wanted to convey the message that In Jesus the whole history of the people was complete.

Know this: the narrative is a fiction, these events never happened, they are a literary invention.

It does not transmit a historical truth about the Life of Jesus, but rather a historical truth about what people believed concerning Jesus, roughly fifty years after his death.
Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

Jesus was baptized by John.

It was the first moment of his public career.

He was baptized, he was purified, he was shriven.

The forms had been obeyed, and the gathered crowds were there to witness, the heaven open, and the Spirit of God, creator of the universe, descending on Jesus like a dove.

John was like Moses at the river Jordan. He was never meant to walk in the promised land. Jesus was like Joshua, he ushered the people in.

John was the elder son, he was not meant to inherit. Jesus was the promised son, in whom the hope of humanity was carried.

John was the goat, at the rite of expiation, Jesus was the lamb taken to slaughter.

High priest and king, they were one with each other.

Believing it does not make it true.
First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©

Here is my Servant, in Whom My Soul Delights

Thus says the Lord:

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights.

I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets.

He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver, nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth, for the islands are awaiting his law.

I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

O give the Lord, you sons of God,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.
Adore the Lord in his holy court.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The Lord’s voice resounding on the waters,
the Lord on the immensity of waters;
the voice of the Lord, full of power,
the voice of the Lord, full of splendour.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders.
In his temple they all cry: ‘Glory!’
The Lord sat enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits as king for ever.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©

God Had Anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

‘It is true, God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men. You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.’
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

The heavens opened and the Father’s voice resounded:
‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

‘This is my Son, the Beloved’

Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’

A Homily – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Amos 8:4-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-2, 4-8 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 2:1-8 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9
The Gospel According to Luke 16:1 – 13 ©
(NJB)
Know this:

God does not keep a tally of our good deeds and our bad deeds, at the end of our lives God does not set us on a scale and weigh the one against the other to determine if we are worthy.

God loves us. The creator of the universe has a plan for our salvation, for the good and the bad alike.

But know this as well, God knows what we have done, God knows all of our intentions, God knows whether we gave to the needy or stole from them.

God knows why we do what we do, and how we justify it to ourselves.

God knows and God remembers.

The creator of the universe does not intervene in the lives of individuals, or in the course of human history. God desires that we do good, that we walk humbly, and serve the interests of justice. God desires that we refrain from evil, but God has made us, and the whole of creation free.
It is wise to praise the creator, it is good to be thankful for existence itself, but do not look to God for favor in this world, look to your brothers and sisters, to your friends and family, seek it from the stranger, and give it in return.

Know this!

God wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth.

This is the heart of the gospel.

God, the creator of the universe, God desires the salvation of all people.

Our faith is in God, and God’s intention towards creation, that faith is the foundation of our hopes, and in those hopes we have the foundation of a loving and just society.

God will not intervene on your behalf, either to help you or to hinder you but God does hear you, God is with you.

Listen!

Jesus is not a lord.

Jesus was rich in spiritual gifts, he shared those gifts with many, with all whom he encountered, and in the sharing he only became richer in those gifts.

There was no poverty, lack or want in Jesus.

In Jesus we had a true friend.

Be mindful!

It is your task to find your way in the world, and it is a capricious place.

Find your way in it. Take the good with bad, you have no other choice.

Take the bad with good.

You may steer your own vessel, but you do not control the storm, the wind, the rain, the waves, or the current. You have little say in the choices that other people make.

Be loving, merciful, and just; strive to possess these qualities; regardless of how you fail, and know this; you will fail time and time again, but regardless of your failings God loves you, God calls on you to love what is good and to avoid what is evil.

Be kind to people and develop friendships, we cannot go through life without them.
We need each other, we are communal beings. Our relationships are what truly matter; they matter more than wealth, or power, or prestige.

The world is full of caprice, we cannot save up enough money or store enough food to survive the calamities that are to come, and the world is full of calamities. We will not survive them without our friends.

First Reading – Amos 8:4-7 ©

I Will Never Forget your Deeds, you who Trample on the Needy

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy and try to suppress the poor people of the country, you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over so that we can sell our corn, and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?

Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel, by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’

The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob, ‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-2, 4-8 ©

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord!
May the name of the Lord be blessed
both now and for evermore!

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

High above all nations is the Lord,
above the heavens his glory.
Who is like the Lord, our God,
who has risen on high to his throne
yet stoops from the heights to look down,
to look down upon heaven and earth?

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
from the dungheap he raises the poor
to set him in the company of princes,
yes, with the princes of his people.

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

Alleluia!

Second Reading – 1 Timothy 2:1-8 ©

Pray for Everyone to God, Who Wants Everyone to be Saved

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 16:1 – 13 ©

You Cannot Be the Slave of Both God and Money

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

‘And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40): 2-4, 18 ©
Second Reading – Hebrews 12:1-4 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – John 10:27
The Gospel According to Luke 12:48 – 53 ©
(NJB)
Be careful how you read the scriptures, do not confuse the works of men, for the will of the divine. Consider the trials of the prophet Jeremiah in the reading for today; these are the works of men, give men the credit for the mercy they exercised.

Only credit God with building in us the capacity to be good, and to do good, in spite of ourselves.

Know this:

It was wise for the king to free the prophet. There is wisdom in mercy, and through mercy the satisfaction of justice.

The powerless should never perish in the hands of the powerful.

Give thanks for the wisdom of the psalmist who says.

God is the God of mercy, God listens.

Bend your ear to God; turn your ear to your heart.

Stretch out your feelings, and you will find your way through the troubles of life on Earth, through all its filth and misery, as the psalmist says:

Seek salvation, which means wellness. Seek freedom from your own sins and do not dwell on the sins of others.

When you are beset with difficulties, look for other to blame, rather look to yourself, to your own transgressions, seek relief from them by engaging in the way, the way which demands that we love one another.

Listen!

Keep the way in front of you, be less mindful of the image of Jesus you cling to than of the way he asked us to keep; to be merciful, to love justice and to walk humbly all the days of your life.

Keep to the way, its course is not a race but a habit of life.

Be mindful;, desire is the cause of all suffering, even the desire to be good, especially the desire to prove your goodness to others, even that can end in suffering, both for yourself and the community you live in.

Do not be too eager to show it. Keep the way in front of you, and the teaching of Jesus in your heart.

Let your pray be a guide to you, to point you in the direction of justice.

God will hear you, God is with you.

Consider this.

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, rather it is the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

The Word of God; in whom all that is comes to be, it is to the Word that everything belongs, the shepherd chose the entire sheepfold.

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger.

The shepherd speaking to everyone, and all of listen as we are able (or willing).

Everyone that is, all who are or ever have been, everyone without exception including all who will be, every-one of us follows is in the way, moving toward God, there is no other way.

Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, as God is guiding you.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, as God waits for everyone. The good shepherd has a loving hand; love is patient as love is kind.

Remember!

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God.

Consider the Gospel for the day:

This is a cryptic passage.

It is fraught with tension. It engenders worry in the reader. As if the fire it points to is a thing to be feared.

In scripture fire is not a symbol of destruction, of punishment or of the judgement that leads to damnation.

This claim is true, even of those few passages depicting fire that are commonly interpreted as such, as the lake of fire is in the Book of Revelation.

Be mindful!

Fire is a symbol referring to our encounter with God. It represents our encounter with the person of God; God, the creator of the universe.

In scripture fire is a vehicle of refinement, of transformation and purification, not destruction and damnation.

Fire is the light of God.

In this passage the blazing fire that Jesus wishes would engulf the world; that fire is the fire of baptism, it is the grace of the Holy Spirit, a baptism which he sees coming to him, and through his teaching to the rest of the world.

Jesus’ death, his trials, his suffering; these did not transform the world, but they did light the way.
We are all called to follow the way, every generation is called.

The more radical our response is to that call, the more clearly we are divided from our old way of life.

Conflict will often ensue between a person and their loved ones, when one member of a community hears the call of the Spirit is move toward it, while others remain caught up in the distractions of the world.

Anytime the demands of truth and righteousness put us at odds with our conventions, mores and customs we face opposition. Perseverance in the face of that opposition is what Jesus is speaking to when he speaks of the consuming power of the holy flame.

We must endeavor to persevere.

First Reading – Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10 ©

‘Do Not Let the Prophet Die’

The king’s leading men spoke to the king. ‘Let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. The fellow does not have the welfare of this people at heart so much as its ruin.’ ‘He is in your hands as you know,’ King Zedekiah answered ‘for the king is powerless against you.’ So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well of Prince Malchiah in the Court of the Guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the well, only mud, and into the mud Jeremiah sank.

Ebed-melech came out from the palace and spoke to the king. ‘My lord king,’ he said ‘these men have done a wicked thing by treating the prophet Jeremiah like this: they have thrown him into the well, where he will die.’ At this the king gave Ebed-melech the Cushite the following order: ‘Take three men with you from here and pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40): 2-4, 18 ©

Lord, come to my aid!

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.

Lord, come to my aid!

He drew me from the deadly pit,
from the miry clay.
He set my feet upon a rock
and made my footsteps firm.

Lord, come to my aid!

He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.
Many shall see and fear
and shall trust in the Lord.

Lord, come to my aid!

As for me, wretched and poor,
the Lord thinks of me.
You are my rescuer, my help,
O God, do not delay.

Lord, come to my aid!
Second Reading – Hebrews 12:1-4 ©

We Should Keep Running Steadily in the Race We Have Started

With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – John 10:27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,
says the Lord,

I know them and they follow me.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 12:48 – 53 ©

How I Wish It Were Blazing Already!

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Genesis 18:1-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 14(15):2-5 ©
Second Reading – Colossians 1:24-28 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – Luke 8:15
The Gospel According to Luke – 10:38 – 42 ©

(NJB)
Be careful how you read the scriptures and remember that God, the creator of the universe, remember that God is not a God of flesh and blood. God does not eat flesh, drink milk, eat bread or drink water.

The narrative from Genesis is a metaphor, as are all of the myths of the patriarchs.

Remember this also, The scriptures are always asking us to do this simple deed; treat the strangers who come to your land as if they were God, treat them as you would if Jesus appeared at your door.

Treat them well, treat them kindly, honor them as if they were your closest friends and dearest family.

Honor them as if they were God, do it, because God dwells within them.

When you consider the scripture for today keep this in mind:

The future is not set, God has made each of us and the whole of creation free.

God is a God of law and order. God does not interfere or intervene in the lives of God’s children, God did not cause Sarah to become pregnant, god did not restore life to a barren womb.

There is another story being told here, pray that you may discern it.

Read every Psalm with the knowledge of this in your heart:
All of God’s children are welcomed home.

God forgets no-one and loves us all; God loves each and every one of us.

God, creator of the universe, God already dwells in the heart of every person; where God is present, God is present fully, and a just life is its own reward

The just and the unjust are loved by God in equal measure.

If we become the servant of one another out of love, and through a great undertaking, such as the organization of a charity, a mission or a church, and because of our efforts we find that we must endure some extent of suffering, as regrettable as it might be, this is type of suffering is not a bad thing..

If we are persecuted, or beaten for speaking the truth, it is not a bad thing, it is a sad thing, but it is good.

It is good to stand for the rights and dignity of others, even if you are persecuted for it.

This is what the Apostle is preaching:

We should not seek out suffering, suffering for its own sake is not a good in itself.

If you are persecuted for following the way, taken advantage of for doing something good; know this, the good thing is done and the way is intact.

There is a blessing in that.

Remember!

God dwells in the heart of every person, God speaks to us from there, and God listens.

God is with you.

Let us repeat this message because it cannot be said often enough.

Doing good is its own reward:

Seek justice.

Love mercy.

Speak the truth

Be good to people, be kind and patient no matter who you are dealing with.

Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Love God with all your strength and all your heart and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the whole of the law.

Be mindful!

We all have work to do. For those of us who live with our families, or near them, or if we have friends who are a close to us as any family’ with whom we have shared responsibilities, there is work to do.

There is work to do every day; in maintaining a business or a household.

There is cooking, there is cleaning, there are chores that never end.

In the midst of all that work there is who we are; who we are as individual people with individual needs. Our personal needs have many facets; there are material needs, there are emotional needs, there are intellectual needs, and there are spiritual needs.

Our needs are unique to us as individuals, there are few of them that we can meet on our own, we are intended to meet them in relationship to one another.

Most of us are good at meeting our material needs; food, clothing, shelter, those things are dialed in (for most of us). Our intellectual needs can be met in conversation, or through reading a book. Meeting our emotional needs can be a little more difficult, because it requires that we have other people around us whom we trust, that we can relate to.

The most difficult resource to find is that of a genuine spiritual teacher.

Our spiritual life has direct links to the other modes of our life; this is to acknowledge the truth that we can find some spiritual satisfaction in a good meal, a good conversation, or a deep emotional connection.

Those things can also be exploited; overdone, so as to inure us to our actual spiritual state.
When the true spiritual teacher is present to us, that is time for us to receive and take the light for ourselves, for our understanding and our illumination.

It requires mindfulness, and perception to recognize this.

It requires will and determination to act on it.

It requires perceptivity and awareness.

It requires humility and openness, and a willingness to be loved.
First Reading – Genesis 18:1-10 ©

‘Next Year Your Wife Sarah Will Have a Son’

The Lord appeared to Abraham at the Oak of Mamre while he was sitting by the entrance of the tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up, and there he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and bowed to the ground. ‘My lord,’ he said ‘I beg you, if I find favour with you, kindly do not pass your servant by. A little water shall be brought; you shall wash your feet and lie down under the tree. Let me fetch a little bread and you shall refresh yourselves before going further. That is why you have come in your servant’s direction.’ They replied, ‘Do as you say.’

Abraham hastened to the tent to find Sarah.’ ‘Hurry,’ he said ‘knead three bushels of flour and make loaves.’ Then running to the cattle Abraham took a fine and tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. Then taking cream, milk and the calf he had prepared, he laid all before them, and they ate while he remained standing near them under the tree.

‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ they asked him. ‘She is in the tent’ he replied. Then his guest said, ‘I shall visit you again next year without fail, and your wife will then have a son.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 14(15):2-5 ©

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.

Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain?
He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice
and speaks the truth from his heart;
he who does not slander with his tongue.

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.

He who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbour,
who holds the godless in disdain,
but honours those who fear the Lord.

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.

He who keeps his pledge, come what may;
who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent.
Such a man will stand firm for ever.

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.
Second Reading – Colossians 1:24-28 ©

A Mystery Hidden for Generations has Been Revealed to God’s Saints

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints. It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans. The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – Luke 8:15

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are those who,
with a noble and generous heart,
take the word of God to themselves
and yield a harvest through their perseverance.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to 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.’

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-11 ©
Second Reading – Galatians 5:1, 13-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 3:9, John 6:68
The Gospel According to Luke 9:51-62 ©

(NJB)
Listen!

God, the creator of the universe: God is not a maker of kings. God is a general leading armies. God does not desire sacrifices of blood and flesh.

God is a god of love and mercy, of justice and compassion.

Be mindful of this at all times.

Trust God, faith and confidence are their own reward.

God is good, all that is good flows from God, as everything flows from God.

Look for the good of God in all creation, in everything that unfolds for you. Look and you will find it.

There are no alien gods, there are only misconceptions of the one God.

Be mindful when you read this; because this includes our misconceived notion of the God we pray to.

The gods of the Greeks and Romans, the gods of the Persians and Egyptians, the gods of all the nations, the God in all our Churches and temples, they are one.

All images of God are the stuff of idols, whether they are made of metal, of stone, of wood, or of words, whether they are painted on canvass, or merely colored in the mind; they are idols.

Know this, God speaks to us where we are, in the language we speak, in te language of the heart.

God calls all of Gods children to God’s self, no one id left out.

We are brothers and sisters to each other, sons and daughters, and the human family includes everyone.

Read this passage carefully. The central message is this:

Love your neighbor as yourself, this is the whole of the law.

This is a shortening of the Shema, and of Jesus’ Golden Rule, the whole of which reads; Love God with all your strength and all your heart and all you mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, do not do to them what you would not have done to you.

As clear as these rule are they can still be subject to misinterpretation, as anything that passes through our hands can be.

Be mindful of how you live this command, do not seek the destruction of your neighbor because you yourself wish to be destroyed.

Do not withhold care from the needy, because you do not wish to be cared for.

Be mindful.

The impetus for the rule is your commitment to serve God, to love God with all your strength, which means that you must be open and honest and forthright in your loving, just as God wishes you to be.

God does not live with us here in the world, we cannot show our love for God directly; by clothing God, or feeding God, or providing God with a place to rest.

That is why we are called to serve our neighbors and the stranger, and even those with whom we quarrel (especially them), because the divine dwells within their spirit, they are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

By serving them you serve God who sent them.

Remember this, always.

Listen!

The reward for your faithful service is peace, it is peace in this life, and the knowledge that you have lived well, acted justly, done good.

God has prepared you for eternity, but eternal life is not your reward for doing good and avoiding evil.

The Gospel reading for today gives us an example of just where the early church went astray, It was at the beginning, at the very-start we deviated from the teaching of Jesus, and the lived experience of the way he taught.

We are given the thoughts of Saint Peter to reflect on, Saint Peter the Rock, who would have us believe that he follows Jesus because Jesus has the secret message of eternal life, as if this were the purpose of the gospel as if believing that Jesus is the “Holy One of God” is the key to receiving the gift of eternal life.

That is a false construction; there is no secret, there is no key, there is only God’s plan for that was drafted in eternity.

We are asked to believe that God the Father parcels out access to Jesus, to the truth, to the reality of life everlasting, allowing some to come to it while refusing others. None of this scheme is true.

Listen!

Here is the gospel; God loves you, and you are saved. You are not saved for anything that you have done, you did not earn it, you are saved because God loves you.

There is no mystery, it is as simple as that.

The promise of salvation is not that you will be spared from suffering and torment in hell, or that when you are judged God will forgive you.

God has already forgiven you. You are already saved.

God has prepared you and everyone for eternal life.

Believe it!

Let the goodness of the promise flow through you now, and start living in the way as if it were true.

We are not called to believe in the idea that Jesus is this or that, the Holy One of God, we are called to act on the principles of his faith, to live lives of charity and service to each other.

Now!

Reflect on this passage from Luke.

Have some empathy for Jesus. The road that the prophet walks is a lonely road. Even those closest to him are rebuked, Jesus critiques them harshly, again and again, because they do not understand his mission.

Jesus has been out in the countryside, preaching outside Judea; he has been in the wider region of Palestine, and when he turns his eye toward Jerusalem, toward the completion of his mission the Samaritans reject him.

Jesus, who had opened his ministry to everyone, encounters the sectarianism he is working to dissolve. It is a sorrowful moment.

James and John, the “Sons of Thunder,” offer to rain destruction on the Samaritan village as a penalty to them.

Jesus rebukes them, they are his companions, they have been travelling with him for nearly three years, and they still do not understand the works of mercy he is engaged in.

Jesus then encounters a sequence of people who are all seemingly willing to follow him, but they are busy, they have obligations. For them the time is not now.

Jesus laments.

Little has changed for human beings since his time. The divine work that Christians have been commissioned to undertake; that work requires a full commitment, and the understanding that at its heart there must be mercy.

Mercy, this is the easiest thing of all to forget when you are angry, lonely, tired, hungry and feeling slighted.
Mercy is the basic disposition that all Christians have been instructed to foster.
First Reading – 1 Kings 19:16,19-21 ©

Elisha leaves the plough to follow Elijah

The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, you are to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’
Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’ Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2,5,7-11 ©

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.
Second Reading – Galatians 5:1,13-18 ©

When Christ Freed Us, He Meant Us to Remain Free

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.

Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.
Gospel Acclamation – 1saiah 3:9, John 6:68

Alleluia, alleluia!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 9:51-62 ©

Jesus Sets Out For Jerusalem

As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.

As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’

Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – Pentecost

Alternative First Reading – Acts 2:1-11 ©
First Reading – Genesis 11:1-9 ©
Psalm – Psalm 32(33):10-15 ©
Alternative Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13 ©
Second Reading – Exodus 19:3-8,16-20 ©
Canticle – Daniel 3:52-56 ©
Third Reading – Ezekiel 37:1-14 ©
Psalm – Psalm 106(107):2-9 ©
Fourth Reading – Joel 3:1-5 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 103(104):1,24,29-31,34 ©
Fifth Reading – Romans 8:22-27 ©
Alternative, The Gospel According to John 20:19–23 ©
The Gospel According to John 7:37-39 ©

(NJB)
Remember this always, keep it in the forefront of your mind when you are reading scripture:

God is a God of law and order. God, the creator of the universe, God is not a purveyor of magic tricks, God does not dabble in the supernatural or trade in miracles.

The narrative in this reading from Acts is a metaphor. Do not take it literally.

It means this:

The Church had grown to include a great number of people from all parts of the Roman Empire, from Egypt and North Africa, From Arabia and Persia, from all around the Mediterranean, from North and South of the Black Sea.

In the company of believers there were speakers and translators capable of sharing the Good News and teaching the way, of sharing it in every tongue that was known; from Ethiopia to Brittania, from Carthage to India.

This was meant to illustrate the essential unity of the people, demonstrating for the nascent Church that by following the way we can regain a unity we lost when we began to live in cities, serving priests and anointing kings.

Consider the fable of the Tower of Babel:

This is the story of the beginning of agrarianism. It details an understanding about how cities came to be built in the large agricultural centers.

Where the agrarian life was established, larger and larger populations of people came to be supported.

They were able to build large communities, and for protection against others they were able to build walls around their cities.

The narrative surrounding the construction of the first tower, is the beginning of religion, and the division of the people into casts and classes.

In Mesopotamia these towers were called ziggurats, they served a variety of purposes. They were built as granaries. They also functioned as temples. They were under the management of the priestly cast, and from the top of these towers the astronomers watched the movements of the heavens, tracking the path of the stars in cycles that spanned years and decades, centuries and millenia.

The move to agrarianism created fissures among the people.

The division of labor ensued, a caste system came to be, and the people were separated into laborers, merchants, priests and royals. As time passed these castes became increasingly more rigid, and movement between them became nearly impossible for ordinary people to contemplate.

Jesus taught us the way, in it all distinctions of class and caste fall apart.

Listen to the psalmist, the psalmist is correct.

It is fitting to praise God. It is wise to trust in the God’s counsel, to have faith in God’s mercy; though do not expect God to rescue you from danger, and do not believe that God’s loves any one of God’s children more than any other, including yourself.

God knows all things, and understands all things.
You have heard this said.

God’s knowledge is not an abstract knowledge of particulars details concerning individual events. God understands our person, our choices, our lives; even as we understand them ourselves, only with a clarity that we could never possess.

Trust in God’s plan for you, in God’s plan for creation, but do not wait for salvation.

Salvation is already yours, go out and share the good news

Proclaim salvation, and the forgiveness of sins.

All have been forgiven.

Listen!

God’s salvation is close.

Have no fear.

The glory of God does not come and go according to our deeds and merits. God is always present, God is present in all times and all places. God is with you now

Have no fear.

God’s salvation reaches everyone.

God welcomes our participation in the work of the faithful, there is much work to do and there is a role for everyone to play.

Everyone of us comes to that work with different gifts, different abilities and talents, we are called on to use them for the benefit of our brothers and sisters, for those who share the same faith and for those who do not.

God’s salvation is close.

Have no fear.

All of those things which we imagine, the things which we hold in hearts and minds, those things which divide us one from another, those things are illusions born of fear and a lack of trust in our neighbors, a lack of trust in ourselves, and a lack of trust in God.

Pray to be released from them.

This is the understanding that you may take away from the Apostle’s words.

God; who created the Universe, the God of Jesus Christ, God is the God of all people. We are united to God symbolically in our baptism, and in our being ontologically, insofar as we are created in the divine image.

Baptism is a rite which ties us to each other in symbolic way, it binds us to the life of Jesus and his death through ritual; the ritual is a reflection of the actuality of our unity that prefigures creation, the essential oneness we have with God that is at the core of our being. It prefigures creation itself, it belongs to us from eternity.

The body of the Church is not the Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome, or with the Orthodox Church, or any other single group of Christians.

The body of the Church is greater than the entire number of self-professed Christians and people of the faith; protestant, non-denominational, what have you. Neither is the body the people of Israel; the body of the Church is not the old Israel or the new.

On earth, the true church is the whole of humanity, everyone in existence now, everyone who has ever been, and everyone who will ever be.

God has made us as a singular people, both here on Earth and to the farthest reaches of the universe, we are one body, all God’s children, here and everywhere.

Listen!

We must always be diligent regarding our basic commitment to expose false theology

We cannot let our imagination linger on fables and myths without at the same time naming them as such.

If we took these stories seriously, like the story today from Exodus we would have to uphold the tradition that human beings need an intermediary like Moses to pass messages back and forth between the rest of humanity and God, the creator of the universe.

We would have to accept as vital and necessary the institution of a priesthood.

We would have to accept the idea that God, who created the universe, has chosen one tribe out of the whole world, to represent God’s will to the people.

These are things we cannot accept.

We are all the children of God, and God dwells in our hearts.

God never did and we do need to see God descending on the mountain.

There are no intermediaries, God speaks to us directly, male and female, sons and daughters, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, those with titles and those without.

God is not a king or a lord, God does not come in the pomp and circumstance of fire and trumpets, with drums and horns.

God speaks with the voice of love.

Remember this well!

God, the creator of the universe, God does not require or even desire our praise and exaltations, except insofar as those praises take the form of a merciful and generous bearing toward one other.

God does not dwell in a temple; God is present in all places, in everyone, to everyone.

God is not a king.

Serve God through the love and kindness you show one another.

This is the way. The way slips past the bounds of this world.

The bounds of death are no impediment for God’s salvific will.

God will go beyond any threshold to save God’s children.

Have no fear for the present time, for time itself is merely a tool of the almighty, a means for God to achieve God’s end.

Have no fear, there is nothing done that cannot be undone.

This is what Ezekiel’s prophecy means.

Listen!

Let us affirm our trust in God; that God, the creator of the universe is good.

God is not a partisan.

God made us in this world. God made us free, and the world itself is free from divine coercion.

Be mindful.

God, the creator of the universe, God does not require or even desire our praise and exaltations, except insofar as those praises take the form of a merciful and generous bearing toward one other.

Serve God through the love and kindness you show one another.

Remember this!

God is the creator of the universe, the eternal God is the first source and center of all things.

The infinite God engenders all potentialities, and yet interferes with none of them.

The universe that God created, God created it free from coercion. God does not coerce creation. And yet the entirety of what is, moves according to God’s eternal purpose.

Be at peace with this mystery.

It is wise and good to anticipate the coming of God. It is wise and good to desire to be in the presence of God.

Anticipate that moment, relish it, cherish it, but remain present to the people and events that are actually occurring in your life.

When you are in prayer, and your thoughts are unformed, when your feelings are unclear and no words come to your mind, or when the words that do come are inappropriate for prayer; then be silent, quiet your mind, still the murmurs in your heart, let go of the voices; be silent and listen.

Let your prayer be one of listening.

In the Gospel readings for today we are reminded of the feast of Pentecost.

It is a day that Christians celebrate throughout the world.

It is the commemoration of the gift of the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus to the church that was founded in his name.

For the Church, this moment marks the beginning of a new era. Jesus is gone, and the community of believers is now in the hands of his disciples; primarily, and others who have heard the call, like Saint Paul, who never met him (Jesus) in the flesh.

The final departure of Jesus, and the bequeathment of the Holy Spirit, is the beginning of the age of prophecy, it is a time of discernment; it is the dawn of the Apostolic age. In it the Church evolves and becomes a new creation. It is no longer merely a sect of Judaism, the Church becomes an international movement, it spreads throughout the Roman Empire, and the new way is preached in new languages, in new tongues, in new stories; such that Jesus himself had never imagined.

Jesus preached the way of love, of service, of caring, of justice, of mercy; the way of Jesus can be lived in silence, it does not require words.

The myth of Pentecost, as related here in the Gospel of Saint John, narrates some of the struggles of the early Church. It was written more than one hundred years after the death of Jesus, and decades after the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. It was written for the Church; in an era when the differentiation among Christians and Jews was concrete, and when the leaders in the new movement were trying to establish their bona fides, as the heirs to Jesus’ ministry.

The gift of the Holy Spirit, released in a breath of ritual remembering; is not the reception of something new, for the Spirit of God animates all living beings, it is the acknowledgement of that reality in the passing on of Jesus’ mission to the next generation.

The mission is this:

To love and care for, to serve those in the greatest need, to love justice and be merciful in the face of the world’s horrors, to do good.

The passage from John would have been a fine place to end the gospels; except for the final words, which were meant to cement the authority of the church in the lives of the followers. This naked grab for power, marks the new creation as one firmly rooted in the sinful world, and while that is simply the way of things, it was not the way of Jesus.

Listen to Jesus!

Let the thirsty come.

Trust in Jesus and come, your thirst will be relieved.

This is the way.

Do not be confused on this point; belief is not the coin you exchange for access to God, no one is standing by to punch your ticket at the door, simply come if you are thirsty.

Come and drink, and be restored.

Jesus will bring you into the way, and the way is life, trust in him and keep to the way.

Do not muddle around in the rhetoric of John, do not let John’s confusion stop you. When John attempts to qualify the hopeful message of Christ, John deviates from the way.

Remember this!

The spirit has always been with us, all things come into being, in the spirit of God, all things are sustained by God’s spirit, and to God’s spirit all things will return.

We will return to God like the rain fall to the sea.

There is no escaping it, no matter how we meander on the way.
Alternative First Reading – Acts 2:1-11 ©

They Were All Filled with the Holy Spirit and Began to Speak

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’
First Reading – Genesis 11:1-9 ©

The Tower of Babel

Throughout the earth men spoke the same language, with the same vocabulary. Now as they moved eastwards they found a plain in the land of Shinar where they settled. They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them in the fire.’ (For stone they used bricks, and for mortar they used bitumen). ‘Come,’ they said ‘let us build ourselves a town and a tower with its top reaching heaven. Let us make a name for ourselves, so that we may not be scattered about the whole earth.’

Now the Lord came down to see the town and the tower that the sons of man had built. ‘So they are all a single people with a single language!’ said the Lord. ‘This is but the start of their undertakings! There will be nothing too hard for them to do. Come, let us go down and confuse their language on the spot so that they can no longer understand one another.’ The Lord scattered them thence over the whole face of the earth, and they stopped building the town. It was named Babel therefore, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth. It was from there that the Lord scattered them over the whole face of the earth.
Psalm – Psalm 32(33):10-15 ©

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

He frustrates the designs of the nations,
he defeats the plans of the peoples.
His own designs shall stand for ever,
the plans of his heart from age to age.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth,
he sees all the children of men.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

From the place where he dwells he gazes
on all the dwellers on the earth;
he who shapes the hearts of them all;
and considers all their deeds.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.
Alternative Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13 ©

In the One Spirit We Were All Baptised

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
Second Reading – Exodus 19:3-8,16-20 ©

Moses Led the People Out of the Camp to Meet God

Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Say this to the House of Jacob, declare this to the sons of Israel:

‘“You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. From this you know that now, if you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all the nations shall be my very own, for all the earth is mine. I will count you a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation.”

‘Those are the words you are to speak to the sons of Israel.’

So Moses went and summoned the elders of the people, putting before them all that the Lord had bidden him. Then all the people answered as one, ‘All that the Lord has said, we will do.’

Now at daybreak on the third day there were peals of thunder on the mountain and lightning flashes, a dense cloud, and a loud trumpet blast, and inside the camp all the people trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the bottom of the mountain. The mountain of Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. Like smoke from a furnace the smoke went up, and the whole mountain shook violently. Louder and louder grew the sound of the trumpet. Moses spoke, and God answered him with peals of thunder. The Lord came down on the mountain of Sinai, on the mountain top, and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain.
Canticle – Daniel 3:52-56 ©

To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
Blest your glorious holy name.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest in the temple of your glory.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest on the throne of your kingdom.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest who gaze into the depths.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest in the firmament of heaven.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
Third Reading – Ezekiel 37:1-14 ©

A Vision of Israel’s Death and Resurrection

The hand of the Lord was laid on me, and he carried me away by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley, a valley full of bones. He made me walk up and down among them. There were vast quantities of these bones on the ground the whole length of the valley; and they were quite dried up. He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘You know, Lord.’ He said, ‘Prophesy over these bones. Say, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says this to these bones: I am now going to make the breath enter you, and you will live. I shall put sinews on you, I shall make flesh grow on you, I shall cover you with skin and give you breath, and you will live; and you will learn that I am the Lord.”’ I prophesied as I had been ordered. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a sound of clattering; and the bones joined together. I looked, and saw that they were covered with sinews; flesh was growing on them and skin was covering them, but there was no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man. Say to the breath, “The Lord says this: Come from the four winds, breath; breathe on these dead; let them live!”’ I prophesied as he had ordered me, and the breath entered them; they came to life again and stood up on their feet, a great, an immense army.

Then he said, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They keep saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope has gone; we are as good as dead.” So prophesy. Say to them, “The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this – it is the Lord who speaks.”’
Psalm – Psalm 106(107):2-9 ©

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Alleluia!

Let them say this, the Lord’s redeemed,
whom he redeemed from the hand of the foe
and gathered from far-off lands,
from east and west, north and south.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Some wandered in the desert, in the wilderness,
finding no way to a city they could dwell in.
Hungry they were and thirsty;
their soul was fainting within them.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Then they cried to the Lord in their need
and he rescued them from their distress
and he led them along the right way,
to reach a city they could dwell in.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let them thank the Lord for his love,
for the wonders he does for men:
for he satisfies the thirsty soul;
he fills the hungry with good things.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Alleluia!
Fourth Reading – Joel 3:1-5 ©

I Will Pour Out My Spirit on All Mankind

Thus says the Lord:

‘I will pour out my spirit on all mankind.

Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions.

Even on the slaves, men and women, will I pour out my spirit in those days.

I will display portents in heaven and on earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.’

The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord dawns,
that great and terrible day.

All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, for on Mount Zion there will be some who have escaped, as the Lord has said, and in Jerusalem some survivors whom the Lord will call.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 103(104):1,24,29-31,34 ©

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

Alleluia!

Bless the Lord, my soul!
Lord God, how great you are,
How many are your works, O Lord!
The earth is full of your riches.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

You take back your spirit, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came.
You send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord last for ever!
May the Lord rejoice in his works!
May my thoughts be pleasing to him.
I find my joy in the Lord.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

Alleluia!
Fifth Reading – Romans 8:22-27 ©

The Spirit Himself Expresses Our Plea in a Way that Could Never be Put Into Words

From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free. For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved – our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were – but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet – it is something we must wait for with patience.

The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.
Second Alternative, The Gospel According to John 20:19–23 ©

As the Father Sent Me, So Am I Sending You: Receive the Holy Spirit

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’
The Gospel According to John 7:37-39 ©

‘If Any Man is Thirsty, Let Him Come To Me!’

On the last day and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood there and cried out:
‘If any man is thirsty, let him come to me!
Let the man come and drink who believes in me!’
As scripture says: From his breast shall flow fountains of living water.
He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive; for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Pentecost

A Homily – The Seventh Sunday of Easter

First Reading – Acts 7:55-60 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1-2,6-7,9 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©
The Gospel According to John – John 17:20-26 ©

(NJB)
Listen!

The good Saint Stephen did not need to die that day. As Christians we are not called to be fanatics.

When Stephen had his vision you must know this, he did not see Jesus at the right hand of God, we know this because God and Christ in heaven are not embodied beings, they are not visible to the eye, they have no hands.

We know this to be true.

Stephen was either speaking metaphorically, or he was ill.

It is tragic that he died for this, for his allegorical speech, or whatever they case may be. There was much more good work for him to do along the way.

His martyrdom cut that short.

Be mindful.

God is not concerned with earthly title and honors, or are obsequiousness.

It is human beings who are obsessed with questions of kingship, not the divine.

God is Abba, father; Jesus is brother, teacher; he was our friend.

God is the keeper of a garden, not the king of kings, or the ruler of empires.

Let Earth rejoice, and all people in it.

Let us understand that God is a mystery, and keep in mind that all people are God’s children, and God has no enemies.

God is the creator of all things and all conform to the will God, in the end. The will of God is just and merciful and loving.

In the presence of God there will be no dismay. God will wipe away the tears from everyone’s face, and all will be invited to share God’s table.

If you have never worshipped a carved image, do not think you are superior to any who have, because idolatry can be found in more than the worship of objects, idolatry is most insidious when given to doctrine and presented in the form of ideas and beliefs.

Listen!

The promise of John’s revelation is this:

Every person will receive what they deserve…as the children of God they will receive God’s love, they will be forgiven just as Jesus prayed when he was dying on the cross.

We will all receive mercy.

We will be cleansed and made well, healed and made happy.

We will be whole.

The hungry will be fed, and the thirsty will drink, the gift itself is free, and that is the promise of God.

Listen!

There are passages in scripture, and there are many of them, in which the Gospels provide the reader or the listener, with only a tangled and confused set of words and concepts that do little to shed light on anything good or meaningful.

The Gospel for today is one of those passages, so be mindful of you read it.

It is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on the meaning from today’s reading.

Set aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, has the least concern for historical accuracy of the four. John’s Gospel was written more than one hundred years after Jesus’ death. It is likely that the event portrayed here never happened, that Jesus never spoke these words in this way.

He may have said something like it, but that is neither here nor there, what is presented here is a fiction.

What this meandering passage represents are the thoughts and feelings of John’s community at the end of the first century CE, not the thoughts and feeling of Jesus of Nazareth as he walked through the world, engaged in his ministry.

It fully represents the mystical and mysterious way in which Christians had come to see the life of Jesus, and Jesus’s relationship to God, the creator of the Universe. It represents this in terms that have a connection to the prevailing philosophical beliefs of the day, regarding the metaphysical structure of reality, but does nothing to explicate the system of beliefs it is specifically engaging.

It is poor theology.

This type of thinking has been a burden on the faith over the centuries and millennia, and should be struck from the cannon. It is impossible for us to know what the Gospel writers meant, what the limits of their thinking was, never mind the fact that the philosophies of the ancient world, their metaphysical systems, were false, they were wrong, they were errant, there is little in those thought systems that can help us understand ourselves, the world we live in, or our relationship to the divine.

What truth we can glean from today’s passage is this:

Jesus prayed to God on behalf of his followers, he prayed that they would understand both his mission and the mission that he was passing on to them.

He prayed for their unity.

He prayed that they love one another, and that the message they carried forward in his name was a message of love, and hope.

This Gospel passage has the appearance of being directed specifically to Christians, and that is unfortunate because the mission of Jesus crosses all boundaries; sectarian, national, ethnic and gender.

This Gospel passage is overly concerned with the message regarding the identity of Jesus, it is dogmatic, it pushes the message of who John’s community believed Jesus was, over the mission to preach the love of God. That was not what Jesus himself taught. In this way the Gospel deviates from the faith.

Who Jesus was in the world, and what we believe about him, those things are not germane. Such beliefs have no bearing on the way that is meant to be the Christian life.

As followers of the way, rather than concerning ourselves with who we believe Jesus was, we need to concern ourselves with how Jesus was in the world, with how we are able to live a loving life according to the standard Jesus set.
First Reading – Acts 7:55-60 ©

The Stoning of Stephen

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1-2,6-7,9 ©

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

Alleluia!

The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
the many coastlands be glad.
His throne is justice and right.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

The skies proclaim his justice;
all peoples see his glory.
All you spirits, worship him.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

For you indeed are the Lord
most high above all the earth,
exalted far above all spirits.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©

Come, Lord Jesus

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.
The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.
The Gospel According to John 17:20-26 ©

Father, May they be Completely One

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me.

May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.

With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.
7th Sunday of Easter (Year C)

A Homily – The Sixth Sunday of Easter

First Reading – Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©
Alternative Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
The Gospel According to John 14:23-29 ©
Alternative Acclamation – John 14:18
Alternative Gospel Reading – John 17:20-26 ©

(NJB)
Listen!

Salvation is not earned.

It is a gift. It is the fulfillment of God’s intention for you and the whole of creation.

Salvation is not linked to our rites and rituals, to the way we mark ourselves as belonging to a group or not, to whether we are in the Church or out.

Our ultimate salvation has nothing to do with the things we eat, with our good deeds or our bad ones.

Our Salvation comes from God. We are saved together, and until we have arrived at its fullness and completion, we are not saved at all.

Be mindful.

The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all peoples and all nations; to have pity and to be merciful.

The psalmist is right to ask for the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Know this:

God is not confined to one place, neither is God confined to one time, nor does God belong to one people.

God, who created the universe, God is the God of everyone, whether they know of God or not. God is still God.

Praise the fairness of God. Ask for God’s blessing; not just four yourself, but ask for it on behalf of everyone.

When we visualize the fulfilment of God’s promise, when we reflect on the heavenly worlds and the paradise to come, bear this in mind:

Let all the talk of precious metals, and precious stones fall away; forget the talk of gold, and gems.

Ignore the jingoism, the fetish with Israel and with Jerusalem, with the apostles of Jesus, they are not relevant to these reflections. Every reference we find in scripture to these material things, is in a real way a distraction from the central message of the gospels and the good news they are meant to convey.

Where God is there is God, God who created the universe and sustains all things in it. God who is the parent of every being; where God is there is no temple, there is no altar, there is no edifice or anything we would recognize as the structure of a church; there is no cathedral, there is no basilica…where God is there is light, and love and peace.

The light has no limit, the light shines forever and there is no darkness in it; in God’s embrace all people are welcome, and no one will come to it who has not been prepared for it.

God prepares us all.

Where God dwells there are no gates. People will come having passed through every plane, they will come from all directions.

Listen!

The promise of the revelation is this:

Every person will receive what they deserve…as the children of God they will receive God’s love, they will be forgiven just as Jesus prayed when he was dying on the cross. We will all receive mercy.

We will be cleansed and made well, healed and made happy.
We will be whole.

The hungry will be fed, and the thirsty will drink, the gift is free, and that is the promise of God.

Understand this:

God, the creator of the universe, God is present in all of God’s children, and where God is present God is present fully.

There is no division in the divine. The divine is inclusive of all reality, of every living being that is it.

No-one is excluded.

Every person who ever was, who is, who will ever be, everyone is present in the divine, as such they are present within each of us, for each of us carries the divine within ourselves.

Jesus was the son of God, as each of us is a child of God; a son or daughter.

Love one another, as God loves you. This is the great commandment.

Do not be afraid, life on Earth is merely a passage to another world, it is the unfolding a mystery.

Listen to your sister, to your brother, they have something important to say. Each one of us has the potential to speak for God, to be God’s prophet, to be the advocate of Christ,

Everything, and everyone, returns to the creator, in so doing we come to the understanding that we never apart.

God, the creator of the universe, God will abandon no-one. God will leave no orphans, no-one will be left stranded in the throws of sin.

Not one of us shall be lost.

Listen!

There are passages in scripture, and there are many of them, in which the Gospels provide the reader, or the listener, with only a tangled and confused set of words and concepts that do little to shed light on anything good or meaningful.

The Gospel for today is one of those passages.

It is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on its meaning.

Set aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, has the least concern for historical accuracy of the four. The Gospel was written more than one hundred years after his death. It is likely that the event portrayed here never happened, that Jesus never spoke these words in this way.

He may have said something like it, but that is neither here nor there.

What this meandering passage represents is the thoughts and feelings of John’s community at the end of the first century CE. It fully represents the mystical and mysterious way in which Christians had come to see the life of Jesus, and Jesus’s relationship to God, the creator of the Universe. It does this in terms that have a connection to some of the prevailing philosophical beliefs regarding the metaphysical structure of reality, but does nothing to explicate the system of beliefs it is specifically engaging.

It is poor theology.

This type of thinking has been a burden on the faith over the centuries and millennia, and should be struck from the cannon. It is impossible for us to know what the Gospel writers meant, what the limits of their thinking was, never mind the fact that the philosophies of the ancient world, their metaphysical systems, were false, they were wrong, they were errant, there is little in those thought systems that can help us understand ourselves, the world we live in, or our relationship to the divine.

What truth we can glean from today’s passage is this:

Jesus prayed to God on behalf of his followers, he prayed that they would understand both his mission and the mission that he was passing on to them.

He prayed for their unity.

He prayed that they love one another, and that the message they carried forward in his name was one of love.

This Gospel passage has the appearance of being directed specifically to Christians, and that is unfortunate because the mission of Jesus crosses all boundaries; sectarian, national, ethnic and gender.

This Gospel passage is overly concerned with the message regarding the identity of Jesus, it is dogmatic, it pushes the message of who John’s community believed Jesus was, over the mission to preach the love of God. That was not what Jesus himself taught. In this way the Gospel deviates from the faith.

Who Jesus was in the world, and what we believe about that is not germane. Such beliefs have no bearing on the way that is meant to be the Christian life.

As followers of the way, rather than concerning ourselves with who we believe Jesus was, we need to concern ourselves with how Jesus was in the world, with how we are able to live a loving life according to the standard Jesus set.
First Reading – Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©

It Has Been Decided by the Spirit and by Ourselves Not to Burden You with Any Burden Beyond these Essentials

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©

He Showed Me the Holy City Coming Down Out of Heaven

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.
Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©

Come, Lord Jesus

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.
The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus said: ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 14:23-29 ©

A peace the world cannot give is my gift to you Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.

Those who do not love me do not keep my words.

And my word is not my own: it is the word of the one who sent me.

I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.
Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.

If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe.’
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18

Alleluia, alleluia!

I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you,
and your hearts will be full of joy.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 17:20-26 ©

Father, May they be Completely One

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me.

May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.

With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.
6th Sunday of Easter

A Homily – The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

First Reading – Acts 14:21-27 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-13a ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:1-5 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34
The Gospel According to John 13:31-35 ©

(NJB)

When you are reading about the acts of the apostles remember this: everything they accomplished they accomplished by their own design. We know that this is true because God does not intervene in the lives of the people. God has made each of us and the entire creation free.

Praise God for creating the universe, and filling it with all of its potentialities, with its myriad of possibilities that included us.

Now be mindful of this:

We will all experience hardship in life, such is the nature of being, but hardship is not a requirement for living in the way. We are not required to endure hardship before we see the face, of God, even though it is likely that we will.

Listen!

God is not a king.
God is the creator of the universe, God is present in all times and places; even in the deepest places of the human heart, but God does not intervene directly in human events.
God only issues an indirect influences over God’s children. God’s power will never circumscribe human freedom.
Contemplate the vast power of God, and contemplate the ways of God’s love and mercy, and know that the psalmist is mistaken when he calls God a king.
Listen to the prophet John:

At the end of all things there is God, the creator of the universe, and God is the temple we shall worship in; God is, God who dwells in the heart of every human being.

God’s temple is in the heart of everyone, enter into the other’s heart and allow the other to enter yours; there you will worship God together as one.

Do not forget this.

Everyone of God’s children has their name written in the book of life.

God promises to make the whole of creation new.

The world of the past will be gone, and death will be no more.

There will be no more mourning and no sadness, God’s own hand shall bring relief to everyone.

Listen!

Forget the apocryphal imagery and mythological symbolism of the “Son of Man,” forget the cryptic words about the glory of God; in whom and how it appears. Forget those things because they are irrelevant.

Know this, love one another. This is the purpose for which we were made.

To follow Jesus is to lead with love.

Love as Jesus loved. Be caring, be merciful, be just.

Be prepared to risk everything for the sake of love, even your life.

In this way you will be true to Jesus, and everyone will see that truth.

This is the way, there is no other.

Faith (which is the trust we place in God); faith is not about words, it is about actions, faith is an exercise of love.

Faith is not ideology, it is not partisan, it is not dogmatic, it is not doctrinaire. Faith is not a legally binding agreement. Faith is not concerned with creeds, or secrets, or magic words.

Faith is love.
First Reading – Acts 14:21-27 ©

They Gave an Account to the Church of all that God Had Done with Them

Paul and Barnabas went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.

On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-13a ©

Alleluia!

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.

Alleluia!

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God,
to make known to men your mighty deeds
and the glorious splendour of your reign.

Alleluia!

Yours is an everlasting kingdom;
your rule lasts from age to age.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:1-5 ©

A Vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb

I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone.’

Then the One sitting on the throne spoke: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new.’
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34

Alleluia, alleluia!

I give you a new commandment:

Love one another just as I have loved you,
says the Lord.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 13:31-35 ©

In the Son of Man, God Has Been Glorified

When Judas had gone Jesus said:

‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified.

If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.

‘My little children, I shall not be with you much longer.

I give you a new commandment:

Love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.

By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.’
5th Sunday of Easter

A Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

First Reading – Acts 13:14,43-52 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):1-3,5 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 7:9,14-17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14
The Gospel According to John 10:27-30 ©

(NJB)
Be mindful!

We do not preach the good news to save people, we preach the good news that they are already saved.

We are not the actors in the drama of salvation, God is, and we are the subjects of God’s love.

Remember, grace is not a trust that we are given, it is not a thing of value, like a talent of silver or a measure of grain. The grace God has poured out on you, God has poured out on everyone.

As Christians we are called to have faith in that grace, to trust in it, to trust in God’s plan for the salvation of everyone.

Leave no one outside of your prayers.

The apostles were motivated to adhere to the norms of their society, going first to the Jews because they had relationships with them already, and so the preached to them first, and through them they reached out to others in the community, people who did not know the laws of Moses, or the tradition of the prophets and they made converts among them.

The apostles presented themselves as instruments of God’s will, spreading the good news, to all the nations, and so they slipped the bounds of their society, because God’s proclamation of love is to great to be confined to a single group.

Their message of hope and lovee was welcome among the people. The people wanted to hear, that no matter what their class or station God knew them, God loves them and has selected each of them for eternal life.

Nevertheless there was resistance among the leading Pharisees and their allies in upper classes. There is always resistance to the gospel from among those who feel like the path to salvation is something for them to protect and control.

In the face of that resistance, the apostles recognized that they had reached the end of what they could accomplish there, and so they moved on, carrying the good news with them.

Be mindful!

God is with us wherever we are.

Wherever God is, there is God’s temple.

Enter the temple with hope and joy, there are no prerequisites, the entrance is there. You are standing at the threshold.

Serve God, by serving your sisters and brothers, look into the face of your neighbor and see the face of God shining back at you.

When the scriptures tell us we are God’s people; those words are not directed to the audience who first heard and read them, nor to us as we are reading them now. The scope of those words is not so narrow, the scope of God’s work is infinite. God’s word is directed toward every living being that ever was, ever has been and ever will be.

The good news applies to the whole of creation, in a world without end; we belong to God and God’s mercy lasts forever,

Remember this!

God is not a king.

God does not sit on a throne.

The multitude that John witnessed in his vision is numberless, their number is without measure.

Their number is without end.

It is the full number of those who have experienced the persecution of the living, of long the sojourn of time and space.

The multitude is all of us, all of God’s children gathered together as one, and none are lost, the good shepherd has ensured it.

Be mindful!

We do not arrive in this place by the blood of the lamb, not the literal blood, this is a poor metaphor is a metaphor (one we should abandon), we are not sanctified by animal sacrifice. We never were.

We come into God’s presence when we have let go all of our enmities, when we have forgiven all who have wronged us and accepted the forgiveness of those we have wronged.

It is then and only then that we stand in the presence of the fullness of God.

To stand in God’s presence before we are prepared, is to face God as a purifying fire.

Listen!

There is wisdom and truth in the reading for today. There is also folly, misconstrual, fear, and lies.

Separate them!

Remember the beginning of Joh’s Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word
All things came to be through the Word
Not one thing came to be with the Word
In the Word was life, and light

Jesus is the Word of God, and the Word is the Good Shepherd, every sheep belongs to him. There is not one sheep that is not a member of God’s sheepfold.

It is sad and unfortunate that the priests and the bishops of the Church, the hirelings who put themselves in positions of management forget this. They have done great harm to the People of God because of their fear, their greed and their shortsightedness.

They believed that were only responsible for a few of the sheep, when in reality that were tasked with protecting the whole.

Many of them, even from the earliest days of the Church, presented themselves as Sheep and Shepherd to the community, both; but they were really rustlers and wolves who came to devour the flock, consuming it and wounding it in their ravenous hunger.

Remember, God does not love the shepherd because the shepherd laid down his life, but rather the Shepherd laid down his life in recognition of God’s love that was already present, a love so great that the Shepherd trusted in it completely.

Love preceded the sacrifice, the sacrifice did not engender love.

Be mindful of this! Remember it always!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

Jesus, the Christ, the Word of God; in whom all that is comes to be, Jesus is the shepherd and his flock is the whole of humanity, he has chosen all of us, and everyone belongs to him.

As Christians we hold that Jesus is the shepherd and the shepherd is God; God, the creator of the universe.

There is just the one shepherd; and the Shepherd has just the one sheepfold, and whether it make sense to us or not, that is immaterial, we belong to the Shepherd, he has called us each by name.

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, how the shepherd speaks to your sister or brother, to your neighbors or the stranger.

The shepherd is speaking to them too, and they are listening as they are able (or willing). In this same way the shepherd speaks to you. You are no different from them.

Everyone that is, everyone in existence, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way.

Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey any other person is on, God is guiding them, as God is guiding you.

Your failures are your own, as theirs belong to them. God has accounted for them all.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, as God waits for everyone.

For God, Jesus, the shepherd, their ministry is a ministry of love, they are love, and love is as patient; as it is kind.

Do not doubt it.

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us, because there is not place, not a single place where God is not.

To the end God is with us, and the end is God.
First Reading – Acts 13:14,43-52 ©

‘We Must Turn to the Pagans’

Paul and Barnabas carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the Sabbath and took their seats.

When the meeting broke up many Jews and devout converts joined Paul and Barnabas, and in their talks with them Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them.

The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. ‘We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’

It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.

But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):1-3,5 ©

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the sheep of his flock.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Indeed, how good is the Lord,
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 7:9,14-17 ©

The Lamb Will be their Shepherd and Will Lead them to Springs of Living Water

I, John, saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. One of the elders said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and because they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb, they now stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my own sheep and my own know me.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 10:27-30 ©

I know my sheep and they follow me

Jesus said:

‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.

The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’
The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)