We all expect ambassadors, diplomats, athletes, or anyone else who represents our country, county, village or organisation to act in a way that brings credit to our country, county, village or organisation.
We are representatives of Christianity as a whole, of the Catholic Church in particular and personally of Jesus of Nazareth.
Does my conduct bring credit to Christianity, to the Catholic Church, to Jesus of Nazareth? Is not what I do and say the foundation of all evangelising, of all catechesis. Is not what I do and say the only true foundation from which to proclaim the Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus of Nazareth.
I must constantly ask myself: do I, as a priest, portray a true representation of Jesus of Nazareth or do I represent my own agenda or just an organisation.
We can see the truth of today’s Gospel parable about the sowing of the seed, all around us in our church.
People come for a short time expecting a quick fix for their life or their problems and not perceiving immediate tangible results quickly disappear.
Others come with enthusiasm and persevere for some time but eventually taper off as the business and distractions of life, career, and family, are allowed to encroach and take up all their attention.
Then there are the ones who despite the ups and downs of life persevere to the end and bear much fruit.
The first reading from Isaiah tells us that the word of God will always bear fruit. Not necessarily the fruit we hope and pray for; not necessarily at the time and place we hope for; not necessarily in the way we expect.
How many of us have ...
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus of Nazareth is talking to his Father about how the ordinary people of Galilee received and accepted his message and teaching with joy and gratitude while the educated classes of the Jewish religion – the priests, Pharisees, scribes and lawyers – who were very learned and studied the scriptures of the Old Testament and it’s laws assiduously, could only argue and quibble and criticise.
It is interesting to note how these same Jewish religious authorities, after centuries of waiting for and studying what the Old Testament foretold about the promised Redeemer, failed to recognise him when he did come and when a few of their number did entertain the possibility they were shouted down. Two thousand years on these same people are still studying and wait...
‘For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.’
‘For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.’
‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.’
‘For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.’
‘As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honour everyone. Love the family of believers.’
Here Sts. Peter and Paul are talking about what Sacred Scripture describes as ‘the freedom of the children of God.’
This freedom of the children of God is not wh...
Let us look today at one aspect of the Mass; one aspect of the Eucharist.
Sometimes I see a photograph of someone I know well and immediately I say ‘that is him/her exactly’ – meaning that this image captures or illustrates, in some way, something of the essence of that person something very important of the personality of that person.
Likewise I hear of something a person said or did and immediately I think that it illustrates clearly the sort of person that he/she is.
Most of us have a photograph or some keepsake of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend etc which we like more than all the other photos or mementos of that person. We treasure it because in some way it speaks to us about what that person was truly like.
Keeping such a photo, keepsake or memory is a way of hon...
“Trust in God; trust also in me.”
Why should I trust in God? Why should I trust in what Jesus of Nazareth has told me?
It is said that it is in adversity; when I am in trouble, that I know who my friends are.
We see it every day in politics, we see it every day in the commercial world, how when one is no longer the flavour of the week they are discarded and abandoned by their so called friends. Very often the only ones who will stand by a person in disgrace are a husband or wife or close member of ones family. These are ones true friends. These are the people one can trust.
Jesus of Nazareth did not just speak and preach about oppression and exploitation both political and commercial. Knowing full well that the powers that be would eventually have him arrested and executed for wha...
‘I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.’ To me this evokes a sense of freedom, a sense of free choice, a sense of deciding for myself in any situation.
‘I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’ Again, there is here a sense of wellbeing, of peace, of contentment, of happiness.
I cannot but contrast the above with what my religious upbringing was, and for many, continues to be.
I was born in sin – Original Sin with its results of sorrow, pain, and death. – which had nothing to do with me but which, for some peculiar reason, I was saddled with.
(This was an effort by some peoples of the middle east, about three thousand years ago, to explain the existence of suffering, pain and death.)
We can look on today’s gospel as 1) an account of what actually happened or 2) as a story highlighting the situation of the Christian community at the time when Luke was writing (40 -50 years after the Resurrection).
Lets look at the second scenario.
All the people who had witnessed or had had direct experience of the risen Lord were dead and gone. The imminent expectation of the second coming hadn’t happened. The Christian community were like the two on the road to Emmaus. Feeling a bit disappointed and on their own. Wondering what to do next. They discussed the matter among themselves and what their hopes and expectations had been.
They did not realize that their very discussion made Jesus present to them. They began to feel their hearts burn brighter with the old hope. But they...
As you know the parish recently celebrated my golden jubilee as a priest.
This has prompted me to try and distil into as few words as possible what being a Christian means to me; what being a priest means to me.
For many years, I, and I would guess most of us, have wandered hither and thither through the thick forest of religious practices and devotions in an effort to achieve some goal or reach some clearing of understanding which would hopefully make sense of the whole thing.
We are constantly being presented, even bombarded with, various and sundry devotions, pilgrimages, prayers, saints etc. which or who, will hopefully bring some light into our lives.
1) Of one thing I am convinced. If I cannot find God where I am ‘at,’ at any given time or place, I will not find God by tra...
Today we commemorate the Last Supper. The Last Supper was the first Mass.
On the evening he was arrested (this evening) Jesus of Nazareth gathered his closest followers together for a last farewell meal. During this meal he took bread and wine saying this is my body/ this is my blood, which will be given up/ poured out for you. Giving it to them to eat and drink he told them to ‘do this in remembrance of me.’
A few points to remember and integrate into your Mass celebration.
1) From the time when the followers of Jesus of Nazareth realized that he was risen from death they celebrated the Breaking of Bread, as they called it, not only to remember his death but to celebrate his resurrection.
2) It was always in the context of, and regarded as, a meal. A meal of celebration.
Death was always regarded and will always be regarded as the great curse of human existence.
Today’s readings reassure us about death. Death is only one doorway in the ongoing saga of life. My conception was the doorway from nothingness into existence. My birth was the doorway from existence in the confines of the womb into this immense and hugely diverse world. My death (as we call it) will be my birth from the limitations of this physical world into the Eternal Life of God; into the Kingdom of God; into the realm of unfettered spiritual existence.
This is the ‘Good News of great joy for all the people’ as announce by the Angel to the shepherds on Christmas night.
Has Christianity done this for you?
If it hasn’t then be sure that what you have is not the ‘good news of great joy...
I remember in 1965 I was stationed with another priest in a parish in Kenya. At that time the land in Kenya was still owned and farmed by white settlers. The odd one of these would be a catholic and attend mass. I remember a white woman was chatting to my colleague and I and asked my colleague “how long have you been in Kenya father?” He replied thirteen years. That being only my second year on the missions I remember thinking Wow! He must know everything there is to know about missionary work.
Now I know that after thirty five years working as a priest in Africa and fifteen years working as a priest in England I am only beginning to realise how much I do not know and how much there is still to learn.
Only after fifty years as a priest do I realise, to some extent, and only to s...
“They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus of Nazareth was not at all impressed by official condemnation or the branding of someone as a sinner. In the case mentioned in today’s Gospel we are told that Jesus searched for him until he found him. His so called fault was disagreeing with the refusal of religious leadership to see what was right in front of their noses.
We have witnessed the very same blindness in our own religious leadership.
How many among our church congregations have been deprived of the Sacraments because of ...
I wouldn’t even try to unravel and comprehend the in’s and out’s of today’s Gospel reading. The story is so replete with references and allusions to Old Testament scripture and tradition that it is incomprehensible to the normal person today.
I will just talk about one strand of the story.
We have this Samaritan woman approaching a well where Jesus is taking a break during a long journey.
A few relevant points.
1) A Jew like Jesus would have absolutely nothing to do with or say to a Samaritan.
2) This latter was one hundred times more true when it involved a Samaritan woman and a Jewish man.
3) The fact that the Samaritan woman arrived unaccompanied was highly suspicious. (She was automatically ‘up to no good‘).
4) The fact that she approached the well where there was an unknown...
In today’s first reading we see Abraham presented with a challenge. He can uproot himself and his family group, leave the protection of his own country and tribe, travel into an unknown territory where more than likely he will encounter hostile tribes, on the strength of a promise from an unknown deity, to make him the father of a great nation. Or he can ignore the call of this unknown deity and remain comfortably and safely among his own people and tribe.
‘Abraham went as the Lord directed him.’
Like so much else in the Bible this account is a fictional narrative with a message. The message is the important thing.
I and you have received the very same challenge from an unknown deity. (Who among us really knows anything about God.)
I can continue to live in the realm of this vis...
If you are new to the area of Corsham, then first of all, welcome to a beautiful part of the country! We hope you have many happy years here.
Joining us at St Patrick’s is a great way of getting to know new people, some of whom will also be relatively new to the area themselves…
With all the media-talk about the decline of organised religion, you could be forgiven for thinking that Christianity was on its last legs. However, that is definitely not the case!
In world terms, there are 2.1 billion Christians, of whom 1 billion are Catholics…