At the time of Jesus of Nazareth, Palestine was a small province of the Roman Empire.
As was their wont they used local indigenous authorities, be they civil or religious, to help them to rule the subject population, to keep the peace, and to collect taxes for the roman empire. If the local puppet authorities were failing in the amount of taxes collected they were summarily replaced by more compliant local people.
Taxes were universality hated (as is true even today) but more particularly in Palestine at that time because they symbolised the subjugation and oppression of the Jewish people by a foreign power.
Questioning the tax system at any time, in any place, can be a very delicate exercise but in the Roman Empire it was regarded as rebellion against the Emperor and a fatal activity.
The ‘Kingdom of God’ or the ‘Reign of God’ which Jesus of Nazareth speaks of many times, is not something which can be accurately explained in words.
Thus we have Jesus giving us many differing examples of what the Kingdom of God is like – examples or parables which differ greatly and can even sometimes seem contradictory to some degree.
Today’s example is aimed primarily at the Jewish religious leadership. They have not only refused to listen to Jesus of Nazareth but also to the many prophets who preceded him. They refused to listen to some, abused and persecuted others and even killed some.
But others responded to Jesus’ invitation. These others were those regarded as of no consequence by the Jewish religious leadership – the poor, the gentiles (non Jews), the sick, the oppre...
I was reading something recently about today’s Gospel reading. The writer speaks about the sense of rejection which the owner of the vineyard must have felt at the conduct of his tenants. He had done so much for them only to be ignored and even insulted.
The first reading is on the same theme. The owner had put so much careful preparation and care into the clearing, fertilizing and the setting up of his vineyard only for it to produce wild grapes. How let down and dispirited he must have felt.
All of us, be it child, teenager, adult or old age pensioner are well aware how painful it is to be rejected, rebuffed or ignored, especially if we are only trying to help.
We have all experienced the pain of having our offers of help brusquely refused. How often has this fear of rejection caused me ...
In Matt. 16:18-19. Speaking to Peter Jesus says; ‘And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Compare with Matt. 18:18. Speaking to all his Disciples together Jesus says; ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ They seem identical.
After the Resurrection James emerged as the preferred leader of the Jewish Christians.
James was based in Jerusalem and was not only held in high regard by the Christian community there but also by the Jewish Chr...
As far as the Jewish religion was concerned the long awaited and much hoped for Redeemer was coming to save the children of Israel from oppression and to re-establish an independent Jewish State. This state would be a religious entity as well as a political entity.
This is what Jesus of Nazareth was brought up to believe.
Once he started his ministry, after being Baptised by John, he seems to have totally abandoned the political dimension expected of the Redeemer and to a large extent even the religious dimension insofar as it involved the religious structures and mores of that time.
His total concentration was fixed on fighting oppression and abuse of the powerless and the needy and being constantly available to help and comfort and heal the poor, the sick and the sorrowing. This, he decl...
As you will remember from last Sunday’s reading, Jesus had just got news of the execution of John the Baptist. Having known John well (after all Jesus and John were cousins) and having worked closely with John at the Jordan after his Baptism, Jesus was shocked to hear of his summary beheading at the whim of a dancing girl. He wanted to get away from the crowds to grieve for John and to pray quietly on his own. But the people guessed where he was going and were all gathered there when he arrived.
Then we had the feeding of the multitude as we saw last weekend.
In the late evening Jesus not only sent the crowds away but also the Apostles and went off alone to grieve for John, to pray and to think.
Now we take up today’s reading.
The story about walking on the water or the power over water wa...
The disciples said “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said. “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”
You can interpret today’s Gospel as a miraculous event symbolizing the institution of the Eucharist where all are fed with the bread of life or you can interpret it as a lesson to us that by sharing what we have everyone can have more than sufficient to eat and to live on.
Like any group of people who go out for the day some bring sufficient food for themselves, some bring nothing and some bring far more than they need. By sharing with the crowd the little that Jesus and his disciples had they prompted the others to also share what they had. In this...
If Satan exists, if devils exist, if the power of evil, the power of darkness exists, then Satan’s realm, Satan’s kingdom is greed, self-interest and selfishness.
If God exists then the realm of God, the Kingdom of God is selflessness, self-giving and sharing.
An ordinary farm labourer is digging in his employers field. By chance he digs up a horde of gold which was buried by some long dead person for safe keeping. He immediately buries it again, sells everything he owns, takes out as many loans as he can get and then buys the field.
A rich dealer in pearls sees the most beautiful pearl he has ever come across. He immediately sells all the other pearls he possesses and buys this most beautiful one.
A man or woman who for many years has been on many dates with many different persons suddenl...
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.)
‘Liturgy of the Word for Children’ is a concerned and sensitive way to enable children to participate in the formal worship experience of the community. The liturgies are intended to nourish and guide their spiritual growth, and to immerse them in the Word in ways that are understandable to them.
We celebrate the Liturgy through a “kid’s eye” point of view. We try to do this by allowing them to celebrate God’s word at their own pace, giving them the opportunity to ask questions, to interact and to offer their thoughts and reflections, following the pattern of normal congregational liturgy.