Weekly Reflection

A weekly blog of reflections on the Gospel readings for Sundays, as based on the Roman Missal of Paul VI

Monday, July 27, 2015

26 July 2015 - 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Jn 6:1-15
“This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.”

Of all the miracle stories recorded in the Gospels, this story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is one that really captures our imagination, and not just because it is recounted in all four Gospels.
The scene is set so simply and effectively.
The people are following Jesus as they had witnessed his many healings and heard his profound and challenging teaching. They are so intrigued by this man that they follow him beyond the point where they are able to even meet their own basic needs.
When he sees them coming he recognises their need immediately – they will be hungry before long, and lo, there is nowhere nearby where they could purchase what they need, nor is there enough money around that would be able to pay for it.
This is not merely a miracle where Jesus somehow gets everyone to simply share what they already have. No, this is something truly miraculous. The gift of a small boy of five barely loaves and two fish was miraculously made to be enough for five thousand men, not mentioning the women and the children.
This is something worth considering – Jesus did not simply wave a magic wand and have food appear out of nowhere. No, instead he used what he had, and that was given him by the small boy.
We should remember this when we come up against our own troubles. Rarely have we needed to feed 5000+ people, but we do have our own struggles which are oftentimes insurmountable to our own efforts alone. It is in these times that we need to mimic the small boy in today’s Gospel who gave all that he had, but did not rely on his efforts alone. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

18 July 2015 - 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Mk 6:30-34
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”
Spending time in silent reflection is an increasingly difficult thing to do. The relentless distractions of the world around us, not to mention our own habits of media consumption, really can disrupt any attempt to retreat into some peace and quiet.
Sometimes however, when we are successful in finding that quiet time, we find such silence uncomfortable.  In such moments our thoughts can overwhelm us, or the silence allows something in our conscience to awaken. In these moments the temptation to escape from silence by checking our emails or our facebook on the phone, or by reading a book, or anything can be crushing.
In today’s Gospel we read of a story where Jesus, recognising the need for silence and recreation, invited his apostles to rest with him. What happens next when that silence is encroached upon is telling.
Jesus is moved with compassion and begins to teach them because ‘they were like sheep without a shepherd.’
Silence is an absolute necessity for us all if we wish to live examined and properly fruitful lives, and Jesus encourages us to seek this out, both by word and example. And yet, today’s Gospel teaches us an important lesson about silence – namely that it is at the service of communion. For Jesus silence is tremendously important as witnessed in the many examples he provides where he steals away to spend time not only in silence, but in prayer.

We should remember this – that silent time is not something selfish, but in fact what enables us to be an authentic gift of self.

Questioning Words
When was the last time I was able to spend time in silent contemplation and prayer?

Am I able to get away, to disconnect, and simply ‘be’? What is holding me back?

What can I do to build in periods of silence into my day and my week?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

12 July 2015 - 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Mk 6:7-13
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs”

I recently had an opportunity to watch the Bill Murray film ‘St Vincent’. The heart-warming film had some interesting themes and some of the classic comedy that we’ve come to associate with the actor/comedian/filmmaker Bill Murray.
One scene in the film depicts a Catholic priest teaching a class of 6th graders, explaining to them that Catholicism is “the best religion…because we have the most rules.”
The line, obviously written and delivered with comedic intent couldn’t be further from the truth we read in today’s Gospel reading.
Rather than equipping his apostles with a load of rules to take with them to teach those that they come into contact with, Christ instructed his apostles to simply preach repentance and to cure those that need it.
Often we tend to reduce the faith to mere moralism – a list of actions and habits that are prohibited. This however is far from the truth of the matter.
Jesus instructed his apostles to go out and preach repentance not so the people who heard him would be unhappy – but because those people, like all of us have things in our life that we need to repent of so that we can be open to the love with which God himself wants to bring us into.
The call to repentance is so often accompanied with negative connotations, but it is really a call to put aside those things in our life which hinder our eternal fulfilment:  union with God.
Repentance frees us, such that we are able to enter into the Divine life itself, engaging in the eternal exchange of love which is the Blessed Trinity.

Questioning Words
What are those things in my life which prevent me from being open to the love of God?
It is common practice to spend some time each evening in prayer, examining one’s conscience and seeking the Lord’s forgiveness for the times throughout the day when we have not been open to his love.

Perhaps this is a practice that you could adopt in your own life, in your family, with your housemates?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Break in postings

I will break from posting for the month of June to be married to my fiance Elizabeth. Please pray for us.

I will resume my weekly reflections in July.

In Christ,

Sunday, May 31, 2015

31 May 2015 - Trinity Sunday

Gospel Mt 28:16-20
“And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time”

There can be little more reassuring a line than these final words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, a truth which though mystifying is in fact an answer to the hesitation felt by some of the disciples in today’s Gospel reading.
When they arrived at the place where Jesus had arranged to meet them we are told that they fell down before him to worship him – an act totally reserved for the veneration of God, and yet we are told that despite all that they had witnessed these past 50 days or more, there were still some who hesitated.
So often we find ourselves in a similar place – having witnessed the miraculous, and yet still hesitant -still uncertain as to how to respond.
Find your pulse.
Now try, just by using your mind, to stop you heart from beating. You can’t, can you?
There is something of the miraculous in our very existence, and something in our nature which cries out for more – for the infinite. And despite this yearning for the infinite we experience a hesitation within us, that this yearning cannot be completely fulfilled.
It is to this hesitation that the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are addressed: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

Prayer for the day
Taken from the Office of Readings for Trinity Sunday

God our Father,
    you revealed the great mystery of your godhead to men
    when you sent into the world
    the Word who is Truth
    and the Spirit who makes us holy.
Help us to believe in you and worship you,
    as the true faith teaches:
    three Persons, eternal in glory,
    one God, infinite in majesty.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
    who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
    one God, for ever and ever.


Friday, May 22, 2015

24 May 2015 - Pentecost Sunday

“And you too will be witnesses …”

A full 50 days has passed since the resurrection, and with this feast of Pentecost the Easter season comes to an end in the most dramatic way imaginable.
The miraculous events of that Pentecost event which followed the death and resurrection of Jesus saw the birth of a something greater than a mere club or association of people, something greater than a movement even. What emerges is not just a group of people bound by an ethical system or set of ideals. If that were the case there would be no reason for their continuance after the horrific public torture and execution of their leader.
The people that follow after Jesus are bound together by a common event – an experience of a life transformed by an encounter with a person who was not defeated by death – a person whose continuing presence is felt in the deep and profound joy which penetrates every fibre of their being as individuals, and which binds them together in love.
In this Gospel story Jesus bequeaths to his followers his Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit which descends on the Apostles in the Upper Room (see Acts 2), the same Spirit that inspires the missionary journey’s of those first Apostles, the same spirit which inspired the writing of the Sacred Scriptures we hold so dear, and the same Spirit that continues to inspire us as we read from those Scriptures and engage in those works of mercy to which we are called.
The Spirit given to us by Christ binds us together in love and continues to animate his Body, the Church.
Today’s feast of Pentecost puts to us a real challenge – have I opened myself to the presence of the Spirit in my day to day? Have I allowed the Spirit to inspire my work, so that I can be fully a member of Jesus’ body, the Church?

Let us persist in praying for Jesus’ continued sending of his Spirit to enlighten and enliven us

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. 
And You shall renew the face of the earth. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

17 May 2015 - Ascension Sunday (in Australia)

Gospel Mk 16:15-20
“These are the signs that will be associated with believers…”

The story which we mark today is perhaps one of the most fantastic that we have in the Gospels. After his death and resurrection we’ve been regaled with tales of his numerous miraculous appearances to the disciples, and now we find him physically taken up into heaven, and seated at the right hand of God.
What more can we be asked to believe?
For the disciples this must have been an amazing experience. This period of 40 days or so since his resurrection, having witnessed something so incredible – one can scarcely imagine how deeply these events would have impacted them.
In his final discourse before his glorious ascension, Jesus tells the disciples of the signs which will accompany those who believe in him into the future. Contemporary readers such as ourselves may be tempted to scoff at such an assertion – looking around we rarely if ever see such miraculous signs taking place.
Throughout this Easter season we have been reading and reflecting on the miraculous events which followed their initial proclamation of the Gospel. But in our times these ‘miraculous experiences have become less frequent. What we do experience now however, is something more miraculous, more exceptional. ‘When Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29), his precise intention was to indicate the exceptional, miraculous nature of an event of which each one us is called to be a subject.’ (Why the Church? P. 94)
Sometimes we cry out for something that will banish all of our questioning questions and silence our doubts, but if such were to happen would our resulting acceptance truly be faith?

Our evidence, like that of those who were evangelised by the first disciples, is a life transformed by an encounter with Jesus. 

Food for thought
‘The Christian message announces the permanence of the fact of Christ, as a continuous happening – not something that happened once – but as something that still happens.’ (Luigi Giussani, Why the Church?, 203)