Weekly Reflection

As part of my work as Manager, Campus Ministry for the University of Notre Dame Australia I write a weekly refection on the coming Sunday's Gospel and email it to all staff and students of the Fremantle Campus. This then is the weekly blog of those reflections, based on the Gospel readings for Sundays, as per the lectionary of the Roman Missal of Paul VI. Should these reflections find any readership whatsoever, I hope that it is edifying.
The title of my blog is taken from the English translation of Cardinal John Henry Newman's memorial epitaph, which was inscribed on his memorial plaque at the Birmingham Oratory.

Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem - Through Shadows and Images to Truth

Sunday, August 31, 2014

31 August 2014 - 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Mt 16:21-27
Advice worth heeding
Today’s Gospel has some really practical advice for us all, advice that we often need to be reminded of. Jesus clearly here is instructing his disciples of the best way to deal with grievances that occur within the community.
It is clear and direct. His advice is not to brood over past hurts, or current activities that might be causing us anger or anxiety. Instead, he directs us, to go to the one who is acting wrongly and speak to him or her about it. Jesus’ advice here is pertinent particularly to those of us who shy away from any situation where there may be conflict.
For those of us who do often seek to avoid confrontation, there is a tendency to not address such issues. In fact, we might find such occurrences to be occasions of sin, as we express our frustrations in less that desirable ways such as outbursts of anger, gossip or detraction. In such cases Jesus’ words are fact words which will bring a much deeper peace than can be achieved by avoiding such confrontation.
In such times we remember that we can pray for the courage to deal appropriately with those issues which may be causing us anxiety.

Questioning Words
What are some situations in my life right now where I need to courageously step out an address issues that concern me?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

24 August 2014: 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Mt 16:13-20
Who do YOU say I am?
Sometimes we stumble across a gospel passage which is hits us really hard. Today’s gospel is one such instance. Here we have Jesus asking what is seemingly a simple question: ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ The disciples seem pretty happy to answer such a question, pointing out the many and varied accounts that were circulating at the time.
Jesus then directs the question to the disciples asking, ‘But you, who do you say I am?’ What is interesting here is that, at this point in the story, the disciples fall silent. This is a crucial question for them all, as it is for us today. The answer that we provide will have serious consequences for how my life is lived from here on out.
Like the disciples, I am happy to recount other people’s theories about his identity, but am nervous when asked to reveal my own position on this. Jesus makes a claim unlike any other in history, and there is a wealth of evidence to support such a claim. Am I willing to accept that? Am I open to the claim that such a response will make on my life?
Will I be like Peter, the gutsy one who rushes in with a response, seemingly thoughtless about the demands such a response will place upon him. Or will I nervously hold back, unwilling to commit with a response?

Questioning Words
Who do I say that Jesus is?
What does my answer mean for me in my life right now?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

17 August 2014: 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Mt 15:21-28
You have great faith, let your wish be granted
The woman in today’s Gospel is one of great faith and humility. She saw Jesus walking through the town and called out to him, not caring how her pleas would be perceived by onlookers, begging for his mercy to be shown to her in the healing of her daughter.
What is interesting in this story is that the woman identifies personally with the suffering of her daughter; she is truly compassionate, suffering with her daughter – taking on her sufferings as her own.
In her pleading with Jesus for mercy and healing she does not lay any stress on her own merits, but abandons herself to the goodness and mercy of Jesus.
For us then, this woman is a model of faith and humility, someone we should endeavour to emulate. In approaching God in prayer we do not need to list our accomplishments, nor do we need to attempt to use our good deeds as bargaining chips before God.
Our prayer and petition to God need not be akin to an economic transaction. In fact, God’s mercy, healing and forgiveness is wholly gratuitous and unmerited – pure gift.
As Jesus showed in today’s Gospel, he is willing to give in abundance to those who humbly submit to him in prayer with the openness to receive.

Questioning Words
Do I sometimes look at my good deeds as bargaining chips to be used with God?
How often do I simply ask God for what I need with the trust of the woman in today’s Gospel?
What areas of my life would benefit from God’s mercy and healing?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

10 August 2014: 19 Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Reading: Mt 14:22-33
Jesus made the disciples get in the boat
I often think about Peter in this story. He seems like he would have been a good guy to spend some time with. Seemingly, he’s the most enthusiastic bloke of the whole bunch of disciples – always the first to volunteer for a task, always the first to put his foot in his mouth, and always the first to apologise for any wrong doing. His is a faith which is child-like, but certainly not childish.
In today’s Gospel we read the familiar story of Jesus walking on the water. Interestingly it begins with Jesus making His disciples get into the boat. You can imagine the scene, Jesus telling them to go on ahead and that he will catch up to them later, and the disciples, Peter first among them, complaining that they want to stay with Him. Finally, after some discussion Jesus insists that they all get into the boat so he can have to time to pray by himself.
Later, when they see him walking on the water, it is Peter who is the first to pipe-up and yell out to the seemingly ghostly figure. With child-like faith and trust in Jesus he asks if he too can join Jesus out on the water, and being granted permission steps overboard and begins to walk on the water towards Jesus. I admire Peter’s audacity in asking that question. He doesn’t doubt that Jesus can grant him this power and he’s not embarrassed to ask or step out into the unknown.
Peter’s faith in Jesus is like that of a child’s faith in his or her parents. Not afraid to ask for anything at all, trusting that only good things will be given, and not afraid

Questioning Words
How can I foster that child-like faith that Peter had?
What do I have to let go of in order to allow Jesus to work in the busy-ness of my everyday life?