DAILY REFLECTIONS 18TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME 2021
Wednesday 4th August – St John Vianney
Today we celebrate the feast day of St John Vianney. Born in Lyon in 1786, he was from a very early age a person of tremendous prayer. Due to the difficulties he had with the studies it was only after a great struggle that he was eventually ordained as a priest. He was sent to a little country parish where it was thought he could not really do much damage there.
By his personal life of prayer and Christian example and preaching, he totally transformed the parish. People flocked from all over France then Europe to see this wonderful priest, especially to see him in the Confessional.
He had to overcome the jealousy of other local priests who tried to undermine him. But this he bore with humility, which was characteristic of his whole life. He died in 1859 exhausted by his labours in the parish. His sanctity was well known and it was not long until he was canonised a saint and is now the Patron Saint of Parish Priests.
A Catechism on Prayer by St John Mary Vianney
The noble task of man, to pray and to love
Consider, children, a Christian’s treasure is not on earth, it is in heaven. Well then, our thoughts should turn to where our treasure is.
Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love. To pray and to love, that is the happiness of man on earth.
Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When the heart is pure and united with God it is consoled and filled with sweetness; it is dazzled by a marvellous light. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax moulded into one; they cannot any more be separated. It is a very wonderful thing, this union of God with his insignificant creature, a happiness passing all understanding.
We had deserved to be left incapable of praying; but God in his goodness has permitted us to speak to him. Our prayer is an incense that is delightful to God.
My children, your hearts are small, but prayer enlarges them and renders them capable of loving God. Prayer is a foretaste of heaven, an overflowing of heaven. It never leaves us without sweetness; it is like honey, it descends into the soul and sweetens everything. In a prayer well made, troubles vanish like snow under the rays of the sun.
Prayer makes time seem to pass quickly, and so pleasantly that one fails to notice how long it is. When I was parish priest of Bresse, once almost all my colleagues were ill, and as I made long journeys I used to pray to God, and, I assure you, the time did not seem long to me. There are those who lose themselves in prayer, like a fish in water, because they are absorbed in God. There is no division in their hearts. How I love those noble souls! Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette saw our Lord and spoke to him as we speak to one another.
As for ourselves, how often do we come to church without thinking what we are going to do or for what we are going to ask. And yet, when we go to call upon someone, we have no difficulty in remembering why it was we came. Some appear as if they were about to say to God: ‘I am just going to say a couple of words, so I can get away quickly.’ I often think that when we come to adore our Lord we should get all we ask if we asked for it with a lively faith and a pure heart.
Tuesday 3rd August – Feast of St Oswald (Martyr)
Introduction to the Feast-day
Today we celebrate the feast of St Oswald who became the king of Northumbria in 633. It was Oswald who invited St Aidan and his monks to continue the missionary work begun by St Paulinus, building a monastery for them in Lindisfarne. He was killed on the 6th August in battle against the pagan king Penda and is honoured as one of the martyrs of the church.
We gather on this feast day of a local martyr and begin by asking for God’s loving mercy and forgiveness in our lives.
Reflection on the Feast-day
Saint Oswald was born at the very beginning of the 7th century. He was the youngest son of the pagan Ethelfrid, the first king of a united Northumbria. After his father’s death in battle, the young Oswald fled to Iona for safety and was baptised there and became a devoted Christian.
In 633 Oswald returned to Northumbria to regain his father’s kingdom. It was said that he set up a wooden cross as his standard and dedicated himself and his people to God’s protection before engaging himself in battle with the occupying Welsh King Cadwallon, not far from the present Hexham. He defeated King Cadwallon and at once invited the monks from Iona to begin the evangelisation of his kingdom which extended from the Forth to the Humber.
After initial difficulties, the monk Aidan, was sent to lead these Irish missionaries and Oswald found him to be both a valued adviser and a good friend. Oswald took seriously the work of bringing Christianity to his people and was even known to accompany Aidan on his missionary expeditions and to act as interpreter during the time Aidan was learning the language of the English. He was also well known both for his personal prayerfulness and his charity to those in need.
Sadly the reign of King Oswald lasted only eight years. In 642 he was killed in battle by Penda the pagan king of the Mercians. It was said that as he fell in death he was heard to pray for those who died with him. Oswald was a popular hero and his reputation as a saint was widespread even into mainland Europe.
He was a faithful King who did all he could to spread the faith to the people under his rule.
Monday 2nd August
In the first reading today, Moses is concerned because he feels unable to lead the People of Israel. They are too headstrong and quick to show their lack of faith in God.
Then in the Gospel, once again Jesus reveals his power when he feeds the 5000, with the little his disciples have to offer.
We gather in the presence of the same Lord Jesus and ask for his loving mercy and forgiveness,
The Sea of Galilee is an oval-shaped body of fresh water. It is a relatively small – 13 miles long and 7 miles wide – and the shoreline is nearly 700 feet below sea level. The winds blow across the surrounding hills, often causing sudden and violent storms, stirring the water into as much as 20-foot waves. Once, a group of tourists standing by the shore were expressing doubts about the possibility of such storms as those described in the Gospels, when a wind suddenly sprang up. Within 20 minutes, foamcrested waves drove the visitors to seek shelter from the blinding spray.
Today’s Gospel tells us that, as Jesus prays in the surrounding hills, the disciples are adrift on a stormy Sea of Galilee. They are being battered by waves in a small boat several miles from the shore. The disciples are even more frightened when they see a figure coming towards them walking on the water, until they recognise the figure to be Jesus. Jesus lets the disciples endure a long time in the storm before he comes to them, yet, when he does, he demonstrates his sheer power in the face of the forces of nature. He calms their fears and urges Peter, in particular, to have more faith.
In the first reading it is the Israelites who are full of fear, concerned about getting adequate and varied food in the harsh environment of the wilderness. Their lack of faith angers the Lord who goes on to demonstrate the Creator’s power over the natural world by providing them with meat. The Lord doesn’t want followers cowering in fear, but desires to be loved and trusted, by us His children.
Sunday 1st August
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is calling on us to look carefully at our lives, to see who or what is truly important.
Our daily lives actually have eternal value. As Jesus says;
“Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life.”
For the times that we can be superficial and not see the deeper value and meaning of life, we ask for God’s loving mercy and forgiveness
There is a story about a very well to do lady who had been used to every luxury in life and had the respect of all the people around her. Sadly, one day, this lady died, and when she arrived in Heaven, an angel was sent to escort her to her new house in Heaven.
They passed by many lovely mansions, and each time the lady thought that this one must be hers, after all, that is the sort of place she was used to. Eventually they passed through the main street and came to the outskirts of Heaven, where the houses seemed to be much smaller. Finally they came to a tiny house that was little more than a shed.
“There you are”, said the angel to the lady, “…this is your house.”
The lady exclaimed, “What? That! I can not live in that?”
But the angel said to her, “I am sorry madam, but that is all that we could build for you with the materials you sent up!”
And that is exactly the point of our gospel today when Jesus warns us; “Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life.”
Jesus is not saying that we should not have any material possessions. Indeed quite the opposite, they are needed if we are going to live and support those around us. What Jesus is talking about is not what we need, but pure and simple greed.
What we have or how much we own does not make our lives secure, and they are certainly no measure of who we are as people. If we value our lives simply on what we own, then it shows how superficial our lives really are, and we should be worried.
It is who we are, and how we use what we have that can makes us rich in the sight of God. This is calling on us to look at our lives and see what is important. The pursuit of wealth will never really make us happy! Because no matter what we have we will always want more. We will never be satisfied with material wealth. Somebody else will always have more than us.
In the eyes of God it is not what we carry in our purses which makes us rich, but actually what we carry in our hearts!