DAILY REFLECTIONS 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Saturday 16th October  –  St Margaret Mary Alacoque
Introduction

Today we celebrate the feast-day of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, the Visitation Sister to whom was given revelations of the love of God as revealed through the sacred Heart of Jesus. She gave her life in spreading this devotion through the church and is remembered today by the Church.

So we gather in the presence of the same Lord Jesus and ask for his loving mercy and forgiveness.

Reflection  –  Sacred Heart of Jesus

The devotion to the sacred Heart of Jesus as we know it began back in 1672. On a number of occasions, Jesus appeared to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in France. And on these occasions He explained to her how He wanted people to practice a devotion to His sacred Heart. He asked to be honoured in the symbol of His heart of flesh; he asked for acts of reparation, for frequent Holy Communion and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Church approved of this devotion, not only because of what St Margaret Mary had said, but also because it made total sense.

There is only one person in Jesus, and that person is at the same time God and man. His heart too is divine – it is the heart of God. These are two things which must always be found in the devotion to the sacred Heart; Christ’s heart of flesh and God’s love for us. True devotion to the Sacred Heart means a devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ which reveals His love for us.

Jesus Christ is the incarnation, the embodiment of God’s love for us. The human nature which Jesus took upon Himself was filled with love and kindness that has never been equalled. Jesus is the perfect model of love of God and love of neighbour. Every day the life of Jesus, was totally full of love, welcoming everybody and excluding nobody. His love reached out to all, not just a select few.

And Jesus loves us, very simply because the Father loves us, and Jesus wanted to reveal that love to us, and to let us know that we belong to the Father; that we are God’s children. And Jesus ultimately showed us how much He loved us when He gave His life on the cross that we too might have eternal life with Him in Heaven.

May we never tire in following the example of St Margaret Mary Alacoque in showing our love and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


Friday 15th October  –  Feast of St Teresa of Avila
Introduction

Today we celebrate the feast-day of the great St Teresa of Avila, virgin and doctor of the church. Born in Avila in 1515, she entered the Carmel convent in 1533. For a number of years she led a very settled secure life, but she became increasingly unhappy with the way the religious life was being led. It was too comfortable and too easy. She then began to commit her life to the reform of the Carmelite Order, bringing back the discipline and austerity which had long been forgotten.

She was formidable woman who was not afraid to confront anybody for the sake of the faith. She persevered in prayer and enjoyed mystical experiences. Her spiritual writings have influenced many over the years and she has inspired countless people from both within the Church and outside the Church.

We gather on her feast-day, and begin this Mass by asking for the loving mercy and forgiveness of God.

Reflection

St Teresa of Avila was a no-nonsense person, who became disillusioned with the comfortable life-style of the Carmelite convent she had joined. With around 140 nuns for a long time she settled for the comfortable life-style that had evolved. However, she realised that there was no satisfaction or success to be found in mediocrity. In fact it took her 25 years to decide to move to a simpler and more fervent way of life, and she faced the opposition and ridicule not only of her sisters in religion but of the Church and civic authorities. Still Teresa set up the first house of her reform. She took particular care in selecting her novices, and famously said, “God preserve us from stupid nuns!” She knew how silly and self-deluding people can be and she looked for common-sense and humility in people.

Teresa was a person of great charm, affection, prudence and kindness. All these qualities found expression in the books that she wrote, especially those on her own life story, the founding of the Reform, and her teaching on prayer. Her down-to-earth idioms and vivid style have drawn many people to read her work, and to draw closer to the Lord. 

The 20th century saint, Edith Stein, read Teresa’s autobiography in a day, and at the end, exclaimed, “This is the truth!” Teresa had quite simply brought Edith face to face with Christ. “This Lord of ours,” Teresa says, “If we consider his life, we shall never find any better or more perfect example for our imitation.”


Thursday 14th October  –  28th Week of Ordinary Time (Year I)
Introduction

In today’s first reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans, he reminds us that we are justifies by God by faith in Jesus, not by following any law. It is faith which is important.

In the Gospel, Jesus is now in fighting mood against the religious authorities. Jesus accuses them of taking God away from the people, by their attitude and example. The Pharisees are furious.

We gather in the presence of the same Lord Jesus, the one who calls us to him so he can lead us to God the father. We first ask for his loving mercy and forgiveness.

Reflection

In the noise and bustle of our “real world” there are plenty of voices making lots of noise. Those who are clever with noise try to shape the world we live in. The Pharisees and the lawyers in the time of Jesus were the seemingly influential and important. They constructed the world to their own liking and made others live in it. When Jesus confronts them with their twisted mentalities and their twisted words, they retaliate in the only way they know how – with more words and more twisted arguments. They try to trap him with words.

St Paul spent his life among words, preaching and writing, discussing and arguing, and explaining the Gospel. Today Paul utters simple words for us to hear: “there is only one God”. What are the consequence of this? We are all God’s children, and, even in our differences, we are called to speak kindly and openly to each other.


Wednesday 13th October  –  28th Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)
Introduction

In today’s first reading from the Letter of St Paul to the Romans, St Paul is urging the Roman church not to be judgemental  –  God’s call is made to all, and each will be rewarded for their behaviour.

Then in the Gospel Jesus points out to the Pharisees and lawyer of their hypocrisy. They have totally lost their way, with no thoughts for true justice or regard for God’s love for the poor.

For the times that we too lose focus in our lives, we ask for God’s grace, His loving mercy and forgiveness in our lives.

Reflection

Jesus was always quick to denounce corruption, especially the corruption by establishment figures of His day. People in powerful positions who were outwardly law-abiding but inwardly greedy, judgemental of others and insensitive towards those who were poor.

The Pharisees regarded themselves as people of status, but Jesus knew they were lacking in justice and the love of God. Jesus compares them to ‘unmarked tombs’  –  tombs that conceal a rotting corpse inspite of being outwardly very impressive.

Lawyers come in for criticism as well when they operate without compassion and ordinary people are crushed by their severe demands. Once again, this is a teaching that emphasises an attitude of heart over external appearance.

When we are mentally criticising others, do we think to check ourselves to see if the criticism applies to us? Are we willing to speak out boldly like Jesus, to defend the rights of the poor and oppressed  –  no matter who they are and even, where they are from?


Tuesday 12th October  –  Feast of St Wilfrid
Introduction

Today we celebrate the feast-day of one of our National saints, St Wilfrid. He was born in Northumbria around 634 and died in 709.

He was educated in the Celtic traditional in Lindisfarne, but after a visit to Rome, he was to become the champion of Roman customs which he successfully fought for in the Synod of Whitby in 664.

He spent a year preaching in the Low Counties before returning to these shores to preach the Gospel in various parts of the country, finally ending up in Hexham.

He is especially remembered for his forceful personality and apostolic zeal. A great man who fought to establish the Gospel of Jesus in our own land.

We gather on this special feast-day and begin this Mass by asking for the loving mercy and forgiveness of God.

Reflection  –  From a Sermon of St Wilfrid  –  from the Office of Readings

Keep in mind and recall to the brethren those days of old, how we read in the Old Testament that God’s beloved patriarchs and his firstborn, Israel, “passed from nation to nation and from one kingdom to another”, awaiting the promise and not despairing. Moses too, and Aaron and all the prophets of God endured men’s persecution, for their trust was in the Lord. In the New Testament we read how the great Shepherd of the Sheep and Head of the whole church, Jesus Christ, was crucified by the Jews and his disciples scattered. Later dispersed throughout the entire world, they and their followers after various tribulations received the crown of martyrdom. They did not forget those words of comfort which are addressed to us too as His sons, in the epistle to the Hebrews: “My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him, for whom the Lord loveth he chastiseth and he scourged every son he receiveth,” so brethren and helpers in Christ, in the words of the same epistle “Let us also who have so great a cloud of witnesses over our head run with patience the race that is set before us.”


Monday 11th October   –  28th Week of Ordinary Time (Year I)
Introduction

In today’s first reading we have the start of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Paul is explaining how he has been appointed to preach the Good News to the pagans. The Gospel is now moving beyond Judaism.

Then in the Gospel Jesus says a similar message. God’s Kingdom will reach out to people of the whole world, not just the original ‘chosen people’.

God reaches out to us this morning, to hear His call once again. We first ask for His loving mercy and forgiveness.

Reflection

“Here I am, at the end of the road, and at the top of the tree.” So said Pope John XXIII on being elected head of the Church in 1958. An old man already, with a lifetime of diplomatic service in the Church behind him, this stop-gap Pope had turned the Church on its head by the time he had finished his course. The revolution that he started we now know as the Second Vatican Council. Pope John did not live to see its work done, but as a good historian, not to say a spiritual man, he knew that his task was simply to start it and that God would guide the rest.

Many things were inaugurated by that Council. The Church’s self­understanding was radically changed. The people of the Church were no longer to be called “the simple faithful”. They were the “people of God”. This change is still going on. As it does so, St Paul helps us to see very clearly what we are about.

The mission of the Church, Paul writes in today’s reading, is to “preach the obedience of faith”. Not to give great signs or “proofs” of God’s existence but simply to preach about Jesus Christ and his truth and to live his word. When people meet Jesus Christ in us, they will respond with all their hearts. As St Paul says, all Christians are called to be saints it is only through Jesus can we fulfil this calling.


Sunday 10th October  –  28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)
Introduction

We gather on the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Today Jesus is speaking to us about eternal life. Ultimately eternal life is God’s gift to us. But what are we willing to do to show that eternal life actually means something to us, that we want to share eternal life with God.

If we live as though eternal life is a matter of indifference to us, then we can expect that reward. But if we try to show in our lives of faith that we are trying to live our faith and show that being with God actually means something, then we can hope and trust in God’s mercy upon us.

Today we also celebrate the Day of Prayer for Prisoners and their families. That people will be able to change, and live their lives as God intended. They too are invited to God’s eternal kingdom.

For the times we take God’s invitation for granted, for the times we don’t look after our lives as we should, or indeed each-others, we first ask for God’s loving mercy and forgiveness.

Sermon

I am not really a television fan, but sometimes I do watch the X Factor if I have family staying with me. Here we see people desperate to achieve their dreams. They are willing to go through anything, jump through any hoop in order to achieve their dreams and become rich and famous.

When it is something we really want, we are willing to go to any length to get it.

I remember when I wanted to be a priest I had to really work hard to get there. Although mum and dad were never against me being a priest, they were not really for it either. They were worried that I was taking on too much and so asked me to wait a few years in order to really think about it.

After three years I finally went to train to be a priest for 6 years. Then after the first term in my First Year, I got home for Christmas and dad died suddenly. This was a major blow to say the least and I struggled to continue. But I kept going with a lot of help and support. With the emotion and stress of losing dad, my speech went through a very bad patch when I could hardly say a word at all – so much so that the seminary authorities thought it best to send me for more speech therapy to see would it help. Despite all that happened, I felt God was still calling me to be a priest, and although it was a struggle I was determined to keep going and get there. Thankfully I did make it and thankfully for me, I am here with you today.

When we look at our own lives, what do we really want; what are we willing to go through to fulfil our dreams? But what are our dreams?

As Christians, our ultimate dream is exactly, or at least should be, the same as the man in our Gospel today, to share eternal life. The man asks Jesus very simply, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” What are we willing to do to inherit eternal life?

Sometimes we put so much time and effort into this life that we can almost forget our eternal life. But in reality we prepare for our eternal life, every day by the way we live this life here and now. The things we do today, echo in eternity.

At the end of the day, eternal life is not something we achieve on our own; it is always God’s gift. We can never achieve it on our own, for us it is impossible, but as Jesus explains today in the Gospel, “everything is possible for God”, and God wants to share eternal life with us. How much do we want to share eternal life with God? And how do we show it?

Jesus thought that our eternal life was so important that He was willing to literally give His life on a Cross in order that we might find it. What are willing to do in our own lives, to show that we too, want to share eternal life with Him.