October 13th 2019

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Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

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St Benedict's Newsletter is not available

This Sunday's Readings

FIRST READING From the Second Book of Kings (5:14-17)

Naaman the leper went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child. Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. 'Now I know' he said 'that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. Now, please, accept a present from your servant.' But Elisha replied, 'As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing.' Naaman pressed him to accept, but he refused. Then Naaman said, 'Since your answer is "No," allow your servant to be given as much earth as two mules may carry, because your servant will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.'



SECOND READING From the Second Letter of Paul to the Timothy (2:8-13)

Remember the Good News that I carry: 'Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David'. It is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal - but they cannot chain up God's news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.

Here is a saying that you can rely on: If we have died with him, then we shall live with him. If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him. If we disown him, then he will disown us. We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self.



GOSPEL READING           Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, 'Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.' When he saw them he said, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, 'Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.' And he said to the man, 'Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.'


Sunday Reflection 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chains - Visible and Invisible

The wearing of chains carries signification. Dignitaries often wear chains of office to signify status. Convicted criminals sometimes wear ankle chains that also signify status. St. Paul was put in chains for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In his 2nd letter to protégé Timothy (today's Second Reading: 2:8-13), Paul writes:
"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of being chained, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained."

Individuals freely choose to wear chains of precious or other metals as either a decoration or a declaration; for example, to claim membership or affiliation with an organisation. For St Paul, the manacles he was forced to wear for years were the badge of his Christian apostolate. Down the centuries, up to and including the present, countless women and men have followed his example by stoically bearing incarceration and torture rather than deny their allegiance to Jesus the Christ.

Memories, too, can enchain us and cause torment. Seniority can bring a recall of behaviour and attitudes in earlier decades that, with hindsight, show a depth of selfishness and self-righteousness that an older and wiser person now finds embarrassing. Accumulated invisible memories can be persistent as well as unyielding. One suspects that Satan is surreptitiously behind many a memory-chain invasion of prayer time, especially. Such historic distractions can make a person feel unworthy to pray, to believe in Jesus, to share in the Mass. It is, therefore, important to grasp the truth that when God forgives us - in response to our prayer: "… forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us …" - he never makes use of what he has forgiven to mock or belittles us. God has only compassion and love for us, even when we fail to love him. It is Satan who mocks us with our past when we choose to give time to prayer.

A holy person recommended an enquirer, who continuously felt undermined by Satan's mockery, to confront the Devil. "Say to Satan," the holy person said, "All that you accuse me of, and which I do not deny in my past; all that you mock me for when I pray, I do not have anymore. I surrendered it all to Jesus and in return received his healing absolution."
Whenever Satan rakes up the memories of earlier behaviour and dispositions - as he does - we must confront him with the truth that, when we surrender our failings to Jesus, he absorbs it into his suffering, Crucifixion and Death. Our sin is dissolved into the enormity of his love for us. The Risen Jesus calls us to take refuge in his wounded Body, in which we can find healing and redemption.

Our will to be one with Christ does not imply that we will be free of memories. We will need to pray "… forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us …" while we draw breath. For the duration of our earthly life, we will not cease to be recovering sinners bearing the scars of our sinfulness, just as the Risen Jesus carries the wounds of his suffering, Crucifixion and Death. His wounds, and our status as recovering sinners, will be complete only when God calls all to judgement at the end of the world. Meanwhile, Satan will continuously attempt to undermine our belief in God's forgiveness by re-presenting to us the fickleness from which we still suffer because we remain 'recovering', i.e. not yet recovered, sinners.

Disease, too, is an enmeshing contagion capable of capturing the incautious and the unwary. The First Reading and Gospel for this Sunday feature leprosy, which has afflicted humanity for thousands of years. In Jesus' day, leprosy was widely feared because no antidote then existed. Stringently imposed segregation was the norm, at least for ordinary people. Evidently, Naaman's elevated social position in Syria, and apparently in Israel, allowed him exceptional freedom of movement. Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is no longer common in the developed world but is not unknown.

It could be said that leprosy has an affinity with human sinfulness. Both are long-term debilitating infections. Initially, a person infected with leprosy might have no identifiable symptoms for anything between five and twenty years. When symptoms do develop, they may reveal themselves in a lack of ability to feel pain in the extremities due to the growth of a mass of vascular tissue. This in turn can lead to the loss of extremities due to repeated injuries or infection. The disease can also affect lungs and eyes. Leprosy, occurring more commonly among those living in poverty and lacking a proper diet and healthcare, is contagious, although extensive person-to-person contact is necessary.

Leprosy is curable with long-term multi-drug therapy provided free of charge by the WHO. In the past 20 years, 16 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy. The average number of new cases per year is something over 200,000, predominantly found in sixteen identified countries, with India, China and Africa at the top of that list. There are about 200 cases reported annually in the USA. World Leprosy Day was initiated in 1954 to draw attention to those bearing the long-term loss of limbs and sight due to leprosy.

Sinfulness, too, is contagious. From small beginnings, and left unchecked, it can grow exponentially by numbing the conscience of an individual, a tribe or a nation. Earlier this year, the free world celebrated the 75th anniversary of 'D' Day. People still wonder how Hitler succeeded in duping his followers to inflict the evil of Nazism on numerous victims in so many countries. The parallel with the wilful abandonment of the Ten Commandments and the norms of the Gospels by the free world is not only plain to see but terrifyingly frightening for those who see through the eyes of faith.

The innocent words of one of his female child slaves persuaded the mighty Syrian, Naaman, to put aside his highhanded dismissal of the prophet Elisha's message. Naaman's change of heart and compliance with the prophet's instruction - 'plunge yourself seven times into the river Jordan' - brought him not only physical healing but faith in the God of Israel.

What innocent yet muted outpourings, inflicting death and/or profound suffering, in our 20/21st century are being largely ignored or even denied by society? Among those that readily come to mind are direct abortion, the deliberate ending of life, capital punishment, chemical or nuclear warfare, driving in a manner that threatens life. Are there, also, invisible, personal chains that impede our growth as disciples of Jesus?