July 1st 2018

Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family and Sacred Heart
  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
A reading from the book of Wisdom (1:13-15; 2:23-24)

Death was not God's doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living. To be - for this he created all; the world's created things have health in them, in them no fatal poison can be found, and Hades holds no power on earth; for virtue is undying.

Yet God did make man imperishable, he made him in the image of his own nature; it was the devil's envy that brought death into the world, as those who are his partners will discover.


Second Reading
A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (8:7.9.13-15)

You always have the most of everything - of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause, and the biggest share of our affection - so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too. Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was: he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty. This does not mean that to give relief to others you ought to make things difficult for yourselves: it is a question of balancing what happens to be your surplus now against their present need, and one day they may have something to spare that will supply your own need. That is how we strike a balance: as scripture says: The man who gathered much had none too much, the man who gathered little did not go short


Gospel Reading
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (5:21-43)

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.' Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.

Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. 'If I can touch even his clothes,' she had told herself 'I shall be well again.' And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' His disciples said to him, 'You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, "Who touched me?"' But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. 'My daughter,' he said 'your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.'

While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, 'Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?' But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, 'Do not be afraid; only have faith.' And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official's house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, 'Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.' But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child's father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, 'Talitha, kum!' which means, 'Little girl, I tell you to get up.' The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat


Sunday Reflection 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (01.07.18)

Has Fear of Death Lessened?

A few decades ago death was not a conversation topic. Nowadays funeral undertakers advertise on primetime TV. What has changed? Have proven advances in medicine and the management of illness and age lessened the overall fear of dying?

"God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living." This uncompromising statement opens our First Reading from The Book of Wisdom (1:13-15; 2:23-24) for this 13th Sunday. The Book, called 'The Wisdom of Solomon', was written in Greek in Alexandria, Egypt, about fifty years before the Birth of Christ by a Jewish king renowned for his wisdom.

King Solomon addressed the Book to his diasporan Jewish co-religionists who, having suffered oppression and death in Egypt as slaves, were being lured away from their Covenantal commitments to God by the culture, science and religions of Alexandria. This Sunday's extract from Wisdom concludes:
"For God created human being to be immortal, he made them an image of his own nature; Death came into the world only through the Devil's envy, as those who belong to him find to their cost." (2:22-24)

Death is a readily recognised word which remains, in essence, a mystery. Before we die, we will have experienced multiple minor deaths, such as the death of a marriage partner, breakdown of a friendship, etc. but nothing prefigures our personal, final death.
Death has accompanied humanity since our forebears disobeyed God. When God created and settled man in the fullness of Eden, he gave him a command: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die." (Genesis 2:16-17) By disobeying God, our forebears contracted death and transmitted it to their progeny.

As King Solomon correctly recognised, there is no death in God. The death that awaits humanity, humanity brought upon itself. That death entrapped our forebears who lived before Christ. Christians believe that it was the God of Life who sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, to redeem humanity, his beloved creation, from their self-entrapment in death. Jesus, God-made-Man, allowed death to subsume his humanity by choosing to accept death on the Cross of Calvary. John's Gospel (10:18) recalls Jesus' teaching on this:

"No one has taken it (my Life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."

From the very day of his Resurrection, Jesus worked unceasingly to kindle in his eleven Apostles and his disciples that his death was inseparable from his resurrection; that by his dying and rising he had defeated the power of death to entrap humanity.
Humanity's release from death had to be effected by a human, like us in all things but sin, who, being God-made-Man and by freely choosing to accept death, was able to free his newly adopted sisters and brothers from death's entrapment.

The vibrancy of our daily Baptism commitment determines how effectively we embody the continuing effects of Jesus' Dying and Rising. This Baptismal vibrancy helps to strengthen a Christian's freedom of choice in daily life. In this finite life the choices we make daily are indicative of where we hope to live in the Eternity of Life that awaits us when we pass through the gateway called death. In that Eternity of Life, we will reap what we have sown here in this time of choice:

"Do not delude yourself: God is not to be fooled; whatever someone sows, that is what they will reap. If their sowing is in the field of self-indulgence, then their harvest from it will be corruption; if their sowing is in the Spirit, then their harvest in the Spirit will be Eternal Life…. So then, as long as we have the opportunity, let all out actions be for the good of everybody, and especially for those who belong to the household of the faith." (Galatians 6:6-10)

People are adversely affected by fears, many originate in our childhood. Fear eats away at our inner strength and moral integrity. Unsurprisingly, fear and confusion are weapons that Satan successfully employs in his continuous battle to influence our free will. The antidote to debilitating fear and/or confusion is faith in Jesus Christ. It is important to recall that God's will is for our human free will to oscillate in an equilibrial void. In all conscious instances is our choice whether we love God by word or deed or not.

Our love for God is especially significant, and ultimately most valuable, when we step off, as it were, the pavement of knowledge, of relative certitude, and cast our self into the void relying solely on our faith. The act of consciously dying must, itself, be the ultimate stepping out in faith, if for no other reason, than that we have no prior experience on which to call.
Jesus himself gives us the example:
'It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" and when he had said this, Jesus breathed his last.' (Luke 23:44-46)

Prior to his utterance of those words, in his extreme agony on the Cross, Jesus had no personal experience of dying. Like us, he would have assisted at or been present at many deaths, possibly even that of his foster-father, Joseph. But no matter how many times we accompany others at the time of their dying, our personal death will always remain uniquely a new experience.

As Jesus experienced death as a prelude to his, and our, Resurrection so must we. The at times exaggerated panoply of modern funerals can betray a lack of awareness of the resurrection that awaits us and the eternal life of all the deceased. The 'good send-off' is surely to be counterbalanced by the intercession for a joyous arrival, please God.

I couldn't help smiling at the following national advert:
'Beat Rising Costs with a Prepaid Funeral Plan - Golden Charter - one of the UK's largest funeral plan providers - helps ensure peace of mind for you and your family. ... A prepaid funeral plan is an easy way to plan ahead and beat rising funeral costs, helping to save your family worry and expense.'

If you will pardon the intended pun - Rising costs for faithful Christians are the countless daily choices of loving obedience to God.