July 8th 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
  5. Reflections: July 2018
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St Benedict's Newsletter is not available

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
A reading from the prophet Ezekiel (2:2-5) 

The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me. He said, 'Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, "The Lord says this." Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.'


Second Reading
A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (12:7-10)

In view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud! About this thing, I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, 'My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.' So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ's sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.


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

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, 'Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?' And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house'; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.


Sunday Reflection 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (08.07.18)

Identifying the Baptised

What should identify an adult Baptised person? The Baptismal ritual provides the answer. Immediately after the Baptismal water is poured over the candidate's forehead and the words 'I Baptise you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit' are spoken, the minister pours the Oil of Chrism on the Baptised's head saying:
"As Jesus was anointed priest, prophet, and king, so may you live always as a member of his body sharing everlasting life."

Therefore, the lives of Baptised adults should be predominantly characterised by their priestly, prophetical and kingly nature as they learn to walk in the footsteps of Jesus their Good Shepherd, their brother, who is The Christ. This requires the Baptised to live according to a certain discipline.

On this 14th Sunday the First Reading's focuses attention on the Baptised's role as a prophet. Ezekiel, the prophet who lived some 600 years before the birth of Christ, describes how he was called by God:
"As the Lord spoke to me, the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
'Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them:
Thus says the Lord God! And whether they heed or resist--for they are a rebellious house -- they shall know that a prophet has been among them.'" (Ezekiel 2: 2-5)

As God promised, Ezekiel met with sustained opposition from the Jewish leadership and his fellow Jews when he challenged their betrayal of God's Covenant. Consequently, Jerusalem was destroyed and its people, including Ezekiel, deported to Babylon as slaves.

The question for us, today, is will the citizenry of the 21st century "know that a prophet has been among them" because you and I have lived, walked and worked on the surface of this planet, have spoken of God's Commandments and have exemplified them in our daily lives?

Fundamental to a Baptised's prophetical role is the daily enactment of their priestly character. As the Baptised do we consciously share, daily, in the Priesthood of Jesus rather than participate in the cultural norms of our secular society? For example, is prayer evident in the way we live from that which forms in our hearts when we awake to a new day, to the morning offering and the public prayer before meals and so on through the day? Equally we can pray without words when we greet family members or friends, show respect for others and rejoice with them for their giftedness, when we make others feel valued and appreciated.

People associate Baptism with water but are likely less aware that, within the Baptismal ceremony, we are consecrated with the Oil of Chrism. It is this anointing, rather than the water, that confirms our sharing in the Priesthood of Christ. In an emergency a person is Baptised with just water and the Baptism is valid. But, should the Baptised person recover their health then the Baptismal Anointing must be celebrated. The Baptismal water symbolises our release from inherited and personal sin. The anointing with the Oil of Chrism is the seal of our unity with Christ.

By sharing in Christ's Priesthood, the Baptised are enabled to make an offering acceptable to God. This offering can be on behalf of those near and dear, on behalf of those who are suffering, on behalf of the world. As Jesus offered Himself, so the Baptised, his adopted sisters and brothers, are called to do likewise. The offering we make may correspond to 'the widow's mite' (Mark 12: 41-44), 'the jar of ointment' (Mark 14:3) or 'Zacchaeus' large re-imbursements' (Luke 19:1-10). The offering we make may be of ourselves in, for example, the time we give to be present to others on a one-to-one basis or by participating in corporate works of charity. The size or constitutive value of our offerings are not what is important. God reads the quality of love in the heart of each Baptised person and their will to live at one with Christ.

St. Peter Chrysologus was Bishop of Ravenna from about 433 until his death in 450 AD. He is known as the 'Doctor of Homilies' for the concise but theologically rich reflections he delivered. These are his thoughts on the Priesthood of the Laity:
'How marvellous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he/she is both the victim that is offered on their own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering. The Baptised do not need to go beyond themselves to seek what they are to immolate to God; the Baptised within themselves bring the sacrifice they are to offer God for themselves. The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same.

Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill. Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed. This is why St. Paul can appeal to the Baptised: "I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice." (Romans 12:1) Christ really made his body a living sacrifice because, though killed, he continued to live. It is death itself that suffers the punishment. This is why death for the martyrs is actually a birth and their end a beginning. Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest.'

It is in the daily fulfilment of their priestly role that each Baptised person fulfils their prophetical role. This is the challenge for the Baptised in the 21st. century as it has been in each preceding year of the Lord. External apparel without the inner conviction and commitment is just window dressing. Such behaviour drew some of Jesus' strongest criticism: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." (Matt. 23:27)

In a remarkable way it has taken a bishop - "with the smell of the sheep" as Pope Francis describes a true pastor - from the other side of the world to sit on Peter's chair speaking and living the prophetical role of his priesthood in a recognizable way. Like Ezekiel he is far from popular with the Church's powerful elite not only in the Vatican but also among those nations that have opted for a comfortable compromise between the demands of the Gospel and the wishes of society, all skillfully orchestrated by Satan.
In Pope Francis we know that we have a prophet among us. But … is he being heard? Are the Baptised, God's prophets, amplifying his teaching and example? It is a hard and testing vocation to be Baptised.

Oh yes. The Baptised are also anointed as Kings but not to be like the royalty of this world. Our King is Christ and his throne the Cross of Calvary. As Jesus said to Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18: 36)

Lord, may your kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


Reflections: July 2018

By Father Chris Thomas

Love one another

I have just returned from the Holy Land. One day I was wandering around the old city of Jerusalem when I witnessed something extraordinary. An elderly Palestinian woman slipped on the cobbles and before I could get to her, two Jewish men had rushed to her side, lifted her to her feet, and made sure she was alright before going on their way. In a place of such polarisation between peoples, where hatred and anger are often the energies that govern much of what happens, it was an amazing thing to witness.

Whenever I see something like that, I am reminded of St Paul's letter to the Galatians in which he writes: 'There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'

It seems to me that this is one of the basic truths of our faith yet most of us pay lip service to it. While we might not find ourselves in a situation as polarised as that of the Holy Land, we still divide and separate into good and bad and right and wrong. We still find it difficult to live with difference. Most of us fail to recognise God's presence in those who live, think and act differently than we do. At times we are not very gracious in our attitude towards them. It is this unwillingness to love 'that which is different' which is at the centre of many of our planet's problems. The basis of war, violence and indeed all hatred is the reluctance to look at another person and recognise the presence of God - regardless of their colour, creed or sexuality. At the centre of the Gospel of Christ is the mandate to love, even that which is other than we are.

When we celebrated Pentecost this year, my prayer was that the spirit of God would enlighten my mind, broaden my vision and help me to be more welcoming than I might otherwise be. Wherever we are on our journey in faith, maybe this could become our prayer so that in our own hearts we might live at peace with our brothers and sisters and reach out to those who are different from us.