November 4th 2018


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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           Deuteronomy 6:2-6

Moses said to the people: 'If you fear the Lord your God all the days of your life and if you keep all his laws and commandments which I lay on you, you will have a long life, you and your son and your grandson. Listen then, Israel, keep and observe what will make you prosper and give you great increase, as the Lord the God of your fathers has promised you, giving you a land where milk and honey flow.

'Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart.'



Second Reading         Hebrews 7:23-28

There used to be a great number of priests under the former covenant, because death put an end to each one of them; but this one, because he remains for ever, can never lose his priesthood. It follows, then, that his power to save is utterly certain, since he is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him.

To suit us, the ideal high priest would have to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens; one who would not need to offer sacrifices every day, as the other high priests do for their own sins and then for those of the people, because he has done this once and for all by offering himself. The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever.



Gospel Reading           Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, 'Which is the first of all the commandments?' Jesus replied, 'This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.' The scribe said to him, 'Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.' Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' And after that no one dared to question him any more.


Sunday Reflection 31st Sunday In Ordinary Time

Does God's Word Resonate Deeply Within Us?

This 31st. Sunday, Mark's Gospel (12:28-34) tells of Jesus dialoguing, yet again, with representatives of the Mosaic Law.
Some Catholics, who use the one-word title 'Catholic' to identify their religious affiliation, may be failing to appreciate themselves, as well as clarifying for others, the fullness of their religious heritage. That heritage opens up when we expand to the three-word title, Gentile Catholic Christian. For we are following in the footsteps of the first Christians all of whom were converts from Judaism thereby meriting the title, Jewish Christians.

So, the question can be asked, do Catholics today have a sufficient depth of their religious history to understand what Mark is revealing in this extract from his Gospel? Do Catholics, Gentile Catholic Christians, appreciate the assiduous reverence believing Jews, then and now, have for the Mosaic Law that underpins their faith in God?
Further, do Catholics appreciate that secular Jews, too, had and have both a working knowledge and a respect for the Mosaic Law because it was so bound up with their everyday customs and behaviour? To make the point, one could equally ask how it would be possible for someone, without a tutored eye and background knowledge of the artist, to develop an informed in-depth appreciation of the artist's work?

At the age of twelve Jesus began his public dialogue with the practitioners of his heavenly Father's Law. He had just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah (Luke 2:41-52). Throughout his public ministry Jesus frequently found himself challenged by fellow Jews, individually or collectively belonging to either the Scribes, the Pharisees or the Sadducees or any combination of them. Jesus levelled some of his most scathing comments at some of these practitioners of the Law, but never at the Law itself.
To refresh your memory -
The professional Scribe knew the Law and orally interpreted it making use of the 613 precepts, known as the Mishna, developed for its application. These non-Divine precepts, a minefield for ordinary Jews, made the Scribes both powerful and wealthy.
The Sadducee denied any obligation to follow the oral tradition. For them the written Law was sacrosanct. Sadducees also denied the resurrection of the dead and the existence of spirits.
The Pharisee represented an ancient Jewish sect of strict observance of the traditional written Law. They were political and had pretensions to superiority.

Present day secular society, at least in the Western World, can be said to have jettisoned belief in God and therefore belief in God's prerogative to be our lawmaker. Christians believe God our Creator to be the originator of all law. For the purposes of authenticity, in the true sense of that word, only man-made law traceable to God's original Law, summed up in the Ten Commandments, can call a Christian to obedience. Therefore, we, as God's creation, may only obey those laws of our country whose Divine provenance is endorsed by 'Peter' and The Church. Obedience to God comes before obedience to man: '(St.) Peter replied: "We must obey God rather than any human authority."' (Acts 5:29)

Contemporary Catholics now, more than ever, need a knowledgeable and reverential familiarity with their spiritual and religious history because it is no longer part of national or family daily life. All Christians have a rich reservoir of spiritual and religious history, as well as God's grace in the present moment, to sustain us through the recent deplorable revelations that have lacerated others as well as our own community. Our spirituality reaches back to Jesus and, through Him, to His people, the Jews, and so to Abraham whom we, along with our Jewish brothers and sisters, honour as our 'father-in-faith'. (See the 1st Eucharistic Prayer)

We may think of Jesus as God-made-Man, native of Palestine and born in Bethlehem. But, do we think sufficiently of Jesus the Jew, who is God-made-Man, native of Palestine and born in Bethlehem?

Without an awareness of Jesus' Jewishness and, at least, a semblance of an understanding of Judaism as it was in Jesus' day, how can we understand Jesus as our Saviour and our unique Jewish brother? Unique, but not alone, among all Christians' other Jewish brothers and sisters past and present?
Without being able to appreciate, sufficiently, the background to the Scriptural extracts being read at Mass, or a celebration of God's Word, worshippers are inhibited from receiving the full nourishment that only God's Word can give. In the expanding 'desert' of secularism the oasis of God's Word is ever more vital. It is such a tragedy when God's life-giving Word goes, virtually, in one ear and out of the other because it is heard as little more than a sound, leaving no 'footprint' in the hearer's heart and soul.

We can draw a comparison with those who visit foreign cities and other world areas of special interest. Some visitors will have spent time and effort in reading-up, beforehand, on the cities or areas to be visited. It stands to reason that they will reap a more personal, deep and lasting experience, as well as insight, from their travel. Consequently, they will be able to share with and benefit others with all that they absorbed on their journey. This is how we Catholics should leave each Sunday Mass. We should be alive with God's Spirit who has mandated us to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord". Our enthusiasm to share the Good News, with which we have been nourished, should be contagious. It is not a question of forcing our beliefs on others but, rather, having them spontaneously enquire from us the source of our peacefulness and inner joy.
There must surely have been a look of love and appeal in Jesus' eyes as he said to the Scribe:
"You are not far from the Kingdom of God." (Mark 12:34)
Is this how Jesus looks at us day by day? Please God it is, but, note the pilgrimage made by that scribe and imagine what he might have had to endure along the way from fellow scribes and others.

One reason Jesus spent time with the practitioners of the Law, apart from seeking their personal salvation, was to win their trust in accepting the healing implicit in his teaching. Jesus knew that if he could cure the corrupt practitioners and their ways, he would immediately enable his people to find healing. As we now know all too well from the current abuse crisis throughout the Church - which is so much wider than sexual abuse - when the shepherds are corrupt the flock is ravaged and Satan rejoices.

This Sunday's First Reading comes from the Book of Deuteronomy. It is the 5th book of the Jewish Torah (Testament) which is known to Christians as 'The Old Testament'. In it we find the last set of laws given by Moses prior to his death. The Book's purpose is to lead Israel to obedience and to warn the people against disobedience. The spirit and aim of the law is explained in such a way as to present both encouragement and warning:
"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today." Jesus was later to build on this foundation and bring it to completion when he taught:
"The second (Commandment) is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. No other commandment is greater than these." (Mark 21.31)

Pope Francis commented at Pentecost this year:
"A Christian without a memory is not a true Christian. He or she is somewhere along the faith road but has become imprisoned in a moment. Those who do not know how to value their history, how to read it and live it are lacking in an understanding of salvation.
We, with the help of the Holy Spirit, are able to interpret the inner inspirations and events of life in the light of Jesus' words. And thus, our memory knowledge, the knowledge of the heart, is a gift from the Spirit, that grows in us.
There is a distinction between the memory of the soul and the memory of the brain.
The brain's memory ages and is subject to distortion and decay with the passage of time and wear and tear.
The memory of the soul is sustained by grace. So long as the grace of the Spirit is present the decay that affect the body does not touch the soul."