November 11th 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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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading                 I Kings 17:10-16

Elijah the Prophet went off to Sidon. And when he reached the city gate, there was a widow gathering sticks; addressing her he said, 'Please bring me a little water in a vessel for me to drink.' She was setting off to bring it when he called after her. 'Please' he said 'bring me a scrap of bread in your hand.' 'As the Lord your God lives,' she replied 'I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.' But Elijah said to her, 'Do not be afraid, go and do as you have said; but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make some for yourself and for your son. For thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel: "Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth."'

The woman went and did as Elijah told her and they ate the food, she, himself and her son. The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.


Second Reading            Hebrews 9:24-28

It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf. And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself. Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.


Gospel Reading                Mark 12:38-44

In his teaching Jesus said, 'Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.'

He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, 'I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.'


Sunday Reflection 32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time

The Tutored and the Untutored Ear

It takes time, aptitude and sensitivity to become skilled in tuning a musical instrument. A professional solo pianist or violinist, for example, is immediately aware when their instrument has lost even a fraction of pitch. An untutored ear may not be so acutely aware. In an orchestral setting an individual instrument, losing pitch, may take shelter amongst fellow instrumentalists. The soloist has nowhere to hide.
Top soloists regard stillness and silence to be essential when rehearsing even familiar pieces of work. For no two performances are the same. Just as repeated walks through familiar countryside constantly bring us to a fresh appraisal of our loved and known surroundings.

In just four lines, St. Mark describes an event in Jesus' life the implications of which should reverberate in the daily life all his followers … including us, ".. if we have ears to hear.." (Mark 4:9)
We are able to hear those four lines (12:41-44) read at Mass this 32nd. Sunday. (St. Luke covers the same incident in 21:1-4) They describe Jesus teaching his disciples about self-giving. The incident is known as 'The Widow's Mite'. Incidentally, the phrase, 'The Widow's Mite', has been woven into common usage to categorise something as being insignificant. Many, who use the phrase today, are unaware of its Biblical origin. But that is true, sadly, of so many Gospel events. Christians are lamentably aware of how Christmas, for example, is widely observed as a festive holiday but precious few now acknowledge the Holy-Day of the Incarnation of God-made-Man.
As St. Paul writes to his much-loved Corinthian community: "We all have knowledge; yes, that is so, but knowledge gives self-importance - it is love that makes the building grow. A person may imagine they understand something, but still not understand anything in the way that they ought to." (1Cor.8:1)

It may surprise some Ignatian silent-retreat first-timers that during the first two of their eight days they have no set programme to follow. Instead, they are encouraged to familiarise themselves with their surroundings getting to know the Centre, especially adjusting to being still in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Equally important, weather allowing, is a familiarisation with the gardens and woodlands with all their distinctive colours and sounds, from the rustling of leaves high in the canopy to the calls of hidden birds. For would-be retreatants hailing from cities and towns, where the decibel level of general noise is both high and constant, this extended exposure to silence and its replacement with nature's natural sounds can be a little unsettling before becoming a welcome revelation!

Being silent in church does not equate with achieving interior stillness. Most journeys from home to church are relatively brief and not free of noise and distraction. Then there is the accumulated 'noise' we carry within us made up of previous happenings or plans for the future. Most people carry a mobile phone. It is estimated that the average Brit checks his/her mobile device every twelve minutes. So, while we imagine we are silently listening to the reading of the Gospel there remains a cacophony of interior 'noise' still reverberating within us - ten to fifteen minutes after we entered the church building! In fact, if we estimate that Sunday Mass lasts about 50 to 60 minutes, we are leaving church little altered by being relatively silent. Sadly, we are also likely to be leaving with an insufficiently shallow uptake on the teaching of Jesus to help us face the week ahead.

So, what might we have gleaned from the Gospel of 'The Widow's Mite' had we been able to prepare with a prolonged period of stillness and silence? Well, for one thing we would have noticed that Jesus made no judgement about the widow's reasoning or her action. We may find that strange because it is precisely what many, hearing this Gospel read aloud, will do. Society has formed us to be judgemental. Just about everybody - ourselves excepted - and everything comes within the orbit of our judicial review where we are not only judge and jury but also the Court of Appeal!

In earlier times, the Gospels would have been peoples' touchstone. Nowadays so many, having lost contact with the content of the Gospels, are no longer able to apply Gospel norms in their everyday life. Instead, people today, when making either conscious or subconscious judgements and evaluations, use standards promoted by a secularist society and the current media climate.

Jesus was making an observation when he said:
"… she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood".
The making of an observation demonstrates an ability to notice and to offer that to others. An observation, being devoid of judgemental evaluation, does not contravene Jesus' teaching:
"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matt. 7:2)

It is possible that Jesus had previously met that poor widow. Maybe she had witnessed how he drove the money-changers and sellers out of the Temple: "How dare you turn my Father's house into a market place" (John 2:16). People like that widow were drawn to Jesus, as the Gospels show time and again. Perhaps, then, she had told him of her circumstances.

People actively choose to employ secularist and political norms in making their daily judgements and evaluations when they cease to have a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Thereafter, they subconsciously allow what has filled that void, and become their everyday norm, to proceed unchecked!

The untested results of such judgemental behaviour are retained, subconsciously, to become a contributive factor in all subsequent judgements and assessments. Over time these layers of untested subconscious assessments slowly grow, like a cancer of bias, skewing our ability to make a conscience-directed judgement when it is vital that we should. So, for example, when Satan weaves his disingenuously dangerous temptations, we are tempted to pass them off as of little import.

Today, in times of human disaster, television coverage features the poor, because they have lost the little they had. Their plight brings home to worldwide viewers, in a clear way, the scope of the devastation. It is revealing, too, how the poor often talk of their trust in God, with an utterly genuine faith, despite their appalling circumstances. But do viewers hear that promulgation of faith for what it is?

Only God and the widow knew the intentions motivating that widow to give her two small coins (something of almost negligible value) to the Temple. Jesus saw and did not judge other than to acknowledge that in giving our love to God there should be no room for calculation. Jesus' tortuous steps to Calvary were made up of a freely-chosen, totally committed love, that cost Him everything. There's a challenge in hearing such a teaching and perhaps, rather than be so challenged, we are tempted to take shelter in noise!