April 7th 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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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading  Isaiah 43:16-21
Thus says the Lord, who made a way through the sea, a path in the great waters;
who put chariots and horse in the field and a powerful army,
which lay there never to rise again, snuffed out, put out like a wick:

"No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed, even now it comes to light; can you not see it?
Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness, paths in the wilds.
The wild beasts will honour me, jackals and ostriches,
because I am putting water in the wilderness, rivers in the wild,
to give my chosen people drink.
The people I have formed for myself will sing my praises."


Second Reading  Philippians 3:8-14

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advan¬tage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith.

All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me.

I can assure you, my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.



Gospel Reading    John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.

The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, "Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?" They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger.

As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, "If there is one of you who has not sinned let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she replied. "Neither do I condemn you," said Jesus "go away, and don't sin any more."


Sunday Reflection 5th Sunday of Lemt

A Personal 'Mount of Olives'

Have you discovered your own 'Mount of Olives'? A place, a period of time, a space to which you can retreat in the hope of finding something of the solace - consolation in a time of distress - that Jesus Christ found on the Mt. of Olives? The actual Mt. of Olives, also known as the Garden of Gethsemane, outside the walls of Jerusalem and across the Kidron valley, still exists. Its aged olive trees give living testimony to its history. It was Jesus' refuge for prayer and recuperation.
If you need help in discovering your own Mt. of Olives then maybe you might find help in the Book of Deuteronomy which is the fifth book of the Christian Old Testament and of the Jewish Torah. A major portion the Book of Deuteronomy consists of three speeches delivered by Moses to the Israelites on the plains of Moab, shortly before they enter the Promised Land. Chapter 26 begins:
"When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the first-fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you. You must put them in a pannier and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to give his Name a home …."
What a beautiful expression - "the place where the Lord your God chooses to give his Name a home". Discovering where it is that God chooses to give his Name a home is a journey that can only be made through faith.
In the first place, it is discovering that God chooses to live not in buildings but in our hearts - "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."(Ezekiel 36:26)
And secondly, it is honouring the sacredness of "where the Lord your God chooses to give his Name a home" by treating it as sacred and giving it the uniqueness of each new day through prayer and love.

The excerpt from John's Gospel we read this Sunday (8:1-11) begins with the succinct statement: "Jesus went to the Mt. of Olives". From what follows, it was clearly an overnight stay given to prayer. The Mt. of Olives, we can deduce from the frequency of his visits, was where Jesus had discovered that his heavenly Father had chosen to give "his Name a home". It was also Jesus' place to prepare himself for his numerous confrontations with the power of Evil. Do we, who are disciples of Jesus, spend adequate time on our Mt. of Olives preparing for the confrontations, sometimes brutal sometimes subtle, we will face with the power of Evil?

Scripture enumerates numerous confrontational incidents between God and Satan. Many Christians would highlight the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, not because his treatment was unique but because He is the Son of God. This Sunday's Gospel describes one of the other better remembered confrontations involving 'a woman caught in the very act of adultery'. It never ceases to be amazing that only the woman is charged.

According to John, Jesus arrived back at the Temple in the early morning and began teaching. The scribes, Pharisees and their collaborators arrived with the, in their eyes, guilty and already condemned woman. This attack has all the hallmarks of a careful planned entrapment - knowing where to find the woman, ensuring that her 'visitor' was not one of their own companions, collecting a supportive and prepped gang and ensuring that all were equipped with sufficient stones.

Probably those who had been listening to Jesus melted away at the sight of this heavy-handed mob - just as Jesus' own disciples were to do on the Mt of Olives after the Last Supper. Jesus, though physically alone, was not intimidated. His night of prayer sustaining him, he clearly made his own challenge:
"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
It was equally confrontational but not in the aggressive manner of the scribes and Pharisees' mob. Jesus' words were aimed at his confrontationists' consciences. There has been plenty of speculation, over time, about what Jesus wrote in the sand. The truth is we do not know. But, just maybe, it was more the threat of the truth that Jesus could write about his confrontationists that gave rise to what John describes:
"And in response, they went away one by one….."
Although John makes no mention of it, reading the text you can almost hear the slow but growing sound of dull thuds as stones were surreptitiously let go of and, this time, it was the mob that melted away: "beginning with the elders".

The woman and Jesus were left alone. John gives us their brief verbal exchange:
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir."
Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more."
Surely, that woman experienced the power of Divine love in the forgiveness Jesus extended to her. She disappears from Scripture but not from the heart of Christ. For that woman, the area of her deliverance in the Temple became her 'Mt of Olives'.

The major portion of Lent 2019 is behind us. Have Ash Wednesday's good intentions come to fruition or have they succumbed to Satan's clever and perhaps subtle confrontations? Granted, too, that there have been major feast days - among others, The Annunciation of the Lord, St. Joseph and St Patrick - to cause distraction. All the more reason, therefore, for us to make tracks to our own 'Mt. of Olives'. We are here with just seven days before Holy Week. Have we the will to accompany Jesus despite the ugliness he foresees and accepts will befall him? For us it is a theoretical ugliness but for some of our sisters and brothers, today, these Lenten days and Holy Week are real times of Christian persecution.

This penultimate week of Lent 2019 offers us an opportunity to gather our fragmented and, as yet, incomplete Lenten resolves. As we bring our offering to Christ, in the place where we believe:
"the Lord your God chooses to give his Name a home"
we could ask for his support as we prepare for the devilish confrontations Satan has in store for us in Holy Week.


From the Archbishop's desk: April 2019

By Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

For a city boy to spend Easter in the countryside was quite something. I was about 12 years old when I went with a group from my school to Kintbury, the De La Salle Brothers' centre in Berkshire. We were blessed with much good weather and the sun shone on us.

On reflection, I can see that what made this trip very special was that we celebrated all the Holy Week and Easter services as well as taking long country walks and enjoying the company of each other. As a keen altar boy I had been used to the lengthy ceremonies, but it was a combination of liturgy and holiday that really hit home for me. It showed me that life, and Easter life, was good and that it could be fun.

We all need glimpses of this good life to keep us going and give us hope. Real hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus, otherwise it is just optimism. And the trouble with optimism is that it is just a desire for things to get better, so it's only really just wishful thinking. By contrast, hope says that they will get better because Jesus has risen from the dead - and that hope is given to us too.

So why not enjoy this season of Easter by looking for signs of new life and resurrection in the ordinary things you encounter every day. You will be surprised by what you see; your faith will be enriched; and it will be fun.

May you and your families have a very happy Easter.