April 14th 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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St Benedict's Newsletter is not available

This Sunday's Readings

Processional Gospel
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (19:28-40) 

Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. Now when he was near Bethphage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives as it is called, he sent two of the disciples, telling them, 'Go off to the village opposite, and as you enter it you will find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, "Why are you untying it?" you are to say this, "The Master needs it".' The messengers went off and found everything just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owner said, 'Why are you untying that colt?' and they answered, 'The Master needs it.'

So they took the colt to Jesus, and throwing their garments over its back they helped Jesus on to it. As he moved off, people spread their cloaks in the road, and now, as he was approaching the downward slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices for all the miracles they had seen. They cried out: 'Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!'

Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, 'Master, check your disciples,' but he answered, 'I tell you, if these keep silence the stones will cry out.'



A reading from the prophet Isaiah (50:4-7)

The Lord has given me a disciple's tongue. So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech. Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord has opened my ear. For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.


A reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians (2:6-11) 

His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.



GOSPEL

The Gospel today is the Proclamation of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.


Sunday Reflection Palm Sunday

English Spoken as a Foreign Language

Speaking some words in a foreign tongue does not imply a knowledge of that language. How many elderly Catholics spoke Latin responses at Mass without necessarily understanding what the words meant, let along speaking Latin! For that matter, were the clergy necessarily better informed?

English speakers use a variety of non-English expressions that have been assimilated into spoken English - for example, 'pied- a-terre', from the French, meaning an occasionally used residence. Another example would be 'alleluia' which has Latin as well as Greek (allelouia) and Hebrew (halleluyah) roots meaning 'praise the Lord'. Sometimes, too, people speak English words without fully appreciating what they are truly saying. For example, take the English epithet 'bloody', which originally meant 'by Our Lady'. Do people, using this word, understand that they are actually calling on the help of Mary, the Mother of God?

The general public refers to Palm Sunday with little, if any, understanding of its religious significance for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Even among the Baptised, Palm Sunday, like most Sundays of the year, has been subject to the corrosive inroads of rampant commercialism and employment undertakings resulting in it no longer being recognised as the Lord's day. Little surprise then that the title Palm Sunday no longer calls to mind for many the history of the final week upon this earth of Jesus Christ, God-made-Man.

Satan chooses to subtly hollow-out peoples' understanding of the words of their Christian inheritance rather than 'banish' them, which might provoke a negative reaction. A comparison could be made with the countless stealth thieves who collect the eggs of rare birds. These thieves are skilled in preserving the shell with minimum visible damage save for a tiny hole through which the essence of the egg, its new life, is removed to be discarded. It is said that they inject, through the same tiny hole, some formula that gives a protective body to the empty shell. A parallel can be made with Satan. Evil initiates its malign intent through our human lust-inclined senses penetrating deep within our being, causing a slow conscience-numbing confusion cum compromise in the heart and soul. The vague mirage of belief in a deity that remains allows a person to mistakenly suppose that 'all is well'. The Jesus endorsed words of Revelation (3:15-17) come to mind:
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

The shell of a person's 'anaesthetised' spiritual life is preserved by a powerful appetite for continuously renewed sensory pleasure. The infiltrated conscience is fed a falsehood of 'tomorrow', 'you are only human', 'everyone's doing it'. But the preserved shell cannot hide from its inner deception when a person looks in their soul's mirror, the conscience. Just as collectors of rare birds' eggs show infinite patience in ensuring that the shells sustain no damage in the slow exchange of content, so too with Satan. He plays the long-game; taking care not to alert or alarm us as to what he is about.

Jesus' close collaborators had witnessed many a high and low over the three years they had accompanied him. They had witnessed him extricating himself from difficult and sometimes threatening situations. He was masterful in addressing the crowds. Perhaps, by this stage, they were being seduced into the belief that there was little that could surprise them about Jesus. They knew the fickleness of the public's applause that could, within a short space of time, become open hostility, as had happened at Nazareth (Luke 4:14-30)

Emotions that are superficial, of the moment, are just that. They suffuse the surface of our lives with excitement but, like Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed - carried by the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15. - they lack significant depth. Momentary happiness can dissipate as promptly as it arrived. In just five days, the Jerusalem crowd's Palm Sunday 'Welcome' to Jesus had been refashioned into 'Crucify' by Good Friday. We, too, live our lives in the, sometimes, thrashing entanglements of human relationships. We can visit the heights of elation and the depths of despondency in frighteningly short lapses of time, thanks in no small part, these days, to modern media. The dependency of the Baptised upon the balancing Grace of the Holy Spirit becomes ever more marked.

Holy Week for Christians is the most significant period of the liturgical year. How we weave evidence of this into our daily life as a help to those whose lives we share is a crucial ingredient of our Baptismal vocation. The way we live Holy Week should give public evidence of the reverence in which we hold this week. Our Muslim communities have captured the attention of the wider public by their devotion to the month of Ramadan. Surely, as Christians we, too, must re-engage with the wider public. The highly lamentable moral corruption of minors perpetrated by some of our Catholic brothers and sisters must not be allowed to reduce us to silence and invisibility. As a matter of interest, if you are a regular listener to BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme, when was the last time you heard a contribution from a UK Catholic bishop? Their Anglican counterparts are regularly heard. It is not, so I am led to believe, that the BBC has not invited them but rather that such invitations, when made, are declined.

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem centuries ago is featured in the 'Gospel of Entry' reading particular to this Sunday (Luke 19:28-40). We could visualise the thousands of people entering the City of Jerusalem today and throughout Holy Week 2019. How many are religious pilgrims - Christians or Jews? How many, who earlier in their lives were people of faith, have been reduced to sightseeing, having lost communion with the faith that their forebears once revered even to the point of martyrdom? How many are secular political activists? They all share a common appearance and similar mannerisms. All visit the same 'holy places'; are all our, at least potential, brothers and sisters in the Lord and Jesus would have wept for them, as for us, as he overlooked Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives:
"And when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41-44)

Perhaps a fitting prayer-thought for our entry into Holy Week would be: "Help us, Lord, not to choose convenience over conscience."