May 26th 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

N.B. There will be no Online Newsletter for the next 2 weeks


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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading                  Acts 15:1-2.22-29

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, "Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved." This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them: "The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us, and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell."



Second Reading   Apocalypse 21:10-14.22-23

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.


Gospel Reading            John 13:31-35

Jesus said to his disciples:

"If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him and make, our home with him,
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own; it is the word of the one who sent me.

I have said these things to you while still with you;
but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.

Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.
If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens,
so that when it does happen you may believe.'


Sunday Reflection 6th Sunday of Easter

The Value of Reassurance

It is in the nature of human beings to seek reassurance. In fact, our need for reassurance indicates our having an underlying sense of incompleteness. This is true even for those who, arrogantly, deny their need for reassurance. A much-to-be treasured reassurance is found in the presence of someone with whom is shared a profound mutual love. There is reassurance, to a lesser but still important degree, to be found in a familiar setting, or when we are surrounded by our personal effects. A problem occurs if these two, mutual love and possessions, are reversed. Then the exquisiteness of Henry Vaughan's poem 'The World' comes into its own:
'The fearful Miser on a heap of rust
Sat pining all his life there, did scarce trust
His own hands with the dust;
Yet would not place one piece above, but lives
In fear of thieves.
Thousands there were as frantic as himself,
And hugged each one his pelf.'

The fundamental reassurance that all seek is summed up in the words of Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) who wrote, Revelations of Divine Love, the earliest surviving book in the English language to be written by a woman: "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well". Julian's faith supported her when Norwich, one of the most religious cities of the Middle Ages, lost half its population to the 'Black Death' in 1349 and was then devastated in 'The Peasants Revolt' in 1381.

Jesus, through his words and work, always imparted reassurance, even when, in order to do so, he first needed to dismantle any falsehoods upon which some had become dependent. Hence, his many instances of verbal contest with his Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem and elsewhere. An error-free environment needs to be established if true reassurance is to have its healing effect.
Often, a sense of impending and unstoppable tragedy, real or fabricated, can undermine whatever reassurance people may have been depending upon. The expert in such fabrication is Satan. Read his dialogue with Eve and Adam (Genesis 3:1-13) and his temptation of Jesus (Matt: 4 1-11) Assailed by false alarm or other subtle undermining, people can be left bewildered and numbed.
Something akin to bewilderment must have seeped into the awareness of Jesus' disciples. Jesus had been forthright in his foretelling of what lay ahead for him … and for them. The Gospel excerpt for this Sunday (John 14:23-29) gives us another example of Jesus, sensitive to his disciples' plight, speaking words of reassurance to them. St. John has Jesus using the word for 'orphans' but this word was also used of disciples and students left bereft of a beloved master or teacher. Jesus told his disciples that would not be the case with them, "I am going away and will return" (verse 28).

Jesus is speaking of his Resurrection and of his Risen presence among his disciples that will, eventually, remedy their bewilderment and restore their numbed faith. St. John is underlining a key element in his Gospel namely, God, who is Love, is the sole author of True Love. For John, True Love is the basis of everything. The True Love between the Father and Jesus and between Jesus and the Father is The Holy Spirit. The Third Person of the Holy Trinity is the True Love uniting not only the Father with the Son and the Son with the Father, but also the Father and Son with us, his beloved created in his own image and likeness. Moreover, it is The Holy Spirit who links us with one another and with our God-created environment. God intended an unbroken bond of True love to run through all that He sustains. Satan had and has other ideas.

True love, nourished by obedience, is not servility but that deep sensitivity of listening to the one loved that epitomises true love; namely, the desire to give oneself wholly to the other in response to their desire. The Risen Jesus appears to his 'recovering' apostles and disciples. He does not restrict his presence amongst them on the basis of their outreach to him. Rather, he opens himself unreservedly to them. He recognises how they have been subject to bewilderment and the undermining influence of Evil and freely shares his love with them because they are struggling with a recovery they desire but, as yet, are incapable of fully believing.

Pentecost has not yet happened for the disciples. When it does, they, holding on to their shaky belief, will begin the process of discovering a depth of faith that they have previously never known. The true Christian wears an 'L' plate to his or her dying day!
The Holy Spirit is the source of sustaining spiritual refreshment for all who seek a loving relationship with God. Through our times of prayer, the Holy Spirit enables us to rediscover Jesus' teaching that has temporarily slipped our minds. This rediscovery provides the template of The Truth against which we can check our daily decisions, great or small.

Jesus says: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. A peace the world cannot give, I give to you." So, if the world cannot give the peace of Christ then there is a struggle, in this life, for each and every one of us. Jesus encourages us to resist the bewilderment and undermining of the Evil One: "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."

Notice, too, how Jesus is speaking to all his disciples, as in former times God spoke to the whole assembled people of Israel. Through his prophet, Ezekiel (14:60), God addresses the entire community of Israel: "Say to the House of Israel, 'The Lord Yahweh says this: Come back, turn away from your foul idols, turn your backs on all your loathsome practices …" The reading of the Old Testament is not merely a preamble to be listened to distractedly but rather the key that opens up our understanding of the Gospel.

Perhaps the more consistent, if unreported, 'miracles' at Lourdes and Fatima are not the medically inexplicable physical healings but the collective spiritual healing that results from the united prayer and supplication of a gathering of pilgrims, often unknown to one another.

The need for the Baptised to unite and act corporately to draw all peoples into a unity of prayer and apostolic life would seem to us, alive today, to have never been more urgent. There is a sickness in the Church that is closely intertwined with the corruption of culture across the globe. Corporate action is called for. This Sunday's Gospel is addressed to each of us personally. For, individually, we need to find in the Gospel our personal motivation to unite with our sisters and brothers of faith in Jesus Christ and then to become missionaries to the world. For only when all are called to attend on God, at the end of time, can salvation be effected.