July 28th 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                    Genesis 18:20-32

The Lord said, 'How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.' The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, 'Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?' The Lord replied, 'If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.' Abraham replied, 'I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?' 'No', he replied, 'I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.' Again Abraham said to him, 'Perhaps there will only be forty there.' 'I will not do it' he replied 'for the sake of the forty.' Abraham said, 'I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.'

'I will not do it' he replied 'if I find thirty there.' He said, 'I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.' 'I will not destroy it' he replied 'for the sake of the twenty.' He said, 'I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.' 'I will not destroy it' he replied 'for the sake of the ten.'



Second Reading              Colossians 2:12-14

You have been buried with Christ, when you were baptised and, by baptism too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him; he has forgiven us all our sins; he has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.



Gospel Reading                Luke 11:1-13

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.' He said to them, 'Say this when you pray:

Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come;
give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test."

He also said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, "My friend, lend me three loaves because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him"; and the man answers from inside the house, "Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it to you," I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship's sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

'So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.

What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'


Sunday Reflection 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is (Your) Prayer Attractive ?

Rote learning was for many their introduction to prayer. Was it a mistake perhaps? There may have been words of praise and sometimes prizes for word and repetition accuracy but did this method make prayer attractive and an integrated part of a child's life? What is it that makes prayer attractive? The answer is love. Not the word but the inner love in the teacher for Christ that becomes evident when he or she is speaking about prayer. Looking back at the teachers we remember, was it not those with a deep personal connection to their subject who conveyed that love along with the information and thus enabled their pupils to retain most readily, as well as value, the teaching imparted?

What does the extract from Luke's Gospel (11:1-13) for this 17th Sunday, convey to us? The place is not named, evidently Luke did not regard the location as significant. What appears to be important, when Jesus prays, is his evident and demonstrable affinity with his heavenly Father. Jesus' disciples clearly recalled something similar when John the Baptist prayed. Both Jesus and John, having grown up as Jews, would have been immersed in Jewish prayer forms from childhood. In the absence of books and given the expensiveness of scrolls, the psalms would have been learnt by heart. But surely, once again, so much would have depended upon their teacher's love for God. Elizabeth and Zachariah, the parents of John were themselves deeply committed to God. The sinless Mary was God the Father's choice for the Incarnation of his Son. Together with her husband Joseph, she was chosen to be the foundational guide for Jesus' formation. Love would be the keynote in both homes, love for God and love for one another. On this firm foundation would have been built knowledge of their nation's relationship with God since the time of Abraham and their many historic ancestors.

Abraham features in the first Reading for this Sunday (Genesis 18:20-32). Was the founding father of the world's three great religions praying or just bargaining with God? In our commerce-driven 21st century, this Genesis extract may sound to some as the equivalent of an online or market battle because, so often, our values are thought of in commercial terms.
Whereas, what we are reading is Abraham, the prayerful supplicant, appealing to the forgiveness that he knows to be the characteristic of God in his love for his creation. Only one who has him/herself been forgiven by God can know something of the depth of that Divine love.
Abraham knew there were no truly just people on earth. Had there been, why would God have made Abraham and his descendants his Chosen? It was God's purpose that his Only Begotten Son, the intended Redeemer of humanity, would be established in this world through his chosen race. Abraham was prayerfully communicating with God about the promised Just One, Jesus, whose promised coming could not happen if there were none to be redeemed.

We live in the era of the Redemption bought by Jesus, our Saviour. Now, it is Jesus not Abraham who intercedes for humanity. Our Intercessor, whom we nailed to a tree, is still working for the salvation of everyone, even those who deny his existence. "Oh", people might say, "if only we could see Jesus at prayer, everyone would be converted." The same was said to Jesus in his life among us when people called for him to give 'signs'. Even on Calvary, when Jesus was nailed on the Cross, some said "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ of God". (Luke 23:35)
Had people then listened with their hearts they might have heard the Crucified One forgiving a criminal crucified with him, forgiving those who crucified Him and caring for his Mother and beloved disciple by giving them into each other's care. Besides Mary, Jesus' Mother, John and the other women, there was one man listening with his heart on Calvary as Jesus slowly and painfully died. He was the Centurion, a Gentile, who after the death of Jesus said publicly of Jesus,
"Truly, this was the Son of God." (Mark 15:39)
If the world at large listened, today, with their hearts to the Baptised, and all who believe in Jesus, what might they hear?

Would they hear us wonder continuously how much Jesus loves us in that he enabled the most wonderful exchange with us. Through us, He died; through Him, we have the hope of life. Of ourselves, we had no power. Nor did God-made-Man, without becoming human like us in all things but sin, have of himself the power to die. The death and Resurrection of Jesus should be our greatest hope and reason for celebration. In taking upon himself the death he found in us, Jesus has faithfully promised to give us a share in his life. Such a gift we cannot receive from any other source but Jesus.
Are our family, friends and colleagues aware of the fearless and open proclamation we joyfully make of Christ as the One crucified for us because He loves us? Do we pray not in formulaic and trite phrases but in our own words that actually reveals to others our love for Jesus of Nazareth? A love that is at one and the same time respectful and grateful.
Could you imagine some from your circle of contacts asking you to teach them to pray? How would you respond? Would your first inclination be to send then to the priest? But you are their priest in that moment. They have seen or heard something in you that has given them the confidence to ask for your spiritual guidance. Resist the temptation to pass them to another, whom they don't know, or to give them a 'Simple Prayer Book' that you have had on the shelf for years. Instead, reach down into your heart and share what you have there for Christ that prompted their enquiry in the first place.

God of mercy and goodness, when Christ called out to you in torment, you heard him and gave him victory over death because of his love for you. We already know the affection you have for us; fill us with your love for others that we may proclaim you more lovingly among our family, friends and colleagues and so help them to celebrate you as they see us doing.