August 11th 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
  5. From the Archbishop's desk: August 2019


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St Benedict's Newsletter is not available

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading                 Wisdom 18:6-9

That night had been foretold to our ancestors, so that once they saw what kind of oaths they had put their trust in they would joyfully take courage. This was the expectation of your people, the saving of the virtuous and the ruin of their enemies; for by the same act with which you took vengeance on our foes you made us glorious by calling us to you. The devout children of worthy men offered sacrifice in secret and this divine pact they struck with one accord: that the saints would share the same blessings and dangers alike; and forthwith they had begun to chant the hymns of the fathers.


Second Reading            Hebrews 11:1-2.8-19

Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants, and that he set out without knowing where he was going. By faith he arrived, as a foreigner, in the Promised Land, and lived there as if in a strange country, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. They lived there in tents while he looked forward to a city founded, designed and built by God. It was equally by faith that Sarah, in spite of being past the age, was made able to conceive, because she believed that he who had made the promise would be faithful to it. Because of this, there came from one man, and one who was already as good as dead himself, more descendants than could be counted, as many as the stars of heaven or the grains of sand on the seashore. All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them, recognising that they were only strangers and nomads on earth. People who use such terms about themselves make it quite plain that they are in search of their real homeland.

They can hardly have meant the country they came from, since they had the opportunity to go back to it; but in fact they were longing for a better homeland, their heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, since he has founded the city for them. It was by faith that Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He offered to sacrifice his only son even though the promises had been made to him and he had been told: it is through Isaac that your name will be carried on. He was confident that God had the power even to raise the dead; and so, figuratively speaking, he was given back Isaac from the dead.


Gospel Reading                 Luke 12:32-48

Jesus said to his disciples: 'There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. 'Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

'See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.' Peter said, 'Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?' The Lord replied, 'What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master's arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, "My master is taking his time coming", and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful. 'The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.'


Sunday Reflection 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

What Are We To Do?

What, today, is expected of the Baptised? What should we be doing in this lengthy interim between the appearances of Jesus? The questions date back to the beginning of Christianity. The answers, then, remain true today as we work for the realization of God's Kingdom among us now by being faithful, vigilant and prepared.
The Baptised's only hope for upholding faithfulness, vigilance and preparedness is by being in prayerful communion with Jesus, through whom God is revealed. It is Jesus who announced the kingdom and our salvation. Only in a determined turning to Jesus will humanity find The Truth, the reason for our being, and the motivation we all need to continue believing, hoping and reaching out in love and compassion to all.

This act of turning to Jesus announces that we are on a quest without which we lose our way, becoming vulnerable to the temptations of the anti-Christ. Despite roadblocks, dead ends and deceptive detours on the questing road, continuance towards Jesus is a non-negotiable aspect of Christian discipleship. This conviction is reflected in the letter to the Hebrews, an excerpt from which comprises our 2nd. Reading for this 19th. Sunday.
Hebrews was addressed to a people already growing weary of waiting and watching for Jesus's return. As early as 80 AD., many of the Baptised were considering a return to their Jewish roots. Still others were drawn to Judaism as a way to save themselves from imperial persecution. Hebrews makes an extended and eloquent argument in favour of the uniqueness of Jesus, his person, his priesthood and his sacrifice. Hebrews cites the example of Abraham, whose faith in God moved him to launch out into unknown and unmapped territory while believing that he and his barren wife, Sarah, might have a child. He chose to believe that, eventually, his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore. Then, when asked by God to do so, Abraham proved willing to offer in sacrifice his only son.
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), renowned Danish existentialist philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author, has suggested that Abraham proved he was ready to respond willingly and completely to God because: "he left one thing behind and took one thing with him. He left his earthly understanding behind and took faith with him. Otherwise he would never have gone forth"
(Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, Plough Publishing 1999).

Hebrews also references Abraham, whose faith went far beyond logic and common sense. Abraham trusted God more than his own reasoning and, for that faith, is revered as a 'father of faith' by Christians, Jews and followers of Islam. This Hebrews extract is part of a longer section on faith and endurance (11:1-12:13). It is not intended as a definition of faith, though theologians in the early and medieval Church considered it so. Rather, the author of Hebrews intended this extract to be a description of faith. Verse 1 offers a description of the believer's subjective attitude toward God. Characterized by realization and conviction, the faith of the true believer is quite similar to that eager and trusting expectation later defined as hope.
A healthy balance of assurance (something not yet present but which is awaited with confidence) and conviction (something which, while a present reality, is knowable only by faith) enables believers to maintain a balance of faith that interacts with grace which Kierkegaard chose to call the "leap of faith" (op. cit.). For Abraham, that meant surrendering his will, his logic and his hope to God. He could have argued his case before the Lord, but he did not. Instead, he acquiesced in God's will, despite his lack of full understanding. With assurance regarding the future and conviction in the present, we are called to follow Abraham's lead, leaving behind all our fears, preconceived ideas and all else that may hinder authentic faith. Only then can we allow God to act and, through us, become a more recognizable presence in our world.

The extract from Luke's Gospel for this Sunday (12:32-40) eavesdrops on Jesus' ongoing formation of his disciples and therefore our formation. He urged them to cultivate a faith like that of Abraham living as people prepared for God rather than living in fear of what may or may not happen.
Jesus always invites his own to be detached from earthly possessions, rather than trying to find in them fulfilment and false security. A willed detachment from this world's goods is a necessary stepping stone in providing for poor people. The two parables concerning the relationship between a master and his servants underscores the readiness Jesus expects of his disciples in showing a duty of care that is an identifying characteristic of their lives. We are to be good stewards and care for others by not neglecting their needs.
Jesus wishes his disciples to treasure poor people seeing in them an opportunity to find, know and love him. Poor people embody Christ and in serving them we serve the One for whom we wait and watch; in whose coming we place our hope and trust.

We know neither the day nor the hour when Jesus shall return or when he will call us to himself, so each of us must live as if that day is today. We are also to remember that -- in all we are and in all we do -- we are not alone. Our God dwells not only with us but, provided we make him welcome, within us. We are also surrounded and supported by our fellow Baptised here on earth, and those who have gone ahead of us. On the strength of this communion, we become who we are called to be; namely, the Church that spans earth and heaven. Each time we come together to celebrate the Eucharist as a community, we remember our story, celebrate the exodus of Jesus from death to life and rejoice in the Truth that, by his death and Resurrection, Jesus has pioneered the way for acknowledge him as God-made-Man.

By mentally adopting Jesus' words to; "Gird your loins and light your lamps" (v. 35) we show willingness to embrace the Passover that awaits us (Exod 13:11). We are to follow Jesus through death to Resurrection.
For the Christians of the late first Christian century, today's Gospel underscored the certainty of Jesus' return and counselled them to be watchful and prepared. As the interim between Jesus' advents has stretched into 20 centuries, the call to exercise responsible stewardship has not diminished. We cannot become insensitive or indifferent. Rather, we are to continue to see and serve Jesus in people who are poor and/or persecuted. We are to continue feeding him in the hungry, clothing him in the naked, healing him in the sick and welcoming him in the lost and the lonely. This is what we are meant to be doing. It is the authentic preparation that will help us to recognize him when he comes.
"Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival." (Luke 12:43).


From the Archbishop's desk: August 2019

By Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

As you read this, I will be on holiday with my old friends somewhere in Normandy. As you know the word 'holiday' comes from the two words holy and day. On 15 August we celebrate the Assumption, and in France that is still an occasion for a day off work,which in rural and coastal areas is accompanied by the blessing of the harvest and the fruits of the sea.

Last year, after Mass, the parish priest set off on a very small fishing boat to bless the sea. His position on the bow of the boat looked precarious to say the least but he didn't fall in and get wet. Instead, he and his parishioners retired to the parish hall where they wet their insides with the local cider and wine. Everyone had a good time and relaxed from the pressures of everyday life.

Finding time to be with those you love and those who love you is what makes a day holy; giving thanks to God in holy Mass for the blessing of friendship makes it even more holy. It is easy to forget that making space for others also allows God into our lives. And we don't have to go away for that to happen, although it can help. If we learn how to do this at home, then every day can be holy - we could then say we are always on holiday.