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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)
Marriage in Heaven21-11-2020, 17:42eternal, glory, love, perfection
Apocalypse 11:4-12 • Psalm 143(144):1–2, 9–10 • Luke 20:27–40
Jesus incurred the wrath and indignation of two groups in Israel: the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Each group was intent on trying to trip Jesus up, catching him out, boxing him into a corner. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, did not believe in the resurrection of the body. They approached Jesus with all the arrogance of an elite professional religious caste and put before him a disingenuous conundrum all wrapped up as a sincere query about the levirate law on marriage. According to this law a dead man’s brother was obliged to marry the widow, who could then bear a child so that the deceased brother’s line and estate would be retained within the family and his lineage would continue into posterity. The Sadducees were trying to back Jesus into a corner, hoping that he would either renounce the resurrection of the body or condone polyandry (where a woman has more than one husband).
True to form Jesus transcended the question but seized the moment to teach about the afterlife. In heaven the institution of marriage will be succeeded by a new kind of relationship with God and with each other, which, despite us having a new body, does not involve procreation. We believe in the salvation of the whole person, body and soul, and although there is no marriage in heaven, we believe that we will be reunited with our loved ones.
For those who have had an unfortunate experience of earthly marriage, perhaps having suffered separation, divorce or other adverse circumstances, this prospect might not be a favourable one. But in the passage from temporal to eternal on the good will remain – evil falls away – and the love that once united a couple remains. Defects, misunderstandings or suffering will fall away. Indeed this very suffering, accepted with faith, will transformed into glory. Many spouses will experience true love for each other only when they are reunited in God, and with this love there will be joy and fulness of the union that they might not have known on earth.
In God all wıll be understood, all will be forgiven and all will be well.
Lord, you are the resurrection and the life. Death is not the end, but the beginning of life, life to the full.
From Bible Alive
The Parable of the Talents15-11-2020, 15:50God's, spirit, work
Proverbs 31:10–13, 19–20, 30–31 • Psalm 127(128):1–5 • 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6 • Matthew 25:14–30
One of the interesting things about the parable, and sometimes overlooked, is that back then, believe it or not, the notion of making loads of money wasn’t as lauded and applauded as it is today. People traded to survive, not to make a killing, and business (in the way we understand it today) was viewed in much the same light as prostitution and exploitation. Nevertheless, the Jews were known as shrewd business people and canny investors.
Now clearly the parable isn’t simply about the benefits of making a return on an investment versus burying your capital and not even making any interest. Nor is it simply about using our God-given natural talents to bless our friends and neighbours, for example – there is no reward (return) in that (Matt. 5:46). No, the talents or gifts are primarily spiritual gifts: the charisms, graces, blessings and fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are worth far more than gold (1 Pet. 1:7). We are eagerly (yes, eagerly) to desire the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1). We are not to be ignorant about the spiritual gifts (like the servant who buried his talent). There are different kinds of gift (talents) given by the Spirit: the message of wisdom or knowledge, the gift of healing, miraculous powers, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues and the interpretation 0f tongues (1 (Cor. 12:1–11).
Lord, thank you for the gifts of your Spirit. Help us to use our gifts for the building up of the Church to the glory of God.
From Bible Alive
The Kingdom12-11-2020, 10:07Jesus, kingdom
Philemon 7–20 • Psalm 145(146):7–10 • Luke 17:20–25
A key ingredient of Jesus’ teaching is that the kingdom of God is within us. Expounding this truth, Paul taught that the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules and regulations but ultimately of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 14:17). St Anthony of Egypt said: “There is no point in us travelling to find the kingdom of heaven, or crossing the sea in search of virtue. As the Lord has already told us, God’s kingdom is within you.”
Jesus turned the idea of the kingdom of God on its head. The Jewish people were expecting a political Messiah who would overthrow their Roman oppressors and re-establish the Davidic dynasty They rejected Jesus because he did not measure up to these expectations. The kingdom of God was breaking into their world but they were too preoccupied with their own notions and ideas of the kingdom to recognise it.
The kingdom of God, manifested in Jesus, is ﬁrst and foremost a spiritual reality rather than something of this world (vv. 20-21;John 18:36). The kingdom is not a place or a way of life but a person. Jesus is the kingdom and the kingdom is Jesus. Where Jesus is, there is the kingdom. As the Scripture scholar Origen once said: “The gospel of Jesus is autobasilea, the kingdom himself.”
Reﬂecting on the words contained in the Our Father, the great saint and Church father Cyprian of Carthage wrote, “ ‘Thy kingdom come’ . . . Christ himself is the kingdom of God, whom we day by day desire to come, whose advent we crave to be quickly manifested to us. For Since he himself is the resurrection, because in him we rise again, so also the kingdom of God may be understood to be himself, because in him we shall reign.” The closer we are then to Jesus, the closer we are to the kingdom of God. And the closer we are to Jesus, the more we wıll pray for his return to earth, because those who love long to see the beloved, the One they love.
We manifest the kingdom of God to the world by showing that we know Jesus. How do we show this? By our witness of peace, love, joy and righteousness in the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.
“Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ( St Augustine)
From Bible Alive
The Good of Money07-11-2020, 10:12
Philippians 4:10–19 • Psalm 111(112):1–9 • Luke 16:9–15
Money, money, money!’ – as the Abba song goes – ‘it’s the rich man’s world.’ And that’s where the problem lies. Money is tainted, as Jesus describes it, because it carries the danger of reducing our world to the attainment or acquisition of money. When money is our world, then it also becomes our God and we can find ourselves even serving it.
Like the Abba song, today’s few verses mention money so many times that it almost seems like a little world in which money dominates. But, of course, there is no real intrinsic problem with money. It is strictly an artificial means invented by our ancestors to facilitate trading with each other In the past, trading happened through barter, putting an equivalent value on various goods, even tıme, so that a day of a man’s work was said to be equivalent to, for example, a sack of potatoes. Money was invented to represent the same value as the hours of work or a quantity of vegetables, so that we would not need to carry around sacks of potatoes if we wanted a skilled worker to do a job for us. Money was a great idea and it facilitated society because we could give something we had in exchange for something we wanted. It was a way of using our gifts, skills, goods to service others and to beneﬁt from those skills, etc., of others in return.
The taint of money comes not from money itself but from the human heart in which greed resides. From within the heart, the need and desire to build society and to exchange goods and skills can be corrupted into the lust simply for proﬁt. The heart can produce a self-centredness that wants to take advantage of others. As mentioned above, the corrupt heart can shrink the world simply to ourselves.
Jesus invites us to use money in a different way. Proﬁt is no bad thing: it becomes bad only insofar as it is used wholly to serve ourselves. What matters in the end is the state of our heart. It is through our union with Jesus that our hearts are transformed. Like the heart of Jesus, who came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many, our hearts can give money its true value in the building of society and the kingdom of God.
Most Sacred Heart ofJesus make our hearts like unto thine. Amen.
From Bible Alive
The meaning of Christ, by St Paul03-11-2020, 07:18God-man, love, sacrifice, Witness
Philippians 2: 5-11
In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus: His state was divine, yet he 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.
A note from the Life Application Bible:
2:5-11 These verses are probably from a hymn sung by the early Christian church. The passage holds many parallels to the prophecy of the suffering servant in lsaiah 53. As a hymn, it was not meant to be a complete statement about the nature and work of Christ. Several key characteristics of Jesus Christ, however, are" praised in this passage: (1) Christ has always existed with God;
(2) Christ is equal to God because he is God (John 1:1ff; Colos- sians 1:15—19);
(3) though Christ is God, he became a man in order to fulfil God’s plan of salvation for all people;
(4) Christ did not just have the appearance of being a man — he actually became human to identify with our sins;
(5) Christ voluntarily laid aside his divine rights and privileges out of love for his Father;
(6) Christ died on the cross for our sins so we wouldn’t have to face eternal death;
(7) God glorified Christ because of his obedience;
(8) God raised Christ to his original position at the Father’s right hand, where he will reign for ever as our Lord and Judge.
How can we do anything less than praise Christ as our Lord and dedicate ourselves to his service!
Jesus and the Pharisees01-11-2020, 10:24compassion, God's will, healing
Pope Francis must be a bit of a nightmare for the Roman Curia. His easygoing, warm and inviting Latino approach to life has certainly rufﬂed a few feathers and raised a few eyebrows over the years since he became Pope. He has a kind of healthy and rather amusing approach to pomp, circumstance and the trappings of his centuries-old ofﬁce.
However, Pope Francis is undoubtedly very conscious that he stands in the shoes of the humble ﬁsherman. He refuses to wear the traditional papal red leather shoes, preferring instead his well-worn pair. He chooses to travel in a clapped-out Ford rather than the papal limo. He has declined to have the kind of security ﬁtting for a leader of state, even saying no to bulletproof glass. He refuses to be a prisoner of the Vatican but rather its liberator. We should thank God that he is our Pope. Of course, Pope Francis is walking in the steps of jesus — because Jesus too rufﬂed feathers, kicked against the status quo and moved in the power of the Spirit.
Today we join Jesus seated at a 'nd of banquet, given, it would appear, in his honour. Many of the religious establishment of the day were there, watching to see whether he would step out of line. It is very likely that the sick man was a fellow guest but, remarkably, when he was healed by Jesus there was no joyful celebration, only stony silence. The law of the Sabbath had taken precedence over the law of God’s life and grace. What is at the heart of the matter here? Jesus was constantly challenging preconceptions about God and how to live by faith. He clearly loved the Pharisees, who on the whole were good men devoted to God and his law. They were, however, closed to what God was doing in their midst.
At the World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013, Pope Francis urged the young people present to mess things up in their parishes when they returned home. He meant that when following God’s will we may have to step out of line, ruffle feathers and challenge the status quo – we need to respect what has gone before but be open to what the Spirit is doing now in our midst.
Lord teach me to be open to the work of the Spirit both in my own life and in your world today.
From Bible Alive
Philippians 1:1–11 • Psalm 110(111) • 1–6 • Luke 4:1-6
Jesus and the Pharisees26-10-2020, 14:36love, spirit, suffering
Today’s Scripture packs two strikingly different ideas into one reading: healing and hypocrisy. The healing is of a woman who had been crippled for eighieen years, and the hypocrisy is on the part of a synagogue official who cannot see what is happening right before his eyes – a woman being miraculously freed from her terrible pain and suffering. The synagogue ruler had been too crippled by the letter of the law to recognize the true spirit of the law.
The Pharisees allowed animals to be taken care of on the Sabbath (see Luke 14:5), so why should they begrudge a sick woman this extraordinary and wonderful gift of God? Such harsh, legalistic and quite frankly mean behaviour from so-called religious people is staggering, isn’t it? What had happened to their understanding of God and their understanding of the dignity of the human person to make them think like this?
Yet it is perhaps too easy to be judgemental and harsh towards the Pharisees. We can ﬁnd ourselves saying to God, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like these Pharisees because I would not let myself become so confused and legalistic that I applied the letter and not the spirit of the law.’ To think like this is, of course, to have fallen into the same trap! Make no mistake, Jesus loved the Pharisees – it is obvious from his eagerness to correct their thinking.
To live in the Spirit we need to be very clear about two things: the first is that God loves everybody, and the second is that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and God wants the best for everybody. The Pharisees made the error of assuming they knew how God thought, but they could not have been more wrong. Jesus came to set us all free because we all need to be set free. The Pharisees’ religion had made them narrow-minded and mean-spirited, whereas the Spirit makes us big-hearted and generous. The Pharisees’ religion had made them hypocrites (a very real tension for all religious people), but the Spirit convicts us of our sin and makes us grateful and forgiven sinners in continual need of God’s healing and mercy.
The all-sufficient Physician of humanity, the Saviour, heals both body and soul. (St Clement of Alexandria)
From Bible Alive
Ephesians 4:32-56 • Psalm 1:1–6 • Luke 13:10–17
Bishop David's letter to his priests17-10-2020, 18:10encouragement, Witness
Bishop David has written to priests to pass his thanks onto volunteers who are stewarding in our catholic churches and making it possible for them to remain open. Recognising the struggle many churches face to find volunteers and the pressure on those who do volunteer as the pandemic continues much longer than any of anticipated, Bishop David writes:
My dear friends in Christ,
Greetings to you in the name of our Servant Lord! I want to write to you to express my personal gratitude for your service as a steward in your parish community. It is through your personal generosity and dedication that we have been able to reopen our churches for prayer, and to keep them open, for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other sacraments.
Your patient attention to preparing our churches, through regular cleaning, assistance with hand gel and guidance of visitors through the one-way systems in place, whilst ensuring social distancing, have made a real difference. Parishioners are able to come back to church, feeling safe and secure in these still very challenging times.
I have seen for myself, the effective and efficient manner in which you have carried out your stewardship. One might almost say in a very professional way. This has ensured that our churches are some of the most safest places and buildings throughout the land for people to enter.
All this is very necessary for us to continue. I know that it is difficult for some parish communities to find volunteers. None of us have realised how long this phase of the pandemic would be. I want to encourage you to continue to volunteer, and I encourage our priests to seek other volunteers to help alongside you with this indispensable ministry. I also appreciate how difficult your role can be at times, when you are challenged by those who do not wish to follow the guidelines.
From time to time, we hear talk of what is essential and non-essential. Unfortunately, there is no account in this discourse of the essential nature of our common lives as Disciples of Christ. For us as Catholics, our participation in Holy Mass and the sacraments does not belong to the non-essential. This coming together as a community, called out of darkness into light, is what defines us. In this regard, your volunteer ministry as stewards is a great blessing for us all.
Please be assured of my remembrance of you in my daily Rosary, and please do keep me in your prayers.
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Jesus and the Pharisees15-10-2020, 07:57Holy Spirit, hypocrisy, today
Luke 11:47–52 • St Teresa of Avila
Make no mistake and be under no illusion, the Pharisees and Jesus were on a collision course and it was never going to be pretty — the gloves were off, the hostility was out in the open. Jesus did not hold back but called them to account for the blood of the prophets from Abel, the son of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4), to Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, the chief priest during the reign of Kingjoash of Judah (837–800 BC), who was killed in the temple when he tried to call the nation back to true worship (see 2 Chron. 24:17–22). Jesus’s fate was sealed, his path to the cross certain, as the religious establishment of the day was rocked to its very core by his exposure of their hypocrisy.
The Pharisees built tombs for the prophets their forefathers had persecuted and martyred; they claimed to speak for God but resisted the words. spoken by the prophets. Injesus we see the culmination of the ministry of every prophet of old. Israel’s prophets spoke about Christ and always pointed to Christ. Now someone greater than the prophets, the Christ, was among them, and so began a profound resistance which would culminate in the plot to kill him. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because their hearts had become hard and resistant to God’s plan of salvation. They had become closed to the work of God in their midst and in their lives.
True, we might not kill the prophets but we can kill the work of God by being hard and resistant to what the Spirit is doing in our lives and in our Church. The Spirit is at work today in many individuals and movements or streams, such as the Charismatic movement, the Neocathechumenate, Opus Dei, Focolare, the MaltFriscans, Youth 2000 and, last but not least, the sincere young people in our parishes who are ever eager to sing at Mass, play musical instruments and participate in the life of the Church. We must guard our hearts against our own prejudice and preferences – the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills, and we must learn to celebrate his work in our midst and not undermine it or even kill it.
Heavenly Father, by your grace may we resist and overcome ways of thinking which limit the work of the Spirit, and may we rejoice in what you are doing in the Church today.
Ephesians 1:1–10 • Psalm 97(98) • Luke 11:47–54
Occupy your mind with good thoughts09-10-2020, 07:24Christ, cross, evil, good
St John Henry Newman (Feast)
2 Timothy 1:1–5 • Psalm 95 (96) • John 15:9–17
There are two extremes into which people fall when it comes to their attitude to evil and the devil. At one end of the spectrum is to believe in the devil and evil excessively, and at the other not to believe in evil or the devil at all — with plenty of people fitting somewhere in-between! This is as true in our age as any other, and we have ample evidence of excessive belief in innumerable blockbuster films and books and even weekend courses on the occult and demons.
We, for our part, are guided and governed by the Scriptures and the wisdom of the Church passed down through the ages. The Church has always affirmed that the devil and his realm is a reality (see, e. g. Catechism of the Catholic Church 407) which we ignore at our peril. Jesus is the strong man who by his death and resurrection has redeemed the world. By his cross, in his name and through his blood we who have received the grace of baptism are protected and kept safe, but we need to call upon this shield of God’s grace.
We are invited to enter into the spiritual battle which is waged every day. This notion of spiritual conflict or engaging the enemy can seem rather obscure or remote, especially when the daily struggle to deal with the problems of this world is hard enough. Perhaps the great saint and martyr Thomas More shed some light on' this when he said: “Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones; unoccupied they cannot be.” Being passive and undisciplined in our thinking and in our behaviour can open us up to the devil and his ways. The devil delights in an idleness of mind and a passivity which does not actively take up the good fight of faith.
A mind ﬁlled with God’s truth and God’s thoughts is a mind which is bolstering and protecting itself against the snares and attacks of the Evil One. God created us with the gift of free Will, and the greatest challenge we face every day is to choose God and reject the devil, to choose the good and repel evil, and to stand firm in faith.
Lord Jesus, protect us from the snares, wiles and schemes of the Evil One. I call upon the power of your name, cross and blood, that I may live more and more in your presence.
Christ the King
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