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The Good News

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Mark 1:14-20
 
From the beginning of Mark’s Gospel we are introduced to the ideas of repentance, belief and good news.
 
The gospel, literally “good news”, is that God became man to save and resuce us because we could not save ourselves from sin, death and the power of evil.
 
The Good News is that God loves us and revealed that love to us by sending Jesus, his only son and the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, to die on the cross and to rise again on the third day.
 
The Good News is that our sins are forgiven, our lives are wiped clean by the blood of Jesus, and we are reconciled with God the Father, restored as his sons and daughters, blessed with a new dignity, purpose and hope.
 
The Good News is that we have received the Holy Spirit; we are a new creation.
 
Lord, teach me to be a witness of your grace and of the joy of heartfelt repentance, and in turn lead others to know deeply and personally your mercy and forgiveness.
 
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The Beatitudes

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Matthew 5: 1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill.  There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. 

Then he began to speak.  This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

'Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. 

'Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. 

'Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied. 

'Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. 

'Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God. 

'Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. 

'Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

'Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

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Remember the Poor

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Luke 16:19-31
 
In the developing world our brothers and sisters have immense needs.  Jesus came to “preach the good news to the poor” (cf Matthew 11:5, Luke 7:22).  How can we fail to lay greater emphasis on the Church’s preferential option for the poor and the outcast?
 
Indeed, it has to be said that a commitment to justice and peace in a world like ours, marked by so many conflicts and economic inequalities, compels us to raise our voice on behalf of the poor.  
 
Thus, in the spirit of the book of Leviticus (25:8-12), we should out loud on behalf of all the poor of the world.
 
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The Faith of the Centurion

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Luke 7:11-17
 
Some of the most powerful and moving things Jesus said were connected with grief and loss.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. (Matt. 5:4).  When faced with the grief of Mary and Martha, John informs us that “Jesus wept”.  
 
How moving it must have been to see Jesus, himself the Resurrection and the Life, weep freely and openly (John 11:35).  We meet the same heartfelt and profoundly compassionate response in today’s encounter with the widow: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and she said, 'Don’t cry’ “ (v. 13 NIV).  His reaction teaches ius that Gpd’s heart is full of kindness and compassion for the human condition and predicament.
 
Grief strips us bare, but God is close to all those who have suffered loss, who are broken-hearted and grief-stricken.
 
Lord, your kindness, mercy and compassion are deeper thant the ocean, wider than the sea and extend from heaven to earth.
 
 
 
 
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Love – Do good – Give

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Luke 6:39-42
 
Love, do good, give; the moral and ethical teaching of Jesus can be summed up in these four words.
 
The Church draws on thousands of years of teaching and human experience, much of it rooted in the dark alleys of confusion, darkness and sinfulness of its sons and daughters, clergy and lay people alike.  
 
But the wisdom of the Church resides first in the wisdom of Christ.  She is wise because Christ is wise; we are wise because Christ is wise.  True wisdom is learning daily to live life in the Spirit, learning to listen to the Spirit and to give witness to the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.
 
In the midst of this endeavour we must live alongside people and learn to relate to them.  The Christian faith should help us to master living alongside our fellows in fraternal love and affection.  We learn not to judge others but to be quicker to judge ourselves.
 
”If you judge other people you have no time to love them.”  St Mother Teresa of Calcutta
 
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How and Whom we should Love

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Luke 6:27-38
 
The Greeks had four forms of love, according to C S Lewis (The Four Loves); of these agape love is the most challenging, perhaps.  To get to grips with agape  love, pray and reflect on today’s Gospel.  
 
Jesus tells us that it it not those who are good to us whom we should love, but those who take active steps to do us harm: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (vv 27-28).  
 
We are called to love our enemies and those for whom we have no natural liking.  Think about someone whom you cannot stand and reflect on the truth that this is exactly the person whom Jesus is call you to love, to do good for, bless and pray for.
 
This is hard teaching, but it is clear and unambiguous from Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus’s love is the sort of love that transforms the world, as well as our lives.
 
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God's ways, not ours. His will, not mine

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Matthew 20:1-16
 
The point of today’s parable is that in the kingdom the blessings and rewards of God are received out of God’s goodness and love, not on the basis of our merit or the length of our service.  Many years ago St Teresa of Avila wisely commented: :We should forget the number of years we have served him.  The  more we serve him, the more deeply we fall in his debt."
 
God’s ways – the way he thinks, the way he acts, the way he moves – are so different from our ways.  God allows his sun to shine on both the righteous and the unrighteous, and we impose our own thinking on God’s kingdom at our peril.  
 
Remember that the poor thief crucified alongside Jesus, who, it is fair to assume, had not lived a very good life, was promised paradise on that very day.  We must resist limiting God’s work or actions and insisting on our view of the world, of people or of situations.
 
God sees what we do not see and his goodness and mercy have no bounds.
 
Lord please help us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we will be able to discover your good, pleasing and perfect will.
 
Chris

 
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What must I do, Jesus?

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Matthew 19:16-22
 
Faith is an action word.  As James writes of Abraham, “Faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works.” (Jas. 2:22).  Jesus’s prescription to the young man, “go, sell . . . give,” paves the way for what comes: entering into and enjoying a continuing love-relationship with Jesus.  
 
For the young man, wealth was a barrier to surrender; for us the barrier may be something else: fame, comfort, pleasure, approval . . . Let’s ask, as the young man did:”Lord, what must I do?"
 
What we do with Jesus’s reply determines whether we go away sorrowful or stand rejoicing.
 
"All to Jesus, I surrender,
All to him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live."
(Weeden and Van DeWinter)
 
Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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Avoid our hearts becoming hardened

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Matthew 12:14-21
 
Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved, the favourite of my soul. 
I will endow him with my spirit,
and he will proclaim the true faith to the nations. 
He will not brawl or shout,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. 
He will not break the crushed reed,
nor put out the smouldering wick
till he has led the truth to victory:
in his name the nations will put their hope.
 
Isaiah 42:1-4
 
One of the ways that we can guard against our hearts becoming hard is by reading the Scriptures with the focused aim of drawing from them a deeper insight into the mystery of Christ.  This is what Matthew was doing in today’s reading: he was drawing deeper insight from the writing of the prophet Isaiah.  He saw that Jesus was latent in the Old Testament and was able to recognise those Scriptures which testified about him (as above).
 
Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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Evangelise

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Matthew 9:32-38
 
The Gospel is essentially a message, the kerygma.  It involves us witnessing to the truth that Jesus, who suffered, died and rose again from the dead, is the Lord of history and the Lord of our lives; and that in believing in him and accepting his lordship we are born again, and through baptism we enter into Christian life.
 
The Lord wants to equip us to be effective workers in the harvest field so that we can have the freedom and the confidence to lead others to Christ.
 
Lord, teach me not to be afraid to witness to my faith.  Teach me never to be ashamed of the Gospel but to be proud of the message which can transform not only people’s lives but the whole of culture, society and the world.
 
Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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