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Ritual Washing

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Mark 7:1–13


Jesus always condemned hypocrisy, and however well intentioned the Pharisees they had missed the point of obeying God, which is love.

The Pharisees were blind to the state of their own hearts. There is something rather intoxicating about appearing to be holier than other people – it can make us feel superior and detach us from reality.

We can all be seduced into thinking that we are in some way more holy if we do certain things, but the truth is that the holier we are, the more conscious we become of our sin and weakness.

We pray today for the grace to avoid the trap and darkness which is hypocrisy, and to walk in the light of Christ, which is the light of humility and of grace.


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Jesus is God, Lord and Creator

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Mark 4:35-41
Jesus and disciples in a small boat with sails in a storm and rough sea.

Jesus calmed the storm that was terrifying the disciples; everything is possible with God.  But this could be the same for the storms in our own lives, so trust the Lord to care for you.

God loves us more than we love ourselves.  God knows us more than we know ourselves.  God knows every worry, every anxiety, every overarching concern which cause us to be buffeted by the tumultuous waves of life.

The Holy Spirit is at work in us to convince us that “neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8:38-39)
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God's Love

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1 John 4:11-18 and Mark 6:45-52
 
God is our Father and he loves us perfectly.  
 
His love is unchanging.  It does not depend on external circumstances but is constand and sure.  We can trust completely because God is faithful and his love endures forever.
 
God wants to replace fear with a secure trust in his care for us.  He will set us free from fear as we draw closer to Jesus.  We can trust Jesus with everything: our past, our worries, our pain, our joys and our deepest longings.
 
We can hand over to Jesus every fear and oppression.  When we do this, something wonderful happens.  Through the Holy Spirit we enter into the inheritance that we received at baptism — we are born again.
 
As adults we may have taken the step of making our own the promises given us by our parents at baptism, and may have known the grace flowing from such great commitment. But we are weak and sinful.  How easily we can lose our first love for Jesus!  How quickly our vision of living life in the Spirit can grow dim!
 
From time to time we need to stop and take stock so that we can reaffirm our decision to take seriously the call of Jesus to follow him.  We need to come daily into God’s presence in prayer, repenting of the ways in which we have failed as his disciples.
 
God’s love is so great that he is quicker to grant forgiveness that we are to ask for it, and he will give us the power of the Holy Spirit to live a transformed life.
 
Father God, as your sons and daughters we ask you to release us from every fear.  Draw us deeply into the life of the Trinity each day and reveal how much you love us.
 
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Who is my neighbour?

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Luke 10:25-37
 
Who is your neighbour?  Our faith invites us to go beyond our immediate circle and to reach out to people who fall outside our neat categories and boxes.  We are called to love and to care for people who might be unlovable by the standards of the world: criminals, drug addicts, drug dealers etc . . .
 
Despite the social action element of the parable many Church fathers saw that Jesus was in fact the Good Samaritan and we the wounded, bruised body on the roadside.
 
There is a profound depth to this parable whch the Holy Spirit can open up to us.  We are called to be merciful, but mercy is about understanding our need for redemption and salvation.  
 
This is the greatest human need: to know God’s forgiveness, mercy and healing.
 
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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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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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The Deep End – Love One Another

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‘Love one another’ is the basic principle of Christianity, as Jesus loved. It is simple, yet we can make it so complicated.

Jesus’s love was controversial for some people, because it was love without exclusion. To love as Jesus loved is to love those it is hard to love. This love ultimately leads to Jesus’ death. Jesus loved sinners, tax-collectors, prostitutes, people of other religions, the poor, the unwanted, the sick, the beggar and the leper.

This is is also too much for some Christians today. It is hard to love sinners or fanily members or friends who have hurt us. Yet this is the love we are called to. Once we begin to accept that we are infinitely loved by God, it is like a domino effect where that love is poured outwards in our lives.

We are part of this outpouring of God’s creative love and are called to bring it into places where there is none. In this way we are helping to heal, sustain and nourish ths world.

Let us hear those words of the Gospel more clearly today. ’Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this everone will know that you are one of my disciples.’

Let us dream of, and work towards, a world where this is a reality.

Jane Mellett.

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