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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

(Feast) St Mary Magdalene

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John 20:1-2, 11-18
 
https://www1.cbn.com/why-jesus-chose-mary-magdalene-to-proclaim-his-resurrection

Mary Magdalene kneeling at the open tomb with the gardener

Today we celebrate the feast-day of one of the greatest women in the whole of the Bible. Clearly, Mary, Mother of God, has pride of place because she is our mother in faith. Mary Magdalene, however, can be seen as our sister in faith.

Of course, Mary Magdalene is often identified as being a woman of ill-repute, a prostitute no less, but there is no record of this in the Scriptures. We are simply told that seven demons were cast out of her (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9). Quite why the reputation of this magnificent woman and example of the Christian life should have been imputed with this slur is hard to figure out. Was it hearsay? What we do know for sure is that the Lord delivered her from whatever bound her. Some suggest that it could have been a complex illness of some kind or maybe even some mental suffering or anguish. From  that time on she dedicated her life to following Christ.

The Evangelists are especially sensitive to Mary’s closeness to the Lord during his last days on earth. She remained with him at the foot of the cross, staying when all the disciples except John had fled.

She was at his burial and, most striking and significant of all, she was a witness of the Risen Lord. God confounded the wisdom of an age in which women were regarded as second-class citizens and were not considered to be reliable witnesses in court. Ancient societies were misogynist and patriarchal, but God showed that this way of thinking to be a nonsense in the kingdom of God. Consider that God chose Mary to be the first person to witness the greatest event in human history — the resurrection — before Peter and the other disciples. We venerate her for this.

Mary can be seen to represent all women since the beginning of time who have witnessed Christ’s resurrection in their lives. In a way, in the kingdom of God, whether we are male or female is not an issue: we are equal before God, but we have different roles, different charisms and different strengths. Mary’s role was to support the Lord — it was a role of love and service, and this is the legacy she has left us. Today we cherish her memory, celebrate her life and strive to emulate her courageous witness.

Lord God, help as to follow the example of Mary Magdalene and live a life of humble service, sincere repentance and courageous witness for Christ.

 
Chris
 
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The Holy Spirit opens our hearts

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Matthew 12:38-42
 
Jonah and the Whale
 
Despite Jesus’ many miracles the Pharisees wanted to see more. But Jesus was having none of it and promised that the only other sign that would be given to them would be the sign of Jonah. The prophet Jonah was called by God to preach a message of repentance to the Gentiles of Nineveh (located in modern-day northern Iraq). 

In the bright constellation of Old Testament prophets Jonah shines (or not) as the most reluctant prophet. He disobediently ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish by boat. The Lord then sent a severe storm that caused the crew of the ship to fear for their lives. Jonah was soon thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish, in whose belly he remained for ‘three days and three nights’ (Jon. 1:15-17).  After the three-day period, the Lord caused the great fish to vomit Jonah out onto dry land on. 2‘10). 

Chastened and humbled, Jonah delivered his message of repentance and conversion, and the Nineties responded favourably. In similar vein the Gentile Queen of Sheba went to great lengths (and miles) to hear the wisdom of Solomon and was very impressed (1 Kgs. 10-1—13).

Jesus pointed to these examples to highlight how the Spirit had opened the hearts of Gentiles to God’s message, but now, when one greater than Jonah or Moses — greater because they pointed to him — was among them, the religious authorities had hardened their hearts. 

The message of repentance and conversion is foundational to our faith. The Spirit always leads us towards the grace of repentance because it brings us into a human-divine reality: God is holy and we are sinners. We tend to think of this admission or confession as a sign of weakness but it is the very opposite: when we confess our sins, admit our fault and throw ourselves on God’s mercy, we receive every spiritual grace and blessing.

Lord have mercy upon me a sinner; wash away my iniquity and cleanse me of my sin.

Chris
 
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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened . . .

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Matthew 11:28-30
 
Girl pulling a heavy bag towards the Cross
 
Jesus will never abandon us. He knows our lives are demanding and fretful, fraught with anxieties about work, housing, relationships and money, and that we may have difficulty absorbing the nourishment of prayer, Scripture and the sacraments.

People can be like pieces of elastic: stretched to their utmost. limits one day, in a state of. collapse the next. Jesus" ‘yoke’ is a whole way of life, discipleship and relationship with him. He demands of us willing service to the gospel, but rewards us with friendship and love. Our part of the bargain is a twofold pledge: to model our lives on his, and to enter wholeheartedly into a relationship with him.

The image of the yoke calls to mind two oxen pulling along side by side, in step with one another. Jesus walks beside us if we invite him into the rhythm of our lives. Sharing our burden, he befriends us on the journey and invites us to rest with him at close of day. Discipleship and trust are key qualities needed. Enthusiasm for the Lord can see us through the ups and downs of life, focusing us and filling us with the light of his grace.

The conviction that Jesus is beside us can calm our fears and encourage us to take the spiritual rest that we all need for a healthy and balanced life on this frenetically active planet.

Lord may I always be aware of you beside me, not lifting but sharing my burdens and helping me to bear with joy the yoke of discipleship

 
Chris
 
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The Father Knows the Son

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Matthew 11:25-27.

Jesus says all things have been committed to him by the Father, and at the heart of this is the relationship he has with the Father. He speaks of the Father and the Son being in a relationship of knowing one another exclusively. This word ‘know’ does not indicate just intellectual knowledge or understanding: it means the most intimate experience of another person. 

Really to know someone is to be united with them in a relationship of mutually self-giving love. So Jesus and the Father are one in being. But that’s not all. We are invited into the heart of this relationship, for Jesus says intimate knowledge of the Father can be shared with whomever he chooses to reveal it to. So as we become one with Jesus Christ in baptism and in the life of faith, we are taken into his intimate relationship with God the Father.

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we share in the dynamic love that exists between the Father and the Son. We don’t enter into this relationship primarily through intellectual understanding. When we think about the Trinity we soon get confused, but when we adore the Holy Trinity we are caught up in a heart knowledge that is far more simple and profound. As we adore the Holy Trinity in faith and love, we enter into the relationship and learn far more than we can ever understand intellectually. 

Through this sharing we become like ‘little children’, like the ‘babes' Jesus talks about, and we shall begin to experience truths that are far beyond our words or imagination.

Heavenly Father, by the revelation of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, draw me into the mystery of your everlasting love.

Chris

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Have Mercy on me, O God

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Snow-capped mountains and green fields with sheep and Psalm 51 v12
 
 
 
PSALMS 51 (NIVUK)
 
1  Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
 
2  Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
 
3  For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
 
4  Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
 
5  Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
 
6  Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
 
7  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
 
8  Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
 
9  Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
 
10  Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 
11  Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
 
13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
 
14  Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Saviour,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
 
15  Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
 
16  You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
 
17  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
 
18  May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
 
19  Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
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Preaching the Gospel

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Matthew 10:7-15
 
Bare feet in the sand, “Sent”.
 
Jesus’s instructions to his followers are as relevant today as when he sent them out to proclaim the message of the kingdom of God.  But perhaps our hearts sink at the prospect of witnessing for our faith.  Increasingly in society, having faith, practising faith and witnessing to it are widely misunderstood and considered strange.  In any event, faith is considered personal, private.
 
But the key to all evangelising is revealed in v.8: “Freely you have received; freely give.”  Our vocation – whatever our role or ministry, whether we are an ordinary Christian, an ordained priest or religious or even an Archbishop or the Pope – is to grasp the great gift of the gospel of salvation: to appreciate its free, unmerited and undeserved nature and therefore to be filled with the joy of the evangelist.
 
An evangelist or witness is simply someone who has freely received the joy, hope and love of the gospel and who in their turn freely gives the joy, love and hope of the gospel.  Yes, it’s challenging and difficult, but we have the Holy Spirit and he gives us wisdom – as well as tact, sensitivity, intelligence, understanding, knowledge and patience.  And courage.
 
We are just ordinary men and women, workers in the vineyard of Christ.  Our task is always to be prepared to share with others the reason for our hope, joy and love.  Our challenge is to be filled with hope, joy and love which speaks to others’ hearts.
 
Lord, teach me to be a joyful, enthusiastic and convincing witness of the truth, goodness and beauty of the gospel.
 
Chris

from Bible Alive

 

Art Source: sent soysi.files.wordpress.com
 
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God's Delight

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Matthew 11:25–30
 
“I delight in you” GOD
 
Today’s Gospel is a particularly beautiful one.  It reveals a wonderful truth about God and his nature, expressing it in a way that no mere human mind could.  These words of Jesus come directly from the Father’s heart.
 
The passage is effectively in three parts: the Father’s delight; the relationship between Father and Son; and the grace of revelation.  Jesus teach us that God the Father delights to pour out a gift of revelation on his children.  “Revelation” in this context means receiving a blessing, an insight or fresh understanding which enables us to enter more deeply into the mystery of God.
 
In the Christian faith there are no new truths, simply the ancient revelation of the Scripture, the Creed and the teaching of the Church; and it is in these truths that we immerse our minds and hearts.  As we do so, the Holy Spirit opens our minds and hearts to see the hidden depths: a new meaning, a fresh interpretation or a word of nuance which touches us deeply and moves us to love and worship God.
 
This grace of revelation can come to us in many ways, but of course as we reserve time and space to pray and to study the Scriptures – as we are still before the Lord – we can experience it in a special way.  We are allowing our hearts to open to the grace of revelation; we can see this as the desire of the Father’s heart.
 
By making ourselves receptive to revelation from God we can know God’s joy and rejoice in his plan of salvation.  Today we have an opportunity to experience the delight of our heavenly Father as we penetrate the mystery of his Son, and receive the grace of revelation that brings us peace, joy and happiness.
 
Praise the Father, the good and holy Creator who blesses his children with the grace of revelation and the gift of deep and lasting joy.
 
Chris
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Only God can Forgive Sins

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Matthew 9:1–8
 
The teachers of the law got at least one thing right: by claiming to forgive sins, Jesus was claiming to be God.  And of course we know that he is God, and he does forgive sins, repeatedly.
 
Fr Ronald Rolheiser:

“. . .if the Catholicism that I was raised in had a fault, and it did, it was precisely that it did not allow for mistkes. If you made a mistake, you lived with it and, like the rich young man, were doomed to be sad, at least for the rest of your life. A serious mistake was a permanent stigmatization. We need a theolgy of brokenness. We need a theology which teaches us that even though we can’t unscramble an egg, God’s grace lets us live happily and with renewed innocence beyond any egg we may have scrambled. Every time we close a door, He opens another one for us . . .

"We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door, God opens another one for us. We need a theology that challenges us not to make mistakes, that takes sin seriously, but which tells us that when we do sin, when we do make mistakes, we are given the chance to take our place among the broken, among those whose lives are not perfect, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came. We need a theology which tells us that a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance are just as valid as the first one. We need a theology that tells us that mistakes are not forever, that they are not even for a lifetime, that time and grace wash clean, that nothing is irrevocable. Finally, we need a theology which teaches us that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again."

Chris

from Ron Rolheiser

 

 

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