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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Ask and you will receive . . .

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Matthew 7:7–12 Lenten Weekday

Gold with “The Golden Rule"

Who is God? What is God like? How can we know God? These are good questions but actually very challenging ones, as we are sure you would agree. Jesus answered these questions in his teaching and, as we meditate upon the truth he revealed, we are invited to open and expand our minds and hearts and allow our preconceptions and misconceptions to be challenged.

Today's Gospel passage deals with a common misconception about God. Many believe that God is harsh, judgemental and critical, but the very opposite is true. God is kind and generous.  In fact, we can see from today's Gospel that God is so generous and kind that he finds it very hard to say “no” or to resist our prayers and intercession. Jesus appeals to a type of inexorable logic which goes something like this: if an earthly parent can be good, kind and loving to their children, how much more so God? Of course, the greatest gift given to us by God is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It is against this backdrop of understanding the abundant generosity of God towards his children that Jesus introduces us to the “Golden Rule”: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (v. 12 NIV). This Golden Rule is the ethical principle which underpins the moral vision of the Christian life and sums up the entire Law and Prophets of the Hebrew faith. To love another as we love ourselves is a very high calling and not one (we respectfully suggest) that comes naturally to us. It has to be grounded in the crucial revelation that we are loved deeply by God the Father, who delights to answer our prayers and give us good things. As we grow in understanding God's love for us, we are able to grow in loving and caring tor our neighbour and even our enemy.

As Franz Jägerstätter, who was beheaded by the Nazis, said, Let us love our enemies, bless those who persecute us. For love will conquer and will endure for all eternity. And happy are those who live and die in God's love.

Lord Jesus, I ask today for the grace to do to others as I would like them to do to me. Teach me the wisdom of your servant St Catherine of Siena, who said: “Through love of God we conceive virtues, and through love of our neighbour, they are brought to birth”.

Chris

from Bible Alive

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Our Father – Jesus taught us to pray

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Matthew 6:7–15 St Polycarp (Commemoration)

Jesus’s teaching on prayer is warm, clear and direct.  In teaching us about prayer he reveals his Father. Jesus wants us to relate to God as our Father – to cry out, Abba, Father'.  The greatest privilege and joy we have as Christians is that we can address God in this intimate and loving way:  The new man, reborn and restored to his God by grace, says first of all, "Father!" because he has now begun to be a son (St John Chrysostom).  The Father we worship transcends all time and space; he is the source and end of all things.  We bow down before him. 

When we pray, Jesus urges us to go to the Father with our needs, requests and petitions.  Let us look afresh at the prayer he gave us.  The first request is that the name of the Father be acknowledged and revered as holy in our daily lives in our words, our actions and our thoughts.  As we understand the holiness of God, we shall radiate life to all those around us.

Jesus wants us to be bold and confident in praying for the coming of God's kingdom – since we live now in the age of theChurch we can eagerly pray for the return of the Lord.

Jesus calls us to pray that God's will should prevail over the earth as it prevails in heaven: God wills only that which is good, loving and perfect.

Jesus says we need to ask each day for our daily bread: for the daily sustenance we receive from the Father as our spirits are fed and nurtured within us by reading his Word and celebrating the Eucharist.

Jesus reveals that unless our hearts forgive, then we in our turn will not know the joy of forgiveness: forgiveness and prayer go together:

Finally, Jesus shows that each day we face a threat from the evil one, who seeks to lead us into  confusion and away from the Lord.  Each day we need to pray: “Lord, deliver me from all evil.

We can be encouraged by St Teresa of the Child Jesus's experience of prayer: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned towards heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

Father just as St Polycarp laid down his life, may I too lay down my life in love and service of you and your kingdom.

Chris

from Bible Alive

 

Isaiah 55:10–11 • Psalm 33(34):4–7, 16–19 • Matthew 6:7–15

 
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Chair of St Peter (Feast)

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Today we pray especially for Pope Francis, thanking God for the gift of his ministry.  We pray that he would walk in the shoes of the humble fisherman.  Like St Peter, the Pope is only a man.  He needs our support, our best wishes and most of all our prayers.
 
We pray also that, like St Peter, the grace of revelation would lead him as he holds out the life-giving teaching of the gospel.
 
Lord God and Father, you built your Church on the rock of St Peter’s confession of faith.  May nothing divide us or weaken our unity in faith and love.
 

Chris

from Bible Alive

 

1 Peter 5:1–4 • Psalm 22(23) • Matthew 16:13–19

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First Sunday of Lent 2021

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Mark 1:12-15 First Sunday of Lent (B)

The Spirit led Jesus into the desert for forty days to be tempted and tested. During Lent we too are led by the Spirit into the mystery of Jesus's time in the desert. By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert (Catechism of the Catholic Church 540). We too, during this holy season, can expect to be tempted and tested.

Mark informs us simply and straightforwardly that in the desert Jesus was "tempted by Satan" (v. 13). The name Satan means "adversary". In the book of Job we are given a vivid picture of Satan in God's heavenly court, along with all the other angels, where he has the role of accuser or prosecutor (see 1:6ff.). The Scriptures identify Satan as the serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3) and, therefore, as the origin of sin and temptation. What the Scriptures and tradition make clear is that humankind has a mortal enemy who, although a finite being created by God, is in a desperate struggle to overthrow God's reign, usurp his Lordship and lead his creation into darkness and death. On Easter Sunday each of us will recite our baptismal promises and in doing so renew them. Bear this in mind as we move through Lent because, as you will be aware, a renewal of our baptismal promises involves us actively, freely and voluntarily rejecting Satan.

Lent is also a time for us to discover anew and afresh the gospel, the 'Good News’, which Jesus began to proclaim immediately after his time of testing. What is the Good News? The Good News is a message of two parts: the first part is to repent and the second part to believe the gospel. We walk together on this road marked out for us by the Church and take up our call to stand firm and resist the devil knowing that he will flee, and embrace freely and with love the gospel, which is Christ with us and in us, the hope of salvation. 

In these days, therefore, let us add something beyond the wonted measure of our service, such as private prayers and abstinence in food and drink. Let each one, over and above the measure prescribed for him, offer God something of his  own free will in the joy of the Holy Spirit." (St Benedict)

Chris

from Bible Alive

Genesis 9:8–15 • Psalm 24(25):4–9 • 1 Peter 3:18–22 • Mark 1:12–15

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Jesus heals the leper of his disease

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Mark 1:40–45 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

 Figure by trees in sunshineLeprosy was one of the most repugnant and most feared diseases in the ancient world. In the Old Testament the term was used to denote a broad range of skin diseases, some of which were curable, and so the law stipulated conditions to be fulfilled if the disease was to be recognised as cured. In its most virulent form it was considered so serious that the rabbis regarded the healing of leprosy to be as difficult as raising the dead. Perhaps the worst effect of leprosy was that people suffering from any of the diseases covered by the term had to live isolated from society. They were forbidden from entering a dwelling, and if anyone approached they had to cry "Unclean, unclean!" (Lev. 13:45–46).

This understanding helps us to realise that in today's Gospel Jesus was approached by a person who was normally denied any contact with healthy people. Those surrounding Jesus must have shied away from the sick man, fearful of contamination. How did Jesus react to the man's presence? Some ancient manuscripts, rather than saying that he was 'moved with pity' (v. 41), read that he was 'moved with anger. Commentators reflect that this reading may portray Jesus’s anger against the power of evil seen as present in the illness. With a word and a touch Jesus healed the leper.

Despite the laws of Leviticus, the leper came to Jesus with great faith, and his faith was rewarded with his healing Jesus showed that he regarded compassion as more important than the ritual prohibitions against contact with the diseased. Nevertheless, he was obedient to the law in complying with the regulations surrounding the proof of a cure, telling the man to go to the priest and make the stipulated offering

As we try to follow Jesus’s way, we may ask ourselves: Who are the outcasts today? Who are those that we shy away from, in fear, loathing and contempt? Whether consciously or not, it is all too easy for us to retreat from those who are ill or suffering But people, whoever they are and whatever their condition, need compassion and care.

Lord, you cared for the outcasts of society.  Help me to make room in my heart for everyone, including those whom society judges as beyond redemption, for your mercy reaches out to all.

 

 

Leviticus 13:1–2, 44-46 • Psalm 31 (32):1-2, 5, 11 • 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1 • Mark 1:40–45

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Step up to CAFOD's 2021 Lent appeal challenge.

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Can you walk alongside Abdella?


Abdella's story

"I am a young man. I am wasting my life. What would I do if I had the time? I would start a small business. I want to make something of myself.”

Abdella, 23, from Afar in northern Ethiopia

Abdella is 23 and lives in a small village in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia.  

He wakes before dark to start on a long journey that will see him walk along a dried-out riverbed, over rocks, and over a mountain just to get a drink of water. The entire journey to get water for the family will take Abdella ten hours.

Can you imagine needing a drink of water and having to spend most of the day collecting it? Coming back exhausted and bruised from the journey? Being so frustrated because you feel your life is slipping away from you? Then having to do it again without any sick days or days off.



Read more of Abdella's story

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Heal our Sin, Lord Jesus

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Deep are the Wounds that Sin has Made

Mark 1:29–39 

In a commentary on St Mark's Gospel St Bede makes the following observation about the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, “The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength that she is able to minister to those of whose help she had before stood in need.”  The miracle involved Jesus's directly touching her, taking her by the hand and helping her up, healed and ready to serve (v. 31).  This simple and seemingly minor incident and healing in Jesus's ministry reveals so much about who he is and why he came. Only God himself could heal as Jesus healed; only divine power could overturn the laws of nature and the grip of a fever and suffering so effortlessly and so immediately.

Christian revelation teaches us  that we are in need of healing because we are fallen and wounded by sin.  Each one of us is sick by sin. For sure, by God's grace baptism removes the stain of original sin but we bear its scar and we are wounded, subject to weakness and temptation during our life on earth.  The great apostle Paul, in heartfelt anguish and desperation, cried out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver  me from this body of death?”  (Rom. 7:24). Through baptism we are immersed in Jesus’s death and resurrection, but our life on earth is a struggle to overcome the sin which seeks to master us and be healed from the wounds and bruises we receive in the course of our battle with sin and what the Church calls 'concupiscence'.  

We can console ourselves with this reflection by the early church father St Irenaeus: “The Word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his great love for humankind, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”  He who was without sin took away our sin that we who are sinful could know the freedom and joy of being children of God, heirs of Christ.  

May Christ come to our house and enter in and by his command cure the fever of our sins.  Each one of us is sick with a fever.  Whenever I give way to anger, I have a fever There are as many fevers as there are faults and vices. Let us beg the apostles to intercede for us with Jesus, that he may come to us and touch our hand. If he does so, at once our fever is gone. (St Jerome)

Job 7:1-7 • Psalm 146(147):1–6 • 1 Corinthians 9:16–19, 22–23 • Mark 1:29–39

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