Showing posts with label Sunday Reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunday Reflections. Show all posts

24 Mar 2017

'One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.' Sunday Reflections. Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A


Blind Pensioner with a Stick, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India

Gospel John 9:1-41 [9: 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38] (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. [His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’] When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 

From The Gospel of John

In his homily on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in 2014 Pope Francis said, Salvation cannot be bought and sold; it is given as a gift, it is free . . . We cannot save ourselves, salvation is a totally free gift. The Pope continued: Since it cannot be bought, in order for this salvation to enter into us we need a humble heart, a docile heart, an obedient heart like Mary's. Moreover, the model on this journey of salvation is God himself, his Son, who did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Full post here.

19 Mar 2017

To ask for a drink is no big request but to ask it of me?' Sunday Reflections, Third Sunday of Lent, Year A

Christ and the Samaritan Woman, Duccio di Buoninsegna

Readings (New American Bible)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 
For the shorter form of the Gospel omit the passages in square brackets Gospel John 4:5-42 [5:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42] (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)  


Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
...
The video is taken from The Gospel of John directed by Philip Saville.
I remember reading a story about Pope John Paul I when he was still known as Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice. One of his priests in a rural parish was known more for being absent from his parish than for being present. Cardinal Luciani went to visit the parish - and the priest was away. So the Cardinal covered for him until the priest returned some days later. The wayward parish priest got the shock of his life when his archbishop asked him to hear his confession.

Cardinal Luciani, who later became known as 'The Smiling Pope' and was with us for only 33 days in 1978 as Bishop of Rome, didn't scold the priest. He simply asked him to do for him what only a priest can do - forgive sins in God's name in the sacrament of confession.
Pope John Paul I, 26 August 1978

In the gospel Jesus asks the woman at the well directly, Give me a drink. As she was to point out to Jesus he didn't have the wherewithal to draw water himself from the well. She did.

Full post here.

9 Mar 2017

‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ Second Sunday of Lent, Year A


Transfiguration, Fra Angelico 
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India )
Gospel Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’

Like Peter, James and John, I caught a glimpse of something of the Purity of God on a hill. Tradition tells us that Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor, Israel. My 'Mount Tabor' was a hotel at the top of a hill in Lourdes, France.
During Holy Week 2001 I took part in the international pilgrimage of Faith and Light to Lourdes which takes place every ten years. Faith and Light was born of a desire to help people with an intellectual disability and their families find their place within the Church and society. This was the main purpose of the organized pilgrimage to Lourdes at Easter of 1971. The founders of the movement were Jean Vanier and Marie-Hélène Mathieu. 
Jean Vanier is also the founder of L'Arche. In the video below he speaks about the beginnings of that, not as a project or movement but as a covenant with two individuals with learning disabilities and their own dreams, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux.
Jean Vanier speaks about the early days of L'Arche and finding God in others
Full post here.

4 Mar 2017

'Jesus, mercy; Mary, help.' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Lent, Year A


The Tempation of Christ, Juan de Flandes
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia)
Gospel Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’
Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”’
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.


Matt Talbot statue, Dublin [Wikipedia]
Full post here.

24 Feb 2017

'I want my life, my character, my actions to speak of me and say that I am following Jesus Christ.' Sunday Reflections, 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Rest on the Flight into Egypt (detail), Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]

But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me.’
Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,yet I will not forget you
(Isaiah 49:14-15).
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 6:24-34 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Edition

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Thursday 2 March is the sixth anniversary of the death of Shahbaz Bhatti, seen with Pope Benedict in the video above during an audience in September 2010. He was assassinated in Islamabad, Pakistan, shortly after leaving his mother's home. Mr Bhatti, a Catholic, was the first Christian to be appointed to the Cabinet in Pakistan and was responsible for minorities. The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for his death.

Full post here.

18 Feb 2017

'But I say to you, Love your enemies . . .' Sunday Reflections, 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Inspiration of St Matthew, Caravaggio
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wale)
Gospel Matthew 5: 38-48 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)


Jesus said to his disciples:
‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.



Columban Fr Rufus Halley (1944 - 28 August 2001)
 
Father Rufus Halley was one year behind me in the Columban seminary in Ireland. We were close friends. He came to the Philippines in 1969, two years before I did. He spent his early years in the country in Tagalog-speaking parishes in an area of the Archdiocese of Manila south of the metropolitan area, now the Diocese of Antipolo. He was fluent in the language. He began to feel a clear call from God to leave the security of working in an area overwhelmingly Christian and mostly Catholic to a part of Mindanao where Columbans had worked for many years that is overwhelmingly Muslim, the Prelature of Marawi. There he became fluent in two more Filipino languages, Meranao, spoken by the majority of Muslims in the area, and Cebuano, spoken by most of the Christians.

Full post here.

9 Feb 2017

'But I say to you . . .' Sunday Reflections, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Young Jew as Christ, Rembrandt
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales)
Gospel Matthew 5: 17-37 [20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37] (NRSV,Catholic Edi)
For the shorter reading everything in [square brackets] may be omitted.


Jesus said to his disciples:
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement;
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
‘Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’


Entrance Antiphon Antiphona ad introitum

Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me.
Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in locum refugii, ut salvem me facias.
For your are my rock, my stronghold!
Quoniam firmamentum meum et refugium meum es tu,
Lead me, guide me, for the sake of your name.
et propter nomen tuum dux mihi eris, et enutries me.


The Marriage at Cana,
Martin de Vos
More than thirty-five years ago I spent part of a summer working in a parish near New York City. One day when I was on duty I answered the phone. The man calling gave me his name, which I wrote down. He told me he was living in an irregular situation, having been divorced from his wife. He was asking what the Church could do for him in that situation. I tried to tell him about programmes that the Church had in the diocese for Catholics who were divorced and re-married civilly or living with someone else. The latter situation wasn't nearly as common then as it is now

Full post here.

2 Feb 2017

'Let your light shine before others' Sunday Reflections, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

A View of Toledo, El Greco
'A city built on a hill cannot be hidden' (Mt 5:14)


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Gospel Matthew 5:13-16 (NRSV

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’
Childhood of Christ, Gerrit van Honthorst 
'Let your light shine before others . . .' (Mt 5:16).

One of the darkest periods in the history of the world was 1939 to 1945 when much of the world was at war. At the heart of the darkness was Nazi Germany, where freedom had been almost entirely suppressed. But not quite. Between June 1942 and February 1943 a small group of students at the University of Munich with their philosophy professor Kurt Huber formed The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group working against Hitler and the Nazi regime. 

Sophie Scholl
(9 May 1921 - 22 February 1943) [Wikipedia
Full post here.

27 Jan 2017

'Blessed are . . .' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Sermon on the Mountain, Károly Ferenczy
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible
Gospel Matthew 4:12-23 [or 12-17] (NRSV,Catholic Ed)


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.'



Isenheim Altarpiece (First View), Matthias Grünewald[Web Gallery of Art]

In the video below Fr Robert Barron (now Bishop Barron, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) offers a reflection on the Beatitudes based on St Thomas Aquinas and the painting of the Crucifixion by Matthias Grünewald, part of the Isenheim Altarpiece (First View).

Full post here.

19 Jan 2017

'The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light . . .' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A



Neubrandenburg, Caspar David Friedrich 

The people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death 
light has dawned (Matthew 4:16, NRSVCE).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 4:12-23 [or 12-17] (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
[As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.]

Missa Brevis in G Major, Kyrie, Mozart
Lumen Choir, conducted by Jooyoung Kim
'Once upon a time', 5th Annual Concert (1 December 2012)
Moonjeong-dong Catholic Church, Seoul, South Korea
Last Sunday here in the Philippines was the the Feast of the Santo Niño (Holy Child). The gospel was Matthew 18:1-5, 10 in which Jesus tells us Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I saw his words come to life at the end of Mass in Holy Family Home for Girls here in Bacolod City where I live.

In January 2014 four new girls came to the home. One, whom I'll call 'Josie', was aged 14 and profoundly deaf. Her main way of communicating was Sign Language. The Sisters, staff and some of the girls began to learn some Sign Language. The other three new girls included two aged ten and one aged six.
At the end of Mass I saw 'Josie' sitting and quietly crying. I wasn't quite sure why. One of the ten-year-old new girls, rather small for her age but very lively and whom I'll call 'Grace', went over to 'Josie' and put her arms around her to comfort her. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The majority of the girls in Holy Family Home have had horrific experiences, in most cases within their own family circle. They truly have sat in darkness.
['Josie' was able to go home last year. We discovered that she had some hearing and, with hearing aids, she has improved her speech and hearing considerably. The other three girls are still at Holy Family Home]

I will celebrate Mass again in Holy Family Home on Monday evening to mark the feast of St Agnes, 21 January. Each year in the Home we combine a celebration of St Agnes the Martyr (c.291 - c.304), patron saint of chastity, of young girls and of rape victims, and Blessed Laura Vicuña (1891 - 1904), a patron of abuse victims who offered her life for the conversion of her mother and whose feast day is 22 January. (We moved the celebration this year to 23 January for liturgical reasons).
Each year I tell the girls that the life of Blessed Laura, whose father died when she was young, was so like their own and that she became a saint in the midst of and through her sufferings, especially the cruelty of her stepfather who wasn't married to her mother. Despite her young age she had the maturity, generosity and holiness to offer her life so that her mother would return to the Lord. She told this to her mother when she was dying. It was the physical abuse of her stepfather that led to her death. Laura's prayers were answered


Blessed Laura Vicuña aged 10

Laura understood the stark reality of the words of Jesus in today's gospel: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. She also understood the power of God's mercy. Repentance and God's mercy are central to the preaching and teaching of Pope Francis. Since Blessed Laura, born in Santiago, Chile, and died in Argentina he must be familiar with her life that embodied what he has spoken about so many times.

Full post here.

14 Jan 2017

'I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Madonna and Child with the Lamb of God, Cesare da Sesto
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales,)
Gospel John 1:29-34 (NRSV)

The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’

Sunday Reflections for the Feast of the Santo Niño (Philippines) are here.

San Alfonso de Liguori Parish, Rome, 6 January 2014.
Some wonderful photos of Pope Francis with the lamb here.

My friend Frances Molloy in England, founder and project manager of Pastoral Care Project, a ministry in the Archdiocese of Birmingham to persons with dementia and to their carers, told me a beautiful story in an email just after Christmas:

Behold . . . My granddaughter aged 4 was playing with 'Jesus' family', as they are known to her, our hand-knitted nativity set, and she noticed the empty manger. A little later she came to me and said, 'Grandma, I've put the lamb in the manger'. Quite a moment . . .

The Lamb of God is one of the names of Jesus, pointing towards his sacrificial death on Calvary. St John the Baptist, who introduces Jesus to us with the words Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! was to be martyred not long afterwards. The purpose of the mission of St John the Baptist was that he [Jesus] might be revealed to Israel. This is the mission to which each of us is called.

In his letter to the ten new cardinals he announced in January 2014 Francis writes: And, although this may appear paradoxical, the ability to look further and to love more universally with greater intensity may be acquired only by following the same path of the Lord: the path of self-effacement and humility, taking on the role of a servant.

St John the Baptist followed that path: After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me. His mission was to lead people towards Jesus. One of the ten new cardinals was Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo OMI of Cotabato where just more than half of the 12,000,000 plus people are Catholics. Most of the others are Muslims.

Full post here.

6 Jan 2017

'When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.' Sunday Reflections. The Epiphany


The Adoration of the MagiVelázquez [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings for the Solemnity of the Epiphany

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

The readings above are used both at the Vigil Mass and at the Mass during the Day. Each Mass has its own set of prayers and antiphons.

Correction

In countries where the Epiphany is observed as a Holyday of Obligation on 6 January, eg, Ireland, the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated, not the Mass of the Second Sunday after the Nativity as I had posted earlier. Here is the link to the readings for Year A. 

Readings (Jerusalem Bible)

Alleluia and Gospel for the Epiphany


Alleluia, alleluia!
Vidimus stellam eius in Oriente,
We have seen his star in the East,
et venimus cum muneribus adorare Dominum.
and have come with gifts to adore the Lord.
Alleluia, alleluia!

The same text (cf. Matthew 2:2), without 'Alleluia, alleluia,' is used as the Communion Antiphon at the Mass during the Day.


In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.”’
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Adoration of the MagiFilippino Lippi [Web Gallery of Art]

While based in Britain from 2000 till 2002 I was able to spend Christmas with my brother and his family in Dublin, a short flight from England, in 2000 and 2001. During the holiday in 2001 I saw a documentary on RTÉ, Ireland's national broadcasting service, about Filipino nurses in Ireland. These began to arrive in 2000, initially at the invitation of the Irish government to work in government hospitals. Very quickly there was an 'invasion' of Filipino nurses and carers, now to be found in hospitals and nursing homes in every part of the country. 

One of the nurses interviewed told how many Filipinos, knowing that the Irish celebrate Christmas on the 25th, unlike the Philippines where the culmination of the feast is on the night of the 24th, offered to work on Christmas Day so that their Irish companions could be with their families. This also helped to dull the pain of being away from their own families.

Continue here.

1 Jan 2017

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. New Year's Day. World Day of Peace. Sunday Reflections


Altar of Our Lady, Church of St Nicholas, Überlingen, Germany, Jörg Zurn 

Gospel Luke 2:16-21 (NRSV, Catholic Ed

The shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.


The Adoration of the Name of Jesus, El Greco

At the moment I am re-reading Finola Kennedy's Frank Duff: A Life Story published by Burns and Oates in 2011. Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary on 7 September 1921, though for a very long time he did not consider himself the founder. The biographer relates how a friend in the Vincent de Paul Society in Dublin, Vincent Kelly, introduced him to St Louis Marie de Montfort's Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, usually referred to as True Devotionor True Devotion to Mary. Though Frank Duff was almost repelled initially by this book - it seemed to him 'to border on the absurd' - he read it five or six times, encouraged by another friend in the Vincent de Paul Society, Tom Fallon. 

Continue here.

23 Dec 2016

'But for a dream, born in a herdsman's shed, And for the secret Scripture of the poor.' Sunday Reflections, Christmas Day


Adoration of the Shepherds- Jacopo Bassano 

What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people (John 1:4).
The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord has four different Mass formularies, each with its own prayer and readings. Any of the four fulfills our obligation to attend Mass. These are:
Vigil Mass, celebrated 'either before or after First Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Nativity'; that means starting between 5pm and 7pm.

Mass During the Night, known before as 'Midnight Mass'. In many parts of the world it does begin at midnight but here in the Philippines since the 1980s it begins earlier, usually at 8:30pm or 9pm.
Mass at Dawn, Mass During the Day.

When you click on 'Readings' below from the New American Bible you will find links to the readings for each of the four Masses. The readings from the Jerusalem Bible for the four Masses are all on one page.
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England,Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel (Mass During the Day) John 1:1-18 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
John 1:1-4

This is the Sign Language I am familiar with in the Philippines.


The Census at Bethlehem (detail) Pieter Bruegel the Elder
This was the moment when even energetic Romans Could find nothing better to do Than counting heads in remote provinces.
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17 Dec 2016

'St Joseph' in Manila. Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Advent, Year A


The Dream of St Joseph, Georges de la Tour 

Gospel Matthew 3:1-12 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’,which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.
Responsorial Psalm [NAB Lectionary]
In December 2002 I met a man in Manila, Mang Pepe, and his daughter Ligaya whose story reminded me so much of that of Joseph and Jesus in today's gospel. The story of Mang Pepe and Ligaya is told here by a Columban lay missionary from Korea, Columba Chang, who worked for many years in the Manila area and whose ministry at the time she wrote this story was to families affected by HIV/AIDS. The names used aren't their real names. 'Pepe' is a nickname for a man named Jose or Joseph. 'Mang' is a Tagalog term of respect for a man older than oneself. 'Aling' is the equivalent term for a woman. The name 'Ligaya' means 'Joy'. The story was first published, as I recall, in a newsletter of Caritas Manila and I used it in the November-December 2003 issue of MISYON, the Columban magazine in the Philippines that I edit. I republished it in the November-December 2015 issue of the magazine, now called MISYONonline.com. I think it is a story worth telling over and over again. Columba is now based in Myanmar as a member of a small team of Columban Lay Missionaries there. I have updated the introduction.


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8 Dec 2016

‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: . . . the deaf hear . . .' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A

St John the Baptist in Prison Juan Fernández de Navarrete
Gospel Matthew 3:1-12 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Father Joseph Coyle was a Columban priest from Derry, Northern Ireland. He died in the Philippines on 18 December 1991, aged 54, and is buried in a Catholic cemetery here in Bacolod City where I live. Father Joe and I weren't related - my Coyle ancestors moved centuries ago from the north-west of Ireland, where the surname originated, to Rush, a fishing village north of Dublin city - but we felt a sense of kinship. He was ordained on 21 December 1961 during my first year in the Columban seminary in Ireland.
Fr Joseph Coyle
(28 February 1937 - 18 December 1991)    Continue here.

26 Nov 2016

'One will be taken and one will be left.' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A


Gospel Matt 24:37- 44 NRSV, Cath.Ed

Jesus said to his disciples: For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
One will be taken and one will be left- Matthew 24:40
In February 2000 a friend of mine, Daisy, an engineer who teaches at Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro, was traveling home to Ozamiz City for the weekend. This involved a journey of about three or four hours by road to Mukas, Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte, where the bus then went on board a ferry for the 20-minute trip across Panguil Bay to Ozamiz City. While waiting for the bus to take the next ferry from Mukas Daisy got off and bought some crabs, a favourite with Filipinos.
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Our Lady: Queen of Ireland

I'm a week late in sharing this, but I always love learning new Irish things, and I thought you might too! My March column at Catho...