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

14 Dec 2017

'Strange blessings never in Paradise.' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B


St John the Baptist, Donatello [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel John 1:6-8, 19-28 (NRSV, Catholic Ed.)

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.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said,
‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord”’,
as the prophet Isaiah said.Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Mary, Queen of Heaven-Master of the Legend of St Lucy [Web Gallery of Art]
In the Philippines the Misas de Gallo, also known as Simbang Gabi or Aguinaldo Masses, the novena of pre-dawn Masses leading up to Christmas, will begin on Saturday the 16th. For the last 15 years I have celebrated these in the chapel of St Joseph, Espinos Village, Bacolod City. But this year, as I am now based in Ireland, I won't have to get up at 3:30am in order to start Mass at 4:30am. These are votive Masses in honour of our Blessed Mother and in thanksgiving for the gift of our faith. The Spanish word 'Aguinaldo' means 'gift' and in this context refers to the gift of faith.
Continue here.

6 Dec 2017

'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B



St John the Baptist, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings, (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland,)
Gospel Mark 1:1-8 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight”’.
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

Old Road to Auvers, Norbert Goeneutte [Web Gallery of Art]

Charles Kuralt was a reporter with CBS TV in the USA whose On the Roadstories were a regular part of the Evening News for 25 years. These were offbeat stories about real persons and were often uplifting. I remember one in particular from about 1970 when I, then a young priest, was studying in the USA. It featured an elderly man in a small town in one of the Midwestern states. His town was about 10 kms from the next town but in order to go from one to the other you had to travel 20 or 30 kms. The authorities in both towns were unwilling to build a road to connect them.
So this man started to build a road himself, using logs as a foundation, as I recall.

Continue here.

29 Nov 2017

'If this is the end, then I'm ready for it.' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B


Young Jew as Christ, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 13:33-37 (NRSV,CatholicEd .)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’

Liam Whelan (1 April 1935 - 5 February 1958)
If this is the end, then I'm ready for it.
These were the last words of Liam Whelan who died in a plane crash at Munich Airport on 6 February 1958 along with other members of the Manchester United football (soccer) team as they were returning from a match in Belgrade. About seven years ago I learned from a friend named Brendan whom I have known for more than 50 years that, when they were both aged 14 or so, Liam rescued him when he got into difficulties in a swimming pool in their area. And last year I discovered that another friend, who was a classmate of mine for five years in secondary school and for two years in the seminary, also named Liam, that this talented young footballer had been a neighbour of his and that even when he had achieved fame as a professional footballer he would still play knockabout football on the street with the local boys whenever he would come home.
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25 Nov 2017

'Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Sunday Reflections, Christ the King, Year A



The Last Judgement, Michelangelo [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV,CatholicEd)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

St Elizabeth of Hungary, Sándor Liezen-Mayer [Web Gallery of Art]
In November 1974 some members of the Praesidium of the Legion of Mary of which I was spiritual director came to me and told me of two starving children, a brother and sister, that they had come across on home visitation. The Legionaries were students in the college department of what was then Immaculate Conception College, Ozamiz City, where I was chaplain. At the time ICC was run by the Columban Sisters. It is now La Salle University, under the care of the De La Salle Brothers.
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16 Nov 2017

'Enter into the joy of your master.' Sunday Reflections, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Woman Sewing, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (Proverbs 31:13, First Reading)
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 25:14-30 [Shorter form, 14-15, 19-21] (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEd.) 

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. [The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.] After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” [And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”]
Jesse Robredo (27 May 1958 - 18 August 2012) [Wikipedia]

There was real sorrow throughout the Philippines when news broke that the small plane in which Jesse Robredo, Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the administration of President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines had crashed offshore while trying to make and emergency landing on Masbate Island. Secretary Robredo had been on official business in Cebu but wanted to be present at a swimming competition in which his daughter was taking part in their home town, Naga City in the heart of the Bicol Region at the southern end of Luzon. So he hired a small plane to fly from Cebu to Naga City.
Continue here.

8 Nov 2017

'You know neither the day nor the hour.' Sunday Reflections, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Year A


Christ and the Wise Virgins- Mediaeval German Sculptor [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 25:1-13 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.'


In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the panel above your head… Secure your own mask before helping others.
I have heard those words hundreds of times before a flight takes off. I have never experienced having to use one of these masks and I hope that I never will. The others mentioned in the instruction refer to children and persons with disabilities of one kind or another who would need help. But the instruction is clear: Secure your own mask before helping others.
Continue here.

2 Nov 2017

'The greatest among you will be your servant.' Sunday Reflections, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A



Christ as Saviour, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 23:1-12 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEd)

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Apostle St Matthew, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

The Philippine Daily Inquirer carried a a story of extraordinary courage on 28 October: How Scout Ranger commander won hostages' release.
MARAWI CITY—He took off his helmet and bullet-proof vest, laid down his firearm and turned on the megaphone to speak to the Islamic State-inspired gunmen here on Oct. 19.
“I just wanted to get the children, the women and the injured (hostages),” Capt. Jeffrey Buada said through the megaphone.
At the risk of being shot, Buada, commander of the Army’s 15th Scout Ranger Company, slowly walked through the rubble and tried to get near the building, where hungry and thirsty hostages were anxiously waiting to be rescued
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27 Oct 2017

'He brought forth compassion, a loving compassion that embraced the world.' Sunday Reflections, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A




The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]
You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Mt 22:39).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 22:34-40 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEd.)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’


Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan , Archbishop of Seoul (1922 - 2009)
This time three years ago I visited Korea to attend the ordination to the priesthood on 1 November of Fr Lee Jehoon Augustine, a Columban who spent two years working in the Manila area as part of his preparation for the priesthood. He is now serving in Myanmar.

Continue here.

18 Oct 2017

'I die His Majesty's good servant - but God's first.' Sunday Reflections, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


'I die His Majesty's good servant - but God's first.' St Thomas More

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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


Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

A denarius from 44 BC showing the head of Julius Caesar and the goddess Venus [Wikipedia]
In the time of Jesus a denarius was a day's wage for an ordinary working man.

I spent three months in the latter part of 1982 working in a hospital in Minneapolis as a chaplain. I was one of seven doing a 'quarter' of Clinical Pastoral Education. One day I had to go to a bank and got chatting with an employee at the information desk. When he heard I was based in the Philippines he told me that in the previous elections in the USA he had considered, among other things, what impact his vote would have on the lives of Filipinos and others outside the USA.

I was very struck by his attitude. We never got into partisan politics nor did we discuss religion. The man was almost certainly a Christian, probably a Lutheran if he was from Minneapolis or a Catholic if from St Paul, the other 'Twin City'. I saw in him a person reflecting the teaching of Vatican II.

Continue here.

15 Oct 2017

'Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables.' Sunday Reflections, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A




Supper at Emmaus (detail), Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 22:1-14 [22:1-10] (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

[‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’]
Swing made of tyres, East Timor [Wikipedia]

A friend of mine who has four young children and who now lives in California posted on her Facebook that the authorities in some school are removing the swings from its playground because they are 'dangerous' for children. I wonder if the committee in the Vatican who drew up the Lectionary we have been using since 1969 thought that some of the words of Jesus might be 'dangerous' for us since they have given us the option today of leaving out the last four verses of the Gospel [in square brackets above].
Continue here.

5 Oct 2017

'You are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ.' Sunday Reflections, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Virgin of the Grapes, Pierre Mignard [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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

Gospel Matthew 21:33-43 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’

Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.


First Reading, Isaiah 5:1-7 [English Standard Version]



The young Fr Edward Galvin in China
Just over a century ago the young Fr Edward Galvin of the Diocese of Cork, Ireland, was sent by his bishop to work for some years in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, because he had no place to put him. This was common at the time and many young Irish diocesan priests spent their early years on loan to English-speaking dioceses in other countries. While in Brooklyn Father Galvin found himself answering God's call to go to China. This was to lead eventually to the formal founding of the Missionary Society of St Columban, to which I belong, in 1918 with Fr Galvin and Fr John Blowick, another young Irish diocesan priest, as the co-founders. Later Fr Galvin became Bishop of Hanyang, China, and was expelled by the Communist authorities.

Continue here.

29 Sep 2017

'All our love, then, must be fraternal.' Sunday Reflections, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Inspiration of St Matthew, Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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


Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:

‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.’ 


The above scene, at the Coliseum in Rome, comes shortly before the end of the 1983 made-for-TV move, The Scarlet and the Blackwhich tells the true World War II story of Vatican-based Irish priest Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, known as 'The Vatican Pimpernel' and played here by Gregory Peck, and Colonel Herbert Kappler, head of the Gestapo in Rome during the Nazi occupation from September 1943 till June 1944, played by Christopher Plummer. The priest has managed to save the lives of many Allied soldiers and others, getting under the skin of Kappler.

When the German knows that the Allies are about to liberate Rome he sends for the Irishman at night, guaranteeing his safety. 
The Wikipedia article on the movie tells us what happens after their exchange of 'pleasantries' above. 


Full post here.

22 Sep 2017

'Or are you envious because I am generous?' Sunday Reflections, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Red Vineyard, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales)
Gospel Matthew 20:1-16a (NRSV,CatholicEdition)

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’
Vineyards with a View of Auvers, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

I spent a grace-filled year in Toronto in 1981-82 doing a sabbatical at Regis College, a Jesuit school. The programme I was in was for persons with pastoral experience. Nearly all of us were priests or religious brothers and sisters, with one or two laypersons. One of the graces of that year was making new friends.

Five or six of us men used to go for an hour's brisk walk almost every night after supper. One of them was Brother Luke Pearson FMS, a member of the Marist Brothers of the Schools, from New Jersey whose father was a Scottish Presbyterian and his mother an Irish Catholic. Brother Luke identified with his mother in terms of his faith but considered himself Scottish rather than Irish, even though he was American.
Full post here.

15 Sep 2017

'How often should I forgive?' Sunday Reflections, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A



St Peter in Penitence, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland)
Gospel Matthew 18:21-35 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

Then Peter came and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

‘For this reason, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger, his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

The Misa Criolla, by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramírez (1921-2010), is a Mass for tenor, chorus, and orchestra, is based on folk genres such as chacarera, carnavalito and estilo pampeano, with Andean influences and instruments. It is also one of the first Masses to be composed in a modern language. Ramírez wrote the piece in 1963-1964. In Latin America 'Kyrie eleison', is translated as 'Señor, ten piedad de nosotros', 'Lord, have mercy on us', whereas in Spain it is 'Señor, ten piedad', 'Lord, have mercy'. Here it is sung by Los Frontizeros and the choir of San Isidro Cathedral, Buenos Aires. I do not know to what extent the Misa Criolla has been used in worship, as distinct from concert performances.


Fr Werenfried van Straaten OPraem [Wikipedia]
Today's gospel brings us in touch with what is perhaps its most difficult demand: to forgive. El Greco's painting shows us St Peter praying with hope and trust in God's merciful and forgiving love. The setting by Ariel Ramírez of the Kyrie expresses the same thing.

Full post here.

8 Sep 2017

'Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.' Sunday Reflections, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


Prayer before a Meal, Adriaen Jansz van Ostade[Web Gallery

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 18:15-20 (NRSV, CatholicEdition)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’


Today's gospel looks at forgiveness, mainly from the point of view of helping someone to acknowledge a wrongdoing and thereby asking for and receiving forgiveness. I often think about a Christian Brother who taught me in Dublin and one incident involving him that I witnessed and another I heard about years later. I'll simply copy from a previous post, with one or two slight changes.
Full post here.

1 Sep 2017

'For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?' Sunday Reflections, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Repentant Peter, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

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


From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.
Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales? [3:36 - 4:15]

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? (Matthew 16:26, RSVCE)

For Readings and Reflections for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A,  click on the following: 

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

25 Aug 2017

'Following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Apostle Peter in Prison, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 16:13-20 (NRSV,Catholic Ed) 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Pope Benedict XVI
World Youth Day Madrid 2011 [Wikipedia]
Continue here.

17 Aug 2017

'Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Canaanite Woman, 
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry [Wikipedia]


For Readings and Reflections for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A,  click on the following: 



Sunday Reflections for this Sunday three years ago links the situation of the Canaanite woman in the gospel with the situation of Christians in war-torn Iraq and Syria. The video above features the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Qaraqosh, near Mosul, after it was liberated from ISIS last October.

The vast majority of Catholics in Iraq and Syria belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church and Syrian Catholic Church. There are more than twenty Eastern Catholic Churches, though the vast majority of Catholics worldwide are Roman (or Latin) Catholics. All are equally Catholic and all are in full communion with Rome. Archbishop Mouche (also spelled Moshe), belongs to the Syrian Catholic Church.

May we continue to pray for the Church in Iraq and Syria with the persistent faith of the Canaanite woman in today's gospel.

I invite all to pray that Iraq may find peace, unity, and prosperity in reconciliation and in harmony among its different ethnic and religious components. (Pope Francis, 29 March 2017).

California Fires, 2017

The good news is that only a small fraction of California is on fire or incinerated. The bad news is that this year's California wildf...