Mainly just the ‘Reflection Points’ this week as I’m still pondering why commenting in any way on this passage makes me so uncomfortable when I haven’t killed nor lusted after anyone!
Perhaps it’s because I know it’s a case of there but for the grace of God?
It might seem that the Commandments are out of touch with our world, a bit old fashioned or unrealistic.
How does this Gospel leave you feeling?
What is the reality of the Commandments in your life?
When does your ‘yes mean yes and your no mean no’?
‘And you have heard it said’ –
What are the things your parents or teachers tell you over and over again?
Why do you think that is?
(Clue: it might not be about listening)
Jesus unpacks the Commandments in today’s Gospel. How might this help you keep them?
As a family which one might you chose to work on?
Lord Jesus Christ,
These Commandments, really?
They seem impossible: never get angry; shield our eyes from each other; stand by our word, our yes meaning yes and no meaning no!
Help us to move beyond the letter on the law, so that we might see where the breaking of Your Commandments hurt others.
Fill us with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to seek Your loving forgiveness and the strength to keep Your Commandments.
And I have used salt and light creatively to highlight or underline the important points in many a sacramental preparation session.
Our understanding of the importance and value of salt and light may have changed form the time of Jesus but still hold essential lessons for how we are to be disciples.
Which of salt’s many properties are you being invited to use to bring forth the Kingdom?
Where are you tempted to hide the light of your faith this week?
How do your good deeds glorify God this week?
How much do you know about salt?
How many of the different uses of salt can you name?
Why do you think Jesus uses salt and light as metaphors for how we are to be His disciples?
God never forces but always invites us. Our faith involves choice, where can you choose to be salt or light to those you meet?
Together can you choose one of Isaiah’s instructions to practice being salt or light?
Hearing the same story from different writers is always illuminating as we can see from this week’s account from John’s Gospel of the baptism of Jesus.
Even after reading, praying and rereading this account in preparation for the entry to the parish newsletter, I was still taken aback by the first two words proclaimed by our priest:
‘Seeing Jesus…’ my concentration lost and my mind quickly jumping from thought to thought, I tried to bring myself back to the present and catch up with the words of the Gospel.
‘I did not know Him…’ whoa, what? My mind took off again – but you saw Him, He is your cousin, you leapt in the womb at the Visitation, you know He is greater than you, that He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. You claim you are not worthy to carry His sandals and yet you do not know Him?
Throughout the rest of Mass these two phrases began to merge together in a way that they had not previously, despite all my working with the text during the week.
How often do I see Jesus in my day? He is there of course in every encounter, every person, every tweeter and face book poster. Yet how easy it is to forget, to my shame it is often not His presence that influences the way I respond to others.
It is easier for me to recognise Jesus in the homeless man that sits outside my local supermarket or those I say hello to on my walk to the station. It is easier to see Jesus in the charity appeals for the poor, the refugee, the sick and the prisoner.
But in all honesty, it is more difficult to remember to see Jesus in those who I know and know well and although I have no idea why it might have something to do with familiarity and sameness. Most of us are friends with those who hold similar values and ideas as ourselves. The Jesus I once saw in them has become comfortable and no longer challenges me to go deeper. Might it be that for me familiarity really has bred contempt?
John the Baptist saw Jesus but also declared ‘I do not know Him’. The more I ponder these words, the more I realise the truth of them. I too see Jesus yet do I know him? Of course one can never fully know the second person of the Trinity, the son of God fully human and fully Divine while on earth. But that must not prevent me from getting to know Him and recognise Him as our personal Lord and Saviour. He calls us into relationship, and we all know that no nourishing relationship is static.
The more I believe I know Jesus, the less I realise I know Him, and that, of course, is the reality of Mystery.
I want to rekindle my desire for the Lord, to want to know Him more. And for that I need to sharpen my focus to better see Jesus, to spend time with Scripture to better know Jesus, and pray (as I can not as I can’t) to better deepen my relationship with Jesus.
Twice we hear John the Baptist say ‘I did not know Him …’ Where are you surprised by what you know and do not know about Jesus? How does this enable you to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ? Where are you aware of the presence of the Spirit at work in your life this week?
For Children What do you know about your friends? How do you get to know them? Do you ever think of Jesus as your friend? How can you get to know Him better this week?
For Families Today is Peace Sunday. Find out about Pax Christi and see if there is any way you can become involved in their work http://paxchristi.org.uk
In the need for transparency I feel I mush declare an interest.
This passage from Isaiah is is one of my favourites. In fact I would go further, I’ve never met a passage of Isaiah I didn’t like.
Today’s passage speaks of such hope, a hope that only God can fulfil.
It paints an image that is almost impossible to imagine. Predators living peaceably with their prey led by a little child. This change will not effect just one hunter and hunted but all of nature will be at peace. The change does not always lie with the powerful predator: it is at the lamb’s invitation that the wolf becomes a guest. It is the one that has the most to lose that initiates change.
When filled with the gifts of the Spirit we too can take courageous changes. Changes that are necessary for everyone to thrive, that leaves no one isolated, hungry, thirsty, cold or homeless in a peaceful world. A world that when stewarded well provides more than enough for all.
Knowing that we can claim Abraham as our father is to acknowledge that we hold a place of privilege. That privilege must not be taken for granted but used responsibly to bring about the Kingdom. A Kingdom that is full of surprises, that makes the impossible possible, where repentance is not fearful but full of joy and leads to the production of good fruit that nourishes all.
How do you feel when you hear this life changing call to repentance?
What good fruit will you produce as evidence of your repentance?
What difference is being baptised with the Holy Spirit make to you?
Can you draw a picture of John the Baptist from the description in the Gospel?
What do you do to show you are sorry?
Why are we baptised with the Holy Spirit?
How are you going to use Advent to prepare for the way of the Lord?
What does this Gospel tell you about how to be sorry?
Why not accept the invitation to the Sacrament of Reconciliation by going to your parish service together and maybe celebrating afterwards?
that the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon us.
Gifts for our thoughts: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding;
Gifts for our actions: a spirit of counsel and of strength;
Gifts for our worship: a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD;
with these gifts that blow through our lives
May we be filled with delight
to bring Your justice and peace to our troubled world.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
It’s been a while, I know, but I hope I’m still welcome.
This year the Church in England and Wales have been asked to focus on the Scriptures.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has called this initiative ‘God Who Speaks’. http://www.cbcew.org.uk/
This focus has encouraged me to return once more to share my thoughts and reflections on the Sunday Gospel.
Sometimes the reflections might come in the form of questions, or ideas for action, sometimes in a story form, while others might be examples of my lived experience.
All will come with a prayer and will I hope invite us to Weave the Word in to our daily lives.
I’d love to know how you are using these reflections, especially if you are sharing them with family, groups of friends, in a parish or school setting so please drop me a comment or two and of course if you could reference me too that would be wonderful.