Living the Word this week: 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, it can be difficult to recall the Gospel from Sunday.
But if we can’t remember it it can not feed us, and nourishment is exactly what the Good News is to be for us.
Here are some reflective questions to enable you to chew over the message held in the Gospel.
After all we need the Gospel to sustain us daily not just on Sunday, for the Good News and Eucharist are both food for the journey.
Where does your life give praise to the Lord of heaven and earth?
What burdens are you able to surrender to the Lord?
What does it mean for you to accept the Lord’s yoke, even if it is easy and light?
Children
The Gospel tells us that it is to you that the Father reveals things.
What has God shown to you?
What would you ask Jesus to teach you?
Families
What can you learn about the Kingdom from your children?
The holidays are almost here. How can you find time to answer the invitation to Come to the Lord and rest together to refresh your faith?
Prayer
Dear Lord,
no one can carry two yokes.
To take up Your’s we must put our own yoke down:
a yoke that is heavy, burdensome, that restrains us and keeps us slaves.
And that needs us to come to You with a childlike trust.
Then it is possible to put down our burdens, surrender ourselves to You, knowing You only want our best.
Harnessing our will to Yours may we learn from You how to live as You intend.
Amen.
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Have a sated and blessed week.

Christ the King

Surprisingly I love this Feast! It is surprising because I am a feminist and in no way a Royalist. It also goes against my Irish roots and my liberal tendencies.

But perhaps it is because of the line that ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’ that I can so easily buy into the image.

Christ as King is so counter to the world’s idea of Royalty that the sense of other, the rule breaker, the questioner, inside of me can rejoice.

I also have a deep seated need to belong, to be known, to be loved in my entirety, which it is not something to be shouted from the rooftops in today’s society: a society that prides itself on privacy and independence, and values individuality most highly.  This was brought in to sharp relief this week at work.

Over the last week my work has enabled me to connect with just under 90 families as the Sacramental preparation programmes all begin.

For many of these families an extra ‘activity'(which is often how catechesis is viewed) causes a dilemma: what to give up, how to make room in an already overcrowded schedule. Our families buy into the ‘having it all’ ideology. The parents’ want their children to ‘belong’ to all forms of clubs and groups. They gladly pay into the demands and constraints that this brings in belief that these activities will enable their children to be all they can be. Yet the preparation for the Sacraments of Communion and Confirmation, which lead to full initiation into being part of the family of God, do not hold the same weight in decision making. Many of these parents implicitly question the need for catechesis…why so many sessions? Do we have to go to all of them? How many can we miss? My child can’t do that evening, can you move the sessions?

The understanding that of all the activities we could sign our children up for, nothing is more essential than Catechesis is lost. Catechesis reminds us that it is through Christ that we become the fullness of who we are called to be. That we are nothing if we do not depend on the Lord, on the God who created us. We are to centre our life on Christ our King. And therein lies the rub.

Christ the King Tapestry

Naming Christ as my King means that I willingly everyday offer my life for Him. As His citizen I answer the call to work for His Kingdom: to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned. And when I fail to get it right being able to claim Christ as King means I can bow before the One who loves me. One, who as King does not force my allegiance through fear or coercion, but to whom I can give willingly my respect and reverence simply because of all that He has done for me, as a response to the way that I am loved, because I belong.

Catechesis does not yield worldly benefits which is difficult to justify to busy parents who want the best for their children. The catechist, modelling Jesus can not force attendance. Catechists desire the community to want to come closer to the Lord. But like Jesus, sometimes we have to watch as they walk away, as they are not ready to fully choose Christ, to allow Him to answer the need to belong to Him.

As catechists there is much work to be done because of course Christ is not MY King but the Universal King. We do not worship in isolation. As the Universal King, we are reminded that we are all children of God and there is nothing or no one that does not belong to Him. After the events of last week in Beirut, Kenya, Paris and Syria it is easy to encompass the victims into that idea.

Harder to see that those instigating the attacks are also loved by God, known to Him in their entirety, just as we are.

 

P.S.

I am listening to the radio as I write and the singer sings…

‘And I don’t want the world to see me,

Because I don’t think that they’d understand.

But when everything seems to be broken

I just want you to know wh0 I am’

Add to fade…

(Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls)

Living the Word
  • Where does Christ’s kingship make a difference to you this week?
  • What, for you, is the reason Jesus was handed over to Pilot?
  • Where does your life ‘testify to the truth’ this week?
For Children
  • Jesus says that His Kingdom is not of this world. What do you imagine His Kingdom to be like?
  • How might you show reverence to Christ your King this week?
For Families
  • When we pray the Our Father we pray for Christ’s Kingdom to become a reality on earth. What does that mean to you?
  • If you choose not to bow down before the Lord – what or who has your allegiance?
 

‘It is absolute fidelity to the principle defined in his own preaching that condemns Jesus. There is no other cause for his death than the love of one’s neighbour lived to the very end.’ (Rene Girard, Theologian)

Prayer

Our Father, Who art in heaven…

 

 

Your will…

And again this week the Lord asks us what we would like Him to do for us.

So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Bartimaeus

If we are in any doubt that the Lord our God has only our bests interests at heart this should quell them. God does not look down from on high, deciding for us what is best and intervening in our lives. Rather God waits until we come and articulate our needs.

God waits.

God the Awesome, God the Ineffable, God the Immanent, God Who is and was and is to come, God the Uncreated Creator waits for us, waits for our approach, waits for us to realise our dependence. This God we can be sure will listen to us while we pour out our hearts, stand in all vulnerability and call on the Lord to come to our aid. For as we are told in the response to this week’s psalm ‘The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.’

Some friends and I have been praying the Novena to St Jude

Many of us know St Jude as the patron Saint of Hopeless cases.

Yet this novena was called St Jude the Saint who does the impossible and indeed I was invited to pray it for someone whose prayers are for the seemingly impossible. But she is not without hope and neither are our prayers so I rejoiced in this seemingly insignificant change of name.

Today is day 3 (Yes I know today is day 4!) and part of the prayer says

Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is painful and difficult for me.Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is painful and difficult for me.

I was struck by the connection of God’s will and Jesus asking us for the last 2 weeks what we want from Him. Of course you and I know that we pray for God’s will not ours, but somehow there was a newness to this knowledge when I was at prayer this morning. There was a deeper awareness that the Lord really wants to grant our prayers for us.

Praying for God’s will, not mine, makes the praying easier. I do not need to feel unworthy if my prayer is answered in a way that I do not want (for all prayer is answered) but I can accept that the lord knows best and only works from love.

I do not believe in an interventionist God. I do believe in a God who only wants the very best for us, that we are called to be the best we can be, and that when we pray to align our will with that of the One who loves us our prayers will be answered. This of course requires us to understand, to see, that we need to trust the Lord our God in all things. To have faith that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves.

Which is perhaps why Jesus answers Bartimaeus’ prayer but not that of James and John!

Living the Word
  • Where will you cry out to the Lord this week?
  • And again Jesus asks ‘What do you want me to do for you?’. How do you answer Him this week?
  • What is the blindness in you that needs the ‘Master’s’ healing touch this week?
Living the Word for Children
  • If Jesus asked you what you would like Him to do for you, what would you say?
  • How will you follow the Lord this week?
Living the Word for Families
  • ‘…your faith has saved you’, how does knowing you are saved change the way you live this week?
Prayer
Master,
Son of David, have pity on us.
Help us to see more clearly and follow you more nearly this week.
Amen

Living the Word
  • Where will you cry out to the Lord this week?
  • And again Jesus asks ‘What do you want me to do for you?’. How do you answer Him this week?
  • What is the blindness in you that needs the ‘Master’s’ healing touch this week?
Living the Word for Children
  • If Jesus asked you what you would like Him to do for you, what would you say?
  • How will you follow the Lord this week?
Living the Word for Families
  • ‘…your faith has saved you’, how does knowing you are saved change the way you live this week?
Prayer
Teacher,
Son of David,
have pity on us.
Help us to see more clearly and follow you more nearly this week.
Amen

The invitiation

This week the Church offers us an invitation to love. We are invited to enter into the love of the Trinity ever more deeply, and to experience the love God has for us.

6 OT Trinity Rublev

Lent is not about punishment, the Lord knows life is hard enough! Lent is a space in the year for us to focus consciously on our relationship with the One who calls us beloved. Lent is a place where we can go to look at our lives in the light of this abundant, unconditional Love. For some of us, or perhaps most of us, to accept that invitation will not be without some pain. To reflect on any relationship and discover that it is lacking is painful.

Lent is a time of transformation. When we see where things could be better; in us, in the way we love, in the way we live, another invitation is given. We are invited to reconfigure our lives, to repent, to turn back to the Living Lord who waits for us like the Father in the story of the Prodigal son. Every moment, God watches and waits for us, waits for us to realise that things are not right, to want to return. When we do He rushes to meet us and enfolds us in a welcome embrace. We only have to make the first step, He does the rest.

Lent is about forgiveness. It strengthens the transformation. that begins when we want to repent.

If Lent is the invitation, then it is to Easter that we are invited and there are three ways to prepare for the Feast: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

These pillars of Lent are also not about punishment but are aides that enable us to see where changes need to made to our lives. I have lost count of the many times I mean to send a donation various charities and never seem to get around to it. Lent affords me the opportunity to focus on the why of that inability and to put a practice in place that might change it. Some research has shown that for a new habit to become embedded takes 6 weeks.

Spending time in prayer, possibly discovering a new way to pray, a new way to listen and talk with the Lord is an exciting prospect. As Keirkergaard says, we pray not to change God but to change ourselves. And ultimately that is what Lent does, it changes us.

Fasting is more that just going without, it can be a way of seeking solidarity, even for a short while, with our sisters and brothers for whom fasting is a way of life not a choice. It can be a way of refocusing on what is more important – our family, our faith, our community. It is also a way of exercising self control. Self control, rather than being something that binds us, can be a way of cutting the ties to the things that enslave us and living in freedom when its motivation is love.

Lent invites us to spend time renewing and deepening our relationship with the Triune God. Say YES to the invitation, spend time in prayer, fast and give to those in need so that we can participate in the life of Christ, transforming us so that we may ‘turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”.

Happy Lent!

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Anna the Prophetess

Hello,

This is my first blog post and I have been putting it off since before Christmas. During that time I have questioned whether I even want to be here, who will read it, what is the point and all those other questions you, the blogging community, have undoubtedly asked before you wrote your first blog.
This morning I was determined to start, so I sorted my home page, chose the picture, the colour, the headers and the design. When all was ready I made some bread, cleaned the cooker and washed up.

So much for starting after morning prayer! Now here I am, no more prevaricating or procrastinating.

What better day to begin a blog on Faith, Family & Feminism when the Gospel tells us the story of Anna, one of the women to be named and lauded by Luke. An elderly prophetess, who fasted and prayed and served God in the Temple.

Praying the Gospel this morning I was struck with her perseverance. She obviously had no family to look after her, hence her time in the Temple, no grandchildren to mind, to sing or tell stories to. In many ways, from the outside an unfulfilled life. A widow woman left to wither away in the Temple. Yet she knew there was more, she believed that there was a reason to go about her daily routine, praying and fasting.

How different Anna and I are! The story doesn’t tell us whether Anna despairs, or wants to give up. Yet if I were Anna I am sure that despair would have overwhelmed me. Even in the writing of this blog, I wanted to give up before I had even begun.  But I keep hearing the word perseverance when I think of Anna, and I know that she too would have had her off days, but she didn’t give up, and Oh! what reward was hers – to be in the right place at the right time, to reveal Christ to those around her.

What a gift, what a Woman.  anna

One reason I have started to blog is that people (ok, my friends) have asked me to. They tell me that I have good things to say, they enjoy my reflections (and ramblings), that they wait for me to post things on Facebook as a way of keeping up to date with what is going on. When I looked back over the type of articles I post I realised that they fell into 3 main areas; faith, family and feminism.  Now if you have come here bypassing the ‘About’ page you might find it useful to pop in there to read what I understand by faith, family & feminism before defining them for me.

And Talitha Kum,  that’s the Living Lord calling me to ‘Stand up’ for what I believe.

I don’t know how often I’ll blog  but hopefully once a week and I would love it if you would pour yourself a cuppa, pull up a chair and journey with me and perhaps even leave a comment or two.