Weaving the Word – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time A

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?

Reflection Points
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’?

Children
‘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)

Family
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?

Prayer
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.
Amen

Weaving the Word: 2nd Sunday Advent Yr A

https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/the-god-who-speaks/

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.

hope-painting-300x234 Balidon Methodist Church

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.

PeaceableKingdom-John-August-Swanson

http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/default.cfm/PID=1.2.9-2.html

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.

 

Reflection points…
 
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?
 
 
With Children
 
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?
 
 
With Families
 
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?
 
Prayer
 
Incarnate God
You promise 
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.
Amen
 
dandelions-wind-holy-spirit-e1362618764957
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

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.
Image result for yoke
Have a sated and blessed week.

Living the Word in the 12th Week of Ordinary Time

Living the Word this week…
In the light of recent events how do you respond to Jesus’ words?

What are you being invited to speak in the light and proclaim from the housetops?

How will you acknowledge Christ to those you encounter?

Children
How does it feel to know that God knows you so well that He knows every hair on your head?
Related image
You are special to God like no one else. How does this help you to love yourself?
How might you talk to your friends about Jesus?
Family
We all have secrets, skeletons in the cupboard, what drives that secrecy?
Can you bring them before the Lord responding to the invitation to ‘Fear no one’?
How might you rejoice in how much you are loved and known by the Lord?
Prayer inspired by Psalm 130 adapted from Christian Aid.

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear our voices!
Above the sound of terror and the weeping of those bereaved,
hear our earnest prayers!
We look on in horror at children killed, homes and schools hit,
smoking rubble.

We listen in fear to voices speaking defiance,
vowing revenge, claiming violence as a solution.
We mourn with
all who have lost loved ones,
all who have everything,
all who will lie down in fear this night.

We wait for the Lord, our souls wait,
and only in the Prince of Peace can we hope;
our souls wait for the Lord,
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch in fear for what destruction the morning’s light will show.

May the horrors of these days give fresh determination to the peacemakers.
And may we see conflict here no more. Amen

Image result for grenfell tower

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…

 

 

The invitiation

When I was younger, much younger, the journey from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday took forever.

Now Lent is here in the blink of an eye and even my adult children notice we arrive with wharp speed.

Incase you missed it ladt time here’s an earlier post for Lent.

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!

images

Gearing up for Epiphany

Epiphany is my favourite of the Christmas Feasts. So much so that the kids and I all have a set of Kings and camel to move around the room throughout the 12 days arriving on the 6th of January.

Or at least that was the theory. You know how these things go… the idea of making memories, each child choosing their set of Kings to accompany the ones that come with the Crib, re-enacting their journey in Matthew’s Gospel, moving the Shepherds and sheep on to a nearby shelf to make room in the inn (not in Matthew’s Gospel), culminating in the grand arrival to us all singing ‘We Threes Kings’ and opening a final present after dinner.

It worked well for a few years. Now it is left to me to move all 15 Kings, 3 camels 1 servant and the gold pot of myrrh and frankincense to each allotted place until they arrive in the Crib.

For the past 5 or 6 years our parish has taken on the tradition of house blessing. This tradition, practiced most often in Eastern European countries, takes place on the Feast of Epiphany. Blessed chalk is distributed after every Mass with a sheet which as well as explaining the tradition also has the prayer for blessing the house . When the house has been blessed the following would be chalked upon the lintel (or somewhere near by)

20+ C+M+B+20

The initials of the 3 Kings surrounded by the year of the blessing, signals sanctuary to all those who flee persecution. . C M B also stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this house.”

But what I really love about this Feast is the beauty and symbolism of the story. It is a story of wonder, yearning and trust. It is a story of pilgrimage, inclusivity, awareness and insight. It tells of Mystery, transformation and action. A group of people outside the Jewish community, convinced that what they sought, yearned for, would be found when the stars aligned, watched and waited. When the Star showed itself, without hesitation they packed up, left their land and followed. They trusted their beliefs, their knowledge, their experience and opened themselves up to possibility and adventure. They bring gifts which announce to the world who this Christ child is: gold for Jesus who is King; frankincense (used in worship): for Jesus who is God; and myrrh (used in anointing at burial) for Jesus who is man.

Led by a star to the Christ Child, the Light of the World. Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) echoes this in its very first sentence ‘

Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature,(1) to bring the light of Christ to all’

And so the Light of the World is revealed to each one of us. Never again will we walk in darkness, we may not comprehend the Light but it will never leave us, God-with-us, now and always. And it is up to us to witness to Him, to mirror His Light in our lives.

I’ll leave you to ponder how while I get to the shops before they close. They might not be bothered to move their Kings but they still like their presents!

Christmas 2010 (12)

Happy Feast.

If you want a copy of the sheet just ask, meanwhile here is the house blessing…

A Blessing for the Home.

Oh God,

You revealed your Son to all people

by the shinning light of a star.

We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence.

May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light,

and your truth our benediction:

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.