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Laetare Sunday – Reconciliation at the heart of the Gospel

Laetare SundayLaetare or Rose Sunday. We are over half the way to Easter, and we get to relax and rejoice a little.

 

MASS READINGS for March 10, 2013 (Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare)

I. FIRST READING: Joshua 5:9a.10-12.

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.
On the day after the Passover they ate of the produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain. On that same day
after the Passover on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB

II. PSALM: Psalms 34(33):2-3.4-5.6-7.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
The lowly will hear me and be glad.
Glorify the LORD with me,
Let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
And delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
And your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
And from all his distress he saved him.
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB

II. SECOND READING: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB

III. Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 15:1-3.11-32.

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
Then he said, “A man had two sons,
and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘
So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

The Prodigal Son returns

The Prodigal Son returns

Reconciliation is also at the heart of the story Jesus tells in today’s Gospel. The story of the prodigal son is the story of Israel and of the human race. But it is also the story of every believer.

Scott Hahn

 

 

The Pax Christi Icon is off to Brazil.

O Risen Christ,

You breathe your Holy Spirit on us and you tell us: ‘Peace be yours’.

Opening ourselves to your peace -letting it penetrate the harsh and rocky ground of our hearts -means preparing ourselves to be bearers of reconciliation wherever you may place us. But you know that at times we are at a loss. So come and lead us to wait in silence, to let a ray of hope shine forth in our world.

Brother Roger, Taizé

For further information and excellent reading on Icons follow this linkhttp://reinkat.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/what-is-an-icon/

Fifty days before the Olympics 2012, I received this prayer card with the above prayer on the back.  Why do I mention the Olympics? The ancient 9th Century BC Greek tradition of Ekecheiria (“Olympic Truce”), calls for a truce during the Olympic Games to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage and participation of athletes and relevant persons at the Games.

Pax Christi is an international Catholic movement that promotes peace and they decided to use it over the 100 Days of Peace to promote their cause for peace. The idea of the Pax Christi International Icon comes from the work for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.

A little background to the paining of Icons: In the Eastern Christian tradition an icon is the visible image of the Divine. The iconographer, who creates the icon, is instrumental in bringing about the spiritual process. The icon is the meeting of heaven and earth.

The Peace Icon is a sacred painting made at the Monastery of St John in the Desert, near Jerusalem, and given to the Pax Christi movement in 1999. Its panels represent scenes of reconciliation and figures associated with peace. Each aspect leads to meditation on the ‘deep movements of the heart necessary for peace and reconciliation’.  As part of a Pax Christi initiative, this Icon travelled to seven parishes in the Diocese of Southwark over the 100 days of Peace, and I am lucky enough to work in close proximity to one of the parishes who played host to the Icon. And what a spectacular Icon it is to see up close! Meditating on the stories chosen for this Icon I found my self ‘warmed’right-through and felt a sense of assuredness in the Bible that promoting Peace is the way to live.

It has two central pictures. At the top Esau and Jacob who are seen embracing and standing on a sword at the time of their reconciliation. (See Genesis: chapters 27,32,33) At the foot of the picture the title of the Icon, “ Christ our Reconciliation” is written in Greek. Latin and Hebrew.

Underneath, the risen Jesus is teaching the Our Father to the disciples in the heavenly Jerusalem. (See Revelation: chapter 21 and Joel: chapter 4:16-17)At the foot of this, the words of the Our Father are written in Aramaic the language which Jesus is thought to have spoken.

 Other pictures show the biblical stories of Sarah and Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael (See Genesis: chapters 16 to 21.), the woman at the well (See John 4: 1-42) and the Syro-Phoenician woman (See Mark: chapter 7: 24-30.).

The saints include: Mary Magdalene (See Luke: chapter 8: 2 and Mark chapter 16:9), St Sophia, St Clare, St Boris and Gleb, St Stephen (See Acts: chapter 7) and St Francis.

(I use this site to read the Bible when workng online: http://biblia.com/books/esv/article/TITLE. Easy to use.)

This Icon of of beauty, was handed over to the Brazilian community at a Mass this past Saturday at St. Georges Cathedral, as their home country begins preparations to host the Rio Olympics in 2016. Brazil. What a beautiful idea to pass on.

Image @http://www.rcsouthwark.co.uk/

‘Grow in Grace’. Is this simple, straightforward gardening?

I have just read a book called ‘What’s so amazing about Grace?’  I was disappointed to say the least. I am no more literate in my understanding of  Grace than I was before I started reading this book and in fact I disagreed with the author within the first few chapters of the book so much so that I started speed reading through the rest of the book.

Perhaps my perspective on Grace remains infantile but I realise that it’s an area of my Journey with the Lord that I need to investigate further, pray about and unwrap. I then came across the poster telling me to ‘grow in grace’…???

As I understand it, I receive Grace ( a sanctifying/Holy spiritual gift from God) through the Sacraments of the Church, namely Baptism, Reconciliation , Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the Sick. Through these Sacraments, my eyes and ears are opened to God’s messages and communication with me through His Living Word, the people around me and through prayer and fasting. Through this precious gift of Grace my soul is open to receive and understand Revelation. I realise that I have to be ‘in tune’ with the Lord in order to recognise this precious gift of Grace thorough the Sacraments.

Some questions about Grace I need to investigate further: (lots of reading to be done!!)

  1. Is Grace something I just get because I say I am Christian?
  2. Is Grace different from a Blessing
  3. Is Grace free to us because Jesus died on the Cross?
  4. Do I need the Sacraments of the Church to receive Grace?
  5. What does a Blessing bestow as opposed to Grace?

Forgive us our trespasses…

Redemptive suffering.

Image @volkerballueder.com

My most profound and intimate experiences of worship have been in my darkest days ( I’ve lived through a few!) — when I’ve lost someone dear to me, when I’ve felt abandoned and isolated, when I’ve been out of options, when the pain is great, and I turn to God alone. It is during suffering that I have learned to pray my most authentic, heart-felt, honest-to-God prayers. When in pain, superficial prayers seem pointless. At these times of great distress the need to be near the Eucharist, to receive our Lord to be united with Him is overwhelming and urgent. I know He is always there, He will never desert me, He is constant. Reliable.

I have learned that in suffering I get to know Jesus and inch towards the understanding of why His message of Salvation and Forgiveness  is so powerful. I have learned things about God in suffering that I don’t think I would’ve learned about Him lying in a bed of roses.  It has been at those times of fear and seeking that I ‘ve come to realise my powerlessness and the reassurance of kneeling in the presence of God’s Might.

God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but he didn’t. He let those problems happen, and each of those people were drawn closer to God as a result.

Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us ….” (2 Corinthians 1:9) You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I retreat to my ‘sanctuary’, pray to God to feel safe and calm before I’m able to relaunch into the world. God is my querencia-the place in the bullring to which a bull can safely retreat from the matadors-where I can pause and gather strength before returning to the fight. I must pause, however briefly, to regain the strength needed to battle the stresses of daily living.

 

Something kind and Something wonderful!

This morning I was up and off to London Victoria to wave my daughter goodbye back on her way to university. The family enjoyed having her around for Easter and are going to miss her cheery demeanour!

As always,  I think it’s a waste to go up into town without having explored or ‘achieved’ something. I ended up achieving more than I explored today. I decided a while back that whenever I visited London I would make an effort to attend Mass there and as it so happens, Westminster Cathedral is about a fifteen minute walk from the Bus station. So armed with my ‘maps’ app on my mobile I strode in the direction of the Cathedral only to find out that if I’d walked straight out of the Victoria train Station entrance I would only need to walk a few hundred meters to the entrance of the Cathedral!

My conscience was pricked as I walked along and passed by a homeless woman sleeping on a shabby white duvet, surrounded by plastic bags of different shapes, sizes and colours. Homelessness in London is on the rise. It should not be happening here, surely?

The ‘Something kind’ happened at a traffic light when someone asked me for directions and I was fortunately able to help her on her way and that’s pretty amazing as I don’t really know London all that well. She happened to be going to the Passport Office which I had visited but a few weeks ago.  The ‘Something wonderful’ happened in the Confessional in the Cathedral when after confessing my sins, I was given absolution and I was in good time to celebrate Holy Mass together with a myriad of different peoples. This is one of the attributes of  Catholic congregations that makes me feel just right: the cross-section of cultures and colours that can be counted in the pews or observed walking up to receive Our Lord in Communion. We are all part of a Universal Church, and this universality is beautifully portrayed at every Mass across the the globe. Today the Mass held a tinge of African flavour as our priest sang three verses of a well-loved song before the Final Blessing. It was wonderful.

The view from my chair as I waited for Confession. Beautiful.

Humility 2.

http://www.art.co.uk

Mother Teresa with Blessed John Paul II

Mother Teresa’s posture and outstretched hand speaks loudly of  her humility as a servant of Jesus. She lived her life dedicated to the poorest of the poor and made a real difference in the world, and yet, she remained humble until her death in 1997. The Nobel Peace Prize winner who devoted her life to serving Christ through the poor, died at the age of 87. She was revered by many around the world as a living saint for her work with the dispossessed.

Pope John Paul often praised her work and a Vatican spokesman told reporters he was “deeply hurt” by the news of her death. “The Pope believes she is a woman who has left her mark on the history of this century,” he said. The head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, Cardinal Hume, said she was an “enormously significant figure – everyone knows who Mother Teresa is”. (http://news.bbc.co.uk)

Take the time to reflect on this list. I have decided to use this list as part of my preparation before going to Confession.

Mother Teresa’s Humility List

1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.

Do read more about this list at this informative site: http://truthandcharity.net/the-humble-pie-challenge/

In a world that lauds self-glorification, living by the standards set in the list is sure to be difficult, to say the least.

Mother said, ”He taught us to learn from Him, to be meek and humble of heart. If we are meek and humble, we will love each other as He loves us.”

 

 

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