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The Sign of Jonah and Repentance

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http://www.ingodsimage.com/2016/04/the-sign-of-the-prophet-jonah/

Luke 11:29–32

On several occasions the Jews demanded miraculous signs (see Matt. 12:38; Mark 8:11), but Jesus rejected these requests because their motives were wrong.  In today’s passage Jesus says that those who demand a sign would indeed be given one – but only the sign of Jonah (v.29).  Jonah spent three days and three nights buried in the belly of a whale, just as Jesus would spend three days and three nights buried in the belly of the earth.

Jesus goes on to say that if the Queen of Sheba had responded positively to the teaching of Solomon and the people of Nineveh to the preaching of Jonah, how much more should the Jews respond to his ministry, as he is infinitely greater than either Solomon or the Queen of Sheba?  How did the people of Nineveh respond to the teaching of Jonah?  The repented.  Repentance is the only correct response when we come to embrace and accept God’s Word.  We need to cultivate an “incarnational awe” or an “incarnational adoration”, whereby, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can grasp more clearly who is Jesus.

Jesus was and is God’s revelation of himself.  Pope St John Paul II reflected, “The whole of Christ’s life was a continual teaching: his silences, his miracles, his gestures, his prayer, his love for his people, his special attention for the title and the poor, his acceptance of the total sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of the world and his resurrection are the actualisation of the word and the fulfilment of revelation.”

In the same way that a Roman coin would have displayed different images for the Emperor Caesar and then his son and successor, so in Christ we meet the living Scriptures – the Word made flesh.  Fidel Castro once said: “I’ve always considered Christ to be one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of humanity.”  He was right, but in fact Jesus was so much more than a revolutionary, so much more than a king of a prophet – because Jesus is God.

“Although Christ was God, he took flesh;  and having been made man, he remained what he was, God.” (Origen)

Chris
 

Romans 1:1–7 • Psalm 97(98) 1–4 • Luke 11:29–32

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Who do you say that I am?

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Haggai 1:15–2:9 • Psalm 42(43):1–4 • Luke 9:18–22

image from http://heartsofcompassioninternational.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-hear-from-god-part-1.html

A Chinese proverb says that a person who asks a question is a fool for five minutes, but one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. There are a number of key questions in life which we ignore at our peril. What is the purpose of life on earth? What happens after I die? Is death the end or is there an afterlife?

In today's Gospel reading we encounter another important question, the answer to which sheds light on each one of these existential questions. It s the question that Jesus put to his disciples and continues to put to every man and woman on the face of the earth. He asks you and he asks me: “Who do you say that I am?" (v. 20). The answer to this question is the gateway to unravelling the meaning of life and to solving the mystery of what happens after we die. The answer to this question is crucial for our lives on earth and our eternal destiny.

When Peter uttered his famous declaration that Jesus is 'the Christ of God', Jesus realised that a Watershed had been reached in the disciples' understanding of who he is.  It was  recognition that Jesus is more than a prophet; he is more than a great teacher: he is the Son of God.  What revelation has made known is that Jesus Christ was God made man.  The very Lord, Creator and King humbled himself by becoming a human being: he was made one of us, became one of us, and lived like one of us.

To be able to grasp this truth and allow it to shape our lives requires a grace of revelation – mere flesh and blood, the power of our own reasoning, cannot grasp this most sacred and profound of Christian truths. The following words were spoken by St Augustine many centuries ago, but they still have a tremendous impact today: “[Jesus] was created of a mother whom he created. He was carried by hands that he had formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, he the Word without whom all human eloquence is mute.”

Jesus assumed our humanity that we might become God. (St Athanasius)

 

 
 
Chris
 
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Occupy your mind with good thoughts

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St John Henry Newman (Feast)

2 Timothy 1:1–5 • Psalm 95 (96) • John 15:9–17

There are two extremes into which people fall when it comes to their attitude to evil and the devil. At one end of the spectrum is to believe in the devil and evil excessively, and at the other not to believe in evil or the devil at all — with plenty of people fitting somewhere in-between!  This is as true in our age as any other, and we have ample evidence of excessive belief in innumerable blockbuster films and books and even weekend courses on the occult and demons.

We, for our part, are guided and governed by the Scriptures and the wisdom of the Church passed down through the ages. The Church has always affirmed that the devil and his realm is a reality (see, e. g. Catechism of the Catholic Church 407) which we ignore at our peril.  Jesus is the strong man who by his death and resurrection has redeemed the world.  By his cross, in his name and through his blood we who have received the grace of baptism are protected and kept safe, but we need to call upon this shield of God’s grace.

We are invited to enter into the spiritual battle which is waged every day. This notion of spiritual conflict or engaging the enemy can seem rather obscure or remote, especially when the daily  struggle to deal with the problems of this world is hard enough.  Perhaps the great saint and martyr Thomas More shed some light on' this when he said: “Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones; unoccupied they cannot be.”  Being passive and undisciplined in our thinking and in our behaviour can open us up to the devil and his ways. The devil delights in an idleness of mind and a passivity which does not actively take up the good fight of faith.

A mind filled with God’s truth and God’s thoughts is a mind which is bolstering and protecting itself against the snares and attacks of the Evil One. God created us with the gift of free Will, and the greatest challenge we face every day is to choose God and reject the devil, to choose the good and repel evil, and to stand firm in faith.

Lord Jesus, protect us from the snares, wiles and schemes of the Evil One.  I call upon the power of your name, cross and blood, that I may live more and more in your presence.

Chris

 
 Graphic from; https://princessofjesusblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/gods-protection-a-true-story/

 

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Who is Jesus?

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 • Psalm 143(144) 1–4 • Luke 9:18-22Robed figure, below the head, with hand outstretched

It is sometimes difficult to express simply and clearly what we believe. For some, it may stem from a lack of confidence or a fear of being rejected. For others, it might be that they don’t even have the words.

Take those suffering with dementia, for example. There are in the UK 700,000 people suffering from dementia, and that number is steadily increasing. Being diagnosed with dementia is distressing for the individual concerned and for their family and friends. As someone’s ability to relate to the world around them is diminished, they become more isolated. Communication becomes increasingly difficult – they might not be able to talk or to communicate in other ways.

Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (v 20). Peter knew exactly who Jesus was, just as God knows exactly who we are. He knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). Whatever happens to our mental functions, we remain spiritual beings. The Catechism fo the Cat/90hr Church states that ‘The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God’ (para. 1700).

Peter recognised Jesus as the Christ (v. 20). Do we look for and recognise God in those with dementia? The decline in someone’s mental faculties does not end their personal journey of faith or diminish their full human integrity. They continue on their pilgrimage, usually aware of the continuing importance of their deeply held spirituality, and often finding comfort in familiar prayers and rituals. God is there in their loneliness to give them comfort.

Would Peter have openly stated his faith if he hadn’t been directly challenged byJesus? He might not have made such a declaration without prompting, but he knew what he thought and felt. He had faith. For those witnessing the mental decline of their loved ones, faith becomes all the more important too. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Ps. 46:1-2).

Loving Father you are close to the broken-hearted. Look with compassion on those whose lost memories have robbed them of home and belonging. Comfort and strengthen those who care for them. May they make their home in you. This we ask through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Chris

Graphic from: https://slmnallotey.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/jesus-the-word-of-god/

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Christ the High Priest (Feast of the Lord)

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Matthew 26:36–42
 
Icon of Christ the Great High Priest
 
 
 
A profound mystery of our faith is that through baptism we receive the threefold ministery of Jesus: priest, prophet and king.  This amazing truth should affect our lives every day.  We have a share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly ministry of Jesus Christ!
 
Key to deepening our grasp of the High Priestly ministry of Jesus is understanding his sacrifice on the cross.  Jesus is both priest and victim.  "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through shedding of his blood" (Rom. 3:25 NIV), and he "offered for all time one sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 10:12 NIV).  By his death Jesus atoned for every sin that has ever been committed on this earth.
 
The light of revelation shows us that in Jesus we have a Great High Priest who is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  In him we have One who identifies with our weakness and temptations because he has been tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.  Therefore we can approach God's throne of grace with freedom and confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy.
 
We tend to think when we are tempted that God is far away, but this isn't true: God draws close when we are suffering.  His grace gives us the strength to resist temptation and, should we fall, to repent and receive his mercy.
 
Heavenly Father, I thank you that through baptism I have a share in the priestly ministry of Jesus, our Great High Priest.
 
Chris
 
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Knowing the Father

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Matthew 11:25-27

As we become one with Jesus Christ in baptism and the life of faith, we are taken into his intimate relationship with God the Father. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we share in the love that exists between the Father and the Son.   We don’t enter this relationship primarily through intellectual understanding. When we adore the Holy Trinity we are caught up in a heart knowledge that is far more simple and profound, and we enter into the relationship and learn far more than we can ever understand intellectually. Through this sharing we become like 'little children', like the 'babes' Jesus talks about, and we begin to experience truths that are far beyond our imagination. 

Heavenly Father, by the revelation of Jesus Chris in the power of the Holy Spirit, draw me into the mystery of your everlasting love. 

Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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