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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Jesus and the Pharisees

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Luke 11:47–52 • St Teresa of Avila

Woe to you Pharisees

Make no mistake and be under no illusion, the Pharisees and Jesus were on a collision course and it was never going to be pretty — the gloves were off, the hostility was out in the open.  Jesus did not hold back but called them to account for the blood of the prophets from Abel, the son of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4), to Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, the chief priest during the reign of Kingjoash of Judah (837–800 BC), who was killed in the temple when he tried to call the nation back to true worship (see 2 Chron. 24:17–22).  Jesus’s fate was sealed, his path to the cross certain, as the religious establishment of the day was rocked to its very core by his exposure of their hypocrisy.

The Pharisees built tombs for the prophets their forefathers had persecuted and martyred; they claimed to speak for God but resisted the words. spoken by the prophets. Injesus we see the culmination of the ministry of every prophet of old. Israel’s prophets spoke about Christ and always pointed to Christ. Now someone greater than the prophets, the Christ, was among them, and so began a profound resistance which would culminate in the plot to kill him.  Jesus condemned the Pharisees because their hearts had become hard and resistant to God’s plan of salvation. They had become closed to the work of God in their midst and in their lives.

True, we might not kill the prophets but we can kill the work of God by being hard and resistant to what the Spirit is doing in our lives and in our Church. The Spirit is at work today in many individuals and movements or streams, such as the Charismatic movement, the Neocathechumenate, Opus Dei, Focolare, the MaltFriscans, Youth 2000 and, last but not least, the sincere young people in our parishes who are ever eager to sing at Mass, play musical instruments and participate in the life of the Church. We must guard our hearts against our own prejudice and preferences – the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills, and we must learn to celebrate his work in our midst and not undermine it or even kill it.

Heavenly Father, by your grace may we resist and overcome ways of thinking which limit the work of the Spirit, and may we rejoice in what you are doing in the Church today.

Ephesians 1:1–10 • Psalm 97(98) • Luke 11:47–54

Chris

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The Father Knows the Son

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Matthew 11:25-27.

Jesus says all things have been committed to him by the Father, and at the heart of this is the relationship he has with the Father. He speaks of the Father and the Son being in a relationship of knowing one another exclusively. This word ‘know’ does not indicate just intellectual knowledge or understanding: it means the most intimate experience of another person. 

Really to know someone is to be united with them in a relationship of mutually self-giving love. So Jesus and the Father are one in being. But that’s not all. We are invited into the heart of this relationship, for Jesus says intimate knowledge of the Father can be shared with whomever he chooses to reveal it to. So as we become one with Jesus Christ in baptism and in 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 dynamic love that exists between the Father and the Son. We don’t enter into this relationship primarily through intellectual understanding. When we think about the Trinity we soon get confused, but when we adore the Holy Trinity we are caught up in a heart knowledge that is far more simple and profound. As we adore the Holy Trinity in faith and love, 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 shall begin to experience truths that are far beyond our words or imagination.

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

Chris

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"Create in me a pure heart, Oh God"

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Psalm 50 (51)
 
 
10.    Create in me a pure heart, Oh God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 
11.    Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 
12.    Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
 
Chris
 
Someone in the water — Lord cleanse me
 
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The Holy Trinity

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John 3:16–18
 
Depiction of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
 
It is common today for commentators to point out that the three major world faiths are very similar in that they all share a belief in one God.  Althoug it is true that Christians believe in one God, our faith departs radically from Islam and Judaism in its belief that in the one God there are three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, God the Son entered time and space and lived as one of us.
 
Belief in the Trinity is a central mystery of the Christian faith.  We are baptised “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19), and we are invited to develop a relationship with each Person of the Blessed Trinity.  Jesus’s life, work, ministry, preaching and teaching all testify to this fundamental truth of Christian revelation.  In fact, the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity could be described as the central mystery of the Christian faith and life; and it is this mystery that we are celebrating and rejoicing in today, Trinity Sunday.
 
For many Christians the ‘mystery’ of the Trinity remains just that: a mystery.  But the word in this sense is not used to mean a conundrum or a puzzle impossible to solve, but a sacred truth which we wil be able to penetrate more deeply only if we ask the Holy Spirit to shed his light and truth on our minds and spirits.
 
Instead of saying, “I can’t get my head around the Trinity,” we should say, “I need God’s help to get my head into the Trinity.”  In other words, we need to pray, “Lord, teach me, show me, guide me, lead me into the beauty, glory and majesty of your Blessed Trinity."
 
Here’s a prayer that could help:

"O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely so as to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity." (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity)

 
Chris
 
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The Holy Spirit for St Stephen, and for us

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Acts 6:8-15
 
Events began to unfold around Stephen which mirrored the Lord’s Passion and death; false accusations, charges of blasphemy and being hauled before the Sanhedrin.  Like Christ in life, like Christ in death, Stephen becomes the first martyr.  And his witness of martyrdom speaks to every generation of believers, until the end of time.
 
Luke highlights how Stephen was a man full of grace, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit.  He was God-centred, not self-centred.  Where did this grace and power come from?
 
Some of the answer can be found in the opening verses of Chapter 6: Stephen was selected by members of his community because of his apparent virtues and was presented, along with six others for the blessing of the apostles.
 
Luke informs us that the apostles “prayed and laid their hands upon them” (v. 6).  This was the customary manner in the early Church by which people were invested with the Holy Spirit to carry out special assignments and work.  This must have been the source of Stephen’s Spirit-filled life.
 
We too can be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Without the Spirit we labour in vain as we seek to serve the Lord by the power of our own strength and abilities.  Don’t be afraid to seek out the blessing of being prayed over to receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit.
 
Bishops, priests and deacons can make this prayer, but so can fellow believers – when two or three gather in Jesus’s name.
 
We are called to be Spirit-filled Christians, men and women who live not for ourselves but for others, not by our own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Lord, fill me with your Spirit; fill me with your joy, hope and love that I many be an authentic witness of the Gospel.
 
Chris
 
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A Great Gift

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Acts 2:14, 22–33
 
 
The Holy Spirit is a gale blowing through us all
The Spirit was Jesus’s greatest gift to us, but we don’t rely on or turn to the Spirit enough in our lives.
 
Brother Lawrence said, "Those who have received the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.”  The Holy Spirit is God’s love poured into our hearts, and filled to overflowing with that love, like the apostles we are sent out to be bold and confident witnesses to the truth of the gospel.
 
Today, give thanks and praise to God for the many gifts that He has given us, but particularly the gift of rising from the dead and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
 
"A gift is freely given, and expects no return.  its reason is love.  What is first given is love; that is the first gift.  The Holy Ghost comes forth as the substance of love, and Gift is his proper name.” (St Thomas Aquinas)
 
Chris
 
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