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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Preaching the Gospel

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Matthew 10:7-15
 
Bare feet in the sand, “Sent”.
 
Jesus’s instructions to his followers are as relevant today as when he sent them out to proclaim the message of the kingdom of God.  But perhaps our hearts sink at the prospect of witnessing for our faith.  Increasingly in society, having faith, practising faith and witnessing to it are widely misunderstood and considered strange.  In any event, faith is considered personal, private.
 
But the key to all evangelising is revealed in v.8: “Freely you have received; freely give.”  Our vocation – whatever our role or ministry, whether we are an ordinary Christian, an ordained priest or religious or even an Archbishop or the Pope – is to grasp the great gift of the gospel of salvation: to appreciate its free, unmerited and undeserved nature and therefore to be filled with the joy of the evangelist.
 
An evangelist or witness is simply someone who has freely received the joy, hope and love of the gospel and who in their turn freely gives the joy, love and hope of the gospel.  Yes, it’s challenging and difficult, but we have the Holy Spirit and he gives us wisdom – as well as tact, sensitivity, intelligence, understanding, knowledge and patience.  And courage.
 
We are just ordinary men and women, workers in the vineyard of Christ.  Our task is always to be prepared to share with others the reason for our hope, joy and love.  Our challenge is to be filled with hope, joy and love which speaks to others’ hearts.
 
Lord, teach me to be a joyful, enthusiastic and convincing witness of the truth, goodness and beauty of the gospel.
 
Chris

from Bible Alive

 

Art Source: sent soysi.files.wordpress.com
 
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St Paul Preaches to the Sanhedrin

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Acts 22:30; 23:6–11
 
Paul stands before the Sanhedrin
 
Called to appear before the Jewish Council, Paul shrewdly set his opponents against one another.  He said that he was on trial for his belief in the resurrection of the dead, in which the Pharisees believed but the Sadducees did not.
 
Paul’s declaration was not just a clever ploy: it was true that the heart of his witness was the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus and our share in that resurrection.
 
If we have truly experienced Christ’s resurrection power for ourselves, like Paul we will want to proclaim it to others.  For Paul, his experience of the risen Christ was so powerful that he had an unsuppressable drive to preach the gospel.  This is how he was able to endure great suffering and persecution – imprisonment, beating, shipwreck, hunger – in order to testify to Christ.
 
We may not be called to suffer in the way that Paul was, but each of us is called to be witness to Christ’s resurrection for those we meet in our homes, workplaces and communities.
 
We tend to find sharing our faith difficult in today’s secular environment, but it is God who gives us the power to bear witness, and just as Paul’s preaching flowed from his encounter with the risen Christ, so can ours.
 
If we spend time in prayer and try to listen to the Holy Spirit, we shall gain greater enthusiasm to preach the gospel and find more opportunities so to do.
 
Lord Jesus, we proclaim that our hope is in your resurrection.  We pray that we may come to experience more fully the power of that resurrection, and bring it to those around us every day.
 
Chris
 
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The Ascension of the Lord

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Mt 28:16–20
 
Jesus’s Ascension
 
Only Christ can open to us access to heaven and eternal life; we cannot enter God’s life on our own account.  Why? Because none of us is able to conquer death, sin and evil; so without Christ we remain mortal and corruptible.
 
Our hope is that we may go where Christ has preceded us.  This hope is grounded in Jesus’s own words: “and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12;32).
 
Jesus’s ascension into heaven marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’s humanity into God’s heavenly domain.  In the same way that Jesus ascended into heaven, so he will return. Meanwhile, he is hidden from our eyes but to him we pray today.
 
Come, Lord Jesus, come again to earth.  Return as our God and King and establish your kingdom for ever and ever.  Amen.
 
Chris
 
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Conversion of Paul's jailer

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Acts 16:22–34
 
 
God will literally move heaven and earth to save us; God did so to lead the jailer and his family to conversion.  The fruits of that conversion were immediate: deep joy, service of others and a profound conviction in the gospel message.
 
The call to conversion is one that occurs throughout our lives.  We are called to lead others but also to be converted ourselves, and to this task we give ourselves.  But why does God seek our conversion?  What is it about the human condition that makes it so necessary?  The Church recognises that the human heart is heavy and hardened by sin and by selfishness.  It is because of this that we need a new heart.
 
Conversion is first and foremost a work of God, a movement of his grace within us.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “God give us the strength to begin anew.  It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him.  The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced.” (para. 1432).
 
It is through the continuing process of conversion that we come to know God’s love; and we come to know God’s love by gazing upon the One we have pierced.
 
This is the path that the Holy Spirit invites us to walk.  We are converted in the first instance by love, and it is by love that we will continue to be converted.
 
Father, teach me that thre is no other path but through the burning love of the crucified, a love which transformed Paul when he was carried up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2) that he could say: “with Christ I am nailed to the cross.  I live , not not I but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal. 2:20 Rheims New Testament).
 
Chris
 
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Determined to Witness

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Acts 14:19-28
 
Paul was mercilessly stoned and then dragged and dumped outside the city walls.  We need to remember that every time we encounter Paul, whether through his story retold in Acts or through his writings, we are encountering a man who suffered profoundly for his faith – even to paying the ultimate price.
 
But no amount of suffering would deter him from his mission of preaching the Good news: “when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city” (v.20).  Sometimes we get knocked down, sometimes we trip and fall; either way the gospel is all about getting up again.
 
Lord, we are your people, the sheep of your flock.  Heal the sheep who are wounded.  Touch the sheep who are in pain.  Clean the sheep who are soiled.  Warm the lambs who are cold.  Help us all to know the Father’s love.  Renew us so that we may help renew the face of the earth.
 
Chris
 
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The Good News

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Mark 1:14-20
 
From the beginning of Mark’s Gospel we are introduced to the ideas of repentance, belief and good news.
 
The gospel, literally “good news”, is that God became man to save and resuce us because we could not save ourselves from sin, death and the power of evil.
 
The Good News is that God loves us and revealed that love to us by sending Jesus, his only son and the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, to die on the cross and to rise again on the third day.
 
The Good News is that our sins are forgiven, our lives are wiped clean by the blood of Jesus, and we are reconciled with God the Father, restored as his sons and daughters, blessed with a new dignity, purpose and hope.
 
The Good News is that we have received the Holy Spirit; we are a new creation.
 
Lord, teach me to be a witness of your grace and of the joy of heartfelt repentance, and in turn lead others to know deeply and personally your mercy and forgiveness.
 
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The Beatitudes

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Matthew 5: 1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill.  There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. 

Then he began to speak.  This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

'Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. 

'Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. 

'Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied. 

'Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. 

'Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God. 

'Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. 

'Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

'Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

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Remember the Poor

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Luke 16:19-31
 
In the developing world our brothers and sisters have immense needs.  Jesus came to “preach the good news to the poor” (cf Matthew 11:5, Luke 7:22).  How can we fail to lay greater emphasis on the Church’s preferential option for the poor and the outcast?
 
Indeed, it has to be said that a commitment to justice and peace in a world like ours, marked by so many conflicts and economic inequalities, compels us to raise our voice on behalf of the poor.  
 
Thus, in the spirit of the book of Leviticus (25:8-12), we should out loud on behalf of all the poor of the world.
 
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The Faith of the Centurion

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Luke 7:11-17
 
Some of the most powerful and moving things Jesus said were connected with grief and loss.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. (Matt. 5:4).  When faced with the grief of Mary and Martha, John informs us that “Jesus wept”.  
 
How moving it must have been to see Jesus, himself the Resurrection and the Life, weep freely and openly (John 11:35).  We meet the same heartfelt and profoundly compassionate response in today’s encounter with the widow: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and she said, 'Don’t cry’ “ (v. 13 NIV).  His reaction teaches ius that Gpd’s heart is full of kindness and compassion for the human condition and predicament.
 
Grief strips us bare, but God is close to all those who have suffered loss, who are broken-hearted and grief-stricken.
 
Lord, your kindness, mercy and compassion are deeper thant the ocean, wider than the sea and extend from heaven to earth.
 
 
 
 
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Love – Do good – Give

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Luke 6:39-42
 
Love, do good, give; the moral and ethical teaching of Jesus can be summed up in these four words.
 
The Church draws on thousands of years of teaching and human experience, much of it rooted in the dark alleys of confusion, darkness and sinfulness of its sons and daughters, clergy and lay people alike.  
 
But the wisdom of the Church resides first in the wisdom of Christ.  She is wise because Christ is wise; we are wise because Christ is wise.  True wisdom is learning daily to live life in the Spirit, learning to listen to the Spirit and to give witness to the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.
 
In the midst of this endeavour we must live alongside people and learn to relate to them.  The Christian faith should help us to master living alongside our fellows in fraternal love and affection.  We learn not to judge others but to be quicker to judge ourselves.
 
”If you judge other people you have no time to love them.”  St Mother Teresa of Calcutta
 
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