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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

The Love of Money

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Luke 16:9–15
 
In Jesus’s encounter with the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, the gloves were well and truly off.  He knew that they loved wealth, possessions and status (v.14), and that by addressing the issue of being trustworthy with money or property he was striking a sensitive chord.  He would go on to condemn them for being greedy and self-indulgent.
 
Let us be clear, however, that Scripture does not condemn wealth in and of itself; it’s the love of it that’s wrong.  Jesus was addressing the heart of the matter, not the practical reality of how we handle currency or the simple fact that some have more than others.
 
St Francis de Sales put it like this: “Pharmacists have almost all kinds of poison for their use, as circumstances may require, but they are not poisoned, because they keep their poisons not in their bodies, but in their shops.  In a like manner you may possess riches without being poisoned by them, provided you have them for use in your house or in your purse, and not by loving them in your heart."
 
The danger we run is of turning the spotlight on the Pharisees rather than on ourselves, on our attitudes, thoughts and ways.  God wants us to be generous and kind to others – not mean, spiteful or self-indulgent.  We should use our wealth to build the kingdom, to promote the Gospel of life and to do our utmost to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor of this world.
 
We are born into this world naked, we leave it without a penny and are buried with our inheritance.  (St Ambrose).
 
Chris
 
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First Sunday of Lent 2021

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Mark 1:12-15 First Sunday of Lent (B)

The Spirit led Jesus into the desert for forty days to be tempted and tested. During Lent we too are led by the Spirit into the mystery of Jesus's time in the desert. By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert (Catechism of the Catholic Church 540). We too, during this holy season, can expect to be tempted and tested.

Mark informs us simply and straightforwardly that in the desert Jesus was "tempted by Satan" (v. 13). The name Satan means "adversary". In the book of Job we are given a vivid picture of Satan in God's heavenly court, along with all the other angels, where he has the role of accuser or prosecutor (see 1:6ff.). The Scriptures identify Satan as the serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3) and, therefore, as the origin of sin and temptation. What the Scriptures and tradition make clear is that humankind has a mortal enemy who, although a finite being created by God, is in a desperate struggle to overthrow God's reign, usurp his Lordship and lead his creation into darkness and death. On Easter Sunday each of us will recite our baptismal promises and in doing so renew them. Bear this in mind as we move through Lent because, as you will be aware, a renewal of our baptismal promises involves us actively, freely and voluntarily rejecting Satan.

Lent is also a time for us to discover anew and afresh the gospel, the 'Good News’, which Jesus began to proclaim immediately after his time of testing. What is the Good News? The Good News is a message of two parts: the first part is to repent and the second part to believe the gospel. We walk together on this road marked out for us by the Church and take up our call to stand firm and resist the devil knowing that he will flee, and embrace freely and with love the gospel, which is Christ with us and in us, the hope of salvation. 

In these days, therefore, let us add something beyond the wonted measure of our service, such as private prayers and abstinence in food and drink. Let each one, over and above the measure prescribed for him, offer God something of his  own free will in the joy of the Holy Spirit." (St Benedict)

Chris

from Bible Alive

Genesis 9:8–15 • Psalm 24(25):4–9 • 1 Peter 3:18–22 • Mark 1:12–15

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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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The Sadducees persecute the Apostles

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Acts 5:17-26
 
 
In today’s reading, Luke, pulling no punches, tells us in no uncertain terms that the High Priest and the Sadducees were filled with jealousy, which drove them to persecute Peter and John.  They had them jailed, but neither the literal prison nor the chains of jealousy could bind the intrepid apostles.
 
The Holy Spirit rides roughshod over the pettiness of human nature.  He has only one thing in mind: the proclamation of the gospel message.  The angel commands, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” (v. 20).
 
It is the message of new life that sets us all free – from jealousy and from all sin which seeks to entrap us and to reduce our humanity.
 
Lord, I repent of the times that I have felt jealous or envious of others.  Ground me in your love, root me in your mercy, secure me in your deep and abiding presence, that I may overcome such thoughts which rob me of my humanity and my vocation.
 
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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Evangelise

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Matthew 9:32-38
 
The Gospel is essentially a message, the kerygma.  It involves us witnessing to the truth that Jesus, who suffered, died and rose again from the dead, is the Lord of history and the Lord of our lives; and that in believing in him and accepting his lordship we are born again, and through baptism we enter into Christian life.
 
The Lord wants to equip us to be effective workers in the harvest field so that we can have the freedom and the confidence to lead others to Christ.
 
Lord, teach me not to be afraid to witness to my faith.  Teach me never to be ashamed of the Gospel but to be proud of the message which can transform not only people’s lives but the whole of culture, society and the world.
 
Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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Strangers

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Today's gospel, Matthew 9:38-48, deals with strangers who deal in the business of the disciples – driving out demons in the name of Jesus. The disciples appear to be jealous of outsiders doing what was their prerogative (or that of Jesus, their Lord).

But Jesus reminds them that if these people are not against Jesus and his disciples they are for them: no one can be neutral when it comes to the Word. Perhaps we need to be reminded of our tendency to reject outsiders who might jeopardise our own position in society, that the Spirit works wherever he wills, that Jesus and his redemption are for anyone who will accept Jesus as Lord.

Chris
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The scandal of grace

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Luke 7:36-50

In today's gospel, Jesus teaches the Pharisee about grade. Every human being has fallen short of God's glory; those who find themselves in the cycle of addiction, the trap of sexual sin or the grip of obsession appear in greater need of salvation. Simon the Pharisee considered himself superior to the woman "who had lived a sinful life".

But we all need God's grace; we all benefit from God's forgiveness.

Chris
(from today's Bible Alive Reflection)
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