Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Rather than continuing with Mark’s version of the feeding of the five thousand we turn instead to John’s account. John reveals the full significance of the event and shows us that the miracle is not only a work of power but a sign pointing to realities of another order, a sign that address our whole being, our whole identity, and every aspect of our personhood. He went across the sea of Galilee. He climbed a mountain and sat with his disciples on the green grass. A crowd spontaneously gathered with him on the mountain across the sea. All aspects of a mysterious sign unfolding in the shadow of the Passover feast. The request to Philip is addressed to all of us today. Unleavened barley loaves used for the offering are multiplied. Twelve baskets of fragments are collected. There is more than Moses and manna here, more than Elisha. Can you hear the soft echoes of Eucharist resounding down the centuries? Can you sense Jesus drawing us all into unity? Will you withdraw with Jesus to the mountain when they seek to make him king? Will you sit with him and the Father on the green grass of the Spirit?

 

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark’s gospel is full of paradox and full of many kinds of miracles. Our short reading today invites us to meditate on the introduction to one of them (the feeding of five thousand). Jesus had invited his disciples, whom he had sent out two by two, to come apart with him by boat to a remote place so that they could rest awhile. But it was not to be! The crowds heard what was happening and going to the place on foot got there first. Seeing them Jesus felt compassion for the crowd and began to share spiritually with them. Notice how Jesus puts other people’s needs first. Notice how the links he creates between prayerfulness and loving-kindness. Notice how he links compassion and deep spiritual sharing. Notice the link to the prophesied Good Shepherd who would ensure that the people would no longer be victims of famine… or bear the scorn of the nations (read Ezekiel 34). Are we open to learning these lessons? Are we ready to put other people first or are rooted in selfish ways?

 

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The longer form of the gospel recounts two miracle stories, one concerning a little girl who is terminally ill and the other a woman suffering from a long illness. The short form focuses on the healing of the little girl, the daughter of a synagogue official named Jairus. Notice the importance of faith in both stories. Jairus opens the way for God to act in his daughter’s life and the woman opens the way for power to go out of Jesus and liberate her from a debilitating condition. Notice how Jesus praises her courage in reaching out to touch what she needed. How do we care for those who are ill? How open are we to the gift of life? How generous are we? In both of these stories Jesus gives witness to a God of life. He also shows us the true generosity of compassion and mercy: Jesus allows himself to be touched and interrupted. Do we?

 

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

When Jesus returned to his home place of Nazareth and preached in the synagogue the people, all of whom knew him, were offended by his words and actions. Instead of believing him they mocked and rejected him. ‘Who does he think he is’ they thought, scoffing at him. But Jesus is not surprised at their lack of faith. A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house. Their lack of faith closes their hearts to what he can do and the gift of new life he brings. Even his greatest deeds bring rejection and the cross. So, after curing a few sick people, he leaves and goes elsewhere. Many seem to be taking offense at Jesus today. Many are turning away from him because of the actions of some leaders in the Church or criticism from others and shapers of popular opinion. Where do we stand? Are we ready to follow Jesus through thick and thin? If he was rejected why should we be surprised that those who seek to follow him today also face rejection?

 

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The longer form of the gospel recounts two miracle stories, one concerning a little girl who is terminally ill and the other a woman suffering from a long illness. The short form focuses on the healing of the little girl, the daughter of a synagogue official named Jairus. Notice the importance of faith in both stories. Jairus opens the way for God to act in his daughter’s life and the woman opens the way for power to go out of Jesus and liberate her from a debilitating condition. Notice how Jesus praises her courage in reaching out to touch what she needed. How do we care for those who are ill? How open are we to the gift of life? How generous are we? In both of these stories Jesus gives witness to a God of life. He also shows us the true generosity of compassion and mercy: Jesus allows himself to be touched and interrupted. Do we?

 

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Jesus who has risen from the sleep of death is the faithful hope of every disciple. Often storms sweep down on us as suddenly as the wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee, and we find ourselves unprepared for sickness, a terminal diagnosis for ourselves or a loved on, difficult personal relations, job loss.  We may find ourselves saying: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  Yet Jesus is present in the storms and will bring us to the shore of new beginnings and new initiatives.

 

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark teaches us about the kingdom by telling us two parables about seed. Parables are not easily understood, especially by those who have no particular attachment to Jesus. Parables are measures of our relationship with him. What, then is the seed growing secretly? The kingdom of God grows because of God, not because of us or our understanding. How alert are we to the living presence of the Spirit hidden in the depths of our being? The mustard seed holds before us the reality of small beginnings and God’s mysterious presence even in something resembling a weed, in something that grows like wildfire. The mustard seed encourages us to trust God who is there at the beginning and there at the end. Are we ready to take heart and trust God, to let the Spirit grow at the core of our being, to trust God’s glorious Oneness?

 

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Jesus’s words over the bread and wine, then sharing it with his disciples, signifies his giving them a share in the atoning power of his death.  And that atoning power has as its goal eternal life with Jesus.  But it was not just those who sat at the table with Jesus who are able to share in the atoning power of Jesus’s sacrifice; Jesus opened the way for all to share in the “eternal inheritance”.  So walk with joy to share a forestate of the unending banquet.

 

The Most Holy Trinity

Matthew gives us the solemn assurance that Jesus, “God-with-us” (cf. Matt 1:23), will be with the church until the end of history  His is no “absentee lordship” but a presence of a servant Christ who wishes to liberate rather than dominate.  His church must also be a humble servant that remembers its authority is not absolute but derived from Jesus; a church that identifies with those who are a very human mix of faith and doubt; a church that avoids all triumphalism and insensitivity to the wounded people of our world.

 

Pentecost Sunday

When Jesus touches our lives he does three things: brings peace, shows that he is the Crucified, Risen, Glorious One, and then he breathes the Spirit deep into our lives. These are also the gifts that flow from baptism. Are we ready to be servants of peace? Are we ready to embrace the Crucified, Risen, Glorious One? Are we ready to let Jesus breathe the Spirit into every aspect of our lives? Are we ready to embrace the free gift of mercy?

The alternative gospel reading draws our attention to the teaching mission of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. We witness to Jesus in the truth of the Spirit. We learn the truth about Jesus in the light of the Spirit. And we share that light in the power of the Spirit. Are we open? Are we ready? Are we on fire?