Monday 26 February 2024

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year B)

 Last week we heard: "So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean." (Mk 9: 10) Today, from the Gospel of John, we hear: "After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken." (Jn 2: 22) So much of what Jesus said and did makes sense from the perspective of the resurrection. Likewise, so much of what happens in our lives will only make sense from the perspective of eternity when, by the grace of God, we will enter into the resurrection ourselves. St Paul writes: "From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way." (2 Cor 5: 16) Our Lenten journey, like life itself, looks towards the Easter mysteries even though we might not clearly see the way: "... for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor 4: 7) Let us have the commitment to stay the course with our Lord Jesus and not give up on the faith which has been handed on to us even when we cannot see a clear way ahead.

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A)

 The liturgy allows for the use of the readings from year A when catechumens are preparing for baptism. This is the case for CPH in 2024. As diverse as our communities are over six Sunday Masses, we are united in our solidarity with all who wish to be disciples of the Lord and furthermore request the sacraments. All of us are constantly challenged to renew our commitment to Christ and listen to the Word afresh. In the gospel today the disciples are puzzled: "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" (Jn 4: 33) Sometimes we are also mystified by God and do not understand what He is doing. We all need to return to the primordial teaching (Gk: kerygma) of the Apostles so that our sight is clarifies and our hearts renewed. Then we can become authentic witnesses to the power of God in our lives. Then it can be said: "Many Samaritans from that city believed in Jesus because of the woman's testimony." (Jn 4: 39)

Monday 19 February 2024

2nd Sunday of Lent

 Last Sunday we were with Jesus in the desert. This Sunday, we find ourselves on the Mount of Transfiguration. Our Lenten journey reveals to us different aspects of the Christian experience. As missionary disciples we follow closely behind the Lord to hear his Word and grow in knowledge and love of him. Our encounter with the Lord, both in his living Word and the Blessed Sacrament, is not a static experience. The liturgical experience is fundamentally a living memory, (Gk anamnesis), which makes present the whole of the mystery of Christ. As we hear in Eucharistic Prayer III: "Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial (anamnesis) of the saving Passion of your Son, his wondrous Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, and as we look forward to his second coming, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice." I invite you, through your Lenten observances, prayer and fasting, to accompany the Lord on his journey, not just in his glory, but also in his suffering and life giving death, so that his risen power may be manifested also in you. 

Monday 12 February 2024

1st Sunday of Lent

 One of the key words in today's gospel is "repent" which in Hebrew is shuv meaning to "turn around." That if, as we hear in the Second Reading: "Christ suffered for sins once for all the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God." (1 Pt 1: 18), what is my response? What is the correct course of action to take? Once I take on board the offer of salvation, made to me in Christ Jesus, a primary emotion I should feel is gratitude. This manifests itself primarily in Eucharist. To gather for Eucharist is to give praise and thanks to God. Such gratitude results in a desire to conform myself to Christ Jesus and imitate him in his love. The sacramental mode for implementing this is baptism: "Baptism, which this (the ark) prefigured, now saves you - not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." (1 Pt 3: 21) Let us, this Lent, renew our baptism relationship with Jesus Christ and deepen our experience of the Mass so that the grace and love of God may be made ever more powerful in us.

Sunday 4 February 2024

Ash Wednesday

 One of the mysteries of our life as missionary disciples is that we do not live out our mission of sharing the joy of the gospel alone. At the conclusion of the longer ending of the Gospel of Mark we read: "And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it." (Mk 16: 20) We also hear in the Second reading for today: "As we work together with him (Jesus), we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain." (2 Cor 5: 21) Ash Wednesday and the season Lent help us to reform, our lives so that through almsgiving, prayer and self-denial we do not receive the grace of God in vain. The ashes on our foreheads or the top of our heads show an attitude conducive to repentance and openness to the Gospel such that when Easter comes our rejoicing will be amplified since we have witnessed the power of God to save personally.

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Recent experiences of fear regarding the contagious covid virus should give us some insight into the astounding action of Jesus towards the leper in today's gospel: "Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him." (Mk 1: 41) To touch a leper was effectively to condemn oneself to becoming a leper and sharing the same fate of ostracism from the community. The amazing gesture of Jesus shows us not only his power to heal but also his willingness to enter fully into the human condition of suffering which reaches its greatest expression in his sacrificial death on the Cross. St Paul put it this way: "For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5: 21) The former leper does not obey Jesus' instruction to keep quiet and endangers Jesus by going on to proclaim to all and sundry that he was healed by Jesus. Rather than staying away from Jesus, the Scripture tells us that: "... people came to Jesus from every quarter." (Mk 1: 45) Likewise, this Lent, we should not be scandalized by the Cross. We, too, need to approach Jesus and avail ourselves of his mercy and redemption which is actualized in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Thursday 1 February 2024

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

 Coming forty days after the Nativity of the Lord we see the child Jesus presented in the Temple. He was revealed successively to the shepherds, then the Magi and finally, now in the house on earth of his heavenly Father, to the Temple. This is the temple which, in due course, will be cleansed by the grown Jesus as he reveals fully his messianic identity and mission. There Simeon and Anna, faithful and prayerful Israelites who have long awaited the Messiah, rejoice at his presence. The darkness that has hung over the people is dispelled and the light of God's love suffuses the world. This is not just for the Jews but also, as Simeon prophesizes: "... a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to his people Israel." (Lk 1: 32) Tus, the last of the feasts of the Incarnation concludes. The blessed candles, which we use on the altar throughout the year, are an echo of this feast in our liturgy and remind us of how we are enlightened by Christ and called to the same kind of prayer and faithfulness we see in the Holy Family, Simeon and Anna.