LIVE STREAM – 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT

4TH SUNDAY OF LENT

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Parish Mass 1000

Vespers & Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament  1800

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When we get to Easter, there are two symbols of the resurrection that we use in Church: fire and light (the Easter Candle) and water (the Font). Last week we reflected on water, and this week there are passages all about light – true light, that defeats the blindness of sin. Again, this would have been offered to those preparing for Baptism, but speaks to all of us who have been baptised, inviting us to be renewed in the light of Christ at Easter. Remember that one of the oldest titles of the newly baptised was “neophyte”, which means “newly enlightened” There is a subtle link between the readings on this Sunday: in the first reading, David is anointed, and the Spirit of the Lord seizes on him. This anointing lights him along the right path – ‘no evil would I fear’ as the Psalm says. Then Paul tells us more about this light: it is Christ shining on us, calling us to live as children of light. All this is summed up in the Gospel, the marvellous story of the healing (by being ‘anointed’ with spittle) of the man born blind. Jesus is the light of the world

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LIVE STREAM – SATURDAY OF LENT 3

SATURDAY OF LENT 3

Mass 0930

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GOSPEL READING – LUKE 18,9-14

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being upright and despised everyone else, ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.”
The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.’

REFLECTION
• In today’s Gospel, Jesus, in order to teach us to pray, tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus has a different way of seeing things. He saw something positive in the tax collector, of whom everybody said: “He does not know how to pray!” Jesus, through prayer, lived so united to the Father that everything became an expression of prayer for him.
• The way of presenting the parable is very didactic. Luke gives a brief introduction which serves as the key for reading. Then Jesus tells the parable and at the end Jesus himself applies the parable to life.
• Luke 18, 9: The introduction. The parable is presented by the following phrase: “He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being upright and despised everyone else!” This phrase is Luke’s. It refers to the time of Jesus. But it also refers to our own time. There are always persons and groups of persons who consider themselves upright and faithful and who despise others, considering them ignorant and unfaithful.
• Luke 18, 10-13: The Parable. Two men went up to the Temple to pray: one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. According to the opinion of people at that time, the tax collectors were not considered at all, and they could not address themselves to God because they were impure persons. In the parable, the Pharisee thanks God because he is better than others. His prayer is nothing other than a praise of himself, an exaltation of his good qualities and contempt for others and for the tax collector. The tax collector does not even raise his eyes, but he beats his breast and says: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He places himself in his own place, that which belongs to him before God.
• Luke 18, 14: The application. If Jesus would have allowed people to express their opinion and say which of the two went home justified, all would have answered: “the Pharisee!” Because at that time, this was the common opinion. Jesus thinks in a different way. For him, the one who returns home justified, in a good relationship with God, is not the Pharisee, but rather the tax collector. Jesus turns all things upside down. It is certain that the religious authority of that time was not pleased with the application which he makes of the parable.
• Jesus prays. Luke informs us, especially, about the life of prayer of Jesus. He presents Jesus in constant prayer. The following is a list of texts of Luke’s Gospel, in which Jesus appears in prayer: Lk 2, 46-50; 3. 21; 4, 1-12; 4, 16; 5, 16; 6, 12; 9, 16.18.28; 10, 21; 11, 1; 22, 32; 22, 7-14; 22, 40-46; 23, 34; 23, 46; 24, 30). In reading Luke’s Gospel you can find other texts which speak about the prayer of Jesus. Jesus lived in contact with the Father. To do the will of the Father was the breathing of his life (Jn 5, 19). Jesus prayed very much and, insisted so that people and his disciples would do the same, because from the union with God springs truth and the person is able to discover and find self, in all reality and humility . In Jesus prayer was intimately bound to concrete facts of life and to the decisions which he had to take. In order to be faithful to the Father’s project, he sought to remain alone with Him in order to listen to Him. Jesus prayed the Psalms. He did it like any other pious Jew and he knew them by heart. Jesus even succeeded in composing his own Psalm. It is the Our Father. His whole life was permanent prayer: “By himself the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing!” (Jn 5, 19.30). To him can be applied what the Psalm says: “All I can do is pray!” (Ps 109, 4).

PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Looking into the mirror of this parable, am I like the Pharisee or like the tax collector?
• There are persons who say that they do not know how to pray, but they speak with God all the time. Do you know any persons like this?

CONCLUDING PRAYER
Have mercy on me, O God, in your faithful love,
in your great tenderness wipe away my offences;
wash me clean from my guilt,
purify me from my sin. (Ps 51,1-2)

LIVE STREAM – FRIDAY OF LENT WEEK 3

FRIDAY OF LENT WEEK 3

MASS 0930

HOLY HOUR & JESUS PRAYER 1915

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GOSPEL READING – MARK 12, 28-34
One of the scribes who had listened to them debating appreciated that Jesus had given a good answer and put a further question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’
Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one, only Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’
The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true, that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.’
Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

REFLECTION
• In today’s Gospel (Mk 12, 28b-34), the Scribes and the Doctors of the Law want to know from Jesus which is the greatest commandment of all. Even today, many people want to know what is more important in religion. Some say that it is to be baptized. Others say that it is to go to Mass and to participate in the Sunday Mass. Others still say: to love our neighbour and to struggle for a more just world! Others are concerned only of the appearances and of the tasks in the Church.
• Mark 12, 28: The question of the Doctor of the Law. Some time before the question of the Scribe, the discussion was with the Sadducees concerning faith in the resurrection (Mk 12, 23-27). The doctor who had participated in the debate, was pleased with Jesus’ answer, he perceived in it his great intelligence and wishes to profit of this occasion to ask a question to clarify something: “Which is the greatest commandment of all?” At that time; the Jews had an enormous amount of norms to regulate the observance of the Ten Commandments of the Law of God. Some said: “All these norms have the same value, because they all come from God. It is not up to us to introduce any distinction in the things of God”. Others said: “Some laws are more important than others, and for this reason, they oblige more!” The Doctor wants to know what Jesus thinks.
• Mark 12, 29-31: The response of Jesus. Jesus responds quoting a passage from the Bible to say that the greatest among the commandments is “to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all our strength!” (Dt 6, 4-5). At the time of Jesus, the pious Jews recited this phrase three times a day: in the morning, at noon and in the evening. It was so well known among them just as the Our Father is among us. And Jesus adds, quoting the Bible again: “The second one is: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lec 19, 18). There is no other greater commandment than these two”. A brief but very profound response! It is the summary of everything that Jesus teaches on God and his life (Mt 7, 12).
• Mark 12, 32-33: The response of the Doctor of the Law. The doctor agrees with Jesus and concludes: “Well said, to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice”. That is, the commandment of love is more important than the commandments which concern the worship and sacrifices of the Temple. The Prophets of the Old Testament already had affirmed this (Ho 6, 6; Ps 40, 6-8; Ps 51, 16-17). Today we would say that the practice of love is more important than novenas, promises, sermons and processions.
• Mark 12, 34: The summary of the Kingdom. Jesus confirms the conclusion of the Doctor and says: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God!”. In fact, the Kingdom of God consists in the union of two loves: love toward God and love toward neighbour. Because if God is Father/Mother, we are all brothers and sisters, and we should show this in practice, living in community. “On these two commandments, depend all the law and the prophets!” (Mt 22, 40). We, disciples, should keep this law in our mind, in our intelligence, in our heart, in our hands and feet, which is the first one, because one cannot reach God without giving oneself totally to one’s neighbour!.
• Jesus had said to the Doctor of the law: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God!”(Mk 12, 34). The Doctor was already close, but in order to be able to enter into the Kingdom he had to still go a step forward. In the Old Testament the criterion of the love toward neighbour was: “Love the neighbour as yourself”. In the New Testament Jesus extends the sense of love: “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you! (Jn 15, 12-23). Then the criterion will be “Love the neighbour as Jesus has loved us”. This is the sure path to be able to live together in a more just and fraternal way.

PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Which is the most important thing in religion for you?
• Today, are we closer or farther away from the Kingdom of God than the Doctor who was praised by Jesus? What do you think?

CONCLUDING PRAYER
Among the gods there is none to compare with you,
for you are great and do marvellous deeds,
you, God, and none other. (Ps 86,8.10)

LIVE STREAM – WEDNESDAY OF LENT WEEK 3

WEDNESDAY OF LENT WEEK 3

MASS – 0930 & 1900

COMPLINE 2100

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2) GOSPEL READING – MATTHEW 5, 17-19
‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. In truth I tell you, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, is to disappear from the Law until all its purpose is achieved.
Therefore, anyone who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of Heaven; but the person who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of Heaven.

3) REFLECTION
• Today’s Gospel (Mt 5, 17-19) teaches how to observe the law of God in such a way that its practice indicates in what its complete fulfilment consists (Mt 5, 17-19). Matthew writes in order to help the communities of the converted Jews to overcome the criticism of the brothers of their own race who accused them saying: You are unfaithful to the Law of Moses”. Jesus himself had been accused of infidelity to the Law of God. Matthew has the clarifying response of Jesus concerning his accusers. Thus, he gives some light to help the communities solve their problems.
• Using images of daily life, with simple and direct words, Jesus had said that the mission of the community, its reason for being, is that of being salt and light! He had given some advice regarding each one of the two images. Then follow two or three brief verses of today’s Gospel.
• Matthew 5, 17-18: Not one dot, nor one stroke is to disappear from the Law. There were several different tendencies in the communities of the first Christians. Some thought that it was not necessary to observe the laws of the Old Testament, because we are saved by faith in Jesus and not by the observance of the Law (Rm 3, 21-26). Others accepted Jesus, the Messiah, but they did not accept the liberty of spirit with which some of the communities lived the presence of Jesus. They thought that being Jews they had to continue to observe the laws of the Old Testament (Acts 15, 1.5). But there were Christians who lived so fully in the freedom of the Spirit, who no longer looked at the life of Jesus of Nazareth, nor to the Old Testament and they even went so far as to say: ”Anathema Jesus!” (1 Co 12, 3). Observing these tensions, Matthew tries to find some balance between both extremes. The community should be a space, where the balance can be attained and lived. The answer given by Jesus to those who criticized him continued to be actual for the communities: “I have not come to abolish the law, but to complete it!” The communities could not be against the Law, nor could they close up themselves in the observance of the law. Like Jesus, they should advance, and show, in practice, which was the objective which the law wanted to attain in the life of persons, that is, in the perfect practice of love.
• Matthew 5, 17-18: Not one dot or stroke will disappear from the Law. It is for those who wanted to get rid of all the law that Matthew recalls the other parable of Jesus: “Anyone who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but the person who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven”. The great concern in Matthew’s Gospel is to show that the Old Testament, Jesus of Nazareth and the life in the Spirit cannot be separated. The three of them form part of the same and unique project of God and communicate to us the certainty of faith: The God of Abraham and of Sarah is present in the midst of the community by faith in Jesus of Nazareth who sends us his Spirit.

4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• How do I see and live the law of God: as a growing horizon of light or as an imposition which limits my freedom?
• What can we do today for our brothers and sisters who consider all this type of discussion as obsolete and not actual? What can we learn from them?

LIVE STREAM – THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD

THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD

SOLEMN MASS  1900

Compline 2100

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What if she had said No?

The question may strike you as irreverent. How dare I suggest that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix of mankind, could have left us in the lurch like that?
But what if she had?
Could she have said No? You might say that of course she couldn’t, she was far too holy — but you would be guilty of demeaning and dangerous sentimentality. It is demeaning because it turns Our Lady from a free human being into a sanctified automaton. The whole glory of the Annunciation is that Mary, the second Eve, could have said No to God but she said Yes instead. That is what we celebrate, that is what we praise her for; and rightly so.
This sentimental view is dangerous too. If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, that it couldn’t have been otherwise, then that means it was effortless. Now we have a marvellous excuse for laziness. Next time we’re faced with a tough moral decision, we needn’t worry about doing what is right. Just drift, and God will make sure that whatever choice we make is the right one. If God really wants us to do something he’ll sweep us off his feet the way he did Mary, and if he chooses not to, it’s hardly our fault, is it?
So Mary could have said No to Gabriel. What if she had? He couldn’t just go and ask someone else, like some sort of charity collector. With all the genealogies and prophecies in the Bible, there was only one candidate. It’s an alarming thought. Ultimately, of course, God would have done something: the history of salvation is the history of him never abandoning his people however pig-headed they were. But God has chosen to work through human history. If the first attempt at redemption took four thousand years to prepare, from the Fall to the Annunciation, how many tens of thousands of years would the next attempt have taken?
Even if the world sometimes makes us feel like cogs in a machine, each of us is unique and each of us is here for a purpose: just because it isn’t as spectacular a purpose as Mary’s, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. When we fail to seek our vocation, or put off fulfilling some part of it, we try to justify ourselves by saying that someone else will do it better, that God will provide, that it doesn’t really matter. But we are lying. However small a part I have to play, the story of the Annunciation tells me it is my part and no-one else can do it.
Faced with the enormity of her choice, how was Mary able to decide? If she said No, unredeemed generations would toil on under the burden of sin. If she said Yes, she herself would suffer, and so would her Son; but both would be glorified. Millions of people not yet born would have Heaven open to them; but millions of others would suffer oppression and death in her son’s name. The stakes were almost infinite.
You might say that Mary didn’t worry about all this, just obeyed God; but I don’t believe it. What God wanted was not Mary’s unthinking obedience but her full and informed consent as the representative of the entire human race. The two greatest miracles of the Annunciation are these: that God gave Mary the wisdom to know the consequences of her decision, and that he gave her the grace not to be overwhelmed by that knowledge.
When we come to an important decision in our lives, we can easily find our minds clouded by the possible consequences, or, even more, by partial knowledge of them. How can we ever move, when there is so much good and evil whichever way we go? The Annunciation gives us the answer. God’s grace will give us the strength to move, even if the fate of the whole world is hanging in the balance. After all, God does not demand that our decisions should be the correct ones (assuming that there even is such a thing), only that they should be rightly made.
There is one more truth that the Annunciation teaches us, and it is so appalling that I can think of nothing uplifting to say about it that will take the sting away: perhaps it is best forgotten, because it tells us more about God than we are able to understand. The Almighty Father creates heaven and earth, the sun and all the stars; but when he really wants something done, he comes, the Omnipotent and Omniscient, to one of his poor, weak creatures — and he asks.
And, day by day, he keeps on asking us.

LIVE STREAM – 3RD SUNDAY OF LENT

3RD SUNDAY OF LENT

PARISH MASS 10AM       VESPERS AND BENEDICTION 6PM

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The Gospel of the third Sunday is the remarkable conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman by the well, the theme is water – which gives life, which cleanses, which is so necessary. This reading forms part of the catechesis given before Baptism at Easter: the candidates who would go into the water are invited to reflect on what that means. But more necessary than the water which gives life is the water which gives eternal life – the water of baptism, the water flowing from Jesus’ side on the cross. Even if your Church does not have any candidates preparing for Baptism, we will all renew our baptismal promises at Easter: we should take this opportunity to reflect on what baptism has given us, and what God has done for us in this gift.

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LIVE STREAM – S JOSEPH

THE SOLEMNITY OF S JOSEPH

Low Mass 0930         Sung Mass 1900

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Nothing is known of St Joseph except what is said of him in the Gospels. He was a carpenter; he accepted the will of God; and he supported Mary and brought up Jesus. From the human character of his son we can see that he was a good and responsible father. Although he is not officially a patron saint of anything in particular (though he is a patron of the Church as a whole), he is widely venerated as a patron of artisans who honourably do good work with the gifts God has given them, and of workers in general.

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph’s intercession your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.