Newsletter Resources – June

 

Pentecost Sunday – 4 June 2017

The Deep End – ‘Shalom’

The disciples in today’s Gospel are locked away, living in fear. There are many situations in our own lives which cause us to batten down the hatches. We can often imprison ourselves.

Jesus appears amongst them bringing peace, Shalom, and overcoming their defences. Christ is always present to us regardless of the walls we might put up; he offers peace, joy and reconciliation. The word ‘Shalom’ is more than a wish for a good evening; it means that your wish for the person is a peace of body, mind and spirit. It is a holistic peace. Jesus gives this peace to the disciples and breathes his Spirit upon them. This enables them; this gives them courage; this sends them out. Jesus still bears the wounds of the crucifixion, reminding us that our wounds are part of who we are; we carry them with us.

We might ask ourselves today who it is that we need to be reconciled with? What fears do we need liberating from? Into what situations do we send Christ’s peace? Jesus is asking the disciples to be an unending witness to God’s love. They (and we) must be for others what Jesus has been for them.

‘When we understand the essential unity of all that is, we discover the possibility of “peace” – the king of peace that in Hebrew is called, Shalom, which is infinitely more than an absence of strife; it is the wholeness of the web of life itself and of every creature in it, held in the wholeness of the one God.’ – Margaret Silf

Jane Mellet
melletj@gmail.com

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

John 20:19-23

  1. Jesus comes into a room full of fear. Sometimes it is fear itself that makes us close the door on others and on God. Occasionally a person comes along with the gift of breaking through our closed doors, a person who comes to be with us in our fears. Do you have memories of people getting through to you and being with you despite your closed doors? Who brought you peace in a time of anxiety?
  2. Jesus showed his wounds to his friends. Moments of grace can occur when another shows us their vulnerable side, or when we do that with them. Let your memories speak of such experiences to you.
  3. As Jesus was sent by the Father, so he sent out the disciples. This evokes images of receiving and handing on the things that give life: values, meaning, sense of purpose, love. Who are the people who gave you life by what they handed on to you? To whom have you handed on what is life-giving?
  4. In our tradition the final verse reminds us of the Sacrament of Reconciliation but its meaning is broader than that. Spirit-filled people are people who forgive. You might like to recall memories of when you have forgiven, or retained, another’s sins. What difference has it made to you and others when you forgive rather than hold sins against others?

John Byrne OSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS: Spirit Alive

Someone dies and we say he kept his spirit alive to the end; or we say that ‘his spirit lives on’. A word we talk of easily. It’s something elusive, you can’t pin it down. It comes from somewhere. Maybe from parents, a spirit of endurance or being able to make it through a tough time; or from our prayer and faith. Today is the feast of the Spirit of God, alive, active and joyful. Pentecost is the flame of God’s own love, given to his followers to mark the birth of the community, the body of Jesus, the Church. It is the spirit of forgiveness always, a gift of the first Pentecost. Compassion, mercy, forgiveness and a hope of justice for all are gifts we ask from the Spirit who blows among us strongly today.

From Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew by Donal Neary SJ, Messenger Publications

 

Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother – Jesus – we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood.

Pope Francis

 

The Most Holy Trinity ‒ 11 June 2017

The Deep End – Trinity Sunday

God in today’s Gospel is described to us as one that is very close, as one that loves the world so deeply that he was willing to give everything to it. It is hard to comprehend these statements. Why would someone love in such a way? Why would someone sacrifice in such a way? John’s Gospel today tells us that it is because we are loved so deeply and so that we would come to know this love which brings life. It is not a one-off event; it is continuous and ongoing in each of our lives. Neither is it to make us feel guilty; we are told that this outpouring of God’s love is not to condemn us in any way. This giving from the Father is so that we might be free from our own brokenness, that we might know how infinitely loved we are and so live a life that is full and everlasting. God rescues us from our own brokenness and offers a life that is a fuller and deeper experience.

Trinity Sunday invites us to reflect on the impossible; on the utterly mysterious. Yet we can know something of what it means to experience God’s love in our lives; to have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ and to feel God’s Spirit dwelling within ourselves. We can experience that same Spirit in each person that we meet, that Spirit of God indwelling in all of creation. The Trinity speaks to us of relationship, community, of fully giving and receiving.

‘God has fallen in love with us – quite literally. God has come down to earth, and opened Godself to all the raw brutality, as well as the warm tenderness, of human life.’ – Margaret Silf

Jane Mellet
melletj@gmail.com

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

John 3:16-18

  1. The reading evokes contrasting images of God, a God who judges and a God who saves. We might reflect on how our image of God has changed with the years. What has helped you to believe in a God whose will is that you should have eternal life?
  2. God sent his Son into the world for this purpose, that we might have eternal life. How has the story of Jesus helped you to have that kind of faith?
  3. The eternal life promised is life that survives all forms of death, failure, defeat and humiliation. What has helped you to have that sense of being alive, even in painful and disappointing circumstances?

John Byrne OSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS: Dynamic Activity of Love

All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love.’ But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, he was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean ‘Love is God.’ They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement ‘God is love.’ They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.

If you think of the Father as something ‘out there’, in front of you, and of the Son as someone standing at your side, helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another son, then you have to think of the third Person as something inside you, or behind you. Perhaps some people might find it easier to begin with the third Person and work backwards. God is love, and that love works through human beings – especially through the whole community of Christians. But this spirit of love is, from all eternity, a love going on between the Father and the Son.

From Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

 

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) ‒ 18 June 2017

The Deep End – Jesus, the Bread of Life

Jesus gives his whole self to us and invites us to a deep union with him. We often imagine God up in the clouds in heaven looking down at us, maybe distant, maybe disconnected. The Eucharist shows us that God is involved in the messiness of human life, present to us in Jesus’ body and blood. Bread is nourishing, bread is for life, bread is food for the journey. Jesus is all of these things for us. His blood is a reminder of his death, of the brokenness of this world, of the struggles of people’s lives. Christ invites people to connect their own sufferings with his.

Jesus, present with us in all of life, invites us into a deep union with himself. Flesh and blood means the whole person; ‘the living bread’ invites us to an even deeper intimacy. It can be a difficult passage to understand, but perhaps today you might reflect on times you felt sustained by God, strengthened by God through joyful times and sorrowful times. You might also reflect on who has been Jesus for you? Where have you seen Christ in this world, in flesh and blood?

Jane Mellet
melletj@gmail.com

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

John 6:51-58

  1. Jesus tells us that to have life we need more than physical nourishment. How have you been aware of deeper hungers? What has met that deeper longing in you?
  2. Jesus tells us that it is not just something he gives us which will give us life, but himself in his life, death and resurrection. How has your faith in the person of Jesus fed you?
  3. Jesus speaks about ‘drawing life’ from him. In day to day living what are the practices which support your faith and help you to draw life from Jesus?
  4. The Eucharist is one of the ways in which we draw life from Jesus. Recall with gratitude how the Eucharist has been a source of nourishment and life for you.
  5. Perhaps you can also think of human examples of people drawing life from one another. From whom have you drawn life? Who has been able to draw life from you?

John Byrne OSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS: The Unveiled Beauty

Eating is a very powerful way of changing another substance into our own. Food, when eaten and digested, is transformed into our own flesh and bone and brain cells. But when we eat the bread which is the Body and Blood of Christ, it is Christ who transforms us into himself, making us into the Christ-persons which our name ‘Christian’ calls us to be, and indeed presupposes that we are. Baptism is sometimes called ‘Christening’; this is a very meaningful word: Christening, it means our becoming transformed into Christ. The Eucharist is a most powerful means for being thus transformed into Christ. Julian of Norwich spoke of being ‘substantially oned’ with Christ. The purpose of adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament is to become more and more ‘substantially oned’ with Christ, so that, as St Paul puts it, for us to live is Christ, and the life we live is the ‘life of Christ who lives in us’ (cf. Gal 2:20).

The poet Paul Durcan has a marvellous phrase; ‘Heaven … is a place … /that would surprise you.’ Heaven is endlessly repeated surprise at the unveiled beauty hidden in the mysteries we now know – faintly and darkly but truly – by faith.

From Bread of Life by Cardinal Cahal B. Daly, Veritas Publications, 2011

 

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time ‒ 25 June 2017

The Deep End – Even the Hairs of your Head are Counted

Today’s Gospel is an affirmation for all those who feel persecuted in any way because of their beliefs or because people are speaking badly about them, or those who feel alienated from their community, their family or even from God. During such times it can be extremely lonely to the point where one can lose their sense of purpose in this world. While we might not want to shout from the rooftops, as Jesus suggests, there is a message here to speak out, to talk it out. Today, spend time on the beautiful words of Jesus in this Gospel – ‘Even the hairs of your head are all counted, so do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows!’ The sparrow, one of the smallest of birds, is cared for and loved by God. This is a reminder that no matter how insignificant we might feel or how challenging the circumstances get, God is with us, each of us. Once again, we are being told how sacred each and every person is and how much we are loved by God. In his eyes, each of us are precious. Today, recall the times or places where you felt God’s supporting presence.

‘When we travel through those wilderness places of our lives where we feel lost, insecure, lonely, frustrated, discouraged, or overcome by busyness: Help us to trust in you, God of the journey. When we catch glimpses of the tremendous love you have for us and experience a deep, loving connection with others: Help us to trust in you, God of the journey.’ – Joyce Rupp

Jane Mellet
melletj@gmail.com

 

SEEING YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPELS

Matthew 10:26-33

  1. ‘Do not fear’ is the unifying theme in this passage which is set in the context of a mission sermon by Jesus, preparing his disciples for what lay ahead. He urges them to have courage in speaking his message and living his message, drawing strength from their trust in the Father whose care for us exceeds his care for hundreds of sparrows. How has trust in God been a source of strength in life for you?
  2. The body/soul terminology presupposes an anthropology in which the soul represents one’s real self and the body is the perishable shell. For Jesus the important thing is to be true to one’s real self, even if this does involve some material or physical loss or pain. When you have had that kind of courage, what was it like for you?
  3. There is no such thing as secret discipleship. It is in declaring their allegiance to Jesus that his followers will find life. They will be the losers if they hide their discipleship. Does this resonate with your experience?

John Byrne OSA
Email jpbyrneosa@gmail.com

 

MUSINGS: Just Trust!

Our lives are lightened by people we can trust. We need to trust so much in life. We know the great pain when our trust is shaken by people we thought we could trust – parents, teachers, religious superiors, the church, friends and more.

In the Gospel today Jesus tells us to trust in God, who would not harm even a hair of our head. He asks and urges us to be people who would not harm another. We are worth this care and love just by being created. Like a parent or grandparent, or an aunt or uncle, totally loving a new child before the child is even seen, so God loves each of us. The sight of a starving child brings out our love and a desire to care.

This is linked to the care of God: in this care and trust of each other, we find the trust and care of God, given and received, for ‘where there is love, there is God’ (1 Jn 3:7).

Just echo the word ‘trust’ as you sit in silence:

Let this gift and call of trust fill your being.

Sacred heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

From Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew by Donal Neary SJ, Messenger Publications

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