November 2019: The Deep End
The Deep End
June: Jane Mellett
Solemnity of All Saints
1 November 2019
All Saints Day
Today we celebrate All Saints Day. In a way, we think of the saints as the superheroes of the church. They seem to be the ones who discovered the Real. We look up to them for guidance and for prayerful help; they are like guides holding a torch for us to show us the way. We are all called to be saints, called to be ‘holy’ like them. It often seems impossible, however. We might have a favourite saint who we pray to and who we feel intercedes for us when we need it the most. So today is a very special feast as we remember those very special people who have shown us how to be better followers of Christ.
Today is also about celebrating those saints who are with us on our life journeys, those saints we know personally and love. Saints have to work against the grain and be counter-cultural. Saints are all around us, pointing the way for us, teaching us something about God through their lives. They are quietly working in our communities and our families; some may be well known public figures, shining examples of the love of God in our world. We might pray today especially for those who are living saints in our own lives, and for the grace to be more like those ‘superhero’ saints who point us towards Christ through their lives.
‘Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.’
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Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
3 November 2019
In today’s Gospel we hear the familiar story of Zacchaeus. It is a story that may remind us of our childhood, our first confession, or, as in my case, it might bring a school song to mind that you can’t get out of your head! As with all familiar Gospel stories, we are invited to read again with fresh eyes and hear again as if for the first time. For this story is very rich and we risk losing the meaning due to our familiarity with it.
Like many people today, Zacchaeus was a ‘seeker.’ We read that he was anxious to see what Jesus was like. Clearly, he was drawn to Jesus in some way, was searching for something or someone. Zacchaeus was an outcast, a tax collector, considered a sinner by the community. Yet Jesus reaches out to him in a gesture of hospitality and friendship. In return, Zacchaeus offers the strictest requirement, as noted in the Jewish scriptures, for restitution: ‘four times the amount’ of money he had taken from people. But notice that Jesus reaches out in love before Zacchaeus offers compensation for his crimes.
The encounter with Jesus has led Zacchaeus to be a witness to restoration and solidarity. He wants to restore justice where he has acted unjustly. Whether it was the crowd, greed, politics or corruption that was preventing Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus, he has been welcomed back to the table. Jesus is waiting to be invited to his home today. Complaints and negativity continue in the background, but none of that matters. This man is a ‘son of Abraham’. It was the affection of Christ, not the condemnation of the town, that reversed the situation.
Who do you need to reach out to today in a similar way?
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Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 November 2019 • Prisoners’ Sunday
‘Children of the Resurrection’
In today’s Gospel, the Sadducees are trying to trap Jesus, using a slightly exaggerated and absurd case about whose wife someone will be in heaven if they have married many times. They have no faith in the resurrection and therefore do not grasp that in a place of peace, justice and freedom, people cannot be ‘owned’ or ‘given.’ Questions like the one posed by the Sadducees ignore the radical freshness of the Kingdom of God. All we really can be sure of is that that place will be radically different to anything we know, a new creation.
We are all ‘children of this world’ who are called to be ‘children of the resurrection.’ You might recall today someone who has passed away, who is some sense, because of their influence on people, ‘lives on’ in the lives of those they touched. But they are ‘children of the resurrection’ not because of their own goodness, but because of the power of Christ to raise us from the dead.
Let us use this week to notice the moments of resurrection all around us. God’s Kingdom is also here and now, if we allow ourselves to be present and aware to this ongoing ‘new creation’.
‘You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret – you return to the beauty you have always been.’
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Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
17 November 2019 • World Day of the Poor
We are reading the final chapters of Luke’s Gospel for Year C. Jesus is in Jerusalem and the passages we hear are talking about end times. The people gathered are obviously excited, having seen how magnificent the Temple is, but the time for excitement might not be just yet. Jesus reminds them, and us, that these things are short-lived and we should not be too bothered about ‘fine stonework’ and ‘votive offerings.’ These things do not last. At some point, we have all seen and heard someone shouting on the street or on the internet about the end of the world. You’d be forgiven for thinking that today’s Gospel is trying to achieve the same thing.
Jesus tries to comfort the people regarding various crisis that will happen; the call is to take perspective, to look at the bigger picture. Endurance is the message of today’s gospel. The people of Jerusalem will witness the destruction of the Temple, the disciples will face persecution, people of faith will have tough times ahead. Whatever crisis may come, Jesus is asking people to keep going, to stay focused and not be afraid.
‘Lord, when we are young we think that we become great through our achievements. Life has taught us the truth of Jesus’ words: it is by endurance that we win our lives.’
Michel de Verteuil
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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
24 November 2019
Christ the King
This is the final Sunday of Year C and as we draw to a close our reading of Luke’s Gospel we hear the account of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is the Feast of Christ the King and this Gospel certainly gives us an opportunity to lay aside a lot of cultural baggage we may have about kings, leaders and kingdoms. Jesus’ kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate, or many other earthly leaders know. It is a kingdom built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace. Few ‘kings’ can measure up to this: responding to violence with forgiveness, giving those with no hope a reason to hope, putting the crisis of the world before financial gain or power. Who do you know in our world today who is the more living example of this type of kingship, making daily sacrifices in endless service to those around them?
We hear much about the climate crisis in our world today, the loss of bio-diversity, the breakdown of our ecosystems and the lack of political will to embrace the solutions that are available. This is due to greed and the powerful influence of so called leaders. Once again many will gather in Chile next month for the 25th UN Conference on Climate Change. We must pray for them, that they will be courageous and put the future of our environment above financial gain and lead for the best interests of our world and for the generations to come.
Today’s Gospel gives a powerful image of Jesus as servant King, shining like a beacon of light for society in today’s world.
‘The power of truth, of honesty, of forgiveness – with no frills! How different the world would be if it was governed by this kind of power.’
Michel de Verteuil
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