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Reflection at Eucharist 10/26/20

From  Give us This Day booklet

By Sr Miriam Pollard, OCSO

The woman was completely bent. Completely. Not just a little bit, but totally unable to stand up straight.

Each of us is to some extent that bent woman. Each of us can spend our lives looking at mud puddles, mourning the tragedies and sins of human life, wanting what we have not been given, resenting what we have been given, afraid of what we will be given. Creating a whole world of negativity.

God knows there is enough to be negative about, but faith means that we can see through the darkness into the core of light within. And faith says, “believe in it. See it. Bathe in it. Spend prayer time knowing it is there. Find it. Stretch yourself into it.”

These things: these transient, small and insignificant things. Compared to the weight of glory they are the several doors. Doors to the joys, the serene and heart-stopping happiness that will steal in and saturate body and soul and spirit, world without end. Amen

Reflection by Fr Michael – Teresa of Avila – October 15, 2020

(Ephesians 1:1-10; Luke 11:47-54)

+As we heard in the reading at Vigils from Teresa of Avila  this morning, “if Christ Jesus dwells in a person as his friend and noble leader, that one can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us.

Unlike the scribes and Pharisees we heard about in our gospel, our life is centered on Christ who “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.. chose us in him, before the foundation of the world” as we just heard from St Paul to the Ephesians.

Such love asks only love in return and so much depends on keeping this always before our eyes as Teresa of Avila reminds us again and again in her writing as a Doctor of the Church. “If at some time the Lord should grant us, she tells us, the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.” So let us ask for this grace for one another and for Christians everywhere

Homily – Fr. Michael – October 11, 2020

+A KING GIVES A WEDDING FEAST FOR HIS SON        28 Sun. A, 2020

This Sunday’ parable is the third of a series. Two Sundays ago we heard of how repentant sinners will enter the kingdom of heaven before the supposedly righteous ones. Last Sunday we heard of how those given supervision of a vineyard plotted to appropriate it for themselves. Today we hear of invitations to a royal wedding banquet. Clearly our parable is about God summoning, inviting guests to the marriage feast for his Son Jesus.

There is something wonderfully comprehensive about this parable, the way it includes not only the history of the chosen people but the whole of the human family for a banquet that is to satisfy their greatest needs and expectations. As we heard in the first reading from Isaiah, “the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food…and pure, choice wines. On this mountain God will destroy the veil that veils all peoples…will destroy death forever… will wipe away the tears from every face.”

St Paul experienced this already during this life, telling us of how he “learned the secret of being well fed and going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Paul has accepted joyously the invitation to the wedding feast of Lamb, where God will satisfy our deepest desires “in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” He experienced the wonderful graciousness of God, the union of God’s very Son with all of the human family, making us sharers in divine life.

It is a wedding feast prepared for all of us gathered here, a wedding feast offered all day long if we dare to open our hearts to it. It calls us to conversion of heart, a death to self so as to live in Christ’s own love. As Pope Francis warns us in one of his own sermons on this parable:

“Some of the intended guests went so far as to abuse and kill the servants who delivered the invitationBut despite the lack of response from those called, God’s plan is never interrupted. In facing the rejection of those first invited, He is not discouraged, He does not cancel the feast, but makes another invitation, expanding it beyond all reasonable limits, and sends his servants into the town squares and the byways to gather anyone they find. These, however, are ordinary, poor, neglected and marginalized people, good and bad alike — even bad people are invited — without distinction. And the hall is filled with “the excluded”. The Gospel, rejected by some, is unexpectedly welcomed in many other hearts.

We are all invited, whatever our weaknesses and limitations may be. What I find especially moving in Pope Francis’s words is how “God’s plan is never interrupted.” God is ever reaching out into our world of today but it takes the eyes of faith, the wedding garment of a spiritual sense to honestly respond to God’s design.

Just how real and personal this invitation is, is manifest in our Eucharistic celebration each day. At this altar God’s very own Son shares with each and all of us his very Body and Blood for the feast and we join the Hosts of heaven in a wedding banquet. Offered under the appearance of bread and wine tells of how infinitely close the wedding feast is to every aspect of our lives. Our simple and hidden lives become the beginnings of a feast that will last for all eternity.     Amen

Reflection – Fr. Michael Casagram – “Who is the real Christian?” 10/5/20

(Gal. 1:6-12; Luke 10:25-37)

+Our gospel this morning is more relevant than ever in our world today. A scholar of the Law, trying to justify himself, asks Jesus “who is my neighbor?” This is a question on the minds and hearts of Christians all over the world as victims of the pandemic continue to grow, with migrants, with the many suffering from natural disasters like the flooding in France or the fires in California, when we are faced with the millions starving or destitute. It is so easy to look the other way.

There is a way in which Jesus really doesn’t answer the question of the scholar of the law as to who is my neighbor but tells him and all of us who is the neighborly person toward the man left half dead along the roadway. Our hurting and destitute neighbor is not hard to find but the one who is truly loving toward him is! The priest passed on the opposite side of the road, the Levite did the same but then there is the Samaritan who is moved with compassion at the sight. The real Christian is the loving and caring one.

Homily – Fr. James Conner – 27th Sunday of Year – Yr A “Fear not! It is I”.

Our gospel today must be seen in the light of all that took place in chapter 21. It begins with Jesus entry into Jerusalem. The gospel tells us that “all of Jerusalem was in an uproar”. The Jewish authorities asked Him: “By what authority do you do these things?” Jesus responds by telling them the parable about the vineyard. The Jews would have immediately recognized that he was referring to Isaiah – our first reading today. “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel. He looked for justice and behold bloodshed; for righteousness and behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold a cry”.

Jesus would have left no doubt in their minds that he is a true minister of the Lord. “All authority in heaven and on earth is given Me” By this time he would have fully realized that he has been sent not only to the lost of Israel, but for all peoples. He learned that lesson from the Canaanite woman, whom he had first referred to as a dog. He knew that he must bring the word of salvation, not only to the people of Israel – the vineyard of the Lord – but to all who will heed his message.

This means that we ourselves are now that vineyard of the Lord. He looks to us to bring forth fruit and signs of life. This brings us to our second reading from Philippians. We are to have no anxiety about anything. This refers us back to his message that we are to be like the birds of the wir, who have no anxiety, but receive all they need from their heavenly Father, for even the hairs of our head are numbered. Hence we are simply “in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let our needs be known to God, Trusting that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

But we live at a time of great anxiety – a time of the covavirus, a time of crucial elections in our nation, a time of unemployment and loss of income for millions. And yet Jesus is telling us “have no anxiety” – to have trust in God for all things – to believe that all will be provided by our heavenly Father. It is only in that way that we will be able to yield that harvest that the Father is looking for. For now WE are the vineyard of the Lord. WE are to yield a harvest of trust and confidence in our heavenly Father. That is the whole purpose of our monastic and contemplative life. That is what we are to show forth to the world at this time.

Hence Paul can exhort us – and all peoples today – “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Rather than allowing our minds and our world to be filled with anxiety and fear, we are to have trust in our heavenly Father. We are to heed the message of Jesus. Rather than allowing our hearts to be filled with doubt, as the Jewish authorities of Jesus’ time, we are to have faith in His word that He is truly the Love of God made manifest to us, calling us to heed his word as it is given to us in the Gospels, and to have trust – not fear. Truly He tells us, as he told his disciples: “Fear not! It is I”. Truly, as the song tells us: “He’s got the whole world in His hands – He’s got you and me – brother and sister – in His hands.”