31 August, 2020. Monday of Week 22

When he read from the scroll of Isaiah and then sat down to comment on the reading, Jesus indentified himself with two famous prophets, Elijah and Elisha. Oddly, stating this broad scope for his mission made the villagers of Nazareth angry. Since he was one of their own they expected to get special treatment from him. But Jesus has come for all. His aims have not changed. If he has any favourites it is those who are most needy in body, mind, or spirit. He still reaches out to those who need him. All he asks is that we receive him on his own terms, which the Nazareth villagers could not do. The Lord is always close to all of us; it is our need, our suffering, whatever form it takes, which can bring us close to him.


30 August, 2020. 22nd Sunday, Year A

We might overly focus on the “renunciation” in today’s Gospel so as to miss its positive aspect. All growth, all lasting achievement demands effort and sacrifice. Yet the sacrifice can be a satisfying part of experience, when orientated towards a high and valued goal. (Examples: athletic training; mountain-climbing; studying a language; practising any skill.) So, the self discipline involved in Christian life, and accepting the circumstances in which God places us, contribute to our personal destiny. And we look forward in hope to the great reward of loyal service — when the Son of man, coming in glory, will reward all according to their behaviour.

29 August, 2020. The Passion of Saint John the Baptist

Jesus spoke of John as a “burning and shining lamp.” John the Baptist is a great inspiration to us to allow the light of our faith to shine, the light of the gospel, even when it is not popular or convenient to do so. Our calling is to allow the light we have received in baptism to shine brightly, in season and out of season. In his first encyclical, “Light of Faith,” Pope Francis declares, “there is an urgent need to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God.”

28 August, 2020. Friday of Week 21

When the Lord calls us to be his followers, it is always for the long haul; he looks to us to keep our light burning right to the very end, through the good times and the bad times. Earlier in Matthew’s gospel Jesus had addressed his disciples as the light of the world and called on them to let their light shine so that people might see their good works and give glory to God for them. Keeping our lamps burning, letting our light shine to the end, amounts to doing the good works the Lord calls on us to do, for as long as we are able to do them.

27 August, 2020. Thursday of Week 21

TThe Lord lives in constant awareness of us; we are called to live in constant awareness of him. We find it difficult to be aware of the Lord all the time, because so many other things fill our minds and hearts. Yet, that is what the Lord asks of us. We are to attend to, be aware of, his constant presence to us. This is what might be termed the contemplative attitude. There is a sense in which we are all called to become contemplatives — with a small c.

26 August, 2020. Wednesday of Week 21

The “heart” is the seat of the emotions, the intellect and the will. What matters to God is the heart, how we feel, how we think, how and what we desire. We are to bring our feeling, our thoughts, our desires into line with how God feels, how God thinks, what God desires for us. Our hearts are to reflect, in some way, God’s heart, which means Jesus’ heart. As Jesus says elsewhere in Matthew’s gospel, “Learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart.” It is the Holy Spirit who comes to us from God and the risen Lord who can mould our hearts into images of the Lord’s heart. We pray today that this work of the Spirit will be brought to completion in us.

25 August, 2020. Tuesday of Week 21

We can all be prone to getting worked up about minor matters while not attending sufficiently to what really important. On this occasion, Jesus lists what is important as justice, mercy and faith. Justice and mercy concern our relationship with our neighbour; faith concerns our relationship with God. Jesus is saying, what really matters is getting those two relationships right; everything else is secondary. St Paul says something very similar in one of his letters:”the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love.” We pray that this may always be our priority.”

24 August, 2020. St Bartholomew

It takes generosity of heart and spirit to recognise when we have got it wrong, and recognise that our opinion of some person or place was based on our prejudices rather than on reality. Nathanael’s honesty and generosity of heart can be an inspiration to us on this his feast day. The final word of the Gospel, however, is given to Jesus, not to Nathanael. It takes the form of that wonderful promise Jesus makes to him: “You will see greater things! You will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.”


23 August, 2020. 21st Sunday, Year A

What of today’s Church, spread in all continents, united under the leadership of Pope Francis? How can this work of teaching, encouraging and uniting so many millions of baptised believers be carried on? Jesus remains at the centre, as the Christ, Son of the Living God, and He continues to be the Church’s true Rock. We today, just as much as in the time of St Peter, need the ministry of faithful apostles, entrusted by Christ to build up His people, witness to the faith, and provide leadership in Christian love. Pope, bishops, priests and other ministries exist in order to serve. But in some sense, we get the service that we deserve. It is for us to make known to our pastors both our appreciation and our loyal criticisms; especially to pray for them, for their courage and perseverance.

21 August, 2020. Friday of Week 20

If we truly love God we will be caught up into God’s love for all of humanity, including our enemies. In Jesus’ eyes, those who proclaim their loving devotion to God while damaging other human beings in any way are the worst form of hypocrites. Jesus gave himself completely in love to God and, as a result, he gave himself fully in love to others. We need his Spirit in our hearts, the Holy Spirit, if we are to love in this same twofold way.

20 August, 2020. Thursday of Week 20

An invitation is not a command. We receive many invitations in life, either verbally or in writing and we probably ignore or decline a good number of them. We are free to accept an invitation or not. God’s way of relating to us is shaped more by invitation than by command. The parable Jesus speaks in the Gospel is about God’s invitation to all of us to the banquet of life.