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Displaying items by tag: Celebrating At Home

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 06:41

Celebrating At Home - Pentecost

Sent to be God’s Love in the World
(John 15:26-27, 16:12-15)

At Pentecost we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the first group of Christian believers - the disciples.
This gift of the Holy Spirit is the culmination of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
It would be wrong to think that this gift happened only once, in one moment of history. In fact, the gifting of the Holy Spirit is a continuing event in the life of every believing person and, therefore, in every age of human history. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God with us - the enduring way in which Jesus remains present in the Church and in the life of each person.
Today we do not pray to receive the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in us has been affirmed and proclaimed in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Instead, we pray to grow more aware of the Spirit’s presence in our lives and to allow that Spirit to grow within us, gradually re-shaping our minds and hearts in the image of Jesus.
Pentecost brings to a close the fifty days of the Church’s Easter celebrations. Soon we will begin Ordinary Time again. So, our feast today helps us understand that we take the Holy Spirit with us into the ordinary events and tasks of each day. That is how we allow the sacred to touch, heal and transform us and the world around us.
The spiritual search is for the heart of God within our own. When we enter into relationship with Christ through the Spirit, the gifts begin to flow more abundantly. The Spirit is the source of reconciliation with ourselves and with each other. Reconciliation is essential if we are to ‘hold and guard’ each other in the midst of all that life throws at us, especially at the moment.
The Spirit brings gifts of wisdom, courage, understanding, right judgement, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe in God’s presence. May we be graced by them all as we discern and decide how we can best work together to build up each other and to let God’s love be seen at work in each of us.

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Tuesday, 07 May 2024 07:09

Celebrating At Home - Ascension of the Lord

Called, Chosen, Sent
to be God’s Heart in the World (Mark 16:15-20)

The feast of the Ascension commemorates the return of Jesus to the Father. Jesus leaves in body but remains with us through the gift of the Spirit. We will celebrate the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit in next Sunday’s feast of Pentecost.
The true meaning of our feast today is not found in Jesus’ leaving, but in the way he calls his disciples back together, to re-form them as a new community entrusted with the spread of the Gospel. Jesus sends the disciples out to make disciples of all nations and to teach them his way. But the disciples are not left to do all that on their own. Jesus promises that he is with them always.
Jesus has called the ragged, group of disciples, scattered after his crucifixion, back to himself to form them, fragile and doubtful as they are, into a community for mission in the name of God. The task of the historical Jesus is complete; the task of the church as the living Body of Christ has just begun. It is comforting to recognise that Jesus doesn’t insist on perfection before he calls us and entrusts us with his mission.
This mission is authorised by God and passed on to us through Jesus. It is not about authority over others. It is actually a call to act as God would act, true to God’s heart as Jesus has taught us.
Ever since Easter, we have been proclaiming that Jesus is alive. The feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost help us to realise that we are part of a long tradition of faithful disciples. We have our faults and failings, but our call is to witness to and teach the way of Jesus by the kind of people we are, the values and attitudes we hold, in thought, word and action - to be the living presence of God in the world today.

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Tuesday, 30 April 2024 12:31

Celebrating At Home - Sixth Sunday of Easter

Love Among Us, Love Within Us (John 15:9-17)

As we approach the coming feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost, the Gospel today helps us understand that Jesus is our bond of love with the Father and with one another.
Jesus shows us the way to live full and happy lives by living in love: “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.” The commandments of Jesus are always about love - love of God and love of neighbour. Those who live by these commandments of Jesus abide with him, others and the Father in love.
Jesus is the reign of God in person. He is both the image of God and the model of the redeemed human being that each of us is called to be.
When Jesus says he has told the disciples everything he has learned from the Father it reminds us that Jesus was human as well as divine; that his life was a journey of learning, too; a path of facing choices and challenges. Jesus tells his disciples that they are his friends. They have become his friends because he has shared his knowledge and understanding and love of the Father with them.
We remain in Christ by remaining in his love and loving one another just as Christ has loved us. We are no longer servants but friends of Jesus because he has made known to us everything he learnt from God.
Jesus has chosen us and commissioned us to be love and to do love in the heart of the world.

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Tuesday, 23 April 2024 09:04

Celebrating At Home - Fifth Sunday of Easter

Jesus True Vine; Through Fellowship With Him
the Branches Bear Much Fruit (John 15:1-8)

We are still on the Easter journey. After the three day roller-coaster of emotions - from Jesus’ supper with his disciples, through trial and crucifixion, to the wonder of the women at the empty tomb - we now prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
During these fifty days, our journey is steadied and enlightened by the words of the First Letter of St John.
It has a central message made clear in today’s reading: we are asked to believe in Jesus and love one another.
We are then assured that we are not alone in this challenge: “We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.” The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins echoes this in As Kingfishers Catch Fire: “For Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his.” This idea of Christ living within us is explored in today’s Gospel where Jesus likens himself to the “true vine.” He tells us: “Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty.” Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit we can hold Christ within us, not only in our thoughts, our ideas, our actions, but deep within ourselves, in our souls and in our hearts. We are helped by prayer and by reflecting on the words of scripture, maybe meditating on the images, or by spending time with the phrases that we particularly notice. Or we can sit still and simply open our hearts and listen. Jesus says: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you …”

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Tuesday, 16 April 2024 13:44

Celebrating At Home - Fourth Sunday of Easter

The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life,
the Sheep Know Him and Listen to Him (John 10:11-18)

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday” because no matter what reading cycle we are in, the Gospel always focusses on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
This year, the Gospel reading talks about Jesus as a true shepherd prepared to lay down his life for his sheep. He is not like the hired man who runs away when danger appears. He knows his sheep and one day will gather them all into one flock.
Jesus acts towards us like a good shepherd: feeding, nurturing, defending and even laying down his life for us. Our Good Shepherd is deeply concerned about us, the flock and there is a deep sense of warmth and intimacy in the realisation that Jesus knows each one of us by name. Like a good shepherd Jesus is the source of life, nourishment, and safety for the sheep.
Any reflection about Jesus as the Good Shepherd also serves as a reminder that shepherding each other in Jesus’ name is part of the vocation of every disciple.
We are very used to thinking about Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but we also need to think about being/ becoming good shepherds to each other.
One of the very encouraging things about the pandemic was the number of people who became good shepherds to others, providing safety and security to vulnerable people, supporting health workers, providing meals and companionship.
That is what it means to lay down our lives for each other.

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Monday, 08 April 2024 09:23

Celebrating At Home - Third Sunday of Easter

Disciples Share a Story, Jesus Appears
and Peace is Given (Lk 24:35-48)

“Peace be with you” - so important are these words of Jesus that we hear them three times in the Gospel. Last week we heard St John’s account of one of Jesus’ appearances to the disciples in the days after his death and resurrection. “Peace be with you,” Jesus said as he breathed the strength of the Holy Spirit on his fearful and doubting followers. In doing this, Jesus echoed what he had said to the disciples at the Last Supper after he had washed their feet: “The Holy Spirit will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (Jn.14:26-7). But Thomas still doubted and needed to place his hands on the wounded body of Jesus before he could believe.
St Luke’s account of the appearance of Jesus starts on the third day after the crucifixion, the day when his tomb was found empty.
On the road to Emmaus a stranger walks with two of the disciples and finally they recognise Jesus “in the breaking of the bread” (Lk.24:35). This week’s Gospel tells what followed. Jesus appears amongst all the disciples, again greeting them with: “Peace be with you.” He reassures them he is not a ghost, is still with them in the flesh. And as they stand dumbfounded, Jesus asks the very human question: “Have you anything here to eat?” Once again, he shares a meal with his followers.
And as they share the food, he opens their hearts and minds to understand what they have seen and heard.
As we share the food of our Eucharistic meal each time we gather at mass, we recall that whenever Jesus shared a meal with his followers he opened their hearts and minds. Jesus said: “Touch me and see for yourselves.” We may not be there in Jerusalem in that room with the disciples reaching out to touch Jesus, but we can touch and see Jesus in all the good things around us in our world: in the food that nourishes us, the water that revives us and washes us clean, in the love of God, family and friends that sustains us. All these are part of the Peace that we have been given and in these words we feel our call to be Peace in our families, communities, workplaces and world.

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Wednesday, 03 April 2024 12:14

Celebrating At Home - Second Sunday of Easter

A Joyful Meeting, the Spirit Received,
Doubts Transformed (John 20:19-31)

The great Easter feast of last Sunday began the Church’s fifty-day celebration of the Resurrection which concludes with the feast of Pentecost in six weeks.
The Gospel of each Sunday is a meditation on Jesus as: the resurrected Christ, made known in the scriptures and the breaking of the bread, the bearer of life in all its fullness, our way, truth and life, pledge of God’s love.
In today’s Gospel reading there are two stories of transformation through encounter with the risen Jesus.
Firstly, Jesus appears to a group of frightened and bewildered disciples hiding in a room. His first words are, ‘Peace be with you’. Fear and bewilderment turn into joy as the disciples recognise the presence of the Risen Jesus with them. But that’s not all. He then sends them out to be missionaries of peace and forgiveness.
In receiving the Holy Spirit they are transformed from a group of frightened people, hiding in a room, to bold proclaimers of God’s love and mercy.
The second story in today’s Gospel is the one we all know as doubting Thomas, though, really, it should be known as believing Thomas - doubt is only the beginning of the story.
Jesus doesn’t scold or rebuke Thomas. If Thomas is looking for proof, he has only to touch Jesus to see he is real. But Thomas doesn’t do that. It is his personal encounter with Jesus which transforms him from doubter to believer.
It is yet another Gospel reminder that faith is not about believing with our minds or in looking for proof.
It is found only in our living relationship with Jesus.
Perhaps these days give us a bit more time just to sit and chat with Jesus, to recognise him already present in our hearts, to allow our fears and doubts to be overcome by love, to find new, creative ways of transforming darkness into light, peace and joy for others.
May the new life we celebrate over the next fifty days bring us the creativity of Spirit we need to be the living heart of God in our world today.

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Friday, 29 March 2024 12:00

Celebrating At Home - Easter Sunday

An Empty Tomb, Lives Changed Forever,
Enduring Presence (John 20:1-9)

When someone dies, one of the things we often feel is their absence. The rooms where they lived with us, the places where they sat are now empty and our hearts ache.
It’s not hard for us to share Mary’s sense of emptiness and bewilderment when she arrives at the tomb.
If we were to read the next few verses from John’s Gospel, we would read a story of overwhelming joy as Mary Magdalen meets the risen Jesus. When Jesus speaks her name, Mary recognises him and sadness and emptiness give way to joyful reunion.
It’s a story of transformation - how things can change when we meet the risen Jesus.
In a way, we are all caught in tombs which hold loved ones, our experiences of hurt and harm, our fears and anxieties.
What we seem to need above all is presence. Yet, this can be the time when we experience absence most of all - being apart from loved ones, family and friends.
The practice of the presence of God can help us - just frequently reminding ourselves that we always in the presence of God, that we can talk to God as one friend to another, that God is in this moment with us, that God is on our side no matter what comes our way, that God is our constant companion.
Eventually, we will begin to feel more deeply God’s presence, not just beside us, but within us. Eventually, the fears and anxieties, the past hurts, and disrupted relationships begin to melt away.
Where once there was only absence, now there is calm, loving, healing Presence and we know we are not alone. Our tombs begin to empty, and joy becomes possible again.
Resurrection is all about death giving way to life, the impossible becoming possible, absence becoming presence.
May all your tombs be empty!

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Wednesday, 27 March 2024 08:00

Celebrating At Home - Good Friday

Love revealed in the passion
(John 18:1 - 19:42)

Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kedron valley. There was a garden there, and he went into it with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, Jesus then came forward and said, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They answered, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said, ‘I am he.’ Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said, ‘I am he’, they moved back and fell to the ground. He asked them a second time, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ Jesus replied, ‘I have told you that I am he. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.’ This was to fulfil the words he had spoken: ‘Not one of those you gave me have I lost’.
Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and wounded the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’

Pause for quiet reflection

The cohort and its captain and the Jewish guards seized Jesus and bound him. They took him first to Annas, because Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people’.
Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus. This disciple, who was known to the high priest, went with Jesus into the high priest’s palace, but Peter stayed outside the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in. The maid on duty at the door said to Peter, ‘Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?’ He answered, ‘I am not.’ Now it was cold, and the servants and guards had lit a charcoal fire and were standing there warming themselves; so Peter stood there too, warming himself with the others.
The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly for all the world to hear; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple where all the Jews meet together: I have said nothing in secret.
But why ask me? Ask my hearers what I taught: they know what I said.’ At these words, one of the guards standing by gave Jesus a slap in the face, saying, ‘Is that the way to answer the high priest?’ Jesus replied, ‘If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offense in it, why do you strike me?’ Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest.
As Simon Peter stood there warming himself, someone said to him, ‘Aren’t you another of his disciples?’ He denied it saying, ‘I am not.’ One of the high priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, ‘Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it; and at once a cock crew.

Pause for quiet reflection

They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves or they would be defiled and unable to eat the Passover. So Pilate came outside to them and said, ‘What charge do you bring against this man?’ They replied, ‘If he were not a criminal, we should not be handing him over to you.’ Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves, and try him by your own Law.’ The Jews answered, ‘We are not allowed to put a man to death.’ This was to fulfil the words Jesus had spoken indicating the way he was going to die. So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and called Jesus to him, and asked, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Jesus replied, ‘Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?’ Jesus replied, ‘Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent me being surrendered to the Jews.
But my kingdom is not of this kind.’ Pilate said, ‘So you are a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is you who say it. Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this; to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.’ Pilate said, ‘Truth? What is that?’ And with that he went out again to the Jews and said, ‘I find no case against him.
But according to a custom of yours I should release one prisoner at the Passover; would you like me, then, to release the king of the Jews?’ At this they shouted, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas.’ Barabbas was a brigand.
Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ and they slapped him in the face.

Pause for quiet reflection

Pilate came outside and said to them, ‘Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case.’ Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said, ‘Here is the man.’ When they saw him the chief priests and the guards shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him: I can find no case against him.’ The Jews replied, ‘We have a Law, and according to the Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the son of God.’ When Pilate heard them say this his fears increased. Re-entering the Praetorium, he said to Jesus, ‘Where do you come from?’ But Jesus made no answer. Pilate then said to him, ‘Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?’ Jesus replied, ‘You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above; that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt.’ From that moment Pilate was anxious to set him free, but the Jews shouted, ‘If you set him free you are no friend of Caesar’s; anyone who makes himself king is defying Caesar.’ Hearing these words, Pilate had Jesus brought out, and seated himself on the chair of judgement at a place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. It was Passover Preparation Day, about the sixth hour. Pilate said to the Jews, ‘Here is your king.’ They said, ‘Take him away, take him away. Crucify him!’ Pilate said, ‘Do you want me to crucify your king?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king except Caesar.’ So in the end Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

Pause for quiet reflection

They then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull, or, as it was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews’. This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. So the Jewish chief priests said to Pilate, ‘You should not write ‘King of the Jews’, but ‘This man said: I am King of the Jews’. Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’ When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another, ‘Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.’ In this way the words of scripture were fulfilled: They shared out my clothing among them. They cast lots for my clothes. This is exactly what the soldiers did.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.
After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said, ‘It is accomplished’; and bowing his head he gave up the spirit.

Pause for quiet reflection

It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the Sabbath - since the Sabbath was a day of special solemnity - the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then the other. When they came to Jesus, they found that he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it - trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth - and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture: Not one bone of his will be broken, and again, in another place scripture says: They will look on the one whom they have pierced.
After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well - the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Pause for quiet reflection

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Tuesday, 26 March 2024 10:11

Celebrating At Home - Holy Thursday

Washing feet, sharing bread and wine:
Love poured out in service

On this night we recall Jesus’ commandment to love one another, his washing of the disciples’ feet and the breaking of the bread of his own life, not just at table, but also on the altar of the Cross, for the healing and nourishment of the world.
The liturgy on Holy Thursday is a meditation on the essential connection between the Eucharist and Christian love expressed in serving one another. Christ is not only present in the Eucharist but also in the deeds of loving kindness offered to others through us.
We are the ones who make ‘real’ the presence of Jesus in every smile, kind word and loving action.

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