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05 October 2014 – 27TH Sunday of the Year A (Psalter Week 1)
It has happened in many families. Through diligent hard work and perhaps a little luck, one generation put together a tidy farm, prosperous business or substantial savings. Then, with little appreciation of what has been handed on, the next generation neglects the inheritance and loses it completely. In today’s gospel, Jesus is pointing out to the Jews of his own time that this is exactly what is happening to them. Through God’s choice, through exile and suffering, through great leaders and teachers, the Jews had been fashioned into a people who knew the one true God and who were entrusted with the special role of bringing God’s own Son into the world of their time. Theirs was a unique inheritance, a priceless vocation and they squandered it.
Could something similar be happening in our own lives and in our own land? There is no doubting the value of our inheritance. Tested through persecution and deprivation, faith in the one true God and in Jesus Christ born of Mary, has been entrusted to us. We are in danger of squandering our inheritance and leaving nothing but baubles for the next generation. Accumulating possessions, we have lost sight of the ingredients of lasting happiness. Fidelity, generosity, neighbourliness, forgiveness, heroism, and an awareness of God’s love and presence were the hallmarks of what we received. They must be handed on or our inheritance will be given to another people. Today’s warning of rejection is as applicable to us today as it was to the people of Jesus’ own time.
28 September 2014–26 Sunday of the Year A (Psalter Week 2)
Joe never attends a planning meeting. He does not see himself as articulate enough to formulate plans for the neighbourhood or for the parish. But when it comes to doing the job he is always there to work. He knows that actions speak louder than words and he lives accordingly. The proof of faith is good works. Love of God is shown above all in generous service to the neighbour in need, without distinction of social class or religious practice. Joe is often impatient with people who promise much but deliver little, who think that talking nice words is an adequate substitute for effective action.
Jesus shared Joe’s impatience, as we read in today’s Gospel, where the Father tells his two sons to go to work in his vineyard. One refuses at first but goes. The other promises to go but does not. It is the former who actually does what the Father asks and that is what counts. Among the Jews of his own time there were many people who professed their faith in God but refused to live as Jesus taught. On the other hand, there were people who had not lived according to the book but, when invited by Jesus to repent and make a fresh start, they did so enthusiastically. It is those who received salvation. Their actions showed their faith.
Are we prepared to do as he asks, or do we settle for pious aspirations? How we actually live gives the answer.
21 September 2014–25 Sunday of the Year A (Psalter Week 1)
On every side, people are more conscious of their rights with less concern for the real need of others. The unemployed, the homeless, the less fortunate experience themselves more and more excluded by the better off. Those who have want more. Such attitude was there from the beginning, apparently. While Adam and Eve had everything they needed, they were tempted to desire something extra with disastrous consequences. The early workers in the vineyard were not satisfied with their agreed wage and begrudged the latecomers a similar wage.
Today’s gospel is a stern reminder to be aware of the destructive selfishness that can so easily take over our hearts. We tend to ignore the fact that we have no claim in this world’s goods over and above our brothers and sisters at home or elsewhere. Creation and life itself are God’s gifts, given for all equally. Talents and work opportunities are not entitlements to self aggrandisement but rather make one responsible for building a better world for all. No matter how small is the contribution we make to our neighbour’s welfare, it is ours to make.
In pointing out how subtle and deep-rooted selfishness is in our hearts, today’s gospel is frighteningly challenging but we ignore it at our peril. The antidote to selfishness is generosity. Try it several times daily.
14 September 2014-24th Sunday of the Year A (Psalter Week 4)
The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrates two historical events: the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, in 320 under the temple of Venus in Jerusalem, and the dedication in 335 of the basilica and shrine built on Calvary by Constantine, which mark the site of the Crucifixion.
The basilica, named the Martyrium, and the shrine, named the Calvarium, were destroyed by the Persians in 614. The Church of the Holy sepulchre which now stands on the site was built by the crusaders in 1149.
However the feast, more than anything else, is a celebration and commemoration of God’s greatest work: his death on the Cross and His Resurrection, through which death was defeated and the doors to Heaven opened.