Category Archives: Catholic

Be the star that leads to Jesus! The Epiphany.

A star guides the three wise men, the three kings, to the infant-King.

A star no less! This is a cosmic event. This child is significant, to say the least. The psalm captures it well: “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.”

This child is the Saviour of all – all nations. Get that; all. Mind-blowing!

Pope Francis says there’s no middle ground in this – “it’s either light or dark, haughtiness or humility, the truth or the lie. We either open the door to Jesus who comes to save us, or close it in (our belief in) self-sufficiency and the pride of self-salvation.”

I once considered politics, but it was just too much of a compromise. He’s either the Saviour or he’s not, there is no middle ground!

That’s the meaning of the Epiphany – but God will never force the matter. Neither can we.

Instead, be the star that leads to Him!

Have a happy Feast of the Epiphany.

‘Enter Christmas through the door of the Eucharist’ (Benedict XVI)

Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Christmas.

John 1:1-5,9-14

If I may begin with a preliminary remark.

John’s Gospel is a little different to the others – the author has begun to theologize about the historical events. In fact, in the first few lines, the writer summarizes the whole Gospel.

So, let’s get to the real business of today’s homily.

if Christmas is a past event how does God enter our world today?

Firstly, it’s not a past event.

Secondly, God enters our world in many ways but the way he enters par excellence is through the Mass.

Mass perpetuates the incarnation by God’s design. Mass is Jesus Christ continuing his incarnation in our time until his second coming.

This is the wonder of Catholicism, the joy of being a Catholic; that Christmas is not a past event but God is as near as the Mass and the Tabernacle.

In fact, God’s presence in the Mass is more powerful than his presence two thousand years ago – because the Mass is God’s gift of himself, inclusive of his life, death and resurrection in Jesus Christ, it’s therefore not just the person of God, but also the whole work of God, packaged and delivered to your door.

Are you at home?

In the gift of the Mass whereby God continues his incarnation among men and women the same dynamic of acceptance and non-acceptance, belief and unbelief is evident.

Through the gift of the Eucharist He perpetuates (continues) his incarnation, continues to enter the world that has its being through him, yet so often the world does not recognize Him.

He comes to his own people (Catholics) and his own people do not recognize Him!

Just think of how many Catholics have abandoned the Mass? And what they think they’ve abandoned is missing the point!

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

You can’t separate Jesus Christ and the Mass – same reality.

Harvest Thanksgiving and faith masquerading as science!

This weekend we give thanks to God for the harvest … for little things that really are big things if we didn’t take so much for granted

But we do, we take so much for granted …

Yet life is full of wonder if we could see it … in little things like the food on the table … or a turnip, or where bread comes from … or my finger! No, I’m not going mad!

OK, forget my finger, try this – for my twenty first my Mum gave me one of my baby shoes all boxed up. It fits in the palm of my hand … amazing!

Still not good enough? Try the human brain! Try replicating the human brain!

Life is full of awe …

Turning to the big things; it’s a wonder, it’s amazing that there should be life on this planet at all, that anything should grow.

The universe is finely tuned to sustain life – so finely tuned that if any one of several factors was a fraction this way or that way, we couldn’t survive!

There are people who argue that’s down to chance.

It’s some chance because it is a precision so accurate that it is often compared to travelling hundreds of miles into space, throwing a dart at the earth and hitting a bulls-eye that is a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter!

You depend on that – if it was a fraction out you and I couldn’t survive.

And yet we can get so lost.

What’s happened to us (to so many) that we’ve lost the ability to appreciate life?

Of course, there are those who say that God has nothing to do with all this and use science to justify their argument.

Now, the best scientific minds will admit that we know but a fraction of all there is to know, that what we do know is but a tiny percentage of what can be known.

So, from a tiny percentage there are people willing to conclude – apparently scientifically – that there is no God!

Sorry, that’s not science, that’s faith in our own arrogance, our unsubstantiated belief that there is no God!

In other words, they give to a tiny part the authority of the whole!

So tonight let’s try to be grateful – life is bigger, much bigger, than you and me.

For small things and big things, for the wonder of it all, let’s be grateful.

Did Jesus really talk about Hell too?

26th Sunday, Year C

Luke 16:19-31 The rich man and Lazarus

Here we come face to face with the concepts of Heaven and Hell in the teaching of Jesus Christ. Imagine that – the Catholic Church didn’t make it up!

Most people refuse to believe that a loving God could allow such a reality as Hell.

But it’s not about God.

It’s about you and me, and the choices we make.

The rich man could have taken Lazarus out of his suffering. He could have lifted him up, treated his sores, gave him food and shelter, but he chose not to. He chose to leave Lazarus in his personal hell.

Now all this gives rise to a basic question about our world.

Is there justice?

The first thing to note is that we all want justice.

We all have a sense of what’s fair … but where does it come from?

Even the most notorious prisoners – who’d been anything but fair to others – had a sense of fairness when it came to their own lives. (I served as a prison chaplain for a number of years)

We all have a sense of fairness but we’re not always fair! But where does it come from?

It’s the presence of God in us.

In other words, our human words and language, our desires, are reflections of eternal realities.

This of course is one of C.S. Lewis’ great arguments for God.

The second thing to note is that we do attempt to create justice but often our attempts are at best approximations.

How can we give justice to the families of missing persons?

How can we give justice to the families of murder victims? Can we give them back to their families? Approximations!

How can we give justice to a young terminally ill mother of 4 children or to her husband and children? We can’t – but we do try!

The simple truth is; life is not fair. We try to make it fair … but it’s not fair.
Of course, life would be much fairer if we just observed the Ten Commandments! But it still wouldn’t be fair.

Unless there’s an after-life, a putting to rights beyond our immediate grasp, a transformation of the human (prefigured in the risen body of Christ still bearing the marks of his suffering), realities that we call heaven, purgatory and hell, then there is no true justice.

But worse still, the world, our lives, everything is ultimately meaningless.

We are going nowhere, absolutely nowhere!

Jesus didn’t embrace sinners unconditionally saying peace, love, everything is OK. He’s saying it’s not OK!

24th Sunday Year C

15th September 2013

Luke 15:1-10 The Lost Sheep / Drachma

Here’s a piece that’s often mistakenly used to justify, tolerate and accept behaviour that is contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

More often than not, you’ll find a very selective focus on the Good Shepherd that effectively denies the reality of sin, denies there’s a real danger to the lost sheep.

Surely it’s the danger to the lost sheep that provokes the loving Shepherd to leave the ninety nine and go in search of the one?

So, effectively, while Jesus tells us much about himself, he’s also telling us that sin is not OK!

Firstly, the Gospels use the terms sin and sinners. Indeed they are terms that Jesus affirms. If you remove sin and sinners from the Gospels, Jesus Christ becomes meaningless.

Secondly, when Jesus tries to explain sin He tells stories / parables that understand sin as loss, potentially fatal. He uses sin and loss as if they’re interchangeable.

Thirdly, the sinners are seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say. It’s not a case of Jesus embracing sinners unconditionally saying peace, love, everything is OK! On the contrary Jesus is saying it’s not OK!

Nowhere is this more obvious than on the Cross.

ILLUSTRATE USING CRUCIFIX

This is what sin does to God.

But since this (Jesus Christ) is also man, this is also what sin does to humanity.

That’s why Jesus is interested in the sinner, but he’s interested like a shepherd facing the potential permanent destruction of one of his sheep.

Therefore, far from justifying, tolerating and accepting sin as OK the scriptures, indeed Jesus himself, actually argue and teach the very opposite.

How many Catholics started to build but didn’t finish? Sunday 23, Year C, September 08 2013

Be sure to read the Gospel: Luke 14: 25-33

The first thing to say about that piece is; it’s about us and God. But since God by his very nature is not interested in Himself (he doesn’t need to be) we can take it that it’s really about us, about our good.

Without hating my father, mother, wife … What could that mean?

Hating in this piece means second place, any place but not first place! So Jesus Christ gets first place, everybody and everything else comes second …

Jesus is saying; put me before parents, wife, husband, children … Why on earth would you do that?

Jesus Christ is suggesting He’s the true source of happiness. This is radical stuff, completely counter cultural.

What’s the goal of our culture? What’s our cultures vision for you, for the human being? Consume, so that you will be happy! That’s it, nothing more. It’s the biggest lie ever told on the face of the earth.

Jesus says; I’m your true goal.

By the way, anyone who thinks there is no basis in the teaching of Jesus for priestly celibacy needs to have a look at this!

The king going out to war is you and me, indeed particularly priests, going out against an enemy that’s far greater than us, the world and all its allure, (ultimately it’s a spiritual war) and very often we sue for peace, meaning we compromise, sometimes we give up altogether.

How many priests have gone that road? How many ordinary Catholics? How many started to build but couldn’t finish – it’s a tough environment! Don’t you get it? It’s war, spiritual warfare, like one King marching to war against another King!

Why practice religion? If you practice with your heart it’ll take you into the Divine Life. But so many never even start! Others get side-tracked along the way. Some object to others and leave …

Behind this radical call, this seemingly crazy task of putting Christ first there resides the most important truth often unknown to humankind; life in Christ (grace) is our true goal. He is our happiness, knowing Him, loving Him.

God alone can satisfy the human heart!