Tag Archives: Mass Readings

Ouch 🤕 the standard of judgement is high!

Twenty-second Sunday

Luke 14:7-14

Once again Jesus uses something very ordinary to teach us about Heaven.

This time he’s observing people at a dinner.

So he takes just that – people at a dinner – and he uses it to describe Heaven.

Heaven is like a wedding feast.

Insights like this – and Jesus supplies so many – are useful in helping us address the mystery of death. Jesus is saying that what comes after death is like a wedding feast.

What else is he telling us about Heaven?

He tells us that in God’s presence, in Heaven, we are merely guests.

Guests don’t decide where they sit!

This is the real force of the teaching – we ought not presume that we know our place or that we’re already in!

The best bet is humility. Besides there’s only humility in God’s presence. Nothing else can exist there.

It will be our host – God – who’ll decide where we sit. In other words there’s judgment. My friend move up higher or to our embarrassment, we are moved to a lower or even the lowest place.

But it’s the piece about inviting guests who can’t pay us back that really puts the knife in!

Here we’re given the standard that God will use to determine where we’ll be sitting!

Ouch!🤕

The only disciple is a tough disciple!

Twenty-third Sunday

Luke 13: 25-33

Great crowds accompany Jesus.

But Jesus turns and says stuff that could easily drive them away!

Why though, why did Jesus do that?

Because he knows us too well and he knows that life itself will break the faith of many… so he urges caution ⚠️

We’re all familiar with people who’ve fallen out with God because of some suffering or loss, the death of a loved one, yes?

Often, we’re rattled ourselves.

When he tells the story of a man who started to build but couldn’t finish he’s talking about us, about that struggle, specifically about all who fall away.

When he talks about a man who marched out to war with 10,000 men without considering if he could stand up to the other advancing against him with 20,000 men he’s talking about us, about that struggle, specifically about all who fall away – the 20,000 men being life, cancer, diseases of one kind or another, disappointment, the tough stuff… and even the soft stuff, like our love of money, possessions.

And what’s really happening when we fall out with God because of some suffering or death, because of the tough stuff?

According to Jesus we’ve put ourselves or our loved ones before Jesus. There’s the knife!

Jesus understood that we’re inclined to think that God will somehow spare us suffering if we’re good and he knew this is nonsense, a recipe for disaster.

So when he saw the crowds he tried to warn them.

He’s just turned to you now and done the same!

In the end our choices are a very big deal!

Twenty-fifth Sunday

Luke 16:13

Jesus says that one or other – God or money – will win out.

So what? What’s the big deal? Well, here’s the big deal and it is a very big deal.

God always respects our freedom.

Our choices are the most fundamental expression of our freedom.

So God always respects the choices we make… our choices may grieve Him but he will respect our choices.

He has to, otherwise we’re puppets, muppets!

So we’re free to choose money over God – and many people do – but if we do, then at the time of our death we end up looking at money and asking it to raise us from the dead. That’s what we’ve chosen!

If I choose hurling over Jesus – and I love hurling – then I end up asking a hurl to raise me from the dead. That’s what I’ve chosen… it’s my choice.

If I choose a wife, husband, son or daughter – anything – over Jesus then I end up looking to that person, that interest, to raise me from the dead.

And that’s not going to happen.

So, in the end our choices are a very big deal!

Put dishonesty in Heaven and you’re creating Hell!

Twenty-fifth Sunday

Luke 16:10-12

Again, the teaching of Jesus is profoundly simple.

If you cannot be trusted in little things how can you be trusted in great things?

The little things mean the stuff of this world like money… all the stuff that you and I think is our life!

The great things mean Heaven and the things of Heaven.

If you give Heaven – even the tiniest piece of Heaven and the powers of Heaven – to a dishonest man, you’re creating a demon.

If you put a dishonest man in Heaven he’ll begin turning it into Hell.

So, dishonesty doesn’t – cannot, just cannot – enter Heaven, it’s impossible.

It has to be purged first, burned out of the person (soul) before entry.

Simple.

The joy is great because the loss is eternal!

Twenty-fourth Sunday

Luke 15:4-7

Once again Jesus uses something very simple – an everyday thing – to teach us about eternity.

An animal – a sheep 🐑 – is lost.

The lost sheep 🐑 – wherever she’s got to, that place where she’s lost is actually the road to Hell. Until that sheep is found by the shepherd she’s in grave danger. The shepherd knows that unless he gets to the sheep quickly she’ll be killed by a wolf 🐺, a predator. She won’t last long, so it’s time sensitive. So there’s real concern, a sense of urgency. If the sheep is killed there’s no undoing it, it’s final, a finality that means Hell, eternal loss, it’s an irretrievable loss.

And that’s precisely why there’s so much joy when the sheep is found in time, before tragedy strikes.

So in the simplest of terms, using a shepherd and a sheep that’s got separated from the shepherd, Jesus teaches us about God, about the nature of God and affirms not just the existence of Heaven, but the existence of Hell too.

Pentecost: Making things a little too black and white!

This is so simple.

It’s nearly too simple for many of us. I suspect it’s much too black and white!

The Spirit arrives into our lives in a very ordered way – remember it’s the Spirit that brings us into intimacy with God.

There are ordered steps and each step builds on the previous step.

If you love me – that’s the first step; if you love ❤️ me… look how he’s phrased it; if

If you love me, then the second step; you’ll keep my commandments. So the second step is keeping his commandments but you’ll never have one without the other.

Then Jesus repeats himself, making the same point but in a slightly different way.

And then to really push the point home he states that the reverse is true: “Those who do not love me do not keep my words.” Few of us are comfortable with this, typically we’d say; much too black and white!

So, the Spirit does not enter every life, only the lives of those who love Jesus (God), and keep his commandments, his Word.

So we’re given a reason for lack of intimacy with God.

Finally we’re told something of what the Spirit’s presence does; it causes us to remember Jesus teaching, his teaching becomes part of who we are, my identity, your identity, our identity.

Unteachable – no reason to believe Heaven views us differently!

Twenty Seventh Sunday.

It’s a tough one!

Bear in mind that it comes on the back of: “And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…” (last Sunday’s Gospel, Twenty Sixth Sunday).

Divorce and remarriage are an accepted part of life. To suggest otherwise is to be considered outdated and backward.

Yet here in the proclamation of this Sunday’s Gospel reading we are once again confronted by the teaching of Jesus which says that divorce and remarriage are not, and never were, a part of God’s plan.

Jesus turns to the teaching of Moses and in doing so he must have known that Moses allowed divorce and remarriage.

In keeping Moses in the conversation Jesus is firstly putting the Ten Commandments centre stage; and secondly, he’s taking the opportunity to correct the teaching of Moses which allowed for divorce and remarriage.

Interestingly, he doesn’t blame Moses. Rather, he blames Moses generation, the masses, from Moses right up to his day, about 1600 years of people divorcing and remarrying: “It was because you were so unteachable” that Moses allowed you to divorce and remarry. There’s no reason to believe that Heaven views us any differently!

Just about everybody seems to have expected Jesus to go with Moses teaching allowing divorce and remarriage – as most people do today – as evidenced by the disciples bringing the matter up again in the privacy of the house.

That Jesus turns to the Ten Commandments should not be a surprise.

He guarded the commandments carefully saying that Heaven and earth would disappear before the Ten Commandments. That’s a huge statement. But there’s more: “Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of Heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of Heaven.” Matt 5:17

In placing divorce and remarriage in the context of breaching the sixth commandment (he actually uses the word “guilty” of adultery), in binding divorce and remarriage to adultery so tightly, and given his understanding of the place of the Ten Commandments in the working out of our salvation, Jesus is raising a red flag 🚩 here about divorce, remarriage and our eternal welfare.

It’s a tough one indeed.

What I haven’t dealt with here is Heaven’s understanding of the purposes of marriage and our everyday understanding – they’re very different and it will go some way to explain our difficulty with Jesus teaching.

But that too is another days work…

Jesus shock – cutting off hands and tearing out eyes!

Twenty Sixth Sunday

Who was this outsider that he’d figured out the significance, if not the identity, of Jesus?

“But he’s not one of us” the disciples complain.

He wasn’t part of the twelve. He didn’t have the benefit of sharing intimately in Jesus inner circle. Yet here he is, ministering in the power of Jesus.

Here we glimpse the wonder of the Father’s revelation which is always capable of catching us offside so to speak. The Father is full of surprises!

Jesus corrects his inner circle; he may not be one of us in the sense that he’s not physically present in this group, but he knows me… and that’s all he needs.

Essentially this passage is teaching us that Jesus is everything, that knowing and recognizing him is everything – not the group we belong to – and that giving a cup of water to someone just because she belongs to Christ is hugely significant because the giving of the water is really about the recognition of Jesus.

The recognition of Jesus is everything.

But then Jesus turns his attention to sin, to the power that is his absolute opposite.

That he swings so suddenly – almost violently – to bring up his opposite suggests he wants us to hear what he has to say.

It’s Jesus shock!

It’s shock tactics so he can get our attention – “thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck… cut off your hand… tear out your eye…”

It’s a shocking message, hyperbole obviously, but nonetheless a very simple message that Jesus really wants us to hear.

Do not sin.

Sin – without repentance – is the highway to hell!

He told us it was going to be like this – the parable of the weeds and wheat. Matt 13: 24-30

Jesus compares good people to wheat and bad people to weeds.

The kingdom is like a field of weeds and wheat. The kingdom of God no less. We’re hardly able to cope with the sinfulness of the Church!

Where is this kingdom? It’s already here, it’s in the Church, the Church that contains, and always will contain saint and sinner.

I have a choice; do I give power to the sinner or to the saint? The weeds or the wheat? “Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church…” we pray in every Mass.

You’d think that Jesus didn’t teach the parable of the weeds and wheat.

At times you’d be forgiven for thinking that he didn’t teach at all, never said a word.

You’d think he wasn’t betrayed by somebody who shared his table.

You’d think he didn’t die between two thieves.

You’d think he didn’t describe the kingdom for us.

And yet, after all Jesus teaching, we still expect the Church to be different?

You’d think that the incarnation never happened at all!

That’s my point – many people seem to attempt to believe without Jesus Christ and his teaching!

Is it any wonder that so many fall away?

You’d never know that He told us it was going to be like this.

Of course weeds are dangerous if they get out of control.

But the best way to deal with weeds is a reminder that in the end there’s judgment. Dare I say it: Hell! The weeds are thrown on the fire and burnt.

How can there be Mercy without Justice? Justice is the very precondition of Mercy. Mercy is undoubtedly God’s greatest attribute but that presupposes Justice.

Do we really think that God bestows Mercy forcibly? Did Jesus?

God will never – never – superimpose Godself or his Mercy on our freedom.

We must use our freedom to receive Mercy, that’s its purpose.

Divine Justice just is, it’s the default position, but Mercy is our choice, always.

Jesus’ reasons for unbelief – the parable of the sower. Matt 13:1-9

We hear all sorts of reasons for unbelief.

But every time I read the parable of the sower I’m struck by its reach. Is there a reason advanced for unbelief that’s not included in the parable?

Jesus compares people who hear the word to seed that falls on the edge of a path.

The seed of the word is sown in the heart but there’s no understanding. Where there is no understanding, abandonment follows.

The heart is simply not receptive – receptivity is the precondition of understanding – the heart is not open, and entry through anything that’s closed solidly is difficult. The word simply bounces off non-receptive hard objects and falls away.

Next, Jesus compares people who hear his teaching to the seed that falls on patches of rock. It lacks both rich soil and deep roots.

When confronted with human suffering and human failure including outrageous scandal – scorching sun – the faith of some people withers because it’s not deeply rooted in the rich soil that is Jesus Christ.

Scorching and withering – apt descriptions of human suffering and failure.

That objections to God using this very argument can attract millions of views on YouTube suggests that many have not taken Jesus and his teaching seriously. The God that many refuse to believe in is not the God found in the teaching of Jesus Christ. They dismiss a God unrelated to Jesus Christ!

Next, Jesus compares people who hear the word to seed falling in thorns; falling in the midst of the worries of this world and the lure of riches the seed is choked to death! A strong image, mind. Choked, and common parlance adds “the living daylights out of!”

It’s dramatic, but for most people the choking happens unconsciously. It’s simply that other stuff – the cares of this world (interests that are good and wholesome in themselves) and the pursuit of wealth – take our hearts. For many the interests become false gods.

Is there a source of unbelief that’s not covered in this parable?

It seems that many people attempt to believe without Jesus Christ and his teaching which means they end up struggling to believe at all.