Friday, 30 April 2021

I am the vine, you are the branches

 Fifth Sunday of Easter Year B - 2 May, 2021

Gospel John 15: 1–8

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.

You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – they wither; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it.

It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.’

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I may like to pray this Gospel outdoors or where I can look through the window. I notice anything I can see growing around me. Becoming still, I entrust myself to the Lord’s care as I prayerfully read the Gospel, pausing wherever I feel moved.

Just as a gardener comes very close to and looks at the plant he is about to prune, perhaps in my mind’s eye I picture God coming close to me and examining me to see where I am producing fruit. I sense the warmth and tenderness, the closeness of God’s love.

Knowing that warmth of God’s love for me, maybe I reflect on times when I’ve been able to bring some of that love and warmth into the lives of others.

Being pruned brings me closer to the main vine, to Jesus, and enables new growth. I ponder if there is anything that I would like pruned within me, or in my life? Maybe I’m getting carried away by concentrating too much on something that diverts my energy and attention, preventing new growth within my life, my work, my community ...?

I talk to Jesus about this, just as a really good friend does to another, asking him to show me and help me respond.

When ready, I end my prayer with ‘Glory be to the Father ...’

Click here to read or listen to a one-minute homily on this Sunday's readings!

Saturday, 24 April 2021

I am the good shepherd

 Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B - 25th April 2021 (Good Shepherd Sunday)

Gospel John 10: 11–18

Jesus said:

‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.

And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd.

The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I prepare to pray slowly, with care, love and attention.

When I feel ready, I read the Gospel with the same loving care and attention.

Jesus purposefully uses rich imagery to teach and to reveal.

It may help my prayer today to imagine being held, contained, and protected by Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I rest for a while in this image.

The idea of the Good Shepherd that Jesus shares here is perhaps very familiar to me. I ask for the grace to listen to him now, with the curious ears of a child.

I ask Jesus my loving Shepherd to guide me in my prayer, and to reveal what he wants me to hear today.

I wait upon the Shepherd ... I listen to the Shepherd ...

I place all my needs and deepest desires before the Good Shepherd of my life.

Without any haste, I close my prayer, joining Jesus in praying ‘Our Father ...’

Click here to read or listen to a one-minute homily on this Sunday's readings!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

You are witnesses

 Third Sunday of Easter Year B - 18th April 2021

Gospel Luke 24: 35–48

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of the bread.

They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they could not believe it, and they stood dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it was written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I prepare to spend time in prayer, I take a moment to become aware of already being in the presence of my God – the God who loves me, and wishes me to spend time with him.

Maybe I light a candle, a sign of the risen Christ dispelling doubt and fear. I relax and breathe gently, aware of the breath of new life at Easter.

When I am ready, I read the text slowly, a couple of times.

I imagine the disciples gathered together, fearful, not daring to believe the reports that Jesus is risen.

Perhaps I am one of them? How do I feel?

When the Lord invites the disciples – and me – to touch him, how do I respond?

Am I silent? Am I fearful ... or full of joy? Do I speak to Jesus?

When Jesus starts explaining the scriptures, I listen. What touches me? I hear his call to me to be his witness. I ponder: How can I do this?

I speak to the Lord from my heart, maybe asking for the grace to respond. I bring my prayer to a close with a Glory be ...

Click here to read or listen to a one-minute homily on this Sunday's readings!

Saturday, 10 April 2021

‘My Lord and my God!’

 Second Sunday of Easter - Year B, 11 April 2021

Gospel John 20: 19–31 (abbreviated)

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood amongst them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father send me, so I am sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’

Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him: ‘You believe because you can see me.

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

Anonymous, c. 1190-1200; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100.

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I settle into my place of prayer, I take time to note any cares or distractions I bring to this time. Am I full of Easter joy, or drained with life’s demands and experiences?

I offer all of who I am to my loving Father, and ask the Spirit of truth to pray in me and through me.

I consciously slow down, in preparation for my prayer time with the risen Jesus. I become more aware of my life-giving breath; inviting Jesus to breathe upon me ... to fill me with the divine breath of the Holy Spirit.

When ready, I read this joyful, rich Gospel slowly, twice over.

If I am drawn, I allow God to use my imagination to help me enter the story... to experience it as if I am right there. I don’t need to worry about historically accurate details, or if the scene develops differently from the passage itself.

I trust God to lead me.

I try to be there in the Upper Room, either as myself, or as one of the disciples. Using my senses, I immerse myself in what’s happening... entering a conversation... listening to what they say to one other ... to Jesus ... to Thomas. Perhaps I come close to Jesus (or he to me).

Do I speak to him? ... does he speak to me?

Do I touch him ... does he touch my heart?

I let the events unfold in my imagination.

I may respond spontaneously in a conversation with the risen Lord.

In time, I rest in silence, and pray Thomas’s prayer: My Lord and my God.

Click here to read or listen to a one-minute homily on this Sunday's readings!

Sunday, 4 April 2021

He saw and he believed

 Easter Sunday, Year B - 4th April 2021

Gospel John 20: 1–9

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,’ she said, ‘and we don't know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I try to prepare myself for prayer by becoming still, by entrusting myself into the care of the Lord and to the guidance of the Spirit.

I note how I am feeling, and how I am approaching the Lord on his day of Resurrection. Perhaps I would like to begin with praise.

Then I move to what I am most in need of at the moment.

I speak honestly...

After I have read this Gospel passage slowly a few times, I may like to pray using my imagination.

With Mary, I might go to the tomb. Why does she go while it is still dark? What is compelling her – me – to be with the Lord’s body?

I may ponder my desire. We see the stone rolled away and I note Mary’s reaction – is it excitement, fear, distress?

What am I hearing and seeing? How do I myself want to respond?

When they hear the news, Peter and John run to the tomb – do I run with them? Do I step into the empty tomb with them?

If so, what is striking me as I enter, and what it is like to be there? I might wish to touch or pick up the cloths.

Like John, does this lead to an affirmation of faith for me?

I may wish to conclude my prayer by remaining in the quiet of the tomb when the others have gone. I consider how I am feeling and ponder, perhaps, a new, deeper understanding of the Lord’s love for me.

I end by speaking with him from the heart.

Click here to read or listen to a one-minute homily on this Sunday's readings!

Sunday, 28 March 2021

To Golgotha

 Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord Year B - 28th March 2021

Gospel Mark 15 (abridged)

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull.

It was the third hour when they crucified him. The inscription giving the charge against him read: ‘The King of the Jews’. And they crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. The passers-by jeered at him; they shook their heads and said, ‘Aha! So you would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days! Then save yourself: come down from the cross!’ The chief priests and the scribes mocked him among themselves in the same way. Even those who were crucified with him taunted him. When the sixth hour came, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’ When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling on Elijah’. Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it him to drink saying, ‘Wait and see if Elijah will come to take him down’. But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, ‘In truth this man was a son of God’.

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I settle myself, perhaps in front of a cross, and slowly read the passage.

Perhaps in my mind’s eye I place myself at Golgotha ... maybe as a follower of Jesus ... a persecutor ... a robber, or the Roman centurion? I watch what happens; I notice the place, the smells, the people; I sense the atmosphere. I listen to what they are saying and perhaps speak with one of them.

Can I accompany Jesus myself?

Knowing how much he experienced the mental agony of loneliness, rejection, physical suffering and death, how might I respond?

Maybe I ponder what caused the centurion to recognise Jesus as God’s son. How easy is it for me to declare my faith as he did?

I tell Jesus how I am feeling.

I listen to what he might be saying to me, or just sit quietly with him.

I ask Jesus for the grace of inner strength, to help me walk in his footsteps more closely in my own life. I close my prayer with the sign of the cross.

Click here to read or listen to a one-minute homily on this Sunday's readings!

Download the beautiful Praying Holy Week booklet from St Beuno's Outreach here.  Readings, poems, art and reflections to guide you through Holy Week.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

I shall draw all people to myself

 Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B - 21st March 2021

Gospel John 12: 20–30

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew, and together they went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them:

‘Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves their life loses it; anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, they must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour them. Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’

A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours. Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself.’

By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I come to my place of prayer asking the Lord to give me the grace to hear his word and allow it to enter my heart.

Why am I here? Like the Greeks, do I wish to see and listen to Jesus?

I take the time to become aware of my desires, before slowly reading the text a couple of times.

I consider the little parable of the grain of wheat. How does it speak to me? In what ways do falling and dying resonate with me? Perhaps I miss something by clinging to the present.

I consider how can I be open, risk, learn ... and maybe bring life to others.

As I speak to the Lord about this, I also consider Jesus’s own pain, his consciousness of his coming suffering. I also see his trust in his Father. How can I learn from this?

Once again, I speak to him from my heart.

I end my prayer with a slow Our Father.

Download the beautiful Praying Holy Week booklet from St Beuno's Outreach here.  Readings, poems, art and reflections to guide you through Holy Week.

I am the vine, you are the branches

 Fifth Sunday of Easter Year B - 2 May, 2021 Gospel John 15: 1–8 Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine...