Saturday, 16 October 2021

Not to be served but to serve

 Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 17th October 2021

Gospel Mark 10: 35–45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him, ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’, Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for the seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant: they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

The cup that I must drink

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I come to my place of prayer. I take the time to relax my body as I come into God’s presence. I remind myself that I am enveloped in his unconditional love.

In time, I read the Gospel slowly. I picture James and John – their youth, impetuousness, confidence and ambition. What are my attitudes as I come before the Lord with my requests?

I contemplate Jesus’s reaction. I consider his gentleness and patience, but also his direct teaching, his humility. Can I learn something from his example in my dealings with others? I speak to him about this.

Perhaps I can also learn from the indignation of the other disciples?

How do my reactions fit in with Jesus’s call to me to serve, and to be willing to suffer for the sake of others?

I spend time speaking to him about my feelings ... and maybe also about my reluctance. I ask him for the graces I need to follow him more closely.

I end my prayer with gratitude for his gift of himself.

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

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Everything is possible for God

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 10th October 2021 

Gospel Mark 10: 17–30 (part)

Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them, ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’, they said to one another, ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men and women’, he said, ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’

How hard it is for those who have riches...

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I open my heart and mind to the Lord’s loving presence with me as I settle down to pray.

As I read the words of the Gospel, it may help to imagine the scene.

How do I feel as I see the look of love that Jesus has for the young man?

How do I respond to his sadness as he realises that he isn’t able to give up his wealth? Do I share the astonishment of the disciples as they hear Jesus’s teaching, and seek to understand its meaning?

Maybe I can put myself in the young man’s place, and let Jesus look at me with that same love. What might he be asking of me?

Are there riches (not necessarily material) to which I cling, which prevent me from being free to follow him as he asks?

I spend some time pondering these ques ons with the Lord.

I end my prayer asking the Lord for the grace to know him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day.

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

Sunday, 3 October 2021

To such as these the kingdom of God belongs

 Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 3rd October 2021

Gospel Mark 10: 2–16

Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us,’ they said, ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So what God has united, no one must divide.’ [...]

People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms around them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.

"To such as these..."

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

Once I feel settled to pray, I slowly read the Gospel text. I recall the truth at the heart of this Sunday’s readings: that we were created in love, for love. Jesus came among us not to condemn, but to heal and transform our suffering.

I use my imagination to explore the contrast in the interactions between the adults and the children in this Gospel. I ponder how Jesus deals with each of them. What does this teach me?

Perhaps I picture myself as one of the children coming to Jesus.

What is it about him that makes me want to be with him? Would I feel the same way about approaching one of the Pharisees or elders?

As I imagine being held within the accepting and comforting arms of Jesus, I place before him all my needs, desires and questions.

I sit, I remain, I listen, and when I am ready I finish my prayer with my own words of thanks.

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

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Anyone who is not against us is for us

 Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 26th September 2021

Gospel Mark 9: 38–43. 45. 47–49

John said to Jesus, ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.

‘If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, they will most certainly not lose their reward.

‘But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone around their neck. And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better to enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 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 where their worm does not die nor their fire go out.’

... just because you belong to Christ

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I deliberately slow down, maybe attending to my breath, noticing the slow inhalation of life-giving oxygen into my body; and the slow exhalation of air. I attend to the present moment; disposing myself to God’s grace.

When ready, I turn to the Gospel and read Jesus’s teachings reflectively. Which one most draws me? I allow this teaching to find its home in me.

I may note Jesus’s attitude of generosity towards others who are not of his ‘tribe’... his warning against judgements and elitism; his blessings on simple kindness. When I consider my own inner attitudes and motivations, do I feel challenged or reassured by Jesus’s open-heartedness? I ponder...

Perhaps his third set of teachings invites me to see how I can take on the mind and attitudes of Christ to become like ‘the little ones’.

I ask for the freedom and grace to die to those parts of myself that do not lead to fullness of life ... for myself, my neighbour and all inhabitants of our planetary home.

I end my prayer expressing both sorrow and gratitude.

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

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Last of all and servant of all

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 19th September 2021

 Gospel Mark 9: 30–37

After leaving that place they made their way through Galilee; and Jesus did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again’. But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.

They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, they must make themselves last of all and servant of all’. He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me, but the one who sent me’.

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I come to stillness, I may wish to have a lit candle by me, symbolizing that Christ is present with me.

Whenever I feel ready, I slowly read the Gospel passage prayerfully, pausing wherever I feel moved.

If it helps, I may like to place myself in the scene, perhaps as a disciple or a bystander travelling on the road with Jesus, or maybe in the house.

I listen to Jesus’s words and notice the expressions and reactions of those around me.

I watch as Jesus holds the child, and notice the tone of his voice.

If I’m confused by anything he says, I know I can speak to him openly, just as I would to a trusted friend.

How might Jesus be inviting me to welcome the ‘little children’ in our world? Those without influence or status ... refugees, the homeless, the poor, the abused, the vulnerable, the sick, those who are neglected ...?

I ask him to show me. I listen to what he has to say.

Maybe there is a gift or grace I feel I need to help me? I can ask Jesus for this too.

With a deep sense of gratitude, I end my prayer with Glory be ...

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

Sunday, 5 September 2021

He has done all things well

 Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 5th  September 2021

 Gospel Mark 7: 31–37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said, ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I go to my own place of prayer, be it a seat in the garden, the corner of a quiet room, or wherever. As I do, I notice how I am feeling. What am I bringing with me? How disposed and prepared am I to pray? 

Jesus’s cure of the man with a speech and hearing impediment is a clear echo of the First and Second Readings. God chooses the weak, the poor, those without capacity, to show that one’s level in society counts for nothing. What is of lasting value is a heart set on God.

As I begin this time of prayer, I might ask that the Holy Spirit help me to see everything through faith, to recognise that power counts for nothing unless it be the power of love.

I might move into prayer by reading the text, noticing what is striking me, or by putting myself in the Gospel, perhaps as the man needing healing. Where, in my life, do I want to be opened?

However I am praying, I keep my gaze firmly on the person of Jesus and on his priorities, noticing that he is even at pains to avoid the crowd’s praise.

By journeying through the more Gentile Decapolis region, Jesus is making a choice – those outside the Jewish law will not be forgotten.

In my daily decision-making, who and what directs my own choices?

Do I notice when others need help? Do I turn a blind eye?

Do I truly listen when someone speaks?

Am I someone who helps others to open up and unburden themselves? I ponder...

I end, when ready, with a sign of the cross.

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

Sunday, 29 August 2021

From your hearts...

 Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - 29th August 2021

Gospel Mark 7: 1–8. 14–15. 21–23

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So the Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture: “This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.” You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’

He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into you from outside can make you unclean. For it is from within, from your hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make you unclean.’

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I settle to pray, I pause, and become aware of God’s loving gaze on me.

I read through the text, perhaps imagining myself in the scene. If a phrase or an action particularly strikes me, I pause, staying with it to explore what has drawn me. I watch the scene unfold ... what strikes me about the insistence of the Pharisees that traditions must be respected?

How important are traditions in my own life? How does my adherence to them influence the way I relate to others?

I may want to ask the Lord to help me understand.

How do I feel when I hear Jesus say it is from within that evil intentions arise?

Though I may not be guilty of the most damaging sins of which Jesus speaks, perhaps I recognise where I am in need of forgiveness when I consider the way I live and my relationships with others ...?

I speak to the Lord from the depth of my heart, tell him of my sorrow, and offer my deep gratitude for the mercy he shows me.

Not to be served but to serve

 Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 17th October 2021 Gospel Mark 10: 35–45 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus...