Saturday, 1 August 2020

They all ate as much as they wanted

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 2nd August 2020

Gospel Matthew 14: 13–21

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered, ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves he handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining, twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

Mosaic from Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes
near Capernaum

Like Jesus before me, I try to withdraw into a quiet place of solitude to pray, perhaps out in nature or on a prayer walk. I ask the Holy Spirit to help still my inner being; to help me be present to the Lord’s love and power.

When ready, I read the Gospel slowly several times. I probably recognise the story ... but there may be aspects of it which haven’t struck me before.

I spend as much  me as I can with these.

Jesus is grieving for the violent death of his dear cousin. Maybe this brings to mind some sadness and loss in my own life ... or maybe in the life of my sisters and brothers across the world. I share the depths of my emotions and yearnings with my compassionate Lord, who truly understands.

I take time to be in the scene in whatever way I can. Perhaps I sense the disciples’ mood ... their concerns about limited supplies ... how they share their resources with Jesus. I remain with them as the story unfolds.

What do I notice about Jesus and his cooperative relationship with the disciples? How might Jesus be asking me to labour with him?

I share whatever arises with the Lord.

When I am ready, I beg the Lord to nourish my deepest yearnings for myself and for this interconnected world. Glory be ...

Sunday, 26 July 2020

The Kingdom of Heaven ...

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 26th July 2020

Gospel Matthew 13: 44–52

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well, then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I come to pray, I take the  me to slow down and to relax my body and mind. I breathe in God’s love and life. I enter God’s presence in me and around me more deeply.

When I am ready, I take up the Gospel passage and read it slowly a couple of times.
Which of the four parables strikes me most? I may wish to stay just with this one, asking myself ‘why?’

I may speak to the Lord, applying the parable to myself and allowing him to show me its truth in my life.

Or I may wish to ponder on what the kingdom of heaven means to me now, after all these parables.
God’s presence or closeness in my life ... in my community ... in my world ...?

Does my understanding colour the values I hold, and the actions I undertake? Have I thrown all my rubbish into the sea?

As I end my prayer, I may choose to take away, in gratitude, one pearl to carry me through the day or week.

Click here to read or listen to a one-minute homily on the Gospel!

Saturday, 18 July 2020

"Let them both grow till the harvest"

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 19th July 2020

Take a look at the new page above: "Should you go to Mass..?" Click on the tab to read it.

Gospel Matthew 13: 24–30 

(shortened version)

Jesus put a parable before the crowds, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?’ ‘Some enemy has done this’, he answered.

And the servants said, ‘Do you want us to go and weed it out?’ But he said, ‘No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I enter this time of prayer by reverently approaching Jesus the teacher. I sit at his feet and listen deeply to what he is trying to tell me. Yes, he is speaking to the crowds, but he is also speaking directly to me.

As I slowly pray the Gospel, what am I noticing in what Jesus says and in the way he says it? What is touching me as I listen?

Perhaps I am thinking about the evil I see around me, and wondering how to cope with it?

Or maybe I am drawn to ponder the weeds I can discern within myself – doubt, mistrust, self-reliance, fear ...?

Could it be that realising where my faults lie can make me humble, more tolerant of others?

As I read again, I may be drawn to the quiet, measured reaction of the landowner.

Perhaps I yearn to approach things in a more measured way myself? Have I the patience to wait for God’s purposes to be fulfilled?

I continue to pray, asking for whatever I need.

Perhaps I pray for the constancy always to seek what is good and to ask for an ever-deeper trust in the great depth of God’s mercy.

Glory be ...

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Imagine a sower going out to sow

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 12th July 2020

Gospel Matthew 13: 1–9 

(abridged version)

Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

Today’s Gospel is the familiar parable of the sower. Here we pray the shorter version, but the whole text is worth reading and pondering later.

I settle down to pray. Perhaps I have a lit candle nearby to remind me of Christ, the light of the world. I may try to put aside my everyday concerns by listening to some gentle, relaxing music.

In time, I read the story, perhaps several times. I try to put myself in the scene. Maybe I am part of the large crowd surrounding Jesus. How do I feel when he stands up and gets into a boat? I listen intently to him.

Maybe I have a garden or even a small plant pot on my windowsill, where I have tried to sow and grow some seeds. How far can I relate to the experience of the sower?

Perhaps I imagine that I am the soil on which the seeds are sown. What am I like?
Am I a rich, well-manured loam, or a very thin, rocky topsoil?
Are there other plants already growing there? I ponder.

I may come to realise that the quality of my soil has changed over the years. Who or what has led to these changes?

I speak to the Lord freely, from my heart, and tell him what my deep longings are just now.

I listen to what the Lord says to me, and take my leave with a slow, grateful sign of the cross.

Click here for a One-Minute Homily on this Sunday's Gospel!

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Come to me, and I will give you rest

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 5th July 2020

Gospel Matthew 11: 25–30

Revealed to mere children...
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

My mind may be burdened with thoughts, regrets and loss from the past, as well as worries and ruminations as to what the future may hold. But now, in prayer, I desire to call my mind to awareness of the present moment.

God is eternally present in the here and now of my life. This is where God greets me, not in the past or future ... but now, in this very moment.

To help my wandering mind, I gently call the focus of my attention to what I can feel in my body, and see or hear around me.

I may softly focus on a candle, an icon, the cross, or anything that speaks to me of the presence of God.

I rest and linger in this presence for as long as I need, before turning to the Gospel. I read it reverently several times, until the passage becomes familiar to me.

I may choose to imagine Jesus speaking these words.

Does the tone of his voice change as he moves from talking with the Father to talking to the people?
As I listen, what do I notice arising within me?

I am free to focus my prayer on a part or the whole of this Gospel ... or perhaps I see Jesus looking deep into my being and saying, 'Come to me [my name], you who labour and are overburdened ...
I let these words resonate within me, and share the depths of my feelings and thoughts with Jesus. I take time to listen ...  to be aware of my needs.

I finish by praying ’Our Father ...’, together with Jesus.

Click here for a 'One Minute Homily' on the Gospel!

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Who do you say I am?

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles Year A - 28th June 2020

Gospel Matthew 16: 13–19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

‘But you,’ he said, ‘who do you say I am?’

Then Simon Peter spoke up. ‘You are the Christ,’ he said, ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So now I say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I prepare to spend time in prayer, I make a conscious effort to relax my body and my mind so as to be alert and receptive to God’s word.

I breathe slowly, perhaps asking for a special grace for today.

When ready, I take up the text and take time to read it slowly.

Perhaps I can imagine myself with Jesus and the disciples walking quietly, away from Galilee and the crowds. I listen to the disciples as they answer Jesus’s question.
What do I think of their replies?

And then Jesus asks me personally ‘Who do you say I am?’

The disciples fade away and I am left with Jesus. How do I feel?
Maybe I stay with him and tell him what he means to me.
I speak to him and then remain with him as I listen to his voice, or rest quietly in his presence.

How do Peter’s words help me? I may wish to consider Jesus’s reply and then pray for his Church, for Peter’s successors, and for all leaders at this difficult time ...
I end my prayer in gratitude for all those in the service of leadership. Glory be ...

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Worth more than hundreds of sparrows

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 21st June 2020

We're back in green for Ordinary Time this Sunday - the colour of life, growth and healing!

Gospel Matthew 10: 26–33

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the rooftops.

‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

‘So if anyone declares themself for me in the presence of others, I will declare myself for them in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of others, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I become aware of the God who desires me and seeks my company now... conscious of his loving attention in this moment.

I ask his living Spirit to pray in me, with me, through me...

I read Jesus’s teachings prayerfully, a couple of times.

Maybe I can sense his presence as I read? I listen to the qualities of his voice, and the words he uses as he instructs his disciples.

As I linger here, what responses in me arise? I try to find my own words ... or I may simply rest in deep shared silence with Jesus.

Perhaps I am conscious of my fears for myself and my loved ones; for the marginalised peoples of our interconnected world at this time of pandemic.

As a disciple of Jesus, can I open my heart to hear and pray his repeated words: ‘Do not be afraid (my name) ...’?

Or perhaps I find myself really struggling to trust in the promises of Jesus, and to have confidence in the Father’s intimate care?

Whatever arises within me, I take care not to judge. I can speak openly to the Lord about it. I ask him to help me trust in his universal power and care for us during these confusing and unpredictable days.

As I slowly end my prayer, I give thanks for my own worth as seen through God’s eyes. I ask the Spirit for the grace I need to be a courageous, faithful disciple.

Did you know that the words Do not be afraid appear in the Bible 365 times - once for every day of the year?

They all ate as much as they wanted

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 2nd August 2020 Gospel Matthew 14: 13–21 When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist...