Sunday 29 January 2023

This is what he taught them

 Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A - 29th January 2023

Gospel Matthew 5: 1–12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.

Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.

Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.

Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.

Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.

Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God. Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I become still, aware of the Lord’s presence with me, loving me just as I am. Perhaps I sense the warmth of his tender gaze upon me and rest with him for a few moments.

Then I read these very familiar ‘Beatitudes’ slowly and carefully, a number of times, taking them line by  me, pausing wherever my attention is drawn. If it seems helpful, I may like to picture myself on the hill in front of Jesus, listening to his words as if for the first time.

In each Beatitude, I notice what is being promised and to whom. Perhaps I think of ‘happy’ as meaning blessed, favoured, fortunate...

Is there a ‘happiness’ or blessing that stands out for me?

Is there one I’d really like to have? Or perhaps a mixture of them?

What blessing(s) do I desire for my family and friends, my community, the world ...?

What blessings do I see in my own life? I thank God for what I’ve been given. How do I want to respond?

To whom can I be a blessing today?

I try to be conscious of the Lord being gently present to me as I ponder these questions with him.

When I feel ready, I slowly end my prayer, thanking the Lord for all his goodness. ‘Glory be ...’

Click here to read or listen to a One-Minute Homily on today's Gospel from the Jesuit Post

Saturday 21 January 2023

Follow me

 Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A - 22nd January 2023

Gospel Matthew 4: 12–23 (abbreviated)

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali! Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan, Galilee of the nations! The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light: on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned.

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men and women.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him.

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I come to prayer asking the Holy Spirit to help me surrender any resistance I carry. I take a few deep breaths, and slowly quieten my mind. God is the ground of my being. I remember that he really is close at hand.

I read Matthew’s narrative a couple of times, then use whatever form of prayer comes most naturally to me. I may draw on my imagination, and allow myself to enter the scene. Or I may focus on a particular phrase, savouring those words that catch my attention.

I turn to look at my own life. How do I experience Jesus’s invitation to help bring about God’s kingdom on earth? Perhaps the words ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’ challenge my attitude and behaviour ...? Or perhaps they bring reassurance in the midst of a suffering world?

I ponder... and rest with Jesus.

I may dwell on Jesus’s call to his first disciples: ‘Follow me’. I notice how Jesus calls ordinary people like me into the intimacy of a shared life with him.

Can I hear that call in my own life?

I open my whole being to Christ, asking for whatever grace I need to help bring about Christ’s kingdom for all on earth.

Our Father ...

Click here to read or listen to a One-Minute Homily on today's Gospel from the Jesuit Post

Sunday 15 January 2023

Yes, I have seen

 Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A - 15th January 2023

Gospel John 1: 29–34

Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit”. Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’

Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness - painting by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609)

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I come to prayer, I take my time to settle; to become still; to be as attentive as I can be to the one who is coming. I ask for the help of the same Spirit who rested on him like a dove.

I read the Gospel a few times, pausing often.

John, seeing Jesus coming towards him, points him out: ‘Look, there is the Lamb of God’. I stand alongside John. What am I noticing as I gaze upon Jesus? What do I say of him?

Like John, I might honestly wish to say, ‘I do not really know him myself’. Yet I am known by Jesus; and I am called by him to witness to him.

How does this make me feel?

The Spirit that has come down and rested on him, that same Spirit, has also been given to me. Does this make a difference?

I continue to stand before the lamb of God, the Chosen One of God. Now, what do I want to say to him from the bottom of my heart?

I stay with this colloquy – this heart to heart prayer – speaking to him freely as a close friend.

I end with a slow sign of the cross.

Click here to read or listen to a One-Minute Homily on today's Gospel from the Jesuit Post

Sunday 8 January 2023

This is my Son, the Beloved

 The Baptism of the Lord, Year A - 8th January 2023

Gospel Matthew 3: 13–17

Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you,’ he said, ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

As I come to my place of prayer, I pause to remember that God is with me. I slow my breathing to help me prepare to pray, dwelling for a moment on God’s life-giving presence within my heart, mind and body.

As the season of Christmas comes to a close, I may like to reflect on how I have celebrated the birth of Christ and contemplate what the incarnation of the Word of God as a tiny, vulnerable child means to me.

I talk with the Lord about this before I begin to pray with the Gospel. When I am ready, I move on.

In this short passage, we move quickly to the adulthood of Jesus and are drawn immediately into the action of the scene .

I read the text prayerfully and use my imagination to see the scene unfold. What do John and Jesus look like? What do I notice about their relationship when they meet on the banks of the river? John recognises the spiritual authority of Jesus and asks Jesus to baptise him.

But Jesus does not seem interested in human power relationships and seeks baptism for himself.

As Jesus is baptised, God declares his love for his Son and this love is energised by God’s Holy Spirit descending on Jesus.

Am I able to let God speak those same words to me: ‘you (my name) are my beloved child’?

What does this stir in me? How do I want to respond to that love?

I speak to the Lord with thanks and ask for a deeper understanding of God‘s call to me.

I finish my prayer with a slow sign of the cross.

Click here to read or listen to a One-Minute Homily on the Epiphany from the Jesuit Post

Sunday 1 January 2023

Mary treasured all these things in her heart

 Mary, Holy Mother of God, 1 January 2023

Gospel: Luke 2: 15–20

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us’. So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say.

As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

Gospel Reflection from Prego (St Beuno's Outreach)

By now I may have a little more time to sit quietly and contemplate the scripture passage the Church has chosen for me on this first day of the New Year.

Slowly, I take a few deep breaths, come to quiet and read the text above.

Who or what draws my attention?

Maybe it is Mary, the one who has been so actively involved in the story and yet from whom we have not heard a word.

I consider her situation silently for a while, perhaps bringing to mind all the events which have led to her bringing the baby Jesus to birth.

In time, I may feel moved to speak with her:

‘How are you feeling at the moment Mary?

Was your labour difficult?

How did you feel when you first heard the baby cry?’

I listen to her. What does she tell me she treasures?

I reflect on what it means to me today to experience these events through her eyes, and thank God for the birth of every child.

With you, Mary, I ponder in my heart the fate of all those who, like you, have been marginalised, not accepted by society: the homeless, the refugee, the mentally ill, the elderly, those suffering with dementia. I pray that they will encounter the Lord coming towards them in disguise: in food bank volunteers, refuge charity workers, care givers ...

Before I go, I thank you, Mary, mother of my God. You are indeed ‘blessed among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus’.

Click here to read or listen to a One-Minute homily from the Jesuit Post

Sunday 25 December 2022

News of great joy

 ⭐️The Nativity of the Lord, 25 December 2022 ⭐️

Gospel Luke 2: 8–14

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly with the angel was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all who enjoy his favour’.

Adoration of the Shepherds, Domenico Ghirlandaio

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

I come to spend some quiet time with the Lord. Maybe I have the luxury of a candle and a crib to help me visualise the events of that special night.

Or maybe I rely on my imagination and my memories of previous years.

I read the text above, perhaps several times, before putting it aside.

I may find myself being present in the scene, next to the shepherds.

I look around, what do I see?

I smell the grass, the sheep. I feel the roughness of the shepherd’s staff. I hear the shuffling of animals, the barking of dogs.

Then suddenly, I see the angel of the Lord and the light changing in the sky. How do I react? Am I fearful, like the shepherds, or amazed, or ..?

I hear the angel’s comforting words, news of peace and joy.

As I pause for a moment to take this all in, the singing starts. What is it like? Perhaps it’s a tune I know well, or one I’ve never heard before.

I focus again on the angel’s words: a baby, in a manger, a Saviour, Christ the Lord. Could it be that God has chosen to come to earth in disguise, where we least expect him?

Can he really have come in such simple surroundings, as a helpless baby, he who is so Almighty?

In what way is this a joyful event? I ponder...

Eventually, I come back to the here and now, still carrying all these events in my heart, thankful that I was there, with the shepherds and the angel, perhaps better able now to share this great joy with all around me.

Glory to God in the highest ...’

Click here to read or listen to a One-Minute Homily for Christmas from the Jesuit Post

⭐️🎄Wishing you a joyful, peaceful and blessed Christmas!🎄⭐️

Sunday 18 December 2022

He is the one who is to save his people from their sins

 Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A - 18th December 2022

Gospel Matthew 1: 18–24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son And they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.

When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

Gospel Reflection from St Beuno's Outreach

With Christmas so near, I may be caught up getting things ready.

Perhaps I’m looking forward to being with family and friends. Or perhaps I struggle with loneliness, or a sense of emptiness as I remember a loved one.

Whatever time I have to spare, I settle gently into prayer. I try to let any chatter occupying my mind slow down. I place any concerns into the Lord’s gentle, caring hands, aware that I am in his loving presence.

I invite God’s Spirit to guide my prayer, opening my heart and mind to whatever it is the Lord may want to show me...

In time, I read the passage through, mulling over any word or image that particularly catches my attention.

Maybe I find myself thinking of Joseph in this difficult situation.

How might he be feeling? Sad ... afraid ... angry ... humiliated ... helpless ...?

Perhaps I picture him praying to God for guidance; searching for comfort. What might I do in his shoes? Where do I place my trust when I feel caught up in my own struggles? Do I rely on my own self-knowledge?

Or am I willing to accept things beyond my own understanding?

Joseph listens carefully to God. Might there be something distracting me from God’s call?

In my own words and from my heart, I share my feelings with the Lord. Perhaps there is a grace I wish to ask for.

I may think of the messengers in my own life, those ‘angels’ who have guided and helped me. I give thanks for them.

I may like to end with the old Opening Prayer for this Sunday (below), perhaps praying it in the first person: ‘Lord, fill my heart with your love ...’

Let us pray, as Advent draws to a close, 

that Christ will truly come into our hearts.

Lord, fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man,

so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection.

Click here to read or listen to a One-Minute Homily on today's Gospel from the Jesuit Post 

This is what he taught them

 Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A - 29th January 2023 Gospel Matthew 5: 1–12 Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat d...