Reflection: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 29, 2017

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Zep.2:3,3:12-13; Ps.145; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.1:26-31; Gospel – Mt.5:1-12]

“REJOICE AND BE GLAD”

It seems that our faith is built on future expectations, that being on earth depends on Heaven and/or Hell, that whatever we do depends on our future, that we live a “good” life because, when we die, we go to Heaven to enjoy the presence of the Lord for eternity… It seems that our way of thinking is quite different from Jesus’ way of thinking. Let us consider what message Jesus is trying to convey in today’s gospel.

We’ve already established that Jesus’ teaching is totally different from our way of thinking. Jesus starts from the opposite point of view to ours and says that the future is a consequence of the present and not the other way round. Finding ourselves (or not) in the presence of the Lord, depends on how we live our life on earth. Though we should keep in mind this “future” as a point of reference and arrival, this same future point should be looked at as an end result of the way we have lived on earth. If we keep this idea in mind, then it is easier to understand the gospel and the readings that we are presented with today.

We are told that Jesus went up the hill (i.e. indicating the presence of God), sat down, was joined by his disciples and then Jesus began to speak. Consider this scene to the parallel scene of a Judge entering a courtroom (or a King entering a palace hall) joined by his counsellors. It seems that what Jesus is about to say is very important! Thus, it seems that before Jesus said anything, he had a look around him and spoke about the people who were there in the crowd. He saw people who were poor and others who were mourning. He noticed people who were suffering hunger and thirst and others who were being abused and persecuted in the cause of right … (as Jesus himself was treated by the Jews!). At the same time, he also saw people who were gentle, merciful, pure and were peacemakers. Jesus takes this situation as the starting point of his teaching. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we must be ready to let ourselves go entirely in the hands of God and in doing so, God will see that this commitment is rewarded (if not on earth then it will take place in heaven).

Thus, what happens in the afterlife is entirely in the hands of God. But what we should do while we are still here on earth, whatever the situation may be, is to always trust in the mercy and the providence of God.

“Lord, you want us to rejoice and be happy. Give us the wisdom to learn to do so as we trust ourselves in the Father’s immense love at all times. Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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Reflection: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 22, 2017

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Is.8:23-9:3; Ps.26; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.1:10-13,17; Gospel – Mt.4:12-23]

“THE KINGDOM IS CLOSE AT HAND”

In today’s gospel, what we are told “from that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’” is the same message that John the

Baptist preached when he was baptising. John is reaching the end of his purpose in the history of salvation: he has been arrested, in prison, can no longer preach and his end/death is near. Jesus is now in the scene. It is Jesus’ turn to preach and he uses the same words as preached by John the Baptist, an invitation very similar to what the Old Testament Prophets used. However, while past Prophets preached that the kingdom of God ‘will come’ – i.e. an event in the future – John the Baptist and Jesus, preached that the kingdom of heaven is now ‘close at hand’ – i.e. the event is already happening in the present… already, but not yet!!!

This is the moment where Jesus enters into public life, according to Matthew, the gospel writer. Matthew does not hesitate to introduce Jesus as the itinerant who went from Nazareth to Galilee, settling in Capernaum, Zabulun and Naphtali. This small introduction by Matthew tells us that Jesus had already been foretold by the Old Testament Prophets. The gospel writer tells us that the Prophet Isaiah wrote “…the people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned”. Thus Matthew is presenting Jesus as this ‘great light’. The gospel writer no longer speaks about John the Baptist because John is in now prison and has served his purpose in the life of Jesus. On the other hand it is now Jesus who is travelling through these different places and starting his public life. Matthew is therefore speaking of Jesus as the ‘light that has dawned’.

Yet, it seems that for Jesus it was not enough to be this “great light that has dawned”. Jesus wanted to share this light with others. Jesus did not want them only to see the light but also to become this ‘light’ themselves. Jesus ‘called’ some others to follow him more nearly and called them in twos so they can give evidence when the time comes. These were not perfect people, but weak fishermen … and yet Jesus was prepared to help them overcome their weakness to become like Jesus as ‘the light of the world’. The first thing that they had to do was to follow him and to listen more closely to his word, to listen to Jesus’ proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom and also, they were to bear witness Jesus’ healing power. This is the evidence they would have to give of Jesus and to truly become ‘light of the world’ like Jesus.

As followers of Jesus, we are also asked to become ‘light of the world’ like the Apostles. Are we ready to listen to his word and give evidence of what we experience in our relationship with him?

“Lord, your invitation to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand is a continuous renewal of your love for us. We know that you are near and we know that we should repent. Give us the courage to listen to you, do what you say and give evidence of your presence with us. Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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Reflection: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 15, 2017

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Is.49:3, 5-6; Ps.39; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.1:1-3; Gospel – Jn.1:29-34]

“I HAVE SEEN – I AM A WITNESS”

Although the time for Jesus to manifest himself (Christmas, Epiphany, Baptism) seems to be over, once again in the readings today, we are presented with the figure of John the Baptist giving evidence of Jesus. In today’s gospel it is only John who speaks. He did not know Jesus, but since he saw, he could therefore become, and in fact, he did become, a credible witness that Jesus is the Chosen One of God.

Twice, in today’s gospel, John says that he did not know Jesus. He got to know Jesus because John recognised him when he saw the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and rested on Jesus. John knew what his mission was in relation to Jesus, i.e. to reveal Jesus to Israel. John knew that he also had to be on the lookout of the Spirit to see on whom the Spirit was going to rest and this was the sign for John to recognise Jesus. So, as soon as the Spirit rested on Jesus, John knew straight away that Jesus was the ‘Chosen One of God’. John says that he has seen and therefore he is to witness what he has seen. Furthermore he had to witness not only what he had seen but also what he had understood about Jesus.

As soon as John saw Jesus, John understood that the baptism that he was giving was for the repentance of sins and as such was to come to an end because of the presence of Jesus. Jesus was the ‘lamb of God’ that takes away the sin of the world. If, through John the Baptist, the sin could be forgiven through John’s baptism with water, since Jesus was now in the picture, then sins could now be forgiven through Jesus himself. It was no longer through some repetitive action (e.g. Baptism) but through the presence of Jesus and especially through Jesus’ death and crucifixion.  This helps us to understand why John calls Jesus ‘the lamb of God’. The lamb was used as a sacrifice to God. Jesus too would be sacrificed, like the lamb, through which he will take away the sin of the world.

Previously John had said that Jesus would come after him even though Jesus ranked before John because he existed before John. In these few words, John gives us the whole theology about Jesus. Chronologically, John came before Jesus. We know that John was conceived at least six months before Jesus – that is what the angel told Mary at the Annunciation. Jesus is therefore humanly younger than John, which is why Jesus came ‘after’ John. In this context Jesus followed John. Yet, John says that Jesus ranks before John because he existed before John. We know that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore he was from the beginning of beginnings. In this context Jesus existed before John. So, being God, Jesus was before John. In this context Jesus preceded John. John, who did not know Jesus, came to recognise Jesus through the Spirit of God who descended and rested on him from heaven like a dove. Jesus is God and Man at the same time. John is giving evidence of this and therefore he was ready to share what he experienced with those listening to him about Jesus.

Through our own experiences what can we say? Can we say: ‘I know Jesus!’ or ‘I do not know Jesus?’ If we know Jesus, are we giving evidence of what we have seen … and experienced? If we do not know him, what are we going to do about it? What are we doing to see his signs and therefore get to know him … and to follow him more closely?

“Lord, John prepared the way for you and he also gave evidence of what you are and who you are. He was told what to do and what to look for in order to recognise you. You also told us what to do and what to look for in order to recognise you among us, but quite often we do not see or we choose not to see you. Help us to be more open to your word. Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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