ST. KIERAN - CATHOLIC CHURCH, CAMPBELTOW
October, month of the Holy Rosary: meditate and reflect

Today's reflection

by Anthony Wood 19 Oct, 2017
' Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves, and have prevented others going in who wanted to.'

Exactly. Not making use of it, they jealously guarded the key, preventing others entering. What can this mean?

When it comes to the lawyers, it is sure that they have misinterpreted the Scriptures to the point of attending to the insignificant details of the law. Not only did they overlook its spirit, but that may be the Messiah is more important than the law, who turns their conceptions upside down.

And when it comes to us? Well what . . . There are among us those, who in their interpretation of Christianity put forward one matter and ignore others to form a caricature of the true Gospel. O "forget" that the ruler is be the servant. Likewise the family ruler. Does running rampant in your own environment and covering yourself in the will of the "ruler" of God bring anyone to the Gospel? No, rather they are offended. And then surprised that people reject Jesus . . . not noticing that they stands in the road to Jesus, that they themselves prevent an encounter with Him . . .

Alas, you lawyers . . .

by Anthony Wood 18 Oct, 2017

Sometimes we have the impression that being faithful to God protects us – that being in grace we will not ne entangles in evil, prayer enables us to emerge from temptation victorious. And perhaps we right. However, our lives are often not quite that simple, we don't know everything about ourselves . . . In today's reading we find a description of the advice given to disciples, as Jesus he "sent them out ahead of him, in pairs". I am always struck by that number - "in pairs" because though we may see ourselves as too weak, we have another beside us. We accompany each other on the road – we are more in need of each other than we are of a purse, haversack or sandals. Our hands can do more, our voices about the Kingdom are powerful.

And – when we are together - even wolves do not frighten us.

by Anthony Wood 17 Oct, 2017
 "Oh, you Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness. Fools!"

Exactly! Those Pharisees were foolish. They were so entranced by what was external that they stopped paying attention to the inside. How could they be led into such a state?

Hmmm . . . . . The usual way. After all, closer at home we can see that pharisaic care for appearance. In this: what people look like and what they say. And where is the truth? For myself, do I slip into my own opinion of whether they are making a proper and good impression? The truth often recedes into the background. As long as on the outside everything looks OK.

Prayer

Help us, O Lord, to see the truth. Of myself and of others. Especially for those who I am inclined to regard as far from perfect. It is entirely possible that inside they are purer than I think by looking at their external appearance . . . Help us, O Lord, to see the truth.

by Anthony Wood 14 Oct, 2017

I return to my house - these words are spoken by the evil spirit, and he thinks of the man who first got rid of him but did no fill the space within his soul with God, he left it empty. Satan always, as an attentive listener to the Gospel, turn everything upside down, makes God someone evil, makes a person the wrongdoer, and it's not true. The truth is what Jesus proclaims - a message of love, mercy and joy. An evil spirit, even when it quotes the Gospel, does what is against the Gospel. This is why we cling to Jesus Christ the comforter and defender.

In the name of Jesus Christ, evil spirits of resignation, lethargy, doubt and hardness of heart, depart and do not return.

by Anthony Wood 14 Oct, 2017

" It is useless to serve God; what is the good of keeping his commands or of walking mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? Now we have reached the point when we call the arrogant blessed; yes, they prosper, these evil-doers; they try God's patience and yet go free."

It is useless to serve God - say the Israelites. It's not worth repenting. Rain of gold does not fall from heaven. Blessed are those who live contrary to God. They are happy! This is an experience that we also don't want to have . . .

How many times does it turns out that the best way is to live dishonestly. They have everything. Not just money. But also success and human respect. And whoever strives to live honestly, is awkward. They lose . . . 

You say harsh things about me, - says the Lord . Indeed, what sort of argument is this? Are you with me, because you count on profit? For protection? You try to bribe me with your repentance to support you in your plans? Is this love or bargaining?

I do not bargain with you. Are you trying to bribe me?

For the day is coming now, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and the evil-doers will be like stubble . . . But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.

Do not be afraid. You will not be lost. You will gain more than you would expect. But I want your love and trust.

I cannot be bribed.

by Anthony Wood 11 Oct, 2017

If were to look for one word which distinguishes Christians from followers of other religions, it probably be the word Father directed toward God. It turns out God is not Lord, ruler, governor, creator, the one who set all things in motion, He is someone more, someone much closer. He is the Father, who - as is the definition of paternity - loves, nourishes and forgives. Jesus says: Father, may your name be held holy. In one sentence these two words meet. Father and name. As though the most beautiful, deepest revelation of Jesus was precisely this ancient, maybe first word of the world - father. May every one of us in our lives keep His name sanctified, so that we can always say to Him: Father, or even more beautifully: Abba, dad, and then we will be very blessed.

Lord, You want us to call God our Father, so that we may desire what He wants for us, and with the trust of a child present our needs to Him. Master, teach us to pray this prayer through which we discover that God is the merciful Father. Our Father, . . . .

by Anthony Wood 10 Oct, 2017
Sinful Nineveh, who Jonah himself thought unworthy of forgiveness, together with two sisters: Mary and Martha in the home of a friend of Jesus. Two very different life situations . . . but something connects them. Listening.

Here the people of Nineveh heard the prophet Jonah and repented, and God did allow the destruction of the city. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to Him. Martha asked a question and this, from what we know of her, shows that she heard and took to her heart the answer.

His word is what you need. His word is what is enough. Wherever you are or have been, close or distant, in some trap, or maybe running, in a hurry . . . . It has the power to transform life. Has the power to free.

Don't lose His word. Wherever you are or have been . . . don't miss it. And don't convince yourself that you are not worthy, too far away, for the action of God . . . .

few [things] are needed, indeed only one.

by Anthony Wood 09 Oct, 2017
Am I my brother's keeper? This question of Cain has not ceased to be a valid one. It has been repeated by people for thousands of years. Am I my brother's keepers? Should he not take care of himself? Or other people? Aren't there dedicated services for this? Why don't they do anything? Why were colleagues, friends, neighbours, family blind . . . . why doesn't he have anyone? Maybe he deserves it? And perhaps he's a really bad guy? Maybe he could hurt me . . . ?

A thousand questions, which only pretend to be real questions. It's not about the answer, but the justification of their own inaction. That it's not only that I don't love, but that I don't want to. Love, after all, costs . . .

Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigand's hands? - asked Jesus. Go, and do the same yourself - he added, hearing the answer.

To be someone's neighbour is to establish a relationship. Every person who stands before makes me his neighbour, and I his.

Someone once said that the Decalogue was not written on tablets, but on the faces of people before me. Maybe that's why it's easier to look at tablets and ask about terms and conditions than at the face. Then it is no longer possible to follow an academic argument.

by Anthony Wood 07 Oct, 2017

. . . these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers   - the Church is a community of prayers. The model Mary, who through her life fulfilled the will of God. Our heavenly Mother is invoked in prayer as the Queen of the Holy Rosary. Thanks to it - and to her - we are "led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love." (RVM 1) St. Louis de Montfort says "Whoever is cast in it, and allows himself to be moulded, receives all the features of Jesus Christ, true God".

Whenever we recite the Rosary, we invite Mary into our lives. The Rosary to reflect in our hearts the things that God has done and continues to do for us in history and people's hearts. Just as the psalms cannot be separated from the history of Israel, so the Rosary cannot be separated from the history of salvation in Jesus Christ. God willed us to receive all this this through Mary.

In the true Rosary beats the life Mary and the life of Jesus her Son. Pope Paul VI consistently avoided the use of the traditional phrase "recite the Rosary", using instead the phrase "meditate and reflect on the Rosary". And that is what the Rosary is about. Calling us to prayer, the Queen of the Holy Rosary invites us to her life and to the life of her Son.

by Anthony Wood 09 Sep, 2017

God wants us to approach the Sabbath as a blessing, and not a burden. That's the point of today's gospel. However, in our day and age we're more likely to take a lax approach to the Sabbath, as opposed to a strict one. Specifically, while we may keep the Sabbath as a day of rest, we're tempted to neglect the fact that, first and foremost, it is the Lord's day. Jesus' words at the end of today's gospel speak directly to our generation: "The Son of Man is master of the sabbath."

Perhaps the bottom line for us is this: When it comes to the Sabbath, God wants it to be restful, not rigid, but above all: sacred.

by Anthony Wood 08 Sep, 2017

Jesus is the first-born among the brothers – the Son, whose birth God saw from the beginning of time. Similarly, He saw the birth of each of us. We are written into God's plan - those, who were before us, and those, who will come after us.

All these people God embraces with love, giving His Son for their salvation. The love of God for man does not know time, and has no limit.

If here and now, I respond to that love, I allow God to work in my life so as to prepare me for service for His glory.

We thank you today Mary, because you responded with "yes" to God's love and gave us Jesus.

We thank you Joseph, because you accepted the will of God and took care of Mary.

We thank you Jesus, because you chose the road that led to the cross and saved me.

by Anthony Wood 07 Sep, 2017

God loves imperfect people! This is the good news for us in today's gospel. As we hear, Simon Peter had witnessed a miraculous catch of fish. But then he told Jesus to go away, because Peter knew that he was a sinner. But Jesus didn't go away. Instead, He called Peter to Himself, told him not to be afraid, and made him a fisher of men.

Like Peter, we too can sometimes fear Jesus because of our sins and imperfections. They can lead us to think that we're not worthy to be Jesus' disciple. At times like this, we need to remember the experience of Peter. As one old slogan puts it: "God doesn't call the perfect. But he does perfect the called!"

At other times we're so deeply ashamed of our sins that we fear Jesus will reject us or punish us. But that's not the Jesus who hung on the cross. When we're sorry for our sins, the only punishment we need fear is the one we inflict on ourselves when we don't seek Jesus' forgiveness, and when we don't forgive ourselves.

You see, Jesus loved Peter in spite of his imperfections, and He loves us too. Because if Jesus loved only the perfect, He'd have no one on earth to love.

by Anthony Wood 05 Sep, 2017

Readings from Luke's gospel begin yesterday. He brings us through the journeys of Jesus, from now till the beginning of Advent. Already in his opening address at Nazareth Luke has Jesus proclaim, "This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen."

But the action of Satan is lead people into illusions. Jesus is the Saviour, and an evil spirit suggests He the opposite is true "Have you come to destroy us?". He sows confusion and anxiety about the undeniable goodness of the person of Jesus. This is the goal of Satan -  to lead people into a wilderness of faith.

Fortunately good wins. Jesus is Lord, but is not an absolutist ruler. He needs our consent, an invitation in our life, so that He can act, so that His power be revealed.

Bring to Him your anxieties, lack of understanding and disappointments -  everything which today distances you.

And then does that question ring in our ears: "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?".

How am I then Lord to reply? What am I to do? What is it you want of me?

by Anthony Wood 01 Sep, 2017

The parable of the ten bridesmaids encourages us to be prepared and ready for the coming of the kingdom of God. What is this readiness (if by being prepared, we mean abiding in prayer)?

Is the ready the one who has perfected himself as an ideal person, perfect in every way? In a certain sense, yes, but there are certainly very few walking the earth. Most of us can admit to a number of mistakes, weaknesses or sins.

God invites all to the wedding feast - those perfect and those less perfect. However, only the prudent will enter, because they are ready in time. To the remainder the Bridegroom says "I do not know you", because they did not manage to be prepared, they did not take care of "their lamps": those who do not find the time in their lives so as to know Jesus, to form a relationship with Him. This is why He does not recognise them as His own, they did not seek Him and did not expect Him to come.

Building a relationship with Jesus is like filling a lamp with oil. A lamp filled with oil gives light. As those who love Jesus shine with light of their faith on the day, when He comes.

Prayer

Lord, may we always know the joy of Your grace and grow in the spiritual life so that we may be prepared to see You face to face in your everlasting kingdom.

by Anthony Wood 31 Aug, 2017

The joy of the apostle

"We can now breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord" writes Saint Paul. Perhaps we understand him. The worst thing is when effort is futile. When you can't see there's any sense in it. Yet parents can be proud of their children, yet a priest can see zealous faith in people . . .

But what about when such consolation is missing? Then there remains the trust that God watches over all. And He can make the hearts of people which today can hardly be considered models of faith into "hearts in holiness that may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his saints."

Prayer

A question that echoes around in our heads is: will only a few be saved? And Lord, Your, answer is perhaps a little vague, "to enter through the narrow gate". It's true that on the broad road it is easy to be lost, but maybe they can return to the narrow way even up to the last moment, those for whom You died on the cross? I have hope that it can be so . . .

by Anthony Wood 29 Aug, 2017

John the Baptist is a unique figure in the Bible. For one thing he forms a bridge between the Old and New Testaments: He looks, acts, and talks a lot like an Old Testament prophet, but points beyond himself to a new faith, in Jesus.

Another thing is he gets something reserved to only Jesus: The church celebrates his birth and death as a "nativity" and a "passion" respectively. These words underscore John's close relationship to the Christ and his important role in the story of salvation. But while no other saint receives such observances, John nonetheless does what all saints do: direct people to God and reveal God in their own selves while calling others to do the same.

We too are saints - set apart for God. Holiness results in doing good, and not just avoiding doing harm. So, when we make decisions, when we act, we must think about: will this direct people to God, will this reveal God in my life?

by Anthony Wood 28 Aug, 2017

Christ's "alas" has something of a warning. In reality, He uncovers what is important to the believer. Today's passage from Matthew contains three of the seven admonitions.

Duplicity and hypocrisy oppose holiness. Saint Augustine, today's patron, among others left an extraordinary revelation. A person's heart is restless until it rests in God. No external attachment but faith in the true presence of God and living in that faith opens the kingdom of heaven.

We pray for faith. We pray for perseverance. And above all before we point to another way faithfully seek Christ. Every human being needs not to see our own perfection, but Jesus.

Only do I really turn from idols and truly place my hope in God? It is not about the worship of Zeus, Mithras or Moloch. Comfortable life, power, money, pleasure, political correctness and a few others, and at some time I and myself - these are the contemporary idols. Have I turned from them?

by Anthony Wood 27 Aug, 2017

He says with pride: "I have an important position, because it suits me down to the ground; because I am wise and right, and to this speak my countless merits". And so, he isn't bothered by people bowing down before him, nor wallowing in luxury. After all, he deserves it! God Himself recognises this by allowing him to hold such a position.

Yet, God does not necessarily choose the wise, the righteous, the meritorious. And certainly has no preference for self-satisfied princes, who, like the disgraceful figure in the first reading, Shebna the master of the palace, considering himself irreplaceable.

And what about me? Who am I? Do I have a distance from myself? Do I see, like my brothers and sisters, that I am also only human?

by Anthony Wood 27 Aug, 2017

The temptation to be noticed, to have self-esteem bolstered, is in all of us. We want our contribution to count and our advice to be accepted. How well we recognise this weakness, is how much we can fight it. If the desire in us for greatness enters vulnerable territory we may not be able to resist it and believe in our own "greatness".

Unfortunately, it's often the case that, we do a dis-service not only to ourselves, but also to others, through over-protection and telling them that they are perfect and irreplaceable. Not to say, we are putting them to the test, not even knowing it ourselves. In pursuing self-interest and benefits, we don't look to the consequences of our behaviour. How much wrong has been done to people who because of their profession, position, or status, have had others bowing down and jumping to pay compliments. They were being told in this way that they were the sort of people, that they really are not. Jesus sees where this desire for greatness led in the Pharisees – He also warns us today.

How, then, to deal with temptation? How often do I give in to it? Do I provoke others so that they boost my self-worth? Am I forced by others to praise them? How do I react? How do I treat my superiors, the ones I depend on? Am I a toady? Does my admiring them to excess, harm them? I can forget that it is humility which brings me closer to God, and pride distances me. When I want to be great, God is lost from my field of vision. It then that I destroy my human worth, because in this place I or someone else, emerges who is treated like an idol.

by Anthony Wood 25 Aug, 2017

Choosing a life for the sake of another person. A choice which revokes many other opportunities. A choice which seems senseless. The choice of Ruth, to remain with Naomi and return to her country, a road she did not know.

Her sister-in-law Orpah returned to her own people. Ruth decided: I will remain. Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you live, I will live. Though - as you say - you have nothing to give.

The bond between them must have been great to make such a decision possible. She must have experienced much goodness. And nothing more, but it was only this bond which led this young woman to choose: your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The two most important commandments. The Love of God leads to the love of neighbour. And in addition, to become the neighbour of the other person. It doesn't matter who he is. It doesn't matter if he knows God. Sometimes God's love comes through the love of another person.

Perhaps because of the experience of this love and the response, God is seen and God is chosen. Like Ruth, becoming an ancestor of the Lord. It is worth remembering when there is so much hatred and indifference in the world.

by Anthony Wood 22 Aug, 2017

The parable of the workers in the vineyard is well known. Some worked all day, others only part of it, at the end some scarcely an hour. All received the same reward. The first - because it was the amount agreed with the landowner. The others - as a result of his grace. He said after all: I will give you what is fair.

Did it happen that someone experienced injustice? Objectively: no. The first got as much as had been contracted. A fair reward. So why were they so indignant?

Comparison with others. The scorching heat and heavy work were just a smart excuse for basic resentment for not being recognised as "better". They would not have wanted to have no work. However, they expected favouritism.

Favouritism can be expected for various reasons. Because I am obedient. Because I live according the commandments. Because, after all, for all these good acts, prayers, fasting, almsgiving . . . don't I deserve to find a place at the top of the podium. Don't I deserve more than THEM?

There is no more. You agreed, after all, for EVERYTHING. The whole of God and eternity with Him. Do you regret your choice? Then you really don't see how great is the prize, that you had and have everything on a hand held out to you. At every moment!

by Anthony Wood 21 Aug, 2017

According to Mark, he came up and threw himself at the feet of Jesus. The answer "keep the commandments" was not satisfactory for him. These he has already kept. What more do I need to do?  -  he asks Jesus.

If you want to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me -  says Jesus, Mark adds, that he looked at him with love.

The man, however, went away sad. He had many possessions.

Here it's not just about money. The problem with it, is that it binds the heart. It doesn't allow you to set out on the road for Good.

Why do you ask me about what is good?  - Jesus asked him a moment before. There is only one who is good. Is this so as to make him aware of who he's looking at? Who is it who recognises his heart, though his mind does not see this? If he had noticed these words instead of focussing on his own perfection maybe he would have more easily given up everything?

Maybe he could perceive that there was much more to gain?

by Anthony Wood 19 Aug, 2017

There is in humans a tendency to compare ourselves with others, and it also applies to religiosity and faith. Wanting to appear good before our own eyes, we look for weaknesses in others. We exaggerate the slightest fault in someone else to justify our own. With a bit too much zeal we say devotions, but with little intimacy with God. Although we often recognize in many occasions we are not close to God, yet instead of working on a better relationship with Him, we focus on the inner desire to be better than others.

The Pharisees also persisted in this attitude. In God's plan of salvation, Jesus was to begin redemption with the Jewish people, and He would later reach the pagans. Unfortunately, many of the Pharisees, convinced of their perfection of faith, closed themselves off to His redeeming power.

How different was the attitude Jesus encountered during a meeting with the Canaanite woman. In a journey through pagan lands such a meeting was unavoidable. According to the Law, it would necessitate cleansing of such contact through ritual washing. Maybe that's why Jesus did not respond at once to the woman's call? Or maybe it was the theatre of her entry, shouting "O Son of David!". In the end, however, there was a conversation during which the pagan expressed her humility and faith. And more than that, her own need for help: "Lord, help me". So, He listened to her request and released her daughter from the evil spirit.

If I feel better than any other person, if I live in the belief of my perfection, then God will be unnecessary me. But if I stand before Him like the plea of the Canaanite woman, and I acknowledge that I need Him, then He will be able to work in my life.

Kneeling at his feet: "Lord" she said "help me"

Mt 15:25

by Anthony Wood 19 Aug, 2017

The blessing of children confirms, that for God, there is no distinction based on more or less valuable. What is more, Jesus does not only declare, but in His own actions He confirms, that the Father cares for the weakest: "it is not the will of my[a] Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish". At the same time He instructs us that "unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven".

The disciples were used to assisting Jesus when dealing with "serious events". Parents bringing children might seems a waste of Jesus' time. That is not how God sees it.

We ask for the attitude of a child. At the same time in our prayers let's not judge who has it. Let's not distinguish regarding God what events are possible and which are hopeless. With the attitude of a child we bring all intentions before the face of God. These He hears and blesses.

by Anthony Wood 18 Aug, 2017

The Pharisees come to Jesus using a certain discrepancy in the teaching of the rabbis. The question of divorce was treated differently by rabbi Shammai and rabbi Hillel. The dispute concerned the different interpretations of Deut. 24:1. The permission to divorce was not a "commandment" of Moses, only a tolerance of existing practice.

Jesus' reply avoids polemics, that is, He is not one of the teachers who gives His own opinion. Jesus in His authority, confirms what is the mind of God. He is not Moses who gave in. The word of Jesus has power. The word of Jesus uncovers truth.

We ask for the faith to trust Jesus "on his word".

by Anthony Wood 17 Aug, 2017

When the Lord tells Joshua that he will "make [him] a great man in the eyes of all Israel", He gives a specific reason: "to let them know that I am going to be with you even as I was with Moses". This exaltation of a leader is to be a sign for his countrymen - of God's care and guidance. Just as the pardon of the debtor by the king was to be a call for the debtor to be behave the same way toward his fellow servants.

We exist in the community of a Church, we participate in her life, we are dependent on each other. Grace given to one - results in the development of the other, good works serve all, maturity in a single person give encouragement to others.

This then is the time to get rid of false modesty - our achievements are really needed. The multiplication of what God grants, spiritual growth, reaching summits - this is essential, an obligation, urgent. For us and for others.

Prayer

Lord, You have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as You are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.

by Anthony Wood 16 Aug, 2017

If you want to clarify the meaning of today's Gospel passage, then three words suffice: save your brother. Save him for Jesus. Save him for the Church. That is why the outline of fraternal admonition assumes a full union with the Church.

Admonition is not setting yourself above others. Neither can it be an attempt to humiliate anyone. To have the insight to do this requires a bond with Jesus. Every subsequent stage is also a distinct invitation of the whole Church to save every disciple.

The subject of fraternal admonition is a part of the so-called Language of the Church. It is one of the five discourse of Jesus which Matthew lays out. Five discourses - five pillars. Each pillar reveals before the disciples the essence of divine mercy. It is not the intention of the Father that anyone be lost, even if he is the smallest or his faith is the most fragile of all.

You cannot be afraid to admonish. Though, you have to learn how to. And we always do it at the beginning of the Eucharist. In order to learn how to, two elements are necessary: permission, to let God reveal to me my sinfulness, and discovery, that God acts as a merciful Father.

by Anthony Wood 14 Aug, 2017
"Only love is creative" Saint Maximilian Kolbe used to say. He confirmed these words of testimony, willingly giving up his life for another.

"I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on" recalled Francis Gajowniczek the father of a family, prisoner of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, who was rescued by Saint Maximilian.

Sacrificial love is devoid of calculation, barriers or limits. It becomes a gift as an example of Jesus who "loved us to the end." Yet, heroic deeds also arise in the greyness of reality, in the midst of seemingly ordinary people who through their maturity stand the test of humanity and the values, which they have lived in their daily lives.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, in his life, showed how to be a way of God, who fulfils the will of God and listens to His word. In the hell that humans created for humanity here on earth, in the extermination of Auschwitz, he showed that love is possible. Himself volunteering to die in place of someone else. Suffering the death of a martyr, saving the life of another person. His attitude calls us to such love, forgiving love.

You have to live in constant unity with God - not just sometimes - to be filled with the zeal and love, which also enlivened today's saint. We have to be likenesses of Christ, because then we will be lead into peace and love in the community, the family and among friends. However, I have to make a decision: do I really want such a closeness with Jesus?

He feeds you with finest wheat.

by Anthony Wood 12 Aug, 2017

From God I have received everything. Why, therefore, do I sometimes behave as though I am owed what I have?

The Lord God is generous beyond measure. Why, therefore, am I not confident that He will give me the great victory and show His mercy?

This is an enormous temptation: in good times to forget, that I owe every good to the love of God for me. A love for me which was before the foundation of the world.

In return the Father wants only the love of the child: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength."

But do I really love the Father only at a time when I experience helplessness in the face of suffering, when evil touches me and injustice. Only then does it turn out whether I truly believe that He is my God and only Lord.

Come Holy Spirit with the grace of living faith in the infinite and incomprehensible love of God for me - Spirit of Love - be in me the response to the love of the Father.

 

by Anthony Wood 11 Aug, 2017
 This is one of the most important questions that God poses, for which a person should stop and find an answer: "What will a person give in return for their soul?"

Do I believe at all that I have a soul? And what is it to me? Is it something that has any value at all? Or is it something useless, obstructive, unhelpful, and sometimes even hampering earthly life?

Does it cheer me that I have a soul? Does it cheer me that I am a human person?

Do I manage to see and delight in the fact that through having a soul I can hear and understand the voice of God? Only thanks to it does God love me.

What, therefore, can I give in return for my soul?

Come Holy Spirit with the gift of Divine Love and gratitude that the Father created me so wonderfully. May the song of adoration and thanksgiving in my soul never cease flowing to God.

by Anthony Wood 10 Aug, 2017

"Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind . . ." Isn't God, demanding generosity according to the measure of our own heart, taking a bit of a risk? Because – what if my heart is afraid? If I can't muster anything from myself, if all my energy is used for my own cares, saving myself, survival? It's difficult to be a Christian - in the past, and also today - to deny nothing of the faith. Where is the place for generosity, when it takes so much effort to fight for myself? When resisting temptations costs so much? When each subsequent fall is so much harder to rise from?

We cling to our own affairs, Christian priorities, the good life . . . And imperceptibly our hearts begin to spin, not wanting to lose anything. Yet it is not possible to give without loss, generosity is not possible without want, to gather a harvest without death.

by Anthony Wood 09 Aug, 2017

In recent readings we've heard how God had done great things for the Israelites, but they were constantly unfaithful, yet God was always trying to bring them back. Jeremiah spoke of their "incurable wound" that only God can heal with His faithfulness.

Today we remember a child of Israel, Edith Stein, who responded to a crisis quite differently from her ancestors. Edith Stein, also known as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was born and raised a Jew, lost her faith as a teenager, became a philosopher, was baptized a Catholic, and entered religious life as a Carmelite. And because she was Jewish by birth, she was arrested by the Nazis, and executed at Auschwitz on this day in 1942.

When she faced the possibility of such an unjust death, however, she didn't "harden her heart" like her ancestors did. Instead, she opened her heart and trusted in God, knowing that she was following in her Lord's footsteps. She knew the power of Jesus' passion and wanted to share in it; she was willing, to make of herself an offering for peace. And when this happened, she faced it with peace, and inspired those around her.

The contrast between God's children in their unfaithfulness and Edith Stein presents a challenge to me. How do I, or how might I, respond to life's difficulties, hardships, and crises? Do I respond, with anger and fear, or with trust and peace? With self-pity, or self-sacrifice? Do I harden my heart, or open it to the Lord? The response of the Israelites reminds us of what is typical; the witness of Edith Stein shows us what is possible – for all of us – with the grace of God.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us.

by Anthony Wood 08 Aug, 2017

What does it mean to have a pure heart? It is having a heart that does not hesitate to call out to God: "Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water."

Peter had such a heart. Yes, he was impetuous, hasty and quick to speak before thinking, but in his attitude toward Jesus he was pure and fervent in his faith that He could do anything. That is why it is possible to tell Him everything and ask of anything, even of the impossible.

Can a man walk on water? He can't. But he can desire to.

And how much to other people would such a desire seem stupid and bereft of sense, and the Lord says "Come!"

Because for God there are no stupid desires, there are only desires from a pure or an impure heart.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

by Anthony Wood 07 Aug, 2017

Today's Gospel has something unusual in it. The disciples come to Jesus to instruct Him to do something. "Send the people away". Previously, they had precisely described the seriously of the situation. They were half way on the journey. They felt responsible for the crowd, but seemed to think that staying with Jesus may ultimately be a threat to them.

In the multiplication of the loaves Jesus makes the disciples aware of two things. Everyone, who comes to Him will be satisfied, because He is the one true Bread, that gives life. Secondly, that they must not fear responsibility, but to give God from "their hands".

Let us in the Eucharist be nourished by the Body of Jesus and His word that constantly gives of Himself, and carry Him to those who need Him.

by Anthony Wood 05 Aug, 2017

"Happy are those who are persecuted in the cause of right, for there is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10).

 

The logic of the world in no way relates to the logic of the Gospel. Time and again this is brought home to us it by reading the word of God. Likewise, Jesus - the only Saviour was, is, and will be to the world a sign of contradiction.

Paradoxically, the world suffers most when it rejects Jesus. There's so much of it, besides natural disasters, pain and suffering. There's also the suffering of the innocent, which puts on our lips the question "why?"

God-fearing and faithful until the end, John the Baptist, is not only a model but also an advocate of all who suffer for righteousness' sake, the misunderstood, the unheard and those forgotten by people. He shows that fear of God not only frees us from the anxieties of the world, but also prevents us from harming others.

by Anthony Wood 05 Aug, 2017

Small miracles of Divine Providence, healing through anointing, contemporary martyrs, the living faith of volunteers, a girl choosing the religious life, a young man going to seminary, a couple going on a retreat together. . . A whole litany of situations, where it can be asked where's this come from?

And as usual there can be two replies. The amazement of a child, the flow of deep delight, yet another surge on the road of faith. Or doubt, disguised as rationalism, scepticism, or a clumsy attempt to defend God from human sinfulness.

Two possible replies. Because God never forces a person's face against the wall. He always gives the opportunity to choose. And a person in his choice opens himself to miracles or shuts himself from them.

by Anthony Wood 03 Aug, 2017

Appearing in today's liturgy of the word are images: the Tent of Meeting and the dragnet gathering fish, highlight the presence of God in the world around us.

The tent points to a real presence, a place to live, a place in which you cannot miss being with God. Moses erected a tent so as to cover the place the words of God's promise was kept. The word, which became flesh and dwelt among us, and erected a tent to literally reveal the reality of God's presence.

The dragnet points to God who is gathering every human being with his love. God does not exclude anyone. But a person, on the other hand, can respond to the call to live or oppose life. The scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom is the one who does not hold knowledge above the Word of God, but learns to live in the presence of the Word. Having knowledge of the 'tent of Moses' recognised the tent of the Saviour and learned to worship God the spirit and truth.

Though in every Eucharist we repeat well known gestures and the same words, let's remember that we do not stand outside the tent, but inside it, we don't look on the symbol of God's presence but constantly touch it anew.

We ask that in praying for various intentions we do not 'persuade' God, but learn to listen to Jesus constantly anew, and asking, do I understand.

by Anthony Wood 02 Aug, 2017

The kingdom is like hidden treasure? Why hidden? At first it seems a curious comparison, but perhaps worth thinking about. If a great treasure was plonked before you here and now, on your lap, and you were told it's yours, who would refuse it? Thanks! and off I'd go - should I use it for myself, for my family, give to charity, do good works with it, or just hide it away for fear of being robbed. These are all decisions I would have to make. But the important decision was taken away from me. Did I want the treasure? When it's placed before me, it's just "thank you!" and what shall I do with it?

However, if I discover a treasure, or after searching find the priceless pearl, and have to go away and sell everything I have in order to gain that treasure, then I am making the decision that I want this treasure and I am willing to give up all I have to get it.

God always invites us, he never puts us in a position where we have no real choice. The gift of freedom makes us human and loved above all creation by God, but it also means the possibility of sin. But God always invites us back, as He does so many times with the Chosen people, even after all the wonders they have seen.

You are holy, O Lord our God.

by Anthony Wood 01 Aug, 2017

The Gospel holds no punches and the image of "weeping and grinding of teeth" is a stark one. It's a blunt reminder that there is divine justice. And we may be tempted to ask "am I virtuous?", or "do I provoke offences?" It would be frightening if we answered honestly, but we shouldn't be afraid, if we believe in Jesus - He is Divine Mercy. Jesus is telling us in the explanation of the parable that God the Father is patient and merciful, and that we need to be patient with the evil in the world. We cannot be tolerant of evil; it must not be ignored nor hidden, but resisted: The Lord tells Moses that he "maintains his kindness, forgives faults, transgression, sin; yet he lets nothing go unchecked." He will provide us with all we need to grow for the harvest, even though there be evil in the world.

The parable of the wheat and the darnel is a parable of hope and not despair. Humility is the remedy to the anxiety about not being virtuous enough. Humility is saying there is evil in the world, I don't understand why, but I trust in God; I trust God to provide what I need to grow among the darnel.

The Lord is compassion and love.

by Anthony Wood 31 Jul, 2017

Some things are so holy, so mystical that words are insufficient to describe it, and then you have to use an image. This is why when Jesus entered a conversation about the kingdom of heaven, He sees that the range of terms available to express it are very limited and needs to call on images: the mustard seed, pearls, the role of yeast in dough, images used to reveal the mystery of its unfolding. And this the experience of the mature soul. To reveal in words in not enough, everyday images are also needed, which are more sacred than anything else.

 

Jesus, I believe in You and I believe You. Yet may faith is fragile and constantly struggles with unbelief. Help my unbelief.

by Anthony Wood 30 Jul, 2017

A cynic, so the saying by Oscar Wilde goes, is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

It is an important distinction.

In today's Old Testament reading, the new king, Solomon, asks not for long life, nor for riches, nor for victory in battle. He does not ask for worldly success, fame, adulation or celebrity. No, he asks for discernment, wisdom, the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. Solomon asks for the grace to be able to judge the values, not prices.

And that too is the meaning of these two little parables in the Gospel: the finder of the treasure and the finder of the pearls recognise them for what they are. Like the expert on the antique road show, they can tell the difference between an old vase and valuable antique. Our treasure, our pearls are the same as those sought by Solomon, a wise king who seeks a kingdom of righteousness, a kingdom of justice and peace.

But we live in a very cynical society. (At least in the way of that definition). We live in a society in which almost everything and everyone has a price. Money measures value, worth. It defines importance, status, happiness. Almost everything, everyone has a price - almost.

But true value is not in scarcity, or celebrity, but in right and wrong, in true or false, in love and loyalty - what lasts for ever, not what is here just for a day.

Seek the pearl of great price, the treasure that lasts for ever, which can neither fail nor rot away - seek the truth that abides in Christ, and you will never be disappointed.

by Anthony Wood 29 Jul, 2017

The faith of Martha is admirable. She believed that the presence of Jesus during the illness of her brother would have helped his recover and avoid death. She still does not know that He has the power to also return to life. Soon she will be a witness to this, earlier however, Jesus talked with her of resurrection.

At the time of death, a person with faith in the resurrection is helped at that difficult moment. However, does it soothe the pain? What is my faith in the resurrection like? How often does my hope flow from this fact? Faith is a better, wonderful and infinitely beautiful life should help in difficult situations, in incomprehensible times when I feel abandoned, alone, wounded and hurt. Do I then throw myself into Jesus' arms? Do I allow Him to be the One who takes care of it? After all the earthly pilgrimage, when it ends, I receive a new body and will then be in eternal happiness.

by Anthony Wood 28 Jul, 2017

To be the "rich soil" in Jesus'™ parable, it's enough to just hear the Word and understand it. I don't need any sort of activism on my part, any special action, just an open heart and mind.

Contrary to appearances this is not easy. It requires me to constantly turn away from a narrow, human understanding, what I hear and see in the Church and the world.

I have to let the Lord lead me deeper and further into everything. I am not to lead myself, but He has to be the one to lead. He does this directly through His Word, and also through others.

Becoming "rich soil" is allowing, so that God frees me, so that God releases me - whereas I can do nothing for myself, I can manage nothing. It is when I recognize my total dependence on the Father, when I accept my own debility and helplessness with peace in my heart, without struggle or rebellion, it means "enrichment" begins and fruitfulness.

Prayer

Lord, help me to guard the word You have planted in my heart that no doubt or temptation may keep me from believing and obeying Your Word. May I be fruitful in Your service and may I never fear to speak of You to others. Mary, Mother of God, the Sower of seeds, pray for us.

by Anthony Wood 27 Jul, 2017

An idle heart is an indifferent heart, hard as stone. A heart which no one and nothing can reach. The opposite of an idle heart is a sensitive and loving heart, a soft heart. A heart that sometimes lets itself be used, be hurt. Once again it comes to mind that in life you can either be Cain or Abel. There is no third way, you either kill or are killed, you can't go through life down the middle. We have soft hearts which we can nourish with the Blessed Sacrament – the Body of Christ, but thanks to this we have hard evidence that God loves us.

 

Jesus, You feed us with Your Word and give us Yourself in the Blessed Sacrament. Bless us, so that we may live according to Your commandments, which give life eternal.

by Anthony Wood 26 Jul, 2017

Many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear and never heard it.

Many times there's arisen a reflection and gratitude in me at the time and place God had allowed to me be was the best that could have happened to me – though at time I didn't know it, nor could I now explain how I got there. I don't have to expect in original sin and every other the coming of the Messiah. I live in a time when salvation has been achieved and I can fully benefit from this gift. To purify the heart, when I fall into sin, to strengthen myself with the Body of Christ every day. There is no greater gift and happiness on earth than to unite with God.

Gratitude for the people, who have been put on my path. For parents who handed on faith and those who helped me to know God better, accept Him into the heart. For a wise confessor who looked on me as a lost child of God, making me aware of the immensity of God's love.

Gratitude for the experience of each day, both good and bad, which have shaped me and make me aware of the truth about myself, helping me to seek the will of God and see his presence and concern.

by Anthony Wood 25 Jul, 2017

Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown.

The mother of John and James asked Jesus for favouritism for her sons. She thought in human terms: Jesus did rebuke her because He knew that what motivated her was motherly concern and love. She wanted eternal happiness for them. Jesus does not deny that this happiness will be realised, but announces to the Apostles suffering. They did not hesitate: they could have disagreed. Today we know that Saint James, who we honour today, died a martyr’s death. And us? In what way do we react to suffering?

Do I rebel when something is contrary to my thoughts, when I meet misfortune? It is bearable with Jesus and with Him can become a source of hope, as Saint Paul writes. Without trust that everything that I encounter in life has sense, especially if difficult and painful, is the cause of sadness. In such situations not being able to trust is often due to not being guided by the hope in the invitation of Jesus to share our suffering.

I am sorry for myself because too much self-reflection dictates that I have been wronged, that God has abandoned me. But God only permits suffering to refine me, sensitise me to others. He wants me to know my true self, which is revealed in difficulties. The truth may prove painful. That’s why I want to run away from the answer, which God through this experience teaches me, and with Him will transform me.

by Anthony Wood 24 Jul, 2017

One day like this and another like that. The human heart is changeable: fickle. One time daring to be heroic, another time cowardly. One day ready to grasp great things, another not coping with trivialities. It was no different for Pharaoh. One day allowing the Israelites to leave Egypt. The next day, deciding it was a bad idea and began to pursue with his elite army.

Similarly, for the Israelites: one day complaining of being oppressed, the next prepared to return to slavery, and death at the whim of Pharaoh. Not remembering his anger at them.

And God? He is constant. Like a mountain. Since He promised, He honours His word. But maybe . . . . . on this occasion, it's not possible, and it's not so necessary to trust Him. No, if we give Him time, He shows that actually everything is possible.

by Anthony Wood 23 Jul, 2017
Let them both grow till the harvest.

A person doesn't always notice the beginning of evil in their lives. Many times he allows himself to explain it away, that its harm is negligible, or that everyone does it. Sometimes using the services of fortune-tellers, crystal therapists, and then on Sunday goes to Mass. And accepts Holy Communion. It doesn't bother young people to live without the sacrament of marriage under one roof and believe everything in their faith is in order. Such inconsistencies can be found everywhere - lack of forgiveness, feuding, unkindness, dishonesty at work, which are often not recognised as sin. And the weeds grow and begin to spread more and more and prevails in our lives.

When weeds are yet still small plants it is difficult to differentiate from the healthy wheat. God allows the wheat to grow together with the weeds. He admonishes, but does not interfere. He allows the person to choose, because the respects his free will. Until the day of harvest "collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn."

by Anthony Wood 22 Jul, 2017

This passage of the Gospel is amazing, because Mary Magdalen says that: she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her. She had seen the Lord, but had not taken notice of how His appearance, she didn't describe how the Risen One looked. She told the disciples what He said to her. Sometimes it's said that women are not so visual, as aural, that they listen better to what is said to them than men. So that a man can understand better he also needs to see. This is seen in today's Gospel. Mary Magdalen sees the Lord, but is not interested in His appearance, but the words of Jesus. She was disposed to hearing the Gospel, she saw that it wasn't enough to look, to gaze, but it was necessary to hear. And she was so open to hearing, that the appearance which for sure would have been amazing, because it was someone who had died and was risen, was not a revelation for her, it wasn't something she needed to speak. She wanted to speak of the Gospel and this is amazing.

Teacher of life, be with us in Your Word, and support us in our efforts to the faithful the message and witness of Your love.

by Anthony Wood 21 Jul, 2017

God's love for us can be surprising. He enfolds important matters and things that seems quite ordinary. All the time, which we live out, is full of His signs. Jesus asks the Pharisees who are indignant about the behaviour of the disciples: "Have you not read . . .?", asks them of their understanding of Divine law. And sometimes we easily forget about the miracles that have already happened, of the experience of living with God - we as a community and we personally.

In some way these short moments disconnected from the mainstream current of life - our holidays, which many experience now - provide a unique opportunity to remember. Take a bird's eye view of our life. To discern in the heart destiny. To see the signs of God's presence, actions, graces.

Then we will be able say to others that we "have read" and "we remember".

by Anthony Wood 20 Jul, 2017
Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11)

It's hard to trust God when suddenly your whole world collapses, when you experience failure, misunderstanding, or rejection. It's not easy to hand over to Him the situation, that you yourself can't deal with, your pain and suffering. Often, it's much easier to blame Him for all the failures, accuse Him of a lack of love and concern for me. Easier? Only on the surface, in the short term. Because only He really knows and understands me - even better than I know myself - only He can bring me real relief and comfort. Am I ready to believe?

God knows that each person's life has a lot of concerns and worries. They are necessary . . . . it has to be . . . but often I don't understand them. Through them He encourages me to come to closer to Him, to learn that He alone can give true comfort and will never leave me alone. He encourages me to accept these difficulties in humility, but together with Him. Then, what seems pointlessly painful and incomprehensible will lift me, and most importantly -  bring me closer to Him. Because love of God is expressed in total trust in Him and accepting what He gives me. But then why is it so hard to believe?

Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

by Anthony Wood 19 Jul, 2017
He chooses. Throughout the whole of this story it is striking that He, God, chooses. The time, the places, the circumstances: He acts as He wills. He revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (how much time has already passed since his escape from Egypt!) and sends Him to his people. He tells him that in this exile in the land of Midian, among strangers, there is a part of a greater story: "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob". He has an identity, belonging to God.

In revealing Himself to us in His word, and in His Church - God reveals not only who He is, but also who we are.

by Anthony Wood 18 Jul, 2017

Moses' mother was very clever, she must have been an astute woman. Even though the order to kill all new born malechildren had been given by Pharaoh, for three months she hid her tiny son, and when further concealment was impossible, she did everything in her power to give him every chance of survival. Driven by a determination not to submit to the evil done by humans, so that evil would not win.

Maybe she was a woman very faithful and trusting of God; we also have to realise that this is all going on before the Lord had made any covenant with the Israelites. She had to have faith in Providence, since after doing everything she could to help the child survive, she finally had to "release" him from her hands and entrust him to the current of the river. And a miracle: a small Jewish child is saved by the daughter of Pharaoh. She also deliberately ignores her father's order to kill such small male children.

Whenever the mind and heart is turned from evil thoughts and conduct, when there is this conversion in a person, there is a miracle happening. Some see this at once, while for others - they only recognise it after some time. Some will know of this miracle in their life until the Day of Judgment. Today look at your life, and see these miracles and praise God for His goodness that supports through so many things, and for the fact that Jesus is faithful to us always.

As the psalmist says "let your help, O God, lift me".

by Anthony Wood 17 Jul, 2017