Reflection on 26th Sunday: 26th September 2021

Costing not less than everything

Today’s readings are like the squares on a patchwork quilt, all separate pieces calling out for some golden thread to bring them together to produce a beautiful work of art. The images offered to us would probably not be our choice of material. The gold thread, like treasure hidden in a field, symbolises who we are in God. It is the sacredness of each one of us. T.S. Eliot describes this treasure as

A condition of complete simplicity
Costing not less than everything

When we set our hearts on possessing something we may feel that it is beyond our reach because it ‘costs an arm and a leg’ but we will make the necessary sacrifices in order to own that particular object. In today’s reading Jesus uses similar but more exaggerated language to illustrate that to be true to who we are in God costs not less than everything. It means cutting out of our lives all that refuses to acknowledge and celebrate the sacredness in each one of us. It is a new way of seeing. Jesus is asking us to look within, to find our stumbling blocks which prevent us, and others, from becoming who we are. ‘In the spiritual world stumbling blocks are a part of us. They are as much a part of us as are our hands, feet and eyes. Stumbling blocks are the patterns of life we have created for ourselves or to which we have been subjected by others but which we perpetuate. They are the habits of seeing, thinking, and acting that blind us to who we, our neighbours and God really are. They distort reality so that we cannot respond appropriately.’

M.Marsh

Today we are being invited to acknowledge and celebrate the sacred. In response to that invitation, we may then want to choose our own material for our quilt, with each square depicting a memory of when we have experienced the sacred in each one of us, in creation and in the circumstances of our lives. This may have cost us everything but T.S.Eliot continues the above verse with the words of Julian of Norwich:

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well

Gospel Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

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

“If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward. But anyone who is a stumbling block for one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck. And if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot should cause you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye should cause you to sin, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where their worm does not die nor their fire go out.”

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio Group has been considering the reading for the 26th Sunday.

Mk 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48 Anyone who is not against us is for us. If your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off.

As always some of the group have generously shared their thoughts with us. Read what they have to say here.

Reflection on 25th Sunday: 19th September 2021

Letting go

According to the astronomical calendar Autumn begins on Wednesday, September 22nd. ‘Autumn leaves are subtle reminders that we are asked to let go of many things throughout our lives. Autumn’s energy causes us to take stock and decide what to hold on to and what to let go. No new growth will come unless Autumn agrees to let go of what has been. The same is true of our lives. This is a universal principle – in order to grow, we must release something. We are in a constant process of integrating new information, aspects of ourselves, perceptions and ideas and we come to realize that some old ways of doing things no longer work. Although we must all let go of some things, we also integrate those experiences into our psyches as wisdom. The leaves that fall lose their form, but as they break down into compost, their transformed substance continues to serve the growth and well-being of the tree.’

Constance L. Habash

In today’s gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to let go of two of their misconceptions. Firstly, he wanted to prepare them, again, for bad news (the Passion) and good news (the Resurrection), but they did not want to hear him. Jesus’ prediction of the future was incomprehensible because it did not coincide with the disciples’ hopes and plans. Secondly, Jesus presents to his disciples a completely different interpretation of the word ‘greatness’, one which involves being last, one which involves being of service. ‘It is significant that Jesus brings a child to illustrate this point. In Jesus’ day, even more so than now, children were among the most powerless and most vulnerable of society. And so the disciples, who had been arguing about greatness and with it of course power, were redirected by Jesus to radically shift their focus and to open their arms to the powerless. He also said that welcoming the lowest of the low is not simply a nice thing to do. When we welcome the least of these, we are welcoming the presence of Christ that is found in each person we meet. We are developing a relationship with Jesus himself and through Jesus, with the Father who created us all.

Chrissy Cataldo

‘Whenever we are called to let go of something safe, secure and familiar we are invited to be birthed again. Each radical change in our lives summons us to a greater fullness, to a more complete transformation of our inner self.’

J. Rupp

Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.

Gospel: Mark 9: 30-37

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

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

Do we care about God’s Creation?

Climate change is an issue of social justice, an issue we ignore at our peril.

Pope Francis encourages the Christian community to celebrate the Season of Creation. Following his lead, we are holding a virtual event on Zoom on Tuesday 28th September 2021 from 7pm – 8:30pm. You are invited to take part and contribute your thoughts.

Please join us.  To get the joining instructions please contact us by using the contact form on our Enquiry page.

You can find out more about the Season of Creation here.

Reflection on 24th Sunday: 12th September 2021

Who do you say that I am?”

 ‘Who we say Jesus is has everything to do with who and how we are and will be. In some ways our answer says as much or more about us than Jesus. We are always living into the question, moving from simply knowing about Jesus to knowing him. It’s not that Jesus changes. We do. We not only discover Jesus anew, we discover ourselves anew.’1 Peter’s response, “You are the Christ.,”  leads to another question: What do we mean by ‘the Christ’?

‘Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The word Christ is a title, meaning the Anointed One, which was Peter’s understanding of who Jesus is. But a study of Scripture, Tradition and the experience of many mystics reveals a much larger, broader and deeper meaning to ‘the Christ.’ The three Synoptic Gospels are largely talking about Jesus, the historical figure who healed and taught and lived in human history; whereas John’s Gospel presents the trans-historical ‘Christ’ (which is why so very few stories in John coincide with Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The prologue to John’s Gospel (John 1:1-11) is not talking about Jesus; it’s talking about the Christ. All that came to be had life in him. The entire sweep of the meaning of the Anointed One, the Christ, includes us and includes all of creation since the beginning of time. St Paul never met the historical Jesus and hardly ever quotes Jesus directly. In almost all of Paul’s preaching and writing, he is referring to the Eternal Christ Mystery or the Risen Christ rather than Jesus of Nazareth before his death and resurrection. The Risen Christ is the only Jesus that Paul ever knew! When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are believing in something much bigger than the historical incarnation that we call Jesus. In Jesus the Timeless Christ became time bound.’2   James Finley makes use of poetic language and symbolism to beautifully describe our experience as we grow in awareness of who Christ is:   

Let’s say you’re at the ocean and you’re just ankle deep. It’s true you’re only ankle deep, but it’s also true you’re in the ocean. It’s also true if you just keep going, it will get plenty deep soon enough. Now here’s something deeper. What if the middle of the ocean is infinitely deep? And what if the infinite depth of the ocean infinitely gives the infinity of the totality of its depths to your ankle-deep degree of realization of it?

Adapted: [1] Michael  Marsh   [2] Richard Rohr (from his various writings)

Gospel: Mark 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” And they told him. “John the Baptist,” they said, “others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.”  “But you,” he asked, “who do you say I am?” Peter spoke up and said to him, “You are the Christ.” And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him. 

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him.  But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, “Get behind me, Satan!  Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.”

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it “

Lectio Divina: News

We are still in holiday time and our numbers are depleted. Those at home have been considering the Gospel for the 24th Sunday in ordinary time year B.

Mark 8: 27-35 You are the Christ. The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously.

You can read their thoughts and reflections here.

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio group took the reading for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.

Mk 7: 31-37 He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.

You can read their thoughts here.

Remember that you are welcome to join the group.

If you are interested then use the form at the bottom of this page to contact the group leaders.

Reflection on 23rd Sunday: 5th September 2021

Openness

‘Today’s gospel isn’t simply a story about Jesus turning a particular deaf man into a particular hearing man. This is a story about each one of us. It is more about spiritual deafness than it is about physical deafness. Hearing and deafness are not determined by our ears, but by what’s in our heart, the way we love and relate to one another. We are either open or closed to the connection with God, with one another and with the world. Sometimes we choose to be open or closed depending on people, places, and circumstances. We have selective hearing. We hear what we want to hear. When we are spiritually deaf we assume that ours is the only or the most important voice to hear. We are closed to new ideas, understandings, and experiences. Unopen to new ways of thinking, behaving, and relating, we continue business as usual and nothing ever changes. It is a lonely, isolated existence.’1

‘What is said clearly is not always heard clearly. Every message is filtered as it is being received. How it is actually received depends on what is happening in the listener. The capacity of the disciples to hear clearly and interpret accurately was inhibited by factors such as fears, expectations, anxiety and what we call spiritual blindness. It’s quite a journey from hearing what we want to wanting what we hear. Like the first disciples, we develop ways of evading what we find seriously challenging, of shutting out what threatens or disturbs, of sidestepping what makes demands.’2

‘The cure for our spiritual deafness is not to hear but to be open. Hearing follows openness. “Ephphatha.” That’s what Jesus tells the deaf man. He doesn’t say, “Now hear!” He says, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” He says the same thing to you and me. Jesus is always speaking, “Ephphatha,” to the closed parts of our lives. The openness to which Christ calls us transforms and heals our lives. It reconnects us to God and one another, offering new life, new beginnings, new hope, and new possibilities.’1

‘You can always open more
and there is always more to open to.’3

[1] Michael Marsh [2] galwaydiocese.ie/reflection [3] Stephen C. Paul

Gospel Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, “Ephphatha”, that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly.

And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. “He has done all things well,’ they said “he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”