Reflection on 22nd Sunday: 29th August 2021

Wisdom Tradition

In the film ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, the main character Tevye says, “Because of our Tradition everyone knows who we are meant to be and what God expects us to do. Without Tradition our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof. Tradition helps us keep our balance.”

While this is true, it is not true of Tevye’s initial understanding of the word ‘Tradition’ which undergoes a major shift as the plot unfolds. His daughters lead him to eventually conclude that there is an aspect of life that is stronger than their traditions: love. “Love is the new style,” he says. ‘This love is not a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it is the animating force that holds us together.’

Dr. Barbara Holmes

‘Many spiritual writers speak about Perennial Tradition or Perennial Wisdom. The Perennial Tradition points to recurring themes and truths within all of the world’s religions. Religious traditions can hide God as well as reveal God. At their most mature level, religions cultivate in their followers a deeper union with God, with each other, and with reality. At their immature levels, religions can be obsessed with the differences that make them better or more right than others.’1 ‘Perennial Tradition or Wisdom teaching focuses on the necessity of our transformation starting from the inside out. Often our lives are so imbalanced that it is hard to walk this transformative path. Wisdom teaching is never a one-size-fits all approach. A Wisdom teacher is always looking for our ‘stuck’ point. What is it that is preventing our growth?’2 Do we want to be right or do we want to be in right relationship? Do we want to be correct or do we want to be connected?1

“This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me.” “I will remove their heart of stone. A new heart will I give them.” (Ezekiel) ‘Jesus came as an awakener of the heart. Cynthia Bourgeault describes Jesus as ‘the master cardiologist’. The head is a great tool for reading the quantitative universe but when that runs the show we end up thinking that the goal of life is in accumulating and box-ticking and the world becomes a series of objects. The heart is the organ of perception that reads the qualitative universe, that reads the realm of beauty, truth, joy and peace. When we move through the world in our heart, the world becomes a temple of presences.’2 We then know who we are meant to be:
‘My deepest me is God.’3

[1] Richard Rohr [2] Matthew Wright [3] St Catherine of Genoa.

Gospel Mark 7 1-8,14-15,21-23

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow’, and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances concerning the washing of cups, pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him “Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?” He answered, “It was of you hypocrites that lsaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture: This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations, You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.” He called the people to him again and said, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency envy, slander pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.”

Reflection on 6th of Easter: 9th May 2021

Falling in Love

‘Today’s 3 readings are all about the central theme of love and how we grow from self-love to family or group love and then to universal love. The first reading describes Peter’s moment of ‘growing up’. Until that moment he had believed that God only loved the Jewish people but the Holy Spirit revealed to him that God has no favourites. In the second reading John makes that perfect equation between God and love. God is Love. To grow in love is the supreme work of our lives and the gospel invites us to live a life of universal love in our love of God, ourselves and our neighbour. It’s an ever-expanding circle of love.’

Richard Rohr

“This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us.” So often we perceive love on our terms, on how we love and how we expect others to love, and even how we expect God to love. Growing in love is not only a case of expanding the ways in which we express our love but is primarily our openness to a growth in our perception of love itself. We have all experienced those ‘Aah’ or ‘Wow’ moments when we feel one with someone or something much bigger than ourselves, when we are given a taste of divine union, a moment of awe or a moment of oneness. If a Sacrament is an experience of God’s love, then these moments are sacraments of the infinite, unconditional, awesome, beautiful, all-embracing love of God. We want these moments to last forever. They can occur at any time and in any place: in our relationship with others, with art, poetry, music, literature, nature, science, in our service to the community – and even in the midst of deep suffering when we are able to surrender ourselves over to the mystery of being lovingly sustained in the midst of our pain.

James Finley uses the following poetic image: ‘Imagine a stone on an underwater cliff being constantly dislodged by the movements of the water. At it rests on each protrusion the stone thinks it has reached its destination – until the next movements of the water and it rolls off and continues falling. We are like that stone, we come to a place where we imagine we have the final say in what love and life is about. And then something happens in our lives and we are dislodged from the ability to live on our own terms. And we continue on in the descent. This is the divine strategy of artfully dislodging us from anything less than an infinite union with infinite love.’ This is falling in Love.

First Reading: Acts 10

As Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, knelt at his feet and prostrated himself. But Peter helped him up. “Stand up”, he said “I am only a man after all!” Then Peter addressed them: “The truth I have now come to realise” he said “is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, “Could anyone refuse the water of Baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?” He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.

Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-10

My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

Gospel: John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: Love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know his master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another.”

Reflection on 30th Sunday: 25th October 2020


“A person is bored to death with a story they have heard repeated over and over but have never really listened to.”1 Is this true of ourselves and our listening to the Gospel stories? ‘When we hear Jesus’ familiar teaching “Love your neighbour as yourself” we almost always hear that wrong i.e. we hear “Love your neighbour as much as yourself.” If we listen closely to Jesus however, there is no ‘as much as’ in his admonition. It is “Love your neighbour as yourself” or “Love your neighbour as being yourself—as a continuation of your very own being. It’s a complete seeing that your neighbour is you. There are not two individuals out there; there are simply two cells of the one great Life.’2

‘It is the same Source and the same Love that allows each of us to love ourself, others, and God at the same time! If we don’t live from within our own centre of connection and communion with God, we’ll go spinning around in many directions. The true goal of all religion is to lead us back to the place where everything is one, to the experience of radical unity with all of humanity and all of creation, and hence to the experience of unity with God.

How we embark on our journey of loving others is rooted in our personal experience of who we are. Love is not something we decide to do now and then. Love is who we are. When we get the “who” right and realise that who I am is love, then we will do what we came to do: Love God and love all that God has created. We are created in the image of God and God is love. This is the basis for the corporal works of mercy, for social justice. We were created by a loving God to be love in the world.’3

How can we possibly be bored if we truly listened to the words spoken in Scripture, if we truly listened to the Word? ‘Love is our origin, Love is our sustaining ground and love is our destiny. We may ask ourselves, “What will become of me if I surrender to this Love which permeates every moment of our lives?” What will become of us if we don’t?’4

[1] GK Chesterton. Adapted from [2] Cynthia Bourgeault, [3] Richard Rohr, [4] James Finley

Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Reflection on 5th Sunday: 9th February 2020

Become who we are

“Deep spiritual transformation happens primarily in the presence of images. They alone can touch the unconscious. One hundred sermons could never move you to the new place to which a powerful image can move you. And so it is that in our Gospel passage today, as in so many other places in the Gospels, Jesus uses powerful, transformative images, telling us, “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world.” And then he leaves it at that. He doesn’t explain to us what it means; he doesn’t give us instructions. He leaves us to live into the images.” [1]

“Some of us will hear Jesus’ words and think that we need to become something we are not or that we need to get something we do not yet have, or do something that we are not yet doing. That is not, however, what Jesus says. He does not say we should become salt. He says we already are salt. He does not say we are to become light. He says we already are light. We already are what we need to be. We already have what we need.” [2] And we can say this with confidence because we have all been created in the image and likeness of God, who is Love. Love is who we are and who we are still becoming. “How do we find what is supposedly already there? Why should we need to awaken our deepest and most profound selves? And how do we do it? By praying and meditating? By more silence, solitude, and sacraments? Yes to all of the above, but the most important way is to live and fully accept our present reality.” [1]

The more we become aware of who we really are in God, the more our eyes are open to the presence of God in everyone. This is beautifully expressed in the Hindu greeting known as namasté. When two people meet, each person joins both hands together and with respect they bow towards each other, a gesture which means “I bow to the divine in you”, or “The sacred within me salutes the sacred in you.”

[1] Richard Rohr [2] Michael Marsh

There is a light in you that cannot be extinguished.
It is inside you.
It is you.

Neil Donald Walsch

Reflection on Holy Family: 29h December 2019


It can seem somewhat strange that we portray Jesus, Mary and Joseph as the ideal family to be imitated. We have to admit that there is nothing normal about this family: the boy was the Son of God, his mother was a virgin and we last hear about Joseph when Jesus was 12 years old. We do believe that they were loving and faithful people and in the second reading Paul invites us to ‘clothe ourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.’ The supreme work of our entire lifetime is to develop the capacity to know how to love. Love is a science; love is a discipline; love has to be our main priority every day. We are all naturally inclined to think that everything ‘is all about me’. Overcoming our basic self-centredness entails a willingness to say ‘I’m sorry’, a willingness to admit we are wrong and to ask for forgiveness. This comes with great difficulty for most of us. St Paul also reminds us three times of a basic need to say ‘Thank you’ – as often as possible to everyone and for everything in our lives. The author Ann Voskamp, embarked on a daily discipline of being open to the wonders which surrounded her, finding joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, pain, loss and daily duties. She discovered that where there is wonder there is thanksgiving.

More than anything else, love involves the ability to be present. And that takes work: to really be right here, right now, in front of this person and out of myself enough to feel their feelings instead of just mine. That is heroic for most of us. We can be so trapped in our own feeling that we cannot imagine what the other person is feeling right now. To put ourselves ‘in the other person’s shoes’ is the beginning of love. To make this our art form, our science, our daily decision – for love is a decision, not a feeling – we need to draw upon a love that is much bigger than our own, the love of God. The good news is that eternal and perfect Love is within us and we are already one in Love. Thomas Merton tells us that we just need to start becoming what we already are. All that is absent is awareness.

The gospel ‘yardstick’ of true normality is a life lived in a loving response to God, the source of love. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are rightly the ideal family to be imitated.

Adapted mainly from Richard Rohr’s homilies.

Reflection on 15th Sunday: 14 July 2019

Love your neighbour as being yourself

“Love your neighbour as yourself.”  So often we think of our ‘neighbour’ as separate from ourselves, someone whom we try to love with the same amount of love as we love ourselves, when it really means that it is the same Source and the same Love that allows each of us to love ourself, others, and God at the same time! In and with God, we can love everything and everyone—even our enemies. Alone and by ourselves, our willpower and intellect will seldom be able to love in difficult situations over time. Many people try to love by willpower, with themselves as the only source. They try to obey the second commandment without the first. When we grow in our awareness that “in Him we all live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), we will grow in the realisation that we are all truly in Love and we will then hear Jesus’ words to mean “Love your neighbour as being yourself.”

Pietro Archiati

The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix) (detail), Vincent Van Gogh, 1890.

Our transformed consciousness will enable us to surrender to Love, to allow God to see our woundedness, to see and love us as we really are rather than what we ideally wish to be. We will then want to give others this same experience of divine love, of being looked upon tenderly in their woundedness, be it physical, emotional or psychological. We will want to reach out to our ‘neighbour’ with compassion, notice his/her wounds and touch them with gentleness. For us all to grow in love, “all must come to the light, both the dark parts of oneself that need healing and the light parts that need birthing. “

Cynthia Bourgeault

Often young children are more in touch with the ‘light parts that need birthing’. When asked by their four-year old child what ‘Namaste’ meant, the parents explained that each person is saying, “I bow to God in you.” With an all-knowing look, the child replied, “But Mama. The God in you is the same God that’s in me.”  Out of the mouths of babes…

Main source: Richard Rohr’s meditations. Adapted

Reflection on Trinity Sunday: 16 June 2019

In the beginning was relationship

In the beginning was relationship. “Let us create in our image” (Genesis 1:26-27). When we start with God as relationship, we begin the spiritual journey with an awareness that there has to be a “DNA connection,” between the One who creates and what is created. The energy in the universe is not in the planets, nor in the atomic particles, but very surprisingly in the relationship between them. The energy in the Trinity is not in any precise definition or in the partly arbitrary names of the three persons of the Trinity as much as in the relationship between the Three. We must reclaim Relationship as the foundation and ground of everything. The Trinitarian revelation starts with the nature of loving—and this is the very nature of being! We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in an absolute relatedness, standing inside a continuous flow which we call love. Jesus invites us to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead.

When we describe God, we can only use similes, analogies, and metaphors. All theological language is an approximation, offered tentatively in holy awe. That’s the best human language can achieve. We absolutely must maintain a fundamental humility before the Great Mystery; otherwise, religion worships itself and its formulations instead of God. Yet Mystery isn’t something we cannot understand. Mystery is endlessly understandable. “The Spirit of truth will guide you into all the truth”

John 16:13

God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.
You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.
Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see you in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing—
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Richard Rohr (adapted)

Calendar update: A talk on parenting the teenager you love

Sarah Marie Place is giving a talk on parenting teenagers at the Centre on Tuesday 25th June at 7pm. The talk is applicable to both Parents and Grandparents. As usual there will be an opportunity for tea/coffee and conversation both before and after the event.

The talk is based on a book by Gary Chapman called “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers”.

If you want to ask Sarah anything beforehand then please use the contact form on the the calendar event which can be found by clicking here.

Reflection on 5th Sunday of Easter: 19th May 2019

“Love one another just as I have loved you.”

Surely Jesus’ command to love one another was nothing new for the disciples and those of their time. The commandment is well known in the Old Testament: Love God with your whole heart and your neighbour as yourself.’ So what is new?  — “Love as I have loved you.” This is how we are to love. Love is not what we do, it is how we do it.

When we reflect on the words ‘…as I have loved you’, what are our thought processes?  Do we look for various Scripture references which speak of God’s love for us and in them find a God who loves unconditionally, a God whose love is indiscriminate: a God who is loving, caring, forgiving, compassionate, understanding and self-sacrificing. We find so many qualities of love for us to emulate. We are constantly looking for ways in which we can do this, ways in which we can show that we love as Jesus loved. Do we have the correct starting point? We are familiar with the story of the traveller who stopped to ask someone the directions to his destination. “If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here,” was the reply. Jesus’ starting point was his awareness that “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (John 14:11)

How we embark on our journey of loving others is rooted in our personal experience of who we are. Love is not something we decide to do now and then. Love is who we are.  We are created in the image of God and God is love. We were created by a loving God to be love in the world. When we get the “who” right and realise that who I am is love, then we will do what we came to do: Love God and love all that God has created. It is not really what we do that matters. It is the energy we do it with. We can tell immediately if there is love energy coming from the person we are with.  When we truly experience God who is Love, when we know that our heart keeps beating with His energy, then we become Love. We also know this to be true of others as well as ourselves. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” (Les Miserables)

Various sources

Reflection on the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 3rd March 2019

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first

We are familiar with the pre-flight instructions, “…make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.” The same is true spiritually; we must breathe deeply of God’s Spirit ourselves before attempting to help others. When we attempt to teach or lead others, and we haven’t opened ourselves to God’s Spirit within us, we’re putting on a front, a mask, a costume. The word hypocrite is from the Greek word meaning play-actor.

In his letter to the Galatians, St Paul describes the working of the Spirit of God as the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Joyce Rupp says that she used to think of these fruits as ‘things’ given to us, something in a gift box. Then she began to think of them as energies, dynamic sources of growth already within in us. We can choose whether or not to act upon these energies, whether or not to allow them to become effective in us.”

When we are asked to take the risk of reaching out to another, to offer forgiveness to the heart that rejects us…..

Spirit of God, fill us with the energy of your love.

When we walk with sadness …..

Spirit of God, stir the energy of your joy within us.

When anxiety and concern take over our spirit…..

Spirit of God, deepen in us the energy of your peace.

On those days when our anger flares because our agendas aren’t met…..

Spirit of God, draw us towards the energy of your patience.

When we stop giving people our acceptance and understanding…..

Spirit of God,awaken in us the energy of your kindness

As we struggle to believe in our own gifts and blessings…..

Spirit of God, strengthen in us the energy of your goodness.

As we struggle amid the many changes of growth…..

Spirit of God, move us with the energy of your faithfulness.

When harshness or abruptness dominates our moods…..

Spirit of God, bless us with the energy of your gentleness.

During those experiences of growth when we are tempted to doubt all the ways we have known you…..

Spirit of God, renew in us the energy of awareness of our true self in you.

Spirit of God, you call us to open our minds and our hearts to receive your energising, transforming radiance so that we will follow your loving movement within our lives. We trust in your powerful presence within us.

Joyce Rupp