Wednesday, 27 May 2015
We’d be right to think that’s taking us way out of our depth, as we realise we’re confronted with a mystery –the greatest of all mysteries. But let’s not panic! We’re used to living with mysteries in our daily lives. We don’t fully understand ourselves, let alone anyone else. We’re constantly being taken by surprise.
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
The Acts of the Apostles tells us that after Jesus had ascended into heaven the apostles gathered together in the upper room where they were staying and that “ With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers,” (Acts.1.14).
Prayer had to be the prelude to Pentecost. By prayer the apostles had to dispose themselves for the outpouring upon them of the Holy Spirit. This gift of the Holy Spirit, promised them by Jesus, would be eagerly, prayerfully, awaited by them.
Prayer had to express their felt need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to rise to the huge expectations Jesus has of them. He had let them know that they were to carry the Good News of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
PENTECOST – NEEDED PRAYING FOR; .. .... PENTECOST WAS WORTH PRAYERFULLY WAITING FOR!
And now, in our generation, Pentecost is about individuals such as you and me who together make up the Church. We, as Church, need to be possessed by a belief of such deep conviction, such strong enthusiasm, as to stimulate our willingly, even heroically, bearing witness to Jesus …all that He has done for us… all He wants us to do for Him.
In the Acts of the Apostles (Ch.2.14...) we read of the apostles being filled with the Holy Spirit, and then of their being sent out by the Holy Spirit to preach the full message about Jesus in all its richness.
“Hearing this, crowds of people were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'What are we to do, brothers?' 'You must repent,' Peter answered, 'and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Through this call to repentance God is saying ‘allow me to be merciful to you; just tell me you are truly sorry that you have offended me; seek my forgiveness.’ Jesus, has given us the Sacrament of Reconciliation because God wants to make it easy for us to receive His forgiveness. With a sense of relief we are to savour the wonderful gift of His mercy.
Surely the obvious token of our sincerity and of our gratitude to God must be that we make our peace with others. We are to be merciful to others and are to seek their mercy. Such repentance is a serious, life-changing discipline. ..not - as some would say – a way to make sinning easy for Catholics, (easy to sin… easy to gain absolution…over and over again).
So many of these thoughts have been inspired by “THE FACE OF MERCY” a recent document of Pope Francis He opens with this startling, magnificent, statement, "Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy."
The second paragraph of the text spells this out:
‘We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.’
And a few paragraphs later he writes ““Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life” (No.10).
This is exciting. This is the spirit of the original preaching at Pentecost. The whole mission of Jesus is described as the out-pouring of, “God’s merciful love.” Repentance removes the obstacles to our receiving His merciful forgiveness.
Our making our peace with God, His conferring His peace on us must impel us to be contrite before those we have offended and forgiving to those who have offended us.
The world of today so desperately needs this ‘Pentecost Breath of Fresh Air’ which Almighty God is channeling to us through Pope Francis.
PENTECOST....SO MUCH MOST CERTAINLY WORTH PRAYING FOR; PENTECOST....SO MUCH MOST CERTAINLY WORTH WAITING FOR!
Peter Clarke, O.P.
Friday, 8 May 2015
Jesus had been crucified; He had died; He had been buried. No wonder the apostles were shocked, scared, when just a few days later, this same Jesus suddenly appeared among them. Not even locked doors had prevented this. To their minds – and who can blame them? - what they saw had to be the ghost of Jesus!
Saturday, 2 May 2015
But it’s surprising and encouraging how frequently we Christians are questioned about our Faith. People do want to know what makes us tick. Our way of life, our beliefs can seem weird, if not wicked, to the non-believer. Friends, colleagues, class-mates, strangers ask us questions about our Faith. They can come completely out of the blue, can happen at any time, anywhere. Sometimes they’re hostile, at other times curious. I’ve been asked to explain the Blessed Trinity in a couple of sentences. I’ve been angrily accused of hating women and sex –because as a Dominican I’m vowed to celibacy. Frequently we’re asked how a good God could allow innocent people to suffer. We’ve all had this kind of experience.
That’s why St. Peter’s letter urges us, “always to be ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,” (I Peter 3. 16). A daunting task! We feel we’d not up to it; we’d be out of our depth. We know it’s far easier to ask a question than to give an answer. After all, we’re dealing with the ‘Mysteries of Faith, "What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived" -- the things God has prepared for those who love Him,” (I Cor. 2. 9). And yet each one of us has beenBAPTISED FOR MISSION –to hand on the Faith we have received. Christ has entrusted the proclamation of the Gospel to us ordinary people –you and me….nothing special about us!
How on earth can we cope? Clearly, we must try to know and understand our Faith as best we can. God has given us minds and expects us to use them –not simply so that we can handle other people’s questions and deal with their attacks on our Faith and practice. Certainly we must be able to do that. But more importantly, our Christian lives need to be nourished and enriched by prayerful, reflective study, especially of the Sacred Scriptures. Through them the Word of God Himself speaks not only to our minds, but also to our hearts. To deepen our belief we need to seek, to ask questions. But thank God, we don’t need to be a genius to know and love our Faith. That’s His special gift!
Never must we fall into the trap of thinking that understanding and sharing the Good News is a purely human activity –that success depends entirely on our efforts. It doesn’t. God must be involved at every stage. That’s why Jesus gives us this encouragement, “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.…”( Matt. 10. 19-20). Jesus has promised that the Spirit of Truth would remind us of what He had taught.
That’s not meant to be a lazy substitute for study and prayerful reflection. The Holy Spirit doesn’t take over and do all the work. Instead, He prompts our memories to recall what we already know and helps us to share what we already believe. Jesus never promised that the Spirit would infuse knowledge of matters of which we’re totally ignorant. But it’s wonderful the way the Holy Spirit does help us to find just the right answer, when someone has ‘bowled us a googly’ of a question (or for baseball followers, ‘a curve ball’). The wisdom of our response can take us by surprise –thanks to the promptings of the Spirit, rather than to our brilliance.
So let’s expect, even look forward to, our Faith to being questioned. Let’s face that challenge with confidence. The Spirit of Truth is with us, prompting our memories, helping us to explain what we believe. Above all, the Holy Spirit gives us a divine sensitivity for what is right or wrong, true or false –what St. Paul calls the ‘mind of Christ.’
So let’s not be surprised or alarmed at the prospect of meeting the questioning stranger. God has sent him or her especially to us. The Holy Spirit is with us, in what may just be a brief, seemingly casual, encounter.
LIKE IT OR NOT, A TRUE BELIEVER IS NEVER OFF DUTY!
Isidore Clarke, O.P.