Fr David's Reflection on Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday 14th July 2019
The commandment “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” which we hear in today’s Gospel is not just a Christian teaching. Jesus however brought a completely new understanding to the commandment. This teaching is understood differently in different religions and cultures. And the key to its understanding lies in the question that the lawyer asks Jesus in today’s gospel, “Who is my neighbour?” that I have an obligation to love?
Among the Jews of Jesus’ time there were those who understood “neighbour” in a very narrow and restrictive sense. The average Jew would not have regarded the Samaritan as a neighbour. They were considered as outsiders. The circle of neighbourly love did not include them. Jesus came into a world of “us” and “them,”. The “us” being the circle of those recognised as neighbours, and the “them” being the rest of the world regarded as hostile strangers and enemies of the people.
The new thing in Jesus’ teaching of neighbourly love is his view that all humanity is one big neighbourhood. Thus he broke down the walls of division and the borders of prejudice and suspicion that humans build between “us” and “them.” To bring home this point he tells the story of the Good Samaritan. This man would be regarded as “Public Enemy Number One” by the Jewish establishment simply because he is Samaritan. However he is the one of the three passing travellers who fully proves himself to be neighbour to the Jewish man in need. Thus to the question “Who is my neighbour” Jesus’ answer is: Anyone and everyone without exception.
God knows and loves each and every one of us without exception, so I pray in the coming week that we remember this love and that we seize all the opportunities to show love for our neighbours whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Fr David's Reflection on Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
Sunday 7th July 2019
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about there being few labourers of the harvest and the need to ask the Lord for such labourers. This Gospel often gets to think about vocations to the priesthood and Consecrated life. There is often a mentality of doom and gloom when we think about the future of the Church. I think as we look back over the last 2000 years we can see that the Lord has provided for his Church with labourers of the harvest. There have always been lean times and more promising times in the history of the Church, but of the Lord’s faithfulness to his promise there should be no doubt.
I tend to be a positive thinking person and I see signs of hope for the Church. Pope Francis has got us all thinking about our faith in a different way. As Diocesan Vocations Promoter I continue to work with a small number of quality men currently discerning a possible vocation to the priesthood for our Diocese in the future. In mid-June, I took part in the discernment weekend at Hyning Hall when a number gathered to discover more about serving in the Church as labourers in the Lord’s Vineyard. In addition on 20th July, Bishop John will ordain Rev Damien Louden and Rev Bob Hayes and Nathan to the priesthood at the Cathedral.
We need to continue to pray for and encourage vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life . The best way to encourage vocations is to be a good authentic example of the Christian life ourselves by continuing to show our love for Our Lord, His Church, the Mass, The Eucharist and the sacred priesthood.
This is the way we can urge those the Lord is inviting to make the next step. However we still need to back this up with asking the Lord with sincere prayers of desiring new vocations.
Fr David's Reflection on Saints Peter and Paul
Sunday 30th June 2019
Simon Peter was a fisherman from Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee. He was with Jesus from the outset of his ministry. His name was changed by Jesus to Peter to be a rock for the Church ~ because Jesus saw within him his strong faith. His faith was a great source of strength for the Early Church.
Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish Pharisee, well educated and very devout in his religious practise. He never actually met Jesus but was persecuting the early Christians because he believed they were a threat to his Jewish faith. He became Paul the great missionary after his conversion experience on the Road to Damascus. He became a missionary whose main aim in life was to share the Good News that had transformed his life so dramatically.
They both were martyred in Rome for their faith. In this year of faith we give thanks for the faith of these two great heroes of the Church. Today we celebrate the gift of our faith, which has the apostles as its foundation.
We pray that we may like Ss Peter and Paul be open to be called by the Lord to respond to his invitation ~ to be formed by his love to change the direction of our lives accordingly: and to be sent out into the world to spread the Good news that everyone matters to God.
Fr David's Reflection on The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Sunday 23rd June 2019
Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, which means the Body of Christ. This is a term that is used to describe the Church. Christ is the Head of the Church and we are the Body. In The Blessed Sacrament we are invited to receive the Body of Christ and we are to be like Christ in the way we treat God and other people. We are to become therefore, He whom we receive in Holy Communion.
The Real Presence of Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament is of course central to our faith as Catholics. Before we receive Holy Communion we are asked to say “Amen”. This word means “let it be so”. When we say “Amen” to the consecrated host shown before us, as we receive the Eucharist, we are in effect making a proclamation of our faith.
The word “Eucharist” is another word for the Blessed Sacrament. It derives from a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”. The best way to thank God for the many blessings in our lives is by receiving the Lord in Holy Communion and trying our best to put his teaching into the practice of our daily lives.
It would be good in future years to consider having a Corpus Christi procession in our churches, which is a great way of showing our devotion to this gift to the Church. It would also be good to consider organising Quarant’ore devotions in one of churches next year. This consists of 40 hours of Exposition over a period of days leading up to Corpus Christi.
May the Lord help us to fittingly celebrate this great gift of our faith on this feast of Corpus Christi, and bin
Fr David's Reflection on Most Holy Trinity
Sunday 16th June 2019
We tend to approach the Trinity as something to be grasped intellectually. However I think it’s more important to be seen as something that is rather to be experienced. This manifests itself in the relationships that exist within the Blessed Trinity and which flow out from it.
The Trinity continually lives in the tension between concealing and revealing. On the one hand, the Trinity is shrouded in mystery and eludes our attempts to define it. However God constantly reaches out to make Himself known to us, to engage us in the loving relationships that lies at the heart of this mystery of our faith.
In today’s Gospel the Holy Spirit, John stresses the importance of the Holy Spirit which carries on the work of the Jesus after Jesus has departed for the Father. The Spirit, we are told, helps the Church to grasp the full meaning of all that Jesus has said, especially about what is shared about the Father.
Central to today’s celebration, is an invitation to open ourselves to the love that is at the core of the Blessed Trinity. It reminds us that love is at heart of our understanding of what God is really like. St Paul echoes this, in today’s 2nd reading: “And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us”. So how will we in the living out of our daily lives in the coming week, open our hearts to the love that is the Trinity’s ultimate gift to us?
Fr David's Reflection For Pentecost
Pentecost Sunday 9th June 2019
Today is the feast of Pentecost, the glorious final day of the season of Easter. The Apostles were together experiencing bewilderment over how to move forward when the Holy Spirit flows among them and breathes courage into their hearts. This marks the birthday of the Church, guided through time by the Holy Spirit himself.
The Spirit comes like a powerful wind: we can’t see the wind but we can see what it does. Similarly we can’t see the Holy Spirit but we see what it does in other people. The Church is all about people with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in his Church but we need to look for the signs which are all around us. It would be too easy to miss them or dismiss them.
The Spirit also came upon the disciples as tongues of fire. Fire changes everything, because after a fire everything has changed. It’s also a sign of renewal because after a fire, everything has to be made new again. The disciples were never the same again after Pentecost ~ they were renewed by the Holy Spirit and it was evidenced by their confident proclamation about the Risen Jesus. We are told that those who witnessed this event were "amazed and astonished."
Pentecost immerses us in the brilliance of fire and the power of wind, calling us to trust in something bigger than we are. As we look back over the journey that the Church has taken since the first Pentecost, let us marvel at how the Lord has remained utterly faithful to His Spouse through many different circumstances. As our three parishes go through a process of change let us pray to the Holy Spirit for his continuing guidance, hope and trust that all will be well.
Fr David's Reflection
Sixth Sunday of Easter 26th May 2019
There was once a king who asked one of his artists to produce a painting depicting peace. The paint he produced was of a thunderous waterfall crashing down to the rocks below, you could practically feel the force of the water, the painting was so graphic. At first the king was angry at the artist "this is not peace" he said: the artist urged him to keep looking at the painting. Then the king's eye was caught by a detail he had not previously noticed; at the base of the painting near where the water crashed to rocks was a little tree and in its branches a bird's nest in which a sparrow was sitting on her eggs, eyes half closed, waiting patiently for her eggs to hatch. The king now understood the message of peace of his artist; that it's possible to be at peace even in the chaos of life.
During his Last Supper Jesus spoke of peace to his disciples: "Peace I leave you my own peace I give you, a peace that the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. So do not let your hearts be talking about peace, because real peace is communion with God. Jesus was in perfect communion with God so he could talk about peace even as his enemies were closing in on him and death was just around the corner. Peace is a sense of inner calm that signifies right relations with God and others. Peace is the fruit of trusting God. Pleasing God is thus the dominant factor in life. This is something that can be retained even in times of conflict, turmoil and unresolved problems.
The Lord offers us the gift of his peace, it's not an easy peace of course it's a peace that has been won by his victory over sin and death. Anyone who tries to bring two or more parties together in a conflict can often have a tough time. Being a peacemaker is far from easy but it's what we should all strive for, because peace is what we all hope for in life. Our prayer for peace is that we should all become peacemakers and not shy away from all the opportunities we have, to bring Christian love into situations where hatred and division prevail. This can all be possible if we are truly in communion with God and like Jesus desire his will before our own desires.
Fr David's Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Easter 19th May 2019
Jesus gave us a marvellous example of love by everything he did with his life; with his compassion for the sick, the sinner and those who were suffering. He then tells his disciples on the eve of the greatest act of love, his Passion and Death that they are to love one another as “I have loved you”. Therefore as followers of Jesus today, we are also to show love through the living out of our daily lives.
Mother Teresa was once helping a man in a terrible condition with gangrene. An observer noticed and said to her: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars!” She replied: “Even I wouldn’t do it for that amount! However I do it out of love for God.”
Love is about being sincere and generous with each other. Love is about those who have more than they need, sharing what they have with those who do not have enough to live on. Love is about those who are not of our faith, meeting Christ in us, through our kindness and humility. Love is being able to rise above the grudges , jealousies and meanness of spirit which form barriers between ourselves and others. Love is not limited to just our friends but is extended to everyone. Love comes from God.
Fr David's Reflection
Third Sunday of Easter 5th May 2019
Peter’s denials by Jesus at a crucial moment are very well known. Despite being so close to Jesus, out of fear he said three times that he didn't even know the Lord. Perhaps not so well known are the "three yeses” that Peter says to the Risen Jesus on the shore of the Lake. There is always an awkwardness when reconciliation is needed after difficulties between two estranged friends which in many ways Jesus and Peter were. Jesus had predicted Peter would deny him and so is very aware of what Peter has done to him out of fear. He had also stated that Peter would emerge from this moment of weakness stronger and better.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is masterful in helping Peter to move on from his mistakes so he can be free to lead the Church in the future. Without making reference to the three denials, he simply asks three times whether he loves him. Perhaps Peter is upset at the third question because he at that point realises what the Lord is accomplishing by this powerful conversation. Jesus gives him the mandate to be a shepherd to his people and to lead the Church.
May we also ask invite Jesus into any strained relationships that we are experiencing at the moment . May we have the same sensitivity that Jesus used with Peter. May we be full of love and forgiveness and so facilitate reconciliation. May the Lord give us the courage, words and actions that we need in order to put behind us past hurts and wrongs so that our relationships can be healed, rebuilt and grow healthily on the foundations of our Christian faith.
Fr David's Reflection
Second Sunday of Easter 28th April 2019
Divine Mercy Sunday
Easter is about new life. Everything about Easter is about things being new, refreshed, changed and different. After our Lenten observances we should be stronger in our faith and our commitment to the Lord. At Easter we have received the new holy oils blessed by the bishop on Maundy Thursday at the Chrism Mass and these are central to a number of the sacraments to be celebrated throughout the year.
The newly blessed Easter water is also a sign of the new life through the sacrament of Baptism which is the gateway to life with the Risen Lord in the Church. The most central symbol to our Easter faith is the brand new Paschal candle which represents the presence of the Risen Lord, who has conquered death forever through his own death of the cross. This candle will be lit at all our liturgies throughout the rest of the Easter season as well as at baptisms and funerals throughout the coming year. The Paschal candle is lit at a funeral to remind us of the promise of eternal life offered to the departed Christian at their baptism.
May we take anew to our hearts the words of Our Lord to Thomas in today’s Gospel ~ “Happy are those who have not seen, yet believe”. May the richness of the symbolism of our Catholic faith help us throughout the year to see the Risen Lord at work in our lives. May Our Lord help us with the challenges that life presents to us and help us to respond to his invitation to join him forever in heaven through our obedience and trust in the words of his Gospel.
Fr David's Reflection on Easter
Easter Sunday 21st April 2019
If anyone asks me what is the most important thing about our faith ~ I respond it is believing in the resurrection of Jesus. Easter is at the heart of what it is to be a Christian. It’s the reason why every Sunday is the Lord’s Day and why we are asked to come to Mass. Every Sunday, because of Easter, is a celebration of the Resurrection.
Easter Sunday is the key to our faith and to our hope, and is central to everything that Jesus taught concerning himself and the Kingdom of God. It is central to everything that the Church has proclaimed since the day that Jesus ascended into heaven. So we are to believe in the testimony of those who saw the risen Jesus and talked with him - and wrote his words in our Sacred Scriptures. We are to believe too in the testimony of those like Paul and the millions of Apostles and Saints after him who have testified to the fact that the Risen Christ has visited them.
So today we celebrate our faith. Today we stand up with everyone else present in church this day as we are sprinkled with the newly blessed Easter water and say I believe in Jesus Christ who was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead. We say this because we believe and through our own personal relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus.