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Don’t be afraid to follow Jesus

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A reflection for the 20th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings are Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Psalm 40; Hebrews 12:1-4 and Luke 12:49-53.

I’m sure that many of you are sports fans. How many of you would walk down the street wearing a Toronto Jays jersey? You’d be proud to walk down the street sporting your favourite team’s logo. And during the Olympics we are not afraid to wear our national colours. But how many of you would wear a shirt that says, “I’m Catholic”, “I love Jesus” or “I love Pope Francis”?

I was just a World Youth Day in Poland. WYD is a gathering started by St. John Paul II to bring young adults from around the world so that they can meet with the Pope, learn from the bishops and celebrate their faith. Perhaps, however, what WYD really does is that is makes young people feel like they’re not alone. It’s easy to wear the “I am Catholic” T-shirt when there are 300,000 other people wearing the same shirt. At WYD everyone is wearing Catholic swag. It’s easy. Catholics are the majority. If you don’t like it, too bad. We outnumber you. But when you come back home, it’s not so easy to do. We’re too afraid of being labelled as intolerant, narrow-minded and old-fashioned.
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Who is your neighbour?

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Vincent van Gogh – The Good Samaritan after Eugène Delacroix 1890.

A reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings are Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalm 69; Colossians 1:15-20 and Luke 10:25-37.

If this story were to take place today, it would be very similar. A lawyer would ask Jesus, “What do I have to do to go to heaven? What law do I have to follow?” And Jesus would say, “You tell me. You know the law. What do you think? The lawyer answers very well, “love God and love neighbour.” He knows his stuff because those two commandments are not together in the bible. The first, “love God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul,” is from Deuteronomy 6:5, and the other one, “love your neighbour as yourself” is from Leviticus 19:18 – but he puts them together: love God and love neighbour. Good. You’re set to go. But for lawyers the meaning of words is important. It’s important to be clear with what we mean. Today a lawyer would ask, “What does the word love mean? What does it mean ‘to love’?” for example. The lawyer in the story asks, “What does the word neighbour mean? You don’t actually mean my nosy next-door neighbour, do you?” Who is my neighbour? Maybe he wants to know ‘who is not my neighbour?’ Maybe he wants to know what is the least he can do and still go to heaven. So Jesus tells this story that we all know so well.
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God suffers with us

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A reflection for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings are 1 Kings 17:17-24; Psalm 30; Galatians 1:11-19 and Luke 7:11-17.

Like many of you, I pray for people every day. There are many kinds of prayers; prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of forgiveness, prayers of praise and adoration, but for me the easiest prayers are the intentions, prayers for others. I pray for all kinds of things: for people who are struggling with addition or with infertility. For people who suffer because of abuse; people who are un-employed or under-employed. I pray for marriages that are struggling and for couples preparing for marriage; I pray for pregnant mothers and for those struggling with unwanted or un-planned pregnancies. But mostly, I pray for people who are sick. I pray for people going into surgery or people with chronic illnesses. Perhaps the majority of my prayers are for people who are terminally ill. And many of them are children. I pray for people who ask me to pray for them and I pray for people who don’t ask me to pray for them. Sometimes I don’t even know who I’m praying for. Sometimes I’ll get an email or a message through Facebook asking for prayers for someone – Sometimes the person asking for prayers don’t even know the person. They’re just passing it on. Sometimes I pray for people for years without knowing who they are, where they are or how they’re doing.
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The Voice of Christ

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A reflection for the 6th Sunday in Easter, Year C. The readings are Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Revelation 21:10-14; 22-23 and John 14:23-29.

Whoever loves me will keep my word and my Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them… Let me get this straight: If you love me; you will keep my word. That’s a no-brainer! If you love someone you care about what they think, what they say and what they want. If you love them, you do what they ask you to do. And for Christians, who love Jesus, we want to keep his word.

Two weeks ago we heard about the Good Shepherd who told us that His sheep know and listen to His voice. But Jesus’ voice is but one voice among many: the voice of pleasure and the voice of power; the voices of pride and despair, of fear and doubt. How do we know the voice of Christ? We listen. That’s it. We have to make quiet time for listening so we can tune in to the voice of Jesus. If our prayer time is consumed with speaking: thanksgiving prayers and petition prayers and asking for forgiveness and offering praise – all the while listening to praise and worship music – then it’s a bit one-sided. We have to be quiet – silent – so we can listen. We need to start this today. Set aside quiet time each day. Be silent and listen.

When you do, how do you know you’re listening to the voice of Jesus so that you can keep his word? How do we discern His voice among all the voices in the world? And how do we recognize his voice when it’s about something that Jesus didn’t speak about? It’s easy to keep His word when it’s about something that Jesus spoke about, but how do we keep His word about stuff that Jesus never spoke about?
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