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Is God in our Midst?

A reflection for the 3rd Sunday, Lent, Year A. The readings are Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 and John 4:5-42.

Vanessa DeSilvio, as the Woman at the Well, opposite Jonathan Roumie, as Jesus, in The Chosen; from IMDB.

This week we listened to the readings from Year A, because of our Catechumate Elects are doing the Scrutinies and those are the readings that correspond to that. But it’s good ’cause we got to hear one of my favourite Gospel stories: the Samaritan Woman at the Well. I love this story not just because it invites us to consider that all of us are thirsty and long for an abundant life and Jesus offers us living water, so that we can have life abundantly – that’s what the living water represents – but because I can imagine this very real, down-to-earth conversation between Jesus and this woman.

But I want to talk about the first reading because there was one line that really struck me, reading it this time: The Israelites tested the Lord saying, “is the Lord in our midst or not?” The Israelites didn’t know whether God was in their midst. Even after all the miracles, the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea; even after rescuing them from the Egyptians, the Israelites questioned whether God was in the midst. Things were difficult and they were thirsty and they wondered if God was in their midst or not.

 I find that so incredible, but it’s true, because it happens to us too.

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Which Way to Happiness?

A reflection for the 6th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings are Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15:16-20 and Luke 6:17, 20-26.

Everyone wants to be happy. And you know what? God wants you to be happy too. That’s all God wants. He wants you to be happy in this life but more than that, He wants you to be happy with him in Heaven. But if we listen to today’s Gospel, we might think that Jesus doesn’t want us to be happy at all. Blessed are you who mourn…? Who wants to be poor? Who wants to be hungry? Sad? Attacked and insulted?

I don’t think so.

Three hundred years before Christ, a Greek philosopher named Aristotle wrote about happiness. For Aristotle and the Greeks of his time, happiness was the ultimate end and purpose of human existence – so it wasn’t exactly the same as we define happiness today. It was a bit more. And Aristotle described that there are four levels of happiness. Have you heard of them?

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You Are My Beloved

A reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year C. The readings are Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29 ; Acts 10:34-38 and Luke 3:15-16, 21-22.

The central figures of the Baptism of the Lord tapestries by John Nava, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, in Los Angeles.

After a few weeks of looking at what happened when Jesus was a baby, we skip ahead several years to when he was an adult. But today, Jesus, as an adult, does something that most of us did as babies: He was baptized. Remember the 3rd Sunday of Advent? That’s when we heard the beginning of today’s Gospel. That’s when the people asked John the Baptist what they should do and he said to be kind, generous, polite and nice? Remember? Then they all got baptised.

And Jesus also got baptised.

We’ve heard the story so many times: Jesus was baptised, the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and a voice was heard, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” But, there are a few differences in the version from the Gospel of Luke that we heard today and there are three brief lessons that I want to share with you today that we learn from the way Luke tells the story.

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Be Kind

A reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C. The readings are Zephanaiah 3:14-18a; Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6; Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:10-18.

Today we’re going to review some things that we already know, like, for example, that on this Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent we light the rose coloured candle as a reminder that Advent is a time of joy. That is why in the first reading, the prophet Zephaniah tells us to “shout for joy” and “sing joyfully”. The response, taken from the Prophet Isaiah, tells us to “cry out with joy and gladness” and St. Paul tells the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always”. And then, because it’s so important, he says, “again, I say, rejoice!” That’s why today is called “Gaudete” Sunday. Gaudete is a word in Latin that means “be joyful”.

But it’s not always easy to be joyful. Especially when we’re tired and when something is hard. And, even though Advent is a time of joy, Advent is also a time of waiting and waiting is hard. We wait for Christmas and we wait for the Messiah to come – but this year, we are also waiting for the pandemic to end. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of this pandemic. I am tired of wearing masks and tired of restrictions and vaccine mandates and proofs of vaccination. I am tired of waiting for it to end. I want it to end now.

And what happens when we’re tired of waiting? We stop being joyful.

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