Monday, April 18, 2011

Scripture Matthew 14:12-13

And his disciples came and took the body (of John the Baptist) and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

Comment – Feeding the Five Thousand

This scene is recounted in all four gospels, which is very rare.

Jesus feeding the five thousand.

This event must have struck them with great power because it is so central in the Gospels and it is so central really in our tradition for artists, for poets and for preachers.

I want you to know something first.
How darkly this account begins.

The story opens with the news of the death of John the Baptist. In some ways Jesus is continuing the ministry of John – baptising and preaching repentance. So He has heard that this colleague of His has just been killed. Jesus withdraws.

Well there is something frightening here at the beginning. Something menacing and threatening.
I think those who have a Biblical mind would see in this all kinds of Old Testament overtones.

Christians, how often the prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament were threatened – whether it was Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Elijah, Moses.

Again and again those who speak the Word of God find themselves under threat from a sinful world.

So here is Jesus withdrawing after the death of John the Baptist.

Then, the people attracted by His power and charisma – the people come out by the thousands to look for Him and they find themselves with Him in a deserted place. Now, again for Biblically minded people, this large crowd of thousands of people in a deserted place calls to mind Israel having left Egypt in search of the promised land now finding themselves a bit adrift and lost in a desert place.

The threatened prophet.
The wandering people.
There are very very powerful Old Testament motifs as this story begins.

Scripture Matt.14:14-16

[14] As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick.
[15] When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves."
[16] Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."


How does it unfold?
Well, the disciples realise the problem.
Jesus has been healing and teaching this crowd in a deserted place and there are thousands of them.

Evening comes on and they say “Lord, dismiss the crowds, so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves”

Notice something here.
The movement of sin is always in the direction of dispersion.
The Greek word ‘diabollane’ from which our word ‘devil’ comes from (think of diablo in Spanish) – diabollane means to scatter.

Scattering is always the work of the dark power. Scattering is always the work of sin.

The disciples here in some ways maybe unwittingly, against their own best intentions, but nevertheless are speaking the language and words of sin.

“Lord, send them away, dismiss them so they can get some food for themselves”.

Everyman for himself. There is the voice of sin
What is the voice of grace?
Bearing each others burdens in love.
That is the voice of grace.

That is the voice of God’s kingdom.
That is the voice of God’s communion.

But this tendency to say ‘split them up, let everyman fend for himself’ is the permanent danger in the Church.

But Jesus as always is the voice of communion, compassion, together.

Listen to what He says.
There is no need for them to go away. Give them some food for yourselves.

First of all – no breaking up of the group.
Even when they are in danger. These people are threatened. They are in an isolated place and hungry.
There is no food available. They are in danger.

Our first instinct is to dispel the crowd, to disperse the crowd. Jesus says no, especially now we hang together, especially now we stay as one.

But then, that wonderful and deeply challenging instruction.
Give them some food yourselves.

Remember they had said ‘let them go and buy food for themselves in the villages. Let them go do it.
The Lord says ‘No’. In the communion of the kingdom of God we bear each others burdens in love.

We don’t say that’s your problem – it is our problem.
We don’t say that is your joy and I am jealous of it. No, we say that is our joy.
We are in this together.

You know what I hear often is
‘you know what the Church ought to do is’
‘somebody ought to take care of this’
‘here’s what they should do’

Well, in all these cases it is someone in the church abdicating responsibility.
We are the Church, we are the people of God.
Well good, but there is a responsibility attached to that.
That means you just can’t say ‘there is a problem, now you take care of it.

The Lord says ‘you give them something to eat’
You do something to solve this problem.

Scripture Matt.14:16-21

[16] Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."
[17] They said to him, "We have only five loaves here and two fish."
[18] And he said, "Bring them here to me."
[19] Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
[20] And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
[21] And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.


God loves dispensing His providence through secondary causes.
God gives us the privilege of participating in His own providence.
You do something about it.
You take the steps needed.

There was an old principle – See, Judge, Act

That is all contained, I think, in this beautiful command of Jesus – ‘You give them something to eat.’

Now what do the disciples do?

They say, ‘Lord, all we have got are five loaves and two fish. There are five thousand people here not counting women and children’

So we are supposed to do something?
We have got five loaves and two fish!
Now explain that one to us.

What does Jesus say?

Give them to me and then He multiplies them in such a way that every person is fed and filled and in fact there are twelve baskets left over.

Spiritual lesson

You give what you have, even if it is very little, to Christ and it will be multiplied.

You give Christ your mind, your will, your energy, your compassion.
Even if they are very small.
Even if it is only you and a couple of friends.
You give it to Christ and you will find that the whole thing becomes multiplied for His purposes.

Jesus wants us to cooperate with Him and we do it by giving the little that we’ve got and we will be shocked and surprised to find the effect that it has on the world.

What is the worst thing we can do?
It is to hang on to even the little we have and then say to the rest ‘you go fend for yourselves.

No! Even give away that little pittance and you will be surprised what Christ can do with it.

Do you ever think Christians, that every major movement began small.

For example think of Mother Teresa.

This nun in her thirties who left the relative comfort of her high school where she was teaching and she walked into the worst slum in the world and simply began caring for those who were dying.

What if some said to her ‘we have to do something about this crisis in Calcutta’ she would have said who am I to address it?

Well she didn’t say that.

She just went and began caring for the dying.

Soon she was joined by her former students and then her friends and then by admirers and now the Missionaries of Charity – the order she founded covers the whole world and their works have been of enormous power in transforming the world and in serving Christ and His Church.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.

It begins very small but in time it grows into this great tree and the birds of the air make their nest in it.

The kingdom of God is like a boy giving five loaves and two fish to Christ Jesus and watching it grow.

Source : Fr Robert Barron –audio sermons

John 8:3-5

John 8:3-5
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?"

Comment -“The Stoning of Soraya M.” and the Figure of Christ

I am convinced that, though Christians rarely have lived up to it, there is an ideal at the heart of the Gospel that represents a permanent challenge to the travesty of justice on display in the story of Soraya. As the film came to its bloody climax, I found myself haunted by the story told in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel of the woman caught in adultery. Many of the dynamics of the Soraya narrative are evident in this account: a woman accused of a sexual offense, the formation of an angry mob, the sanctioning of violence through religious authority, the thrill that comes through scapegoating.

But then there is the decisive difference. When the religious leaders of the mob—thirsty for blood and confirmed in their self-righteousness—inquire of Jesus what he would recommend, the young rabbi bends down and writes on the ground. Then he stands up and says, “let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her” (Jn. 8: 7). This devastating one-liner causes the elders to drop their stones and prompts the crowd to dissipate like a summer cloud. Jesus doesn’t sanction scapegoating violence; he interrupts it. He demonstrates that God stands, not on the side of victimizers, but of victims. And this divine solidarity with victims comes to its richest expression when Jesus becomes himself an innocent victim of a religiously sanctioned scapegoating mob.

The French philosopher Rene Girard has argued that all dysfunctional human societies—from coffee klatches to nation states—are predicated upon the scapegoating mechanism, that is to say, the tendency to find someone or some group to blame. In its shared hatred, the group finds a satisfying, though ultimately unstable, unity. Girard identified the first revelation (unveiling, re-velatio) of Christianity as precisely this uncovering and de-legitimizing of the scapegoating mechanism, and the second as the manifestation of the God who is friend to the victim.

What particularly gripped me as the movie came to its conclusion was this: Saraya, devout Muslim and innocent victim of mob violence, lying dead in a pool of her own blood, is one of the most powerful Christ figures in recent cinema.

Source: extract from

John 8: 3-11

John 8: 3-11

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."

One by one they left because they were all sinners.

Now why do we like this passage so much? Because that woman is you and me.

But all too often we are the others as well.

Sinners we all are, but humbled repentant sinners we all need to be.

Source: Fr Vincent Serpa
Catholic Answers Live

John 8:31-32

John 8:31-32
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

“It is a kind of paradox, but coming to know our sin really is a freeing experience. Sin keeps eating at us and deep inside we know that something is wrong. It’s kind of like when you leave the house and know that you have forgotten something but you just don’t know what it is. You know something is wrong, but often just can’t put your finger one it. The moment we become aware of our sin really is a moment of grace and profound wonder.”

Source: , TOR - Spiritual Freedom: God’s Life Changing Gift, Servant Books

2 Cor 12:8-10

2 Cor 12:8-10
Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Don’t be afraid of your own weakness.

St Therese of Avila said:
You gotta have desire
You gotta have determination
You gotta have courage
But if you don’t have it, it’s OK!

Ask God for it and He will give it to you.

So whenever you run into an obstacle that rules you out from making progress in your spiritual journey, it is an opportunity to plead poverty and qualify for divine welfare.

That is what all the saints say.

You’re supposed to run into your limitations
You’re supposed to run into your weaknesses
You’re supposed to run into things you think are a block and that leads you to say – “Lord, I can’t do it without you” and the Lord will help you through it.

Source: Ralph Martin - The Fulfilment of All Desire

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mark 6 and John 6 - Manna For The Mission

Scripture Mark 6:31-44
And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves have you? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he commanded them all to sit down by companies upon the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.

I will be looking at John 6 and Mark 6:31 and following and blend them together as they re speaking of the same event.
Jesus has been teaching all day with the multitudes and He goes up into the hills.
It is the time of Passover, John 6 tells us, which commemorates the unleavened bread that they ate, the Passover meal and the Exodus wilderness wandering and journey.
They are up into the hills trying to get some time alone after running a big "conference" with 5000 plus people.
Peter and the Apostles are exhausted with doing crowd control.
Jesus looks down and sees the crowd hasn't left.
Peter says to Jesus "What are we going to do with these people?"

Jesus says "You go feed them".

Then Philip says "Do you know how much it would cost to feed them, more than two hundred denarii?" (Days' wages: literally, "denarii"; a Roman denarius is a day's wage in Matthew 20:2)

Jesus says "What food do you have?"
There is no response and then Jesus says "Go and look!"

Andrew comes back and says Lord we found a boy with five barley loaves and two fish.
They must be thinking this won't even feed the twelve, lets forget this idea.
Jesus says call the people and get them into groups of fifty.

Mark 6:41-44 reads
And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Jesus blesses the bread/gives thanks in John 6 (and the word for "giving thanks" in Greek is Eucharist) and then He gives the bread to the Disciples.

The disciples take the little bread (that they can hold to distribute) and go out and give all that they have and then they come back and Jesus has more.
There is more bread.
Then they keep going out giving the little they have and then there is more and more.
They keep giving the little they have and there is more.

A whole multitude is fed.
There are twelve baskets of the fragments left over.
What is the lesson in this?

Scripture Mark 6:37-38
But he answered them, "You give them something to eat."
And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?"
And he said to them, "How many loaves have you?
Go and see."
And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish."

The lesson is Jesus calls the Twelve "You go feed the multitude."
They must be thinking we can't do that. That is impossible. That is crazy talk.
But Jesus says go and feed them.
They take the little they have even though it is so inadequate.
Five loaves and two little fish to feed the multitude 'in a banquet dinner' is totally inadequate.

How do you think the disciples felt, when they were asked to do so much with so little?
Guess what? That is how God works.
God loves to ask us for mission.
I don't have the gifts to do this. I am not dynamic. I’m not funny. I'm not cool.
I don't have the brains or the talents.

What we do is we compare ourselves to others and say to God "You have got the wrong person."

That is what Moses said when he first met God.
God said to Moses to go to Egypt, lead my people and bring them back here.
That would be a bad idea.
Moses said I am not very good at speaking. I stutter at times. I am not very persuasive.
But God said I will be with your mouth. Who made your mouth? Who made you?
I'll be with you.
God chooses people not for their gifts but for their character, even with a broken character and raise them up and give them character.

In other words, the miracle of the bread is that the Disciples gave the little they had to Jesus - they gave it away and it was multiplied.
The little we have will never be multiplied unless we give it away for Jesus.
Give the little we have in trust and do what God is calling us for, even though it is bigger than us.

God can multiply.

Scripture John 6:7-14
Philip answered him, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little (bit)." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."

So the lesson here is not simply that the manna for the mission is what we need to sustain our mission to the promised land, but here Jesus is teaching the disciples "You are not adequate for the mission, to serve and lead others
You don't have what it takes. You don't have the money, the resources, the talent, the gifting but that doesn't matter because you have got me.

You plus God comes out pretty well.

What we do is, we do a human calculation.

All my gifting and talents, my education, who I am, plus plus plus come out to five loaves.
That's it.

We have to do Gods maths - all of our talents and gifts equals five plus God is infinity.
Five times X.

That is what we forget.
We don't know the heavenly algebra.
That is the problem.
That is what the disciples had to learn.

Scripture Mark 6:45-46

[45] Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Beth-sa'ida, while he dismissed the crowd.
[46] And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
After the multiplication of the bread, Jesus immediately takes the Disciples away.

You can imagine their heads are getting a bit big at this stage.
The Apostles are looking pretty good.
They must be thinking how much they distributed.
Rather than thanking God, we let our heads grow.

They obey and get in the boat and go.
Jesus dismisses the crowd and He spends the rest of the night in gratitude to His Father, giving thanks to God.

Scripture Mark 6:47-50

[47] And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.
[48] And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them,
[49] but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out;
[50] for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."

The fishermen are using every trick they know to get across the lake.
They are scared because they think Jesus is a ghost.
What do the twelve tough guys do?
They cry out.
Immediately Jesus speaks to them - take heart it is I and have no fear

When you read the Gospel of Mark you are going to see a contrast.
Fears versus faith.

The question is: Are you going to give into the fears or are you going to stand up and respond in faith?
You life will either be moulded in fear or faith - it will be one or the other.

In the world, those who don't know God shape their life around fear.

We are called to walk by faith.

Why must we take heart and have no fear?
Because of who Jesus is.

That is the reason why we have to take heart, have courage and have no fear.
Not who we are because you will come up with five.
If you are doing the maths looking at your life and come up with the five that mean you are looking at your human gifting and what you have on your own.
We have to take five times x - and come up with infinity.
That is the calculation of faith.
The calculation of fear is five.

Scripture Mark 6:51-52
[51] And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased……

And Jesus got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. How cool is that.

Peter and the other fishermen couldn't get anywhere because of the wind.
Jesus gets in the boat and the wind stops and they move forward.
How often that happens in our lives where we are not getting anywhere.
We are fighting against things, against circumstances and we are getting nowhere.
We are no closer to happiness and all of a sudden we allow Jesus in the boat and all of a sudden we are sailing again. We are moving ahead.

Then we read an odd statement in Mark and most people miss this.

[51] …... And they were utterly astounded,
[52] for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
They didn't get it about the bread.
Now they are utterly astounded when Jesus gets in the boat. The wind ceases.
Everything is working out OK.
They are dumb founded. They don't get it.
And Mark tells us that they didn't get it, because they didn't get it about the loaves!

(Tim accentuates this point)
How could they not get it about the loaves?
They were the ones right there!

They were the ones right in the middle of the miracle.
They saw the bread multiplied.
Did they believe it was multiplied? Absolutely!
But still they didn't get it about the loaves.

What does that mean?
Because their hearts were hard.

This is the Twelve.
When talking about hard hearts, Mark is not talking about their arteries and their cholesterol level.
There is something spiritual there still.
Mark is telling us, he is warning us, we are like the Disciples.
We think we really know Jesus really well. We have grown up hearing about Jesus and hearing the Gospel.
Learning about God and we think we really know Him we think we are there and Mark is saying you have got more to learn.

And what is more you it doesn't matter how close you are to Jesus like Peter and the boys, you can still have a spiritual hard heart that God wants to break through.

(Earlier in his talk Tim discussed the manna in the Old Testament as follows, which to some degree I thought fits in OK at this point):
On the way from captivity, bondage and slavery in Egypt to the promised land - home, Moses has to bring God’s people through the wilderness.
If you are going to walk with God you are going to walk through the wilderness.

So God gives his people something special to get them through the wilderness wandering.
In Exodus 16 we find the people have been wandering for a number of weeks and they are in the wilderness they come to a place where they begin to run out of food and they are going hungry.

(Tim accentuates this point)
Now these are the people who saw the Ten Plagues!
They saw the Red Sea parting!

And they despair and they lose hope.

They complain to Moses, that he brought them out into the wilderness to kill them, their children and their cattle.
So they are murmuring and complaining and despairing.

God rains down manna from heaven on the condition that it is enough for one day.
Some of them tried to hoard more than a days worth and it rotted.

There is a lesson learned here, in that God will give them their daily bread and no more.

You will be given enough for one day and then the next day and then the next day.
Everyday God’s people, in the midst of the wilderness has to rely on God coming through for them and the whole idea of the manna coming through daily is that God wants to teach His people to trust.
God is saying I can come through for you every day.
What we want to do is for God to come through for us every once in a while so it can last us for a long time.
We want that security. We long for security.
And God is saying I will give you enough for now and no more.

That is one of the key lessons of the manna in the wilderness.

Scripture Mark.8: 14
[14] Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

Now in the next scene in Mark chapter 8 again Jesus is teaching again and there is a multitude.
They are ready for feeding the 4000 and they have seven loaves this time and Jesus says "Go feed them" and there is the multiplication of loaves again.
And then Jesus gets them in the boat and they all take off together in the boat right away.
They have got to be careful of swelling head syndrome that happens after you are successful.

Hey that was because of me!

But it is all Jesus and yet we love to take credit.

When they get in the boat a discussion breaks out.

We are told that after the multiplication of the bread there were seven baskets full of bread left over this time.
Now they didn’t forget to bring just any bread.
They forgot to bring the seven baskets of the “wonder bread”, the miraculous bread that got multiplied.

And they only had one loaf with them in the boat.
[16] And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread."

Scripture Mark.8: 16-21
[16] And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread."
[17] And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
[18] Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?
[19] When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve."
[20] "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven."
[21] And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

Jesus says for the second time in the Gospel of Mark “Are your hearts hardened?”

What is it they do not get?

Now how much bread is in the boat with them?
[14] Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

One loaf.

Now they forgot to bring any bread and yet they have one loaf with them in the boat and they discuss among themselves that they have no bread and Jesus says why do you discuss that you have no bread?

Now wait a minute, how much bread do they have?

There is one loaf in the boat with them but they are talking about the fact that they have no bread.
Jesus recognises that and says to them “Why do you discuss why you have no bread?”

So they think they don’t have any bread and yet we know, the narrator tells us, that they have one loaf.

Jesus says ‘Do you not yet perceive or understand? Having eyes do you not see?’

What don’t they understand?
Where is the loaf of bread?

The loaf of bread in the boat is Jesus.

The same event of the first miracle of the multiplication of loaves followed immediately by Jesus walking on the sea in the Gospel of Mark is found in John 6.
Straight after these ‘events’ Jesus says in John 6:48-51

[48] I am the bread of life.
[51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

They discuss the fact they have no bread despite the fact that Jesus is in the boat with them.
They don’t get it about the bread and what Mark wants to teach us in his Gospel is, if you don’t get it about the bread you do not understand Jesus Christ because Jesus and the bread go together.

You have eyes but you are not really seeing and you have ears but are not really hearing.
You are not yet perceiving or understanding yet about who God is. You are just not getting it.

Jesus is the bread of life. It is a radical thing and to see it we have to do what Paul says in Ephesians 1:18 to see with the eyes of your heart.

Scripture Mark 8:22-25
And they came to Beth-sa'ida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men; but they look like trees, walking." Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.

One of the fascinating things that happens here is that right after this discussion they encounter a blind man in a village and Jesus took him out of the village put spit on the blind mans eye and the man can now see but they look like trees walking.

Now the miracle doesn’t take and Jesus has to do it again for him to get his vision.
What’s going on? Why doesn’t the miracle take?
Jesus is the Son of God, all powerful but it gives the impression that Jesus botched the healing.
Has that ever bothered you?

Obviously, Jesus doesn’t botch the miracle.
Jesus can heal the first time.
So why doesn’t Jesus heal the man 100% the first time?
Some people it is because of the blind mans faith but it doesn’t say anything in the story that he didn’t have enough faith.

No. Jesus heals him in stages because He is healing the disciples in stages and giving them sight.

We would be myopic readers and blind if we didn’t catch the fact that after Jesus says to the disciples “having eyes do you not see” Jesus then goes and heals a blind man.

Who is really blind in the story?
The disciples.
And what Jesus is doing is healing them in stages so that they can get a better vision of who Jesus is and what He has to do.

Source: Manna for the Mission talk given by Professor Tim Gray at a FOCUS Conference

Monday, April 11, 2011

Scripture John 4:5-9
Jacobs Well
[5] So he came to a city of Samar'ia, called Sy'char, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
[6] Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
[7] There came a woman of Samar'ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." [8] For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
[9] The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar'ia?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jacob’s Well
The first form of water is the spring (the well), water that bursts forth fresh from the earth. The spring is origin, beginning, in its as yet unclouded and unspent purity. The spring figures as a creative element, as well as being a symbol of fruitfulness.

Immediately after the conversation with Nicodemus, we meet Jesus at Jacob’s Well. The Lord promises the Samaritan woman water that becomes in the one who drinks it a source springing up to eternal life, so that whoever drinks it will never be thirsty again. In this scene, the symbolism of the well is associated with the history of Israel. Earlier, at the calling of Nathanael, Jesus had revealed himself as the new and greater Jacob. In the vision, Jacob had seen the angels of God ascending and descending above the stone he was using as a pillow. Jesus prophesies to Nathanael that his disciples will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending above him. Here, at Jacob’s Well, we encounter Jacob as the great patriarch who by means of this well had provided water, the basic element of life. But there is a greater human thirst – it extends beyond the water from the well, because it seeks a life that reaches out beyond the biological sphere.
Source: from Chapter 8 of Pope Benedict's "Jesus of Nazareth"


The meeting of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is one of the great stories of the gospels. It is the meeting of a noted man and a nameless woman with a past. It is the meeting of two individuals who represent two worlds, two peoples, two traditions, two sets of needs, two sets of hopes, and in a special way two sets of prejudices. It is a meeting across the divide of history.

Long standing and deep rooted conflict is resolved at the level of personal contact. Notice that interaction and reconciliation take place in the ordinariness of everyday life.

The well in those days was the focal point for the community – it was the only source of water. Today it could be outside the school at 9am or 4pm, it could be the pub on a Saturday night, it could be the gym.

Jesus and the Samaritan woman did not say “we will wait for the right time and right place”; they tackled each other there and then. We may have a tendency to avoid friends and neighbours when we fall out with them, or when we do bump into them we barely speak. The challenge for us is to follow the example of the woman in today’s Gospel, and to engage in conversation those we do not see ‘eye to eye’ with, to respectfully question and most importantly to listen to the other.


John 4:13-14 - The Woman at the Well

Scripture: John 4:13-14
Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."


Do you allow any barriers to distance yourself from the Lord and his will for your life? Jesus overcame the barriers of prejudice, sin, and misunderstanding with the truth of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus passed through Samaria he did the unthinkable. He conversed with a Samaritan, thus risking ritual impurity and scorn from his fellow Jews. He also did something no strict Rabbi would dare to do in public without loss to his reputation. He greeted a woman and spoke openly with her. Not only was she a woman, but a notorious adulteress. No decent Jew would even think of being seen with such a woman, let alone exchanging a word with her!

Why did Jesus meet alone with this Samaritan woman? Women normally gathered at the town well in the early hours of the morning while it was still cool. This would be a customary time for social contact and exchange of news. The fact that this notorious woman chose the midday hour to go out in public when the heat is greatest, shows her estrangement from her own community.

Jesus broke through the barriers of nationality and orthodox Jewish custom. He showed the universality of the gospel.

No one is barred from the love of God and the good news of salvation. There is only one thing that can keep us from God and his redeeming love — our stubborn pride and wilful rebellion.

What is the point of Jesus’ exchange with the woman about water? Water in the arid land was scarce. Jacob’s well was located in a strategic fork of the road between Samaria and Galilee. One can live without food for several days, but not without water. Water is a source of life and growth for all living things. When rain came to the desert, the water transformed the wasteland into a fertile field.

The kind of water which Jesus spoke about was living, running water. Fresh water from a cool running stream was always preferred to the still water one might find in a pond or well. Living water was also a symbol for the Jew of thirst of the soul for God.
The water which Jesus spoke of symbolized the Holy Spirit and his work of recreating us in God’s image and sustaining in us the new life which comes from God. The life which the Holy Spirit produces in us makes us a new creation in Jesus Christ. Do you thirst for God and for the life of the Holy Spirit within you?

Hippolytus, a second century Christian writer, explains the significance of the Holy Spirit’s work in us: “This is the water of the Spirit: It refreshes paradise, enriches the earth, gives life to living things. It is the water of Christ’s baptism; it is our life. If you go with faith to this renewing fountain, you renounce Satan your enemy and confess Christ your God. You cease to be a slave and become an adopted son; you come forth radiant as the sun and brilliant with justice; you come forth a son of God and fellow-heir with Christ.” (From a sermon, On the Epiphany)

“Lord, my soul thirsts for you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may always find joy in your presence and take delight in doing your will.”


John 4: 25, 27, 35, 39, 41 - The Woman at the Well

Scripture John 4: 25, 27, 35, 39, 41
25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things."
27 Just then his disciples came. They marvelled that he was talking with a woman,
35 … I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest.
39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did."
41 And many more believed because of his word.


The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord. He is at the heart of every Christian action, and every Christian message. So the Church constantly returns to meet her Lord. The Gospels tell of many meetings with Jesus, from the shepherds in Bethlehem to the two thieves crucified with him, from the wise elders who listened to him in the Temple to the disciples walking miserably towards Emmaus. But one episode that speaks really clearly about what he offers us is the story of his encounter with the Samaritan woman by Jacob's well in the fourth chapter of John's Gospel; it has even been described as “a paradigm for our engagement with truth”.(86)

The experience of meeting the stranger who offers us the water of life is a key to the way Christians can and should engage in dialogue with anyone who does not know Jesus.

One of the attractive elements of John's account of this meeting is that it takes the woman a while even to glimpse what Jesus means by the water 'of life', or 'living' water (verse 11). Even so, she is fascinated – not only by the stranger himself, but also by his message – and this makes her listen. After her initial shock at realising what Jesus knew about her (“You are right in saying 'I have no husband': for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly”, verses 17- 18), she was quite open to his word: “I see you are a prophet, Sir” (verse 19). The dialogue about the adoration of God begins: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (verse 22). Jesus touched her heart and so prepared her to listen to what He had to say about Himself as the Messiah: “I who am speaking to you – I am he” (verse 26), prepared her to open her heart to the true adoration in Spirit and the self-revelation of Jesus as God's Anointed.

The woman “put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people” all about the man (verse 28). The remarkable effect on the woman of her encounter with the stranger made them so curious that they, too, “started walking towards him” (verse 30). They soon accepted the truth of his identity: “Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world” (verse 42). They move from hearing about Jesus to knowing him personally, then understanding the universal significance of his identity. This all happens because their minds, their hearts and more are engaged.

The fact that the story takes place by a well is significant. Jesus offers the woman “a spring... welling up to eternal life” (verse 14). The gracious way in which Jesus deals with the woman is a model for pastoral effectiveness, helping others to be truthful without suffering in the challenging process of self-recognition (“he told me every thing I have done“, verse 39). This approach could yield a rich harvest in terms of people who may have been attracted to New Age philosophies (water-carrier -Aquarius) but who are genuinely still seeking the truth. They should be invited to listen to Jesus, who offers us not simply something that will quench our thirst today, but the hidden spiritual depths of “living water”. It is important to acknowledge the sincerity of people searching for the truth; there is no question of deceit or of self-deception. It is also important to be patient, as any good educator knows. A person embraced by the truth is suddenly energised by a completely new sense of freedom, especially from past failures and fears, and “the one who strives for self-knowledge, like the woman at the well, will affect others with a desire to know the truth that can free them too”.(87)

An invitation to meet Jesus Christ, the bearer of the water of life, will carry more weight if it is made by someone who has clearly been profoundly affected by his or her own encounter with Jesus, because it is made not by someone who has simply heard about him, but by someone who can be sure “that he really is the saviour of the world” (verse 42).

It is a matter of letting people react in their own way, at their own pace, and letting God do the rest.

Source: Jesus Christ- The Bearer Of The Water Of Life - A Christian reflection on the “New Age”

John 4:16-18 - The Woman at the Well

Scripture: John 4:16-18
He (Jesus) told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."


AIM: To encourage the hearers to deeper conversion to Jesus Christ.

She has tried her luck with five men. Now she is living with a sixth. Numbers in the Bible are often symbolic. Six is a number of imperfection, lack, or deficiency. Living with her sixth partner, the woman is in a situation of lack and deficiency. In none of these six relationships has she found what she is looking for.

In the thought world of the Bible seven, on the other hand, denotes completeness, consummation, perfection.

There are seven days in the week, seven petitions in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kgs 8:29-53), seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. The gospels record seven utterances of Jesus on the cross, and an appearance of the risen Lord to seven disciples after a night of fruitless fishing on the lake (John 21:2).

As the story unfolds, we discover that the seventh man in this woman’s life is Jesus. As she opens up to him she finally experiences the satisfaction of her deepest longing and desires — of her heart’s thirst.

Thirst is the story’s starting point. Tired from his journey, Jesus sits down by the well and asks the Samaritan woman who is drawing water: “Give me a drink.” Jesus is thirsty. What could be more natural than for him to ask the woman to give him some of the water she is drawing to quench her own thirst? In reality, Jesus’ request was anything but natural. The woman herself finds it astonishing. “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” she says. Jesus’ request violated two boundaries: first, the one which forbade him, as an observant Jew, to share a cup with a Samaritan; and second, the prohibition of any extended social interaction in a public place between a man and a woman not of his own family.

The ensuing conversation between Jesus and this woman, member of a people hated by the Jews, is the longest dialogue of any recorded in all four gospels. The gospel writer tells us that when Jesus’ disciples return from the village they are “amazed that he was talking with a woman.”
If Jesus had remained within the boundaries of his time, he would hardly have spoken to this woman at all — or at least only briefly and superficially. A superficial contact could have produced only a superficial result.

In his concern for this unfortunate woman — member of a despised minority and with a messed up life — Jesus breaks the boundaries of his time. Unlike many modern evangelists, however, Jesus does not condemn. He does not threaten. He does not intimidate. Instead he invites the woman to give him a drink.

Then he challenges her: “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” When she says she has no husband, Jesus affirms her: “You are right in saying I have no husband.” Finally he tries to enlighten her doubts. When she mentions the Messiah, Jesus responds: “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
What is it about Jesus that makes such a tremendous impact on this woman?

Simply this: for the first time in her life she meets in Jesus a man who understands her; the first man who knows her through and through, yet does not reject, condemn, or use her.

In her excitement she forgets her water jar, and her thirst — as Jesus evidently forgets his own thirst — and runs back to the village to tell all her friends: “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.” She is so overjoyed finally to have found a man who satisfies her deepest longings that she wants to bring others to him.

The convert has become a messenger and missionary to others.

Like the Samaritan woman with her six partners, we may try to hide the messy situations in our lives. Jesus knows about them already. He does not excuse; but neither does he condemn — any more than he condemned the Samaritan woman.

Toward the end of this long dialogue Jesus tells his disciples, returned now from the village: “Look up, and see the fields ripe for the harvest.” The woman, and the friends and neighbors she has brought from the village, are part of the harvest Jesus is talking about: simple folk, little people we might say, looked down on and despised by Jesus’ people — though never by him.

Unlike so many leaders of Jesus’ own people, they do not ask for “a sign”: some dramatic proof which will compel their belief. They accept Jesus in the simple trusting faith of humble people everywhere.
“Look up, and see the fields ripe for the harvest,” Jesus says. Was that just long ago and far away? Don’t you believe it! Whenever, wherever, we find that thrills, success, power, or possessions cannot satisfy our deepest longings, we are thirsting (though we may not know it) for the living water that Jesus alone can give. Today, as in Jesus’ time, the fields are still “ripe for harvest.” That is absolutely certain. We have Jesus’ word for it.

One thing alone remains uncertain. Do we truly want to be part of that harvest? The answer to that question lies in our hands. Jesus Christ is waiting for our answer — right now.

Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future!

Source:Fr. John Jay Hughes

John 4: 4-7, 10, 16-18 –Woman at the Well

Scripture John 4: 4-7, 10, 16-18 –Woman at the Well

He (Jesus) had to pass through Samar'ia. So he came to a city of Samar'ia, called Sy'char, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samar'ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, `I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly."


Every detail matters.

Jesus is passing through Samaria. That itself is strange. Samaritans were a half breed and weren’t respected. A pious Jew avoided Samaria and would go around it but Jesus passes right through it. Why? He likes sinners. That’s where Jesus goes. Through the land of sin and He comes to a well and there He sits down.

Now, if you were a Biblically minded person of the first century reading this book and you read the word ‘well’ – you know what you’d be thinking? Marriage!

Wells were always associated with in the Old Testament with marriage. Isaac was looking for a wife so his father Abraham send his servant and he sits down by a well and he spies the woman to become Isaac’s wife. Moses sits down by a well and there are the daughters of Jethro, one of who will become his wife. And most famously here, Jacob sits down by a well and he spies Rachel who becomes his wife. Wells were associated with marriage.

Jesus, in his own person, is the marriage of heaven and earth. In His own person , He is the coming together of divinity and humanity and He has come among us as a bridegroom looking for a bride. We are His bride – the Church. Jesus wants to marry us.

This is how the story commences.

Furthermore, John tells us it was about noon. Hmm, just a coincidental comment? Nothing in John is incidental, especially when it comes to times of the day. Noon! Jesus says I am the light of the world. When Judas leaves the cenacle after betraying the Lord, it says he went out and it was night. Nicodemus came at night so he wouldn’t be seen by men. Night symbolizes lack of vision – they don’t get it. Light – that is the illumination of revelation. This story commences at high noon. There is a lot of light going on – a lot of illumination and brilliance.

Then we read a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Here comes the bride. The bridegroom is there waiting by the well. The Samaritan woman stands for us – she stands for the church. The one who Jesus wants to marry. What does He say to her? He says ‘Give me a drink’

Oh, there is a revolution in that little line. Throughout the Old Testament the theme of our thirst for God is common “Like a deer that yearns for running streams so my soul is yearning for you O Lord’ Psalm 42. We are thirsting for God of course, but here is a great reversal. God in one sense is also thirsting for us, because God in Christ is thirsty for our faith, thirsty for our response, thirsty to be married to us.

Boy, does she respond negatively to this question. How come? Well, because this woman is a triple outsider.

Firstly, she is a woman. In Jesus time, for a man to speak to a woman was unheard of so she is taken aback by that. Secondly, she is a Samaritan – for a Jew a Samaritan was no good, a half breed. Thirdly and more subtly –she is a woman coming alone to a well at high noon. Women didn’t do that. Women came together at better times of the day. If you are in the desert country, the better times of the is either early morning or evening when the sun wasn’t so hot and you’d be with your friends to make the work easier and more pleasant. There is a single woman coming at noon. How come? She is an outcast. She is seen as a shady questionable figure and you’ll find out later why. She is a triple outsider, meaning just the kind of person Jesus loves. Whenever we feel like triple or quadruple outsiders, ok, Jesus loves us. He wants to marry us. We are the ones He is after. There is some good news here.

So He says ‘Give me a drink’, when she responds Jesus follows up with: "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

There is the whole Gospel in that line. If you knew the gift of God – that is the best description of Jesus in the Bible. Who is God? God is the one who gives. Does God need this world? No. God is God. God is perfect needing nothing outside of Himself. Therefore the very fact that the world exists is a sign that it is a gift. It was given to us in love. What is the greatest gift God has given us? His own Son. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. If you knew the gift of God – that is who Jesus is. What would you have done? You would have asked Him for living water and He would have given you living water bubbling up to eternal life.

Saint Augustine wrote the well that she goes to symbolizes concupiscence desire – that is a fancy way of saying errant desire – skewed desire. All of us are made for God. Augustine wrote “You made us for your self O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”. We are wired for God. We are made for God. We have an infinite desire. What goes wrong for us? We hook that infinite desire into something less than God – money, power, pleasure and glory. Any worldly thing and we seek it. And we get a little buzz the way you would from any drug but then it wears off. That is not meant to satisfy me. It can’t satisfy me. What am I going to do? I’m going to get more of it. I need more money, sex, power. You pick your poison.

You go to the well. You drink from it and you get thirsty again. And we find ourselves caught in this rhythm of errant addictive desire. Why has Christ come? To break us from this.

I know you came to this well every day and you are unsatisfied. I have come that you might have water bubbling up in you that you might have eternal life.

Jesus says, ‘Go call your husband and come back’ She says I have no husband and He says “You are right in saying, `I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband.

Aah, this Rabbi is clever. Why is this important spiritually? We have to crack the symbolism a little bit. I know it is a little bit sexist but I know it can speak to us. In Jesus time, your husband is one who governed your life – the leader and governor of your life. What is Jesus saying? Tell me who it is that is running your life? Call your husband. I don’t have a husband. Yeah you have had five and the one you are with now is not your husband. You have been looking around in a lot of bad places for the governor of your life.

Jesus is proposing marriage here at the well. I want to be the Lord of your life. That is what He is saying to her. You have been around with lots of different husbands, you’ve tried to find joy by following all kinds of different inspirations. I want to be the governor of your life. And in this sense, brothers and sisters, this applies to all of us. I want to be your husband. I want to be the Lord of your life. That is what He is telling the woman and telling us.

This is how it ends.

The woman left her water jar and went away into the city, and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"
First of all – that water jar that she lugged every day at high noon to that well. Drinking from it and getting thirsty again and having to go back to it. Money, power, esteem, glory – whatever it is – whatever our addiction is. What we think will fill up our lives when we go back to that well every day and then we drink and we are unsatisfied and we gotta go back. Now that she has accepted a marriage proposal from Jesus Christ, now that she has water bubbling up in her to eternal life, she is finally able to set that jar down.

Aah, conversion. That is what conversion means.

What is the water jar in your life? That is a good spiritual question.
What is the jar we have been lugging around all our lives?
Jesus allows us to set it down. The woman becomes the first evangelist in the Gospel of John. She goes into the town “Listen, listen everybody”.

When you see something beautiful, you don’t keep it to yourself do you? You want everyone to know about it. So when she meets Jesus Christ, she has found Him now as the marriage partner of her life. Of course, she wants to tells the world about Him. Evangelism begins with conversion. When we fall in love with Jesus Christ, we learn to adore Him, then we want all the world to know about him.

Source: Conversion – Following The Call of Christ
Father Robert Barron

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Matthew 6:1

Scripture – Matthew 6:1
"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.


Imagine yourself in the crowd listening to Jesus say these words.
For a moment His eyes fall on you, His face shows no expression as He looks into your eyes.
The moment passes and He continues.
Consider your own life and the times where you have felt the need to show others your virtue.
What reward did you win for showing others how ‘good’ a person you are?
Thinking on what Jesus has just said to you, consider what reward you may have forsaken.
What would this reward be like?
Did Jesus communicate something of this reward when He looked into your eyes?


It can feel good to parade our good deeds before others. It reassures us of our own worth in the eyes of others.
Through it we may draw permission to hold our heads up in the company of our friends and peers.
Yet what are we doing?
When we ask people to praise us for our efforts, to nod at us approvingly, isn’t it so we can feel better about ourselves?
This is merely a form of trade in which good deeds are exchanged for approval.
Although it may give our pride a boost does such a trade have any worth?

Perhaps it is time to sacrifice the pleasure of approval and esteem from others and find a richer choice.
Let us consider the One who gives us our talents and capabilities. Let us give thanks to God for the good that comes from our hearts and hands.
When we ‘give up’ the worldly trade of our piety and seek no reward we make ourselves worthy of the love of God.

Jesus, help me to know the cost of my pride and the value of your love.

Source: Lent – A Window To God by Peter Kelly – Ash Wednesday reflection

1 Corinthian 11:1 - St Patrick

Scripture 1 Corinthian 11:1

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.


Paul himself asks his fellow Christians to imitate his life. We can also look at the lives of others around us and those who have gone before us for inspiration.

Saint Patrick (415?-493?) is one such person who faced many challenges by committing his life to carrying out Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God’s instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ. His great desire was to proclaim the Good News to the Irish - to do mission work in pagan Ireland where the faith had never been preached. He suffered much opposition from pagan druids, and was criticized in both England and Ireland for the way he conducted his mission.

In a relatively short time the island had experienced deeply the Christian spirit, and was prepared to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe. One of the few certainly authentic writings is his Confessio, above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate. What distinguishes Patrick is the durability of his efforts. When one considers the state of Ireland when he began his mission work, the vast extent of his labours (all of Ireland) and how the seeds he planted continued to grow and flourish, one can only admire the kind of man Patrick must have been. The holiness of a person is known only by the fruits of his or her work.

“Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me”
(from “The Breastplate of St. Patrick”).

Let us pray that like Saint Patrick the missionary who did not spare himself but gave his whole life to the preaching of your Word, we will be fearless witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess and our love bring others to the peace and joy of your Gospel.

Source: commentary and prayer from the Daily Mass Book.

Like Christmas and Easter, we can lose sight of the real meaning behind certain anniversary days of remembrance.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

John 18:22:24

Scripture John 18:22:24

When he had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Annas then sent him bound to Ca'iaphas the high priest.


For the first time in the Gospels Jesus is physically struck by someone. It’s more mockery than violence – literally ‘a slap in the face’.

Keep in mind that when the soldiers and guards arrested Jesus, they ‘bound Him’. So here is Jesus with His hands tied, and a temple guard hits Him in the face.

Despite this indignity, Jesus maintains His dignity. Instead of reacting, He responds. He speaks out, not with insult for insult, but with honest forthrightness.

Jesus is a courageous man. And John wants us to know that.

Picture the scene. Imagine Jesus’ tone of voice. It’s not and angry shout. It’s steady, honest. Jesus simply asks a legitimate question.

We use the phrase “the imitation of Christ” and we set that as a goal. It’s probably furthest from out mind when someone deliberately treats us badly.

Well, think about it.

Spend some quiet time with the Lord

Source: The Little Black Book – Bishop Ken Untener
Reflection is for Monday – Second Week of Lent (2008)

Matthew 27:26-32

Scripture Matthew 27:26-32
Then he released for them Barab'bas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.

As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyre'ne, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.

Jesus falls a third time.

Jesus fell once.
The first time for those who set the murderous wheels in motion, the inhabitants of palace and court and temple, shielded from weakness by their power, blinded by power to their weakness. He fell that they might know the power of weakness when that power and weakness are called Love.

Jesus fell twice.
The second time for those who followed and watched, dulled to life through their guilt and blindness, caught in spiritual paralysis and numb nervous energy. He fell that they might run to their merciful God.

Jesus fell three times.
The third time for us, that we might not fall. Or that falling, we might love Him whose battered brow and eyes cast the look of love our way – and who picks us up because He fell bearing a Cross of Love.

Source: Meditations on the Stations of the Cross by Dr. Ron Thomas

1 Corinthian 1:18-23 - The Cross

1 Corinthian 1:18-23
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

As Lent goes on I strongly suggest to you that you begin to put into your meditation the theme of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Everyone (watching this program) whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, whether you are a Christian or a non Christian has sufferings, sorrows and crosses in life. I am one of those people who believe that this is only comprehensible by the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
I’m not so sure I would even be a religious person if I did not believe that God has suffered with us.

I admire the members of other religions because evil when it comes upon them it is terribly puzzling and can make you very angry. And when it comes upon a Christian it can make you very puzzled and very angry. But as you get angry you have to look at the crucifix. You see that image on the wall – a crucifix – a modest little statue of Jesus crucified.

It represents human degradation.
It represents all the suffering of innocent people who ever lived.
It is a sign of suffering and it is a sign of hope.

The Cross – What does it say?
That God suffers with us.
A French poet –Claudell said ‘Christ did not stop all suffering or explain all suffering but by His own suffering He made the possibility of sanctifying all the suffering

Source: EWTN - Fr Benedict Groeschel – Daily Reflection – (for the Second Wednesday of Lent)

1 Cor 15:12-14 - the Resurrection

Scripture 1 Cor 15:12-14
Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.


It is an indisputable fact that in these great Easter stories what is being witnessed to, is the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Now mind you, not simply the resuscitation of a corpse, like the resuscitation of Lazarus. Nevertheless a bodily resurrection.

We mean these stories aren’t just nice literary symbols. That they point to the fact that Jesus has gone to be with God the Father. They are not just symbolic accounts detailing the fact that the cause of Jesus goes on. Not just ways of talking about how Jesus continues to inspire His followers. Yes that is precisely what I mean and it means none of that. It means none of that.

What is being declared here is that Jesus rose bodily from the dead and is living a new and transformed life making that life available to us His followers.

Christians, you can sense it on every page of the New Testament.

Look, if all they meant by the resurrection was His cause goes on or it’s another concocted myth of a dying and rising god, if that is all they meant nobody would have taken them seriously. And their excitement would not have come through on every page of the New Testament because they would have been saying some old story.

Instead what we hear is the fact that they were bowled over by something entirely new, something entirely unexpected.
New life. A new embodied life made possible through God’s grace.

Somehow, everything they ever thought about the world had to be re-thought. Everything they had ever imagined as basic had to be re-imagined. Every road they walked down, they had to walk down a new way in light of this startling fact of Jesus risen bodily from the dead.

We can hear it in one of Peters great sermons in the Acts of the Apostles. Listen to what he says.

They killed Him finally hanging Him on a tree only to have God raise Him up on the third day and grant that He be seen not by all but only by such witnesses as had been chosen beforehand by God. By us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.

How come the risen Jesus appeared only to a few?

Peter says it here that He didn’t appear to everyone. The risen Christ did not appear on the top of the Mount of Olives and make Himself universally available. He didn’t appear to Pontius Pilate, didn’t appear to Herod, didn’t appear to all of His persecutors. How come Jesus only appeared only to some, only to a few?

John Henry Newmans answer I think is wonderful.

Newman says it’s because He appeared for the sake of mission!
He wanted this news to go to the end of the world and indeed it has. If He had appeared universally, to everybody, what would have happened? Some would have been interested, some not. Some would have gotten it, some wouldn’t have. Some would have been inspired and then lost faith. But he appeared to a small coterie who knew Him, who loved Him, who had listened to Him, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.

He appeared to that small group because He wanted to announce His Word to the world and that announcement would happen through the punchy and clear quality of this small group.
Mission was His purpose.

So Christians on this Easter Sunday, let us be aware of the fact that Jesus is giving us the same mission. We who eat and drink with Him on a regular basis whenever we gather for the Liturgy we are eating and drinking with the Risen Christ. He appears to us, so to speak, for the same purpose. That we might be galvanised in this mission to announce this startling fact - Jesus risen from the dead - which changes everything. Changes the way you think, live see, act. Changes the hope that you have for this embodied and transformed spiritual life on high.

Announce it today.
Announce it for the rest of your life.
That is the call of Easter and God bless you.

Source: transcribed from the MP3 - Fr Robert Barron - Word On Fire – sermon 326 (Easter Sunday 2007)

Luke 24:13-20 - Road to Emmaus

Scripture Luke 24:13-20

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cle'opas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.


Jesus asked what are you talking about.
They stopped and were looking sad.
Why were they sad?
They had lost their faith.
They didn’t expect the Cross.
They didn’t expect it to happen that way.
They asked Him “Are you the only one who doesn’t know?”

Now what is the irony in that statement?
Jesus is the ONLY person who knew what had happened.
Jesus meets us where we are at.

We all have our own road to Emmaus in our life when we are dejected and we walk away from ‘Jerusalem’, away from the Upper Room. We are kind of despondent and we need Christ to turn us back in the right direction.

They say He was a prophet, mighty in deed.

Note, they didn’t say He was the Messiah. They didn’t say He was the Son of God. They say He was a prophet mighty in deed. A good teacher. So what we see has happened, is that they really lost their faith. He is not even the Messiah anymore. The scandal of the Cross has caused them to demote Him to being just a prophet and to be quite frank that is what the world wants us to think about Jesus. That He is one more prophet, just one more teacher. Just one more messianic claim who got caught under the wheel of history.

As discussed on Life on The Rock –

Luke 24:13-16, 28-31 - Road to Emmaus

Scripture Luke 24:13-16, 28-31
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him….

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.


These two disciples are disciples of Jesus. They walk with Him for seven miles and they don’t realise who He is.

Luke, writing some 50 years after the event, is teaching his community (and us) something crucial. Things aren’t always as they seem. We may think the Lord is absent, but in fact he is present. Truly present. It’s a real presence, not just a memory.

Luke is also teaching us that one of the most powerful experiences of the Risen Lord is in the Eucharist. That is where Jesus is specially present – in His words and in the breaking of the bread.

Note that the disciples didn’t recognise Him in His words (while they were on the way).

I need to think about that. Because that’s what I’m doing right now – reflecting on the Scriptures.

Could it be that the Risen Lord has been with me these past few minutes, and I haven’t realised it?
Could be.

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.


Some of the sites mentioned in the Gospels are difficult to locate today. For one thing, their names changed over time. Also there was not, in the early centuries, the same interest in pilgrimages that later developed.

Cana is an example of this – two different villages claim to be the site where Jesus changed water into wine.

Emmaus is another example. There is no known village that was called Emmaus at the time of Christ and is still called that today. Luke indicates that the village was ‘seven miles from Jerusalem’ – but unfortunately he doesn’t say in which direction. There are three villages today that claim to be the site.

It is a custom in some places to take an “Emmaus Walk” in the days following Easter.

The idea is to go out for a walk and greet and speak with anyone along the way, recognizing that it was by such a greeting that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus met the risen Christ.

Source: The Little White Book – reflections on the weekday Gospels of Easter 2008 – based upon the writings of Bishop Ken Untener

Luke 24:28-35 - Road to Emmaus

Scripture Luke 24:28-35

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.

They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.


They are coming close to the village. Jesus appears to want to go on further and they press Him ‘please stay with us’.
So He stays.

In they go. Jesus sits down and then does this characteristic thing.
He takes bread and He breaks it He gives it to them and at that moment they see.
Were they beginning to see? Yes, through the scriptures.

But then in this climatic moment when Jesus breaks the bread now they understand. They recognise Him and at that moment He disappears.
Why did they recognise him? Because in the Eucharist they see the great pattern.

And then having surveyed the prophets and the Torah, He makes the mystery and the key as vividly present to them as He can.
Jesus took the bread, pronounced the blessing, and then broke the bread and began to distribute it to them, saying ‘This is my body given for you’

What is the Eucharist?
The making present of this love unto death.
The making present of the separation of the body and blood of Jesus.
Making present in the most vivid way possible of the mystery.

That’s why at the breaking of the bread they saw Him. They got Him.
It was no longer these disparate bits of information.
No, it all cohered around the pattern of love made clear in the Eucharist.
They got Him through the opening of the scriptures and the breaking of the bread.

How do you understand Jesus? Everything He said everything He did leading up to the Cross. How do you understand it?

You understand it as a life broken open in love and now the whole of His life becomes a pattern of meaning.
All of it is Eucharistic in structure and so in the breaking of the bread their eyes are opened.
The perfectly clarifying lenses are put before their eyes and they see Him for who He is.

How come He disappears?
How come Jesus doesn’t stay once they see Him?
The clue I think is in how they begin to move.

The story commences with the two of them walking the wrong way. Once they see Him, even though it is the middle of the night, a dangerous time to be travelling, even though they are far from Jerusalem. They set out and they head back in the right direction.

Once they saw Jesus, despite the late hour, despite the darkness, despite their fears, they go back to Jerusalem, they go back to the Eleven, they go back to the Church.

Jesus appears to us so as to empower us for mission.
He went to the Holy City and there He suffered the Cross.
Now those of us who see Him, who understand Him.
We must get up, even in dangerous times and we move now in the right direction back to Jerusalem having seen, now we walk.

Notice that the two disciples are not at all upset at the loss (again) of their leader.
In fact they are anxious to tell the apostles of their discovery

So prospective evangelists, do what Jesus did. Walk with sinners, open the Book, break the Bread.

Source: Fr Robert Barron
Word on Fire
Compiled by the transcriptions of various mp3 sermons on this topic and an article on the same topic all found on his website.

Luke 24:13-16 –Road To Emmaus

Scripture Luke 24:13-16 –Road To Emmaus

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.


We hear this magnificent reading from the Gospel of Luke. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus and their meeting with the Risen Jesus.
It has everything you look for in a short story, in a gripping drama, interesting characters, suspense, a surprise ending.

But it is much more than a vivid drama. It is also a story that has spoken to Christians across the two millennia.

The greatest evangelist is, of course, Jesus himself, and there is no better presentation of Jesus’ evangelical technique than Luke’s masterful narrative concerning the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Two disciples of Jesus that same day, the first day of the week were making their way to a village named Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.

How you are walking in the Gospels matters. You know, where people are going in the Gospels are always important.

In the middle of Marks Gospel Jesus heals the blind man Bartimae'us and then it says that Bartimae'us followed Him up the road.

Well of course, the road is the road to Jerusalem. The road to the Cross. To the Pascal mystery. And Bartimae'us, now that his sight has been restored knows where to go. Jesus says I am the way, I am the path to walk, I am the gate. All these metaphors of journeying-walking are meant to signal the right spiritual path.

So where are these two disciples of Jesus going? Precisely in the wrong direction.

In Luke’s Gospel the momentum is always toward Jerusalem, the city of the Cross, the city of the Resurrection, the city of the sending of the Spirit.

Jerusalem is the spiritual centre of gravity: it is the locale of the Last Supper, the cross, the resurrection and the sending of the Spirit. It is the charged place where the drama of salvation unfolds.

First point, we will not understand Jesus if we are walking the wrong way.
That means our whole way of life must be conformed to Him if we are properly to see Him. This story you know is all about “seeing” properly.
It is all about getting Jesus.

Look Christians, fellow sinners it is all of us. We are meant to identify with these two characters. We love the Lord we want to be His disciple but we also are afraid of the Cross and its implications. Luke then gives us two great truths.

Firstly, as long as we are walking in the wrong direction we won’t see Him.
But there is good news. Nevertheless, Jesus walks with them.

Even when we run away, He runs after.
Even as we walk in the wrong direction He walks side by side with us. Jesus comes to join us.
We do not have a God who stands aloof to our human experience and expects us come crawling to Him.

Christians, this is a basic claim of the whole Biblical tradition. God is not simply out there waiting for us to come to Him but the True God is always after us.

Yes, He seems even to have a special affection for those who are wandering in the wrong direction. “I have come not for the healthy but I have come for the sick”

Here He comes tracking down, us, all of us who are walking in the wrong direction.
I love this fact, I think it is true in the Christian spiritual life.
God starts with us where we are.

He doesn’t make all kinds of demands.
“Until you get to this place I won’t deal with you”. No, no.
He comes out to get us where we are, even as we are fleeing from Him.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus associated with sinners. He stood shoulder to shoulder in the muddy waters of the Jordan with those seeking forgiveness through the baptism of John; over and again, he ate and drank with disreputable types, much to the chagrin of the self-righteous; and at the end of his life, he was crucified in between two thieves. Jesus hated sin, but he liked sinners and was consistently willing to move into their world and to engage them on their terms.

And this is a first great evangelical lesson. The successful evangelist does not stand aloof from the experience of sinners, passing easy judgment on them, praying for them from a distance; on the contrary, she loves them so much that she joins them and deigns to walk in their shoes and to feel the texture of their experience.

Source: Fr Robert Barron
Word on Fire
Compiled by the transcriptions of various mp3 sermons on this topic and an article on the same topic all found on his website.

Isaiah 55:9

Scripture Isaiah 55:9

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.


William James, the great American philosopher, said
‘I have a library in my home. Full of books, a beautiful globe, maps and I study and work there.
And typically my dog comes in at night and greets me and wags its tail.

Does the dog see everything in the room? Yeah, he takes it all in.

He sees the colours, the shapes the books, the maps and the globe.

What does he get from that room? Almost nothing!

He doesn’t even understand what a book means, or a map or globe.

The tiny capacity of the dog couldn’t take it all in.

Then it occurred to William James, it is the same with us in God’s world.

We are like that dog.
We move through God’s world and we take it all in – in one sense and we get very little of it.

Source: Untold Blessings - 3 Paths to Holiness - by Father Robert Barron
Scripture Mark 10:17-23

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.

You know the commandments: `Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth."

And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"


The young man came running and flung himself emotionally at the feet of Jesus, whose personality had exercised a fascination over him. In his reply, Jesus was not giving him the cold shoulder, but asking him calmly to count the cost of following him.

'Don't let yourself be overcome by a merely emotional attachment to me. Turn your eyes towards God the Father.
You have kept the negative commandments ('Thou shalt not …') and have been good to your parents. This is admirable. God loves you for it …

'But what have you positively done from your wealthy position to give generous service to those in dire need? How difficult it is for those, who really put their trust and their secret priority in their money and in the influential position it brings them, to enter the kingdom of God'.

Jesus, help us all.

Source: Daily Prayer Online