Sacred Texts Of Major World Religions

Music For Hope

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Christians are called to serve God and neighbour as Jesus

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In Sunday's Gospel, Jesus speaks to His disciples about the mystery of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection - a teaching, Pope Francis said, that the disciples are not yet able to understand, because their faith "is still immature, and too closely tied to the mentality of the world."

The Pope said that for Peter and the other disciples - and for us too - the Cross is seen as "a 'stumbling block', whereas Jesus considers the 'stumbling block' [to be] escaping the Cross, which would mean avoiding the Father's will." This, the Pope said, is why Jesus rebukes Peter so strongly, saying to him, "Get behind me, Satan!"

Becoming true disciples of Jesus

In the Gospel, Jesus then immediately explains, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

Pope Francis said that in this saying, Jesus "indicates the way of the true disciple, showing two attitudes": renouncing oneself, which means a real conversion; and taking up one's cross, which "is not just a matter of patiently enduring daily tribulations, but of bearing with faith and responsibility that part of toil and suffering that the struggle against evil entails."

Participating in the salvation of the world

Focusing on the latter, the Pope said, "Thus, the task of 'taking up the cross' becomes participating with Christ in the salvation of the world."

Images of the Cross should be a "sign of our desire to be united with Christ through lovingly serving our brothers and sisters, especially the littlest and the weakest," Pope Francis said; adding, "The Cross is the holy sign of God's love and of Jesus's sacrifice, and is not to be reduced to a superstitious object or an ornamental necklace."

Instead, he explained, when we look at a crucifix, we should reflect on the fact that Jesus "has accomplished His mission, giving life, spilling His blood for the forgiveness sins." In order to be His disciples, Pope Francis said, we in turn must "imitate Him, expending our life unreservedly for love of God and neighbour."


Jesus teaches us to take responsibility for others

Pope Francis

Pope Francis reflected on Jesus' miracle of the multiplication of the loaves

As the sun goes down and those present begin to seek food, Jesus tells His disciples to give them something to eat.

"Jesus wants to use this situation to educate His friends, both then and now, about God's logic: the logic of taking responsibility for others," said Pope Francis.

Power as sign of charity

The Pope added that Jesus didn't leave His disciples alone when they say there are only five loaves and two fishes. He takes the bread, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples for them to distribute.

"With this gesture, Jesus expresses His power; not in a spectacular way but as a sign of charity, of God the Father's generosity toward His weary and needy children."

Pope Francis said Jesus is immersed in people's lives, and that He understands our weaknesses and limits. "He nourishes them with His word and provides plentiful sustenance."

Eucharist and daily bread

Pope Francis went on to say that the multiplication of the loaves has clear Eucharistic overtones.

An important element is the connection between the Eucharistic bread - nourishment for eternal life - and our daily bread - which we require to survive.

"Before offering Himself to the Father as the Bread of salvation, Jesus ensures there is food for those who follow Him and who, in order to be with Him, neglected to make provisions."

The Pope said this shows that there is no opposition between the spiritual and the material.

Compassion, trust, solidarity

He noted that Jesus' compassion and tenderness for the crowd is "the concrete manifestation of the love that cares about people's needs."

The Holy Father urged everyone to draw near to the table of the Eucharist by imitating Jesus' attitude of compassion.

"Compassion is not a purely material sentiment," he said. "True compassion is suffering with, taking upon ourselves the pain of others."

And he encouraged everyone to ask ourselves if we have compassion when we read the news about wars, hunger, or the pandemic. "Do I experience compassion for those people?"

Compassion, he added, is "trust in the provident love of the Father and means courageous sharing."

Journey of fraternity

In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that Mary might help us along our Christian journey.

"It is the journey of fraternity," he said, "which is essential to face the poverty and suffering of this world - especially in this difficult moment - and which projects us beyond the world itself, because it is a journey that begins with God and returns to God."

source: https://www.vaticannews.va/

'The kingdom of God is within you.' 

(...) Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like someone who finds a hidden treasure in a field. They sell all they have to buy the field. This implies that they realise and recognise the deep value of what they have discovered. They give all they have to own it. In the gospel the person had to buy the field to get the treasure. The same happens with the person who finds the pearl of great price. They find the pearl, go and sell all they have and buy it. Here's the great thing we need to realise; we already have the treasure, the Kingdom of God; it has already been freely given to us by Jesus; we don't have to go and buy it - it's already ours.

More significantly, as Jesus tells us, 'the kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17.20). The kingdom of God is in each of us; all we have to do is look within our daily lives and activities to find and experience it. What price or more importantly, value do we put on the Kingdom of God in our daily lives? Do we do all we can to engage with it and do all we can to promote it? This is described beautifully in the poem 'Bright Field' by the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas; 'I have seen the sun break through to illumine a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it. I realise now that I must give all that I have to possess it.'

Unlike those in the gospel, the Kingdom of God will not 'cost' us anything, well not money anyway. But it will cost us something else. It will cost us our personal faith and commitment on a daily basis. Like the mustard seed, the Kingdom of God is sown within us. It is a buried and hidden treasure. It is up to us, with God's help to find and nourish it. We are being invited to look for and dig up this treasure and bring it out into the light of our own lives and the lives of others. Here is the challenge of finding the hidden treasure; the Kingdom of God; once we find it we are called to share it with others, not keep it to ourselves. As we share our treasure with others, it doesn't diminish or become smaller in any way; it grows and becomes even bigger!

This coming week, look for signs of God's Kingdom within yourself and in those around you - it is there, just waiting to be discovered.

- Br Michael Moore OMI  (/oblates.ie)

There Was Jesus... THERE IS JESUS

The poor are the builders of the new humanity.'   

Pope Francis


If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you' solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.'    

 Matthew 10:37-42


Do not be afraid... there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.'

Matt. 10


The Eucharist is a powerful sign of love

"The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse" Charlie Mackesy
"The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse" Charlie Mackesy

Generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering and restores dignity to those stripped of it, is a condition for a fully human life,

In everything you do, remember your end. The 'end' of all our actions can only be love. This is the ultimate goal of our journey, and nothing should distract us from it."

Pope Francis

....by adoring the Eucharist, where this love is present in the Sacrament. Then our heart too, little by little, will become more patient, more generous, more merciful."

Pope Francis


(...) we know that mountain climbers are tied together to keep from getting lost or going over a cliff and even to support and encourage one another, there is another piece of truth here. When things get difficult up on the mountain, when the going gets tough, when the path is too steep, when fear sets in, many a climber is tempted to say, "This is too difficult! It's crazy! I'm going home." This is understandable and sometimes even prudent.

The life of faith can be like that. When doubts set in and despair overwhelms us, the whole notion of believing in God seems crazy. Jesus was aware that his disciples would have days like that (...). Here the focus is on two interconnected aspects. The first of these is the intimate connection between the love which one has for Jesus and keeping his commandment of love - a theme which begins and ends this text - and the second is the promise of the Advocate, Helper, Comforter, Counsellor or Paraclete that Jesus will ask for the disciples from the Father who will come to their aid and to give strength and courage when the going gets tough and the road is steep.
In the first, Jesus is explicit that the love of the disciple has to be a tangible love that will express itself in action. It is to be an imitation of the love that the first letter of Peter speaks about; the love of Christ who died for the guilty to lead us to God. This kind of unconditional love will lead to the disciple sharing in the Father's love.

It also leads to the second and connected aspect: the promise of the gift of the Advocate who will abide not only with the disciples but also in them. The Advocate can mean variously, "the one who comforts", "the one who helps" and "the one who makes appeals on one's behalf". 

This Advocate will not engage in any new work, but will continue the work of Jesus. The Spirit will ensure that the revelation of God begun in Jesus will continue forever. Though the Paraclete will be with the disciples, Jesus himself will also return to accompany the disciples.

While not abandoning traditional beliefs - for instance, in the second coming and judgement - John handles them in a way which relates them directly to the present. The chief focus of his spirituality is not bigger miracles or stricter commandments, but the expansion of the initiative of love which comes from God and seeks to fill the world. This is why John's account of Jesus' last words insists on the Spirit, relationship and resultant action on communities of love which 'speak for themselves'. The passage is framed by human anxiety about the absence of Jesus and ultimately about the absence of God (14:1; 14:27). It does not deny the anxiety and distress, but offers a promise of presence and sense of meaning embedded in sharing God's life and participating in God's action in the world, recognizable by its 'Jesus-shape'. These parting words of Jesus are not merely for his immediate disciples but disciples of all times.
This is why even after the death of Stephen by stoning and the general persecution of the Christian community, Philip, one of the seven chosen deacons, is aware of this presence of the Risen Lord and is bold to proclaim Christ. The Spirit working in and through him enabled him to both preach and act as Jesus himself had done. The result of Philip's actions through the guidance of the Spirit was that people were made whole. This combination of healing word and action resulted in great rejoicing, and many were drawn to Christ.
This presence, in which the disciples loved, continued to sustain them and make an impact on others. Since this was so, they are exhorted in the second reading of today to be willing to share that hope. It is not to be a sharing that smacks of condescension or a sharing which professes to have the whole truth, but a sharing that has to be done in humility, courtesy and reverence for the other. We are given as it were a starting point for inter-religious dialogue.

This kind of sharing is the need of the hour in today's world. In a world that is already a global village but also where each community is becoming more closed in on itself and parochial, the task of the Christian community is evident. Convinced that the Risen Lord continues to accompany us on our journey in and through his Spirit which abides in each of us, we must be able to communicate this presence which is manifested in peace, joy, fellowship and justice for all. source: https://errolsj.blogspot.com


Illustration: Ophra

... if we are isolated, thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love. This is what we need today: the creativity of love. 

Pope Francis


Pope Francis

Prayer is the breath of faith, it is its most proper expression. Like a cry that comes out of the heart of those who believe and trust in God. Let's think of the story of Bartimaeus, a character from the Gospel ( Mark 10: 46-52 ). He was blind, sitting begging on the side of the road on the outskirts of his city, Jericho. One day he hears that Jesus would pass by. He would do everything possible to meet Jesus. But he's completely alone, and no one cares. And what does Bartimaeus do? Cries out. And he calls out, and he keeps screaming. Using the only weapon in his possession: his voice. He begins to cry out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" (10: 47). 
His repeated outcry is annoying, and does not seem polite, and many reproach him, telling him to be silent. But Bartimaeus is not silent, indeed, he cries even louder: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" That so beautiful. The stubbornness of those who seek grace and knock, knock at the door of God's heart. That expression: "Son of David", is very important; it means "the Messiah". It is a profession of faith that comes out of the mouth of that man despised by everyone.
And Jesus hears his cry. Bartimaeus' prayer touches his heart, the heart of God, and the doors of salvation open for him. Jesus has him called. He sprang to his feet and those who used to tell him to remain silent, now lead him to the Master. 

Jesus speaks to him, asks him to express what he desires- this is important - and then the cry becomes a request: "May I see again, Lord!" (10: 51).Jesus tells him, "Go, your faith has saved you"(10: 52). He recognizes in this poor, helpless, despised man, the power of his faith in its entirety, which attracts God's mercy and power.
Faith is having two hands raised, a voice crying out to implore the gift of salvation.
Faith is a cry; disbelief stifles that cry. That was the attitude of the people, who were trying to keep him quiet: they were not people of faith, he was. Faith is a protest against a painful condition for which we do not understand the reason; to disbelieve is to just suffer a situation that we have adapted to. Faith is the hope of being saved; disbelief is to get used to the evil that oppresses us and to continue like that.
Around him there were people who explained that crying out was useless, that it would be an unanswered voice, that it was noisy and just disturbed, that would he please stop crying out: but he did not remain silent. And in the end he obtained what he desired.
Stronger than any argument to the contrary, in the heart of man there is a voice that prays. We all have this voice inside. A voice that comes out spontaneously, without anyone commanding it, a voice that questions the meaning of our journey here below, especially when we are in darkness: "Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!" This is a beautiful prayer.
But perhaps, these words, are they not inscribed on all of creation? Everything prays and pleads for the mystery of mercy to find its ultimate fulfilment. It is not only Christians who pray: they share the cry of prayer with all men and women. This silent cry of creation, which presses into every creature and emerges above all in the heart of man, because man is a "beggar before God". It's a beautiful definition. 

Pope Francis

Jesus Wants To Accompany Us Through Sadness

              By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

"Today in this Mass, we pray for all those who are suffering from sadness, because they are alone or because they do not know what to expect in the future". This was Pope Francis's prayer intention for Mass on Sunday at the Casa Santa Marta chapel. He once again listed families who are suffering financially and may be without work.

Pope Francis focused his homily on the day's Gospel (Luke 24:13-35). It recounts how the Lord accompanied the disciples on their way to Emmaus.

Christians have met Jesus

Pope Francis began his homily with a description of a Christian. "A person is Christian because he or she has met Jesus and has allowed Jesus to meet them". The Lord interacts with us in just the same way that He interacted with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the Pope continued.

We are thirsty for God

It begins with the "seed of dissatisfaction" that we are born with, he explained. Many times, we are not aware of the thirst in our souls for fulfillment. We take many wrong roads seeking what in the end never satisfies us. What we are really thirsting for is "the encounter with God", Pope Francis stated.

God is thirsty for us

At the same time, God thirsts to meet us. This is why God sent Jesus so that He could draw near and satisfy this thirst. Jesus is extremely respectful of "our personal situation", "He moves slowly", "He is respectful of our readiness", "He is patient", "He doesn't rush ahead", Pope Francis explained. Jesus accompanies us at our side and invites us to talk about what bothers us, even to the point of feigning ignorance.

The Lord likes to hear us speak so He can understand us well and to give the correct response to our dissatisfaction. The Lord does not accelerate. He always goes at our own pace... He waits for us to take the first step. And when it is the right moment, He asks us a question... Then He responds. He explains up until the right point... Then He pretends to go farther, to see how deep our dissatisfaction is... At the moment when our dissatisfaction meets Jesus, the life of grace and fullness of life begins there.

What did Jesus say?

Pope Francis says that he has always been curious to know what Jesus said to those two disciples "so as to do the same". "It must have been a beautiful catechesis", he said. Jesus accompanies us along the entire journey, even when we are not aware of His presence.

We meet Jesus in the darkness of our doubts, even in the horrible darkness of our sins. The Lord is always there to help us in our distress. He's always with us... The Lord accompanies us because He desires to meet us. This is the core of Christianity.

The Pope's prayer

The Pope's concluding prayer was that "Jesus might grant to each one of us the grace of meeting Him every day, to knowing and to specifically recognize that He walks with us in every moment. He is our companion along the pilgrim way". source:vaticannews.va

"The contagion of hope"

This is a different "contagion", a message transmitted from heart to heart - for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: "Christ, my hope, is risen!". This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not "by-pass" suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God. Read in full here