Fr Bob Writes – January 28, 2018

Despite what a superficial look at our second reading this weekend might suggest, Paul is not being anti-marriage. Paul is following on from his earlier remarks, quoted in last Sunday’s second reading, to the effect that “the appointed time has grown short” and “the present form of this world is passing away.”  In the light of this, Paul is advising the Corinthians to be living for an imminent return of Jesus, not with a “business-as-usual” attitude.  He believed that the normal responsibilities of caring for a wife and family could cause anxieties and compromise the attention and focus one might otherwise give to God.  Why be intent on such things if Jesus would be returning before the kids were even old enough to go to school?  Had Paul known that the second coming was not so imminent, would he have been less emphatic in his encouragement to remain single? Maybe.

Nonetheless, there is still great value to be had from Paul’s comments.  Despite the fact that the greater majority of people in our world no longer seem to be at all concerned about the possibility of Christ’s return at the end of time to bring the “present form of this world” to a definitive end, it is a matter of clear Catholic Christian belief that this will happen.  Simply put, there are simply too many references to Christ’s return in the New Testament, not least on Christ’s own lips, to brush the matter aside as unimportant.  The Church dedicates an entire season, that of Advent, to reminding us of Christs final coming lest we forget and we become immersed in the delights and allures of this world, and forget that “the present form of this world” is due to pass away one day.  “The Son of Man is coming at a time you do not expect” is a major theme of some of Jesus’ most important teaching.

St Paul urges us to “fix your eyes on things above” in his letter to the Colossians 3:1 because your true life, he says, is “hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ is revealed, you will be revealed in all your glory” (ibid 3:3).  In his letter to the Philippians, he asserts that we are “citizens of heaven,” which means that, while we are on earth, we are actually exiled from our true and lasting home.  Every death we read about, every funeral we attend, every sick person we visit, reminds us of the truth that we are simply passing through this life on the way to the next one.  But how we live this life here on earth, either completely for oneself or for others, will determine where we will live in the world to come, hell or heaven.

Bulletin – January 21, 2018

Here is the bulletin for the Third Week of Ordinary Time – Jan 21, 2018 Bulletin

Ordinary Time  Christmas Time and Easter Time highlight the central mysteries of the Paschal Mystery, namely, the incarnation, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time, on the other hand, take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ.

Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ. The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. http://www.usccb.org/

Fr Bob Writes – January 21, 2018

All is not always what it seems.  A look at the first reading this Sunday from the book of Jonah would seem to suggest that the prophet Jonah is an intrepid messenger of God, readily obedient to God’s command that he walk into the capital city of one of Israel’s biggest enemies and call them to repentance.  But in fact as we read all of the book of Jonah, we discover that this is far from the case.

To begin with, this passage in our first reading is not the first time God calls Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and preach repentance to the people there.  Right at the beginning of the book, we read that Jonah is called to do this, but initially balks at God’s command and runs away from it.  It takes God working through a storm at sea, a near ship-wreck, Jonah being thrown into the sea by the terrorized sailors and a large fish (note: not a whale!) who swallows Jonah, to bring the prophet to the point we reach in our first reading this Sunday . Only then, when Jonah realizes that resistance to God’s will is futile, does he reluctantly do what he is told and goes to Nineveh, where, incredibly, his message is received with overwhelming belief and repentance, leading to God rescinding his decision to destroy the city.

You would think that Jonah would be overwhelmingly delighted that his mission has been so successful.  But again, this is far from the case.  In the last chapter of the book, we learn that the reason for Jonah fleeing from God, was not because he was afraid to carry it out, but because he did not want to carry it out.  He knew that, if he was successful and Nineveh did in fact repent, that God would forgive them.  Because God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and always ready to relent” as countless references in the Old Testament point out.  And Jonah simply does not want Nineveh to be saved.  He wants them destroyed because they are Israel’s enemy and he thinks they should be God’s enemy as well.

The book of Jonah is thus a satire, a caricature on a particular tendency within the nation of Israel to a certain xenophobia, a judgement and contempt on other nations who do not have the same kind of covenant relationship as they enjoy with God, and so are inferior to them.  That God may have a heart for the pagans just does not sit well with this kind of mindset.  Jesus will run into it as well in his ministry (see for example Luke 4: 18 ff) as will the early church as they reach out beyond the borders of Israel to preach salvation to the pagans (cf Acts 13 ).  To be honest, even amongst Christians, it is possible to find those who have no love for non-Christians and who are only too ready to consign them to hell because they do not have an explicit faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  It is also, sadly, not unusual to come across Catholics who feel the same way towards non- Catholic Christians.  To such as those, the book of Jonah makes salutary reading.

Fr Bob Writes – January 14, 2018

The gospel passage from this weekend is taken from St John’s gospel, and it presents a different slant from the other gospels, on how Jesus went about recruiting his disciples.  In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus first encounters Peter and calls him to follow him while Peter is putting his nets in order down at the lakefront of the Sea of Galilee. Luke presents a similar lakefront call, but has the initial encounter take place at Peter’s house where Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law.  Here, John’s gospel gives a different scenario as Peter comes to Jesus only after his brother Andrew had spent time with Jesus and, believing Jesus to be the long-expected Messiah, brought Peter to Jesus.

“Where are you staying?” Andrew asked, letting Jesus know he wanted to spend time with him, more than just a quick interview on the spot.  In addition to study, prayer is essential.  The gospel says it was about “four in the afternoon.”  The hour would have been particularly significant if they were approaching the beginning of the Sabbath which began at sunset.  Since Jewish people were not to do unnecessary work on the Sabbath, Andrew and his companion would spend the day in prayer and conversation with Jesus…a wonderful encouragement for us to honor the Day of the Lord by spending time with Jesus in prayer.

Faith is more than just having the right beliefs based on accurate information.  Faith is a way of life which comes through spending time with Jesus.  How will you be spending your time after Mass today?