Fr Bob Writes – August 27, 2017

“Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” 

In this sentence, quoted from our gospel this weekend, Peter expresses the full Christian understanding of the nature of Jesus.  It is important that it is Peter who states it, on behalf of the other apostles, because Peter will then be declared by Jesus to be “the Rock on which I will build my church.”  Jesus thereby declares what will be the fundamental role of every successor of Peter, whom we call the Pope, until the end of time.  We don’t necessarily look for great revelations from our popes, or great teachings, not even that they be models of extreme holiness. But what we require them to be is firm upholders of the Church’s belief that Jesus is indeed “the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.

So Peter is not commended for his intelligence or acute perception but, rather, his attention to God the Father.  This indicates that Peter sought the guidance of God in prayer, the most important quality which Jesus wanted in the person to whom he would entrust the leadership of his church.  A short while later, however, (Matthew 16:22), Peter will take Jesus aside and try to convince him that suffering and death are not necessary to complete his mission.  Jesus knows otherwise and calls Peter a “satan” or adversary.  Peter was capable of discerning the will of God in prayer, but had plenty of times when he neglected to pray and listened more to human reasoning.  Which side of Peter do we most often show in our own lives?

Fr Bob Writes – August 20, 2017

The story of the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman in this Sunday’s gospel at first looks as if Jesus is being misogynistic and racist.  But a closer look reveals that Jesus is being anything but.

Jesus has come to this place on the northernmost borders of Israel for some quiet retreat time with his apostles.  The woman crashes in uninvited into his personal space, and is shouting and demanding that Jesus responds to her need immediately.  She is being rude, albeit obviously desperate.  Jesus knows that he cannot respond to any and every demand on his time.  He is human, after all, and needs downtime, like all of us.  He has to set personal boundaries, again like all of us, to make sure he is not totally worn out all the time.  He also believes that the first step in evangelizing the world is to evangelize his own people, the Jews, who have been prepared for millenia to receive the Messiah.  Thus Jesus says, in answer to the disciples request to send the woman away, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”  It is for his disciples after his ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to go out and evangelize the world (cf Acts 1:8).

The disciples want Jesus to give the woman what she wants and send her away; she is being a nuisance.  But Jesus will not be dismissive.  He wants to take the measure of this woman.  So he gives her audience, and meets her in a personal, face-to-face way, and allows her to stretch his boundaries in this particular case.  He is touched by her reverence when she comes into his presence, kneeling before him and simply pleading “Lord help me.”

Modern history indicates all too well the animosities which exist among people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds.  It was no difference in Jesus’ time.  Jews and Canaanites didn’t get along any better than Jews and Samaritans.  “Dogs!” they would call them.  Jesus makes reference to the derogatory term in his dealings with the woman.  Here we must go beyond the mere written word to imagine the way in which Jesus spoke the word.  The woman must have sensed from Jesus’ tone that he was not putting her down but inviting her to a bit of verbal sparring.  She understood and gave Jesus a great comeback statement.  Jesus, who in earlier conversations quoted in the gospels enjoyed such verbal interaction, applauded the woman’s persistence, wit and faith by healing her daughter.

We Continue to Pray for the Release from Captivity of Joshua, Caitlan and their Children

As we continue our support of the Boyle and Coleman families though our united prayers, and as September is the month of the Holy Angels, let us entrust Joshua, Caitlan and their children to their Guardian Angels and the choirs of heavenly Angels under the leadership St Michael the Archangel.

Heavenly Father, in your unfathomable love and mercy, we ask You to send Your Holy Angels to Joshua and his family in this their time of great need. 

Under the powerful leadership of St Michael the Archangel, Your Great Prince, and defender of Your people, may they minister to the captives, encouraging and consoling them with their wonderful courage and strength.

May these,Your heavenly mediators and marvelous protectors, exercise empire over them, shielding them from all evil and malice.

Grant that through the unyielding protection of these beautiful and radiant spirits, and through Your most loving mercy, their captors will set them free and into the hands of their loving families.

We ask this in confidence, in the name of Jesus Your Son and through the most powerful intercession of His Mother Mary, Queen of the Angels and Our Lady of Ransom.  Amen.

 

Please also, let us continue to remember our little family in our daily rosary and chaplet of divine mercy, and the Prayer to St Michael.

In addition, and as you are able, could you fast one day per week for these continued intentions, calling to mind the words of Jesus :

…if you have the faith the size of a mustard seed, and you will say to this mountain ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”    (Matthew 17: 20-21)

 

 

Fr Bob Writes – August 13, 2017

The dramatic story told in our gospel this weekend of Jesus walking on the water towards the apostles struggling to stay afloat in their boat, and of Peter’s attempts to walk on water like Jesus, have some important theological and spiritual points to make.

Firstly, the boat represents the church wherein the apostles conduct their mission, a church beset by persecution, opposition and apostasy, symbolized by storm and night.  The stormy sea is symbolic in biblical writings of chaotic evil over which God triumphs (cf Psalm 77:17; 107:25-30).  In the midst of turmoil, it is clearly the abiding presence of Christ that saves.  His Lordship over nature and human beings is underscored in various ways.  He walks on the water (ps 77:19), he identifies himself as “I am (he),” the same self-identification used by God to Moses in the scene of the burning bush (cf Exodus 3:14), Peter addresses him as “Lord,” a biblical term for God, and pleads for salvation, which only God can deliver.

I always marvel at Peter’s request to come to Jesus across the water.  If I had been in his position when Jesus identified himself, I would have asked Jesus to come over to the boat instead.  The story is much better, however, as Peter must go through the turbulence to get to Jesus.  The force of the storm does not immediately abate. As long as Peter keeps his focus on Jesus, however, he does okay.  When he turns his focus again to the storm, he begins to sink.  Given that the storm represents, among other things,  the problems we face in life, we too will sink if we let the storm hold our focus.  As I shared in my homily last Sunday, our faith and hope must be “centred” on Jesus.  May we keep our eyes fixed on him as we pass through the storms of life.