Fr Bob Writes – January 31, 2016

The gospel this weekend is a continuation of the story from last Sunday where Jesus reads these following words from the prophet Isaiah and declares they apply to him:

`The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to set the oppressed free, to declare a year of favour from the Lord`

These words are an excellent description of what the gift of mercy looks like. Remembering that we are still in the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis and beginning last December 8th, here are some more words from our pope about the role of the Church in being an agent of God`s mercy. They were given during an address on March 6th, 2014:

`Today, we can think of the Church as a `field hospital`. Excuse me, but I repeat it, because this is how I see it, how I feel it is: a `field hospital`. Wounds need to be treated, so many wounds! So many wounds! There are so many people that are wounded by material problems, by scandals, also in the Church…People wounded by the world`s illusions…

  Mercy first means treating the wounds. When someone is wounded, he needs this immediately, not tests, such as the level of cholesterol and one`s glycemic index…Specialized treatments can be done, but first we need to treat the open wounds.

 I think this is what is most important at this time. And there are also hidden wounds, because there are people who distance themselves in order to avoid showing their wounds closer.“

Reflection: Ask yourself what wounds you see around you, who is hurting and who has distanced themselves from you or others. Ask yourself what you can do to respond to them with mercy immediately.




Father Bob Writes – January 24, 2015

“Jesus stood up to read and the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” …Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

We have all encountered “aha” moments in our lives, when something is seen or heard or read, and we have an instant clarity and certainty where we cry out “Yes!! This is for me. This is what I am all about!!” It may be the moment when we meet the person we are meant to marry. Or the moment when we realize we have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, or discover our life’s mission.

Jesus encounters his “aha” moment when he reads the words of the prophet Isaiah and understands intuitively and instantaneously that he is reading the vision God has for his life on earth. He is sent by God to minister to the poor and broken and disregarded people in society. He is to proclaim to them that God knows them and loves them and wants to bless them, to lift them up out of their positions of rejection and contempt, and restore their nobility and dignity in God’s eyes. From now on in Luke’s gospel, we will see Jesus moving steadily forward to fulfill this goal. He has found God’s vision for his life.

Matthew Kelly, in his book “Rediscovering Catholicism” speaks of the supreme importance of each of us finding God’s vision for our life. He quotes Proverbs 29:18 which says, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish” and goes on to say (Page 16): “I have found this to be true in every area of life. In a country where there is no vision, the people will perish. In a marriage where is no vision, people will perish. In a business, a school, or a family where there is no vision, the people will perish.” The same is true of a parish or a church. This is why I have worked from my first days here to spell out what God wants to see  when he looks at the parish of St Philip’s and the mission parish of St Clare’s. To paraphrase Matthew Kelly, he wants to see parish communities that are striving with all their might to become the best version of themselves that they can be. In earlier days, we would have described this as the call to be holy, to be saints.

However we describe it, the reality is the same. Each of us has to be asking themselves every day, “Lord, what can I do today with your help to become more and more the best version of myself that I can be?” Without that vision before us, we will surely perish.



Fr Bob Writes – January 17, 2016

The second reading at Sunday mass for the next few weeks, the first weeks of Ordinary Time, is always taken from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Why is that? I believe it is because the problems faced by the 1st century Corinthian Christian community are very similar to those faced by your average Catholic parish community.

The Corinthian community was rife with divisiveness, selfishness, immaturity, turf wars, insularity and pride. Take our second reading for this weekend’s Mass, for instance. The Corinthian community was rich in the spiritual gifts Paul mentions here, but people seemed to have been thinking of the gifts as personal possessions resulting in pride for one’s own gifts and jealousy or comparison to the gifts of others. The gifts were being used in a divisive manner rather than to unite the community.

Paul emphasizes that every gift comes from God first and foremost, so is not an excuse for someone to boast as if they had created this gift themselves. Secondly, Paul says that the gifts are given by God through the Holy Spirit for the building up of the community, not for someone’s own personal crusade. Each person receives gifts different from the next person, not for a comparative, but for a complementary purpose. By speaking about “the same Spirit”…”the same Lord”…and “the same God“, Paul is pointing to the relationships within the Holy Trinity, where there is no one-up-manship, or divisiveness, or competitiveness, going on between the different members of the Trinity, but each one works in perfect harmony with the other. This harmony and unity-with-diversity provides the model for the Christian community. How are we doing in our parish communities to follow this model?

Fr Bob Writes – January 10, 2016 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a good time for us to reflect on the importance of our own baptism, which is modelled after that of Jesus. Here are a few thoughts from Pope Francis on the sacrament of baptism:

  1. “Being holy is not a privilege for a few, as if someone had a large inheritance; in baptism, we all have an inheritance to be able to become saints. Holiness is a vocation for everyone. Thus we are all called to walk on the path of holiness, and this path has a name and a face: the face of Jesus Christ. He teaches us to become saints” (November  1st, 2013)
  2. “We, by baptism, are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin, and of death, but in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters…today, at home, go look, ask about the date of your baptism, and that way you will keep in mind that beautiful day of baptism.” (January 8th, 2014)

3.”Whoever does not face challenges, whoever does not take up challenges, is not living. Your willingness and your abilities, combined with the power of the Holy Spirit who abides in each of us from the day of baptism, allows you to be more than more spectators, they allow you to be protagonists in contemporary events” (November 30th, 2015)

4.”And this is what baptism works in us: it gives us grace and hands on the faith to us…Everyone :the littlest one is also a missionary; and the one who seems to be the greatest is a disciple” (January 15th, 2014)

5.”Thanks to baptism, we are capable of forgiving and of loving even those who offend us and do evil to us. By our baptism, we recognize in the least and in the poor the face of the Lord who visits us and makes himself close. Baptism helps us to recognize in the face of the needy, the suffering, and also of our neighbour, the face of Jesus. All this is possible thanks to the power of baptism” (January 8th, 2014)