We have two parables today about the coming of the kingdom of God. The first is rather puzzling. It is not good news for the activists, the doers, the loner cowboys or the DIY – do it yourself brigade. This is the only parable in the Gospel of Mark that neither Matthew nor Luke copied into their own Gospels. Apparently, it was unpopular from the get-go. Continue reading
When I first started learning Pedi here in South Africa I was very surprised by the greeting they used. ‘Le kae?’ It means, ‘where are you?’ Usually, we greet by asking ‘how are you?’ but ‘le kae?’ ‘where are you?’ seems to be looking at life from a very different angle. It’s a very pertinent question in today’s readings. The first reading begins with God asking Adam, ‘where are you?’ This question comes from a deep concern in God as if our first parents are no longer there or have fallen off the planet. What’s clear is the fact that they are no longer present to God. And indeed, Adam says precisely that. Once he heard the sound of God in the garden, he admits, ‘I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ The nakedness in question, of course, is Adam’s inability to be present to God, to be wholly open and transparent to God like it was before the fall. Continue reading
‘Lord, I am not worthy, that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.’ Today we celebrate the feast of the body and blood of Christ and it is very appropriate that we recite this prayer just before we receive Holy Communion. The great danger facing all of us concerning the Eucharist is that it can become routine and taken for granted. Hence the importance of this feast to bring home how great and awesome this mystery is.
Back to the prayer. It recalls the words of the pagan centurion. Jesus was amazed at the utterance of this outsider so much so that he exclaimed: “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Obviously, this outsider was completely in awe of Jesus, detecting in him something special; something out of the ordinary that spoke of a different world and a different way of looking at life. The Mystery of the Eucharist should draw a similar response from us. It is the Mystery of Christ par excellence. It is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to be with us always. It is the realisation of Psalm 23, namely, that the Lord is my Shepherd and there is nothing else that I want or need. It is, as Vatican II proclaims, the source and summit of the Christian life. Luke sums us the profound impact the Eucharist had on the early Christian community when they shared the one loaf and the one cup. “A sense of awe was everywhere … all whose faith had drawn them together held everything in common … with unaffected joy.’ Continue reading
One of the symbols on Pope Benedict’s coat of arms is a shell. The shell comes from a story about St Augustine, who was walking along the seashore one morning, trying to understand the Most Holy Trinity. Suddenly he saw ahead of him a little child making a hole in the sand and was walking back and forth between the hole and the ocean. He held a little shell in his hands. When he reached the ocean, he would fill the shell up with water. Then he would carefully carry it back and pour the water into the hole. He kept on doing this. After a while, St Augustine asked what he was doing. The child answered, “I am going to empty the sea into that hole, which I have dug in the sand.” St Augustine laughed out loud. Then he said, “Child, that is quite impossible. Look how big the ocean is, and how small the hole is!” The child looked at him and answered, “And yet, it would be easier for me to do this than for you to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity.” And with that, the child disappeared. Continue reading
The feast of Pentecost is amazing. It’s a feast of the extraordinary, the unthinkable, the incredible — the feast of limitless possibilities. Jesus promised his disciples the Advocate, the helper who would lead them into the full truth, the Holy Spirit who would guide them and remind them of all that Jesus said and did. This same Spirit will keep them in touch with Jesus’ beautiful vision, with his Father’s wonderful dream for all God’s people. Yet they probably had little idea of how it would happen; of how powerful and amazing the Spirit would become in their lives. Who would have thought that once again God is a God of surprises? Continue reading
There seems to be an air of finality in Luke’s description of the Ascension. As they go up the mountain the disciples are still hoping for some kind of earthly kingdom. Jesus does nothing to cherish such notions. Instead, after briefly telling them to get out there and be witnesses to his mission, he is taken up by a cloud and removed from their sight. Suddenly he is gone, it’s all over. Even though Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit it still seemed like curtains. They are not going to see him again. In times past there was a custom of extinguishing the Paschal Candle after the gospel to signify: ‘he is gone’. Continue reading
St. Therese of Lisieux always wanted to be a saint and even longed for martyrdom. This was not out of any sense of vainglory or pride. She just knew that saints are very pleasing to God and therefore she longed for this with her heart’s desire. However, she was at a loss as to how to be a saint in her convent. She turned to Paul in the hope of finding an answer. Here are her words. Continue reading