Thirty-First Sunday — A

At the end of John’s Gospel Jesus told Peter that he was going to be led where he didn’t want to go.  I used to think Jesus was referring to Peter being led to his cross or maybe in his old age, fumbling around with a walking stick and led by a nurse.  But now I’m associating it with the conversation that went before where Jesus commanded him, ‘feed my lambs, feed my sheep!’  If Jesus is still on the leadership theme, then it’s possible that he is implying that a true leader cannot just do his own thing but must be willing to be led by others.  He must have his ear to the ground and be willing to be guided by the Holy Spirit speaking through his community. This may well mean going where he did not want to go.  Continue reading

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Thirtieth Sunday of the Year — A

St. Therese, the Little Flower, lived an obscure life and died in obscurity at the young age of 24.  As she was laid to rest it seemed like she was just another nun: born, was good, died.  Holy, no doubt; but nothing to write home about.  Except for one thing.  The prioress asked her to write her memoirs two years before she died. Therese, under obedience, took a year to fill six exercise books. She presented them to the prioress who put them in a drawer unread.  A year after Therese died, the memoirs were published in a small edition of 2,000.  That turned out to be the first spark in a storm of glory that ignited the world.  Miracles started to happen: conversions, cures, even apparitions.  St. Therese became the most popular saint on the planet. Continue reading

Twenty-Ninth Sunday — Year A

Empires get a mention in today’s readings.  Jesus lived under the Roman empire.  Cyrus, whom we meet in the first reading, was the leader of the Persian Empire. Before that was Pharaoh of the Egyptian empire whom Joseph encountered when he was sold as a slave to Egypt.  Though not in today’s readings I’m mentioning Pharaoh because there is a song in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ that captures just how powerful these emperors were. Continue reading

Twenty-Eight Sunday of the Year — A

I hope I don’t offend any ears by saying that Jesus is a bit of a party animal.  There’s a fair bit of evidence for it in the gospels.  Very often we find Jesus either going to a meal, at a meal or leaving a meal.  We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that he uses a meal to get across something of the Kingdom of God.  But the meal he is talking about today is no ordinary meal. It is a royal wedding feast.  Meals are very symbolic of sharing and friendship but a royal wedding feast takes it to another level.  In terms of the kingdom of heaven, it symbolises God’s great yearning to be bonded with us. God is so in love with all of humanity that Jesus resorts to nuptial language to get across how passionate God is about all of us.  In effect, Jesus is saying that the wedding is between God and all of humanity.  Continue reading

Twenty-Seventh Sunday – Year A

The first reading today is a masterpiece of storytelling. The friend of Isaiah owns a fertile hillside, he spades it, he clears it of stones, plants the choicest vines, builds the traditional watchtower, installs the typical wine press and then anticipates an excellent and abundant harvest. What he gets instead are wild grapes. So, then he pops the question, “What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?”  With this question, the prophet is inviting his audience to make a judgement between his friend and his vineyard.  And they would have been fully in agreement with his response, namely, remove its hedge, break down its wall, trample on it and make it into a wasteland once more.  I imagine that they would have applauded him for every new stroke of destruction — even gloating about it.  But then, having got consensus from them he turns the tables by announcing that they are the vineyard, they are the culprits.  ‘For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but heard a cry! Continue reading

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year – A

What is God like?  There is a lovely story of little Angelica who spread out all her crayons on a sheet of paper and then for a long time concentrated in quiet on the black page.  Her older brother asked what was she doing to which she replied, ‘I’m going to draw a picture of God!’  The brother smirked and said, “nobody knows what God looks like!  Angelica simply replied, “they will when I’m finished!” Continue reading

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year – A

The parables of Jesus are meant to shock us, to get us to think outside the box, to help us realise, as Isaiah says, that God’s ways are way above our ways, just as the heavens are way above the earth.  Today’s parable of the hired workers must have been a real shocker to those listening to Jesus.  For ourselves, however, this same parable probably wears thin, simply because we have heard it so often! So, let’s try and translate it into today’s world.  Continue reading