Showing posts with label El Greco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label El Greco. Show all posts

8 Feb 2018

‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Sunday Reflections, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B



Christ as Saviour, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 1:40-45 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Dr Carlo Urbani- (1956 - 2004) [Wikipedia]

Towards the end of February 2003 Dr Carlo Urbani, an Italian, went to Vietnam, representing the World Health Organisation, to investigate an American businessman who was showing unusual symptoms. It turned out to be severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a highly contagious virus. The man who discovered this new disease died from it himself about a month later on 29 March. In a conscious moment, while in the ICU in a hospital in Bangkok, he asked for a priest to give him the Last Rites.
Continue here.

13 Jan 2018

'Jesus said to them,"Come and see".' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B


From The Gospel of John, directed by Philip Saville

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel John 1:35-42 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed. He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).

St Andrew the Apostle, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

God calls each of us to our particular vocation in life in a unique way. Pope Francis has told us, for example, that it was on the occasion of going to confession when he was 17 that he saw clearly that God was calling him to be a priest. A couple at whose wedding I officiated some years ago were members of the same Catholic organisation in the university they attended. They became an 'item', as they say in the Philippines, when they were the only members of the group to turn up at the appointed time for an outing. While waiting for the others to arrive they discovered that they were more than just casual friends. Now they are happily married with four children.
Continue here.

5 Jan 2018

'The seed of eternal life.' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year B


Baptistry, St Mark's, Venice [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 1:7-11 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

John the Baptist proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

In countries where the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated this year on Monday 8 January, eg the Philippines and the USA, there is only one reading before the Gospel and the Creed is omitted.
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2013
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 8 January 2012
[I have highlighted parts of the Pope's homily]
Continue here.

21 Dec 2017

'Both Son of God and Son of Man together had one name.' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas



The Annunciation, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV, CatholicEd)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

The Annunciation, Gerard David [Web Gallery of Art]

The Incarnation by St John of the Cross
Then He summoned an archangel,
Saint Gabriel: and when he came,
Sent him forth to find a maiden,
Mary was her name.
Only through her consenting love
Could the mystery be preferred
That the Trinity in human
Flesh might clothe the Word.
Though the three Persons worked the wonder
It only happened to the One.
So was the Word made incarnation
In Mary's womb, a son.
So He who only had a Father
Now had a Mother undefiled,
Though not as ordinary maids
Had she conceived the Child.
By Mary, and with her own flesh
He was clothed in His own frame:
Both Son of God and Son of Man
Together had one name.
[Translation by Roy Campbell]

In both paintings above Mary has the word of God, the Hebrew Bible, what we Christians call the Old Testament, open in front of her. And when she says, let it be with me according to your word, she is accepting the Word. The opening words of St John's Gospel, read at the Mass During the Day on Christmas Day and read at the end of every Mass in the Extraordinary Form, tells us who the Word is: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Further on, in Verse 14, St John writes those magnificent words that are at the centre of our faith: And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes what St John of the Cross said about this: In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.


The Annunciation in an Initial R -Fra Angelico [Web Gallery of Art]
Continue here.

6 Dec 2017

'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B



St John the Baptist, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings, (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland,)
Gospel Mark 1:1-8 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight”’.
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

Old Road to Auvers, Norbert Goeneutte [Web Gallery of Art]

Charles Kuralt was a reporter with CBS TV in the USA whose On the Roadstories were a regular part of the Evening News for 25 years. These were offbeat stories about real persons and were often uplifting. I remember one in particular from about 1970 when I, then a young priest, was studying in the USA. It featured an elderly man in a small town in one of the Midwestern states. His town was about 10 kms from the next town but in order to go from one to the other you had to travel 20 or 30 kms. The authorities in both towns were unwilling to build a road to connect them.
So this man started to build a road himself, using logs as a foundation, as I recall.

Continue here.

25 Nov 2017

'Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Sunday Reflections, Christ the King, Year A



The Last Judgement, Michelangelo [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV,CatholicEd)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

St Elizabeth of Hungary, Sándor Liezen-Mayer [Web Gallery of Art]
In November 1974 some members of the Praesidium of the Legion of Mary of which I was spiritual director came to me and told me of two starving children, a brother and sister, that they had come across on home visitation. The Legionaries were students in the college department of what was then Immaculate Conception College, Ozamiz City, where I was chaplain. At the time ICC was run by the Columban Sisters. It is now La Salle University, under the care of the De La Salle Brothers.
Continue here.

2 Nov 2017

'The greatest among you will be your servant.' Sunday Reflections, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A



Christ as Saviour, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 23:1-12 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEd)

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Apostle St Matthew, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

The Philippine Daily Inquirer carried a a story of extraordinary courage on 28 October: How Scout Ranger commander won hostages' release.
MARAWI CITY—He took off his helmet and bullet-proof vest, laid down his firearm and turned on the megaphone to speak to the Islamic State-inspired gunmen here on Oct. 19.
“I just wanted to get the children, the women and the injured (hostages),” Capt. Jeffrey Buada said through the megaphone.
At the risk of being shot, Buada, commander of the Army’s 15th Scout Ranger Company, slowly walked through the rubble and tried to get near the building, where hungry and thirsty hostages were anxiously waiting to be rescued
Continue here.

7 Oct 2017

The Twenty Mysteries of the Rosary

Madonna of the Rosary, Lorenzo Lotto [Web Gallery of Art]

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers (Acts 1:12-14).

First Reading, Mass of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

Still-Life with Symbols of the Virgin Mary, Dirck de Bray [Web Gallery of Art]

In October 2014 I published here a series of posts on the Rosary under the general title The Rosary with the Great Painters, each post featuring five mysteries. Here I give links to each of those posts.

Continue here.

15 Sep 2017

'How often should I forgive?' Sunday Reflections, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A



St Peter in Penitence, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland)
Gospel Matthew 18:21-35 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

Then Peter came and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

‘For this reason, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger, his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

The Misa Criolla, by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramírez (1921-2010), is a Mass for tenor, chorus, and orchestra, is based on folk genres such as chacarera, carnavalito and estilo pampeano, with Andean influences and instruments. It is also one of the first Masses to be composed in a modern language. Ramírez wrote the piece in 1963-1964. In Latin America 'Kyrie eleison', is translated as 'Señor, ten piedad de nosotros', 'Lord, have mercy on us', whereas in Spain it is 'Señor, ten piedad', 'Lord, have mercy'. Here it is sung by Los Frontizeros and the choir of San Isidro Cathedral, Buenos Aires. I do not know to what extent the Misa Criolla has been used in worship, as distinct from concert performances.


Fr Werenfried van Straaten OPraem [Wikipedia]
Today's gospel brings us in touch with what is perhaps its most difficult demand: to forgive. El Greco's painting shows us St Peter praying with hope and trust in God's merciful and forgiving love. The setting by Ariel Ramírez of the Kyrie expresses the same thing.

Full post here.

1 Sep 2017

'For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?' Sunday Reflections, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A


The Repentant Peter, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)


From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.
Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales? [3:36 - 4:15]

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? (Matthew 16:26, RSVCE)

For Readings and Reflections for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A,  click on the following: 

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

10 Jun 2017

'God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.' Sunday Reflections, Trinity Sunday, Year A



The Trinity. El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

For Readings and Reflections for Trinity Sunday click on the following:


Benedictus sit Deus, Mozart



Antiphona ad introitum 

Entrance Antiphon


Benedictus sit Deus Pater,
Blest be God the Father,
Unigenitusque Dei Filius,
and the Only Begotten Son of God,
Sanctus quoque Spiritus,
and also the Holy Spirit,
quia fecit nobiscum misericordian suam.
for he has shown us is merciful love.

21 Apr 2017

'My Lord and my God!' Sunday Reflections, Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy), Year A


Year A
The Apostle St Thomas, El Greco 

Readings (New American Bible) 
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Gospel John 20:19-31(NRSV, Catholic Ed.)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’


John 20:19-31 from The Gospel of John
We can read the words of Jesus to Thomas as a gentle rebuke that has led to the nickname he may carry for all eternity: 'Doubting Thomas'. But I prefer to see him as the one who understood that the Risen Lord must carry the scars of his crucifixion and who made the most explicit act of faith in the whole of Sacred Scripture: My Lord and my God!

The First Reading today (Ats 2:42-47) opens with the words They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 'The breaking of the bread' is an expression used for the celebration of the Eucharist. We can see in this sentence the essence of the Mass as we celebrate it today: listening to God's word, praying and sharing in the Sacrifice of Jesus and sharing his Body and Blood.

Some commentators say that the failure of Thomas was not to listen to God's word as related by his companions. Maybe he did fail here but did the others have the same awareness as Thomas had that the Risen Lord must carry his scars for all eternity?

In Evangelii Gaudium No 7 Pope Francis writes: I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: 'Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction'.

Thomas had been a companion of Jesus for two to three years but what he experienced in today's gospel was precisely what Pope Benedict describes as the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
Servant of God, Fr Emil Joseph Kapaun (20 April 1916 - 23 May 1951) celebrating Mass with American soldiers during the Korean War [Wikipedia]

Full post here.

7 Apr 2017

‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’ Sunday Reflections, Palm Sunday, Year A


Christ's Entry into Jerusalem,
Melozzo da Forli

The Commemoration of the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem

Gospel Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV,Catholic Ed., Can.)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

The following Hymn to Christ the King may be sung during the procession.

Chorus:
Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit,
rex Christe redemptor,
cui puerile decus prompsit
Hosanna pium.
Glory and honour and praise be to you,
Christ, Kind and Redeemer
to whom young children cried out
loving Hosannas with joy.

Readings during Mass
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)

The response for today's Responsorial Psalm is My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? ('forsaken me' in the Jerusalem Bible Lectionary), the last words of Jesus according to St Matthew, whose version of the Passion is read today. The readings carry that theme, explicitly or implicitly. The Prophet Isaiah says, I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The church applies these words to the sufferings of Jesus. Yet there isn't total abandonment: The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Psalm 21 (22) is fulfilled in the Passion and Death of Jesus. St Paul in the reading from his Letter to the Philippians speaks of the self-emptying of Jesus who: though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.


The Agony in the Garden, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

An tAthair Pádraig Ó Crolaigh (Fr Patrick Crilly) of the Diocese of Derry, Ireland, reflects on this in his poem in Irish, An Crióst Tréigthe (The Abandoned Christ). I have added my own English translation.

Full post here.

4 Mar 2017

'Jesus, mercy; Mary, help.' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Lent, Year A


The Tempation of Christ, Juan de Flandes
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia)
Gospel Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’
Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”’
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.


Matt Talbot statue, Dublin [Wikipedia]
Full post here.

2 Feb 2017

'Let your light shine before others' Sunday Reflections, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

A View of Toledo, El Greco
'A city built on a hill cannot be hidden' (Mt 5:14)


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Gospel Matthew 5:13-16 (NRSV

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’
Childhood of Christ, Gerrit van Honthorst 
'Let your light shine before others . . .' (Mt 5:16).

One of the darkest periods in the history of the world was 1939 to 1945 when much of the world was at war. At the heart of the darkness was Nazi Germany, where freedom had been almost entirely suppressed. But not quite. Between June 1942 and February 1943 a small group of students at the University of Munich with their philosophy professor Kurt Huber formed The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group working against Hitler and the Nazi regime. 

Sophie Scholl
(9 May 1921 - 22 February 1943) [Wikipedia
Full post here.

19 Jan 2017

'The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light . . .' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A



Neubrandenburg, Caspar David Friedrich 

The people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death 
light has dawned (Matthew 4:16, NRSVCE).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 4:12-23 [or 12-17] (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
[As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.]

Missa Brevis in G Major, Kyrie, Mozart
Lumen Choir, conducted by Jooyoung Kim
'Once upon a time', 5th Annual Concert (1 December 2012)
Moonjeong-dong Catholic Church, Seoul, South Korea
Last Sunday here in the Philippines was the the Feast of the Santo Niño (Holy Child). The gospel was Matthew 18:1-5, 10 in which Jesus tells us Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I saw his words come to life at the end of Mass in Holy Family Home for Girls here in Bacolod City where I live.

In January 2014 four new girls came to the home. One, whom I'll call 'Josie', was aged 14 and profoundly deaf. Her main way of communicating was Sign Language. The Sisters, staff and some of the girls began to learn some Sign Language. The other three new girls included two aged ten and one aged six.
At the end of Mass I saw 'Josie' sitting and quietly crying. I wasn't quite sure why. One of the ten-year-old new girls, rather small for her age but very lively and whom I'll call 'Grace', went over to 'Josie' and put her arms around her to comfort her. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The majority of the girls in Holy Family Home have had horrific experiences, in most cases within their own family circle. They truly have sat in darkness.
['Josie' was able to go home last year. We discovered that she had some hearing and, with hearing aids, she has improved her speech and hearing considerably. The other three girls are still at Holy Family Home]

I will celebrate Mass again in Holy Family Home on Monday evening to mark the feast of St Agnes, 21 January. Each year in the Home we combine a celebration of St Agnes the Martyr (c.291 - c.304), patron saint of chastity, of young girls and of rape victims, and Blessed Laura Vicuña (1891 - 1904), a patron of abuse victims who offered her life for the conversion of her mother and whose feast day is 22 January. (We moved the celebration this year to 23 January for liturgical reasons).
Each year I tell the girls that the life of Blessed Laura, whose father died when she was young, was so like their own and that she became a saint in the midst of and through her sufferings, especially the cruelty of her stepfather who wasn't married to her mother. Despite her young age she had the maturity, generosity and holiness to offer her life so that her mother would return to the Lord. She told this to her mother when she was dying. It was the physical abuse of her stepfather that led to her death. Laura's prayers were answered


Blessed Laura Vicuña aged 10

Laura understood the stark reality of the words of Jesus in today's gospel: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. She also understood the power of God's mercy. Repentance and God's mercy are central to the preaching and teaching of Pope Francis. Since Blessed Laura, born in Santiago, Chile, and died in Argentina he must be familiar with her life that embodied what he has spoken about so many times.

Full post here.

1 Jan 2017

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. New Year's Day. World Day of Peace. Sunday Reflections


Altar of Our Lady, Church of St Nicholas, Überlingen, Germany, Jörg Zurn 

Gospel Luke 2:16-21 (NRSV, Catholic Ed

The shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.


The Adoration of the Name of Jesus, El Greco

At the moment I am re-reading Finola Kennedy's Frank Duff: A Life Story published by Burns and Oates in 2011. Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary on 7 September 1921, though for a very long time he did not consider himself the founder. The biographer relates how a friend in the Vincent de Paul Society in Dublin, Vincent Kelly, introduced him to St Louis Marie de Montfort's Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, usually referred to as True Devotionor True Devotion to Mary. Though Frank Duff was almost repelled initially by this book - it seemed to him 'to border on the absurd' - he read it five or six times, encouraged by another friend in the Vincent de Paul Society, Tom Fallon. 

Continue here.

17 Dec 2016

'St Joseph' in Manila. Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Advent, Year A


The Dream of St Joseph, Georges de la Tour 

Gospel Matthew 3:1-12 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’,which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.
Responsorial Psalm [NAB Lectionary]
In December 2002 I met a man in Manila, Mang Pepe, and his daughter Ligaya whose story reminded me so much of that of Joseph and Jesus in today's gospel. The story of Mang Pepe and Ligaya is told here by a Columban lay missionary from Korea, Columba Chang, who worked for many years in the Manila area and whose ministry at the time she wrote this story was to families affected by HIV/AIDS. The names used aren't their real names. 'Pepe' is a nickname for a man named Jose or Joseph. 'Mang' is a Tagalog term of respect for a man older than oneself. 'Aling' is the equivalent term for a woman. The name 'Ligaya' means 'Joy'. The story was first published, as I recall, in a newsletter of Caritas Manila and I used it in the November-December 2003 issue of MISYON, the Columban magazine in the Philippines that I edit. I republished it in the November-December 2015 issue of the magazine, now called MISYONonline.com. I think it is a story worth telling over and over again. Columba is now based in Myanmar as a member of a small team of Columban Lay Missionaries there. I have updated the introduction.


Continue here.

17 Nov 2016

'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' Sunday Reflections, Christ the King, Year C

CrucifixionPedro de Campaña, c.1550
Musée du Louvre, Paris [Web Gallery of Art]
Gospel Luke 23:35-43 (NRSV,Catholic Ed) 
The people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at Jesus, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom Taizé chant
About six years ago Dominican friar in Dublin told me about one of his confreres who was to celebrate Mass one morning in a nearby Sisters' convent. Since it was only a short walk he decided to wear his habit. (It was the Dominican habit that first caught my imagination about the priesthood when I was six or seven, though later on I never considered joining the Dominicans.) Along the way the friar met a Sister from another convent who chided him for being so 'old-fashioned' or 'pre-Vatican 2' or words to that effect. A little further on a young man stopped him. This was the conversation that followed:
You're a priest, right?
Yes.
Well I'm getting married tomorrow and I need to go to confession.
So Father heard the young man's confession on the street and went on his 'pre-Vatican 2' way to celebrate Mass.
Continue here.

5 Aug 2016

'For the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.' Sunday Reflections, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

 El Greco, 1600-02
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa [Web Gallery of Art]

Gospel Luke 12:32-48 NRSV 
Jesus said to his disciples: 
“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
 
A stamp with Liam Whelan's photo, issued by An Post, the Irish Postal Service, for the 50th anniversary of the Munich Disaster. The clock is in Old Trafford, the Manchester United stadium, showing the time and date of the crash.

You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

I've posted a number of times before about the death of Irish footballer Liam Whelan in a plane crash in Munich in 1958. His life and death for me show the meaning of the words of Jesus in the gospel today: You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour. I'll use here, with some changes, what I've posted before.

Full post here.

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