19th Sunday of Ordinary Time – 13th August
For fear of repeating myself, we live in a world besieged by noise and opinion. We live in a climate in which we are swamped by a tsunami of media which seeks to grab our attention and focus our interest. Whether it is the daily diet of news, social media or email everybody seems to want to grab our gaze. There is also a great climate of news which seeks to engender fear and distraction away from ourselves to matters over which we have little control. It calls us to attend to something for fear that we may become bored with ourselves and the routine of our daily lives. We can see this in the way storms seem to break upon us and we are called to focus on the destructive forces of nature. There seems to be a climate which creates a sense of powerlessness which seems to be overwhelmed by these events. We seem to be diminished by our own world which seems to be fighting against us. Then again if this was not all, we are confronted by those who wish to set fire and destroy what is known whether by terrorism, war or personal conflict. This desire to give vent to their own inner conflicts by force upon others, this seeking to face our own destructive instincts is at the heart of our own ability to be wounded and to wound others.
Yet in the midst of this outward and inward ability to be overcome by forces which seem beyond our control we have two images that come to us through the scriptures. The first is Elijah in the cave. He does not hear God's voice in the destructive nature of the gale, the earthquake or the fire but in the quiet zephyr of a breeze which passes in front of him. In the midst of this gentleness he covers his face and stands present. This is a call for us to listen to a God who alone can quieten the violence which can seem to overwhelm and destroy us.
The second image is that of the boat battling a heavy sea and Peter being invited out of the boat to walk towards Jesus. Once again this is not an ignoring of the storms that can rage around us but rather a trust in a God who calls us to reach out and touch him. There is a total reliance in how God is present even in the most difficult situation and to entrust our lives totally to him.
This is a reminder to us that our faith is built on a relationship with the one who can save us and call us to a life in union with him. It is from this relationship that we do not become passive observers of life but rather participants who do not succumb to a fatalistic way of being present. We are called to notice what frightens us but not be overcome by it. By being open to how God quietens our fears we can start to focus on what creates life, what builds hope and what sustains others in loving charity. Each day we listen to that still quiet voice which allows us to be prayerfully present to ourselves and to others.
Fr. John Armstrong
"The intellectual quest is exquisite, like pearls and coral. But it is not the same as the spiritual quest. The spiritual quest is on another level altogether. Spiritual wine has a subtler taste. The intellect and the senses investigate cause and effect. The spiritual seeker surrenders to wonder." (Rumi Wisdom; trans. Timothy Freke)
Feast of the Transfiguration – 6th August
How we listen to another indicates the way we will live our lives.
The Transfiguration puts the same words before us that we hear at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist: "This is my beloved son, listen to him". This is not just about hearing what he said or reading what has been written. It is allowing his life to touch our own.
17th Sunday of the Year – 30th July
There is often a subtle distinction between choosing what is right and wrong and what is good and evil. The first deals with observable acts which can be seen to be right or wrong according to a moral code or enacted law. The second deals with the unseen motivation of the person which seeks to discover what is good or evil.
16th Sunday of the year – 23rd July
"Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groaning.. And the one who searches hearts knows what the intention of the Spirit is, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will" Romans 8.26-27
This passage of scripture particularly struck me when I was reading through the Gospel about the darnel and the wheat. In many cases we put in a great deal of effort into making sure that we accomplish something in our spiritual life. There is a sense that we need to get it right and line up everything in a row.
15th Sunday of the Year – 16th July
How many homilies can you remember years after they are spoken? In a world deluged by words what takes hold of our hearts and engages us with life?
The Gospel of the good seed scattered in the ground reminds us of how liberal and generous God is with the reminder of how the saving word can be planted within us.
Often we know how easy it is for a word to be spoken and then too quickly it is taken from us.
14th Sunday of the Year – 9th July
One of the most difficult tasks is to move from theory to practice. Part of this difficulty lies not just in an understanding of theory but a willingness to seek out whether it actually matches our practical experience. We know that the Christian faith is not just theoretical but deeply relational. It calls us to enter into a relationship with a person who helps us to engage more deeply with what is important and vital to living a Christian life.