During the year of St Paul, we celebrate today the great feast of the conversion of Saul, scrupulous Pharisee, student of the synagogue of Tarsus in Cilicia and of Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem. All that he knew, all that he had studied with such great fervour had only served to convince him that Jesus was not the Messiah, and it was right for him to die at the hands of the Romans. Now as he prayed and meditated while on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus, as he desired to be faithful to all the commandments of the law, even if this meant persecuting followers of the way to death – something completely unbelievable and impossible to predict happens to him. He meets this same Jesus of Nazareth, this same Lord – and his whole world is turned up-side-down. We, in our turn, are invited to experience this same life and to encounter the Lord Jesus on our journey through life as well, so that we can follow in the footsteps of Paul and experience this gift as well.
Based on Acts 22:3-16 / Recorded at St Michael’s (12’10”)
The call to discipleship is strongly expressed in these readings – Andrew inviting his brother Simon to meet the Lord. Having spent the week at Summer School of Evangelisation in Bathurst, many young people want to know how to discern the will of the Lord.
In the first reading from 1 Samuel 3, we see in Samuel five principles that can guide us:
1. Stay awake and attentive
2. The Lord’s call is personal: ‘Samuel, Samuel’
3. Learn the language of the Lord (by reading scripture and the teachings of the church)
4. Use the wise counsel of an older brother/sister/mentor (Eli)
5. Sometimes the word of the Lord will not be very comfortable and will involve suffering (1 Sam 3:11-18)
Recorded at St Michael’s, 9.30am (8’38”)
In the ministry of John the Baptist, the son of the priest Zechariah, we see the ritual washing (the mikvah) take on a new significance, as a sign of God’s new work of creation. Now the presence of God will not be confined to the temple – the curtain in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies is torn apart – a foretaste of the great event of Jesus death and resurrection.
Recorded at Sacred Heart, Bomaderry. (12’50”)
Fr Richard John Neuhaus, the publisher and editor of the iconic journal ‘First Things’ died last night in New York from cancer.
This is a reflection that he wrote on death back in 2000:
We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word “good” should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.
Read more here
We also heard at the end of last year of the passing of Cardinal Avery Dulles. This is a reflection that he wrote:
The behavior of living organisms cannot be explained without taking into account their striving for life and growth. Plants, by reaching out for sunlight and nourishment, betray an intrinsic aspiration to live and grow. This internal finality makes them capable of success and failure in ways that stones and minerals are not. Because of the ontological gap that separates the living from the nonliving, the emergence of life cannot be accounted for on the basis of purely mechanical principles. In tune with this school of thought, the English mathematical physicist John Polkinghorne holds that Darwinism is incapable of explaining why multicellular plants and animals arise when single-cellular organisms seem to cope with the environment quite successfully. There must be in the universe a thrust toward higher and more-complex forms.
…Materialistic Darwinism is incapable of explaining why the universe gives rise to subjectivity, feeling, and striving.
Paul reveals (Eph 3:5-6) that in the visit of the Magi we see not a new plan, but the long hidden plan of God to include all people in his inheritance, his body and his promises.
Recorded at St Michael’s, 9.30am (8’20”) Guitar by Dan Mueller.