The way of grace

The Gospel today begins with Jesus withdrawing to a lonely place to mourn and pray after hearing of the death of John the Baptist – his cousin, friend and comrade – only to find that this secret place has been invaded by crowds of people. Although he could respond in many ways, Jesus chose the way of compassion and grace. He demonstrates in this reading all that we have heard during the month of July about the way of the kingdom of heaven – hidden from the learned and the wise but revealed to infants.

Now he shows the disciples how to live in the way of grace – how to move beyond the despair of not being able to solve all the worlds problems, into the realisation that this way of grace means you can do what you can, with what you have, where you are – when it is blessed and broken by the Lord.

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Recorded at St John Vianney Church (10’36”)

Leviticus and Jubilee

The book of Leviticus doesn’t get much of a run within the lectionary readings – just two weekday readings and a single reading during the Sunday cycle in Year A and Year B. Since there were none during the leactionary readings before the Second Vatican Council, this is a vast improvement. Nevertheless, Leviticus still has the record for stopping many valiant attempts to read the whole of the Bible. What this reading from Lev 25 does remind us about is the concern for justice that our God has. The Jubilee – even if it was never fully practiced in the life of Israel – speaks of God’s desire to return people back to their basic freedom and their connection with the land.

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Recorded at the Catholic Fraternity Regional Meeting, Brisbane (8’03”)

What do we want from God?

Although we know many things about the life of King Solomon, we do not know how old he was when he came to the throne of Israel, to succeed his father David. Solomon is the tenth of David’s sons, and as I Kings opens, he is described as not yet being an adult. So it is to a young and vulnerable Solomon , who doesn’t “know how to go out or to go in” that the Lord appears in our first reading today, when He says “Ask what I shall give you.” This kind of question occurs with some regularity across the pages of the scriptures and throughout Christian history: it seems that God wants to see what it is that we desire. How would we answer this question? What is our treasure hidden in a field? What is our pearl of great price?

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Recorded at St John Vianney Church, Mass with Disciples of Jesus Community (7’36”)
Sunday 17, Year A. I Kings 3:5-14; Matthew 13:44-46

Wheat and weeds in the shining sun

How many times have we heard something described as an ‘act of God’ or a disaster of biblical proportions, and wondered in our hearts – if God is indeed all-loving and all-powerful – then where is he in these times? Why doesn’t he step in and prevent these disasters? Why do we see such powerful signs of evil in the world?

The parables that Jesus tells in today’s Gospel begin to answer these questions. The wheat and the weeds in the field do grow together; good and bad are not separated by nations or religions – both are present in the world and both are present in our hearts. Our call is to recognise that there will be a judgement day and there will be a separation – the weeds will be gathered and burnt; but the wheat will be the righteous who will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.

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Recorded at Mater Dolorosa, 10am (9’59”)

Sunday 16A. Matthew 13

Creative word

The Word of God is so creative, powerful and fruitful, that sometimes we need to go to a high place to see the incredible vista that the Lord provides before us. This is the image that St Paul uses in Romans 8 when he lifts us with him to see the vision of all creation groaning and longing for the revelation of the children of God. The powerful and prophetic Word of God (dabar) never returns empty – that is why the parable that Jesus tells of the sower of the seed is even more intriguing. The scattering of the seed willy-nilly suggests a farmer who is extremely foolish with such a precious commodity in first-century Israel. The grace the Lord offers is never stingy; he is always generous.

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Recorded at St Francis Xavier Cathedral, 10.30am (9’33”)
Matthew 13:1-23; Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23

Resting in the Father

As we return to the ordinary season of the year, we are given a most magnificent Gospel to land on, in Matthew 11:25-30. This gospel passage is unusual in the first three Gospels that rarely take us into the inner life of Jesus in his prayer to the Father. Here we are plunged into this moment when Jesus rejoices in the possibility that those around him might be able to share in the incredible intimacy that he shared with the Father – a secret that the inarticulate infants are able to grasp, but which is hidden from the learned and clever.

If we wish, this secret is available to us as well – especially if we labour and are overburdened and want to finally find our place of rest.

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Recorded at the Kairos Young Adult weekend, QCCC Centre, Mt Tamborine. (11’17”)