Wilderness and floods

As we journey through lent each year, the Church provides us with similar foundations. Each year, on the first Sunday in Lent, we journey with Jesus out into the wilderness as he is tempted; on the second Sunday, we travel with Peter, James and John up a high mountain where Jesus is transfigured. These two elements can help to orient us through the season of Lent and prepare us for Easter.

In this year, the church pairs the temptation in the wilderness in the Gospel of Mark with the end of the story of the great flood from the book of Genesis.  (more…)

Strange ashes

A lot of the things that we do as a Christian church are kind of strange. If you had never been into a Christian church before, and you happened to wander into this church today – particularly at the end of Mass – and saw several hundred, otherwise ordinary people, who have freely submitted themselves to have their otherwise beautiful and clean faces marked by a mixture of muddy ash. Odd, hey what?

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Recorded at St Paul’s with St Paul’s Primary children (8’05”)
Ash Wednesday.

Levitical cleaning

Reading the bible is a wonderful gift. But for many people, who with great zeal and commitment begin to read the bible in the book of Genesis, everything goes well for a while. The book of Genesis is interesting, and it is full of familiar stories beginning with creation and then the ‘myths’ of pre-history, followed by the wonderful narratives of the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his twelve sons, and then especially the story of Joseph and his exploits in Egypt. Things continue well in the book of Exodus with the story of Moses and then all of the plagues and the great events of the exodus itself, into the wilderness and the events around Mount Sinai. The story begins to slow down with the ritual descriptions and laws concerning the temple. But if the committed reader has made it this far, the next book in the bible is often the killer – the book of Leviticus. (more…)

fecit mihi magna

Many years ago, I read the biography of the then holy father, Pope John Paul II – ‘Witness of Hope’ by George Weigel (1999). One of the things that really struck me as I read his story, was the detail about his ordination as a deacon. It was essentially a private event, taking place during the darkest days of World War II, in the private chapel of his archbishop. Prevented from celebrating this occasion in the life of the future leader of the church in grander style, the young Karol Wojtyla made do with a hand-written prayer card to mark the occasion.
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Immediately driven

Every book in the biblical library has unique characteristics that set it apart from all other books in the bible. The passage that is our first reading today from the book of Job – dealing with suffering and pain – is fairly typical of this book. So also each of the gospels have particular ways of telling the story of Jesus that are unique. John features long and exalted speeches of Jesus; Matthew is marked by 5 large blocks of teaching that begins with the famous sermon on the mount, identifying Jesus as the new Moses; in the prayerful gospel of Luke, the most characteristic feature are the parables that are unique to him. (more…)