Disciples of the Messiah

wyd2000torThe theme for the World Youth Day this year, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next month, is “Go and make disciples of all nations” from the end of Matthew 28. Which in some ways begs the question of “what is a disciple?” What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? What are the qualifications and what does it look like? This was a question that my fellow pilgrims and I reflected on yesterday when we met for our final formation session and Commissioning Mass celebrated by Bishop Peter.

In the Gospel of Luke we come to the climax of the ministry of Jesus in the northern half of the Holy Land around the area of Galilee. Next week we will hear that Jesus ‘resolutely turns his face towards Jerusalem.’ (Luke 9:51) Today, after spending time in prayer, perhaps as he prays for his disciples, he perhaps knows that it is now time to test them with the question that continues to echo down through the ages: “Who do you say that I am?”

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Recorded at St Paul’s, 8am (9’26”)
Sunday 12C. Luke 9:18-24

Look at this woman

women_hairImmediately before our passage from Galatians chapter 2, Paul takes to task several apostles for their hypocrisy. For example, although Cephas (St Peter) was in the habit of eating with everyone, including Gentiles; but when some people associated with the Apostle James arrived he then drew back and would then only eat with Jews. This behaviour also had an impact upon Barnabas, leading him astray as well. Paul was not going to have a bar of any of this. He knew that if the cross and resurrection of Jesus meant anything at all, then it had to impact upon the whole of our lives – not just some small compartment that we might call our ‘spiritual’ lives or the way that we behaved with other Christians.

It is in this context that he gives us one of his earliest statements on the significance of the cross and redemption, which we read in Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

We see the outworking of this integrated understanding of the Christian faith in the encounter between Jesus, Simon the Pharisee, and the woman who had let down her hair in response to the amazing mercy that she had received from the Lord.

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Recorded at St Paul’s, 6pm (8’09”)
Sunday 11C

Healed in the valley

jezreelThe Gospel that we have just heard is interesting – not least because since the revision of the lectionary almost 50 years ago, this is only the second time that we have had these readings for the tenth Sunday (the last time was back in 1986) – so many preachers have probably gone scurrying for new texts with little recycling of old homilies this week. The first part of Luke chapter 7 includes a miracle story that we are perhaps more familiar with, in part because we quote from it each time we celebrate the Mass, just before receiving communion: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof, but only say the word and my servant will be healed.” The pagan Centurion whom we quote is praised by Jesus because of his strong faith. When we come to the Gospel today, there is no similar statement, because no one manifests any faith. No one in the funeral procession that Jesus and his disciples come across ask Jesus for a healing; non one in the crowd calls out for mercy. Jesus seems to simply respond in compassion to the situation at hand. I think there are two simple reasons for this.

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Recorded at St Paul’s, Camden, 5.30pm (Confirmation weekend; 11’13” including the Gospel)

Sunday 10C: Luke 7, I Kings 17.

Give them something to eat

feed5000In this season of Random Feasts (to quote Fr Austin Litke OP) we are presented with the mysterious figure of Melchizedek as we contemplate the Body and Blood of Christ in our Mass today. Malek in Hebrew means ‘king’ and sedeq means ‘justice’, so not only is this man a king of justice or righteousness, he is also a king of peace (Salem becomes the place where Jerusalem is founded) and a priest of “God Most High” or El Elyon. Rather than bringing an animal sacrifice to Abram, he brings an unusual offering – bread and wine as he offers his baruch (blessing). And after this brief appearance – only three verses – he exits stage right.

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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Year C.
Genesis 14; Luke 9

Recorded at St Paul’s, 8am (7’53”)