Thought for the Day – The Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B – “Good Shepherd/Vocations Sunday

Thought for the Day – The Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B – “Good Shepherd/Vocations Sunday” – Todays Readings: Acts 4:8-12, Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29, 1 John 3:1-2, John 10:11-18

“The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep”

Despite Jesus’ realistic word-picture, the parable of the Good Shepherd only fully comes alive in Jesus Himself, God’s appointed “Shepherd” of men.   He names two characteristics of such a shepherd:  first the shepherd’s commitment to the flock even to the point of death;  and second, the reciprocal recognition between sheep and shepherd, which is anchored in the innermost mystery of God.

The theme of self-giving to the point of death, is found at both the beginning and the end of the Gospel.   This devotion, contrasts sharply with the flight of the “hired hand”, who, when facing danger, has the excuse that the life of a man is more valuable than the life of a dumb animal.   This argument loses its force, however, when the shepherd cares so much for his sheep, that he prefers them to his own life.   That is scarcely conceivable in purely natural terms but it becomes a central truth in the realm of grace.   It only makes sense with the aid of the second theme of the parable – the shepherd knows his sheep and the animals likewise instinctively recognise him.   For Jesus, this is merely the point of comparison for a completely different recognition:  “as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”   This has nothing to do with instinct but with the most profound mutual recognition, as it is found in absolute trinitarian love.   When Jesus applies this utterly sublime trinitarian love recognition to the inward mutuality between Himself and His own, He elevates this knowledge far above that which is hinted at by the parable.

And thus, it becomes clear, that the first motif of the parable (giving one’s life for the sheep) and the second motif (mutual recognition) coincide rather than merely parallel each other.   The Father’s and the Son’s knowledge of each other is identical with their mutual and perfect selfgiving and therefore, the knowledge exchanged between Jesus and His own, is one with the perfect selfgiving of Jesus for and to His own and it implicitly includes the unity of the Christian’s knowledge and loving dedication to his Lord.

At the end, both themes are expressly joined together:  the Father (also) loves the Son for His perfect selfgiving for the sake of men, a selfgiving which is both freely chosen by the Son and commissioned by the Father.   This unmitigated surrender to mankind because it is Divine Love, is at the same time the power that achieves victory over death (“the power to take up life again”).

“No other name under heaven”  in the First Reading, Peter gives the Lord all glory for the miracle he has effected.   The point is not that, Jesus excepted, all who care for sheep are “hired hands” for the Lord Himself installed Peter to pasture His flock – precisely Jesus’ Flock, not Peter’s.   Thus everything effective and appropriate ultimately is accomplished by the “chief Shepherd alone” (1 Pet 5:4), even if through the activity of His assistants.

Hans Urs von Balthasar “Light of the Word”

john 10 11 - good shepherd no 2



One Minute Reflection – 20 April – Friday of the Third Week of Eastertide

One Minute Reflection – 20 April – Friday of the Third Week of Eastertide

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;  he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.   For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed.”...John 6:53-55

REFLECTION – “About these words I observe, first, that they evidently declare on the face of them some very great mystery.   How can they be otherwise taken?   If they do not, they must be a figurative way of declaring something which is not mysterious but plain and intelligible.   But is it conceivable, that He who is the Truth and Love itself, should have used difficult words, when plain words would do?   Why should He have used words, the sole effect of which, in that case, would be to perplex, to startle us needlessly?   Does His mercy delight in creating difficulties?   Does He put stumbling-blocks in our way without cause?   Does He excite hopes and then disappoint them?   It is possible;  He may have some deep purpose in so doing but which is more likely, that His meaning is beyond us, or His words beyond His meaning?
All who read such awful words as those in question will be led by the first impression of them, either with the disciples to go back, as at a hard saying, or with St Peter to welcome what is promised:  they will be excited in one way or the other, with incredulous surprise or with believing hope?   And are the feelings of these opposite witnesses, discordant indeed, yet all of them deep, after all unfounded?   Are they to go for nothing?   Are they no token of our Saviour’s real meaning?   This desire and again this aversion, so naturally raised, are they without a real object and the mere consequence of a general mistake on all hands, of what Christ meant as imagery, for literal truth?   Surely this is very improbable!”…Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)but is it conceivable that he, who is the truth and love itself - bl john henry newman - 20 april 2018 - john chapter 6

PRAYER – Lord God, source of our freedom and our salvation, listen to our humble prayer.   We stand with St Peter and welcome what our divine Saviour, Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ has promised.   Help us to grow in love and faith at each Holy Sacrifice we attend.   Help us to accept with total commitment this great Mystery and as He gives Himself to and for us, help us to give ourselves to and for the glory of Your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen.  Peter, the spokesman for the apostles, proclaims, “Lord, to whom shall we go?   You have the words of eternal life and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:67-69).john 6 67-69


Sunday Reflection – 15 April – The Third Sunday of Easter Year B

Sunday Reflection – 15 April – The Third Sunday of Easter Year B

“Christ wished to choose this sacred symbol of human life, which bread is, to make an even more sacred symbol of Himself.   He has transubstantitated it but has not taken away its expressive power – rather, He has elevated this expressive power to a new meaning, a higher meaning, a mystical, religious, divine meaning.   He has made of it a ladder for an ascent that transcends the natural level.
As a sound becomes a voice and as the voice becomes word, thought, truth – so that sign of the bread has passed from its humble and pious being to signify a mystery, it has become a Sacrament, it has acquired the power to demonstrate the Body of Christ present.”

Blessed Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) – when Archbishop of Milan from a homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christias a sound becomes a voice - paul VI - 15 april 2018 - sunday reflection


Thought for the Day – 14 April – Saturday of the Second Week of Eastertide

Thought for the Day – 14 April – Saturday of the Second Week of Eastertide

We Are Keeping a Feast
The Greatest of ALL Feasts!

St John Marie Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859)

In the early days of the church, the faithful of one province, or district, used to come together publicly on the feast day of a saint in order to have the happiness of participating in all the graces which God bestows on such days.

The office of the vigil was started.   The evening and night were spent in prayer at the tomb of the saint.   The faithful heard the word of God.   They sang hymns and canticles in honour of the saint.   After passing the night so devoutly, they heard Mass, at which all those assisting had the happiness of going to Holy Communion.   Then they all withdrew, praising God for the triumphs He had accorded the saint and the graces He had bestowed in response to the latter’s intercession.   After that, my dear brethren, who could doubt but that God pours out His graces with abundance upon such a reunion of the faithful and that the saints themselves are happy to be the patrons of such people.   That was the way in which the feast days of patrons (and all feasts) were celebrated in olden times.

What do you think of that?   Is it thus that we celebrate such feasts today?   Alas!   If the first Christians were to come back upon this earth, would they not tell us that our feasts are no different from those that the pagans kept?   Is it not the general rule that God is most seriously offended on these holy days?

Does it not seem, rather, that we combine our money and our energies together to multiply sin almost to infinity?

What are we concerned with on the vigil of such feasts and even for several days beforehand?   Is it not with spending foolish and unnecessary money?   And all this time poor people are dying of hunger and our sins are calling down upon us the anger of God to the point where eternity would not be sufficient to satisfy for them.   You should pass the night in repentance and remorse, in considering how very little you have followed the example of your patron saint.   And yet you consecrate that time to preparing everything that will flatter your gluttony!   Might it not be said that this day is one for pure self-indulgence and debauchery?   Do parents and friends come, as in former times, to enjoy the happiness of participating in the graces which God bestows at the intercession of a patron saint?  They come but only to pass this feast day almost wholly at the table.   In former times, the religious services were much longer than they are today, and still they seemed always too short.   Nowadays you will see even fathers of families who, during the performance of the offices, are at table filling themselves with food and wine.   The first Christians invited each other in order to multiply their good works and their prayers.   Today it seems rather as if people invite each other so that they can multiply the sins and the orgies and the excesses in which they indulge in eating and drinking.   Does anyone think God will not demand an account of even a penny wrongly spent?   Does it not seem that we celebrate the feast only to insult our holy Patron and to increase our ingratitude?

Let us look a little closer, my dear brethren, and we shall realise that we are far from imitating Him whom God has given us for a model.   He passed His life in penance and in sorrow.   He died in torments.   What is more, I am sure that there are parishes where more sins are committed on those days than during all the rest of the year.   The Lord told the Jews that their feasts were an abomination and that He would take the filth of their feasts and throw it in their faces.   He wished to make us understand by this how greatly He is offended on those days which should be passed in weeping for our sins and in prayer.

We read in the Gospel that Jesus Christ came on earth to enlighten souls with the fire of divine love.   But we can believe that the Devil also roams around on earth to light an impure fire in the hearts of Christians and that what he promotes with the greatest frenzy are balls and dances.   I have debated for a long time whether I should speak to you about a matter so difficult to get you to understand and so little thought upon by the Christians of our days, who are blinded by their passions.   If your faith were not so weak that it might be extinguished in your hearts in the blink of an eye, you would understand the enormity of the abyss towards which you precipitate yourselves in giving yourselves over with such abandon to these wretched amusements.   But you will tell me.   For you to talk to us about dances and about the evil that takes place at them is just a waste of time.   We will indulge neither more nor less in them.   I firmly believe that, since Tertullian assures us that very many refused to become Christians rather than deprive themselves of such pleasures.

does anyone think - st john vianney - 14 april 2018



Thought for the Day – 9 April – Low Monday of Eastertide

Thought for the Day – 9 April – Low Monday of Eastertide

St Augustine of Hippo – The Easter Alleluia

This excerpt on the Easter Alleluia from St Augustine is a wonderful explanation of the joy of the Easter Season.   Just as Lent was a season of penance, so the fifty days of Easter is a season of praise and song, an anticipation for the age to come in heavenly glory.

“Our thoughts in this present life, should turn on the praise of God because it is in praising God, that we shall rejoice forever in the life to come and no one can be ready for the next life, unless he trains himself for it now. 

our thoughts in this present life - st augustine - 9 april 2018 - low monday  So we praise God during our earthly life and at the same time we make our petitions to Him.   Our praise is expressed with joy, our petitions with yearning.   We have been promised something we do not yet possess and because the promise was made by one who keeps His word, we trust Him and are glad;  but insofar as possession is delayed, we can only long and yearn for it.   It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised and yearning is over, then praise alone will remain.

Because there are these two periods of time – the one that now is, beset with the trials and troubles of this life and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy – we are given two liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after.   The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present, signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future.   What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess.   This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer but now the fast is over and we devote the present season to praise.   Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.

Both these periods are represented and demonstrated for us in Christ our head.   The Lord’s passion depicts for us our present life of trial – shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die.   The Lord’s resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given to us in the future.

Now therefore, brethren, we urge you to praise God.   That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia.   You say to your neighbour, “Praise the Lord!” and he says the same to you.   We are all urging one another to praise the Lord and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do.   But see that your praise comes from your whole being;  in other words, see that you praise God, not with your lips and voices alone but with your minds, your lives and all your actions.

but see that you praise god - st augustine - low monday - 9 april 2018

We are praising God now, assembled as we are here in church;  but when we go on our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God.   But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God.   You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God.   

If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud and God will perceive your intentions;  for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.”

if you never turn aside from the good life - st augustine - low monday - 9 april 2018as our ears hear each other's voices - st augustine - 8 april 2018 - low monday of eastertide

This excerpt on the Alleluia as the song of the Easter Season of praise comes from St. Augustine’s discourse on the Psalms (Ps. 148, 1-2: CCL 40, 2165-2166).

We are the Easter People and Alleluia is our Song!

St Pope John Paul (1920-2005)we are the easter people and alleluia is our song - st john paul - 9 april 2018 - low monday


Thought for the Day – 5 April – Easter Thursday Fifth Day in the Easter Octave

Thought for the Day – 5 April – Easter Thursday Fifth Day in the Easter Octave

Christ’s Resurrection – Our Sure Hope
St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Father & Doctor of the Church

“And he said to them, “Why are you troubled and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate before them..”..Luke 24:36-43

“Those who have a sure hope, guaranteed by the Spirit, that they will rise again lay hold of what lies in the future as though it were already present.

They say: “Outward appearances will no longer be our standard in judging other men. Our lives are all controlled by the Spirit now and are not confined to this physical world that is subject to corruption.   The light of the Only-begotten has shone on us and we have been transformed into the Word, the source of all life.   While sin was still our master, the bonds of death had a firm hold on us but now, that the righteousness of Christ has found a place in our hearts, we have freed ourselves from our former condition of corruptibility”.

This means that none of us lives in the flesh anymore, at least not in so far as living in the flesh means being subject to the weaknesses of the flesh, which include corruptibility.   Once we thought of Christ as being in the flesh but we do not do so any longer, says Saint Paul [2 Corinthians 5:16].   By this he meant that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us;  He suffered death in the flesh in order to give all men life.

It was in this flesh that we knew Him before but we do so no longer.   Even though He remains in the flesh, since He came to life again on the third day and is now with His Father in heaven, we know that He has passed beyond the life of the flesh, for having died once, He will never die again, death has no power over Him any more.   His death was a death to sin, which He died once for all;  His life is life with God [Romans 6:9].

Since Christ has in this way become the source of life for us, we who follow in His footsteps must not think of ourselves as living in the flesh any longer but as having passed beyond it.   Saint Paul’s saying is absolutely true that when anyone is in Christ he becomes a completely different person:  his old life is over and a new life has begun [2 Cor. 5:17].

We have been justified by our faith in Christ and the power of the curse has been broken. Christ’s coming to life again for our sake has put an end to the sovereignty of death.   We have come to know the true God and to worship Him in spirit and in truth, through the Son, our mediator, who sends down upon the world the Father’s blessings.

And so Saint Paul shows deep insight when He says:  This is all God’s doing:  it is He who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.   For the mystery of the incarnation and the renewal it accomplished could not have taken place without the Father’s will.   Through Christ we have gained access to the Father, for as Christ himself says, no one comes to the Father except through Him.   This is all God’s doing, then.   It is He who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and who has given us, the ministry of reconciliation.”those who have sure hope - st cyril of alexandria - easter thursday - 5 april 2018

“The One who from nothingness had called the world into existence, only He could break the seals of the tomb, only He could become the source of New Life for us, who are subject to the universal law of death.   “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” (Mk 16:3), the women were asking one another, when very early they were going to the tomb where the Lord had been laid.   To this question, asked by the people of every age, of every country, culture and continent, the Bishop of Rome replies, this year too, with the message “Urbi et Orbi”:

“Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere…”   Yes, we know for certain that Christ is truly risen from the dead.   You, victorious King, have mercy on us.   Amen! Alleluia!”

St Pope John Paul – 10 April 1996

yes we know for certain that christ is truly risen - st john paul - easter thursday - 5 april 2018



Devotion of The Seven Last Words of Christ – The Sixth Word – 30 March – Good Friday 2018

Devotion of The Seven Last Words of Christ – The Sixth Word – 30 March – Good Friday 2018

The Seven Last Words of Christ

The Seven Last Words of Christ refer, not to individual words but to the final seven phrases that Our Lord uttered as He hung on the Cross.   These phrases were not recorded in a single Gospel but are taken from the combined accounts of the four Gospels.   Greatly revered, these last words of Jesus have been the subject of many books, sermons and musical settings.

“Like a bridegroom, Christ went forth from His chamber ….
He came to the marriage-bed of the Cross
and there, in mounting it, He consummated His marriage.
And when He perceived the sighs of the creature,
He lovingly gave Himself up
to the torment, in place of His bride
and joined Himself to her forever.”

St Augustine (354-430) – Sermo Suppositus 120like a bridgegroom - it is consumated - st augustine - good friday - the sixth word - 30 march 2018

” In John’s account, Jesus’ last words are: “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
In the Greek text, this word (tetélestai) points back to the very beginning of the Passion narrative, to the episode of the washing of the feet, which the evangelist introduces by observing that Jesus loved His own “to the end (télos)” (John 13:1). This “end,” this ne plus ultra of loving, is now attained in the moment of death.
He has truly gone right to the end, to the very limit and even beyond that limit.
He has accomplished the utter fullness of love – He has given Himself.”

Pope Benedict XVI

The Sixth Word

“It is consummated.” (John 19:30)

Translation is risky because it always involves some interpretation.   So how is this sixth word of Christ on the Cross (Jn 19:30) properly rendered into English:   “It is finished” (as in “done,” “over with”); “it is completed” (with a less fatalistic ring to it); or, “it is consummated” (in the sense of “brought to fulfillment”)?   The correct choice requires a knowledge of the total Gospel of John, to which we must now turn.

The Johannine Jesus is wholly focused on His hour – the moment of glory. It cannot be hastened, as He had to remind His Mother: “My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4).   Nor can or should it be forestalled:  “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . . My soul is troubled now yet what should I say – Father, save me from this hour?   But it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (Jn 12:23, 27-28).

Now, if most people were asked when Jesus’ hour of glory began, they would probably say Easter morning.   But John would disagree.   The Lord, according to this Evangelist, began His hour of glory in His Passion, when He freely consented to the Father’s plan for Him.

The Jesus we meet in John is the pre-existent Word (Jn 1:1-14) – always in control of His own destiny, never the helpless victim of either envious Jewish authorities or sadistic Roman soldiers.   Death comes when He is ready and not a minute sooner:  “The Father loves me for this: that I lay down my life to take it up again.   No one takes it from me; I lay it down freely.   I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again” (Jn 10:17-18).

And so it is that Jesus announces (even proclaims) that the hour of His death has come, proving correct the ironic inscription over His head (Jn 19:19).   He is, in fact, never more a King than from the throne of His Cross.   In His death, the work of salvation is finished or, as the original Greek implies, the end or purpose is accomplished.

No morbid preoccupation with death here, for death (and especially this death) is the gateway to life.   No room for the Angst of the existentialists of another era.   Death is not the end, as common parlance understands it:  Death is The End, as Aristotle and Aquinas would have us ponder the word – the goal toward which reality struggles for fulfilment. It is in the light of this truth that Jesus’ assertion makes the most sense:  “And I – once I am lifted up from earth – will draw all things to myself” (Jn 12:32).

Dying, however, is not an end in itself.   In the very act of dying, Jesus did one thing more – He “delivered over His spirit” (Jn 19:30).   It is significant that John does not say that He “gave up” His spirit but “delivered over” (as in “gave forth”).

Thus, we inquire, What is meant by “spirit”?   Surely a play on words is intended, for spirit means “life principle” or “breath” but also spirit as in “Holy Spirit.”   Interestingly, it is only in “giving up” His own life principle that He can “give over” the Holy Spirit.

To whom is that spirit delivered?   First of all, His earthly life is given over to the Father, Who seals it all with the Resurrection. Second, in fulfilment of John 7:39, He gives His Spirit to the faithful remnant, Mary and John, at the foot of the Cross.   Which is to say that He gives His spirit to us, His Church, represented in glory’s hour by the Church’s Mother and the Church’s first son.

That deliverance of the Spirit is achieved proleptically here, by way of a sure promise, only fully actualised after the Resurrection.   However, time does not matter;  in fact, eternity has taken over in the hour of glory, so that everything coalesces into a marvellous unity:  Death, Resurrection, communication of the Spirit, birth of the Church.

Ignominy and triumph meet at the crossroads of Calvary in the hour of glory.   The Saviour knows this and that is why He can declare so majestically: “It is consummated.”… Fr Stravinskas

Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Providence

Lord, Your Cross is high and uplifted;
I cannot mount it in my own strength.
You have promised:
“I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw all to Myself.”
Draw me, then, from my sins to repentance,
from darkness to faith,
from the flesh to the spirit,
from coldness to ardent devotion,
from weak beginnings to a perfect end,
from smooth and easy paths,
if it be Your will, to a higher and holier way,
from fear to love,
from earth to heaven,
from myself to You.
And as You have said:
“No man can come to Me,
except the Father, who sent Me, draw him,”
give unto me the Spirit Whom the Father hath sent in Your Name,
that in Him and through Him,
I being wholly changed,
may hasten to You
and go out no more for ever.
(From a Prayer a Day for Lent – 1923)THE SIXTH WORD -JOHN 19 230- THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST - THE DEVOTION - 30 MARCH 2018