Sacred Space


Tuesday 17th September, 2013
St Robert Bellarmine. 1 Timothy 3:1-13. I will walk with blameless heart. Ps 100(101):1-3, 5, 6. Luke 7:11-17.

Today the church celebrates the feast of St Robert Bellarmine.

He was a Jesuit theologian and cardinal who never lost sight of his commitment to his personal vow of poverty and to caring for the poor.

In today’s gospel, we see Jesus’ love for the poor. His heart is moved with compassion upon seeing the widow of Nain burying her son. Having already lost her husband, the loss of her only son further pushes her to the margins of society. The story reminds us that poverty is a complex problem that manifests in a variety of ways. While lack of material wealth is one obvious form of poverty, it is often the ensuing stigma and isolation from the community that denies the poor the dignity to which they are entitled.

Monday 16th September, 2013
Ss Cornelius & Cyprian. 1 Timothy 2:1-8. Blest be the Lord for he has heard my prayer. Ps 27(28):2, 7-9. Luke 7:1-10.

Blest be the Lord for he has heard my prayer.

Dear Lord, please help us to have perfect trust and humility when we pray. We all pray differently, in different words or no words at all, but the non-negotiable parts of our prayer are trust and humility. You obviously thought so when you spoke of the centurion and, in another place, of the prayer of the publican contrasted with that of the Pharisee.

Although we know we are unworthy of your love and cannot earn it, we also know that we have that unearned and caring love from you. It is a fine line between knowledge that we are still loved no matter what we do and the attitude that we can do whatever we like and know that we are still loved unconditionally. Help us to walk that line.

Saturday 14th September, 2013
Exaltation of the Cross. Numbers 21:4-9. Do not forget the works of the Lord! Ps 77(78):1-2, 34-38. Philippians 2:6-11. John 3:13-17.

‘The Son of Man must be lifted up.’

Such is the triumph of the Cross – from it alone has come the power to set us free: ‘that cross that stands eternal at the centre of the universe, radiant in everlasting love’. It is a constant reminder of the price that ensures the kingdom of redeeming love.

Such is the wonder of the cross that the contradictions and trials we encounter are caught up in it when we live in the Spirit, striving to be loving, merciful and forgiving because our merciful Saviour loves and forgives us. ‘For he has broken the gate of brass and cut the bars of iron asunder. The prison doors are opened, the dawn is still and clear. The paths of life have found us and we are led through into that marvellous light.’

Friday 13th September, 2013
St John Chrysostom. DAY OF PENANCE. 1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14. You are my inheritance, O Lord. Ps 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-8, 11. Luke 6:39-42.

A fully trained disciple will be like their teacher.

Jesus is teaching honesty and integrity in today’s gospel. What right have we to think we can criticise another’s character if we haven’t looked into our own self and recognised our sinfulness. John McKinnon calls this self-knowledge ‘the core of conversion’.

Paul’s conversion shows the power of God’s mercy. Paul says that God had judged him and found him trustworthy. This gave him the strength and fortitude to face the certainty of persecution, and to continue to bless and encourage his followers as he does here in his letter to Timothy.

Today let us strive to face the truth of our own flaws and to be careful not just about what we say about others but also what we think, for the thought lies close behind the word.

Thursday 12th September, 2013
Holy Name of Mary. Colossians 3:12-17. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!. Ps 150:1-6. Luke 6:27-38.

‘Treat others as you would like them to treat you.’

Some weeks ago, a young man, Alex, came looking for me. He had sad news. A car had hit and killed Tammy, our youngest cat. Alex heard a little girl scream and came to help. Having comforted the girl, he picked up Tammy’s body and put it in a container. He tried the phone number on her tag but I missed the call. Alex helped us bury Tammy. Explaining that he is a Buddhist and respects all life, he offered to help at any time, giving contact details.

Jesus, you and Alex would get on well. When he showed up like that, so willing to help in a time of distress, I really wondered if he were an angel in disguise. Help me also to respond like that.

Wednesday 11th September, 2013
Colossians 3:1-11. The Lord is compassionate to all his creatures. Ps 144(145):2-3, 10-13. Luke 6:20-26.

‘Rejoice and dance for joy.’

Jesus, your words are both comforting yet disturbing. You promise much but the price seems high. You seem to regard security, self-sufficiency and material comfort as dangers. You invite us to be like you but also to be like those who first followed you, unencumbered, eager to be filled and renewed by you.

Often in the gospels you are found amidst a crowd of people, many of them desperate to touch you in the hope of a cure. Your disciples were there because like the crowd they needed you. You were already everything to them – their hope, their future, their way to God. Would they have been with you, Lord, if their lives were full and satisfying or if they were self-sufficient and immune from the world’s troubles?

Lord Jesus, help me to be part of that crowd, one of those who seek to touch and be touched by you.

Tuesday 10th September, 2013
Colossians 2:6-15. The Lord is compassionate to all his creatures. Ps 144(145):1-2, 8-11. Luke 6:12-19.

Jesus spent the whole night in prayer. When day came he picked out twelve and he called them apostles.
It’s not difficult, Lord, to guess what you talked about that night in prayer with your Father. You were preoccupied with a momentous decision – the choice you were making of a small group to whom you could entrust the continuation of the mission your Father had given you. You had a certain twelve in mind, and you were asking the Father to confirm your choice.

Lord, daily we face difficult decisions. Sometimes we can feel lost and confused. Often we seem to make the wrong choice. Can that be because we have relied too much on our own weak human efforts? You have shown us the need to bring our problems to you and your Father in persevering prayer.

Monday 9th September, 2013
St Peter Claver. Colossians 1:24 – 2:3. In God is my safety and my glory.               Ps 61(62):6-7, 9. Luke 6:6-11.

The Pharisees were watching him.

These poor Pharisees came to their Sabbath meetings looking for life. Before their very eyes they witnessed a healing, then went home plotting murder against the healer because he had broken a rule of their making. Truly we fashion the blinkers through which we choose to see life.

Writer Tony De Mello tells of a woman who was so preoccupied with getting to church to carry out her devotions that she never noticed the beggars or children along the way who called out to her. One day, she arrived just in time for the service, but the church door was shut tight. In her distress she looked up and saw a note pinned to the door. It said, ‘I’m out there!’

Sunday 8th September, 2013
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. G. Wisdom 9:13-18. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. Ps 89(90):3-6, 12-14. Philemon 9-10, 12-17. Luke 14:25-33.

Who then can discover what is in the heavens?

The readings today bring a deep humility to our thinking. The psalm reminds us of the timelessness of God; the Book of Wisdom suggests we cannot comprehend God’s intentions nor ‘discover what is in the heavens’. Here we learn that through the Holy Spirit our lives begin to make more sense by the workings of Wisdom. Indeed it seems we need to draw on that wisdom to understand and follow Jesus’ teachings.

In Luke’s reading, we hear how we need to ‘hate’ the closest members of our family – in effect, to detach ourselves from the things of the secular world. How can we live as functioning members of our world in the ways of the Spirit? How can we bring that Spirit into every encounter? How can we be the voice of Wisdom in all our dealings?

Daily Word Of God

Sunday, 25th August,2013
Ord. Wk 21st
Lk 13:23-25.28-30

Someone said to Jesus, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself standing outside knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrown out. And people from east and west, from north and south, will come and sit down at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Look, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

  • •Jesus makes it clear that we do not enter into the Kingdom of heaven by mere confession with our lips that “Jesus is Lord and Saviour”.
  • •The Christian faith must be lived out sincerely and fully, in the ways that Our Lord wants, and not just by fulfilling token good deeds and rushing in and out of the Celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday.
  • •The quality of our relationship with the Lord whether “directly” as Christians or “indirectly” as non-Christians will be based on how we live the Gospel values daily. This is how the Lord will judge us when we die. Reflect on whether your actions show what you truly believe, or you are a Christian in name only.

Saturday 17th August, 2013
Joshua 24:14-29. You are my inheritance, O Lord – Ps 15(16):1-2, 5, 7, 8, 11. Matthew 19:13-15.

‘The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’

The image of Jesus with the little children is both captivating and insightful in terms of how God must look on us. Little children have a capacity to trust that is often lost in adulthood. Sadly, all too often children have their trust betrayed. The openness and trust of a child is what Jesus asks of us when we pray.

Next time we are at Mass, let us take a look at the nearest child. Little children are not self-conscious or afraid to let others know how they feel. If they are bored or angry they let you know. If they are curious they go and have a look. They ask awkward questions. Observing children is truly liberating for any adult who spends time trying to be what others expect them to be. In the presence of God we can only be ourselves.

Friday 16th August, 2013
St Stephen of Hungary. DAY OF PENANCE. Joshua 24:1-13. His love is everlasting – Ps 135(136):1-3, 16-18, 21-22, 24. Matthew 19:3-12.

God’s love is everlasting.

Dear Lord, no matter what we do you will always love us. The other part of this equation is that you also tell us that in order to live life as you mean us to live it we must love God with our whole hearts, minds and souls and our neighbour as ourselves. So in order to love our neighbour we must first love ourselves.

This appears to be easier for the ‘me’ generation than we who long ago were taught to put ourselves down so as not to be selfish proud sinners. All have a tendency to be selfish proud sinners but some in the past were made aware of this constantly. Please help us, dear Lord, to realise that we are loved, to know that we are all loveable and so can love others as we are loved.

Thursday 15th August, 2013
Assumption. Apocalypse 11:19; 12:1-6, 10. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold – Ps 44(45):10-12, 16. 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. Luke 1:39-56.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

On this feast of the Assumption, it is appropriate to reflect on Mary’s words to Elizabeth. What a magnificent example she is, especially in this Year of Faith. Mary leaves no doubt that she loves to praise God in all circumstances. She remembers God’s mercy, power and faithfulness. There is no negativity in her words. She brings encouragement, support and love. Mary shines with the light of the child within her womb.

How do we bear witness to our love of God? Are we able to shine as brightly as Mary did – but only when life is progressing smoothly? Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, not on our problems, and we shall see our faith take a radical leap. Today is the perfect time to make a commitment to radiating God’s love to others, regardless of how we are feeling.

Wednesday 14th August, 2013
St Maximilian Kolbe. Deuteronomy 34:1-12. Blessed be God who filled my soul with life! – Ps 65(66):1-3, 5, 16-17. Matthew 18:15‑20.

Israel wept for Moses for thirty days.

Moses’ people must have loved him deeply. He had been their leader for over forty years. He brought them out of slavery in Egypt and held them together through years of struggle. He shared his vision with them, a vision of the promised land, a land of blessedness and peace. This was the dream planted in Moses’ heart by God.

It was enough for Moses to see the promised land. He didn’t need to enter it. More important was the fact that his people had travelled in freedom. They had broken out of bondage and were free to follow wherever God led them. Blessed be God who filled their soul with life!

Tuesday 13th August, 2013
Ss Pontian & Hippolytus. Deuteronomy 31:1-8. The portion of the Lord is his people – Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 7-9. Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14.

‘Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

How we can become more like little children? When do we lose those childlike qualities that Jesus is referring to? Children trust wholeheartedly. They’re curious and keen to learn. They depend on us to protect and care for them. They know when they need help and they ask for it.

Children came spontaneously to Jesus. They wanted to be near him, to hear his stories. How different from the adults, especially the teachers and scribes, who were hostile and constantly judging and arguing with Jesus. Jesus also teaches us here to welcome the strangers and those who find life a struggle. They need someone to stand up for them. The shepherds were despised in Jesus’ day. Who are the ‘shepherds’ of today?

Monday 12th August, 2013
St Jane Frances de Chantal. Deuteronomy 10:12-22. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem – Ps 147:12-15, 19-20. Matthew 17:22-27.

‘So as not to offend these people, give it to them for me and for you.’

Some battles are not worth fighting. Some brick walls should stay where they are. With finite time and energy, it can be important to focus on what can be changed. Jesus could have made an issue of the payment of the tax. In choosing not to, he taught the disciples a lesson in priorities. It was an inconvenience and probably an injustice: a tax imposed on an occupied country by the invaders. But Jesus’ mission and message was far more important.

Grass-roots change organisations do work. After the death of her son, a woman began a campaign to have the names of fallen Australian peacekeepers recorded on the Honour Roll at the War Memorial in Canberra. This was successful when 41,000 other people signed the petition. Jesus, help me choose my battles wisely.

Sunday 11th August, 2013
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. G. Wisdom 18:6-9. Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own – Ps 32(33):1, 12, 18-20, 22. Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19. Luke 12:32-48 [St Clare].

‘Give yourself treasure that will not fail you.’

Lord, we desire security. We try to find ways of making ourselves impregnable so that we won’t be devastated when the worst happens. But our Father is inviting us to make ourselves vulnerable by ‘selling all our possessions’ – by letting go the security we cling to, whatever it is. This is the way of faith.

Jesus, it is hard to take this sort of risk. It is hard to be completely dependent on you. It is especially hard when your kingdom and its realisation seem so far away. ‘Jesus, where are you?’ ‘Look in your heart’, you reply. ‘If you continue to take the steps in faith I have been asking of you, you will see that you are not alone. You are companioned by the Holy Spirit who draws you into God and his kingdom now.’

Saturday 10th August, 2013
St Lawrence. 2 Corinthinians 9:6-10. Happy the merciful who give to those in need – Ps 111(112):1-2, 5-9. John 12:24-26.

‘If it dies, it yields a rich harvest.’

A martyr like St Lawrence has given all. He has truly lost his life in this world only to keep it for eternal life. Lord, you probably won’t require me to lay down my life, even though you do ask it of others today. Nevertheless, that spirit of total giving of self you do ask of me: to give and not to count the cost. ‘God loves a cheerful giver’, says Paul.

The psalmist proclaims: ‘Happy those who are merciful and lend to those in need.’ Giving is not a duty or a chore. Rather, it is a response because we are loved, to the love we have been given. The challenge is to discover joy and happiness in being loved, and in loving and giving.

Friday 9th August, 2013
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. DAY OF PENANCE. Deuteronomy 4:32-40. I remember the deeds of the Lord – Ps 76:12-16, 21. Matthew 16:24-28.

‘What do you have to offer in exchange for your life?’

The stories of our tradition remind us that no one is more faithful than God and all that is asked of us is faithfulness in return. Throughout the ages, this is the message. Sometimes the simplest truths are the most profound and yet the most challenging to live. If we choose God, then words will not be the end of it. Our entire life is transformed into one of faithful seeking, finding, listening and responding.

Every decision we make and everything we do will be undertaken through the lens of knowing the love and mercy of the God who is faithful throughout all time. Taking up his cross was Jesus’ ultimate act of faithfulness to God. May we have the courage to do the same.

Thursday 8th August, 2013
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. Judith 8:11-17, 28-31 / Colossians 3:12-17. Into your hands, O Lord, I entrust my spirit – Ps 31(32):1-5, 7-8. Matthew 6:25-34.

Live beyond ‘infectious ideologies’ and be neither liberal nor conservative but rather men and women of true compassion (Ronald Rolheiser).

St Paul’s words to the Colossians today are a message to the people of the 21st century. Having said that there is no room for distinctions between ‘Greek and Jew … slave and free’, he says we are to be ‘clothed in heartfelt compassion, in generosity and humility, gentleness and patience’.

Could this be a text for those struggling with the asylum seeker debate? Could it help us with questions of prejudice and unfair treatment? In an atmosphere of violence between nations, races and religions, the world needs reminders that we have been ‘called together in one body’. Paul says that we should ‘put on love, the perfect bond’ – surely the common bond of humanity our world needs. Let us pray for compassion.

Wednesday 7th August, 2013
ST DOMINIC. ST SIXTUS II & CC. ST CAJETAN. Numbers 13:1-2, 25 – 14:1, 26-29, 34-35. Lord, remember us, for the love you bear your people – Ps 105(106):6-7, 13-14, 21-23. Matthew 15:21-28.

‘Woman, you have great faith.’

We can find it hard not to grumble against God when we feel more lost than found. Today’s readings remind us that life contains many wrong turns and disappointments. Yet wisdom is there to be found in the middle of the wilderness.

In the gospel the Canaanite woman challenges Jesus and his response is reluctant at first. Is he testing her faith deliberately? Or does the ministry of Jesus become more inclusive because of her willingness to tackle the hard questions? How do I react to the silence of God when I long for direction? Do I boldly persist in my faith when the answer seems to be no? Does my own love and compassion extend to people who are different from me?

Tuesday 6th August, 2013
Transfiguration of the Lord. Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth – Ps 96(97):1-2, 5-6, 9. 2 Peter 1:16-19. Luke 9:28-36.

‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’

Today, as we read the story of the Transfiguration, how many of us identify with Peter? Am I one of those ‘ideas’ people who have an experience and immediately want to act? I may be doing what God would want, but sometimes it may be my personal wish or need, as Peter learned in the fog on the mountain.

While we cannot have the identical experience that Peter, James and John had, we can have our own ‘transfigurations’. Once we develop the practice of a daily review, we live closer to God and can enjoy the richness of God’s presence each day, on the good days as well as the difficult ones. Thanks be to God.

Monday 5th August, 2013
Dedication of St Mary Major. Numbers 11:4-15. Sing with joy to God our help – Ps 80(81):12-17. Matthew 14:13-21.

God cares for his people and provides for them. How often, Lord, you have nourished us, given us not only food for the body but that which our soul craves. Thank you. Sometimes, with Moses, we can feel that we are not able to carry this nation by ourseves alone; but whatever the burden or responsibility, you are there with us, nourishing us.

In the gospel Jesus moves to a lonely place to grieve his cousin’s death. But on seeing the crowd he takes pity on them and heals their sick. Then, in some mysterious way, he uses the scanty material they have to feed them abundantly. This abundance not only prefigures the Eucharist but symbolises God’s ever-generous bounty to us in our needs. God can use our scanty goodness to achieve miracles.

Sunday 4th August, 2013
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. G. Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge – Ps 89(90):3-6, 12-14, 17. Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11. Luke 12:13-21 [St John Vianney].

‘People’s lives do not consist in the abundance of their possessions.’

World affairs centre on the economy, shares, bank accounts, profit and loss. Through fear, people accumulate more and more. This addiction is not life-giving. In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks of a new sort of life disposed to the goodness of our loving Father. It is futile to be anxious about your possessions, he says. Your Father will attend to your needs. Just trust.

In announcing our new pope, the media advertised his expertise and interest in economic adjustments. But faces in the crowd showed something quite different – joy in his simple presence. ‘Buona sera! And a loving smile. Trust and love filled the great square. Let us pray for Pope Francis’ wisdom and courage. We all need to get back to a life of prayer.

Friday 2nd August, 2013
St Eusebius of Vercelli. ST PETER JULIAN EYMARD.                                  Leviticus 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34-37.  Ps 80(81):3-6, 10-11.                        Matthew 13:54-58.

He did not do many miracles there, because of their lack of faith.

Faith is often a difficult concept to grasp, yet without faith ‘it is impossible to please God’. (Hebrews 11:6). In essence, ‘faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11:1). We do not often read of Jesus performing miracles when the people did not believe. Faith then is the key that unlocks the power of God for us.

The opposite of faith is self-sufficiency, which prevents us from being open to God’s work in our lives. Do we neglect prayer and scripture because we are too busy doing things according to our own plans and ways? Are we like those who doubted that God could work in their lives? Lord, help us to believe.

Thursday 1st August, 2013
St Alphonsus Liguori. Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38.                                                    – Ps 83(84):3-6, 8, 11. Matthew 13:47-53.

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a net that brings in all kinds of things.’

The image of the fishing net appears several times in the gospels – recall Peter and the other disciples who were fisherman. We find them mending empty nets and with nets full to breaking point because of an abundant catch.

In today’s gospel the net is a metaphor for the kingdom of God and deals with the day of judgement. While the image of the bad being thrown into the fire is somewhat unsettling, the image of the net is consoling. It reminds us that we are all in this together, that God’s kingdom does not exclude anyone but rather draws all creation back to the Creator. The net reminds us of God’s all-embracing care for us that desires to draw us deeper into his merciful love

Wednesday 31st July, 2013
St Ignatius Loyola. Exodus 34:29-35. Holy is the Lord our God – Ps 98(99):5-7, 9. Matthew 13:44-46.

 He sells everything he owns and buys the field.

Matthew presents Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of heaven in a series of short parables. Today we meet two men, an agricultural worker and a presumably well-to-do merchant, who both make the same radical decision. They invest all their worldly wealth in pursuit of one exceptionally valuable object which they believe will fulfil their deepest yearnings.

However, our Christian faith tells us that only in God can our restless human heart find true peace and joy. To achieve this end we too must make a radical commitment not only of what we possess but also of our very selves because to offer God less than all is to settle for less than God. The cost of discipleship is, in the poet’s words, ‘not less than everything’.

Tuesday 30th July, 2013
St Peter Chrysologus. Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28. The Lord is kind and merciful – Ps 102(103):6-13. Matthew 13:36-43

  ‘There is a season for patience … also a season for acting, challenging and resisting’ (Richard Rohr).

Parables like the one today can challenge us and we often need to look behind the story for understanding. Here we are called to consider our tendency to judge and label others. Perhaps we should leave the judging to God. But then there is a danger of becoming passive and not resisting evil and injustice until it’s too late.

Let us consider our failure to respond to cases of intimidation and violence. In being slow to make a judgement and address wrongs, are we also being slow to love and act with justice? Perhaps we need to live with the paradox and depend on God’s grace to discern when to tolerate certain behaviours and when to act with resistance and non-cooperation, as Gandhi did. We pray that our response to injustice is one that Jesus would applaud.

Saturday, 27th July,2013 (Mt 13:24-30)

Discern your living – Faith: In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to live a more discerning life, so that we become more in tune with how we ought to live with deeper love and gratitude to God.  When we are grateful to God, we will live our faith with creative fidelity regardless of the challenges we face each day.


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