11th Sunday – Year C (June 16th)
Readings: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
Galatians 2:16, 19-21
One of the things that religion has to do for us is help us to cope with the fact that we get things wrong, very often out of sheer selfishness, which leads to bad choices. Something of that is going on in the readings for next Sunday.
The first reading comes from the lively and disedifying tale of David committing adultery with Bathsheba and then the murder of her husband (read it tonight, in 2 Samuel 11). The prophet Nathan does a very brave thing and traps David by telling, in parable form, the story of what he has done, and when the tale has aroused David’s anger, points the finger at him, saying “You are the man”, and pronounces God’s judgement on him, by way of a reminder of what God has done for him, “I anointed you King over Israel, I delivered you from the hand of Saul, I gave you your lord’s house, and your lord’s wives as your own, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah…”. So David is accused of (among other things) rank ingratitude. All is not lost, however, for he is able to say, humbly, to the prophet, “I have sinned”, to which Nathan replies, “The Lord has forgiven your sin – you shall not die”. Now this is not a sycophantic cleric leaping into bed with the politically powerful, for the prophet makes it quite clear to David that he has to be punished (and, as a matter of fact, that he deserves death). So a part of the invitation to us this week will be to recognise that we have indeed made sinful choices, but that at the same time we are dealing with a God who loves us more than we can say, and is ready to forgive.
The psalm for next Sunday recognises the need to encounter God’s forgiveness, “Happy are those whose sin is forgiven, whose fault is removed”, he sings (feeling the joy of absolution rather than the misery of having sinned), “whose spirit has no iniquity”. The poet rejoices in having been able to articulate his sinfulness to God, and in having a sense that God “has surrounded me with deliverance”. And the psalm ends with a song of joy: “rejoice in the Lord and exult, you just; be glad all you upright of heart”.
The second reading comes from Galatians, Paul’s least well-tempered letter, and he does not quite manage the exalted tone of the psalm; but he is quite clear about the main fact of his life (something that his Galatians had quite failed to grasp), namely his understanding that the only thing that matters is Jesus Christ. “I am crucified along with Christ”, he says, “and I live, no longer I, but Christ is living in me, by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself over for me”. Paul is in agreement with the psalmist that God’s power can overcome the worst that can happen to us.
The gospel is a lovely Lucan dinner-party; notice, though, that at the heart of it is a clash of values. On the one hand there is Jesus’ Pharisee host, who disapproves so very strongly of what Jesus allows to be done to him, by A Woman, and, what is worse, by a woman who is clearly no better than she ought to be. Luke emphasises the intimacy of what the woman does for Jesus, anointing his feet, and wiping them with her hair. There is a barely concealed sexual vibration to the story as Luke tells it; and we are allowed to hear the Pharisee’s shocked muttering, which we can understand, except that as the story is told we are clearly meant to be on the side of Jesus and of the woman who is behaving in this unconventional manner towards him.
This becomes absolutely clear when we hear Jesus’ response to what the Pharisee has not said, but only thought: the difference is that for Jesus what counts is not people’s reputation (“sinner” or “virtuous person”); what counts is how much a person has loved, and Jesus makes the utterly subversive remark that “her many sins have been forgiven her, because she loved much”, whereas Simon could not trouble himself to show any demonstration at all of love or fellow-feeling towards his guest. So the woman is told “your sins are forgiven”, which sets the cat among the theological pigeons. And how does the gospel end? With precisely the women, who support Jesus’ itinerant mendicants out of their own resources. In the end what matters is not how many sins you have committed, but how much love you have shown.
Sun 9th June: 10th Sunday of the Year
1Kings 17:17-24 (Ps 29) & Gal 1:11-19
9am Fr Simon Bishop SJ
11am Fr Simon Bishop SJ
followed by community lunch
5.45pm Fr Dushan Croos SJ
9pm Fr Dushan Croos SJ
Mon 10th June:
Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3 (Ps 37) Matt 10:7-13
Tue 11th June: St Barnabas
Tobit 2:9-14 (Ps111) & Mark 12: 18-27
8.15 God in the Lab: Sr Lynne Baron FCJ Physics and images of God
Wed 12th June:
2 Cor 3:4-11 (Ps 98) & Matt 5:17-19
7pm Lectio Divina: Prayerful reading of the Scriptures
Thu 13th June: St Anthony of Padua
2 Cor 3:15-4:1,3-6 (Ps 84) & Matt 5:20-26
5pm Vat2 & Cake with Fr Simon SJ
6pm Holy Hour
7pm Newman Nosh
8pm Conor Burns MP, Faith and Politics.
Fri 14th June:
2 Cor 4:7-15 (Ps 115) & Matt 5:27-35
Sat 15th June: Our Lady on Saturday
2 Cor 5: 14-21 9Ps 102) & Matt 5:33-37
JESUS and his apostles had spent three years together. Now that Jesus had gone, they were at a loose end. Simon and some of the apostles decided to go back to work. While they were fishing Jesus appeared on the shore. Peter went to him. They had breakfast together, with a searching conversation. The discussion ended with Jesus saying: ‘Follow Me.’ John 21.1-19
All this felt familiar to Peter. Three years before, Peter had met Jesus on the same shore and heard the same challenge. In the following months, Jesus and Peter became very close. But the arrest, trial, and crucifixion brought out the worst in Peter. Accused of association with Jesus he found himself saying: ‘I do not know this man. He’s no friend of mine.’ A few hours’ later, Jesus died and Peter wept bitterly.
That was how his first attempt at discipleship ended: a notable failure. But now, they are back again at the same place. The Cross was history. Jesus had died and been raised from the dead. Now he is face to face, once more, with his old friend. What, would he say?
There seems to be no mention of Peter’s failure. No ‘why did you?’ No ‘how could you?’ The only thing that Jesus asked Peter was, ‘Do you love me’? When Peter first affirmed his love, Jesus had said: ‘Follow me.’ It was the same invitation now. It was like saying, ‘Peter, would you like to start again? Let’s .try.’
From time to time, we all need
that. We have botched one effort and we need another chance. We know, of course, that starting again does not erase the past. The days that we have lived cannot be unlived. For the rest of his life, Peter would remember that night he failed. He would never be able to forget those words: ‘I do not know this man. He’s no friend of mine.’
Peter will always be known as the man who denied Jesus. We need to be careful of our words and deeds, because they will be a part of us forever.
So what can we do about our regrets? First of all we can dare to believe that we can do better. We can believe in our best. Though Peter had failed, he was not all bad. He had shown cowardice to save his own skin, but that lapse of courage did not condemn him to go on living as a coward. There was more to Peter than that.
In a few days, he would stand before the Sanhedrin. They would order him to stop telling the story of Jesus and Peter would answer: ‘Better that we obey God than men.’ Those were the words of a brave man, who would sacrifice his life rather than deny his friend now. He did that once, but he would never do it again. However numerous our past failures have been, we can always start again. Peter did.
From time to time, we all need a fresh start, another chance. The good news is that we can start again today, and if necessary, we can start again tomorrow. 7/6/13
Peter Knott SJ
10th Sunday – Year C (June 9th)
Readings: 1 Kings 7:17-24
Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
One of the striking features of the God of Jews and Christians is that ours is a God who cares for those on the margins of society, especially orphans and immigrants and widows. That is what comes out of the readings for next Sunday. In the first reading, a widow who is not of the true faith has just provided food for that slightly alarming figure the prophet Elijah, “the man of God”; then she is apparently rewarded by the death of her son, “there remained no breath [of life] in him”. Not surprisingly, she reproaches him roundly, “What have you and I to do with each other, man of God? Did you come to me to remind me of my guilt, and put my son to death?” There is a rather complicated theology lurking here, about what causes evil, but the prophet does not waste time with arguing. Instead he tells her “Give me your son”, and he takes the child upstairs to his room, places him on his bed, and prays to God for the widow, and “stretched himself out three times on the boy and called on the Lord”, and his petition is that God (who is of course responsible for death and life) should not kill the widow’s son. Inevitably God hears his prayer, and the woman recognises Elijah: “Now I know that you are a man of God”. There is a real sense here that the world has meaning, after all, and that God cares.
Of that, of course, the psalmist is in no doubt whatever. The psalm for next Sunday is a thanksgiving by one who has recovered from a grave illness: “I shall praise you Lord, for you have raised me up”, he sings, “and did not cause my enemies to rejoice over me. You brought my life up from Sheol”. Then there is an invitation to the rest of us, “remember the Lord, you his beloved, and praise his holy name”. The psalm ends on an upbeat tone: “Lord my God, forever I shall praise you”.
The second reading for next Sunday is from the Letter to the Galatians, and we must be forever grateful to that awkward bunch of Christians, for Paul is offering some autobiography, and he only ever does that when he has become annoyed. The cause of his annoyance here is that the Galatians were reneging on the gospel that he had preached to them (a gospel for the marginalised); and so he reminds them a) how he had originally presented Christ to them and b) what happened in the “revelation of Jesus Christ”. So he talks about his “way of life” prior to the encounter with the Risen Jesus, and his persecution and ravaging of the “church of God”, how he had been “way ahead of many of my contemporaries in Judaism, in my race, because I was a fanatic for my ancestral traditions”; God, however, had other plans: God had “set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me through his grace, to reveal his son in [or ‘through’] me, that I might gospel him to the Gentiles”. Here Paul is emphasising that this commission came to him through no human agency: “I didn’t go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me…after three years I went up to Jerusalem to interrogate Kephas, and I stayed a fortnight with him; but I don’t think I saw any other of the apostles, except Jacob the Lord’s brother”. Here we can feel Paul’s uncertainty, as one who is doubly on the margins, excluded from the version of Judaism in which he had been brought up, and only on the edge of the Jesus movement to which he had now been called. The point of Galatians, which we shall be following for the next month or so, is that God in Christ brings everyone in from the margins: God is the God of all.
The gospel for next Sunday is the lovely story of the widow’s son at Nain, where God’s care for the marginalised is absolutely clear. Luke is very much the gospel of the poor, and very much the gospel on the move; in the first sentence he twice uses his favourite “journeying” word, which almost has a touch of pilgrimage about it, and certainly indicates that Jesus had time to see the reality of those around him. So it proves as Luke shares with us, with the attention-demanding device of “behold!”, that “there was being carried out the only son of his mother – and she was a widower; and there was a fair old crowd of the city with her”. Then we wait to see what the Lord will do (for we are aware that it will not stop there). Luke allows us to get inside Jesus’ feelings: “The Lord was moved in his innards” [you might translate this “was gutted”], “and told her ‘Don’t continue crying’. Then he does something that he should certainly not have done: “he touched the coffin”, and gives orders to the corpse: “Young man, I’m telling you – be raised up”. And so, of course, it happens: “The corpse sat up; and began to speak” and then [as in the first reading] “he gave him to his mother”. The result? Awe, and glory to God and the recognition of the arrival of a great prophet: “God has visited his people”. How do you know when God has visited? It is by seeing what happens to the widows and orphans of our society.
Sun2 Jun Corpus Christi
9am Fr Dushan Croos SJ
11am Fr Dushan Croos SJ
2.30pm Corpus Christi procession from St Aloysius
walking via Blackfriars to the Chaplaincy for
Benediction at 4pm
5.45pm Fr Simon Bishop SJ
9pm Fr Simon Bishop SJ
Mon 3 Jun 6pm Mass Corpus Christi College
Tue 4 Jun 6pm Brasenose College Mass
8pm Film Night: The Mission
Thu 6 Jun 5pm Vat2 & Cake4you
6pm Holy Hour 7pm Newman Nosh
8pm Robert Calderisi Earthly Mission: The Catholic
Church and World Development
Fri 7 Jun Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
2-4pm Follow the Hat: A Mystery Chaplain will
be available for Tea, Cake and Conversation in
Oxford Modern Art Café, Pembroke Street.
7.30pm Taizé Prayer
Corpus Christ – Year C (June 2nd)
Readings: Genesis 14:18-20
Psalm 110: 1-4
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Next Sunday we celebrate the great solemnity of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ; the secret here is that communion enables us to discover the great presence of our Creator God in the midst of the ordinary things of life.
The first reading is the mysterious story of “Melchisedek, king of Salem” (which is normally understood as Jerusalem), who brings out bread and wine to Abram, in his capacity as “priest of God Most High”, in whose name (“Maker of heaven and earth”) he pronounces a blessing over Abram, and then pays him “one tenth of everything”, as well as asserting that it is God Most High who has given Abram victory over all his enemies. What are we to make of this? Certainly at least this, that God is somehow present in this act of generosity, and that the mysterious priest-king, who is never heard of again, except in the psalm for next Sunday, helped Abram in his God-given task.
The psalm takes the occasion of the coronation of a new king in Jerusalem as an occasion for discovering the presence of God. The king is told (in a psalm that would later be applied by the early Christians to Jesus), “Sit on my right, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”, and promises that “the Lord will extend your power from Sion”, a neat reminder to the incoming monarch that his reign is purely a gift from God, who is there in the ordinary things of life. So there is nothing for him to be complacent about as he ascends the throne; for it is all God’s doing, “the Lord has sworn, and will not change his mind: you are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedek”. The young king might ask what it was all about, but the psalmist is telling him nothing beyond the fact that God is at work here in his coronation.
In just the same way, that same God is at work in our Eucharist, in which the ordinary things of life, the “bread and wine” of our first reading, are seen to have a significance far beyond themselves. This is the message of the second reading for next Sunday, in which Paul is explaining to his rebellious Corinthians how badly they have got things wrong in allowing class distinction to create divisions in their weekly Eucharist. So he reminds them of what Jesus did “on the night when he was being betrayed”. In the earliest surviving account of the institution of the Eucharist, Paul reminds them how Jesus “took bread, and gave thanks, and broke, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you’.” We hardly understand it, even today, except that we dimly grasp that in the very ordinary things of life, like bread, we encounter the astonishing mystery of the death of Jesus; and similarly the ordinariness of wine is reinterpreted as “the new covenant in my blood”. So our task is to do this very ordinary ritual recognising that its significance is far from ordinary: “Do this, whenever you drink it, in my memory”. Paul concludes to his squabbling Christians, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink the cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes”.
The same appearance of God in the ordinary is evident in the gospel for next Sunday. Notice the first verb that is used (and it is typical of Luke) “Jesus made them welcome”: Jesus is our host, and that is what gives him a platform from which to talk to us “about the Kingdom of God” and to “heal all those who have need of treatment”. The disciples, by contrast, are thoroughly inhospitable: “get rid of the crowd”, is their brusque advice to Jesus, who responds with the instruction, “Give them something to eat yourselves”. The disciples can hardly hide their contempt for this suggestion. Then, effortlessly, Jesus takes the ordinary things, “five loaves and two fish”, and gives them extraordinary significance, “having looked up to heaven, he blessed them and broke, and gave to his disciples” And the result? “They all ate and had more than enough”. But this is not just about the ordinariness of having enough to eat (though God knows that would be enough); what matters here is that in the ordinariness God’s extraordinary generosity shines through. May you discover that in the coming week.
AMDG Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena Prayers
O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of… (Mention your Intention Here)
Glory Be to the Father…
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of… (Mention your Intention Here)
Glory Be to the Father…
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of… (Mention your Intention Here)
Glory Be to the Father…
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us. Amen.
Imagine a multi-faceted crystal, each tiny surface iridescent as it catches and reflects the light. Imagine the whole, brilliant and glowing, shimmering with new colours, whichever way we view it. That is an attempt at describing the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the most multi-faceted Heart imaginable; at once loving, open, tender, compassionate, wounded, welcoming, pierced, humble, generous, merciful, free… This is a Heart which burns with passionate love whilst also beating quietly with gentleness and fidelity, but which is always, totally, unlimited Love, open to ALL.
The readings and especially the Gospels for the Feast present us with three distinct facets, which, individually or taken together, are full of riches. In Year A, Jesus invites us to come to Him, to learn from His gentle and humble Heart (Matt 11:25-30). Here, the Heart of Jesus is a place of refuge and welcome, a shelter, a safe place, a place of peace where every burden is laid down, every fear put to rest. But here, vitally, we are invited to enter into the dispositions of His Heart: to learn from Jesus’ attitudes and ways of relating; to discover His Heart, wholly given to God and to all people, and to make those dispositions our own.
In year B we have the piercing of Jesus’ Heart (Jn 19: 31-37), an event where malevolence meets goodness, sin meets love. And on face value, sin definitely wins. Love is powerless, sin is powerful; love is defenceless, vulnerable, open to attack; sin is armed and dangerous. Love is a spent force, sin is triumphant.
And yet… through that act of gratuitous cruelty Jesus’ Heart is opened, never to close, releasing a torrent of superabundant, redemptive love, a wellspring that will never dry up. God’s generous, self-giving love pours forth from a Heart wounded by sin – wounded but not overcome. Here we have hatred somehow lost in the mighty flow of the love it has unwittingly unleashed. Love, seemingly powerless, has, in its very powerlessness, conquered sin. And it is here, in the pierced and wounded Heart of Jesus, that we find our salvation and the sureness for our hope; here too, crucially, where we can bring our own broken, wounded hearts for healing and restoration.
And this year (C) we reflect on the tenderness and watchful care of the Good Shepherd (Lk 15: 3-7), who knows each one intimately and rejoices to bring us home, into His Heart. Lovingly, the Shepherd reaches out to the weakest and most vulnerable, the unwanted and unloved, those suffering any form of rejection; and, especially, those who believe they have strayed beyond the bounds of God’s love. All are brought home, into that wide-open Heart, where there is space enough for everyone.
All this and more is in the Sacred Heart we especially celebrate this month: a Heart that is always open, always inviting, and always pouring forth a love that is totally boundless, tender and true.
Sr Silvana Dallanegra RSCJ
Religious of the Sacred Heart/member of the Society of the Sacred Heart
Lives in Oxford, where she runs a student hostel community
Blogger – www.allthislifeandheaventoo.blogspot.co.uk
ONE MORNING, returning from battle with some of his soldiers, King David arrived at the temple, tired and hungry; but the only food available consisted of consecrated loaves of bread in the temple, which by law, were to be eaten only by the priests in sacred ritual.
David asked the high priest for the loaves and was told that these loaves were not to be eaten as ordinary food. David replied that he was aware of that, but, given the situation and given that as King he was empowered to make decisions for God on earth, he ordered the priest to give him the loaves.
Biblical tradition commends David for that. He is praised for doing a good thing, for knowing God well enough to know that God would want that bread to be used for exceptional purposes in that situation.
He is praised for having a mature faith, for not being unduly legalistic, for not abdicating sound judgment because of fear and piety, and for knowing God well enough to know that God is not a law to be obeyed but rather a loving presence that counsels us and gives us life and energy.
Jesus, too, praises David for this action when his own disciples are chastised for eating ears of corn on the Sabbath. Mark 2.23f He refers to David’s action of feeding his hungry soldiers with the consecrated loaves as an act of deeper understanding. In
doing this seemingly sacrilegious act, David was in fact demonstrating an intimacy with God that his critics, because of fear, showed themselves as lacking.
One of the things that characterises mature friendship is a familiarity and intimacy that makes for a deep relationship rather than a fearful one. In a mature relationship there is no place for uneasy piety or false reverence.
Rather, with a close friend, we are bold because we know the other’s mind. We fully trust the friend, and are at a level of relationship where we are unafraid to ask for things. We are, like King David, able to interpret responsibly the other’s mind. When we are in a mature relationship with someone we are at ease with that person. That is also one of the qualities of a mature faith and a mature relationship with God.
But, if that is true, then why does scripture tell us ‘the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’ Proverbs 9.10
There is a religious fear (reverence) that is healthy and there is a piety that is healthy, but neither of these is shown in a relationship that is uneasy, legalistic, scrupulous, over-pious, or over-serious. Fear easily masks itself as religious reverence. Piety can easily pass itself off as religious depth. But genuine intimacy unmasks both.
A healthy relationship is robust and characterised by ease, playfulness, and humour. And that is particularly true of our relationship with God 31//5/13
Peter Knott SJ
Sun 26 May Trinity Sunday
9am Fr Dushan Croos SJ
11am Fr Dermot Preston SJ, Provincial Superior of
the Jesuits in Britain
Cricket Match v Hindu Society
5.45pm Fr Francis Davidson OSB (St Benet’s)
9pm Fr Dushan Croos SJ
Tue 28 May 6pm Mass St Hugh’s College
8.15pm God in the Lab: Heinrich von Jagwitz-
Biegnitz Physics and Philosophy
Thu 30 May 6pm Mass Worcester College
5pm Vat2 & Cake4you
6pm Leavers’ Mass
7pm Newman Nosh
8pm Br Nicholas Crowe OP – The Word made flesh:
Why the Church still matters
Fri 31 May Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady