30 October 2011

Don't call me father

One of the things that you really have to admire about Catholics, is that we have taken the warning that Jesus offers us in today's Gospel (Matthew 23:1-12) so seriously, that there is almost no risk in finding room in the seats of honour at the front of the church - with people crowding around the back seats to ensure that there is always room at the front of the church for those that are more honoured. For those who humble themselves will be exalted. Well done! Although addressed to the scribes and Pharisees, clearly this Gospel is directed to all priests and leaders in our church and to challenge the attitude of everyone who follows the gospel.

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Recorded at St Mary's, Leppington 8am (7'52")
Sunday 31, Year A.

22 October 2011

Learning to love

There is nothing unusual in the question that Jesus is asked in our Gospel today (Matthew 22:34-40) - students would regularly ask visiting Rabbis this question - which is the greatest commandment. When there are 613 mitzva (commandments) to choose from in the books of Moses (the Torah or Pentateuch) it is no wonder that various people had attempted to rank and order them to make them more useful. So we see, for example, in Luke 10, that Jesus poses the question back to another lawyer who asks him what he must do to receive eternal life (which leads into the parable of the Good Samaritan) and we have a range of alternative answers available in the Rabbinic writings that support the choices of Jesus or offer alternatives.

The first commandment that Jesus calls upon is the most logical choice of any devout Jew who was called upon to recite the Shema at least twice daily - 'Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is one' (Deut 6:4) which leads into the prescriptive commandment (rather than the proscriptive commandments like 'you shall not steal' or 'you shall not kill' - which comprised 365 of the laws - one for each day of the solar year; leaving 248 prescriptive commandments like 'honour your father and mother' - one for each of the organs in the human body) to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul'. For the second commandment, Jesus jumps two books earlier to Leviticus, quoting from the end of Lev 19:18 to provide the missionary outcome of the first commandment - 'to love your neighbour as yourself'.

The first commandment then provides the basis of the first reason that the Church exists - to gather for worship and adoration of God as our expression of our love. The second commandment then addresses our need to share that love in works of compassion and evangelisation.

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Recorded at St Paul's, 6pm Vigil (10'30" - including final blessing)
Sunday 30, Year A.

17 October 2011

Images and coin inscriptions

The heat continues to rise between Jesus and his persecutors. Now the Herodians, who normally would not associate with the Pharisees, join forces to ask an impossible 'yes or no' question of Jesus - either answer would get him into trouble with his supporters or even arrested and killed by the Romans. The answer that Jesus provides is much more nuanced than we often imagine, and demonstrates the amazing gift of our Saviour to lead us through similar troubled waters.

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Recorded at St Pauls, Camden 5.30pm (11'34")
Sunday 29, Year A. Matthew 22:15-21

09 October 2011

Come to the wedding

In this final parable in the trilogy of parables that Jesus addresses to the scribes and elders of the people after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus draws on the image of the wedding banquet that Isaiah uses as a reminder that God has been inviting his people to share in the fullness of life with him as his Son and the bride (the Church) are united in the covenant of marriage. Just as many ignored or refused the invitation in the time of Jesus, so also many still refuse to come to the feast, or if they come, they fail to allow the hospitality of the Lord to impact upon them to change into the new life garments of justice, grace, mercy, love and peace.

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Recorded at St Paul's Camden, 10am (6'50")
Isaiah 25:6-14; Matthew 22:1-14

02 October 2011

The fruit of creation

The parable in today's Gospel from Matthew 21 continues directly from the parable last week (and leads naturally into the final parable of judgement in this trilogy, which we will have next Sunday) and again is addressed to the chief priests and elders gathered in the temple forecourt, while the crowd looks on, on the Monday of Holy Week. The listeners would have immediately thought of the similar parable from Isaiah 5 (our first reading) or Psalm 79(80) which tell the history of the people of God through the allegory of a vineyard. The parable is entirely poignant - especially given the setting and timing and drives home the reality of the pending passion of Jesus. The parable provides the church with an opportunity for a sobering reflection upon our own lives and the call of the Lord to bear good fruit as the tenants of the vineyard.

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Recorded at SJV, 7'30" (the final weekend in the parish)