Catholic in Yanchep

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2nd Sunday, Year A | Being and remaining in Christ

Jesus-Christ

Christ Blessing Children (detail), Pacecco de Rosa, 1600-1654, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

You would almost miss it if you weren’t looking for it.  There’s a phrase in today’s second reading that is quintessentially Christian: the phrase ‘in Christ’.  It’s the phrase that’s traditionally used when Christians sign letters – or a variation thereof.

This is the opening paragraph of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth, and he is giving a quick summary describing the people he is addressing.  It’s very easy to see this introduction as a mere formality to be got out of the way before he gets to the meaty bits, but I’d like to concentrate on pulling apart this single phrase.

In Australia you could be forgiven for missing it altogether, because the Jerusalem Bible translation gives “greetings to the church of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ”.  The New American Bible, however, (used in the USA) translates the Greek more accurately as “to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy” (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ,  ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ  Ἰησοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις).

What’s so special about this phrase, ‘in Christ’?

Jesus talks frequently about our remaining in him.  You wouldn’t find Mohamed expecting people to remain in him – he saw himself as only a prophet; God was completely transcendent and by nature not susceptible to unity with humans.  Neither would one expect this in Buddhism – for the Buddhist believes that there is no such thing as the self or the soul which exists in the first place (the doctrine of Annata).  But Jesus is God incarnate, and he stresses the importance of our remaining in Him through obedience to his Word and participation in the Sacraments:

Remain in me, as I in you.  As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me”  (John 15:4).

“Remain in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (John 15:10).

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.  As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me” (John 6:56-57).

The theologian, N.T. Wright, points out that Paul never uses the term “in Jesus” or “in the Lord” but the preposition ἐν is always combined with the word, Christ, as in ἐν Χριστῷ (in Christ) – Christ meaning the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of David whose coming had been predicted.

A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse,
a new shoot will grow from his roots.
On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh,
the spirit of wisdom and insight,
the spirit of counsel and power,
the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-3).

This Messiah will be not only for the Jews, but for the world.

… according to Psalms 2 and 72 (the former of which in particular is enormously important in early Christianity), and passages like Isaiah 11 (also quoted by Paul), when Israel’s Messiah arrives he will be the rightful lord not only of Israel but of the whole world. So Paul did not have to abandon his Jewish heritage in order to have a message for the world; he only had to stand at that point in the Jewish heritage which says, ‘From this vantage point all nations are called to obedience to Israel’s God, and to his Messiah.’ That was precisely Paul’s stance.  (N.T. Wright)

That is why in today’s First Reading from Isaiah 49, we have God saying,

‘It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’

The Messiah brings a new way of relationship between God and man.

One of the chief significances which this word [Christ] then carries is incorporative, that is, it refers to the Messiah as the one in whom the people of God are summed up, so that they can be referred to as being ‘in’ him, as coming or growing ‘into’ him, and so forth.  (N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology)

The mystical body of Christ into which we are incorporated gives endless food for reflection – our incorporation into Christ through Baptism, our incorporation into His mission, and our incorporation into each other through Him.  If only we could ‘remain in Christ’ more faithfully, how much more fruitful our parish life would be, and what a sign we would be for the world!  This is why it’s so important to be drawn into a personal relationship with Christ, allowing Him to lead us deeper into Himself.

Some more verses for reflection on this topic:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)

You are the children of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus, since every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ.  There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be neither male nor female – for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26-28).

Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same function: in the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another (Romans 12:4-5)

Today’s readings:

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2nd Sunday of Advent | Filled with the knowledge of the Lord

It’s such an encouragement to the faithful when we see young men willing to step up and give themselves to the priesthood.  Last night I had the joy of attending the ordination to the diaconate of four young men from the Perth Archdiocese.  Many of you will know Mariusz Grzech who has been serving at our ‘parent’ parish of St Andrew’s, Clarkson, for the past year (if you didn’t know, Yanchep was part of St Andrew’s parish from 1994 until about 2001).  Ordained with him were Konrad Gagatek, Joseph Laundy and Tung Vu, whom you can read more about here.  I thought that I’d share with you some photos from the Ordination Mass …

This first photo shows the Promise of the Elect, where the Deacons make various promises about their new role (discharging the office of Deacon with ‘humble charity’, proclaiming the faith in word and deed, remaining celibate, deepening their prayer lives – especially by praying the Liturgy of the Hours – and conforming their lives to the example of Christ).

promise-of-the-elect-1

Promise of the Elect

The Deacons lie prostrate to receive the Lord’s blessing while our prayers fly to heaven in the soaring, otherworldly Litany of Supplication.  (You can view this on the Record’s FB page.)

litany-of-supplication

The Litany of Supplication

Next comes the Prayer of Ordination and the Laying on of Hands, where we bring to mind those first seven Deacons, appointed in similar fashion in Acts 6:1-7.  This prayer has some beautiful words …

Send forth upon them, Lord, we pray,
the Holy Spirit,
that they may be strengthened
by the gift of your sevenfold grace …

May there abound in them every Gospel virtue
unfeigned love,
concern for the sick and poor,
unassuming authority,
the purity of innocence
and the observance of spiritual discipline.

(Excuse the blurriness of this photo, but my hands are not as steady as they used to be, I didn’t want to use a camera because of the shutter noise, and tablets are notoriously wobbly for still shots!)

laying-on-of-hands

The laying on of hands and the Prayer of Ordination

The Deacons are vested by their nominated priests, assisted by their families, with the Diaconal Stole and Dalmatic.  Here Mariusz is helped by Fr Conor Steadman and his brothers.  If you’re interested in the history of church vestments there is quite a nice article here, with illustrations, which calls the Dalmatic a garment with ‘festive origins’.

investiture-of-diaconal-stole

Investiture of the Diaconal Stole and Dalmatic

The Deacons receive the Book of the Gospels from Archbishop Costelloe.

Receive the Gospel of Christ,
whose herald you have become.
Believe what you read,
Teach what you believe,
and practice what you teach.

… says it all, really.

handing-on-of-the-book-of-the-gospels-2

Handing on of the Book of the Gospels

Here the Archbishop makes his final address, where he conveys the Deacons’ messages of thanks to their families and all who have helped them get to this point.

final-address-bishop-timothy-costelloe

Final address from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe to the new Deacons, from left Mariusz Grzech, Tung Vu, Joseph Laundy and Konrad Gagatek.

This morning, it being the first Saturday of the month, I made the trip down to Clarkson and was pleased to be able to hear Mariusz’s first homily – which as a Deacon, he is now able to deliver. Appropriately enough, the Gospel was about asking the Lord of the harvest ‘to send labourers to the harvest’ (funny how God does that!)  It also happened to be the memorial of St Francis Xavier, the most effective evangelist in history.  So Mariusz’s homily was about St Francis Xavier, and also about our own role in mission – we don’t have to go overseas to go on mission – our mission field is Australia, our mission field is Perth, our mission field is our own Parish, our mission field is our family.

I must say I was pleased to hear it, as this blog is part of what I see as my mission … to whoever might read it.  For example, what I write here is shared to my profiles on various social media platforms, one of them being LinkedIn.  Now LinkedIn connects me with all my contacts in my capacity as Company Director.  And LinkedIn is telling me that 30 of my business associates read my entry for last week, the First Sunday of Advent (and that’s not including FB or other platforms).  I find this quite extraordinary – I have no idea who they are, but those people are quietly discovering the way prayer makes a difference in my life – and the Holy Spirit is waiting to invade, with his powerful presence, the lives of any of them who might be open to Him.  Only this week, I discovered an extraordinary coincidence between a prayer uttered fourteen years ago, and the results now bearing fruit (but I will have to save that story for another time.)  It’s a shame that many people are afraid to talk about their faith today (because we receive so much ridicule from secularists), but if we don’t toughen up and become unafraid to admit to following Christ, how will other people hear the kerygma – the message of the Gospel and the gift of eternal life?

Almost forgot … here is the Mass leaflet for today.

Today’s readings

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2nd Sunday of Easter | Just coincidence or God’s Cunning Plan?

Caravaggio_Doubting_Thomas

The Incredulity of St Thomas, Caravaggio, (1602), oil on canvas, Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany.

If there really is a God in charge of the Universe, and a personal God at that, he would want to let us know, right?  Well, it turns out that he has, but you have to have a humble heart that is open to persuasion in order to be convinced.  There is a fascinating series of coincidences of dates associated with The Apparitions at Fatima, the Divine Mercy devotions, Pope St John Paul II and now most recently, the death of Mother Angelica.  God gives us these clues because he knows how much we tend to be like Doubting Thomas in the gospel reading for today …

13th May and other thirteens

I’ll start with 13th May 1917, when the Virgin Mary appeared to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, three peasant children from Fatima in Portugal.  There were a total of six apparitions, one on the 13th of each month from May to October that year.  (The August apparition was on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.)  About 70,000 people were present for the final apparition, and many supernatural phenomena, including the Miracle of the Sun, were observed.  But the point of the appearance of the Virgin Mary was to encourage penance and prayer, especially the rosary, a meditation on events in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

13th May 1917 also just happened to be the date when Pope Pius XII, then Eugenio Pacelli, received his episcopal ordination.  It was he who subsequently formally defined the ancient belief in the Virgin Mary’s Assumption, and he himself confirmed that he had witnessed the Miracle of the Sun several times in 1950, the year he proclaimed this dogma.

Meanwhile, in Poland …

Meanwhile in Poland, Sr Faustina (1905-1938), a Christian mystic, began to experience apparitions of Christ.  She recorded her conversations with him in diaries over several years.  It was February 1931 when he first appeared to her as King of Divine Mercy.  Over the course of the apparitions, he asked her to have a painting made showing him with red and white rays emanating from his heart and instructed her to promote prayer through the Divine Mercy Chaplet, whose purposes were threefold: to obtain mercy, to trust in Christ’s mercy and to show mercy to others.  Sr Faustina died of suspected tuberculosis at the age of 33, one year before Hitler invaded Poland, and for some time the Divine Mercy Devotions were destined to remain mostly hidden from the wider world.

Fast forwarding to World War 2, Karol Wojtyla, the future Polish Pope John Paul II, was told about the Divine Mercy Devotions by a classmate in the seminary he attended secretly in Krakow (the Communist government had attempted to eradicate religion from society) .  He began to visit the grave of Sr. Faustina at the Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on his way home from night shift at the Solvay Chemical Plant.

There’s a long and fascinating story of how devotion to the Divine Mercy was banned and went underground for several decades, but to cut to the chase, Karol Wojtyla involved himself in collecting information about Sr Faustina’s life and in removing the prohibition that had been placed on her diaries.  Six months after he had achieved this, he was elected Pope.  The message of Divine Mercy was still close to his heart, and his second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), published in November 1980, was a reflection on God’s superabundant mercy and a plea for Christians to implore God’s mercy on the sinfulness of mankind.

Only six months later, on 13th May 1981, an assassination attempt was made on Pope John Paul II.  He survived four shots from a 9 mm Browning fired at him by the Turk, Mehmet Ali Agca.  Multiple perforations of his colon and small intestine caused him to lose three quarters of his blood before he was stabilized after five hours of surgery.  But by October of that year he was back at work.  In his audience address of 7 October 1981 (The Feast of the Holy Rosary) he said:

Today it has been granted me, after a long interruption, to resume the general audiences which have become one of the fundamental forms of pastoral service of the Bishop of Rome.

                The last time, the pilgrims who came to Rome gathered for such an audience on 13 May.  However, it could not take place.  Everyone knows why …

                Today, after an interval of five months, beginning this meeting so dear to me and to you, I cannot help referring to the day of 13 May.

                … Could I forget that the event in St Peter’s Square took place on the day and at the hour when the first appearance of the Mother of Christ to the poor little peasants has been remembered for over sixty years at Fatima in Portugal?  For, in everything that happened to me on that very day, I felt that extraordinary motherly protection and care, which turned out to be stronger than the deadly bullet.

                Today is the memorial of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  The whole month of October is the Month of the Rosary.  Now that nearly five months later it has been granted me to meet you again at the Wednesday audience, dear brothers and sisters, I want these first words that I address to you to be words of gratitude, love and deep trust, just as the Holy Rosary is and always remains a prayer of gratitude, love and trustful request: the prayer of the Mother of the Church.

But even while Pope John Paul II was recovering from this attack, another milestone was unfolding in the history of the Church.

Broadcasting to the World

August 15th 1981 (yes, the Feast of the Assumption, again!) heralded the first broadcast from the Eternal Word Catholic Television Network (EWTN), an initiative of Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, a Franciscan nun.  Mother Angelica, who died last week on Easter Sunday, was known for the great suffering she endured throughout her life, her radical trust in Jesus, her no-nonsense style and her orthodoxy.  Born Rita Rizzo, she was the only child of Italian-American immigrants who divorced when she was six years old; her father had abandoned the family when she was very young, and her mother struggled with chronic depression.  She remembered her childhood as a constant battle to keep food on the table.  But instead of thinking God had abandoned her, she developed an intense prayer life and her love of Jesus bore fruit in many miracles, which are amply described in Raymond Arroyo’s biography.  EWTN has now grown to be the largest global religious media network, with a viewership of 250 million homes, not including those who watch it streamed online.  You could say that God used EWTN to promote devotion to both the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Holy Rosary – these are on its schedule every day of the week.

Not only that, but God organised things so that EWTN took off in the midst of the period when the Holy Father was undergoing a recovery from an attempted assassination.  One could almost say that the Holy Father was required to undergo a great suffering himself in order for fruit to come forth elsewhere in the church.  In similar fashion, according to Michael Warsaw, the CEO of EWTN, the network’s reach exploded most markedly in the 14 years since Mother Angelica suffered a debilitating stroke on Christmas Eve 2001.  She had spoken many times of the redemptive power of uniting one’s sufferings to the Lord and had written a book on the subject, The Healing Power of Suffering (1977).

So how else did God orchestrate a new focus on his Divine Mercy?  In April 2000, Sr Faustina became the first saint of the new millennium, when Pope John Paul II officially designated the 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday and canonized her on that day.  A year later, the Pope was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and now began his time of deteriorating health and preparation to meet the Lord.  He had achieved so much during his period as Pope: one of the chief forces behind the downfall of Communism in Eastern Europe, inspirational on the Theology of the Body, and tenacious in defending both faith and reason and bringing unity in the Church. His funeral was reportedly the single largest gathering of Heads of State in history with more than four million mourners gathered in Vatican City. So what time did God choose for his death?  It was just after the Mass of the Vigil of the 2nd Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday for 2005 had been celebrated in his room.

Only two months previously, the last of the Fatima visionaries was taken to heaven.  Sr Lucia was 97 years old and yes, the date was another of the series of thirteens connected with the Fatima apparitions: 13th February 2005.

And what of Mother Angelica, the woman who brought Catholic teaching to the world through her television network?  How wonderful that God chose the day of her death as Easter Sunday, the most important day of the year for Christians.

EWTN Priest, Fr Joseph Wolfe recounts:

Mother began to cry out early in the morning from the pain that she was having. She had a fracture in her bones because of the length of time she had been bedridden. They said you could hear it down the hallways, that she was crying out on Good Friday from what she was going through. These two people said to me she has excruciating pain.  Well, do you know where that word ‘excruciating’ comes from?  ‘Ex’, from, ‘cruce’, from the cross.  Excruciating pain.   After the 3 o’clock hour arrived on Good Friday she was more calm, she was more peaceful.

On Easter Sunday, Fr Wolfe was called again to her bedside.

I anointed her, did the litany for the dying, gave her the apostolic pardon that the church grants to someone who is dying, and the sisters prayed their divine office around her bed – the morning prayers.

 At 10:30 Father Paschal offered Mass in her room and she received the precious blood, Viaticum, the food for her journey.  The precious blood by which we have been saved. All of us have been saved by the precious blood of Jesus…., a drop or two of the precious blood, into her mouth. 

It was in the afternoon that Father Miguel and I went to her bed at the hour of mercy, at 3 o’clock.  We had just finished praying the divine mercy chaplet. We all continued to pray silently around her bed. Then it was shortly before 5 p.m. that she went to the Father’s house. She breathed her last.

Not only was it Easter Sunday, but as Fr Mitch Pacwa reported, it was also the Feast of the Annunciation in the Maronite Rite, and Mother Angelica had taken as her title, the name, Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation.  And then, look at the year which God chose for her to die: she could have had another stroke at any old time in the last fourteen years, but she died in the year which Pope Francis has proclaimed as the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a time for all of us to say to him, “Jesus, I trust in you”.  And, by the way, Pope Francis was ordained on 13 December 1969 and became Pope on 13 March 2013 and announced the Jubilee Year of Mercy on 13 March 2015.

I like to think of God as the creator of a glorious symphony, bringing in one part here, while another fades into the background after performing its virtuoso piece, making different voices interweave and coalesce into the climax of a harmonious chorus, while the instrumental section repeats an ostinato pattern underneath.  In this last century we have seen the Holy Rosary, Divine Mercy, the Assumption and all those fabulous thirteens appear and reappear as motifs for our enjoyment and encouragement as we participate in the great symphony of the life of the Church.

Today’s readings:

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2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C | The Transfiguration: Giving hope to those experiencing hard times

The-Transfiguration-1480-xx-Giovanni-Bellini

The Transfiguration, Giovanni Bellini, c.1480, Oil on panel, Museo di Capodimonti, Naples.

Do you know anyone who is depressed or without hope?  We all experience hard times – disappointment in others, the death of a loved one, failure in our career, a difficult childhood – but God can help us to be resilient through these times and see past them.  In today’s Gospel, we see how those disciples who are closest to the Lord experience a foretaste of the glory of Heaven.   They don’t fully understand the event they have just witnessed until after Jesus’ death and resurrection, but by witnessing Jesus’ glory, they are strengthened for the hard times ahead.  If I have one piece of advice for those who struggle with depression, I would say, “Get close to the Lord.”  Read the Gospels, talk to God as if he is present with you every moment – and He will strengthen you for your journey, often in unpredictable ways – and quite possibly remove those trials which are too great for you to bear.  Just ask him!

If you’re looking for an uplifting commentary on our mystical consciousness and how we are helped by having a sense of God’s purpose for our lives, listen to Bishop Robert Barron’s homily for today on The Glorified Body.

If you’re more interested in a Bible Study perspective on these readings, try these:

Readings for today:

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2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C | Ruminations on hypocrisy

Preaching of John the Baptist-Alessandro Allori

The Preaching of St John the Baptist, Allesandro Allori (1527-1607), oil on copper, Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy.

In this Advent season, we are looking forward to the arrival (adventus) of Christ, not only at Christmas time, but when he returns “at the end of the age”.

Paul, in today’s reading from Philippians, urges us:

My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognize what is best.  This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ.

I would say to all Christians:  Let’s spend more time become ‘pure and blameless’, examining our consciences and going to confession.  Remember that the devil knows your failings, and is only too ready to point them out to anyone who doesn’t agree with you so that they may call you a hypocrite and use that as an excuse for not believing you about the important things in life (yes, other people sometimes take great delight in accusing us).  For an obvious example, look at how the action, or rather the inaction, of Archbishop Frank Little has caused immeasurable harm to so many abused children.  When we Christians set a poor example, how can we expect anyone to believe us?

So to continue in our examination of conscience …  Do you harbour feelings of resentment towards anyone?  Is there anyone in your family you don’t speak to?  Do you constantly gripe about ‘other people’?  Is there any aspect of Church teaching you have difficulty believing?  How hard have you tried to understand Church doctrine and educate yourself?  Are you ready to defend and explain your faith? Keep going here …

If you, like me, have relatives who do not follow Christ, there is a wonderful new resource out from Brandon Vogt to help you draw others to Christ.  Prayer is essential, but there are also many practical things you can do.  Sign up to Help Them Return.

Finally, here is an excellent talk from Bishop Robert Barron on the historicity of the Gospel, based on today’s Gospel Reading from Luke.  And a fantastic video on what exactly we mean by the Gospel.  Can you explain the Gospel, or are you tongue-tied?

I must admit to laughing my head off when I see people like Bill Maher dismissing Christianity as ‘silly stories’ and ‘intellectually embarrassing myths from the Bronze Age’.  Observe Stephen Colbert’s humility in the face of Maher’s attack and note that Maher doesn’t actually address Christianity’s claims using serious historical argument, but merely indulges in name-calling.

Anyway, if you want an answer to Bill Maher and his straw men, watch this video from the ever relevant Bishop Barron.

Today’s Bulletin with Readings (Australia):

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2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B | Does God’s Divine Mercy mean you don’t have to do anything to be saved?

The Incredulity of St Thomas, Caravaggio, (1602), oil on canvas, Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany.

The Incredulity of St Thomas, Caravaggio, (1602), oil on canvas, Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany.

This Sunday is the Divine Mercy Sunday, and Pope Francis is about to convoke a Jubilee of Divine Mercy starting on 8th December.  A jubilee year is a time of joy and universal pardon (see Leviticus 25).  Does this mean we are all going to be pardoned without our cooperation?  Let’s remember what St Augustine said:

“He was handed over for our offenses, and He rose again for our justification (19).” What does this mean, “for our justification”? So that He might justify us; so that He might make us just. You will be a work of God, not only because you are a man, but also because you are just. For it is better that you be just than that you be a man. If God made you a man, and you made yourself just, something you were doing would be better than what God did. But God made you without any cooperation on your part. For you did not lend your consent so that god could make you. How could you have consented, when you did not exist? But he who made you without your consent does not justify you without your consent. He made you without your knowledge, but He does not justify you without you willing it.” (Sermon 169, 13, ca. 391-430 A.D.)

To quote Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously, “What then, must we do?” To understand what you need to do, listen to Fr Barron’s homily here.  It’s not enough just to be ‘a nice person’.  Or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ. (The Cost of Discipleship)

Today’s readings can be downloaded here:

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2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B | Can you sacrifice what you love the most?

Abraham and Isaac, Henry Davenport Northrop, 1894, Treasures of the Bible, illustration.

Abraham and Isaac, Henry Davenport Northrop, 1894, Treasures of the Bible, illustration.

This Sunday’s readings link Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac with the Transfiguration of Christ.  What’s the connection?  And how are we to respond when people like Richard Dawkins say things like this in The God Delusion?

“Any modern legal system would have prosecuted Abraham for child abuse, and if he had actually carried through his plan to sacrifice Isaac, we would have convicted him of first degree murder.” 

Mass readings, Word format:Year B Lent 2nd Sunday

Mass readings, Pdf format:Year B Lent 2nd Sunday

John Kincaid lays it out brilliantly for you at The Sacred Page and Fr Barron also speaks about the meaning of the Abraham and Isaac narrative in his Lent reflections.  If you haven’t signed up to these yet, please do!  His homily for today focuses on the mystical experience of God.

Click-here-to-listen

The trouble with Dawkins is that he does not understand the manner of God’s revelation of himself, and neither does he want to.  If you really desire to understand God, pray for a heart that is humble and open to a mystical experience of him.  Nothing gets in the way of experiencing God like arrogance and self-righteousness.  And read a commentary that explains how the Bible works, such as Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins’ Walking with God.