Catholic in Yanchep

Go out into the deep.

Leave a comment

14th Sunday, Year C | Our Binary Option

Seventy Apostles Russian Icon

Cathedral of 70 Apostles (miniature from the Greek-Georgian Manuscripts , XV century ). Собор 70 апостолов (миниатюра из греко-грузинской рукописи, XV век).

We all have a fundamental choice, and it’s not complicated.  Imagine your life as a computer program.  At every moment, God presents you with certain choices.  It’s up to you to decide what you do.  The fact that you’re given a choice is a good thing.  It means that God is not trying to compel you – he respects your freedom.  But it’s not the freedom to choose as such that decides your outcome, it’s the actual choice you make that determines where you end up: heaven or hell.

Let’s take as an example the towns Jesus is sending the 72 apostles to this week.  They are travelling from Galilee to Jerusalem via Samaria, announcing that the kingdom is at hand.  Jesus is ‘gathering the tribes’ as prophesied in Isaiah 11:12 “He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

The people in these towns have the fundamental option of welcoming the apostles or rejecting them.  It’s that simple.  Now maybe some of the people are naturally fearful of strangers, or possibly Samaritan haters of Jews.  No wonder our Lord instructs the disciples to make their first statement “Peace to this house”.  But Jews in general (and also Samaritans) followed the Pentateuch, which clearly states the principles of hospitality, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia.

The “ger,” the sojourner who lived with a Hebrew family or clan, was assured by the Biblical law not only of protection against oppression (Ex. xxiii. 9) and deceit (Lev. xix. 33), but also of love from the natives (Deut. xvi. 14), who were to love him even as themselves (Lev. xix. 34).

So, when the apostles report back, it seems that many of the towns have in fact been welcoming to them and accepted the proclamation of the Kingdom:

The seventy-two came back rejoicing!

We understand that some did actually reject Christ and his apostles, for he says,

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”

We’re all afraid of evangelizing our friends and families, because we’re fundamentally afraid of rejection.  Stop worrying and start obeying Jesus.  Yes, our families may choose to reject us.  But keep trying in various ways, and go as a man of peace, and not as an argumentative spirit, and the Holy Spirit will open hearts and minds wherever there is an opportunity.

Concrete example: every night I do some spiritual reading on the Saint of the next day.  On Thursday night, I read about St Thierry, who died on 1 July, 533.  I happen to know someone called Thierry, and thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if he happened to ring on 1 July.  I could tell him about this saint!”  Now I usually only hear from Thierry about half a dozen times a year, and it’s always in a work context.  But lo and behold, at 12 o’clock on Friday, my mobile rang and who should it be but Thierry himself, so I was able to carry out my plan by sending him a link to this saint’s life story.  (Fortunately, he reads French.)  I’m always amazed when God creates these opportunities.

Jesus says in Luke 10: ‘Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.’  The more you give people the opportunity of listening to you explain the kingdom of God, the more likely they are to move towards the option of following Christ themselves.  And don’t we want everyone to be able to ‘rejoice that their names are written in heaven’?

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year C 14th Sunday 2016

Pdf format: Year C 14th Sunday 2016

Leave a comment

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time | The Four Last Things

The Prophet Daniel, Michelangelo Buonarotti, c. 1508-1512, fresco, detail from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Vatican Palace, Vatican City.

The Prophet Daniel, Michelangelo Buonarotti, c. 1508-1512, fresco, detail from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Vatican Palace, Vatican City.

Today we are all shocked at the terrorist attacks that have left over 150 people dead in Paris.  It is sobering to remember that death can come upon us suddenly, when we are in the midst of life. This is something that during November, leading up to the end of the Church Year, we are reminded to consider – the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell.

If you google “judgment quotes”, you’ll come up with some interesting insights into how people generally feel about the idea of judgment:

“Never judge someone without knowing the whole story.  You may think you understand, but you don’t.”

“Judging a person does not define who they are.  It defines who you are.”

“Before you judge me, make sure you’re perfect.”

“Love is the absence of judgment.”

“Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.”Judge Not

While it is easy to use these lines against other people, what are we going to say when we come before God?  After all, he’s perfectly entitled to judge us, because he does know us inside and out, and he is completely perfect.  And I doubt God would agree that love is the absence of judgement.  Anyone who says that, doesn’t believe in Justice.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes how the Son of Man will come ‘with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.’

Who are his chosen?  The truth is that God is a loving Father and he wants us all to be his chosen, but he gives us the freedom to reject him.  So when God comes to judge us, there will be two basic responses.  One leads to everlasting life, and one is very likely to lead to eternal separation from God.


Now listen here, God.  I’ve tried my best to live a pretty good life.   And I’m not judgmental like those awful people who always talk about other people’s faults and imperfections.  Anyway, you made me with certain desires and needs, so whatever I’ve done in my life, I’ve been true to myself, my wants, my nature.  What could be more natural than that?  I’m proud of what I’ve done in my life.  If you’re a loving God, why on earth would you want to judge me?  Nobody has the right to judge me.


Loving Father, you know all things.  You gave me life, you know my heart, you know just how well or poorly I have followed you in my life.  And I am aware that I can’t get to heaven by my own effort.  I am totally reliant on your grace.  Jesus offered up his life to save me.  Please forgive me and through your great mercy allow me to live with you forever in heaven.

We don’t know the hour when we will end up before the judgement seat of the Throne of God.  Let’s spend some time examining our consciences and going to confession before Christmas.  And let’s pray for God’s mercy on those who have lost their lives in France.  While we’re about it, how about the grace of conversion for those involved in terrorism and for those who are too full of themselves to be open to God.

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year B 33rd Sunday 2015

Pdf format: Year B 33rd Sunday 2015

If you want some evidence for the accuracy of the Prophet Daniel’s predictions about the Messiah, listen to Bishop Robert Barron’s homily here.  Bishop Barron explains why the Jews were expecting a Messiah right around the time that Jesus appeared.  And for a Scripture Study on today’s readings, try Dr John Bergsma’s commentary at The Sacred Page.

Leave a comment

5th Sunday of Easter, Year B | I am the vine, you are the branches

Christ the True Vine, icon, 16th century, Лоза Истинная (Виноградная лоза), Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens.

Christ the True Vine, icon, 16th century, Лоза Истинная (Виноградная лоза), Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens.

Today’s Readings:

Word format: Year B Easter 5th Sunday 2015

Pdf format: Year B Easter 5th Sunday 2015

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”  What does this mean for our relationship with Christ, the incarnate God?

Jesus is not simply an inspiring teacher to whom we listen. He is a force in which we participate, a body in which we are cells and molecules, a river in which we swim.  (Fr Robert Barron)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.

This means we have to immerse ourselves in his Word, and constantly invite the Holy Spirit to invade our minds with His thoughts.  If we do this, suddenly we find that the whole orientation of our life changes.  We start to desire what God desires as our minds become moulded and grafted onto God’s.  We want to fit in with his Divine Plan, instead of dictating to him what we think his Divine Plan ought to be.

Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away —
he withers; these branches are collected
and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.

Our culture today would interpret the above words of Jesus as being ‘judgmental’ and not at all ‘inclusive’.   How can God create us, just to throw us away?  God in fact doesn’t want to throw us away.  That is why he is asking us to listen to him, to remain in him, because if we in our arrogance, ignorance or laziness don’t even take time to do those things, we will end up throwing ourselves away.  Everything we do is a choice – closer to him or further away from him.  Here’s Fr Barron again, in a 2009 article titled ‘What the Hell‘:

Now rocks, trees, planets, animals, and stars respond to the divine love just by being what they are. But God made human beings in his own image and likeness, which is to say, he endowed them with mind and will and thereby invited them to respond to his love, not simply by the goodness of their being but by the integrity of their freedom. He wanted them to have the opportunity to participate personally in the love that he is. But this freedom carried with it, necessarily, a shadow, namely, the possibility of abuse. We who have been made in God’s image, can decide not to live in accord with that image; we who have been invited to answer God’s love with our love can answer it instead with resistance. To stand athwart the divine love, to run counter to the image of God within us, to turn away from the sun that shines on us whether we like it or not, is to suffer. It is like a furnace; it is a kind of torture; it is to be in a place of tears and the gnashing of teeth. I’m purposely using imagery for Hell here, because the definitive state of this resistance to God, the final No to God from the depths of one’s being, is precisely what the church means by Hell. And perhaps now we can begin to see why this doctrine hasn’t a thing to do with God “sending” anyone to a terrible place or “condemning” anyone to an eternal prison. As C.S. Lewis put it, “the door to Hell is always locked from the inside,” for it is always our perverse freedom, and not the divine choice, that locks us away from God. Lewis offered another extremely helpful point of clarification when he said that the love of God lights up the fires of Hell. He meant that the suffering of Hell is caused by the very same power that produces the delight of Heaven, namely, the love that God simply is. The difference between Heaven and Hell is a function of our freedom: in the first case, it opens itself to God, and in the second case, it turns away from God. A homey image might help. There are two people at the same party. One is caught up in the joy, rhythm, music, and laughter of the gathering, and he’s having the time of his life; the other, sunk in moody self-regard, resenting the joy of those around him, sulks in irritation, tortured by the very exuberance of the party itself.

Of course, if we follow God only because we are frightened by threats of Hell, our faith is pretty weak.  Why is it that we’re so bad at describing the joy of the abundant living we receive from God?  This is something that Christians need to become better at – and perhaps we should spend more of our time describing the joyful answers to prayer that we receive, the Evangelii Gaudium and the ecstasy of a life of intense prayer.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will and you shall get it.

When a soul aligned with Him in obedience and love asks for a favour, God will satisfy the deepest longings his or her heart.  What are your hearts deepest longings, and do they fit in with God’s Word?