Sunday, 29 January 2012

The God who Trespasses

Gospel Mk 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,  and on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching,  for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
 he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are? The Holy One of God!"

Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."  His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

I find this Gospel that we heard today intriguing. It opens up for us a whole new awareness of the boldness of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus goes to hallowed ground on a holy day. The synagogue and the Sabbath are crucial to the understanding of Judaism. In this place he confronts a whole attitude towards the sick and embattled and in a brief moment astonishes those who hear his words and witness his actions.

For the scribes, purity is a focal point of their teaching. Realistically it is an easy teaching for it is simply one of avoiding any thing that can contaminate you and make you impure. Holiness was measured by purity, so therefore avoiding anything impure somehow made you holy.

A man is in the synagogue and he is held captive by what is described as an unclean spirit. His presence amongst the gathering is dangerous and disturbing. Just being close to someone with such a condition makes one unclean and would contaminate the worship place. The unclean spirit is used to being left alone to stifle this man’s life. The unclean spirit works through fear to maximise his effect on the individual and the community. In the presence of Jesus, the spirit is fearful. It presents a strong case that it is Jesus who should be fearful. ‘What do you want with us?’, could mean ‘back off, you don’t really want to mess with us do you?’ The unclean spirit goes further – ‘You are the Holy One of God’. The Holy One definitely would not want to be defiled, so leave us be. Don’t come any further.

Jesus is bringing to humanity a new awareness of God and how God loves. John Shea in his book Eating with the Bridegroom, suggests that Jesus came to trespass on those areas of our life that we think light and love cannot penetrate. So the unclean spirit is ordered to leave the man. It leaves knowing that its grasp cannot be maintained in the presence of such loving power. The crowd are astonished and amazed. They recognise a new quality to the teaching that they have received and they acknowledge it as power and authority. Don’t be fearful but bring faith and love to those things that seem to overpower us.

What is Jesus saying to us in this Gospel? Around him he has gathered disciples and followers. His word has touched them and they willingly follow. But their attitudes have to change. Somehow they, and all of us, have to change our mind about God. God loves us. It is a difficult lesson to learn. And faith is not about fear, it is always about giving that love a primacy in our lives. The opposite of fear is love and with love is freedom.

Maybe in our prayer we can bring before the Lord all that we think separates us from him. Let us allow Jesus to speak to us in the silence of our hearts, to quieten and quash all that keeps us apart from him, from all that holds us bound up with fear, from all that we feel is unholy and impure. Let us allow Jesus to trespass on the unholy ground of our lives and bring his light and peace to us.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Mission that changed lives and perspectives

As previously reported, Fr Damian was part of a Mission team led by the Ten Ten Theatre Company, working in a Boy's School in Harlesden, north London. Last week there was a report in the Catholic Times on the impact that the mission had on the school. to read the article follow the link

for photo diary of the mission

Fr Damian has been on tour with the company for the last two weeks facilitating sessions in Secondary Schools around the country on the themes of friendship, relationships and intimacy.

For further information on the work of the Ten Ten Theatre Company please see its website.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Mary's Meals Friday Picture

This week's PhotoFriday is sure to make you smile! Do you know it costs just 4 pence for each meal we provide in Malawi? These happy children go to one of the Under-Six Centres that offer Mary's Meals and they are a small part of the half a million we now feed across the South-East African nation!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Archbishop Peter Smith's concerns for social justice

In a letter published in The Times on Wednesday, 11th January 2012, Archbishop Peter expressed his concerns over welfare reforms being debated in the House of Lords.

He said that the proposed cap on household benefits would 'especially hurt larger families because it takes no account of family size, potentially forcing them to cut back on essentials such as heating and food, and in many cases resulting in the loss of their home'.
He also expressed concern over the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, saying that restricting legal aid would 'affect thousands of children whose parents are involved in civil cases, as well as victims of domestic abuse'. Full text of the Archbishop's Letter:

In coming weeks Parliament will take crucial decisions on amendments to two Bills, which will have a profound impact upon thousands of families.
The proposed cap on household benefits in the Welfare Reform Bill will especially hurt larger families because it takes no account of family size, potentially forcing them to cut back on essentials such as heating and food, and in many cases resulting in the loss of their home. This impact will at least be mitigated if the Bill is amended so that child benefit is not counted towards the capped amount. There are other issues, too, not least claimants being liable for the cost of official errors, even if they are unaware of those errors.
At the same time, restrictions to the availability of legal aid outlined in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will affect thousands of children whose parents are involved in civil cases, as well as victims of domestic abuse, fewer of whom will be entitled to support. The result is likely to be increased long-term public costs as well as greater suffering.
The experience of the member charities of our Caritas Social Action Network has underscored the increased poverty facing our society as a result of these changes.
While we all recognise that difficult decisions have to be made, it is vitally important to meet the fundamental needs of the most vulnerable families to prevent them from being pushed into further hardship.
Chairman, Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship
London SW1

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Epiphany Reflection ~ Evelyn Waugh

"Like me, you were late in coming. The shepherds were here long before. Even the cattle. They had joined the chorus of angels before you were on your way. For you, the primordial discipline of the heavens was relaxed, and a new defiant light blazed amid the disconcerted stars. How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculating where the shepherds had run barefoot! How odd you looked on the road attended by what outlandish liveries laden with such preposterous gifts. You came at length to the final stage of your pilgrimage and the great star stood still above you, and what did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod with a deadly exchange of compliments which there began that unending war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent. Yet, you came and were not turned away. You, too, found room before the manger. Your gifts were not exactly needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life, there was room for you, too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass. You are my special patrons and the patrons of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who, through politeness, make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talent. For his sake, who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for all the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not quite be forgotten at the throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom." (Helena, Loyola Classics edition, pp. 208-210)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Epiphany Proclamation 2012

While a day like Christmas is fixed in our minds and on the calendars on December 25th, many of the important feasts of the Church year move, based upon the date that Easter is set. Easter changes each year moving to the Sunday after the "Paschal Full Moon," and can fall between March 22 and April 25.
In ancient times before calendars were common, most people did not know the dates for the upcoming Liturgical year. On Epiphany Sunday, the upcoming dates were "proclaimed" after the gospel in this way:

Dear brothers and sisters,the glory of the Lord has shone upon us,and shall ever be manifest among us,until the day of his return.
Through the rhythms of times and seasonslet us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.
Let us recall the year's culmination,
the Easter Triduum of the Lord:
his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial,
and his rising celebrated
between the evening of the Fifth day of April
and the evening of the Seventh day of April,
Easter Sunday being on the Eighth day of April.

Each Easter -- as on each Sunday --the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deedby which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death.From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent,
will occur on the Twenty-Second day of February.
The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on the Seventeenth day of May.
Pentecost, joyful conclusion of the season of Easter,
will be celebrated on the Twenty-Seventh day of May.
And, this year the First Sunday of Advent will be
on the Second day of December.
Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christin the feasts of the holy Mother of God,in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints,and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.
To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come,
Lord of time and history,
be endless praise, for ever and ever.

 Light of the world,
You have come into my life; you are here for me in my poverty.
I am dazzled by the gifts you bring to me on this day:
“Your light is strong, your love is near.”

Truly you have drawn me far beyond the limits of the world,
and into the limit-less boundaries of your dizzying love.

My gifts are small, and often filled with fear.
They are my trust and my hope.
Please accept them and heal me
and let me be free enough to rejoice
that you are the Beloved Son
and that you have come for me.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.

Source: Creighton University Online Minisitries

Friday, 6 January 2012

Mary's Meals Friday Picture

This week's PHOTO FRIDAY shows Oscar Mendoza, our Head of Overseas Programmes, enjoying a big bowlful of tasty likuni phala during his recent visit to Malawi, where Mary’s Meals feeds 510,140 children every day. A 2011 sample of 44 Malawian schools recently found that enrolment had increased by 18% after the introduction of Mary’s Meals, while pass rates and attendance have also gone up.

For more information go to

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Christmas Cookie Recipe (Revised Translation)

Christmas Cookie Recipe (Revised Translation)

Serves: You and many.

Having procured one chalice butter, 2/3 chalice sugar, cream these ingredients, that by their commingling, you may begin to make the dough.

In a similar way, the butter is having been made commingled, with the sugar, beat in one egg.

Gather these dry ingredients to yourself, which you have received, so that, having combined them, you may add them to the dough which you have already begun to make: 2 1/2 chalices sifted all-purpose flour. 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Make the precious dough with your venerable hands.

Into the refrigerator graciously place the dough, so that it, having been chilled for the duration of 3 or 4 hours, before the rolling and the the cutting of the cookies.

When, in the fullness of time, you are a ready to bake these spotless cookies, these delicious cookies, these Christmas cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rolling out the dough and taking up the cookie cutter or stencil of your own choosing, fashion the cookies into forms that are pleasing.

Sprinkle colourful adornments of the cookies like the dewfall.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to attain to the brownness that is graciously granted them by the oven’s heat.

May these cookies be found acceptable in your sight, and be borne to a place of refreshment at your table whereon they may be served with milk, hot chocolate, or with your spirits.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Blessing for 2012!

May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most, and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.

Source: www.appleseeds