Sunday, 15 September 2019


September 15th 2019.  Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL   Luke 15, 1-32
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

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GOSPEL   Luke 15,  1-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbours and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.
“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbours
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

The Gospel of the LordPraise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Kieran’s summary . . . The parable of the merciful Father (the Prodigal Son) is told by Jesus in a specific situation: the Pharisees are complaining that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. At the end of the parable, the elder son comes in from the field and complains to his father because he has welcomed back the sinful son and organised a banquet for him. The complaint of the Pharisees and the complaint of the elder son are identical! This parable must be applied to each one of us. At the time that Luke was writing his Gospel, the era of the scribes and Pharisees was already over. So how can we apply this parable to ourselves? The elder son has an image of sin that is identical to the false picture of sin given by the serpent to Adam and Eve in the garden. Satan creates the lie that sin brings enjoyment and fulfilment; he whispers to us that the Father is a taskmaster who wants us to live servile and miserable lives of sterile obedience. This is clearly the view of the elder son. When he sees the banquet going on, he is furious because, as he sees it, the younger son has had his fun whilst he (the older brother) has lived a life of tedious compliance. Is that our view of sin? As something enjoyable? The Father makes clear that sin is a form of death. It is humiliating and demeaning. Twice he says, “This brother was dead and has come to life: he was lost and is found”. This parable challenges us to stop looking on our heavenly Father in the way that the elder son looks upon him, and to stop looking on sin as a sort of forbidden fulfilment. That is the way that Satan wants us to view God: as a taskmaster who does not really want our happiness and completion. Instead we must learn to see our Father as one who considers us to be precious. Like the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, we are of immeasurable value in the eyes of our father. He yearns for us to return to him for forgiveness.

The parable of the merciful father is directed at the Pharisees and scribes who complain about the merciful condescension of God
Often we approach the parable of the merciful father, forgetting that it is the third in a series of three parables that illuminate each other and arise in a specific circumstance: Jesus is surrounded by tax collectors and sinners, and they are complaining that, "He welcomes sinners and eats with them". In direct response to these complaints, Jesus begins the series of parables that includes the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son - and their finding. Jesus puts the complaints of the Pharisees and scribes in the mouth of the elder brother, who reproaches his father saying: "Now that this son of yours has returned, he has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, and for him you have killed the fat calf”. The anger of the older brother springs from envy: “He went to have fun, he spent everything, and now he is back, eating and drinking! And all the while, I have been serving you for so many years, never disobeying your command, and you never gave me a calf to have a party with my friends."

The younger son has the same false image of sin as that given to Adam and Eve by the serpent. Sin is portrayed as something enjoyable and fulfilling, when in actual fact it is destructive and negative
But what is sin, really? Is it "enjoyment"? No. The experience of the younger brother is tragic, devastating, humiliating, degenerating. The father in fact defines what sin is, and the text repeats twice this existential prophecy: "Your brother had died and come back to life, he was lost and is found".  Sin is death and deprivation, it is an experience of the loss of oneself. But since the time of the serpent in the book of Genesis, sin has instead been falsely portrayed as a better experience of life, of acquisition and of growth. Where do we find the "mentality" of the snake? Precisely in the words of the elder brother, which are really the words of the Pharisees and scribes. The serpent has infected our vision of religion. He has invented the lie that the reason for obeying the heavenly Father is not life and salvation, but frustrated duty and sterile renunciation, the search for one's own ethical correctness. This makes faith a place of self-denial without love.

What is worse? To be a sinner who errs and looks for forgiveness? Or with bitterness to consider myself righteous before a taskmaster God?
Who should you be afraid of the most? Of the younger sibling who errs and comes to his senses? Or of the older sibling who stands just one millimeter from Grace with a distorted vision of the Father who “obliges” him to be a servile subject and not a true son? It is worth pointing out that at the time Luke wrote this chapter, the Pharisees and the scribes already belonged to the past, but their mentality can persist among Christians of all ages. This is the moralistic attitude that forgets that a sinner is a lost sheep in need of forgiveness. A person immersed in sin is a lost coin, something of great value that is not to be lost. It is worth lighting the lamp, sweeping the house and searching carefully until we discover this truth of the heart, this truth about ourselves and others. And Heaven will celebrate every rediscovered sinner.

Friday, 6 September 2019


September 8th 2019.  Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL   Luke 14:25-33
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

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GOSPEL   Luke 14:25-33
Great crowds were travelling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

The Gospel of the LordPraise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Kieran’s summary . . . This week’s Gospel is the most radical in all of the Bible. If we are to be disciples of Christ, then we must “hate” our own lives. What can this shocking phrase mean? Is Jesus giving a list of things that must be done in order to be a disciple? Is he saying that if we do not make these renunciations, then we are not wanted as disciples? No, he is saying that attachments are overwhelming obstacles to following him. If we try to follow Jesus whilst remaining attached to these material things, then we are like the builder who begins to construct a tower without at first calculating what was required for its completion. The Christian life is not about ethical actions, or doing “good” things. It is about having the life of heaven in us! And how can we have the life of heaven in us if we love the mediocre and infantile things of this world? If I draw life from petty entertainment, empty pleasures, workplace rivalries, the superficial affections of others, possessions, etc., then I am not drawing life from Christ! The Greek language has different terms for “life”. There is the biological-psychological life I receive from my parents, and then there is the fullness of life that only God can give. If am to possess this second kind of life, then I must “hate” the first. It is very clear. The life I lead is either one sort or the other. That is why St Paul could say. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). The first kind of life – biological life - is given to me as a gift without my consent. I did not choose to be born. But the second kind of life – the life of God - requires my consent. Today, you and I are being called to have this life flowing through our veins. God cannot impose this kind of life on me because it requires freedom to live it. We can have a church filled with decent people of good will, but they will not be true followers of Christ until they “lose” their own lives based on infantile things and abandon themselves in freedom to the life offered by Christ. How often our Christianity has failed and our evangelisation has borne no fruit because we put our own projects, our own interests, our own affections, in first place instead of abandoning the governance of our lives into the hands of Jesus. It is not a question of being strong and competent, but of being weak, entrusting ourselves to the power of God.

There are two types of life: the biological-psychological life that we receive from our parents, and the life of heaven which Christ gives to us
This week's Gospel is one of the most radical of all Bible literature. If we take it as an ethical demand, or as a "good work" to be accomplished, it just doesn’t lead us anywhere. We need to start from another perspective. Even if we “sweeten” up the translation, it is still difficult to understand this most absurd of demands: "If anyone loves me no more than he loves his own life, he cannot be my disciple." What does it mean to love Christ more than one's life? The original text speaks of "hating" one’s own life. What exactly does Jesus mean? The word "life" in this text translates the Greek term psyché. This expression indicates human life, with its sophisticated consciousness. It is not just simple bios, which is life in the biological sense. But it is also different from zoé, that in the Gospels is used to indicate the fullness of life, the life that only God can give. And this is the point. There is not only biological-psychological life, which is the one we receive from our parents; there is also life according to Heaven, which is eternal life. In Greek, “eternal” does not mean "very long" but "without limits" – it refers to the fullness of life that Christ gives us.

We desire this fullness of life, but it cannot be achieved with our human efforts. It must be received from God. And this is where our contribution finally comes into play. The Lord does not impose but offers us life, and we must freely accept it.
Paradoxically, this life that we ​​desire so deeply is not something that we can obtain for ourselves. It is an existence that is received, not achieved with human efforts. Nevertheless, we are created in order to receive it, but this requires that we lose our life in order to have the life of Christ. So much so that St. Paul says: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). In fact, Baptism represents the passage from the biological-psychological life to that of the life of the children of God, which is altogether new. On God's part, this gift is offered, not imposed. We were born into human life without anyone asking for our permission, but the fullness of life does not come to us without our authentic consent.

While we remain satisfied with the mediocrity of this life, we will never be true followers of Jesus. If we draw “life” from the esteem of others and possessions, then we cannot draw life from Christ. It is not about doing good actions, it is about abandoning ourselves to Jesus and drawing life from him.
In the Church, there is always the risk that we have plenty of members who are people of good will, but who have never “lost their lives”. In order for us to want to lose this life, it must start to bore us. We must become nauseated by the insufficiencies of what we call “life”. We need to become disillusioned with its affective compensations and its reassuring possessions. We must get tired of living on petty things, infantile amusements, work rivalries, empty “victories”. The trouble is, if we remain satisfied with the mediocrity and the certainties of this world, we might well find Christ interesting or moving, but we do not follow him.  If we are drawing “life” from the affections of others and objects, then it will be very difficult for us to lose the esteem of others or those possessions that have such a hold on me. It is not a question of being good or bad, but of being content with mediocrity or wanting something more. Do I want to open up to something that is truly worthwhile and leads me to follow Christ, or do I want to continue to live as if survival is all that matters? Christianity is not for the superficial. In reality, nobody is superficial, but so many people make their existence into a superficial thing.

Friday, 30 August 2019


September 1st  2019.  Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL   Luke 14:1,7-14
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

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GOSPEL   Luke 14:1,7-14
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honour at the table.
"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honour.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
'Give your place to this man,'
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
'My friend, move up to a higher position.'
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Then he said to the host who invited him,
"When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbours,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

The Gospel of the LordPraise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Kieran’s summary . . . In the Gospel, Jesus exhorts us not to sit at the places of honour in a banquet because we risk being asked by the host to go to a less prestigious place. What is Jesus doing here? Is he giving rules of etiquette so as to save us from social embarrassment? No! He is not interested in anything so silly. As always, Jesus is saying something much more profound. Each one of us is conditioned to always look for first place. In work, in school, even in our families, we enter into rivalries with others. We react when we are ignored, when we are unobserved, when we are taken for granted. We yearn for notice, recognition, glory. This furious striving to place ourselves ahead of others causes so much tension and anguish in our lives! That is why Jesus encourages us to take the last place. What is the last place? In the Garden of Eden, Adam tried to put himself in first place by ignoring God’s command. But when we put ourselves last, then we allow God to assign a place to us! The place that God assigns to us bestows on us a dignity and freedom that we would never achieve if we follow our own pursuit of “dignity” and “prestige”. Do you want true satisfaction? Do you want a real reward? Then stop seeking yourself and allow God’s providence to take care of you. In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to give to those who have nothing to give us in return. In other words, do not give to the rich and powerful, but to those who are blind, lame and ill. Who is blind lame and ill? The people that I live with! Like me, they have their poverty, their patches of blindness, their slowness. These are the people that I must serve, especially in their negative aspects. In every marriage, sooner or later, you must face up to the fact that your spouse is poor, blind and lame in many respects, as you are yourself! It is at this moment that we must love as God has loved us.

Jesus asks us to take last place. What does he mean? Adam tried to take first place in the Garden of Eden! Taking last place means allowing God to assign a place to us.
The parable that constitutes the first part of this Sunday's Gospel invites us to take "the last place". What place is that? It is the position that we take when we are in a genuine relationship with our heavenly Father. In the garden of Eden, Adam took the first place, trying to take the position of God himself, with disastrous results! Salvation is all about becoming disciples, or being called to follow Jesus. If we follow his guidance, then he leads us to the right place, and this place is the carrying out of our unique mission. We are afraid to follow him because our souls are anxious to maintain themselves in first place! We fear not being important, not being acknowledged or recognized. Why are we so preoccupied with being in first place?  Why are our hearts so clogged with the obsession for honour and recognition?  In truth, we live an existence woven of things that last no more than five minutes!

What kind of satisfaction do you look for in life? What reward do you seek? The position that the Lord gives us confers upon us a dignity, freedom and meaning that we would never discover when we impose our own will on life.
The Lord has called us to something much more important and solid. He has a position to give us, one in which we receive a dignity that makes us free, a dignity that the contempt of others cannot damage. Our mistake is that we try to impose our own meaning on existence instead of allowing ourselves to be led by Providence. When we allow ourselves to be led by Him, we discover a whole new quality of joy, a celebration that will never end and that no one can take away from us. How many Christians in history have tasted this fullness of joy once they stopped trying to choose their own place and allowed themselves instead to be assigned a place by God! This joy is attained through acts of abandonment.

In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to give to those who have nothing to give us in return. In other words, do not give to the rich and powerful, but to those who are blind, lame and ill. Who is blind lame and ill? The people that I live with! Like me, they have their poverty, their patches of blindness, their slowness. These are the people that I must serve, especially in their negative aspects.
Jesus, in the second part of the Gospel, describes the organization of a dinner and a strange list of guests. Friends, family and rich neighbours are not to be included. Instead, invitations are to be sent out to "the poor, the lame and the blind", people who arrive with empty hands, who do not have anything to offer in return. The distinction that Jesus wishes to make is this: Is life about serving or being served? Feeding or being fed? It is not just a matter of choosing strangers to invite, but those who have absolutely nothing to give. That person could also be my brother or someone close to me, someone who is "poor, lame, blind". Every person has his blindness, his poor aspects, his slowness, his distortions.

In every marriage, sooner or later, you must face up to the fact that your spouse is poor, blind and lame in many respects, as you are yourself! It is at this moment that we must love as God has loved us.
In premarital courses, when preparing young people for marriage, it is necessary to train the future spouses in a simple truth: marriage is not a call to be with the other person simply because it is satisfying, intelligent, good or beautiful. True love is something unconditional. Therefore, it doesn’t always have these satisfactions. In fact, in every marriage, sooner or later, you have to come to terms with the fact that the person in front of you is poor, blind and lame in many respects. Just like you! It is at times like this that we all desperately need to be able to love like God, who loved us in times of poverty, in our lameness and when we understood nothing. In fact, none of us is ever "worthy of participating at his table". In summary, there are two opposite ways of living: seeking the best place and doing what benefits us most ... or letting God put us where he wants and live for the benefits that he bestows upon us. We will discover that God is much more generous than the whole world!

Saturday, 24 August 2019



August 25th 2019.  Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL   Luke 13,22-30
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

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GOSPEL   Luke 13:22-30
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
"Lord, will only a few people be saved?"
He answered them,
"Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
'Lord, open the door for us.'
He will say to you in reply,
'I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'
Then he will say to you,
'I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!'
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last."

The Gospel of the LordPraise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Kieran’s summary . . . In the Gospel, Jesus speaks about the “narrow gate” to salvation. But then he says that people will come from east and west, north and south, to sit at the banquet of the Kingdom. So we are being told that the gate is narrow, yet it is open to everyone! What does this mean? Salvation does not come to us automatically, just by virtue of the fact that we receive the sacraments or live “religious” lives. Entry to the Kingdom requires going through the narrow gate of humility. We must have genuine poverty of Spirit, always considering ourselves unworthy to be in the presence of God. We should always feel surprise that the Lord has invited us, has forgiven us, has united himself to us. But instead there is so much pride, arrogance and self-celebration in us! That is why the gate is narrow and so few enter! Woe to me if I take my salvation for granted. May I always realise that I am poor, insufficient and in danger of falling, someone who is in desperate need of salvation. Thus do I enter the narrow door of the Kingdom.

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks about the “narrow gate” to salvation. But then he says that people will come from east and west, north and south, to sit at the banquet of the Kingdom. So we are being told that the gate is narrow, yet it is open to all. What does this mean?
In the first reading the prophet Isaiah announces that the Lord will gather all peoples to himself. And some of them will becomes priests. Previously in the Old Testament, the pagans, the uncircumcised, were considered absolutely incompatible with the priesthood! With this key, the Church invites us to approach the Gospel reading in which Jesus talks about the “narrow gate” to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is responding to the question of how many people will be saved. And, even though Jesus is talking about the narrowness of the gate, the first reading reveals to us that there is something very open about this gate. In fact, Jesus goes on to say that people will come from the east and the west, the north and the south, and will eat at the banquet of the Kingdom. So why does Jesus appear to speak so negatively about those who are actually listening to him at that moment, as if the gate were too narrow for them? He is addressing those who consider themselves to be already “in”, who consider themselves to have merited salvation. Instead, we should always consider ourselves to be strangers who have come from afar, who do not deserve redemption.

Salvation does not come to us automatically, just by virtue of the fact that we receive the sacraments. Entry to the Kingdom requires going through the narrow gate of humility. We must have genuine poverty of Spirit, always considering ourselves unworthy to be in the presence of God. We should always feel surprise that the Lord has invited us, has forgiven us, has united himself to us. But instead there is so much pride, arrogance and self-celebration in us! That is why the gate is narrow and so few enter!
Salvation is not something administered by an office. Even our participation in the sacraments does not guarantee anything. Salvation is reserved for the narrow gate called “humility”, to those who have genuine poverty of spirit. We should always be surprised that the Lord has admitted us, has permitted us to enter. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who are all mentioned in the text, were poor according to human logic. Abraham was unable to have children, and neither Isaac nor Jacob were first-born sons but were still able to enter into the inheritance promised to them. They were elected by surprise, and that is how life is for each of us! Our election is not a right but a work of God, a pure gift. It is a generous action of God, but requires an attitude of humble surprise on our part. Who among us has deserved the limitless mercy of God, the forgiveness of sins, or to be worthy of receiving the body of the Lord? We must always repeat, “I am not worthy to enter into your banquet”. This is the narrow door that we must pass through. And it is a door that admits few and excludes the multitude because there is so much triumphalism in us, pride and self-celebration. This narrow gate of littleness opens to us often. The one who enters the Kingdom is the one who feels that he doesn’t deserve it, yet he knows his own needfulness of salvation.

Woe to me if I take my salvation for granted.
Our participation in the sacraments, our communion with the body of Christ, our listening to his Word – none of these things guarantees us anything unless we have passed through this gate of littleness, our awareness of our own poverty. People will come from east and west, north and south, because we know that we have no other destiny except destruction unless the Lord saves us. Woe to us if we take our salvation for granted. Whenever we pray the liturgy of the hours, we begin with “Oh Lord, come to save me, Oh Lord make haste to help me”. This is not the saying of someone who is sure of himself but rather that of one who knows he is in danger of sinking. We know that we are at risk of falling, and this prompts us to humility, enabling us to cross the threshold of the narrow door to salvation.

Friday, 16 August 2019


August 18th 2019.  Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL   Luke 12,49-53
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

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GOSPEL   Luke 12, 49-53
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

The Gospel of the LordPraise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Kieran’s summary . . . In Sunday’s Gospel passage, Jesus says something surprising. He has come to the world, not to bring peace, but division! Hold on a minute, isn’t Jesus supposed to be the prince of peace? But there are different kinds of peace! There is the peace of Christ, and then there is the peace that comes from avoiding struggle, avoiding problems, avoiding growth; the peace of self-satisfaction and the peace of a well-fed ego. If we think we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without confronting our ambiguities and our superficiality, then we need to think again! If we believe that we can become children of God while remaining enslaved to the things of this world, then we are sadly mistaken! Jesus comes to light a fire in the world. That fire is his passion in which he is immersed in the non-love and violence of this world. On the cross, he becomes the light of the world, to free us from our darkness and our ambiguities. And he calls us to conform ourselves to him, to battle against our inner contradictions. How can a man love his wife for all of his life if he does not engage in this battle against his own mediocrity and superficiality? How can he be a good father to his children if he does not struggle against his own selfishness? Some gurus claim that inner peace is a good sign, but peace is not always a mark of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit prompts a holy anxiety within us that prompts us to turn away from ourselves and back to God. How many people have turned back to the Church and the sacraments because of this sacred inner disquiet! Jesus comes to bring fire to our lives, a fire that purifies us and makes us children of his Father. Baptism means “immersion”. We who are baptized are called to be immersed in the Paschal event of Christ’s self-effacing love so that we leave our old lives behind and receive a new kind of life – the life of the child of God.

Jesus comes to bring fire to the world, to purify us, to turn us back to what matters and away from our ambiguities, selfishness, compromises and worldly fixations
"Do you think I came to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but division". These are paradoxical but necessary words. Life is often ambiguous and confused, frequently fixated with what is unworthy, and often inattentive to what is precious. We need to distinguish between what matters and what does not matter. We need a parameter of evaluation. In the Gospel of Jesus, this parameter arrives! "I have come to put fire on the earth, and how much I would like it to be already lit!" Fire is destructive, but it purifies things. In fact, the word "purify" comes from the Greek word for “fire”. "I have a baptism in which I will be baptized, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" "Baptism" in Greek means "immersion". We know what Jesus is talking about. The fire that will be lit is his Passion, when he will be immersed in the darkness of the non-love and violence of this world. He will feel all the anguish of Gethsemane and he will shine on the cross during a midday eclipse, remaining the only light in the world. He does this in order to free us from the ambiguity in which we tend to wallow.

If we are to have the fullness of life, then the substitutes for real love must be rooted out of our lives. Our ambiguities and superficiality must be combatted if we are to be truly free
The fire that Jesus is talking about is his way of giving life, of loving and forgiving that stands in absolute contrast to our mediocrities. Too often, we are content with surrogates of love, with substitutes that are not genuine. Living by grace as children of God brings with it a lucidity, a fire that shows up what is trivial and superficial within us. We need to be engaged in this inner struggle. How can a husband love his wife all his life if he is not constantly engaged in the struggle to be liberated from his ambiguities? How can he be a good father to his children if he doesn't battle within his heart to be ever more free from himself?

Peace is not always a mark of the Holy Spirit. There is also the peace that comes from avoiding problems or from hypocrisy. The Holy Spirit often makes us feel restless in order to lead us to a better place.
There are some popular “masters” of spirituality who say: "If you are at peace then you are doing God's will for sure". What ignorance! This Gospel passage says just the opposite. Peace by itself means nothing. There is the peace of Christ, but there is also that which comes from hypocrisy or through the avoidance of problematic people. Avoiding problems brings peace, but this is not God’s way. It is merely a way of defending one’s own comfort zone. We all tend to seek confirmation whenever we are in the wrong. And somewhere we will find something or someone who will prove us right. And then we're at “peace”. But it is not the peace of Christ! On the contrary, the action of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the one who is on the wrong path is precisely to prompt restlessness. Very often it is a feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself that brings people back to Christ. How many times we meet people who have returned to the Church and to the sacraments because of a holy discomfort they had with the way of life they were conducting.

A holy disquiet prompts us to enter the inner battle that helps us to become children of God
If I am called to follow Christ, this puts me against the popular current of superficiality and worldliness. How could it be otherwise? But we often try to avoid this battle. This Sunday's Gospel calls us to a holy anxiety, an anxiety that does not assuage our consciences if we are in error. A sacred disquiet that makes us grow, that helps us to become children of God rather than slaves of this world.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

AUGUST 11th 2019. NINETEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
GOSPEL: Luke 12:32-48
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(Translation of a homily by Don Fabio Rosini broadcast on Vatican Radio)

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Don Fabio’s homily follows the Gospel.

GOSPEL                                    Luke 12:32-48
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 
Sell your belongings and give alms. 
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. 
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. 
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. 
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants. 
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into. 
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” 
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? 
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. 
Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant
in charge of all his property. 
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly. 
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Kieran’s summary . . . The theme of this Sunday’s Gospel is the eternal significance of each and every human action. Either an act leads me towards paradise or it leads me towards the void. How often we tend to be caught up in the immediate significance of our acts! But an act cannot be understood properly unless we see it from the perspective of its eternal dimension. We spend so much effort on storing up treasures, accumulating possessions, making purses for ourselves that will soon wear out. The Gospel challenges us to create purses for ourselves in heaven, ones that will never disappear. It is the eternal aspect of our actions that gives sense and meaning to our lives. If our existence is just a succession of acts that lead nowhere, then how shallow and empty it is! But if my life is lived in the expectation and hope of liberation by God, of encounter with the master who will return, then how much depth my existence acquires! I cease to go around in circles; I begin to behave as one who comprehends the eternal import of each and every action. Then, like St Francis of Assisi, every difficulty in life becomes a delight because we see in that difficulty the announcement of something greater that is to come.  

The Gospel challenges us to be focussed on that which is to come
The first reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks of the Exodus, an event that had been preannounced to the people of God so that they might have courage when the happenings began to unfold. The Gospel reading, too, speaks of the relationship between the present and the future. Jesus tells us that we can be serene and courageous in the face of our present problems because our Father in heaven has been pleased to grant us the Kingdom. This is the same sort of logic that we find in the Beatitudes – “Blessed are those who are afflicted now for they shall be consoled. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. The entire Gospel challenges us to be ready for that which is to come: to be ready for the master who will one day return; to be prepared for the prize that awaits in the future, the spouse who is expected to arrive, the reward that is due to us. The beginning of the passage tells us to sell our belongings and give alms, to make purses for ourselves that will not wear out.  There are purses that grow old and those that do not; treasures that fade away and those that remain; possessions that criminals can take from us and those that cannot be stolen.

All my acts can only be understood in the light of their consequences
Every human act has a consequence; in fact an act can only be understood fully in the light of its consequences. How often we tend to be superficially caught up in the present moment and the immediate aspect of our behaviour! We need to be aware that every act leads somewhere. Every act I do is bound up with the reality of what God intends to do with me. If each and every act I do is not directed towards a definite end, then it is a stupid and blind act. Our existence is either a succession of disordered events or it is something that has sense and meaning. If I believe that the events in my life are the result of chance, then life becomes ugly and shallow. Our lives develop depth when they begin to be directed towards a goal, when we begin to expect liberation from God, when we begin to await something wonderful with expectation and hope. Pope Francis often exhorts us not to lose hope. If hope becomes obscured, if I lose sight of the goal of my existence, then everything becomes dry and tasteless. St Francis of Assisi said, “The good that awaits me is so great that every pain has become a delight”. We become cheerful in difficulty when we realize that those difficulties announce something wonderful to come. In the spiritual life, once of the fundamental things is to clarify my ultimate goals. Any act that takes me away from this ultimate goal is useless in itself. In fact it is dehumanising and takes the soul out of what I am doing.

Before doing anything, I should ask myself, “Does this act lead me towards paradise or towards the void?” If it does not lead towards paradise then it is something dehumanising

The Gospel exhorts us to be ready to depart, to be ready for the return of the master, to be attentive to the will of the master. All of this points to a mode of existence that is directed towards a wonderful goal. We are challenged to ask ourselves where we are going. If I continue behaving and living as I am now, where will I end up? What will be the outcome of my behaviour? Am I heading towards heaven or towards the void? Every act I commit is either leading me towards heaven or it is not. It is either directed towards paradise and greatness or it is not. Once there was a lot of emphasis in Christian preaching on death, judgement and salvation. These themes are less common nowadays because they are considered negative, but they are important and can be illuminated in fruitful ways. Everything I am doing must be seen in the light of the fact that the master will one day return and he will ask me what I have been doing, if I have been preparing for his coming. Have I been behaving as one who wishes to enter into his house? Or as someone who belongs outside? Did I act with eternity as my goal? Or with the void as my goal? In this season of summer we can often lose ourselves and follow after things that are empty and vain. But there is another way. If we have extra leisure time on our hands, we can use it to pull ourselves together and redirect our lives. Instead of going around blindly in circles, we can accept the challenge of this Sunday’s Gospel and fix our eyes firmly on our goal, leaving aside everything that is secondary.

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