Here in the UK we have had a real week of summer, but also one charged with uncertainty and change from the media obsession with Brexit to the drama in Turkey, the dope scandal engulfing Russian athletes, the aftermath of Nice in France. Hidden below the radar are other things, the dreadful bombings and destruction of Aleppo, the plight of migrant peoples, the destruction of animal species and environment by us humans, or the deep dark unknown stories of countries like North Korea. These are what we might call the 'dark side' of
Pope Francis reflected on the importance of hospitality during his Angelus address to pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Sunday. Receiving a guest into our home doesn't require so much, he said, but one thing is necessary, to listen to guests, so that they feel truly among family. Commenting on the day's Gospel which recounts the story of Mary and Martha receiving Jesus in their home, the Holy Father said: "In busying herself and doing things, Martha runs the risk of forgetting the presence of her guest, who in this case is Jesus."
My friends often tease me by saying that I only work in term time and on Sundays so I've plenty of holidays. That's not even partially true, in the months of July and August I teach and direct some of my Department's Oxford University Summer Schools. All great fun as well as enormously hard work! It's a wonderful experience meeting and connecting with so many people from all over the world. Besides the excitement of learning, people forge good friendships and this, I think, is one of the most important parts of what we do!
At the Angelus on Sunday, with pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable, the Pope said, "indicates a style of life, in which the centre of gravity is not ourselves, but others." Like the doctor of the law in the day's Gospel, we might ask ourselves, "Who is my neighbour? Is it my friends, my parents, my fellow countrymen, my co-religionists?" Jesus does not answer the question directly, but instead tells of the Good Samaritan, a man who did not observe the true religion,
As somebody who is part of ordained ministry, I have to continually remind myself that whatever I may think, no matter how hard I may convince myself otherwise, I and others like me are symbols of authority, power and a dose of privilege. That's why parables like the one about the Good Samaritan are necessary reading and reflection for ministry, there we see in the action of the Levite, no doubt convinced that he is following the law of non pollution and perhaps avoiding a trap by robbers, a shadowy reflection of ourselves. I know that as a priest there will
After a tumultuous week in UK politics one could be forgiven for wanting to seek some solace and reassurance in the scriptures, but I'm afraid what we get in Luke's account of the sending of disciples ( Lk 10: 1-20)is yet more uncertainty. Jesus does not give any ready made answers, nor does he seek to comfort those he sends, instead he reminds us all that ministry and mission as disciples will not be plain sailing: 'Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.' The mission is clear; we are to proclaim the God's Kingdom! Some may accept
The two minutes silence held at 7.28 on Friday July 1 2016, led up to 7.30, zero hour, the time when the battle of the Somme began. This was an offensive against the German Army led by British and French troops; it lasted until the 18th November 1916 and took place on the banks and upper reaches of the River Somme. It was arguably the one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the First World War. More than a million men were killed or wounded. On the first day the official statistics show the appalling carnage,
Today the Lord invites us to make a serious examination of conscience, Pope Francis said on Thursday during a special Jubilee audience at St Peter's Square. It's one thing to talk mercy but quite another to live it, he said. Mercy is not an abstraction or a lifestyle and, paraphrasing the words of St James the Apostle, mercy without works is dead in itself. Pope Francis reflected on the text of Matthew 25:31 as he spoke about acts of mercy toward others. What makes mercy come alive is its dynamism to meet the spiritual and material needs of others, he said.
Special prayers were said for the victims, loved ones, and families of the 12 June Orlando massacre, at the evening Mass at Farm Street in Mayfair on Sunday - marking the end of Pride weekend. Music was provided by the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir. There was an exhibition of photographs of the 49 young people who lost their lives. (See the full list of names in the ICN Prayer Request section). Father Tony Nye SJ gave the following homily, reflecting on the day's readings:
In his homily during Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul today in St Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis focused on the themes of "closing" and "opening" in the lives of the two patrons of Rome. The Church must avoid the risk of closing in on itself out of persecution and fear, the Pope said. At the same time, she must be able to see "the small openings through which God can work." Prayer, he said, "enables grace to open a way out from closure to openness, from fear to courage, from sadness to joy. And we can add: from division to unity."
Given that those of us in the UK have been part of a seismic shift in the political direction of our country, how do these words of Jesus, quoted by Luke, seem to you? Jesus said: "No one who sets a hand to the plough
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." I guess some of you reading this will feel that the earth you know and understand has shifted its axis, some will be fearful, some resentful, others hopeful, the uncertain waters ahead cannot be fathomed as of yet!
During his weekly General Audience on a very hot and sunny Wednesday, attended by thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel story of the leper who was healed by Jesus as a sign of God's mercy and forgiveness. As Jesus reached out and touched the unclean man, he said, so we must never be afraid to reach out and touch the poor and those most in need. At the same time, he said, the Lord invites each of us to feel our own need and to ask for his healing touch.
Before judging others we should look at ourselves in the mirror, Pope Francis said in his homily during Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Monday. In his last Mass with a homily there ahead of the summer break, the Holy Father pointed out that what distinguishes God's judgment from ours is not "omnipotence" but "mercy. Judgment belongs to God alone, so if we do not want to be judged, we should not judge others says Pope Francis. Reflecting on the day's Gospel, the Pope said "all of us want the Lord to look upon us with kindness" on Judgment Day and that
Since we met at Mass last weekend we have had the most horrendous massacre of young people in the gay club in Orlando last Sunday and then the murder of the young MP Jo Cox on Thursday. The cutting short of young life in a most cruel and violent way by other human beings - deranged? Misguided? Certainly full of hatred. The reaction of a Jesuit priest in the United States called James Martin was to say: "We must stand with the people of Orlando in their grief. But we must also stand with the LGBT community too in theirs.
During his special Jubilee Audience for the month of June in St Peter's Square today (Saturday), Pope Francis reflected on Jesus' call to conversion which was expressed not in judgment but in closeness to sinners and mercy to those in need. Reflecting on the Gospel passage in which the Risen Jesus encounters his disciples on the road to Emmaus, Pope Francis said Jesus' call to conversion is an experience of unmerited love which leads to openness to others, especially to the poor. He said the theme of conversion is present throughout the Bible, especially in
Paul's words to the Galatians 'you are all one in Christ Jesus' are stunning in their universality for anyone who is a follower of Christ. They call us to sweep away all divisions, for our common baptism into Christ's life, our faith in Christ Jesus make us all children of God through him. Now, I hear those words, I preach about them, but if I dig deep into the recesses of my heart and soul do I actually believe them? I certainly don't live by them because due to all kinds of reasons my prejudices get in the way of my judgment, sometimes I am not even fully aware of them.
During Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday morning, Pope Francis said prayers are not magic words for Christian, but when we pray the 'Our Father' we can feel God looking at us and this prayer should be the cornerstone of our prayer life. Taking his inspiration from the Gospel reading where Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the Our Father, the Pope's homily was a reflection on the value and meaning of prayer in the life of a Christian. He noted that Jesus always used the word "Father" in the most important or challenging moments of his life,
Pope Francis encouraged believers to open their eyes and hearts to God's love for the poor and to the gift of healing that he offers to all who turn to him in faith. His words came during the weekly General Audience with pilgrims in St Peter's Square. Reflecting on Jesus' miracle of restoring sight to a blind man on the way to Jericho as recounted in the Gospel of Luke, he said the blind man was sitting on the roadside begging and pointed out that, until not long ago, a person with disability had no choice but to live on charity. "That blind man, Francis said,
Praying for our enemies can heal our hearts: that was Pope Francis' message at Mass in Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning. Recalling his own childhood in Argentina, when people prayed that dictators would go to hell, the Pope recalled how Jesus himself tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Reflecting on the day's Gospel of St Matthew where Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies, Pope Francis noted that this instruction was in contrast to what the Doctors of the Law taught in those days:
Whilst I was musing on what to share with you, I kept turning to the Gospel (Luke 7: 36-8:3) and reflected on the different mention of women in the ministry and life of Jesus. Jesus visits to Simon the Pharisee's home to share a meal. Though Simon is a perceptive and religious man, for some unaccountable reason he neglects the basic tenet of hospitality to guests, Jesus' feet remain unwashed, nor given the welcome kiss or anointed with scented oil. Instead we have the extraordinary scene of a wealthy woman, washing the unwashed feet with her tears of repentance,
Pope Francis focused on three attitudes that are characteristic of the Christian, during Mass at Casa Santa Marta yesterday; 'standing' before God in 'silence' to hear His voice and readiness to 'go out' into the world to proclaim what one has heard to others. The Pope warned against the danger of paralyzing fear in one's life. In the First Reading of the Day, the Holy Father recalled how Elijah was victorious, how he "fought so much for the faith," and defeated hundreds of idolaters on Mount Carmel. But then, he reaches breaking point.
Pope Francis warned against excessive rigidity, saying those within the Church who tell us "it's this or nothing" are heretics and not Catholics. His comments came during morning Mass on Thursday at Casa Santa Marta. In his homily the Pope reflected on the harm caused by those who do the opposite of what they preach and urged them to free themselves from a rigid idealism that prevents reconciliation between each other.
"In this age lacking in social friendship, our first task is that of building community" Pope Francis said today in his Twitter message. The Holy Father expressed the same ideas during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. Reflecting on the Gospel of the day, Pope Francis recalled how Jesus told his disciples "you are the salt of the earth"... "you are the light of the world." Christians must be salt and light, but never self-serving. Salt must add flavour and light must illuminate the other.
Pope Francis urged Christians to follow the guidance of the Beatitudes, in his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta this morning (Monday}. Reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount, Pope Francis said Jesus' teaching on that occasion did not erase the old law; rather it 'perfected' it bringing it to its fullness: "This is the new law, the one we call 'the Beatitudes'. It's the Lord's new law for us." He described this teaching as the "roadmap for Christian life" which gives us the directions to move forward on the right path.
One of the lessons I learnt from a wise spiritual father is that God's mercy is certainly not like mine; it is unconditional in its compassion. When we fall out with friends or family, situations can get worse because though we go through the motions of forgiveness, we cannot let go of a grievance, real or imagined. This can make us childishly jealous, resentful and angry, raking up the past to get at one another, often by pointing out how ungrateful people are a towards us! Saint John Climacus wrote: "Some people with a hot temper do not worry about it