15th Sunday Gospel reflection

Amos was called by God and sent to prophesy to the people of Israel. Amaziah, on the other hand, was an official employee of the crown and was responsible for the cultic activities at Bethel, the royal shrine. This passage does not explicitly tell us why Amos was not wanted. It simply states that Amaziah tells him to flee, lest harm come to him. The prophet defends his call from God and his right and responsibility to prophesy in Israel. He was not connected with the court or with a particular shrine, nor had he belonged to any prophetic guild. His coming to Bethel was due entirely to the command that he had received from God.

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14th Sunday Gospel reflection

In today’s wonderful reading from Mark’s Gospel we would expect to find Jesus’ home town accepting and welcoming him with open arms. Jesus’ ability to teach so well, his wisdom, and deeds of power, however, cause so much offence that the hometown crowd turn on him because he claims too much for himself. Jesus, literally, gets the hell out of there.

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Touching the hem of the garment

13th Sunday Gospel Reflection

In the gospels we are told, within a single story, how Jesus cured two women who, on the surface, seem to have very little in common. The story runs this way:

Jesus is approached by a man named Jairus, who asks him to come and cure his daughter who is thirteen years old. As Jesus is making his way to Jairus' house, hemmed in by a curious crowd, a woman who, we are told, had been suffering from internal haemorrhaging for eighteen years and had spent all her money on doctors without getting any better, approaches him surreptitiously, saying to herself: "If I but touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed!" She does just that and, the gospels tell us, instantly the flow of blood stopped. Touching Jesus did for her what doctors couldn't do, it stopped her internal haemorrhaging. Jesus is approaching Jairus' house, he is told that the man's daughter is already dead, but he enters the house anyway, goes to the young girl's bed, takes her by the hand, and brings her back to life.

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What's in a name?

In today’s Gospel there is a bit of a wrangle about the naming of John the Baptist, and out of courtesy I need to go back a few pages in Luke’s story to remind you why. You see, names were important to God also. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him the name of his son would be John. Why John? I suppose it was because this name had a Hebrew root that meant (approximately) “Yahweh has shown favor,” an indication of John’s role in salvation history. The angel Gabriel appeared also to Mary, frightening her with an announcement of her holiness, and the blessedness of her womb, since it would bear the holiest child of all. The name of that child would be what we today know as “Jesus".

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Walk by faith and not by sight

The fable about a cedar tree describes a reversal that will be performed by God. What was once insignificant and vulnerable will be exalted. The shoot taken from the crown of the tree will be planted on a high and lofty mountain, a site that is traditionally regarded as the place where God dwells. There it will flourish, produce branches, yield fruit, provide shelter for every kind of winged animal. The image describes one of the most basic tenets of Israel's faith: God chooses the weak of the world to confound the strong. The splendour of the tree declares that God reverses the fortunes of the lofty and of the lowly, of the vigorous and of the withered.

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