“The Time Has Come!”

In this Sunday’s gospel we see Jesus make a formal announcement to the world that the time for his ministry is going to start and he does so in a very bold fashion.

Last week, Jesus met John the Baptist, a man who preached that the lamb of God would be coming soon. This week, John the Baptist is arrested. While this would normally frighten others off, Jesus decides to officially announce that his ministry would start to the world and begins to recruit many of his disciples by saying the famous line “I will make you fishers of men!”

Fish Catch

Let’s look back at the times. John the Baptist, massive supporter of Jesus, is arrested and will soon be killed. Many around Jesus spread rumours “What will Jesus do now? Surely he won’t continue on this journey!” Jesus looks at what happens and decides to do something bold. ‘THE TIME HAS COME! The Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe in the Good News!”

Jesus takes a huge risk and doubles down. Jesus backs himself because he knows what he says he true and good and people will follow him.

Person About to Catch Four Dices

How many of us are bold like this with our faith? When those around us are persecuted for their beliefs, how many of us listen to the rumours and back down?

Jesus is calling us to be bold and believe. He calls us to follow him and listen to what he has to say.

To Love and to Love Fully

One of the toughest things Jesus asks us to do is to love.

Two Hands Holding Heart Shaped Lollipops

Some might try and quote song lyrics or some poetry that says “loving is easy” but the type of love that Jesus calls us to is anything by easy.

Its not this weeks reading but the good Samaritan provides some context into the type of love calls us to.

The priest and levite that passed Jesus are often posed as some sort of villains but I see them as reflections of myself. If the priest or levite had seen a loved one or a friend laying there, I bet they would of not hesitated to help.

The priest was too concerned with his cleanliness. He made excuses to not help. “I cant be unclean” or “it wasn’t me who beat the man” or “He looks pretty dead to me already, there is nothing I can do” are all things I bet who was running through his head.

Man's Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photography

In my life I also make excuses to not love. “He wronged me first” or “They are a bad person” are things I say or think to myself when I’m called to love EVERYONE.

Jesus doesn’t call us to love those who loves us, he calls us to love EVERYONE. There are no exceptions. The murderer on the news, the friend who cheats us, the homeless man on the street, all these, Jesus calls us to love.

Jesus doesn’t call us to be walked over and to constantly exhaust ourselves being slaves to those around us but he does call us to treat people, no matter what they have done to us, with dignity and respect.

He also didn’t just love those he believed deserved to love. He loved the children who were starving and the criminal on the cross next to him equally. He understood that each and every person was worthy of love.

Monk Surrounded by Children

How do we treat the people who have wronged us? Doe we talk behind their backs? I know, I do but it’s game over for me yet.

It’s never too late to start to love others or even just take a step in that direction. What steps will you take to begin or continue to love as Jesus taught us to? How will you love fully and without discrimination going forward?

“Come and See”

Brown Human Eye

In this coming Sunday’s reading (John 1:35-42) we hear a simple, yet profound message.

In this reading, John the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples and then all of a sudden Jesus walks past. John the Baptist is shocked and says “Hey fellas, its Jesus, the lamb of God”. Everyone is amazed! The two disciples run up to Jesus and ask “Rabbi, where do you live?” to which Jesus responds with “Come and See”. They all then go be with Jesus and some others join him and become disciples of Jesus.

I liken this experience to eating a really good meal. When you have a really good meal and someone asks “Is it good?” and since you know that the food is so good, the best thing you can do is give them a taste. Jesus does something very similar. Jesus is so confident in the message that he has to share that he simply says “come and see”.

Cooked Food

All to often in our spirituality we can get caught up with trying to explain our faith to others or convince them that our faith is real, but Jesus shows us there is a far more effective way.

Come and see. How many of us with our faith would be confident enough to simply say “come and see” to those who ask about our faith? Another valid question with this would be: Do we show our faith tangibly to the world or how do we show the joy of Christ to those around us?

Christ is within each one of us. By following in Christ and showing the world who we really are, Jesus can continue to say “Come and See” to allow more and more people to experience the love of Jesus.

Are you making room?

In this Christmas season, we always find the time to see our friends and relatives (in-laws and out-laws as well). We also find the room to fit that little bit of extra Christmas lunch in, but do we find the time and room for Jesus?

White Concrete Inn Near Green Covered Mountain at Daytime

Roughly 2000 years ago, the inn keeper could not find the room for Mary, Joseph and little baby Jesus. We look back at the occasion with wonder and awe. I often hear phrases like: “If I was the innkeeper, I would of made room for them!” or “If only they knew who they were turning away”. We just think how crazy it would be to turn someone like Jesus away, but the truth is we do this all the time.

Many times we will often fail to fit Jesus into our lives. Of course there is the obvious example of missing Church but we also fail to fit Jesus in when we don’t put in the time for those struggling around us. When we look away from the homeless or we are unkind, we fail to be Christlike and in that moment, we are actively turning Jesus away from our inn.

Girl Sitting on Woman's Lap While Holding Pen and Paper

Christ always makes it clear that there is always room for each and every one of us in his inn. So maybe, in this Christmas season, we should return the favour and open our doors to Christ by opening our hearts to the people around us and caring for those it may be a bit difficult to care for.

Bringing the Masses back to Mass

Unrecognizable men praying in old catholic church

Bringing the masses back to mass is something that many of us Catholics have the desire and drive for but how do we make this happen?

Mass attendance has slowly been declining across the board and it’s an issue we face as we look at an aging and declining Church.

The answer to this problem is evangelisation but how we go about doing this really matters. Sometimes it seems no matter what we say, we can’t seem to convince anyone to come along to mass.

Man and Woman Pose On a Cross Monument

If we truly believe that we have something special in regards to our spirituality and relationship with Christ, then it is certainly something worth sharing. So…How do we go about this?

We need to start thinking like a Star Wars fan.

You see, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I read all the books, I watch all the movies and TV shows and read up online about all the small facts that wouldn’t interest most people.

Chewbacca of Star Wars

I could tell you about all my fan theories about what I think will happen in the next episode of the Mandalorian, I could show you my favorite Star Wars creatures and I could explain the different styles of lightsaber combat. However, no matter how cool that all may seem to me, if you are not a Star Wars fan, you will not care in the slightest. Infact, you are probably turned off Star Wars even more.

If I want someone to begin to love Star Wars as much as me, I have to engage them on a more universal term. Joy. Rather than sharing my knowledge, I need to share emotion. When someone see’s how much I enjoy Star Wars, it shows them that there is something worthwhile about my hobby. By sharing joy, I draw someone towards the experience.

Girl Holding White Flower

This is the same for evangelisation. We must live as Christ taught us and show people what happens when we live to those values. We are radiant and filled with joy. We are changemakers and people who stick to their values. These are attractive aspects that make people think that there’s something worthwhile in our faith.

So go out, share the joy! Live to the fullest! Show that to the world.

“Don’t Clothe Your Hate With Faith!”

The Gospel reading this Sunday has some Pharisees cornering Jesus and putting him in a hard place, which he gets through with ease.

Like many stories in the Bible, it is clear that the Pharisees do not like Jesus. He is a rogue in the system that the rich and powerful have created. Dis-crediting Jesus would have allowed this system to continue on peacefully.

The Pharisees see an opportunity to put Jesus into a position that forces him to go against God OR Caesar, both of which would have poor outcomes for Jesus. Jesus takes a very wise path.

The Pharisees ask “Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar?” to which Jesus responds with, “Let me see the money you pay the tax with! Whose head is on the back of this coin? Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what Belongs to God”.

Silver Liberty in God We Trust 1978 Coin

Many communities face discrimination at the hands of power in our society. The poor are taken advantage of, the powerless are forced to work and the weak are trampled upon. Our faith calls us to care and look after these people where we can, which a vast majority of Christians and Catholics do. There are however groups that face discrimination at the hands of some in our Church.

Members of our LGBTIQ+ community within our world often face discrimination, particularly by those within faith communities. Often, these so-called people of faith claim that this discrimination is actually part of their faith, and that in-fact that what they are doing is out of love and not fear and hate.

Photo of Crowd of People

In my work within the Church, often I face a similar situation that Jesus faced. People come to me and ask “Do you stand by the people of the LGBTIQ+ community or do you disagree with them wholeheartedly because the Bible says (Insert a Bible verse here)”. This puts me in a difficult situation, but following the advice of Jesus, I can navigate this situation. “Why do you put me in this position? Why do you trap me? How do you treat these children of God? Do you treat them with discrimination, hate and malice? Do not clothe your hate with faith!”

By placing ourselves above others, we make it easy to look down upon those who make choices that we don’t understand or agree with. If we are people of faith, then we must also act like it.

What are we giving to God and what are we giving to ‘Caesar’ within our own lives? Are we living up to the examples that Jesus laid before us and are we treating those in our lives with respect and love. We must not be as small minded as the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus and try to clothe our hate with faith.

Feeding the Hungry

Human Holding a Bread

This weeks gospel and readings put a heavy focus on eating and fulfilment. Jesus throughout his ministry is constantly sharing meals with those around him and this week, Jesus seemingly creates food from thin air.

The Gospel is the classic story of Jesus feeding the crowd with loaves and fishes. What is of particular importance is that this story is common across all four gospels and is retold a total of 6 times. In fact, this is the only miracle common across the four gospels making it quite special.

The fact that the Bible has included this story so much shows how important it was to the early Christian community.

Photo of sea food

So, as always, let’s look at the time that Jesus lived and what food meant to them. Food was nothing short of life. Access to food was a primary concern for many in the community. In addition to this, food had heightened importance compared to nowadays within ceremonies. The quality and quantity of food showed how important a person was within the community. Those who were rich and powerful ate bountiful amounts of delicious food, whereas, lowly peasants ate what little bread and fish they could.

Throughout the readings, the Bible calls us to eat plentifully and that the food we so desire will be given to us freely and then to top it all off, we will never thirst or starve again. In the time of Jesus, this was a beyond lofty promise.

Jesus was promising starving and thirsty people that they shall never have to be concerned with food again. Only in their wildest dreams was this a possibility.

Jesus Returns to the Big Screen in Biblical Movie 'Son of God ...

Jesus partially fulfils this promise in the eyes of the people by feeding them loaves and fishes. While not extravagant food, Jesus allows them to eat as much as possible, a very rare and generous offering. Jesus however, is actually offering a much more substantial and lifegiving gift.

Nowadays, we lose the meaning of the story of Jesus feeding the hungry. While much of our global community still suffers from starvation, much of our Western world lives without fear of starvation or thirst so we cannot fully understand the crux of Jesus’ message. We must look deeper.

The spiritual food Jesus offers to us is just as vital to our spiritual survival within the western world as it is within the whole world. We are starving spiritually as much as anyone else. What Jesus offers is nourishment for our souls, the most important nourishment of all.

It has been said that our bodies are merely vessels that carry our souls. While it is very important to care for our bodies, our souls and its needs are of absolute importance. We can have starving vessels but nourished and happy souls. This fact is ultimately what Jesus wants us to know. Jesus wants us to know that our bodies will always crave more food, more water, it is unsatiable and will always crave for more. The soul, however, is a different story.

Woman in Black Long Sleeve Shirt Lying on Gray Couch

The soul, like our bodies, yearns for nourishment. Some things may feed our souls for a time, but the only thing that will truly feed us is Jesus Christ.

While this can be a hard thing to take in, especially for non-Christians, what we have to remember, is that Jesus takes form in many ways, just as physical food does.

So how do we know if we are full? Quite simple. How do you know if you are full after eating 4 serves of Christmas dinner? You have to undo your belt and lay down, you know you are full. So, how do we know we have full souls? You will radiate the light of Jesus in all its forms, you’ll know and so will all the people around you.

To Give of One’s Self

In Palm Sunday’s reading, Jesus teaches us the power of life and shows us by example how much he loves each and every one of us.

Close-Up Photo of Palm Plant

In the story, Jesus has been captured by those who want him dead. He has been brought before Pontius Pilate who asks “Are you King of the Jews?” to which Jesus responds with, “It is you who say it”.  Jesus is then accused by the chief priests and elders, who he does not respond to. “Do you not hear how many charges they have brought against you?” says Pontius Pilate to which Jesus also does not respond.

Since it was festival time, Pontius Pilate had a practice to release a prisoner to the people which could be anyone the people chose. Pontius Pilate chose Barabbas and said, “Which one do you want me to release, Barabbas or Jesus?”.

Silhouette Image of Person Praying

Barabbas was a notorious prisoner, guilty of murder,  but to Pontius Pilate’s surprise, the crowd roared, “WE WANT BARABBAS!”.  At this point, Pilate knew that it was out of jealously that they had handed Jesus over.

The crowd had been persuaded by the chief priests and elders and kept on shouting “WE WANT BARABBAS”! Pilate responded with “What am I to do with Jesus who is called Christ?” to which the crowds roars “CRUCIFY HIM!”. “Why? What harm has he done?” said Pilate which only angers the crowd more who shout back, “CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM!”. Pilate saw that a riot was about to start and that his words were having no effect on the crowd. So he washed his hands and said “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your concern” at which the crowd takes Jesus away to be scourged and crucified.

Jesus Christ Wooden Sculpture

As a child, I never paid much attention to this reading. I always saw it as the middle story between the last supper and the crucifixion of Jesus, yet at the same time, there was something oddly powerful about it.

Listening in, I always thought that this scene was a game-changer. If Jesus had been released and Barabbas been crucified instead, Jesus would have been able to continue on his mission. All Jesus had to do was answer Pilate about the charges brought against Jesus, which didn’t exist and were only brought about as a false plot to bring Jesus down.

I always thought that this was a bit foolish of Jesus.

However, as I have grown older, I now see this as one of the most amazing acts Jesus performed in the entirety of his time on earth.

The message of Jesus spread through his time on earth was that he loves us all so much, that he was willing to give his life for us. Yeah right, I always thought. But, this story confirms this for us.

Barabbas was a murderer. Guilty as hell and an overall bad person. Jesus, on the other hand, did nothing wrong. Yet when Jesus had the opportunity to allow justice to meet Barabbas, Jesus instead opts to give this man a second chance. Jesus gave his life willingly, for a man who: he did not know, was a murderer and was guilty.

Person's Hands Covered With Blood

Jesus shows us that he loves Barabbas, no matter what he did and was more than willing to give his life for him.

This example shows us just how much Jesus loves us and how Jesus calls us to love.

Many times, there are people that I struggle with, that I struggle to love fully. I can assure you these people have not committed crimes as full-on as Barabbas and I will never match up to Jesus, but it is in times of struggle that I am called to love wholeheartedly, even if it is a struggle.

Jesus calls us to love like he did for Barabbas, as hard as it can be.

Crucifix

“We Are Not Blind, Surely?!”

In the midst of Covid-19, it is only fitting that we have this reading from last week.

Jesus Christ Wooden Sculpture

Last weeks gospel talked about Jesus healing a blind man. Old Jewish belief tells us that this blind man was blind due to the man’s or his parent’s sins. Jesus tells us that he was not born blind to punish anyone but so that the works of God may be displayed in him. Jesus then heals the man of his blindness by wiping a paste made of his spit and dirt. The man then must go to the pool of Siloam to wash his face before he can see.

People then notice the man has been healed and are amazed, refusing to believe that this healed man is the same blind man that once begged from them. The once blind man was brought to the Pharisees and they cannot believe what has happened either. They also cannot believe that Jesus is a man from God, as he hasn’t kept the sabbath.

Photo Of Woman Covering Her Face

The crowds of people are in a predicament. Jesus claims to be from God, yet mixes with sinners and even heals them.

Jesus then finishes up by saying “It is for judgment that I have come into the world so that those without sight may see and those with sight turn blind.” Some of the Pharisees say that “We are not blind, surely?!” but Jesus responds by saying “Blind? If you were, you would not be guilty, but since you say you are not, your guilt remains.”

Heavy stuff from Jesus.

People on Sidewalk Selective Focal Photo

At the time the Pharisee’s claim to fame is that they are holy men, men who are always right, yet Jesus has the audacity to tell them that they are actually blind. Their disbelief and refusal to see the goodness in the blind man and the inability to believe that Jesus is the son of God has made them spiritually blind.

In the time of Covid-19 we are rushed with fear over so many things. Often times we all get caught up in our own worries that we forget that so many around us are struggling as well.

The evidence is clear. People rushing to buy all the essentials, the panic surrounding us all, we often can be the Pharisees to the blind man in this scary time.

Woman in White Long Sleeve Shirt Standing in Front of Vegetable Stand

Jesus heals the physical blindness of the man but asks the Pharisees to see. Jesus doesn’t heal the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees and I wonder why that is. However, when I look at my own spiritual blindness, I see it cannot be healed.

My own spiritual blindness comes when I am selfish and think of my own wants before the needs of others. When I don’t consider the people around me, I blind myself.

Jesus wouldn’t have just gone up to the blind man and surprised him with some mud on the eyes. I would think that would have given a blind man quite a fright. I assume that Jesus would have asked the man if he could do such a task. The man also isn’t automatically healed, he still has to go to the pool to wash his face before he can see. The man could have easily wiped the mud off his face and kept on begging but instead chose to listen to Jesus.

We are all in some way this blind man. Jesus has already healed us, but are we going to go to the pool to wash our eyes and see again, or will we remain on the street begging for scraps?

Silhouette Photography of Hanging Rosary

“A Light Has Dawned!”

Brown and Green Grass Field during Sunset

Well well well, here we are. Youth Ministry is back in full swing and what a reading to start us off here.

In last weeks gospel reading, Jesus hears that his friend John the Baptist is arrested so he travels to Capernaum where the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled

“The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death, a light has dawned!”

Jesus went around preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”. Jesus additionally, called men to his cause, asking them to leave their fathers and their nets saying “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” and they left their nets at once to follow him.

 Person's on Boat Throwing Fishing Net

What Jesus does here is no small feat. He calls forth these men, who had livelihoods, they had responsibilities but yet they drop everything to follow Jesus. At the start of the gospel, we can guess that they do such a thing due to the good message, a light has shone!

All these people living in a state of hopelessness, have finally had someone claiming they are loved by God, and that they are going to heaven.

I guess it all begs the question of us: would we drop everything to follow God? Or better yet, have we dropped everything to follow God?

Selective Focus Photo of Brown and Silver Rosary

We can see Gods message is good, but are we ready to trust God with our lives and livelihoods?

I think this is a fantastic thought to start the year off and I pray that we all can reflect on what God is calling us to, and how he is calling us to follow him, whatever that may be. I hope that we all have the courage to drop what we are doing and follow.

Jesus promised it would be good, he never said it would be easy.