Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Mass times over Christmas

Christmas Day Mass is at 8am St Monica's, Walkerville.

There is no evening Mass at Sacred Heart, Hindmarsh on Christmas Day.

Holy Name Church has Christmas Mass at Midnight, 7am, and 9.15am.

All other weekdays are the same as usual at St Monica's, including Thursday 1st Jan, Mass at 8am.

Happy Christmas to all!

Fr David Thoroughgood

Thursday, 18 December 2014

3rd Sunday of Advent 14 Dec 2014

3rd Sunday of Advent 14.12.14 Joy

We say to each other: How are you? We answer, Oh, just fine!

It may not be true, we feel as we say it. But we know it is usually too hard to go into all the details.

However if we were to consider the question over a longer time span, say a hundred years – we really can say, Just fine – because over that sort of time span the will of God takes effect and we ourselves hope to be in Heaven. If that is the end of the story it all becomes worthwhile.

Still, though, we would like to have a happier time of the present, the meantime.

Where can we find the joy to which St Paul exhorts us? (Ph 4, epistle)

To begin with, it is no small thing that the whole world and everything in it belongs to God.

If we ever think that God is remote, well, He is not. Every particle of the world around us, and every moment of time is in His hands. He is fully aware of it all.

We just need to connect with Him. Then His goodness and power will be evident to us and we will be re-assured in our various anxieties, and pure joy will start to emerge.

We certainly do have anxieties. The same St Paul who tells us to ‘rejoice always’ also said that We are hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. Yet: we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Co 4,16-18).

Being joyful in Christ does not mean we have to ignore the problems and say that everything is fine, when clearly it is not. We can face the problems head on, and stare them down.

Whatever the problems are the power of God is much greater and it is only a matter of time before His strength prevails.

Joy is like a weapon that we can use; an assertion of the power of God in transforming reality to the desired state. The joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8,10).

But how do we retrieve this power? I know the Lord delivered the Israelites from Egypt and worked many other miracles. I know He will come again in glory, but where is He now? Can we summon up a miracle in the present?

God is always the same. He does not tire, does not weaken, and does not forget His promises.

All we have to do is call upon His power/goodness/joy and things will start improving straight away.

God is acting here and that must be a good thing.

Within God Himself everything is in perfect order. It is His nature, His eternal perfection. Whatever He creates shares in that perfection

He does not create defective beings. What we see as defective around us is the result of sin.
It was not meant to be so.

When we turn to God we are allowing His natural order to re-emerge in the world. People and things will start to behave as they were always intended to do.

There will be miracles, and there will be a lot of just ordinary everyday goodness.

There will be pain because it is work-in-process. We cannot iron out all the troubles at once, but we can make ourselves feel a lot better about life in general.

We are in the same position as the fictional heroes who are in trouble on every page but finally come good at the end. One book which is not fiction has this ending: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Rev 21,4).

Thursday, 11 December 2014

2nd Sunday of Advent 7 Dec 2014 Sermon

2nd Sunday of Advent 7.12.14 The word of life

When Our Lord lists off the various things He has been doing for people the one at the end of the list is interesting - The poor have the good news preached to them. This is different to all the other items in the list. They all concern some sort of physical improvement; this one just concerns preaching.

Many would dismiss preaching as rather useless. Preaching is just words, and what use are they?

But preaching of the word of God enables direct contact between the receiver of the word and God Himself. It enables the receiver of the word to grasp the meaning of his life.

They say: Don’t just give the man a fish, but teach him how to fish. But we could say further: don’t just teach him how to fish, teach him how to live. Teach him what his life is for, why he was created, the promise of eternal life etc.

When Our Lord healed people He also forgave them their sins.

The physical healing was the thing that people noticed, but the spiritual healing was the more important.

There is another stage still. Our Lord does not just heal the body, nor just the soul.

He invites each person to be His disciple; to undergo a complete renewal of heart and mind.

If Jesus walks into my room, and heals me with a word, I can say, OK, He is a good doctor, and I might try to leave it there.

But He comes with a whole package for Salvation. He offers final glorification, but also here and now, transformation of the whole person.

This much glorification we can have straight away. The ability to live in freedom, love, justice - according to the will of God - this is living like a saved person, a child of the kingdom.

All the prophecies come to this.

The great blockage is that this truth has not taken hold worldwide. People have remained too much in the merely physical domain.

The Postcommunion prayer today asks that we despise earthly things and love heavenly. In reality we probably love earthly things a lot more, because they are more immediate to us.

It takes spiritual maturity to reach the level where we can honestly say we would rather have heavenly graces than material or physical blessings.

Our Lord, in speaking to John the Baptist’s disciples, is merely hinting at the power available to one who really seeks to know.

How many Christians are still there when it comes to this? Remember the one leper who came back? Do we just take the healing and run. Or do we come back, giving thanks, and prepared to make a commitment as a disciple.

We say effectively: Anyone who can do me that much good is alright with me, and I will give him my whole allegiance. I don’t know what it will lead to but I can see that I am better off with Him than anywhere else.

There is salvation in no other name. I cannot do better than he himself does it. There is only one saviour and I am not it!

So when the good news is preached to the poor, what becomes of them? They become exceedingly rich. They become disciples, and so being, they are able to operate as transformed people. They might still not have much money, but they have discovered the precious pearl, the kingdom of God. Worth more than all else put together.

May we make that same discovery each time we hear the word of God.

Friday, 5 December 2014

1st Sunday of Advent 30 Nov 2014 Sermon

1st Sunday of Advent 30.11.14 Salvation

We need Advent to understand Christmas properly.

If we are to celebrate the coming of the Saviour we need to realize there is something we are being saved from – which is sin and death.

So we need a penitential season to get us in an appropriate amount of relief that the Saviour is coming.

The Saviour comes to bring Salvation. Salvation is a complex thing.

It is not just like say, if I gave you a million dollars you could put it in your pocket and walk off.

But salvation is not like that, though it is a free gift. Salvation is a process, a relationship.

We are not saved passively or inertly as though we are simply lifted up from earth and put down somewhere in heaven.

We are saved only when we make a fully free and conscious decision to live in ongoing union with Almighty God.

He wants us to live in an ongoing covenant with Him, whereby we trust and obey Him at all times. He, for His part, will reward us with eternal life and help us negotiate all the troubles of this life.

The more actively we join in on this process the better it works.

Salvation is not a ‘quick-fix’. This is why we cannot always get what we pray for, or have everything the way we like it.

God will grant some of our prayers and not others, but He is not inconsistent.

He is working towards an overall goal which is to lead each person to this relationship of trust.

Accordingly we have to be patient with God. His plans can take centuries or even millennia to take full effect.

Whenever we encounter a long wait there is always a temptation to discouragement.

We are tempted to say God has abandoned us; has forgotten His promises. There is no salvation for us. Maybe He acted in the past, but He is not acting now etc etc…

But the truth is He is still very much with us, and His grace is active in our midst.

And the effect of this grace will be to enable us to act. Despite this long time span there are still certain things we can do to bring about at least some instant improvement.

While we have to be patient we do not have to be inactive. We can get our own lives in order at least, and live in the daylight not the dark, as the epistle tells us.

If we are living holy lives, constantly repenting and correcting our faults, then we will be ready at any time for either our own death or any decisive intervention by Almighty God in history.

This is the covenant to which we are called. This is how we live it.

So it becomes an ongoing activity which takes us a whole lifetime to bring to fruition.

And this another reason why we cannot see all the answers at once, but we still believe there are answers in place.

We have not simply been abandoned.

We can pray for God’s miraculous intervention but we know that most of the hard work is done in everyday fidelity to duty and patient acceptance of the sufferings we encounter.

God works from within more than from the outside (cf the Incarnation).

The miracles help when they happen, but most of the work is found in the daily detail.

This is how we are saved. Come, Lord Jesus!