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This Sunday's Programme

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33rd Sunday C

Sunday 13th November 2022

Weekend of the 13th November

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Lk 21:5-19

When some of the disciples admired the fine stonework of the Temple and the gifts with which it was adorned, Jesus said, ‘All this magnificent work which you are admiring – the days will come – will be destroyed with not a stone left on a stone.

And they asked him, ‘Master, when will this happen?  What sign will there be to warn us?’  But he said to them, ‘Take care that you are not deluded for many will come in my name saying, “I am the Christ and the time has come.”  Do not follow them.  When you hear of wars and catastrophes, do not be distressed.  Such things must happen before the end, but the end is not so close.’

Then he said to them, ‘Nation will war against nation, kingdom against kingdom.  There will be earthquakes in different places, famines, plagues, terrifying events and great signs in the heavens.  But before all this, you will be will captured and persecuted.  You will be delivered up to religious authorities and cast into prisons.  You will be arraigned before kings and rulers on account of my name. This will be your turn to witness.  Set your heart on this: do not prepare what you will say, as I will give you a voice and answers which your adversaries will not be able to counter or resist.  You will be betrayed by parents and siblings and relatives and friends and some of you will even be put to death.   And you will be hated by all because of my name but not a hair of your head shall be destroyed.  In patience, you will possess your souls.

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 97:5-9

Make music to God,
sing psalms with the harp.
With trumpet and horn,
make a joyful chorus to God our King.

Let the sea and all within it roar.
Let the world and all who dwell there resound.
Let the rivers clap with joy
and the hills sing in delight.

Before the face of God,
for he comes to judge the earth.
With righteousness he will judge the world
and the people with justice.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, overwhelming challenges may come my way. Send me your wise and strong Spirit to face them with faith, trusting that you can work in all things to my good and the good of those I love. I ask in this Jesus’ name confident that you will hear me.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus discusses the ‘Last Days’ just before he enters into his own Passion and Death. These discussions are called ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘eschatological’. Commentators note that these themes were prominent in Jewish spirituality and theology in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus. At the heart of such discussion is a struggle to understand the presence of evil in a world made by a good and loving God. The Jewish people had suffered exile, returned to a decimated homeland and then, lived under the dominion of various foreign powers, powers that they regarded as godless and indeed violently unjust. As Jesus himself is about to suffer a violent unjust death by the collusion of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman powers, he takes up the imagery of this struggle between good and evil and applies it to the coming experience of his disciples. Most of chapter 21 is this discourse. It is in three parts: the talk about the fall in the Temple, with an excursus on the times before that fall; a description of the fall of Jerusalem; and finally, the coming of the Son of Man. This Sunday’s Gospel is the first section of the discourse.

What is interesting is the way this discussion flows. The disciples begin by admiring the Temple. Jesus warns of its destruction and when the disciples want clear details, Jesus channels the discussion to the qualities they will need to face persecution. As he is about to enter his Passion and Death, one would think he would strengthen them with the promise of his Resurrection. He does not. Rather he promises to be with them, giving them the wisdom and eloquence that they will need. There are a number of references back into the Gospel – the Spirit inspiring their speech, the possibility of betrayal by family members. So what had begun as generalised apocalyptic discussion becomes a description of persecution that could occur at any time in a Christian’s life. Indeed, the subsequent Book of Acts will show these very trials and members of the early Church responding in the way Jesus recommends.

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus discusses the ‘Last Days’ just before he enters into his own Passion and Death. These discussions are called ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘eschatological’. Commentators note that these themes were prominent in Jewish spirituality and theology in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus. At the heart of such discussion is a struggle to understand the presence of evil in a world made by a good and loving God. The Jewish people had suffered exile, returned to a decimated homeland and then, lived under the dominion of various foreign powers, powers that they regarded as godless and indeed violently unjust. As Jesus himself is about to suffer a violent unjust death by the collusion of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman powers, he takes up the imagery of this struggle between good and evil and applies it to the coming experience of his disciples. Most of chapter 21 is this discourse. It is in three parts: the talk about the fall in the Temple, with an excursus on the times before that fall; a description of the fall of Jerusalem; and finally, the coming of the Son of Man. This Sunday’s Gospel is the first section of the discourse.

What is interesting is the way this discussion flows. The disciples begin by admiring the Temple. Jesus warns of its destruction and when the disciples want clear details, Jesus channels the discussion to the qualities they will need to face persecution. As he is about to enter his Passion and Death, one would think he would strengthen them with the promise of his Resurrection. He does not. Rather he promises to be with them, giving them the wisdom and eloquence that they will need. There are a number of references back into the Gospel – the Spirit inspiring their speech, the possibility of betrayal by family members. So what had begun as generalised apocalyptic discussion becomes a description of persecution that could occur at any time in a Christian’s life. Indeed, the subsequent Book of Acts will show these very trials and members of the early Church responding in the way Jesus recommends.

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus discusses the ‘Last Days’ just before he enters into his own Passion and Death. These discussions are called ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘eschatological’. Commentators note that these themes were prominent in Jewish spirituality and theology in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus. At the heart of such discussion is a struggle to understand the presence of evil in a world made by a good and loving God. The Jewish people had suffered exile, returned to a decimated homeland and then, lived under the dominion of various foreign powers, powers that they regarded as godless and indeed violently unjust. As Jesus himself is about to suffer a violent unjust death by the collusion of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman powers, he takes up the imagery of this struggle between good and evil and applies it to the coming experience of his disciples. Most of chapter 21 is this discourse. It is in three parts: the talk about the fall in the Temple, with an excursus on the times before that fall; a description of the fall of Jerusalem; and finally, the coming of the Son of Man. This Sunday’s Gospel is the first section of the discourse.

What is interesting is the way this discussion flows. The disciples begin by admiring the Temple. Jesus warns of its destruction and when the disciples want clear details, Jesus channels the discussion to the qualities they will need to face persecution. As he is about to enter his Passion and Death, one would think he would strengthen them with the promise of his Resurrection. He does not. Rather he promises to be with them, giving them the wisdom and eloquence that they will need. There are a number of references back into the Gospel – the Spirit inspiring their speech, the possibility of betrayal by family members. So what had begun as generalised apocalyptic discussion becomes a description of persecution that could occur at any time in a Christian’s life. Indeed, the subsequent Book of Acts will show these very trials and members of the early Church responding in the way Jesus recommends.

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus discusses the ‘Last Days’ just before he enters into his own Passion and Death. These discussions are called ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘eschatological’. Commentators note that these themes were prominent in Jewish spirituality and theology in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus. At the heart of such discussion is a struggle to understand the presence of evil in a world made by a good and loving God. The Jewish people had suffered exile, returned to a decimated homeland and then, lived under the dominion of various foreign powers, powers that they regarded as godless and indeed violently unjust. As Jesus himself is about to suffer a violent unjust death by the collusion of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman powers, he takes up the imagery of this struggle between good and evil and applies it to the coming experience of his disciples. Most of chapter 21 is this discourse. It is in three parts: the talk about the fall in the Temple, with an excursus on the times before that fall; a description of the fall of Jerusalem; and finally, the coming of the Son of Man. This Sunday’s Gospel is the first section of the discourse.

What is interesting is the way this discussion flows. The disciples begin by admiring the Temple. Jesus warns of its destruction and when the disciples want clear details, Jesus channels the discussion to the qualities they will need to face persecution. As he is about to enter his Passion and Death, one would think he would strengthen them with the promise of his Resurrection. He does not. Rather he promises to be with them, giving them the wisdom and eloquence that they will need. There are a number of references back into the Gospel – the Spirit inspiring their speech, the possibility of betrayal by family members. So what had begun as generalised apocalyptic discussion becomes a description of persecution that could occur at any time in a Christian’s life. Indeed, the subsequent Book of Acts will show these very trials and members of the early Church responding in the way Jesus recommends.

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus discusses the ‘Last Days’ just before he enters into his own Passion and Death. These discussions are called ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘eschatological’. Commentators note that these themes were prominent in Jewish spirituality and theology in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus. At the heart of such discussion is a struggle to understand the presence of evil in a world made by a good and loving God. The Jewish people had suffered exile, returned to a decimated homeland and then, lived under the dominion of various foreign powers, powers that they regarded as godless and indeed violently unjust. As Jesus himself is about to suffer a violent unjust death by the collusion of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman powers, he takes up the imagery of this struggle between good and evil and applies it to the coming experience of his disciples. Most of chapter 21 is this discourse. It is in three parts: the talk about the fall in the Temple, with an excursus on the times before that fall; a description of the fall of Jerusalem; and finally, the coming of the Son of Man. This Sunday’s Gospel is the first section of the discourse.

What is interesting is the way this discussion flows. The disciples begin by admiring the Temple. Jesus warns of its destruction and when the disciples want clear details, Jesus channels the discussion to the qualities they will need to face persecution. As he is about to enter his Passion and Death, one would think he would strengthen them with the promise of his Resurrection. He does not. Rather he promises to be with them, giving them the wisdom and eloquence that they will need. There are a number of references back into the Gospel – the Spirit inspiring their speech, the possibility of betrayal by family members. So what had begun as generalised apocalyptic discussion becomes a description of persecution that could occur at any time in a Christian’s life. Indeed, the subsequent Book of Acts will show these very trials and members of the early Church responding in the way Jesus recommends.

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus discusses the ‘Last Days’ just before he enters into his own Passion and Death. These discussions are called ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘eschatological’. Commentators note that these themes were prominent in Jewish spirituality and theology in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus. At the heart of such discussion is a struggle to understand the presence of evil in a world made by a good and loving God. The Jewish people had suffered exile, returned to a decimated homeland and then, lived under the dominion of various foreign powers, powers that they regarded as godless and indeed violently unjust. As Jesus himself is about to suffer a violent unjust death by the collusion of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman powers, he takes up the imagery of this struggle between good and evil and applies it to the coming experience of his disciples. Most of chapter 21 is this discourse. It is in three parts: the talk about the fall in the Temple, with an excursus on the times before that fall; a description of the fall of Jerusalem; and finally, the coming of the Son of Man. This Sunday’s Gospel is the first section of the discourse.

What is interesting is the way this discussion flows. The disciples begin by admiring the Temple. Jesus warns of its destruction and when the disciples want clear details, Jesus channels the discussion to the qualities they will need to face persecution. As he is about to enter his Passion and Death, one would think he would strengthen them with the promise of his Resurrection. He does not. Rather he promises to be with them, giving them the wisdom and eloquence that they will need. There are a number of references back into the Gospel – the Spirit inspiring their speech, the possibility of betrayal by family members. So what had begun as generalised apocalyptic discussion becomes a description of persecution that could occur at any time in a Christian’s life. Indeed, the subsequent Book of Acts will show these very trials and members of the early Church responding in the way Jesus recommends.

In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus discusses the ‘Last Days’ just before he enters into his own Passion and Death. These discussions are called ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘eschatological’. Commentators note that these themes were prominent in Jewish spirituality and theology in the centuries leading up to the time of Jesus. At the heart of such discussion is a struggle to understand the presence of evil in a world made by a good and loving God. The Jewish people had suffered exile, returned to a decimated homeland and then, lived under the dominion of various foreign powers, powers that they regarded as godless and indeed violently unjust. As Jesus himself is about to suffer a violent unjust death by the collusion of the Jewish religious authorities and the Roman powers, he takes up the imagery of this struggle between good and evil and applies it to the coming experience of his disciples. Most of chapter 21 is this discourse. It is in three parts: the talk about the fall in the Temple, with an excursus on the times before that fall; a description of the fall of Jerusalem; and finally, the coming of the Son of Man. This Sunday’s Gospel is the first section of the discourse.

What is interesting is the way this discussion flows. The disciples begin by admiring the Temple. Jesus warns of its destruction and when the disciples want clear details, Jesus channels the discussion to the qualities they will need to face persecution. As he is about to enter his Passion and Death, one would think he would strengthen them with the promise of his Resurrection. He does not. Rather he promises to be with them, giving them the wisdom and eloquence that they will need. There are a number of references back into the Gospel – the Spirit inspiring their speech, the possibility of betrayal by family members. So what had begun as generalised apocalyptic discussion becomes a description of persecution that could occur at any time in a Christian’s life. Indeed, the subsequent Book of Acts will show these very trials and members of the early Church responding in the way Jesus recommends.

 

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

In the City of Rockhampton, the Catholic precinct is a beautiful area. The fine gothic Cathedral, recently restored, is a testimony to the generosity and foresight of the priests and people of the diocese for over a century. The Bishop’s house, the Cathedral College, the Catholic Education Offices tell of a community that is fiscally astute, practical and appreciative of beauty. The visitor to this area could well be like the disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel as they went admiringly around the temple. But Jesus’ words to his disciples are addressed to us as well. Wonderful as these buildings are, they are not the ‘main event’ in our faith. If they were swept away by war or persecution, nothing would change for us as Church, for Church is really the presence of Jesus Christ within us. The magnificent buildings are simply there to hold us, to clothe us as we go about our deepest call: loving God and neighbour.

It is always a danger to think of these physical realities and the services offered within them as ‘the Church’. They are not and it often takes the experience of persecution to sort out our minds and hearts on this reality. The grace of persecution need not necessarily come with an invading army or a government hostile to our faith. Anything that challenges the easy misconceptions of our faith and forces us to reconsider what we believe, how we believe and why, can give us this grace. At this present time, the scandal of the sexual abuse within the Church is doing just that. It is painful, uncomfortable and profoundly challenging, especially with regard to how we understand authority and obedience within the Church. Where we are going, we do not know, but many of us realise that we cannot go back to the way we were before. Horrible as this may feel at this time, we have only one surety – Jesus and his Spirit are with us. With them, we find the true reality of Church.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

In the final line of the paraphrase, I chose to stay with an old, odd translation* as it captures something special about suffering – whether it comes in persecution, the pain of illness or in the trials of everyday life. Suffering sorts out our hearts. Our society teaches us that we come to know our best selves through affirmation, through fostering our gifts and talents, through positive experiences. Yes, we may learn much through these but suffering sifts our hearts more surely than any of those positive experiences. As gold is purified in the fire, so are we.

The words ‘passion’ and ‘patience’ have the same Latin root. What we are passionate about, we have patience towards. Parents find it within themselves to walk the floor through the night with a sick child. A husband finds it within himself to care for a dying wife. A good student finds it within herself to stay with the books instead of partying. Over and over again in our lives, we find that in order to acquire something better in our lives, we have to endure pain and inconvenience.

And this applies as well to the end times of our own lives. It is not accidental that Jesus spoke about the trials of the Last Times just as his own passion and death were approaching. For most of us, the time before death does not come easy. Physical suffering is compounded with fear and uncertainty. And together they can feel like annihilation. It a very real sense they are. But like the grain of wheat that dies, it is a death to self to become alive into something greater. All through this, we have the presence of Jesus and his Spirit, as surely present to us as to those described in the Gospel as undergoing persecution. In patiently enduring our personal passion, we discover that the life we have come to possess is not just our own but that Jesus Christ truly lives in us.

* “In patience, you will possess your souls.”

 

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

James Tissot  The Disciples admire the Buildings of the Temple

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on the challenges you face, particularly from people who are difficult.  Try to imagine how you can grow as a person of faith in learning to deal with them.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

Rarely a week goes by when we do not hear of some cataclysmic event somewhere in our world and such stories often make us wonder about the presence of God in such events. Sit and consider that last event of which you heard. Imagine what could have happened to the people concerned. Then pray to God’s Holy Spirit, asking to see how God is working through this event.

Rest in the love of your God.