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Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King


by Fr. Andrew Pastore on 11/07/2013

Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

The year of Saint Luke ends with a characteristic take on the feast of Christ the King: in Luke’s gospel we are so familiar with seeing and hearing the voiceless, the rejected, those whom society puts in second place: how suitable, then, that on the feast of the King of all Creation we see him at his most vulnerable – on the cross, with only an abrupt inscription to announce that he is the King. He is King because of the work he has done, which is described by Saint Paul in the Second Reading: “all things [are] reconciled through him and for him … when he made peace by his death on the cross.” Next week, when we re-enter Advent and a new Liturgical Year, we will be thinking of the King who will come again: though he will come as his disciples saw him go at the Ascension, the marks of the cross will still be visible for all time, to remind us of the one who came to reunite all Creation, especially frail human creatures.
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Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


by Fr. Andrew Pastore on 11/07/2013

Your endurance will win you your lives.

As we approach the end of that part of Saint Luke’s Gospel before the Passion narratives, and approach the end of the Church’s year, our thoughts are turned towards the end of time and the Second Coming of the Lord – this will led us into Advent in two weeks time. Saint Luke’s message is very distinctive: the Lord will come, but there is a lot to be lived through first. The coming of the Lord is not going to be a “quick fix” – we will have to live through (and endure) all the mess of human joy and suffering. The Lord is clear too that we have to be aware of the personal cost of belonging to him – think back to last week’s readings, and the stories of religious persecution from every place and every age, even to this day. Even as this sounds gloomy and depressing, it is worth noting where the Gospel passage starts – in the material beauty of the Temple – and where it ends – something far more precious will be saved: our lives.

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Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


by Fr. Andrew Pastore on 11/07/2013

He is God, not of the dead, but of the living.

It is fortuitous that this passage of the Gospel is normally read near to the beginning of November, when we have celebrated the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, since it is a strong proclamation of the reality of life after death and the resurrection of the body. This Sunday is not without its difficulties, however, since this message is framed in two very sensitive passages: we have a story of cruelty and martyrdom in the first reading, and a controversial (and possibly upsetting) question about marriage in the Gospel. Remember that the example that the Sadducees bring is ridiculous, legalistic and completely misses the point: Jesus’ reply does not mean that we are not with our loved ones after death – quite the contrary, he proclaims that we will all become one with God and each other as children of God.
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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


by Fr. Andrew Pastore on 11/07/2013

The publican went home at rights with God; the Pharisee did not.

A few weeks ago (22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time) we had a Gospel about humility in social life – today we hear the Lord reiterating the message, but this time in reference to our prayer lives. The two Gospels are linked by the last words today, which also appear in the other story: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This phrase is obviously a key part of our Lord’s teaching! The sin of “self-exaltation” consists in putting others in a lower place – as the Pharisee does to the tax collector. Perhaps the most telling phrase in today’s Gospel is where Jesus refers to the Pharisee saying “this prayer to himself,” rather than offering it to God! And since the Pharisee wasn’t talking to God, how could he expect to be heard?
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Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


by Fr. Andrew Pastore on 11/07/2013

The Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.

There is a subversive humour in today’s Gospel which turns upside down the conventions of everyday life: we see a senior tax official climbing up a tree for a glimpse of Jesus, and the faintly ridiculous scene where Jesus stops, looks into the branches of the sycamore and says, “Zacchaeus, come down!” Did Zacchaeus worry about what people thought? The rest of the story shows that he did not. It would be easy to laugh at little Zacchaeus – and people in the town probably did, in between muttering about his extortionate taxes. And yet he has understood the message of God more clearly than others: he reveals the meaning of the first reading, since he understands that God is gentle, merciful and loving. Jesus corrects him, “little by little…so that he may abstain from evil and trust in the Lord.”
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Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


by Fr. Andrew Pastore on 11/07/2013

God will see justice done to his chosen who cry to him.

Perhaps the hardest Olympic event is the marathon: not only does it demand strength and fitness, but it calls for immense perseverance and endurance. Life in general and the Christian life in particular, is a marathon. We will face hills and mountains as well as valleys and gentle slopes in life: we will face obstacles and pressures which will make us want to say, as the prophet Elijah did, “Lord, it is enough!” Especially in our lifetime of prayer, there will be times when we say “Lord, I can go no further.” Jesus himself understands the need for perseverance in prayer, and the temptation to lose heart, which is why he offers us this parable and teaching today. And remember the thought from the first reading: sometimes we may need to hold each other in our praying!

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Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)


by Fr. Andrew Pastore on 11/07/2013

No one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.

There are many messages in today’s Gospel: the power of God to heal, the compassion of Jesus for those in need, the fact that a despised foreigner (the Samaritan) is the only one who recognises what has been done, the role of faith and the importance of thanking God for gifts received. But because this Gospel is twinned with part of the story of Naaman the leper, the idea that the Church brings out most clearly is that of thanksgiving, or acknowledging what has been given to us. From an early age we are taught to say “Thank You” – to recognise that someone has gone out of their way to give us something or do something for us. Our thanks strengthens the relationship that binds us together, and it is the same with God. As we recognise the good things that come from God, so our faith is deepened and the bond of the Covenant in Christ Jesus is strengthened.

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