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preparing the way like John the Baptist

Posted on December 10, 2017 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Our Gospel reading today, as is traditional for the second Sunday in Advent, concerns John the Baptist. It is not surprising that we should think of this saint during this season. Part of what we do during Advent, after all, is look back to the time of Lord's first coming, to his nativity; and in the gospel according to St Luke the story of the birth of St John the Baptist is intimately intertwined with the story of the birth of our Lord.

 

However, St John is also an appropriate figure to consider at this time because of the other major purpose of Advent, which is to look to the time when our Saviour will come again in great power and majesty, a time when all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will judge the living and the dead, welcoming some into eternal life, and condemning others to eternal darkness.

 

And another title for the Baptist is the Forerunner; because he was sent to prepare the way for our Lord at his first coming. Naturally we must think in this time, between the first and second comings, to whom does it fall to prepare the way for when he shall come again? And the natural answer to that, I think, is that task falls to the Church that our Lord and Saviour founded. In other words, the task of preparing the world – by which we must understand ourselves, all others within the Church, especially those who are fallen away, and all those who are currently outside it whom it is our solemn duty to try and evangelise, bring to understand the truth of the Christian faith, and the necessity that they believe upon the name of Jesus and be baptised if they are to be saved – that task of preparation falls very much to us.

 

And it is therefore of great benefit to us who must do this work in relation to the second coming to the look to the example of the one who did the work in relation to the first. So it becomes of particular importance for us to look to the life of the Baptist in this season to see what lessons we can learn from him that will guide us in the work that has been entrusted to us.

 

So what do we see in the life of St John the Forerunner that will help us?

First, let us consider what we learn of the manner of his life that we have set before us in our Gospel reading today from St Mark. Where did St John live? In the desert places. We are not told where he took shelter from the cold of the desert nights or its blazing heat by day, but we can imagine that it was no more than some little cave or some rough booth he had constructed for himself from branches and rocks and earth. What did he wear? A robe of camel hair girt about him with a leather belt. The most basic and simplest of apparel, just enough to cover his body and preserve modesty and decency. And what did he eat? Scripture informs us locusts and wild honey. Much has been written as to what these words signify; but for today it enough to consider that they mean that he lived off the land, eating whatever was to hand. Taken together these three elements of the way he lived tell us something very important about St John. He cared not at all for the material comforts of this life. What was needed to keep body and soul together he accepted gratefully from God; but he concerned himself with no more than that. This serves to remind us that neither must we be overly concerned with the good things of this life; like St John our focus must be on doing the work of God. Material things can get in the way and often do; and if we see that happening in our lives we must ruthlessly cut away anything that gets between us and the task we are called to.

 

Next let us consider what it was that he told those who came to him what role it was the he played in God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. He made it clear that he was not the Messiah, as some suspected. He made it clear that someone far greater was coming; someone that he was not worthy so much as to untie the sandals upon his feet. Now think what such words mean. In the culture of the ancient world it was the duty of the most lowly slave in the house to quietly and without saying a word to go to a guest when they arrived, kneel before them, undo their sandals and remove them, and wash their feet. But when it came to the one he prepared the way for, St John saw himself as more lowly than even the lowliest of slaves. His relationship to God, then, was characterised by the greatest of humility. So too must we be humble before our God.

 

Humility, as so many of the great saints tell us, is the mother of all virtues; from it all others flow; without it we can have no other. This makes it the beginning of holiness; and without personal holiness we can not carry out our task of preparing the way for our Lord and the day when he shall come again.

Finally, let us look at what St John taught. He called people to repent, to confess their sins and be baptised. And while it is not spoken of by St Mark in this passage, we know from the other gospels that people of high standing came to him – Roman soldiers, tax-collectors, the religious leaders of his day – and they heard the same truth from him that the poorest and meanest in society did. All are equal in the eyes of God; and sin remains sin whether it is committed by a peasant or a prince. And even if that sin is sanctioned by all in society it does not transform it into good in the eyes of God.

 

We know that later that St John’s refusal to speak other than God’s truth was to cost him his life. But he could do nothing else. For he knew full well, as our Lord was to teach, that it matters not if a man gain the whole world if it comes at the price of his soul, if it costs him eternal life. The example of St John sets before us a way of living, a way of humility, a way of fidelity to God that if followed by us will lead to a rich harvest of souls at the last day … a harvest among which all those who follow that way will be included … and it is my prayer that all here will walk in the way that this great saint sets before us and so be found worthy on the day to be numbered among that harvest and welcomed into the eternal kingdom: in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 10 Dec 2017: Advent Sunday (liturgical colour ΓΆΒ?Β? violet)

Posted on December 8, 2017 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service to allow others to pray quietly before the Lord

 

Monday 11 Dec (day of discipline and self-denial)

Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed … when Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ Luke 5. 18-20

Reflection: The first concern of Jesus was not for the man's illness, but for his soul. Something for us to ponder in an age when so many seem to think that the top priority of religion is making the world a better place.

 

+Tuesday 12 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?' Matthew 18. 12

Reflection: Reassess your life this Advent. Consider whether you have become self-satisfied and complacent. The lost sheep the Lord is seeking may not be your neighbour – it may be you.

 

+Wednesday 13 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.' Matthew 11.28

Reflection The struggles of this life are endless. And in the end what are their purpose? You can take none of its rewards past the grave. Turn instead to Christ. In him you will find true meaning and true purpose.

 

+Thursday 14 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.' Matthew 11.11

Reflection: Who one is in this life is as nothing compared to gaining heaven in the next. Strive to grow in holiness so that you may at the last be numbered among the saints.

 

+Friday 15 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Matthew 11.18,19

Reflection: Those who wish to find fault with you will do so whatever course you take. Ignore them and focus instead on following the path Christ sets before you.

 

+Saturday 16 (Rector's Day Off - day of discipline and self-denial))

'But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ Matthew 17.12

Reflection: The shadow of the Cross lies over the child in the manager. Therefore remember to keep Advent as a penitential season; for it was for your sins that the Christ-child was to suffer and die.

 

+Sun 17 Dec, 2nd of Advent – Liturgical colour Violet (Carol Service, The Colliery, w/the Castlecomer MVC; 7pm; the only other service that Sunday will be of HC in Bilboa)

 

Coming up this week

+Wed 8pm Advent mid-week Eucharist, Bilboa

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Please contact your treasurer to see if you need to 'top up' your giving before 31 Dec. And please consider giving a little extra this year – costs, after all, are only going up!

+Readers Wanted! If you are willing to read lessons in church, please let the rector know. Young people, especially children, are particularly encouraged to take part.

+diocesan magazine: as it is close to the end of the year, the time to re-new your subscription is now! And if you don't have one already perhaps you would consider getting one? I highly recommend this publication … although, since I am the editor, perhaps that is only to be expected!

+Advent mid-week Eucharists (Wednesdays): 13 Dec; 20 Dec The Colliery. 8pm

 

+Special Note: Draft Flower Rotas out for St Mary's & Colliery. Please let rector know if changes needed. He will then post & make a copy for everyone on the rota

+17 Dec Carol Service, The Colliery, w/the Castlecomer MVC; 7pm (pls note time change); the only other service that Sunday will be of HC in Bilboa

+19 Dec WNS Nativity Play, 7pm, Wandesforde Hall

+24 Dec Sunday 11am Holy Communion, St Mary's

+24 Dec Christmas Eve: 7pm Bilboa, HC; Christmas Eve: 9pm The Colliery, HC

+25 Dec Christmas Day: 10 am Mothel, HC; 11.30am St Mary's HC

+31 Dec Sunday (& New Year's Eve) 10 am HC The Colliery (pls note time)

+6 January: Rectory Christmas Party 7-9pm – a 'thank you' to all on the Select Vestry and others in ministry in the parish.

+7 Jan: Epiphany Carol Service, Mothel, 4pm; the only other service in the Union that Sunday is that of Holy Communion at 10.30 am in St Mary's (the bishop will preside)

+Parish Confirmation date: 15 April 2018. Please give names to the rector

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, in rotation

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 10 Dec 2017: Advent Sunday (liturgical colour ΓΆΒ?Β? violet)

Posted on December 8, 2017 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service to allow others to pray quietly before the Lord

 

Monday 11 Dec (day of discipline and self-denial)

Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed … when Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ Luke 5. 18-20

Reflection: The first concern of Jesus was not for the man's illness, but for his soul. Something for us to ponder in an age when so many seem to think that the top priority of religion is making the world a better place.

 

+Tuesday 12 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?' Matthew 18. 12

Reflection: Reassess your life this Advent. Consider whether you have become self-satisfied and complacent. The lost sheep the Lord is seeking may not be your neighbour – it may be you.

 

+Wednesday 13 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.' Matthew 11.28

Reflection The struggles of this life are endless. And in the end what are their purpose? You can take none of its rewards past the grave. Turn instead to Christ. In him you will find true meaning and true purpose.

 

+Thursday 14 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.' Matthew 11.11

Reflection: Who one is in this life is as nothing compared to gaining heaven in the next. Strive to grow in holiness so that you may at the last be numbered among the saints.

 

+Friday 15 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Matthew 11.18,19

Reflection: Those who wish to find fault with you will do so whatever course you take. Ignore them and focus instead on following the path Christ sets before you.

 

+Saturday 16 (Rector's Day Off - day of discipline and self-denial))

'But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ Matthew 17.12

Reflection: The shadow of the Cross lies over the child in the manager. Therefore remember to keep Advent as a penitential season; for it was for your sins that the Christ-child was to suffer and die.

 

+Sun 17 Dec, 2nd of Advent – Liturgical colour Violet (Carol Service, The Colliery, w/the Castlecomer MVC; 7pm; the only other service that Sunday will be of HC in Bilboa)

 

Coming up this week

+Wed 8pm Advent mid-week Eucharist, Bilboa

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Please contact your treasurer to see if you need to 'top up' your giving before 31 Dec. And please consider giving a little extra this year – costs, after all, are only going up!

+Readers Wanted! If you are willing to read lessons in church, please let the rector know. Young people, especially children, are particularly encouraged to take part.

+diocesan magazine: as it is close to the end of the year, the time to re-new your subscription is now! And if you don't have one already perhaps you would consider getting one? I highly recommend this publication … although, since I am the editor, perhaps that is only to be expected!

+Advent mid-week Eucharists (Wednesdays): 13 Dec; 20 Dec The Colliery. 8pm

 

+Special Note: Draft Flower Rotas out for St Mary's & Colliery. Please let rector know if changes needed. He will then post & make a copy for everyone on the rota

+17 Dec Carol Service, The Colliery, w/the Castlecomer MVC; 7pm (pls note time change); the only other service that Sunday will be of HC in Bilboa

+19 Dec WNS Nativity Play, 7pm, Wandesforde Hall

+24 Dec Sunday 11am Holy Communion, St Mary's

+24 Dec Christmas Eve: 7pm Bilboa, HC; Christmas Eve: 9pm The Colliery, HC

+25 Dec Christmas Day: 10 am Mothel, HC; 11.30am St Mary's HC

+31 Dec Sunday (& New Year's Eve) 10 am HC The Colliery (pls note time)

+6 January: Rectory Christmas Party 7-9pm – a 'thank you' to all on the Select Vestry and others in ministry in the parish.

+7 Jan: Epiphany Carol Service, Mothel, 4pm; the only other service in the Union that Sunday is that of Holy Communion at 10.30 am in St Mary's (the bishop will preside)

+Parish Confirmation date: 15 April 2018. Please give names to the rector

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, in rotation

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

why it is better not to know the day nor the hour

Posted on December 3, 2017 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

I once saw the writer Anthony Burgess being interviewed on television. Burgess is most famous for his novel 'A Clockwork Orange', a work which explores deeply the issue of the nature of free-will, and which was later made into a movie which, while controversial, has long been considered something of a classic. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Franco Zeffirelli's highly praised mini-series 'Jesus of Nazareth'. Burgess was regaling his interviewer with the tale of how he first became very serious about writing. He had, it seemed, been diagnosed with a serious illness as a young man and been given six months to live. 'That must have been awful,' said the interviewer. 'Not at all,' chortled Burgess. 'Most people don't know if they'll be alive in the morning or even five minutes from now. But suddenly I knew I was going to live for six months – I had been told so by some very knowledgeable medical men. So I knew that if a started a project as long-term as writing a book I'd live long enough to see it to completion. And so I got started writing straight away!'

 

Burgess was, of course, being doubly facetious. He was an old man when he was telling this story, and mocking the doctors who had been so mistaken in their fatal diagnosis. And he knew full well that even had they been correct, their prediction of how long he might have left to live in no way guaranteed he had that much time left. He could still have been hit by a bus, suffer a heart attack, experience a sudden stroke, be beaten to death by muggers, fall down the stairs, drown in the bath, or any other of the myriad ways in which it is that we human beings may come to shake off this mortal coil. Burgess was born and raised a Catholic; and although he lapsed from his faith later in life, commentators on his works all agree that they are permeated with a Christian world-view. And he would have known as well as any man that we truly do not know the day nor the hour.

 

Our Lord speaks of this in our Gospel today (see below). It is not for us to know the day not the hour when he will return at the end of the ages. And, of course, just as we do not know when time and history and this world will end, neither do we know when our time in this life will come to an end.

 

Now some might think this is harsh of God. Would we not be better prepared for our last moments, better able to amend our ways and repent of our sins and so when we come to the end of our days be assured of leaving this life and entering into our heavenly reward if we knew the exact moment in advance; instead of risking being caught off guard and so end in that place where, as Jesus has told us, was prepared from the beginning for the devil and all his angels?

 

If you do happen to feel this way, then you are perhaps in for a surprise; for you will find that the Fathers of the Church, those great scholars and saints from the early centuries of the Christian Era, uniformly disagree with you. This is not surprising. For as I have already noted, these are saints – men of great sanctity. And men such as these understand that God's wisdom is greater than ours. He is all knowing; we are not. And if he has ordained that this is the way it must be, then we must humbly accept that it is so; and more, we must acknowledge that because of God's infinite wisdom then it must be, in fact, in our best interest that this is how it is and no other way.

 

But how exactly is it better not to know? How we any idea as to why it is? Well, this is a question that these same Church Fathers thought deeply about. They put it essentially like this. Suppose we all knew the day and the hour of our death. Some would still choose to lead good and holy lives. But more surely would think to themselves 'I have many years before I will die; and there are many temptations in the world about me. Why should I not indulge myself in these sinful passions to my heart's content; and then, when death begins to draw near, break off from them, repent, and lead a life of holiness for the time that remains to me?'

 

And it does not, I think, take the wisdom of a great saint to see the foolishness of that path. Such sinful indulgences are addictive indeed; the more we engage in them, the more we wish to, and the harder it is to stop. And the more steeped we become in them, the more difficult it is to recognise that we even do wrong by engaging in them. Few indeed are the individuals who would be strong enough to break away from their sins even as they drew close to the brink of eternity; and of those who did perhaps only a small number would have the strength to repent. Having spent all their years in wickedness and vice serving Satan, how likely is it that at the end they would find within themselves the holiness to serve God and him alone in their final moments? Not very likely at all, I would suggest; and so the Fathers of the Church thought as well.

 

And so instead God gave us the gift of uncertainty. We may not know the day not the hour, not because he wishes to toy with us in some way, but because he loves us. Not knowing spurs us on to live as if our Saviour and Judge might return at any moment; not knowing when we will may draw our last breath teaches us to live as if the next moment might be the one when we do indeed take that final breath.

 

And the sober truth is that one day we will be right. And when that day comes, if we have lived our lives as our Lord wishes us to – a life of holiness, a life of watchfulness and prayer – then we will be ready for his return or our deaths. And we will welcome that moment, even as we are welcomed by God to dwell with him, his angels, and all the saints in heaven; a welcome that I pray will be granted to all here - in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Matthew 25: 31-46

24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch therefore--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cock-crow, or in the morning -- 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Watch."



Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 3 Dec 2017: Advent Sunday (liturgical colour ??? violet)

Posted on December 2, 2017 at 1:00 AM

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service to allow others to pray quietly before the Lord

 

Commissioning service of Lay Readers today at 5.30 pm in St Canice's Cathedral. Please give our readers your fullest support by affirming them in this important ministry

 

+Monday 4 Dec (day of discipline and self-denial)

'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.' Matthew 8.8

Reflection:

How many of us approach God and all his gifts to us with a sense of entitlement; rather than humbly, with a true sense of our own unworthiness?

 

+Tuesday 5 (day of discipline and self-denial)

Jesus said: 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets & kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it.' Luke 10.23,24

Reflection:

How aware are we of the privilege we have of knowing Jesus? It is a blessing beyond compare from God himself. Are we correspondingly grateful?

 

+Wednesday 6 (day of discipline and self-denial)

They put them at Jesus feet and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw … And they praised the God of Israel. Matthew 15. 30,31

 

Reflection

The crowds reaction was to praise God when they witnessed all that Jesus could do. Do we do likewise? And do we do it it for all the world to see?

 

+Thursday 7 (day of discipline and self-denial)

No one can serve two masters. Matthew 7.24

Reflection:

Where does your true loyalty lie? Are the values praised by the world your guide or those given us by Christ? And have you the courage to proclaim it?

 

+Friday 8 (day of discipline and self-denial)

The blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to him 'Yes, Lord.' Matthew 9. 28

Reflection:

Jesus offers us many things. Do we say yes to his promises?

 

+Saturday 9 (Rector's Day Off; day of discipline and self-denial))

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Matthew 9.37

Reflection:

To truly say 'Yes, Lord' to Jesus means serving him and working for the salvation of souls. In what ways do you answer his call on your life?

 

+Sun 10 Dec, 2nd of Advent – Liturgical colour Violet (2nd Sunday of month; Services according to usual schedule – see below)

 

Coming up this week

+Wed 8pm Advent mid-week Eucharist, St Mary's (in the vestry)

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Please contact your treasurer to see if you need to 'top up' your giving before 31 Dec.

+Readers Wanted! If you are willing to read lessons in church, please let the rector know. Young people, especially children, are particularly encouraged to take part.

+Advent mid-week Eucharists (Wednesdays): 6 Dec St Mary's; 13 Dec Bilboa; 20 Dec The Colliery. All at 8pm

+Profit on the Autumn Fayre: €4775. Well done all!

 

+17 Dec Carol Service, The Colliery, w/the Castlecomer MVC; 7pm (pls note time change)

+19 Dec WNS Nativity Play, 7pm, Wandesforde Hall

+24 Dec Sunday 11am Holy Communion, St Mary's

+24 Dec Christmas Eve: 7pm Bilboa, HC; Christmas Eve: 9pm The Colliery, HC

+25 Dec Christmas Day: 10 am Mothel, HC; 11.30am St Mary's HC

+31 Dec Sunday (& New Year's Eve) 10 am HC The Colliery (pls note time change)

+6 January: Rectory Christmas Party 7-9pm – a 'thank you' to all on the Select Vestry and others in ministry in the parish.

+7 Jan: Epiphany Carol Service, Mothel, 4pm; the only other service in the Union that Sunday is that of Holy Communion at 10.30 am.

+Parish Confirmation date: 15 April 2018. Please give names to the rector

+April 16th - 25th 2018 'Tour To Israel'; contact Rachel at 087 9905059 for details

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, in rotation

 

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

the Kingship of Christ

Posted on November 26, 2017 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Today is the Sunday before Advent, the Sunday when we focus on the Kingship of Christ. Our Lord, as you know, told Pontius Pilate at his trial that his 'kingdom was not of this world.' By this we may understand that in this age his kingdom may be regarded as a hidden thing. During this life we are expected to live our lives under his kingship and proclaim to the world that he is its true and only king – but he will force nothing on us. We have been granted free will and our Sovereign and our Saviour will not interfere with that.

 

However, at the end of the ages all that will change. Christ will come again in his glory with his angels; and we will be held to account by our Ruler and Judge for the choices we have made in this life. How have we employed that free will we were given? Have we used it well; or have we used it badly? And our eternal destiny hangs in the balance based on how Jesus, true God and true man, decides how that question is to be answered.

 

Now, there are some commentators who try to argue that the passage which speaks of this, our Gospel reading today, should be seen as a parable and that therefore what our Lord is describing here is to be taken figuratively. However, to do so is to ignore everything what the Church Fathers have written about what Jesus says here; it is also to ignore what the Church that Christ founded has taught based on this passage down through the ages; and it is to ignore the clear and unambiguous words our Lord uses to begin this section of Sacred Scripture. He says a 'when the Son of Man comes in his glory.' This is not figurative language. There are two other parables in this chapter of St Matthew's Gospel; all concern the end of days; and they do not begin like this. The first begins with the words 'Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten virgins …' and the next with 'For it will be as when a man going on a journey …' Our Lord leaves his listeners in no doubt whatsoever that he is not speaking literally; and we can be sure, therefore, that he is undoubtedly speaking literally when he says 'when the Son of Man comes in his glory.'

 

So let us consider some of the implications of what is that God himself is telling us about what will happen at the end of the ages. The first is that Christ indeed will come again. We are almost into the season of Advent; a time for looking back to the time when he first came into our world; but also a time for preparing ourselves for that day when he will come again. It is therefore important not to use this time only as a time for rejoicing, thinking of his Nativity, and how he was born to save us from our sins; and certainly not to only use it as time for joining in all the secular celebrations of those in the world around who not only do not accept him as their King, but actively mock his teachings, his Church, and those who follow him; but to make space during that season to consider whether we are ready for when he returns … and how we may make ourselves ready if we are not.

 

Next, when he comes, he will come as king and judge. And he will hold us to account for how we have treated our brothers and sisters. Have we cared for those in need – have we fed the hungry; have we clothed the naked? And also, have we looked to their spiritual needs? For, as St Jerome reminds us concerning this passage, the poor are not only those who do not have food or drink or shelter … there are also those who are poor in spirit. Indeed, perhaps there has never been a time in the modern era where there have been so many who have poor in this way. And this is a far greater poverty than the material kind. For if you are poor when it comes to the good things of this life it is only a temporary thing; but if you are poor when it comes to spiritual riches then the harm you suffer as a result can be eternal. We must not neglect the needs of those who are poor in this way; and if we do not do our very best to alleviate this poverty which afflicts their very souls, then we may expect to be held to account for it ourselves.

 

And the last thing to consider this morning is this: hell is real, people go there, and they go there for all eternity. This may seem harsh in our modern era when the most wicked criminals often receive little more than a slap on the wrist compared with the enormity of their offences. However, divine justice works differently; and just as our free will is respected by God in this life, so it is respected by him in the next. And even as he will not force us to accept him as King in this age, neither will he force those who have rejected him as King on earth to serve him as King in heaven. They have chosen hell by their actions. The man who throws himself off a cliff may regret his decision when he sees the rocks below rushing up towards him; but he has already made his choice and his regrets will not alter the laws of gravity. Our chance to accept Christ as King comes in this life; and it is too late to do so in the next.

 

However, Christ does not tell us all this to alarm us or to frighten us. He informs us as to what will happen the next time he comes into the world for the very same reason he came into it the first time – so that all men might be saved. It is his greatest desire that all should one day join him in heaven; he wants it so much that he was willing to die on a cross in order that it would be possible. We have a king that loves us that much; and all he asks is that we love him in return and show that love by the way we live our our lives on this earth. Those who do so will receive the greatest reward any king ever has or ever could bestow upon his subjects; to be placed by him at his right hand on the last day and be welcomed by him into eternal life; a welcome that I pray all here will receive - in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 26 Nov 2017: Sunday before Advent - The Kingship of Christ

Posted on November 25, 2017 at 1:00 AM

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service to allow others to pray quietly before the Lord

 

Today's noon Eucharist in Bilboa will also serve as a memorial to John Graham. His brother, Canon Isaac Graham, will celebrate & preach)

 

+Monday 27 The blind man shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly.‘Luke 18.38, 39

Reflection Do not let anyone or anything persuade you from bringing your problems to God. Persevere in prayer; God hears and answers all, even if we do not understand how.

 

+Tuesday 28 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ Luke 19.5

Reflection Zacchaeus' desire to come closer to Christ was rewarded in the most unexpected way. So too must we strive always to draw nearer to Jesus by trying to be more and more like him, not letting any obstacle prevent us.

 +Wednesday 29 The first came forward and said, “Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.” He said to him, “Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.” Luke 19. 16, 17

Reflection Faithfulness in the ultimately trivial things of this life leads to great rewards in the next. Stand firm in your faith whatever the difficulties or temptations you face.

 +Thursday 30 (St Andrew) And he said to Peter and Andrew "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4.19-20 Reflection Christ calls us all to bring others into his kingdom. Will we do as St Andrew did and answer that call; or will we, like so many others, ignore our Lord?

+Friday 1 Dec (day of discipline and self-denial) Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there. Luke 19. 45

Reflection Our Lord was moved to anger to see his Father's house treated shamefully. Never neglect to treat holy places with the reverence they deserve.

 +Saturday 2 (Rector's Day Off) 'He is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’ Luke 19. 38

Reflection Our Lord was quite clear that death means passing from this life to the next. Live this life with that hope always before you; and let Christ's promise of eternal life guide all your actions.

 

+Sun 3 Dec, Advent Sunday – Liturgical colour Violet (1st Sunday of month; Services according to usual schedule – see below)

 

Coming up this week

+Friday: Castlecomer 'Festival of Lights'; entertainment on the Square from about 5.30pm on – events include; Santa arriving on a Fire Engine; Parade with music to Christmas Village in Discovery Park; grand finale Italian Flag Wavers in Estate Yard 7.15pm approx. All welcome – fun for children aged 1 to 100!

+Friday: Christmas Whist Drive, Wandesforde Hall 8.30pm. There will be a beginners/refreshers class at 7.30pm on the night.

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Please contact your treasurer to see if you need to 'top up' your giving before 31 Dec. Thank you in advance for your generous support of our church community.

+"The Holy Spirit in the Bible" Fr Sean Maher (PP Stadbally), Wed 22 & 29 Nov, 6 Dec, 7.30pm Killeshin Schoolhouse

+Readers Wanted! If you are willing to read lessons in church, please let the rector know. Young people, especially children, are particularly encouraged to take part.

 

+17 Dec Carol Service, The Colliery, w/the Castlecomer MVC;

+24 Dec Sunday 11am Holy Communion, St Mary's

+24 Dec Christmas Eve: 7pm Bilboa, HC; Christmas Eve: 9pm The Colliery, HC

+25 Dec Christmas Day: 10 am Mothel, HC; 11.30am St Mary's HC

+31 Dec Sunday (& New Year's Eve) 1)am HC The Colliery (pls note time change)

+Parish Confirmation date: 15 April 2018. Please give names to the rector

+6 January: Rectory Christmas Party 7-9pm – a 'thank you' to all on the Select Vestry and others in ministry in the parish.

+7 Jan: Epiphany Carol Service, Mothel, 4pm; the only other service in the Union that Sunday is that of Holy Communion at 10.30 am.

+April 16th - 25th 2018 'Tour To Israel'; contact Rachel at 087 9905059 for details

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, in rotation

 

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

bury not your talents!

Posted on November 19, 2017 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Our gospel reading today concerns the parable of the talents (see below).* A talent, as I am sure you are aware, was a sum of money in the ancient world; it could also refer to a certain weight of metal, for example bronze, around 75 pounds or so. Scholars are uncertain about the origins of the word, but speculate that it might originally have meant a load, drawn from the idea that this was the weight that a man of that era could reasonably be expected to carry for any time. And, I am sure you can imagine, a collection of silver coins amounting to that weight was a very large sum of money indeed! At the time of our Lord a talent of silver would have been 6000 drachma – a fortune, the amount of money it would have taken the average man perhaps 30 years to earn.

 

The New Testament, of course, was written in Greek; and the word used in the original language was 'talanton'. This word, as it happens, has no direct equivalent in English; and so rather than translating we do what's called transliterating … essentially, replacing the original Greek letters with the ones we use ourselves. And so 'talanton' becomes talent.

 

Now, it is not a coincidence that we have a word in English, talent, that is exactly the same as we use in place of the word 'talanton'. As it happens, our word in English is descended, as it were, from the Greek original. Talanton become in Latin talenta, which in Old English talente, which became in modern English talent.

 

And the meaning of the English word that 'talanton' became is, as you might expect, rooted in this parable also. The talents in the parable represents the gifts we have from God. And, as we all know, any abilities or aptitudes we have are gifts from God. And so it was that with the passing of the ages the word talent came to mean in English a sum of money only when we are reading this parable or discussing the weights and measures and monetary system of Ancient Greece and Rome and more commonly our natural abilities.

 

Now, it is all very interesting to know this; and it is somewhat gratifying to think that we have this specific word in English because our Lord used it in the way he did when he was telling the parable to his disciples. But it is, I think, somewhat unfortunate that the word talent has such a narrow meaning in English when our Saviour was using it in a much broader sense on that day.

 

Indeed, if you search the works of the Church Fathers, you will see that they seldom interpret the talents in the parable as standing for the abilities that God grants us as individuals. This is not surprising; for they were writing long before modern English was a language – or indeed even middle-English or old-English. They for the most part see the talents, the great sums of money that the master entrusts to his servants, as standing for the great and myriad gifts that God bestows upon us. This, of course, includes our abilities; but it also includes far more. And so it should; for God has given us far more; God has given us everything.

 

Reading the parable though the lens of our modern English understanding of the word talent – and by modern I mean here the last 500 years or so – has inclined us to overlook the deeper, richer meaning of what the talents in the parable are supposed to stand for. Indeed, it has given rise to the unhappy tendency for people to regard it almost as some kind of a pep-talk for people as they go about their careers; a kind of 'now you must do your best to develop the abilities you have been given or God will be very disappointed in you.' And God does indeed expect us to do the best with the abilities he has gifted us with; but we must not become so focussed on that idea that we lose sight of why Jesus is telling the parable; and that has to do with the salvation of souls and not worldly success.

 

This intent is made clear by the ending of the passage, where the servant who has done nothing with his talent save bury it in the ground, the servant called wicked and lazy by his master, is cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Therefore we must see this parable as being about using the gifts that God gives us as a means of attaining eternal life – all the gifts he gives us. And, of course, some of the gifts he gives us are more important when it comes to achieving this aim than others, although we must be grateful for them all. A glass of wine is a great gift from God – wine cheers the heart of man, as Scripture tells us. But I cannot recall hearing any story of how a man found salvation at the bottom of a bottle – although perhaps many have lost it through an immoderate love of the fruit of the vine.

 

But there are other gifts – higher gifts let us call them – that will guide us on our pilgrim path. The gift of prayer, which God gives us so that he may speak with us and we with him; the gift of Sacred Scripture, where we find the Divine Truth of his revealed word; the Church his Son founded, where we may find the fellowship of others on the journey who will encourage us on the road even as we encourage them; and the sacraments he administers to us through that Church – the waters of baptism which washes away our sins, Confession and Absolution so that when we fall into sin we may be washed clean again, the Body and Blood of our Saviour in the Holy Eucharist to nourish our souls. And there are, of course, many more.

 

And if we fail to use these gifts, if we behave as the wicked servant, effectively burying them in the ground, then woe is us. His fate was dismal; and it is the fate of all who do likewise, neglecting the wondrous and abundant gifts that God grants us in order that we might be with him for all eternity. But the others, those who use those treasures well, then to them will be given in even greater abundance – the gift of everlasting life in heaven. Such as they will hear the words the master spoke to those who had put their talents to good use: Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into your master's joy; words that that I pray will be spoken to all here - in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

*Matthew 25: 14-31

"For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' 21 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' 23 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' 26 But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' 31 When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.”


Castlecomer Union Pew News & Prayer Diary 19 Nov 2017: 2nd before Advent liturgical colour ΓΆΒ?Β? Green

Posted on November 18, 2017 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Please remember to maintain Holy Silence both before and after the service to allow others to pray quietly before the Lord

 

+Monday 20

‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’ Luke 21. 3-4

Reflection

Christian giving is about more than giving what we hardly notice or can easily spare. It involves self-denial and sacrifice. In Christian giving one can see the Cross.

+Tuesday 21

And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.' Luke 21.8

Reflection

Christ warned us that we would not know when he would come again. Wait for that day patiently, living as if it might be tomorrow, according to the way that he taught.

+Wednesday 22

'They will arrest you & persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues & prisons, & you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.' Luke 21.13

Reflection

Christ warned his followers that their lives would be dangerous and difficult for his sake. Perhaps that means we should wonder when our own lives are too comfortable.

+Thursday 23

'Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory.' Luke 21. 27

Reflection

Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. Ponder that this Advent, rather than treating it as a party season instead of a penitential one.

+Friday 24 (day of discipline and self-denial)

'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.' Luke 21. 33

Reflection

Christ in his teaching spoke eternal truths. And what he taught is as true today as the day he first spoke his words to mortal men.

+Saturday 25 (Rector's Day Off)

‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.  Luke 21. 34.35

Reflection

Our Lord warned that the things of this life can be a danger to us, both in its pleasures and its concerns. Whatever comes your way, focus always on the true goal of this life – the eternal life Christ promised.

 

+Sun 26th Nov, The Sunday before Advent – The Kingship of Christ; Liturgical colour Green (4th Sunday of month; Service according to usual schedule – see below; the noon Eucharist in Bilboa will also serve as a memorial to John Graham. His brother, Canon Isaac Graham, who lives in Canada, will celebrate & preach)

 

Coming up this week

+Mon 8pm 'Dads' Killeshin Schoolhouse: initial meeting for fathers who wish to give their families their best; a support group for men to help them find ways of being comfortable in the new roles society has cast for them.

+Friday 'Comer Autumn Fayre 7pm (set up the night before from 6.30pm) Helpers needed – and cakes! (suggestions: Tray bakes, tea bracks, biscuit cakes, small Christmas puddings?)

+Saturday 2.30-3.30 pm MU Prayer Vigil against gender-based violence, St Laserian's

+Saturday 7.30 pm fund-raising concert, Stradbally Co Laois

 

Notes & Advance notices

+Please contact your treasurer to see if you need to 'top up' your giving before 31 Dec. Thank you in advance for your generous support of our church community.

+"The Holy Spirit in the Bible" Fr Sean Maher (PP Stadbally), Wed 22 & 29 Nov, 6 Dec, 7.30pm Killeshin Schoolhouse

+Readers Wanted! If you are willing to read lessons in church, please let the rector know. Young people, especially children, are particularly encouraged to take part.

+1 Dec: Christmas Whist Drive, Wandesforde Hall 8.30pm. There will be a beginners/refreshers class at 7.30pm on the night.

+17 Dec Carol Service, The Colliery, w/the Castlecomer MVC

+24 Dec Sunday 11am Holy Communion, St Mary's

+24 Dec Christmas Eve: 7pm Bilboa, HC; Christmas Eve: 9pm The Colliery, HC

+25 Dec Christmas Day: 10 am Mothel, HC; 11.30am St Mary's HC

+31 Dec Sunday (& New Year's Eve) 1)am HC The Colliery (pls note time change)

+Parish Confirmation date: 15 April 2018. Please give names to the rector

+6 January: Rectory Christmas Party – a 'thank you' to all on the Select Vestry and others in ministry in the parish.

+April 16th - 25th 2018 'Tour To Israel'; contact Rachel at 087 9905059 for details

 

Rector: Rev Patrick Burke: 056 4441677 [email protected]

 

Sunday Services:

The Colliery 9.15am / St Mary's 10.30 am;

Mothel noon 1st and 3rd Sun; 2nd Sun Evening Prayer 7pm;

Bilboa noon 2nd & 4th Sunday, & 10.30am on 3rd Sundays.;

5th Sundays 11am, in rotation

Please use recorded giving (envelope, etc)! The parish gets 45c extra for every euro you give, if you pay tax, from Revenue (if you give €250 pa or more) if it is recorded!

knowledge, wisdom, and eternal life

Posted on November 12, 2017 at 5:30 AM

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

There’s a lot of talk about wisdom in our readings today. The first reading is from the book Wisdom; and our Gospel reading has the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. So, as we begin, it might be a good idea to think about what we understand by the word wisdom. Particularly what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge.

 

A simple definition might be the knowledge are facts and wisdom is knowing how to apply them. By way of illustration, we might think of a young man who has spent four years in college studying agricultural science, specialising in the husbandry of sheep, without ever having set foot on an actual farm. He graduates, and then goes to a sheep farm. He begins by thinking that he is the expert; after all he knows far more than the farmer who has never been to college. And we can all imagine he would soon learn differently. The farmer may have far less knowledge, but what little he knows he is able to apply well. He is wise in the way of sheep.

 

Now let us think about this distinction in relation to the parable we heard earlier. Why are some of the virgins wise and some foolish? Both groups have been invited to the wedding. Both have been given the task of bringing lamps to light the way of the bridegroom into the feast. Both have brought their lamps, filled with oil and wicks trimmed so they may burn brightly. So far so good. But only one group has brought extra oil. They are able to refill their lamps when the bridegroom is delayed, while the others have to rush off and buy more. Which means that they are not there when he actually arrives and so they miss the wedding feast as a result.

 

What is the difference between those who are wise and those who are foolish? Well, that the bridegroom might come late was foreseeable; and preparing for that by bringing more oil in case what was in the lamps ran out was a prudent action. Both had the same knowledge of the situation; but only the wise ones used that information well and gained access to the feast as a result.

 

Now, of course, our Lord did not tell this story for the sake of providing career tips to young women working in that part of the hospitality industry that specialises in wedding receptions. He told it for the sake of the salvation of all mankind. So what is the deeper meaning of this parable?

 

The virgins, wise and foolish, stand for all mankind. The wedding feast is eternal life in heaven. And the time they spend waiting represents our time in this life, which will end either with the end of the ages or by death. Entering into the feast is being welcomed into eternal life; while being refused means being cast into the outer darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

 

And what of the extra oil? After all, that is the primary distinction between the two groups. The oil, the Church Fathers tells us, stands for the good deeds of those who live their lives wisely, those who lead their lives according to God's laws and commandments. The oil represents the treasure they have laid up in heaven; the essential treasure that all too many neglect.

 

And I would like to draw your particular attention to a very important detail of the parable – a detail that is easy not to notice because it involves taking into account what it is that Christ does not say about those he describes as foolish. He does not mention them as being guilty of great wickedness of any kind. They are not murderers or robbers; they are not liars or blasphemers; they are not worshippers of idols or gluttons or

drunkards. Indeed, as he describes them as being virgins we may even consider that they are not sexually immoral. But Jesus did not need to mention such things. It is only in our own rather silly age that people almost universally agree that all that is needed to be a good person is not to do bad things. And, of course, what they really mean by that is that as long as they do not lead an evil life full of great wickedness then they are good. Essentially it is the standard of the extreme: Hitler bad; pretty much everyone else OK.

 

Such a way of looking things may be sufficient for the atheist who has no belief in an after-life, and thinks nothing of God and his holiness, and certainly thinks the idea of sin as offence against God's laws is either a joke or dangerous nonsense. But for the Christian, it is a very different matter altogether.

 

The Christian is called to lead his or her life in the light of eternity. We know that man was made by God, was tempted by Satan and fell into sin; and that God has rescued us from the consequences of that sin, both original and personal, by his Incarnation and Death on the Cross. Those are the facts of the situation; and the choice that falls to us is whether, knowing what we know, do we act foolishly or wisely. We can be foolish and act as if all this really means nothing at all, that we have no need to lead holy lives, and that sin is either not real or matters not at all; or we can be wise, and do our utmost to live as God wishes us to, accepting the graces that he offers us to help, especially those he offers us through the sacraments of his Church, asking his pardon when we fail.

 

The latter is the way of the wise; it is the way to lay up treasure in heaven, to fill up our flasks with the oil of salvation that will keep our lamps burning until the day of the great wedding feast so that we may walk joyfully with him to join with him in his banquet forever - a wisdom that I pray will be granted to all here - in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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