November 20

Sunday November 20 – Luke 23:35-43
Opening
Let us place ourselves in the presence of God.
Close your eyes.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Gospel
Luke 23:35-43

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

good-thiefNow one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Reflection by Father Kevin Bates sm
Some events during these past days serve to remind us that we have not here a lasting city. On the international scene we’ve had the lead-up and outcome of the US election. Even here in our part of the world, children through to the elderly were all mesmerised as the results came in. The earth shifted! No more words need to be written on this topic. We’ve been so caught up in it that we and our journalists have analysed it to death!

The devastating earthquake in New Zealand a few days’ ago also comes to mind. Once again the earth really did shift, causing enormous damage whose cost is still being calculated. The recovery no doubt will be long and arduous.

Of more immediate impact, there are the changes that confront us personally, which call for steady nerves, agile thinking and creative responses. The sickness of a child, a car accident, an unwelcome health report, a retrenchment or a death in the family will serve to pull us up short. We find that things are not as they were yesterday. Things, people or structures which supported our way into the future, securities that we thought were just that, are no more!

The restless Scripture readings that we soon hear during Advent can remind us that such shifting ground is not all that much of a surprise. In fact it is business as usual.

Our God is a God of the Living, Jesus tells us, and living things are born, develop, change, grow old, die and turn into something else. That’s just the way it is. Any illusion that we hold that we are above and out of reach of such change is just that, an illusion. Jesus might well tell us to have our lamps lit and well stocked with oil and our clothes laid out ready for any unexpected departures.
We have some choices here. We can choose to hang on for dear life to things as they are, fearful of letting go and unwilling to contemplate the possibility of change. Even more, we can hang on like grim death, and then we’ll end up looking like grim death and miss the meaning of the gift that is passing us by.
We can shore up the future with large bank accounts, expensive and secure buildings, and put all our energy into locking down the future and making it change-proof. In all this we may well be driven by love of family and children. Underneath this love, we will perhaps be driven by fear and the effect of this fear on our health, our relationships and our well-being doesn’t bear thinking about.
We provide a gold-mine for therapists and lawyers as they get to trawl through the damage we’ve done to ourselves, feeding off the results of our fear and anxiety.

Our Advent readings are coming very soon and they call us to open ourselves to the shifting grounds that certainly challenge us but which also promise so much by way of growth, love and joy. The promise of the coming Saviour is heard through these readings and in them is a joyful invitation to us to be free in our response, to be generous in our embrace of what is coming and courageous in our letting go of what has been.

We need wisdom to know when to hang on and when to let go. We need a profound trust in the goodness of life and in the author of all life. We need to learn that only in love is our salvation assured and that this means that we are not the centre of history let alone of our own lives.

We pray for one another as this wonderful Advent season approaches once again. May your shifting grounds bring you to life along with those you love. When love has its way with us, then we know that our fears have nowhere to stay.

Pause for 1 minute to reflect on the Gospel….

Intentions
We bring these intentions to God.
1. We pray that we will be willing to follow the call of God in our lives. May we make God king so that our lives may follow the pattern of Christ’s life. Lord hear us.
Response – “Lord hear our prayer”

2. We pray that we integrate the good and the bad. When people rebuke us, call us names or attack us, may we not respond in anger, but with love. Lord hear us.
Response – “Lord hear our prayer”

3. We thank God for the love he has shared with us in Jesus Christ. Lord hear us.
Response – “Lord hear our prayer”

Leader – Are there any other intentions?
Response – “Lord hear our prayer”

Prayer Psalm 122
I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’
Our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgement were set up,
the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.’
For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

Our Father