March 10th 2019

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Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection
  5. Pastoral Letter for First Sunday of Lent

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading          Deuteronomy 26:4-10

Moses said to the people: "The priest shall take the pannier from your hand and lay it before the altar of the Lord your God. Then, in the sight of the Lord your God, you must make this pronouncement: "My father was a wandering Aramaean. He went down into Egypt to find refuge there, few in numbers; but there he became a nation, great, mighty, and strong. The Egyptians ill-treated us, they gave us no peace and inflicted harsh slavery on us. But we called on the Lord, the God of our fathers. The Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, our toil and our oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with mighty hand and outstretched arm, with great terror, and with signs and wonders. He brought us here and gave us this land, a land where milk and honey flow. Here then I bring the first-fruits of the produce of the soil that, you, Lord, have given me." You must then lay them before the Lord your God and bow down in the sight of the Lord your God."



Second Reading         Romans 10:8-13

Scripture says: The word, that is the faith we proclaim, is very near to you; it is on your lips and in your heart. If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask for his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.



Gospel Reading          Luke 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry.

Then the devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf." But Jesus replied, "Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone."

Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, "I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose. Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours." But Jesus answered him. "Scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone."

Then he led him to Jerusalem and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. "If you are the Son of God", he said to him "throw yourself down from here, for scripture says: He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you, and again: They will hold you up on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone." But Jesus answered him, "It has been said: You must not put the Lord your God to the test."

Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time.


Sunday Reflection

1st Sunday of Lent

The Difference Between 'Stock Taking' and 'Taking Stock'
The order given to the same words can change their meaning.
For example, 'Stock Taking' is associated with a commercial company's annual exercise for ensuring trading viability.
'Taking Stock', the same words in reverse order, can have a different meaning. For example, we all 'take stock' continuously, both consciously and subconsciously, from the age of the use of reason. We take stock of all that constitutes us as the individuals we are and are becoming. We take stock of what surrounds us, paying particular attention to what affects us.
For those who are Baptised there is a spiritual taking stock. It is a daily, hopefully, review of our relationship with Jesus Christ, the spiritual journey on which our Baptism calls us in this land of exile. The Church offers all her family two prime times for spiritual taking stock; namely, Advent and Lent. These communal occasions, involving the whole community of believers, have a beneficial effect derived from a sharing of effort with fellow believers.

These early days of Lent 2019 might be a moment to reflect how, in our early life the lived, daily example of our parents and extended family played a crucial part in our growth. We would have been vacuuming-up, as it were, knowledge in an endless expansion of our data base which helps explain why home influence outweighs that of school. We wouldn't always understand, at that time, all that we were storing away but it would play its part in our understanding of future experiences.

We are God's creation and never too young to be made aware of our Trinitarian God - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We learn how to pray the Our Father, we learn of our brother, Jesus and that we share in the love that bonds them; so perfect as to be the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is 'family' for each Baptised person. This familial Trinity begins to become more real for Baptised youngsters when they see how it plays out in their parent's relationship with one another as well as individually and jointly with God.
God's love for us predates our formation in our mother's womb (see Jeremiah 1:5). Our innate potential to know and love God is reflected in the love our parents share and which they show us. Through our parents and immediate family, we learn the pre-eminence of God's love in our life. We take stock of the balance and stamina required as we see it practised in the lives of nearest and dearest. The attitudes to God displayed, in our presence, by our kith and kin are crucial as to how we perceive both God and them. The writer, Richard Rohr, in his book 'Breathing Under Water', has this: "God seems to have hidden holiness and wholeness in a secret place where only the humble will find it." In choosing to keep close to Jesus we will learn the necessity of humility.

From an equally early age children also take stock of discordance manifested through the media and people. The world's vocabulary grows ever more different from their home-life and religious vocabulary. The raucous belligerency of the former attempting to drown out the latter. Jesus, too, had to grow through confrontational experiences of the effects of the Evil One throughout his life, beginning with the need to flee from Bethlehem to Egypt in order to escape Herod's murderous rampage.
The Gospel for this 1st Sunday of Lent presents us with Luke's account (4:1-13) of specific temptations endured by Jesus after his fast of forty days in the Judean wilderness. It is unlikely that our Lent of forty days will correspond to Jesus' Judean experience, except perhaps in one aspect. We can be sure that nothing brings us to Satan's attention more swiftly than when we focus our attention on Jesus.

Taking stock, primarily an exercise of the brain, engages all our perceptive faculties. Chief among these are our five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) and, some would say, our unnamed sixth sense as well. Might not conscience be our sixth sense? The word conscience - from the Latin words con (with) and scire (to know) - gives us a meaning of 'with knowledge'. In creating us God endows all with his image and likeness. Essentially, this is the ability to be both conscious of his existence and of the invitation he extends to engage with him through forms that best accord with our being a unique expression of God's creation. No one is without that open-ended invitation. Christian Baptism gifts us with the Holy Spirit who, with our cooperation, will nurture that invitation to have faith in God as we take stock of what God has revealed of Himself through the wonder of our being, through our family, through the Scriptures, the Sacraments and, indeed, our world.

The 'Morning Offering' prayer, for example, provides a Baptised person with an 'early-day' platform from which to take stock by putting their acknowledgement of God, as their loving Father, in the forefront of the day as it opens. Personal prayer through the day is essential if we are to traverse safely the unchartered ways of this land of exile.
Christians are called to conscience-enlivened living in which taking stock, the collaboration of all our faculties spiritual, mental and physical, is supported by an active faith. This may well differentiate Christians from many compatriots.

Satan sought to undermine a physically depleted Jesus in the Judean wilderness (Gospel) and the Satan comes at us in a similar way. Aware of Jesus' commitment to his heavenly Father, Satan offered Jesus plausible and less demanding short cuts to achieve his goal, at a price. That price was for Jesus to compromise his promise to his heavenly Father symbolised by his stepping into the river Jordan and being baptised. It was a price Jesus refused to pay. Choosing conscience-enlivened living has cost countless Christians dear, in times both past and present, up to and including their life on earth. Satan will employ similar tactics with us. Psalm 139 could be used as a 'Prayer of Taking Stock'.

The 2nd Reading this Sunday (Romans 10:8-13) should give us fresh heart on our Lenten journey:
"The word is near you, it is in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Infused with God's Word within us, our words are more likely to reflect him and the stirrings of our heart to be quickened by the Holy Spirit. Taking stock allows time for remembering that, by Baptism, we are consecrated, that is dedicated to God, which will help fortify our will when we are most in need.
Perhaps our familiar responses to the Readings heard in church: "Thanks be to God" and "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ" will come alive and take on new meaning.



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