Instant Coffee Spirituality – 19th Sunday in Ordinary time C

I am a coffee snob… but technologically difficient so this is .wma not mp3

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What owns you? Homily 18th Sunday Year C 4 August 2013

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An open door to darkness

Walk down a long dark corridor and notice how the light from one open door streams into the dark. Not the other way around. Dark doesn’t stream into the light.
This is something that we forget in our illuminated world where we don’t often experience the overwhelming darkness and the comforting presence of the light. We’re seldom in the deep dark.
In St. John’s gospel, Judas goes out into the dark and in a sense gets re-absorbed by the dark.
In the Parish Church of Christ the King, Queenswood, artist Leo Theron has powerfully symbolized this in the Last Supper section of his wall of light with an open door.
I’ve been thinking about this recently after Pope Francis asked the church to venture into the darkness.
Sometimes we are so comfortable in the light of our Last Supper that we forget that the next step for our Lord was into the darkness. Deep darkness. The darkness that reclaimed Judas and tried to reclaim the whole of humanity.
Yet, again, beautifully captured by Theron is the light of the resurrection that is its own light, light from light. Light shining in darkness.
The Church is called to follow her Lord. Into the Darkness, but always in the knowledge that the Light wins.
Our Dark world loses the light of person, individuality, mercy, joy, possibility. Dark is fear, anonymity, hidden.
Our new effort at evangelization must form and transform Christians into those who can go boldly into that dark night.
We might meet Judas there with Good News


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Wind. The exodus compounded

The wind that came up at the Red Sea would have scared me. Pursued by pharaoh and his horsemen and chariots, led away from uncomfortable security by a madman, confronted by a seemingly impossible obstacle, this would be the last thing I needed on my exodus journey. Wind. Not a gentle breeze, but a mighty wind, buffeting, constant, dusty, unsettling.
I often don’t see the reason for the winds in my life. The actions of friends that are hurtful and defy explanation. Being a parish pastor with it normal excess of real and horrible issues. Being informed of a submission audit by SARS,the revenue service, the five month saga of a parish car and the need to prepare for nasal surgery when every day seems to bring a new complication and delay. I don’t like these winds. I can’t tack my life to them and use them. They buffet, leave grit in my eyes. The winds limit my vision and frustrate me.
But. That horrible spiritual but. But. God didn’t see the wind in the same way. The wind was not raised for inconvenience or to be another test. It was his chosen instrument to clear a way for his chosen people so they could walk through the Sea of reeds dry shod, walls of water to left and to right of them. The wind was another mighty sign.
It doesn’t make the winds less intense, less gritty, less discomforting. Just winds with a purpose my limited vision can’t see just yet.
Exodus 14

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The Primacy of Conscience – Acting from Heart

Fifteenth Sunday – Primacy of conscience.

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Thy kingdom. A missed opportunity

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done… There is something charming, appealing and comforting about this formulation of the words of the ‘Pater Noster’. These are the words of our daily liturgy and prayer. These are the words of praying at school and family prayer. Necessary and beautiful.

Yet, two years into the new English translation of the roman missal, I struggle to come to grips with these words. Not because they have changed. Precisely because they haven’t changed. In all the changes, tweaks, improvements, poetry and wonder of the new translation of the mass, why was this the one prayer section that wasn’t changed?

When I asked the question of the Bishop responsible for Liturgy in Southern Africa, I was given the simple answer- because nobody asked for it to be changed. Without wanting to get into the politics of why change- a dead fish flayed on far too many rocks- I am astounded that in our entire sacral register of language, no one in the English speaking world thought to ask why we are left with the archaism of an English no longer used except in university courses… and the Catholic Church.

My gentle prodding has also seen another reason emerge. For Ecumenism. Because other churches use this in their prayer. I really wonder if this holds true. Throughout the universal, orthodox and liturgical world of Christianity, this may be the case, but straying even a fraction from this fold, I’m not sure that the ‘Pater Noster’ is even used. Certainly, in the South African context, it shouldn’t be being used in the school environment. The broad non-liturgical Pentecostal movement seems to have little place for the Lord’s Prayer… Or anything more formal than ‘amen brother’. Certainly not in the supposed environment of ‘sola scriptura… In my experience at recent weddings and funerals and even at joint events, hardly anyone knows the Our Father other than the Catholics and a few Methodists and Anglicans. Maybe it is an indication of just how veneer our Christianity has been and how many are no longer professing a veneer of relationship to the Most Holy Trinity.

So where does that leave me. Still puzzled by the ‘Thees and thous’ of a language that is 450 years old, a language found nowhere else in our renewed liturgy and certainly not used in our real life language. And it leaves me addressing God my Father not in the archaic register, but as Our Father, in heaven, may your name be kept Holy, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us or debts as we forgive those in debt to us. Lead us not into temptation and keep us safe from all evil. Amen

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Sunday homily fourteenth sunday cycle C

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