Sunday of the Word of God

While it is Australia Day here in this part of the world, universally today the Church celebrates its first ever Sunday of the Word of God.

Last September, Pope Francis decreed that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God.” (Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis, no. 3).  It fulfils a proposal that he made at the end of the Holy Year of Mercy.

This Sunday, then, encourages us all to reflect on, and celebrate the central role of the Scriptures within our faith.  It is through the Bible that we come to know God, and particularly through the Gospels, we come to know the person of Jesus.  In every liturgical celebration, God speaks to us through the Scriptures that are proclaimed, and Christ is made present among us.

It’s timing, early in the Sunday of Ordinary Time, is also beneficial for us to reflect on the role the Scriptures play in our personal prayer.  The Sundays will allow us to accompany Jesus through his life and ministry as documented in the Gospel of Matthew, so this Sunday is the perfect time to make a new resolution to pray with God’s word.  Do we spend time reflecting on the Sunday readings during the week before or after Mass?  Do we give ourselves time to read the Bible, or pray with the texts through prayer forms such as Morning and Evening Prayer or Lectio Divina (“divine reading”)?

The Carmelites publish Lectio Divina prayer resources on their website each month, and our Diocesan Institute for Mission has started publishing very accessible weekly reflections on the Sunday readings by Dr Laurie Woods.  You can find links to these below:

Lectio Divina from the Carmelites Australia and Timor-Leste

Dr Laurie Woods Scripture Reflections from the Institute for Mission

Our Marian Shrine

Carmel Bulletin, 21 July 2019

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Under this title, the Carmelite family and our parish invoke the patronage and protection of Mary, our mother and sister in faith.

Continue reading “Our Marian Shrine”

Resisting Temptation and Making Space

Carmel Bulletin, 17 March 2019

The Temptation in the Wilderness by Briton Riviere
The Temptation in the Wilderness, c. 1898
Briton Riviere (1840-1920)
Guildhall Art Gallery, London

The Sundays of Lent begin each year with an account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  Temptations can be easy to come by, and hard to ignore!

Continue reading “Resisting Temptation and Making Space”

I Am the Bread of Life

Carmel Bulletin, 5 August 2018

The usual semicontinuous reading of Mark’s gospel during Ordinary Time in Year B is always put on hold at this point of the year while we listen to chapter 6 from John.  John chooses not to repeat the recount of the Last Supper that we see in the other gospels.  Instead, John the chapter 6 reflection on the Eucharist that begins with the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.

The connection of this event with Jesus’ teaching that he is the bread of life reminds us that the Eucharist is a meal.  Like the miraculous feedings of the gospels, the Eucharist is for us food and drink given to us by God.  It is both thanksgiving and nourishment for those who follow Christ.  It shows us that there is no limit to God’s giving – we will all receive what we need, with plenty to spare.

Jesus also explains to the people, however, that the manna their ancestors ate, however, did not give eternal life.  Eternal life is the gift offered to us through the death and resurrection of Christ.  Sharing in the Eucharist, therefore, is also to share in the sacrifice of Jesus.  Jesus ends the sacrifices of the Old Testament by offering the one new and eternal sacrifice of his own body and blood.

14 - Anointing of Altar 3
Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv anoints our new altar at its dedication, 17 December 2017

The design of our new altar seeks to reflect both the twofold nature of our Eucharistic celebration.  The shape makes it recognisable as a table; a table which the entire community of the baptised are called to gather around to feast at the meal that leads us to the heavenly banquet.  Its stone fabrication alludes to the sacrificial altars of the past, and communicates to us that the altar represents Christ himself, who sacrificed his own life for the redemption of all humankind.

None Equals Thee

OLMC Statue landscape 2Sometimes people of other faith traditions think that we worship Mary.  While they can clearly see that Mary holds a special place in our faith, all our worship is directed toward God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Collect Prayer for our celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel reminds us of this:

All gracious God,
may the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother and Queen of Carmel, protect us,
and bring us to your holy Mountain, Christ our Lord…

(Carmelite Lectionary)

Mary is certainly the most blessed of all women, and a person without equal.  As our mother and sister in faith, she intercedes for us, and leads us to the divine mystery in which we believe.  This echoes through a number of the prayer texts we use on our feast day today.

While we certainly honour Mary at different times throughout the liturgical year, the liturgy is still focused on giving thanks to God for the Paschal Mystery – the life, death and resurrection of Christ in which Mary played a crucial role.  It is why, for example, that prayers to Mary (such as the Hail Mary) don’t form part of the proper texts for Mass.  It is also why Marian devotions, such as the rosary, or private prayers at the Marian Shrine, have their own time and place.

So as we give thanks for Mary’s patronage and protection, let us remember her first and foremost as a woman with deep faith who embraced the will of God.  Let us pray that by her prayers and example, our faith and love will become like hers.