Tag Archives: Christmas

The Cathedral Connection 2 December 2018

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On Jordan’s Bank

Today is the First Sunday of Advent, in which we begin our spiritual preparation for Christmas.  We will be invited in the next weeks to reflect and pray, and to give as we might to those in material need.

One of the features of the Advent Gospel readings is a focus on John the Baptist. He features in all four Gospels – the three ‘synoptic’ gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so-called because they are identifiably similar in much of their material – and the rather different Gospel of John.  In all the gospels he is presented as the forerunner of Jesus, a witness to what is to come. He is also the subject of that beautiful English hymn, ‘On Jordan’s Bank’.

Like the older prophets of Israel, John preached both warning and reconciliation. He warned his listeners that they were not to rely on their status as children of Abraham; that what we do and how we treat others is what matters, and is how we are to be reconciled with each other and with God.

When the people asked him ‘what should we do?’ his message was simple. Be honest with yourselves and change what needs changing.  Turn away from greed, selfishness and abusive relationships.  Share your goods with those in need, and live in peace with each other.  Then, reconciliation will begin.

Simple advice, but I don’t find it easy to follow. In reflecting on Luke’s account of John the Baptist I am reminded of Pope Francis writing this year in ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’ that the call to holiness is for all of us, where we are, in our ordinary lives. During Advent we might reflect on the ways in which our hearts need to change, and where we need to be reconciled.

Jim McAloon, chair, Parish Pastoral Council

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The Cathedral Connection 11 November 2018

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

ARMISTICE

An ending, but the pain lives on.
Warring warriors weapons-fed
return to homes not seen for years
to hope-filled dreams not seen for tears
living, but with lives on lease
only warring warriors dead
can rest in peace.

Comfort us who mourn the loss
of lives in battles won or lost
war brings to life a dreadful cost
then nails it fast upon a cross.

The talks agree the fighting’s done
armistice has now become
the way ahead for all who come
to live as one without the gun.

Within the soul does love exist
And buoyed by hope cannot resist
To strengthen faith through cloud and mist
To await with joy our armistice.

– Fr James

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Midnight Mass 2017 Homily – Cardinal John Dew

Christmas 2017

Do you have a Christmas heart?

A few days ago, I prayed with a meditation which was written for people with Christmas hearts.  It said, “these are songs to be sung in today’s over commercialised world, they are to help people to remember WHO Christmas is.” Jesus Christ is not a written text or an abstract idea, Jesu sis a living person.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook page a photograph of a life-sized Nativity scene in a supermarket at Petone.  I was astounded at the number of people who saw that Facebook post.  Thousands of people saw it, dozens of people commented on it. They made comments such as –

  • it’s good to remember WHAT Christmas is all about”,
  • “it’s time to think about WHAT we are celebrating”,
  • “it’s time to stop and think WHY we do all these things.

We could reflect on Christmas in terms of WHAT or WHY – but it is more important to reflect on WHO Christmas is.

In the very first homily Pope Benedict gave as Pope he said, “each of us is a result of a thought of God, each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.  There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, to be surprised by the encounter with Christ.”

That means being surprised by WHO not a what or a why.  The WHO is Jesus – Jesus born at Nazareth.  We are surprised when we meet Jesus.  We meet, we encounter Christ tonight.

Pope Benedict also once said “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

When we meet Jesus, when we hear his words and try to live by those words our life is given a new horizon and a decisive direction.

It is usually easy to relate to babies – like all babies Jesus grew up. That means we don’t spend our life relating to the baby Jesus, we spend our lives listening to the adult Jesus who speaks to us, who lived, who died, who was crucified and rose again.

However, this night, this day is to remember when the mystery of God’s presence in our world began. St Paul, in his letter to Titus reminded us that God’s grace has been revealed, made known to us through Jesus born into our world.  God’s grace, God’s kindness has made salvation possible for the whole human race.  God’s grace did not make a WHAT or WHY known, God’s goodness and kindness made a person known, Jesus.  “Today a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.”

In one of his first Angelus messages after being elected Pope Francis was talking about the love of God.  He said “the one who sows love in our hearts is God.  But what is God’s love?  It’s not something vague, some generic feeling.  God’s love has a name and a face, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, love for God is shown to us in Jesus.” Do we know Jesus who has a name and a face?

My greatest wish and prayer for you, for each of us this Christmas, is that we will carry Christmas in our hearts, that we will carry Jesus in our hearts, and like God be kind to each other.

One of those of meditations which prompted me to reflect on Who Christmas is said

“more than anything else

I want to give you Christmas this year,

it’s a gift

an offer. 

You can take it,

if you like,

but I can’t really give it to you

like a wrapped-up package,

it’s deeper than that.

It is warmer, brighter, lighter,

it is more personal. 

Christmas is more challenging

than a wrapped-up package

it is an offer,

it is a mystery,

it is birth,

it is hope,

it is Christmas

and God can never be born enough.”

God can never be born enough in our world….you and I bring Jesus to life.

God could be born a thousand thousand times in Bethlehem but if he is not born in our hearts it would all be a waste of time.

Christmas is about who came to live in our world, about who continues to come and be born in our hearts.

“Today a Saviour has been born to you he is Christ the Lord.”

 

The Cathedral Connection Christmas 2017 & January 2018

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The piece that brings us peace

In the waiting area at Wellington’s cancer clinic is a large jigsaw puzzle. Pieces are put in place throughout the day as people either await appointments or those they’ve accompanied to the clinic. Sharing responsibility for the puzzle is more than a way of passing the time: the activity quietly links those who share the uncertainty and anxiety that illness brings.

Piecing together any puzzle on your own can be frustrating and is often impossible.  We need help for most things and especially when it comes to meaning. What’s life all about?  Where is my own life going – and why?

For Christians, Christmas offers the last piece of the puzzle. The gift of God in Jesus is an exact fit, presenting us with the whole picture. I have come that you may have life in its fullness, Jesus tells us. Holding that to be true, is key to an understanding of life, providing a context for the uncertainties and anxieties that are bound to confront us.

God loved the world so much that help could be delayed no longer. The coming of Jesus, clothed with humanity and born as we are born, reveals a God opening a path to perfection, made easy with the balm of mercy and the tenderness of a parent’s love. His message that we should love one another as he has loved us gives us a reason to bond together in mutual trust and service. It is in this “revelation” that we find all the meaning we will ever need.

Greetings and blessings to all who come to celebrate the Christmas festival. In this mystery of “God-with-us” you will find the piece that fits exactly the space in your heart or the gap in your life. It is the gift of Jesus, his peace, that we instinctively long for and which he promises will last for ever.

Fr James Lyons            Fiona Rammell
Parish Priest                 Lay Pastoral Leader

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