Sunday Church at Home 04th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

30th January, 2022

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

We Were Created to be Loved and to Love.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader:        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:      Amen

Leader:        Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:      Blessed be God for ever

Leader:        Today we learn that the good news offered by Jesus is for everyone, not just for Christians. We are invited to reach out in love to people who are outside of our usual circles.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5.17-19

Introduction to the reading:

Today we hear about Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet.  It came when he was quite young.  It also came at a time of turmoil when Babylon was in the process of conquering the entire Near East. That’s why Jeremiah felt uneasy about the call.  God, however, refuses to take “no” for an answer.

A reading from the Book of Jeremiah.

In the days of Josiah,
the word of the Lord came to me saying,“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

But you, gird up your loins;
arise, and say to them everything that I command you.
Do not be dismayed by them,
lest I dismay you before them.
And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city,
an iron pillar, and bronze walls,
against the whole land,
against the kings of Judah,
its princes, its priests, and the people of the land.
They will fight against you;
but they shall not prevail against you,
for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 71:1-2.3-4a.5-6ab.15ab & 17 (R. see 15ab)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. My mouth will tell of your salvation, Lord.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice, rescue me, free me;
incline your ear to me and save me.

Be my rock, my constant refuge,
a mighty stronghold to save me,
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
My God, free me from the hand of the wicked,

It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth;
from my mother’s womb, you have been my help.

My mouth will tell of your justice,
and all the day long of your salvation,
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and I proclaim your wonders still.

R/. My mouth will tell of your salvation, Lord.

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

Introduction to the reading:

We will recognize today’s passage from first Corinthians as one that is often read at weddings.  Actually, the context is not marriage, but squabbles in the Christian community in Corinth over whose spiritual gifts were most important.  Paul goes to the heart of the matter.

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters:

Earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of humanity and of angels
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith,
so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have,
and if I deliver my body to be burned,
but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind;
love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends;
as for prophecies, they will pass away;
as for tongues, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
but when the perfect comes,
the imperfect will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child;
when I became an adult, I gave up childish ways.
For now, we see in a mirror dimly
but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall understand fully,
even as I have been fully understood.
So faith, hope, love abide, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the captives.
Alleluia!

Gospel: Luke 4:21-30

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

At that time:
Jesus began to say in the synagogue,
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

And all spoke well of him,
and wondered at the gracious words
which proceeded out of his mouth;
and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

And he said to them,
“Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb,
‘Physician, heal yourself;
what we have heard you did at Capernaum,
do here also in your own country.’”
And he said, “Truly, I say to you,
no prophet is acceptable in his own country.
But in truth, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah,
when the heaven was shut up three years and six months
when there came a great famine over all the land;
and Elijah was sent to none of them
but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon,
to a woman who was a widow.
And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha,
and none of them was cleansed,
but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When they heard this,
all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.
And they rose up and put him out of the city,
and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built,
that they might throw him down headlong.
But passing through the midst of them he went away.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 We know from Christ’s teaching that the meaning of life can be summed up in one word: love

  • We were created to be loved, and to love. Without that, our lives burn out little by little, like a candle that can’t get enough air.
  • Pope Francis described it like this: 
  • “Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes.
  •  We know that. We have all memorized the two Great Commandments: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself. 
  • We can say the words. But what is the meaning behind those words, especially the word “love”?

St Paul tries to answer that question in this famous chapter from his First Letter to the Corinthians. 

  • 13:1-2 uses the Greek word “agape.” We translate it as ‘love’. “Love” in this sense is charity. Charity was the glue that held the Christian community together. Charity was missing in the turf wars the community experienced.
  • Chapter Thirteen of First Corinthians is a favourite for wedding ceremonies. Yet, I wonder if the couple would choose this “ode” to love if they really knew the underlining intent of Paul.
  • Paul is responding  to a problem in the community at Corinth where a number of  cliques were fighting among themselves and causing division in the Corinthian church,
  • So Paul presents the ideal virtue of the Christian community: love or charity.
  • He reminds us that love is the meaning of life, the “highest gift” and the “greatest” of virtues.
  • Then he gives a description of what love really is. 
  • He lists fourteen great characteristics of Christ-like love, true love. 
  • These describe both how Christ loves us, and how we are called to love in return.

What is most striking about this description is how different it is from the idea of love that’s popular in today’s culture. 

  • For the world we live in, love is a passive thing, a feeling that sweeps you off your feet and takes control of your life.
  • For St Paul, and for Christ, and for us, love is not passive at all; and it is certainly not just a feeling; love is active self-giving: patience, kindness, forgiveness, courage…
  • Sometimes nice feelings go along with this authentic love, but they areunessential accessories. 
  • We know this is the case because the pinnacle of love – Christ giving his life out of love on the cross – had nothing to do with nice feelings.

Christ-like love, real love, the kind of love that lasts and gives meaning to life, is not a passive feeling; it is active self-giving. 

It is not self-centred, but other-centred.

 ST TERESA OF CALCUTTA said: “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.”

There’s an old story about a sick man who went to the doctor’s office with his wife.

The doctor examined the man and ran some tests while his wife waited in the reception area. When the doctor emerged with a concerned look on his face, the wife became anxious.

  • “Doctor, will my husband be okay?” she inquired.
  • “I’m afraid your husband is very ill,” the doctor replied. “He has a rare form of anaemia, and if it is left untreated, he will most certainly die from it. However, there is a cure.”
  • “A cure?”
  • “Yes. With rest and proper nutrition, the disease will go into remission and your husband should live for many more years. Here’s what I want you to do: Take your husband home and treat him like a king. Fix him three home-cooked meals a day, and wait on him hand and foot. Bring him breakfast in bed. Don’t let him do anything that you can do for him. If he needs something, you take care of it. Oh, and one more thing. Because his immune system is weak, you’ll need to keep your home spotless. Any questions?”
  • The wife had none.
  • “Do you want to break the news to your husband, or shall I?” asked the doctor.
  • “Oh please, doctor, let me break it to him,” the wife replied.
  • She walked into the examination room. The husband, sensing that something was wrong, said, “It’s bad, isn’t it? What have I got?”
  • His wife answered with a tear in her eye, “The doctor said you’re going to die.”

It makes us smile (laugh) – but not too much, because that’s what we’re like! We believe in Christ-like love, but we don’t like the sacrifice that goes along with it.

How can we learn to make this kind of love the norm for our lives? How can we learn to love others as Christ has loved us, to give our lives for our neighbour, just as Christ gave his for us?

How can we make our lives into living models of this beautiful ideal that St Paul sets before us, the ideal that Christ lived and the ideal he invites us to live?

  • “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous… it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered… It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

How can we do that? We can’t. It’s beyond our power to love as Christ loves.

  • But that doesn’t mean we have to give up hope.
  • Christ himself can strengthen our weak love with his unconquerable love.
  • That’s why he came – that’s why he keeps on coming, in every Mass, in every confession, in every communion.

If we really want to love Christ’s way, we have to start on the inside. 

  • We have to let Christ’s love take over our own hearts
  • Let it fill them up.
  • Then that love will overflow from us, through us, to others.

How do we let Christ take over our hearts? 

  • Prayer – listen to God speaking in the silence of our hearts.
  • And the Eucharist – quality time with Christ in the Eucharist.
  • Support our Pensioner and Children’s Support Fund, the St Vincent de Paul society, the Parish poverty relief project, God’s Garage, Our Helping Hand – these are some of the charities in our parish.

We can’t do it on our own, but we can do it with Christ. As he comes to renew his commitment to us during this Mass, let’s take him up on his offer to be our way, our truth, and our life – nothing will make him happier, and nothing will make us happier either.

From today’s I Corinthians reading:

Faith, hope and love remain,

but the greatest of these is love.

Reflection:

The kind of love (agape) Paul extols is only possible for us because of the power of the Holy Spirit. There are, he says, many special gifts of the Spirit, but love is the most important for the individual Christian and for the whole Christian community.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • Do we agree with Paul that love, the greatest virtue, will hold the whole community together?
  • How have we experienced that kind of love in our church community?

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:       

Let us bring our prayers to God the Father who has known us since before we were formed in our mother’s womb.

Reader:

We pray that we may be faithful witnesses to a God whose presence is in every person and every culture:

may we take opportunities this week to be loving friends to people who are outside of our usual circles, building bridges of trust.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for a greater commitment to ecumenical dialogue that seeks to further understanding and cooperation between Christians.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for a sense of mission that calls us out of our comfort zones to engage with national and international issues where there is injustice and conflict.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all Christian individuals and organisations who work for peace and reconciliation in our world.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for Alpha and the new season which starts in February: may the Lord inspire more people to come and serve on the Alpha team and we pray that the Lord may encourage people who are searching for answers to attend an Alpha session so that they can experience the love and joy of his Holy Spirit.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for Michael Gogarty who died this week.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace. AMEN

Leader:                  PRAYER FOR LOVE

O Lord,

we thank you for this wonderful gift of our love
which You have generously granted us
and which allows us to build
a true communion of persons between us —
-provided we remain ever open to You,
the Source of all love.
Help us to continue to love each other
and accept each other unconditionally,
as we get to know each other better.
Make us generous in giving and humble in receiving.
Enable us to communicate to one another
all our joys, sufferings, and desires
and all our hopes, sorrows, and difficulties.
Give us the power of your love
that we may forget self
and live for each other
so that we may have truly one spirit,
 in preparation for the time
when we will be one with you in eternal joy.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader:        Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:          

God of salvation,
in your Prophet, Jesus the Christ,
you announce freedom
and summon us to conversion.

As we marvel at the grace and power of your word,
enlighten us to see the beauty of the gospel
and strengthen us to embrace its demands.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

Blessing

The leader says:

May God bless us with every heavenly blessing,

and make us always holy and pure in his sight.

Amen.

May God pour out in abundance upon us the riches of his glory,

and teach us with the words of truth.

Amen.

May God instruct us in the Gospel of salvation,

and ever endow us with fraternal charity.

Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:               Amen.

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