Bishop's Thoughts will cease until Feb 2015...

Mary helps us prepare for Christmas

In the Fourth Sunday of Advent the Church always places Mary before us as a person who can best help us prepare for her Son’s birth.
It stands to reason. Because God’s son came to us through Mary, she is the best placed person to help us encounter her Son.
Keep close to Mary in thought and prayer over these last few days in preparation for Christmas.
As we keep using that beautiful prayer, “Come Lord Jesus”, we might extend it a little and say to Mary, “Open me up more to Jesus. Open my heart more to him so that I may give him a warm welcome”.

15th December 2014 - Stray Sheep
Last week in one of the week day Masses we had a passage from Matthew 18:12-14. Do read it. You will notice that Matthew speaks of the ‘stray’ instead of the ‘lost’ sheep. Lost often means accidently losing the way. To stray, on the other hand, can imply deliberately roving from the course I know is right.

I am sure we can identify more with ‘straying’- deliberately leaving the right path. St Paul certainly did, but listen to his beautiful words, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

He sees himself as one of the biggest sinners, yet he is also very conscious of the great mercy and patience of God.

The first thing Jesus says to a sinner is not, “Why did you stray?” The first thing he says is simply, “I came into this world for you”.

Advent is an important time to turn my sin over to Jesus. There is no better way of doing this than through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession.

If it is not your normal practice to go to confession during Advent then I would encourage you to do so. In this way we experience again that great mercy and patience of God. We would certainly be better prepared for Christmas.

“Come Lord Jesus - with your mercy and patience”.

8th December 2014 A special quality of the Saviour we await
In Advent we want to come closer to Jesus.

We might think it would help if we had a biography, even a picture of Jesus. Apart from the story of his birth in Matthew and Luke, the Gospels tell us only about the last years of his life.

We can wonder what he was like. Was he tall or short? Did he laugh much? What colour eyes did he have? Did he have a good singing voice? Etc. etc. The Gospel writers don’t tell us that because they want us to know WHO Jesus is - not what he looked like.

There is however, one human characteristic they stress - his compassion. For example Matthew 9:36 describes how, after seeing the crowds harassed and helpless, “..he had compassion for them”. Another translation would say “..his heart was moved by pity for them”. 

In the Gospels when Jesus is described as having compassion the Greek word that is used means ‘a deep seated emotion from within’. We could say that this emotion comes from one’s bowels or in Australia, one’s gut. From seeing people in dire straits Jesus was led to heal and cure lepers, the sick, blind, lame, and paralysed people. It even led him to raise people from the dead. Because of this compassion he forgive sinners.

Ultimately Jesus’ compassion led him to suffering and death on the cross for us all. 

During Advent it would be good to keep this wonderful quality of Jesus in mind when we spend time with him in prayer. And this is the same Lord we ask to come when we say this simple and beautiful aspiration often during Advent, ‘Come Lord Jesus’.

1st December 2014 Longing for God
This year has sped by. So many people have mentioned in conversation how this is their experience.

I suppose the pace of life is a symptom of modern times. In the special season of Advent we have just entered into, the pace of life will not slow. In fact with all the end of year activities and functions, as well as Christmas cards and shopping, the pace will only increase.

All the same it is both in regard to our Faith and our Church a very special time for us. It can be a time of great joy as we wait the new coming of Christ at Christmas 2014.

For this to happen it is important in our minds and in our Faith to keep the coming of Christ to the fore. I would like therefore to encourage a simple yet profound prayer given to us by the early Christians, ‘Come Lord Jesus”.

Such a prayer not only keeps us focused on Christmas, but even more will increase our longing and desire for Jesus. This in turn will open us up more to Jesus and all he offers us and our world. Jesus and the Graces that he does offer will colour all that happens each day, as well as all we do and plan.

We can say this simple prayer any time during the day as well as throughout the day.

“Come Lord Jesus”!