Fr Brendan Byrne reflects on this weekend’s Gospel:
Weary and thirsty from his journey, Jesus asks a Samaritan Woman to give him a drink. Soon, however, he begins to convince her that he has a far greater gift to give her: not the inert water of a well but ‘living water’, the life-giving gift of the Spirit.
The woman half grasps his meaning but can go no further. Like all who reach a certain stage in the spiritual life, her knowledge of Jesus cannot go forward until the truth of her own life has been owned and set on the way to healing. That is why Jesus instructs her, ‘Go, call your husband’.
Jesus’ knowledge of her personal life leads the woman to recognize him as a religious expert (a ‘prophet’). So she brings up the subject of worship, a key matter of dispute between Jews and Samaritans. But Jesus speaks of a ‘worship’ transcending these divisions: a worship of God from hearts transformed by the Spirit of truth, the truth to which Jesus is gently leading her.
Later, the woman will exclaim to her townsfolk ‘Come and see a man who has told me the story of my life’. That is not the usual translation of her words but it is a wonderful description of pastoral and spiritual direction: Come and see a man who shown me how my life, in all its ups and downs, its wrongs turns and failures, is nonetheless a meaningful story that God’s grace is weaving through the power of the Spirit.
Fr Brendan Byrne reflects on this weekend’s Gospel:
The second Lenten Sunday Gospel records the mysterious episode of the Transfiguration. In biblical imagery whiteness signals closeness to God. The three privileged disciples glimpse for a moment Jesus’ divinity unveiled.
Shortly before this episode he had made clear to them his destiny to suffer and be killed in Jerusalem (16:21). Peter protested at this. He could not square a destiny to suffer with knowledge of Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God’ (16:16 and 16:22-23).
Now the Father’s declaration from on high, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!’ confirms with divine authority that these two truths must be held together: Jesus is God’s beloved Son and he is, as he has said, going to fulfill his messianic vocation in this unforeseen, costly way.
Peter had wanted to ‘hold’ the moment of glory (‘Let us build three tents …’). But there are to be no ‘short cuts’ of this kind to glory. The Messiah who came, ‘not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many’ (20:28), will enter into the pain and suffering of the world to heal it from within. Being God’s Beloved Son will not shield him from suffering but actually lead him, out of love, to enter into it more deeply.
It is with this deepened sense of his identity and mission that we are invited to continue with him our Lenten journey to Jerusalem.
Fr Brendan Byrne SJ reflects on this weekend’s Gospel:
Sometimes a sudden loss or illness or experience of failure, or even a trip overseas takes us out of our ‘comfort zones’. These are times when the usual things that support us and protect us from feeling insecure and vulnerable are stripped away.
What is really being stripped away is a false identity that rests on three things: 1. I am what I do, make or produce: 2. I am what people think of me—my importance; 3. I am what I have—possessions, gifts, talents, etc. All of these things we can lose—leading to depression if we have really invested our sense of worth in them.
The temptations Satan puts to Jesus during his “desert” experience involve much the same three things: 1. ‘Make bread out of these stones’; 2. ‘Impress people by making a spectacular leap from the pinnacle of the Temple’; 3. ‘You can possess the whole world if only you worship me’.
Jesus dismisses each suggestion, totally secure in his true identity as God’s beloved Son, an identity that, as elder Brother, he has shared with us.
Lent is a time when we are invited to go out with Jesus a little beyond our spiritual comfort zone. We share something of his ‘desert’ experience so as to know more deeply where our true identity and security lies: not in what we can make or do, nor in what other people think of us, nor in what we own, but in the fact that we are beloved sons and daughters of God.
On Thurs 23 Feb, the Parish held a New Volunteers Induction and Information Evening, sharing the vision of the Parish, the Charism of the Paulist Missionaries and what it means to be a volunteer with St James. Here is what a Parishioner had to say about it:
On Thursday 23rd February a large group of members of the parish gathered to find out how to use their gifts within the family of St James.
As a new member to the parish I was surprised at the number of volunteer groups I could join. The work that these groups participate in makes the parish of St James the vibrant parish that it is. It appears that no matter your talents there is a place for you within this parish to live out your faith. It was made very clear at the meeting that we all work together and that, included Fr. Jude. Although he undertakes the responsibilities of the parish and we are his helpers , he does not see himself as being at the top directing, but rather, the one who steers and stirs the talents of his parishioners to make us one, as well as being the mediator if the need should arise.
We were taken through the parish mission statement and the Paulist Missionaries’ charism. Geralyn also outlined the duties and responsibilities of a volunteer and discussed the importance of Child Safety and how this is being implemented in our parish by going through the Victorian Child Safe Standards. A great deal of information was covered and we ended the meeting with a hot drink and time to talk to the many group leaders that attended. At the end I felt that I would be welcomed into whichever group I would join no matter what my talents are.
On Monday 6th February, the final hearing into the Catholic Church will begin. Ahead of this hearing, Archbishop Denis Hart has issued a message to Australian Catholics. Copies of this message are available in the Magazine Rack in the Narthex. This case hearing will examine why historical child sexual abuse was so prominent in the Church and the changes put in place by the Church in recent years to respond to abuse and better protect children.
As a parish, we remain resolutely committed to promoting the inherent dignity of our children, young people and all who are vulnerable. Copies of our parish Commitment Statement to Child Safety are also available in the Narthex. Please ensure that you have read this important document. Throughout 2017, we will continue the process of ensuring that we are compliant with the Victorian Child Safe Standards. In the coming months, more information will be made available to parishioners about our child safety measures. For more information please speak to our parish priest, Fr Jude Pirotta (9748 6800) or the parish’s Child Safety Officer, Mrs Geralyn McCarthy (0416 059 673).