Through Shadows and Images...

A Blog by Tom Gourlay

Month: July 2015

26 July 2015 – 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Jn 6:1-15
“This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.”
Of all the miracle stories recorded in the Gospels, this story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is one that really captures our imagination, and not just because it is recounted in all four Gospels.
The scene is set so simply and effectively.
The people are following Jesus as they had witnessed his many healings and heard his profound and challenging teaching. They are so intrigued by this man that they follow him beyond the point where they are able to even meet their own basic needs.
When he sees them coming he recognises their need immediately – they will be hungry before long, and lo, there is nowhere nearby where they could purchase what they need, nor is there enough money around that would be able to pay for it.
This is not merely a miracle where Jesus somehow gets everyone to simply share what they already have. No, this is something truly miraculous. The gift of a small boy of five barely loaves and two fish was miraculously made to be enough for five thousand men, not mentioning the women and the children.
This is something worth considering – Jesus did not simply wave a magic wand and have food appear out of nowhere. No, instead he used what he had, and that was given him by the small boy.
We should remember this when we come up against our own troubles. Rarely have we needed to feed 5000+ people, but we do have our own struggles which are oftentimes insurmountable to our own efforts alone. It is in these times that we need to mimic the small boy in today’s Gospel who gave all that he had, but did not rely on his efforts alone. 

18 July 2015 – 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Mk 6:30-34
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”
Spending time in silent reflection is an increasingly difficult thing to do. The relentless distractions of the world around us, not to mention our own habits of media consumption, really can disrupt any attempt to retreat into some peace and quiet.
Sometimes however, when we are successful in finding that quiet time, we find such silence uncomfortable.  In such moments our thoughts can overwhelm us, or the silence allows something in our conscience to awaken. In these moments the temptation to escape from silence by checking our emails or our facebook on the phone, or by reading a book, or anything can be crushing.
In today’s Gospel we read of a story where Jesus, recognising the need for silence and recreation, invited his apostles to rest with him. What happens next when that silence is encroached upon is telling.
Jesus is moved with compassion and begins to teach them because ‘they were like sheep without a shepherd.’
Silence is an absolute necessity for us all if we wish to live examined and properly fruitful lives, and Jesus encourages us to seek this out, both by word and example. And yet, today’s Gospel teaches us an important lesson about silence – namely that it is at the service of communion. For Jesus silence is tremendously important as witnessed in the many examples he provides where he steals away to spend time not only in silence, but in prayer.

We should remember this – that silent time is not something selfish, but in fact what enables us to be an authentic gift of self.

Questioning Words
When was the last time I was able to spend time in silent contemplation and prayer?
Am I able to get away, to disconnect, and simply ‘be’? What is holding me back?
What can I do to build in periods of silence into my day and my week?

12 July 2015 – 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel Mk 6:7-13
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs”
I recently had an opportunity to watch the Bill Murray film ‘St Vincent’. The heart-warming film had some interesting themes and some of the classic comedy that we’ve come to associate with the actor/comedian/filmmaker Bill Murray.
One scene in the film depicts a Catholic priest teaching a class of 6thgraders, explaining to them that Catholicism is “the best religion…because we have the most rules.”
The line, obviously written and delivered with comedic intent couldn’t be further from the truth we read in today’s Gospel reading.
Rather than equipping his apostles with a load of rules to take with them to teach those that they come into contact with, Christ instructed his apostles to simply preach repentance and to cure those that need it.
Often we tend to reduce the faith to mere moralism – a list of actions and habits that are prohibited. This however is far from the truth of the matter.
Jesus instructed his apostles to go out and preach repentance not so the people who heard him would be unhappy – but because those people, like all of us have things in our life that we need to repent of so that we can be open to the love with which God himself wants to bring us into.
The call to repentance is so often accompanied with negative connotations, but it is really a call to put aside those things in our life which hinder our eternal fulfilment:  union with God.
Repentance frees us, such that we are able to enter into the Divine life itself, engaging in the eternal exchange of love which is the Blessed Trinity.

Questioning Words
What are those things in my life which prevent me from being open to the love of God?
It is common practice to spend some time each evening in prayer, examining one’s conscience and seeking the Lord’s forgiveness for the times throughout the day when we have not been open to his love.
Perhaps this is a practice that you could adopt in your own life, in your family, with your housemates?

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