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17th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B – 25 July 2021

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the Gospel reading, we read about the feeding of the 5000. The account, that we find in the Gospel of St John, is very rich in symbolism. There we have Jesus showing compassion for the people. They are in a lonely place and he sees a human need. It is the fact that the people have been following him, eager to learn from him. They are hungering for spiritual food, but Jesus realizes that before he can feed them spiritually, he needs to satisfy their physical hunger. It is only after that, he can feed them spiritually. When he asks his disciples about giving the people something to eat, they express the lack of resources that they have. In fact, in this account of the feeding of the people, it is not the disciples who have the bread and fish, but rather a young child. All this child has to offer is what might have been his lunch. What we see is not only a child giving all that has to feed himself, but being willing to share what he has, as small as it is, with a multitude of people. Jesus takes this selfless offering and multiplies it into something that is enough for all, in fact it is an abundance in which the disciples collect 12 baskets full of scraps. This must have brought great joy to this young child who had given all he had to Jesus and he saw what Jesus had done with it. This was also a lesson for his disciples, in that they need to be prepared for what they might encounter when they are called to go out and feed the people, not only physically, but spiritually as well. When we read the Acts of the Apostles, we find that the feeding of the poor is important to them and that is why they eventually appoint seven deacons to concentrate on the feeding of the poor, so that they could continue to feed the people with the teachings of Christ in order to feed their souls.
This passage, if is read properly and reflectively, has overtones of the greatest feeding that we receive each week, when we honour the Sabbath. That is, when we come together as a Christian family and worship together, in the celebration of Holy Mass. I know, at this time of lockdown, it is difficult but this is what we should be praying for. It is in the Holy Mass that the Lord feeds us abundantly. First, with his word and teaching, and then with Holy Communion. Although we do not find the institution narrative in the Gospel of John as we do in the other three Gospels, this passage gives us a feeling of it in the actions that Jesus does. In the passage, we have Jesus teaching the people and then feeding them both physically and spiritually. When we look at the Holy Mass that is exactly what he does for us. We are fed with the Word of God and then with his Body and Blood. This is what should be so important to us that we should have a longing within us to come and be fed by the Lord.
In the circumstances that we find ourselves today, during this pandemic, where our access to Holy Mass is restricted, we need to pray that soon we may be able to relax the lockdown and attend Holy Mass physically again. One way of praying is that, on a Sunday when it is not possible to physically come to Mass, we should follow Mass online where we can be fed by God’s Word and receive a Spiritual Communion. The Holy Mass is the most wonderful way to pray to the Lord, because it is in the Holy Mass that we are fed, but most importantly, it is the most perfect offering that we can give to the Lord, which is the offering of his most precious Son. I, therefore, encourage you to be people of prayer and to have hope that the Lord will be with us always until the end of time. It is also during the celebration of the Holy Mass that we have the opportunity to offer what little we have and allow the Lord to bless it abundantly and multiply it in the same way that he did in the Gospel reading of today.

God bless.
Fr Mark

16th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – 18 July 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Readings today speak to us about shepherds. When we think of shepherds, what comes to mind? For me, it is people who have a sense of love, caring, hope and concern. In the First Reading, we have the prophet Jeremiah speaking about how God is not happy about the religious leaders of his time. They have been neglecting their duty of showing love, caring and compassion to the people of Israel who are living in exile in Babylon. In the light of this neglect, God firstly indicts the shepherds of the time and promises that there would be consequences to their neglect. He also promises to send other shepherds who will gather the scattered people of Israel into one nation again. Although he sent other prophets to succeed Jeremiah, the leaders still did not listen. This resulted in the people living under different nations most of the time.
In the light of this, God eventually sends what St John describes in his Gospel as the “Good Shepherd”. This is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel Reading today shows us two different ideas that show why Our Lord can be considered as the Good Shepherd. In the beginning, we read about how he reacts to his apostles who return from the small mission that he had sent them on, which we read about in last week’s Gospel. No doubt they were excited and wanted to relate to him all that they had experienced during that time. Jesus realizes that they need to withdraw for a while in order for them to reflect on their experiences, but this is proving to be difficult because the people are coming in from the different towns and villages to hear what the Lord has to say. The apostles barely have time to eat. Jesus decides to withdraw with them to a lonely place, but it doesn’t exactly work out that way. Jesus had seen that the apostles needed to be shown some love and compassion and this could only be achieved by withdrawing for a while. The problem is that the people had seen them leave in the boat and they knew where they were going. They decide to follow them and arrive at the spot before Jesus and the apostles. This brings us to the second half of the Gospel where we see the reaction of Jesus to the people. Jesus, we might think, would have every right to tell the people that they must leave because this is time for him to relax with the apostles. This is not what Jesus does. In fact, he does the opposite. He sets about teaching the people, because he had love and compassion for the people, because they had been neglected by the religious leaders once again. Jesus proves to them that his Father is a loving and caring Father and that he had been faithful to the people and sent them a shepherd who was concerned about them, no matter what their standing was with God. He gave many of them their dignity back and made them feel that, indeed, God still loved them.
When we try to apply these Readings to our circumstances today, we can be assured by the Gospel that Jesus is as much a Good Shepherd to us as he was to the people that we read about in the Gospel. We are in the midst of two situations, that for many of us, brings anxiety and fear, one being the pandemic which has been draining on our lives and the other has been the uprising that has been happening in our country especially in Kwa – Zulu Natal and Gauteng. This can lead us to despair and even to lose hope. Jesus today, shows us love, concern and compassion. This is a time that maybe, we need to reflect on our relationship with God. This is our time, for us to withdraw and pray that we may overcome this difficult time. We also need to reach out to others who might be lonely or feel rejected. Just a phone call can go a far way to encourage people.
This is also a time we need to pray for the country. There is no way that we can condone what is happening, but we need to realize that many people are experiencing very difficult circumstances, like loss of employment, mismanagement of the resources of the county and many other factors. As a community, we need to pray that we can find peaceful solutions to what is happening in our country today. The question that should be on our lips is that am I being just to the people that I encounter in my life. If I employ someone, am I giving them a living wage within my means. Justice, we must remember, starts at home.
Lastly, I will be on leave from Monday 19th July until Monday 26th July. Fr Louis will be available for emergency sick calls.
God bless.
Fr Mark

15th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – 11 July 2021

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Readings for today are about a calling from God to serve. In the First Reading, we meet the prophet Amos, who lived just outside Jerusalem in Judah. He is not of the priestly tribe of Levi or a family history of prophets. In fact, he tells us that he is a shepherd. He is called from this lowly task in the eyes of many, to be a bearer of God’s message, to call the people of the Northern district of Israel to repent and come back to the will of God. This message is not received very well by the people because they were comfortable in their way of life and therefore, did not wish to change their ways. They try, through the person of Amaziah, to chase him away, but Amos refuses to go. He remains dedicated to his calling and continues to fulfil the word of God.

In the Gospel, we have Jesus sending his twelve apostles out on a mini mission. He sends them out two by two, to be support to each other. This is to prepare them for the greater mission that they would be sent out on after his resurrection. They are given the same authority that he had to cast out demons, anoint and heal the sick. Also, he tells them to put their trust in God’s providence, in that they must take no money in their belts, no bread, no bag, no extra tunics and just to have sandals on their feet. This would mean that the apostles would have to rely on the generosity of strangers, something that would require great courage.

Reflecting on the above, we should realize that the call to serve comes to ordinary people in the sense that they would not have held places of honour in society but rather, even at times, be looked down upon. In the case of Amos, it was the fact that he was just a shepherd who would have lived out on the outskirts of the town and the apostles, most of them, would have just been simple fisherman yet, it is from these circumstances that the calling comes to serve.

The question that should be coming to mind for us is what do these Readings say to us in the world of today. In virtue of our baptism, we are also called to serve in the world of today. For most of us, we are not called to go out and preach to the world or even the town, but what we are called to do is to be Christ-like in our service of our families in the way that we treat them. In other words, we are called to be people of Love, Charity, Hope, and Faith. This applies to our workplace or school and even in the public places where we encounter people. The wonderful thought is that God calls us from our daily lives and asks us to be his witnesses in the world of today by testifying about what St Paul speaks about in the Second Reading of today where we are called firstly, to give thanks to the Lord for all the graces and blessings that we have received in our lives, but also sharing this with others because by doing this, we would be amazed how we can touch someone’s life. That word might just be the encouragement that that person might need at that moment in their lives. These small gestures are at times multiplied by the Lord in showing his love for the world.

God bless.

Fr Mark

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B – 4 July 2021

Dear brothers and sisters,

At this present time, we find ourselves once again in Lockdown 4. This can be very frustrating and lead a person to, maybe, lose hope about the situation. This is understandable, but in fact, this can be a time of growth. St Paul, in the second Reading of today, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, speaks to us about when he asked the Lord to relieve him of the thorn in his side, which many scholars say could be a particular sin or an illness, says to us that God replied to him “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness”. (2 Cor 12: 9). St Paul, therefore, embraced his weakness as a blessing from God. Maybe this time of lockdown is a ‘thorn in our flesh’ and our faith may have grown weak. This then, is the time that the words of the Lord, which he said to St Paul, is relevant for us today. It is time for us to embrace the Lord and put our faith and trust in the Lord. If we allow God to send us his grace, we will be able to overcome all the trials and tribulations that we experience in our lives. God does not abandon us but gives us the strength to persevere.

In the Gospel, we find our Lord returning to his hometown of Nazareth. In Nazareth he finds it difficult to do anything because of their lack of faith. They had a certain perception of who Jesus was. For them, he was just the carpenter. They knew his family, and if we read closely, even his family don’t quite know what to think. For them also, he is just a family member. The fact that they had probably already heard about his teachings and the miracles that he had performed, they could not change their perception. We would think that this would have been different and that in fact, they would be proud of him. This lack of perception, had for the people of Nazareth, become a stumbling block for them to be open to his invitation to be part of the Kingdom of God. In many ways this could be considered ‘the thorn in Jesus’s side’. In fact, we are told this in the Gospel when we are told that he was astonished at their lack of faith. By this lack of faith, Jesus was limited in doing much in Nazareth. This was because when we look at the other healings and miracles that he had done, there is always an expression of faith by the person who was healed or benefitted from the miracles of Jesus.

The questions that should be in my mind at this time is: what is my perception of Jesus? Do I believe that he is indeed the redeemer sent by God to call us to faith in him? Do I trust in the Lord as I should? Do I believe that Jesus has the power to change me in order for me to become a better person? The answer to these questions, we alone, can answer. Maybe during this coming week we can reflect on them and see what answers we come to. If we find that we are similar to the people of Nazareth, then we need to ask the Lord to give us the grace to believe in the saving power of the Lord and draw closer to him and embrace his love for each and every one of us. Also, in this time, we can ask the Lord to remove the ‘thorn that is in our side’ and like St Paul, realize that the grace of God is sufficient for us.

God bless.

Fr Mark

MASS INTENTIONS for St Bernard’s & St Ignatius

Mass is once again open to public, but with restricted numbers. Our parish according to the restrictions and protocols of the government and our Archdiocese is limited to 50 attendees. Please book to avoid disappointment.

Mass at St Ignatius is on Saturday evenings at 5.00pm, Sunday mornings at 10.30am and Wednesday mornings at 9.00am

Mass at St Bernard’s is on Sunday mornings at 9.00am & Sunday evenings at 6.00pm, Tuesday mornings at 9.00am, Thursday evenings at 5.00pm and Friday mornings at 9.00am

JULY 2021 Mass Intentions

1 Thu Winnie Baretta RIP
2 Fri Manuel Araujo Intention
3 Sat Elizabeth Rosslind RIP
4 Sun Pothier Mortuary List
5 Mon No Mass
6 Tue Mario Bui RIP
7 Wed Mortuary List
8 Thu Mortuary List
9 Fri Inachia Rodriques RIP
10 Sat Tony Da Costa Intention
11 Sun Pro Populo
12 Mon No Mass
13 Tue Manuel Araujo Intention
14 Wed Mortuary List
15 Thu Elaine & Grahame RIP & Eugene Calitz
16 Fri Mortuary List
17 Sat Edwin Rosslind RIP
18 Sun Dolores & Charles Mc Lachlan RIP/ Pro Populo
19 Mon No Mass
20 Tue Mike Sedgewick RIP
21 Wed Pro Populo
22 Thu Mortuary List
23 Fri Mortuary List
24 Sat Caleb Stellenboom RIP
25 Sun Greg Reinao RIP/Pro Populo
26 Mon No Mass
27 Tue James & Margaret Gallagher Jnr RIP/ Pro Populo
28 Wed Mortuary List
29 Thu Mortuary List
30 Fri L Rodriques RIP
31 Sat Ernerlina Rodriques RIP

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We remember in our prayers those who have gone before us:

St Ignatius:

18 March 2020 – Marjorie Van Rensburg
13 June 2020 – Yvonne Beckam

13 November 2020 – Edmund Peter Nasson

12 January 2021 – Christopher Shelmerdine

St Bernard:
4 March 2020 – Henry Hugo
5 May 2020 – Stephanie Poezyn
May 2020 – Maurizio Allugrecia
19 June 2020 – Cecil Bradley
20 July 2020 – Paul Dobson
8 August 2020 – Jacqueline Petersen
9 August 2020 – John Kellett
1 December 2020 – Patrick Moore

15 February 2021 – Sandra Nel
18 February 2021 – Theresa Naidoo
2 March 2021 – Eve Griesson
25 March 2021 – Colin Burgess

13 May 2021 – Brian Louw

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