14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Once upon a time a visitor was travelling through a foreign country.

The traveller had been told a very wise person lived in this country, and was eager to make the acquaintance of this wise person.

Everywhere the traveller went they asked directions to visit the wise one and was repeatedly told “he lives on the edge of the forest.”

When the traveller would ask directions to the forest, the answer would come back, ‘follow the direction of the sun.”

After much searching, the traveller found the wise one sitting on the porch of a small house, and the wise one invited the traveller inside to share tea.

On entering the house, the visitor was astonished to see that the wise person’s home was only a simple room filled with two or three books. The only furniture was a table a chair, a cot bed and a bench.

‘O Wise One, where is your furniture? where are all your possessions?’ asked the visitor.

‘Where are yours? replied the wise one.

‘Mine? But I am only a visitor here. I’m only passing through’

‘So am I,’ replied the wise one.

14th Sunday Ordinary Time

Once upon a time a travelling circus was staying on the outskirts of a village.

One evening shortly before show time, a fire broke out in one of the tents.

The manager sent the clown, who was already dressed up for his act, into the nearby village for help. There was a danger that the fire would spread across the fields of dry stubble and burn the village itself.

The clown hurried into the village.

He asked the people to come out as quickly as possible to help quench the fire.

But the people did not take him seriously.

They thought it was a brilliant piece of advertising on the part of the management, thus ensuring a full house on opening night.

The clown tried as best he could to make them understand that there really was a fire.

However, to no avail, the harder he tried the more the village people laughed at him.

Finally, the fire reached the village and burned it to the ground.

This Sunday’s Gospel from Mark (6:1 -6) has two quite telling phrases.

The first, “They took offence at him.”

The second, “and he could do no deed of power there.”

13th Sunday Ordinary Time

We receive so much touch when we are babies and so little when we are adults.

Still, in friendship touch often gives more life than words.

A friend’s hand stroking our back, a friend’s arms resting on our shoulder, a friend’s fingers wiping our tears away, a friend’s lips kissing our forehead — these are true consolation.

These moments of touch are truly sacred. They restore, they reconcile, they reassure, they forgive, they heal.

The Covid pandemic still holds us our persons in its grips.

Individuals are cautious around each other. The once ready hand extended in welcome and/or friendship is now restrained.

The immediate and exuberant hug is now reserved.

Where I go and who I go with is measured.

Everyone who touched Jesus and everyone whom Jesus touched were healed. God’s love and power went out from him (see Luke 6:19).

The illustration is a fresco on the wall of the 4th C catacomb of SS. Marcellinus and Peter.

This Sunday’s Gospel celebrates the sacred story of touch, (Mk.5: 21- 43)

The touch belongs to Jesus; however, it belongs equally to the other.

The daughter of Jairus receives the hand of Jesus.” He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha kum,” (v. 41)

Healing happens.

The woman haemorrhaging seeks the hem of the clothes of Jesus.” She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” (v.28)

Healing happens.

When a friend touches us with free, non-possessive love, it is God’s incarnate love that touches us and God’s power that heals us.

Healing happens.

Touch, yes, touch, speaks the wordless words of love.





12th week of Ordinary Time

The short and dramatic Gospel of Jesus getting into a boat with his disciples following only to be rocked around with windswept seas swamping the boat and Jesus being asleep is captured quite dramatically in a painting by the Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn.

The painting is titled “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee”.

The painting’s very size is dramatic as it measures 5ft high by 4ft wide.

It is the only seascape painted by Rembrandt.

When one counts the figures on the boat there are fourteen! All the disciples, Jesus and who?

Look closely, there is the figure of a young man holding onto a piece of rope and looking directly at you – it is Rembrandt himself!

If you are familiar with the self-portraits of Rembrandt one recognises the distinct similarity between the two, (e.g. “Self-portrait in a cap, wide-eyed and open-mouth, 1630).

[This painting is completed only three years after the self-portrait.]

The painting, I suggest is a wonderful picture of discipleship and indeed, Church.

If you seriously want to follow Jesus, you need to get into the boat.

Firstly, we are all in the same boat; secondly, some are trying to put the boat right (to save it themselves! – notice the five “busy” figures in the top left of the painting!

Others are desperately trying to awaken Jesus – bottom right, so that he puts it right!

Then there is an individual too busy with vomiting over the side of the boat to be bothered with the sails or Jesus.

And, if you have located the young Rembrandt (he has a green covered pullover, hand knitted by his auntie of course), you will see one figure sitting, looking forward seemingly distant from the two areas of activity!

Some in our Church choose to sit without being involved!

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee was previously in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Early in the morning of March 18, 1990, two thieves disguised as police officers robbed the museum of thirteen works worth some $500 million – the greatest known property theft in history.

Among the works was The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Today, when you visit the museum, you encounter an empty frame where once hung the painting.