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Year B, Cycle II

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WE ARE MORE THAN A MERE BREATH

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You could claim that today's First Reading is the bleakest and most pessimistic passage in the entire Bible. Although the author believed in God, he was of the view that it is impossible to make much sense of life. He saw life as vanity. The Hebrew word he used means a breath. By this word he wished to say that life is something fleeting and transitory. In other words, there is nothing to life.

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CARRYING ON THE WORK OF CHRIST

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“God is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” These are comforting words from the book of Proverbs in the First Reading today. Many Christians take those words to mean that God will let no harm come to the dedicated believer. But modern preachers did not invent this "gospel of health and prosperity” which is present from the beginnings of our own religious heritage. On occasion, even the Bible seems to promise that God will provide for all the needs of the faithful.

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THE TIES THAT BIND

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Sometimes a wife complains to her husband that he never says he loves her any more. The husband replies, 'You know I love you. I work hard at my job for you and the children. Surely that shows that I love you?' But that is not enough if she wants to hear the actual words. But that situation is much worse when a man uses the words of love which are hollow because he does not back them up with actions.

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GOD IS ALWAYS IN CHARGE - AND TRUTH MATTERS

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A man’s car broke down on a busy street. He raised the bonnet and began a fruitless search for the problem. Motorists swerved around him, some hurling verbal abuse at him. More than 100 must have passed before one stopped and asked if he needed help. Obviously many of the drivers of those cars which passed by felt they had good reason for not stopping.

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FOLLOWING THE LORD’S LIFE OF SERVICE

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Mk. 9:30-37

Our Gospel reading today illustrates just how human the 12 Apostles were! Jesus wanted to spend precious time with them to teach them about His future. But telling them that the Son of Man would be handed over to men who would kill Him, and that in three days He would rise again, seemed to be beyond their comprehension.

Were they really listening to Him? They would not have given up their work to live with Him had they not loved Him - so when He said He was to be killed they chose not to listen!

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HOW DOES OUR HEART RECEIVE GOD'S WORD?

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The Christians in the church at Corinth were worried about the life to come. Most of them came from a Greek background that believed the soul would live forever once it was freed from the 'prison house' of the body. But Saint Paul insisted that the redeemed would be given a resurrected body on the last day.

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RECOGNISING OUR SPIRITUAL POVERTY

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The Corinthian Christians believed in Christ's Resurrection but not in the resurrection of the body. Greek philosophy saw the body as a prison for the soul. At death, the soul was set free and therefore immortality was an endowment only of the soul.

Saint Paul teaches that the truth of Christ's Resurrection is the promise of the resurrection of the soul and the body. If the only kind of resurrection is immortality of the soul, then Christ was not truly raised from the dead. But the truth of our faith is that Christ was fully raised from the dead and therefore so will we be.

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WE ARE ALL IN NEED OF CHRIST’S FORGIVENESS

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Hard-headed rationalists boast that they only believe what they are able to discover for themselves. That kind of boast may impress people who aspire to become independent thinkers. But the only problem with this proud claim is that no one actually believes it!

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JESUS' WAY IS THE ONLY WAY

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What is real love? Saint Paul gives us the criteria. Real love is patient and kind, not jealous nor snobbish. Real love does not put on airs and is never rude. It is not selfish and resentful. There is no limit to love's forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. That's what real love is all about. Paul advises us to aim for this real love.

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THE COMPASSIONATE CHRIST

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One of the great images of the Church as a body is given by Saint Paul in today's first reading. Just as a body has many parts, so does the Church. The body for its best functioning needs all the parts to interact. As we get older, we realize what happens to our overall health when our hearing becomes less acute, our sight less sharp, our legs less strong, our vitality more diminished. So, in the Church, we need all the parts to function well. Not everyone is a bishop nor a priest. The gifts or parts of the Body of Christ are distributed among the baptised.

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