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Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

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THERE IS MEANING TO OUR LIFE

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The author of the book of Ecclesiastes does not sound optimistic. The reason is that despite his belief in God, he lived in an era when there was no clear understanding of the afterlife. The notion of a blessed immortality was not part of his thinking. If death is the end then even the greatest accomplishments are but a fleeting satisfaction, lost forever in the darkness of the grave. The truth is that Jesus, by His own death and resurrection, has overcome death for each of us. It is through Jesus that God the Father calls us to everlasting life.

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DO NOT BE AFRAID - I AM WITH YOU

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There is an appointed time for everything, as today's First Reading tells us. It describes the events in every life and their place in every life. This is the way God has planned it. Each of these is a moment of grace and opportunity that can draw us closer to God, shape our mission in life and enable us to strengthen the community of the Church.

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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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BEING ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT OUR FAITH AND IGNORING THE OBVIOUS

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Zech. 2:5-9, 14-15 & Lk. 9:43-45

Zechariah, like Haggai, was a prophet. They both shared the same hopes for a restored and renewed Jerusalem. Zechariah had a vision of the city with a defensive wall being built around it. But God told him that no wall should be built, because large numbers of people would come to inhabit Jerusalem, and their access must not be restricted. There would be no need for a wall to protect the citizens, because God Himself would be their protector and would live among them.

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DO NOT BE AFRAID, I AM WITH YOU

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Haggai 1:15-2:9 & Lk. 9:18-22

When the people returned to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon, they must have been discouraged by the huge task that lay before them. They rejoiced to have been freed from captivity and restored to their homeland, of course, but they could see the vast amount of work that needed to be done.

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PUTTING THE INTERESTS OF THE LORD FIRST IN LIFE

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Haggai 1:1-8 & Lk. 9:7-9

An uneasy conscience is something painful to live with, as we can see in today’s readings. Herod was disturbed by all the reports he was hearing about Jesus. Some people were suggesting that this popular preacher might be John the Baptist risen from the dead. The rumour reminded Herod that it was he who had put John to death, and it pricked his conscience and caused him anxiety.

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