A small boy has five loaves and two fish. Jesus blesses them and ensures that all in the crowd can eat. Volunteer Trevor Stockton reflects on what this gospel story (John 6:1-15) means for us in a world where so many people still go hungry.
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus sends out his disciples to spread the Good News, telling them that they must take no possessions with them. Volunteer Trevor Stockton reflects on this gospel reading and how we are all called to live more simply.
Based on the gospel for Sunday 15 July – Mark 6: 7-13
Susy works in the CAFOD Theology team. Although she hasn’t always looked forward to fasting, this year she is going vegan for Lent. Here she tells us how she thinks fasting for Lent can transform her, and her relationships.
Fasting. The word doesn’t fill most people with joy. I know for me there has often been a slight dread about fasting. It is not something to look forward to, is it? Eating less, maybe giving something up that we enjoy. A sacrifice – surely it will be painful?
I think though, like anything else, how we view fasting, how we approach it, makes an awful lot of difference to the experience. When I was much younger there was a short time in my life when I fasted on bread and water once a week. I would get splitting headaches and I was always very relieved when the day was over. I saw it as perhaps helping in my relationship with God, but I don’t remember making any connections with those who struggle to have bread and water every day.
Having worked at CAFOD for fifteen years now, I see fasting in a different light. I also have a much more positive attitude towards it – it is actually something I can look forward to! Why? For four main reasons. I feel fasting can help transform me in four areas – in my relationship with God, in my relationship with others, with creation and with myself. Here’s how I see it:
It’s midnight. The wedding attendants have been waiting for a long time for the bridegroom. At last, he arrives. The five sensible ones are admitted to the feast, but the other five suddenly find they are unprepared. They scrabble around in a panic, and set out to find oil for their lamps.
After some time, the wedding attendants come back, knocking on the door and calling for the bridegroom to let them in. But it is too late. The doors are shut.
Like the five sensible ones who take oil with their lamps, we are called to prepare for the kingdom of heaven and to keep our gaze fixed on Christ. We must be prepared to show our love for Christ through our actions.
Joy Wanless is a volunteer with CAFOD Salford. She shares about what inspired her to become a prayer-writing volunteer. Find out how you can join her.
Me, write a reflection, write prayers? Not I! I was used to reciting traditional prayers and following liturgies prepared by others. Belonging to the Spirituality Team in Salford diocese changed all that. As I became more interested in following CAFOD stories, learning about the treacherous difficulties of life in many parts of the world and the generosity of CAFOD volunteers, I wanted to fuel their passion by enmeshing the prayer with the stories.
A very moving moment from a story which touched me greatly was at a Water Pilgrimage we planned around the diocese, travelling between the churches. As part of the prayer we gave out pieces of rope and invited people to tie them tightly round their waists. This was inspired by the story of Ayapan who ties string round her waist and drinks hot water to cope with hunger.
Based on the Gospel for Sunday 22 October – Matthew 22:15-21 “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God”
The Religious authorities are determined to undermine Jesus’ authority and once again Jesus manages to undermine their authority instead.
Clearly, the authorities do not stand apart from the Roman occupation, since they readily seem to be able to produce a coin with Caesar’s head on it. It is significant that Jesus is unable to produce a coin himself since he is homeless, dependent on the goodness, generosity and hospitality of others.
Jesus affirms the need to fulfil our civic duties, but even more so – as creatures who are bearers of God’s image – we are called to go beyond the law showing love, mercy and justice to others and to all of creation. This love is made manifest not in a passive desire to avoid doing wrong, but in an active determination to work for the flourishing of all.
Dear Lord, help us to fulfil our civic duties towards one another and towards the common good. Help us to remember that every person is made in your image, and every part of creation reflects your glory. Inspire us to use our civil rights to advocate for the flourishing of all peoples and all creation. Amen.
Sue Cooper, a CAFOD supporter from Corpus Christi parish in Wokingham, reflects on what Advent means to her as a time of hope and light amongst the winter gloom and darkness.
How I dislike this time of year. The dark nights and the cold, wet weather force me inside, and living in an area of the South where it rarely snows, there’s not even that brightness to lighten my mood. The news, too, speaks of horror in Syria and tumult in Iraq as well as an uncertain future for us here. It is miserable, but amidst the gloom there is hope.
The Sunday Mass readings throughout Advent warn us to ready ourselves and our anticipation of future events is filled with light and expectation. We have not been abandoned in the darkness, there is one who is coming to us who brings peace and cares for those on the margins. And in preparation to welcome the one who comes, we must respond to the call of John the Baptist and “repent” and change our ways. As the weeks unfold the anticipation and the excitement grow: the Word is made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us, is coming!
As we prepare for Christmas, Advent is a time to take stock of what has happened in the past year. As a family, we post up pictures on our website with short captions to share with our extended family and friends what we’ve been up to. It’s a time to consider those who have died during the year, our achievements and perhaps ponder the “might have beens”. Continue reading “Advent: Hope amidst the gloom”