Tuesday, 25 April 2017

ANZACS: They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old

10 Minute Daily Retreat 
Repost 24/4/2015
The Ode
They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old, 
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning 
We will remember them.

'The Ode comes from The Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon (1869 – 1943) and was published in London at the Winnowing Fan: Poems of the Great War on 1914. The verse which became the League Ode was already used in association with commemoration services in Australia in 1921. 


The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Unless I touch His flesh I cannot believe

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani (No.248)

 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jn. 20:24-27

We all deal with fear and grief in our own way. Thomas needed to be alone. He separated himself from the small group of followers who continued to meet after Jesus' death. Consequently, he missed that beautiful, significant and precious encounter the other disciples had with the risen Lord.

How could he possibly believe them? He had seen Jesus' broken, deceased body with his own eyes. He had wept on his own until he had no tears left. Drained, he returned to his friends. How could they make a mockery of the disaster by this ridiculous story?

His words of doubt have been well quoted down through the generations. We have even nicknamed him as the Doubting Thomas.

We don't really know the motivation behind his challenge. Was it flippancy, or even anger, ridiculing his friends for their crazy announcement? Or was it a genuine prayer, hoping Jesus would appear to him as he seemed to have done to the others?

Jesus knows the questions, motivations and emotions that we carry inside us as we walk our earthly journey. Sometimes He comes to us, quietly in our personal prayer. Why didn’t He appear to Thomas as he wept and suffered? Why do we sometimes leave our prayer time as desolate as we entered?

We return to the first scene of the story:

'In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them.'

Christians are not meant to be alone. We each have a personal calling, but we combine that calling with others who share the same mission. There are some experiences Jesus allows us to have only when we meet in prayer and fellowship.

It seems that Thomas re-joined the other disciples after that. He was certainly there a week later when Jesus reappeared. And after that, you couldn’t find a more faithful, 100 percent committed, follower than he.

If we have kept ourselves away from our faith community, or have allowed doubt to overcome our faith, let us return to Jesus and like Thomas, cry out, 

'My Lord and my God!'

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter Sunday

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani (No.247)

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 

And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 

 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.  But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 

 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 

 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:1-10
Light’s glittering morn bedecks the sky,
Heav’n thunders forth its victor cry:
The glad earth shouts her triumph high,
And groaning hell makes wild reply.

While he, the King of sovereign might,
Treads down death’s strength in death’s despite,
And trampling hell by victor’s right,
Brings forth his sleeping saints to light.

Fast barred beneath the stone of late,
In watch and ward where soldiers wait,
Now shining in triumphant state,
He rises victor from death’s gate.

Hell’s pains are loosed and tears are fled:
Captivity is captive led:
The angel, crowned with light, hath said:
‘The Lord is risen from the dead.’

Author of all, be thou our guide
In this our joy of Eastertide;
Whene’er assaults of death impend,
Thy people strengthen and defend.

To thee who, dead, again dost live,
All glory, Lord, thy people give:
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Fourteenth Station of the Cross - Jesus is placed in the Tomb

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani (No. 246)
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth  and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 

From an ancient homily via the Liturgy of Hours

'Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. 

The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. 

The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.'

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Last Supper

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani (No. 245)

In today’s Gospel, we return to the Upper Room. The mood is sombre and there are a few ‘elephants in the room’. Jesus acknowledges the imperfections of his fellow dinner guests; predicting a betrayal and a denial.

Being His Last Supper, He has much to say. When you read today’s Gospel, enter the Upper Room. Is there a particular text that speaks to you?  

The final scene spoke to me. The Last Supper ended with prayer.

After the psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of OlivesMark 14:26

As I exit the Upper Room, I glance at the mess we have left behind. A lamp flickers to aid a servant clear the table, tidy away the cushions, foot towels and basin.

While everything appears ordinary, my heart tells me this Supper was significant. I turn around and catch up with the rest of the Disciples as they disappear into the darkness.

Much of what Jesus told us during the Supper, I don’t understand.  I do recognize the path to the Mount of Olives. He is leading us to one of our favourite places to pray.

This final act of the night summarizes everything for me. No matter how uncertain I am, all Jesus asks is to follow Him into a place of prayer.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Margaret (No.246)
“But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last’’. Mark 15:36

Death has many guises
‘This dying man has no relatives, I want you to sit and hold his hand.'  What compassion this nurse had so many years ago.
I was very young and in my first year of nursing. What did I know of death and pain and dying?

‘Dying is a lonely process,' she said as she led me into the patient’s room. 'He is unconscious but on some level he will know that you are there.'

She walks out of the room. I sit there, a little scared, perhaps even a little in awe. I watch his laboured breathing and listen to his low moans of pain. Later I help to prepare his body and transport him to the morgue.

I have sat at a number of deathbeds since then and it is the place where I can most understand what happened that day at Calvary.

Death is ugly and painful yet it is the doorway through which we all must pass before entering our final home.

Jesus died a painful death nailed to two pieces of wood. His friends watched from a distance.  He felt abandoned by his Father and deserted by those he loved best.

I pray that I am there for my friends and family in their time of deepest pain and sorrow.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Jane Borg (No. 245)
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19: 25-27

This is the moment Jesus commended his mother to us all. Just as she had been Jesus’ mother, she is now to be ours.

Mary, the perfect mother. She nurtured her son into a man – she fed him, she washed him, she taught him, fixed his scrapes, she faced his challenges with him as he grew, listened to him as he shared his life, watched him develop in his trade with his earthly father, supported him as he explored his vocation, and loved him unconditionally.

Mary is now our mother as well. How often do we turn to her for help? How often do we reflect on her example and try to be just a little more loving, a little more nurturing, a little more faithful to what God is asking of us? I know I fall way short of this, both as a mother and as a disciple of Jesus.

Yes, Jesus entrusted Mary to us; but He also said to Mary “behold your son”. Just as we are to welcome Mary into our lives, she welcomes us into hers. What a blessing for us and how easily we can forget this blessing.

This Holy Week as we reflect on the passion of Jesus, let us not forget His mother, who would never have been far away from her son and who would have suffered greatly as she watched him suffer as she knew he must.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God. Pray for us sinners; now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Louise Crossley (No.243)
And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.  And over his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”. 

Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left.  And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying:
“You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!  If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross”. 

So also the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying:
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.  He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him”. Matthew 27:35-42

As horrific as this scene is, don’t we do it too in some ways? Whenever we wonder why Jesus allows suffering, loneliness, starvation, aren’t we expecting Him to come down and save us, prove to us that He is there?

The key message in this Passion is Jesus showing us that He will do what He expects of us. Like a good mother who asks children to do as she does not just as she says, Jesus is showing us that He is prepared to suffer for the greater good.

While it may not make perfect sense, the suffering that happens in the world will one day. Like the devoted followers of Jesus at a time when many mocked and despised Him, we must have faith that the suffering in this world has a purpose too.

We must be mindful in our actions and thinking, and especially in our conversations. Be very careful that while we are putting it in another way, we are not saying the same thing…

“He saved others; he cannot save himself.  He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him”.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Malcolm Davies (No. 242)

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
(Luke 23: 33-34)

The Cross is the sign of sin in the world.

Jesus is confronted with rejection and hatred but responds with unconditional love to those who set out to kill him.

Jesus offers forgiveness to the soldiers, chief priests and to each one of us who has not made him Lord of our life.

The life of love that culminated in the crucifixion of Jesus is a laying down of his life for us who cannot love like Jesus loves.

The grace of God empowers us to become like Jesus and love like him when we say yes to that grace.

The cross therefore becomes a sign of our forgiveness and the path to eternal life because it is the sign of God’s love and mercy to each one of us.

Will you accept the grace of the Cross in a new way this Easter?

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Ninth Station of the Cross: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani with Jane Borg (No. 241)

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"
Luke 23: 27-31

Jesus had drawn support and loyalty from a large group of people, especially from those regarded as misfits. Some of the women in this scene would have been amongst those who had left behind their homes, families and friends and travelled with Jesus from town to town. They then supported Him and his disciples, providing for all their needs.

Their encounter with Jesus was clearly life changing, as it was with the other travellers in their group.  People encountered Jesus in a way that healed them physically and spiritually. But now they follow him, as the soldiers lead Him through the street like a common criminal.

He turned and urged them not to weep for him, but for themselves, and the days of trial that lay ahead.

Let us allow Him to wipe away our tears as we believe in the promise - 

"He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared.” Revelation 21:4

Friday, 7 April 2017

Eighth Station: Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrenian

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Jane Borg (No. 240)
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
(Mark 15: 21)

It is interesting that we are told so much about Simon – that he had come in from the country and that he had two sons. He was a family man and had probably come in to Jerusalem for business so carrying the cross for  this ‘criminal’ was not likely to have been on his travel itinerary. He had responsibilities at home and in town;  things to do, places to be.

He was just a passer-by; yet he didn't get to pass by. He was pressed into service. Doesn't have the ring of volunteering in that term, does it? Yet, he did as asked – there was no choice but to obey the Romans.

What about us? Can we be a bit like Simon – things to do; places to be? How willing are we to slow down and look around us to see the needs of others? They might be in our family, our neighbourhood, our workplace or our Church?

It reminds us of Jesus’ challenge to us in Matt 25:31-40 when he is telling his disciples, and us, the basis on which we will all be judged. It is not on our success in business or how many friends we have or how much power or how much money; rather on how we opened our eyes and hearts  to others and took action:  

Matthew 25:34-36 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

Lord, help us to be your willing agents of love.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Louise Crossley (No. 239)

When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.

When I gave birth for the first time, I felt that it was more than I could bear. I vividly remember fearing I could literally break in half. The other births, while still painful, where less overwhelming as my body was strengthened by past experience.

When I first experienced a broken heart, I thought I could not live on. The pain seeped through my body as though my heart was leaking venom that was poisoning my will to go on. While, heartbreak is never easy, it gets a little less intense as a result of knowing what to expect or from bracing ourselves somewhat.

Jesus carrying the cross at this Station represents the impact of first times. The fear of the unknown makes difficult times more difficult. When we carry our own cross for the first time it seems heavier until we prove to ourselves that we are strong enough and that Jesus is with us.

When this happens we are sometimes given a choice: to endure or not to endure? Even when there is no choice, we choose how we cope. We choose the manner in which to conduct ourselves during difficult times.

The Cross may be especially heavy when we experience ‘no guilt’ for wrong doings and wonder why bad things happen to good people. At this time, we can reflect on Jesus and this Station, and carry our burdens with as much strength as we can find.

‘Shall I crucify your … (faith)?’ Asks this world over and over. What will your answer be next time you are asked?

Friday, 31 March 2017

Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Margaret Kirchener (No. 238)

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly. John 19:1-3

The bathroom seems so far away.
My arthritis has flared up and every step is torture.

I crawl through the house using a broom as a crutch. I desperately need my medication.

Everything else in my life fades. All that exists is me and the throbbing pain.

I retrieve the medicine and laboriously return to the couch. I am overwhelmed.

“Hello. How was your evening?’ My husband asks as he strolls in. I burst into tears and he enfolds me in his arms.

All over the world people live with chronic pain, their lives dominated by medication, tests and specialists.

My doctor's new tablets bring me freedom and health. I thank God for healing
but also for a new understanding of the suffering he endured at Calvary.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani (No.237) 

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 

 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.”  Then the chief priests accused him of many things.

 Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 

But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15: 1-5

…So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:15

Being judged and wrongly declared guilty is a horrible experience. I had a taste of this once when a valuable item went missing in my share household and everything pointed to me. It's equally as devastating when you are judged and victimised for standing up for something you believe in. A sense of our own powerlessness can make us feel incredibly vulnerable and rejected.

What kind of God is willingly vulnerable to the opinions and judgements of humans? Standing before Pilate, was Jesus thinking about the divine power He could invoke to escape from the fate of death?

After facing a tragic loss, event or illness a support group can be a powerful source of strength and healing. We connect with someone who 'has been there' and knows what it feels like.

Is this why Jesus accepted His judgement without defence? So that when we feel judged, condemned and rejected we know that He knows how that feels?

While we travel this Lenten journey, let us not forget that no matter what trials we face here on earth, God will never leave us to face them on our own.

'What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 

Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' Romans 8:31-37