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Beginnings and endings

Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation for Catholics. Yet it is traditionally one of the best-attended liturgies of the year. It is surprising how many people will make the effort to begin Lent well by going to Mass and receiving the ashes.

The symbol or image of the ashes has gone deep into our culture. Many people cannot explain why, yet they know that it is the most important day of Lent.








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Living like we have been forgiven much

Maki was a tramp. Born in the southern part of Japan in the 1920s he followed the footsteps of his father into the coal mines where he eked out a living until the Second 

World War turned his life upside down.

Conscription into the Imperial Japanese Infantry Forces took him away from his wife and two young children and into a nightmare tramp around Asia, where he was beaten, half-starved and abused.








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Starting over again

Liberation! When God called Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, they escaped from slavery into freedom, from misery into the Promised Land. The Chosen People, despite their unworthiness, had a fresh chance to live in God’s love.

The experience of liberation is easy to imagine. Think of the dungeon gates opening or the pardoned prisoners released into the sunlight.








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A time to regroup and move on

The season of Lent is a time when many people travel the journey of faith in the catechumenate. Perhaps some of us do not yet understand this tradition well, both ancient and renewed.

Some of us remember a time when the emphasis in preparing for baptism was on instruction; the intellectual exercise of learning about our faith.

 








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The challenge to trust

We continue our journey with Our Lord in Luke’s gospel as he calls the first of his disciples. There is more to this episode than just the call of the disciples. We are asked to reflect upon the fact that Jesus has moved to preaching to crowds of people that are following him on his journey, but Peter, along with the brothers James and John, were not in the crowd.








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Life of cycles

People are already preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year Festival. Although celebrating in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong is a far cry from the origins of the festival, they do mark the cycle of life in which they are involved.

Traditionally, it is a celebration of people involved in agricultural. So it marks the cycle of the seasons and the hope of new growth and fertility.








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A down-to-earth ministry

Today’s reading from the beginning of the gospel according to St. Luke tells us that his intention is to write an ordered account of the story of Jesus.

He is doing this so that there will be a record of how well founded the account of the doings and teachings of Jesus is and stress the point that it has been handed on and received by the community of faith over successive generations.








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Temples of the Holy Spirit

How should we live? This is one of the fundamental questions of life and, in all cultures, people have grappled with it. History holds many guides to help us.

St. Paul was faced with the same problem when writing to the Christians in Corinth. They lived in a difficult situation: Corinth was a famous port.








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Follow that star

 

During the rite of baptism, we are reminded that Jesus was anointed as priest, prophet and king, whilst in the gospel reading today we are told that the Three Magi presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

We know that the gold is the gift for a king. It was the custom that no one could ever approach a king without a gift. And gold, the king of metals, has always been the fit gift of the people for a king. So Jesus was born to be king.