Peter Gallagher SJ

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Into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand [1]. The prophet Isaiah pictures a friendly child, not appreciating the danger, rummaging in the nest of a deadly snake.  In Advent the incarnation is a focus for our prayer.  God comes towards us.  How do we receive him?  Is the friendly child born in the stable at Bethlehem putting himself in great danger?  His passion and death, after all, await him.  The Son of God reaches out to us in friendship. Are we...
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Remember me when you come into your kingdom [1].  In response to this request, Jesus promises a place in his kingdom. This day you will be with me in paradise [2].   Like one of the criminals [3] put to death with the Lord on Calvary we can find ourselves under Christ’s kingship this very day.  Jesus is beside us, in complete solidarity, whatever is happening to us. He is our king but not from a palace. He undergoes terrible suffering.  Yet he is far from being...
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Your endurance will win you your lives [1]. Go on quietly working [2].  Stay awake, praying at all times [3].The scripture encourages us in endurance and perseverance. We pray therefore for the constant gladness of being devoted to God [4].   Jesus calls us to constancy in our prayerful service and in our joy. If we can live in this way, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays [5].  The warmth of God’s love will strengthen us against the troubles...
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We allow ourselves to be pulled up onto a higher branch from which we recognise, as if for the first time, God-made-man walking on the paths on which we make our way all the time.  Hurry because I must stay at your house tonight.[1] Jesus intrudes on our life. He comes home with us. How welcome is he? Zacchæus might not have wanted to go so far as to receive Jesus under his roof. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was.[2] He found a place from which he could observe how the...
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The truly important consistency is between the tax collector's humble request for forgiveness and his undoubted need of that pardon. He stood some distance away.[i] The tax collector in the parable acquires a certain dignity from his modest hanging back. Jesus praises his humility and his repentance and contrasts him favourably with a more complacent person, praying in the Temple at the same time.[ii] The back pew can feel like the right place for us also, or even the porch. More prominent...
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Our dialogue with God helps us to come to understand ourselves as not so much thwarted or outsmarted people but as persons on the journey into the life of One whose hopes are different from ours.  Do you not get the things for which you pray? Have you prayed, for example, for the recovery from illness of someone who seems much too young to die and been disappointed? Have you asked God that peace might come to some war-torn corner of the world only to find that the conflict continues?...
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Some of our prayers are spoken aloud. We are not ashamed that our words are audible. However, mostly we do not think of ourselves as shouting to God.  The incident of the ten lepers is described in a Gospel passage full of shouting. The lepers have to shout to Jesus: Jesus, Master have pity on us.[i] He has to shout back to them: go and show yourselves to the priests.[ii] The one leper who expresses his gratitude does so at the top of his voice.[iii] This is indeed a shouting Gospel....
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Could it be that God’s gratitude for our efforts comes to us in our delight and satisfaction in the goodness of the life we lead?   We have done no more than our duty.[i] The Gospel speaks of our doing all we have been told to do by God. We might think of the commandments. We might think of the teaching of Jesus. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself. [ii] Loving God...
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The apparition of Lazarus won’t convert the family of the rich man, while another Lazarus, the one raised from the dead by Jesus, provoked faith. How do both these new lives inspire amendments? Peter Gallagher SJ reflects.They will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead (Luke 16.30). The rich man suffering in Hades is concerned about his family. He hopes they might repent of their sins and amend their lives so as to avoid sharing his fate in eternity. If Lazarus were to...
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The parable of the dishonest steward contains an important lesson for us about forgiveness. Peter Gallagher SJ helps us to reflect deeper on the meaning of discipleship shown in this story.To the steward accused of extravagance, the rich man said: Draw up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any more (Luke 16.2). Suppose the stewardship in question were our spiritual life and it were to God that we were obliged to give an account. Are there equivalents in our...

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