Peter Gallagher SJ

Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them[1]. Christ’s presence in our life is indispensable.  We always need him and he is always close to us.   We acknowledge this presence by prayer as often as we can.  Sometimes a substantial amount of time can be devoted to this acknowledgement.  At other moments, the prayer, which honours his presence, is a brief connecting to the One who is most important to us.  Our wanting to pray and our doing so...
As disciples of Christ we have an agenda. There are some important things we must do. There is a ‘bucket-list’ quality about these goals: we should do them before we die.The details of this agenda are summed up in our ambition to receive Jesus into our life and to share him with others.  He, as a little child, entered the temple in Jerusalem very discretely.  Yet this was God taking possession of his house. O gates, lift up your heads, grow higher ancient doors.  Let him enter...
Seeing Jesus coming towards him. John said, ‘Look there is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ [1].  The Lord approached John the Baptist and revealed himself as the lamb of God.  Christ comes near to us and enables us to recognise him as our saviour.  Seeing Jesus is a consequence of his coming towards those whom he empowers to recognise him. To be able to say ‘look there is the lamb of God’ is a gift from the one who transforms our thinking and our speaking....
When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do [1].  Advent, until the very end, is a summons to wakefulness. The coming of the Lord demands our attention. The season of preparation is an exercise in being alert to what God is doing and saying. Attentiveness to God gives rise to obedience to his commands.  Clarity about what to do accompanies the revelation of God incarnate.The Lord himself will give you a sign [2].  The long and continuing history of...
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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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