Tired of all the bad news

While we can't deny the difficulites for so many people at home and overseas, it's important to take account of the positives, and to spread the Good News. I don't know who said this but; "No-one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side." Blessings..

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christ the King

The message of Jesus Christ turns the message of our world upside-down.  Jesus teaches that it is better to give our extra coat to the one who has none.  Jesus’ message of the lowest place is a counter-witness in a world which glorifies power and control.  Jesus calls for us to turn the other cheek which challenges violence and warfare of which we see so much of today. Jesus encourages us to see the beauty of the person on the inside when our world would prefer to highlight outward beauty and strength. Was it Archbishop Fulton Sheen who once said “Virtue preserves youthfulness better than all the pomades on Elizabeth Arden?”

The disciples found it hard to understand why Jesus kept preaching that the Christ would have to suffer grievously and die. The established Church and its leaders at the time were horrified that Jesus would call God, the One whose name couldn’t be mentioned, Abba – Father, therefore equating himself to God. The Romans, who didn’t believe in God, were the only ones to actually call him ‘King’ – albeit in mockery.

And now we see Jesus dying in agony on the cross and while they shouted at him to come down as a price for their belief, he stayed up there because he loves the Father, and loves us all. And one of the most consoling scenes in the Gospel takes place between one of the criminals and Jesus. We can only imagine what he must have done to merit Roman Crucifixion. As children in school I remember we called him ‘The good thief. ’Thief he was not, Romans didn’t crucify people for stealing bread. Romans used crucifixion as a horrifying, agonising act of public disgrace.  The criminal who was crucified was to be seen as a non-person. He defends Jesus who is being mocked by all and now by one of his ‘fellow criminals.’  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” While Jesus is dying to save the whole world, he is paying attention to this poor man’s confession. He doesn’t act like judge and jury as some of us remember confessions in the past. He asks no questions. He promises “This day, you will be with me in paradise.” He doesn’t just forgive him, he canonises him.

At the closing of the Year of Faith, we give thanks to God for the faith, passed on to us by our parents, our grandparents, teachers, priests and religious, those who support and at times challenge us along the way. We pray for the Holy Father, Pope Francis and the bishops as we go forward and we reaffirm as best we can, with the help of Mary our Mother, our belief in her Son, Jesus Christ, the Universal King. 




Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Doing my bit for the Gathering - Final set

 
BALTIMORE, Co. CORK
 
 
Trawler preparing for a night departure on the new pier...
 

 
The boat slip
 

 
Sherkin Island from the Beacon
 

 
The famous Beacon at Baltimore
 

 
Sunset over Sherkin Island
 
 
With the setting sun, a British Airways 777, bound for Heathrow over the West Cork coastline from the United States.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

"Don't spend your energies on things that generate worry, anxiety and anguish. Only one thing is necessary: Lift up your spirit and love God." St. Padre Pio

Let us pray...

Every time I read this gospel, I turn on RTE News or Sky News and see evidence of the prophesy of Jesus to all who listen to him in today’s gospel. When we turn the pages of the newspaper or click the mouse for the online news across the world, it seems that the words of Jesus Christ spoken two thousand years ago could apply as much today as then.

 “Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there: there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven…”
You could be forgiven for just wanting to go back to bed! (Especially when I look out the window as I write I see the wind blowing the summer leaves from the trees on Church St and the rain on the dark glass) This gospel paints a pretty depressing picture already and we’re only just into winter…

Jesus Christ reminds us that despite the bad weather forecast or the bad news coming through the media that he is always with us. He is within us to fortify us and help us to speak when we don’t know how to or feel the weakness of sin. Look a little deeper and the sun will shine again and he will calm the storms outside and in. He gives generous people all over the world the words and eloquence to halt wars and for diplomacy to prevail. He inspires so many people, many of them young people, to go to developing countries with the NGO’s to help make a difference. He shows the way to our defence forces who are a shining light in the whole are of peace-keeping. At home, locally and nationally, we see such good will to help people all year (but at this time of year especially) in the many charitable organisations.

Jesus is telling his disciples that while the road ahead will be tough, together, good will triumph over evil and to all of us today; he calls us to unity and says ‘Do not be afraid.’

(This evening, the Filipino Community in Dublin gather with the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin to celebrate Mass in St. Mary's Pro Cathedral to pray in solidarity for all who have suffered as a result of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. We pray for them and their families and fellow Filipinos through the intercession of Our Lady of Penafrancia)


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The First Friday visits in the Parish

Working in a city centre parish, one of the nicer things I get to do is to make what we call the ‘First Friday’ visits. Here we visit elderly and house-bound parishioners to bring them the sacraments and to pray together with them. These people have lived in the parish all their lives and they have a wealth of knowledge, experience, and history which they love to share. Listening to them sometimes is like going back in time to a different Dublin and a different church. They have recollections of the joys and sorrows, the hardships and the laughter of their childhood and when they were rearing their families.

Calling to see them, all of them in their late 80’s or 90’s, they have great inner strength and great faith. They are not theologians in the formal sense, but they have a relationship with God that has stood the test of time. This is the faith that they first heard of at the fire-side and in the cradle. And they themselves often tell me of their mothers and grandmothers who taught them how to say their prayers.
I appreciate how they easily merge their relationship with God with their own lived lives. It’s as if their relationship with Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Lady, and the saints, seamlessly cross over into their day-to-day lives with their children who are now often grandparents themselves. And when the kids call to see nanny or granddad, often they are the great-grandchildren. The Ireland of the kitchen table has been portrayed in times gone by with the picture of the Sacred Heart, Pope John XXIII, and President John F. Kennedy on the walls. This may be a quaint image that can raise all sorts of lively opinions about where we want to be as a nation into the future. Sophisticated society may say that this is not the real Ireland anymore. When I call to see these people who have given the best years of their lives to the growth of our nation, one of the main ingredients of their endeavours was the old faith. And one still sees a picture of the Sacred Heart or a statue of their favourite saint over the fire-place

On the first Friday of each month, they are waiting for me to call. RTE’s Sean O’Rourke or News talk’s Pat Kenny might be on the radio or Jeremy Kyle might be on the television. We take a moment and turn the sound down. One woman holds her late husband’s rosary beads in her hand, her link to the relationship they had which spanned almost 60 years. Another elderly man prays with me as we look across at happy family photographs on the mantelpiece that tell many stories of times gone by. One couple in their eighties I call to see have some children’s toys around the living room waiting for the next high-energy visit to nana and granddad.

The reality of age and ill health is never far away and despite some of these people being dependent on medication, and while oftentimes a care-giver is present when I call, there is still a smile of their faces. “Father, there’s worse off than me.” They would say. Whenever I hear of another bad news story locally, or further afield, I think of the many people who are painfully able to look beyond their own troubles and think of another’s. This is true Christianity and true humanity and I will never fail to be evangelised by these people of simple, yet sterling faith.

 

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