Archive for the month “July, 2014”



Well here we are at the last weekend of July and the summer holidays are now at the half way stage for our local children. I’m sure there are many parents out there wondering when will the long holidays end but that said it will be no time until the beginning of the new school term in September. Despite all of our own worries and preoccupations we see the ongoing war with the Israelis and the Palestinians and the war between Russia and Ukraine. Not forgetting the ongoing Syrian conflict. Whilst many people will debate the rights and the wrongs of what is going on we have to remember that we have to constantly pray for peace. last Sunday 20th July, Pope Francis called on all the faithful to pray for Christians fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul, and to “persevere in prayer for those situations of tension and conflict that continue in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and in the Ukraine” The only way that anything positive will happen in all of this will be when the opposing sides of the conflicts sit down face to face and talk. Our experience of the past 20 years in Northern Ireland certainly bears this out. We have an imperfect peace process but after a long time we have seen opposing sides talking with a view of trying to sort the problems out and it continues to be a work in progress.

This week we also stop to pray for all those who perished in the downing of the plane over Ukraine. We pray  in a special way for the families of those who died from so many different countries that they may find peace of heart and mind and that their loved ones will rest in peace.

In this Sundays Gospel we hear the story of the treasure hidden in the field. The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field or a pearl of great price. When its great value is recognized, one gladly does all that is necessary to obtain it. The kingdom of heaven is also like a net that collects all sorts of fish. Just as the useless fish are eventually thrown away, at the end of the age the wicked will be rejected. To possess the Kingdom means to share our knowledge of it with others. To truly believe in Christ means leading other people to the same knowledge; for secret faith is no faith at all. We need to be like the householder, mentioned at the end of our Gospel reading for this Sunday, who brings out of his house things both new and old. We should be happy to bring out of the house that is our life all kinds of treasures to share with our neighbours.

But these treasures are not physical things like clocks and pearls but attitudes spiritual and otherwise that is virtues like love and justice and truth and hope and so on. What we bring out from our treasure store are the values of the Kingdom, the attitudes of Jesus and the knowledge of the one true God. God loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to leave us that way. He wants us to become just like Him. He wants us to become treasure for other people so that they can discover the faith which is the pearl of great price the treasure hidden in the fields of our hearts.


16th Sunday of Ordinary Time



This weekend  we hear the reading  from the first section from Chapter 23 of St. Matthews gospel, the story is the parable of the darnel in the field the seed and the weeds.  In the parable of the wheat and weeds, Jesus recognized good’s co-existence with evil. He also held out the hope that the Kingdom would right all wrongs. I think that there is the potential in each of us to be either wheat or darnel that is good and bad.

Looking back over the  notable events of the Twentieth Century we are reminded  that evil takes root even in the greatest good. National powers have fought two World Wars and several regional conflicts to protect the innocent. Yet, the death and destruction those struggles have produced staggers the imagination. Fighting evil seems, in a perverse way, to promote evil. It is difficult to listen to the daily stories about Syria, Israel and Gaza these days where so many innocent people are losing their lives. We are tempted to become very angry with one side or the other, or to turn away in despair. Seeing others argue and struggle can tire our hearts  and minds so that we might become cynical or unkind to those around us but if we are true to ourfaith we shouldn’t hurt the people around us even though we might be tired and want to be cynical.

We  often say ‘wouldn’t life be easier if everything were black and white’ as if there are ‘totally good people’ and ‘totally evil people’.  Of course life is never that simple.  If we are really honest nothing is ever that straightforward to be black and white. We need to ask ourselves Who are we called to be in a world where weeds and seeds grow side by side and we often find it hard to distinguish the difference between them.  We are called to be the body of Christ the Church which is a church of Saints and sinners a Church of Seeds and Weeds a church in which very little is black and white but that is the life we live as faith filled people of God. As people of faith  we have to constantly ask ourselves  3 questions :  Should we hide from the messiness and make religion a privatized personal relationship with God?   Should we insulate ourselves – sharing with those  we think are worthy of our love, deciding who is worthy? Where is God in all this concern, worry and judgment?  If we pray about  these three questions and our problems and those of others we will see god is there in the middle of everything and his hand will guide us and as a result we will be the seeds that flourish and not the weeds.

Jesus used parables to challenge his audience to think and he uses the parables in our world of today to  challenge you and me and make us think as well. The images and symbols in the stories allowed for various interpretations, depending upon the audience and their circumstances. Interpreting symbolic stories in this way is called allegory. To help relieve anxiety among his persecuted followers, Jesus told this parable as an allegory of good and evil. Obviously, Jesus recognized good and evil lived together in his time as we recognize the same today. But, when Jesus made that co-existence part of God’s Kingdom, he must have shocked his own followers. How could God allow such evil in the world? Shouldn’t God act to save his people? Why did he delay? These are questions that were asked in the time of Jesus and we still ask ourselves even in these days of rational so called clear minded thinking.

In authentic truth and charity we must speak to others and teach them about the great responsibility they have to choose either Life or Death to be weeds or seeds to be good or bad.God ‘s perfect love for us shows itself in the gift of our free will. We have the power to freely choose Him or to reject Him. Choose the Lord and His law that you may have life and live it to the full. Earlier I mentioned briefly the two world wars, in the next few weeks we remember the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago, it was known as the war to end all wars even though it was one of many and these days we think of the ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world. May we redouble of efforts to promote and pray for peace in our world, our hearts and in our minds.

May we see the seeds of the Kingdom of Heaven grow and flourish in our midst. Let us notice too that which is not fruitful or good.  But with and in all Let us bring everything and everyone to God, in prayer and reflective action – trusting that God who is good will care for us and for all he  has created.  Our calling then  is to participate as best we can in building up a world where God is King! God will decide on its membership, not us and he will guide us along the roads that lead to Salvation and he will help us to be the seeds that flourish.

15th Sunday of ordinary Time



This weekend we arrive at the fifteenth Sunday of ordinary time. Lent and Easter are but a distant memory and we are now gearing up for the July holidays. This Sunday we hear the Gospel story of the sower who went out to sow the seed. For me the story  is really about the seed of faith with Jesus the sower and you and me as the soil on which the seed that is the word of God lands.

The context of today’s parable provides some insight into its interpretation and application The parable is located between stories of confrontation and rejection. As the early church faced opposition and a seeming lack of success, the parable must have given encouragement to the first preachers and members of the early church a promise of fruit not yet visible to them. Jesus is speaking to a large crowd. They may be listening to what he says, but as it is today some will follow him  and others will leave it all behind and go their own way.

He is realistic as he seems to randomly cast his words out upon the crowd. What he says will not seem to bear fruit – not straight away. Often that wee seed of faith may take root many years after it has been planted and today we see many people returning to the faith or coming to the faith for the first time after someone or some event in their lives planted that first seed with others helping nourishing the seed and helping it to grow.

What is striking about the parable is the amount of waste I’m sure those who are reading this who are recyclers will be horrified. The bulk of the details are about wasted effort and lost seed. Why wasn’t the sower more careful, after all farmers were poor and the seed was precious? Sometimes, we wonder if all our efforts and words are worth it when things are falling down around us. But if we stop for a moment and think about it anything done for God in faith is never lost.  

Very often things that are happening  in our lives don’t seem to be the way we might want  them to be but when we look at the problems with eyes of faith we see that things around us are the way they are meant to be for the good of all. We also  get the strength to  deal with the problems that go on through and in faith. Nobody really knows what’s beneath the surface of the soil we cast the seed of the word of god upon. Who knows the potential of the good soil? Do good and poor soil both exist in the same person I think that it most probably does much in the same way that a person can do good or be bad. Is there something we might say that will land on the interior good soil in a person and bear the “hundredfold, or sixty or thirtyfold” Jesus promises? who knows only God knows.

While the gospel parable begins with and spends time on hardships and failure it ends in surprise and abundance. What was the source of this abundance? We look to what Isaiah told us today in the reading about the fertile, life-giving nature of God’s Word. Our God is a God of surprises and our faith is also filled with so many surprises as well.

Despite any discouragement we might feel because our efforts on God’s behalf in many things seem futile and draining, we put our trust in the one who speaks to us a living word who sows the seed. The message of Jesus may not always be welcome especially in our modern world were faith and religion are constantly under assault by those who oppose the Christian faith based outlook on life. That said we still have to sow the seed of faith by what we do and say and then we leave the rest up to God our efforts are never futile and we don’t always see the fruit of the seed that s sown. Let us remember that tall oaks from little acorns grow.  and Our God is a God of surprises and our faith is also has many surprises as well. 



14th Sunday of Ordinary time





Well here we are at the end of another week at the beginning of July with all the local schools closed for the summer vacation with all the opportunities that this provides to get away from the hum drum coming and goings of daily life.  We also celebrate the 14th Sunday of the year on Sunday 6th July back to the hum drum of ordinary time after the various feasts that have taken place over the last few weeks since Easter including the feast of Saints Peter and Paul last weekend.

One of the most wonderful things about the person of Jesus has been and continues to be, his special love for ordinary people ­ for people like us with all our faults and failings. It comes out in a particular way within the two statements that he makes in this Sundays Gospel reading. The first is in his prayer to God: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.’ The second is in his Invitation to all of us: ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.’

Why did he say this? The answer comes across very clearly so many times in the gospels, and may be summed up in just one word – COMPASSION. For example: – The plight and tears of the widow of Nain touches his heart to the core: ‘Don’t cry,’ he says to her, before bringing her son back to life. He is moved with compassion at the plight of a leper begging for help (Mk 4:41), for two blind men sitting at the side of a road and pleading for mercy (Mt 20:29-34), and for a crowd of people with nothing to eat (Mk 8:2). In each case he responds to their sufferings with the power, love, compassion and care of God. All through the gospels, even when the word is not used, we sense the surge of compassion rising within his heart. ‘Don’t cry,’ he says, ‘Don’t worry’, ‘Don’t be afraid’ (e.g. Mk5:36; 6:50; Mt 6:25-34). He is not moved by the grandeur and beauty of the great Temple buildings (Mk 13:1-2), but by the generosity of a poor widow who puts her last coin  into the Temple treasury to assist others (Mk 12:41-44). When everyone else around him is jumping for joy about Jairus’ daughter come back to life, Jesus is concerned that she be given something to eat (Mk 5:42-43). Also in the second reading we are called to lead spiritual lives that is lives enlivened by our faith in God and what is taught by the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Today in our world we see so many people constantly searching for new idols and these  idols are so easy to find, It is a world which has left the path marked out by God it is a world where so many have little or nothing and the few have so much. To be a Christian and to have the light of faith to guide our steps in the neo-pagan darkness of today’s world, is a gift, and a blessing from God, for which we can never thank Him enough.

So, in the here And now of our daily lives  the big question for each and everyone of us has to be whose side are we on? Are we  on the side of Jesus, that is the side of compassion, kindness, help, healing, and mercy? Or on the side of the scribes and Pharisees who are  amongst us even today  and they are – fierce, fault-finding, heartless, critical, and merciless people without much compassion. Will we take our cue from their cruel, harsh, and insensitive judgments and actions? Or will we take our inspiration from what we see in Jesus, and from his touching  compassionate outreach to the poor and the broken:  ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest’?


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