Archive for the month “March, 2016”


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Having  completed our Lenten observance and after the liturgies of Holy Thursday and  Good Friday we  are now at the stage of celebrating the Easter Vigil on the day of resurrection that is Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is about emptiness, the cross is empty and Jesus lies in the tomb everything around us is still.  The heavens and the earth cry out with longing for the sinless one who is not to be found, if we stop to think for a moment we remember that Jesus died and rose again on the third day. We wait, as mourners beside a grave, unsettled, ill at ease, not knowing what to do with ourselves. The Church has only one thing to do today: to pray through the emptiness of Holy Saturday.

Holy Saturday is the day when we experience watching and waiting at the tomb as we await the celebration of the Resurrection which we celebrate in the Easter Vigil and the season of Easter. The Psalm for Easter Sunday says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”Above all days, Easter is a day of joy. At Easter, we celebrate the kind each of us longs for, when every tear is wiped away, and there is no sorrow any more no more suffering from weather or hunger or hurtful human beings. As we sing in the much-loved hymn by Fr. John Foley, S. J., at Easter, “the cross and passion past, dark night is done, bright morning come at last!”  When we ourselves rise to meet our risen Lord, in that bright morning we will hear him say, “Come away, beloved. The winter is past; the rain is gone, and the flowers return to the earth” (Song of Songs 2:10-12). In the loving union of that encounter, all the heart brokenness of our lives will be redeemed. That will be perfect  joy.So in that same vein of perfect joy we say “this is the ‘day which the Lord has made.’ Alleluia!  let us take fresh hope,  with Christ our Passover everything is possible! Christ goes forward with us in our future!” Let us go forward together as Easter people rejoicing in the Resurrection.





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As we continue our Holy Week journey we have come to the Wednesday of Holy Week and it is called Spy Wednesday, it was the day when Judas made his bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces (Matt 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:1-6). In Germany, this day was often called ‘Crooked Wednesday’, while some other countries called it ‘Black Wednesday’. Early Christians also used to fast on Wednesdays throughout the year in remembrance of the betrayal of Jesus. The name ‘Spy Wednesday’ is said to be of Irish origin, although the Bible never refers to Judas as a spy. His surname, Iscariot, is believed by some to be a corruption of the Latin ‘sicarius’, meaning “murderer” or “assassin”.  Matthew narrates everything, not to criticize or to condemn, or discourage the readers, but in order to underline that acceptance and the love of Jesus exceed the defeat and the failure of the people of God! Because of the frequent persecutions, many were discouraged and had abandoned the community and asked themselves: “Will it be possible to return? Will God accept and forgive us?” Matthew responds by suggesting that we can break the relationship with Jesus, but Jesus never breaks it with us. His love is greater than our infidelity. As we look towards the three great days of the Easter Triduum we know that it is possible to return and that  God will accept and forgive us remember the prodigal son and the woman caught in adultery whose stories we heard recently in our Gospel readings at our Sunday Masses.


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For the last five weeks of Lent we have journeyed along the path of reconciliation forgiveness and mercy with Jesus. As those who know his mercy we now begin Holy Week with our annual celebration of our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, his own city on the day more commonly known as Palm Sunday. As we end the season of Lent it isn’t really the end as we all know that first Holy Week was the beginning and here we are in 2016 celebrating the life changing events that took place all those years ago. There was an American TV programme called That Was the Week that was which I’m told went out in the 1960’s and in many ways for us as Christians Holy Week was the week that was in the past, as it is for us now in our own time and will be the week that was in the future for other generations. So now in the context of faith we stop and ponder where our Lenten journey of mercy has brought us and what Holy Week is about. It is simply not just about the death of Jesus on Calvary it is about a great deal more and the cross is one of the central parts of this week.  We begin on Palm Sunday with a few days to go until Good Friday, days that are packed with symbolism and meaning. We hear in the Gospel the crowd goes from rejoicing and singing Hosanna to the Son of David to calling out crucify him, crucify him. The entrance into Jerusalem is one of the very few events in Jesus’ life which is mentioned in all four gospels.  It is the only time that Jesus accepts and encourages public acclaim as Messiah even at that it wasn’t really about him it was about doing his father’s will.  He even goes as far as organising his entrance by telling the disciples to go and fetch the donkey.  The key moment in God’s great plan of salvation is about to begin and Jesus knows exactly how it will unfold and where he will end up. As we reflect upon the story of Jesus going up to Jerusalem we recommit ourselves to Jesus and his message of mercy and salvation.The events of Palm Sunday were foretold thousands of years ago.

The first reading from Isaiah, was written at the time of the Babylonian captivity and it speaks of a courageous and obedient messiah-figure, who says, “I have set my face like flint” set my face against the beatings and scourging that lie ahead, “knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”  On Palm Sunday we feel an certain amount of embarrassment when we cry out “Crucify Him” with the palm branches still in our hands. It reminds us of our own fickle response and our lack of courage in responding to His Mercy, love and truth. Yet as we know it was the sins of us all which brought Jesus to Calvary. Palm Sunday and Holy Week are all about Jesus suffering for our inadequacies and our own very real sins. Holy Week is a time for us to realize what we are like, and to find that the only remedy for our fears is mercy and love. That is the Mercy and Love of God. Are we ready to join our own fears to the Master’s? Are we ready to add as much love and mercy as we can possibly muster to His boundless love and endless  mercy?




This weekend we hear another of the great gospel stories of mercy as we continue our journey of mercy. Following on from the parable of the prodigal Son we hear the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus did not deny the Scribes and Pharisees the right to carry out this prescription of the Law, but he insisted on one condition, namely, that they have no sin on their consciences.”Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” So many of us today are like the Pharisees in that we are prepared to lift the stone and be the first person to throw it despite our own shortcomings. This story is about so much more that throwing the stones it is really about God’s mercy to the woman and by association God’s mercy to us. When Jesus and the woman were left alone, he looked up and said, “Woman, where are they?” Ironically, the self-righteous observers of the Law, so eager to throw stones, could not measure up to the requirement that Jesus had laid down and all of them had left.

After they had gone, Jesus lifted up his eyes to the woman looking at her with the eyes of gentleness; he asks her, ‘Has no one condemned you?’ She replies, ‘No one, Lord.’ And he says, ‘Neither do I condemn you. What does this say to you and me today as so many of us are prepared to throw stones of condemnation at so many people and of course there are also people who would throw stones at us as well.   If we remember what Jesus tells us when he says let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw the stone then we won’t go far wrong. The simple truth whether we like it or not is that all of us are sinners and none of us are in a position to throw the stone!! As we continue our celebration of the Year of Mercy let us ask the Lord to show us his mercy especially as we head towards Palm Sunday and Holy Week.


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This weekend we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Lent which is also called Laetare Sunday and is a Sunday of joy.  Our Lenten journey of mercy  is half over and Easter is near. This Sunday we hear the story of the Prodigal Son, the contrast between the two brothers is quite sharp. After wasting his share of his father’s fortune the younger brother recognizes his misery and the mistakes he has made and returns home looking for the mercy of his father when he says: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk 15: 18-19, 21). The older brother takes a different sort of attitude one of arrogance not only towards his brother but also towards his father! His scolding is in great contrast with the tenderness of the father who comes out of the house and goes to meet him to “entreat” him to go into the house (Lk 15: 20, 28) after  he told him that his brother that was lost has been found. The big question that we should ask ourselves when we hear this story is what does God do when we turn away from him like the younger son in the Gospel? He does exactly the same as the Father in the gospel story did he waits and when we return he goes out to meet the returning Son or Daughter with endless mercy and compassion. The gospel story of the Prodigal Son is an image of God the Father who invites us to experience his mercy and return to him especially during the year of mercy season of Lent. We all get second chances in life and this gospel is really  about God our Father giving us the chance to start over again and again, perhaps taking the chance to right a wrong or the chance to make a difference to someone or do something these are just a couple of examples. Of course being given a second chance is not always fair or just and we see this from the reaction of the other son who complains in a big way about his Father not even giving him something to celebrate with his friends. The story of the Prodigal Son is also a story of transition as much as it is about second chances. We remember that second chances are invitations to move forward leaving our old selves behind. Leaving our old selves behind and getting another chance is why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation or confession. This sacrament is a chance to the wipe the spiritual slate clean, a time to start anew as a child of the Father. Pope Francis has asked each Diocese to dedicate a period of “24 hours for the Lord” on the 4th and 5th March. This weekend in many places all over the world we will be able to adore the Blessed Sacrament and celebrate the Mercy of God in Confession. May we like the Prodigal Son not be afraid to come back for we will be received with open arms like the Father in the Gospel story god will come out to meet us for his mercy and compassion are without measure.


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