This Sunday we remember and pray in a particular way for the family of Nora Quoirin in this time of such indescribable anguish. The news of Nora’s death puts all that is going on in the world in its proper perspective.
In the gospel for this Sunday Jesus says, “I have come to set the world on fire and how I wish it were already blazing.” Jesus is ready and willing to face the hardships that lie ahead. Jesus’ words must have unsettled the people who heard them the first time. It doesn’t sound like Jesus meant that the practice of our faith should make us comfortable, guarantee harmony or tranquility. Indeed, as he predicted, belief in him would cause the most severe conflict, even in the close-knit-family world of his Mediterranean followers and this interreligious conflict continues today in many places throughout the world especially in the Holy Land. Jesus is zealous about his mission; He has a task to complete and will follow it through, despite the threats to his personal safety. Jesus refers to his fate as “a baptism with which I must be baptized.”
He sees his passion as a baptism which he will accept and which will set a fire upon the earth. Remember when John the Baptist spoke of Jesus he linked baptism and fire, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”. When our lives get difficult, for any reason perhaps running low on the resources of spirit, mind and psyche at critical moments, we are tempted to think that the Holy One is asleep behind a closed door. We feel very much on the outside. At these times it’s important to remember that Jesus the Son of God is with us throughout the turmoil we may have as a result of the hurts and hardship that life throws out to all of us on many occasions. Making decisions on the journey of life is a natural process for us; we make many of them each day. Our senses take in all kinds of information some of which we accept, some we discard and much, we are not aware of. Our minds move us to a yes or no that is what the will does. So our imaginations can present data to our minds for a choice as well. So a faith based decision to walk the ways of Jesus needs some information which Jesus gives his disciples, that information is handed down to us in a special way through the scriptures the word of God.
But some information has to be provided by our memory and imaginations and in so many cases Memory and imagination are not always good at telling the truth of the matters under discussion at any particular moment. The faith that Jesus the face of the father’s mercy calls us his followers to is a faith that leads us to live lives which reflect the life of Jesus the mercy of God. It is much easier to follow from a safe distance and not let our lives be challenged and changed by faith in God. It is very easy to let the bitterness of others take us over but at the end of it all Jesus went to the Cross to overcome all the hatred and bitterness that we see around and about us. Today we are invited to lead lives less dominated by greed possessiveness and hatred or whatever is the opposite to the love and mercy of Jesus. Remember that the words of Jesus are there to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted those who are in any need. Faith was not easy at the beginning of the Church and isn’t easy now the martyrs of the faith throughout history right up until our present time bear witness to this. If we stop and look around us even now there are people who are prepared to give everything they have including their lives in defense of the faith.
Deciding to follow Jesus is not easy and we will have to work at it for anything that is worth doing or being part off will never be easy. At the end of it all in simple terms we are called to follow were God leads us and he will do the rest for nothing is impossible to God who journeys along with throughout our lives in the good and bad times of our lives.
There are so many things to think about this weekend including the recent shootings in the USA and of course here in Northern Ireland we are thinking of Brexit and all the issues around that. There are many people out there who are fearful and afraid for so many different reasons. This Gospel begins with some of the most beautiful of Jesus’ words: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. These particular words fear not little flock are so full of meaning especially these days when there is so much fear and distrust around in many different spheres of life. The words of our Lord should make us all sit up and take notice. He has taken us into his household. He has made us his “little flock.” We are invited guests in his house rather than just being mere servants. Jesus also warns us that we must always be busy about our vocation and there are many vocations in life religious, priesthood marriage or whatever. We also remember the reason why he invited us into his home. We are Christians, we are members of his Church, God, through Christ’s Incarnation, has put us on the road to heaven. He is always helping us on the way.
We don’t know in advance what God may do with us and our own oftentimes selfish plans a friend of mine always told me that Man proposes and God disposes in other words the will of God will happen no matter what you or I might want or do. To those who have faith, all things are possible the old saying that faith moves mountains but we should keep on climbing is certainly true. Faith helps us to rely on the limitless power of God, not on our own limited power. The gospel also points out; we should live in this world as strangers who are on the way home. People who move from one place to another get rid of all they can from their old house and focus on furnishing the new house. They joyfully give away what they once cherished we have to be the same getting rid of the baggage that stops us from being the people we are called to be by our heavenly Father. We don’t know when personal illness, bereavement or some other trying experience will put us to the test. But we do know that our life will be a success if we set our hearts and minds on values that go beyond all the transitory goods of this world. Our faith, is leading us onward, always pointing to something still to come, and at the end of our pilgrimage on this earth we will find where our true treasure is and we will simply discover that where our heart is our treasure is there as well.
In these days of uncertainty these words of the gospel fear not little flock are a call for us to place our trust in God and he will do the rest for us and help us along when we come to the trials and tribulations of our lives.
This Sundays gospel is the parable of the rich man who stored up his wealth in barns for A future that he thought would be in his own hands instead the future was in the hands of God. The parable calls the man foolish for his planning and for believing that he was immune to life’s tragedies none of us are. We remember the those who live around us as well as the world at large and who have any annoyance in their lives this weekend. The lesson of this Sundays parable is obvious to all, and it is perhaps as difficult to put into practice as it is obvious. To be in this world and not of it, to collect the necessary goods of this world by honest labor and yet remain detached from them, to possess but not be possessed by worldly riches, this is an ideal to which our weak human nature responds very reluctantly.
A large percentage of Christians, however, do respond to the challenge. They earn and use the goods of this world, while at the same time they keep God’s laws and earn wealth for heaven putting their riches into their spiritual bank. Some renounce even the right, which is theirs, to possess the necessary things of this world, by entering religious life taking on the vows of religion. Thus they set themselves free to devote their whole time and energy to the service of God and neighbor. Others, and they are of necessity the more numerous, have to own the world’s goods in order to provide for themselves and their dependents, but, while so doing they never let their temporal possessions come between them and their God. To do this is not easy, but God’s helping grace is always available to the willing heart. The message of the Jesus is one of hope, and compassion. No one can claim perfection. It is not obedience to laws and regulations, it is not the achievement of great influence or wealth, it is not the power over others that prove our greatness.
The last sentence of the parable is stark and clear: Do not store up treasure for yourself, but seek to be rich in the sight of God. What does this mean? Later it becomes clear: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God… Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” (Lk 12:31-34) As Christian people we know that the values of this world are transitory and that they cannot bring true fulfilment. We place our trust in the things of God and understand that true fulfilment in life consist in embracing the heavenly virtues such as truth, humility, honesty, patience, kindness and so on. The true Christian knows that it is only by cultivating these virtues that we will reach the kingdom of god.
This week we have seen the beginning of the Boris Johnston era of Government and that will result in Brexit amongst so many other things. The Gospel this Sunday has the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. In response to this request Jesus teaches them how to pray in the words of the our Father. He also encourages them to be unwearied in their prayer because the Father who loves them will pay attention to their pleas. Prayer is good, because it shows trust in God. As we pray, we are changed. Many people have told me that they have prayed for this or that intention but didn’t get that particular thing that they prayed for. My experience is that we often get the thing that we pray for not when we think we need it but when god knows that we really need it. There are so many different forms of prayer such as the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross etc. each of us will have a particular favorite. The greatest example of prayer that has been passed down to us through the generations is the Mass.
Each time we gather as a community of believers to take part in the Mass we reaffirm our belief in God made incarnate in Jesus his Son. We also bring all our intentions with us and we leave them for god to answer in his own time. Persistence in prayer is a worthwhile exercise because the God we believe in is not some sulky, withdrawn figure who is unmoved by what he hears and sees remember that our God is with us. The message of Jesus in the our Father is that our God is one who cares for us as well as concerned about us and those who are close to us. So can we depend on God’s providence to feed us, to shelter us, to clothe us, to save us from violence? If we pray hard enough will God see to it that we have a new car, a better house, maybe win a lottery? God doesn’t work for us in that way. The most important part of our human life is what we become day by day through faith in the will of God the Father.
When things don’t go the way they should, we benefit from our prayers. Think of Jesus in the Garden of Olives. He prayed what was coming his way would not happen. He also added he would abide by God’s will when he said Abba, Father let it be done as you not I would have it. If we stay in sync with the will of God we will grow day by day, despite what good or bad things come our way we will know that God is for us a refuge and our strength in all things. These days when so many parts of the world are hurting for many reasons let us remember the power of prayer to help us to do the right thing in the situations we might find ourselves. As things kick off in the UK parliament we should pray that those in Government wherever we live in the world will be wise in making the decisions that will have to be for the good of all the people.
In our Gospel reading for this Sunday we hear all about Martha and Mary. On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus led his entourage into the village to call at the home of Martha. As the good host, she served them but, her sister, Mary, sat listening to Jesus. Martha tried to shame Mary into helping with the work but Jesus would have none of it. Instead, he praised Mary’s choice when he said leave her alone for she has chosen the better part. Martha loved Jesus as much as Mary did, and it is clear that he treasured them both. Her mistake was in not trying to find out how Jesus wanted to be entertained, while visiting her house. Her sister correctly senses that when Jesus comes on a visit the last thing he wants is to have people fussing over how to feed him. So, while Martha makes the greater housekeeping effort, Mary understands better what is expected of her by him. Her contemplative intuition grasps instinctively the real reason for Jesus’ visit. He is there not to receive but to give, not to be served but to serve. He has something he needs to say and the one thing necessary is to listen to his voice.
There’s a theology of contemplation in this gospel reading, on how to receive the Lord’s visit. It starts off from the basis that, no matter who our visitors may be, there is always something to be learned, something from them. When Jesus comes to us he wants to talk to us in the quiet of the evening or the freshness of the morning, in the quietness of our hearts and he wants to share with us the Word that brings us salvation. He comes not because he needs us but because we need him. We too can be “distracted with all the serving;” we also “worry and fret about so many things.” As a result of all the worry and wonder we may, like Martha, miss the better part, for all of us the one thing that is necessary, is to listen to the Word of God in the quiet moments of life and find what it tells us to do. If we are to make people welcome in our community it will be by being attentive to who that person is and what they seek rather than giving them the impression that their presence is disrupting our well ordered lives.
let us not be afraid of being like Mary and be attentive to what Jesus is telling each of us today and take action to put it into our lives where we are.
In our Gospel reading for this Sunday Jesus is asked the question ‘who is my neighbor?” Given the migrant crisis in Europe along with Brexit this is a very timely question for us to ask ourselves, who do we say our neighbours are. When I was a youngster your neighbours were the people that lived next door to you or those who lived in your street or road they were the families you would go to when you ran out of milk or sugar to borrow some or to share the news about the people and happenings in the area. The Gospel story tells us about the Good Samaritan it is a story that all of us are familiar with. It was the Samaritan who stopped with the man who was lying on the side of the road it was the Samaritan who was moved with compassion to help him. The Priest and the Levite walked on and passed by on the other side of the road because they felt that it was beneath their dignity to help the man. What does our Gospel story tell us about love for one’s neighbor today?
First, it tells us that we must be willing to help even if others brought trouble on themselves for whatever reason. Second, our concern to help others must be practical. And lastly, our love for others must be as wide and as inclusive as God’s love for us. We remember that God excludes no one from his care. So we must be ready to do good to others just as God is good to us. Jesus not only taught God’s way of love, he also showed how far God was willing to go to share in our suffering and to restore our wholeness in life and happiness. Jesus overcame sin, suffering, and death through his victory on the cross on Good Friday. True compassion not only identifies and empathizes with the one who is in pain, it also takes that pain on in order to bring freedom and restoration. Our world is moving towards ways of doing things that hurt more people time after time. We are members of this world so we cannot pretend that it’s got nothing to do with us for it has everything to do with us as Christians.
In these days with a lot of turmoil and confusion around the words of the first reading ring in our ears obey the voice of the Lord and what is the Lord asking us to do ? we are being asked to reach out in order to show friendship to our neighbours and those who have come to be our neighbours from other places. At the end of the Gospel Jesus askes the Lawyer Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbor to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ the lawyer replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’ There it is in the readings we are asked to go obey the words of Jesus then he asks us in the Gospel to go and do the same as the good Samaritan to show compassion and not to walk on by like the Levite and the priest.
This Sunday’s Gospel tells us about Jesus appointing the 72 others and then sending them out in pairs to the towns he was going to visit. As he gives his missionary instruction Jesus seems under no illusion about the territory compared to the wolves roaming around, his own crowds are like lambs. He tells the 72 to lead the radical lifestyle of the wandering preacher who must face homelessness and renunciation of family and property. When they enter a house they should bless it with peace. The Gospel also tells us about the practical things to direct the seventy-two as they proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and in rebuilding community life. Jesus told them to carry no purse, no haversack, and no sandals. Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and rebuilding community life are two sides of the same coin. One does not exist and cannot make sense without the other There is a clear urgency about the task in hand Jesus says, “Start off now” with urgency in his voice. On their return the disciples were delighted that their mission has actually worked! Their joy demonstrates that people do welcome the word of God and that the word of God is their real resource for mission.
Jesus counsels them to rejoice not because their mission has worked but because their names are written in heaven. There is a line in this gospel reading that struck me when Jesus tells us that the Harvest is rich and the labourers are few. This is so very true today when we have a shortage of men coming forward to enter the vocation of service that is the priesthood but here in our parish we have always been a parish of vocations to the priesthood diaconate and religious life. But that said we need to keep on Praying for vocations and encouraging people young and not so young to become priests and religious. There will be a time of crisis and for some we are living in a time of crisis with so many things that are wrong in our world in terms of faith and so many other things. There will be times, as we know, when the scorpions will bite us, and when the wolves will have their day. Jesus speaks to us to reassure us and tells us to hold on to all that is good. May our hearts our minds be open to his words! May our hearts direct our minds! And may our minds direct our hands in the work of the Lord. It is our responsibility as people of faith to exercise our mission as the people of God the Body of Christ. The fullness of life is the message and the mission of Jesus who empowers us in our time and place to do his work, and to work in his name.
Jesus assures us that we have a passport, visa, and “green card” for heaven. Our names are already registered there and our mission is to proclaim the good news of salvation to others by our words and our deeds so that the world will believe.
In our Gospel reading for this Sunday we see Jesus taking the road to Jerusalem. The story tells us that some people said that they would follow Jesus, these people really meant what they said until positive action is required. Then commitments and questions arise one man wanted to bury his father another wanted to say goodbye to the folks at home. Jesus reply to the first man was’ Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’ Then Jesus tells the second man’ Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ Jesus Christ sets us free. We need to treasure this freedom. We need to treasure our lives in Him. But this takes courage. This takes determination. We cannot just say we are Christian. We have to be determined to live the Christian life. We are followers of Jesus who want to live our lives according to his teaching. We are committed, inspired and determined but we all seem to have so called ‘special circumstances’ where being a Christian doesn’t apply!! perhaps we have special reasons for not praying or going to Sunday Mass, we just have to do something else first. – perhaps we have special reasons for ignoring the call to justice, mercy and compassion for the vulnerable we just have to secure our own place in the world first perhaps we have special reasons for disrespecting our neighbour, or family or friends .The truth is that there are no special reasons to put off being a follower of Jesus: we either are or we are not. The wonderful thing is that we are not trapped by the past at every moment we can choose again to return to follow Jesus. In this time, in these circumstances when our faith is getting a battering in so many ways we can ask for the grace to take one step on the road to Jerusalem, and another and we will get there in the end but we have to keep on going.
On Monday 24th June we celebrate the feast day of Saint John the Baptist and it is a good opportunity to stop for a moment or two and reflect on our Order and what we do within it.
John the Baptist is of special importance for followers of Christ. He was chosen before birth to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. A desert prophet, he was outstanding for vigour, discipline and humility. In the Gospels the Baptist plays a unique roll He is the first witness who leads other people to Jesus. The same Jesus who he identifies as the messiah, the Son of God. The readings of this feast alert us to the wonder of humanity as God’s created work. The selection from Isaiah captures two unique aspects of John’s birth: from my mother’s womb he gave me my name” and “formed me as his servant.” At a most unexpected time and in a most unexpected way God brought mercy to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Although these two cooperated with God’s plan of salvation and gave John the name they were asked to by the angel, little could they have known that his destiny was so much more than bringing vindication to an elderly couple who were childless.
John’s destiny was to herald the Messiah of Israel who would bring salvation. It is impossible to speak of John’s birth without noting his fidelity to his mission and his relationship to the Messiah. John the Baptist’s birth and mission remind us that God is always there amongst us especially in the poor and the sick. Being a caring and sharing individual within society means that we should give ourselves selflessly without hesitation to people who need us without counting the cost this is what true service means. Service of others should be taken as a privilege compassion and gentleness are valuable strengths which should be willingly and freely given to others and that is exactly what our service as members of the Order of Malta should be. Being a member of the Order of Malta is so much more than wearing the Church robes or the uniform put simply it is a way of life that is rooted in the faith that we profess as Catholics. Our vocation then, is to challenge the injustice of our times in our service to the Poor and the sick, to embrace the Catholic faith to which we are called and defend it when necessary and point people towards Jesus Christ the only source of true life who will be with us to guide us along the road that leads to salvation.
This Sunday we celebrate Trinity Sunday, which is the celebration of the Father, Son and Holy spirit the three equal persons that make up the Holy Trinity. When we make the sign of the cross we say In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit which is the invocation of the Holy Trinity. The feast of Holy Trinity goes back to 12th century England and St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Historians say the great Thomas celebrated a Liturgy in honor of the Trinity in his cathedral. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church. One week after the end of the Easter season, in which we gave thanks for the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.
The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to contemplate the mystery of God Father Son and Holy Spirit. Paul in the Letter to the Romans reminds us that the Spirit of God makes us God’s children, destined to share in the life of God, as Christ does. The gospel reading speaks of the power of presence and the power of the name. Ancient people placed great weight in presence; the way someone dressed and acted spoke of social power. Ancient people also chose names carefully; they believed a person’s name defined their strength of character.
Both outward presence and inward character are part of the disciples’ experience. When the followers of Jesus saw the resurrected Lord and heard his command to evangelize the entire world, they saw for themselves the Trinity in action. When we live as followers of Christ, we invite others to join us not because they see nice people living good lives. No, they, too, see the Trinity in action as God works through us. Each Trinity Sunday, we only scratch the surface of this great mystery of our faith. In gratitude and faith, let us begin and end every prayer with greater faith and reverence “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.