18th June.

This is today’s gospel followed by commentary from the Bishops’ website. It is arguably Jesus’ most challenging teaching and the one that is most ignored by his followers: the commandment to love our enemies. I say this given all the mass-killing conducted by Christians throughout our history.

GOSPEL

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew    5:43-48
Love your enemies.

 loveyourenemiesJesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

The Gospel of the Lord.    


Gospel Reflection    Tuesday,     Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time  Matthew 5:43-48

The Sermon on the Mount puts some very challenging teaching before us, and nowhere more so than the section we have just heard in today’s gospel reading. Jesus calls on us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. The second part of that call makes the first part more concrete. We love our enemies by praying for them. Praying for others is always an act of love, whether we are praying for our friends, members of our family, those who are in need, or, in the case of the gospel reading  today, our enemies, those who wish us ill. Of the four evangelists, it is Luke who presents Jesus as doing just that. As he hung from the cross, Jesus prayed, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing’. That prayer of Jesus – and all prayers in the spirit of Jesus’ prayer – displays an extraordinary generosity of spirit. Jesus calls on us to pray for those who persecute us because that is the kind of person that he is, and, more fundamentally, that is who God is like. God’s love does not discriminate between the morally good and the morally bad; he makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on honest and dishonest alike. God’s love is the same for all; what differs is the response of people to that love. In so far as our love for others is not dependent on how people respond to it, we will be as perfect as God is perfect.

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The Gospel reflection comes from: Weekday Reflections for the Liturgical Year 2018/2019; I Want to Know Christ  by Martin Hogan, published by The Messenger  c/f   www.messenger.ie/bookshop/

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17th June.

For Father’s Day this past weekend I blessed fathers at the end of Mass with the blessing from the Baptismal Liturgy. I said that fatherhood is a key role for the wellbeing of the Church and indeed society itself. It isn’t as well understood or appreciated today because our modern secular age has re-defined some important Christian principles for right living with regard to the family, the respective role of parents, etc. One leading contributor to this is the unbalanced feminism of the present era.

This is a reflection on masculinity from today’s Franciscan Media’s Minute Meditation.

fatherhood masculinity

A masculine spirituality would be one that encourages men to take the radical gospel journey from their own unique beginning point, in their own unique style, with their own unique goals— which is what we end up doing anyway, but now with no doubt or apology or need to imitate others. That takes immense courage and self-possession. Such a man has life for others and knows it. He does not need to push, intimidate or play the power games common to other men because he possesses his power with surety and calm self-confidence. He is not opinionated or arrogant, but he knows.  He is not needy of status symbols because he draws his identity from God and from within. He does not need customised briefcases and underwear; his identity is settled and secure. He possesses his soul and does not give it lightly to corporations, armies, nation-states or the acceptable collective thinking.

—from the book From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality by Richard Rohr, OFM

 

16th June – HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY (C)

This was my homily for Trinity Sunday.

st-augustine1St Augustine (+430AD) is arguably the greatest mind of the Church’s 2000 year history and indeed one of the great mind of the western world too.

It is reputed that one day he was walking along a beach pondering some aspect of God or the Trinity without any great success. He saw nearby a boy who had dug a hole in the sand. The boy was going down to the water’s edge with a bucket and drawing water to pour into the hole. He asked the boy what he intended to do. The boy answered that he wanted to empty the ocean into the hole. Augustine saw it immediately as a sign from God that his effort to work out the Trinity was going to have the same limited success as the little boy’s endeavours!

God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and everything else that exists will always be an absolute, inexhaustible and incomprehensible mystery. If we are humble enough however, our first response will not be to try and solve the mystery like a crossword puzzle but to kneel down and give adoration, praise and glory to such a great Creator.

When in the Rosary we conclude each decade with the GLORY BE, we usually say it at a mile a minute and never absorb the richness of what it says: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.” It is good to slow down at times and really ponder the meaning of what we are saying.

nIGHT SKYOne aid to a heart-felt appreciation of God’s greatness is to contemplate the beauty and wonder of Creation, his handy-work. A good example is to go out on a cloudless night and look up into the heavens at the moon and stars. This is the starting point of today’s psalm: “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him.”

The hymn HOW GREAT THOU ART is one excellent expression of this (see YouTube link below).

How should we respond to God’s truth (as we read in the first reading), his beauty and his goodness? We should praise God the source of it all. The response to today’s psalm said: “How great is your name O Lord our God, through all the earth.

One of the primary things we do at Mass – from the very start to the finish – is to give praise and glory to God. In the GLORIA we say: “Glory to God in the highest… We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.” These are worthy of our deepest reflection. After the OFFERTORY we join the angels and the saints in the eternal praise that they offer before the throne of God: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.”

The ultimate expression of God’s goodness was to make us his children, in his image and likeness. We are intended to share in his life both here and in eternity. St Paul in the second reading reminds us of how we reach our last end with God. We are judged right with God by believing in Jesus. In this way we receive the infinite merits of the Sacrifice of Calvary and our sins are atoned for.

You will know that I belong to a religious order called the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). In our spirituality we see Mother Mary as a key guide to a faster, fuller relationship with each of the persons of the Blessed Trinity. This comes from Mary’s unique and special relationship with each of them.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity

Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. The hand of blessing, the Cross and Dove are the signs of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit respectively.

Firstly, Mary is the first daughter of the Father. At the Annunciation she was the first to say YES to God’s plan of redemption: “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word.” By inviting Mary into our life, she will assist us too to be the Lord’s humble servants who live in obedience to the divine will.

Secondly, Mary is the mother of Jesus, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. As mother she knows him better than anybody else who has ever lived. When we place ourselves in her hands, she will reveal Jesus and his mysteries to us better than any other source available. In this way we will become the Lord’s true disciples.

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary at the Annunciation and formed Jesus within her. Through Mary’s intercession, the Holy Spirit will also form Jesus spiritually with us. The powerful words of St Paul will be accomplished in our lives: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

All this begs a question: How do we invite Mary into our life to help us with this great endeavour? It is VERY simple: we commit ourselves to praying the Rosary every day.

To sum up I’d like to make 3 points. Firstly God the Creator of Heaven, earth and all that exists will always remain an inexhaustible mystery but Jesus has given us the revelation of God as a single family / community of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Secondly, our first obligation as creatures is to give adoration, praise and glory to the Creator. Thirdly, Mother Mary is an invaluable helper to reach our final home with God.

This is the link to HOW GREAT THOU ART

 

15th June – Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This is the Bishops’ website commentary on today’s gospel. Read it too as a reflection on Mary’s obedience and surrender to God.

GOSPEL

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew          5:33-37
I say this to you: do not swear at all

truth1Jesus said  to his disciples: you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

The Gospel of the Lord.


Gospel Reflection      Saturday,        Tenth Week in Ordinary Time     Matthew 5:33-37

In today’s gospel reading Jesus opposes the kind of oath taking that seeks to control God for one’s own purposes, swearing by heaven, God’s throne, or by earth, God’s footstool, or by Jerusalem, the city of God. The temptation to control God for one’s own purpose has been deeply rooted in the human spirit. Ancient magic was an attempt to control the spirit world for one’s own purpose, and, indeed, the same could be said of certain forms of contemporary magic.

However, in the Lord’s Prayer, the only prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, Jesus calls on us to begin by surrendering ourselves to God’s purpose, ‘your name be held holy, your kingdom come, your will be done’. Jesus whole life teaches us that God’s purpose for our lives is ultimately life-giving. In trust we can invite God to have God’s way in our lives because that way is one that will lead to authentic life. It is not a case of manipulating God to serve our purposes but of giving ourselves over to serve God’s purpose for our lives and for his creation, after the example of Jesus, who in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed, ‘Father… not my will but yours be done’, and after the example of Mary whose response to God’s messenger was, ‘Let it be to me according to your word’.

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The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONSTo know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by  The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie
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14th June.

When I was down in Kerry last week I took this photo at Ladies View, a scenic spot on the road between Killarney and Kenmare. The Lakes of Killarney are in the distance.

Killarney Ladies View

I had a meeting with the consultant during today’s chemotherapy clinic. They believe that the cancer is coming back slowly – the first line drugs are losing their effectiveness after 6 years of keeping the disease in remission. In a month’s time they will review my situation in the light of the latest blood tests. At this point they may move me onto second line drugs. These will be different versions of the first line drugs and should put the cancer back in full remission. The consultant said that there are excellent field results to date as regards their effectiveness.

The following is an inspiring reflection on Pentecost Sunday just past by Sr. Miriam James, SOLT. “Holy Spirit come, and renew the face of the earth!”

13th June – St Anthony of Padua.

Saint_Antony_of_Padua_holding_Baby_Jesus_mg_0165Saint Antony (*1195? +1231) was first of all an Augustinian monk, but he was so impressed by the martyrdom of five Franciscans who had been spreading the faith in Morocco that he became a Franciscan friar himself, so that he could preach the gospel in Africa too. Illness obliged him to leave Morocco, and a storm then drove his ship to Sicily, so that he found himself taking part in the General Chapter of the Franciscans in 1221, where he met Saint Francis of Assisi himself. His preaching career then took him to northern Italy and southern France, then a stronghold of the Albigensian heresy. Later he returned to Italy, to Padua, where he was an outstanding preacher and the first Franciscan theologian. His sermons are full of gentleness, but he reproved the wicked with fearless severity – especially backsliding clergy and the oppressors of the weak.

The Office of Readings features one of his sermons on witnessing to Christ.

“The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions…”

Ponder on how these virtues mentioned by St Antony are present in your life: humility, poverty, patience and obedience.

12th June.

Here are my few words for today.

pray-for-mercyAs you can see I’m dressed in green vestments for the first time since the day before Ash Wednesday. Since this date we’ve been in the special seasons of Lent, Holy Week and Easter. Since Monday we’ve returned to Ordinary Time – last Monday and Tuesday have been memorials calling for white vestments.

It is easy to sense something of the divine presence during special seasons and events – like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, the Ascension and Pentecost. But the truth of our Faith is that God is always present – in ordinary times as well as special / extraordinary times. The great Carmelite mystic St Teresa of Avila said GOD WALKS AMONG THE POTS AND THE PANS. One challenge of the Christian life is to try to maintain this abiding sense of the presence of God. One of the names given to Jesus is EMMANUEL  – which simply means ‘God with us’. There is never a time when God in Jesus is not present to us. St Augustine said rather mysteriously: God is closer to us that we are to our selves. This happens through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

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PS A wonderful spirituality based on this is found in the classic PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF GOD by BROTHER LAURENCE. This book is available online at AMAZON books.