20th October

On Fridays we reflect on Jesus’ Passion & Death as we do his Resurrection on Sundays. This was today’s  Midmorning Reading from the Divine Office:

Never repay evil with evil. As scripture says: Vengeance is mine – I will pay them back, says the Lord. But there is more: If your enemy is hungry, you should give him food, and if he is thirsty, let him drink. Resist evil and conquer it with good (Romans 12).

This is a summary of Jesus’ teaching and actions – as particularly expressed in one of his Seven Last Words: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

love enemiesIt is difficult for us to appreciate this aspect of Jesus’ life and indeed apostolic Christianity because since Christianity became the state religion of the Roman empire in the early 4th century, we have been immersed in wars and mass–killings. Yet the teachings of recent popes instruct us that we need to rediscover a moral system based on WWJD: “What would JESUS DO?” We are after all CHRISTIANS who believe that Jesus is Lord and the supreme revealer of Divine Truth and the Divine Will.

Pope Benedict XVI provided further support to the demands of nonviolence when he spoke, in a homily in 2007, of nonviolence and love of one’s enemy as “the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution.’” This is a profound statement if we reflect sufficiently on it.

Most recently, Pope Francis chose as the topic of the World Day of Peace message for 2017 (the 50th annual papal message) “nonviolence as a style of politics for peace.” The pope wrote: “In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms….Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all…. To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence”.




19th October

faith-in-God-e1441888290263I said a few words after today’s gospel. I focused on the First Reading from ROMANS (see below). It is about “righteousness.” If somebody had asked me what it meant after 6 years of training for the priesthood, I would have struggled to give a concise and accurate reply. Then one day my spiritual director Fr Laurence said it all in the middle of a sentence: righteousness is right relations with God, to be right with God. So simple, profound and indeed important to eternal life. Righteousness as being ‘right with God’ is similar to being in the state of grace, to be in communion with God, to be fit for eternal life. If that is what RIGHT WITH GOD means, then the opposite is of course to be WRONG WITH GOD(!), to have chosen the path of sin and to have rejected God and his invitation to the banquet of eternal life.

How are we thus right with God? Do we have to be nice people, law-abiding, good neighbours, generous with giving to charities, etc. These are all important – indeed very important – but they are not the MOST important (contrary to what our secular age would want us to believe). What is most important is that we believe in Jesus. This is what brings into our lives the salvific power of Calvary –  his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Below is this morning’s First Readings. There is much ‘unpacking’ to be done to understand it all but I have highlighted the key sections by underlining the text. There is much more to be said about this subject – like the importance of good deeds which show we have a living faith rather than a dead faith. But let’s get the first priority right: right relations with God comes through believing in Jesus, trusting in him as our loving Lord and Saviour.

All of this makes faith the most precious gift we will ever receive.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (3:21-30)

Brothers and sisters:
Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law,
though testified to by the law and the prophets,
the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ
for all who believe.

For there is no distinction;
all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.
They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
whom God set forth as an expiation [a Sacrifice that makes Atonement],
   through faith, by his Blood, to prove his righteousness
because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed,
through the forbearance of God?
to prove his righteousness in the present time,
that he might be righteous
and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

What occasion is there then for boasting?  It is ruled out.
On what principle, that of works?
No, rather on the principle of faith.
For we consider that a person is justified by faith
apart from works of the law.
Does God belong to Jews alone?
Does he not belong to Gentiles, too?
Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one
and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith
   and the uncircumcised through faith.


18th October – St Luke, Evangelist.

Today is the feast day of St Luke, the evangelist. Here is the Bishops’ website commentary followed by the readings.

St_LukeGospel Reflection     Wednesday,       Saint Luke, evangelist       Luke 10:1-9

One of Paul’s co-workers was a man called Luke. He is mentioned in this morning’s first reading. It was the view of the early church that this particular Luke was the author of the gospel we now call Luke’s gospel and author of the Acts of the Apostles. This particular evangelist wrote a two volume work. It seems that the story of the early church was as important to him as the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, he saw the story of Jesus continuing on into the story of the early church, because, for Luke, it was the same Jesus of Nazareth, now risen Lord, who continued to work in and through the church. Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter from which we read this morning, the second letter to Timothy. He has a sense of himself as coming towards the end of his life, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’. At this vulnerable time in his life, it seems that he felt very alone, just as Jesus must have felt as he came towards the end of his life. Indeed, he says in today’s first reading, ‘Only Luke is with me’. Luke alone was faithful to him to the end. Yet, Paul also goes on to say, ‘The Lord stood by me and gave me power’. Paul experienced the Lord’s presence in and through Luke’s faithfulness. Luke’s fidelity was a reflection of the Lord’s faithfulness. Whenever we stand by others when they are vulnerable, we reveal something of the Lord’s faithful and reliable love to them. We show ourselves to be true labourers in the Lord’s harvest, in the language of today’s gospel reading.


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


A reading from the Second letter of St Paul to  Timothy    4:10-17
Only Luke is with me.
Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika, Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me. Get Mark to come and bring him with you; I find him a useful helper in my work. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done.

Be on your guard against him yourself, because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say. The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm        Ps  144
Response                          Your friends, O Lord, shall make known the glorious splendour of your reign.

  1. All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
    and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
    They shall speak of the glory of your reign
    and declare your might, O God.                    Response

    2. They make known to men your mighty deeds
    and the glorious splendour of your reign.
    Yours is an everlasting kingdom;
    your rule lasts from age to age.                     Response

  2. The Lord is just in all his ways
    and loving in all his deeds.
    He is close to all who call him,
    who call on him from their hearts.                Response

Gospel Acclamation          Jn 15: 16
Alleluia, alleluia!
I chose you from the world
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last, says the Lord.


A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke     10:1-9
‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few’

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you”.
The Gospel of the Lord


17th October – St Ignatius of Antioch, Martyr.

Last week I visited a woman who treated me to tea and cake. She half-apologised for bringing me the tea in a mug rather than a cup. I said not to worry: I was Fr MORE-tea (as you get in a larger mug) rather than Fr LESS-tea (as you get in a smaller cup)! She smiled at the play on words!

ignatiusantioch-lions-360St Ignatius of Antioch (+107) was the second bishop of Antioch after St Peter (the first being Evodius). He was arrested (some writers believe that he must have been denounced by a fellow-Christian), condemned to death, and transported to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. In one of his letters he describes the soldiers who were escorting him as being like “ten leopards, who when they are kindly treated only behave worse.”

In the course of his journey he wrote seven letters to various churches, in which he dealt wisely and deeply with Christ, the organisation of the Church, and the Christian life. They are important documents for the early history of the Church, and they also reveal a deeply holy man who accepts his fate and begs the Christians in Rome not to try to deprive him of the crown of martyrdom.

For him martyrdom was the way to complete union with Christ in his Passion and Death. Not all of us are called to this TYPE of union with Christ (red martyrdom) but the goal of the Christian life is still nonetheless union with the God who made us for himself. The reflection of Sr Laudem Gloriae, SOLT on last Sunday’s readings deal well with this important theme. Click on this link:


Sr Laudem Gloriae

16th October.

We are waiting for Ophelia to strike here in Donegal at present so I decided to load this bulletin early and to go online at the usual time of 8-9pm. Here is today’s gospel and commentary from Bishop’s website.


 Could-not-Arrest-JesusA reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke     11:29-32
The only sign will be given to this wicked generation is the sign of Jonah.

The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, ‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation. and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.

The Gospel of the Lord.


Gospel Reflection      Monday, Twenty Eighth Week in Ordinary Time         Luke 11:29-32

This morning’s gospel reading suggests that many of Jesus’ contemporaries did not really appreciate him. They wanted to see some dramatic sign from him if they were to believe in him. ‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign’, he said. We will always have a hankering after the spectacular and the unusual when it comes to the life of faith. Yet, that is not normally the way that God seems to work. In many ways, there was something very ordinary about Jesus. ‘Is this not the carpenter’s son?’ the people of Nazareth asked. He was too ordinary for them to take him seriously. If Jesus did something really spectacular, that would make them sit up and take him seriously. That was the temptation Jesus had to battle with at the beginning of his ministry. Satan tempted him to do spectacular signs so as to win a following, turning stones into bread, throwing himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. This was not the way of Jesus. He revealed God in very ordinary ways, most of the time, sharing table with the excluded, feeding the hungry, caring for and healing the sick, feeding people’s spirits with his teaching, gathering a new kind of community about himself that brought together people who did not normally mix. For those who had eyes to see, someone greater than Solomon or Jonah was present. The Lord is present to us in very ordinary ways today too. He is alive where people are cared for and looked after, where the broken are healed, where the lonely are given companionship, where the spiritually and physically hungry are fed, where love endures even in the face of suffering and loss.


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


15th October – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

SOLT Christmas Novena: This year the usual novena of 9 Masses will be said by my colleague Fr Mark and I beginning on Christmas Day. If you would like to enrol somebody in the novena you can email me at soltlondon@hotmail.com with your address, the number of cards requested and when known, the names to be included in the novena. Recommended donation is €3/£3 per card which will cover mailing. Proceeds benefit the training of SOLT seminarians and the SOLT sisters’ missions.

This is my homily for today’s gospel. One intention was to discreetly express the teaching of Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia (#251) “as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”. I also wanted to reaffirm our Catholic belief that sacraments are sacred pledges of faithfulness to Jesus. Thus to receive the sacraments – and especially Holy Communion – we need to be in the state of grace – i.e. free from grave sin.

Last week I was speaking to my brother Jack who lives in New York. At the end of the month he will be taking a trip to Detroit, the city where our parents lived for 10 years before returning to settle down in Kenmare, Co Kerry. It is also the city where we were born. One of the places he plans to visit is St Paul’s Church were our parents got married on Oct 1st, 1960. I went to St Paul’s myself on a visit to the city in the mid 1980s and even got to see my parents’ entry in the marriage register. (Below is a photo of my parents wedding.)


As I was reflecting on this later in the week, I came to see that it is a deeply symbolic act to visit the church were our parents got married. God’s plan for each of us is that we be the fruit of our parents’ love. We exist because of this. Ultimately of course we are the fruit of God’s love, that self-giving love that circulates among the Persons of the Trinity. But as in so many other instances, God chooses to work through human representatives. For example, the ministry of Jesus the Good Shepherd comes about through the ministry of his priests.

The fact that God brought us into existence through our parents’ love is one reason why marriage and the gift of our sexuality is HOLY and to be RESPECTED.

There is a second reason why marriage – a life-long union of husband and wife that is open to children – is holy and to be respected.

In today’s gospel we heard about a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. This simple statement has so much to tell us about the Kingdom of God. The king of course is God the Father; the Son is Jesus; all of us in the Church are the bride.

Thus the marriage covenant between husband and wife is meant to be a reflection or witness to the covenant between Jesus and the Church. Just as a husband gives himself and his life to his bride, so Jesus gives himself completely to us and for us. Similarly as a bride gives herself and her life to her husband, so we give our lives to Jesus, our Lord.

This is the New Covenant that Jesus speaks about in the Last Supper and which is repeated at every Mass: “This is the Cup of my Blood, the Blood of the New and eternal Covenant, that will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Now whenever there is a marriage or covenant, there are special vows which are intended to unconditionally unite both parties. In human marriage the bride and groom make vows like: “I take thee John/Mary to be my lawful wedded husband/wife, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, til death do us part.”

In the divine marriage between Jesus and ourselves, our vows are the baptismal promises which were made for us by our parents and godparents. We rejected Satan and all his works and empty promises; we professed belief in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the Communion of Saints, etc.

God the Father makes a vow to us too. The content of this vow can be seen in the baptism of Jesus when a voice speaking from heaven said: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” When we were baptised, we too were claimed by God the Father as his beloved sons and daughters in Jesus. This is truly GOOD NEWS, the rock foundation and ultimate security on which we base our lives. It is the basis of the hope of eternal glory and victory over sin and death that we read about in the first reading; it is the basis of a wonderful promise made to us in the second reading – “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” – which is one of my favourite verses of Scripture.

I said a few weeks ago that every time we receive a sacrament, especially Holy Communion, we are renewing our marriage/covenant vows with Jesus. For this reason we must be in a faithful relationship with Jesus in order to receive sacraments truthfully and worthily. The foundation of such a faithful relationship with Jesus is that we pray daily, attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days and observe the Ten Commandments.

In summary: The Kingdom of God is a marriage covenant between God and the Church. This is the ultimate security and foundation of our lives.