21st April – EASTER SUNDAY.

This is my Easter homily. Choicest blessings to all readers!!!

Last Tuesday I was over in the local cemetery saying some prayers for all those interred therein. I was standing next to Fr Seamus’ grave and the adjoining headstone caught my attention. It belongs to Colm Tully and the inscription reads MEMORY IS A GOLDEN CHAIN THAT BINDS US TILL WE MEET AGAIN. Memory is a golden chain that binds us till we meet again.

easter-resurrection-sunday-jesus-christIt came to me that this verse is a beautiful summary of our Christian hope of being reunited with our departed loved ones. This is surely the deepest aspiration of the human heart, far greater than even winning the lotto or seeing Donegal win the All Ireland this year! I found myself thinking about my own parents who are both interred in the same grave down in Kenmare. I offered Mass for my mother Mary on the occasion of her 33rd anniversary last night.

Until this great reunion, we are united in a lesser way by REMEMBERING. Think about the word REMEMBER. When we dis-member something, we separate the parts or members of some thing. When we re-member something, we are bringing together those parts or members that have been separated. This accounts for our traditional practices of Month’s Mind Masses for our departed loved ones, anniversary Masses, printing memorial cards, erecting thoughtful headstones, etc. And of course, we pray for our departed loves ones too.

All of this presents a really big question. How are we going to be reunited with our loves ones? In the likes of Walt Disney movies, this happens automatically, like gravity. We go off into the clouds, we meet an old man with white hair and a beard sitting on a big throne with lots of angels flying around. And we live happily ever after. This is fantasy, it is not real and we shouldn’t stake such an important expectation on it.

What is the real and trustworthy way of being reunited with our loves ones? Firstly we need to recognise our absolute need for a saviour. We cannot do it on our own. At the beginning of Lent we were reminded of our own mortality. “Remember man thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return.” The wealthiest person in the world is Jeff Bezos, the founder of AMAZON at $145B. He is totally incapable of getting past this absolute barrier of death. So is the most powerful person in the world, Donald Trump. He is a billionaire in his own rite, the president of the United States of America with control of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, etc.

Christians believe that Jesus is the SAVIOUR because he came back from the dead on the first Easter Sunday. In the gospel we heard all about the empty tomb that greeted the women when they came to anoint his body after his burial on Good Friday. The Resurrection is the central belief of Christianity. St Paul tells us that if this didn’t happen, then Christianity is a false religion. Furthermore it is the biggest fraud ever in human history given that some 1.2 billion people currently believe in it – not to mention all those who entrusted themselves to it during the last 2000 years.

A second big question presents itself as well. What do we have to do to be saved from death by Jesus? Some people think that being a Christian is all about being a NICE person. This is a totally inadequate understanding of Christianity – at best it is less than half right and puts the car before the horse. As the name implies, Christianity is all about Christ Jesus. It is about believing in him and accepting him into our lives as Lord and Saviour. This act of accepting Jesus, saying YES to him in our life is so important. God wants us to be his friends and even more, to be his adopted children. This absolutely requires a response of love that comes from our free will. If God didn’t respect our free will, then we would be his prisoners, conscripts or slaves; that is not what his Kingdom and family is about.

In today’s first reading we were told “All who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.” The primary requirement is believing in Jesus, not being a nice person. To believe in Jesus is to have a trusting confidence in him as the Good Shepherd who will lead us through all our dark valleys. This is the primary way our sins are forgiven and we are united to God with all our loved ones.

What else does believing in Jesus lead to? Well, it leads to a living relationship and friendship with him, similar to those ties within our own natural families – between spouses, parents and children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, etc. Friendships need to be nurtured by activities that bring us together. Hence the importance of our commitment to daily prayer, Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, living right with God and neighbour according to the wisdom of the Ten Commandments, etc.

In Summary: The deepest aspiration of our human hearts is to be reunited with our departed loved ones. Jesus made this possible by his victory over sin and death. All he asks of us is to believe in him and accept him as our Lord and Saviour.

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20th April – HOLY SATURDAY.

Today is the 33rd death anniversary of my mother Mary. Here is a photo (not very high quality) taken outside the front door shortly before she passed away. The dog is ‘Sailor’.

mom

I received this WhatApp reflection recently.

cross 1*The Power of the Cross* 

The Archbishop of Paris once stood in the pulpit of Notre Dame Cathedral. He was there to preach a sermon, and his sermon was built around a single story. Thirty years earlier, he told, there were three young tourists who had come into this very cathedral. All of the young men were rough, rude, and cynical persons, who thought that all religion was a racket.

Two of these men dared a third to go into the confessional box and make a made-up confession to the priest. The two bet that the third young man did not have the nerve to do as they dared. The third young man went into the confessional box and tried to fool the priest.
But the priest knew that what the young man was saying was a lie. There was a tone of arrogance in the young man’s voice – which could not go without notice.

After hearing the confession, the priest told the young man his penance. The priest said, “Very well, my son. Every confession requires a penance, and this is yours. I ask you to go into the chapel, stand before the crucifix, look into the face of the crucified Christ and say, ‘All this you did for me, and I don’t give a damn!’ ”

The young man staggered out of the confessional to his friends, bragging that he had done as they dared. The other two young men insisted that he finish the performance by doing the penance. This young man made his way into the chapel, stood before the crucifix, looked up into the face of Christ and began, “All this you did for me and I … I … I don’t … I don’t give a ….”

At this point in the story, the archbishop leaned over the pulpit and said, “That young man was this man who stands before you to preach.” That’s the miracle of the cross. When we begin to understand the love on the cross, we want to change our relationship with God. We cannot remain the same, anymore. We want God at the center of our lives, again.

19th April – GOOD FRIDAY.

This is Good Friday and the most solemn day of the year when we commemorate Jesus dying for our sins. This reflection by SOLT member Sr Mediatrix helps us to focus on this great act of love and redemption. In the background is our headquarters in Corpus Christi, Texas and the outdoor Stations of the Cross.

18th April – Holy Thursday.

This is the 25th anniversary of my dear grandfather and name sake who passed away in 1994. As we say in Irish – Ar dheis lamh De go raibh a anam dilis (At God’s right hand may his true soul be).

Here is today’s reflection from the Lenten WALK WITH ME prayer companion (Alive Publishing).

6 L Thu

17th April – Holy Wednesday.

These were my few words after today’s gospel reading – below.

In Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, there is an excellent dramatisation of the scene in today’s gospel where Judas betrays Jesus. He goes into the chamber of the high priest and puts his price on Jesus. The high priest has a purse in his hand with the 30 pieces of silver. The top of the purse however is not closed. The film goes into slow motion and with a look of distain for Judas, the high priest flings the purse in Judas’ direction. As the purse flies thru the air, some of the coins come tumbling out of the opening. When Judas grabs the purse, the rest of the coins spill out; at this point the 30 pieces of silver are rolling around on the floor. Judas has to go down on all fours and scramble around to pick them up. It is clearly evident that Judas has debased himself, betraying not only Jesus but his deepest self as well.

We are all weak human beings and prone to temptation and illicit worldly attractions. In such moments of decision, we should remember that yielding to temptation is not only a betrayal of our all good and loving Saviour, it is also a betrayal of our ourselves too, a loss of our own integrity. We, our integrity and our friendship with Jesus is worth so much more than whatever cheap thrill is being presented to us.

I watched the film this afternoon. Here are some of the significant moments from the betrayal.

Judas betrayal 1Judas betrayal 3Judas betrayal 4Judas betrayal 5Judas betrayal 6Judas betrayal 7Judas betrayal 8Judas betrayal 9

Judas betrayal A

JUDAS GOES BACK TO THE CHIEF PRIEST AND TRIES TO RETURN THE 30 SILVER PIECES.

GOSPEL

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew      26:14-25     
The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! 

O
ne of the Twelve,
the man called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
‘What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?’
They paid him thirty silver pieces,
and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ ‘Go to so-and-so in the city‘, he replied ‘and say to him, “The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.“‘ The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me’. They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, ‘Not I, Lord, surely?’ He answered, ‘Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me.  Better for that man if he had never been born!‘ Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus.

The Gospel of the Lord.  

16th April – Holy Tuesday.

Last Supper Passion of ChristIn a few words after today’s gospel (see below) I remarked that the main theme was betrayal (Judas) and denial (Peter). We are told that Jesus “was troubled in spirit” at the Last Supper. We can all relate to this. When we love someone deeply – as Jesus loved his Apostles, and indeed his disciples of all time – then the pain of betrayal and denial is all the more deeply felt. When Judas left the Last Supper, the gospel says “Night had fallen.” In one sense this refers to the coming of nightfall. But it also refers to a spiritual darkness when Judas gives in to the temptation to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

What does this mean for all of us who are also tempted to betray and deny Jesus? Well, we could use this opportunity at today’s Mass to make our own silent pledge of fidelity to Jesus. In place of our normal Prayers of the Faithful, let us do this now…

(My own pledge of fidelity was the prayer of St Alphonsus: “I love you Jesus my love above all things. I repent with my whole heart for having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will.”

GOSPEL                    

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John         13:21-33, 36-38   
One of you will betray me; before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.

While at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, wondering which he meant. The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus; Simon Peter signed to him and said, ‘Ask who it is he means’, so leaning back on Jesus’ breast he said, ‘Who is it, Lord?’ ‘lt is the one’ replied Jesus ‘to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in the dish.’ He dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ None of the others at table understood the reason he said this. Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’, or telling him to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. Night had fallen. When he had gone Jesus said:

‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified,
and in him God has been glorified.
If God has been glorified in him,
God will in turn glorify him in himself,
and will glorify him very soon.
My little children,
I shall not be with you much longer.
You will look for me,
and, as I told the Jews,
where I am going,
you cannot come.’
Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’
Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later’. Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’
‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus.
‘I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.

 

15th April – Holy Monday.

This is the gospel of the day followed by commentary from the Bishops’ website.

GOSPEL                     

 A reading from the holy Gospel according to John   12:1-11 11:45-56    
Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial.

Mary washes J feetSix days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them and Lazarus was among those at table. Mary brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair; the house was full of the scent of the ointment. Then Judas Iscariot – one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him – said, ‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions.
So Jesus said,
‘Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial.
You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’

Meanwhile a large number of Jews heard that he was there and came not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. Then the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well, since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.

The Gospel of the Lord


Gospel Reflection           Monday in Holy Week         John 12:1-11

The gospel reading for next Thursday, Holy Thursday, is the account of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples with a basin of water and wiping them with a towel. It was an act of loving service that pointed forward to the greater act of loving service he would perform for them and for all humanity on the following day when he would lay down his life as the good Shepherd. In today’s gospel reading, Mary performs an act of loving service for Jesus that looks ahead to his act of loving service on Holy Thursday. Rather than washing the feet of Jesus with water, she anoints his feet with very costly ointment, and rather than wiping his feet with a towel she wipes then with her hair. During the following six days, Jesus would be treated with total disrespect; he would be made to suffer the most ignominious death imaginable by crucifixion. However, at this meal, Jesus is shown a tender love and respect by Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Jesus interprets her gesture as preparing him, strengthening him, for what lies ahead. Mary was anointing him in advance of his death and burial. As Jesus entered his darkest hour, a ray of light shone through Mary. This woman inspires us to become a ray of light in whatever darkness others may be experiencing. Whenever we do something, no matter how small, to support those who are walking through their own valley of darkness, it is the Lord that we are serving.

__________________________

The Gospel reflection comes from: Weekday Reflections for the Liturgical Year 2017/2018; ‘LET THE WORD OF GOD DWELL IN YOU’ by Martin Hogan, published by The Messenger c/f   www.messenger.ie/bookshop/