21st May.

SOLT member Sr. Alison shares a reflection for the 5th Sunday of Easter. She encourages us to step up in love and reminds us that Christ gives us the new commandment- to love one another as he loved us.

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20th May.

This is today’s gospel followed by commentary from the Bishops’ website.

GOSPEL       

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John     14:21-26      
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything

J
esus said to his disciples:

‘Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them
will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I shall love him and show myself to him.’

Judas – this was not Judas Iscariot – said to him, ‘Lord, what is all this about? Do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’
Jesus replied:

sending spirit‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him
and make our home with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own:
it is the word of the one who sent me.
I have said these things to you while still with you;
but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you.’

The Gospel of the Lord.
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Gospel Reflection,              Monday,               Fifth Week of Easter            John 14:21-26

I often pay attention to the questions people ask in the Gospels. They can be very revealing. Sometimes it is easy to make these questions our own. We find one such question in today’s gospel reading. Judas, not Judas Iscariot, asks Jesus, ‘Lord, what is all this about?’ It is a question that comes out of a failure to understand just what Jesus is saying. The meaning of Jesus’ words is not always self-evident. We can easily find ourselves asking the same question as Judas, ‘What is all this about?’ It is a good question. It can set us on a search for a fuller understanding of Jesus’ message. In response to Judas’ question, Jesus promises to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who ‘will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you’. Jesus has been the teacher of his disciples. Now, in the setting of the Last Supper, on the eve of his death, he promises his disciples that he will continue to teach them beyond his death in and through the Holy Spirit. That promise is made to all of us. The disciples in the upper room at the Last Supper represent us all. As we find ourselves asking, ‘What is all this about?’ we are not left to our own devices. The Lord is always offering us the gift of the Holy Spirit as our teacher, to help us to understand more deeply all the Lord has said and done. As Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, ‘no one understands what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God’.

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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/________________________________________________

 

19th May – 5th Sunday of Easter (C)

Today I started off Mass with a pro-life commemoration.

Pro life display

Here before the altar today is a candle, a red rose and sign that says LIGHT FOR LIFE. This commemorates a dark day in our national history a year ago when we legalised abortion. As a result of this it is estimated that 10,000 unwanted babies will die every year. Over the years this will grow to 100,000s and eventually millions. A powerful example of this Culture of Death – to use an expression of St John Paul II – is the recent tragedy at the National Maternity Hospital. [A much wanted baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 – a potentially life-limiting condition – and aborted. Afterwards it was found not to have Trisomy 18 at all!!! See   https://www.rte.ie/news/health/2019/0517/1050071-holles-street-review/] What’s more,  all these ‘terminated’ babies are just as precious to God as the beautiful children who made their first Holy Communion here yesterday or any of us for that matter.

I will now read a prayer of sorrow and repentance. I will invite you to say your own AMEN at the end.

Eternal God, You have revealed Yourself as the Father of all Life. We praise You for the Fatherly care which You extend to all creation, and especially to us, made in Your image and likeness.

Father, extend Your hand of protection to those unwanted babies threatened by abortion, and save them from its destructive power. Give Your strength to all parents faced with a crisis pregnancy: may they never yield to the temptation to consider aborting their child. Give the grace of repentance to all those responsible for legalising abortion in our country.

Bless our families and bless our land, that we may have the joy of welcoming and nurturing the gift of new life of which You are the source and the Eternal Father. Amen.

In the Prayers of the Faithful, I included ALL THE COUNTLESS ABORTED BABIES when praying for the dead.

This was my homily.

I’d like to speak to you today about Friday’s divorce referendum. Its aim is to make divorce easier and thus increase our existing divorce culture.

I only want to discuss one dimension of this referendum, the only one in which I’m qualified. And that is: God’s will. If Jesus was living in our  parochial house, what would he have to say about it? How would he vote on the matter next Friday? For Christians, God’s will is of paramount importance. Every time we say the OUR FATHER, we pray: THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

Firstly the Bible clearly teaches us that marriage, the basis of family life, is the life-long and loving union of one man and one woman. Jesus says in Matthew 19:6 “What God has united, man must not divide.” What God has united, man must not divide.

As Catholics we believe that a small number of marriages are not ‘united’ by God. They are invalid from the beginning because of some serious defect – like the lack of freedom or basic competency.

But the large majority of marriages are valid, are ‘united’ by God in a bond that can only be dissolved by the death of one of the spouses. Hence UNTIL DEATH DO US PART.

Contrary to this, Ireland like the rest of the secular world is moving into a liberal divorce culture. Recently a UK law firm started offering Las Vegas style ‘Drive Through’ divorces. How long before we will have the same here in Ireland? What a way to demean one of the most important pillars of society!

I ministered as a priest in England and Wales for almost 15 years. In this setting some 50% of all marriages end up in divorce and Catholic marriages are not different. In my experience of family breakup and divorce, children lose the most. They experience great trauma when they see their parents break up and the effect of this trauma can be life-long. It can repeat itself in their own lives later on.

After children, women are the next to lose in divorce. In times past when marriage was more stable and permanent, women could more confidently dedicate their lives to home-making. Truly this is the most important and valuable role in the whole world, much more vital to the wellbeing of society than becoming CEOs, etc. My mother, sister and sister-in-law all married and started their families close to the age of 20.

If on the other hand, women feel insecure and there is a possibility of being abandoned later by their husband, they will have to work on a career as a back-up. This is one reason why people today marry later in life and have smaller families. The average number of children per Irish family was 1.4 in 2016.

Finally in a liberal divorce culture, there is a greater temptation to walk away from marriage commitments when times get tough. There are probably people here today who are glad – for their own sake and the sake of the family – that they persevered through such patches. We are all weak and vulnerable people who desperately need the good example and support of others to remain faithful to such important promises.

In summary: I wont be able to vote this Friday as I will be out of the country. If I was to vote and to do so in obedience to God’s will as I best know it, this is what I would do:

I would vote NO on divorce.

I would vote for pro-life candidates in the other two elections, candidates who support the right to life of unborn children.

18th May.

Today sees a big occasion in our parish as 11 boys and girls made their Holy Communion. Little angels! In my closing remarks at Mass I asked the parents to follow up on this wonderful gift of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion by praying with them daily and bringing them to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. This is the sacred promise they made to God when they first brought their children for baptism.

This is a Marian reflection from the online JOURNEY TO OUR LADY.

Mary's Heart

17th May.

This was my few words for today’s Mass.

I don’t have a TV or pay for the licence in my house. It is my protest against the aggressive secular propaganda pushed by the national broadcaster RTE. I do however take the liberty of watching the 9PM news on my phone (this is legitimate according to current law) to stay up on current affairs. I do watch about 3 minutes of adverts so maybe this covers me as regards making a contribution.

Last night the presenter finished the news by saying TAKE CARE. Fine I said to myself, if God isn’t in the picture we need to take care of ourselves. But what happens when we can’t take care of ourselves, like when we have a major setback. Worse still, what happens when we die – who will take care of us?

Jesus-comes-bread of lifeAs Christians, we normally finish off a conversation by saying GOD BLESS. This Easter time we remember the salvation offered to us by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The gospel of today teaches us how Jesus will TAKE CARE of us when we die.

GOSPEL                 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John      14 1-6      
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
if there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am you may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going,
so how can we know the way?’

Jesus said:

‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

16th May.

About a month ago the chemotherapy clinic doctor said that they were concerned with my blood tests which seemed to indicate that the Multiple Myeloma cancer may be coming back. This would happen if it was becoming resistant to the first line drugs that have been working more-or-less for the last 6 years. They scheduled a bone marrow biopsy which is the real definitive test of my condition.

I got the results yesterday and it was good news overall – Praise the Lord. Basic bone marrow biopsy itself was normal. There is a more advanced test that hasn’t come back from a UK lab yet but it shouldn’t vary too much from the basic test. I should know result in 2 weeks time. I’m resuming my standard maintenance chemo and they will continue to monitor my blood tests. The earlier blood tests that were above limits are not that reliable on their own.  Consultant says that it’s possible that cancer is creeping back. It is possible too that it is some sort of blip or false indication. Next few months will tell.

If it is coming back, the most likely scenario is that I will be put on second line drugs which will be similar to what I’m receiving at present. The Myeloma will not be resistant to these and it should go back in full remission. I’m feeling perfectly normal at the moment.

This is today’s gospel followed by commentary from the Irish Bishops’ website.

GOSPEL                 

Jesus-serves washes feetA reading from the holy Gospel according to John      13:16-20
Whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

After he had washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
no servant is greater than his master,
no messenger is greater than the man who sent him.

‘Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly. I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.

‘I tell you this now, before it happens,
so that when it does happen
you may believe that I am He.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me,
and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

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Gospel Reflection               Thursday           Fourth Week of Easter            John 13:16-20

Jesus spoke the words we have just heard in today’s gospel reading immediately after he washed the feet of his disciples. He washed the feet of everyone present, without distinction, and that included the feet of Judas. He refers to Judas in the gospel reading through an appropriate verse from the Jewish Scriptures, ‘someone who shares my table rebels against me’. A more literal translation of that verse would be, ‘the one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me’. In that culture, to show someone the heel of your foot was a sign of rejection and enmity. Jesus washed the feet of Judas and Judas showed Jesus the heel of his foot. The contrast between how Jesus related to Judas and how Judas related to Jesus could not be more sharply drawn. The gospel reading reminds us that the way Jesus relates us is not determined by how we relate to him. The Lord gave himself completely to all his disciples, including Judas, when he laid down his garments to wash their feet, and even more so when he laid down his life on the following day. He continues to give himself to us all, even when there is something of Judas in us. He loves us in the way he does so as to elicit our love in return. Even when that love is not forthcoming, he continues to give himself for us and to us. Saint Paul said that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Perhaps all that can separate us from that unconditional love is our own persistent refusal to receive it [and respond to it].


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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/

 

 

15th May.

I came back from Kerry today after the funeral of Hannah O’Shea, my family’s next door neighbour.

praise fathergodWhile travelling I was listening to a talk given by Fr James Flanagan, our SOLT founder. I found this quote memorable: FREEDOM IS THE CAPACITY TO CHOOSE GOD AS HE HAS CHOSEN US. It is similar to a 1995 statement of St John Paul II  “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”

Think of a compass needle. It requires freedom to do what is ought to do, namely point NORTH. If it is not free, it will point in some other direction – but in so doing, it will not be true to itself. To see freedom as the ability to do your own thing, any old thing, is a false understanding of what will bring happiness and fulfilment. We have to be true to our deepest identity as God’s children just like the compass has to be true to its purpose of pointing NORTH.

In your everyday decision making, always ask yourself: what choice here best serves my Father/child relationship with God?