18th February – 1st Sunday of Lent (B)

Since Friday I have been filling in as chaplain in Letterkenny Hospital, the place where I go for chemotherapy clinics every two weeks. This role brings back happy memories of past times where I also did hospital chaplaincy. I am thus away from my computer and have pre-loaded the blogs for these few days. This is a reflection on the Mass readings for the First Sunday of Lent by Fr Sam Medley, SOLT. It is short but packs a powerful message,  reminding us that we should allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the desert of Lent in order to make us better disciples of Christ.


fr sam medley


17th February.

It is easy to get disillusioned with politics and politicians and the standards therein. Our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) said back in 2010 that he was pro-life, even in the case of rape. He is now leading the drive to legalise abortion along with the Ministers of HEALTH and CHILDREN – the irony couldn’t be greater!

Leo Varadkar abortion

It is comforting however to remember that Jesus always takes the side of the poor, indeed even the poorest of the poor. This reflection on last Sunday’s gospel can be read in the context of Jesus’ advocacy of the unborn child – our present day outcasts – even if they are abandoned by the establishment for the sake of political opportunism and the values of our secular age.

Jesus Leper Outcast

16th February.

I don’t think we are concerned enough about the plight of suffering Christians in such places as the Middle East where Christianity began. To address this, can I suggest that you reflect on the following Lenten Prayer and then look up the link to the latest bulletin from AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED. It gives ideas about how we can direct our prayers, almsgivings and fasting to such a worthy cause. If you wanted to donate but lack the IT capacities, there is probably somebody around who could do it for you.

Lent Prayer



15th February.

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


cross surrenderA reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke        9: 22-25
Anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man’ he said ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’

Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’

The Gospel of the Lord.
Gospel Reflection       Thurs after Ash Wednesday       Luke 9:22-25

There are two little words in today’s gospel reading that often strike me ‘every day’. Jesus says, ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me’. Jesus is saying that following him is something we need to do ‘every day’, and, ‘every day’, this will involve some form of renunciation and taking up the cross, some saying ‘no’ to what may often seem an easier path, all in the service of saying ‘yes’ to Jesus’ call to follow him. It is as if Jesus is saying that we never take a holiday from trying to follow him more closely. There are no days off. It is something we need to do every day. Every day, the Lord calls us to follow him, to take the path he has shown us by his life and his teaching, and, indeed, by his death, and every day we try to respond to that call. It is because the following of the Lord is daily that Jesus teaches us to ask the Father, ‘give us this day our daily bread’. We daily need the resources only God can provide if we are to be faithful to the Lord every day. Of course, we all have our off days. We recognize at the end of some days that we were not at our best. Yet, we just begin again the next day. Each day the Lord says to us what Moses says to the people in the gospel reading, ‘choose life’. Jesus assures us in the gospel reading that in seeking to follow him every day we are choosing life, we are saving our lives.

The Gospel reflection comes from Martin Hogan’s book: WEEKDAY REFLECTIONS: To know the love of Christ 2016/2017 published by  The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie



14th February – Ash Wednesday.

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. It is easy to limit such an important season to the superficial: Ashes on the forehead, giving up chocolate, etc. Bible Alive’s reflection is helpful in getting to grips with its deeper dimension.

lent 40 days clipart

Lent can be understood as a season of divine therapy — a time to detoxify our souls, renew our energy and be refreshed in spirit. Lent is like a long ‘retreat’, during which we can turn into ourselves and listen to the voice of God in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual ‘combat’, which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the Word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our baptism.

During Lent we are invited to fast and deny ourselves; we receive the call to pray more and give to those who are in need (almsgiving). In all these ways we give of ourselves, but it is also a season to receive. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: ‘As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst… “Repent and believe” Jesus tells us. What are we to repent of? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — he knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.’

Lent then is a time of conversion, of change, of repentance, of turning back to God. The problem is that we often find it much easier to identify and point out how others may need to repent and change than to focus on ourselves and our own shortcomings. Self-knowledge is a gift of the Spirit which we can ask the Lord to give us. As we grow in spiritual insight into our own behaviour and attitudes, we become aware of our need to seek out what the Church calls ‘the second conversion’, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church unreservedly teaches is an ongoing process in the Christian life: ‘Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, `clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy and always in need of purification [and] follows constantly the path of penance and renewal” (para. 1428).

Lord Jesus, during Lent may your Spirit so work in me that my heart may be drawn and moved by the merciful love of God. Help me to recognize my need to return to you.


12th February.

a_jesus_heals_the_sickIn the course of my ministry as a priest, I never cease to be inspired by the generous love with which the sick are cared for by family members. Indeed I have been a recipient of this care myself. I have met a number of people who gave up the prospect of marriage and family because they chose to stay at home to care for aged parents. Pope Francis specifically acknowledged this in his message for yesterday’s WORLD DAY OF THE SICK.

“We cannot forget the tender love and perseverance of many families in caring for their chronically sick or severely disabled children, parents and relatives.  The care given within families is an extraordinary witness of love for the human person; it needs to be fittingly acknowledged and supported by suitable policies.  Doctors and nurses, priests, consecrated men and women, volunteers, families and all those who care for the sick, take part in this… mission.”

It is worth remembering that in the Parable of the Final Judgement, Jesus specifically commends the elect for caring for the sick – which of course is one of the corporal works of mercy.