Today was Cemetery Sunday and Mass with large attendances was celebrated in both the old and new parish cemeteries. Here are some photos of yesterday evening’s Mass in the old cemetery.
Here is a synopsis of my homily.
Cemetery Sunday is a moment to reflect on our final resting place. For those with a family plot, that is where you will rest after death for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years until the Second Coming. Then Jesus will call our bodies back to life and they will be reunited to our souls. Far more important however is where our souls will rest for eternity – with or without the presence of God. The popular notion today is that everybody goes to heaven. That may be the case in Walt Disney movies but Jesus and the Bible tell us that we have to choose to be in heaven, choose friendship with God. There are no conscripts or hostages in heaven.
So the all important question is: What do we have to do to inherit eternal life? Providentially this is the opening question asked of Jesus in today’s gospel. The answer is simple and direct: ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself’. The first great commandment sums up the first 3 of the Ten Commandments and the second great commandments sums up the remaining seven Commandments.
The First Commandment (I will not have strange gods before me) prohibits magic, fortune telling, dodgy New Age practices like Reiki.
The Second Commandment (Keep holy the Sabbath) requires us to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, not just special occasions like Christmas and Easter. Jesus made it his Last Will and Testament: Do this in memory of me. We also observe Sunday as a special day of rest.
The Third Commandment (Keep God’s name holy) requires that we only use holy words such as Jesus, Christ, God, Lord and the names of the saints in prayer.
The Fourth Commandment (Honour parents) applies especially in their old age.
The Fifth Commandment (No killing) prohibits no violence or anger towards our neighbour, or indeed violence to our own body by immoderate smoking or drinking.
The Sixth Commandment (No Adultery) requires that God’s gift of sexuality only be used in marriage between husband and wife, a challenging commandment given today’s pop culture.
The Seventh Commandment (No Stealing) requires strict honesty in all our relationships, not only with those close to us, but also our employers, employees and the government which represent the general public. Restitution must be made to correct any past wrongs.
The Eight Commandments (No lies) requires us to be truthful. As my grandmother used to say: Tell the truth and shame the devil!
The Ninth Commandment (Do not covet your neighbour’s wife) has a modern extension in forbidding pornography, a terribly dehumanising scourge in today’s world.
The Tenth Commandment (Do not covet your neighbour’s goods) prohibits an excessive materialism. Be satisfied with the essentials of life and give generously to the poor with what is left over.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that our love of neighbour is to be practical. We are to be moved by compassion as he was and get involved with our needy neighbours. It is not enough to have nice thoughts but pass by on the other side like the levite and priest. I asked those present to apply this to the plight of the unborn child who is in danger today of losing their right to life. I referred them to an article in the newsletter – see below (if you have time).
Praying for the Unborn Child: Any attention to the news reveals a determined effort is taking place to repeal the Eight Amendment to the Constitution and legalise abortion in Ireland. Even Amnesty International and the United Nations are joining in! Legalising abortion is one and the same as legalising the mass killing of unwanted children. A specific target of current moves is to deny unborn children with life-limiting illnesses their right to life. Maebh McArdle was a speaker at last Saturday’s Rally for Life in Belfast. Her daughter Fionnula was diagnosed with a “fatal foetal abnormality” with a 1% chance of survival. She is now 9 months old, has been given a name; furthermore she’s been baptised and adopted into God’s family. A further example of this attitude can be seen in Britain where 92% of unborn children with Downs Syndrome are ‘terminated’. It goes without saying that this mindset is corrupting of parenthood and the medical profession whose very natures are directed to nurturing life rather than destroying it. Blessed Mother Teresa who is to be canonised on Sept 4th said that the true measure of a society is to be measured in how it looks after its poorest and most vulnerable members. Last week members of the government invoked “conscience” in supporting the Wallace abortion bill. Such members would do well to inform their conscience with the reality of what the abortion procedure inflicts on the unborn child. This can be looked-up on youtube by searching for the SILENT SCREAM and ECLIPSE OF REASON videos. Viewer discretion is advised.
One way to help out is to say daily the following prayer of Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J Sheen: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I ask you to save the life of the unborn child that I have spiritually adopted and who is in danger of abortion. Amen.