This is my homily for today followed by the gospel.
Since I was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer over 5 years ago, I’ve learned to really believe and trust in the doctors who care for me. The proof of this is that in spite of my cancer being incurable, they have kept me largely in remission, able to live a normal life and serve you here in Ardaghey.
Bone Marrow Harvest 2013
I go for maintenance chemotherapy every two weeks. Whenever I get instructions from my doctors I follow it a 110%, knowing that it is for my own good and indeed necessary for staying alive.
For example, earlier this year my superior asked if I could make it over to Texas for a chapter meeting in July. I said I would get back to him after talking to my doctors. The consultant looked at my recent blood tests and said that while everything looked good, there was a clot risk attached to one of my drugs that might be increased by air travel. She prescribed an injection before boarding the flights going and coming back. Then and only then did I tell me superior that I was coming and booked my flights.
Where am I going with all this? Well it’s great that we have skilled and dedicated doctors that care for us and give us the best possible life-expectancy. But regardless of our doctors, none of us here today will be alive in 100 years time – and for most of us, in a lot less than 100 years time.
It is truly wonderful news that there is a doctor and saviour out there that can protect us from the effects of death for ever. His name is of course the Lord Jesus! This was the subject of today’s Second Reading: “For we know that when the tent that we live in on earth is folded up – OUR MORTAL BODY WHICH WILL DIE ONE DAY – there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens.”
What do we have to do to avail of this salvation? We have to believe and trust in our heavenly physician just like we believe and trust in our medical doctors.
Why should be believe and trust in Jesus? Last Friday we celebrated the feast of the Sacred Heart. If we look at this statue of the Sacred Heart over here to my left, everything about it speaks about Jesus’ great love for us. At the very centre of this expression of love is the wound in his heart, reminding us of the spear that pierced his side on Good Friday. From this flowed out his life blood in a total self-giving for the remission of our sins – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. What other physician ever died for his patient? Most doctors earn six figure salaries and probably deserve it. Only Jesus however gave us his life completely out of selfless love.
How do we show our belief and trust in Jesus? We do this in one way by coming to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, saying our daily prayers, and maybe we have a picture of the Sacred Heart in our homes to remind us of Jesus’ great love for us.
The primary way however we show our belief and trust in Jesus is to live by his Word, his Truth – by being faithful to God’s Holy Will. Today’s gospel finishes with this: ‘Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother’. This is the requirement of being in God’s Kingdom, his family and being a brother/sister of Jesus. It is by this association that we find salvation.
How can we be faithful to God’s Will? This comes to us in different ways and levels but the fundamental way it comes to us is through the Ten Commandments. This is God’s definitive truth for right living, doing good and avoiding evil, loving God and neighbour. When God first gave them to Moses they were written in tablets of stone, fixed for all time. After each one was a FULL STOP so that no ifs, ands, or buts could be added afterwards. All of what I’m saying you know already but I want to reaffirm it for my next point.
In the recent Referendum which legalised the mass killing of unborn babies, some 70% of people who voted YES said they were Catholics. I’m sorry – but this makes absolutely no sense! If they were pagans, atheists or some other religion, well then ok. But it is truly nonsense to claim that one believes in Jesus and then do the exact opposite of what he commands – that is, approve of the killing of unwanted babies. It is like saying that 2+2=5 or that we believe in round squares.
I realise that there is little I can do about this national 70% but maybe there is something I can do about those who live here in Ardaghey. I would like to invite anybody who voted YES to get in touch and pop over to the parochial house for tea and cup cakes. I’d like the opportunity to talk through the issues involved. A part of me can half-understand the YES voters. If one wasn’t strong in one’s Christian beliefs, one could be swayed by the relentless media bias and secular propaganda.
But at the end of it all, approving the deaths of millions of innocent babies is a very serious matter and could affect one’s eternal salvation.
To sum up: The only physician or saviour who can protect us from the effects of death is Our Lord Jesus. To be saved by him we must strive to follow God’s Will, especially as it comes to us through the Ten Commandments and ‘Thou shalt not kill.’
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 3:20-35
It is the end of Satan
Jesus went home with his disciples, and such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘Beelzebul is in him,’ and, ‘It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.’ So he called them to him and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand. Now if Satan has rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot stand either – it is the end of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man’s house and burgle his property unless he has tied up the strong man first. Only then can he burgle his house.
‘I tell you solemnly, all men’s sins will be forgiven, and all their blasphemies; but let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ This was because they were saying, ‘An unclean spirit is in him.’
His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’
The Gospel of the Lord.