To be a disciple of Christ – Novena 7

Fr John Horgan SMA, Assistant Priest in St Joseph’s SMA Parish [Blackrock Road], preached on the seventh evening of the Novena of Prayer in Honour of Our Lady. The Novena will conclude with the SMA Annual National Pilgrimage to Knock on Saturday, 23 May 2015.

Fr Horgan reflected on what is involved in being a disciple of Christ, and referred to what that meant for Our Lady. During the Mass the sacrament of Anointing was ministered to those who were in need of that sacrament. The following is an edited version of his homily.

Our Lady, Help of the Sick

There are many things in life outside our control: the tragedies of recent weeks in Nepal, in the Mediterranean Sea; the conflict in Syria and other parts of the world, the poverty, hunger and injustice that’s causing such havoc worldwide. We also include the losses and tragedies of individuals and families known to us.

We may feel helpless and powerless. But God knows how we feel; He feels, hears and see the suffering, the pain and the turmoil even more keenly than we do; and He is there in all the suffering as a comforting presence.

We know this because Christ, the incarnate Son of God, personally experienced human pain; during his life in Palestine, he pitied and empathised with the suffering of people; he had pity on the grief of Martha & Mary and gave them back Lazarus; he pitied Jairus and gave him back his little daughter; he had pity on the widow at Nain; he calmed the storm when the disciples were afraid in the boat. And he cured many a spiritual and emotional storm as he invited people to come to him saying: ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavily burdened and I will refresh you’

These miracles were signs of God’s caring love for us; they were not the final solutions to pain. Lazarus, the son of the widow, the daughter of Jairus all grew old and died again; and the Sea of Galilee has seen many storms since he calmed the storm there.

In fact this world is the waiting room where we wait for answers to so much; Mary’s time in this waiting room gives meaning to ours. She accepted with faith to become the mother of the Lord and walked in faith to the foot of the Cross. She was not given any great details about what would be involved. She lived by trusting God.

Rose Kennedy, mother of President Kennedy, buried four children. She once expressed her positive faith in these terms: “I feel sure that God never gives a cross to bear larger than we can carry. And I have always believed that, no matter what, God wants us to be happy. He doesn’t want us to be sad. Birds sing after a storm. Why shouldn’t we?”

When we feel life is hard, instead of turning to God we tend to look back and say wasn’t things great in the past when we were young. We forget that youth has it’s pains and its struggles, it’s disappointments and frustrations, its feelings of inadequacy. Some find life so difficult to cope with that they want to end life.

People in each decade of life have similar struggles specific to that period of life. The secret is to accept, with trust in God, whatever comes including the obstacles you meet at the stage you are at, and try to concentrate on what is good, true and beautiful in your life at that particular moment.

For some it’s the little things that become the stumbling blocks in life. Jesus constantly helped people remove the obstacles that blocked them living their lives to the full. He will help us too when we worry about all that happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow and forget all that today has to offer.

Thankfully we are in control of many things in life. The things we are in control of are special opportunities for us to grow in love and maturity.

Every human person stands on his/her Calvary at some time in life; just as Mary stood at the foot of the Cross letting her grief go up to God like a prayer; she is our model; her grief and prayer were fruitful.

On our Calvary we need the prayer of Mary; we need the Holy Spirit who is the love, the power and the energy of God to rise to new life and like Christ be God’s carpenters who make the world better by our hands, by our good actions, by our prayers and by offering our pain to God which is the greatest prayer.

Mary’s prayers are all there for us especially during our Novena. The love, power and energy of the Holy Spirit is available to us this evening in the sacrament of anointing, if we are in any way unwell; if we are emotionally disturbed, in mental or spiritual turmoil or if we are just plain tired of praying and trying to be good, feeling that nobody not even God pays any attention.

But if we have charged our spiritual batteries with the sacrament of anointing already during May, there is no need to charge them again this evening; you still have plenty spiritual energy to last the month.