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World Day of Migrants and Refugees – Sunday 25th September

PRAYER
Lord, make us bearers of hope,
so that where there is darkness,
your light may shine,
and where there is discouragement,
confidence in the future may be reborn.
Lord, make us instruments of your justice,
so that where there is exclusion, fraternity may flourish,
and where there is greed, a spirit of sharing may grow.
Lord, make us builders of your Kingdom,
together with migrants and refugees
and with all who dwell on the peripheries.
Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is
to live together as brothers and sisters.
Amen

The last Sunday in September of every year is a day when Catholics worldwide are called upon to remember those displaced by conflict and persecution.

“Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees” is the theme chosen by the Holy Father for the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR). Pope Francis highlights the commitment that we are all called to share in building a future that embraces God’s plan, leaving no one behind. It is an occasion to express concern for different vulnerable people on the move; to pray for them as they face many challenges; and to increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.

We remember the difficult journeys that people have to make, and how hard it can be to start again in a new country. We also remember the gifts of all the different cultures and how they have enriched our lives. Pope Francis calls this “beautiful diversity”. In his letter for the World Day, he asks us to build the future together with migrants and refugees, a place of inclusion and harmony in which they are recognised and valued for the contribution they make and the talents they bring.  Click here to read the full text of this letter. 

View the Video, Building the future with Migrants and Refugees: A future to build together,  via the play button below

 

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

Homily for the 26th Sunday of Year C

Readings: Amos:  6:1, 4-7;1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31

 Theme: Indifference to the plight of the Poor

Today’s readings, like those of last Sunday, invite us to continue our reflection on the dangers of riches. In our first reading, the prophet Amos vividly describes and roundly condemns the self-indulgent life-style of the wealthy. ‘Lying on ivory beds and sprawling on their divans, they dine on lambs from the flock and stall-fattened veal’ (Amos 6:4). He identifies their basic sin as indifference. They do not care about the afflictions of the poor or about the imminent attack on the land of Israel by a foreign power [Assyria] as long as they can live in the lap of luxury. ‘About the ruin of Joseph, they do not care at all’ (Amos 6:6). The prophet reminds them that their wealth will not save them from impending disaster. ‘They will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over’ (Amos 6:7). Diplomacy was not Amos’s strong point!

In the gospel reading from Luke, Jesus recounts a familiar rich man/poor man folk tale, adding fresh and telling differences. In the story as told by Jesus, the poor man has a name, Lazarus, which means ‘God will help’, whereas the rich man has no name. Usually, it is the poor who are nameless, while the rich have names, glamour, fame and fortune. Furthermore, the fortunes of Lazarus and the rich man are reversed. The final destiny of Lazarus is to be ‘carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham’, whereas the rich man ends up ‘in torment in Hades’ (Lk 16:22-23). Like Amos, Jesus pinpoints indifference as the basic sin of the rich man. Cushioned by his lavish life-style, he is utterly oblivious to the presence of the poor man at his gate, starving and ‘covered with sores’ (Lk 16:20). He fails to see Lazarus as a fellow human, a brother, in dire need. The worlds of the rich and poor can exist side by side but never meet.

Indifference is the cardinal sin of those whose wealth blinds them to the sufferings and deprivations of the poor. It should be counted among the capital sins as it lies at the root of so many other sins of neglect. As Elie Wiesel, a Jewish prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, wrote: ‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.’  Indifference is truly a deadly sin – a sin from which it is almost impossible to recover. And yet, recovery is possible, as Shakespeare’s King Lear illustrates. As an old man, Lear is driven from his comfortable palace by his ungrateful daughters, and finds himself on an exposed and barren heath in the midst of a frightful storm. At the mercy of the elements, he comes to identify with the sufferings of the poor, whom he had never noticed before. For the first time, he begins to feel compassion for them and wishes to share his wealth with them.  He says:

 ‘O, I have ta’en too little care of this!
Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.’

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is particularly relevant to our time, when the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. The growing concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of a few billionaires has been highlighted by Oxfam. Closer to home,  a 2022 report from Social Justice Ireland stated that, despite the existence of a comprehensive social welfare system, the gap between the rich and poor in Ireland has increased over the past few years. We are all aware that the recent dramatic increase in the price of gas and basic foodstuffs is having dire consequences for every one, especially the poor. Many will be unable to make ends meet. We may say that this is a problem for the Government to solve but it must be our concern, too. We cannot be indifferent to the poverty around us. We are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. As St John Chrysostom, that great champion of the poor, reminds us, we cannot celebrate the presence of Christ in the Eucharist without serving him present in the poor: ‘Do not pretend to honour Christ in the Church while you neglect him outside where he is cold and naked’.   So, let us ask the Lord today to make us more aware of his presence in the poor and to open our hearts in response to their needs.

I will end this homily with an apt reflection on the true purpose of wealth from the pen of Fr Flor McCarthy, SDB:

A week ago the sycamore tree was loaded with gold.
However, instead of sitting back and enjoying it,
it began to give it away.
At first it was just a leaf here and a leaf there,
whenever the wind asked for a contribution.
But soon it was giving it away in fistfuls,
without being asked,
and without a thought for a wintry tomorrow.
Wealth is judged,
not by the amount that is accumulated,
but by the amount that is given away.
The only wealth that is worth having is the wealth of the heart.
To close one’s heart is to begin to die;
to open it is to begin to live.

Michael McCabe  SMA

To listen to an alternative Homily from Fr Tom Casey of the SMA Media Centre, Ndola, Zambia please click on the play button below.  

National Novena in honour of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus 2022

St. Thérèse of Lisieux: "I am seeking only the truth."

Friday, 23rd September to Saturday 1st October 2022 at 7.30pm each evening
(7.00pm on Saturday)

Once again we are preparing to host our annual SMA Novena in honour of St Thérèse at St Joseph’s SMA Church, Blackrock Road, Cork. Most of us have prayer-needs in our lives and this Novena is a good time to present them to the Lord through the intercession of St Thérèse. She promised before she died that “I will let fall a shower of roses; I wish to spend my heaven in doing good upon the earth.” Perhaps one of her roses is for you this year! We have a range of speakers for Novena 2022 so we encourage you to join us at the Church or by Webcam to hear the messages they will share with us.

Below is the schedule of Dates, Celebrants, speakers and Themes. 

We invite you to join us in St Joseph’s SMA Church Blackrock Road, Cork  or via Webcam from wherever you are.  To join via webcam, click on the image of St Thérèse in the top of this Website’s homepage – this will be visible from the 23rd of September.

DATE

CELEBRANT

SPEAKER

THEME

Fri 23rd Sept 7.30pm

Fr Pat Kelly SMA

Fr Pat Kelly

Introduction

Sat 24th Sept 7.00pm

Fr Aodhán McCrystal SMA

Gerry Forde
SMA Justice Officer

Care for Creation

Sun 25th Sept 7.30pm

Fr John Bowe SMA

Ber Mulcahy

Multi-faith, Multi-Cultural Ireland

Mon 26th Sept
7.30pm

Fr Gus O’Driscoll SMA

Ciarán O’Driscoll

Addiction

Tue 27th Sept 7.30pm

Fr Jerome Sassou-Anoumou SMA

Sr Janet Nutakor OLA

The changing face of Mission

Wed 28th Sept 7.30pm

Fr John O’Brien SMA

Margaret Basteed

L’Arche Cork

Thu 29th Sept 7.30pm

Fr Colm Nilan SMA

Fr Colm Nilan SMA

“What can bring us happiness? Many say”  Psalm 4

Fri 30th Sept 7.30pm

Fr Eamonn Finnegan SMA

Fr Eamonn Finnegan SMA

The Anointing of
the Sick

Sat 1st Oct 7.00pm

Fr Michael McCabe SMA

Fr Michael McCabe SMA

St Thérèse and Mission

 

 

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

Homily for the 25th  Sunday of Year C

Readings: Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

Theme:You cannot be the slave both of God and of money’ (Lk 16:13)

Money makes the world go round’. So sang Liza Minnelli in the popular 1972 musical, Cabaret. Certainly money features strongly among the most prominent of human concerns. According to Daniel Kahneman, ‘Money may not buy you happiness, but the lack of it will certainly buy you misery’. Money – its uses and abuses –  is the main theme of our readings today.

Our first reading from the prophet Amos, underlines the abuses to which greed for money gives rise.  Amos lived in the eighth century BC, one of those rare periods when Israel was relatively peaceful and prosperous. Ideal opportunities for trading had triggered ‘an economic miracle’, leading to undreamed of riches for some people.  Behind this success story, Amos sees a world of injustice.   Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, who mercilessly exploit the many poor farmers and labourers. The wealthy commercial barons and merchants cannot wait for the Sabbath to be over before continuing their lucrative but dishonest business: cheating on weights and measures, tampering with scales, inflating the value of goods and deflating the value of money. What they are doing is ‘buying up the poor for money’ (Amos 8:6). How frighteningly contemporary all this sounds! Fearlessly, Amos castigates whose who engage in such practices,  ‘who trample on the needy and try to suppress the poor’ (Amos 8:4). He tells them that God ‘will not forget a single thing you have done’ (cf. Amos 8:7).

The responsorial psalm underscores the message of Amos and reminds us that God is on the side of those exploited by the rich and powerful, and will intervene on their behalf: ‘From the dust he lifts up the lowly, from the dung-heap he raises the poor to set him in the company of princes, yes, with the princes of his people’.  This affirmation echoes the familiar words of Mary’s Magnificat: ‘He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty’ (Lk 1:52-53). 

In our gospel reading from Luke, Jesus refers to money as ‘tainted’ but instructs his disciples to use it ‘to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, you will be welcomed into the tents of eternity’ (Lk 16: 9).  Certainly, Jesus is not saying that we can buy our way into heaven!  Indeed, the message of the gospel seems, at first glance, rather puzzling and even disconcerting. Jesus tells his disciples a parable about a dishonest but shrewd steward who, having squandered his master’s property, takes immediate steps to secure his own future.  He uses his position to buy favours from his fellow servants who happen to owe his master money, so that they will be obliged to help him when he is sacked. And he does this by cheating his master.

The behaviour of this unjust steward is self-serving and reprehensible, and Jesus is not putting him forward as an example to be followed, but rather as a lesson from which we may have something to learn.  And the lesson to be learned is that, in our service of God and his reign of love and justice, we must be as decisive as the steward was in the pursuit of his own interests. But instead of acting dishonestly, like him, we must take those actions that serve God’s purposes and that lead to a more human and just world and thus win us eternal life. Service of God is incompatible with service of wealth. We ‘cannot be the slave both of God and of money’ (Lk 16;13).

The abuses to which money gives rise are all too evident in our world today, creating a society where the rich grow richer and the poor struggle for survival.  In the words of Pope Francis, ‘the worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy that is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal’. The Pope deplores the tyranny of an unbridled capitalist system built on competitiveness, where there are some winners but many losers. The gross inequality created by this system is shocking and an abomination in the sight of our munificent Creator. Over the past two decades alone the wealth of the ten richest persons in the world has doubled while the income of 99% of humanity has reduced. Today 1% of the world’s population have twenty times more global wealth than the bottom 50%. No wonder that Pope Francis is calling  ‘for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce, in its turn, an economy that benefits everyone. Money has to serve, not to rule’.

Today’s gospel speaks about stewardship. A steward is a person who is given responsibility to handle the goods and property of his/her employer. In the words of Joyce Meyer, ‘We must remember that we are stewards of what God has provided for us, not owners’. We have no absolute right to anything we have. So the question that should concern us is not the question asked by Rod Tidwell in the 1996 movie, Jerry Maguire:Show me the money?’   It is rather the question: ‘How well am I using the resources the Lord has provided me with for his service and the service of others?’  Am I using them to make the kind of friends Jesus refers to in the Gospel – friends who will welcome me ‘into the tents of eternity’ (Lk 16:9)?

 

Michael McCabe SMA, Cork

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY – SMA Parish Wilton supporting Ukraine through SMA Poland.

Wilton SMA parish, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, has responded very positively to the plight of the Ukrainian people.  Parishioners collected funds to support the SMA Fathers in Poland who have provided accommodation to Ukrainian refugees in their seminary buildings.  It was a generous gesture by our SMA brothers in Poland and we were happy to support them.  In total the parish raised €26,000.

On Sunday 4th September the parish organised an international day where the Ukrainian community were invited to participate in a day when the parish celebrated the international nature of the parish.  We were delighted to host members of the Indian, Pilipino, Eritrean, Polish, Portuguese, and Irish communities as well as the Ukrainian community.  It was a great day. 

Click on the play button below and then scroll down to view the Gallery below.  The short video and photos will give a flavour of the day.  

PHOTO GALLERY  Click on the first photo below then scroll through the Slide show.

 

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

Homily for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year C

Readings: Exodus 32: 7-11,13-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32

 Theme: The Embrace of a Forgiving God

 The God of Jesus Christ is above all a God who forgives. This is shown supremely in Jesus’ death on the Cross, when he prays to his Father to forgive those who are crucifying him. What an extraordinary act of forgiveness! And it comes at the climax of a life and ministry in which Jesus constantly proclaimed and witnessed to God’s mercy and forgiving love. The American poet, Robert Frost, expresses this fundamental truth of the Gospel memorably in the following lines from his poem,     A Masque of Mercy:

      ‘Christ came to introduce a break with logic

     That made all other outrage seem as child’s play:

     The Mercy on the Sin against the Sermon.

     Strange no one ever thought of it before Him.

    Twas lovely and its origin was love.’

The God revealed in the ministry of Jesus is a God who not only forgives, but who delights in forgiving – a God who reaches out to the sinner; a God who actively seeks out the lost; a God who loves the company of sinners.  It was this extraordinary witness which led him into conflict with the Jewish leaders, the scribes and the Pharisees, who prided themselves on their strict observance of the law and looked down on those who were not like themselves – the uneducated, the morally week, the tax collectors, the public sinners, the prostitutes. The Pharisees were scandalised by the strange behaviour of Jesus – not only his mingling with public sinners and talking to them, but even eating with them. ‘This man’, they said, ‘welcomes sinners and even eats with them’ (Lk 15:3).

In today’s gospel reading from Luke Jesus responds to this criticism and seeks to correct the mistaken image of God as a harsh task-master. His response is conveyed in three beautiful stories illustrating God’s attitude towards sinners – the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal Son.  The image of God that emerges from these parables is that of an utterly compassionate and merciful Father who, far from feeling offended or angry with those who have strayed away from his household, is prepared to go to any lengths to bring them back. He doesn’t even wait for them to show signs of repentance, so overjoyed is he to have them back.

Let us take a closer look at the familiar parable to the Prodigal Son. The behaviour of the younger son is certainly egregious. In leaving his father’s house, he is abandoning his family and religion. With good reason, he wonders if his father can forgive him. Certainly he does not expect to be accepted back as a son and is prepared to be treated as a hired servant. What happens in the story is quite astonishing. Not only is the prodigal son not reduced to the status of a hired hand, he is not even given time to say how sorry he is. From afar, his dad sees him coming, rushes out to meet him, throws his arms around him and weeps tears of joy now that his son, whom he has never stopped loving, is back safe and sound. 

You can imagine the impact of this reception on the younger Son. He knew he had broken his dad’s heart when he left home. On his return, he hoped simply to get a place to lay down his head and have some proper food to eat. Imagine his reaction when he sees his dad running to meet him with tears streaming down his cheeks. His dignity as son is immediately restored and a great party held in his honour. In his wildest dreams he could never have imagined such a reception. His heart expands with gratitude and joy and begins to heal from the trauma of his long sojourn among the swine in a distant country.

But what about the elder brother? Let us for a moment try to see things from his point of view. He had remained at home. He had worked hard and wanted acknowledgement of his loyalty and good behaviour. His dad seemed to be taking him for granted. Apparently, he had never held a party for him – I doubt this!  When he sees his Father running out to meet his dissolute and wayward brother, he feel (understandably) aggrieved. And, when he hears the joyful sounds coming from the party his father is hosting for this younger brother, he is consumed with anger. It seems to him that he had been wasting his time staying at home and trying to do everything to please the Father.  Unfortunately, the elder son did not know his Father, even though he had been living with him. He had kept his distance all along. He didn’t want anything to change his perception of him as an upright but demanding man who expected nothing less than complete loyalty. So, when invited by the Father to share in the celebrations for the younger son’s return, he can’t join in.

This familiar parable challenges us to take a closer look at our image of God and how we relate to him. Do I believe that God is like a doting father who sees his lost son from afar and goes to meet him, totally oblivious of the utterly wasteful way he has lived his life. Would I gladly join in the party to celebrate the prodigal son’s return or be a ‘party pooper’ like the elder brother in the parable?

Fr Michael McCabe SMA, Cork

To listen to an alternative Homily from Fr Tom Casey of the SMA Media Centre, Ndola, Zambia please click on the play button below.  

SMA International News – September 2022

Welcome to the September bulletin of the SMA International News.  This month we have stories from, Ireland, Ivory coast and Zambia.

We hear about the continuation of the SMA Summer Camps in Dromantine, this year it consisted of two weeks for boys and two weeks for girls during the month of July. 

Then we go to Ivory Cost and hear of the work of Fr Michel Savadogo SMA, Director of the Shalom network for conflict transformation and reconciliation, which encompasses many West African countries.

Our final report is from Zambia, from SMA House Kabwe we hear about the formation of SMA students through a video that they themselves produced with the support of the SMA Media Centre, Ndola.

 

FOOD FOR OUR FAITH JOURNEY – Part Six

We continue with the sixth in our series of articles under the heading of Food for our Faith Journey.  This week the focus is on Love the central tenet of Christianity 

As in the previous episodes, this one also contains three items:

  • To inform us –  a video reflection written and recorded by Fr Michael McCabe SMA on the theme of Love..  
  • To raise our minds to God – A video Prayer to God our Creator. 
  • To inspire us – a quotation from St Therese.   

LOVE
Fr Michael McCabe SMA

A Prayer to the Creator