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FOOD FOR OUR FAITH JOURNEY – Part Four

Welcome to the fourth episode of Food for our Faith Journey.  As in previous weeks it contains three items that we hope will provide food for thought and encouragement as we strive to walk in he way that Jesus taught us. 

This week’s focus is on the Forgiveness and Love that we need to receive from God and give to others if we are to follow the path of Christian life walking humbly with our God 

Included below are: 

  • To inform us –  a video reflection on Forgiveness and Love  written and recorded by by Bishop Noel O’Regan SMA. 
  • To raise our minds to God – A silent video meditation, an opportunity for us to contemplate God’s unending forgiveness and love for each one of us and to reflect on his call for us to go and do the same to others.   
  • To inspire us – a quotation to motivate and strengthen the efforts we make to live our Faith.   

Forgiveness and Love
Bishop Noel O’Regan SMA

Beauty of Nature June 2020 
A silent prayer

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.”
Colossians 3:13

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”
Robert Muller 

 

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

21 August 2022

Isaiah 66:18-21                    Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13                    Luke 13:22-30

Entering the Kingdom of God through the narrow gate

There is a double-edged message in today’s readings. On the one hand, we are told that the blessings of God’s kingdom are for all peoples, not just a select few. On the other hand, we are warned not take for-granted that we are ‘on the inside track’ and have a pre-booked place at the royal banquet. Rather, we should try our best to enter ‘by the narrow gate’ (Lk 13:22), that is, to keep our minds and heart focused on Jesus and follow his example.

Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah presents us with an appealing image of the restored Temple of Jerusalem as a centre of pilgrimage for all the peoples of the world: ‘I am coming to gather the nations of every language. They shall come to witness my glory’ (Is 66:18). This image reflects an inclusive vision of salvation which counters the often exclusive attitudes of religious groups who imagine that they, and they alone, are assured of salvation. In the past, Catholics were accused of that attitude. However, as the Second Vatican Council clearly affirmed, God wills the salvation of all peoples. All are invited to share in the heavenly banquet: ‘And people from east and west, from north and south, will come to their places at the feast in the kingdom of God (Lk 13:29). Christ gave his life on the Cross not just for some, or for many, but for all. As the body of Christ and sacrament of the kingdom, the Church is called to be a welcoming, inclusive community, open to all peoples. Whenever its members adopt an exclusive mindset or display manifest bigotry they are betraying that vocation. 

In today’s gospel from Luke, Jesus is approached by a fellow Jew who raises a question about the number of those who will be saved: ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved (Lk 13:22) – not a question that Jesus was likely to answer. However, as with other questions of this kind, it provides him with an opportunity to clarify the nature of God’s Kingdom. This Kingdom does not operate by the standards of the world. It’s not who you know that matters, nor the number of brownie points you may have amassed that will impress God. In all probability the man who put the question to Jesus was convinced that only members of the Jewish race would be saved, and that, even among them, only those who were law abiding. The Pharisees with their strict observance of the Mosaic Law would be first to gain entry. Gentiles (pagans) would have had no chance, while sinners, prostitutes, and the rabble who knew nothing of the Law, would have had little hope. In his response to the question put to him, Jesus warns his listeners not to take their status as ‘heirs to God’s kingdom’ for-granted. They may be in for an unpleasant surprise when they knock at the door of the banquet hall and find themselves turned out while people they least expected are given entry. Don’t be surprised, warns Jesus, to find that ‘there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last (Lk 13:30).

A few years ago a more personal form of the question posed in today’s gospel was put to Pope Francis during a question-and-answer session with youngsters in one of Rome’s parishes. A young boy, Emmanuel, wanted to know if his recently deceased dad, an unbeliever, was in Heaven. When the time came for him to pose his question to the Pope, the boy burst into tears and couldn’t speak. Pope Francis called him to come close to him and whisper his question in his ear.  When he came the Pope enveloped him in a big embrace. With their heads touching, the Pope and the boy spoke privately to each other before Emmanuel returned to his seat.

Then, Pope Francis, with the boy’s consent, shared the his question with the audience. This is what the boy said:  ‘A little while ago my father passed away. He was a non-believer who had all four of his children baptized. He was a good man. Is dad in heaven?’’ ‘God is the one who says who goes to heaven,’ the pope explained. He then asked the children to think about what God is like and, especially, what kind of heart God has: ‘What do you think? God has a dad’s heart. And with a dad who was not a believer, but who baptized his children and was a good man, do you think God would be able to leave him far from himself? Does God abandon his children when they are good?’ The children shouted, ‘No.’ ‘There, Emmanuel, that is the answer,’ the pope told the boy. ‘God was surely proud of your dad, and you should be too, because he was a good man who wanted what was best for his children.’

As Pope Francis reminds us, we should leave to God the question of who will go to Heaven. It’s not a question for us to answer. What should concern us is what God wants from us? What gateway is he setting before us? Perhaps, like the poet Robert Frost, we are being invited to opt for the road ‘less travelled by’  and that may make ‘all the difference’.

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.  

Fr Maurice [Mossie] Kelleher SMA, RIP

Fr Maurice Kelleher SMA , late of SMA House, Wilton, Cork, died peacefully in the St Theresa’s Nursing Unit, SMA House, Blackrock Road on Wednesday afternoon, 10 August 2022. He was in his 85th year. He was predeceased by his parents Tim and Rita [neé Manning], sisters Margaret Kelleher and Maura Murphy and his brother Ray.

Popularly known as Fr Mossie, he is deeply regretted by his sisters Phyllis [Sweeney] and Carmel [Stone], his brothers Denis and Barry, sisters-in-law Jackie Kelleher and Attracta Kelleher and his brother-in-law Fred Stone, nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, other relatives, friends, the people of the Archdiocese of Ibadan, Nigeria, and his confreres in the Society of African Missions.

Reposing in St Joseph’s SMA Church, Wilton, Cork, T12 E436, from 10.45am – 11.45am on Friday, 12 August. Funeral Mass at 12 noon followed by burial in the community cemetery.

The Funeral Mass can be viewed on https://www.smawilton.ie/live/

Due to Covid, those attending the funeral are respectfully asked to adhere to all social distancing and sanitising guidelines, wear a face covering and avoid shaking hands.

Requiescat in Pace.

Full Obituary in due course.

FOOD FOR OUR FAITH JOURNEY – Part Three

Welcome to the third installment of Food for our Faith Journey.  This week’s focus is the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ’s permanent presence – the Bread of Life shared among us as food to unite us with Him and to strengthen us as we endeavor to walk with God by living our lives according to His will. 

Included below are: 

To inform us
–  a video reflection on the Eucharist written and recorded by Fr Michael McCabe SMA. 

  • To raise our minds to God – A video Prayer for an increase in faith asking God to to strengthen our belief and to strengthen us to love one another as you love us.   
  • To inspire us – a quotation to motivate and strengthen the efforts we make to live our Faith.   

Eucharist 
Fr Michael McCabe SMA

Prayer for an Increase of Faith

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From the Eucharist comes strength to live the Christian life and zeal to share that life with others.

Pope John Paul II

 

 

AUGUST | For Small Businesses – the Pope’s Prayer Intention

We pray for small and medium-sized businesses; in the midst of economic and social crisis, may they find ways to continue operating, and serving their communities.

“As a consequence of the pandemic and the wars, the world is facing a grave socio-economic crisis,” says the Pope, who points out that small and medium-sized businesses are among those most affected. According to statistics for 2021 from the World Bank, one in four companies lost half of their volume of sales because of the global pandemic. In addition, public assistance is weakest precisely where it is most needed: in poor countries and for small businesses. 

TEXT OF THE POPE’s MESSAGE
As a consequence of the pandemic and the wars, the world is facing a grave socio-economic crisis. We still don’t realize it!
And among those most affected are small and medium-sized businesses.
Stores, workshops, cleaning businesses, transportation businesses, and so many others.
The ones that don’t appear on the world’s richest and most powerful lists, and despite the difficulties, they create jobs, fulfilling their social responsibility.
The ones that invest in the common good instead of hiding their money in tax havens.
They all dedicate an immense creative capacity to changing things from the bottom up, from where the best creativity always comes from.
With courage, with effort, with sacrifice, they invest in life, creating wellbeing, opportunities, and work.
Let us pray for small and medium-sized businesses, hard hit by the economic and social crisis, so they may find ways to continue operating, and serving their communities.

                                                                                    Pope Francis – August 2022

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10                    Hebrews 12: 1-4, 8-19, 9-11                    Luke 12:49-53

Theme: Setting the world on fire: Jesus’ mission and ours.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus says: ‘I have come to bring fire on earth, and how I wish it were blazing already’ (Lk 12:4). Jesus was not a spiritual guru teaching timeless spiritual truths. He was the Messiah sent by God to finally establish his rule of justice, peace, truth and love, first in Israel and then, through Israel, among all nations. As manifested in his words and deeds, this would mean good news for the poor, healing for the sick, and liberation for the enslaved and oppressed. Jesus’ mission was to launch a revolution. He wanted to set the world on fire, but the fire he brought was the fire of an unquenchable and unconquerable love, not the fire of hated or division. His entire ministry, especially his outreach to the poor and marginalised, represented an absolute reversal of the scale of values which held sway in first century Palestine. He knew he would meet with opposition and even rejection from the upholders of the unjust status quo, the powerful religious and political elites of his day. It was this awareness that triggered his statement in today’s gospel that he had come not ‘to bring peace on earth…but rather division(Lk 12:50).

This blunt statements seems shocking, contradicting everything we know about Jesus. Nothing could have been further from his mind than to foment violence and division. He was no rabble-rouser as were so many revolutionaries before and after him. On the eve of his passion and death, when Peter took out his sword to defend him as he was being arrested, Jesus rebuked him sternly, saying, Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?(Jn 18:11).  Jesus’ way of establishing God’s reign on earth was not the way of violence. He emphatically rejected the politics of violent revolution adopted by the Zealots (the IRA of his day). He also rejected the strident nationalism of the Pharisees which created all kinds of divisions among the people. He chose instead the path of redemptive suffering. His way was to turn the other cheek, to walk the second mile and, ultimately, to take up the cross. He defeated evil by letting evil do its worst to him, by suffering it in love and forgiving his enemies. Jesus wanted peace, but not peace at any price, not the false peace achieved by violence or by compromise, and he was willing to pay the price of being faithful to his kingdom mission to the bitter end.  

Our second reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews exhorts us to imitate the zeal, courage and fortitude that Jesus showed in the face of ‘opposition from sinners’ (Heb 12:3). As disciples of Jesus, we are called to continue his mission in the service of God’s reign. Like him, we will meet with opposition and even rejection. We may not have ‘to keep fighting to the point of death’ (Heb 12:4), but we cannot avoid the cross in one form or another. Our first reading recalls the suffering endured by the prophet Jeremiah during a time of great upheaval in Israel. Accused of undermining the morale of the people of Israel, he was condemned and thrown into a deep well where he would have died but for the merciful intervention of a foreigner (a Cushite), Ebed-melech. Despite persecution and continued threats to his life, Jeremiah remained faithful to his uncomfortable vocation as God’s spokesperson.

We have more recent examples of prophets who spoke ‘truth to power’, to borrow a phrase from Bayard Rustin, and suffered for it. The heroic witness of Archbishops Helder Camara and Oscar Romero is well known. Less well known is the witness of a young Irish priest who worked in the Vatican Diplomatic service for many years. His name was Kevin and, a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of reading a moving account of his life and untimely death, written by his brother, Jerome. Kevin worked in many countries, including hot spots like Syria, Argentina and Cuba. He was the secretary of the Papal Nunciature in Buenos Aires from 1976 – ‘79, years when thousands of people were ‘disappeared’ (tortured and killed) by the military junta that followed the collapse of the Peron government.

Kevin drew up lists of the missing and asked the army generals where they were. According to Robert Cox, an American journalist working for the Buenos Aires Herald at the time, Kevin came to be hated by the generals. They taunted him, dubbing him ‘the little red priest’. I am reminded here of the words of Helder Camara, ‘When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist’. But Kevin was not daunted. Speaking to a friend about his actions on behalf of the ‘disappeared’, he said: ‘Now I know why I became a priest.’ Finally, following an apparent attempt on his life, he was withdrawn from Argentina and given another assignment. Yes, there is no escaping the cross if we are to be faithful disciples of Jesus. But we should not lose heart but persevere ‘in the race we have started’, keeping our focus on Jesus ‘who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection’ (Heb 12:2).

Michael McCabe SMA, Cork, August 2022

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

FOOD FOR OUR FAITH JOURNEY – Part Two

We continue with the second in our series of articles under the heading of Food for our Faith Journey.  This week the focus is on the place of Prayer in Christian living – its central role in nourishing us and linking us to God, our neighbor and creation. 

As in the last week’s article, this one also contains three items:

  • To inform us –  a video reflection written and recorded by Fr Gus O’Driscoll SMA, giving and overview of Church teaching on prayer.  
  • To raise our minds to God – A video Prayer, recorded in the garden in SMA House, Blackrock Rd – a silent reminder that God walks with us as we travel through life. 
  • To inspire us – a quotation to motivate and strengthen the efforts we make to live our Faith.   

Christian Prayer
Fr Gus O’Driscoll SMA

Meditation Garden
A Silent Prayer

Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.

Mother Teresa

 

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022 – Year C

7 August 2022

Wisdom 18:6-9                    Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-19                    Luke 12:32-49

Theme: ‘Fear not, little flock’ (Luke 12:32)

According to the nineteenth century French philosopher, Charles Peguy, ‘the faith that God loves best is hope.’ As our second reading today illustrates, it is this kind of faith that Abraham, our Father in Faith, models. On the basis of a divine promise, he and his wife Sarah, both of them well on in years, leave their homeland and embark on a dangerous journey to a distant and unknown land. ‘It was by faith, Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants, and that he set out without knowing where he was going. By faith he arrived, as a foreigner in the Promised Land and lived there as if in a strange country’ (Heb 11:8-9). 

This dynamic, forward-looking, image of faith is a far cry from the understanding of faith that I grew up with and that continues to inform my life, the kind of faith celebrated in that rousing hymn, Faith of our Fathers – faith as fidelity to a sacred tradition. Abraham’s faith was more about moving forward in trust than about holding on to something handed down. In the words of Samuel Johnson, his faith was ‘a triumph of hope over experience’. I believe that this kind of trusting, hope-filled faith, is particularly relevant for the time in which we live.

The image of faith as journeying forward in hope also surfaces in our first reading from the Book of Wisdom. This book was written in the first century before Christ to encourage the Jews living far from their homeland, and strengthen their faith in the future kingdom God held in store for them. The passage read today recalls the night God liberated their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and gave them the courage to set out on a journey into the desert in the hope of reaching the promised land. ‘That night had been foretold to our ancestors, so that, once they saw what kind of oaths they had put their trust in, they would joyfully take courage’ (Wis 18:6). It was this kind of courageous, joyful faith that nurtured the lives of our missionary forebears – men and women who spent their lives sowing the seeds of God’s Word in far flung regions of the globe, many of whom died without seeing the fruits of their labours.

The opening words of today’s gospel passage from Saint Luke recall Jesus’ touching appeal to his disciples not to be afraid but to to trust in the kingdom the Father has in mind for them: Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom(Lk 12: 32).  Fear, not doubt, is the opposite of faith. ‘Fear not’ is Jesus’ most frequent exhortation to his disciples. Fear can paralyse us, holding us locked in the past, unable to move forward. The faith Jesus is looking for involves letting go of those things we imagine will make our lives secure – our possessions. In today’s gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to sell their possessions and give alms (cf. Lk 12:33).

The courageous, forward-looking, faith that inspired Abraham and the Israelites and that Jesus requires of us is never easy. In the anxious and uncertain time in which we live, it is particularly demanding. The kingdom of the Father – the kingdom of universal justice, peace and love – that Jesus proclaimed seems to be a long way off. Daily, the media confront us with horrific images of war, hardship, loss and grief. By human calculation, the future seems bleak. While the world teeters on the brink of ecological disaster, political and religious institutions are becoming increasingly polarised and unable to unite in addressing the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced.

At a time like this, we tend to hold on grimly to the familiar terrain of the past rather than embrace the unknown future. But our Christian faith calls to move forward with hope in our hearts. This is the faith that we celebrate in every Eucharist. In the Eucharist we recall and re-enact what Jesus did on the night before he died – how, in the face of betrayal, suffering and death, he took bread and wine, blessed them and shared them with his disciples. This was surely the greatest act of hope-filled faith the world has every known. Hence, as Timothy Radcliffe O.P., the former Master General of the Dominicans, reminds us, ‘the Eucharist is not a cheerful gathering of nice people who sing songs and feel good. It is an outrageous expression of hope in defiance of everything that could destroy it’ (The Tablet, 16 July ‘22, p. 13).

Our Christian faith calls us to continue to witness to this defiant hope, even when the familiar moorings of our world seem to be collapsing around us. Faith does not guarantee that things will always work out for the best, at least not in the way we might expect. We are reminded of the words of Václav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic: ‘Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out’. And to live by this hope-filled faith is to be fully alive. It is to live in every circumstance with a light in our eyes and a spark in our hearts. It is to become clear signposts, pointing ‘to a city founded, designed and built by God’ (Heb 11:10).

Michael McCabe SMA, cork, July 2022

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