Category Archives: Catholic

You would have no power over me if it was not given you from above – a broader context for the closing of churches to public worship

The debate about keeping our churches open for public worship continues to rage in circles, minority circles it must be said. When I tune into the debate there are several scripture passages that spring to mind.

Like so many others I think of Jesus reminder: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matt 4:4. Taking this verse it seems safe to suggest that in the mind of Jesus, his person and his teaching are essential, at least of equal value to the food that we purchase from essential retail. The fundamental problem for Heaven therefore – brought into sharper focus by this pandemic – is that so many people do not consider the person of Jesus and his teaching to be as essential as their visit to the supermarket.

Of course, this is a faith position flowing from my relationship with Jesus Christ and his teaching. Realistically, at this point in salvation history I do not expect Government and its agencies to get this – and I certainly do not expect it to apply to all the people of Ireland. Faith in Jesus Christ and all that flows from faith, that which is often disparagingly referred to as dogma must be found within or it is not found at all. For every piece of dogma there must be a corresponding interior recognition in the depths of human freedom, a moment of transforming spiritual insight. I cannot stress this enough; dogma is found within, and insisting that people abide by a dogma that they have not found within will almost always result in rejection, even hatred. This has been the particular error of Irish Catholicism. A foundational tenet of the Christian faith is that God always respects human freedom. In the realm of God, respect for human freedom – even unto hell – is non-negotiable. As St. Augustine said: “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.”

Obviously, my freedom is convinced that Jesus and his teaching are essential. Indeed, I believe that humankind rises and falls according to our relationship with Jesus and his teaching. As Simeon said of the child Jesus: “you see this child, he is destined for the fall and the rising of many in Israel…” Lk 2:34. There is nothing as essential as Jesus Christ and his Gospel and since the Mass is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, his very person, I believe that Mass is therefore essential. As Padre Pio once said; “the earth could exist more easily without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

Nonetheless on balance I am inclined to support the moving of worship to online forums in accordance with NEPHET advice. It is important to stress that worship has not been banned and comparisons with penal times do not stand up to critique, no more than the idea that this is persecution; this is so far removed from persecution that it belittles the meaning of the word and the reality of true religious persecution in many parts of the world. Furthermore, for people prohibited from attending Mass all the effects of Holy Communion can be received through spiritual Communion. I do believe that we can gather safely in our Churches – I do not doubt it at all – but by remaining open for worship we might unwittingly facilitate after-worship gatherings that have potential to become super-spreader events. For me, the moral weight drops on the side of caution and online worship until NEPHET advises otherwise.

If our lives have been curtailed, they have been curtailed to teach us, and to prepare us for the future. These are not random meaningless events – these are soul teaching moments – another step toward our common future that is being determined one step at a time by our relationship with Jesus Christ and his teaching. These events might look like obstacles but in truth are stepping stones toward a time when humankind will fully understand that “the lamb will conquer and the woman clothed in the sun will shine her light on everyone.” Seriously do we really think that God is going to be defeated, removed from the face of the earth? The same God who standing before Pilate said: “You would have no power over me… if it had not been given you from above…” Jn 19:11. Why can’t we view the current restrictions in this way? The same God of whom John reminded the people coming for baptism: “God can raise children for Abraham from these stones.” Lk 3:8.

Similarly, those believing we are now seeing the end of the Catholic church in Ireland, or anywhere for that matter – the comment sections on social media are full of such remarks – are a version of those who observing the destruction of Jesus believed they were seeing the end of Him and his movement. It was a toxic mix of unbelief and sin that caused the destruction of Jesus, and it is another toxic mix of unbelief and sin that is causing the destruction of the church in our time, but the destruction of Jesus gave way to the risen Christ and the destruction of the church – or more accurately the destruction of all that is not of God in the church in our time – will give way to a risen Church.

So much about this debate reminds me of Peter who drew his sword to defend Jesus and his belief in Jesus because he could not see the bigger picture. Jn 18:20. There is a question here about the proper recognition of these events in salvation history, about our recognition that the civil power always functions unwittingly in the plan of salvation. Peter has an excuse for not seeing the bigger picture because the seminal action of God that we call the resurrection had not yet happened, but what is our excuse? That, as Ronald Rolheiser observed, our awareness of God and God’s plan borders on agnosticism?

God is almighty, totally in control, suffering, enduring, correcting, leading, even allowing restrictions on the public celebration of Mass, bringing human freedom to value Jesus and his teaching as much as the food purchased from essential retail, or he is not God at all. God’s victory is certain, but the victory is nothing more than the turning of hearts and minds to God. Even allowing for an act of God – an act that must respect human freedom – this is not likely to be an easy journey!

This journey is as certain as Jesus’ declaration that “till heaven and earth disappear not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the law until it’s purpose is achieved.” Matt:5:18. The only real unknowns are the exact contours of our journey toward valuing Jesus and his teaching. Make no mistake, this is our common future. This is a journey that will slowly – and somewhat painfully – shatter humankind’s propensity toward unbelief. Of course, some will always resist. It is going to be a seismic struggle between Heaven and hell, belief and unbelief, incarnate in history, possibly involving the persecution of religious practice for a time – are we not currently being prepared? – and undoubtedly paschal in nature. As it unfolds the proper role of the church will become evident; our primary role is not about putting the kingdom here and there – remember the lamb will conquer and is conquering – but to act as a bridge, for sure a compromised bridge, but a risen bridge capable of providing difficult passage for human freedom to reach the place where Jesus and his teaching is valued as much as the food purchased from supermarkets. Can we imagine a struggling and bewildered humanity in the future, including future Irish leaders, looking to the Catholic church – albeit a risen Church – for help and direction? No? Like Peter we are in for an unforeseen and unexpected fulfillment. We must let humanity walk this walk, we must respect our place in salvation history knowing that God is far from finished with us.

“Your kingdom come” we say in prayer – even as I write, even as you read, it is happening, right now, right here. Let us not seek however creatively or ingeniously, but very naively, to find ways around the soul lessons that this pandemic is intended to teach.

In my next blog I will try to tease out the soul lessons that come packed inside the current pandemic.

He told us it was going to be like this – the parable of the weeds and wheat. Matt 13: 24-30

Jesus compares good people to wheat and bad people to weeds.

The kingdom is like a field of weeds and wheat. The kingdom of God no less. We’re hardly able to cope with the sinfulness of the Church!

Where is this kingdom? It’s already here, it’s in the Church, the Church that contains, and always will contain saint and sinner.

I have a choice; do I give power to the sinner or to the saint? The weeds or the wheat? “Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church…” we pray in every Mass.

You’d think that Jesus didn’t teach the parable of the weeds and wheat.

At times you’d be forgiven for thinking that he didn’t teach at all, never said a word.

You’d think he wasn’t betrayed by somebody who shared his table.

You’d think he didn’t die between two thieves.

You’d think he didn’t describe the kingdom for us.

And yet, after all Jesus teaching, we still expect the Church to be different?

You’d think that the incarnation never happened at all!

That’s my point – many people seem to attempt to believe without Jesus Christ and his teaching!

Is it any wonder that so many fall away?

You’d never know that He told us it was going to be like this.

Of course weeds are dangerous if they get out of control.

But the best way to deal with weeds is a reminder that in the end there’s judgment. Dare I say it: Hell! The weeds are thrown on the fire and burnt.

How can there be Mercy without Justice? Justice is the very precondition of Mercy. Mercy is undoubtedly God’s greatest attribute but that presupposes Justice.

Do we really think that God bestows Mercy forcibly? Did Jesus?

God will never – never – superimpose Godself or his Mercy on our freedom.

We must use our freedom to receive Mercy, that’s its purpose.

Divine Justice just is, it’s the default position, but Mercy is our choice, always.

Jesus’ reasons for unbelief – the parable of the sower. Matt 13:1-9

We hear all sorts of reasons for unbelief.

But every time I read the parable of the sower I’m struck by its reach. Is there a reason advanced for unbelief that’s not included in the parable?

Jesus compares people who hear the word to seed that falls on the edge of a path.

The seed of the word is sown in the heart but there’s no understanding. Where there is no understanding, abandonment follows.

The heart is simply not receptive – receptivity is the precondition of understanding – the heart is not open, and entry through anything that’s closed solidly is difficult. The word simply bounces off non-receptive hard objects and falls away.

Next, Jesus compares people who hear his teaching to the seed that falls on patches of rock. It lacks both rich soil and deep roots.

When confronted with human suffering and human failure including outrageous scandal – scorching sun – the faith of some people withers because it’s not deeply rooted in the rich soil that is Jesus Christ.

Scorching and withering – apt descriptions of human suffering and failure.

That objections to God using this very argument can attract millions of views on YouTube suggests that many have not taken Jesus and his teaching seriously. The God that many refuse to believe in is not the God found in the teaching of Jesus Christ. They dismiss a God unrelated to Jesus Christ!

Next, Jesus compares people who hear the word to seed falling in thorns; falling in the midst of the worries of this world and the lure of riches the seed is choked to death! A strong image, mind. Choked, and common parlance adds “the living daylights out of!”

It’s dramatic, but for most people the choking happens unconsciously. It’s simply that other stuff – the cares of this world (interests that are good and wholesome in themselves) and the pursuit of wealth – take our hearts. For many the interests become false gods.

Is there a source of unbelief that’s not covered in this parable?

It seems that many people attempt to believe without Jesus Christ and his teaching which means they end up struggling to believe at all.

Medugorje – the significance of the secrets

Like Fatima, at Medugorje Our Lady has entrusted secrets to the 6 visionaries; each visionary is to receive 10 secrets.

As far as I know 3 of the visionaries have already received the 10 secrets; 3 have received 9 of the 10.

When all ten have received the ten secrets, the secrets will start to unfold in our life experience.

One of the visionaries, Mirjana, has been instructed to reveal each secret to the priest of her choice – Fr. Peter – and he is to reveal it to the world shortly before it happens (starts to unfold). All 10 secrets will be revealed in this way – before each happens.

This suggests that the secrets will unfold in Mirjana’s life-time, which means their unfolding is imminent because Mirjana is now 55 – or thereabouts – and she can’t live forever!

This is supported by the fact that three of the visionaries are one secret each short of receiving all ten secrets.

What do we know about the secrets?

Like Fatima, they’re highly likely to be the broad outline of the future of the world, and at the same time, they’re the working out of Our Lady’s victory in human affairs – Our Lady is reported as saying that she will finish in Medugorje what she started in Fatima. In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. Triumph suggests a struggle.

Our Lady has permitted the visionaries to reveal that the third secret is a visible and permanent sign on the hill in Medugorje – a sign that will lead many to belief and to conversion.

It will mark a radical and dramatic return to belief, possibly to the Church, to Mass, and to the Sacraments. It’s possible it’ll look like the spiritual life of Medugorje but on a world-wide scale.

We also know that the seventh secret troubled the children greatly and that they repeatedly asked Our Lady about the possibility of it being softened. Our Lady’s response was always the same – pray! We now know that it has been lessened but Our Lady also told the children to never ask about it again saying that God’s Justice was already offended enough!

We can say with some confidence that the unfolding of the 10 secrets will be the working out of Our Lady’s victory in human affairs, in the flesh and blood of human beings, in our history, just as the prophecies made in Fatima became the lived experience of a number of generations.

But, the further we are from God, the more difficult will our journey be… which is why Our Lady has been repeatedly asking us to pray and fast now, that our path and her victory may be eased.

Medugorje – the fulfillment of Fatima

Every moment is in God’s hands, but it’s texture and substance is determined by us.

In this moment I want to draw your attention to Medugorje and to say simply but forcefully; pay attention to Medugorje.

Pay attention because it marks out the future of the world, it paints a picture of our common future.

It does so in much the same way as Fatima did, in broad strokes. Very broad strokes, and we fill in the finer details.

Fatima painted a picture of the world over a period of 100 years – from 1917 through to the millennium and the following years.

In Fatima Our Lady entrusted 3 secrets to the children.

Firstly, and perhaps many will find it very odd, Our Lady showed the children a vision of hell. The vision confirmed that there is ultimate Justice. I’ll return to this in another blog.

Secondly, Our Lady warned of a future war – World War II – that would break out “if people do not stop offending God” and of Russia spreading error – the error is not so much Communism as the unbelief that goes with it.

Thirdly, the vision of a man dressed in white (the children understood it was a future Pope) climbing a mountain, on the way he passes through a City in ruins, and reaching a Cross, he’s shot.

World War II unfolded with devastating consequences (more than 60 million people perished in World War II).

Unbelief – atheism – has a very strong foothold.

The City in ruins is the Church and the man who is shot is Pope John Paul II.

With the benefit of hindsight we can see that Fatima, which is to say Heaven prophesied a broad picture of the world and the Church we’ve become familiar with, but if you listen to our self-talk, even the self-talk of believers, we speak as if we never heard a word of this. Quite simply, we haven’t been paying attention.

But Fatima also prophesied that “in the end” the Immaculate Heart will triumph.

As John Paul II recovered he asked for the Fatima documents to be brought to his hospital bed.

When he fully recovered he had the bullet that almost killed him encased in the crown of the statue of Our Lady in Fatima.

Shortly after John Paul II was shot the apparitions began in Medugorje.

Just as Fatima painted a broad picture of the past 100 years so Medugorje is now painting a picture of the next 50-100 years.

Medugorje provides the broad contours of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

Pay attention – it’s our common future.

In my next blog I’ll consider the significance of the Medugorje secrets.

The wild laughter of God! Second Sunday of Advent Year C

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign… that’s like saying; in the fifteenth year of Michael D. Higgins presidency. I know that can’t happen but just go with the argument!

When Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea… equates with when Enda Kenny was Taoiseach.

When Herod was tetrarch of Galilee… which broadly equates with when Tony Dempsey was Chairman of Wexford County Council.

During the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas… when Denis Brennan was bishop of Ferns

So the events leading up to the birth of the Christ-child are put in a political ‘State’ context, but also in a religious ‘Church’ context which itself gives the events a definite date.

But watch what happens next. The Word of God came not to any of the political-State or religious-Church agencies but to John son of Zechariah (again a particular John) in the wilderness!

How God loves to do that, to by-pass the establishment! It’s how he manifests his greatness, his absolute sovereignty. It’s the laughter of God. God loves to surprise us.

The Word issued through John has two parts.

Firstly, it’s a call to repentance, to prepare our hearts. This part belongs to us. We must do it. It’s called Advent.

Secondly, it announces that something will be accomplished, the distance between God and man (that most of us perceive intuitively) described as valleys, mountains, hills, winding roads, rough paths will be flattened and straightened because God will leave Heaven and become human child.

The implication here is that the absence of God which so many experience is more our doing than God’s.

The final lines tell us that in this child all mankind will see the salvation of God. Huge! In this child, not every child but this particular child, not wealth, not a career, not your partner, husband, wife, lover… In this child resides the salvation of God – and the salvation of God must also mean human salvation.

So, as the Word of God invites us to prepare our hearts for the Child’s arrival I ask you a question, one that I’m asking myself too: In what have you placed your salvation?

Remember, we choose our joys and our sorrows long before we experience them. Gibran.

Palm Sunday: Murdering God’s absolute truth!

Jesus is God’s truth in the flesh, in human form. He’s thinking, talking and walking absolute truth!

As a matter of interest what part of this truth needs updating? What do you think?

IMG_1263God’s truth is unwelcome, it’s not wanted, they’ll slap it, punch it, kick it, spit on it, make fun of it, and eventually murder it.

Interestingly it’s an unlikely marriage of religious and civil-political authority that murders God’s truth. We need to be careful that we’re not doing the same!

Remarkably in the face of this violence he’ll remain silent: “But to Pilate’s amazement Jesus made no further reply.” The silence is born of absolute truth. Jesus’ silence in the face of Pilate’s questioning speaks loudly of something greater than death, indeed life itself. This is a truth that’s more than capable of defending itself. We can kick it this way and that way, murder it, but it’ll never go away. Put it down and it’ll pop back up!

This is why those who suggest that the Church will die out are spiritually naive. The Church is being pushed out to the margins, but she’s just living the great themes of salvation history, she’s being purified by her Master, same old, same old. She’ll have her time in the desert and like Christ she’ll return, trained for battle. Besides, everything about Jesus Christ points to human failure, but it is always human failure into ultimate victory.

As for Pilate? Well, Pilate does what every political leader will do whenever and wherever possible; he placates the crowd. It’ll improve the chances of holding on to political power! But where will Pilate go in the end?

As for the crowd, we can hardly but notice the stark contrast between ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven’ on Palm Sunday and ‘crucify him, crucify him” on Good Friday although it’s something of a false contrast because they’re probably two very different crowds – disciples and friends on Palm Sunday but seething enemies on Good Friday. Nonetheless crowds are always fickle. If you don’t believe me ask yourself why a drinks company will spend €4m on a TV advert?

Here’s an interesting detail about Christ’s passion; we’ve got God’s truth in the flesh, we’ve got the mass of ordinary people, the electorate so to speak, we’ve got the religious leaders, we’ve got political and civil leaders – the same essential elements that we’ve got now – and still the one thing that’s sure to be the casualty in this mix is Gods truth!

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Jesus answers the Greeks and Stephen Fry too!

"If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too." John 12:20-33 / Caviezel, Passion of Christ

“If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too.” John 12:20-33 / Caviezel, Passion of Christ

In the Gospel today (John 12:20-33) we find Jesus turning toward Calvary.

The position he’s faced with equates to something like a diagnosis of terminal cancer without a morphine pump – without any kind of pain relief, comfort or consolation, nothing but the reciprocal love of his Father!

He takes the tsunami of human suffering that’ll soon crush him, and he uses it to teach us. All that’ll happen to Jesus is not just about him, it’s equally about us, it also represents human suffering and ultimately the death of every single human being.

The first thing Jesus does is place death in a far reaching context. Jesus describes death in terms of the necessity of a wheat grain falling on the ground and dying before it can reach its full potential. Death is not final but the necessary door to fulfillment.

Next, he says that if we serve him we must follow him. It’s easy to miss the brutal quality of this command. Jesus issues it while speaking of his suffering and death; “wherever I am my servant will be there too.” It’s as good as saying; you’ll have your share of human suffering, you’ll have your agony in the garden, your scourging at the pillar, your crowning with thorns, your crucifixion, you’ll follow my path – and children will get bone cancer! Thus the Greeks who “should like to see Jesus” get their answer, as does Stephen Fry; you’ll see me but don’t expect that you’ll be spared suffering and death.

Next, he echoes the cry of every person facing suffering and death but he does so while adding the extra dimension that places death in a momentous context. He puts this human cry in the form of a question to God: “What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour?” After all, I’m only 33 and there’s much I still want to see and do. He answers his own question: “But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.” He presents us with the inevitability of death, with the necessity of death if we’re to reach the fullness of our potential. Significantly he then adds, “Father, glorify your name!”

The Risen Christ. "If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too."

The Risen Christ. “If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too.”

This is a question we all face. What if we cure everything that brings death; what’ll we do then? Where will we go? How will we control the population of the earth? State controlled fertility and euthanasia? Most importantly how will we cope with living endlessly?

Imagine if time can’t reach fulfillment. We’ll go mad.

The message of Jesus is that time does reach fulfillment, for each one of us, through him, with him and in him, and the door to this fulfillment is death, death in him.

If radical discipleship is not found in the priesthood today, then where will it be found?

Mark 1:14-20, Third Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year B.

James and John leave everything. For a moment let’s picture their father Zebedee left in the boat with the men he employed. No doubt the father had built up the business with a view to his sons future. Now they’re gone. They’ll never really return.

It’s said that the departure of his sons caused Zebedee to go ‘ballistic’. He lost the head so to speak. That’s understandable. It’s said that in turn Jesus gave the name ‘sons of thunder’ to James and John, Mark 3:17.

At any rate, this following Jesus is portrayed as decisive, radical, life changing. The priesthood is modeled on these guys, downing tools, taking off after Jesus, staying with him, not returning. Whatever the historical roots of priestly celibacy even if several of the apostles were married, it’s not without considerable foundation in the teaching of Christ. It’s there, if we can hear it.

So when we start thinking about abolishing celibacy or making it optional – or countless other issues in the Church – we need to think about it from Christ’s perspective and those closest to him, rather than our own, because our understanding of these matters, indeed life itself, is very often a little out of sync – and that’s being generous – with the understanding that flows from the teaching of Christ.

"I had never believed. I had always known that the interest all around me in security, money, power and status was greater than any love of God or belief in his mercy" Colm Toibin, The Sign of the Cross

“I had never believed. I had always known that the interest all around me in security, money, power and status was greater than any love of God or belief in his mercy” Colm Toibin, The Sign of the Cross

Colm Toibin captures this ‘out of sync-ness’ perfectly in his book “The Sign of the Cross”. Writing about his experience as a child growing to adulthood here in the Cathedral in Enniscorthy he says – and this is both harsh judgement and profound observation – “I had never believed. I had always known that the interest all around me in security, money, power and status was greater than any love of God or belief in his mercy.” I’m afraid too often that’s us.

This is the reason we need to really listen to God’s Word, to the Gospels in particular, because only when we really listen can we begin to ‘sync’ with the message and the teaching of Christ. Often our treatment of the Word is like meeting a person and asking ‘how are you?’ when we really haven’t time for the answer, or worse, we really don’t care! Instead, take the time to look into the other persons eyes asking ‘how are you?’ and wait for the answer. We need to listen to the Word like that. Only then can we begin to move from Toibin’s “security, money, power and status” and into the “love of God” and “belief in his mercy”. This is particularly true of the priesthood.

When we think of the priesthood we need to remember Zebedee left behind in his boat, the family business and his life’s effort for his sons welfare discarded, thrown aside, abandoned. We need to wonder – and wonder is all we can do because the sources are so scant and often contradictory – about the wives of these men, if any. What happened to them?

My sense in all this is that through the apostles, married and unmarried, Christ was calling those around him and future generations to a radical discipleship, to leave everything, even marriage, Mark 19:12, 19:29 and so many other passages throughout the Gospels. It’s my sense but it’s not without foundation in the teaching of Christ. In fact, I suspect the more we ‘sync’ with the teaching of Jesus found in the Gospels the more we’ll see this possibility.

Let me put it this way: Why can’t James and John keep the family business and follow Jesus, as well? That’s what we’d do. It’s a bit like asking: Why can’t a man be a priest and marry, as well? That’s what we’d do. My sense is that Christ is calling some to a much more radical discipleship, to leave absolutely everything, to rely on him alone, and if this radical discipleship is not found in the priesthood today, then where will it be found?

Second Sunday of Christmas, (B), God lives on the edge.

Before we leave Christmas behind I want to look again at the context in which God became flesh because we can pull some interesting details from it.

Let us always remember that in the Church, in the spiritual life, we must always be deceived into focusing on the shadows, on the darkness rather than the light.

Let us always remember that in the Church, in the spiritual life, we must always be deceived into focusing on the shadows, on the darkness rather than the light.

The first detail I’d like you to see is that when God became flesh he was really pushing the boundaries of our freedom. The incarnation sits on the very edge of human freedom. If God did anything more we’d have no choice but to believe… and instantly our freedom is gone.

So the whole belief thing and the Church – remember that Christ and the Church are inseparable – is a personal choice. Yes, absolutely, but in acknowledging that it’s a personal choice, we must also acknowledge that God has done everything possible to swing our choice in his direction while leaving us just enough freedom to be able to reject him. This is a very thin line – maxed out very deliberately by God.

I’d also like you to notice the role of the political leaders – Caesar Augustus, Herod and the various layers of Government and leadership – in the arrival of the Christ-child (Cf Luke). They had absolutely nothing to do with it! In fact, they provided nothing more than the historical backdrop, nothing more than a way to put a date on the events. They were by-passed – as Mary marvelled in her Magnificat; “he has pulled down princes from their thrones…” How? He just by-passed them making them largely irrelevant and went to the lowly stable where only the lowly, and those who make themselves lowly can recognize him. This hasn’t changed.

But later they did try to get in on the act, to thwart it, Herod particularly. So his eventual involvement is one of opposition. This is most interesting because this hasn’t changed either – politics is still largely opposing the influence of the incarnation, non-violently of course, and ironically it does so on the pretext of choice!

Slaughter of the Innocents, Leon Cogniet

Slaughter of the Innocents, Leon Cogniet

The next detail I’d like you to see is the proximity of really dark evil to the unfolding of God’s plans. As the Christ-child arrived into the world Herod’s power was threatened. Initially he played politics with the wise men, trying to trick them into telling him where he could find the child Jesus so that he could eliminate him, but when politics fails he unleashes a terrible evil ordering the death of every new born male child. What I want you to see is the proximity of the darkest evil to the unfolding of God’s plan in the world – this is the price of human freedom – and it hasn’t changed either. Wherever God’s plan is unfolding you will have evil too, and the greater the plan, the greater the evil, but only for a time. Always remember that spiritually we must be deceived into focusing on the shadows, on the darkness rather than the light. It happens all the time – right now in the Church it is happening; has happened.

The final detail I’d like you to see is how the unfolding of God’s plan is always tottering on the brink. God’s plan is dependent on Mary’s ‘yes’, on a solitary woman’s ‘yes’, on a ‘yes’ that asks this woman to let go of all her plans and stare, and step, into an abyss (from a human point of view). It’s dependent on Joseph accepting Mary’s version of events. It’s dependent on Joseph’s dream, on the wise men’s dream. What I want you to see is the thin line, again this thin line. God’s will always looks like it’s about to flop, from beginning to end, from incarnation to resurrection and into the future.

Doesn’t it look like that right now?

But it’ll never fail… never.