Tag Archives: liturgy

Homily Notes

The Baptism of the Lord

When Jesus entered the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John He was setting the tone for all that would follow.

John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for sinners.

So by choosing to be baptised by John, by sharing in the baptism of sinners, Jesus deliberately put Himself among sinners as a brother – but He was (is) a brother who was (is) also the Divine Physician, the Saviour; a voice spoke from Heaven, this is my Son, the beloved.

Jesus put Himself among sinners, not to judge, not to condemn (this got him into difficulty), but to love, to attract to a better way of life, a new life, the life of God which every person can reach through repentance and conversion.

In many ways Pope Francis has chosen to walk on to the world stage in this way.

It’s amazing how many people accept the first part – the liberal left are all for Jesus as our brother – but choose to ignore the call to repentance and a new way of life!

True to form, the liberal left are misunderstanding Francis (because they misunderstand Jesus) and we’re witnessing the most amazing unfounded psychological projection of the liberal lefts desires on to Pope Francis.

Meanwhile, many traditionalists are a little confused.

It’s like being back in the days of Jesus!

 

Be the star that leads to Jesus! The Epiphany.

A star guides the three wise men, the three kings, to the infant-King.

A star no less! This is a cosmic event. This child is significant, to say the least. The psalm captures it well: “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.”

This child is the Saviour of all – all nations. Get that; all. Mind-blowing!

Pope Francis says there’s no middle ground in this – “it’s either light or dark, haughtiness or humility, the truth or the lie. We either open the door to Jesus who comes to save us, or close it in (our belief in) self-sufficiency and the pride of self-salvation.”

I once considered politics, but it was just too much of a compromise. He’s either the Saviour or he’s not, there is no middle ground!

That’s the meaning of the Epiphany – but God will never force the matter. Neither can we.

Instead, be the star that leads to Him!

Have a happy Feast of the Epiphany.

‘Enter Christmas through the door of the Eucharist’ (Benedict XVI)

Homily Notes

Second Sunday of Christmas.

John 1:1-5,9-14

If I may begin with a preliminary remark.

John’s Gospel is a little different to the others – the author has begun to theologize about the historical events. In fact, in the first few lines, the writer summarizes the whole Gospel.

So, let’s get to the real business of today’s homily.

if Christmas is a past event how does God enter our world today?

Firstly, it’s not a past event.

Secondly, God enters our world in many ways but the way he enters par excellence is through the Mass.

Mass perpetuates the incarnation by God’s design. Mass is Jesus Christ continuing his incarnation in our time until his second coming.

This is the wonder of Catholicism, the joy of being a Catholic; that Christmas is not a past event but God is as near as the Mass and the Tabernacle.

In fact, God’s presence in the Mass is more powerful than his presence two thousand years ago – because the Mass is God’s gift of himself, inclusive of his life, death and resurrection in Jesus Christ, it’s therefore not just the person of God, but also the whole work of God, packaged and delivered to your door.

Are you at home?

In the gift of the Mass whereby God continues his incarnation among men and women the same dynamic of acceptance and non-acceptance, belief and unbelief is evident.

Through the gift of the Eucharist He perpetuates (continues) his incarnation, continues to enter the world that has its being through him, yet so often the world does not recognize Him.

He comes to his own people (Catholics) and his own people do not recognize Him!

Just think of how many Catholics have abandoned the Mass? And what they think they’ve abandoned is missing the point!

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

You can’t separate Jesus Christ and the Mass – same reality.

Human suffering is an argument against an imaginary God!

Homily Notes.

Today I’d like to suggest that human suffering is an argument against an imaginary God. It’s certainly not an argument against the God of the incarnation.

I’ll use the Holy Family to illustrate my point.

Firstly, a preliminary point. God doesn’t force us to believe.

Yet, in the Incarnation, in God becoming a human child God is really pushing us to believe.

If God did anything more he’d tip the scales into forcing belief.

Think for a moment about what would convince you to believe? What would clinch the God argument for you?

If that happened would you still be free? I doubt it. God would be doing the work, eroding your freedom.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest obstacles to belief is suffering, particularly human suffering.

Yet the Incarnation (the Holy Family) itself is riddled through with human suffering. Doesn’t that speak loudly?

We must surely accept that such a significant detail is instructive. God is saying something to us.

From the moment Mary conceived, the Incarnation is a series of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, consolation and desolation.

From the high of hearing and seeing an Angel announce her pregnancy to the low of Joseph deciding to leave her, from the high of God’s intervention through a dream convincing Joseph to stay, to the low of finding no room at the Inn, only a stable after an exhausting journey on the back of a donkey!

This is God! At what point did Mary wonder?

From the joy of the birth on Christmas night – the wonder of it – the arrival of the shepherds, nothing less than a star pointing out the child Jesus (a cosmic event) to the rapid descent into terror as Mary and Joseph flee with their infant into Egypt to avoid Herod’s soldiers who were slaughtering every new born male child. Put yourself in Mary’s shoes, Joseph’s shoes.

‘You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart’

Ultimately the woman who is rightly considered the most blessed of all women rose with her Son to the heights of acclamation as He performed miracle after miracle, but also plunged with him to the ridicule, the condemnation and the suffering of his passion and death.

Talk about a roller coaster!

This is a real woman and a real family.

What are they teaching us?

Faith in the God of the incarnation (as opposed to an imaginary God) is not destroyed by human suffering but overcomes it, transcends it, finally and definitively in the resurrection. Faith is not avoidance but the power to embrace and overcome.

How do we obtain faith like that? That kind of faith is a gift of God, infused supernaturally through grace.

It is what passes between God and an individual soul in hidden hours of prayer while the rest of us are busy, worrying and fretting about so many things. Mostly about trying to make a life!

It’s ridiculous to suggest that God became man but he’s not looking for Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Kenny and you!

Homily Notes, Christmas 2013

Some people get confused about the role of the Church.

Politicians and Governments often do, viewing the Church as if it was a foreign state attempting to interfere in another state’s affairs.

Perhaps the fact that there is a state – the Vatican – fuels such thinking.

But the Church is not interested in the State.

We’re interested in the rule or reign of God in human affairs, in the inculturation of the Gospel (the Gospel becomes our culture), in Jesus Christ becoming Lord. The journey of the Church year, from Christmas (December) to Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King (November) is an interior journey that the Church wants all to make.

The reign of God in human affairs is human peace, human joy, it is the only guarantee of human well-being.

If God doesn’t rule human affairs, there can be no lasting happiness and without conversion human affairs will tumble. That means human suffering. Therefore Christmas can never be viewed as a purely religious event.

Besides, it’s ridiculous to suggest that God became man and yet it doesn’t have universal significance; to suggest that God became man but he’s not looking for Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Kenny and you!

The primary function of the Church is to convince every State, every head of State and every citizen of every State to take Christmas (and Easter) seriously, to treat Christmas –

  • not as a sentimental irrelevance to the real work of daily life
  • not primarily as a time for family and family reunions;
  • not primarily as a commercial event;
  • not as a purely religious event;
  • and certainly not as a time to be reinvented replacing Christ with Season (Happy Holiday Season!) or worse still to replace Christ with X!

– but rather, as a decisive intervention of God in order to direct and order human affairs and bring them to fulfilment. Follow me, he says. Look … I want your attention!

And in particular that we do not narrow our vision so that life becomes nothing more than time between the two points of birth and death.

So open wide the doors …He became man so that we may become divine!

Fourth Sunday of Advent A: Faith is not totally blind.

Homily Notes Fourth Sunday of Advent A

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born … Matt 1:18-24

Here’s a human story. At times it’s a chaotic story. But it’s also God’s story.

Joseph, wanting to spare Mary publicity decided to leave her.

But I doubt it was just about sparing her publicity.

Joseph wasn’t about to tolerate what he believed to be Mary’s unfaithfulness. After all, she was pregnant and he knew he wasn’t the father!

It seems clear that Mary’s position – single and pregnant – was something of a scandal within society at the time – otherwise why would Joseph want ‘to spare her publicity’?

Reminds me of a friend of mine who married young; she says that for months afterwards people used to say hello to her tummy!

The immediate aftermath of Mary’s discovery that she’s pregnant could be taken straight out of 1950s/60s and 70s Ireland.

“There is no present or future – only the past, happening over and over again – now.” (Eugene O’Neill)

I’d like you to observe one particular detail in God becoming man – the ‘messy’ mix of Divine and human.

Christmas was God’s idea, God’s doing, but it required the co-operation of Mary and Joseph and the taking of huge steps of faith by both.

Nonetheless, they weren’t blind steps, they were steps based on significant encounters with God.

Yes, Joseph took a huge step of faith based on a dream but within the dream no doubt God was persuasive. Still, Joseph had to act in faith.

Yes, Mary was left with the humanly impossible task of ‘explaining’ her pregnancy to Joseph and to face the cultural cruelty of people, but earlier she had seen and heard an Angel announce her pregnancy.

Mary and Joseph teach us that faith is not totally blind, or at least it shouldn’t be, for any of us. Faith is based on real encounter with God, and in the difficult moments on the memory of earlier encounters with God.

Third Sunday of Advent (A): God is Father of victim and ‘perp’!

John was the one chosen by God to prepare the way for the Christ-child.

Actually, he is the last of many.

For hundreds of years holy men and women had been saying a Messiah would come in much the same way that we look to Christ today and indeed to his second coming.

Faith is expectant!

Of course, even back then some people rubbished such claims, rubbished faith, in the same way that faith is rubbished today.

Nonetheless, the expectation of a Messiah, of a decisive intervention of God was fulfilled in the events of the first Christmas.

But Jesus surprised many, he didn’t match their expectations, and indeed many chose to keep their expectations and reject Jesus (the same is happening every day of the week!)

John is not so sure, he is in prison (don’t we love to imprison God!) and he has heard about this Jesus who was causing a stir, no doubt he was aware of the prophecies (First Reading), and could probably recognize something of Jesus’ actions in the words of the prophecies, so he sends messengers to ask Jesus the obvious question.

John (as did so many) expected a severe judgement (last Sunday’s Gospel) but what they got was a saviour. Hence he’s unsure if Jesus could be the One.

Jesus revealed God as a Father. OK, as a parent! One of the most misunderstood phrases inIMG_1017 the Gospels is ‘little ones’. When Jesus uses ‘little ones’ at times he means victims, at other times he means missioners, still at other times he means sinners – ‘perps’! God is the Father of all, we’re all God’s children (some of us may be lost to the Evil One but we belong properly to God – the loss is one of theft). God is the Father of both the victim and the ‘perp’!

This is the difference between the State and the Church. The State wants only good citizens. The Church takes both because she knows a Father who, like any good parent, doesn’t want to lose a single child but desires to restore both to ‘life’.

If we can’t tolerate that, then I doubt we’ll be able to tolerate Jesus Christ, never mind tolerate the Catholic Church!

Second Sunday of Advent (A) Prepare a way for the Lord, let Him in!

Second Sunday of Advent Year A.

Here in the words of Isaiah we find the meaning of Advent: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.

Prepare a way into your heart, a straight path into your heart, into you, so that Christmas becomes what it should be, an encounter with Jesus Christ.

It’s worth noting that John is preaching in the wilderness – we might be too!

As the Pharisees and the Sadducees approach he calls them a brood of vipers!

Vipers bite, they’re also poisonous! 

The Pharisees and the Sadducees represent every spiritually corrupt Catholic – like vipers they poison the work of God!

John asks about who warned them to flee from the retribution that is coming?

Now we need to understand retribution here because in this context the retribution of God is very different to what we understand it to be.

As the life of Jesus unfolded the retribution of God turned out to be the fact that many couldn’t receive Jesus because they were spiritually corrupt – and corruption is nothing more than placing self at the centre.

God in Jesus Christ, when he walked the earth, just passed them by, not that Jesus wanted to pass them by, but they were incapable of receiving Jesus, incapable of offering Jesus a heart that he could enter, fill … because it was already full.

So the retribution of God turns out to be a life incapable of receiving Jesus Christ.

Now there’s a very real danger that the same is happening here, Sunday after Sunday, year after year, sometimes for a whole lifetime!

That Jesus just passes us by, that there’s no way in, no room at the Inn; that on Christmas night/day Jesus won’t be born within you – me – us!

And there’s only one reason why that can happen – because we’re full of other stuff! Because we’re somewhere else!

So use Advent, prepare Him a way, empty your heart – let Him in!

Twenty First Sunday (C): Jesus was tolerant only in so far as it served Mercy!

So what have we got this weekend?

Basically we’ve got two sides – on one side there was the religious people (the Jews) and on the other, atheists, agnostics and sinners all thrown in together. Broad strokes, of course.

Into that dualism arrived Jesus Christ – no less than God Himself!

He spends his short earthly life calling both sides (not just one side) to repentance. Very interesting.

We’d expect that he’d call sinners to repentance, to change. Or would we? Is there sin anymore?

On this point – the reality of sin – Jesus never waivers. He never denies the reality of sin. On the contrary His life is an argument for the reality of sin and for ultimate justice.

Jesus wasn’t so much tolerant as merciful. Tolerance suggests almost anything is acceptable, there are few laws, almost everything can be collapsed into tolerance, almost everything is grey, there’s no black and white, nothing is definite. In broad strokes it’s the world we live in.

But Jesus didn’t bring tolerance. He brought Mercy. He was tolerant only in so far as tolerance served Mercy. That’s a totally different reality. Mercy implies that there are definite laws, an objective order. Besides, mercy is painful. Think of a husband’s, wife’s, partner’s unfaithfulness. Now think (feel) forgiving that unfaithfulness. What do you get? A kind of crucifixion for God’s sake!

But tolerance is not so painful because it doesn’t matter, nothing matters, there are no absolute laws, there is no ultimate justice, whereas Jesus says it does matter, there is ultimate justice. There’s always a price to be paid. It matters that you are saved. Me too!

Now, as Jesus calls sinners to repentance (unbelievers to belief) the religious people start to object – they start to fight with Him, they actually start to resent God – thus the first move to be last, and the last move to be first.

How dare you they say, this is not fair!

A kind of religious / spiritual pride!

Can you see where the religious people are wrong?

They are religious but their religion is about them rather than God! It’s religion without the heart of God. It’s a religion that really doesn’t understand what’s at stake. A man (or woman) can be lost! That’s what gave rise to parables like the lost sheep, the prodigal son.

Twenty Second Sunday (C): Jesus insults the guests, then the host!

Luke 14:1,7-14

Twenty Second Sunday, Year C, September 01 2013

A leading Pharisee – a person of standing in the community, in society generally – hosts a meal, inviting family and friends and among the guests is Jesus.

So here’s the scene; a host, guests and God all rubbing shoulders!

And the guests are more interested in their personal standing, in themselves, than they are in God and Gods Kingdom. There’s nothing new there – even to this day!

Their religion is about themselves rather than God and neighbour. Or perhaps their religion has had little impact on them. Their religion hasn’t converted self – which usually means self has converted, indeed, corrupted religion! Which is what we’ve got today; no, yes?

They’re full of self rather than God and neighbour.

And if something, indeed, somebody is full then you can’t get anything more in. She or he will have to be emptied before God can enter.
Really Jesus is asking; are you so poor inwardly that you must compete outwardly for position at a table, for recognition, for honour, for contentment, for meaning?

It’s the classic Jesus question: Do we find ultimate meaning in the material or the spiritual? It’s an important question – especially in a time when the material has failed and so many have lost meaning.

And given their self centredness it’s not likely they had the humility to hear Jesus call to a much deeper love, a more radical service, to forget self and put God and neighbour first.

Without that humility it’s most likely they felt insulted by Jesus.

In the end it comes down to who is dominating us, deep within?

Is it self or is it God?

Inside; who is in charge?

You’ll be much happier when God rules inside!