Tag Archives: Year A. Matt

Second Sunday of Lent: It’s wonderful to be Catholic; I’ll make tents so we can stay!

Homily Notes. Matt. 17:1-9

Peter, James and John glimpse ‘something greater’

Of course, it wasn’t the first time. With Jesus there’s always ‘something greater’ to be experienced.

That’s our first lesson – the disciples are always in the company of Jesus, stuck to him, and in his company their hearts are opened out to ‘something greater’

Significantly, they climb a very high mountain before they glimpse this ‘something greater’. This too is instructive – if we’re going to develop spiritually it’s like climbing an interior mountain. But the higher we go the more beautiful and dangerous it becomes. Many don’t make it.

While on the mountain-top they glimpse another world, Jesus is transfigured and he’s talking with Moses and Elijah, two great men of God long since dead.

This suggests continuity. Jesus is the continuation of a line through history and if we care to look the line is marked by individual holy lives shining brightly in the midst of corruption – it’s not just anybody Jesus is talking with as he is transfigured! But do you seriously think the line stopped with Jesus? Jesus is the pivotal point, the line flowed to him and flows from him, to this day, and it will remain until the end of time a line marked by holy men and women shining brightly in the darkness.

Where’s the line? Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that line?

Peter wants to stay on the mountain top – he suggests making tents – but we can’t live on a mountain-top, we have to come back down the mountain.

When we have a spiritual experience it is grace that’s doing the work, God is doing the work, carrying us. At some point God is going to put you back down and say; now you do it, walk the walk yourself. If you’re really advancing he’ll put you back down and withdraw his favour for a time. If you survive you’re well on the way to becoming a Saint.

Of course, Peter is going to come back down the mountain; big time! In the face of the suffering and death of Jesus he’ll crack, denying Jesus; mountain-top to the valley of tears. It’s all our lives.

But at some point Peter is going to remember the mountain-top experience. At some point the memory will click-in and it’ll carry him through the valley of tears.

Which brings us to something that really troubles me. I have seen a massive exodus from the Catholic Church in my lifetime – for many reasons. I have also seen many peoples’ faith crumble in the face of difficulty and it leaves me wondering if the people abandoning the Church and faith have ever been to the mountain-top with Christ within their Catholicism, have they ever known ‘something greater’ within their Catholicism – if they had they simply wouldn’t be exiting!

No, they’d be saying with Peter, it is wonderful for us to be here, to be Catholic, we’ll make some tents so we can stay!

Sunday 8 Year A: Try reconciling euthanasia or even abortion with this!

Homily Notes.

IMG_0955Matt. 6:24-34 That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it …

Suggestion: Read and re-read the Gospel.

Summary: Use whatever it is you have – your education, your business, your wealth, not for your own personal gain but for God’s gain on earth, and God will grant you everything you need.

Firstly, something that jumped out at me, but if you’re to experience it too, you’ll need to read and re-read this particular Gospel passage until the message Jesus is attempting to convey starts to take hold of you, and as it takes hold think about euthanasia or abortion and it’ll hit you – bang – they’re totally opposed to the teaching of Jesus and impossible to reconcile apart from Mercy. Please do try it.

Secondly, notice what Jesus actually says. He says, if I put God and God’s kingdom first then God will look after me. I suspect that most of the time we place ‘me’ first and God doesn’t figure too prominently after that, other than to deliver in accordance with our plans.

No doubt there are people who’ll hear today’s Gospel and think; what a fairy-tale! In fairness, even for believers it’s daunting. Mercifully, the passage is quite nuanced and easily misunderstood. Still it’s also somewhat reasonable once you accept the creator God and the person of Jesus Christ.

IMG_0757If God is (if there is a God) then there is an Order. After all He created everything – don’t let pseudo-science put you off, there’s nothing in science to deny intelligent design. You may be surprised to know that it was a priest who proposed the big bang theory.

The world is intelligent and it was intelligent long before we recognized it. It’s not human intelligence that gives intelligence to the world – no – intelligence is already there, before and prior to us.

Thus Jesus argues: look around you, the birds get by and they do not sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them, and there’s a beauty in creation that’ll match the finest clothes any day of the week.

Therefore we can forget ourselves because we’re part of a much bigger picture, because there’s an Order and an Order-er, and the Order-er hasn’t abandoned us, rather, He’s our Heavenly Father who knows we need to live.

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As Pope Benedict said so beautifully: “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary.”

Of course, Jesus is not suggesting that our livelihood will fall out of the sky! On the contrary, he’s suggesting that instead of educating ourselves and doing whatever it is we do for our own personal gain that we change our focus and do it instead for God and God’s advancement.

It’s a mammoth change of direction!

Love like Jesus – and get yourself in trouble!

Homily Notes

Seventh Sunday, Year A. Matt. 5:38-48

At first sight today’s Gospel seems very demanding.

Demanding might seem an understatement. Perhaps the immediate response of many will be; it’s impossible. It’s audacious in its demands; “offer the wicked man no resistance, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well …”

Yet when Jesus begins to argue that if we do good only to those who do good to us and save our greetings for our friends (brothers) only, I think we can begin to see that he’s got a point.

IMG_0852There is nothing exceptional in doing good to those who do good to you or in loving those who love you.

When the words of Jesus drag us to look at ourselves in this way we can begin to see the obvious limitations of our goodness and by comparison the magnanimous goodness of God who “causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good …”

Thus, here again we glimpse the missionary demand of Jesus, to move out of ourselves individually and collectively and to go out and always be charitable – even towards our enemies!

IMG_0850To live in this way is counter cultural. It sets us apart, makes us like a city built on a hilltop. You will never hear a Government minister or a TD* ask this of you. No media person will ask it of you. But Jesus asks it. Who do you follow?

While we might think that modern Ireland is challenging Catholicism, it’s actually not challenging Catholicism at all; rather, it’s challenging a poorly incarnated (lived) Catholicism. No democracy will ever present you with a challenge greater than loving your enemy or being as perfect as your Father in Heaven!

In the end we’re being called to love like Jesus Christ who gave his life, not just for good men, but for bad men too.

These words of Jesus open doors that’ll – if we pass through – get us in a lot of trouble!

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*TD – a member of the Irish Parliament (Dail Eireann)