5th Sunday of Lent

Today we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Lent and in three weeks time we will celebrate Easter

As Lent draws us closer to the mysteries we celebrate in Holy week we are reminded that Jesus predicted His own death for our salvation.

'And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all men to myself.'
By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.

Jesus predicts His death – and by His cross and resurrection we are set free.

When the Son of man is lifted up He will draw all men to himself.



In a few short weeks we will venerate the Cross on Good Friday with the words – Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the saviour of the world and we will respond Come let us worship.

The cross in those times was a symbol of oppression, of punishment, of torture and an agonising death. But it has become for all Christians a sign of hope and victory.

When the Son of man is lifted up He will draw all men to himself.

Jesus is truly risen from the dead. He has been lifted up from the earth, the tomb. Jesus promised Martha that ‘anyone who believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live. I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?’
Christ conquered death by rising from the dead. He promises each of us in our turn a resurrection. This world and all it contains, as good and as wholesome as much of it can be, is passing away. We are destined to eternal life, to be 'raised with Him on the last day’. St Paul tells us: 'if we have died with him, we shall also rise with him.’ But we must not only die physically, we must continually die to sin. Therefore, each time we go to confession is a mini-resurrection from the mire of sin to walk once more a life in the Spirit and as a child of the light.

When the Son of man is lifted up He will draw all men to himself.

The paschal mystery is completed with Jesus' ascension to His Father. Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper: 'I am going away, where I am going you cannot come. But I am going away to prepare a place for you. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If there were not I should have told you. When I return I shall come to take you with me, so that where I am, you will be too. You do not the way to the place where I am going.’Our eternal home is awaiting us.

When the Son of man is lifted up He will draw all men to himself.

What follows is perhaps the most important immediate implication of this declaration of Jesus. It applies to the Mass. At the consecration, we believe that the simple elements of bread and wine are changed, utterly, into the Body, Blood and Soul and Divinity of Christ. When the priest raises the Host and Chalice – at the consecration, at the Through Him with Him and in Him, and at the Behold the Lamb of God, the ‘Son is Man is [once more] being lifted up and drawing all men to Himself.

But at the consecration –something mysterious and marvellous is happening. The priest says: this is my body...this is my blood.’ It is not MY body, it is Christ’s! It is not MY blood, it is Christ’s! So why do I, a priest, say MY Body... My Blood? Because Christ is, as it were, borrowing my voice, using my lips to speak the words about Himself. What is more, we believe that we are at Calvary and the Last Supper all at once, this is Church teaching. The curtain of time parts and we are back 2000 years at Calvary and the Upper Room where Christ says ‘Do this in memory of me’. We are there, or Calvary is here. It is not repeated, it is RE-presented. That is why we say: ‘the mystery of faith’. Christ’s Body and Blood are admittedly, under the appearance of bread and wine, but with the eyes of faith we say, 'Behold the Lamb of God', and ‘the Body of Christ’.

This is why we are having a Eucharistic congress this year to remind us of the beauty, reality and dignity of the Eucharistic celebration.

Let us pray for greater faith in Christ’s Real Presence, so that we may be drawn to Him.

When I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself.

4th Sunday of Lent

We are God’s work of art - created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he meant us to live it.

We have a dignity that has been tarnished by sin. But like a work of art that has been restored these days by long, tedious, careful and painstaking means with modern technology and much loving care – great works like that of the famous Sistine chapel which has been restored to its former glory as the artist painted or designed it, with many fascinating and surprising details often coming to light as centuries of exposure to the grime and grease and stains of candle wax give way to clarity once more. We begin to see the original vision and genius of the artist, and a clearer picture of some of his first attempts that were corrected as well.
But even these priceless works of art will continue to need care with the continued exposure to light, flash photography, air and moisture and the environment. We consider the cost worth the effort for future generations to enjoy the creative genius of a Michelangelo or da Vinci.

Even if we look around the wonders of the painstaking craftsmanship of a cathedral and marvel at the idea of the design of those who planned and built the cathedral in Cobh over 40 years, we know it still costs money to provide for its upkeep.
Why is all this talk of art important?

We are God’s work of art - created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he meant us to live it.’ (Eph 2:10)

Original Sin tarnished and damaged the original design and blueprint and intention of our maker. We are God’s work of art. Every man, woman and child has a dignity, value and worth in God’s eyes from the very mere fact of our existence. Our personal sins do more damage, which also must be reversed.

The passion and the cross and resurrection are as it were God’s great restoration project of all humanity! But God has to work on us individually, every generation – every individual here - and we must be open to the process of being cleaned, cleansed and restored.

Few of us look in the mirror with complete satisfaction at our appearance, especially first thing in the morning, we have remedies and formulas at the ready to beautify ourselves or hide blemishes. But often it takes a second opinion to see an unbuttoned collar or shirt, a zip that needs fastening, a stain that must be removed, a wrinkle that must be ironed, asking ‘how do I look?’

Christ is the great restorer of our hearts and souls - and cares for our inner (not outer) appearance by His Body and Blood which He laid down for us. We are washed clean of original sin, chiselled and perfected to our former glory by ongoing restoration work of many years of grace and patient prayer penance and almsgiving and charity. In a particular way in Lent we undergo an annual cleaning, perfecting and examination and by confession and prayer and penance we are restored.

Ultimately each Lent works to help us to last forever – yes into eternity. Our lives are the great project of inner and outer renewal and restoration By Christ.

Let His work continue if it has not already begun in us! Let us be willing putty in His hands.

Let us now at last begin to live the 'good life as He meant us to live it'!

Second Sunday of Lent

The Transfiguration

Today’s Gospel and readings have to do with mountains. They are the place of wonder, of grandeur at the sight of God’s creation.

If you have ever climbed a mountain or hill, you notice that the sounds of human existence – traffic, farm machinery die away, and as you climb higher then you might hear more clearly birdsong and the bleating of sheep, the buzz of insects, the crunching of the ground beneath your feet. Then finally, at the summit silence, nothing but the wind.

Hill-walking has become a great modern occupation and interest especially among city dwellers. There is something refreshing and re-creation-al about ‘getting away’ from the sights and sounds of the city, as well as the distractions of noise in the home, and pressing concerns at work a, to a different place, a slowing down, to the constancy of the mountain and nature.

We remember there and then that we are as Fr Robert Barron said, human beings, and not human doings. We think that we are defined by what we do. So often to break the ice, a person we have just met will ask us: ‘so what do you do?’
So many people retire and found themselves wondering what to do. 5000 people in the public sector have just retired as part of the terms offered by the Croke Part agreement. I wonder how they will get on ‘not needed’ at work anymore. Sometimes retirement, or even just stopping after a busy schedule leaves us bewildered and dizzy and unsure of ourselves as to what to do next. We have so often allowed the demands of work and others define us, that we can be a disoriented when there is nothing to do. Hence the need to find that we are not to define ourselves by having, doing clutter and noise. Or else we will not know what to do with silence. We are all in such a mad tear to get things done, and for what? The house will never be tidy to our satisfaction, it is never done, the desk will always have paperwork, the children or grandchildren will always have problems, so when will we stop and take time out and accept these facts, and that so many are outside of our control.
Taking time out this Lent is also spiritually fruitful. Time apart in silence is so important.
Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here

It is good for us to be with the Lord in a place of silence to get away to listen to stop to pause.

The great events of the Bible often took place on a mountain or hill – the building of the ark, the near sacrifice of Abel, the 10 commandments, the encounters of the prophets; and in the Gospels – the sermon on the Mount, the place of the Transfiguration, the hill of Calvary – where heaven and earth meet, where God reveals Himself to us.
The mountain is the great place of encounter, but the necessary silence comes first.
To know what God wants we have to slow down, turn off noise, and listen to the silence.
There all Jesus wants is our presence. How often in life our presence alone matters, at a bedside, a visit to hospital – we remember the visit more than the conversation, at a funeral, or at happy occasions - at as wedding or christening - we thank people for coming when words matter less. You simply want the person to be there because you value their company and want to share the joy. As a priest the words I hear most often are - ‘thanks for being there’. ‘You were there when it mattered.’

What does Jesus ever ask of His disciples – but to be there?
Abide with me, remain with me, come and see, come to me all you are burdened and I will refresh you, keep watch with me.

Let us find a place of encounter – the Mount, and Mount Melleray are the places ‘apart’locally that you and can I find the Lord.
Let us learn to be still this Lent.

Let us learn to be human beings again.