Fourth Sunday of the Year

In the days of Josiah, the word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,
'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations'
'So now brace yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them
all I command you.
Do not be dismayed at their presence,
or in their presence I will make you dismayed.
I, for my part, today will make you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron,
and a wall of bronze
to confront all this land:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the country people.
They will fight against you
but shall not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you

it is Yahweh who speaks.'
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:4-13

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
Alleluia, alleluia!
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
Gospel: Luke 4: 21-30

Jesus began to speak in the synagogue, 'This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen'. And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips
They said, 'This is Joseph's son, surely?' But he replied, 'No doubt you will quote me the saying, "Physician, heal yourself" and tell me, "We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside"'. And he went on, 'I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
'There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah's day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha's time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.'
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
The loneliness of the prophetic voice
Jeremiah was chosen from all eternity to be God’s chosen one for his time and place to preach to his people. There is a tense and dramatic relationship between Jeremiah and God and that of his mission to his people.
God likewise chooses the weak to confound the strong in every time and place (but he also makes them strong in the midst of their own weakness). God’s chosen ones – his bishops and priests and deacons today– are among the ordinary men of every time and age and culture, chosen by God himself in His wisdom to preach repentance to all who will listen and even paradoxically and more importantly to those, who maybe in greater numbers, refuse to. This pastoral failure is often taken personally and to heart by the prophet who may feel inadequate to continue after much disappointment. He questions his usefulness for the mission and God’s wisdom in choosing him.  Is it that he is to blame – is it omission on his part, is it in fact his fault alone? The personal and pastoral sensitivity on the part of the prophetic voice is part and parcel of a lonely road that he has to travel, where he is isolated, insulted, mocked and ridiculed by his peers who have shunned him from the marketplace, from polite and acceptable society.
Lonely and misunderstood, Jeremiah is at a loss at what to do or what to say, yet the fire that burns within him, reminds him of God’s love for him and consumes him (see Book of Jeremiah). His interior voice of conscience and the inner fire of the Spirit-filled relationship with God, like St Paul, urges him on amidst so much controversy and hardship. His 'lonely passion' pre-figures that of Jesus, described by Simeon as ‘the sign of contradiction’ in yesterday’s Gospel of the Presentation of the Lord to be set ‘for the rising and falling of many in Israel’, to a people whose hardness of heart later astonishes even Jesus Himself. Jesus is rejected by his own at Nazareth, though, as at Cana in the Gospel two weeks ago ‘his hour had not yet come’. Jesus refers to Jeremiah and the other prophets at the gates of Jerusalem and weeps over their common and inescapable fate. In his time, Jeremiah will not be listened to and will in fact die in exile. He was faithful among an unfaithful and heedless people. His mission was a failure, but he was pleasing to God, who no doubt rewarded him for his fidelity amid much seeming meaninglessness and adversity.
This is the clarion call to all of us to prophecy, to standing up for what is right when it is not the ‘popular thing to do’. In fact it is the call of all the baptised, anointed, consecrated, set apart as part of God’s holy people. Some do answer the call even to the point of martyrdom.
 How am I called to be prophetic? I am called to say what is right and just even if it means personal humiliation and embarrassment to myself, if it costs me popularity and friendship. What needs to be said and how it is to be said? This is very difficult when it comes to one’s own family, when siblings part ways over lifestyle and lack of sacramental practice; where there is some moral problem that needs to be honestly and urgently addressed by a parent to a grown up son or daughter, or between one sibling to another, out of genuine (loving) concern such as marital infidelity, cohabitation, long term addiction of some kind.
The million dollar question is: when something needs to be said, who is going to say it? T
That requires tact and wisdom and discernment.  The opposite effect can happen to what one intends– instead of recognising the offer of help, the person walks away, and there is a distance if not a breach in the relationship. Yet we are called to bring our brother back. It is in fact true 'love' that we hear in Corinthians today, as 'love delights in the truth'. While there is a distinct possibility of failure, what do we truly accomplish by our guilty silence?
We must render account God for our deeds, as well as ‘what we fail to do’. we are judged in the measure that we have loved, and love demands self-sacrifice.

Third Sunday of the Year

Ordination day

Alleluia, alleluia!
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives

GOSPEL: Luke; 4:14-21

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord's year of favour

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen'
[and he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips].

 The Gospel today seems rather appropriate to day as we read from the Gospel of St Luke the passage following Jesus’ baptism as Jesus returns from the wilderness to take up His public ministry the gives the shortest sermon ever: 'today this word is being fulfilled even as you listen.'

Today having been on a retreat to prepare himself spiritually Canon Crean has in the words spoken today to be appropriate

This ‘today’ is appropriate because Jesus fulfils all the hopes and longings and yearnings of the people of Israel. Without their fully realising it the longed for Messiah is in their midst.

I hope it is not too fanciful for me to extend this metaphor to Bishop-elect William Crean's ordination today:
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord's year of favour


Jesus proclaims the words of the prophet Isaiah, on the Sabbath day, who speaks of a choice, an anointing, a call to proclamation of good news to those who need to hear it, news of freedom and light in a year of favour.

In the choppy waters of a recession, but more importantly at a crucial time in our history with the many the challenges to faith and to vulnerable life

It is the Lord’s work – the year of favour - a year of blessings, of a renewal of faith, a return to the doorway of our baptism and re-entering and rediscovering the richness of our faith heritage. And the truths of our faith set us free.

It is good news today as our diocese can now take a new course in the Year of faith symbolised by boat – as we can now set sail with a captain of the boat in our diocese again

Secondly, we hear the words:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.

We pray for canon William Crean who on this our Sabbath day - who will receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of holy Orders, who will receive a divine commissioning : -

He, likewise, will be anointed on the palms of his hands with the oil of chrism who has been sent to us fittingly in the year of faith.

Also he is called to take and to urge us also to take up the call, the challenge of the year of faith, the call of Jesus Christ.

Referring back to the Gospel reading, we read that ‘They handed him the scroll’

In the ordination ceremony today Bishop elect Crean is blessed with the Sacred Scriptures – the book of the Gospels is placed on his head,  and in the prayer of consecration we hear the words: ‘so now pour out upon  this chosen one that power which is from you the governing Spirit whom you gave to your son Jesus Christ..’
After his anointing Bishop Crean is presented with the Book of the Gospels by the presiding celebrant, Archbishop Brown


Jesus after reading from the prophet Isaiah sits down and takes his seat and all eyes are fixed on Him.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him

The bishop takes his seat today over there on the sanctuary we have the specially designated seat called the ‘cathedra’ which is assigned only for the bishop and from which he speaks with the authority as a successor to one of the Apostles.

All eyes were fixed on him as he took his seat- with a look of expectation, joy and hope as he takes his seat. Likewise today the eyes of at least 1100 people will be fixed on Canon Crean today.


May Bishop-elect Crean he win the approval of all as Jesus does in the next verse of the Gospel of Luke

May he receive wisdom strength and courage

May God bless him and our diocese

St Colman Pray for us

Blessed Thaddeus pray for us


Second Sunday of the Year

The wedding feast of Cana

Have you ever counted the number of weddings you have been to?  I am guessing I must have been to 40. I know some priests who have performed 30 weddings in one year! That’s a lot of turkey and ham!
What wedding –besides perhaps your own – stands out for you, and why?

All of us have been to weddings - after all the money and preparation, and things can still go wrong!

Today is the story of a wedding where everything could have gone terribly wrong for the wedding couple – running out of alcohol was not as tragic as here maybe! Weddings in Israel went on for days.  But a shortage of wine  available was considered also a lack of generosity, as well as lack of planning, and a lack of celebratory joy. It would be the talk of the place for ever more, besmirching the family name and honour of the couple and the miracle would spare them a lifetime of pointing gossipy fingers.

The famous story of Our Lord changing of water into wine is one of the most well known public miracles of Jesus – it was also Jesus’ first miraculous sign recorded. It needs little explanation or elaboration. It is the first time that Jesus’ mercy is appealed to – and by Mary - on behalf of perhaps her extended family. But what is memorable is that there was wine in abundance – 900 litre bottles worth! Enough for everyone in the congregation to take at least three bottles home each.

This miracle has never been duplicated – and nobody as far as I know has ever tried to explain it away – there is no natural explanation. How could you explain it?

Our Lady is observant and quickly and calmly comes to the rescue averting disaster. Very few people were actually in the know that there was a problem, and guests would have thought nothing unusual about the filling of the stone water jars for washing of arms and hands. I am not a wine connoisseur – but I have often been fascinated that some people taste  a sample of wine from the waiter.

It does symbolise a couple of things and one is God’s love in abundance for His people.  Also Christ describes Himself as the bridegroom – and we are is people, his Church, are the bride. Heaven is described in parables as compared to a wedding feast to which all are invited but for which all must be found worthy. The wine (and water added) remind us of Cana and at Mass becomes the Blood of Christ.

Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!

So the wedding at Cana speaks and points to a much deeper truth – that we are invited to heaven, to the heavenly banquet or supper.
There are other elements in the imagery of Cana that are worth pondering:
The next time we see the cruets of water and wine, let us recall Cana, but also that the great wondrous miracle at Cana is surpassed by the sacrament of the wine becoming the blood of Christ.
The steward tastes only a sample of the wine meant for the guests - and it is the best wine. The Lord has left the best wine till last - the wine of joy in Heaven is awaiting us, and the joys we experience  here are only fleeting ones compared to the joy of heavenly glory.
We are called to be like the servants, dispensing, and not even always tasting the joy of it, in acts of loving service to to others.

‘The hour’ that finally came was the Passion, and John was one of those asked to ‘watch one hour with me’. John later with Mary heard those words ‘woman’ and witnessed too the flow of blood and water at the hour of Christ’s death on Calvary, prefigured by the water and wine at Cana. The marriage of the Lamb was now complete.
Juat as we may receive an invitation to a wedding accompanied by a set of directions on a map to the church or hotel with which we may not be familiar, we prepare ourselves in advance to be at the wedding in good time. How do we get to the wedding feast of heaven pre-figured too at Cana?  What directions are we to follow to get there?
Simply, by following what Mary tells us – her new extended family, and her servants, repeating her last recorded words in the Gospel at a wedding feast                               

The Baptism of the Lord

                 'This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased'

A funny story I once heard a priest tell was of his childhood. In his kitchen was a small framed print with the three words ‘GOD SEES YOU’. It was in the course of an afternoon that the sign took on huge significance. Coming in to the kitchen his mother, nowhere to be seen had just baked a delicious cake. He turned the cake upside down and took a morsel from underneath and put the cake right side up again to conceal his crime. It was just at that moment when he had stuffed his mouth that he once more saw those three words ‘GOD SEES YOU’ that he felt caught red-handed. The game was up! For a long time that image of God as a judge ready to point out his shortcomings and always on the prowl as it were, stayed with him. It was only much later that he realised that God’s look was a look of love! His attitude to God was immature – 'be good or else', possibly reinforced by parents, older siblings and teachers.

This is a false or distorted image. Yes, God is a judge, but He is mercy itself. He loves us first and foremost. Perhaps the best way to summarise it is to contrast the statements ‘keep God’s commandments, and ‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’ The latter statement consists of the words of Jesus Himself. To obey him out of love for Him is totally different to mere subservience, and keeping the rules for their own sake.

Another anecdote: a psychiatrist I once spoke to (not professionally I hasten to add) mentioned that all his patients had a similar underlying problem: they could not accept that they were lovable or that they were deserving of love. Add to the mix their false belief that God could possibly love them without their earning or meriting it. Their life problems, addictions and compulsions lead them to a strange cocktail of excessive self-love and subsequent self-hatred for their actions. It was their own warped understanding and experience of love received that was conditional that set them down a road of misery. Of course on the road to recovery they must accept responsibility for their actions as adults while addressing the underlying causes of their wrong choices.

Do we accept that we are loved by God?

That He loves us first and above all?

That God could possibly love us that God could possibly love me in my misery?

God can only love - it is His nature – constant love abiding – not like any human love with all its terms and conditions. As the sun by its nature gives out light and heat, so God is by His nature (He can’t help but be) love and mercy itself.

It does not mean that love has no demands, that we sit around passively sun-bathing, basking in God’s love - although we ought to do that sometimes!

It is only when we have received love - in a felt experienced way - that we can give it or share it, without terms and conditions. I think it was St John of God who said: ‘where you do not find love present, put love there and it will emerge’. The great saints often loved others without any love in return. Christ Himself is the model of love when He died for us sinners to set us free from sin and promise that we might have life in abundance. The portrait if love is Christ crucified. Christ’s love emanated from his love for and with the Father; ‘as the Father has loved me so I have loved you.’ Christ in his humanity experienced the receiving of love in a human - as well as a divine - way. He teaches us what it is to be truly loved by God the Father. The quality of our love for God (our relationship – fuelled by prayer) improves when our image of Him does, and our love for others takes on a newer deeper dimension when we know what it is to be loved for our own sake and without ‘terms and conditions’.

Finally it is in today’s Gospel scene of the Baptism of Jesus where we hear the words: ‘Behold my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’, that we realise that these words apply equally to us, the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father who says to you and to me: ‘you are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter’.

Do we dare to believe it?

Do we dare to live out the implications of this love - that this love is meant for all our brothers and sisters In Christ? That we are to live and love in the blissful knowledge that we are loved? That we have done nothing to earn it or deserve it but that it is also indestructible? That is it we who in fact have often strayed from this love?

It is when Jesus is at prayer that these words are uttered. May our own prayer lives and experiences grow in the Year of Faith. May the Father ‘find us’ in prayer, and in that prayer time may we experience His love.

Our mission – to love, like Jesus, is therefore only just beginning.


JANUARY -The Most Holy Name of Jesus

The Most Holy Name of Jesus

The good name of a company or institution is preserved at huge expense and damage limitation is a costly exercise when there is tarnishing of on the reputation of a company. Poor customer care, product withdrawal due to defects can often kill a company’s annual turnover. Therefore branding, logo recognition and the marketing of a brand is part of the budget of any profitable enterprise. From time to time there is a scandal or a health scare– and the horse burger debacle is the one that comes immediately to mind.

Branding is big business from socks and shoes to hair products to what have you. These companies jealously guard their patent and their brand name. So if a company receives a valid complaint it is dealt with very seriously. Similarly if a company is not properly credited, misappropriated or used without due permission, lawsuits follow.

One’s own family name and indeed one’s own name and reputation are important too. We all have a right to our good name, and have a right to defend it form character assassination. Hence libel laws and litigation.

With all this talk of good names, we say that a particular business or production company has good name for value or safety reliability and longevity of their product.

Naming someone can be ‘a name and shame exercise’ or an identification of someone for a particular job, or winning a prize. We all like to hear our name called out in a raffle or draw. Or our ears prick up if we hear our name being called out in public or if we stumble on a conversation where we are been mentioned.

Someone is named for a particular reason. Thought goes into naming a child.

So what or who is the most important name of all? Of course the name of Jesus – ‘of all names there is no other name under heaven and earth by which we can be saved.’

In January – for the whole month – we traditionally give honour to the Holy Name of Jesus and there is in fact a liturgical feast in January to honour His name.

It is a sad fact that Catholics and Irish Catholics in particular give such dishonour to the Holy Name. what does it say about us as a nation that in a certain shrine abroad a hotel owner described Irish people as the ‘Jesus people’ because of their tendency to take His Holy Name in vain at every juncture.

We must honour the name of the Lord – after all it is a commandment, and a commandment of love to give due honour to His name because God is holy. Jews would not dare even utter the name of God and reverence it in writing. A few years ago I heard that the Leaving Cert Hebrew exam papers form in Irish secondary schools were burnt when finished with, because the Hebrew name for God was in hand-written form.

We have celebrated Christmas, and Jesus’ name is especially mentioned with great honour in the infancy narratives: ‘and behold you will conceive and bear a son and you must name Him Jesus, He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.’ Later, at his circumcision, eight days after his birth he is formally named (Luke 1:21, Mt 1:25)

In Matthew, the prophecy is fulfilled: ‘behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel, a name which means God is with us’ (1:23).

So let us always reverence His Holy name.
We have the example too of Mary, who, in her Magnificat said: ‘He that is mighty has done great things for me, Holy is His Name.’

Epiphany Sunday


As the Christmas season draws to a close, often the January blues set in. For some people, it is difficult to return to the mundane tasks, what with the taking down of the Christmas tree and decorations, the turning off of the lights, the packing of the tinsel, the removal of Santa, the final re-reading of Christmas cards before recycling, and the returning of the Christmas box to the attic for another year. For others it is a relief to return to normal as children act up on too much chocolate and sugar and late nights. The return to school is a relief for many parents.

For the lonely, January provides relief from the hype and excitement that goes with the commercialisation that lead up to the Christmas season. The impending dread in November and December of another sad Christmas, the lack of enjoyment, the sense of nostalgia for Christmas past is coloured by an increasing sense of isolation and loneliness with family members gone abroad, out of touch, or gone to their eternal reward. But now January is a time to put the annual recurring sadness behind.

And finally there can be a sense of hope and expectation as new resolutions are made as this could be the year that the many and oft tried failed resolutions of previous Januarys finally take lasting effect in our lives.

As we return to term and school and work (and yes, school traffic) and ordinary tasks, let us take time to pause and reflect. What does this feast of Epiphany mean to us? Have we lost that sense of wonder and imagination? What does the Lord want of me? Do I feel closer to God or more distant from Him? of our childhood?
As we reflect on the journey of the Wise Men, what is my journey? Where has 2012 brought me, and what does 2013 hold out for me?

How has this Christmas gone – and on this ‘Twelfth Night’ can I reflect on how has God shown Himself to me over the Christmas period through the kindness and cheer of others, of simple words or acts of kindness, even a smile.

Have I really made the effort to look for Him in prayer – to do Him homage like the wise? Have I taken time to pray before the crib? Do I pray at all? What is the quantity and quality of my prayer? Do I believe it is a relationship or a thing to get done on a checklist in a very busy day?

The wise men have much to teach us. They made the effort – and not only did they find the King – we are told He was to be found with His mother. I think that is a little clue or hint – we are wise if we seek Jesus – with Mary to show us the way – the Star of the Sea – pointing us all in the right direction, to true wisdom, the wisdom of God.

As 2013 begins and even if I have not yet made a resolution, it is not too late to go to the crib – it will be here for at least another week. To open my treasures – to open what is most dear to me – what I alone can give, that is, my heart to Him, ‘for where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure’. Maybe I am called to open my eyes to the needs of others, to open my mouth in sympathy support and comfort, and to open my hands in generosity, and to open my home to those I have excluded. January often provides an opportunity to say ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ We must de-clutter once more, and share not only our treasures, but what we alone can uniquely give – our treasured time and talent as well – in love. These the gift we can give the whole year round and not just at Christmas.

May Christ lead the way in all our journeys wherever they may take us , and may we all find Christ with His Mother this year.