There are times when we try to get by with the bare minimum. Maybe we have scraped through an exam with the minimum of effort, or done a last-minute rush job to complete a work project. Plenty of us know what it’s like to do just enough around the house to keep it from descending into total chaos! Perhaps unconsciously, we sometimes take the same approach to our relationships – only phoning a parent once in a blue moon to ‘check in,’ or visiting a friend only when we are reminded. It can be easy to slip into a pattern of acting out of a sense of duty rather than love.

 Of course, our faith can go the same way. Are there times when we approach the Eucharist with a niggling feeling that something is not quite right? If so, Jesus has some strong words for us in today’s Gospel. If we believe that all we are expected to do is ‘follow the rules,’ we have missed something important. Jesus does not want us to merely follow the letter of the law. Where is the joy or the challenge in that? He tells us that our virtue must go deeper than simply doing the bare minimum. Not only must we not kill, we must not be angry with others. Not only must we not break a promise, we must be honest in all our dealings and in our speech. If we approach the altar without being on good terms with others, we are not in true communion with God. Obeying the rules is the bare minimum. The Gospel is calling us to a more radical way of living

© Tríona Doherty,The Deep End, Intercom Magazine, Veritas.

This little light of mine … I’m gonna let it shine!

Perhaps you are familiar with this popular hymn. It is often used in children’s liturgies, and was in fact written as a gospel song for children in the 1920s. It later became something of an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, associated in particular with civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer. The song was seen as a way of expressing unity, as people fought for equal rights and freedom.

‘This Little Light of Mine’ is based on the words of Matthew’s Gospel that we hear today: ‘No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub… your light must shine in the sight of all.’ Without the light of those who were part of the civil rights movement, our world would be a very different place. There are good people everywhere who continue to fight for justice and freedom, who use their ‘light’ to help others and make sure people are treated fairly and with dignity – both those who campaign and speak out about injustice, and the people on the ground who support the sick, the homeless, refugees and others experiencing difficulties. Witnessing so much suffering, it might be tempting for these ‘people of light’ to become disheartened, but they carry on, using their compassion and skills to bring about change, shining their light in the darkness. As followers of Christ, we are called to light up the world. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote: ‘A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow him.’

© Tríona Doherty, The Deep End, Intercom Magazine, Veritas.

This Tuesday, 11th February, we celebrate the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes which also marks World Day of Prayer for the Sick.  It is a reminder of the very special place that the sick had in the life of Jesus. No one who has ever read the gospels could ever question his love of, or his compassion for the sick.  His concern for those who were suffering in mind or body or spirit is imprinted on every page and in every encounter. As followers of Jesus we are called to follow his example of care and compassion for all those who suffer sickness and ill-health. Our care of the sick is one of the most powerful ways in which we can witness to Christian love and it must always be a corner-stone of our faith.   This weekend we extend our heart-felt prayers for all who are sick in our community and in your families.  We commit ourselves once more to caring for them and supporting them in their time of illness and we acknowledge the extraordinary service of so many people in our community who each day are living examples of loving care to the sick: families caring for loved ones at home; home-helps; doctors, nurses and carers in our hospitals, hospices and nursing homes; volunteers caring for neighbours and many other people within our community.  Your service enables and enriches the life of our community and we pray God’s blessing on you and all those for whom you care.

We also take this opportunity to once more say that if anyone is sick or unwell in our community and would like one of us to visit you then we would be delighted to do so, be that in your home, in hospital or in nursing care. If anyone is housebound or struggles with mobility and would like to be included in our First Friday Communion Calls then we would be only too happy to visit you and bring you Holy Communion each month.  Please don’t be shy about calling us.  There is nothing more important to us than caring for and supporting those in our community whose health is failing and it is always a great privilege to be able to visit with you, pray with you if you so wish and bring you Holy Communion.  Please call or have one of your family call whichever one of us you would like to visit you.  We look forward to seeing you.  Until then please be assured that you are always in the thoughts and prayers of our community.   Fr Con & Fr Seán

It might be tempting to run away to a monastery for Christmas, away from the commercialization, away from the hectic hustle, away from the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then perhaps we could have a truly holy Christmas. But then we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians adopted and gave a meaning to the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush.                                              © Fr Andrew Greeley, Selected Writings

The Gospel reading on this Sunday deals with the ministry of John the Baptist.  The theme of his preaching was this “Reform your lives for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”.  How does one do that?  It will do little good for us to say, I will now reform my life.  Nothing constructive is likely to come from that.  I suggest two ideas that I think are essential if we are to experience a personal reformation.

First, we must take an honest look at ourselves, which is not any easy thing to do. The last person on earth that each of us really wants to meet is himself or herself.  So we master the art of hiding ourselves from ourselves.  The Pharisees and Sadducees had convinced themselves that they were the finest people on earth but John called them “a brood of vibers” which to us sounds harsh but there was actually an element of mercy in it.  John knew that they were hiding from themselves and nothing would change until they took an honest look at their own lives.  The same is true of us as well.

The second suggestion is this – to have a personal reformation we must remain self critical, which is true of all of us.  We are weak and make mistakes.  We are not always right, no one ever is.  One of the finest things that any of us could do is face the fact that we are sometimes wrong and admit it.

My final thought is this – do something different, take some action.  John said to the Pharisees and Sadducees “Give some evidence that you intend to reform”.  How easy it is for our lives to get in ruts and remain there day after day, week after week.  It is not our intention, it just happens.

Advent can be a time of personal reformation.  It can be and will be if we take an honest look at ourselves and have the courage to do something good that we don’t ordinarily do.  “Reform your lives for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”.

                                                                                                             Fr John

Over the past few weeks many people have quietly been preparing behind the scenes to make sure that our Christmas celebration of the birth of Christ is truly the special occasion it ought to be.  Cribs have been erected, trees have been decorated, choirs young and old have been busy practicing to ensure that our Christmas services are truly memorable and can help us to share in ‘the joy of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, the worship of the wise men and the peace of the Christ Child.’ Quietly behind the scenes many people and organisations have been working tirelessly to help make this Christmas a little more special for those who are struggling or need a hand.  Your quiet service ennobles our entire community and we thank you for the difference you have made and will make over the coming days.

As priests of the parish we are deeply indebted to you, our parishioners, for your continued kindness, friendship and support and we take this opportunity to thank you for your generous support of the Christmas Offering Collection. We welcome everyone in our community to join us for our Christmas Services    

Fr Con, Fr John and Fr Seán

Looking to give a gift that really makes a difference this Christmas? Then consider becoming a blood donor and giving blood over the coming weeks.  It will cost you nothing more than an hour of your time and it will make an enormous difference in someone else’s life. 

67% of all blood donations go to cancer patients who get transfusions as part of their treatment, 27% of blood is used in surgery and emergency room situations, 6% of blood is used for treatment of new-born babies and birth complications.

3,000 donations are needed each week in Ireland to keep up with the constant demand for blood and this demand is met by ordinary people, like you and I, choosing to donate blood.  The Irish Blood Transfusion Service has a permanent clinic in St Finbarr’s Hospital. There will also be a Blood Donation Clinic this Monday and Tuesday, 2nd & 3rd December 2019 from 5.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. in Carrigaline GAA Hall. One in four of us will need a blood donation at some point in our lives.  If you enjoy good health and are able to donate blood please consider becoming a blood donor.  For more information see www.giveblood.ie

It is hard to think of a better gift that you can give this Christmas!                Fr Seán   

Life is a constant Advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfil. Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfilment are all part of our Advent experience. The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and his presence among us—as one of us—give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned. May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation and fulfilment into the Advent of our lives.                                                        

© Connections

The last Sunday of the year is always celebrated as the Feast of Christ the King and each year we are invited to ponder some aspect of Christ’s rule over the church and indeed all creation. In Year C we have been reading the Gospel of Luke over many Sundays and have been privileged to see how the great mystery of God’s universal love and mercy is revealed in the person of Jesus. It is appropriate then on this feast to focus on Jesus on the cross granting pardon to the repentant thief. For Luke this aspect of the kingdom of God has been central: Jesus has come to bring the healing forgiveness of God to all who seek it.

‘If you are the king of the Jews then save yourself.’ This cry of mockery from the crowds on Calvary is worthy of our reflection on a feast such as today’s. It is precisely because he is the king of the Jews, and indeed king of the whole world, that Jesus does not save himself. He is more concerned to save others. This he does, not by the majestic use of power or a dramatic manifestation of his glory, but rather through a humble giving of himself in which the mercy of God is offered to everyone in an act of overwhelming generosity. Today we celebrate a king whose wealth lies in his love for all, and whose authority is exercised through service of those who are considered the least important of all. Jesus does not seek servants who grovel before his throne in the hope of being granted favours, he is looking for disciples who can stand before the cross and see there their own worth and the worth of every other human being, and who will be prepared to do what they can to uphold the dignity of their brothers and sisters

© Seán Goan, Let the Reader Understand, www.columba.ie