In today’s gospel Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment, unable to hear or speak God’s word of truth. The challenge to hear what God is calling us to and to speak out is renewed in every generation. In our own time we are increasingly called to hear the cry of our ailing common home and speak out to protect the environment.  Scientists warn us that unless drastic action is taken we will lose the battle against the environmental destruction which threatens the future of humanity. But change is possible. All it takes is one good person to restore hope. As followers of Christ we have a duty to hear and heed the call to care for God’s beautiful creation. We can be cynical and say that the issue is too big, that it is up to governments to sort out.  Or we can choose to do what we can. This week can you encourage your family to make small changes in the home such as ensuring all waste is correctly recycled, composting, encouraging one another to use public transport or walk/cycle when possible? A very simple action is to reduce the use of plastic by buying a reusable water bottle or coffee cup.  We can begin with small actions and encourage others to do the same. Together we can make a difference.

© Jane Mellett, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Intercom Magazine, Veritas Ltd.

This summer, take time to slow down, to relax and to focus on what truly matters to you. 

Take time outdoors …. you’ll be inside long enough when winter returns!  

Take time to be astounded by the beauty that surrounds us and the sheer joy of being alive.

Take time to paddle in the ocean, to sit in the sun, to laugh with friends and to play with children.

Take time for whatever makes your soul soar and your heart sing. 

Take time to make others feel good and you yourself will feel the better for it! 

Take time for fun and include others in your fun – a joy shared is often a joy doubled. 

Take time above all to build memories that will endure even when the sun has declined and the evenings have shortened. 

Take time this summer to let your breathing slow and your heart be open. 

Take time to be present to all that is so that you might see all that might be. 

Take time this summer to allow God to refresh and renew you. 

That is what summers are for!                                                            Anonymous

Like the water we drink, some Gospel values are so obvious that we ignore them until pollution hits.  Then it is very often difficult to restore what has been lost.  Again and again Jesus taught us that unity among people is a cornerstone of his Gospel.  As we read in this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus pointed out that any group of people divided among themselves can never achieve success.  This is true of families, of communities, of nations, even of the Church itself.  Division is the direct opposite of Christianity.  The forces of evil make progress, by setting neighbours against neighbours, teenagers against parents, workers against management, sport followers against sport followers. When bitterness is countered with bitterness, it can only lead to additional bitterness.  When hatred is met with hatred, it sows the seeds of continuing hatred.  On and on it will go until someone somewhere decides to put an end to it.  This is what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of turning the other cheek.  He wasn’t speaking of weakness, he was speaking of wisdom.  He was appealing to us to have the courage to fight evil with good.  The Christian calling is to heal such rifts, to bring those who are alienated together, to build bridges of reconciliation. Jesus assures us that anyone who builds unity and peace in these ways is closer to him than even his own mother and family.  It is a strong way to put it, but he meant it.        Fr John

We are told that here in Ireland one of our most common nightmares is thinking that we are back doing our Leaving Cert once more.  It is probably a reflection of how stressful and anxious a time it was for many of us.  Our whole future seemed to hang on those two weeks in June.  Our worse fear was of our mind going blank or the topics we had studied not appearing on the exam paper.  At this time of year those memories make us mindful of young people about to face into their exams     

over the coming weeks. We wish them well and we promise them that they will be very much present in our prayers throughout the month.

Last year I attended the 30 Year Reunion of my Leaving Cert Class.  It was lovely to catch up with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years.  But what stayed with me most from that night was how each of us has found our own path in life.  Our Leaving Cert neither defined us nor did it determine our future. People found a way to pursue what they wanted in life.  Life presented opportunities that we could neither have foreseen nor imagined. It turns out that the Leaving Cert was not the’ be all and end all’ that we once imagined.  It was one step, an important one, on a journey with many other steps and many twists and turns. Yes, for many of us it determined our next step in life but it did not shape the entire journey.  That depended on ourselves, our willingness to work hard, to apply ourselves and not to give up on what we really wanted in life.  Perseverance and character were what shaped our journey most.

And so, as you prepare for your exams, I say to you: Believe in yourselves, trust in the work you have done, stay calm and give of your best.  No one can ask anything more of you.  Support one another and encourage your friends who may be anxious or nervous.  Remember that there is life after the Leaving Cert! Whatever door it opens for you later this summer is but the first of many doors and opportunities that life will hold out to you.  Look to the future with hope.  We all wish you well.                                                                                   Fr Seán

No human relationship is all that it ought to be until it has been elevated to the level of friendship. You and I may be neighbours in the sense that we live in close proximity but that can be problematic unless we are also friends.  Perhaps the nearest and dearest of all human relationships is the bond between parents and their children.  That natural relationship will fall short of fulfilment unless they learn to see each other also as friends. No human relationship is all that it ought to be without this blend of respect, affection and trust that ties people together in friendship.

This Sunday’s Gospel tells of the time Jesus called the disciples ‘friends.’ With the cross only hours away, he said: ‘There is no greater love than this – to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ Then he spoke even more personally and said: “You are my friends.” In the life of Jesus friendship played a positive role and was part of the strength that enabled him to face the cross with unfailing courage. 

In a world that is becoming ever more impersonal, when even in big cities the great enemy is loneliness, we all need friends more than we realise. Friendship is one of the few places left in the world where we can really relax, let it all hang out and be ourselves for a change. People nowadays complain about a lack of identity.  Perhaps what they are really suffering from is loss of friends. A friend loves us even when we do not deserve it.  A friend forgives us when we cannot demand it. A friend believes in us even when we do not believe in ourselves.  That is friendship at it best and it is the only power in earth that can truly conquer the human heart.   Fr John

This Sunday is an occasion that we usually approach with a sense of puzzlement and confusion.  It is Trinity Sunday and that word raises questions in our minds to which there seems to be no answers.  Theologians have never been able to explain it in a way that we fully understand.  The Trinity is not a problem nor a riddle to be explained.  It is life to be lived within reach of all of us.

We can start with the love of the Father.  That is a good place to begin, because it is the control theme of our Christian faith.  It is the reason that Jesus was born, as St John says, “God loved the world that he gave his only Son”.  This is the truth that Jesus both taught and lived.  He taught his disciples that the Father also loved them.  Then he commissioned those disciples to go and tell all the people on earth that the Father also loves them. His entire life was anchored in the firm conviction that the Father in heaven loved him and us. The next thing we can do is to share in the suffering of his Son.  St Paul reminds us that “we are children of God and asks us to suffer with him so as to be glorified with him”. The crucifixion of Jesus is a fact of history.  He was not responsible for the hatred and the cruelty that corrupted the people and the institutions of that day.  He voluntarily took that burden upon himself and carried it to Calvary.  His disciples began to see, that part of that collective guilt belonged to them and they could not escape the conclusion that Jesus had died for their sins. Once that truth had been faced, they could not escape a sense of an unpayable gratitude and gratitude began to find expression in the way that they lived.  On this Trinity Sunday, let us remind ourselves that we can share in the suffering of the Son. Our final thought is this.  We can know the living presence of the Holy Spirit.  If we think of God only as the Father in heaven, then he can seem a long way off. If we think of him only as he was revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, then he can be seen a long way back.  But if we also think of him as the Holy Spirit who lives within us then God becomes the faithful friend who is always there. 

We may never be able to understand or explain the Trinity but that limitation need not deprive us of its truth. We can do something better than explain it, we can live it. We can rely on the unfailing love of the Father, we can share in the suffering of the Son and we can know the living presence of the Holy Spirit.                Fr John

As with all vine growers, Jesus tells us in the gospel that God cares for his vines, nurturing them, pruning them where necessary, giving them all they need so that they can grow stronger and reach their full potential. We are no doubt the branches. What does it mean to be a branch? Branches must remain connected to the vine or they bear no fruit. Even those branches that do bear fruit need pruning so that they can grow and bear even more fruit. We live in a world where productivity is seen as the measure of success:  we are measured by what we produce. Is Jesus really adding to the pressure by telling us that he wants to see results or else!?

But the parable is more about connectivity than productivity. We don’t measure friendship or relationship in terms of productivity but in terms of connection. We want to remain close to, to be connected to the people we care most about. It is this closeness, this intimacy that Jesus calls us to. Are we connected or disconnected to God? If the connection is strong, then fruit-bearing comes naturally and people will see the gospel in our lives and in the way we respond to the world.

© Jane Mellett, Intercom Magazine, Veritas, Dublin

Over the next three Monday nights, 14th May, 21st May and 28th May 2018, Anne Francis will lead those involved in any ministry in our communities in exploring the meaning and significance of faith and community and service in our lives.  These sessions will take place from 8.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. each night in St Mary’s Church in Passage West with a cuppa afterwards in St Elizabeth’s Meeting Room.  All those already involved in any type of ministry in our parish or those who would like to become more involved are welcome to join us for these evenings. We hope that the nights will also afford people a chance to meet those involved in ministry in other centres in our parish and strengthen the bonds between our different communities.  For each night’s reflection Anne will focus on a quote from the readings of the previous Sunday.

 

14th May 2018 We who believe. Following Jesus through life.
21st May 2018  Baptised into one body. Being Community.
28th May 2018  I am with you always: Serving through ministry.

                                                      

We look forward to gathering with you and hopefully learning from Anne and from one another. All are welcome.                         Fr John, Fr Con and Fr Seán

This weekend’s Gospel reading focuses on the relationship between the Good Shepherd and flock but so much of what it says can be applied to our own life also.  Our relationship with those ‘in charge’ of us changes dramatically when we sense that not only are they in charge, but they truly care about us and are committed to our wellbeing. Rather than resisting their guidance we learn to appreciate that all they do is aimed at our good.   The Good Shepherd ‘lays down his life for his sheep’. Similarly we are blessed with people in our lives who have often laid down their lives for us by putting our needs before their own, by sacrificing themselves so that we might have greater opportunities in life, by setting aside their own interests to care for us and support us through difficult and vulnerable moments in life. The gospel is an invitation to remember in gratitude all those who have ‘shepherded’ us and continue to do so today.  It may be a parent, a spouse or partner, a son or daughter, a friend or neighbour, a carer or home-help– extraordinary people who go out of their way to care for us and look after us when we need it most.

Jesus also speaks of the freedom of the Good Shepherd in laying down his life. Faced with the needs of others, we can at times feel trapped into looking after them: caught by duty, obligation, or guilt. We can become like the hired hands doing a job without truly caring for the person. Perhaps we have experienced both attitudes, caring for others under duress and caring for others by your free choice. The attitude and heart we bring to caring for others makes all the difference, even in circumstances where we feel little option.  Caring for others is not always easy and is not always appreciated, but if we can learn to see it as an opportunity rather than a burden or obligation, it can become for both the carer and the cared an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience.  May God grant us the heart of the Good Shepherd in our shepherding and caring of each other.                          Fr Seán