Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Garden


The Garden

The disciple speaks
The supper consumed, we disciples walk with him
He is distracted, reflective, pensive, his mood grim
Words are not flowing as they usually do, all are tired
Today has been emotional, his words have inspired
He enters the garden, we are to wait here, pray he says
In the distance I see him, he stops, he kneels, he prays
We look at each other, the atmosphere is now sombre
I'd have walked with him, stayed nearer, gone further
He said a cock will crow, I would deny him in seconds
My eyes are heavy, the wine relaxes me, sleep beckons

Jesus wept
Father, this cup is mine to consume, I am afraid, alone
I accept this willingly, as you would have it, on my own
My strength fades, my life hangs in the balance, I fear
As my blood drops and tears flow, the hour draws near
The disciples sleep, they do not see, they close their eyes
As you will it, so shall it be, acceptance banishes all whys
Time to wake them from deep slumbers, the chosen few
The time of pain is here, I have prayed, I know what to do
I see the one in the distance deep in the midst of night
Walking towards me with men of violence, a dreadful sight
Greetings Rabbi! Then that kiss, a betrayal of very love itself
A burden impossible to bear, despite thirty silver pieces wealth

The garden bears witness
A curious beauty, a blossom of colour, an oasis, a sanctuary
The Lord of life has ensured its remembrance for all eternity
As he leaves, escorted by the anger of retribution and hatred
The garden remains silent, a place of hope, tranquil, sacred.

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2014 all rights reserved

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Judas



Judas

The night entered my soul, my heart turned away
Betrayal on my lips, treachery the order of this day
What you are to do, do quickly, for evil takes a hold
This rabbi said he was God's Son, so his name I sold
Thirty pieces of silver, glittering coins of great worth
Now my heart, it lies in pieces, I feel I am of no worth
Lord, What have I done? The words stick in my throat
Remorse equips me with rope, a field, in dry air I’ll float

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2014
all rights reserved

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Prodigal and the Father


The Prodigal and the Father

(Part one: The Prodigal)

Dark clouds gather in the uncertain skies over his head
they swoop down enclosing his weary fragile mood 

His heart sinks into the mud he wishes he were dead
encased in the filth of the pigs, he longs even for their food

His life has come to an abrupt stop, the parties have come to an end, the good times are no more

His money spent, he realises in this moment that he has nothing, he is nothing, he falls to his knees, his head faces that mucky floor


The dark clouds part for a brief moment, the light of the sun caresses his tired brow, and his head clears 

“I forgive you” an echo from his youth pervades his soul, and for the first time he hears

He comes to his right senses, he stands to his feet, his legs are shaking under the weight of his remorse


He thinks to himself what shall I do? I shall return to my father, though I have no father any more of course 

I am no longer the son, my status has been spent, as has the inheritance

Time to grow up, to quit living this unwholesome pretence

His servants they are well cared for, afforded respect, treated so well

Yet here am I living in the stench of this foul, self inflicted smell

He walks forwards hesitant, his pride makes each step painful, his heart is heavy with the shame of sorrow that he bears

Bowed down he dares not look up, he has no right to do so and no rights anymore for he is no victim of these sad affairs.

(Part 2 The Father)

He stands at the window, a forlorn figure, he peers outwards, his vision is clear, nothing is there, not even a tiny glimpse on the horizon

He weeps, he grieves, he has lost his youngest son 

Perhaps today he thinks, my eyes will open and I will see him once again 

But hope has left his household and been replaced by crushing pain 

This day he wakes early, in truth he barely sleeps 

His son’s sweet memory in tenderness he keeps 

Standing at the window his heart sinks, he turns his weary head away 

It has been many anguished nights and many a fruitless day since his son went away

His eyes flooded with water spy a figure far in the distance

For a moment his heart sings, his soul begins to dance!

Walking slowly toward him a return of hope, a restoration of peace

A moment his mind convinced him would not happen, but true hope does not cease

Uncontained joy bundles him though the open door towards that once dead man now awaking, as it moves towards his loving gaze, once more

Until within a few feet he is sure of what he sees, his Son has returned and now sinks to the floor

The Father lifts up the Son from the ground with great tenderness and a gentle embrace of forgiveness

No words are needed, no words will explain this blessed encounter or do this sacrament full justice.

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2014 all rights reserved

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Homily Notes: 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God” I can’t remember who said this but I have seen it as a quote on posters and cards about the place over the years. It is a very consoling quote in the context of the uncertainty of life and its precarious nature. The opposite sentiment of “here today gone tomorrow” dismisses the faith that people have in God and the urgency of the faith.
We are given a choice, either live for today as if this life is all there is, or see life as preparing for an eternal future. When we choose faith to be our guiding principle of life and we see Jesus as our Saviour, and the Church the means to achieve the goal of life’s journey, then there are values that underpin our choice.
Compassion is inspired by truth, love is grounded in forgiveness, hope is centred on Christ, faith is lived out and embraced. These values are integral to our living because of the choice of faith that we make. We see the world differently as people of faith. Yet there is to be a real effort made on our part if our choice of faith is to bear fruit in our own lives, and in the lives of others.
Jesus is presented in the gospel today moved by pity, spurred on by love and determined to defeat the enemy of death.  He is seen to infuse hope into the lives of all who come to faith in him as the Son of God, as the Lord of life, as the conqueror of sin and death. He brings his friend Lazarus back to life. He demonstrates what faith in Jesus is and what the power of his love can overcome. He reaches out to the weakness of humanity and transforms that weakness into life.
Hearing the words of the gospel today spurs us on. Jesus is no figment of our imagination, but the hope of our lives. We do not fear the future, because we know God has prepared in Jesus, an eternal future for us.
May this lent be fruitful for us in renewing our faith, and preparing us to bring into our hearts the full significance of Easter, which changes forever the perception people have of the world and makes certain our eternal futures.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Homily Notes: 4th Sunday of Lent Year A


This week the news story that grabbed my attention was that of a 39 year old lady called Joanne Milne, a Gateshead woman who had been deaf all her life. But thanks to cochlear implants she was able to hear. Her mother filmed the moment when the news was broken to her and the tears that flowed when she heard for the first time. It was a moment that filled everyone who saw it with tears too. In the interview afterwards she spoke excitedly about the sounds around, the same sounds which we take for granted. She marvelled at the birds singing and the wind rustling in the trees.
The blind man in the gospel has been rejected because he was born that way, he must have deserved it or his family did, was the attitude to disability or sickness. Jesus cures his blindness and attempts to cure the blindness of the Pharisees who have a disability of their own without realising it. They are blind to a fellow human being and his need. They are blind to love and blind to God and his command to love neighbour regardless of who that neighbour is; friend enemy, part of the family or outside of family, ill or well, sinner or just, all God’s people have worth.
The first reading encourages us to listen. Man judges by appearance but God judges the heart. The motives are what God sees. We can be so obsessed in our throw away culture with looks, status, wealth, and if we are, it is normally at the expense of others.
The gratitude of the man who is cured is echoed in the story in the news this week of Joanne Milne. It is good news! Sometimes we can become immune to such things! Let us make a real effort this lent to rediscover the wonder of God’s love in our lives, so that we can be cured of the blindness that stops us from rejoicing at good news. Or makes us stop hearing the good that surrounds us. Let us be cured of prejudice and obsessions with looks and status, rather let us realise that God looks at the heart and wants us to turn those hearts towards him.

The rain falls on good and bad alike!

The rain falls on good and bad alike!
The rain lashes down, soaking me
Washing into me, saturating completely
Running down my face indiscriminately
The drops of water obscuring what I see
Seeking out a dry shelter I turn and flee
The ground beneath yields to inevitability
The sodden path under my feet is squishy
My footsteps sink into dirt, claggy, murky
Slipping along until finally a place of safety
Dripping wet, my heart makes an enquiry
Are you not pleased Lord, are you angry?
But rain falls on good or on bad humanity
Cultivating weeds and wheat in symmetry
One is not chosen for bad fortune randomly
Another not sumptuously blessed wily nilly
The motives of God are beyond my scrutiny
From his hand I accept his will with humility
When all is well, when days drift by peacefully
Or when the storm clouds gather menacingly
Blessed be the name of the Lord perpetually
I bow down before him to worship eternally.
Fr Patrick Brennan © 2014 all rights reserved

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Homily Notes: 3rd Sunday of Lent


Perception is everything. I was asked the other day how long had I been in Cannock. I could have said since January 2003, or for eleven years, or I could have said for half of my priestly life. Each answer though the same, is said in a different way to convey the meaning of the response made.
The Samaritan women in the gospel is shocked that a Jewish man would engage her in conversation. As in the Dictionary of the Bible, Fr. John McKenzie states: “There was no deeper breach of human relations in the contemporary world than the feud of Jews and Samaritans, and the breadth and depth of Jesus’ doctrine of love could demand no greater act of a Jew than to accept a Samaritan as a brother.” The history of the Samaritans and Jewish people would make this meeting shocking for those who heard it. A woman’s role was to do the serving and not the thinking, so for Jesus to engage her in conversation shows the listener that he was smashing down ancient walls of accepted prejudice.

Sometimes we are so familiar with the gospels that we do not appreciate how shocking Jesus is to the society around him. Jesus is ever challenging those who heard him.

Jesus stood out because his ministry was the very opposite to the self-righteous of his day who have lost sight of their role as instruments of salvation and put themselves in the role of judging the worth of their fellow human beings.

We are encouraged by Jesus to bring about his kingdom here on earth, a kingdom of justice. We are called to promote justice, to adhere to the words and actions of Jesus, and to follow his example in smashing down the walls of ignorance and prejudice.

 With Jesus, we see that no one is better or more worthy than another. The poor, the uneducated, the needy, these are not to be ignored but we are to champion their rights as fellow human beings. Every person is precious in the sight of God. From the weak and vulnerable at every stage of life, from the very beginnings to the very end. Human life has worth and dignity. Jesus stands with us as we stand with each other.

The perception may be that we are to make the most out of life and live that life to the full. Most people hear this message. How we answer that by our lives, demonstrates the motivation of our hearts. We can live life to the full and not selfishly chase after our own needs and wants to the detriment of those who need help support and hope. Living life to the full can be the proclamation of hope and that hope in Jesus we carry with us and proclaim.