Authentic faith in God displays a humility, one that says we don’t know everything, but we trust, we submit our wills to seeking direction from the Lord.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Saturday, 18 May 2013
We may be deluding ourselves if we listen to the drivel that is trotted out by those who refuse to have faith. We are told that faith in God is just a fairy tale, a nonsense, we are just trying to make sense of what surrounds us, so we invent a heaven and a hell. The louder you shout the more truth in your argument seems to be the modern method of discussing matters of life and death, faith and the like. Keep shouting, we will keep believing!
Faith in Christ is not made up but is real and the cause of our joy, the reason for our hope. The story of God and his covenant with his people is an historic fact. It leads to Christ, his death his resurrection, his ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit. These are not myths, these are historic facts. The story of God’s covenant is one that is at the heart of each new generation discovering the truth of faith.
It can be painful to have our faith rejected by those we love, those in our families, those we have nurtured and encouraged to seek faith as a way for life; not an answer for everything but “the way” for living. How we bring people back to faith is an important question for us and one that takes much prayer.
The truth of God is expressed upon the Cross: God’s Word is spoken and uttered in the bleak silence of loving obedience. God’s word has plummeted to the depth of humanity and redeemed it. So that in suffering or in good health; in sorrow or joy; our faith in Christ is a reality. In Christ we are heirs to eternal life. The Holy Spirit released as tongues of fire at Pentecost brings us the confirmation of our hopes for faith.
The gift of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul tells us in our second reading, graces us with clarity. In the Holy Spirit there is no confusion. We understand that “Jesus is Lord!” and we are his body. Every one of us, no matter if we are young or old, rich or poor, male or female, is an essential part of that body. And that body, of which we are all members, is the Church.
Today we celebrate the birthday of the Church – our birth as Jesus’ body in the world. Before Jesus ascends to the Father, he commands his disciples to continue his work. No longer is Jesus’ physical body the instrument through which God is present in the world. Now his mystical body is the instrument through which God is present to his world. That mystical body is the Church. We are that mystical body - you and me and all the baptised.
We are to embrace the clarity of faith that the Holy Spirit inspires in us. We must believe that we are God’s instruments. We must believe that we are gifted and our gifts matter. We all have gifts. Our gift may be the material resources that are available to us. Our gift may be the ability to explain things to others. Our gift may be patience and kindness. Our gift may be the ability to stop gossip before it gets going. Our gift may be fidelity to our marriage. Our gift may be a smile or a prayer. We must believe that without us and without our gifts the Church is incomplete and God’s presence in our world is weakened.
That is why we come to Mass week after week. God feeds us the Eucharist – the Body of Christ – so that we have the grace and the courage to be the Body of Christ.
St Teresa of Avila’s prayer is ours today and I end with it:
Christ has no body but yours,
Saturday, 11 May 2013
The image that I associate with the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, is that of the disciples standing on the ground, watching upwards, as Jesus ascends and disappears from sight through a cloud. The words I associate with the Ascension are: Why are you standing there staring into heaven?
Looking up at the skies has been a preoccupation of human kind down through the centuries, even to our present day. The skies give us a wonderful canvas to admire. Looking upwards can raise our minds and hearts to thinking about God. Yet there comes a time when our looking towards Christ compels us to action. The disciples are fixed upon the earth, looking upward until they are interrupted in their contemplation by the two angels in white who ask them why they are not about the task that Jesus has set you?
The looking upwards to the heavens has led to much exploration of the stars. Many, many, billions of pounds have been spent in exploring the sky above us. What is out there? Our need to explore keeps us looking upwards.
We are still looking upward. Meanwhile on the earth, people starve, poverty grips many peoples and nations. Only a select few can spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to take a trip into space on a commercial flight to take place soon. On the earth conflicts abound, corruption is wide spread, injustice pervades many societies, anger fills men’s hearts.
We are still looking upward and not concentrating on the task Jesus left to his disciples. Love one another, look out for each other, insist on the values of the kingdom of heaven. These are values of justice, of fairness, of mutual love and understanding, compassion and mercy. These are values of charity and giving.
These values are to be the hallmark of Christ’s followers and yet we can find ourselves getting bogged down by continuing to look upwards, in other words, forgetting about the urgency of the mission to bring the light of the gospel into the darkness of our lives and many lives.
What is of most importance to our mission as Christians? The poor, the needy, the weak, the unloved, the lost, those who have lost hope. This is where are attention should be, looking towards Christ impels us to look towards our mission; the one Jesus gives us. The one, that will carry us to heaven.
The Ascension is not celebrated so we can gaze loving upwards and neglect the call to love in action. The Ascension is celebrated for us to call to our minds the words and person of Jesus, who has entrusted us with the mission of the good news of the gospel.
Love one another as I have loved you. Jesus says. Lest we forget.
Monday, 6 May 2013
(Plenty) of Time
I have plenty of time for this, for that
Plenty of time to stay thin or grow fat
There are plenty of years to pass by
Where the heart pants, the eyes cry
Laugh, make the heart sing, feast away
Leave the worrying to a much later day
I have time to kill, plenty of time to waste
To indulge in life’s pleasure, its joys to taste
Then a glance in a mirror, wrinkles appearing
As once thick hair recedes, soon disappearing
Wasteful the idle hours that described my living
Youth turns to middle age, in preparation for dying
I have no time left to contemplate the journey taken
I did not have plenty of time, no, I was sadly mistaken.
Fr Patrick Brennan © 2013 all rights reserved
Saturday, 4 May 2013
What can we give as a farewell gift? When somebody leaves work or retires often a little gift is given. A good gift could be something to commemorate the time that has been spent. When I have left parishes in the past a photo album or collage of the years spent have been given to me. This proves to be a wonderful gift that when I look at years later brings a smile of contentment and a sense of well being. Farewell gifts that reflect our lives sustain our futures.
Jesus’ farewell gift and wish for his disciples is a message of peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
Peace is absent from our world. It would appear that there is always one conflict or another at some place in the world. Peace is a precious gift and yet one that seems to be just out of the worlds grasp. Peace is an absence of War. The world is at war. But Jesus leaves us peace, he gives it to us as a farewell gift, one that is to sustain us in the future. What is the nature of that peace?
Peace could mean different things to different people. For someone suffering from painful illnesses such as arthritis, one or two hours without pain could be peace. For students and teachers, anticipating the end of classes and exams in the next several weeks might bring a sense of peace! Thoughts of an end to war and violence can bring peace. Yet none of these images seem to fully capture or describe the peace of which Jesus speaks.
As Jesus prepared to return to the Father, he was at peace knowing he had accomplished the mission for which he was sent. The Peace that Jesus gives to those who listen and follow him is a peace about recognizing God’s presence in and around us, made possible by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
The words of Jesus offer us hope. When we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, we discover peace. When we make good choices, we experience peace.
Today, we are invited to experience the gift of peace, which comes to us in both the Word we have heard and in the Eucharist we will receive. This peace is Jesus’ farewell gift to us that sustains our hopes in the midst of change and uncertainty. It seems appropriate today to pray for peace; peace in our hearts, homes, and in the world.
Friday, 3 May 2013
Mary, The jewel of all days
This precious jewel of an eternal day
devotion to her
the Queen of the May.
The crown of God’s magnificent glory
the faithful obedience
of the Virgin’s humble story.
A diamond of the greatest value
the holy will
of God’s mighty word, so true.
Fr Patrick Brennan © 2012 all rights reserved
Saturday, 27 April 2013
The great aspect of the journey of the Christian life is preparation. We are preparing for somewhere, some place too! Our journeying is very much in the nature of a pilgrimage. We are coming closer to journeys end as each day comes and goes. It is said that it is not always about the destination but how you get there that is important, but for Christians the destination we are heading, is the very reason for the pilgrimage we undertake and the reason of the journey itself! Without the eternal destination we are heading there is little point in the pilgrimage.
I was reading over the past few days of holiday a book that was telling the story of the Twin Towers collapse in New York after the planes had battered into them on 9/11 2001. This book was concentrating on the last phone messages left by those trapped in the doomed buildings. It was heart breaking to read the messages left. Each had a common theme in the message and that was… I wanted to tell you I love you. Such an important message we carry and often we fail to say it to those closest to us. We can say the words “I love you” and hear the reply “yeah I know” but do we say it enough? At the journeys end we are saying to those we love, “I love you” and we hear that returned to us. It was poignant to read the messages to loved ones from those in such difficult places. They knew what had to be said.
Jesus in the gospel is addressing the disciples in what is called his farewell discourse. He is at journeys end on earth. He is returning to the Father. He speaks his words of Love to his disciples to encourage them not to lose heart or faith but to be inspired by having known Christ. These are Jesus’ words of “I love you” and they echo throughout the whole of history.
Despite being rejected, misunderstood, betrayed by his disciples Jesus still loves them, he forgives them too. He gives us a message to accompany us on the pilgrimage and journey of life. We are to love, in difficult circumstances of rejection, betrayal, heartbreak and the like.
It would not be a bad thing to say to our loved ones that we love them! Rather than leaving it to the last!