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Listing June - 2008
Today is the feast of Peter and Paul. Both are very important figures in Church history. One might ask why they didn't get a separate feast day each such is their importance!
Peter was given the title 'rock'. He was full of enthusiasm, vibrant, colourful and often did things on the spur of the moment. Was he rock solid in all he did? Not at all. Like any of us he was human, weak and vulnerable. Yes he made mistakes and the biggest of all was when he denied his best friend Jesus during his moment of greatest need. But he always had a big heart and he made a great recovery. His mistake turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He put renewed heart and vigour into everything he did, he became a great leader with a rock solid belief in a God whom he loved dearly.
Paul as we know was someone who had a deep hatred of the early Church. His hate was so deep that he took great pleasure in persecuting anything to do with faith matters. But God had other ideas and Paul did a conversion. What a u turn in life, from persecution and hate to preaching a message of love and forgiveness. Paul's enthusiasm rubbed off on many people and he was the first missionary to travel with the Good News of Jesus.
Both Peter and Paul remind us that when we are weak is the moment when we are strongest. God never ever gives up on us when we have done wrong. As Paul puts it so well nothing can ever come between us and the love that God has for each of us.
‘It’s in our hands’ ~Motto for the 46664 Nelson Mandela 90th birthday concert last night in Hyde Park, London

The live concert last night which was watched by millions, lived up to all expectations. Queen stole the show and really got the crowd going with ‘We will rock’ and ‘We are the champions’. The reception given to Nelson Mandela when he walked onto the stage was the highlight. He was visibly moved as the crowd sang him ‘Happy Birthday’. Mandela is the most loved politician in the world. His story has touched so many and he has become an icon and an inspiration. 46664 was his prison number and it was fitting that 46,664 people packed into Hyde Park last night to celebrate his birthday. He lost a son to AIDS in Jan 2005 and has now made the fight against the pandemic his main cause. Speaking last evening during the concert he said: “As we celebrate, our work is far from done. There is much to be done. Our work is for the freedom of all. It’s in our hands.”
A man came into the doctor’s surgery one day and he was very worried. He explained his problem, “Every part of my body that I touch is very sore, my nose, my elbow, my head, my left hand.” The doctor gave him a thorough examination, x-ray, blood tests etc. The man returned the next day for the results and was very nervous. “Did you find out what’s wrong with me?” he asked the doctor. “I did” he replied. “What is it?” enquired the very worried patient. “All that’s wrong with you” replied the doctor, “is that your finger is broken!”

We often think the worst. We worry and fret about many things. Many of them are outside our control. Even if they were within our control we’d still be nervous and anxious. In our Gospels Jesus called for a change of mindset. Instead of a closed, negative outlook he called on people to think positive, to trust in God and to know that everything is not as bad is it first seems.
‘I thank God that we have animals to share our world. May we never use animals cruelly or as mere beasts of burden. God meant us to have pets and to value their service and companionship. They are part of God’s glorious creation in which we see God’s loving hands at work. ~Michael Buckley

Many families can tell great stories about their own pet, particularly when it comes to dogs. They have their own unique character, traits, tricks, personality and seem to sense our every mood. They are always in great form, are loyal and offer great companionship. It is often touching to hear an older person talk about their dog, particularly if they are living on their own. Not only is their dog a best friend but is also a lifeline. Today we thank God for animals, for their companionship, their loyalty and for all the joy they bring into our lives. If we have taken them for granted recently we know what we can do to change all that.
'With our faith we are consistently consistent in an unconsistent world.' ~Author Unknown

Today (June 24th) we celebrate the feast of John the Baptist. He was a celebrity in his own way. Thousands flocked to hear him and be baptised by him. But John was not interested in fame. He never wanted to draw attention to himself. He wanted to draw attention only to Jesus. Sometimes we hang our heads and often we're not proud of what we believe in. It's almost as if it is unfashionable and a bit embarrassing to say we believe. John was the exact opposite. He had no reservations and no inhibitions in proclaiming that he was proud to be a follower of Jesus. We too are called to hold our heads up. We are called to be proud of what we believe and to be grateful that we have indeed something to build our lives on.
The following thought is by Tom Cahill:

We ask where God is when the innocent suffer, when a child dies or is born disabled, when nature blindly kills and people kill with open eyes, when sickness strikes, when someone takes their life. The list goes on and on.
But do we thank God when things go well, when a child is born healthy, when our luck is good, when we achieve success, when we live long and well, when we love and are loved, give and receive kindness? The list, too could go on and on.
Our constant question to God is: Why do you allow evil? Our rare question to ourselves is: Why do we commit it?
‘All rivers run to the sea yet the sea is not full. ~Ecclesiastes 1:7

All the rain yesterday (especially in the southern counties of Ireland!)meant that many of our rivers burst back into life again after many dry weeks. The image of a river running to the sea is a reminder of our own journey in life and that of the sea not full is a reminder of all we can give no matter what our age. It is good to be open to learning and to be open to something fresh and different in life. We have given so much already in life and yet we also have so much more to give. No one person can say that they have it all worked out or that they can give no more. Our contribution to this world is crucially important. In God’s eyes your contribution is the most special of all. That is why the sea is never full. God loves your contribution. Whether it’s a drop or a flood every contribution is valuable. Today I can begin to believe in myself and that what I am giving is appreciated, valued and cherished.
‘We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us.’ ~2 Corinthians 4:7

The image of an earthenware jar is simple and yet so powerful when we look at it closer. An earthenware jar is fragile and is made of baked clay. It is symbolic of all that’s fragile particularly in our world and in our lives. Yet we are told it holds a great treasure despite its fragility and ours. It also reflects our own lives. We are indeed fragile and vulnerable. Despite our best efforts we have little control over what is fragile and unpredictable in life. Yet we give the impression at times that we are unbreakable, important and beyond any limitation. No person can be fully any of these. Like an earthenware jar, we are limited and finite. We can’t journey through life thinking we’re invincible. The real treasure is an ability to invite God into the fragility of our lives whatever it might be right now.
The following moving story is recalled by Paul Gadie

I remember being called to a hospital ward in the early hours of the morning. The nurse who had called me had done so on behalf of a young woman, perhaps in her mid twenties. She told me that she was not well and that the hospital staff didn't know what was wrong with her. She had suddenly realised the reason for her malady, sitting there in the dark, night after night and unable to sleep.
She realised that she wasn't at peace and went on to attribute this to a serious falling out she had with her mother some ten years previous. All this time she had harboured feelings of absolute anger towards her. She had decided that this was the right moment to speak about the situation, to so to a priest and to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance. We did so and I prayed with her and annointed her. She felt no immediate release and I went back to bed.
A few days later, I saw the same nurse who had 'bleeped' me previously and I asked her how the young woman was keeping. 'Well' she said 'after all of the tests, investigations, scans everything we could do to find out what was causing her illness, you breeze in, have a little chat with her, leave her and the next day she is doing cartwheels around the ward! We released her earlier today. What did you do to her?' I smiled as much to myself as to the nurse. How do you explain such wonder-filled miraculous moments?
‘People will try and tell you that all the great opportunities have been snapped up. In reality the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours.’ ~Ken Hakuta

The ‘No’ victory in the Lisbon Treaty may have taken many by surprise yesterday. But for others it came as no surprise. With much confusion as to what the Lisbon Treaty was all about, the option was simple – when in doubt play it safe. It resulted in the huge swing towards the no vote. Confusion is part and parcel of life. Clarity is great but not everything in life has such clear defined boundaries. Much of faith and spiritual matters try to bring clarity to the confusion of life and also to our own lives. But it will always be trying and is never a finished job. All confusion does present opportunities. We ask for God’s guidance and direction when we are confused and unsure. It should always be an opportunity and never a defeat.
A young girl said to her friend, “When I get older, I want to wear glasses just like Granny’s because she can see so much more than most people. She can see the good in a person when everyone else sees a bad side. She can see what a person meant to do even if they didn’t do it. I asked her one day how she could see the good and she said it was the way she learned to look at things as she got older. When I get older, I want to wear a pair of glasses just like Granny’s so I can see the good too." ~Walter Buchanan

What a different world we could live in if we all wore a pair of Granny’s glasses! Why is there such emphasis on the negative? Why do we allow it to dominate our lives? There is such a vast reservoir of goodness out there. We don’t have to wear special glasses but we do need a certain mindset. Our prayer today might be to ask God to help us see some good around us even if it’s hard to find.
‘Can an artist ever have enough brushes? The longer I paint, the more convinced that brushes get better as they get older, until some are really too worn down to be of any use.’ ~David Millard

We live in a disposable world. Everything seems to have such a short life span from instant food to fast food, from every sort of a convenient gadget to the latest invention, a toothbrush that you can chew as you go! But some things do get better with age and time. Wine is an obvious example and even paint brushes do well with age. The same applies to many Christian values such as love, kindness, forgiveness, healing, openness and honesty. These can never be disposed, they have held their value over time and will continue to do so for many more years. If we just take even one important value, what is it for you? Is it something you can hold close to you, knowing that the longer you hold it, the better you become as a person.
‘Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or fastest person. But sooner or later, the person who wins is the one who thinks they can.’ ~Author Unknown

Every single one of us faces those ongoing life battles. Life is fragile and its sharp edges touch everyone at some stage. We sometimes think that others have the edge on us but they don’t really. If we think we are beaten in life then we most certainly are. But if we are willing to face everything with some courage and determination we will pull through. Equally we may have to reach out and help somebody else who thinks they are beaten. It can so easily happen with a lack of self confidence, a bout of depression or just overwhelmed by what lies ahead. We can be the one who can gently give them the confidence to take that all important step forward.
‘During my dad’s illness, new friendships were formed and old friendships were fortified.’ ~Fergal Feehely (Speaking at the funeral Mass yesterday of his father Liam at St.Oliver’s Church, Ballyvolane)

These emotional words sum up the bigger picture surrounding the pain and heartache of dealing with cancer. In many stories there is great hope and success while other stories echo a struggle and a great darkness. Yet in the middle of darkness, struggle and pain there is always a light burning. Sometimes it’s barely to be seen but it is there. Even when we think God has let us down or even abandoned us, is the moment when God is really close. To say new friendships were formed and old friendships were fortified, speaks of a God present in the middle of a sacred story, in this case Liam Feehely. It also speaks of our sacred story too.
‘Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.’ ~Mother Teresa

A smile may seem small and almost insignificant and yet its impact can last a lifetime. We all know a genuine smile when we see it, radiating the inner beauty of the person within. Sadly we don’t seem to be smiling as much today. One can call it busyness, worry or stress but it seems we have forgotten the power of a smile. Maybe forgotten is the wrong word but we certainly need to smile more. We need to allow the simplicity and beauty of a smile to express the Divine within. We need to allow it to touch others and never to underestimate its beauty. Even when we’re stuck for words in the great mystery of life from joy to great sadness, a smile can often be better than a thousand words.
‘I am thankful to be given the chance to perhaps be in the right place at the right time and so be a light in life of a few.’ ~Roisin Hall

How often have we heard someone say that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. If only the clock could be turned back to change things but sadly it can’t. Just as the clock can’t turn back, neither can it be pushed forward and that leaves us with today. This day is made up of many significant moments. Thankfully we can choose to be in the right place at the right time for someone in our lives today. It need not be earth shattering and it need not cost the world. God is often most active and alive in the simplest, down to earth moments of our daily lives. Any gesture done with love means we are always in the right place at the right time. We continue our prayers for all who are starting the Junior and Leaving Cert exams today.
'You cannot pull people uphill who do not want to go, you can only point up.' ~Amy Carmichael

Not everyone agrees with our viewpoints or our approach to certain things. We would like everyone to go with our own ideas but people do have different and varied viewpoints that need to be respected. We can only put forward our own viewpoint or ideas. We can't force them on anyone. In our gospels Jesus never forced his message on anyone and always respected different viewpoints. Unfortunately a close look at Church history will point to the exact opposite. The emphasis was often on fear and punishment. Thankfully the emphasis today is on inclusiveness and respect. It can only begin with ourselves. We can be proud of what we believe in, we can share it with others, we may be enthusiastic or lukewarm about it but we can never force it on anyone.


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