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Listing November - 2013
'What are my hopes and goals for Advent? Where do I want to be in my faith journey, come Christmas day? American baseball legend Yogi Berra once said; 'If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.' What is the point of Advent, if we don't end up somewhere different from where we started?' ~Triona Doherty

The Toy Show which was a huge success last night on RTE is always the first indicator that Christmas is really fast approaching. The last few days of November also mark the beginning of our journey through Advent. It's a word you won't see in the Christmas catalogues or written anywhere in the shops. But that does not mean it's not of any significance. Perhaps it is a misunderstood word. The word Advent comes from the Latin 'adventus', which can mean 'coming' or 'journey'. I prefer the word journey because Advent leads us on a particular journey. It need not be a spectacular one but it is a journey that priorities time for ourselves and gives us time to ask what the message of Christmas can mean for us. Where would we like Jesus to be born in our lives this Christmas? What part of our journey at the moment needs healing and priority? If we rush through the next few weeks it won't happen. Advent puts the brakes gently on, allowing us to slow down enough to make it happen.
'Adventure isn't hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life, facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential.' ~John Anatt

Life as an adventure can sometimes be understood as living life on a constant adrenalin rush and doing lots of things that require loads of energy. Such experiences are true and possible but outside the reach of most people. From a spiritual point of view the word adventure is a good one with many applications. Adventure allows us to make a difference and be the difference. Adventure allows us to maximise the opportunities and moments that make up today. It is about not being afraid to stretch ourselves, it is having the courage to face something new, to learn from mistakes, to let go of stuff that needs to be let go of and to discover our own unique potential. It is believing that God is 100% on our side and in particular through the difficult twists and turns that can often come our way. It can be an exciting adventure but most importantly it's one that can bring meaning and fulfilment in life. We are not on a pointless or aimless journey through life but one with a definite purpose. The best place for such an adventure to start is today!
'The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one's attitude that determines how life unfolds. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much. But the unappreciative soul is always miserable, always complaining.' ~Francis Frangipane

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S and it is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. In America today many families will gather to celebrate, to share a meal, to relax and importantly to give thanks for blessings received. It is a day for all of us to pause too and to quietly thank God for all our blessings. Maybe right now there may not be much to give thanks for in your life. But if we can look deeper we know we will find some things to be grateful for. A spirit of thankfulness or gratefulness always goes a long way. It is something we always have to work towards as it is often easy to take so much for granted. We thank God for all our blessings and it is particularly good and fitting to do it on Thanksgiving Day.
'Sometimes I'm confused by what I think is really obvious. But what I think is really obvious, obviously isn't obvious...' ~Michael Stipe

There are some things in life that are obvious. Such things like love, friendship and family. They are important and nothing can replace them. Their impact is obvious and without them we are lost. But what is not always as obvious is our search for a deeper meaning and fulfillment in life. We do it in so many different ways, often quietly and without fuss. Our search for God is a lifelong one and it's a search that does not always have obvious results. It is comforting and reassuring to know that God, despite what we may do, is always searching for us, looking out for us and importantly always on our side.

For many people the presumption often is, that God has given up on them. Perhaps it is the direction their life has taken, mistakes made, life struggles and disappointments or a combination of all together. But God is always on our side. Even if we choose a million wrong options God will not abandon us. A normal human response will be, "Sure that's crazy. Why would God want to bother with me?" But God does. God's love for us goes way beyond our limited horizons. Even if we don't fully understand this, all we have to do is let some of our resistance go and let God do the rest.
'The only thing in life that endures is 'relationship'. We are born into relationship. We are made for relationship. Ultimately relationships are all that matter. Wisdom is learning this truth sooner rather than later.' ~Vincent Travers

Relationship is defined in the dictionary as the way in which two or more people or things are connected. Relationships are something we are all familiar with. Through relationship we are connected, grounded, loved, protected, nurtured, helped, encouraged and helped along in life. There are all kinds of relationships and many of them good and healthy. There are also unhealthy relationships especially if what we receive is negative and dark. There are times when we are pulled and dragged in a relationship, sometimes unsure of what step to take next and even sometimes we grind to a halt.

But without significant people in our lives we are always in a difficult place and it is very hard to survive. If we are surrounded by good and healthy relationships then we are in a good place and should never take such people for granted. Relationships begin to shake and crack if we begin to take each other and life for granted. If every day is meant to be a gift, then surely the person that matters most to us is also gift. Spiritual writers talk about satisfying the yearnings of the human heart and each one describes how God can be the one to fill this gap. Next week we begin our journey through Advent and it is always a lovely time to nurture relationship especially the ones that matter most to us.
'God is not some remote and uncaring figure. God is close to us and to whom we are important and special.' ~Flor McCarthy

A book is always a lovely gift to get at any time of the year and not just at Christmas time. There is a wide selection of autobiographies on sale at the moment, from Alex Ferguson, Eamon Dunphy, Harry Redknapp, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín, AP McCoy and many others. People are fascinated by the stories of famous people. But that should never take away from our story too which is also special, sacred, precious, evolving and always so special.

The greatest story of all is that of Jesus. Yesterday marked the feast of Christ the King. If King is all about importance, power, prestige and privileges, then it is a strange word to use with Jesus. But if King is meant to mean someone special then it can certainly be used with Jesus. He was the greatest source of goodness, light and hope in a dark world. The Kingdom Jesus stood for represents all those things which our world doesn't stand for but which deep down it longs for, such as fairness, honesty, peace, freedom, equality and much more. Whatever our story it is good to know that Jesus also walks with us, in the ups and downs, the good days and the bad ones, the highs and lows, the setbacks and the achievements. As we edge towards Advent and Christmas it is good to know that God is indeed close to us and to whom we are important and special.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett and it is called "Christ The King"

What is our image of a King? The picture painted by Luke in today's Gospel is hardly the stuff of kingship! Or is it? This account of Jesus' death gives us an opportunity to lay aside a lot of cultural baggage about kings, leaders and kingdoms. Jesus' kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate, or many other earthly leaders know. It is a kingdom built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace. Very few of today's so called kings can measure up to this: responding to violence with forgiveness, giving those with no hope a reason to hope.

Look at the following examples from the past century and ask who are the more living examples of this type of kingship: Mahatma Gandhi, Pope Francis, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, local community leaders who make daily sacrifices in endless service to those around them. We sometimes ask where is God? Today we are given an answer: God is on the cross, in a broken body asking us to climb up there with him and to look at the world from an entirely different perspective. Today's Gospel gives a powerful image of Jesus as servant King, like a beacon light for society in today's world.
Some lesser known Proverbs ~Author Unknown

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.
I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how it remains so popular?
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
It is hard to understand how a cemetery raised its burial cost and blamed it on the cost of living.
It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try and pass them.
You can't have everything, where would you put it?
The things that come to those who wait are usually the things left by those who got there first.
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
'To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.' ~Aaron Copland

Today (Nov 22nd) is the feast of St Cecilia. She is the patroness of music and musicians. We so often take music for granted and yet it is the pulse and heartbeat of life. Music is there for every occasion. It can uplift and it can calm and relax. It can unite and break down barriers. The way we listen to music has changed so much over the years from vinyl, tape, cd and now digital. But whatever format the music is, it never loses its importance or impact.

It has also been said that music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence and silence is full of music. We live in a noisy world with little room for quiet time and silence. Quiet relaxing music can lead us to a much quieter place where we can often encounter the gentle quiet presence of God. Today we thank God and Cecilia for the great gift of music. As the old saying puts it so well: 'When words fail, music can so often speak to us.'
'Life is tough and if you have the ability to laugh at it, you have the ability to enjoy it.' ~Salma Hayek

Little Jimmy's mother was on the telephone speaking to the young boy's dentist. "I don't understand it", she complained. "His treatment usually costs 20 Euros but you have sent me a bill for 80. "It is usually 20 Euros Madam", agreed the dentist, "but Jimmy yelled so loudly that my other three patients ran away!!" Or how about the new taxi driver in town. A passenger in a taxi cab taps the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question. The driver screams, loses control of the cab and swerves onto the sidewalk, stopping just short of hitting a lamp post. After checking to make sure the passenger is OK, the driver says, "I'm sorry, but you scared the life out of me." "I'm sorry too," replied the passenger. "I didn't realise that a simple tap on the shoulder would be such a shock to you." "It's not your fault," says the taxi driver. "Today is my first day on the job after 25 years of driving a hearse!!"
'So who are the needy? I am. You are. Everyone is. Today, I may help you but tomorrow I may need you to help me.' ~The Universe

One of the biggest negatives to be found in society today is how the individual is forgotten. Surely we are more than just a number or a statistic or a face in the crowd. We have lost the ability to connect with one person. Inevitably this means a loss of community or connection to a place. To lose all of these is to lose something great and precious. We all have needs and concerns. No one person has it all worked out. No one person is fully safe or secure. No one is shielded from the knocks of life. Our greatest privilege is to connect with someone in our lives today. No matter how small that connection may be it is uniquely precious. The chance may never come again. When we continue making many connections great things begin to happen. God is always the link in each of these connections.
'Be of one mind, live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you.' ~2 Corinthians 13:11

There once was a king who loved to eat. When the castle cook grew too old to prepare the meals anymore, the king looked for a new cook. A young man applied for the job. The king said to him, "I want you to cook me the best and most important dish in the whole world." That night the king sat down at the table. When he looked at the special dish, he exclaimed in horror, "Why, that's cow tongue!" The young man answered, "Yes, it is. Nothing is more important if the tongue is used correctly. The tongue is used to teach, to explain, to command, to defend, to calm. Tongues are used to sing to babies and to make bargains. Tongue has to be the most important thing for a king." "I must say I didn't realize that, young man. You've opened my eyes. Therefore, tomorrow night, I want you to fix me the worst dish you know."

The next night, the young man served the king cow tongue. The king said, "What goes on here? Last night, tongue was the best dish in the world. Tonight it's the worst. How can this be?" "The difference is what you do with it, sir," said the young man. "Tongues make gossip, stir up trouble, and tell lies. Tongues are cruel and hypocritical. Therefore, tongue can be the worst dish in the world." The king replied: "Yes, I see. I also see that I need your wisdom in my court. I'll get someone else to do the cooking and I want you now to be my advisor".
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett called 'Fashion changes Style Endures'

'Lord, when we are young we think that we become great through our achievements. Life has taught us the truth of Jesus' words: it is by endurance that we win our lives'. ~Michel de Verteuil

We are reading the final chapters of the Gospel of Luke for Year C. Jesus is in Jerusalem and the passages we hear are talking about end times. The people gathered are obviously excited having seen how magnificent the Temple is, having come 'up from the country' and Jesus is trying to calm them down. The time for excitement might not be just yet. Jesus reminds them, and us, that these things are short lived and we should not be too bothered about 'fine stonework' and 'votive offerings'. These things do not last.

Jesus' main warning is not to believe many who will come claiming to know when the end times will be. A series of quotations from Jesus follows in which he gives comfort to the people about various crisis that will happen. Luke is almost giving us a subsequent history of the Christian community. It is not all doom and gloom, but we need to take perspective and look at the bigger picture. Endurance is the message of today's Gospel. The people of Jerusalem will witness the destruction of the Temple, the disciples will face persecution, people of faith will have tough times ahead. Whatever crisis may come, Jesus is affirming us to keep going, to stay focused and not be afraid.
'Everyone grieves in different ways. For some, it could take longer or shorter. I do know it never disappears. An ember still smoulders inside me. Most days, I don't notice it, but, out of the blue, it'll flare to life.' ~Maria Snyder

Tomorrow (Nov 17th) is World Remembrance Day for road traffic victims. It is a day to remember those whose lives have been tragically lost on our roads and whose families have been devastated. Speed causes 40% of all fatal crashes each year. At 60mph (100kmp) we travel 88 feet in just one second. The faster we go the greater the distance we will need to stop. Since records began in Ireland back in 1959: 23,405 people have died on our roads. Already this year, 165 families, friends and communities have lost a loved one. That's 20 more families grieving since this time last year.

Across the world over 1.2 million people are killed each year on the roads. Another statistic is that over 3,400 men, women and children are killed every single day on the world's roads while walking, cycling, or driving. They will never return home. Another 20-50 million others are injured each year and tens of thousands are disabled for life. The sheer size of the death toll is staggering. Behind every tragedy lies a traumatised family and a shattered community. Tomorrow gives everyone an opportunity to remember and pray for those who have been killed or injured on our roads, as well as the people left behind. Tomorrow there will also be a Mass of Remembrance for all those who have died on our roads, in the North Cathedral, Cork at 11.30a.m. It is open to anyone who would like to attend.
'Most of us go through periods in our lives, especially after difficulties of some kind, when our faith seems to disappear or fade away to a weak shadow of what it was previously. It is a reminder to us that our faith is not as strong and rocklike as we might have imagined when everything seemed to be going well in our lives.' ~Saint Martin magazine

We all know everything looks great when the sun shines but in the dark cold days of winter it's hard to see everything at its best. The same can be said when it comes to our spiritual lives. We all hit those days when even our faith seems distant, out of touch and even irrelevant. What gave strength and meaning at one stage of our lives seems to fall short at another stage.

And this is ok. It is ok because it happens to everyone including the saints. If you read the life story of any saint you will inevitably read about the stage in their life where they struggled. Words like 'desert', 'barren', 'dry', 'meaningless' and other similar words will be used to describe the experience. So we are certainly not on our own when it happens to us. It might be tempting to give up, but even the heaviest of fog or darkness will always lift. The words of Jesus, "Be not afraid" are the only words we need hold, when it seems we are hanging on.
'Love is such an overused word. Pop songs sing about love. Everything revolves around love. Many people only connect love with the idea of fulfilled sexuality. But however much the word is misused, in the depths of our heart every one longs for love.' ~Anselm Gruen

We all know someone special who radiates love. It is not an act or something put on. They radiate it naturally and it simply flows from them. Everyone has the ability to do this but for different reasons the flow becomes blocked. It might be a hurt, a knock or setback in life. Someone may have betrayed our trust. We may have been taken advantage of or we may have grown afraid because others hurt us in the past. Scripture readings refer to God as love. This is 100% pure natural Divine love. It is total, complete and will never run out. Each day is an invitation to soak in some of this love. The invitation is to allow it melt away our hurts, fears, anxieties, disappointments or darkness in our lives. Every time we take up this invitation allows us to radiate our own love naturally. No matter what our age, our belief system or our background, this is what we are born to do.
'Love is a maze, life is a riddle and I'm just a bit caught in the middle.' ~Author Unknown

Abraham Lincoln, a noted storyteller, recalled that there was a farmer who had a very large shade tree towering over his house. It was a majestic looking tree and apparently perfect in every part, tall, straight and of immense size. One morning, while at work in his garden, the farmer saw a squirrel run up the tree into a hole and he wondered if the tree might be hollow. He proceeded to examine the tree carefully and much to his surprise, he found that the stately tree that he valued for its beauty and grandeur was hollow from top to bottom. Only a rim of sound wood remained, barely sufficient to support its own weight. What was he now to do? If he cut it down, it would do great damage with its great length and enormous spreading branches. If he let it remain, his family was in constant danger. In a storm it might fall or the wind might blow it down and his house and children be crushed by it. What should he do? As he turned away, he said sadly: 'I wish I had never seen that squirrel?'

There are times in our own lives when we too feel caught in the middle. We're not sure what to do next and regret sometimes how we got dragged there in the first place. Even Jesus himself was often caught in the middle between those who loved what he was doing and those who hated him for the good he was doing. We pray for guidance, direction and strength when we are caught in the middle.
'The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.' ~B.Ruth

The only talking point in sport has been the appointment of Martin O'Neil and Roy Keane as manager and assistant manager of our Irish Football team. Words like 'dream team' and 'great for the game' have been used. We wish them well and the two of them will be a great team.

We often apply the word team to footballers and sport but it has many wider implications especially from a spiritual point of view. As we journey through life there are few who can do it entirely on our own. We need support, encouragement and direction. Every time we gather together for prayer there is a great sense of support and a common sense of purpose. If we look closely at our Gospels we find Jesus constantly promoting teamwork. Everything was done with people and for people, not in isolation but always together. As part of God's team we are to feel loved and valued, not in isolation but very much of part of a wider team with no segregation, individualism or extremism.
We were born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.' ~Nelson Mandela

These beautiful lines are worth reflecting on. Its starting point begins with the vast potential within each person. It's all about confidence. Am I confident enough to believe that God is a gentle yet significant presence in my life? Am I confident enough to believe in my own light? Am I confident enough to believe in my own goodness? Am I confident enough to allow God to transform my life? The possibilities are endless but I must first be open to them happening in my life. Also today and across the weekend we are hearing of the thousands of people who have died in the Philippians, as a result of the worse storm on record. It seems the horror of the story is only unfolding. It goes beyond words and today we pray for those who have died, for their heartbroken families, for those involved in the search and rescue and for those trying to help thousands of families left homeless.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett called 'Will my body look old in this?'

Today's Gospel is difficult. The Sadducees are trying to trap Jesus with questions about resurrection, even though they did not believe in resurrection. They are specifically concerned with childless women marrying their brothers-in-law to keep the deceased husband's name alive. Their case-study is slightly absurd and exaggerated. A situation where women can be 'given' and owned will not exist in the next life, nor will any other instances of slavery or the realities of this world. In a place of peace, justice and freedom, people are not 'owned' or 'given'. We should not be too preoccupied with questions like theirs: 'Whose wife will she be?' or 'Will I look old?' 'Will I have a body?' We can trust in God.

We could interpret 'taking wives and husbands' as the many projects, titles, schemes we use to promote our own interests as 'children of this world'. 'Children of the resurrection' don't do this. They make huge sacrifices for people they work with, whether on the margins, for the liberation of people around them and those who are oppressed in any way. They 'cannot die' even though they can be condemned by society. You might recall someone who has passed away, but who is very much alive because of their influence on people, their generosity and kindness and the difference they made to those around them. They are 'children of the resurrection'.
'Don't we have divinity at our fingertips each day? We need but reach out in friendship to another human being to touch the face of God. For if not there, where else?' ~Tom Cahill

The dictionary defines 'Divine' in religious terms as: "the state of things that come from a supernatural power or deity, such as a God or spirit beings and are therefore regarded as sacred and holy." But such a wide definition of what divine could mean falls short for us. For most of us the language used in explaining things about God is often in a language we don't understand. We want to understand it but it is beyond us.

But I like the way Fr. Tom Cahill explains it. He says: "the divine is at our fingertips each day. When we reach out in friendship and love to someone else, we touch the face of God". This can only mean that God is so near us, closer than we can possibly imagine. So where there is love we find God. This God is not distant, not judgmental and not giving out to us. We are wrapped in divine love and nothing can change this. Which person in your life brings you close to the divine? They are a real treasure in your life.
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. ~Matthew:28-29

There is a lovely saying that says: "We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore." Sometimes it is difficult to leave the safety of our own comfort zone. It is easy to play safe rather than take a chance or a risk or go for something new and different. Even when it comes to faith matters it is good to know that one size doesn't fit all. What works for you may not work for me, what works for you may not work for someone else. But if you are happy with what works for you then that's great. It would indeed be a boring place if we all had exactly the same needs. Belief in a loving God always leads us to new discoveries about ourselves, the world we live in and the positive impact it can have in our daily lives. For all this to take place, means having the courage to let it happen.
'God's presence is throughout all creation. When the sun rises in the morning, its rays touch everything in creation at the exact same instant. If God's mind is like the sun's rays, then God knows all the intimate details of all our lives in a single instant.' ~Joseph Girzone

We know how early it gets dark now in the evenings. It's not that the sun stops shining, it's simply that the earth tilts away from the sun a little bit each day creating less light as we head towards the winter solstice. The image of God as light of the world and our lives is comforting. God never abandons any of us even in the midst of our deepest darkness. Every bit of light needs to be harnessed. We do so with a kind word of support, a word of encouragement, a smile, gentle reassurance, a word of thanks, a word of appreciation, a prayer or a smile. On their own these may seem of little significance but yet they can have a huge impact. They remind us of God's gentle presence among us.
'A saint is a person who gives of themself without asking for anything in return. That's how simple it is to be a saint.' ~Edward James Olmos

Today in Ireland (Nov 6th) we celebrate the Feast of all Irish Saints. The list of Irish Saints is long and impressive. But the main feature of this feast is how many of these saints are uniquely special to their own local area or county or diocese. In Cork saints such as Finbarr and Gobnait are very popular, in Kerry it is Brendan, in Meath it is Finnian, in Dublin it is Laurence O'Toole, in Kildare it is Brigid and in Waterford it is Declan. We are only scratching the surface here. But if we go more local again the list becomes endless and also the stories that go with each saint! It might be a holy well, a cure, a miracle or something special about this saint that no one else quite has. It means the presence of God has found it's way into every community and by road of Ireland. While increasing secularisation has swept through Ireland, the sparks of faith are alive and bursting with energy, particularly the more local you get. Today is a day of blessings from all these Irish saints but the one that matters most is from the saint of your local area.
'For a stalk to grow or a flower to open there must be time that cannot be forced; nine months must go by for the birth of a human child; to write a book or compose music often years must be dedicated to patient research. To find the mystery there must be patience, interior purification, silence, waiting.' ~Pope John Paul II

November can be a long month. It gets dark so early and the energy of summer seems a distant memory. But the season of winter is important and healthy. It puts us in touch with the need to pause, the need to be patient and that sometimes we have to journey in darkness. I was doing some gardening during the mid term break and happened to dig up some daffodil bulbs. Even though they are lying in darkness in the soil, the shoots were already pushing through underneath. They will soon will push up overground but only when the moment is right. We live in an instant world so it is sometimes hard to be patient and to silently wait. Scripture readings remind us that God is very much with us in the waiting. We have nothing to fear and so much to look forward to.
The following prayer was used this weekend at the Cork Beekeepers Association combined tree planting and harvest of thanksgiving ceremony

God of all blessings, source of all life, giver of all grace, we thank you for the gift of life and for the breath that sustains life. We thank you for the mystery of creation, for the beauty that the eye can see and for the joy that the ear may hear. We thank you for the food of this earth that nurtures life. We thank you for the love of family and friends and for those special people who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for our bees and the wonderful work they do in keeping balance and harmony in our countryside. We thank you for the season of summer just gone. We thank you for lots of sunshine, lots of flowers, lots of pollen, lots of nectar and thankfully lots of honey. Keep our honeybees safe this winter, protect them from disease and bring them safely through to spring. Finally we thank you for this day, for life and one more day to love. We thank you for your presence and your promise to be with us each and every day in all we do. For these and all our blessings, we give you thanks, eternal and loving God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett

The story of Zaccheus

It was because of the crowd that Zacchaeus could not see Jesus. Today's Gospel brings up questions for us about who we are preventing having an experience of Jesus because we deem them unworthy or a 'sinner'. Zacchaeus as a chief Roman tax collector would have been seen as part of the Roman regime and an exploiter. Zacchaeus does not let that stop him, and climbs a tree to make sure he can get a glimpse of the preacher that everyone is talking about. Jesus seeks out the lost and sees Zacchaeus. He reaches out to him immediately and with urgency saying he 'must' stay at Zacchaeus' house. It is God's plan, it is a necessity.

Zacchaeus offers the strictest requirement in the Old Testament for restitution 'four times the amount'. But notice that Jesus reaches out before Zacchaeus offers compensation for his crimes. God's love is unconditional and eternal. The encounter with Jesus has led Zacchaeus to be witness to restoration and solidarity. He wants to restore justice to the situations he has created. Whether it was the crowd, greed, politics or corruption that was preventing Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus, he has been welcomed back to the table with urgency. Jesus is waiting to be invited in 'today'. The complaints and negativity continue in the background, suggesting he is not good enough but none of that matters. This man is a 'son of Abraham'. It was the affection of Christ, not the condemnation of the town that reversed the situation.
'I wrote your name on the sand but the waves washed it away. I wrote your name on the sky but the wind blew it away. I wrote your name on my heart and forever it will stay.' ~Author Unknown

It is always difficult to understand death or make sense of the loss of a loved one through death. We want our loved ones with us always and yet we know that just as we are born we must also die. Today (Nov 2nd) is traditionally known as All Souls Day and is a day to pause, reflect and pray for those who have died, particularly our nearest and dearest. Many people will visit a cemetery today or some part of this month. It is not an empty or meaningless task. It's always good to remember those who have died. Our belief is that death is not an end but a beginning for the soul or spirit of the person who has died. Our belief is that our loved ones who have died are still near us but not physically with us. Trying to put this into words is never easy. The only words that really matter today are to our loved ones who have died. Some of these words might be: we still miss you, thank you for so many memories, you are remembered with love today, you will never be forgotten and may you rest in peace. Amen
'Saints are sinners who kept on going.' ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Today is the feast of All Saints. It always follows the day after Halloween. The origins of Halloween go back to the days when it was a pagan Celtic feast. They believed that after sunset on Samhain, which we now called Halloween, the spirits of the dead and evil spirits roamed the skies seeking to harm humans, especially if the dead had been harmed by them. To protect themselves people disguised themselves by dressing up in costumes and carried lights inside in turnips.

In order to turn a pagan feast into a Christian feast, the Church placed the feast of All Saints on November 1st, to coincide with the pagan celebration. It would be a mistake to think today is about famous or celebrity Saints. Today is all about our own loved ones gone on before us who lived decent, honest, simple and down to earth lives. They may not have been famous, they may not have made headlines but in God's eyes they are now celebrities. Today we call them saints and we thank them for all the love they have shown us down through the years.


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