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Pastor’s Desk – Ascension of the Lord

Going Out or Going Up?

The feast of the Ascension seems to be more about the apostles going out than Jesus going up!  As Jesus goes to his Father, the message is for us now, to be witnesses to him, sharing what we have received, and heard.

    Witnesses to a road accident can often contradict each other. They get mixed up in what they saw or heard. Or they may have only glanced at the event and moved on. We can be witnesses of Jesus who stayed with the event, not just with a glance. We have seen and heard the best story ever told, and the most influential life ever lived.

    We witness to Jesus : in prayer, in reading the gospel and in service of others in love.

    Prayer means being in touch with God who is reaching out to us. The gospel is what feeds us, a daily opening to the words and deeds of Jesus. Loving service brings us to witness the care of God as we give and receive care.

    This is what we give to the ascended Lord and receive from him. The word of God is the divine word in human words. In our work for him, God is linking heaven and earth, and we are sharers in his divinity as he is in our humanity. Far from being the absence of Jesus, the Ascension  is his presence in a new way among us.

Looking up is a religious gesture.

Look up to the skies sometimes this week and make a favourite prayer.

Lord, may your kingdom come!

Donal Neary SJ

Pastor’s Desk – 6th Sunday of Easter

The One Commandment – Only One   

    This gospel is like a vision statement or a mission statement from Jesus. About finding joy in listening to Jesus, how to live the good life and love one another, how to love oneself in the love of God, and in directing our lives to bear fruit that will generate love.

    It is so central that it is read at many really important moments of a Christian life. it is one of the most popular readings at a wedding, linking the love of God and human love at such a special time.

    Jesus’ love was to lay down his life in a specific way. Our love lays down our life often in small, unforgotten ways.

– Hours spend with a sick child or parent,

– years caring for someone ill,

– leaving home on missionary assignments,

– giving up something for the children,

– Working for peace/justice for the needy

The message is a big challenge in simple ways for most of us.

    Isn’t it a joy to know that the most enjoyable mystery of life – love, is the only commandment of God? This shows us that God is on our side:  His commandment is to do what we want most to do and experience – to love and be loved.  Even when the love costs us something.

Recall a time when you felt you were really loving someone.

Become aware that you were then very near to God.

Thank you, Lord, for love given and received in my life.

Donal Neary SJ

Pastor’s Desk – 5th Sunday of Easter

 Jesus, the Centre

    Without some centre of unity, groups lose their way. A team which puts its eyes on money rather than on teamwork will lose games. A family which relies on anything other than love to keep it together will fall apart.  The church, the community of Jesus is something similar.

    What keeps the church together at its best is Jesus.  Human leadership, moral authority, ritual dogmatism, are not the centre of the church.  Leadership can fail, moral authority can take wrong turnings and ritual dogmatism can override the concerns of people. The centre of the church is Jesus Christ. Our unity with Jesus is the central bond of the church. He is the Vine, we the branches.

    When we have been let down by the church, like in the situations of abuse, or cover-ups by church authority, we are kept going as Christians by our unity with Jesus.

    The image of roots and branches, of fruit and tree, all very much part of each other, is what Jesus uses. Another image like this might be the unity or light and colour in a rainbow.

    Only if we can look on Jesus Christ as the centre of our faith can church life be sincere and have the energy which will save and change our world.

Imagine yourself being with Jesus; just the two of you.

Share what is in your heart and listen to how his word echoes within you.

May we dwell in you, Lord, as you dwell in us.

Give us your peace, your energy, your joy.

Donal Neary SJ

Pastor’s Desk – 4th Sunday of Easter

Called at Baptism

Following one’s vocation is a response from within to the needs outside us. A decision to work for the poor or assist people in need is not necessarily a vocation. A vocation meets the human needs of the world but with a motivation from within. We care for our children and grandchildren not just because they are sick or insecure, but because we love them. This love will move us out to help them in various situations.

We find a call to be ‘people for others’ because our heart teaches us that with Jesus we are all brothers and sisters, and that God wants to save the world, and needs our help to do so.

This is the Sunday we all pray that our particular vocation in life may become clear and may become stronger.

God calls each of us to love God and love our neighbour. This is the first Christian calling at our Baptism; we then find the best way for each of us with our own particular set of gifts, talents and even weaknesses to live out that call to love.

We think especially today of religious life and priesthood. There are needs for priests, sisters and brothers in most parts of the world. As a community in families and parishes we thank those who have given their lives in these vocations and pray they may increase.

Remember with thanks those whose lives

have given you your faith in God.

Lord, thanks for what I can do in your service.

May your kingdom come!

Donal Neary SJ