Pastor’s Desk – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Journey of Faith

There is a certain freedom about accepting the word of God and the gospel of Christ. Jesus tells his disciples not to force the truth of the gospel on people. If they don’t accept it and welcome it they are to move on.

The journey of faith is complicated and a long journey. People accept bits and pieces at times, and remain open to further growth. We sometimes expect too much of people and forget that their life stories and their struggles may make it too much to accept a lot of the gospel.  Is the person whose spouse left him or her condemned forever to a single life? Or some types of criminal people never to be forgiven and welcomed back in the church?

The reason the apostles would walk away is that people would not listen to them, not that they would not do what they said. We hope for an openness to the gospel from people, as we hope for an openness to everyone’s life story when we try to share the word of Jesus.

This is true for parents and teachers; we open the word of God and the truth of Jesus to younger people, and hope that now or later they will be followers of Jesus. It does not happen immediately.

The prophet Amos seems to come from an ordinary job to be a prophet; from the ordinary ways we try to follow Christ and live out the gospel we can share the best of our faith with another generation.

Have I judged too easily?
Ask for a heart open to the struggles and history of others.
Lord help me to see others as you see them.

Donal Neary SJ

Pastor’s Desk – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Ordinary

It’s easy to think you know people. Then they can surprise you.  We can find ourselves making opinions and judgements easily on people on colour, race or age.  Or we know them for a long time and then something happens like a marriage or a death and we see another side to them.

We think the same even about Jesus – was Jesus a carpenter?  No!  He could work in wood, metal or stone!  So immediately we are challenged by this gospel like they were.  Here was the ordinary man, going every week to work in Sepphoris, a few kms from his home, now taking on the role of preacher and prophet. Nothing divine about that – or maybe it’s one of the most divine things we can do!  Work and family bring us close to God who is working all the time and who is loving all the time.

How might you see God today – creation, love, silence, care?  A new baby in the family – God’s creation of new life with us, or someone who is very ill but in weakness of the body is also finding peace in the prospect of heaven….that is God at work. God is around in the depth moments of life.

What does this gospel make of Jesus?  He makes sense of our lives with us and for us, teaching and healing with compassion and love.  We do not know him fully, we don’t know all he said, but live by the echo of his words.

Think over yesterday – what gave you a lift in the heart,
a sense of peace, the presence of God.
Lord, I thank you for the wonder of us all!

Donal Neary SJ

Pastor’s Desk – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Community of Healing

A man had an addictive habit in his life. He said: “It took me a long time, and countless failures, to realize that you can’t change your life simply by willpower. You can only change it by grace and community.” Alcoholics Anonymous has always known this. It’s not enough just to have willpower. It’s only by touching some higher power, and this is most easily done within a community, that we actually change our lives. 

This seems to be in the gospel today. Grace went out from Jesus and healing. And it happened in the community of the disciples and family. A young girl had died – the beginning of her mature life. An older lady who had been ill for years.  The big ministry of Jesus was for healing and he healed where others did not – among women.  People brought people to him, people prayed for each other as we do today, in a community of healing.

The Church needs to rediscover this.  Our liturgies can be so individualistic – even how we sit separately, and often ‘pray our own thing’. The Mass is ‘our’ Mass, ‘not mine, not yours’.  The people at the house of Jairus and the disciples around the woman were together in faith and in prayer.  We cannot be Christians on our own. Faith is personal but not private.  Our gatherings need more of the communal faith, with a sincere welcome as we enter and a hope to make life better for others as we exit.

Ordinary ways too – even a hello on the street, an enquiry about a worry, a helping hand in many ways bring the healing love of Jesus as it was brought to the people then.

Become aware of how you need the healing and strength of Jesus in your life, and ask :

Lay your hands gently on me O Lord, and on all who need your healing.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me; heal me and make me whole.

Donal Neary SJ

Pastor’s Desk – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sleeping Jesus

In what, for the apostles, was a very bad storm, Jesus slept.  It’s like he seems asleep in the deep darknesses of life – people’s darkness of self-esteem, long-term illness, an addiction, migration – things that causes big storms in our lives.  But in the friendship and love of God we find we can survive and even grow through them, especially the troubles we have little control over. 

Even when Jesus was asleep the apostles felt his protective presence. They found calm only when they were in the middle of the storm.  We will find Jesus in the middle also of our storms, when we try not to hide our troubles from him. This was how Job got a bit better in the first reading – his friends were trying to help him avoid his troubles, like take a few drinks, enter a transitory relationship – all the things we do to avoid our troubles. In the middle of the tempest, God spoke to them.

We sit with him in prayer and let him know how we are, and just allow his calm come over us. We find courage and hope at the Mass and other sacraments, like the great peace of a young man when he received the anointing of the sick, who had left church practice for years.  Or the help we can get from the community of people in parish and in the church at bad times. It gives us the courage and strength to deal with what are storms in our lives.

Remember a bad time when God seemed to help you.

Be grateful.

 Prayer: Protect us from all anxiety as we wait.

Donal Neary SJ

Pastor’s Desk – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Ordinary Jesus

Very often we notice the ordinariness of Jesus.  No big discourse on the kingdom of God. He just looks around him and says it’s like seeds growing and you can’t see them growing.

People knew what he was talking about – seeds grow down in the ground and you can do little about it!  You just wait.  They had little of the modern quick ways of sowing.  All life was slow and that’s often the way.

Like tiny beginnings of a baby. All through life some of the best things are under our eyes and we do not see them. Coming to death, there is a slow journey often and it’s like growth is happening under the ground.  We are being grown by God always, if only we would let him do it.

And how we help others grow. You may not know the faith that grows in your children.  Faith is different for all of us in practice and specifics. Or the way children are taught to love and it comes out in the next generation: seeing love in a marriage and learning from example to forgive, to live in peace with each other.  Seeds are sown and grow – how to love and forgive, how to share with our neighbour, how to face death.  When we remember our dead, what comes to mind is what they taught us about life.

A lot of the best in life is ‘waiting‘.  Important moments come at God’s time.  So much of life is on trust.

Have a look this week at something small

that will grow big, and be amazed!

Heart of God, heart of Jesus, we place our trust in you.

Donal Neary SJ