Category Archives: Homilies and Talks

Homilies

Homily for Sunday, June 25, 2017 by Fr Michael

+EVEN ALL THE HAIRS OF YOUR HEAD ARE COUNTED         12TH Sunday A, 2017

God is very near to each one of our lives and Jesus tells us not to be afraid even when we run into conflict as is bound to happen. Each one of us here is asked to give witness daily to our faith, something we will naturally do if our faith is living and active. All that is going on in our hearts is manifest to God. What we hear whispered within through the grace of the Holy Spirit we are to proclaim on the housetops so that God’s love may be known to all around us whether they  are willing to accept it or not.

We live in a world where there are a lot of different voices for good or bad and we can be sure that we will run into suffering and conflict if we stand up for what is right, just and loving. The power of sin is very real around us, the power of those who want to go to war, build larger weapons, exploit our natural resources, mistreat migrants, ignore the rights of the unborn, build up their wealth and power in ways that harm the poor and underprivileged. Those who speak out against these ways of acting, are the Jeremiahs of our own time and may hear from so called friends: “Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.” The suffering Christ who identifies with the least of our sisters or brothers is as present today as two thousand years ago.

At the same time our world is a place of wonderful hope for as St Paul reminds us this morning: “If by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” Amid the signs of evil in our time are many signs of transformation, of hope and encouragement.

The wisdom of Pope Francis is clearly a call to a greater awareness of just what Christ has accomplished and is bringing about in our world today. He tells us all:

“Practice the commandment of love, not on the basis of ideas or concepts, but rather on the basis of genuine interpersonal encounter. We need to build up this culture of encounter. We do not love concepts or ideas; no one loves a concept or an idea. We love people… Commitment, true commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children and the elderly, of peoples and communities…of names and faces which fill our hearts. From those seeds of hope patiently sown in the forgotten fringes of our planet, from those seedlings of a tenderness which struggles to grow amid the shadows of exclusion, great trees will spring up, great groves of hope to give oxygen to our world.”

It does not take much to see the destructive forces in our society but right in the middle of it all is the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit as we move out of mere concepts and ideas into living encounter.

And it seems to me this is exactly what our Eucharist is inviting us into as we share in this bread and wine having become the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus. It is his love that brings us together, sustains us in our daily lives and empowers us to become groves of hope that give oxygen to our world.

Homily by Fr Alan for Feast of the Sacred Heart

SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART

Dear Brothers  and Sisters, St Alphonus Ligouri was right, when he said
years ago – “That God is crazy about us”, meaning that he has given us His divine Heart, and
given us all of his fulness.

Sixty years ago today, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus , our
Fr Raymond (of happy memory) gave a beautiful, powerful Homily on the Sacred Heart – here in our Chapter Room. It was based on the Encyclical Haurieatis Aquas (“You Will Draw Waters”)that had recently been published by Pope Pius XII, to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Feast of the Sacred Heart established by Pope Pius IX. The Encyclical spelled out in length the abundance of supernatural graces which flow from the heart of Christ . This Feast (now a Solemnity) made the whole Church, and not merely the Jesuits recognize the Sacred Heart as an important dimension, to say the least, of Christian spirituality.

Fr Raymond had been a Jesuit (and remained one!). That homily here, sixty
years ago,  reflected

thefact that both he and Pius XII were excellent theologians.  So the
Homily that morning, though

very moving, was a bit ‘heady’ for me at the time, ‘spelling out in length
all the super-  natural

graces’.Within a few days of that homily I came across a translation of the
poems of St John of the

Cross, who was also quite a theologian and Doctor of the Church..and, of
course, a poet.  John,

likened the heart of Jesus to a rich, deep  wine cellar! He said, more than
once , that all his

theology, and he wrote extensively, was contained in his poetry. Among his
poems  I read the

following lines, memorized them and they have been with me ever since:

“Deep-cellared are the caverns of my Loves’ Heart. I drank of him alive.
And now, stumbling

from the tavern, not a thought of mine survives…of the flock I used to
drive (or was driven by)”.

That ’stumbling’ from the tavern’ line, some of us can identify with
initially. “ Drunk” is the

word that comes spontaneously to mind. “Inebriated’, however, is a much
more fitting term and is

John’s real meaning. This same word means : Exhilerating, enlivened,
refreshed, stimulated,

gladdened, made cheerful. What more could one ask!  If one wants to be
inebriated , that is the

most rewarding and God-intended way to go.

God, who – as God – is absolutely inaccessible to us, has made himself,
in becoming one of us –

imitable. Imitable!

“Learn of Me for I am meek and humble of heart.”   Amen.

Chapter Talk by Fr Michael, Sunday, June 18th

+The Trinity and Our Life of Prayer Cont.    Chapter Talk  June 18, 2017          

As I suggested last week, I would like to continue to reflect with you about the mystery of the Trinity and our life of prayer. I feel this is related also to the Solemnity of Corpus Christi today and the coming Solemnity of the Sacred Heart this coming Friday.

In the writing of St Augustine the Holy Spirit is perceived primarily as love in the life of the Trinity more as a psychological illustration of the relationship of the persons. In the writing of William of St Thierry there is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit being the source of unity between Father and Son. It is a unity of love but clearly the emphasis is on the mutuality of this love to be experienced by those who share in this love of the Father and Son.

Here I would like to refer again to the treatise of Odo Brooke on William’s doctrine where he says:

“The Holy Spirit is ..conceived primarily as the mutual union between the Father and the Son, which is the foundation for the doctrine [in William’s writings] of the restoration of resemblance, a participation in the life of the Holy Spirit by sharing in the mutual union of the Father and the Son. This is described in terms of daring realism, portraying a unity of spirit, whereby the soul becomes as it were the life of the Holy Spirit himself. At the same time he guards carefully against the danger of pantheism.”

I’m seeing here also a connection with the feast of Corpus Christi that we are celebrating for as St Paul tells us in his 1st letter to the Corinthians “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” All of us gathered here are from very different backgrounds but by reason of sharing in the one Spirit we form one body, becoming in Christ members of one another.

We realize our oneness in Christ as we allow each of our lives to take on a divine resemblance, to become conformed more each day to the mind of Christ. In William’s Golden Epistle where he speaks of this resemblance to God that comes about as our hearts are purified of sin and evil habits, he writes:

“It is called unity of spirit not only because the Holy Spirit brings it about or inclines a man’s spirit to it, but because it is the Holy Spirit himself, the God who is Charity… The soul in its happiness finds itself standing midway in the Embrace and the Kiss of Father and Son. In a manner which exceeds description and thought, the man of God is found worth to become not God but what God is, that is to say, becomes through grace what God is by nature.”

This movement in the human person towards divine ‘resemblance’ is indeed the dominant theme of William’s spirituality and of his Trinitarian theology.” While this movement takes place over a life time, the goal is clear. The stages we go through are those of being at first governed by the senses, our personal wants and needs. Our senses are fundamentally good but the way in which we use them, makes an enormous difference. Dealing with our senses is closely related in William’s thought to the mystery of the Incarnation. The temporal economy in which we live forms so many stepping stones toward the eternal, our sharing in the dynamic life of the Trinity. All aspects of life around us become sacraments whereby what is eternal, spiritual and everlasting is manifest.

The Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration on our altar and altars throughout the world today is God’s design to makes us aware of Christ’s presence among us. Christ is continually drawing us into his own love of the Father through the Living Flame of the Holy Spirit. Let me conclude with a quote for St John Vianney that speaks to me deeply of this mystery:

“Let us open the door of the Sacred Heart, and shut ourselves in for a moment amid its Divine flames; we shall then realize what God’s love means…

Homily by Fr Seamus last Sunday at the 10:30 Eucharist

Sixth Sunday – 2017- C
Rdngs:  Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

We have not yet celebrated the feast of the Ascension, yet all three
readings this morning remind us of the work of the Holy Spirit in the
early church and in our lives today.

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my
commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another
Advocate to be with you always …. “(John 14:15) So it’s all about
obedience – and, coincidentally, this morning, our community was blessed
and delighted to witness Br Matthias making his first annual vows, the
first of which was Obedience …  the ability to hear the voice of God in
our elected abbot, in our holy Rule, in the members of the community, both
old and young; but obedience – listening to the voice of God, is also
necessary in the person we married, in underlings and children, in elderly
parents and boring in-laws, in our friends at AA and Al-Anon and even in
the voices of the people who get on our nerves at work. In all these
places we can, if we listen with the ear of our hearts, hear the voice of
God. You might wonder why these words about the coming of the Holy Spirit
focus so much on the human. The answer, of course, is that the human is
the only place we can really be sure that God is.

It is so easy to love the God we do not see but it is so much more
sanctifying to serve the God we learn to see in others. It’s about
self-donation; it’s not about ourselves; it’s about our consideration of
the “other.” The self-giving of real obedience means putting down our own
selfish concerns and allowing ourselves to be led by the sights of
another, treating our own best interests with a relaxed grasp. (cf. The
Rule of Benedict -Joan Chittister, OSB,  p.57)

We empty ourselves so that the presence of God – another Advocate, the
Paraclete, the Spirit of truth can come in. Will we know when the Holy
Spirit comes to us? What does the Holy Spirit look like? Will there be
some kind of a sign of his/her presence?

An early Cistercian Abbot,  Doctor of the Church, St Bernard of Clairvaux,
speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit in his life, put it this way:

“Because he is living and active, scarcely had he entered me than he
awakened my slumbering soul. My heart was as hard as a rock and stricken;
he shook it, softened it, and wounded it … You well understand that the
Bridegroom Word, who has entered me more than once, has never given me a
sign of his presence by voice, image or any other appeals to the senses.
No movement on his part warns me of his coming, no sensation has ever
hinted to me that he was entering my interior retreats … I understood
that he was there due to certain movements of my own heart. The fleeing
of the vices and the repression of my carnal appetites has made known to
me the strength of his virtue. The uncovering and accusation of my hidden
feelings has led me to admire the depth of his wisdom; even the slightest
amendment of my way of life has given me the experience of his sweet
bounty; seeing the renewal and reformation of my mind, that is, the
interior man in me, I have perceived something of his beauty; finally,
contemplating the wonder of his greatness in all this,  has left me
speechless.” (Sermon on the Canticle of Canticles, 74,6)
________________________________________________________

Homily at early Mass by Fr Michael

+I WILL COME TO YOU                                                    6th Sunday of Easter(A) 2017

As the Easter season draws to a close, we are invited to open our hearts more and more to the life of the Spirit. As Christians we are called upon to realize that Christ is in the Father and we are in him and he in us. These are daring words from Christ and typical of the gospel of John who was Christ’s beloved disciple. It is as though we too are being called into this closeness to Christ if we are to be true to our faith and open our hearts to the power of God’s word.

From the letter of Peter, he tells us that we are to “be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope, but to do it with a gentleness and reverence.” We live in a world where this is more important than ever for there are many aspects of our society that run contrary to the witness of our faith. The consumerism, the politicalizing of so much of what is going on, it is often hard to assert our Christian values, the values of practicing virtue, of respect for human life, of faith, hope and love, the value of caring for the sick and elderly, of reaching out to the poor and neglected of our society. If one member suffers, there is a way in which we all suffer.

In that great production that appeared on Broadway in the mid 60’s called Fiddler on the Roof, the father of a Jewish family Tevye asks his wife Golde whether she loves him. She finds it a foolish question for she had been his wife for twenty-five years, washed his clothes, fed the family day after day. When Tevye persists with his question, Golde finally says “I suppose I do” to which he responds, “It’s nice to know.” As I reflected on this story I became aware that this is the very question Jesus asked Peter three times after his resurrection: “Do you love me, Peter.” This is a reference to Peter’s having denied him three times but show that Jesus too needed to know.

We all have need of hearing those words “I love you” even when they come from others we know to be weak human beings. And when we say them, how crucial it is, that we truly mean them from our hearts. And yet, it is only through the gift of the Holy Spirit that we can really love God, only through the working of grace that we can love our neighbor as she or he deserves. And so our need to pray always and to gather here to celebrate this Eucharist, to be fed by the Bread of Life.

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter by Fr Michael

+LIKE LIVING STONES                                                       5th Sunday of Easter, 2017

Being Mother’s day, it is all together fitting to say something in gratitude to mothers everywhere, both living and deceased, for the wonderful witness you have been in our lives. Your love and care has been the vehicle of God’s very own. For this, none of us can express adequate appreciation.

As we heard from the letter of St Peter, we are to be chosen and precious in the sight of God, to let ourselves become living stones, built into a spiritual house. Each of our lives is intimately related to those around us just as every stone or brick that makes up this church is closely related to those around it. And Christ Jesus is the cornerstone on which the whole structure depends. The very cement that holds the whole thing together is the love Christ has for us, the love with which he is one with the Father, a love that makes us one with one another.

The way we are built into the living temple of God is brought home to us with great clarity in our gospel this morning. Thomas’s question to Jesus is a haunting one, a question that lingers in each of our hearts as we live our Christian lives each day: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” and then Christ’s response can be as baffling to us as it probably was to the first disciples: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So often in our lives we find ourselves asking where is Jesus in this situation. Our neighbor, Joe Mahoney, was seemingly in good health only a few months ago but having an accident and found to be with leukemia, he passed away just this last Tuesday, leaving his loving wife and children and many of us with a real sense of loss. This is only one instance but we are constantly being immersed in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, into those moments when there is no human explanation that proves adequate. It is then that we learn to trust in an all loving God. And it is in these very moments that we come to know what Jesus means when he says: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

Jesus then tells us not to “let our hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” By doing so he takes us still further into the whole divine plan for us. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us so that he may come back to us and takes us to himself. John’s gospel has a way of making present the mystery of God’s love that is not only all around us but also at work within us. Just as Jesus is one with the Father and does the works of his Father, so we too are to be one with him so that we may do the works of God. He dares even to say that “the one who believes in him will not only do the works that he does but “will do greater ones than these” because he is going to the Father.

It is hard to imagine anything like that ever happening but we have to remember that what is impossible to us human beings is possible for God who is at work in those who believe. And for me this is what we celebrate each time we gather for the Eucharist and let our own lives become the bread and wine that is brought to the altar. Of ourselves we are no more than a bit of ground wheat become bread or crushed grapes become wine. But once we are filled with the Holy Spirit, as often as we open our minds and hearts through faith to the prayer of Epiclesis, to the gift of Holy Spirit, our minds and hearts become one with that of the risen Christ who does wonderful things with our lives wherever we may be.

Then it is that Christ truly becomes the way, the truth and the life for us so that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. This it is to be truly Christian in every domain of human life today.

Acts 6:1-7; Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12

 

Fr Carlos’ Homily of last Sunday

Commentaries on today’s gospel go at length to lay down in some details for the sake of modern hearers of the gospel regarding the milieu and the life of shepherd and sheep.  Except for those who are raising sheep it would still be difficult for many of us who have hardly seen a real live sheep to appreciate fully any explanation.   For the more sophisticated, intelligent and educated among us, it is hardly flattering to liken  one’s self and other believers to dumb, helpless, totally dependent animal.  The philosopher atheist Sartre would really be insulted by this comparison.  For him even the existence of God is an impingement upon a person’s liberty.  God’s existence in itself, limits my existence and that is very offensive to human dignity.  To be like a sheep!  You could almost hear the modern today say:  that is hard saying who could believe that.

How then do we approach this message more sensibly.  First of all it is not mainly about the sheep.  It is about the shepherd.   How the true Shepherd that is Christ, is totally dedicated to the well being of all those who were entrusted to him by the Father.  Jesus is not in the habit of losing any sheep entrusted to him by God.  He is never neglectful of anyone given to his care.  Of course the sheep has a mind of its own and does get lost.  The shepherd goes after him to protect him and bring him back.  He knows it must be a terrifying thing to be alone in the wilderness with so many life threatening forces around.   The closeness, the care, the steadfast concern of the shepherd to the sheep gradually conditions the sheep to know his voice, to distinguish it from other shepherds’ voices.  So too with us believers.  There are many contending voices calling us claiming that if we follow them all will be well.  But we know that many among us have been disappointed after having encountered false shepherds.  You see we pay more attention to what they promise to give us… like a greener pasture, independence, freedom – without first listening to voice of the shepherd in order to discern our true shepherd..  To really listen well, suppressing all our egocentric thoughts and desires when he speaks.  There, in listening, in the silence we will know the voice of the true shepherd.  It is with this sensitivity to the voice of the shepherd that the sheep avoids a lot of troubles, which helps them to survive.  They know it’s him.

The shepherd is a gate too.  Jesus is our gate.  It simply says that out of habit the sheep knows that their shepherd comes in through the gate.  Any other place will startle them especially if someone comes over the fence.  For the true believer all truth bearers must pass through the truth of Christ who is the gate.  The truth of Christ is that his sheep may have life and may have it in its fullness.  False prophets, teachers and leaders will not pass through the gate, will not pass through Christ for their darkness will be revealed.   Therefore the sheep must not be impressed by the agility of the thief to climb over fences and the way he makes it look so easy.  Sheep at times want to jump over the fence, you know.  The pasture is always greener on the other side.  It really is really about the shepherd.

But the question still remains.  What about us, are we like sheep?  Yes and No.  No, we are not dumb, we are very intelligent and the Father made us so and Jesus wants us so.  We must love God with our whole heart, with our whole mind and with all our strength.  That is not a sign of dumbness nor lack of dignity.  Yes, we are like sheep if we acknowledge that this immense universe in which God has placed us, this life which God has given us is so infinitely vast and complex that our minds and heart cannot grasp it.  It is a case of our utter limitedness that we need a Shepherd and that we look like sheep.  It’s not dumbness but limitedness.  Intelligent sheep to be sure.  But we need a guide who will always be with us till the end of time.  No other shepherd can do that for us.  We need a shepherd to explore this wonderful life and benefit from it.   We need a shepherd who will protect us from harm and deceit of hirelings, thieves and robbers.  A word of caution though… to aspire to be higher than being a sheep is to become a shepherd.  That was the downfall of the first 2 sheep.  In this sense we are sheep by nature.  Understood well it can be a life of bliss.

Homily – 4th Sunday of Easter – Sr. Sue Rogers (Sister of Loretto)

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

JOHN 10:1-10

As I’ve reflected on today’s Gospel reading from John, I’ve been drawn to two images.

One image is that of Jesus, Pharisees and sheep.

The other image is of Jesus, Cody (the Motherhouse farmer) and the Motherhouse cows.

A number of weeks ago the cows were grazing in the pasture out in front of the Motherhouse—along the road up the hill from the highway.  Then, suddenly it seemed, they were gone and a section of the fence was down.  A thief and marauder in the night? No. The cows, it turned out, were happily grazing in the field in back of the barn. One of the sisters asked how they got there.  How do you move a herd of cows? Load them in a truck?

So one day I asked Cody how he got the cows from the front pasture to the back pasture.  He laughed and said it was easy—he simply opened the gate, in this case made one by taking down a section of fence, went into the pasture, and called the cows.  They came at the sound of his voice.  Then he led them forward, out through the gate, to a pasture waiting with renewed grass, good food, and fresh water.  They knew his voice and they followed him.

A few days later, as I was driving down the hill, there was Cody putting the finishing touches on a new farm gate in the place where he had taken down the fence to move the cows.

Then last week I walked through the pasture down to the Valley House.  The cows were grazing there.   I tried calling them. Guess what?  They didn’t come, they didn’t follow me.  Some simply continued to enjoy a lovely grass lunch in the sun.  Others, gathered in the shade, eyed me with more interest and some suspicion.  By the time I got to the Valley House a dozen cows were crowded around the gate—blocking it.  They were in no way about to move to let me in.   Two thousand pound cows make for serious gate keepers.  I had real doubts about elbowing my way through them.  So I crawled through the fence where a slat was missing—taking the way of thieves of marauders.

Cody is the gate keeper, the gate, the Good Shepherd, the Good Herdsman, of cows.  Cody knows the cows and they know him.  He knows gates. And pastures.  What it is to call and to lead.  To have in his heart the needs and wellbeing of the land and the cows.  It’s a gospel-like image.  Jesus would have liked it.

Jesus knew what he was talking about when he talked about how shepherds are with their sheep. Sheep were part of his environment as much as the cows are a part of ours. He knew what he was talking about when he said he was the gate, and the gatekeeper, and the good shepherd.

John notes that when Jesus used the images of the gate to the sheepfold, the shepherd entering the sheepfold, calling his sheep and leading the sheep out to pasture, the Pharisees didn’t get it.  They were even more determined to have Jesus killed.  Shepherds and Pharisees lived miles apart in the same tradition.  In the Gospel they are foils to one another.

Shepherds had a long tradition in Israel.  Abraham was a shepherd—called to shepherd not just his flocks—but also the people—to father them as a new nation, to lead them to a new land and a new future and new relationships with God.  David was a shepherd and the Pharisees anticipated a messiah from David’s line who would free them from Roman occupation.

Just a couple chapters earlier in John’s gospel the Pharisees had identified Abraham as their father.  Jesus had challenged them – if Abraham was truly your father you would do what Abraham did.  Act like a shepherd.  Shepherd the sheep.  Shepherd the people.  Lead them where God would have them go.  Out and toward a future abounding with life.

By the time of Jesus the social status of shepherds had declined significantly.  They were despised by the “good” people of the day—especially the Pharisees.  They were unable to keep the details of ceremonial law, to observe the meticulous ritual of hand washing, the rules and regulations—the things so important to the Pharisees.  The constant needs of the flock made all that impossible.  And so they were looked down on– certainly not “real” children of Abraham.  They were among the lowest of the low, not worthy of the temple—–or the consideration of God.

The Pharisees had arrived much later on the biblical scene—just a few hundred years before Jesus.  The Pharisees saw themselves as the guardians of the law and put upholding the letter of the law and the traditions of ritual observances above everything else.  They defined holiness in terms of appearances and ritual observances.  They saw themselves as the gatekeepers of righteousness and holiness—and God’s favor.  They may have considered themselves the children of Abraham but they despised shepherds—Jesus tended to see them as hypocrites.  The looked good but their praxis revealed false hearts, rigidity, harsh judgement, and exclusion.   They harassed the man born blind whom Jesus healed.  They refused mercy or understanding to the woman caught in adultery. They slammed gates in the face of others and did not shepherd.

They rejected Jesus as they rejected shepherds.

I look back at Cody. Last week he opened the pasture gates and the barn doors to a group of Head Start kids.  He opens gates for Kentucky’s young farmers—educating, mentoring, providing experience, leading them in a future of farming practice grounded in care, reverence, and respect.  He is leading Loretto into a future that is hopeful, sustainable and life giving. He shepherds. Hopes for a future.

That’s what Jesus calls us to.  We must be shepherds, protecting the weak and vulnerable.  Safeguarding creation.  We are called to open gates and lead others to life—not build walls to keep others out, or slam doors to keep them in places of violence and poverty and death.  We are called to a practice of mercy, of open arms and open hearts. To live for a future of abundant life.

Sue Rogers  May 7, 2017

Homily – Fr. James – 3rd week of Easter – Jesus walks with us

3rd Sunday of Easter – Year A

Today we celebrate the 3rd week of Easter – an event so marvelous that it takes us fifty days until we can fully realize what happened, until the Spirit of God comes upon us as tongues of fire to make known the event which is commemorated in today’s gospel – namely, that Jesus Christ is always walking at our side. This is an astounding fact and one that we fail all too often to realize and remember. Would we all do some of the things that we do if we truly believed that Jesus Christ was walking at our side? Would we indulge some of the passions we hide from others if we knew that Jesus Christ is always present with us, watching us, and doing so with a love so great that He would still die for us if necessary. He told Julian of Norwich that He has loved us so much that He would have suffered even more than He did, if possible. But such was not possible. Even God could not suffer more than Jesus did out of love for us. And precisely because of this, He still walks with us, He still loves us, and He still breaks bread with us.

Paul cries out to the people of Israel just after having received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost the words which we heard in the first reading: “This Jesus God raised up from death and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured this out” upon us. It is almost as if God is saying to us: “You did all this to try and deny my love for you. Now try again!” But Peter urges us in the second reading: “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

And what is that implanted word but the very Word of God, Jesus Himself, who walks with us in all of the events of life. Like the disciples in the gospel, we walk the paths of life, dejected and disappointed and even disillusioned because things have not gone the way we had hoped. “We had hoped…”!! These are the very words which fill our vocabulary in every difficult situation. “I thought that I would find the perfect way of life in this community, but… I had hoped!” Or, “I thought that I would find the perfect partner if life with this woman or man, but… I had hoped!” Or, “I thought that this degree would open the door for the perfect job, but… I had hoped!”

Life is filled with dashed hopes for all of us, and yet the final reason for this is that we fail to recognize Jesus Christ walking with us, inviting us to follow in His footsteps, even if that be steps which lead to Calvary. Just as His life was leading ultimately to Calvary, so our lives will contain many difficulties and heart aches and disillusionment. But to the extent that this is true, it is because, like the disciples, “we had hoped!” But we fail to recognize that Jesus Himself is walking with us in those very circumstances, leading us to a fuller life than we had planned or hoped for, because it is a life which is not limited solely to this life. He has chosen each one of us to be children of His heavenly Father, and He makes this known to us precisely in the very service which we are sharing in now, namely, “in the breaking of the bread”.

But this breaking of bread is not limited to the Eucharistic celebration. It is to be found in every event or circumstance which seems to break us in some way. Jesus Himself came to the glory of the resurrection by being broken on Calvary. And we are called to follow on the same path – it is through the myriad of times we experience: “we had hoped!” that we are called also to a new resurrection with Christ.

But Jesus knows full well how slow we are to believe. Even His own disciples were slow to believe, and we can be no better than they. And so Jesus chooses to walk with us, to share with us the pains and sorrows and disappointments of life, but still constantly promising us, as He promised the thief on the Cross: “This day, you will be with me in paradise!” It is with confidence in that promise that we approach the altar this day, in order to know Him anew “in the breaking of the bread”.

Reflection at the Eucharist, Sat. April 29th by Michael

John 6:16-21 (Also the Memorial of St Catherine of Siena)

+As is so true of our gospel today, the writing of John the evangelist speaks to us on many levels, addresses our own experience today as much as telling us what happened 2000 years ago.

Jesus had just worked the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and knew they were about to come and carry him off to make him king so he withdrew to the mountain alone.The disciples decided to disembark and cross the sea. What happened to them happens so often in our own lives. They feel alone and in the dark, a strong wind blowing against them. In these unexpected circumstances Jesus draws near to them walking on the sea but they began to be afraid. Jesus so often draws to us in the most unsuspected events of our lives, when we are no longer in control and have become afraid.

But these are precisely the times when we are freed and allow grace to govern us rather than our own efforts. When we hit bottom and come to know God’s loving presence, we too immediately arrive, are able to be our true selves and ever caring for others.