Post-Chapter thoughts

Fr Kieran, along with most of the other Franciscans throughout the Irish Province, and joined by Friars from England and Scotland, was in Dromantine, outside Newry, for their tri-annual Provincial Chapter.

As well as dealing with a busy agenda that is always the work of a Chapter, this year’s Chapter marked a unique event when the Province of Ireland was united with that of England and Scotland to create the new United Province of Ireland and Britain. To mark this event, the Minister General of the Order travelled from Rome to be with the Friars during their deliberations.

Here, Kieran tells us a little about their days away.

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Transfiguration – God’s divinity and its connection with His humanity

In his reflection this week, which was also his homily last Sunday, Fr Kieran invites us to think about the duality of Jesus, His humanity, and His divinity, and consider how the Transfiguration that we have just celebrated, fits in our understanding of Jesus as God and man.

For the Jewish people at the time of Jesus, the “scandal” was not the death of Jesus on the Cross – after all, the sight of criminals condemned to an horrific death on a cross was not an uncommon sight. However, to speak of resurrection, not at the end of time, (or for some, at all) was a concept for very many that might be considered scandalous.

Kieran weaves these two aspects of Jesus, His humanity and His divinity, and leads us to see this feast of the Transfiguration – Jesus in his divine state – as intrinsically linked with the human Jesus, whose death on the cross, a death that brought with it indescribable suffering and horror, as the divine expression of His love for us.

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The Pardon of Assisi

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (August 1 and 2), we once again celebrated the Portiuncula, the Pardon of Assisi, here in Multyfarnham.

There is a huge tradition of this feast being observed in Multy; people come from far and near from the start of hte feast, at midday on August 1, until the closing Mass at 6:00pm on August 2. During that time, Mass was available every one and a half hours during the daytime, confessions were available throughout this time, and the Friary Office was open for people to make Mass offerings for the living and deceased.

In his reflection today, Fr Kieran tells us a litle more about this feast that is so important to Franciscans throughout the world. And in his reflection, he considers the idea of ‘home.’ Just as the Portuncula chapel was a dear and beloved home to St Francis, home is a place where we should always finds acceptance, even when not always accepted in other places.

As in the story of the Prodigal Son, coming home can be filled with unconditional forgiveness. And so it is with all of us when we seek the pardon of God. It is a loving embrace, when our Father wants only the best for each one of us

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Appreciating Grandparents

Love sits at the very centre of our faith and the Gospels themselves tell us that the greatest command of all is to love. Indeed, in St John’s Gospel, we are recognised as God’s children by how we love.

And isn’t it the case for most of us, especially those of us who know or knew our grandparents, that the overriding context of our relationship with them is on their expression of love? Fr Kieran, while reflecting on the Gospel for the Feast of Sts Joachim and Anne, observes that we hear much about parents and children in our readings at Mass but never about grandparents! We read of Joachim and Anne as the parents of Mary, the Mother of God, but not of Joachim and Anne, as the grandparents of Jesus.

Today, we are more aware of the extended family, parents, as well as uncles and aunts, and of grandparents, not least because we are all living a lot longer than in biblical times. And so, we encounter, in a deeper way, the intergenerational love that passes up and down from children and grandparents, much like the imagery of Jacob’s Ladder!

As Kieran suggests: “Ideally, each relationship should provide a firm stepping point as we climb higher and higher to approach God’s love at the very top.”

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A new Heaven AND a new Earth!

This week, Fr Kieran explores a very significant text in the second reading of last Sunday’s Mass, the reading from St Paul to the Romans (8:12-23). We would not be human if, from time to time, we don’t wonder about the next life. There will be as many ideas and images as there are people. In his reflection, Kieran goes back to the words of St Paul, to the Book of Revelation, and to reminding us of God’s promise to each and every one of us, an eternal life where there is no more death, no more tears, no more fear, no loss, just blissful, timeless, perfect life.

Kieran reminds us of the words that we hear, but perhaps don’t fully take in, viz. that it is a promise of a new heaven and a new earth.

St Francis, in his Canticle of the Sun, gives praise for all of creation; does God intend that we abandon all of His wonder in our eternal life with Him?

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“Climb, for all you’re worth!”

No doubt, we have all heard of Jacob’s Ladder, the story from the Book of Genesis (Gen 28:10-22), in the dream of Jacob, grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac. Not a great character, a man who tricked his brother Esau out of an inheritance by impersonating him. His dream comes during his hurried escape from the wrath of his brother to the land of Haran. The ladder in the dream joins heaven and earth and while comforting, is a challenging image of the close and intimate encounter between heaven and earth, God, and Creation.

Can we place this ladder image in our lives? Maybe there are many such ladders linking God and creation? Are we not climbing the somewhat arduous ladder to our heavenly home? Maybe the message to to keep climbing!

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