Good Shepherd Sunday

On the fourth Sunday of Easter every year, we hear the story of The Good Shepherd and since 1963 when St Pope Paul VI instituted it, it is also celebrated as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations or more usually, Vocations Sunday.

It is no surprise, therefore, the Fr Kieran takes a deeper look at what is vocation. Of course, Pope Paul VI, when he instituted this day, had in mind vocation to the priesthood or religious life. In his reflection, Kieran examines the broader view of vocation, differentiating between who we are, and what we do. And if vocation is about who we are, then who are we called to be?

In answer, Kieran tells us that we need look no further than seeing who Jesus is meant to be, which is to be the Son of God. Our calling, at its core, is to be family: “It is what we are in first place, for to be a child of a parent is not to do something, but to be the recipient of an unconditional, tender, gracious love. It makes us who we are, potential unconditional lovers of others, beginning with our natural family but then extending to our church family through Baptism.”

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Beware of the Blame Game

Fr Kieran reflects on the Gospel of the 28th Sunday of the Year (Matt 22:1-14), about the invitation from the King to the Wedding Feast for his son. This is one of the passages from the Gospels that have been ‘used’ from time to time to target the Jewish people. However, Kieran challenges such an interpretation.

At the time of writing, the Israel – Hamas war is happening, taking place following the horrific attacks by Hamas on innocent Israeli citizens, enjoying themselves or just going about their business, and murdering over one thousand of them.

And Israel’s government and military are retaliating with massive force and in the process, killing thousands of civilians – men, women, and children. And so the blame game begins, in the media, on the streets, in parliaments.

Kieran challenges this instant blame game that emerges from equating the word, “some” with the word, “all.”

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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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Remember Lot’s wife

The readings in these days from the Book of Genesis do not, on the face of it, portray a great image of women. In the story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt, our immediate reaction might be one of horror at the punishment meted out for looking back.

However, Fr Kieran explores this at a deeper level. Lot’s wife looked back, not so much in disobedience but in regret for the life that she lived in Sodom. Her action of looking back is: “… like so many good people in every age who live in the midst of evil and look the other way, shrugging their shoulders in resignation at the antics of their neighbours.”

We can simply fit in with the world all about us, or we can stand up, as witnesses to the Gospel, standing up for what it right and just.

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Reflection for 12th Week of Church Year

The opening words of Chapter 7 in Matthew’s Gospel are: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged, because the judgements you give will be the judgements you get, and the standard you use will be the standard used for us.”

Kieran takes us a short journey to explore these words in greater detail and tells us that: “To be a follower of Christ is to become that merciful, gentle, pure-hearted, forgiven child of God, who leaves judgment to God and dares not condemn others. Indeed, rather than condemn, the Jesus person is full of compassion for those who are following the wrong road, inviting them lovingly to come home.”

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Homily for Pentecost

In his homily for Pentecost Sunday, Fr Kieran explored the role of the Paraclete, going beyond that of comforter or counsellor but to the core of its original Greek meaning, viz. that of the Advocate. As the Gospel of John says, Jesus told His disciples that He was sending another Advocate, meaning that Jesus Himself was the first! And this Advocate is our powerful friend, whom we can call on to stand by us when we call. Could we have been left a better gift?

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Encounter, revelation, recognition!

Fr Kieran takes a look at last Sunday’s Gospel (Third Sunday of Easter – Lk 24:13-35) telling a story of an amazing encounter with which we are all so familiar, viz. the disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Our immediate reaction could well be, “How come they didn’t recognise Jesus?” and so Kieran goes further, to look at the different levels or senses of recognition. There can be a lot more than just recognising a face, and when we find ourselves deepening our relationship with another, then it requires another level of recognition, which is revelation. And it is from revelation that comes recognition. Recognition brings with it appreciation, loving the reality of what we recognise and which is revealed us to! God reveals Himself to us completely and so our response can only be that of the two disciples when they recognise him – joy!

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