“What do you do?”

What’s in a question? A chance encounter in the cark park at the friary and an unexpected question asked of Fr Kieran is the context for his sharing this week. In a place where there is so much history and so much beauty to be seen whether within the church building itself or in the grounds of the friary, most of the friers are well-versed enough to tell people about the ‘place’ when asked and indeed, they are asked this frequently. However, last Sunday, the question asked of Kieran was to enquire of what Franciscans in Multyfarnham ‘do’ – what is Franciscan life?

Buildings, gardens, decoration, surroundings – all of these are the canvas for the picture of life that is led in Multyfarnham but what is it that gives the picture its life? It is, of course, the friars and here in his reflection this week, Kieran opens the door, inviting us in as he answers the question put to him in the car park.

A thank you, perhaps, to the anonymous woman whose question lies at the source of Kieran’s words!

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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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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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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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Prayer of Spiritual Communion

Lord Jesus you remind us today how your Father rewards those who do good things in secret. Well, those who watch Mass in their own homes so that no one even sees them entering church and approaching the priest to receive communion must be doubly blessed! There is no...

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Homily for Wednesday, June 21 (broadcast on RTÉ News Channel)

The Gospel for today, June 21, is the text of the very familiar Sermon on the Mount. Kieran considers the use by Jesus of the word, hypocrite. When we hear this word, we interpret the word in terms of its usual meaning today. But in this homily, Kieran takes us to its meaning in the original Greek culture of its time.

This perspective offers a different way to read the words of Jesus. Our call, as followers of Christ, as Christians, is to present Christ to the world where we move to the back and Jesus comes to the fore. Good hypocrites?

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The Holy Spirit: continuing God’s loving work

From time to time, as we read or listen to the Gospels, the words of Jesus can seem harsh, as in the Gospel that we have heard last Tuesday (Jn 16:5-11) where Jesus first tells us that, while He is going to the Father, He is giving us the Holy Spirit as the Advocate. Following this, Jesus then sounds a more gloomy tone when speaking of the Spirit as one showing the world how wrong it is about Jesus.

In reflecting on this, Fr Kieran looks to the story in Tuesday’s first reading of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:22-34), and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the life of their gaoler. And this same Spirit continues His loving work in our day.

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The Promise of Jesus – peace!

It is not unnatural or unusual to be anxious about a forthcoming event or the future in general. For some people, anxiety itself can be a terrible burden that they might carry through life. And if we speak with people who carry such a burden, the reality of it can seem like a physical weight to be carried, with each step made more difficult as the weight on the shoulders bears down.

In Fr Kieran’s reflection this week, he explores the words of Jesus when he tell us, “Peace I bequeath you, my peace I give you.” It would be all too easy to read, or hear, those words, feel comforted by them, and move on. However, this peace, this assurance, is not as we know it. To be sure, it will not easily relieve all anxiety but if we can truly take this words to heart, understand what Jesus is saying to us, then we can truly live in the unconditional love that Jesus has for each one of us, uniquely.

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