Reflections from Fr Kieran

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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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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Reflection for Ninth Week – Prayer and family life

In his reflection this week, Fr Kieran looks at the story we have been hearing in the readings during this past week, taken from the book of Tobit in the Old Testament. This is the story of a family, a holy family, trying to do their best and observing God’s laws and commands.

And, as happens with all families, sometimes, things go wrong and we are challenged, even in some cases, despairing. In these readings, we hear of the angel Raphael, whom God sends to Tobias, son of Tobit. And as we listen to the story, we see the importance of prayer, of God’s response to the prayer. And in God’s response, we experience a God who is loving, healing, and forgiving.

Surely a lesson for all families today?

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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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“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

In this reflection, Fr Kieran considers the question from the rich young man in St Mark’s Gospel (Mk 10:17). And in this world of ours today when so much emphasis is given to the material things of this life, perhaps sometimes, we can empathise with the rich young man, maybe wanting to have our cake and eat it!

And so, as Kieran suggests, we need to look at the greatest gift of all, Jesus’ unconditional love for us and His promise of eternal life with him; are we ready, and willing, to accept that gift in preference to all else?

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