Reflections from Fr Kieran

Friend or foe? Who’s to know?

In his reflection, Fr Kieran encourages us to look deeper at who is my enemy, and who is my friend.

In our day to day lives, we can react badly to those who challenge us, who call out the error of our ways. We can be like King Ahab in the reading from the first book of the Kings that Kieran takes for his theme. Our instinct can be to see those who challenge us as our enemy and all too often, we don’t wish to either see them nor hear them! But are we too quick to see ‘enemy’ when we might be looking at ‘friend?’

When we read or listen to Scripture, all too often we can find ourselves challenged, asked to account for our thoughts and actions. But surely we would never see those words as coming from the ‘enemy’ but instead see beyond the human reaction to go further, to see the error of our ways, and to change; to be transformed.

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Your health is your wealth – but of which ‘health’ do we speak?

Some proverbs are universally known, understood, and accepted for a depth of insight that their brevity belies! And surely this phrase, “your health is your wealth” qualifies as being in this category.

In his reflection, Fr Kieran is not thinking so much about health in the ordinarily understood sense of that phrase, i.e., our physical and mental wellbeing. No. He takes this to another critical area of our lives, or more importantly, our lives in God, when he takes us through a reflection on spiritual health.

Most of us tend to care for our physical and mental health but do we think enough (and do enough) for our spiritual health? We spend thousands on physical health, whether in healthy living, staying fit, dieting, etc. Why – because it is important and we want to live long.

But what about our spiritual health? Don’t we want to live with God for all eternity?

Read Kieran’s reflection on this key topic!

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The Forgotten Father

In these days of equality of the sexes, one might assume that, as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady as “Mother of the Church” then so too, should we have a feast day of “Father of the Church?”

At least, that is the question that underpins Fr Kieran’s reflection. However, while it is not a question that we have heard asked, Kieran posits the question so as to encourage us to reflect on God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With the impending feast of Trinity Sunday around the corner, it is probably no coincidence that we should be thinking about it at this time.

As Catholics, we know that the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one – is one of the mysteries of our faith. As Kieran says, there was a time when the Holy Spirit was the ‘forgotten’ one of the Trinity but that has changed. Is it now the case that in fact, it is God the Father who may be the forgotten one of the Trinity?

While Kieran therefore suggests that a feast for Father of the Church would not be completely out of place, perhaps it is we who can sometimes forget the God the Father that was ever-present in the words of Jesus.

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A vocation to friendship

Albert Camus was a French philosopher (and many other things). He was the recipient of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, being the second-youngest recipient in the history of the prize. He wrote, on friendship: “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow, don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me, just be my friend.

“Friend” and, “friendship” are words that we use freely. Facebook commoditised the word such that, now we can all now have hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of “friends” and not even know most of them!

Albert Camus understood friendship in a very different way to Mark Zuckerberg and implies an equality that is central to what it is to be a friend. Fr Kieran, in his reflection that has been inspired by the Gospel on Good Shepherd Sunday, looks at the vocation of friendship, the call to be a friend. It is more than knowing, it is something intimate in its depth. Indeed, Aristotle said: “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” And Jesus told his disciples that, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends.

In his earlier reflection, Kieran wrote of how there is a difference between what we are called to do and who we are called to be and it is in the latter that we find vocation. How true indeed, therefore, is it that friendship must be called a vocation?

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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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Keeping Up Appearances

Jesus is Risen! Alleluia!!

We are in the Octave of Easter (this week, every day is preceded by the word, “Easter” and so we have, Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, etc.) with the day of resurrection of Jesus still so near. Fr Kieran reflects on the various appearances of Jesus in the immediate time that followed.

In his reflection, Kieran uses the word, “impatience” seven times! At first, this might seem like ascribing human feelings and emotions to the divine God that is the resurrected Jesus. Of course, Jesus became flesh at His birth and during his lifetime, he experienced the same emotions and feelings as all humans do, even to crying (John 11:35). But on his death on the Cross, and resurrection on Easter morning, he returned fully divine and so, the human experience of impatience might seem out of place.

However, Kieran gives us the perspective of a Jesus who wants so much for us to know and feel how much He loves us, not leaving us orphans but instead, going before us to be with His Father in Heaven where He wants all of us to join with him eternally.

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Temptation and Testing

In his reflection this week, Fr Kieran takes a deep look at the text from the Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent, the journey of Jesus into the desert for forty days, which marked the beginning of his public ministry, and which would lead, on Good Friday, to his death on a Cross as the overwhelming expression of His love for us.

The Gospel speaks of temptation, which can be defined as, “the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.” Well, no doubt Satan would have wanted Jesus to do just that. But was it temptation? Or was it ‘trial’ or, ‘testing?’ After all, Jesus was about to embark on the mission given to him by the Father, to begin a life of public ministry and He was to bring the word of God to all those around him, to make real, in the lives of the people, the Kingdom of God to which we are all called.

And so this time of testing, this time of getting ready.

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Touching and Being Touched

During Covid-19, we were all warned about the dangers of touch. Those many moments of touch that never needed words but which, nonetheless, said all that needed to be said, were impossible! It could be as simple as a handshake, that touch of hand to hand or an embrace that expressed a warmth without ever needing to be verbalised and yet, what was unsaid was understood. It could be to express sympathy, or pleasure at meeting, or congratulations, but whatever it was, touch conveyed so much.

And only when it was gone, did we realise how much touch was important in our lives.

In his reflection, Fr Kieran reflects more deeply on the significance of touch – in the story of the woman with a haemorrhage who wished only to touch to cloak of Jesus to be healed, of the intimacy of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples with his own hands, of Jesus touching the leper and making him clean. We have much to think about!

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What time is it?

In this part of the world, it is often the case that we can use terms or phrases in English which, to someone for whom English is not their native language, can be difficult to understand. Often, it is because they are difficult to translate and instead, we have to explain the concept behind the phrase and not just the words. There is many a non-English speaker who has looked perplexed when they put the phrase, “catching a bus” into Google translate!

Fr Kieran points to an example of this in his reflection when he explores the theme of time as recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel reading and second reading for the Third Sunday in Ordinary time (there’s that word again!).

The Greek’s differentiated between ‘chronos’ time – that which is tracked by clocks and watches – and Kairos time, those moments when we are at a point of a critical decision, a make or break, on which so much that follows might depend.

Kieran links this Kairos time of the Gospel with the call to repent, a critical moment, not just to confess our sins but to quote from the final lines of Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” to go in a different direction:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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The Service of Listening

Kieran’s reflection this week centres on the Ordinary Time reading from the first book of Samuel and the story of Hannah, Samuel her son, and Eli. And it is all about listening.

An encounter of being listened to, and being heard, can be transformative. We only have to look across the water at the scandal playing out about the grave injustice done to sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses by the Britain’s Post Office. Although an injustice that has continued for twenty years, the effect of the ITV dramatisation on the public conscience has led many to say that “for the first time ever, we are being heard.”

God listens to us; and we need to listen to God. Like Hannah, we need to pray to God as, how else can he hear us? And when we do this, and God is always listening, the result can be transformative!

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