Trinity Sunday – B

One of the symbols on Pope Benedict’s coat of arms is a shell.  The shell comes from a story about St Augustine, who was walking along the seashore one morning, trying to understand the Most Holy Trinity.  Suddenly he saw ahead of him a little child making a hole in the sand and was walking back and forth between the hole and the ocean. He held a little shell in his hands. When he reached the ocean, he would fill the shell up with water. Then he would carefully carry it back and pour the water into the hole. He kept on doing this. After a while, St Augustine asked what he was doing. The child answered, “I am going to empty the sea into that hole, which I have dug in the sand.” St Augustine laughed out loud. Then he said, “Child, that is quite impossible. Look how big the ocean is, and how small the hole is!”  The child looked at him and answered, “And yet, it would be easier for me to do this than for you to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity.” And with that, the child disappeared. Continue reading

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Pentecost Sunday – B

The feast of Pentecost is amazing.  It’s a feast of the extraordinary, the unthinkable, the incredible — the feast of limitless possibilities.  Jesus promised his disciples the Advocate, the helper who would lead them into the full truth, the Holy Spirit who would guide them and remind them of all that Jesus said and did. This same Spirit will keep them in touch with Jesus’ beautiful vision, with his Father’s wonderful dream for all God’s people.  Yet they probably had little idea of how it would happen; of how powerful and amazing the Spirit would become in their lives.  Who would have thought that once again God is a God of surprises? Continue reading

Ascension Thursday – B

There seems to be an air of finality in Luke’s description of the Ascension.  As they go up the mountain the disciples are still hoping for some kind of earthly kingdom.  Jesus does nothing to cherish such notions.  Instead, after briefly telling them to get out there and be witnesses to his mission, he is taken up by a cloud and removed from their sight.  Suddenly he is gone, it’s all over.  Even though Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit it still seemed like curtains.  They are not going to see him again.  In times past there was a custom of extinguishing the Paschal Candle after the gospel to signify: ‘he is gone’. Continue reading

Sixth Sunday of Easter – B

St. Therese of Lisieux always wanted to be a saint and even longed for martyrdom.  This was not out of any sense of vainglory or pride.  She just knew that saints are very pleasing to God and therefore she longed for this with her heart’s desire.  However, she was at a loss as to how to be a saint in her convent.  She turned to Paul in the hope of finding an answer.  Here are her words. Continue reading

Second Sunday of Easter – B

I spent a few summers in Chicago in the early nineties.  One name that was held in high esteem was Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.  He was a deeply compassionate, warm-hearted and holy man.  In August 1996 he was told that a cancer which had been in remission had returned and that he had only a short time to live. He died about nine weeks later. During those two months, he wrote a book covering the previous three years of his life, entitled, ‘The Gift of Peace.’ One of the worst experiences of his final years was a much-publicized accusation of misconduct made against him by a young man called Stephen, who subsequently withdrew the accusation and admitted it was false. In his book, Bernardin describes meeting with his accuser. Stephen was dying of AIDS at the time, and he offered the cardinal an apology which was gently accepted. The cardinal offered Stephen a gift, a Bible in which he had inscribed words of forgiveness. Then he showed him a one hundred-year-old chalice, a gift from a man who asked him to celebrate Mass sometime for Stephen. The cardinal celebrated the Mass there and then in Stephen’s hospital ward. Later he described this meeting with his accuser as the most profound experience of reconciliation in his whole priestly life. Continue reading

Easter Sunday – B

Way back in the past, when street lights, one by one, had to be put on and later put out, an old municipal lamplighter was asked by a reporter if he ever grew weary of his work. After all, it was a lonely job and the nights were cold and damp.  “Never am I cheerless,” said the old man, “for there is always a light ahead of me to lead me on.”  “But what do you have to cheer you when you have put out the last light?” asked the news writer.  “Then comes the dawn,” said the lamplighter. Continue reading

Easter Vigil – B

Way back in the past, when street lights, one by one, had to be put on and later put out, an old municipal lamplighter was asked by a reporter if he ever grew weary of his work. After all, it was a lonely job and the night was cold and damp.  “Never am I cheerless,” said the old man, “for there is always a light ahead of me to lead me on.”  “But what do you have to cheer you when you have put out the last light?” asked the news writer.  “Then comes the dawn,” said the lamplighter. Continue reading