Twelfth Sunday – Year A

“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who bring good news, good news.  Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness, our God reigns, our God reigns.”  I first heard this hymn at the International Charismatic Conference in Dublin in 1978 and it has been a favourite of mine ever since. The words come from Isaiah 52:7 and what sweet music they were for those in exile in Babylon. It must have been a wonderful sight to see this harbinger of good news striding across the mountains, announcing peace, happiness and the reign of God once more. That phrase, ‘our God reigns’, should not be taken for granted. In those days, each nation had its own god and exile in Babylon meant that the god of Babylon had overcome the God of his Israel.  But now that their God reigns once more one can expect peace and stability again. Continue reading

Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ – A

Ethiopia suffered a terrible famine during the years 1984 to 1986.  The late Cardinal Hume of Westminster tells about an incident that happened when he visited Ethiopia in the middle of the famine.  One of the places he visited was a settlement up in the hills where the people were waiting for food which was unlikely to arrive.  He was taken there in a helicopter.  Continue reading

Feasts of the Holy Trinity – A

Having celebrated the great feasts of Easter and Pentecost it’s appropriate that we pause to reflect and celebrate the great God behind all of this with a feast day. This is, as St. Paul says. ‘the God in whom we live and move and have our being;’ the God who has loved each one of us into life and constantly longs for our companionship.  I limit myself to three points about our amazing God, namely, i) God is great, ii) God is love and iii) God is for us.  We begin with the greatness of God by taking a page from that wonderful hymn, ‘O Lord my God’ as it provides us with an excellent starting point for this contemplation. Continue reading

Pentecost Sunday – A

Pentecost is truly a wonderful feast.  It is that magnificent moment of wind, fire, power and miraculous transformation.  It is truly the new age of the Spirit when all is changed, changed utterly.  The Apostles are at the heart of it just as they were at the heart of all those strange happenings when a certain Jesus of Nazareth walked the roads of Galilee and spoke of new thoughts, new deeds, and new things.  Now, these new deeds are taking place.  Now they are walking the talk.  And the response is nothing short of amazing.  People from the four corners of the earth are hearing them in their own language. This is the reverse of the Tower of Babel which was famous for the division and the breakdown of community; famous for the multiplication of languages so that people no longer knew or understood each other.  Now everyone understands the Apostles in their own tongue.  Here is the great gathering together of the nations of the world once more.  All nations, peoples, tribes and cultures are brought together and celebrate their common heritage in Christ.  We are now all brothers and sisters in the family of God, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, woman or man.  There is no longer any distinction that favours one at the expense of the other.  Continue reading

Fifth Sunday of Easter – A

A few years ago, I attended a funeral whose hobby was homing pigeons.  It was very appropriate then that at the graveside his own pigeons were released.  There was a lovely symbolism to it.  As his treasured pigeons flew home, their master was making his own way back home to God. When these birds were released they flew straight up in the air and then went around in circles for a while before setting off in a certain direction.  This circling around wasn’t mere show.  They had to keep circling until they found their bearings.  Once found, they set off home. Continue reading

Fourth Sunday of Easter – A

What do you do when bad things happen to good people?  This is the difficulty that Peter is faced with in the second reading today. His communities are having a torrid time.  The risen Lord had given them new hope and joy, but now they are suffering for their faith.  They have to endure persecution, torture and even death for their belief in Jesus.  Peter responds by reflecting on Jesus, who, when faced with persecution did not retaliate but bore his sufferings for love of us. ‘Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps … When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.’ Continue reading

Third Sunday of Easter – A

The author John Shea distinguishes three different movements in the mass.  First, you gather the folks, then you tell the stories and finally you break the bread.  This is what we do every Sunday and this is what happens with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Many scholars have taken up this story as a great example of what every mass should be like. Continue reading