Tag Archive: Gospel


AMDG  –  Doubting Thomas and Divine Mercy Sunday

This Sunday – we had three things converging – Doubting Thomas, Divine Mercy Sunday as instituted by St JPII, and also Pope Francis announcement of an extraordianry Jubilee Year of Mercy (to begin on Dec 8th) ….. I shameless tried to squeeze them all in to my homily …

Today we hear the famous post-resurrection encounter of Jesus with ‘Doubting Thomas’….. who refuses to believe that Jesus is truly risen unless he can but his fingers in his wounds.

Why did Thomas did his heels in – and refuse to believe that Jesus was Risen?  Why did he demand special proof? Why wasn’t he satisfied like the other disciples?

Because Thomas loved Jesus – and when we love we also know that we our heart has also been exposed to being hurt.  Anyone who has experienced the death of someone they love…..  anyone who has seen a relationship disintegrate…. Anyone who has been left by someone they love knows the hurt and pain that follows.  Jesus mission had ended abruptly – Thomas after witnessing the miracles, the great crowds… was convinced that this was the Son of God.  He had left everything to follow him …. And then in confusion and dread witnessed his arrest, he had run away to save his own life but heard about Jesus being tortured, heard about his public and humiliating death.  The experience of Holy Week that we have just passed through had left the disciple frightened, disorientated and disillusioned.

So stubborn Thomas, having been so deeply hurt because of his love for Jesus, is reluctant to raise his hope again.  When we human being are hurt so often we react like hedgehogs and curl up into a little ball, nursing grudges, becoming angry and bitter.  But look at Jesus’s response – Jesus who had been abandoned by his disciples, who had been tortured and killed in a humiliating way – but now the risen glorious Jesus, still bearing his wounds, his first words are not of blame and retribution but of peace and mercy.

A modern doubting Thomas

‘ Peace be with you ‘   and to Thomas  ‘ Doubt no longer and believe’ … and Thomas makes one of the most beautiful declarations of faith in the Bible ‘ My Lord and My God’ – and then Jesus  commissioned to the Disciples to spread this message of peace and mercy, the forgiveness of sins.

The difference between our human experience of being hurt, and how we nurture grudges and find it difficult to forgive and the divine mercy is great.  So it is beautiful that Saint John Paul II has named this Sunday Divine Mercy Sunday and dedicated it to the visions that Sr  Faustina of Krakow had just before WW2,  She died a year before the Nazi’s occupied Poland which lead to some terrible years, firstly with the Nazi Occupation and followed by the Communist Occupation, a period which John Paul referred to as the crucifixion of Poland.  The most famous of the visions was the lord revealing his sacred heart with rays of white and red light flowing from it as we can see at the font of the church by the lectern …. Coming at the start of the 20th Century – the most violent, most genocidal, most hate filled period in world history …..  In the face of this violence and hatred – God reveals his mercy.

What is mercy -?  Coming from –misericordia – mercy is a deep loving identification in others suffering  ….  Mercy is the very essence of God, not just one attribute amongst many….. Psalm 113 reminds us that God’s mercy endures forever and a merciful Church is what Pope Francis longs for….  Pope Francis today has declared this year – to be an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy for the Church …. He has published a bull for the called Misericordia Vultus……   Saying  “The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love……  we will be asked if we have helped others to escape the doubt that causes them to fall into despair

I think we should take this invitation seriously.  As well as an increased participation in the Sacrament of Confession – so that we can experience God’s Mercy ….  Let’s remember the seven corporal works of mercy are: 1. Feed the hungry.
2. Give drink to the thirsty.
3. Clothe the naked. 4. Shelter the homeless.
5. Visit the sick.
6. Visit the imprisoned. 7. Bury the dead. And the seven spiritual works of mercy are: 1. Counsel the doubtful.
2. Instruct the ignorant.
3. Admonish sinners.
4. Comfort the afflicted.
5. Forgive offences.
6. Bear wrongs patiently.
7. Pray for the living and the dead.  Anyone who is interested in how we can implement this more – students and non-students …. Come and see me …. We already have exceptional things like the foodbank, homeless runs, running breakfast clubs in local primary schools but we can do more … come and see me if you are interested.  How will you respond to this extraordinary Jubilee of God’s Mercy?

AMDG     Taken from today’s chaplaincy newsletter (click)

franshals_stlukeLast Thursday we celebrated the Feast of St Luke, apostle and evangelist. Each of the Gospels gives us a slightly different portrait of Jesus and what following him (discipleship) entails.  One of the themes that Luke is keen on in his Gospel is that of perseverance.  It is something that Luke would have valued himself as he accompanied St Paul on his many journeys and chronicled the events of the Early Church as he wrote the Acts of the Apostles.   Today’s Gospel is often referred to as the parable of the Persistent Widow, and develops this Lucan theme of perseverance.   As the nights get longer and colder and the summer fades away, it may be important to pray for this gift of perseverance. For some of us – even just making it to mass this Sunday or during the week is a victory of perseverance, especially when it is tempting to curl up at home.

Resilience

 

The path to joy and fulfillment can be made up of these small heroic victories. However God wishes us to thrive not just to preserve.   Persevering in the faith is a lot easier when we feed our faith regularly with the sacraments, in fact the more frequently we engage with God at this sacred level, whether at mass or confession, we can make that shift from a faith where we are just hanging on in there, to a faith that is alive, growing and flourishing.  I have heard people say – it is not about keeping the faith, but giving the faith away.  Jesus knows how hard it can be at times, when we are surrounded by cynicism and negativity – he knows how hard it is for the widow in the Gospel to get justice from the dishonest judge.  Let’s prepare for winter by strengthening our faith – even if all that means is putting 10 minutes aside each day to come and sit in the sacred silence of the Church.

Worrying and Wonder

AMDG

Hope you like the slightly redesigned blog. I had a two week break from blogging as I was coming back from India, seeing family and friends, now I am temporarily based in Edinburgh for the summer before my next appointment.

Fridays Gospel (below) for me speaks to the heart – about the importance of wonder and awe is that it takes us out of ourselves, it is the antidote of self-absorption.  I remember hearing a the story of a psychotherapist who was treating a patient for depression. Many different therapies were suggested and nothing seemed to work. As a last resort the psychotherapist suggested that the patient tried counting chimneys. It worked! Just the simple act of looking up increases the light to our brains and lifts our moods. For me this is why I love looking at the stars in a dark sky. People have been lying on their backs staring at the stars and creating patterns and stories about them since ancient times.

Worried!

Worried! (Photo credit: photoloni)

The opposite of this is the curse of worrying – or as we use to pray in the mass – ‘useless anxiety’. When we worry it makes us self-absorbed and we stop looking up and lose that renewing energy of awe and wonder. I remember a wise women, a teacher at school, asking me ‘Tim what was the last thing that you worried about’ and I couldn’t remember…. and she just nodded at me… the point being if you’ve forgotten already it wasn’t really worth it in the first place.   She would often ask me why I looked worried, and so one day I could remember what I had been worried about. Aha! I thought, now I’ve got her! So when she asked me, I told her with a big grin on my face, I was worried about embarrassing myself at a district-level football game that I had been selected for.  ‘Did you embarrass yourself?’ she replied – no I sheepishly admitted – and she shrugged, she got me again!

Excerpt from  Fridays Gospel – Matt 6

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
   what you will eat or drink,
   or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
   they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
   yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
   was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
   which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
   will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
   or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
   and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.