• Homilies,  Year B

    4th Sunday of Lent 2021

    I recall a colleague of mine dying of cancer.  I remember the day when the prognosis came through:  the cancer had already spread to his liver and to his lymph nodes.  He was given about 6 months to live.  It was devastating news for us all. Well, Tom didn’t have six months.  In the end, he only had four.  But it was four months that Tom lived.  He struggled with his fears about pain.  He dealt with his grief for what he was losing. He had always been a very independent person but now he was learning to allow others to be there for him, but he found the process of accepting his powerlessness the most difficult.  And most…

  • Homilies,  Year B

    3rd Sunday of Lent 2021

    There is a story about an American philosopher who went to Japan for a conference on religion.  He overheard another American delegate speaking to a Shinto priest.  “We’ve now been to a good many of your ceremonies,” said the delegate, ‘and have seen quite a few of your shrines.  But I don’t get your ideology; I don’t get your theology.”  The Japanese paused as though in deep thought and then slowly shook his head.  “We don’t have an ideology”, he said.  ‘We don’t have a theology.  We dance!” Perhaps we have forgotten that Christianity, itself, began as a dance.  There was no ideology, no comprehensive philosophy.  Rather there was a series of extraordinary gestures in the life of Jesus…

  • Homilies,  Year B

    2nd Sunday of Lent 2021

    Throughout our human story mountains have been places where people have often chosen to go, or felt attracted to go, to wrestle with the deep questions of their existence.  What is it about mountains that does this? Perhaps, it is their “closeness” to the sky? Perhaps, the thinness of the air makes for clearer thinking? Or maybe their height enables a sense of perspective?   Whatever the reason, mountains are very important places in Scripture.  They are the places where people seem to encounter God.  They are places where covenants between heaven and earth are forged.  The encounter which people have with God on the mountain top, however, also occurs alongside the encounter with their…

  • Homilies,  Year B

    1st Sunday of Lent 2021

    From time to time I am interviewed about my journey, my faith, and my vocation. I recall a question in such interview very clearly. The question was: “Have you always been an observant Christian? Was there a critical moment in your life – an ‘aha!’ moment – when you saw the power and beauty of your religion with particular clarity, and chose to embrace it? Tell us something about what you saw, who influenced you, and how that moment impacted upon your life/lifestyle.” For me the question can easily be answered almost to the day and the time. One of the most significant experiences in my own spiritual life was…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year B

    6th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

    It was Teresa of Avila, writing in the 16th century, who remarked that we should all learn how to read the texts of the gospels in their original language. Well, I doubt that many of us will be able to fulfil her challenge, including me. However, one of the things we begin to recognise about Scripture is that often enough the English translation we are used to oftenfails to convey the meaning of the original Greek, the language in which the gospels were written. The use of the English phrase, “feeling sorry” in this account of Jesus’ encounter with a leper is a case in point. The original Greek illustrates…

  • Homilies,  Year B

    5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

    Healing is front and centre of Jesus’ ministry. Healing from the perspective of the gospel, however, is never effected simply by attention to physical disease.  We know healing is not simply a physical phenomenon.  It is a far more profound experience.  Some writers would go so far as to suggest that all illness is a psychosocial reality – i.e., it places the person in a new relationship with their society – a relation which can either isolate a person further and compound the effect of illness, or relation that places the person at the centre of the community’s concern and, thus, in no small way, redeems the person’s particular disease.  The most negative aspect…

  • Homilies,  Year B

    4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

    One of the privileges of our life is to be able to sit with someone else and to listen to their story and to hold their struggle to find meaning in their life.  Sometimes those people with whom we might sit may have been struggling a long time, and alone. Sometimes they may have given up any struggle, and, rather, given in to the emotional or spiritual impasse they reached many years before.  And sometimes they may have only just set out on a deeper search for themselves and for who God might be for them. Often, of course, we have no word to give, and the silence is hard to bear.  On…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year B

    3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

    I am sure that many of us have heard the story of the chap driving in the country who stops to ask the famer which is the way to the city.  Says the farmer to him in reply, “Oh, if I were going to the city, I wouldn’t start from here!” How often we give this very same reply to our faith, and to our relationship with God, and even with each other.  We get caught in the thinking, that if I were going to relate to God better it couldn’t possibly be from how I am feeling at the moment.  If only I didn’t have to contend with this pain or with…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year B

    2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

    Not so long ago, I chanced to see a rather striking sign outside a church.  The text of the sign was simply, “Can you hear the voice of God in the silences of the day?”  Can you hear the voice of God in the silences of the day? I was particularly struck by it because often enough we expect to hear God in another way. We think God speaks to us in an exceptional way, or that he only speaks to exceptional people, and, sadly, we don’t include ourselves amongst them.  So often we will hear people say, “God never speaks to me,” or the question behind this conclusion which is “Why does…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year B

    Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2021

    As the months roll on all of us are desperately waiting for the pandemic to be over. We wonder how long it will take for the situation to change, for restrictions to be lifted, for our lives to return to some of the normalcy we had before. We had hoped that our waiting might be over just before Christmas; however, as this new year has started we have realized that our waiting is not over, and that perhaps we will be waiting for the better part of this year. We spend a great deal of our life waiting – perhaps more than, at first, we care to realise.  There are those…

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