Third Sunday of Advent

This weekend, in the parish, we continued the “DO THIS IN MEMORY PROGRAMME” with the children preparing for First Holy Communion.  It is a lovely programme of involvement and invitation – involving the wider community in the faith journey of the few and inviting all to reflect a bit on life and our understanding of Eucharist.  There was talk this week, as you might expect, about John The Baptist and his work.  The children were invited to take home two pieces of paper that had been placed in two baskets – each basket was labelled “JOBS” and “ATTITUDE” and they were to take a piece from each box.  It was, I thought, a good point that it’s not always about the job but also about the attitude.  We might do what’s asked but do it grudgingly or angrily.  While the job is done the attitude is wrong.  It’s about balancing the two.  I think the children got the message at Mass today – now it’s down to me (and you) to live that message.

Thought from this weekend’s Parish Bulletin

       GOOD NEWS – WHAT GOOD NEWS? 

There’s no denying these are difficult times for many people.  Phrases like “the most vulnerable”, “the marginalized”, “those on disability” are heard on every news bulletin, talk show and phone-in.  People are angry and feel let down.  There’s a hardening of attitude and a deep sense or resentment in many at this time.  Emigration is not so much a question of choice as  necessity and, even children, can find voice for words like “recession”, “unemployment”, “crisis”, and, what’s worse, they too are frightened.   They are frightened for their parents and, though they may not fully know what it is to be yet, their own future.  The elderly too, are uncertain about where they stand.  People working in banks, people who have given much to political  parties and indeed political life are targets for harsh criticism.  It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a pleasant time. 

Into all of this we hear the church speak of  “Good news” and the words can all too easily fall flat and be trodden upon by people in rush to uncertain destinations.  It is difficult to stand, even for a  moment, and hear    something of the Good News.  Even those who gather for Mass, may well sit in the church and hear the words but only as a drone in the background.  “Good news”!  What good news? 

Recently a man named Andy McGovern, from Co. Leitrim spoke on the  radio about living with Motor Neurone disease – a ruthless taker of life that usually achieves that end within two to three years of diagnosis.  When diagnosed he went to Lourdes and prayed for a cure but no cure came.  Returning home, he vented his anger on God and church and decided to get on with his life without either.  Ten years later, when asked if he’d like to join a pilgrimage to Lourdes, he  castigated the one who invited him.  “I was in Lourdes ten years ago and begged Our Lady to make me well.  She didn’t hear me and I’ve given up on all that”.  The one who invited him gently replied “You asked for a miracle ten years ago.  You have Motor Neurone disease.  You are here ten years later.  Do you not think you received your miracle?”  He told that story again on National Radio about two weeks ago.  It is now more than thirty years since he was diagnosed. 

Good news often lies un-noticed but ever present and real, even when all seems lost.

 

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