St Eugene’s Cathedral
Francis Street, Derry
Tel: 028 7126 2302
Firstly, the writings of St Luke are full of journeys. Mary journeys to visit Elizabeth and then to Bethlehem. Jesus goes to Jerusalem and then back to the Father. And the early Church moves from being locked in an upper room in Jerusalem to preaching the Gospel in Rome – en route to the ends of the earth. The Church of Jesus is never going backwards. Every Calvary is part of the journey. Every crisis is an opportunity for renewal. Every apparent loss is a chance for new life. Conversion means giving up things that we thought precious in order to let Christ upset our blinkered plans. There is a widespread temptation in Church to complain and criticise. One narrative sees the future as gloomy and full of problems as outsiders seem to have the upper hand. Jesus knows what awaits him Jerusalem – yet he starts into that journey with determination. He is prepared to face the challenge – because God is in charge. In his teaching and miracles, he has shown that the Kingdom of God has begun and that the devil can never have the upper hand. The church can produce all sorts of great programmes that teach the content of faith. But unless, despite the problems, we make the church a place of courage and hope, we labour in vain. Jesus wants people to hear of the hope that he has won for us, not complaints about the things we think we have lost. Are we prepared to resolutely take the road ahead of us?
The church can produce all sorts of great programmes that teach the content of faith. But unless, despite the problems, we make the church a place of courage and hope, we labour in vain.by Bishop Donal
Thirdly, the bible is full of people who freely choose to make the costly decision to follow the divine call. Elijah and Elisha are remembered because they took the road less travelled. In the Gospel, Jesus encounters people of good will who are conflicted when it comes to taking him literally and following Jesus. His words to them may seem harsh. But, elsewhere in the Gospel, discovering the love of Jesus is compared to finding a treasure in a field or a pearl of great price and being prepared to give everything for it. True freedom comes when we are drawn irresistibly by the love of Jesus. Holiness means discovering that, beside the love of God, everything else is merely dust and ashes. Only a prayerful heart will be able to make wise and graced decisions. The future of the Irish church lies not in importing clergy to keep the institution going, but in helping young people here to make outrageously generous decisions so that God can renew his mission in the church. He still invites people to put the hand to the plough.
Can I suggest some themes for prayer this week as we face into the school holidays and a time when many will hope to get away?
Pray that we will discover what it means to freely follow Christ. Learn to know his generous heart and pray for the strength to imitate it. Don't be afraid to listen to his promptings.
Pray for the grace to believe that Christ's yoke is easy and his burden light. Be grateful for where you are in life and seek the next step on the way forward.
Finally, ask Jesus to cleanse your heart of any sense of being a victim. Frightened or defensive hearts are not free to make good decisions. Our society is soured by a pervasive sense of victimhood. Jesus gathers us to be a people that face the future with trust. And in the midst of must pain, we need to gather each week.
Christ's time is never ordinary time!
+ Donal McKeown
The people of the Diocese of Derry have taken part in parish discussions, online contributions and deanery gatherings during recent months in response to the call from Pope Francis about the next Synod.
The fruit of this listening has been collated and a synthesis is now submitted to form part of a national synthesis. This diocesan document is published at the link below for reading and sharing.
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