4 minutes reading time (781 words)

Homily - Fan the Flame 2021 - Bishop McKeown

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Monday, 21 June 2021 

This is the longest day in the year, the day when we are furthest from the cold short days of winter. It is a time to look back on the years spent in primary or national school, to look forward to a summer break and to imagine what life in the new school will be like. It is a time when you can look back on lessons learned and friendships made – and look forward to building on those lessons. And please God we can all look forward to an end to the whole COVID experience.

Many of you have already celebrated your Confirmation - but some of you have to wait a few more months. Don't panic. God is good and generous with his gifts.

But there are more decisions to be taken than just what date Confirmation is celebrated. It is also a time for you to start making big decisions in your life. I don't just mean what subjects you will study at school or who you want to be friendly with. I mean that this is a time for you to ask what ideals are going to guide your decisions in life. You will have many choices to make. How will you judge what is right and valuable – and what is not good?

Jesus in the Gospel puts it clearly – love God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbour as yourself. That may sound a tall order that is asking too much of you. But Jesus tells people that human beings are capable of great things. Some people will tell you that life is just a bit of joke and that you shouldn't grow up to quickly or take too much responsibility in life. Jesus invites people to expect great things from themselves and from others.

Some of your friends will tell you that God is a bit of a spoil sport and that faith in Jesus will limit you. But if you look back in history, you will find that belief in God has inspired great scientists, artists, writer and musicians. Great figures like Saints Patrick, Brigid or Columba were heroes in their time and are still remembered. We have more modern figures like Sr Clare Crockett from Derry who dedicated her life to God at the age of 18 and died in an earthquake 5 years ago as she protected children. Or Carlo Acutis, a young man who love Jesus in the Eucharist and deid at the age of 15, just 15 years ago. Or St Aloysius – whose feast we celebrate today - who died at 23 looking after the sick during a plague.


Let the love of God shape your heart to do beautiful things. Learn to love, even when that is not easy. Decide today to make decisions in life that help you blossom and give life to others.

Our title for this annual Mass is 'Fan the Flame'. The problem is very often that we doubt there is a spark in each of us that can be fanned into flame. Jesus invites you to fan the flame by asking yourself the question, "How would I love to be a blessing on the world?". How do you want to leave your mark so that you will leave the world a better place because you have passed through? We are all tempted to pick famous role models. But young Carlo Acutis said that we are all meant to be originals and too often people end up being little more than photocopies of somebody else. Jesus asks you to be an original, not by being an idiot but by being loving. Be outstanding for your kindness and thoughtfulness. Jesus does not want love of God to drag you away from the world. He wants you to know that you are loved so that you can spread that love where it is most needed.

There is spark of sainthood in your heart. You can let it die – or you can fan it into a flame. That was what the Apostles let God do at Pentecost – the message about Jesus was brought to the boil and it burst out. The Bible tells us that 3,000 people became believers that day.

Let the love of God shape your heart to do beautiful things. Learn to love, even when that is not easy. Decide today to make decisions in life that help you blossom and give life to others.

And without even knowing you are doing it, you can set the world ablaze in your own beautiful, God-given way.

+ Donal McKeown

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