St Eugene’s Cathedral
Francis Street, Derry
BT48 9AP | Tel: 028 7126 2302
One week out from Holy Week, the scripture readings are very clearly focusing our attention on the suffering and death of Jesus – and on the meaning of those terrible events in Jerusalem. Jesus prepared his apostles, and he is bracing his modern disciples to face that reality. What lessons do I hear today?
Thirdly, Jesus is not merely calling us to have our individual hearts remade. He always challenges those who claim be his followers today to let the Church be remade. The call to repentance is directed first at the Church. Only when we begin with having our own hearts remade can we invite others to take our preaching seriously. It is attractive for some Christians to take the moral high ground and condemn others for problems in the Church and the world. But Psalm 50 tells us that only when we have a pure heart created within us will we be able to teach transgressors God's ways and help them return to the Lord. Any synodal way of being the Irish Church is not merely a question of partisan Church politics and a theological debating society where the loud and articulate win the vote – but end up going nowhere. Church is all about making space for the victory, not of my opinions, but of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis wrote recently that any synodal way of being church has to be 'for everyone an experience of conversion'. We all need to have a remade pure heart within us, not just some of us. Otherwise, we place too much trust on our own wisdom and eloquence and little on the crazy wisdom of Holy Week. If we start any synodal approach with a heart that wants to promote my agenda, then we are going nowhere. Jesus 'learned to obey through suffering'. The church will not be made missionary in our day without the suffering that comes from discerning and obeying the Holy Spirit. As Jesus refers to in the Gospel. some might be tempted to say "Father, save me from this hour." However, with him, we can take seriously that the prince of this world has been overthrown. The Cross is a time of unimaginable grace. If we try to short circuit that journey, we don't really want to see Jesus. If we seek only to win our battles, we will get in the way of his victory.
If we take them seriously, the next two weeks up until Easter Sunday will be difficult. I am delighted that we will be able to celebrate Holy Week with God's People around the Cross and the altar. We believe that healing for our world comes from immersing ourselves in the mystery of Calvary and Resurrection. I know that every day we celebrate the mystery of Calvary's sacrifice – but Holy Week is a unique time to re-present the drama that happened in Jerusalem 2,000 year ago. God's plan says that we can all be glorified through participation in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Only a church that submits humbly to that dying to itself and being remade can be Christ's vehicle for drawing everyone to himself. At the beginning of the next two weeks, Jesus asks all of us whether we are prepared to fall to the ground and die so that a rich harvest can be made visible in our day, too. It will be a tough journey – but only in this way can God be glorified and the world healed.
+ Donal McKeown
 Let us Dream. 2020, Simon and Schuster, p 84