The Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Fintan Gavin was a wonderful occasion on last Sun. Jun. 30th in the North Cathedral. Our Lady Crowned was represented by seven parishioners as were the other 67 parishes in our diocese stretching from Watergrasshill to Goleen. Our area was also represented by pupils from Mayfield Community School who joined with a group from Scoil Eoin in Ballincollig for the final uplifting hymn and directed by Mr. John Casey from MCS. It was a truly impressive sight to witness 190 priests process from St. Vincent’s School along St. Mary’s Road and into the Cathedral to join 1100 people from parishes of the diocese and visitors from Bishop Fintan’s native Dublin. The ceremony itself was powerful with many moving aspects. The Papal Mandate, or letter from Pope Francis to Bishop Gavin, was read by Canon John O’Donovan and the homily was preached by Fr. Robert Young, a familiar voice to so many here in Mayfield. The ceremony had a sense of celebration and of a new beginning. In our parish and in parishes across the diocese we continue to pray for Bishop Fintan and we still pray for Bishop Buckley. In time, we will become more accustomed to the name of Bishop Fintan in our Mass and Eucharistic Prayer. May God bless him as he commences his new ministry here in Cork and, in his own words, as a ‘servant leader’. Our Lady Crowned, pray for Bishop Fintan and pray for us.
The opening words of the first reading this weekend (Mar. 30th/31st) are liberating i.e. ‘today, I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you’. The reference is to ‘today’ and our shame about the past or present that can overwhelm us. The context of the gospel is significant i.e. Jesus tells this parable/story to explain why he shares the company of ordinary people and not the self-important. The gospel account of the Prodigal Son is familiar. There is no need to add or subtract from the gospel reading. It is what it is. There is mercy that we might crave from someone else. There is the tenderness of the Father. There is the acceptance and recognition of reality by the son and how his life is dead. There is the imagery of the husks that the pigs eat and the misery of life. There is the dignity of welcome and the importance of people to a loving and merciful Father. There is the resentment of the older brother. There are so many angles, so many interpretations and slants on this parable. The word that could bring it all together is ‘home’. The son comes home to the Father. Home can be the image on this Mother’s day as well. Words can be hard to find. Maybe ‘home’ is the right one for all mothers today. Please God we remember mothers no longer with us and that they are at home in Heaven. In the Eucharist today, hopefully we can experience that same sense of home. Like mothers and fathers, words are hard to find. The Eucharist is much more than words; it is the action of God. You are here in great numbers because this is home for you. We look for the same welcome as the prodigal son, we can experience the same dignity as special guests and we can feel a sense of home.
A few years ago, a new phrase came into common usage called the ‘theatre of operations’. Sadly this phrase was associated with the desert wars that took place in Iraq. This phrase was another way of referring to the battlefield where dreadful events unfolded. War is always something dreadful with no winners and this phrase does not succeed in making it any different. In the gospel this weekend, Jesus is also in the dessert and also in a battle. However this battle against the temptations of the evil one are fought for us. Simply stated, Jesus is not trapped into making himself the centre of everything and overlooking us. We are not forgotten. Jesus Christ enters into a battle so that we can have hope and some meaning to the suffering of life. This battle will only conclude during the events of Holy Week and victory on Easter morning. Perhaps this weekend you find yourself in a cauldron and a ‘theatre’ of suffering and struggle. Perhaps you are fighting your own battles and need a word of strength. Take heart from the words and actions of Jesus in the desert and on the first Sunday of one of the most ‘real’ seasons of the year in Lent. Fight on and keep going!
62 children from Scoil Mhuire agus Eoin and St. Killian’s schools will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation from Mon. Kevin O’Callaghan VG. on this Thurs. Mar. 14th @ 10.30am. Please God, it will be a sacred day for the children, their families and their schools. Furthermore, it will be an historic day for our parish as the progressive reconfiguration of parish schools will be evident to all. Holy Spirit, fall afresh on us.
The gospel reading this weekend (Feb. 2nd/3rd) tells us that those listening to Jesus were ‘astonished’ by the gracious words which he spoke. Later the same gospel tells us that others were ‘enraged’ at His words because it was not what they wanted to hear and that they were one of many to hear the words of Jesus. Nowadays, people are often ‘outraged’ in public discourse and on social media. There are very few places where people recognize and have time for ‘gracious words’. Increasingly, we hear fewer gracious words and many more words that stir rage and outrage. The beauty of our Sunday Mass and our Christian faith is that we have a ‘space’ for gracious words. Words of faith, hope and charity can never enrage and are invariably gracious. In Our Lady Crowned, we are blessed with very good Mass attendances and beautiful celebrations in the church. Gracious words can be heard and can take root. Anything that comes from God is gracious. Such words nurture and encourage rather than create fear and anger. May God continue to bless us in our lives, bless our families, bless our homes and our parish.