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6th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy, C.P.

One well-known piece of Sacred Scripture is the “Sermon on the Mount”. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew, these wonderful words of Jesus are recorded. Today we have the Beatitudes according to St Luke. St Luke does not have Jesus climb a mount but He ‘came down and stopped at a piece of level ground.’ There He found, “a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.” They had gathered to listen to Him and to be healed.

Jesus stands eye to eye with his listeners. He is not above them. In the crowd most were ‘small’ and vulnerable people. Such people often get overlooked and feel hurt. They get jeered at and often ignored. They are easily discriminated against as they can’t fight back. The world is full of people who are hurting. You see it in their eyes. Their hearts are broken and wounded. It is a foretaste of Hell for people who are created for Heaven.

In extreme circumstances, some people’s hurts pain them so much that they cannot take any more. Added to this, they wrongly think that their family and friends would be better off without them. Depression is all around us, but often hidden. Many a smiling face masks a broken hurt heart. The only way out is to talk to someone. But that is the last thing such a person wants to do. Friends need to look out for each other. A listening ear can save a tragedy. Samaritans, SOS Helpline and other caring groups are ‘angels’ in our midst. God bless them and they deserve any support we can give to their great work.

Why raise such sad times in this week’s Bulletin? No, I am not depressed, thank God. Looking at the relic of St Paul of the Cross and the Passionist Icon in our midst these days, I am reminded that for as long as one person is hurting, in pain, the Passion of Jesus continues.

Frequently, people tell me of their own and their family hurts. I marvel at how they keep going. I feel like kissing the ground on which they stand, because in front of me is Christ Crucified now suffering in Paris. Going to Mount Calvary to remember Christ Crucified is not necessary. He suffers in our midst.

It is important that I don’t forget that I too have hurt others. Whether I hurt others intentionally or by accident, the hurt is as real for the person who suffers. What can I do? If possible, I ask forgiveness and seek any way I can to make reparation to the hurt person. If that is not possible, these people must be in my prayers to God for them. The meeting of Jesus with Saul on the Damascus road applies to me – ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.’

In 150th Anniversary of the origin of St Joseph’s on this site, it is good to recall the hurts and wounds that have been healed here. Plans are being made to publicly mark this landmark year – and rightly so. Public events are important. There are also daily ‘hidden’ miracles flowing from the power of the Cross. Nobody knows the sins forgiven by Christ through the hands of generations of Passionists. Many a sick person has seen a St Joseph’s Passionist bring them Viaticum and Anointing. Other healings are known only to God and the person. St Joseph’s stands on holy ground and you are a holy people.

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy, C.P.

Jesus for his own good reasons chose four fishermen among the 12 who would be the building blocks of his Church. In 1963, Australian novelist, Morris West, wrote ‘The Shoes of the Fisherman”. This was made into a movie of the same name in 1968. Yes, the fisherman image took hold in the popular mind.

Like the image of the Shepherd used by Jesus, there is something humble about being asked to be a fisher of people. For instance, Jesus didn’t favour having a religious police service to safeguard virtue and supress errors. He chose fishermen and asked them to be saviours of people drowning in sin. All know that police are called to be guardians of the peace and of good order in society. But it is not the calling for Apostles that Jesus gave us.

Sadly, at times the pastoral care offered by some successors of the Apostles, has slipped closer to being police enforcers rather than being fisher of people. We are blessed in recent Popes and none more so than in Pope Francis. He likes the ‘smell of the sheep’. I suspect that Pope Francis would not mind having the smell of the fish, or of seaweed coming from his clothes!

Jesus did not ask us to judge others, but to understand, nor to condemn others but to forgive. He did not leave it to us to punish others but heal and comfort. He did ask that we imprison people but to set them free from their pain and suffering. He did not want anyone condemned to death but to help others to live life to the full. He did not ask us to build walls but bridges. He did not ask us to go it alone but to build community.

Jesus is a generous God and did not ask us to hoard but to share and spread around among the needier. Jesus did not say that we must always be right but that we must be seekers of the truth. He never wants us to hate but to love.

Being the fishermen called by Jesus from their actual business of catching fish to seeking out people was a huge change. Jesus had no desire to ‘net’ people by force but to bring people gently to Him. While fish when caught cease to live, people brought to Jesus are offered life and life to the full.

It is interesting that the call of Jesus came after a night on which the Apostles caught nothing. All those times when for Jesus I have not ‘caught’ no one, achieved nothing, are times when I feel that Jesus has abandoned me. He never does. I am ‘fishing’ in the wrong place and no matter how long I keep fishing in that place, the result remains the same – nothing. By prayer and listening to the Master, I am told to try again. At His command I do and with amazing results. Jesus sees what is hidden from me.

Nowhere did Jesus mention to these first Apostle called to be fishers of people using a weighing scales to assess their catches.  Jesus calls us not because we are successful, but because we are willing to hear His voice. If only worthy people were called, none of us would be called. Isaiah saw himself being in a “wretched state” and “lost and a man of unclean lips.” Saul of Tarsus hated Jesus and tried to kill His followers before he became Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles. In Peter’s own words, “Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” He became the first Pope. There is hope for us all.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Weekend Reflection - by Aidan Troy, C.P.

I’ve a confession to make! A luxury to which I sometimes treat myself is to pay some extra € for ‘priority boarding’ when taking a flight to Ireland. A seat at the front of the plane and a quick exit when landed appeals to me.

Jesus did not make many friends when He made it clear at the synagogue in Nazareth that there was no ‘priority’ line for getting into Heaven! He made them really angry by reminding them of a low point in their history when God punished the people of Israel with a famine. Jesus put salt in their wound be recalling that in the midst of this severe shortage, Elijah was sent to a widow in Sidon - a pagan woman.

To add insult to injury, Jesus recalls that there were many lepers in Israel in the lifetime of Elisha the prophet. Yet, it was Naaman, another outsider, who was cured. No more than I would want to hear this about my religion or my country, the listeners to Jesus on that Saturday did not like it. Like me, they wanted reassurance that ‘we’ are right, and ‘they’ are not; ‘we’ are special in God’s eyes in comparison to ‘them’. God’s ways are not always my ways.

Some Divine truths can be bitter. Do any of us not get angry when told a ‘home’ truth about ourselves? I do. If Jesus had glorified his listeners and told them they were God’s exclusive and very privileged people, they would have perhaps “purred” like a cat that got the cream! A speaker, including Jesus, does not get bouquets or appreciation when speaking the truth. Besides setting us free, the truth can hurt. Calling a spade, a spade does not rank highly in diplomatic terms.

Once many years ago when holding a position that demanded a lot of travel, I had a ‘Gold’ credit card. I blush now when I think of those days! There are no gold or other privileged cards in God’s sight. The revealed truth is that are all equal shareholders of God’s love. It does not matter what title we hold, ‘Eminence’, ‘Your Grace’; ‘Reverend Father or Mother’. It does not matter where we come from – people wondered if anything good could come out of Nazareth. The status of socio-economic rating is not on God’s checklist except insofar as to how I share and care. In a word, what matters is that God loves each of us in an unconditional way. What a truth!

Saint Paul faced a tough time with his Corinth congregation as did Jesus with his. Paul’s listeners were often at loggerheads with each other. There were all sorts of splits and factions. Some didn’t talk to others. Some would never forgive each other. Some judged ‘the book by the cover’. This was applied to religious and spiritual matters as well. This I find is so easy to do and difficult to stop.

Paul then took a gamble. He dedicated a most magnificent piece of writing on LOVE to them. This is our second Reading at Mass today. There is scarcely a wedding that does not have a look at this reading as a possibility.

The hymn to love is nothing short of superb. One way that I like to benefit from this reading is to substitute my own name for wherever ‘love’ appears. I begin to blush when I say, ‘Aidan is patient and kind; Aidan is never jealous or boastful; never rude or selfish; doesn’t take offence and not resentful.’ I’ll stop there – it’s too embarrassing.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Weekend Reflection - by Aidan Troy, C.P.

Writing is an activity I love. Over the years I have penned a couple of books, many chapters in other books and a weekly reflection for the St Joseph’s parish bulletin for over 10 years. I’m still learning and know that I will never be remembered as an author of note.

But there is another piece of “writing” that I have been engaged in since the day of my birth. It is “The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Aidan”. You have been doing the same - probably with greater success!

Today we have the “The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke.” He is one of four writers of the Good News accepted as inspired by the Church. Each author is a person of faith who tell about Jesus in the form of a story about His deeds and words. Each write not in a vacuum, but from their own experience and background. That explains the originality and specific emphasis of the four Gospel writers.

Even though we are blessed to have four beautiful Gospels, in fact, there’s only one Gospel as there is only one Jesus. Perspectives are as many as those who have met and known Jesus.

For more years than I may care to remember, I’ve been writing a Gospel by my living. I will be judged on the Gospel of my life and not on my writings. Each life tells a unique story. There was never another you and there never will be. Your Gospel is part of the revelation of the love that God has for His people incarnated and continued daily by what you do and say.

Jesus went into the synagogue at Nazareth where He had grown up. As an aside, He was conscious that no prophet is accepted in home territory. Going back to my own home town bears out the truth of Jesus’ words! Back to Jesus’ story. In the synagogue he reads from the prophet Isaiah. They are well-known words about His being anointed, sent to the poor, to release captives, give sight back to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

This is the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the first St Joseph’s Church on this site. Go into the church with a Bible. Do you have a favourite text? If you do, read it as Jesus did. He does not discuss the text of Isaiah that he had just read; He simply says, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” Can we say of our favourite Bible text, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.”? I am better at talking about texts than at actions.

The acid test is not how much do I know – necessary as that is – but do others see in the Gospel according to Aidan, a person of his word? Jesus was not crucified for not doing what He said. In my life there is a gap between words and deeds. An announcement as is heard on trains arriving at a station – “mind the gap between the train and platform” - would be needed for me!

What will matter at the end of my life will not be how books I wrote or the years I penned Bulletin reflections. It will be questions such as, “did you love”? “did you care”? In a word, is the Gospel your life is writing good news?

2nd Sunday in Ordinary time 2019

God put marriage at the heart of   Creation. From the very beginning, He did not want man to be on his own. His equal female partner was created, and they were made co-creators with God of the future. Their union would seal their love, and, in many instances, they would ensure that people would be born to continue preserving the world and to adore and worship God.

My heart goes out to those generous couples who would love a family, but, are not blessed with children. God addresses this when He chose Abraham as our father in the faith. There is an obstacle.

He and Sarah had no children and were getting on in years. God intervenes and blesses them with Isaac. They almost lose their long-awaited and much-loved child at God’s command. But he survives and is the joy of his parents.

Mary and Joseph are engaged. It was likely that a family was in their plans for marriage. God is preparing for the birth of His Son. The natural way of beginning their family is set aside and by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, Jesus born.

Yet, it is Mary who carries the Son of God for nine months and Joseph is given a role in the raising and protecting of Jesus. God has a love for marriage and that way of continuing the birth of children.

It is not surprising that with this background, Jesus launches His public ministry at a wedding. I often wonder who the couple were and how they felt when the wine ran out. Cana will always be remembered for the supply of wine running dry. As an aside, I think Jesus loved weddings, as I have over many years.

The dawn of creation gave us marriage. At a marriage Jesus goes out on mission. At the end, in the wonderful words of Apocalypse, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned or her husband.” [21:2] Marriage is like two bookends in the workings of God.

During His life, Jesus met people whose marriages had not worked. To the woman at Jacob’s well, he observes, “you have had five husbands.” [John 4:18] This Samaritan lady is not rejected by Jesus. In fact, she goes on a mission to announce Him in her village. The woman taken in adultery was not stoned because of how Jesus dealt with her failure and shame.

Pope Francis has never ceased to highlight the need to reverence Marriage and asks each parish to devote attention to the preparation for this Sacrament. Celibacy is a vocation. Marriage is the original and the most numerous vocation among us. Let reverence and appreciate Marriages in our midst.


Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56

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