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2nd Sunday of Advent 10Dec2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.


Today at St Joseph’s, along with the Advent Masses, we have three extra blessings – a Carol Service, Nativity Pageant and Christmas Parish Social. It’s easy to take such blessings for granted, but each is a gift from God.

The task of us Advent pilgrims is to search for an answer to the question posed by St Mark’s Gospel – “Who is Jesus Christ?” The danger is that I may not take this question seriously. Surely, by now I know who Jesus is? But do I? If Advent 2017 is not another, ‘beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God’, then I have fallen into a trap.

The trap is to believe that by now all has been accomplished. Sometimes I fall into the trap of imagining that the Church is like a giant computer that has all possible answers stored. Press the right button and out comes the solution. Wrong. A paradox of faith is, that all has been given and, yet everything remains to be done.

True, we have four Gospels, each inspired Word of God. But, there is another Gospel yet to be written. It is our gospel, our good news. The writing doesn’t start with a blank sheet of paper but with falling in love with Jesus who is in love with each of us.

The gospel we write will always be done with Jesus as inspiration and guide. Pens are not needed. Jesus starts with a call to friendship and an offer of love. He is completely honest in telling us that to join hands and hearts with Him leads to the Cross.

‘Console my people, console them’ says God through His prophet Isaiah. On his way back from his recent visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, the Pope could not keep back tears as he told of the heartbreak of seeing so many displaced people and being able to comfort so few. To console one another, writes a verse in Gospel 2017 that we are called to write.

Understandably, people can question why God is silent, when so much evil is thriving. God is not silent. He has spoken His Word and given to Jesus the task of winning our hearts, souls and minds. Not winning them for Himself alone but so that we will love and console brothers and sisters who are hurting beyond words.

Many are destitute, displaced and disheartened. Others are not poor, living at home but searching for hope. Consolation is needed there also.

At the dawn of Creation, God made man and woman in His image and likeness. At the Incarnation, God chose us to become world leaders in building His Kingdom of Truth, Justice and Peace. The Salvation of the world is in our hands because we are in the hands of God. At Bethlehem, He came and has not gone away, but lives in and among us to bring salvation to the world.

Our mission is God-given. It is His but ours by gift of grace. Prophets who will stand for and with Jesus as did the prophets of old, are as needed now as ever. John the Baptist’s work preparing the way of the Lord, must continue until the Lord comes again.

1st Sunday of Advent 3Dec2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.


The catch phrase as we begin the Season of Advent is, ‘what I say to you I say to all: ‘Stay Awake.’ This is spoken to each of us and to all of us together. It is God’s Word to us and is a serious command. What Jesus is saying to us, I will try to explore.

There are a lot of people who suffer from various sleep disorders and would give anything for just a sound night’s sleep. Oh, what bliss – no watching the clock, no fear that I will be so tired tomorrow that I will not be able to meet my obligations.

The lovely thing about God’s Word is that it is both simple and direct as well as being deep with many layers of meaning. Each receives the Word, like the Talents of a few Sundays ago, according to our ability to hear and appreciate. I am still a beginner. Each Advent brings me back to the school of the Word of God.

This much I have discovered about the theme of Advent, ‘Stay awake’- it’s about a lot more than sleep. It is about meeting Jesus. Some people have what seems a peaceful death in their sleep, with a smile on their lips. as if to say that their first glimpse of sight of Jesus calling them in their sleep was beautiful. The seamless going from sleep to being fully awake for all Eternity with God is one of the lifetime’s great journeys.

Stay Awake as the clarion call of Advent means a lot to me – I hope that this may help you. Feel free to make your personal Advent ‘Credo’.


A of Advent calls me to ADORATION as we prepare for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

D in Advent reminds me that the DIVINE Son of God is coming to us.

V in Advent promises me Jesus’ VICTORY over sin and death on Cross begins in Bethlehem.

E in Advent reminds me of being EAGER to meet the Lord at His birth.

N in Advent reminds me of being NOURISHED by the new-born King.

T in Advent reminds me of need to THANK God for sending His Son born of Mary giving us life to the full.


The Season of Advent, like that of Lent, is offered to us to prepare for an intervention of God in each life and in the life of His creation.

At Christmas Mass as I kneel before the Crib, I see that one day the wood of the manger holding the baby will be the wood of the Cross, holding Jesus’ body. The Star over the Crib, on Calvary will be no more; only darkness over the whole earth. Jesus born in borrowed accommodation, will be buried in a borrowed tomb.

Then will come the victory hidden at His Birth. He rises from the dead as Triumphant King of the Universe. He was born for this; he lived for this; he died for this and now He is with us to give us the victory over sin and death. Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus...

 

Feast of Christ The King 26Nov2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.


Saturday, 2nd December will be New Year’s Eve – of a new Liturgical Year: Year A is ending; Year B begins next weekend. That is why the Parish Mass Book in your seat will be different for the Season of Advent.

On this final weekend, we look back and forward. This past year carries its own special memories – people taken from us in death; couples who married and little ones born. There were personal moments that have deeply affected our hearts and souls. Any regrets? Yes, I didn’t do all I could when Jesus was before me in needy people. Jesus was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, and a prisoner before my eyes. The sad part is, I could and should have done more.

God is good. Each day, month and year, He gives us new possibilities. The poor are still with us on our door steps. Pope Francis’ magnificent message for World Day of the Poor, tells how in assisting the poor:

“we touch with our own hands the flesh of Christ. If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist. The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.” [N.3]

The first name that St Paul of the Cross gave the Passionists was, ‘The Poor of Jesus’. He saw the name of Jesus written on the foreheads of the Poor. As I now read the Gospel of today, I know how great my failures are. True, I have taken a vow of poverty and so cannot own property or even have a personal bank account. But this does not leave me in the clear. The fundamental issue concerns how I see or don’t see Jesus in the poor and desperate.

Back again to Pope Francis letter - “Let us never forget that, for Christ’s disciples, poverty is above all a call to follow Jesus in his poverty.” [No 4] I am in total admiration of all that is done by individuals and groups at St Joseph’s to reach out to people going through the pain of poverty and need. The body of Christ in the poor of the street is the same Body of Christ that we are privileged to receive in the Eucharist. It is the same Jesus in both instances.

There is more. The people lined up on the left of Jesus for judgement will not just get a ‘slap on the wrist’ for neglecting the poor, hungry, thirsty, sick, strangers or prisoners. They will not be admitted to the Kingdom of Heaven. Any of us among them, will have missed out on what we were born for – eternal life with God. Tragic. It could have been so different, if I had only opened not just my eyes but my heart also. It is in the ordinary, every day events of life that we respond to Jesus. Salvation is made available NOT by power or authority but by weakness and vulnerability.

One consolation, for me, is that nobody at the Last Judgement is condemned for doing wrong. It is for the failure to do good. The aim of Christian living is not ‘me-centred’ (just about my personal holiness), but ‘other-centred’ (responding to needs).

I’m sure Pope Francis must agonise over the question of wealth held in the name of the Church and serious issues relating to the ‘Vatican Bank’. Each religious order and parish must ask if it is living in the light of today’s Gospel or not. I love the generosity and love shown in the Lenten Project and other outreaches to the poor and needy. At our Parish General Meeting in January 2018, we can examine if our finances are being used as the Gospel demands of us.

Personally, I am rich because I’m truly blessed in having so many good, generous and loving people around me at St Joseph’s.

33rd Sunday 19 Nov 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.


I know that I am not particularly talented – not a singer, a dancer of note, an artist with masterpieces to my name, an athlete with medals to prove it. We are blessed to have many sisters and brothers who are richly endowed in these ways.

Today, we hear about what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like. I have no doubt that it will have many people talented in these and other ways. Jesus takes money, known as talents, as an example to indicate how we receive His gifts according to our ability. One gets five, another two and another one, each according to their ability.

It would be great if I could say that I am in the five-talent category. I am not, and neither am I in the two-talent group. The greatest gift [talent] in my life of which I am aware is that I am loved. When you are loved, you are the richest person on earth. When you are loved, you are already beginning to share in what it will be like in God’s Kingdom for all eternity.

Even though I’ve never deserved it, I know that I am, and always have been, also loved by God. Why God should have chosen to love me into existence all those years ago, I have no idea. But, I do believe that He has a purpose. My life journey is trying to discover His purpose for me. In this life I’ll never fully understand what that purpose is. In Eternity, God will show me the traces of his footsteps in which I tried to walk. He will show me, with a smile I hope, when and where I went off His track and thought that I knew better than He does.

Even though I am a one-talent person, I have no right to bury the Love talent. It only lives and expands by being spread with generosity. Of course, there will be times when love hurts. The Cross is Love revealed in the most dramatic way. It hurt Him.

The Love talent is the one on which all others are built. The great truth is that Love is all and therefore, we have not just two or five talents – we have divine love with which to live and to influence. God is ALL. Being adopted by Him, I have a share in all that really matters in time and in eternity. There is no greater richness that this.

Recently in a large group of priests, I offered an opinion that the sacrament that I treasure most is my Baptism. One priest not impressed with this, questioned why Priesthood was not my number one love? It was his. Priesthood is as good, in my estimation, as the depth of appreciation of the one living out their Baptism.

It was at birth that the love of my parents was brought to completion. It was at my Baptism that the love of God for me was sealed in my heart. These two Loves are the greatest gifts I have received. Being a priest is a privilege; without these previous loves being consciously treasured, priesthood can become a career rather than God’s call to Love all people as God does.

Simple talents are lovely and powerful. All ministry is God’s gift; the simpler, the more beautiful. At 11 a.m. Mass last Sunday, God’s ‘little ones’ brought colourful crosses they had made to the Altar to have them blessed. The joy in their eyes and in those who care for them in Gospel Group, brought a tear to my eye. This is love and talent in action, a foretaste of Paradise.

John Milton [1608-1674] became blind after completing 12 books of ‘Paradise Lost’; he also wrote 2 more books called ‘Paradise Regained’. His poem, On His Blindness, ends with the often-quoted line, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Far from being a call to inaction, it is an encouragement to all of us one-talent people who are called to greatness in God’s eyes.

 

32nd Sunday 12 Nov 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.


When the five wise bridesmaids refused to give of their extra oil to the other five who had none, I feel uneasy. As children we were taught to share – sweets, toys, whatever we had. Now in this parable the foolish bridesmaids were told by the five wise ones to go to town and buy their own oil. Not only had their lamps gone out, so had their luck! The Bridegroom came before they got back. I know the feeling – why had he to arrive while we were away?

A Parable as told by Jesus is more than a story. Oil is not the issue. Jesus is telling us that grace is a gift offered but needs to be accepted. Parents would do anything for their children and they do. But when they have given all they can, there is still a gap. The child growing into an adult, faces the awesome choice of accepting or not what they have received from Parents. Character cannot be transferred or borrowed. Many a parent has sat in a courtroom to listen to a beloved child, now grown up, being sentenced to a prison term. Where did we go wrong, they ask each other as tears fill their eyes? They didn’t. None of us can ‘make’ another virtuous or to act morally – neither does God. The same is true of Faith.

Each time a child is baptised, the Parents are pronounced as first teachers of the child in the ways of faith. Then a prayer is added, that they may also be ‘the best of teachers’. It is my guess, that Parents at that moment really want this to be the case. Very often it works out that the child does grow up to inherit a love of God and a practice of faith that brings delight to their Parents. Sometimes, this does not work out. It can happen that a child develops a life of faith and of virtue, even if their Parents lapse.

I’ve never inherited property. Some people have become very wealthy due to the generosity of a relative. But, faith is not like a property to be inherited. It is a gift from God to which we can say, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

That is why, I believe, the wise bridesmaids did not give the foolish any oil. Even though we are surrounded by great people in family, in a parish or in a religious community, we’re not excused from taking responsibility for our choices. After the Second Vatican Council, there emerged a tremendous emphasis on ‘community’. This helped counteract a past spirituality based on a rugged individualism.

Community lies at the heart of the Christian life. But, personal responsibility lies at the heart of community. Sometimes, we can ask what are ‘they’ (others) doing about some pressing need in our parish or in our world. The Parable today, suggests that I must ask, ‘what am I doing about this’? Then I can invite others to share in this effort to achieve this dream.

Being ready with oil in our lamps is a daily call from Jesus. ‘Stay awake’ has an urgency about it that is demanding. Supposing I knew the day of my death, I could calculate the latest time when I should put my life and my soul in order. I could seek the Sacrament of Anointing and make a good General Confession. When the day and the hour arrive, I would be in prime condition to meet the Lord when He called me.

Sadly, it is not like that. Jesus will arrive like the Parable says – ‘at midnight there was a cry, ‘The Bridegroom is here, go out and meet him.’ There is no prior warning. I’ve thought about this, I’m not sure I would want to know details of my death. If the arrival of the Bridegroom was the final meeting with Jesus, I might want to know. But, for the Lord’s faithful people, life is changed and not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in Heaven. No wonder, Paul doesn’t want us to be without hope. The first glimpse of the face of God when we die, will be, we pray, Eternity taking over from time on this earth.

StJoeParis

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

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