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3rd Sunday of Easter 15April2018

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

Ghost stories! Well I remember when such scary stories were told and enjoyed. As a Passionist student, I remember when late-night sessions listening to Ghost Stories left me afraid to go upstairs to bed! Do people still tell Ghost Stories?

Video and other electronic games are different from ghost stories. But perhaps they have in common that neither meet real people. The plots are wonderful, but they remain stories and games.

In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost.” {Gospel of St Luke} What do you think of the Apostles reaction? I understand why they were so agitated with doubts rising in their hearts. When you don’t expect to ever see a person again, if they appear before you, it seems reasonable to presume that you are seeing a ghost.

Let me tell you a little story about when I was surprised and dumbfounded to see a person standing before me whom I had never expected to meet at close quarters.  

In 1982, a Bishop visiting Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul II, asked me to be his chaplain for his visit to the Papal Apartments in the Vatican. The Pope and the Bishop were talking for over 30 minutes while I sat in a ‘holding area’. Then suddenly a Monsignor approached, clicked his fingers for me to follow him. He pointed to a door and off he went. I was ready to meet ‘my’ Bishop coming out the door. The door opened. Who was standing there on his own? The Pope! I was so dumbfounded that I could not find a word to say to him. He looked at me, in my Passionist habit, smiled and said, in English, ‘Hello’. I could only find a weak ‘Hello’ in response. He invited me to go ahead of him into his study.

The photos and sightings of the Pope in the distance at Audiences or his 1979 visit to Ireland, left me unprepared to feel the firm grip of his hand shaking mine.

Seeing Jesus again, standing among the disciples, saying to them, ‘Peace be with you!’, stunned them. Then just as I felt the firm grasp of the hands of Pope Saint John Paul II, so Jesus moves to reassure them that he is not a ghost. ‘Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has not flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ {St Luke in today’s Gospel} Their reaction is sheer joy at seeing Him alive again, beyond their hopes or dreams.

Jesus goes a step further to dispel any lingering doubt that He was a ghost. He asks if the disciples have anything to eat? Jesus eats a piece of grilled fish. Ghosts don’t eat fish, (with or without chips!) When I read how Jesus did all possible to show to his followers His real presence after the Resurrection, I too am filled with joy. Every time at Mass that I receive Holy Communion, on my tongue or into my hand, I touch the Body and Blood of Jesus. His Body touches me, body and soul. What a privilege!

Pope Francis recently issued an Apostolic Exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate’ on the call to holiness in today’s world, filled with encouragement for us to become saints! He exhorts us, ‘Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when He created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self.’  [No. 32]

Jesus is not a ghost after Rising from the dead. We too are not soul alone, but also with a body. It is by both body and soul that we are witnesses to the Risen Jesus.

As this Bulletin goes to print and onto the Internet this Friday noon, prayer is urgently needed for peace in our world.

2nd Sunday of Easter 8April2018

2nd Sunday of Easter – [Divine Mercy Sunday]  Sunday Readings: Year B; Weekday Readings Year II.

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

When I was a child, I loved my parents and siblings. We all got on well and we knew that we were loved. Of course, we had rows from time to time. Being called in to go to bed on a summer’s night did not please me a lot! But overall, I took it that this was how all families were. I knew that other families had some things better than we had. But that was life then.

As I got a bit older, I heard stories of other families from friends at school. Many had more money that our family. They had a car – we didn’t: they had a T.V. – we didn’t. They went away each summer for a holiday – we didn’t. That I could understand and accept. All of these, I would love to have been part of our family. Never did I feel that any of this was the fault of my parents. My father went out to work on the trains at all times of the day and in all weathers. His wages were low and when he retired, his pension was lower still.

All families, rich and poor, have a treasure that no amount of money can buy – ‘united heart and soul…everything owned was held in common.’ [Acts 4:32] A family can survive a lot if they are held together by love. Faith is another factor that can have a great influence.

We prayed as a family. We went to Mass, not so much as an obligation, but as a gift to be celebrated with joy. When any of us children received Holy Communion for the first time, the whole family was filled with happiness. The same applied for Confirmation and other special events.

Looking back is good and makes me grateful for the gift of family. The danger can be that I may remember the past in a way that makes the present look less attractive. Many of us know of talk about, “the good old days”! Truthfully, not all of those days were as good as I remember.

The parish is not a family as you and I know our own family and cannot be compared directly to it. Firstly, there are not ‘Parish Parents’ to the ‘children’ – I have written before about the difficulty around calling me, ‘Father’. We have only one Father of the parish, and that is God. We have a Mother of the parish who holds the title, Mother of the Church. She is Mary. We have a patron in our parish who is St Joseph. We are surrounded by a whole host of saints and angels who daily intercede for us before the Throne of God. Then there are those of us who assemble in the name of Jesus to live and love God and each other.

As parish we are called like the first community of believers to be:

  • UNITED, HEART & SOUL Even the first community of the church had its moments of division, but this does not take from the ideal of reaching for the unity of heart and soul wished for by the Risen Jesus.
  • NO ONE CLAIMED FOR HIS OWN ANYTHING THAT HE HAD: by this we are called to share our faith, our love, our prayer, our affection, our concern and when possible to offer assistance to anyone in need. There will always be people in need who are desperate to have enough to eat and to survive. These are part of our parish and gifts among us.

There are also some among us who have less obvious needs of the heart and soul. All we own, not just money, needs to be held in common. Without mutual love and concern for all who cross our paths, we are not the parish that Jesus calls us to be. Soon, we will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of St Joseph’s – let us rejoice and give thanks.


Easter Sunday 2018

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

Easter and Christmas are two great feasts of the People of God. In truth, Christmas sometimes ‘steals the show’ when it comes to emotions around both great feasts.

Could I suggest that both Christmas and Easter are closely related:

Birth at Christmas was the coming of God among us on this earth. At Easter, we are born into eternal life. Jesus is present at both and comes so that we would never be separated again.

Mary, along with Joseph, plays a crucial role in the coming of Jesus to birth on this earth. On Calvary, Mary stands beneath the Cross as her Son dies. He dies, not before He speaks to her and gives her a mission that involves us.

Motherhood of Mary is an essential of the Christmas story. Perhaps not as obvious, but just as true and crucial is Mary as Mother of the Church, born from the side of Jesus on the Cross. She is Mother twice over.

Angels sang at the birth of Jesus and we sing their songs every Christmas. The Angel came back to Jesus, in agony in Gethsemane. This time, the song is silent but offers comfort to the distressed and bleeding Jesus.

Wood features at the Birth in Bethlehem when Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The wood of the manger becomes the wood of the Cross. The swaddling clothes of birth become the burial cloths of the Tomb. The same Jesus wears both.

Visitors to Jesus at His birth were shepherds attracted in from the fields. Also, the wise people from the East who followed the star. The first visitor to the Tomb on Easter morning was the great and caring Mary Magdalene. She had no hope of ever seeing her Lord again after the horrors of the Cross, that she mistook the Risen Jesus for the gardener! Mary of Magdala becomes a herald of the Easter good news.

The link of Christmas to Easter is not the whole story. Both are related to us in 2018. Jesus is not born to die and leave it at that. He is born and rises so that we may have life and have it to the full. His story is our story. Each of us is born to reach eternal life and to be able to meet Jesus in Heaven. We are born to get a chance to chat to Mary, and Joseph, about the events of the Birth. We are born into eternal life to spend it with the God who made us, redeemed us and loves us without limit.

May the joy and happiness of the Risen Lord be with everyone as we acclaim the Risen One. ALLELUIA!

Palm Sunday 2018

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

Five Wounds Beads, Passionist chaplet, devoted to the Holy Wounds of Jesus, is due to Father Paul Aloysius, the Sixth Superior General of the Passionists. It is a way of promoting devotion to the Passion of Christ and was approved as a devotion by Pope Leo XII in 1823. The beads also honour the Resurrection of Jesus who showed the marks of the Passion in His hands, feet and side. A ‘Glory be to the Father’ is said on each bead and a ‘Hail Mary’ to honour the sorrows of Mary and her tears.

As we enter into another Holy Week, I think of those five wounds still on the Body of Jesus in our world of 2018:

  1. Wound of people all over the world suffering from the horror of war. The pain of starving people who have not got their daily bread. The humiliation of people who are persecuted and many who end up in slavery. The obscenity of racism and the prevalence of hate crime. The isolation of exclusion.
  2. Wound of the Earth, created by God, being destroyed by our actions and inaction. The loss of the beautiful balance of nature. ‘Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis is a cry from the heart to alert us before it is too late.
  3. Wound of hurting families struggling in a world of ‘fake news’ and false values. Trying to give their children values is never easy, but today a great challenge for families. The vulnerability of unborn and people at the end of life, call us to protect them as beloved of Jesus who loves us all the days of our lives.
  4. Wounds have been inflicted by the church. Vulnerable people have been abused. Harshness has been tolerated in a religion of love. Discrimination due to gender has wounded people who are doing their honest best to answer God’s call to holiness of life. The number, it is said, is small. One is one too many.
  5. Wounds of Christ continue by personal sin and indifference. My lack of holiness not only hurts me but robs you of riches you should receive from me. By Baptism, and reinforced by ordination as a priest, lays a sacred and lifelong obligation on me to identify the wounds of Jesus in today’s world and to reach out in a healing gesture. This is done best by prayer and action within the context of a believing community of faith.

The first Good Friday and Easter Sunday did not end the story of Jesus suffering and seeking to give new life to people. The 1984 revision of the Passionist Rule of Life, captures this well in these words:

“We are aware that the Passion of Christ continues in this world until He comes in glory; therefore, we share in the joys and sorrows of our contemporaries as we journey toward our Father. We wish to share in the distress of all, especially those who are poor and neglected; we seek to offer them comfort and relieve the burden of their sorrow’. [Number 3]

Praying the five wounds beads brings home to me that not only do I pray about the past sufferings of my Crucified Lord, but also am called to see Him crucified still today in those who carry 2018 wounds. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, He still weeps over us whom He loves.

5th Sunday of Lent 18March2018

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

Words fascinates me. ‘The Word’, Jesus incarnate fascinates me most. Greeks came saying, “we would like to see Jesus”. The request to meet Jesus is clear. They know the One they want to meet.

How many people today are on the same search, but do not have or perhaps don’t feel comfortable with religious language? There are, I suspect, millions of our sisters and brothers who are seeking Jesus but can’t put a name on Him. The words used may be different from those used by the Greeks, but it’s the same search.

Without a religious background or firm faith formation, how could they name Jesus? They search for truth, not fake news; life, not death; love and not indifference and apathy. It is the same search as those of us who seek Jesus. After all Jesus, tells us that he is the ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life.’

The search for Jesus begins in the human heart. The Law of God, His Covenant was originally etched on stone. Moses brought it down the mountain for the Chosen People. As we know, the people rebelled and broke their side of the Covenant. But God did not give up on them, or on us. God forgives and better still, He also forgets our sins. I can forgive but find it hard to forget. Years later, during a row or dispute, something that happened long ago can be brought out and ‘thrown’ at another person. The hurt keeps us from forgetting.

God enters into a new Covenant; but this time it is not written on stone but on the human heart. What a lovely thought – God has put his law into my heart as a sacred gift. “Deep within them I will plant my law, writing it on their hearts.” [Jeremiah in today’s First Reading]

The bond created by the hand of God writing on the human heart is indelible – ‘I will be their God and they shall be my people.’  Because of original sin and personal sins, God has a ‘job’ on His hands to make things right again with us. Mercy and Love, overflowing from God to us, puts things to right for us.

When the Greeks or we ask to meet Jesus, He doesn’t ‘mince’ His words. He tells it as is and will be. He takes the example of a grain of wheat and how it falls into the ground and seems to die. There is nothing to see at first. If the grain of wheat does not go into the ground, it will remain a single grain. Amazingly, when the grain of wheat dies, it is then that it yields a rich harvest.

This takes patience on our part. It also takes courage and faith to trust the we are in God’s hands and that new life will be the outcome of death. When we see sustained bombing of people in their homes, hospitals and schools, it is hard to believe that there ever will be a good outcome. Nothing justifies killing and injuring others. But, even at the worst of moments, God never ‘runs’ away. He will one day turn these crosses into crowns.

A great principle is, ‘not to ask another to do, what I would not do myself’. Very soon, we will walk through Holy Week with Jesus. A difficulty can be that we know the outcome – it is almost like reading the final chapter of a book first. By knowing that the Resurrection is the outcome, should not stop us going with Jesus from Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, the horrors of Calvary, the silence of Holy Saturday to the glory of Easter Sunday’s Resurrection.

There is nothing He asks of us that He hasn’t gone through. Holy Week is a map as we go through life to Eternity.


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

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