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2nd Sunday of Lent 2019


Abraham was taken outside by God to look at the stars. Then, God asked him to count the stars. This was impossible with the human eye alone without special instruments along with the human eye. God didn’t want him to count them. Rather, He wanted to show Abraham that with God there are no limits. True to His word, Sarah along with Abraham could begin a people of immense numbers. This took great faith on their parts.

St Patrick put his faith in God in similar circumstances to Abraham. As a slave in Ireland, he spent many long nights looking after animals. Like Abraham, Patrick spent a lot of that time praying. He got to know God and fell in love with Him. When Patrick got his freedom, he freely came back to be a priest to the Irish people.

Abraham had to leave his home country as did Patrick. This rings a bell with me. I have lived more than half my life as a priest outside Ireland. At night, I can still look at the stars and know that I am part of a greater world and living in hope of a permanent home with God in Heaven.

Many of you are also far from home and there are times when you probably miss your home country and your family. Abraham learned that you are at home once our Father is with us. Our true home is in Heaven. St Paul puts this clearly in the Second Reading at Mass – “For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

When Patrick instructed the Irish people, he used what he could to bring home the Word of God. He lit a Paschal Fire to show the rising of Christ. Perhaps the biggest challenge he faced was to get across the doctrine of the Trinity. He had seen that there was a plentiful supply of a little plant with three leaves on one stem – the shamrock! To this day, this has been associated with Ireland on items from butter wrapping to the tail fin of the Irish national airline.

This weekend is Second Sunday of Lent. We go with Jesus and Apostles to the Transfiguration. He had told the Apostles that He must suffer and die. So that they would not be overwhelmed by sadness, He gave them a glimpse of a crown that follows a Cross.

1st Sunday of Lent 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy, C.P.


It seems that Christmas is barely passed and here we are at the First Sunday of Lent. Maybe it is to do with my age, or are the seasons coming around faster and faster? The beginning of Lent gives me a sense of ‘another chance’ given by God to move forward in loving Him and you more and better.

Lent is a season of grace and will be filled with gifts often not immediately obvious. It will take prayer, fasting and almsgiving to clear away the veil that can be over what God has come to give.

In the First Reading, Moses must contend with a tough task. He has the Chosen People to lead and they were not always the easiest to keep happy and positive. Yet, God was never absent from their midst. Anymore that He is absent from the People of God today.

The beginning of holiness is truth. Moses does not mask the fact that the people were ill-treated while in slavery and exile. It was a tough time and the tears of the people flowed. Today the millions in slavery and displaced shed tears and cry out in their pain. It is awful and there is no instant remedy.

With the truth stated about their plight, Moses recounts how they called out to God to be set free. Then comes an eternal truth – “The Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, our toil and our oppression.” God always hears the cry of the poor. He never closes his ears to our voice when we cry out to him in our need. He then acts with power – “the Lord brought us out of Egypt with mighty hand and outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders.” God is always faithful.

God asks us to join Him in hearing the cry of the poor and to dry the tears of the broken-hearted. The world has many amazing people and organisations who listen out for cries and the sound of weeping. The hands of God are your and my hands. We see with His eyes and listen with His ears. Then, He inspires us to open our hearts and first to love those who are breaking under the weight of their cross. Simon of Cyrene is not only a figure in the Stations of the Cross. We have the same calling to help lighten the burden of the oppressed and to offer hope to the captive.

The season of Lent is truly a time of grace. Part of this year’s Lenten Project at St Joseph’s will reach out to people in Iraq. The Archbishop of Mossoul is encouraging families to return home. But there is little to come back home to. We will help their recovery, renovating their homes and assisting with children’s education. This will be done through l’0euvre d’Orient. If St Joseph’s can make a difference to even a few families this Lent, then this is God’s work.

Great things can be achieved provided we have the determination and the courage not to give up. When Jesus goes through the wilderness with the devil tempting Him, he stands firm in the conviction that God never abandons us. Three times He answers the devil by quoting the Word of God.

When under the trials and temptations of life, it is not always easy to find the right words by which to reply. When we turn to Jesus in these moments of trial, He will give us the words and provide the light to keep shining in our hearts.

May our Lent make a difference to others and to ourselves.

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy, C.P.


I am not a surgeon, a doctor or a scientist who knows in detail the workings of the human body. According to God’s revealed word at Mass today, there is a direct link between the heart and the mouth, or more precisely, our speech. What is in my heart is expressed by what I say and how I say it. When I talk, I take you on a guided tour of my heart and let you know something of what I carry in my heart.

The heart is essential for life and survival. A new born baby in an incubator will put up a great fight for life and survival. At the other end of life, many times I have seen the final breath and word of a person going to God.

A person can be extremely shy and keep their heart under lock and key. Yet, when they speak, a glimpse of the heart is given. You catch sight of another, just as an x-ray reveals the state of lungs or internal organs. There are wonderful people whom we only come to know when they engage with us.

God gives us our heart. God gives us the power to love. What we do with our hearts is up to us. It is suggested that the slight indent in the side of the heart, shows that God keeps in Heaven a tiny part of our heart. This allows us to feel a link with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our heart beats in rhythm of His.

Every morning the Prayer of the Church gives us Psalm 95(94) to pray. I love this Psalm and it speaks to my heart. “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert, when your fathers put me to the test, when they tried me though they saw my work. For forty years I was wearied of these people and said, ‘their hearts are astray; these people do not know my ways.’ Then I made an oath in my anger, never shall they enter my rest.”

To pray this psalm every day, reminds us of the gift of love received from God. God lives in our hearts and gives us His Word. But all does not work out as God would want.

It breaks my heart to hear time after time of the betrayal of the heart of love for a heart of lust, a heart corrupted by power, a heart that destroys innocent lives. This happening anywhere cries out to God with the tears of the innocent. For this to happen within the Body of Christ, is sinful, sacrilegious and criminal. It was never meant to be like this. Personally, I am devastated at some of the recent revelations at the ‘highest’ level of our church. The fruit of the heart must be good and not rotten.

Even when I am lost to know how we have reached this terrible state, I must never forget that I must take the plank out of my own eye before I try to take a splinter out of yours. When I don’t, Jesus gives me a name – ‘Hypocrite!’ This does not mean that I remain silent in the face of evil, but that I realise that I too am fragile and in need of God’s grace.

To know myself is essential to holiness. To become the saint that I am created to be, the starting point has to be self-awareness and truth. A prayer that helps me is to ask Jesus to open my eyes to my own heart and its way of loving or lack of loving. In His healing of blind people, Jesus gives us the reminder that He will help open our eyes and see with love. He is by my side and protects me as soon as I reach out to Him. His heart never stops beating with love for us.

The first reading today from Ecclesiasticus we hear, ‘The test of a person is in his conversation.’  In February, we had the 2nd of our conversations at which our Passionist Provincial was present. This type of exchange helps us grow in mutual understanding and awareness of issues on both sides of the conversation. But there must come a time, even while the talking continues, when action must follow. We are in urgent need of some action as this year we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the foundation of our beloved St Joseph’s.

The hope given us by St Paul is strong – ‘never admit defeat.’ I’ll pray about this!

 

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Reflection by Aidan Troy, C.P.


God’s weighing scales are “faulty”. His scales don’t have ‘an eye for an eye’ marking. Neither does it have ‘a tooth for a tooth’ marking. On the Divine scales, His mercy outweighs the scales of strict justice. He is generous to a fault.

At the same time, God “hates” sin, not so much for what it does to Him, but for what it does to us, sinners. Sin shrinks our hearts and closes our minds. It quenches the Spirit within us and clouds our judgement. Without genuine repentance, it takes our life. Ultimately, it can kill and wither our souls.

There is another set of readings on God’s scales that is weighted in our favour. When I am compassionate, God bathes me in His compassion. If I don’t judge you, He will not judge me in any way that it harsh. That is a great deal for us and gives us confidence. If I don’t judge others, I have less to fear when my day of judgement comes. This is God’s promise to us, and He is always true to His Word who is Jesus.

How easy it is for me to condemn another, often on the basis that I am only speaking the truth. It can be good and proper to speak up about an action or situation that is plainly wrong. But I am not allowed to condemn you in order to rob you of your character or good name. God’s promise is not to condemn me. This is truly good news. God is the final judge and the only one who searches the heart and soul of a person. I rejoice that God will be the One to decide my fate.

Jesus tells us that to pardon is divine. He asks us to be people of forgiveness. This is tough but is helped by prayer.

The balance of God’s scales is in our favour; He freely and warmly pardons us. Once the sinner glances in His direction, it is like the son who came to his senses after squandering everything he had. He trudged back home with his head hung in shame. He need not have worried; the prodigal father smothered his ‘lost son’ in welcome and love.

God is the only one who can pardon sin. As a confessor I have the privilege of celebrating the Sacrament of Penance, I am totally aware that I am a channel or forgiveness and not its author. Nobody can be coerced to go to this great sacrament of healing. By early memories of ‘going to confession’ and by my own temperament, I don’t find Confession easy. But I am totally convinced that this is a huge source of grace. It is one of the solid foundations of my being a priest.

The call to generosity in giving, ends up with us receiving more than we give. God is generosity incarnate. We are here on earth because God chose to create us in His image and likeness. There is nothing mean or miserly about how God weighs out what He wants to give us. He presses gifts down to pack in as much as possible. There are no half measures.

Going back to God’s weighing scales, limits do not apply. What about my ‘weighing scales’? Is it balanced in my favour? I give from what I have over; I love when there is a pay back. Do I give until it hurts me? St Ignatius prays:

“Teach us good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek rest; to labour and to ask for no reward; save that of knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

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.

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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