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5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 4Feb2018

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

Friendship is a real treasure. Friends are with us in good times and especially when the going is tough. ‘Fair-weather’ friends are there in good times. At the first sign of trouble, such people can slip away. A few good friends who stand by us in all circumstances are worth their weight in gold.

What keeps friends together is trust and caring. They are the ‘glue’ that keep us bound to each other, the foundation that stops us falling apart. To trust sounds nice and easy, but not always so. Trust broken is not easily repaired or restored. If let down once by a friend, feelings of insecurity will be hard to overcome.

The story of Job is beautiful because of his trust in God. The whole Book of Job is worth reading and praying. It teaches about God but most of all about life in the world of suffering and loss. It is like a manual of spirituality, underpinned by honesty and integrity.

Job is a blameless and upright person. We all know people like this – you can put names on some. Job feared God in a good sense, in that he kept away from evil. He had 3 daughters and 7 sons. All the children got on well together and loved their parents. Job was not poor – he had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 female donkeys. He lived in a large house, loved his family and God.

Satan came along for a chat with God, we are told in the Book of Job. God asked Satan if he noticed how good and honest Job was and how he feared God.

Satan was not impressed by God’s praise of Job. ‘If all Job has is touched in any way, he will curse you’, he told God. Satan got permission to control the possessions of Job and his family. In brief, Job lost his children, his animals, his wealth. He was broken. Satan sat in wait for Job to curse God. What did Job say? This is his assessment and act of faith and trust in God:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” [Job 1:21]

Job did not charge God with the misfortunes that happened to him. He would not curse God as Satan had predicted. Job’s wife, even told her husband to, ‘curse God and die.’

Job had a great trust in the fairness and goodness of God:

“Shall we accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?” [Job 2:9]

When I have my ‘back to the wall’ and a great loss or sadness overwhelms me, I find it easy to ask, ‘Where is God now?’ To think of Job who ended up with painful boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head, inspires me and leaves me stronger. Job knew in his heart that God does not cause the pain or the loss. Job will not curse God. Even when his friends come to comfort him and mourn with him, Job remains faithful to God and trusting in Him.

Our world is filled with people like Job. Women, men, children I have met who have not been reduced to bitterness by suffering leave me feeling ashamed. How easily my trust in God can be at breaking point! Towards the end of his life, he had his fortunes restored. ‘Job died, an old man, and full of days.’ [Job 42:17] What a great ending to a life lived in trust and fidelity to God.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 28Jan2018

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

There is a saying that ‘when all is said and done, more is said than is done.’ Jesus does what He says. This reveals an authority that people admire and would like to have. There are people who use power over others and mistake it for authority. Power can destroy. Authority serves with love.

Authority in Greek is ‘exousia’ meaning ‘from within my being.’ Jesus got his authority from His Father. At his baptism in the Jordon, the skies opened and the Holy Spirt descended on him and declared Him to be the beloved Son. There is a ‘magnetism’ about Jesus that drew people to Him. Nobody knew better than Jesus the Hebrew Scriptures as given by Moses and the prophets. He knew the commandments. He didn’t want to destroy them but to fulfil them.

Jesus was admired by people because his words came from the heart and glowed with love. Many times, on trains we are reminded of the gap between the carriage and the platform. Jesus doesn’t have a gap; his words and actions are a symphony that enthrals.

The gaps appear all too obviously in my life. My words and actions don’t always “jive”. The challenge is to try daily to close the gap and bring them closer to each other. Saints are great examples of how this can be achieved in a variety of circumstances. When Jesus gives us a glimpse into how people might be ‘god-like’, He leaves us a wealth of parables over which we can pray. The doing speaks more eloquently than words.

  • A Samaritan gets on his knees to assist an injured person. A priest and a Levite go past on the other side. The Samaritan leaves no gap between him and the injured person.
  • A broken-hearted Father loses his son and gets no news for so long. One day, he cannot believe his eyes as he sees the son come towards home. No trace of recriminations or the son being put through ‘the third degree’. An open heart and an open home is the order of the day. What joy and love.

  • A widow throws a few tiny coins into the Temple collection. Probably the least given to that collection. But it was all she had to live on and now she was ‘broke’. There is no ‘rainy day fund’.

  • Jesus touches a leper even though this is forbidden. His action is a healing touch. I can be tempted to ask ‘authorities’ if I may act in the face of dire need. Jesus is the Authority.

Authority has got something of a bad name in our time. There is no denying the necessity in state and church to have some form of authority. In a media age, the failures of authority to protect the vulnerable and even worse, to cover up, are all too obvious.

When we possess the authority of Jesus in our lives, we too can expel ‘demons’ just as He did. Hollywood for some people, has captured the “exorcism” market. But, the power of Jesus is ours to confront the evils (demons) that are around. There is a guarantee given by Jesus – ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life.’ The gap between life and death has been closed by Jesus.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection

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

Good News isGod News”. There is only an ‘o’ difference, but it makes clear that this is the Gospel message. People talk of ‘Fake News’; better to speak of ‘Faith News’. Jesus gives us His news, ‘The time has come, and the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.’ [Mark i1:15]

Before the 14th Century, instead of using the word “news”, English speakers typically used “tidings”, meaning the “announcement of an event”. At the birth of Christ, the Angels brought the Shepherds, “tidings of great joy”.

Every day, many of us listen to and read the ‘news’. Much of what we receive is often, “bad news” or “sad news”. It is hard to get good news reported. In many way, this is understandable. Accidents, injuries, war, starvation, people’s suffering and many other tragedies come in the daily news. There can creep in a certain fatigue. Sometimes, we become almost numb in the face of war and appalling suffering of people around us.

But, as believers are we sufficiently drawn to “Good News”? Many people when thinking of their religious belief, start with doctrine, teachings, morality, eternal truths and so on. These are there and necessary. But, they are not the most fundamental. They are not the Good News which we read of today at Mass.

There is only one Good News and it is not a teaching or a doctrine; rather, it is a Person. Jesus is the good news. Without that being the starting point of the faith journey, there will remain a certain sadness or coldness in religious belief and practice. Could that be the reason that some people no longer walk with Jesus or join the weekly meeting with Him that is Sunday Mass? I’m only asking.

At the beginning God calls four fishermen and commissions them to change their style of fishing. I love fish from the sea, lakes and rivers but like the first four called, I have been ‘ordained’ to learn another type of ‘fishing’. Jesus is the first and best ‘fisher of people – men, women and children’. His ‘bait’ is His own love and compassion. Jesus does not use any false or fake ‘bait’ to attract people. He offers His own Body and Blood.

Some people feel that this is too ‘soft’ and that we should use ‘vinegar’ rather than all this talk about ‘Good News’. I worry that the biggest defect in my life – and especially in any preaching I have done over decades – is that I have ‘masked’ the beauty and power of Jesus and His message. What is this good news in practical terms? The Sacraments, the Beatitudes, this congregation at Mass, unconditional love in Confession, tenderness felt in prayer and much more. {Why not make your own Good News list for your life?}

Because I believe that Jesus loves me unconditionally, I must repent of my sins and narrowness. Why? Because my ‘good news’ for Jesus is that I want to love Him unconditionally in return, which is what faith and conversion mean to me. All the truths and doctrines, then become alive because they are the Word speaking to us in human words. But to miss out falling in love with the Word, may leave me very observant and orthodox. But, I will also be cold and empty. Then I will be a poor fisher of people.

Before finishing, I want to salute Jonah. I love his story. He runs away when asked by God to be a ‘fisher of people’. He wants nothing to do with this and tries to escape. His plans go wrong and instead of catching fish, a fish catches him and holds him captive! Eventually, he surrenders to God and heads towards Nineveh. His preaching was stark – there will be a calamity within 40 days. That focuses the mind of Ninevites! They repent. Jonah is furious. He didn’t want this to be a good news story. There are still people like him, preferring to be a ‘prophet of doom’ rather than a ‘bearer of good news’.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 14Jan2018

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

When Jorge Mario Bergolio was baptised on Christmas Day 1936, his parents, Regina Maria and Mario José, gave him the name Jorge. He was known by this name until 13th March 2013 when he was elected Pope. He had little time to choose a name by which he would be known from then onwards. He chose Francis, because of his admiration for and devotion to St Francis of Assisi.

For centuries when a Pope is chosen, he takes the name of a Saint or in the case of John Paul 1 and John Paul 11, two saints’ names. There is a long history to this custom and it is likely to continue way into the future. The person remains the same, but the change of name indicates a new mission given for which they have been chosen. In the past, religious women and men were obliged to change their Baptismal Name to that of a Saint on the day of religious profession. I’m grateful that this had changed when I took vows. I’ve always been happy with the baptismal names, Aidan Joseph, given by my Parents.

God recognises our names, especially our Baptismal names, received the day God adopted us into His family. There is an intimacy in the way God uses names. Young Samuel is in the Temple and presumes that it is Eli who is calling his name. But it is not; it is God. This call is special and will remain with Samuel for the rest of his life.

Something similar happens between Jesus and some of those who will become disciples in the future. In the invitation of Jesus to “come and see”, there must have been something that intrigued those first followers. It is hard to explain what this is. They remember that it was at 4 o’clock when the call of Jesus was first heard.

But maybe each of us could look into our own experience of God in our lives.

I have never heard the actual sound of God’s voice. But, almost daily I know that He speaks to my heart. Maybe, He has a ‘secret’ name for each of us that only He uses. Our task is to discover the whisper of God using our ‘secret’ name to attract our attention, in a gentle way.

Were you ever thinking of some person or talking about them and then they are on the phone to talk to you? It is almost as if by a form of telepathy, you are joined at some level beyond or below our conscious mind. I love to imagine God looking at each of His adopted children and knowing that we need His soothing voice. Sometimes, I keep enough noise going on in my mind and heart and I miss His call. The good thing to know is that He will call again!

God is not a ventriloquist. Yet, He can use us to speak His word to another. A lovely part is that I may not be aware that I am echoing His words for another. You may have had the experience of a persson telling you, how something you said or did for them, made a difference in their need. You may not even remember what you said or did. God chooses us to call others. He respects the freedom of all and will not force a message onto anyone. He will give us a word, a gesture to let another know that they are loved, valued and not alone.

The Book of Revelation is a favourite of mine. St John in this wonderful piece of writing, may be recalling the day He first met the Lord. He went and saw and stayed the rest of his life. He became the ‘Beloved Disciple’ – what a great name to have!

John praises the church at Pergamum for having held fast to ‘my name’. Then John tells us that the Spirit, “will give us a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.” (Apoc. 2:7) Keep praying to discover the ‘secret’ name by which God calls you! He often uses it to call you.

Epiphany of Our Lord 7Jan2018

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

At Christmas and New Year, I received lovely presents. Many thanks for such beautiful gifts. Also, at Christmas and New Year, I was overwhelmed with the presence of huge numbers of people - at the Carol Service and Pageant, Mass, Confessions, at the Crib and meeting at the church door (mulled wine as well) - all left me feeling truly blessed   and enriched by peoples’ presence.

It was my privilege to eat in family homes and attend a New Year’s Eve party! The pain of the loneliness of some people at Christmas and New Year, makes me very sad. Reaching out to a person who is lonely may not change THE world, but it will change A world for that person who feels alone.

The gift of presence, given and received, comes from the Real Presence of the One born at Christmas. Born at, but not confined to, Christmas. The presence of Jesus is day and night and all year long. His present to us is nothing less than the divine presence in our lives. The poet John Betjeman (1906-1984), speaks movingly of the gift of Christ’s presence among us:

        A present that cannot be priced

        Given two thousand years ago.

        Yet if God had not given so

        He still would be a distant stranger

       And not the babe in the manger.

Just like the wise people from the East who brought gifts to the Infant King, Jesus showers us with His gifts – being our Light, our Saviour, our King and our Joy. Whatever our possessions may be, we are truly rich to have these gifts from God and His presence as well.

Each day, at this time of year, there is a slight increase in the time of daylight. Maybe only a few minutes, but it all adds up. I love this increase in light. The way God works is that He does not shine a light in our eyes or even on our path for us to see the way. He does something beautifully captured in the opening prayer of the Vigil Mass today:

“May the splendour of your  majesty, O Lord, we pray, shed its light upon our hearts, that we may pass through the shadows of this world and reach the brightness of our eternal home.” {Feast of Epiphany Vigil Mass}

The light of Christ starts in the human heart, where evil also starts. With the light of Christ in our hearts, the presence of Christ is picked up by others. In a way, we begin to be like ‘stars’ – not as in ‘show business’, but like the Shepherds, the Wise Ones from the East who followed a star. The star that Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar (Wise Men) followed is still, most likely, shining. Let us follow it.

God makes us ‘stars’ for each other. I see the face of God in the eyes of a child filled with love. The shining light in the eyes of parents watching their child take part in the pageant, shows me the glow of God’s “pride” in us as His beloved children. The patience of sick people at a time like Christmas, shows me Jesus still carrying the Cross. The only place where God is not to be seen, is when I turn away from Him or you by selfishness and sin.

May the Lord shed His light upon your hearts this Epiphany day.


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

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