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Reflection 9 April 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{
Reflection only the view of the above}


The year 2000 is the one and only time in my life when I was in Jerusalem on a Good Friday. What a privilege to walk on the same streets over which Jesus carried His Cross.  The entry into Jerusalem celebrated today, leads also to the scandal that Jesus fell on these streets under the weight of the Cross, weakened by the demeaning torture He suffered beforehand.

Palm Sunday, Good Friday and all Holy Week, are to do with people and not only with places. The events of Holy Week, take place primarily in the human heart before being enacted on a street. The events of Jesus’ last week are remembered in every parish, in every culture and in all languages, for ALL people of every religion and none. “We are aware that the Passion of Christ continues in this world until He comes in glory.” [Passionist Constitutions N.3]

On the first Palm Sunday, some people followed Jesus while others run ahead. ‘Some spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road’, shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ They acclaim him as, ‘the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.’ That would all change on Good Friday with the cry, ‘Crucify him’!

What changed the people so much? Truthfully, only they could answer that. This much I do know – that in my life I have been all these people. In my better moments, I make progress towards holiness; but there are times when I am sunk in sin; there are times when I follow Jesus and times when I abandon Him; times when I publicly profess that I am a follower and times when I betray Him. 30 pieces of silver may not be the price, but betrayal is not measured by the price. In your great love, Lord have mercy on me!

If Holy Week were solely a trip down ‘memory lane’ to recall the first Holy Week, then we would not need to spend hours in worship. We could put on the DVD and watch it at home. But there is more. The entry into Jerusalem, Passion, Death and Resurrection take place in every human heart, in every family and in every parish. Only if this is real for us can the liturgy of the events of the first Holy Week in Jerusalem become alive for us. Jesus is the Son of the Living God and not a museum piece.

Refugees fleeing for their lives, some in wheelchairs, terrified children with them, are taking part in their 2017 Way of the Cross. Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry the Cross. Jesus is with refugees, day and night. He looks to see if we, His followers, are around. Our hands are His, our hearts are His; help that we give is His. What a privilege.

People suffering in any way, often have more than 14 traditional stations with their Cross. For some, there can be 14 stations in one hour or one day. That may be why the Founder of the Passionists, St Paul of the Cross, could say that he, ‘saw the name of Jesus written on the foreheads of the poor.’

From time to time, gently, I am reminded about the ‘giants’ of Passionists who have served at St Joseph’s Church; well-founded comments, I’m sure. This inspires me at the beginning of Holy Week to deepen my appreciation of the total love of God shown in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. In the coming days, I will again deepen in myself the words of St Paul of the Cross:
“Keenly aware of the evils that afflicted the people of his time, he [St Paul of the Cross] never tired of insisting that the most effective remedy is the Passion of Jesus, <the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love.>
[Passionist Constitutions – Chapter 1]


“Even at 70 or 80, the heart doesn’t age if one is inspired by Christian joy.” Pope Francis


 

Reflection 2 April 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}


“Jesus wept”. That surely is the greatest and most moving short story ever told. Jesus wept. He didn’t pretend. He saw the tears of Mary at the death of her brother, Lazarus. He saw the tears of the Jews who had followed her from the house thinking she was going to the tomb. It was too much for Jesus. The lump would have come in his throat and the build-up of tears in his eyes. He didn’t stop them flowing. That is what love does to a person. Jesus wasn’t ashamed to shed tears – big boys do cry.

On another occasion, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He was looking over the beloved city. The missed opportunities offered by God that were not taken brought tears to His eyes. He loved Jerusalem and the people. He loves every city, town and village and the people. He weeps over us as much as over Lazarus and Jerusalem.

‘Lord, many times I have brought tears to your eyes – the times when I sinned and didn’t care about others; when I looked the other way, and hardened my heart; closed my ears and heart to the cry of the poor. It still goes on. Sorry, Lord; forgive me.’ 

Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus. He would call into their Bethany home for company and for a meal. The neighbours possibly talked about this! To love all people, involves loving particular people. As a student preparing for religious life and priesthood, the training warned us of the dangers of falling in love. Yet, God is love. There was concern for our vocations.

Towards the end of my life, I can see that the greatest risk to love is not hate, but to be indifferent, to place myself always in the first place. Such a life guarantees dry eyes. The challenge of every vocation – married, single or celibate is to love until it hurts. It was love that brought Jesus to the Cross.

Lazarus, the son of the widow of Naim and the daughter of Jairus were raised by Jesus from death – an amazing experience hard to imagine. Or is it? There may have been times in my life – and perhaps in yours – when like Lazarus I was in a ‘tomb’, a dark place. Rejection, discouragement when my best efforts were not enough, deep despair and daring to wonder if life was even worth living. There are times when I want to hide away and, like the tomb of Lazarus, put a boulder that you cannot move to find me.

Jesus came to my ‘tomb’ in the person of a friend, a family member, someone from St Joseph’s church and rolled back the stone. When Jesus raised Lazarus, he said, ‘Unbind him, let him go free.’ These words are music to the ears and the heart to any of us who have ever been ‘dead’ in our spirit, if not in our life. Liberation when used in theology worries some believers. Jesus is the liberator – He sets free the bound like you and me. Remember last week how he put light into the dark eyes of a blind man.

One tomb in which I find myself and out of which Jesus takes me, is when I meet Him in Confession. Of course, there is no reason why I cannot tell God directly that I am sorry for my sins. I must do this if my faith is even as small as a mustard seed. God listens to contrite hearts that confess sins in prayer. The Sacrament of Penance is not just for me, for us. It is the wish of Jesus that He have a chance to tell us clearly and definitively that our sins are forgiven. In the Sacrament, don’t be preoccupied by the priest you see in front of you. He is a channel of the powerful words of Jesus, ‘my child, your sins are forgiven, go in peace.’ Why deny Jesus the chance to meet you face to face in this amazing Sacrament?

Some wonder about life after death. It is important to live life to the full before death. We will be dead for long enough!

Reflection 26 March 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

Next weekend, as advertised in this Bulletin last week, the Passionists have invited people for a weekend of searching. They will take up what St Paul urges: ‘Try to discover what the Lord wants of you.’ The hope and prayer is that enlightenment will come to those who will join that weekend.

‘To discover what the Lord wants of you’ is a great challenge. I wonder do many of us put this question to ourselves or is it just people like me who suggest it? Pope Francis sprang something of a surprise when he announced the theme for the 2018 Synod of Bishops – “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Besides the document announcing the Synod, the Pope wrote a Letter to Young People. At 80 years of age the Pope has the spirit and heart of youth. In older age, he is still searching.

His letter reveals his mind, “As opposed to situations in the past, the Church needs to get accustomed to the fact that the ways of approaching the faith are less standardised, and therefore she must become more attentive to the individuality of each person.” This gives me hope and equally scares me. I feel inadequate to face the enormity of this challenge. Why do I feel inadequate? Because I am inadequate!  

What prevents me from leaving Paris on a one-way ticket, is hearing the call of the Spirit daily to, “try to discover what the Lord wants of you.”  This is a huge question. To break it down into manageable parts, it’s good to begin by asking God, ‘what is the next step for me on the journey of faith?’ At Jacob’s well, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman, ‘give me a drink.’ What does Jesus ask of me at St Joseph’s Well? What does He ask of us, His People, gathered from all over the world? Not easy questions!

Pope Francis pays particular attention to the searching of young people. Being older does not make finding God’s path any easier. In our community, we are blessed with many young people at the heart of our community. We have families who worship together and with joy introduce relatives who are visiting. We have CCD students who are the ‘lungs’ of St Joseph’s; these are future missionaries of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Young Adults pray, discuss, search, reach out and feed the starving and welcome the stranger.  Other young people who belong to no group but enrich our community by their prayer and witness.

‘Try to discover what the Lord wants of you’ rings in the ears of all people. After the publication of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ by Pope Francis, April 2016, we are challenged to examine our outreach to those preparing for marriage and to those living out the sacrament. As a Mission Anglophone in the heart of Paris, what can we do to answer the call of the Synod on the Family (2015)?

‘Try to discover what the Lord wants of you’ is heard by those carrying the cross of suffering of mind or body. Like the man in the Gospel, some in our community live in a world of darkness with little light. We seek the ‘the light of the world’ who is Jesus. It is not easy, but Jesus will direct us to a place like the ‘Pool of Siloam’. People then emerge with hope restored.

Try to discover what the Lord wants of you’ is heard in priesthood and religious life today. Enormous challenges are facing the Catholic Church in continuing to carry out the command of Christ, ‘Do this in memory of me’. By Divine design priests are required. With ordinations greatly reduced, there are places where weekly Mass is no longer possible. God will not let His people starve – but how and when will it improve?

Reflexion 19th March 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] – represents his view alone.

Sunday 19 March 2017 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

“Noon is the worst time of the day for going to the well for water”, she said to herself as off she set once again. “But it is the quietest time because of the intense heat of the sun. It saves me from the hurtful glances, the snide comments and the isolation created by the other water carriers. The only sound to be heard at this time of day is the distance sound of a leper’s bell tinkling. It will never be any different, but life must go on.

But, who is that sitting at the side of Jacob’s Well? It is most unusual to see anyone there, and certainly not a Jewish man on his own. My first impulse is to turn back home but I have come this far and those at home desperately need the water. Anyhow, he probably won’t even notice me and certainly not speak to me. I’ll mind my own business and be on my way back home soon.

He does speak to me. ‘Give me a drink’, he says, but I can’t see any bucket with which to draw water. I’m shocked that this Jewish man is asking me for a drink of water. It is unheard of for a Jewish man to address a Samaritan woman especially when both are on their own. After all, this is a deeply divided sectarian society in which there is no crossing over from one side to the other.

This stranger is not giving up. He turns the conversation around and suggests that if I knew who he is, I would have asked him for a drink of water. Then he speaks of something I have never heard of before – he said that he would have given me ‘living water’ had I asked for a drink. I point out to him that without a bucket, it is not possible to get this ‘living water’ from such a deep well. I simply must ask him if he is a greater man that our father Jacob who not only gave us this well, but drank from it himself along with his sons and cattle.

Is he for real, I wonder? Or, has the scorching sun affected his mind causing him to talk like this? He goes on to tell me that the difference between the water in Jacob’s Well and the living water that he will give is nothing short of amazing. The water that he will give will leave a person never thirsty again. More than that, this living water will turn into a spring inside a person and well up to eternal life. This surely is too good to be true. Imagine getting drinking water that would leave you never thirsty again.

This is too good a chance to miss and so I ask this stranger to give me some of this water, so that I will never have to make the daily trek ever again to Jacob’s Well. What bliss! Then he says something that takes me by surprise – ‘go and call your husband and come back here.’ That rocks me to the core and I blurt out that I have no husband. But it gets stranger; he tells me that I have had five previous husbands and the present one is not really my husband. How did he know all that? The only answer is that he is a religious prophet and I tell him so.

I ask him about the competing Temples. His reply I will never forget – ‘true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.’ The sectarian war is over. Exclusion of Samaritans by Jews is not what the Father wants. My head is reeling by this stage. I pinch myself to see if I am not dreaming. But this is really happening.

He knows so much that I venture to suggest that he is like the Messiah who is to come and when he does, he will tell people everything about their lives. Quietly but firmly he says, ‘I who am speaking to you, I am he.’ Incredibly, I am at Jacob’s Well chatting to the Messiah. This is too great to keep to myself. Something I have never done before, I leave my water jar there, and hurry back to the town to tell that I have met the Messiah. I couldn’t care less what these people say about me – I have met the Messiah and my life will never be the same again.  A crowd come back with me to see this extraordinary man.

They listen to him and are convinced that he is the Saviour of the world. Old habits die hard, and they make it clear to me that they now believe because of their own experience and not because I told them about finding the Messiah.”

That is the story of the anonymous Samaritan woman who one day found Jesus. Any day if we go in spirit to the Well, as sure as she found Him, he is there waiting for us. If I could add one feature to St Joseph’s in its 30th year and heading to its 150th anniversary of first being built, I would put a Well in the centre of the parvis. Regularly, I would love to hold parish conversations around the Well. Together we could listen to the Messiah and to each other.

 The Samaritan woman is given no name. If you look in a mirror, you will see the person whom Jesus is waiting for at our Well.   

Reflexion 12th March 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]

 {Weekly Reflections only the view of the above}

 

Lent is spoken of as a journey of 40 days in which we prepare for the amazing events of Holy Week and Easter. Without this as the terminus, Lent would be a journey with a limited purpose and significance. Because of where it is leading us, it is a privileged and sacred time in which we bond together to pray, to give alms and fast.

A journey done by plane gets us to our destination in the quickest time possible. We leave one airport and arrive at another. The places in between are flown over. That is the world in which we live. This summer a journey to the moon is being advertised. In case, you are thinking of being generous and buying me a ticket, (return ticket, I hope), I will wait and see how the journey goes this year – who knows but I might be glad to accept your offer next year!

Back in the days of Abram (Abraham) and Sarah, a journey less defined than to the moon was proposed by God:

‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land that I will show you.’

Abram and Sarah were not in the first flush of youth. They saw themselves as old and not likely ever to have children together. Yet, listen to God’s word to them:

‘I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing.’

‘So, Abram went as the Lord told him.’ That is all we are told. There is no mention of a map; no directions supplied. Just trust that God would lead them on the journey. I need to know where I am going. I double check that I am on the correct platform for the train. I need to know; so too did Abram and Sarah but in the absence of details, they simply put their hands into the hand of God and set off on the journey. What a journey it turned out to be for them.

This is so easy to write and desperately difficult to live out. Many years ago, I heard God’s call to follow Him and to leave Bray where I was born. Not for one moment could I have even suspected where the journey would lead me. I still don’t know if there are any twists left in my road or if this is it. God knows and that is all I have.

Think of your own life journey and draw the timeline that God put on your path. It is an adventure that is utterly unique. Treasure the journey, even the painful and unwelcome parts. They come from His hands and He will explain every detail to you when you meet in Heaven.

Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. Being fishermen, this climb up into the mountains was a bit of an adventure. They were more used to the waves of the sea and lakes than the refined air of the hills. Little could they have known what awaited them after they climbed.

Before their very eyes, the Jesus they knew to see so well is transfigured and, ‘his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light.’ They knew it was Jesus, but not as they had ever seen him before. No wonder Peter did not want this moment to pass. There have been times in my life when I didn’t want some event to end or some person to leave me. All was just perfect. It doesn’t get much better and so it must have come as a shock to the three Apostles when, ‘suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow.’

God the Father speaks, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to Him.’ What a direct message echoing down the centuries – listen to Jesus!

Jesus will bring Peter, James and John into the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His Passion. Did they recall the day of the Transfiguration? They had seen the ecstasy; now they would see the agony.

 

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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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