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1st Sunday of Lent 18Feb2018

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

One of the ‘pillars’ of Lent is ‘almsgiving’ or ‘works of love’. With the needs of many people so great, it may make us wonder if there is much we can do to help. It’s clear that there is no once for all remedy for everyone. But, because I can’t do everything, does not mean I cannot do something to make a difference.

On Ash Wednesday, I celebrated Mass for a school and signed the staff and students with blessed ashes. During the few words of the homily I offered, I mentioned that part of Lent was to look around us and see if there is anything at all that we can do to make life a bit more pleasant for somebody else. That school does a great amount both locally and overseas for people in need.

Leaving church after Mass, a young girl with her classmates came over to me. She took a few coins out of her coat pocket. She asked me to take them for a poor person. This touched me deeply. The Word of Jesus that we love God and our neighbour has found a home in her heart. I have carried out her wish.

Lent this year started on the same day when a lot of people were celebrating Valentine’s Day. A symbol much used on that day is the human heart. Lent is also the season of the heart. It seems to me that the heart is where everything is decided. The mind is important in preparing but the heart plays the crucial role. If I decide to do something with my mind, I need the heart to see it through.

It is the heart that makes us human. God places in our hearts at creation, a part of His own heart – it is called Love. Every created person has a spark of the Divine in their heart. By temptation and sin, I can deaden the divine in me. Lent helps us recover from the losses incurred by sin. It is a season of the heart.

The very first heart is the Sacred Heart. God as Father has a heart. Jesus as Son has a heart. The Holy Spirit is the love in the heart of God. Lent is a time of grace when we enter into the Divine Love and rejoice that this is where we call home.

We belong in this everlasting flow of love. How true are the words of Jesus when he told us, ‘Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.’  

My prayer at the beginning of Lent is:

Lord, give me a courageous heart to go forth and engage with life even when I am afraid and confused.

Lord, free me from a fearful heart that holds back and is hesitant.

Lord, give me a compassionate heart that does not carry the burden of judgement.

Lord, give me a forgiving heart that knows the joy of being free

Lord, give me a loving heart more like yours in all I say and do this Lent.


6th Sunday in Ordinary Time 11Feb2018

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

Internet can be a blessing if properly used. Wrongly used, it can cause terrible damage. Seeking information in the past, meant going to a library for books and articles. Now, at a click of a mouse, what I’m looking for is there before me. [‘Aidan Troy’ in a search engine got 488,000 references in 0,60 seconds!).

A danger is that I presume that all life is like a computer search. The exchange between the brave leper and Jesus, reveals a beautiful sensitivity in searching for health. There are no presumptions made by this man on his desperate search for healing. Let’s listen:

Leper (on his knees pleads): ‘If you want to you can cure me.’

Jesus (feeling sorry for him stretches out his hand): ‘Of course I want to! BE CURED!’

What music this must have been for the Leper now cleansed and back to health. That is good enough, but even better he can now go home. He can talk, eat, socialise with others. We don’t know how long he was ‘ex-communicated’ because of the danger of contagion. He is now back, and life is good.

Sin has been described as ‘leprosy of the soul’. All sin is social in its effects. Even if you know nothing of my sins, I am failing you by my sins in refusing the power of God’s grace. When I‘m less holy than God has called me to be, I enter into the isolation of the ‘leper’ in the Gospel. There is a distance between us.

Seeing the damage that my sins cause, I can either harden my heart, or take the path of the ‘leper’ and with humility and courtesy come to Jesus. On my knees, I can plead, ‘If you want to you can cure me.’ There will always come the same response from Jesus, ‘Of course, I want to! Be cured!’ That is the moment in which I cease to fail you and the community of believers. Imagine the joy that there is in Heaven over this sinner doing penance than over 99 who do not. We are called to be a holy people of God.

When the leper was healed, he had to fulfil the law and go to the priest for a clean bill of health. Jesus ‘sternly ordered’ him to ‘say nothing to anyone.’ Well, the cured Leper did the opposite – and who could blame him as he made his way home. Perhaps, going home to his wife, children, job, friends. Who knows? Jesus was concerned that His mission might be seen as simply a spectacular display of bodily healing. But, Jesus came to bring us the good news of salvation of soul as well as body. Jesus saves the whole person.

Jesus came as healer but most of all as Saviour. He addresses the ‘leprosy of the soul.’ Because sin cannot easily be seen by the human eye, it can happen that it seems less ‘real’. I could not imagine myself wearing ‘clothing torn, and hair disordered…shield the upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean”. [1st Reading] Yet, soon we will begin Lent when the call to sackcloth and ashes will be heard again. Sin, like leprosy, is contagious.

Once the Leper had proclaimed Jesus as healer, Jesus ‘could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived.’ Jesus ends up living in places where the leper once had to stay. The difference was that, ‘even so, people from all around would come to him.’

As Lent begins, we can search for Jesus and finding Him ask, ‘If you want to, you can cure me.’ He will. It will be your best gift this Lent.


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’.


Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
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