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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.

 

Reflexion 5th March 2017

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]

 {Weekly Reflections only the view of the above}

 

Many years ago, I studied a course called, “The Wilderness”. A Sister was the lecturer and she led us through the Scripture story of the Chosen People in the wilderness. She quoted the Book of Deuteronomy:

Do not forget your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; who guided you through the vast and dreadful wilderness; a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known. [Deut.  8 14- 16]

Now, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He knows the background traced out above. He is in hostile territory and so Satan comes to tempt him:

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.”

Jesus also knows that in the wilderness God took care of his people. God met them there. Jesus is vividly aware that he is the New Moses, forming and leading a new People of God, bringing them out of slavery into freedom. Jesus, suffering hunger, refuses to succumb. He remembers Deut. 8.3, “One does not live on bread alone.”

In this first temptation, Jesus shows us how easy it is to make absolute what is, in fact, relative. Only God is absolute and Jesus whom He has sent. God is the measure when we set our values.

The second temptation by Satan refers to the hunger for power. Deut. 8:17 tells, “Beware lest you say in your heart, my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.” Jesus could have done as Satan suggested, but that would be to play games with the power of God.

This second temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is about the abuse of religion. Jesus is tempted at the most sacred place – the pinnacle of the Temple – to subordinate the sacred to a personal interest. But, Jesus will not put His Father to the test. Neither religion nor any moral code is the ultimate.

Abused and corrupted religion brought Jesus to His Cross. It is not sufficient to keep the letter of the Law, if devoid of love. People in our world have been hurt by the abuse of religion. As ambassadors for Christ, we are sent into the world to show the true face of God that refuses to hide behind any corrupted form of religion.

In the third temptation, Satan takes Jesus to a high mountain to show Him wonders and splendour. Jesus is asked to worship the Devil, turn his back on the Father. This temptation can become real when I see everything focused on me; I must be in the middle and all revolves around me.

But, it is not just about me. My moral guidance must be universal. In our world, there can today be a type of worship of the Ego as the absolute point of reference.

During Lent, it can be a fruitful form of prayer to go to a quiet place and be at Jesus’s side as He faces the three temptations. It is good to remember that this was very real for Jesus and He did not escape the pain because of His divinity. He became like us in all things but sin.

The wilderness is not just in the desert. It is in our cities and sometimes in our hearts. Moses and Jesus and all prophets teach us that to find ourselves ‘lost’, ‘not sure’, ‘confused’ or ‘battling doubt’ are part of the journey to God. As Jesus came through the wilderness, He promises us that we will never face our trials on our own. He knows what it is like to be tempted. If there was no temptation, there would be no virtue.

Ash Wednesday, gave us three shields for Lent – Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting.

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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