Father Toner’s Homily November 2012

Today’s First Reading and Gospel are known as Apocalyptic Literature, literature which was written at times of crisis and distress in order to give the people of that era hope.

For many people nowadays these are times of distress:

(i)  For many elderly people the moon has already lost its brightness, and with the onset of old age many of our old people feel alone and vulnerable.

(ii) For many young people the sun has darkened in their lives as they witness their parents squabble and fight and, in some cases, separate.

(iii) For many parents the stars have already fallen from heaven as they struggle to rear and manage a son or daughter who has embraced a life of drugs, alcohol or crime.

(iv) For priests these past few years have been a time when the very powers in the heavens have been shaken on account of the shocking crimes committed by a small number of priests against little children.

(v) And lastly there is death, especially the sudden death of a family member or the tragic death of a child, which provokes distress in us all.

However, as I mentioned at the beginning of the homily, apocalyptic literature was written at times of distress to give people hope. So, where nowadays do we see the twigs and leaves of today’s gospel growing supple? Whereabouts nowadays do we see that the summer is near? In short, where do we see hope present today?

(i)  Well, many of our elderly can still see a bright moonbecause they are blessed with devoted and attentive grown-up children and grandchildren who visit them regularly, especially of a bleak winter’s night, or invite them for Sunday dinner and to family gatherings, such as a birthday party or a wedding anniversary meal.

(ii) The vast majority of our young people still have the sun shining in their lives as they watch their parents quietly and courageously remaining faithful and supportive to each other and behaving in a responsible and caring fashion towards them, the children, providing them with a loving, wholesome home environment.

(iii) Most parents still have their eyes set on the starsbecause they are blessed with really lovely children who are a pleasure and a joy to meet.

(iv) I think most priests would accept that the powers in the heavens have steadied somewhat with new child protection policies in place

(v)  Death still remains distressing and yet, thankfully, in a community like our own, there is really super support from neighbours whose appearance, presence and help in wake houses are a source of immeasurable comfort.

Coupled with these areas I have just mentioned are the other numerous signs of hope seen in our medical care where doctors give people new heart, where the lame can be seen walking again in our hospital wards and corridors leaning on the arm or shoulder of a nurse. There are also the wonderful signs of hope in our Catholic schools where our young people are afforded tremendous opportunities in the Arts and the Sciences. Then there is the hope in the often unnoticed and unsung work of the St Vincent de Paul and the Legion of Mary whose members quietly work to alleviate the difficulties facing poorer families, and there’s the hope that can be seen in the Addiction Units and Hostels where young men and women are successfully being weaned off drugs and alcohol.

Yes, this first decade of the third millennium may well be seen and described as a time of distress, but let that not blind us to the marvellous signs of hope all around us and the numerous opportunities we all have to create even more hope for others.

Let me end with the anonymous reflection/poem found many years ago in a tumble-down old house; it’s called the Desiderata.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrendering what you believe in,

be on good terms with all people.

 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble,

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

And be careful not to be taken in, …

for the world is full of trickery;

but let this not blind you to what good there is:

many people strive for high ideals,

and everywhere … life is full of heroism.

 

Above all, be at peace with God.

And whatever your labours and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace with your soul.

For in spite of all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

 

PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL

In today’s gospel Jesus says: ‘My words will not pass away’. So, let us pray that Our Lord’s words may not be only on our lips but alive in our hearts and active in our lives:

(i) For all God’s people, especially the people of our own parish, that we may give effective witness to gospel values by the way we live. Lord, hear us.

(ii) For all those who are no longer young, that they will always be cherished and given the love and respect which are their dueand that the wisdom of their years may be listened to and valued. Lord, hear us.

(iii)  For those considering which path to take in life, be that the single or married state, religious or priestly life, that they may be filled with prudence and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Lord, hear us.

(iv)  For those married of recent times, for all married couples and for those preparing for Christian marriage, that God may continue to support all married couples in their love for each other. Lord, hear us.

(v) For all who are sick in mind, body or soul, that through the intercession of Our lady of Lourdes they may know healing in their time of need. Lord, hear us.

(vi)  For those still mourning the loss of a loved one – a parent, spouse child, or sibling – that God in his infinite mercy may bring all those who mourn consolation. Lord, hear us.

(vii) For our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that through the intercession of St Peter, God will support and guide him in his demanding ministry and fill him with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Lord, hear us.

(viii) For all those private, personal needs in our hearts and for those who have requested our prayers, we pray in silence. Lord, hear us.

(ix)  For all the dead, for …. whose anniversary occurs at this time and for whom this Mass is offered, that God may grant these deceased and all our deceased loved ones an eternal repose in the company of the saints and Angels. Lord, hear us.

God, our Father, we present these prayers, spoken and unspoken, to you in the hope that you will hear and answer our needs. Amen.