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Listing July - 2013
'God's love doesn't discriminate, it simply embraces everything. Like the sun it doesn't shine selectively, shedding its warmth on vegetables because they are good and refusing its warmth on the weeds because they are bad. It just shines on everything and irrespective of its condition, receives its warmth.' ~Ronald Rolheiser

Words like incredible, brilliant or amazing could be used to describe God's love. To say that God loves us when we are good and that God loves us when we are bad is indeed amazing. But it also throws up some key questions. The first big one is why bother to be good if God loves everyone the same and equally? To bother to be good means that love is always the priority. We aren't loved because we are good, but we become good because we experience love. The more love we experience the better it is for us, our family, our community and the world we live in. We do our best to grow in love, to nurture it, to share it, to celebrate it and to allow it shape us into the wonderful person God created us to be. Sure enough, we sometimes stumble and sometimes fall spectacularly. Does this mean that we should abandon the road of love that guides us each day? Of course not! The same goes with God. God loves the sinner but hates the sin. There is a big difference between the two. So today should be a day to begin to believe in you, to believe in God's love for you and to believe that now is the time to start again, even after a stumble or fall in your life.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett

Mary and Martha are stressed out with all the work they have to do. Jesus has arrived, probably with an entourage who are no doubt hungry. This small passage has created much interest from biblical scholars over the years. For some, it suggests that Jesus is favouring prayer and reflection over action. For others, it justifies the role of women in the Church as concerned with hospitality. Many would disagree, and see Mary's place at Jesus' feet as a clear sign of a disciple learning from their teacher. Luke places a special emphasis in his Gospel on the wider circle of Jesus' disciples, and names the women who followed him.

Luke also uses a specific word to refer to the 'many tasks' that Martha was concerned about: diakonia - a word that he uses elsewhere in Luke and Acts to refer to ministry and service in a community. It is from this word that we get the word 'deacon'. Whatever interpretation we want to make, this is a beautiful passage about service, the importance of prayer, discipleship and ministry in all its forms.

When we are so bogged down in the craziness around us, Jesus is clear about the way forward. First, sit and listen to him. This is good advice. Then we may be better prepared for the challenges that we face, whether they be in our homes or our wider communities.
'You cannot define talent. All you can do is build the greenhouse and see if it grows.' ~William P. Steven

Those who sell green/glasshouses for gardens must be doing slow business at the moment. Who would want a greenhouse in a garden in this fabulous sunshine with temperatures up around 30C. But when the weather is poor the greenhouse is a huge advantage to have in a garden. It provides lovely warm heat for plants and always gives a gardener the edge when conditions are much cooler.

The same goes with a gift and talent. Like a greenhouse giving warmth and shelter, every gift and talent needs above all encouragement, support, freedom and a chance to grow. Take any of these away and you begin to stifle great potential and possibility. What is your special gift and talent? Is it something you use often or seldom and rarely? Do you believe in what you have and that it's special? Can you offer someone else particularly a young person, support and encouragement in nurturing their gift and talent? Your words of support and encouragement may be the only words they hear.
Little Johnny asked his grandmother how old she was. Granny answered: "49 and holding". Johnny thought for a moment and said "How old would be if you let go?!"

Perhaps we are shy about our age but no matter what our age we are all guilty of holding. We hold onto possessions, clutter, mistakes made, bad memories and much more. Wouldn't it be great if we could let some of these go. Why hold onto them all? The more we hold on to, the harder it is to move forward in our lives. Today I could think of even one thing in my life that I am holding onto, that drains my energy, is of no good to me and the next step is to simply let it go. Feel the difference as soon as you do.
'Without music, life is a journey through a desert.' ~Pat Conroy

We often take music for granted but without it life would indeed be very dull and lifeless. Musical instruments are constructed in many styles and shapes, using many different materials. Early musical instruments were made from found objects such as shells and plant parts. As instruments evolved, so did the selection and quality of music. There are many mentions of musical instruments in the psalms such as the harp, reed, cymbals, flute, timbrel and trumpet.

In the current beautiful sunshine many homes have their windows open and it is always nice to hear music drift out like a gentle breeze. Thankfully we have many different tastes of music, there is huge variety, much to choose from and access to music has never been easier. There is much research being done at the moment into the health benefits of music therapy and that certain types of music can calm us, while other types can lift us out of a sad place and other music can energise and uplift. The constant thread throughout music is a divine connection and a divine energy that makes music a unique and special gift from God. What is your favourite type of music? What do you like listening to? We thank God today for music and how it helps to put a smile into our lives in lots of different ways.
'There will always be a lot of 'a la carte' Christianity as long as human beings are human.' ~Liam Hickey

In the current heatwave there is not much seed being sown as it would have little chance without rain. The famous parable of the sower reminds us that the seed was thrown everywhere and anywhere. It was thrown in hope that it might take root and then grow. Some of it did great, some did ok and some of the seed failed miserably. The seed stands for God's love and how well it's received depends entirely on the openness of people. In the parable of the sower Jesus said of the good seed that some yielded a crop of 100%, some 60% and some 30%. It would be a mistake to think we are a failure in God's eyes if we are not the seed that produced a 100% yield. 60 is also good, same with 30 and even 10 is good! It is not God's way of doing things to measure our faith in terms of success.

We live in a world today where choices are vast and limitless. There is so much to choose from in terms of groceries, clothes, books, music and so on. It should come as no surprise that people will also choose when it comes to faith matters. God's generosity in throwing the seed will never stop. My openness is entirely up to me but to be open makes for great beginnings.
'Superstition is the poetry of life.' ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Yesterday (July 15th) was St Swithin's Day. Thankfully it was dry right across Ireland. If it rained, tradition and superstition would say that it would continue doing so for 40 days after. St Swithin's Day is one of the most famous of all the weather related saint's days. He died in 862 and was buried outside Winchester Cathedral. Later when he was canonised a saint his body was instructed to be moved into a tomb within the Cathedral. Legend has it that on the day the body was to be moved a storm broke on July 15th 971. It broke the end of a long dry spell and it continued to rain for a further 40 days after. This led the monks believing it was 'Divine Displeasure' and left the body in its original place.

It is quite clear from weather records that there is little evidence to support the theory of 40 days of rain after Swithin's Day. But tradition and superstition have deeply embedded roots in the human psyche that need to be respected. There are though some superstitions that are built on fear particularly chain letters or chain emails and the door always needs to be closed on these superstitions. One thread throughout the Gospel stories is that wherever Jesus found fear, he brought calm, peace and always a sense of hope and great optimism.
'The measure of love is to love without measure.' ~St.Augustine

We all like to have a sense of how much or how little. At the moment in Cork we are getting over 15 hours of sunshine each day. Mind you yesterday the clouds up to lunchtime made it a pleasant cool for a few hours! Our telephone bills are measured in units, mobile phones in minutes and seconds, petrol and diesel in litres and so on. But how do you measure love? It is something that is nearly impossible to do. St.Augustine sums it up well by saying the measure of love is to love without measure. This means to love with everything we've got. It's not about being selective or loving when we're in the mood. If we believe God is love and if we believe love is the greatest energy in our world and lives, then nothing can stop its great momentum. Love will always touch the sadness and joys of our world. It knows no boundaries or obstacles. It is our Christian call and indeed our daily challenge to love without measure.
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett called 'An Outsider Teaching An Insider What The Insider Should Have Known'

'Our prayer, our worship, our fasting are of little value to God if we have ignored those of God's children who suffer on the margins of our societies. We are Christians who follow the message of Jesus, not because we say "Lord, Lord", it is in our compassion that we imitate God who is compassion' ~Peter McVerry

Parables are never what they seem. They have a clever way of causing confusion and forcing you to figure out what is really going on beneath the surface. The Samaritan, an outcast, is made the hero of this story. This would have caused outrage amongst those who heard the parable. The oil and the wine have a significant part to play as the priest and Levite may have had such items with them for making sacrifices in the Temple. It is, however, the Samaritan who offers correct worship to God as he uses the oil and wine to clean the man's wounds. Jesus spoke about a God who was not concerned with the constraints of the Temple, but God who was in the streets. Look at what the Samaritan does for the man on the road: bound his wounds, poured oil, took him to an inn etc. They are all action words. The emphasis in this parable is on action and on compassion. The lawyer is concerned with the limits to 'love of neighbour'. But there are no limits, no boundaries, no outsiders in God's Kingdom. Holiness is not separation from the marginalised, but proximity to them.
Don't give up on God..

Michael was the only survivor of the shipwreck. He was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day for two months he scanned the horizon for help, but to no avail. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames with smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened! Everything was lost! He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. "God, how could you do this to me?" he cried. Early the next day he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied. We may at times feel that God has abandoned us. It is during those moments that God is in fact nearer than we think.
Nothing is so inconsistent with the life of any Christian as overindulgence.' ~St Benedict

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St Benedict. He is the patron saint of Europe and fittingly much of Europe is basking in glorious sunshine at the moment! He is often called the founder of western monasticism and is famous for 'the rule of Benedict'. This rule provided many guidelines for monks but as time went on his rule was adapted by millions of people all over the world. It has provided invaluable guidance for anyone who is searching for God in the world we live in today. At the very heart of his rule is the call for balance and moderation in all we do. This applies especially to our work, time given to rest and play and time given to our spiritual lives. We are all guilty of going to extremes with different things especially work and we simply forget all the other essential aspects of our lives. Benedict called on people to find the balance. In finding the balance we find ourselves closer to God and much more at ease and at peace with ourselves.
The Second Ten Commandments ~Author Unknown

1. Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.
2. Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.
3. Thou shall not cross bridges before you come to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this.
4. Thou shall face each problem as it comes. You can only handle one at a time anyway.
5. Thou shall not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bed partners!
6. Thou shall not borrow other people's problems. They can better care for them than you can.
7. Thou shall not try to relive yesterday as it is forever gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy as best you can today.
8. Thou shall be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It is hard to learn something new when you are talking, and some people do know more than you do.
9. Thou shall not become "bogged down" by frustration, for 90% of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive action.
10. Thou shall count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to big ones.
'To describe something, to simply name something properly, in some way already sets you above it. To name something is not to be fully imprisoned by it.' ~Ronald Ronheiser

It is good to name something, be upfront and then deal with it. It is often tempting to tip toe around something without actually naming it. We do so in case we upset or offend, but we also do it to avoid something we don't want to face up to. What sort of stuff do we avoid naming? Examples could include any form of addiction, feeling depressed, feeling suicidal, pressures at home or in work, pressure within a relationship or a mistake made. Once we name something it is out in the open and it gives us the freedom to do something about it. When it's not named, we tend to be in denial and never give ourselves the chance to move on. In many of our Gospel stories Jesus often asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" He gave each person the opportunity to name it and then he helped them into a much better place. Can I name something that I have been avoiding with a while?
'I believe God is interested in us, in the detail of our lives and I think that is remarkable.' ~Bono

U2 have been together as a band since 1978 and have cemented their reputation as one of the greatest rock acts in history. Two decades on they remain intact. No one has ever left U2 and no new member has ever joined. Their CV is impressive, 12 studio albums, with more than 150 million album sales and they have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band.

Bono from U2 revealed many interesting insights into his life in a recent TV interview with Gay Byrne. Bono spoke about how he has always been fascinated by the scriptures and that they were in some way in the inspiration behind U2's music. He has come to realize that the band's music is a way they can speak to the world on lots of issues. Bono put it another way by saying: "Our music is a prayer of a kind." At one point in the interview he showed a cross that he wears 24/7. It was given to him by the late Pope John Paul II who is now to be made a saint. Significantly and not surprisingly he suggested that love should be the most important thing in our lives. He added: "Whenever you see religious people where their faith is more important than love, they've got it the wrong way around. Love is about realising potential and that is what God wants from us. The greatest sadness to me is the waste of human potential."
The following reflection is by Jane Mellett called 'Jesus sends out the 72'

If you asked Pope Francis what was the most important day in his life: his pontifical inauguration or his Baptism, what do you think he would say? Well, the correct answer would be his Baptism. As baptised Christians we are all anointed and sent out into the world. In today's Gospel Jesus sends out the seventy-two ahead of him to all the surrounding towns and villages. In all our different roles in society we too are sent out 'ahead of him' as teachers, parents, ministers of various kinds, politicians, educators, social workers, students, nurses, whatever category we want to put ourselves into. The seventy-two in this passage are told to take nothing with them, no airs or graces, no judgements, no prejudices, just to go as they are and to meet the people where they are at.

We are all responsible for our Church, not just a select few. We all have different roles to play, we all have responsibilities. Instead of wondering what is going to happen in the future and why the 'labourers are so few', remember that Jesus sent out the seventy-two ahead of him and expects us all to play our role as leaders, as workers, as ministers, as people of God working together so that the 'Kingdom of God is very near'.

"Do not be a 'part-time' Christian, at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain choices. Be a Christian at all times!' (Pope Francis)
'My heart is as big as the world' ~Therese Coudrec

There are lots of sporting events taking place this weekend. All eyes will be watching Kilkenny v Tipperary in the hurling later on this evening. Tomorrow it is the Munster Senior Football final in Killarney with Cork playing Kerry and Cork City play West Ham United at Turners Cross later on in the evening. We often say in sport how a particular team plays with great heart and determination. Despite game plans not working out or the opposition faring better, a team can dig in and grind out a result. The same goes with us too. A person who is open to everything in life with great heart usually does very well. Such a person is full of love and makes sure to share it with others. It happens naturally and without fuss. Someone who is cold in their approach to life and who calculate love in terms of cost to themselves will always be catching up. We pray today for a big heart that is open to love, learning, challenges and new possibilities in life.
'When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.' ~Tecumseh

A little story on the importance of thanks. A recent arrival in heaven met St.Peter who showed him around. The two of them passed a number of large buildings full of angels. St.Peter stopped in front of one of them and said to the newcomer, "this is the section for receiving and answering prayers of petition." In this building there seemed to be thousands of angels opening, classifying and answering the enormous volume of petitions which kept being left at the reception area. They then went past a corner and came to a small building something like a rural post office. To his surprise there was only one angel working in this building and didn't seem to have much to do. "This is the section where we receive the prayers of thanksgiving," said St.Peter. "How is it that there is so little work here?" said the newcomer. "You would hardly believe it," Peter replied, "but the percentage of those whose prayers and petitions are answered either forget or never bother to thank God!"
'Every one of us is permeated with the presence of God. The pope does not have it any more than the truck driver or the nurse. Within our own hearts is this same God bursting to life in us.' ~Michael Morwood

God is closer to each of us than we can possibly ever imagine. If we look into our own hearts or into our own lives we will find God. It seems we are sometimes content to look for God elsewhere and end up disappointed. Unfortunately some still see God as one who rewards and punishes. When things go wrong in life the explanation is that God must be testing or punishing them. Some refer to it as carrying a cross or that it must be God's will if some tragedy occurs. Such viewpoints are deeply ingrained in our traditions and are not helpful.

What sort of a God gets a kick out of misfortune? It would make our belief in a loving God absurd and crazy. It would be like pushing water constantly uphill. A pointless exercise! Thankfully Jesus in our Gospels makes it quite clear that God does not punish. God is very much in the here and now and is on our side. God loves us no matter what's going on for us and God is not to be feared.
'Our journey of faith is not simply a journey from the womb to the tomb. It is a journey from here to eternity. It is a journey from God, with God and to God. Even if we think that there is no God and life does not have a meaning, life is a journey of faith. No one can prove that God does not exist and life does not have a meaning. You have to believe it. And that act of faith starts you out on a journey of faith.' ~Rodney Kissinger

Everyone's faith journey is uniquely different. It would be foolish to try and compare ours with others. The one common link are the difficulties we all experience and also the positive and joyful blessings we experience too. We sometimes feel that our journey of faith is at a standstill, rock bottom and struggling. But God is with us there too. We are always held lovingly and especially when we are afraid and fearful. The idea that God can work quietly with the dead ends of our faith experience is encouraging and even exciting. Nothing goes to waste. Even our struggles and moments of doubt are in fact stepping stones. We have nothing to be afraid of.

As we walk our journey of faith, we are encouraged to take heart, to hold our heads up, to know we walk with purpose and that there is a reason why. Most importantly we walk with so many others who also have their questions, doubts and struggles but who also feel that the journey is so worth it. The journey continues to unfold today.
"Do you ever notice that there are 'happy people' peppered throughout the world whom, I have no doubt, are put here for the purpose of lifting spirits as they go about their daily lives? They could be the tea lady in the office, the rural postman on his daily rounds or indeed a DJ on the radio. I like to think I have been blessed by them." ~Francis Brennan

We know well that not everyone is happy and we know some who find it hard to put a smile on their face for many different reasons. We are also blessed to know many people who touch our lives by their smile, their bubbly character, their sense of fun and energy and their positive upbeat approach to life. These people often don't realise what they bring to our lives and our world. But what they do bring is special and our lives would be all the darker without what they bring to us. They are in ways a little outreach of God's care and love in our world.

Are you one of these people? If you are thank you and keep doing what you do naturally. Do you know someone in your life who brings you a smile, keeps you going, gives you a lift when you need it and is someone who makes the world of a difference in your life? If you do count your blessings and if appropriate thank them and tell them so. We say a prayer for them too and ask God to bless the people in our lives who make today special. May they be blessed in their own lives and in everything they do.
'Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.' ~Ann Landers

The 100th Tour De France started on the island of Corsica over the weekend. With a massive media presence and a global tv audience that pulls in millions, preparations were extensive to say the least. But no one could have predicted the end of stage one on Saturday. A bus got caught under the finish line gantry with the peloton just 15 km from the finish. In all the confusion a huge crash took place, bringing down many cyclists. The bus was finally removed when its front tires were deflated with the peloton just 5 km from the finish.

Spiritually there is a little lesson in there for us too. Sometimes like the bus we can get caught and stuck in life. Maybe we work too hard, take on too much, expect too much and then we get stuck, burnt out and don't know what to do. Leaving the air out of the tyres brought the bus back into a manoeuvrable position. Maybe we too need to leave the air out? Can we take things a little easier, work with what we can do, work with less, take time to quieten down, say a prayer or pause for a moment of thanks. Like the air coming out, why not see it as a good thing. Do you feel stuck like the bus? What can you do to let go of something?


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