Thursday, July 19, 2018

16th Sunday Yr B (Gospel: Mark 6:30-34) The Lord provides

Every so often I come across someone who is very critical of St. Patricks’s College, Maynooth, the seminary I went to and how awful it is, etc. This is usually from things they have heard about it, as opposed to direct experience. Before I began my studies there I heard nothing but bad press as well. However, what I found there was quite different. Essentially Maynooth offered us a pretty good formation or training program, but all they could do was offer it to us. It was completely up to us whether we engaged in it or not. Like anything else, it was far from perfect and there were plenty of problems there too, but that is quite normal. However, the staff there were continually reminding us that our formation (or training) as priests was basically in our own hands.  They could not force us to comply with what they taught and if we decided to just have a great time while we were there, there was not a lot they could do about it. A few guys did have a great time and didn’t take their time there seriously, but inevitably they were the ones who hit a major crisis either just before or just after they were ordained.

While most of us are not going to be in a seminary, but just getting on with our lives wherever we find ourselves, the same holds true of our spiritual life. If I want to grow as a Christian it is essentially in my own hands. God offers us everything we need and more, but it is up to us whether we make use of it or not. It is the Lord himself who guides us, and that’s what today’s readings are all about. Even if the shepherds don’t do their job properly, the Lord is saying that He himself will look after us, and He does.

How does the Lord guide us? Firstly, through the sacred Scriptures, the Bible, which we listen to at every mass. If someone told you that God was going to speak to you if you read a certain book, who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity? That is exactly what the Scriptures are. They are personal letters to us, where God speaks to us and tells us about himself, what our life is about and how He is inviting us to live. That is why we go back to the Scriptures in every mass, to see what God is saying to us. But this is not just meant to be for the mass. We are encouraged to go on reading it all the time ourselves. Do you want to know what God has to say to you? Then read the Scriptures. That is where you will hear God’s word, speaking to you personally. Do you have a Bible; then take it out. If you don’t, then buy one. If you’re not sure where to start, start with the New Testament. Read a chapter of the Gospels each day and just stop and think about it. Every day if you can, spend five or ten minutes reading some of the Bible. You’ll be amazed at how much God has to say. 

Secondly, the Lord teaches us through his Church. It is his teaching, and not just the teaching of a group of people. That is why we to try and live it and take it seriously, because it is what God himself is teaching us. It was what Jesus taught the Apostles and that has been passed on down through the centuries.

Thirdly, He gives us spiritual food and peace through confession so that we can begin again as often as we need to, and above all He gives us his own body and blood in the Eucharist so that we can be intimately united to him in the most extraordinary and intimate way.

It is both sad and strange that so often we come to see these things simply as some kind of obligation, or duty, which we have to put up with, instead of seeing them for the treasures that they are. Everything God has given us is pure gift, to help us. Often we need a reminder of what we have already been given. In different parts of the world, it is illegal to have the Bible and the mass. People go to great lengths to get the Scriptures, even learning off large passages so that they could pass them on. Mass has often had to be celebrated in secret. Sometimes it is only when we hear of these things that we realize how blessed we are to have what we have and to be able to practice our faith freely.   

If you ever find yourself wishing that God would speak to you or help you more, remind yourself of what you have already been given.

The remnant of my flock I myself will gather from all the countries where I have dispersed them, and will bring them back to their pastures.

Friday, July 13, 2018

15th Sunday Yr B (Gospel: Mark 6:7-13) If they do not accept you in any town, shake off the very dust of your feet as a sign to them.

The Irish College, Rome.
As a priest, I often find myself in a position which is very similar to what we hear about in the first reading from the prophet Amos (7:12-15), even though this is 2000 years later. In modern English it might sound something like this: ‘Look Fr. Murchadh go and talk about God somewhere else. We don’t want to hear about it here, we are important people and we are busy with our own lives.’ And I might say, ‘Why don’t you listen to me?! I didn’t choose to do this. God ordered me to go and speak to you, and now you can take it or leave it.’

In one way we priests—and indeed anyone who teaches about the ways of God—are still in the same position today. We are asked to pass on the same message of Christ, regardless of whether people listen to us or not. This is not an easy thing to do, as people often don’t want to hear what we have to say, especially if it’s controversial. There is a big temptation for us, for me, to try to say what people would like to hear, so that people will think well of me, because like anyone else, I want to be accepted by other people too. But that is not what we are called to do by the Lord. 

We are called by the Lord to do a specific job, and that is to tell people about him and his message; to tell people that Jesus is the way to the Father and that because of his death and resurrection forgiveness is offered to us; that He is the way for us to find happiness and that God has made himself known to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

The message that the Lord calls us to preach, often meets with opposition, as it has since the first Prophets began speaking in his name, because that same message challenges us when we are doing wrong and no one likes to be told that they are doing wrong. Most of the Prophets were murdered because of what they said. It is interesting that almost all of them resisted when God called them to go and speak to the people. For the most part their response was, ‘No Lord, please ask someone else. I am not able to do that!’

Depiction of people going to John the Baptist
For me, there was a real sense of being called to be a priest, to be his messenger and that call continues every day. Twice in the last twenty years, I thought I could no longer continue, but again I had a distinct sense of being called to keep going and God gave me the strength to persevere. Many of the characters in the Bible were the same. The prophet Elijah, after working an extraordinary miracle, then has a death threat against him. He flees into the desert, sits down under a tree and says, ‘Lord, take my life, I am no better than my ancestors’ (1Kg 19:4). In other words, ‘I wish I was dead. I have had enough of this!’ It says that he lay down and went to sleep, but then an angel woke him and told him to eat the food that was there, as he would need it for the journey. God doesn’t let him off the hook, but pushes him to keep going.

The prophet Jeremiah complains that all he is getting for his preaching is abuse. He says that he tried to resist, but couldn’t.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot (Jer 20:9).

God’s response is not to say, ‘Poor Jeremiah, you are having a bad day. Take some time off and you’ll be ok.’ No, the Lord pushes him to be strong and keep going.

(Far right) Fr. Ragheed Ganni, martyr, killed in Iraq 2007

In the last six years in Mexico, twenty-five priests were murdered. It’s not sure exactly why, but it is probably because they were speaking out against the terrible violence and corruption that exists, largely because of the drug Cartels. Preaching God’s word is not always popular, but that is what He asks us to do. I personally know two priests who were murdered: Fr. Ragheed Ganni (1972-2007) in Iraq for continuing to keep the church open and celebrate mass. He was continually warned by extremists to close the church, but he wouldn’t and so they ambushed him after mass and shot him along with three deacons. The other man I know, Bishop Michael Courtney (1945-2003), was working in Burundi, Africa, to bring about peace between two warring tribes. He was also ambushed and shot. That’s pretty-much what they did with the prophets too. If they didn’t like what they were hearing, they killed them.

So, pray for us priests that we will have the courage to do what the Lord calls us to do. Help us to be strong in our faith. It is not our place to preach our opinions, but to preach the Word of God. Our opinions will not help or nourish you, but the Word of God will. What we say should challenge you, because the voice of the Lord is a very challenging one. Hearing about all those priests and prophets who were killed might seem bleak, but it is really a sign of how powerful God’s word is and how much we need to listen to what God is saying to us.

Perhaps it seems like I’m preaching to the converted, but I believe that if we really want to grow in our faith, then we need to continually re-decide to follow Jesus Christ. The world around us may not agree with us, or like the way we live, but it has always been like that. Many people today are deciding not to be Christian anymore, sometimes consciously, sometimes through indifference. But the Lord is very strong in the Gospels about indifference. He demands a decision from us. 

If any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.

Friday, July 6, 2018

14th Sunday, Year B (Gospel: Mark 6:1-6) Our weaknesses can help us

A few years back I was talking to a man who was telling me about himself. He said that most things in his life were fine, except for one thing. He had a terrible temper, which was so frustrating and he said, ‘If only I didn’t have this temper, everything would be perfect.’ I couldn’t help thinking that this weakness which was so frustrating to him, was probably also one of the things that helped him to stay close to God. If we thought we were perfect we would probably also think that we had no need for God. It is also true that when we are not aware of our weaknesses that we can become terribly arrogant.

There is a priest known simply as Brother Andrew, who co-founded the Brothers part of the Missionaries of Charity with Mother Teresa. In one of his books about his experiences, he begins by saying: ‘Few people would believe the weakness on which the Missionaries of Charity are built.’ He speaks a lot about his own weakness, although he doesn’t say exactly what it was, but that he suffered from some kind of addiction. But this weakness, which frustrated him so much, was also one of the things that made him holy. He doesn’t say that, but you can see it from his writings. The reason why God did such great work through him, through Mother Teresa and through so many others, was not because they were extraordinarily talented, but because they were aware of how weak they were and so they totally relied on God for everything.

The reason why God was able to do such wonderful things through the saints, is not because they were perfect, but because they were weak people who continually turned to God and so God was able to use them in an extraordinary way. It is very easy to get a false impression of what a holy person is. Books can often give us the impression that they were people who did no wrong. The truth is that saints were and are weak people, with just as many weaknesses as any of us, but they continually turned to God for help and as a result God was able to work through them in such an amazing way. To understand that, is absolutely key to growing in the spiritual life. If the saints were perfect people who never did any wrong, then very few of us could relate to them. But if they were weak people just like any of us—which they were—then not only can we relate to them, but it should help us to see that the exact same path is open to us, because it doesn’t depend on us being good enough, rather it depends on us continually turning to God.  That is the key.
There is no one here who doesn’t have weaknesses of one kind or another. It could be some kind of addiction, it could be a need to control, an emotional dependency, whatever. We all have something and as you well know it can be extremely frustrating.

I find it comforting to think that two thousand years ago, St. Paul was writing about the exact same thing (See today's second reading 2 Cor 12:7-10). Paul was a very intelligent man, well educated and obviously very talented and even though he had visions of Jesus which converted him and then he went and preached everywhere and worked many miracles, he too suffered from some kind of weakness, although he doesn’t say what it was. But in this second reading you can hear his frustration as he says that three times he asked God to take this thing away from him, and three times God said ‘No, my strength is at its best in weakness.’ This weakness, whatever it was, obviously helped him more than he realised. It kept him humble, which meant that he continually needed to turn to the Lord and ask for his help and that is why he and so many other men and women throughout the ages were such powerful instruments in God’s hands, because they relied totally on God and not on themselves. The Lord left them under no illusions as to their own weakness. 

I have no doubt that all of us probably feel we would be much better off if only we could overcome our weaknesses. But perhaps these readings will help us to see that the Lord knows what He is doing when He allows us to struggle with them. They are frustrating, yes, but they can also be a gift in the sense that they make us rely on the power of God more than on ourselves. It also reminds us that it is not a question of being ‘good enough’ for God. We will never be good enough, but that doesn’t matter. As long as we know that we are weak, then we will see that we have someone to turn to who really can and will help us. God is not put off by our weakness.
So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me.

Friday, June 29, 2018

13th Sunday Year B (Gospel: Mark 5:21-43) God created us for life

Not long after I was ordained, I was working as a hospital chaplain. I remember coming across a young girl of about 12 who was very sick. She was in the hospital several times and she eventually died. I can still see her pale dead body in the intensive care room and her poor parents who were completely devastated. I remember feeling so helpless as a chaplain. I have often prayed for them since. Every time I read today's Gospel I think of that little girl and her parents. 

An event like that always brings up the most difficult questions. Why does God allow these things to happen? Why didn’t God heal her? The readings today give us some interesting things to think about in regard to this. First of all death was not something that God wanted for us. And although it is now a part of our earthly existence, it is only a stage of transformation, a doorway to another stage of our life with God. 

The way that Jesus dealt with sickness and death also has a lot to teach us. Since Jesus was able to heal people and even bring people back from the dead, as he did on a few occasions, why did he always want people to be quiet about it? In this Gospel he only brought three of his disciples with him and when he got to the house he made as if the girl was not dead at all. Then he asked the family to keep the whole event quiet. Why? You would think that it would be in his favour if people knew and that He would have more respect and that people would listen to him. Perhaps it was because his primary role was not about healing people physically, even though he had great compassion for people who were sick. However, his main role involved three things: To sacrifice himself for us for the forgiveness of sins, so that we might have eternal life with God when we die. Second, to show us that God is with us in our sufferings. Jesus freely accepting death on a cross showed us this.Third, to teach us about God and what our life is all about. 

Jesus wanted to teach us that God is not interested in condemning us, or ‘catching us out,’ rather that God has made us to be with him and that God will make that happen if we allow him to. During our time on earth God is gradually transforming us and helping us to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. The teachings that Jesus left us with are the path which leads us through this gradual transformation, so that we become more like God all the time. Jesus is saying, ‘If you want to be transformed inside, then live the way that I am showing you. Spend your life loving and serving the people around you. Don’t always put yourself first and don’t spend your whole life trying to store up a wealth that will disappear the day you die.’ If we get too focused on the world around us, we will miss what our life is really about.

It is tempting to think that that kind of life is only for a few people and that our own life is too difficult or too demanding to be like that; but that is not true. If it was not possible to live this way of life, then Jesus would not have taught us about it. The truth is that all of us are given endless opportunities to live the way Jesus taught us, because we are all the time being faced with difficult situations where we continually have to make a choice for good or evil. All of these choices are shaping us and making us into better or worse people. The good thing is that even if we have made a mess of many of the choices we’ve been given, God keeps giving us more, because God wants us to grow into the kind of people that He knows we can become. It is the ordinary struggles that we are faced with every day which are shaping us.

Often at funerals I hear people speaking about the person who has died as if they are gone forever, their existence extinguished, nothing else. But to see it that way is to completely miss the point of what our faith teaches us. What Jesus has taught us is that while we are on earth we are all the time preparing for the world to come, something which is unimaginably wonderful. If we really believe that then we can quietly be happy for those who have gone before us, because they have already reached it, at least if they have chosen it by the way they live. We too have to choose it by the way we live. However, knowing that something wonderful awaits us should give us both a comfort and a hope for those who have died. Sooner or later we will also be there. For now we do our best to try and live as best we can, to continually choose good over evil and to live as God asks us to.

He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Feast of John the Baptist (Gospel: Luke 1: 57-66, 80) Standing up for what is right

On Father’s Day (June 17), the First Lady, Melania Trump, said the following: ‘We need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.’ I give her great credit for coming out so strongly in the face of all the politicians. Several of the other former First Ladies came out too. It is very easy to get so fixed on the law, that we forget what the laws are for, which is ultimately to serve the people. It takes courage to stand up like that, but sometimes that is exactly what is needed. ‘We need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.’

In the Gospels there is an account of Jesus being confronted by the Pharisees who were obsessed with living the Law perfectly. They complained to him that his disciples were breaking the Law by eating grain as they walked through fields, on the Sabbath. Their intention of keeping the Law exactly was good, but they had also begun to lose sight of humanity. There was no room for the human being. Jesus responded by saying, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ (Mk 2:27). The laws are there to help us, not enslave us.

It is the same with our faith. If the laws of our faith begin to enslave us, then they are no longer serving their purpose. Jesus also said about the Pharisees, ‘They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other peoples shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them’ (Matthew 23:4). I think in many cases we (the Church) can still be accused of this. It is easy to make moral demands of people, but we must also help people to live these demands and it is always a fine balance.

Today we celebrate the feast of John the Baptist. Jesus said an extraordinary thing about him. He said, ‘I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he’ (Luke 7:28). That’s a pretty powerful thing to say about anyone. John challenged king Herod directly, because Herod had married his brother’s wife. He said, ‘What you are doing is wrong’ and guess what, he was arrested and later out of jealousy, beheaded. It is never easy to stand up for the truth. Martin Luther King did it. Gandhi did it and so many others throughout the ages.

If John were here today, I wonder what he would say to us? ‘Why do you keep suing each other? Have compassion for those who are struggling. Show mercy. Be content with what you have.’ I would almost be afraid of what he might say to me as a priest!

There is always a balance to be found. It is much easier to make hard laws and then tell people to figure it out. But God challenges us not to take the easy way out, because we are better than that. Making good laws is often a lot more difficult, but it is always important, because the laws are there to help us and to serve us as human beings.

I want to finish with this prayer which you have probably heard me read before. At the moment it is so easy to despair of all the evil that is around us in the world. When I find myself starting to lose hope, or build a wall around myself, I think of this prayer:


From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan,
the children’s home in Calcutta.

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good people will accuse you, of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do, will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spent years building, may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help, but may attack you if you help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

We need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.’ – Melania Trump

Saturday, June 16, 2018

11th Sunday Year B (Gospel: Mark 4:26-34) Those who dedicated their lives to God

Remains of Clonmacnoise monastery (544-1552)
For the last two weeks I was in Ireland catching up with family and friends. For the second week, three dear friends of mine, a couple and their 13-year-old son, came over and we travelled around the country. I always enjoy people visiting because it makes me go to places that otherwise I usually wouldn’t bother to go to. Two places in particular which we visited, are worth mentioning. The first was the remains of a monastery called Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon. This monastery was active for over 1,000 years! It was eventually wiped out during a time of religious persecution, but the idea that there were monks there for over 1,000 years is amazing. It became a very important center of culture and learning.

Another place we visited is called Skellig Michael. It has recently become famous because they filmed much of the last Star Wars movie there. Skellig Michael is a small island, or large rock, 7 miles into the Atlantic off the south west coast of Ireland. Over 1,200 years ago monks built a small monastery on the top of this rock. It is hard to imagine what the conditions there must have been like in winter. Today, unless the weather is very good, they cannot land the boats there, because of the swell from the Atlantic. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to live there.

Skellig Michael on the right

Part of the monastery
Why do I mention these places? It’s not just to tell you about my vacation. I always find it very inspiring to visit monasteries like these, because they are a reminder to me of the thousands of men and women throughout the ages who have dedicated their lives to God. The fact that people would do that tells us that God’s Spirit is and has been at work always, inspiring people, giving people extraordinary courage to dedicate their whole lives to him. Whenever I find myself in places like that I always try to say a prayer to the people who lived and prayed there, asking for their intercession. They too struggled as we do, had questions about their faith, as we do and probably wondered sometimes if they were crazy, just as we do. But God inspired them enough that they were willing to sacrifice everything, in order to live for him. They understood that there is nothing more important than our life in God. Apart from God our lives are meaningless.

But all that kind of thing is all in the past, right? Certainly not. Two other places we visited were active monasteries. One is a Benedictine monastery where my brother is now a monk. They have about 30 monks there, of all ages. We also visited two good friends of mine in the Poor Clare convent in Galway. They are enclosed sisters, dedicating their whole lives to prayer for all of us. They are both about 5 years older than me. God continues to inspire people to follow him in many different ways and it is good to be reminded of that. God is as alive and active in the world now as ever.

Poor Clares, Galway.
Most people are not called to Religious life. In fact, only a tiny percentage of people are. But all of us are called by God, inspired by God and spoken to by God, all the time. Our response to God is just as important as the monks and nuns throughout the ages. We live out that same calling in different ways. For most people it will be in married or single life. You will not be able to give the same amount of time to prayer and studying the Scriptures as those of us in Religious life, but then you are not supposed to. Each of us lives out our relationship with the Lord according to our circumstances, but it is always possible and can be just as alive for parents trying to raise a family as it is for a monk in a monastery 7 miles out to sea off the west coast of Ireland. Our relationship with the Lord is real, but like any relationship we also have to work at it, or it ceases to exist. No relationship with someone you love will grow if you completely ignore, or hardly acknowledge them. A relationship needs our time and energy if it is to be alive. Our relationship with God is exactly the same.

When we die, so many of the earthly things we give so much time to, will disappear into insignificance. The only thing that will matter then, is how we loved and served the people around us. If we try to keep our relationship with God alive, it helps us not to forget what is truly important.

All the monks who were in those ruined monasteries I visited, are now gone to God. They struggled just as we do. Now it is our turn, until we too are called home to be with God.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Feast of the Holy Trinity, Year B (Gospel: Matthew 28: 16-20) Invited into the life of God

We believe that God was completely fulfilled, perfectly happy and content, not in need of anything, before God created the universe and the human race. Wouldn’t it make you wonder why God bothered to create us at all, since we have proved to be so much trouble?  And God knew about all the trouble that it was going to cause. So why did God create us?
Here is how it makes some sense to me. Think for a moment of some time when you were deeply happy about something: a wedding, a birthday, the birth of a child. Our instinct is to share it. We want others to be a part of that happiness and so we celebrate these times of happiness. That is one way to understand why God created us, simply because in his goodness He wanted others to share in his own happiness. And so he created the spirit world, that we understand as the angels and then He created the human race, in order that we could share in his happiness. The book of Genesis says that we were the last thing that God created, which is a biblical way of saying that we were the most important thing, the masterpiece of God’s creation. We are God’s greatest creation! God also created us to be like him, with the ability to love and reason and above all with free will.

However, there was one ‘catch’ as it were. In order for us to be able to love God we had to be free, so that we could freely choose to love God, otherwise it wouldn’t be real love at all. Real love has to be free, since you can never force someone to love you. You can encourage them, but you certainly can’t force them. Love has to be free or it isn’t love. So God made us free which meant that we would have the freedom to love God and gradually find our way to happiness, or to reject God which would ultimately mean we would lose the happiness that God had intended for us. It’s a strange paradox. God created us and gave us freedom, even though He knew that some of his own creatures would reject him.  

A friend of mine, a very devout Catholic, after he was married and had children, said to me one time that when he looks at his children he couldn’t believe that God who is so loving would let people go to hell, that God would create hell. How could any parent allow their children deliberately to suffer? But the paradox is that no matter how much we love our children, we cannot force them to love us back. You know the pain of falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, or pushes you away. Hell is the pain that people who reject God end up with, because they reject the only one who can give us total fulfillment. If you push away total happiness, you get total misery. If you reject all joy, then you end up with all pain. That’s what hell is: losing all that can fulfill us and bring us joy. God doesn’t send us to hell. We choose it if we reject God. If we have real freedom then hell must also be real. If heaven is guaranteed for everyone, then we are not truly free, because to be truly free means we have the choice to love or not to love.

The image of the above icon above, is a very famous one painted in the 15th century by Andrei Rublev. Icons are not just paintings, they are meant to be a window into the other world. There is a whole ritual of prayer that goes into creating one and everything in the icon has a meaning. I just want to mention a few things in this image which I think are beautiful. In the Old Testament there is the story of Abraham making his journey, when three men suddenly appear to him. They are angels and he realizes after talking to them that he is talking to God. They can be understood as representing the Trinity. The colors of the three figures tell us something. On the left is the image of the Father. He wears the color of gold, but it seems to be changing into different colors. No one can know the face of God. The Father is pointing to, or blessing, the Son who is in the center. He is wearing a dark cloak, the color of earth and a bright blue cloak the  color of heaven. Jesus unites heaven and earth by his death and resurrection. He is fully human and fully divine. Jesus is pointing to the Spirit on the right. He is wearing light blue of the sky and light green of the ocean. The Spirit is the who brings order to the Father’s creation of heaven and earth. Each is pointing to the right in a circle. But the most interesting part of the icon is the space at the front. That is the space that is kept for us. God invites us to be part of his life. Our ultimate goal is to be united with God in heaven and the house in the top left, is the symbol of the Father’s house where there is a place for us. We are invited to be part of the circle. The image is also telling us that God is with us on our journey, symbolized by the staffs they are holding which is long and tiring. So we rest with God and we also share the Eucharist to give us strength. The Eucharist is represented by the bowl in the center of the table, which contains the lamb. We are invited to be part of God’s life and God is with us every step of the way.

The Lord knows how difficult it can be for us to make the right choices and so He gives us people to guide us, the commandments, the teaching of his Church, his own Word in the bible and many other things to help us along the way, so that we won’t be short of the direction and encouragement that we need.  He also sends us holy people every so often, like Francis of Assisi, Padre Pio, Therese of Lisieux, Mother Theresa, Pope Francis and many others, often people we know, because they radiate God and they are a real sign to us of the Lord’s presence among us. These people seem to radiate God and so many people are drawn to them because they sense that presence. That is why God sends us particular chosen souls every so often, to inspire us and remind us that we are not alone. I know of several people who worked with Mother Theresa and it completely changed their life, because they met God through her.

The feast of the Holy Trinity is a celebration of love; the Trinity is a community of Persons who share total love and joy between them, and this Holy Trinity reaches out to us with that same love and invites us to join them. If we respond to the Father, the Son and the Spirit, then we are gradually drawn more and more into that love. It starts in this world and it will be fulfilled in the next. The greatest way that we imitate God is by loving the people around us, sacrificing ourselves for others. That is what God did for us and that is what God invites us to do for each other.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
So that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.