Thursday, 17 April 2014

MY SERMON FOR HOLY THURSDAY

JESUS THE ADDICTED GIVER

There is a TV programme at the moment that is exploring the various addictions that people have.
We are all aware of the common addictions – alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, chocolate etc.
But of course there are all kinds of addictions and some addictions are surprising and exotic.
Hoarding things can be a big addiction. I remember hearing a few years ago of a parish priest in Northern Ireland who had a very unusual and exotic addiction. He was addicted to and a hoarder of milk bottles. He never threw away a milk bottle. When he had finished the milk he washed the bottle and stacked it away in his house. When the poor man died – at a great age – those cleaning out the presbytery had an awful job getting rid of the thousands and thousands of milk bottles – perfectly cleaned and stacked neatly in rows.

Many of us remember the humble milk bottle before the days of the throw away cardboard or plastic cartons. At night we used to put our washed milk bottles out on the porch step for the milk man who came along at 4 or 5 in the morning and left us the new milk for that day. As a child I loved milk bottles and played with them. We had nice milk bottles in Dublin. They were fat and squat and they had a lovely verse on the side which read:

Your milk comes in a bottle;
We can’t bring round the cow;
So please rinse and return them;
As most of you do now.

You are now all asking: “What’s wrong with poor Pat tonight that’s he’s talking about addictions and milk bottles? Has he finally lost the plot? Should we send for the men in the white coats”?

No! No need for that yet. This is Holy Thursday. This is the beginning of the Easter Three Days (Triduum) when we Christians meet to celebrate the life giving death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

On Holy Thursday we celebrate the memory of THE LAST SUPPER when Jesus met with his disciples to break Bread, share the Cup, wash the feet and then go to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, sweat blood and be arrested.
Today I want to talk of the addiction that Jesus had. Jesus was  addicted to GIVING.

At The Last Supper He gave us the priceless gift of His Body and Blood to be our spiritual food on life’s pilgrimage from our cradle to our grave and to celebrate the Memory of Him.

At The Last Supper He gave his disciples the Gift of Love and Service by washing their feet.  

And after the Last Supper He went into the lonely night garden to give Himself over to the Father – to give Himself over to His captors to give Himself over to His Crucifixion for our salvation.

Don’t forget that Jesus GAVE HIMSELF over to death. No one forced Him. In the Scriptures He says: “Just as I have laid down my life – so will I take it up again”.

On Holy Thursday we honour JESUS THE ETERNAL GIVER.
What implications has that for us His followers?

The implication is crystal clear. We too are called to be GIVERS. We too are called to the “mad” addiction of GIVING. The true Christian is primarily a GIVER and not a taker.

In school when they tried to teach us singing they got us to sing: DO – RAY – ME.

And instinctively as children and later as adults we are tempted to be TAKERS – to put ourselves at the centre and sing that childish, instinctive verse – ME - ME – ME.

But the Grace of God in our lives should transform us into GIVERS – HELPLESS GIVERS – ADDICTED GIVERS.

Today we ask ourselves the question: Do I have the same addiction as My Lord. Am I a giver?

When we open our eyes after our death we will be looking into the eyes of Jesus and His eyes will be questioning eyes – asking:

Did you GIVE to the hungry?
Did you GIVE to the thirsty?
Did you GIVE to the naked?
Did you GIVE to the sick?
Did you GIVE to the prisoner?
Did you GIVE your home over to the stranger?

I we can answer “YES” we will be the fortunate ones.

If we answer “NO” what will be our destiny?

Not all nice verses are carved on the sides of milk bottles. Here is one that should be carved into our hearts:

I SOUGHT MY GOD AND MY GOD I COULD NOT SEE.
I SOUGHT MY SOUL AND MY SOUL ELUDED ME.
I SOUGHT MY BROTHER – AND I FOUND ALL THREE.

The places at your table are empty. GO OUT AND FILL THOSE PLACES

+Pat Buckley
Holy Thursday
17th April 2014


9 comments:

  1. Pat - beautiful homily. "Where did this man get all this"?

    I will use it tonight. Hope you don't mind?

    PP D&C

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  2. Pat,

    Nice thoughts. We still miss your sermons here in Kilkeel.

    Thank you also for your care for me at a very vulnerable time in my life.

    VB

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    1. Dear VB,

      Thank you. I remember you and I know that life has gone well for you since those days.

      I loved Kilkeel, Attical and Grange.

      If you are ever through Larne the kettle is always warm.

      Pat

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  3. Bishop,

    I was only a small child when you were in Saint Peter's - the early 1980's I think.

    My granny loved your Masses and sermons and always said that you should have been a missioner - like the priests that came to give the parish missions every year.

    Saint Peter's is now changed so much and no one in the church seems to care about it any more. We could do with even ONE dynamic and people centred priest like you here. And to think this is the cathedral - the model and mother church for the whole diocese.

    Parishioner - St Peter's Desert

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    1. Thank you St Peter's.

      I was there is tough days but the community was strong and caring.

      I know St Peter's is in many ways the "Ugly Sister" of the diocese instread of being a beacon.

      Many in the hierarchy and clergy would wish the cathedral to be elsewhere! - like on the Malone Road.

      They forget what St Peter's was once and could be again if anyone had the vision and desire.

      Thankfully God and His Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of the People and not in the buildings owned by the Modern Day Pharisees.

      God rest your granny and all those people who loved St Peter's with a passion.

      Pat

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  4. Easter Blessings and good wishes to one and all. This day last year I was on a placement at Church of the Saviour Collyhurst, Manchester. I was on a six week placement exploring or should I say revisiting my call to ministry. I was asked to preach. The monday before I had received my laicisation papers from R C Church and the small print said I could not exercise ministry except in danger of death. And the spitefull buggers extended this precept to outside as well as inside the R C Church. This hurt me to the bone and the sermon I gave was the hardest I ever did because of the confusion inside of myself. The one thing I recall is Jesus washing the Disciples feet. (Today the Dean of Manchester is polishing peoples shoes in the city centre). When a person gives their shoes to another in the bible they are showing allegience and giving up control. The task of taking off shoes and washing feet was the task of a servant. The call of Eucharist is to give ourselves in trust to Jesus so that Jesus can give himself back to us in the freedom of the new life of Easter which we are all called to share. This year I am preaching on Low Sunday about the forgiveness of sins. This time I have no hangups The theme is the forgiveness of sins. I will be wearing my authorised lay ministry badge. As for ordained ministry it is waiting to be actioned to the next step on a desk somewhere but the life of Christ is not just for the becollared and is to be celebrated in the present moment be that one of joy or sorrow. Sean

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  5. Sean,

    As I read this I get a sense of great freedom from you. You will always be a Priest and no Canon Lawyer with whatever decree can change this! Exercise your ministry independently from the Roman civil service.

    God Bless you as you continue your journey.

    Brother Priest
    Ireland

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  6. God Bless you too and Thank You Sean

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