Monday, 25 December 2017

PAT'S CHRISTMAS HOMILY


THE ORATORY - BEFORE CHRISTMAS VIGIL MASS


When I first came to Northern Ireland 39 years ago the journey from Belfast to Dublin by car took some four or five hours.

It was a journey through numerous towns and villages with hundreds of stops at traffic lights, pedestrian crosses and also involved dozens of traffic jams.

Today you drive from Belfast to Dublin in far less than two hours.

So that is a journey that has been transformed.

But of course, it is still a journey - and journies are a fact of life. 

Each of our lives is a journey - a big journey that involves very many mini journies.

At Christmas, we Christians gather to recall and celebrate and honour the journey of Jesus - God made Man.

His journey began on a wooden manger in Bethlehem - continued with a creative wooden journey in Nazareth and ended with a journey to die on wood at Calvary.

That journey involved many human pleasures:

- The love between him, Mary and Joseph and his "brethren".

- The joy of His creativity.

- The loving companionship of women like The Magdala and men like John the Beloved.

- Visits to the great city of Jerusalem.

- Wedding celebrations at places like Cana with their meals and drinks.

- Thirty years of family life.

- Prayers in synagogues and temples.

But His journey had its sufferings too:

- Rejection and false accusations.

- Betrayal by family and friends.

- Condemnation by civil and religious leaders.

- Fear, panic, and anxiety.

- Arrest, prosecution, false trials, beatings, mockings and finally a death sentence.


THE NATIVITY FEATURE AT THE ORATORY



All of us here tonight have journeyed through 2017 with its joys and sorrows, its rewards and challenges.

Since last Christmas:

- I lost my closest sister Margaret at 63 years of age.

- I lost old faithful friends like Victor Hamilton and Monsignor John Shine.

- I lost Shebs my pet of 17 years.


At The Oratory, we lost our very long-standing friend Kate.

Eileen repatriated her two sons from England who had died as young men.

D lost several members of his family.

Our friend D & D lost their beloved pet of 10 and a half years. The other day her ashes came home in a little casket.

Many others here have had their various losses and trials.

Of course, we also acknowledge all the joys and pleasures we experienced in 2017 - our homes, our families, our holidays etc.


And as we gather here today with the Man who journeyed from Bethlehem to Calvary on our behalf we join the joys and sorrows of our journies with the joys and sorrows of His journey.

We want to acknowledge LOUDLY and PUBLICLY that we could not have endured or survived our journies without the strength and grace of His journey.

And we acknowledge that in our current and future journies that this Man will be walking with us hand in hand. 


In today's world Christmas has become no noisy - so materialistic and so expensive and chaotic.

I personally do not understand how those who have no CHRIST in CHRIST-MASS manage to cope.

Even the wild birds in the garden wonder how they cope

"Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
I should really like to know;
Why these anxious human beings,
Rush about and worry so?

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
Friend, I think that it must be;
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me"

Tonight, here at The Oratory, we thank God for all his gifts:

- the Gift of Life.

- the Gift of Faith.

- the Gift of Family and Friends.

- the gift of Health.

Remembering........................

That ALL these GIFTS derive from the Man who began His human journey in obscure Bethlehem;

All those many years ago.


THE RISEN CHRIST AT THE ORATORY








29 comments:

  1. Bishop Pat I love your pictures and homily. So simple. I wish I was near you to worship with you and you community. Every blessing xx

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  2. The Bp of Leeds, Marcus Stock, is not unlike, in appearance, the former Dean of Belfast.

    Poor Hugh. He would have so loved to have been a bishop. 

    It is said, that Big Lily, with a few drinks taken, can sometimes be heard pacing Prince Albert, plaintively calling his name - “Deeeeean! Deeeeeeean!”

    So how was your Midnight Eucharist, Bishop Pat? I hear there were queues, far down Princess Gdns, of folk seeking admittance?

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    1. No we did not have queues. But we had a quality full house.

      Our Mass was very simple and beautiful and people were helped and healed.

      Thank the Lord for simplicity and authenticity.

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    2. Talking about crowds, St Peter's Square was half empty for the Urbi et Orbi this morning. That must be annoying for this Pope, who craves attention.

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  3. An inspiring homily, Bishop Pat.

    I, too, wonder how those without awareness of Christ in their lives (and without absolute trust and confidence in his unfailing help) manage to cope. Perhaps those that do have never had life's rug swept from under their feet. In a way, they are fortunate if they haven't; but in another way, they aren't, for such de profundis moments are, paradoxically, unparalled times for encountering the risen Christ.

    Anywsy, merry Christmas to you, and to all your blog readers.

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  4. My "journey " Pat is one of recognising my existence as an insignificant result of events in a timeless often random progression where time and space have no boundaries and matter without parameters endlessly reconstitutes in combinations often incomprehensible and unquantifiable to our limited human understanding.
    So I note your inability to understand how those with no Christ in Christmas manage to cope. But I can reassure you that I and other humanists I know cope very well, for 25th Dec, well it's just another day in the human measurement of timelessness.
    A peacefully stress free holiday and New Year to you all.
    MMM

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    1. Thank you MMM.

      I do respect your position.

      In fact I think it takes a lot of strength to live as you, very honestly, do.

      Maybe I am the weak one?

      I hope you enjoy the 25th and have a little dram.

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    2. MMM, while I come from a deeply Catholic faith tradition and community, I know I could never cope with the vagaries and uncertainties of life, I respect every other viewpoint. I certainly find strength, comfort, hope and meaning in my faith, but I also know many who are equally fulfilled and contented and live meaningful lives without a faith perspective. That is why I believe we should all respect one another irrespective of faith, non faith, humanist, atheist, Christian, Hindu background...etc...There is something good in all viewpoints and understanding of life and our world. I, however, value my Christian faith and the vision it gives me. Enjoy your day.

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    3. Thank you 10:54. And if more had your perspective, tolerance and understanding, what a more peaceful world we would have.
      MMM

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  5. It made nice reading this morning. Happy Christmas.

    (Mind, the plural of journey is journeys, like the plural of donkey is donkeys.)

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  6. Christmas calm after the storm. 4 Christmas Eucharists in two churches yesterday. Felt a bit like an assembly line but good people every one. Small congregations. Quite a few elderly but the odd child brought a glimmer of hope. Im working this afternoon. God's blessing to one and all. May 2018 be a time of prosperity and peace.

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  7. Nice, thoughtful homily Pat, clever connection between the wood of the manger and the cross.

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  8. Lovely photo Pat, happy holidays you forgot to mention the most important person...Santa...how could you?
    Good wishes to Magna MMM and Sean, love your inputs.

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    1. Thank you, 10:36.

      And my highest wishes to you for the season.

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  9. My spatial awareness becomes less as I age Magna ��

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  10. What’s that Archbishop in Australia on about now in his Christmas message?

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  11. Nadolig Llawen i Esgob Pat a'i holl ddarllenwyr.

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    Replies
    1. Are you fluent in Welsh, Bishop P.?

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    2. No just picked up a bit when I was in parishes there 1976 to 1978.

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  12. Happy Christmas P at and to all bloggers. Have a great day.

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  13. Happy Christmas everyone and happy birthday Jesus that's what it is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus with friends and family over ur Christmas dinner as well as opening gifts that's Santa's been good to bring...for some people Christmas can be a sad lonely time of year,and it's for those wee hve to think about too,it can also be a greedy selfish time of year where really it should be about goodwill to all men,Happy Christmas everyone....

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  14. Happy Christmas everyone and happy birthday Jesus that's what it is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus with friends and family over ur Christmas dinner as well as opening gifts that's Santa's been good to bring...for some people Christmas can be a sad lonely time of year,and it's for those wee hve to think about too,it can also be a greedy selfish time of year where really it should be about goodwill to all men,Happy Christmas everyone....

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  15. I hope you had a lovely day... and have a nice Christmas cracker in store for your readers soon.

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  16. Merry Christmas from the Archdiocese of Glesgay +Pat. Keep up good work.

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