“..do we really need to go to Mass each & every Sunday & each & every Holyday of Obligation? “ ..a similar dispute in early Church 2000yrs ago,described in 1st reading, wrestles with that dilemma..it isn’t a problem it is an opportunity.. an opportunity to think why we come to Mass & why we feel the need to come to Mass, hopefully not out of obligation or duty, but out of need & appetite..
“..unless you [ come to Church on Sundays ] you cannot be saved..” ; Lord have mercy “..after a long argument it was decided to discuss the problem” to discuss together not to talk at one another.. ; Christ have mercy “..some of our members have disturbed you with their demands & unsettled your minds.. [ & consciences ]” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..a love letter recorded by John, spoken by Jesus, to you & me..he wants/needs to leave us his divine will & testament before he withdraws/ascends back to Heaven this Thursday, feast of the Ascension, a Holyday of Obligation..”I am going away & I shall return; I have said these things to you while still with you” how many times have we heard grief & sadness from within family week after death of their beloved “if only I had known earlier I could have told them this, or asked them that, & now it is too late” “I have said these things to you while still with you” how many times each day do you tell your divine beloved companion God how much you love him? how many thousand times each day does he think of you? each thought divine thought of you is his prayer of care & pride, his ongoing presence not just with you but in you..”peace I bequeath you, my own peace I give you,a peace the world cannot give; this is my gift to you” remember Mother Teresa when receiving Nobel Prize for World Peace in front of all world’s leaders was asked if she, a frail elderly nun, would give them a word of advice in their quest for peace..she smiled & said “go home & love your family” remember me telling you?..& didn’t I say to you gently “tell person you love most the three key words three times a day, & tell me in three months time how much your life & theirs has changed”..remember?..& did you?..& has it?..it is faith by immersion not a face wash or hand rinse..quick finger into holy water stoop as you came into Church an unthinking gesture, one step from superstititon..faith & peace-making is a journey of a lifetime for a lifetime, peace in progress always in process of becoming more so..if you only hear words on page this evg/morning it’s no wonder it dries off by time you leave in 25mins time..its essence in John’s gospel would have fitted wonderfully a fortnight ago Vocations Sunday..”you did not choose me, I chose you, I commissioned you to go out & bear fruit, fruit that will last” co-missioned to work & pray alongside Jesus, him & you; a divine partnership & he chose you..your finger print your heartbeat unique, no one else’s like yours, your divine identity known needed & everlastingly valid..the making of that relationship includes needs the choppy moments, family breakdowns & crises; every Easter morning needs entails a Gethsemane & a Good Friday..the betrayal denial despair & grief..& then,only then, the Resurrection..I have spoken before of Fergal Keane BBC Africa correspondent..his Catholicity evident in his immersion into atrocities he visits months after ceasefire & in a fragile peace, to feel the Gethsemane, challenging us not just to watch & mourn but to become divine partners in prayer co-missioners with him in making a peace the world cannot give..his skill is our skill, he engages through empathy not sympathy..empathy; to have been there in his own life to have got the t shirt & thereby to be knowledgeable experienced & believable..in Dec 1975 Fergal wrote to his father who had died 5yrs earlier.. “behind the bedroom door you are sleeping. I can hear your snores rattling down the stairs to our ruined sitting room. Here among the broken chairs, the overturned Christmas tree, we are preparing to leave you. We are breaking away from you, Da. Last night you crashed through the silence, dead drunk, spinning in your own wild orbit into another year of dreams. This would be the year of the big break, of Hollywood you said. Oh my actor father, time was we swallowed those lines but no longer. Before leaving I look into the bedroom to where your hand droops out from under the covers, below it the small empty Powers’ bottle, & I say goodbye. At 7am on New Years Day we push the old Ford Anglia down the driveway, my mother brother & I. We push because the engine might wake you, & none of us can face a farewell scene. The day I turned twelve, which was four days later, you called to say happy birthday. You were, as I remember, halfway sober but you didn’t say much, except to ask for my mother who would not come to the phone. In the background I could hear glasses clinking voices raised & you said “tell her I love her” & then the change ran out, & I began to understand what made love the saddest word in any language. Christmas that year you had access to the children. We met in Cork station. I remember your new suit, the money you pressed into our hands & your embarrassed embrace. There was a taxi ride home, we children in the back, you in the front., & what lives with me still, always, is the moment of leave-taking Christmas 1972, because as car drove you away from our lives, I saw through the steamed-up windows that your eyes had become waterfalls. I was too young to understand what you knew, that we were lost to you, broken away. Down the years we struggled to find one another, but I was growing up & away, & you were drifting closer to darkness…& in the end I gave up writing, gave up calling, gave up ..until one night my cousin called to say you were gone. It was a few days into the New Year, & your heart simply gave up in a small room in the town in north Kerry where you were born. I remember that you sent me the collected works of Raymond Carver for Christmas. I had sent you nothing, not even a card. Now I would send you a thousand, but I have no address.” ..his story is our story..a love letter, a step on the journey of a lifetime from Gethsemane towards the Easter garden when Fergal Keane will meet again, & for the first time, Eamon Patrick Keane, when their divine fingerprints & heartbeats will match with those of their divine commissioner himself..when in words of another wise writer of spirituality “I would call that the mercy of fathers, when the love that lies in them deeply like the glittering face of a well is betrayed by an emergency, & the child sees at last that he is loved, loved & needed, & not to be lived without, & greatly”.. “ you did not choose me, no I chose you; I co-mmissioned you to go out & to bear fruit, fruit that will last..” ..go out ”go home & love your family..” [ 6thSun Easter Yr C ; Jn 15;9-17]