Sunday 17th May 2020
Today is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The Chosen People of God - the Jewish people - experienced many exiles and banishments from their beloved land. They spent over 50 years in Babylon a foreign city in today’s Iraq, away from the Temple in Jerusalem and all that was sacred to them. Their songs, - namely many of their psalms,- sing to us of their despair and hurt e.g. “How much longer will you forget me Lord? For ever” (Psalm 13), They used terms like “forgotten” or “forsaken” in the Book of Lamentations 5:20 “You cannot mean to forget us forever You cannot mean to abandon us for good? (Lamentation 5:20)” Exiles are like a motherless and fatherless children. They are like abandoned vulnerable orphans. There is this theme of rootlessness - people without a home; without a family, without food; and above all with no place to call their own - stretching throughout the Bible. Many people today are living that reality. We think of the refugees fleeing from hardship and pain in their native lands and going to a land that is alien to them - where they once again can suffer deprivation and discrimination. No words can describe the searing hurt they must be undergoing. Many commentators today are comparing our situation like that of being in exile, away from our friends, family and loved ones because of the threat of the coronavirus. We are still in “lockdown!” Many feel deeply the loss of not being able to go to Church to share physically in the act of common worship together. They think of their forefathers and foremothers who despite persecution and oppression gathered in hidden valleys and hills to celebrate Mass secretly. Those were the days when the enemy was very visible but today our enemy is invisible. This dreaded disease, which is so highly contagious, is responsible for countless deaths!
In a time of social distancing, the reception of sacraments has been limited or delayed. Because physical, sacramental rituals are an important way to express faith and connection with God and one another, the absence of them can lead to a feeling of abandonment, or being in exile, similar to the Chosen People or to the apostles after the crucifixion. How can people receive the Spirit without baptism and confirmation? How can we have God within us without regularly receiving the Eucharist? Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is not constrained in the same ways we are. Sacraments connect us to God’s grace in concrete and visible ways, but they are not the only vehicles for grace. Remember that when Jesus promises the Spirit, he does not limit it to baptism or laying on of hands. The Spirit is promised freely as an advocate, a defender and a comforter, who resides within the community whose members love one another. Over the past months, there have been countless stories of love: doctors, nurses and care workers caring for the sick, delivery people ensuring the arrival of goods, agricultural workers producing food, people who stayed at home to save lives. All of these are examples of love. So, in the absence of physical connections and sacramental actions, we are called to trust that the Holy Spirit sustains all of us who love one another. Come Holy Spirit!
Today in the Gospel Jesus promises us His Spirit and declares “the spirit is in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you” (John14:18). There is a little story that I read from a book called 'Your Words are Spirit, and they are Life’ by James Valladares (St. Paul’s 2010)
The Sunday school teacher noticed two new boys in her classroom. Informed that they were brothers, she asked for their names and was duly told them. Then she asked for their dates of birth. The first said: "I was born on 8th April 1976."; and the second added: "I was born on 20th April 1976". This seemed odd so the teacher decided to probe: "Are you sure you are brothers?" "Yes," the two boys answered in unison. She persisted, "But since you are not twins, how can your birthdays be just twelve days apart?" At this they replied, "One of us is adopted." "Ah," said the teacher, "that makes sense. So, which of you is adopted?" The boys looked at each other and then the bolder of the two replied, "We don't know. We asked Dad once, all he said was, 'Sons, always remember this -you are both my sons and will always be equally dear to me; I just don't know which one of you is adopted." - What a marvellous answer!
By baptism and our faith in Christ Jesus, we have become adopted sons and daughters of God. However, in God's eyes there is just no difference and so we are guaranteed of the same inheritance that Jesus Christ made possible. We are God's family! The prophet Isaiah also spoke a word of comfort to those forgotten ones in exile in Babylon. The prophet speaking in the name of God said “Does a woman forget the baby at the breast? Yet even if these forget I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:14)
Every day we are remembering you in our prayers here at the Graan. Thank God we are all keeping well and staying strong. We do miss you and hope that you all stay safe. We recognise that during these days many of us are trying our best to make ends meet. It is a blessing when so many of you are so generous in giving us your financial support. Thank you. You are wonderful people.
Next Sunday is the Feast of the Ascension and World Communications Day. Despite the current pandemic may we continue to communicate joy, hope, encouragement, and love to all we may meet in the coming week. Father Charles C.P.
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Guild Mass Cards: We have Deceased, Mass Bouquets, Get Well, Birthday, Special Occasion, Exam Mass Bouquets which cost £2 / €2.50 each. The Anniversary Masses for Saturday Vigil & Sunday will be celebrated privately by the priests here.
Larry Boyle, Graan Abbey NH & Roslea
Benny Mc Dermott, Roslea
Liam Masterson, Hillview Pk, Enniskillen
Denis Oliver Hughes & Laura Jane Hughes,
Chanterhill Rd, Enniskillen
Shay Curran, Maynooth & Carrigallen
Margaret & Michael Flanagan & their son Michael,
Old Rossorry Park, Enniskillen
& their son-in-law Dr Joe Mc Hale, Strabane
Michael & May Devine, Darling St, Enniskillen