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Homilies - Bishop Brendan Leahy

Feast of St. Munchin's - 3 January 2016


Today is the Feast day of the Patron Saint of the Diocese, St. Munchin. It’s good to have a Patron Saint whose Feast day is at the beginning of the year (and our other, Patron, St. Ita is on the 15th). The saints get in early, as it were, to remind us of important things.

We don’t know a lot about either saint but we do not what they left behind – an example of a life lived for God and their neighbour, so much so that there’s a whole people that follow them – the people of the Diocese of Limerick. There’s a lovely line in Scripture that says that at the end of time, we’ll be able to come before God and say “Look here are the children you gave me”. That can mean our families but also the people we help to be true to themselves, to grow spiritually, to have a true relationship with God and others.

That’s what Sts. Munchin and Ita did. That’s why we remember them. We could put it another way, taking up today’s readings. God wants to pitch his tent among us (and that’s what the Word made flesh means). And to pitch that tent he does his part. But he requires us to do our part. The saints allowed God do his part and they then contributed their part by doing the will of God.

That’s why we remember the saints. Not that we have to imitate them in the details of their lives – they lived in another era. But we have to imitate them in the main thing they did – let God work in them and carry out his plan.

The second reading tells us today that each of us has been created and chosen by God for a particular purpose. John Henry Newman who visited our diocese wrote: “God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.”

To help God pitch his tent in this world, we need to try and carry out his plan, day by day. It’s not so much the big things that matter as the everyday things.

I saw this in the life of a woman whom I knew that died last week. She explained her life as a pendular movement between doing and not doing God’s will in our lives.

I was struck by her observation that you think you are doing fine but then illness intervenes and you have to obey doctors and your strength isn’t up to doing much, and it’s then you discover that maybe what you thought was easy to do – to do God’s will – isn’t so easy! Jesus himself lived this pendular movement – in the agony in the garden, initially, he cried out “not my will but yours be done”. It’s a constant journey, improving, doing a little better each day.

So as we are about to move into a new year let’s recommit ourselves to doing God’s will for us in each moment this coming year. It’ll be our way to prepare also for our Diocesan Synod, the first in 70 years, a very important event in our diocese.