What would you like to search for?

Homilies - Bishop Brendan Leahy

Mass - 2 January 2015 - Monaleen


It’s the first Sunday of the New Year. We are still at a point when we can make resolutions! I’m sure we spent a moment looking back at the past year and looking forward to the coming year.

2015 was certainly marked by fearful scenes on the world stage. We can think of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the tragedies of the plane shot down over the Sinai, the terrible terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Beirut and Paris, and so many lives lost in Syria, Central Africa, Yemen, the Ukraine, to name but a few places. And much of this carried out in the name of God.

On the other hand, as Pope Francis reminded us recently, there have been positive sides of this year – the efforts to bring world leaders together at COP21 in the search for new ways to confront climate change and to protect the earth, our common home. We can also think of two earlier global events: the Addis Ababa Summit for funding sustainable development worldwide and the adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We can think, of course, of the wonderful visits of Pope Francis himself to America, Cuba, Central Africa.

Negatives and positives. What we see played out on the world stage is a reflection of a struggle that we also know in our own personal lives – the struggle to live our lives being true to ourselves, living according to God’s will and not according to our will or whim. And to do God’s will – not in our way but in the way God wants it done.

I met a man recently who told me that he had been far from the church but when his elderly mother got ill, the priest called around and it began a new journey for him. Then last year, he decided he’d go to the Novena and there he felt a new grace – that he could ask God to help him have mercy in his heart for someone who had injured him in life. And he felt this was the big gift he got from God in 2015.

The point is, as the Gospel tells us, the Word became flesh. Wisdom pitched its tent among us. God always wants to be among us. But we have to help him set up the tent, doing our part.

For all of us 2016 is a chance to begin again, be open to what God wants for us. And then try to do our part. I thought of this recently when I reflected on the words 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.

And since this year is the year of mercy, let’s take that as a particular desire God has for us this year. “My plan for you is mercy” this year. Let’s hear the words of Pope Francis: “We too, then, are called to make compassion, love, mercy and solidarity a true way of life, a rule of conduct in our relationships with one another. This requires the conversion of our hearts: the grace of God has to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (cf. Ezek 36:26), open to others in authentic solidarity. For solidarity is much more than a “feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far”.  Solidarity is “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”, because compassion flows from fraternity.