30 June 2022

'That young Italian's joy has remained with me for 31 years now.' Sunday Reflections, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Madonna and Child

Francisco de Zurbarán [Web Gallery of Art]

For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:12-13, First Reading).

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 [or 10:1-9] (English Standard Version Anglicised: India)  

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.  Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money bag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the labourer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 

["But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."]

Léachtaí i nGaeilge 

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

I have just returned from a week in Lourdes, my first visit in twenty years. I was chaplain to pilgrims mostly from Ireland. They included a mother and daughter from Nigeria living in Dublin and three women originally from Hong Kong where they were at school together and were also members of the Legion of Mary there. Two of them live in England and the other in the USA. They have Zoom meetings regularly where they pray the prayers of the Legion of Mary.

I paid a couple of visits to the baths while in Lourdes. Due to government regulations it is now a different experience from what it used to be. Before, an individual was immersed in a bath, the water flowing from the spring that our Blessed Mother had asked St Bernadette to drink from, a spring that the young girl located only by digging the ground with her hands. There were volunteers from different countries, working in teams, helping those who had difficulties in immersing themselves.

Now there are two volunteers at each bath, only one pilgrim at a time going in. Pilgrims pray silently, then wash their hands with the spring water, drink from their cupped hands and wash their face, praying again before leaving.

While in the baths I recalled a pilgrimage I was on during Easter Week 1971. Our group, all from Ireland, included a number of persons with physical disabilities. One, Tony, also had brain damage, all his injuries the result of a car accident. I accompanied Tony to the baths. I still vividly remember one young Italian man who was part of the team on duty that day in the men's section. He had a smile that conveyed utter joy coming from within his very being, an expression of what Jesus had said to the Apostles the night before he died: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). The Italian and his companions showed the greatest respect to Tony as they lowered him into the water.

That young Italian's joy has remained with me for 31 years now, an abiding blessing or grace from God, as so many apparently insignificant events in our lives are.

The First Reading today is also used on the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (11 February) and that of St Thérèse of Lisieux (1 October). Discovering that after returning from Lourdes was for me a reminder of what I call the thoughtfulness of God. That reading speaks of joy: Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her . . . You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice. The Responsorial Psalm echoes this in its first line, which is also the response: Cry out with joy to God, all the earth. And in the Opening Prayer we pray, fill your faithful with holy joy.

In the longer form of the Gospel we read: The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them . . .  ‘Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

Three years ago the June or July issue of Magnificat, a pocket-sized monthly magazine that is a prayer book and Missal that I highly recommend, has this story of St Justin Martyr who died c.165. He was a philosopher who attached himself to philosophical schools in different places. 

One day, while walking along the beach in Ephesus, Justin met an old man who told him of the teachings of the Hebrew prophets and their fufilment in the person of Jesus Christ. 'My spirit was immediately set on fire,' Justin wrote later.

That young Italian in the baths in Lourdes was to me as the old man St Justin met was to him. But we don't have to go on a pilgrimage to meet such persons. We may meet them on the bus, in the supermarket, while walking in the park. If our hearts are attuned to God's will, especially by walking with our Blessed Mother. She was totally attuned to God's will and was chosen by God from all eternity to bring his Son to the world and to bring all of us to his Son. Guided by her we may find many occasions when we can say, My spirit was immediately set on fire.


Just today, Thursday, The Catholic Thing published an article by Francis X. Maier that shows how someone can be a great blessing to others without being aware of it: Homage to a Good Man.

Calon Lân (A Pure Heart)
Words by Daniel James, tune by John Hughes

I don't ask for a luxurious life,

the world's gold or its fine pearls,

I ask for a happy heart,

an honest heart, a pure heart.

This Welsh hymn is sung on many occasions, including international Rugby matches in Wales. This video was made by BBC Cymru/Wales in the context of the 2014 Six Nations Championship.

And I think that only a pure heart can really Cry out to God with joy.


Traditional Latin Mass

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 7-3-2022 if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 8:18-23Gospel: Luke 5:1-11.

Miraculous Draught of Fishes

1 comment:

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
One never forgets those that radiate Christ's TRUE LOVE!
It lifts up our spirits and feeds our soul.
True wealth in this life is only because of such encounters.
Blessed are those that know and don't need the earthly things.

PS Not many comments on my 'religious' post from last night...