This cartoon is doing the rounds in the US
The Irish Times:
Pope Benedict would visit Ireland “soon rather than later” and was “actively considering” an invitation from the Irish Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.
Dr Martin also said, however, that the Irish Church was not ready for a papal visit.
Speaking on RTÉ radio today, in advance of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which takes place in Dublin in June, he said the pope had been invited.
“We haven’t got a response. He did say to me that he would be open to coming but he said, and this I agree with, that his coming would have to fit into the overall timetable of the renewal of the Church in Ireland.
“Short-circuiting that programme wouldn’t bring the benefits that a papal visit would bring and I am not sure that we are at that stage yet.”
He said in the wake of the sexual, emotional and physical abuse scandals in Catholic-run institutions and the subsequent fall in Mass attendances, the Church here was in need of radical renewal and reform. This process would have to be further progressed before a papal visit would be of significant benefit.
“We have to see and understand ourselves where we want to go with the Catholic Church. I think a papal visit will only have a significance when many of these issues of our past are fully addressed.”
Asked when the pope might visit, Dr Martin said he didn’t know, “but I would say soon rather than later. When Pope John Paul came to Ireland the notice was very, very limited…
Just take a few moments and meditate on this picture. With all the overwhelming evil in our world right now, do not forget that God’s Almighty Hand is still in control. He could have called down ten thousand angels, but He submitted to the will of His Father. His Son bore our transgressions to the cross so that we might be raised to new life. He’s still in control in the midst of this apparent domination of evil. Even so, Lord Jesus, come!
[The lessons are here]
Jesus the healer. In the Gospel lesson today we are given a glimpse into the life of Jesus as He goes about healing everyone who came to him to be healed:
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many…’ (Mark 1:32:33).
Not once do we see Jesus telling someone off. Not once do we see Jesus saying that they cannot be healed. Not once do we see Jesus saying that He was too tired to help. Before this, he had been in synagogue on the Sabbath teaching when He encountered a demoniac who ‘cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:23-24). He drove them out and healed that man. Next, it was Simon’s mother-in-law. She was in bed with a fever, and Jesus heals her. Now that it is evening and the Sabbath Day is over, the whole town is gathered at the door and they have brought with them many who are in need of healing.
Do you know what it feels like when you are in need of healing? When those waves of pain start sweeping over bringing with them that sense of insecurity and fear; a knot that comes and sits in the pit of your stomach, wrenching, and your life seems to be stripped of all meaning.
Every one of us gathered here today has at some point experience physical and/or emotional pain. They are very much a part of life here on earth. And it is eina – it hurts. It cause worry and stress, and brings about sleepless nights. With your mind racing, restless, along comes your heart, and the ache, and the longing for that which is better: Something, anything, to take away the pain.
Some people even end up going mad because of the pain.
Today we have are blessed to have a Baptism, a little young man being consecrated to God.
There is a story that is told about the Baptism of a certain King Aengus at the hand of St Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Now at one point during the rite, St Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king’s foot. Only after the Baptism was over, did St Patrick looked down and see all the blood. Realising what he had done, he immediately sought the king’s forgiveness. ‘Why did you suffer this pain in silence’, the Saint wanted to know? To which the king simply replied, ‘I thought it was part of the ritual.’
The Sacrament of Baptism, as we are about to see, is a reminder that our old self has died with Christ, and that a new creation has been born (1 Cor 5:17). Jesus Christ suffered unbearable pain at his death. And our Baptism is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Baptism we consider ourselves dead to sin, buried together with Him, and ready to walk in newness of life.
‘Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins…’ says the Collect of the day.
And that’s what Jesus does. He sets men free. He heals. He brings peace. He did it in our Gospel, and He does so today, by washing away our sin and the bondage that sin holds us to. And He takes away the pain, He who bears out the Spirit of God, who is able to deal with the rottenness of sin and do away with all uncleanness and unholiness.
Writes the Psalmist:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s’ – (Ps 103.2-5).
God is so good.
But thinking then, now, of the goodness of God, His marvellous provision of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord, Baptism and the pain of living in a degenerate, fallen world, filled with evil and sin, one has to consider that place into which the Baptised are called to live.
Ours is a generation that no longer seeks after God, who cares not for His marvellous provision of salvation in Christ Jesus. We suffer from ‘me-ism’. All religions are said to be the same and, in any event, religion is not nearly as important or high on the agenda as human rights and social causes are.
The focus has changed and mankind is literally worshipping itself. Those who still do the things that we do here today are considered to be suffering from a ‘God delusion’ as prominent atheist Richard Dawkins puts it. And the confused generations coming through care precious little for the spiritual, or for finding answers from God, or even for the need to live in a morally acceptable way. They are dead to such matters. Numb to feeling anything less than the goal which is insistently seeking self-gratification.
Christianity’s greatest challenge is indeed the younger generations, those who will carry on, or rather, the lack of them.
Because we have stopped teaching the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith, and are no longer faithful in our witness, the apathy of the young grows greater and greater. So they end up thinking that liturgical churches like ours are just plain old-fashioned, for people who don’t like dancing in the pews, waving their hands in the air, while the band entertains with the latest, coolest gospel sounds tracks.
Yet we strive to show the world an ancient path. One that is unchanging. One, that if you are willing to embrace, will provide all the answers to life… and death. To give a hope, to give a safe refuge, to counter that which causes the greatest fear, to heal the broken and weary, and to take away the pain that inevitably comes with living.
The famous Christian apologist CS Lewis writes:
Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’
May we be roused.
And perhaps today will provide each of us the opportunity to reflect on and recall the baptismal promise made on the day of our own Baptism: ‘Do you renounce Satan? And all his works?’
The Church does not dispense the sacrament of baptism in order to acquire for herself an increase in membership but in order to consecrate a human being to God and to communicate to that person the divine gift of birth from God’ – Hans Urs von Balthasar.
In Baptism we are born of God, we belong to Him. The challenge is to live as such.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,