October 2019: The Deep End
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
6 October 2019 • Day for Life
The Deep End • A spark of faith
‘If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time.’ CHRIS HADFIELD
A question: do you feel that your faith is strong enough? I’d hazard a guess that for many of us the answer is no. Faith can be a fragile thing. It changes throughout our lives. It is tested and it wanes and wobbles at times, particularly when we go through periods of pain or loss.
A lot of the time we feel like we could be doing better – we should be spending more time in prayer, meditating on the Scriptures, making more effort to put the Gospel into action in our families and in our communities. No matter what stage we’re at in our faith journey, there is room for improvement; God always wants to draw us closer to him.
There is a great image of hope in today’s Gospel. The mustard seed brings to mind something that is tiny, weak and insignificant. But Jesus says that if our faith is even the size of a mustard seed, we are capable of great things! God grows strength out of weakness. Once we have a small spark of faith in our hearts, it can grow into something strong. If we nourish it, turn to God more often, make more space for him in our daily routine, wonderful things will follow.
Find that spark, and let it shine!
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
13 October 2019
The Deep End • I wish you goodness
‘Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.’ MELODY BEATTIE
What a difference an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can make! Pope Francis has spoken of the importance, in family life, of saying ‘thank you.’ Of course, it is not the words that are important but the intention and meaning behind them. To say thank you means ‘I appreciate you.’ The Irish for thank you, go raibh maith agat, is much more expressive than the English. It translates, ‘May you have goodness,’ or, ‘I wish you goodness’. It serves to soften and deepen a relationship.
Today’s Gospel is often described as a story about faith, and it is true that Jesus emphasises the faith of the man who was healed. But it is also very much a story about gratitude. The man who turns back to Jesus has had his life transformed, and he is eager to thank him. I was always puzzled by the meaning of the last words spoken by Jesus: ‘Your faith has saved you.’ Surely he had already been saved from his illness, as indeed had the other nine who showed no gratitude? They all received the same gift. But by thanking Jesus, the Samaritan man has entered into a relationship with him; he has become his friend and disciple. That is what Jesus means when he says he has been saved.
Gratitude is an important part of faith. What blessings do you have to be grateful for today? Have you let God know?
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
20 October 2019 • Mission Sunday
The Deep End • Crying out
The judge in the parable we hear today is hardly a role model. He delivers justice to the widow, not because he cares about her but because he wants to get rid of her. He acts out of selfishness. This unjust judge is in contrast with God, who is full of compassion, particularly for those who are most in need. When his people cry out, God hears their pleas.
On the surface, the parable is about the need to pray and not lose heart, and the faithfulness of God. But like many of Jesus’ parables, it has many layers. It also teaches us about justice, and how we should respond to those crying out for justice.
At the time of Jesus, widows were one of the most vulnerable groups in society; many were left without resources after the death of a husband. In our own country and in other parts of the world, millions of people continue to cry out for justice. Are we like the unjust judge, burying our head in the sand and simply hoping they will go away? Do we offer a half-hearted response, just to make ourselves feel better? Or is our response rooted in a real sense of justice and compassion?
‘May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships…
And may God bless you
With enough foolishness
To believe that you can
Make a difference in the world,
So that you can do
What others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness
To all our children and the poor.
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
27 October 2019
The Deep End • The meaning of life
After the Second World War, a Greek man named Alexander Papaderous founded an Institute of Peace and Understanding on the island of Crete, as a response to the atrocities that had taken place there during the war. One day, while taking questions at the end of a lecture, someone asked him ‘What is the meaning of life?’ In response, Papaderous took a small mirror out his wallet, and said: ‘I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the black places in the hearts of men and women – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I’m about. This is the meaning of my life.’
Papaderous was a person of great humility, aware of how small and seemingly insignificant each one of us is, but full of faith that we can still do great things. Like the tax collector in the parable we hear today, he was aware of his unworthiness, but open to light and hope.
In today’s Gospel we are invited to put ourselves in the shoes of the Pharisee, who regarded himself as superior to others, and the tax collector, who throws himself on the mercy of God. Which of them sees the bigger picture?