August 23rd, Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.

“We have no intention of deserting the Lord our God” our first reading says. Yet many do so today. As some did when Christ taught the reality of his eucharistic presence. “Will you also go away”, He said to disciples. Lets confess ways we desert the gospel when it doesn’t agree with worldly views..

Many news items today are shocking. Such as the case of a man in Austria who kept his daughter locked up and fathered children by her, or mass killings in many parts of the world. Is this a warning. If we continue to follow our desires blindly, abandoning God and the sacredness of life will worse happen? Christ says, “will you also go away”. Let Peter’s answer be ours: “Where shall we go you have the message of eternal life, You’re the holy one of God”. Yet though vowing at baptism and confirmation to be faithful, some young people defect to a dog-eat-dog world which says to hell with the old, the weak, or any higher lawa of God, pursue your own desires at all cost. Advances in technology today give the illusion of progress in all fields but spiritually, morally and humanely are we in fact going backwards fast?. A young person said to me recently, my new year resolutions are three: “put myself first, put myself first, put myself first”.
How sad. Such self-centredness is behind community collapse. Whenever I go on visiting to communities and estates I’m always shocked to find how many do not know their neighbor; the usual response is to say, “well they come and go but we don’t have much to do with them, we don’t disturb them and they don’t disturb us”. Neighbors are seen not as a plus, as an opportunity for broadening our social world, but as a threat to our seclusion. People make excuses, t’was worse in the old days; it wasn’t. We were poor so we’d no room for heads in the air. We cherished neighbours and kept basic laws of God, notably the law to love our neighbor. Now, with the rise in crime, our neighbor seems more as as someone to use for our own benefit. Every day its mass killing on TV. Have we gone mad with self, sold out to godless heartless worldly values of which Satan is lord, under an illusion of progress? Maybe! But we Christians can never be pessimists. God is still in charge and the wheel always turns.
Which brings me to happier news. A report on sky news said that there’s an increase in England, America and the continent in people joining the priesthood. They interviewed one such, an engineer who’d left all for the seminary. Why? “I went through it all”, he said, “money, sex, the blind pursuit of all I wanted without restraint”. But my heart was empty. Then I copped myself on and said there must be more than this, am I an animal living & dying meaninglessly. Surely human Life has a deeper purpose and calling. Suddenly I realised it in serving God and others, in helping build Christ’s better world of love, goodness and truth. Ok, my priestly celibacy is foolishness to a sex-mad world but that’s precisely its witness value. Our readings echoe that young man. The first says we’ll not desert the lord our God. Paul begs us to gain infinite riches in obeying Christ. And Peter says to Jesus: “You alone has the message of eternal life”. We might add that He alone is the source of happiness and fulfilment for this world too. For He’s the lamb who takes away the sins of the world. We should follow him in faith and trust like the apostles, spurning the hard cold world that leads to isolation from each other. In His glorious light we’re to be rocks of faith like Peter, beacons of charity like Paul, cherishing and loving all as our neigbors in Christ. For worldly pride and Satanic self-centredness fade to ashes at last leaving us empty within, but Christ is lord of life, love, happiness, grace, beauty, and salvation both for this world and forever and ever, amen. As God’s people saying “we have no intention of deserting the Lord”, and cherishing our neighbor in his light, lets profess our faith.

Prayers of the faithful
And as God’s children lets pray to our heavenly Father for the things that we need and are for our lasting good.

For our Holy Father and all church leaders that they may draw the flock, and all the world’s people, back to the saving arms of God and his Christ, where true faith and neighborly love resides.

For civil leaders, may they see that man does not live by bread alone, and further the spiritual welfare of all by wise laws.

For our great youth, may they be safe from the self-destruction of excessive drinking, drugs and suicide. In the Lord’s arms, may they find the happiness, grace and love they crave.

For ourselves in our homes and workplaces, that we may draw all to the fountain of life, love and salvation that is Christ.

For the sick and all suffering during the recession, especially those unemployed and on social welfare, that the lord may make us all strong, united, and mutually supportive in these hard times.

For the dead that they may come to the fullness of life hereafter with the help of our powerful communal prayers.

We ask all these prayers through Christ, in the Spirit, to the loving Father of us all, amen.

A person came to me once with a story. He’d gone abroad and in a new godless climate lost his faith. But when older and wiser he realised the emptiness of his new state and came back to the church. The priest who received him back rightly rebuked him saying: do you realise that because of you thousands even millions will have lost the faith; your chidren, grandchidren, their children and so on. All of us have a great responsibility to hold on to our heritage of faith for future generations. Lets pray to Mother Mary that we’ll do this joyfully..Hail Mary.

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