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Message From The Parish Priest

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Sunday 18th February 2007

SEVENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR IN ORDINARY TIME. 18TH FEBRUARY 2007.+ CYCLE C READINGS. Weekday Readings Week 1. Psalter: Week 3. Day for the Unemployed.

My dear people,

Just listen to our Blessed Lord's words in the Lukan Gospel today and you will discover the Teaching which has formed the Western Civilization. "Love your enemies - do good to those who hate you, bless those who persecute you ...treat others as you would like to be treated yourself...do not judge ...be compassionate ...grant pardon ...do not condemn." This is our Lord speaking to us telling us how we are to live in the Kingdom which he was bringing about in the heart of the faithful by his life, passion, death and resurrection.

This is revolutionary in its implications. Then you think of the departure from this teaching in an age of atheism and secularism and you then begin to understand how standards can go down the tube.

Pope Benedict wrote his first Encyclical on "God is Love". This teaching our Lord shows us just how much God is love because he is instructing us to be Godlike in our relationships even with our enemies - as God is. Our Lord teaches us that his Father allows the rain and the sun to fall on the Just and on the Unjust in equal measures so why should we be different?

Today I am publishing the Pope's Lenten Message addressed to all of us. Lent begins next Wednesday - ASH WEDNESDAY. Read it carefully for he wastes no words and he is guided in his words by the special gift of the Holy Spirit in his Office as the Successor of Saint Peter and Vicar of Christ.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

"They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (John 19:37). This is the biblical theme that this year guides our Lenten reflection. Lent is a favourable time to learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to him who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of his life (cf. John 19:25). With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified who dying on Calvary, revaled fully for us the love of God. In the encyclical Deus caritas est, I dwelt upon this theme of love, highlighting its two fundamental forms: agape and eros.

God's love: agape and eros.

The term agape, which appears many times in the New Testament, indicates the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other. The word eros, on the other hand, denotes the love of one who desires to possess what he or she lacks and yearn for union with the beloved. The love with which God surrounds us is undoubtely agape. Indeen, can man give to God some good that he does not already possess. All that the human creature is and has is divine gift. It is the creature then, who is in need of God in everything. But God's love is also eros. In the Old Testament, the creator of the universe manifests toward the people whom he has chosen as his own a predilection that transcends every human motivation.

The prophet Hosea expresses this divine passion with daring images such as the love of a man for a adulterous woman (cf. 3:1-3). For this part Ezekiel, speaking of God's realtionship with the people of Israel, is not afraid to use strong and passionate language (cf 16:1-22). These biblical texts illustrate that eros is part of God's very heart: the almighty awaits the "yes" of his creatures as young bridegroom that of his bride.

Unfortunately, from its very origins, mankind, seduced by the lies of the evil one, rejected God's love in the illusion of self sufficiency that is impossible (cf. Gen 3:1-7). Turning in on himself, Adam withdrew from that source of life who is God Himself, and became the first of "those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage" (Heb 2:15). God, however, did not give up. On the contrary, man's "no" was the decisive impulse that moved Him to manifest His love in all of its redeeming strength.

The Cross reveals the fullness of God's love

It is in the mystery of the Cross that the overwhelming power of the heavenly Father's mercy is revealed in all of its fullness. In order to win back the love of His creature, He accepted to pay a very high price: the blood of His only begotten Son. Death, which for the first Adam was an extreme sign of loneliness and powerlessness, was thus transformed in the supreme act of love and freedom of the new Adam. One could very well assert, therefore, together with Saint Maximus the Confessor, that Christ "died, if one could say so, divinely, because He died freely" (Ambigua, 91, 1956). On the Cross, God's eros for us is made manifest. Eros is indeed - as Pseudo-Dionysius expresses it - that force "that does not allow the lover to remain in himself but moves him to become one with the beloved" (De divinis nominibus, IV, 13: PG 3, 712). Is there more "mad eros" (N. Cabasilas, Vita in Cristo, 648) than that which led the Son of God to make Himself one with us even to the point of suffering as His own the consequences of our offences?

(to be continued next week)

God Bless,

Father Tom Connolly

Vocation Thought: The Lord calls us to do God's Will. Pray that you know God's will in your life, especially if you have the inclination that you are called to be a priest. If God is calling you - call the Vocations Director of our Diocese Fr. David Featherstone.

READERS The new Rotas are ready - please collect from sacristy. See the Notice Board at the back for volunteer Readers for the Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday - The Easter Triduum.

FREE WILLS FROM THE CATHOLIC FIRM OF SOLICITORS McKenna and Co, 182 Heaton Moor Rd, SK4 4DU Phone 432 5757 - as last year they are offering to make up Wills free of charge provided those having their wills drafted will make a Donation to CAFOD. As a result last Lent we raised 3,200 for CAFOD. Home visits for the infirm can be arranged but you must do it between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, (5 April). See the letter on the Notice Board at the back.


PROTECTION OF MINORS AND VULNERABLE ADULTS. The Bishop's Letter tells us today that almost everybody who does voluntary work in the parish with the above categories will have to be Police checked. If it is any comfort I, your Parish Priest has been Police checked five times as Prison Chaplain, as Teacher, as Priest, as Governor and Police Chaplain. It is all part of the Nolan recommendations.