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Sermon for 4 December 2011



My Dear People,

Years ago, in 1978 I too was one of a large crowd walking towards some one who was rather like a John the Baptist figure as depicted in the Gospel of today. St Mark states that "all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him (John) and were baptised in the River Jordan."

Well I was one of a vast crowd walking towards Phoenix Park where (the now Blessed) Pope John Paul, newly elected and en route to the United States was to make a Pastoral visit to the people of Ireland. It began with a great Mass in the Park for over one third of the population of Ireland. To be part of a great crowd walking from before dawn to get the great park for the Mass of the Pope was an experience in itself. There were elderly in wheelchairs being pushed - babies in prams - kids on dad's shoulders etc. The whole of the city was on the move to one point to hear the Word of God and to receive the Eucharistic Lord from the hands of the great man himself – chosen by God to be the Leader of all Christians and Christ's Vicar for our era or twenty five years of it.

And if we listened to him as he brought Christ's message anew to the people we would have repented of our laxness and confessed our sinfulness and embraced more and more the way of Christ the Divine Master. It was one of those moments like the visit of John the Baptist to the people of Israel. Everyone knew he was a man of God and spoke the truth of God to the people. The Pope constantly referred us to our Blessed Lord as the One who would guarantee our freedom and our dignity.

I remember then going by train to Galway for the great gathering of every youth in Ireland. I was sleeping in the race course of Galway (Ballybrit) in the corral assigned to the University of Galway. We were near the Papal Altar which was lit up all night awaiting the arrival by helicopter of John Paul. He had dropped off at Conmacnoise to see the ancient Christian ruins and grave inscriptions of the early Irish Church. I had spent hours that day leaning against a pillar in the Galway Cathedral hearing confessions of the youth as they prepared for the Pope's visit. "Young people of Ireland - I love you" were the first words the Pope spoke to the youth of Ireland and they just gave in to joyful exultation.

The Holy Father has chosen Dublin for the Eucharistic Congress next year and it is still an open question as to whether he will personally attend. A lot depends on the pace that the Pope can keep up but do not underestimate him as you saw in Britain last year. If he does come it will be to an Ireland that stands in great need of another John the Baptist figure because whole swathes of the population have abandoned Christian Belief and the Powers that be are openly hostile to Christian values and teachings.

I am telling you these things in order to tell you that that is the kind of expectation and desire and longing present in the Israel of John the Baptist’s time. They went by the thousand into the wilderness to seek him and he did not tell them nice things did he? He called one religious group – "Vipers". He was calling people to repent and to believe so that they would be ready when his cousin – Jesus arrived – the one whose sandal strap the Baptist was not even worthy to undo – such was John’s humility. "He must increase - I must decrease" John the Baptist stated.

So we will be consoled won't we this Advent as we build up to another commemoration of the Divine Word becoming Man for 2011. Every year of our life on earth we have the honour of welcoming Christ and we will do so until we do it in Heaven!! He will be welcoming US!

God Bless,

Father Tom Connolly

Thank you for the great support for the Christmas Fayre - As you see we make over £2000. here is the breakdown Gaelic Coffee and Chocolate Fountain £243, Door £160, Piety £127, Carna £118, Cakes £107, Toys One £ 57, Toys Two 64, Books £148, Toy Tombola,£63, Face Painting £32, Bric-a-brac, £91, Santa £73, Spin the Wheel £455, Lucky Straw, £113, Groceries £25 Christie’s Table £100 TV Footie £20, Donations £100. Thanks to all the stall runners who slaved away for the love of God for so long!!

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