Address at Vigil of Prayer Led By Young People of The Diocese
Address at Vigil Of Prayer Led By Young People Of The Diocese
Bishop-Elect Kevin Doran
Saturday 12th July 2014, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo
Thank you for coming this evening. I was thinking in the last few days of all the people who queued through the night to get tickets for the Garth Brooks concerts. They would also more than likely have been happy to wait for hours outside Croke Park, until the gates were opened. In much the same way, the night before the January Sales, people wait outside the big department stores, not wanting to miss anything. That’s really what a vigil is all about. It is not just about the waiting; it is about why we wait. We wait for the Lord to come and for His Spirit to move among us.
Some years ago, Pope Benedict wrote a beautiful encyclical letter about the Word of God (Verbum Domini). Drawing on the teaching of St. Jerome, the Pope reminds us that Jesus is truly present in his Word. “For me” Jerome says “the Gospel is the body of Christ”. He comments that, quite rightly, we take care not to lose even a fragment of the host. In much the same way, he says, we need to be watchful, not to “drop” anything of what God wants to say to us in His Word.
Tomorrow, the focus of our Scripture readings is the Word of God and this evening we have an opportunity to ponder that Word so that nothing is lost. The readings tomorrow offer us two different images for God’s Word, and they work very well together. One is the image of the seed, on which we have already reflected. The other, is the image of the rain. The prophet Isaiah speaking in God’s name, assures us that, just as the rain waters the earth making it yield a rich harvest, so God’s word does not “return empty”.
The West of Ireland is not known for having prolonged dry spells, but they do happen. One of my favourite smells is the smell of the earth when, after such a prolonged dry spell, the rain falls and literally penetrates the soil, bringing it to life. You just know that something is happening. For the seed to germinate, the soil has to play its part. It has to react to the rain. It needs to open up and embrace the seed. Then, and only then, can seed and soil work together to bring about the harvest.
This would be an interesting moment to ask ourselves what might happen if we, God’s people, were to ponder God’s word more deeply; not just listening to it for the first time on Sunday, but reading it and “making a home for it in our hearts” during the week (Col. 3:16). In that way, when we hear it on Sunday, in the community of the Church, we are really ready to receive it. The soil getting ready for the seed! The people of God getting ready to welcome the Word of God!
Thank you again for being here and thank you especially to the young people who have led us in prayer this evening.