National Pilgrimage of the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration – Homily of Bishop Kevin
National Pilgrimage of the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration
Homily of Bishop Kevin Doran at Knock Shrine
Sunday 24th April 2016
The words and actions of Jesus are at the heart of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We can easily forget that the Gospels were actually written long after the Resurrection of Jesus. They are not intended to be “reporter’s notes” on events as they happened, or even simply the “life story” of Jesus. They are written, as St. John says, so that people may believe and that, by believing, we may have life in his name.
Keeping that in mind, let’s turn again to the Gospel passage that we have heard today. The last words of any famous leader are always significant. This passage reports the words of Jesus, facing the reality of his own death. He talks about how “the Son of Man has been glorified and in Him, God is glorified. If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon”. That’s a lot of glorifying, but what exactly does it mean. St. John links this in the Gospel to the giving of the new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you”.
It is simplistic and not particularly helpful to say that God was glorified because Jesus died a brutal death on the cross. God is glorified by the way that Jesus lived his whole life and death in the service of love. The gift of the Eucharist is the visible sign or Sacrament in which the Church celebrates the memorial of that love. But let’s be absolutely clear about it, we are not just remembering something that happened “once upon a time”. What happened in the life of Jesus has implications for all who call themselves disciples. “Love one another as I have loved you” is part of “Do this in memory of me”.
In the first reading a few minutes ago, we heard about how Paul and Barnabas were travelling from to place putting fresh heart in the believers and encouraging them to persevere in the faith. Remember that courage is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which was given to the Church in the days after the Resurrection. But why did the Christians in Lystra and Iconium need to be encouraged? It is, as Paul and Barnabas explained, because “We all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God”.
What are those hardships? Certainly there are many Christians in the world who experience actual persecution, in places like Iraq, and Pakistan. For others, hardship takes the form of sickness or poverty or homelessness and the challenge of living that experience with courage. For most of us the “hardship” is about trying to live every day according to the spirit of the Gospel, loving as Jesus loved, laying down our lives for others and bearing witness to the truth. That too requires courage.
During the past week you will have heard the news of two major earthquakes, one in Ecuador and one in Japan. I suppose every day brings news of a tragedy somewhere but every now and then, something touches us more immediately. One of the people who died was Sr. Clare Crockett from Derry. Her story is very interesting. According to herself she was no different from any young adult. She was in a youth group in Derry and she met some visiting sisters from a community in Spain. A while later, she went with a group to stay with them for a few days, simply because someone suggested it and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
There is a YouTube video clip of her in Spain during that visit and it is clear that she is already considering the possibility of a vocation. She did, in time, join the sisters gave her life to Jesus. That’s how she ended up as a missionary in Ecuador, working with young people and bringing them the message of God’s love. That’s how she ended up in an earthquake. She was only thirty. By all accounts she was a lovely vibrant young woman, filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Today, we remember her family and her community in our prayers.
Now here’s the question? When she decided seven or eight years ago to join the Sisters, she didn’t know that she would be going to Ecuador and she didn’t know that she would be in an earthquake. She probably didn’t plan to die for Jesus; she intended to live for him. So what does that say about her decision? Does it mean that she made a mistake; that somehow her life was a waste? No it doesn’t.
Sr. Clare understood very well that disciples sometimes have to experience hardship, just like Jesus himself did. She knew that Jesus died on the cross. But she also knew that He rose from the dead; that he is still alive among us and that he is still working in the world through the power of His Holy Spirit. That’s what gave her the courage to leave her home and her family to follow Jesus on the other side of the world. That was her mission and she knew that Jesus would always be there for her, even if the whole world fell apart.
The biggest challenge facing the Church today is to do what Paul and Barnabas were doing; to put fresh hearts in the believers. Either we believe that Jesus is alive and among us, and he is the inspiration of our lives, or we are going nowhere as Christians. There are different ways of putting fresh hearts in the believers. We do it by “loving as he loved”. We do it by our joy-filled attitude to life; Christians with long faces are no encouragement to anyone. We do it through the dedication of our lives in service as Sr. Clare did.
Prayer for one another before the Blessed Sacrament is another way in which we can, as a community of faith, gain the gift of encouragement for one another. That is because all of you who spend an hour in prayer, whether during the day or in the stillness of the night, are gathering the intentions of the whole Church into the presence of the Lord, who is the source of our strength.
Today, I am happy, on behalf of the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration to formally launch a new project in which all of you who are engaged in Adoration are asked to devote a regular time of prayer
– for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and the religious life
– for those discerning a vocation
– for priests and for their ministry
The aim of the Apostolate aim is to have 50,000 adults and 500 children, nationally praying each week in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament for the above intentions. Through Our Lady of Knock we ask Our Heavenly Father to bless this initiative in the year and years ahead.
To young men and women who may be considering what path they might follow, I would simply say, don’t always assume that it is someone else who is called to priesthood or religious life. It is not primarily about what I would like to do with my life. The question really is, could this possibly be what God wants me to do with my life? I won’t promise you that there will be no hardships. But who wants to live a life without challenge? My experience of young people is that they do not shy away from a challenge once they recognise the goodness of what they are being asked to do. So I say to you: Trust in Jesus; he is alive among us and it is His Spirit who sustains us in whatever it is that we are called to be.