There were those who didn’t like him and his style because he challenged the old order. He didn’t rubbish it or say it was to be disrespected. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he breathed new life into the law. He turned it from a law of fear into a law of love. The great Emmy award winning TV presenter, Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that Jesus makes the word of God become alive so that if you cut the pages of the bible, blood will flow, not ink.Jesus came to serve and not to be served. He taught his disciples, his followers that their ministry was to be a ministry of service. He commanded them – and by extension all of us, that we love one another. This love was to be a love that puts the other person first. It is a selfless love. It is like the love of a mother for her child, a love of a dad for his daughter or son. This would be the key to real happiness and if we tried to live by this commandment of Christ it would be a recipe for real contentment.
Jesus saw the pomp and the arrogance among some of the church leaders of the time. In the gospel we are told of the jostling for the best seats at the table, for the places of honour. However, for a follower of Christ, it is necessary to take the lowest place. The Christian message of the lowest place is a counter-witness in a world which glorifies power and control. The Christian idea of moderation tries to talk sense to the worldly popularity of excess and ‘more’ The Christian principle of non-violence (which St. Francis of Assisi preaches in our time) challenges violence and warfare of which we see so much today.
While the glossy magazines and reality T.V. attempt to make us jealous of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, scratch a little below the surface and you will find that sometimes all is not well in the lives of the so called beautiful people. The happiest people are often the people who have little and share it with others with a heart and a half. Of course, there are those who are financially rich and also give more than their fair share because they believe in the principles of justice. And the more they give, the happier they become.At our Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless in Church St. Brother Kevin helps nearly 600 people from Monday to Saturday who come for breakfast and dinner. On Wednesdays, over 2000 food hampers are given to those who call. There is real need today more than ever because many people are struggling. But Kevin would readily admit that the real good news story of the Day Centre which he helped to set up in 1969 is of ordinary people who send in donations, who run charitable initiatives, and who volunteer to help make a difference. And many of the volunteers are young people who with their great sense of justice and fair play, want to help too.
These days our young people are returning to schools and colleges. We pray for you all, especially those going into exam classes. We also acknowledge those who have left school and are at a crossroads perhaps considering travelling overseas to find work. We pray for you too. In the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II; “Do not be afraid.”
We had a wonderful experience recently in Church St with the ‘Rio in Dublin’ where 500 young people came to a gathering of prayer and song and where 200 stayed overnight to keep the Lord company in an all-night vigil. This was in union with some young people who travelled from Ireland to be with our Holy Father, Pope Francis for World Youth Day where two million young people met with him. Jesus Christ counts on all young people to hear his word and to fan that flame, the flame of faith passed on to us by our parents, and grandparents – real saints. In this way young people can be at the vanguard of this ministry of service to the church. Pope Francis asked the young people at Rio to be a ‘Radical force for good.’ He also Tweets regularly to his millions of followers in eight languages.
Jesus calls on all of his followers to roll up their sleeves. In St. Michan’s Parish, Halston Street where I’m based, we will have a Mass of remembrance tomorrow evening at 7.30 p.m. to commemorate the centenary of the collapse of two tenement buildings in which seven people lost their lives on September 2nd 1913. Some of their descendants still live in the area and we pay tribute to so many people who lent a hand in an heroic rescue effort. We come from a generous and selfless people who have handed on a rich legacy and the gift of faith in Jesus Christ who encouraged his disciples and all of us to never be afraid to serve. And when we do this we will be truly happy.