17 Mar 2012

18th March 2012 - 4th Sunday of Lent (Year B) - St Patrick

On this weeks programme we continue with the celebration of St Patrick's Day with a focus on the man himself Patrick by Fr Michael Liston. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel and a quick run through the celestial guides for the week ahead as well as some local notices.

This weeks podcast is available HERE.

St Patrick - Apostle of Ireland, Patron of Emigrants

While our programme today is going out after the main festivities, perhaps it provides us with an extended opportunity to look at why we celebrate all things Irish on the feast day of the Christian saint Patrick and a bit more about the man behind the myth.

Fr Michael Liston leads us through a short reflection on this weeks programme considering "this extraordinary man" Patrick who couldn't "stay silent because of all that God had done for him in His mercy" and what his example has for Irish people today.

Many of us know the story of his capture and years of captivity but when we read Patrick's own writings we hear of his instinctive turn to pray in a time of despair and how it leads to transformation for him in his life. Throughout his writings we see a man who is very conscience that the success of preaching the gospel in Ireland was not by a human being on his own but only successful by the grace of God. A human being with a great sense of gratitude to God and how God had loved him. In the middle of all his travails it comes across again and again that his heart could burst for gratitude and love of God because of the relationship of love that Patrick had for God.

Patrick's story reminds us of the power of the grace of God in the lives of people and how it can lead to change and betterment of people something which he had witnessed in his time in Ireland.

During this time of disappointment and rupture in our lives, it provides us with the opportunity to enable us to listen again to the still voice of God in our hearts following the example of Patrick who was convinced that God had personally spoken to him, allowing room for that communication to happen. Patrick calls us again to listen to the foundation of our lives which should be the Word of God which is still calling to us again.

A written summary like this doesn't do justice to Fr Michael's reflection on St Patrick. It is best if you can listen to it; it is available HERE without the rest of the programme.

Gospel - John 3: 14-21

Nicodemus Visiting Jesus, by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1899.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Joseph E. Temple Fund
This weeks gospel reading is from the gospel of John and at first glance can seem very difficult and hard to grasp. John's gospel more that any of the synoptics is a gospel which should be reflected on, meditated on and prayed over. It is written almost like poetry and needs to be read carefully.

This week we hear of the visit of Nicodemus to Jesus in the night time. It is interesting because in the language of John's gospel, the dark is symbolic of evil and all things repugnant to God and the idea of Nicodemus coming out of the dark of night to speak of Jesus is symbolic of coming out of evil and turning to God. Nicodemus comes to dialogue with the Word, the Divine Logos.

Jesus makes the point that the Messiah will be lifted up and drawing all people to himself. It is the reminder to Christians how Jesus draws all people to himself when he is lifted up on the Cross and also when he is lifted up in his Ascension. It is the basis for our hope and the promises that have been made to us.

"God so loved the word that he gave his only Son" - one of the great lines of St John's gospel which in one sense sums up the Christian message of hope, God gave us the ultimate sign of his love and we turned around and killed that love. When we don't accept that love which has been given to us, we are the ones that condemn ourselves to be apart from God. God never condemns us, he is always waiting our return to his love. We are the ones who condemn ourselves and God respects that decision but living in the hope that we will be always open to draw back to him.

Other reflections on this weeks gospel:
Saints of the Week

Psalter Week 4

March 19th - St Joseph
March 20th - St Clement of Ireland
March 21st - St Enda of Aran
March 22nd - St Deogratis
March 23rd - St Turibius of Mogrovejo
March 24th - St Macartan of Clogher

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