20 Dec 2014

21st December 2014 - 4th Sunday of Advent - Interview with Bishop Brendan Leahy

On this weeks programme John is joined in studio this week by Lorraine and Shane and our special guest this week is Limerick's own Bishop Brendan Leahy. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as other liturgical odds and ends.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks full programme HERE.

Bishop Brendan's interview is excerpted from the main programme and can be listened to HERE.

Interview with Bishop Brendan Leahy


Bishop Brendan comes into studio this week for an interview with the Sacred Space102fm team in what is almost becoming an annual event! 

During this weeks programme Bishop Brendan reflects on Synod 2016 and shares his thoughts and rationale for calling a formal canonical synod in the diocese. In terms of Synod 2016 he reflects on how the listening processes which Limerick has gone through and that as a People of God we don't travel to God on our own together and now it is time to formalise the learning process that we have been under going for the last number of years. He also reflects on vocations to the priesthood and how each of needs to reflect on what we are called to be - to be whole and true to ourselves. He acknowledges that in an Irish context the bishops focus over the last number of years was not sufficient on this particular challenge as they sought to deal with the trauma of the abuse scandal which rocked the church but now the focus is moving back to this particular area. We discuss the challenges facing religious life but also the need to allow members of religious communities to reflect on the many good things that were done for people in Ireland  in particular and give them the space to see where the response to their particular charisms will take them into the future. And finally we reflect on the challenges being posed by Pope Francis to the church and to the world.

Gospel - Luke 1:26-38


In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." 

And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.


Reflection from Mother Marie, Abbess of Glencairn Abbey
Two years ago I attended a meeting of the Order in Assisi during which we had a free day. Buses were organised to go to various places of interest. I signed up to go to Florence, I wanted to see Fra Angelico’s fresco of The Annunciation in the Dominican monastery of San Marco there. Fra Angelico lived in that monastery from 1436 – 1445 during which time he painted frescos in each monk’s cell and did this wonderful painting of the Annunciation at the top of the dormitory stairs. For those of you who have been there, as you know, it is quite exciting to walk up the stairs, turn the corner, and there it is in all its beauty and freshness. The purpose of these frescos was to aid the friars in contemplating the Word of God, to allow all of their senses to be involved in the mystery before them.
Carrying these beautiful images in our mind’s eye helps us to inhabit God’s Word and allows us to grow into the mystery of God’s saving plan.

I often ask myself: I wonder what was Mary doing when the angel came to her? Was she sitting in silence pondering on the words of Isaiah: “a virgin shall conceive and bear son” and maybe inviting God to use her to bring about this promise? Was she reflecting on some Scripture passage she had heard in the synagogue and allowing the Word of God to envelop her spirit? Was she just doing her daily work with a quiet mind and with a heart open to God’s presence and grace? We know that God does not need special circumstances in order to touch us with his grace, but we do. I like to think that Mary was doing what we try to do each day – seeking God through his Word, searching for his will, humbly waiting for that encounter with God which gives meaning and purpose to our lives. This encounter with God very often happens when the Word is read during the liturgy, or when we are reading God’s word privately, or when the Word leads us into a very deep experience of dialogue with God in prayer, when like Mary we are overshadowed by God’s Spirit and we experience Christ’s newness in us.
 
During the Office of Vigils this past week we had a reading from Cardinal Danielou which said: “The whole mystery of the spiritual life lies in the continual birth of Jesus within us. We must be always transforming ourselves into him, making our own the sentiments of his heart and the judgements of his mind. To be a Christian means to be gradually changed into Christ so as to be truly children of the Father.” 
One of the most wonderful aspects of God’s dealing with us is that as he invites us to participate with him in bringing about his kingdom, he always waits for our consent. The angel waited for Mary’s consent. St Bernard talks to Mary about her consent in one of his sermons: “Behold, Mary, the Angel now awaits your answer. We also await from your lips the sentence of mercy and compassion. Adam implores this favour of you..For this Abraham entreats you. See the whole world prostrate at your feet, awaits your answer. If you will only consent we shall at once be set at liberty. O, Blessed Virgin, speak your human word and conceive the Divine Word. Pronounce the transitory word and embrace the everlasting Word. Why do you hesitate? What do you fear? Believe, consent, and receive into your womb the Word of the Father. And Mary said: behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word”. 
All of us here are called to share in bringing about the Father’s Kingdom. According to our circumstance in life, according to our particular vocation, we are called like Mary to become vehicles of grace for our world. Is God inviting you to be a peace-bearer, a peacemaker this Christmas, maybe to become reconciled to your own particular situation in life and give thanks for where you find yourself; is he inviting you to reach out to someone in special need, a sick neighbour, an overworked young mother, an older person who lives alone? Is he inviting you to give more time to reading Scripture, more time to quiet prayer, more time to listen for his will and his wisdom? Whatever the call we can consent or say no, not yet Lord! 
So, tonight as we celebrate the mystery of the annunciation and incarnation we pray for each other, that during these days of grace we may consent in love and trust to the call of God in our lives, to believe that God does need us weak and sinful people to bring about his kingdom and, to trust that nothing is impossible for God.

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
English Dominicans

Liturgical Odds and Ends

Saints of the Week

December 22nd - Saint Hunger of Utrecht
December 23rd - St John Kanty
December 24th - Christmas Eve
December 25th - Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
December 26th - St Stephen (first martyr)
December 27th - St John (apostle & evangelist)
December 28th - Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph
December 29th - St Thomas Becket
December 30th - Our Lady of Bethleham
December 31st - St Sylvester
January 1st - Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God (World Day of Peace)

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