Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - The Day of the Lord
The English name, Sunday, unlike the Latin, Domini dies,(day of the Lord) does not reflect the special character given to this day in the Christian calendar. Our English word comes from the Roman practice of naming the days of the week for the planets. Today's readings direct our attention to the right use of this special day.

Deut. (5:12-15): The seven day week as a unit of time was introduced by the Hebrew people as a celebration of the Genesis account of the creation of the world, with the seventh day assigned as a day of rest. Also it was intended to give the Jewish people an opportunity to have time off from their weekly routine so as to give thanks for the restoration of their freedom from the slavery imposed on them by the Egyptians.

2 Cor. (4:6-11) For Paul, the work of evangelising could only be carried on with God's constant help. Flagging spirits needed to be constantly renewed. He needed to be re-created spritually; hence our word recreation.

Mark (2:23 - 3-6): As Christ saw it, the law of the Sabbath had lost its original significance and had now become an imposition forcing people into a situation of suffering. For Him, and therefore for us, it is there as a constant reminder of the right order of relationship between God the Father and the Son, Jesus, and men and women of good will everywhere.

Point 1: Public worship has been one of the heavy casualties in institutional religion in recent years. All of the older Christian denominations are experiencing a falling off in church attendance, although it appears that some of the newer, more fundamental groups still attract good attendances.

I often hear people give as a reason for no longer attending Mass that "they get nothing out of it"; the young are even more frank - for them it is "boring, boring"! In some instances it is said that the homilies are mere paraphrases of the scriptures without any practical application being drawn from what is read; or the celebrant's presentation, even his personality, is offered as a reason for non-attendance. However, I think that for many, young and old, their attitudes result from a failure to understand the real nature of worship. In order to get something out of worship, one starts by putting something in! Put simply, worship is giving before we commence to take.

Point 2: Human life is the only life form that consciously considers the mystery of its origin. The ancient summary of how to be a good person, the Ten Commandments, begin with three directions on the relationship betwen God and People. One of them invites us to keep some time free for God.

We take some time off, specifically, to bring home to ourselves the presence of God in our lives. We can, and should, do this privately; but, because we are social beings, we should also seek opportunity to do it as a community. This is why the Mass, or Eucharist, has come to be regarded as being at the heart of Christian prayer. In it we come as a community to give thanks,- Eucharist means thanksgiving-. It is in the Eucharist that God's presence in us becomes total reality. It is here that we encounter the whole Christ - His Word, His Body, his Holy Spirit. Listening to His words as recorded in Scripture, we learn how to speak with God. In the Eucharist, our offering takes place in community, not in isolation. And in this community, we are open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit just as the early Apostles gathered with Mary were inspired on that first Pentecost.

Conclusion: In the Lord's prayer, we find the classical example of complete prayer where, in the first instance, our thoughts centre upon worship; Then comes Petition in which we ask for the opportunities to use our God-given talents for our benefit and the benefit of others; but we also pray for our spiritual needs - a spirit of forgiveness and we finally recognise our dependence on God's presence to enable us to persevere. Finally, Communion in which the mystical reality of God's presence in us is affirmed and we again give thanks. That is why I think it can be said that regardless of the quality of the homily, or the priest's personality, there is still great value to be gained from the Mass. It is here that we respond to His invitation to "Do this in memory of Me" and it is here that we remember His guarantee - "Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them".