Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Religious Insight
An increasing number of people today are looking for a deeper understanding of life than is to be found in the hard-nosed, dog-eat-dog morass into which straight out pragmatism has led us. This requires a new insight into what a person is if one is to live a more fulfilled life. Today's readings deal with this "religious insight".

Isaiah 35: 4-7 The author of the passage from Isaiah was an exile in Babylon, just as were all the other Jews. But he saw things differently; for him this trial would lead to a new age in which God's promise to lead His chosen people back in triumph to Jerusalem would be fulfilled.

James 2:1-5 The first Christian communities were largely made up of poor people without financial or political clout. However, gradually, more influential people were numbered amongst the converts. St. James advises that a person's social standing does not count for much before God. Something deeper is required, namely, love of God expressed through concern for those less well off.

Mark 7:31-37 The man in today's Gospel, for whatever reason, was unable to understand or to respond to what was happening around him; for him life was a jumble of sounds and frustrations. Through the intervention of Christ he now hears what people are saying, and he knows that in Christ he has found the "missing link" between what his life was and what his life could be.

Point 1: For many today, formal religion has lost its appeal. The argument is that it has become too hidebound, full of rules and regulations that are out of touch with today's thinking. And we hear, too, of a new distinction where people talk of " spirituality" rather than "religion". At a Conference of the Christian Meditation Community held recently Perth, the National Co-ordinator of this group said "we're not talking religion; we're talking spirituality" defining religion as a set of beliefs as opposed to spirituality which focuses on the presence of God within each person.

Point 2: In his opening remarks at the Conference, Archbishop Hickey said that the 18th century Enlightenment had started a campaign to sideline God in almost every sphere of life - political, economic and even in areas of family life, human life and human reproduction. It is necessary to respond to these attempts by showing that the sacred is central to the core of human living. Christian meditation, by taking each person on an inner journey of discovery where God can be found, is part of that response. The danger is to imagine that one can have the fruit without the tree. Religion is the tree; meditation is the fruit of religion. "Rules and Regulations" are also part of the fruit.

Conclusion: In their efforts to unravel the "mystery of life", people are drawing on a wide variety of answers to find what it is that really makes them tick. The mystical philosophies of the East, transcendental meditation, soul music, self-hypnotism, drugs, including alcohol, are all being tried. In the world of science, this urge to see life more fully has led to the emergence of deeper insights into what constitutes "quality of life". For many, however, the sense of the mystical and the spiritual remains undeveloped. Too frequently our lives remain stunted and we adopt complacent and superficial attitudes as time flies by. To use a great Australian idiom - "She'll be right, mate!" On the other hand, a truly "religious insight" gives me a new perspective of myself, of others, of history, enabling me to accept my place in God's plan as, together, we seek a common goal, eternity. Meditation is a powerful instrument in achieving this goal.

Scriptural reference: "Hear, O son, a father's instructions and be attentive that you may gain insight". (Proverbs 4:1)