13th Sunday of Ordinary time

The Irish writer, Oscar Wilde, made a reputation for himself as a fine writer, and was regarded as a celebrity as well.

He was sent to prison for having a sexual relationship with a young man. It was a terrible humiliation for him.

As two policemen from prison were bringing him to the courthouse, a noisy, hostile crowd had gathered.

But then a friend of Wilde’s appeared, who made a simple gesture of friendship and respect that silenced the crowd – this man raised his hat to Wilde as Wilde passed by.

It was a very small gesture yet meant a great deal to Wilde at the time.

Later, Wilde wrote of the gesture, “I store it in the treasure house of my heart.

I keep it there as a secret debt that I can never possibly repay.

It is embalmed and kept sweet by the myrrh of many tears. “

The small gestures are frequently the most powerful; a cup of tea, giving my seat to another on a bus or train.

Small flowers give off a little scent on their own, however, put a bunch of them together, and they can fill a room with their fragrance.

The dawn chorus results from many birds singing their own tune and filling the entire canopy of trees.

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Matt. 10: 37 – 42), we read, “And whoever gives even a cup of water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I tell, none of these will lose their reward. “ ( v. 42 ).

Below is the full text of what Oscar Wilde wrote in his letter, written while imprisoned, known as “De Profundis”

“When I was brought down from my prison to the Court of Bankruptcy, between two policemen,—waited in the long dreary corridor that, before the whole crowd, whom an action so sweet and simple hushed into silence, he might gravely raise his hat to me, as, handcuffed and with bowed head, I passed him by.

“Men have gone to heaven for smaller things than that. It was in this spirit, and with this mode of love that the saints knelt down to wash the feet of the poor or stooped to kiss the leper on the cheek.

“I have never said one single word to him about what he did. I do not know to the present moment whether he is aware that I was even conscious of his action.

“It is not a thing for which one can render formal thanks in formal words. I store it in the treasure house of my heart.

“I keep it there as a secret debt that I am glad to think I can never possibly repay. It is embalmed and kept sweet by the myrrh and cassia of many tears.”

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Oscar Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until he was assassinated while celebrating Mass in March 1980.

He was initially regarded as a conservative choice as archbishop; however, he became increasingly outspoken about human rights violations in El Salvador – particularly after the murder of his close friend Fr Rutilio Grande in March 1977.

During his three years as archbishop, Romero repeatedly denounced violence and spoke out on behalf of the victims of the civil war.

In times of heavy press censorship, his weekly radio broadcasts were often the only way people could find out the truth about the atrocities that were happening in their country.

He defended the right of the poor to demand political change, making him a troublesome adversary for those in Government.

He was under constant threat of death. Still, he would not be silenced or go into hiding or exile.

He explained, “At the first sight of danger, the shepherd cannot run and leave the sheep to fend for themselves. I will stay with my people.”

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 10: 26 – 33) says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”

Oscar Romero, the man, priest, and archbishop are physically dead.

Oscar Romero proclaims the Gospel message as loudly today as he did from the lectern of Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador)

11th Sunday Ordinary Time

The Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton is reputed to have placed this advertisement in the Times newspaper in London on December 29th 1913.

Apparently, he received some five thousand replies, and eventually, a 27-strong crew was chosen.

In the Jerusalem Daily Mail of August 10th, in the year 30AD an advertisement was placed. It read:

Men wanted for hazardous journey.
Give without pay,
Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts.
Take no bag for the journey.
Take one tunic only.
One pair of sandals only.
Take no staff.
Labourers will be fed by others.

To say “Yes” costs!

“When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from someone who  never left home.” – Rumi


Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

Is it by chance that we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ on the Sunday immediately following the feast of the Trinity? Or maybe there is something more to it?

There is a famous icon written by the Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev. It is known as the icon of the Trinity. The icon’s original title was, and in fact still is, known as “The Hospitality of Abraham” and was written in 1411. The story of Abraham and Sarah’s generous hospitality to three visitors who came to them by the oaks of Mamre is told in Genesis 18.

An examination of this icon suggests (to me at least) that there is an intimate relationship between the Trinity and Eucharist. As the icon is written the three persons are seated around a table in an attitude of harmony and peace; the very lines of the icon create a circle within which the unity of the persons, the manner of their presence to one another, is visible. At the focal point of the icon there is a cup between them on the table. It is a wonderful use of symbol and suggestion. The Trinity hints at the Eucharist. It is as if the divine persons were saying: be one with one another as we are one. (See John 17:21) To make the invitation even clearer, there is an empty place at the table.

We are being invited and drawn into the inner life of the Trinity, to sit at that empty place at God’s table. Jesus is the way; the Spirit is the inner urge to move that way. “No one can come to the Father unless the Father draw them” (Jn 6:44). Commenting on this in the fifth century, St Augustine wrote: “He did not say lead, but draw. This ‘violence’ is done to the heart, not to the body…. Believe and you come; love and you are drawn”.