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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 28th June 2020

13th Sunday A
28th June 2020
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

“It is much harder to believe than not believe”

My friends,

Flannery O’Connor, the American writer once said

“What people don’t realise is how much Religion costs.  They think it is a big electric
blanket, when of course it is the cross.  It is much harder to believe than not believe”

This observation comes to mind when reflecting on the words of Jesus in to-day’s Gospel “Anyone who does not take his / her cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me”.
It begs the question for all disciples of Christ “What does it mean for us today, in our lives to take up our cross”?  The promise of Jesus is that in doing so we win our lives.

To-morrow there is a new phase of opening up and returning to some kind of new normality.  There is a certain kind of nervous giddiness in the air.

The powers that be say we have done well to suppress the virus in the community, the fear now is that it will re-emerge if we are not careful, prudent and continue to be alert.  Church-wise we look forward to re-opening to gather again in person for the celebration of Mass.  We will do so with considerable restrictions which together we will implement to ensure the safety of all who come.  It is impossible for us to know how many wish to gather.  Please do not feel obliged to come if you have any significant health concerns.  The Mass each day will continue to be available to those who choose to remain at home.

We plan to resume our Sunday Masses from next Sunday.  Again, as of now the number is limited to fifty at each Mass.  We expect some increase in that number before the week is out.

Looking at the bigger picture and staying with the question of “what taking up our cross means for us at this time”?

Reading the papers and listening to radio and television there is no doubt about the emotional turmoil that individuals and families have gone through during the ‘lockdown’.  All have been sad, mad and glad at different stages.  So, it has not been all negative.  People have new appreciation of family, or relationships, of friendship.  The working from home can be good to avoid the commute but cabin fever can set-in too.  We now know why we have schools and teachers.  It is tough to work at home and teach too.

Relationships have been tested, domestic violence has increased, some are drinking too much, drug abuse has shown its consequences.  This is not to speak of those families where their jobs have just evaporated.

We think of families who are bereaved and cannot grieve in the normal way.  Then there are the natural ongoing health issues which may have been deferred due to the Corona Virus treatments.

When we think of those things it is clear where the cross in life to-day.  Whether recognised or not, it is there.  The personal, emotional and spiritual question for us is how we view it in order to accept it in a positive hopeful way rather that with resentment or bitterness.

These crosses that Covid 19 brings into our lives will test our spiritual metal.  This applies to all people of all ages.  The frustration, impatience and even anger that restrictions can generate needs to be, not just accepted grudgingly, but be embraced to ensure that they do not take over our minds and hearts.

Surely, the most uplifting and encouraging things we have witnessed over these past months have been the many events that have been organised to show solidarity with our public service personnel and the fundraising for charities affected by Covid 19.  Therein is a deep well of goodness among us, a real, tangible sensitively and solidarity.  These riches no government can bestow on us because they come from within.

The cross of Covid 19 is a heavy one for the whole world to bear.  We yet do not know its full weight and how we will cope with its weight.  The poor will as always bear the brunt of its weight.

Take heart in our experience of faith, difficult as it is sometimes.  Returning to the words of Flannery O’Connor

“It is much harder to believe than not to believe.  If you feel you cannot believe you must at least do this: Keep an open mind.  Keep it open towards faith, keep wanting it.  Keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God”.

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