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Homily of Bishop Crean – Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine – 14th May 2023

6th Sunday of Easter

Diocesan Pilgrimage

Knock Shrine

14th May 2023

“The Ground of Hope”

My friends,

One of the most distressing feelings we sometimes experience is confusion – indeed some remain in a state of confusion constantly. Confusion is an experience of uncertainty, not quite grasping what is happening around you. We often associate it with older people who may suffer from a loss of short-term memory. As I suggest that is a distressing experience because you don’t grasp what may be happening ‘round you.

That experience of confusion is a good illustration of a deeper level of confusion that we can experience about life itself – individually and as a society. This level of confusion is more common than we realise. It comes from the absence of a spiritual core or anchor to and from which all else in our life find a point of reference and connection. We know what experience the impact of the growing fragmentation in our social structures – in families and in schools. Our prisons are full – many of whom ought not to be there because of their poor mental health from which their criminality emerged.

The result of this pattern of societal change is we rely more and more on an impersonal state to regulate and order our lives. The opposite is to have the law of the Lord written in our hearts and all else flows from our inner selves.

Pedro Arrupe the saintly general of the Jesuits reflects in his observation

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than

falling in love, in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love

with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will

decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do

with your evening, how you will spend your weekends, what you read,

who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy

and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything”.

His words are an eloquent summation of living life with a clear purpose and lively inspiration. We can “feel” this vision and sense of purpose in these post Easter days. The sense of mission is palpable in every Reading. The words of Peter are quoted often because they are so clear and direct by way of guidance to every disciple of the Lord Jesus – be ready to give the reasons for your hope. Give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience.

Don’t be surprised if you experience slander for living a good life.

We live in a time of challenge for the believer. So unless you know the ground of your faith and hope you too will succumb to the confusion of our age.

The Gospel to-day makes clear the ground of our hope. It is Jesus’ promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit as an abiding, sustaining guide for our journey. Whereby we know our roots, where we come from, where we find life. It won’t shield us from sadness, sickness, loss or loneliness but the spirit is the light that prevails in all circumstance so that confusion never reigns in our hearts.

You’ll know when that gift is yours – it’s a gift of abiding presence – a gift that keeps on giving.

“You will understand that I am in the Father and you in me and I in you”.

“Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be the one who loves me”

“And anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father and I shall love him and show myself to him”.

An important insight regarding the gift of Spirit has emerged more strongly in the current Synodal Pathway. One of the wonderful gifts Pope Francis has brought to the Church is the Ignatian stress on DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS.

In accepting and cherishing the gift of the Holy Spirit by way of inspiration and guidance we need to exercise our personal judgement and prudence whereby we test the positive and negative consequences of our choices. This process itself takes time – requires patience, it calls too for reflection and prayer in a genuine disposition of detachment – always out of desire for that which is true and noble.

On such thorough spiritual authenticity rests our hope.

Thanks for all who have gathered to-day, our shared prayer and presence nurtures and strengthens one another. In our blessings may we in turn share our hope with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience.

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