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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 21st Sunday B – 22nd August 2021

21st Sunday B

22nd August 2021

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

“My words, they are spirit and life”

My friends,

It is both fascinating and frightening how immediately we can be present to any part of the world especially those parts that are in war and conflict or beset by some sudden natural disaster like an earthquake, torrential rain, storms and extreme levels of flooding. It means that from the comfort of our sitting room we have a series of windows that bring the reality of the suffering of so many thousands of people’s lives up close to us. One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by their suffering. You know the places Afghanistan (war), Haiti (earthquake), burning heat in Sicily and Spain, flooding in Europe and parts of China. All in all, it is more frightening than fascinating. It generates a mood of fear for the future. This is not to speak of the uncertainty of living with Covid.

Yet despite that backdrop of negativity there are equally strong harbingers of hope and optimism. The fact that effective vaccines were found/discovered so quickly to combat the worst of Covid has been extraordinary. The challenge now is to share it with all the nations especially the poor of the earth. And when it does, we will begin to sing and dance again and enjoy anew the creativity of the arts in all its forms.

Whatever happens at a global level in terms of politics – at a national level there seems to be a real level of stress and frustration among a big cohort of young men who feel shut out from societies progress and prosperity. This reality is fraught with danger – a growing fragility of mind a sense of powerlessness which easily mutates to anger and violence. This is often compounded by a cocktail of alcohol and drugs. So, if you have someone who begins to think that life has no future – we are then shocked by the increasing occurrence of self-harm, domestic violence and suicide.

My friends, in drawing attention to these realities, which are evolving in our midst I am taken aback by how little attention and analysis, not to speak of resources, are dedicated to addressing its implications for our future – regardless of Covid or Climate change. We have thrown money at Covid. It is time we address the underlying reality of its impact on spiritual and mental health.

Jesus speaks of himself as the Bread of Life and his words as spirit and life. It is increasingly difficult for young people especially to hear the call of the Lord Jesus in their lives and they really feel the absence – even if they might have difficulty putting words on it. We need to offer our young people more than a sense of wellbeing about themselves. I do not doubt the educators who are convinced of its importance in young people’s education.

If we deliberately exclude the religious and spiritual from our social fabric, as many seem determined to do in the name of secularity and progress, we do our young people a great disservice in terms of equipping them to handle the inevitable knocks that life brings.

However long this current wave lasts we have a long road forward. The economies might be the easy part. A lot of things are now out of kilter. It will call for wise heads across all levels of society to get us back on track.

We pray for the courage and wisdom to be prudent in setting our post-Covid priorities.

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