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Year of Mercy – “I will never forget you” Part III


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 17/04/2016

The understanding and significance of mercy in the New Testament flows from the witness of the Old Testament – there is a powerful continuity at work. Some parts of the Old Testament are even quoted in the New Testament, regarding the reality and power of mercy. There are many texts in the New Testament that speak about the merciful love of God to his people: for example, we have the different parables that Jesus told to reveal to us how powerful the merciful love of God is: The parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32), the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) and also the parable of the loss coin (Luke 15:8-10) are all wonderful examples. In all these parables the merciful love of God, our Father, becomes so clear and comforting. The Gospel of Luke, without doubt, is where the theme and the witness of mercy is expressed in a special way. For this reason St Luke’s Gospel is also known as the “Gospel of mercy”. In this Gospel, we have, for example, the wonderful song of Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:50), and the three Parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son (Chapter 15). Jesus does not only speak about the merciful love of God. His proclamation of God’s mercy is intimately connected with all that he does and says, and his own personal life. Because he wants to proclaim mercy everywhere and at all times, Christ heals the sick, he comforts the sad and he goes out of his way to encounter in love the sinner, and even goes out of his way to find the lost at every turn. At the same time, Jesus calls his followers to follow his example and be inspired and motivated by love and mercy. They should allow their own lives and actions to be guided by the gift of mercy. Jesus asks us to be merciful to each other. And he praises those and calls them blessed who are willing to give this kind of love to others: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7). Jesus challenges us to be truly merciful to each other and also to forgive each other. Naturally, the request to forgive each other in generosity does not cancel out the demands of justice. When we forgive, when we show mercy, it never means that we capitulate before evil, or before suffering or insults. Each time in the Gospels, for example, when forgiveness is talked about or explained, it always includes the message to put things right and to alleviate suffering, and even to perform atonement for the many hurts or insults that have been endured. For this reason, justice will always belong to the basic structure of mercy. However, mercy gives justice and much deeper and much more healing content. This expresses itself in the fullest way when we forgive each other. (more…)

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The Mary Prayer


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 15/08/2015

Recently ordained, Fr. Larry arrived at his first pastoral assignment. He would never forget that first night. He was just dozing off when he heard a voice. “Get up, Father. Someone at 55 Water Street is in desperate need of you.” There was nothing mysterious about the voice. He knew that. In those days, long before electronics, there was a speaking tube that ran from the front door up to the bedroom. There was a megaphone at both ends. If there was an emergency during the night, the caller would speak into the megaphone. His or her voice would be heard upstairs. It was so bitterly cold! He ran down the stairs, pulling his bathrobe around him. The frigid wind had drifted the snow waist-high against the door and the side of the building where the outdoor end of the tube and megaphone hung. There was no one there. He knew that voice was real. He dressed as fast as he could, took his little black bag and plunged into the midnight blizzard. It seemed like hours before he found the house. It was dilapidated and obviously deserted. Still, driven by the urgency of the message he had heard, he knocked and then pounded on the door. There was no answer.  The rear door was ajar, but stuck. He pushed it open finally and stepped inside. In the white glare of moonlight seeping through the dirty windows, he could see a man’s body huddled on what had been the kitchen floor. Fr. Larry knelt beside him. The man was dressed in rags. He was a tramp. The smell of stale beer was almost nauseating. The old man was conscious. He was trembling in the cold. Father wrapped him in his overcoat. He was able to hear his confession. He gave him Holy Communion and anointed him. Afterwards, he told the dying man how he happened to be there. Then he asked the man, “You must have done something special in your life to gain this kind of extraordinary intervention. What was it?” “No. Nothing,” the man mumbled. “I’ve never done anything. I’ve wasted away my whole life — never did anything for anybody…” “But you must have done something,” Fr. Larry persisted. The old man just shook his head. “Nothing.” “I’ll get help.” Father started toward the door. As he reached it, he heard the man say, “Well, there might have been one thing…, ‘cept I don’t like to talk about it, ’cause, I didn’t do it well or nothing.” “What was it?” Fr. Larry whispered. “Aw Father, I don’t like to mention it, `cause I did it when I was drunk, sometimes in bars, making fun of it. I’d do it when I’d go to sleep under bridges with other guys…but I did it all these years….badly though….” “What? What did you do?” “When I was a little kid, my mum told me that if I’d say the ‘Mary Prayer’ every day as often as I would think of it, I wouldn’t die alone…that I wouldn’t die without having a priest to confess to and to give me the Last…Oh Father, I’m dying, ain’t I? And what my mum said was true.” He smiled. Then he sighed, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, please, now and at the hour of my death.” Then he went home to his Mother, both of them. “The Mary Prayer.” What a simple, hope-filled petition of love! For all of us. Everyday. As often as we think of it.

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Mary, Queen of the Family


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 03/05/2015

Imagine the scene. In the year 1865, a priest, Father Petitjean, celebrated Mass in an impoverished chapel at the foot of a mountain in Nagasaki. He was the first missionary for 300 years to set foot in Japan. After Mass the people, who had gathered, approached him suspiciously. The asked him lots of questions to find out if he was genuine or not, if he was a “real” Catholic. The asked him about the Pope, about the celibacy of priests and about Mary. Calmed down by this answers, they slowly convinced themselves that they were speaking to a priest. “For three hundred years we’ve been waiting for you, so that you can baptize us”, they said, “we believe in Jesus”. For such a long time there had been no priest or contact with the Church, there had been no official teaching of the faith or sacraments. Yet a group of people maintained their faith intact, how? Through the family! From generation to generation the values and truth of our faith were passed on. The Christian Family has always been the place for evangelisation and it has always had the mission to evangelize others at the same time. Believing in the Family, in spite of all the knocks it receives today – that is the greatest force of renewal of our times. In the renewal of Family Life, we look at a very special person for help and for guidance. The Church calls Mary, the Queen of the Family, because she is an expert in Family life. Mary knew the “ins and outs” of family life. She represents every woman and mother and she says “yes” to her child. Mary never doubted even for an instant that it is worthwhile to bring that new life, this child, into the world, even in a world that is full of pain, uncertainty and death. Some women today find it hard “just to be a mother” . Mary is a lasting example that motherhood in itself is the greatest task that a human being can take upon themselves. She accepted her motherhood with all the limitations and restrictions that it included. She did this out of love. Indeed, Mary loved a great deal. She loved Joseph and she built with him a community of life and love in that home of Nazareth. They both chose the one and the same aim for their married life together: To serve their Son and his work and mission in the world. Without doubt, we may call Mary, the Queen of the Family, a Mother who educates. She wants to build Nazareth and the experience of Nazareth everywhere. That will always be Mary’s mission even today: To support and help all families, that they in their turn, can become a Holy Family of Nazareth. The present and tomorrow of evangelization depends a great deal on the family. As long as the family is the foundation and crown of Church and society, Mary’s role will never diminish, but be put at the heart of modern Church and spiritual life. This is “Mary’s Hour” in her task to renew family life and to renew Church life through the family. Together with Mary, the Queen of the Family, we have enough reason to be confident and full of hope as we build together a new world for God.

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Christmas Day with Fr Kentenich


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 25/12/2014

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it…He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)

Together with the shepherds we go to the stable in Bethlehem. There we are able to encounter God himself – God who became a defenceless little baby – a baby in swaddling clothes – in modern terminology, a baby in a nappy. Is this not an incredible miracle? Is this not a wonderful mystery of the creative love of God? The Father sends us his Son, to be born of a Virgin, and they wrapped him in a nappy. The One who is God from God, and light from light eternal, the One who is the focal point of human history – past, present and future – lies before us in a nappy! God in a nappy shows us the true nature of who God is. God is love. His love is full of compassion, full of mercy and wisdom. He loves us so much that the Son of God takes on our human condition and becomes like us. He grows like us, he is in need of love and affection like us, he is vulnerable like us. He will also suffer like us: God in a nappy, and one day God on a cross. God comes as a child to ensure that between him and us there are no barriers, no fears. Who would be afraid of a little child? He wants us to love him with all our hearts and with our own souls. The God of love only wants love. He wants to be hugged and cared for like a little child. God who becomes a child so that we can love him, invites us to come closer. Christmas is a time to allow that deep and personal encounter with the Lord to finally happen in our own lives. We long for intimacy with God. Is there a better moment to take this all-compassionate love seriously? It invites us to a never-ending union with him. Every newborn child awakens love. The Christ Child also awakens the power of love in the human heart. He conquers us completely with his love. This personal encounter with God changes our lives. We are forever changed. If we want to love the Saviour as he wants to be loved, if we want to let him enter our lives with no “buts” or “maybes”, if we want to truly become like him, we will always find him in the arms of his Mother Mary. In the covenant of love with her we may bow our heads in adoration before the miracle of Christmas – God in a nappy! It’s amazing!

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Fourth Tuesday of Advent with Fr Kentenich


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 23/12/2014

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Take some time to find a moment of inner peace, and pray: Blessed Mother Mary, we have given ourselves to you, and you have given yourself to us. We have made a covenant of love with you and you have made a covenant with us. From the depths of our hearts, we ask you: Care that our longing for the Lord will never decrease, and never be held back by slavery to possessions and material things. Break the chains that bind us here on earth. Help us to sing a hymn of love to the Lord, that echoes and re-echoes everywhere in our lives. Amen. (Joseph Kentenich)

 

 

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Fourth Monday of Advent with Fr Kentenich


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 22/12/2014

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham… and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1,16)

If it’s true that each one of us is the “result” of God’s plan, it must also be true that Mary is the “most perfect result”, in fact the “masterpiece” of God’s love, wisdom, and power. In a unique way she is the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), that St Paul spoke about. She is the Woman who has “the touch of paradise” – redeemed from original sin, full of life. Mary, as the first of the Lord’s disciples, can show us in her life and faith what it means to follow Jesus. What are the experiences in Mary’s life than can give us strength on our journey? What gift could we ask for to help us prepare our hearts for Christmas?

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Fourth Sunday of Advent with Fr Kentenich


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 21/12/2014

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)

Advent is that special season when we long for Jesus to take on form in us. Mary’s mission is to care that this really happens. She is the “masterpiece” of God’s creation, she is the “mirror of hope”, she is the “Advent dawn” that leads us securely to the true light of the world, Jesus Christ. During the days of Advent we always celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (on 8th December). She shows us, and gives witness to, what grace can do in someone’s life. When we look at her, we can understand what the Lord also wants to achieve in us – the fully redeemed Christian person. She is a sign of the Lord’s light; we can be signs of light as well. She is a sign of the Lord’s peace; we too can spread peace, and dispel unrest and anxiety. Mary is a sign of the Lord’s victory; we too can be “success stories” of grace, and not necessarily some kind of “failure”. Mary, the Dawn, gives witness in her life to the three elements that nourish our Advent hope: Longing for the Lord, trusting in the Lord, and working with the Lord. Let’s look at each in turn. They can be an inspiration and help to us… (more…)

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