Yesterday was the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Old Testament reading is from the prophet Nehemiah. After the Jews returned from exile in Babylon (538 BC), Ezra sought to re-establish the Jewish religion. He reads the book of the Law of Moses to the people, who listened intently and took the message seriously. The Second Reading from Paul tells us that just as the human body is one though made up of so many tissues and organs, so the Church, though composed of different members with many gifts, forms a unity in Christ. The gospel shows Jesus proclaiming the word of God in the synagogue of Nazareth. He makes his own a passage from Isaiah, and uses it to announce a program for his ministry. He is sent not to the rich and powerful, but to the poor and lowly, the oppressed and the suffering. Luke's Gospel is of course the gospel of concern to the poor and oppressed.

It is worth reflecting a little on the first Reading and the Gospel of Sunday. Nehemiah was an important courtier of the Persian king, who appointed him as governor of Israel, allowed him to return to Israel to help his people rebuild. Nehemiah started with what he considered was most important for the people, namely their faith in God. Ezra the priest and scribe were delegated to read God's word to them. Books were scarce and precious, and also few of the people could read or write, so for the ordinary person to know God's word someone had to read it or preach it to them. Ezra read God's word to the people and interpreted it for them. The readings probably came from the first five books of the bible. The people responded well and listened reverently to the word of God.

Jesus in the Gospel went to the synagogue and read from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Then he proclaimed his message of compassion for the poor and captives. The people of Nazareth eventually responded to Jesus with hostility. The people of Jesus' time also learnt the law of God by listening to their teachers in the synagogues. Books were uncommon and most people could not read or write.

The development of the New Testament books is rather interesting. Luke tells us at the beginning of his gospel why he wrote what he did and how he went about it.. He gives a similar introduction at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, which he also wrote. The gospels were not written until many years after Jesus died and rose from the dead. Many people knew Jesus during his lifetime, as he was a public figure, teaching and healing for about three years. Immediately after the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost, they began to tell the story of Jesus. The story of Jesus spread through the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. The Acts of the Apostles and Paul's Letters give us some idea of how the process took place so quickly. Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians (the earliest New Testament Book) was written about 51 AD. The need for authoritative eyewitness accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus began to grow, especially as eyewitnesses to Jesus began to die out or be put to death. Because of the striking similarities between the first three Gospels : Matthew, Mark and Luke, scholars assume there was a collection of Jesus' sayings which they call "Q", which stands for the German word "Quelle" meaning "a source", or literally "well(of water).". This document seemingly no longer exists, but it must have been available to the early Church. The earliest gospel, St. Mark's came about 70 AD, Matthew and Luke were written around 84 AD. John's Gospel was written by St. John as an old man, probably around 90 AD. There are lots of later "Gospels" mostly written in Greek, but these are deemed by the Church to be not reliable and even heretical in some cases. The four evangelists all give us the same message of faith about Jesus, but they are four different authors who describe Jesus in their own unique way and with their own unique emphasis.

The Church readings at Mass follow a three years cycle for the Scriptures. So this year we are in Cycle C for the Sunday Masses and next year we will have Cycle A.

Kenmare Gathering Festival

On Friday Jan. 18th, I attended a nice event called The Kenmare Gangs of New York Gathering Festival at the Central Bar, 109 East 9th, to promote the Kenmare Gathering Festival which takes place August 30 - September 1, 2013, in the Kingdom of course. Giles Cooper, Sean Price, and Senator Mark Daly, all natives of Kenmare did themselves and Kerry proud at the event. A large crowd was present together with special guests, Tony Award winning actor Brian Dennehy, Niall O'Dowd, Orla Kelleher of the Aisling Center, representatives, from the office of Mayor Bloomberg, from the office of City speaker Christine Quinn, and the Deputy Irish Consul Peter Ryan.

The event commemorated the forced eviction of 5000 tenants from the Lansdowne Estate in Kenmare in the 1850- 60's, shortly after the Great Famine. Many of these migrants from Kenmare, Bonane, Tuosist, and Lauragh ended up living in the Five Points area of New York's Lower East Side, as depicted in Martin Scorcese's "Gangs of New York". Here they overcame great hardships but persevered to get integrated into, and succeeded in fulfilling the American dream.
Senator "Big" Tim O'Sulllivan, whose mother was a Lansdowne tenant named a Manhattan street, "Kenmare Street" in memory of his heritage.

The night proved to be a wonderful celebration of all things Irish. The night kicked off at 6.30 with the best in traditional music from four young Irish american teenagers, who entertained the large crowd on their fiddles,banjo and Irish dancing: Kyle Curley, Jake James, Seamus Finneran, and Dillon James, all students of renowned fiddle player Niall Mulligan.

A monster raffle was held, the proceeds going to the Aisling Irish community center, to aid those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Aisling People did trojan work to help the many victims of Sandy in the Rockaways. Orla Kelleher was deeply appreciative and thankful to all those who donated and helped. Orla thanked the people of Kenmare and the many businesses, who donated the prizes for the raffle. she thanked Senator Daly and his mother Eileen who did so much for the organizing of the event. She went on to thank Shannon Gaels GAA Club for their help on the night, and her old schoolmate Sean Price, who is an active member and coach with Shannon Gaels, who put such great effort into ensuring the night was a success.

Senator Daly made a presentation to Actor Brian Dennehy who regaled the crowd with his Kerry ancestry. Senator Daly introduced Mr. Niall O'Dowd, who spoke of the Irish/american connection and congratulated all involved for their hard work, and wished them the very best with their "Kenmare Gathering" this coming August.

Shannon Gaels

Finally, Senator Daly paid tribute to Shannon Gaels GAA NY, as they had turned out in great support on the night, a number of their members hail from the 'Kingdom' county and the young musicians who entertained the crowd make up part of the club's U-16 team, he acknowledged how this under age Gaelic Athletic Association Club has developed in New York in such a short period of time and at that introduced Shannon Gaels GAA Chairman Colin Mathers to say a view words regarding their quest for their own playing field in Queens, Mathers began by welcoming the Senator to New York and being that he is the Senate spokesperson for Overseas Affairs and the representative of the Irish overseas, Mathers invited Senator Daly to come and see the club's new Gaelic Field in Queens. The Senator was delighted to hear of Shannon Gaels success in securing this playing ground from the city and was glad to see that Shannon Gaels is keeping our heritage alive and well stateside. Mathers presented Senator Daly with a Shannon Gaels Jersey and tie, and wished him well with his upcoming gathering.