By Fr. Brendan Duggan
Christians making choices
Our readings for last Sunday are about Christians making choices. Joshua in the First Reading tells the people that now they have arrived in the Promised Land they have a major decision to make -- to serve the one true God or to serve idols. God forces no one to obey him. He leaves us free. We often abuse our freedom by sinning and by rejecting God and His message. We choose evil instead of good. The people listened to Joshua and decided to follow God's law but, being human, they often forsook God. Indeed the Old Testament can be described as the story of the relationship between the chosen Jewish people and Yawveh. God was faithful to His people and never abandoned them despite their constant sinning and betrayal of their special status and relationship with God.
In the Gospel we see many of the people rejecting the message of Jesus. Jesus had offered the people the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, His own Body and Blood.
Many of the people who were enthralled with his message and had been fed by the multiplying of a few loaves and fish, now left him. Jesus was upset.
He asked the twelve apostles, "Do you also want to leave?" Peter spoke for the group with his reply, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
You all know that we are in a period of history when quite a number of people are inclined to walk away from Jesus, not from his teaching on love, which nobody quarrels with, but perhaps from his teaching on marriage or sexuality or respect for innocent life or his insistence on the centrality of the Eucharist, and community/Sunday Mass. So many members of our families or our youth drift away from the practice of religion and it upsets many of us. Each of us convinced Christians must try and encourage people to practice our faith. We must pray for each other and never lose hope. After all, the apostles also had to make a decision to stay with Jesus and to pass on his message. Today's world is so complex and there are so many problems that Christians have to face. All I can do is pray to god to help me and keep trying to do the right things in my life.
I have been telling you some stories about the Titanic disaster in 1914. I recently came across a story about Mr. Patrick Ryan of Askeaton, Co. Limerick, whose body was never found after the Titanic sank. According to his relatives he was 29 at the time, a cattlle dealer, who was going to New York to hopefully become a police officer. He boarded as a 2nd Class passenger at Queenstown on April 11th, and his ticket cost L 24 3sh. What is interesting is that his father Thomas Ryan sued the White Star Line in court in London, for negligence. According to his two great grandchildren Cormac Ryan and Fiona Lane, Mr. Ryan won his case in court. I don't know what the exact outcome was but it seems to have been kept pretty secret. Mr. Ryan's family only recently became aware of the court case. A BBC Northern Ireland Program was made about the case some time ago.
I also told you a little about Nora Keane of Gardenhill, Castleconnell, Co. Limerick who was a Titanic survivor. Nora Keane was born in 1864 and died in1944 in the County Hospital, Mulgrave St., Limerick. She made several trips over to the States and on April 12 she boarded the Titanic traveling second class. According to her grand nephew Willie Keane, she was one of 7 second class and 125 steerage of Irish people who joined her on the voyage. Nora seemingly had a premonition that the ship would not reach New York. She had accidentally dropped her rosary beads into Cobh Harbour while boarding the ship. Nora has left a gripping account about what happened on the Titanic on that fateful night. She tells us she was one of the first people to get on a boat. I suppose being a second class passenger was a help. She talks about all the chaos on board. She mentions how well the survivors were cared for on the Carpathia.
Her story was carried in the Patriot Newspaper of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where she had family and where she later lived. She mentions there were three Catholic clergy on board the Titanic. They had held a service on Sunday. All three priests died. In addition, the Titanic band played while they boarded the boats. The Patriot Newspaper reported on April 18th, that "A.M. Keane of the Union Hotel and Dennis Keane of 2147 North Second Street, Harrisburg will leave today for New York to meet their sister, Miss Nora Keane, who is among the survivors of the Titanic, who are being brought to that port on the Carpathia." This is a great story and a true one.
I have been following the GAA Championship rather closely. I must say I was rather surprised to see Kilkenny dispose of Tipperary so easily. Tipp. gave a similar hiding to Waterford last year and Waterford recovered. What I did not like was the lack of sportsmanship on both sides in this game. Hurling is a very skillful but also a dangerous game and heavy tackling or too heavy man to man tackling is not to be encouraged.