The comforts of Jesus
Yesterday, the 13th Sunday of the year, had a comforting message for people in need. Jesus performed two great miracles. The first was that he cured the young daughter of the synagogue official, Jairus. By the time Jesus got to the house, the child was already dead. He ignored the wailing bystanders, asked the father to have faith, and then proceeded to restore the girl to life. He took the twelve year old by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum","Little girl.I say to you,arise!" The girl arose to an astounded crowd. Jesus is a merciful caring redeemer.
On the way to Jairus, a lady who was inflicted with bleeding for twelve years also took advantage of the presence of Jesus. This lady had faith and was determined. When she touched the cloak of Jesus she was cured. Jesus felt that power had gone out from him and immediately asked ,"Who has touched my clothes?". The poor woman approached in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. Jesus showed his compassion and said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” We are always dealing with a compassionate Jesus who listens to us in our times of need.
I am presently in Ireland where I am enjoying the rain and sun which always seem to go together in Ireland. I spend most of my time in Scarriff, East Clare and this morning I visited a local community garden in the village of Scarriff. It was nice to see all the local crops: potatoes, cabbage, onions, turnips, parsnips, carrots and various herbs growing together with so many roses and flowers in an idyllic setting, behind a local village house. President Michael D. Higgins visited Scarriff some days ago and the village got a massive refurbishment over night. It is nice to see a local community functioning well as it should.
The recent Eucharistic Congress in Dublin was by all accounts a great success. The many events of the week were well attended. The final Mass in Croke Park had about 75,000 pilgrims present and according to the many people I asked, was inspiring. I feel that the Church in Ireland is changing and will emerge stronger and more humble as a result of the recent scandals. The Irish economy is still bad and will continue to struggle for many more years, but the Irish are resilient. I did read some letters in the Irish Times from victims of clerical abuse who are still unhappy with the response of the Church leaders to their plight. I must say I feel sorry for these people and it is going to take a lot of time for the victims to be healed.
Peace at last
Last week, we had the historic handshake between the Queen and Martin McGuinness. I must say I never thought I would see the day that it would happen. There have been a tremendous lot of evil deeds done by both sides up north over so many years. I can clearly remember "Enniskillen", "Warrenpoint", "Parnell St. Dublin" and the "Royal Showband" to mention but a few atrocities committed in the name of freedom or civil rights or whatever. The bottom line is that a lot of innocent people perished in the process. I have seen too much of the effects of war both in Ireland and in Africa. I am 100 % for peace and justice and when an event such as this happened with a simple handshake taking place, I applaud it. It reminds me of the famous gestures Mr. Nelson Mandela of South Africa made at the World Rugby Cup final some years ago, when the Springboks defeated New Zealand and he embraced and shook the hand of the Captain of the all white South African team, and in the process united a divided country under the South African flag. Nelson Mandela did more for race relations both in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa in one minute than at least 10 years of negotiations. So let us hope that peace will finally come to our divided country of Ireland.
Last week, I watched Spain V Portugal, where Ronaldo showed clearly that he is a world class player. Spain of course prevailed because they have better penalty takers than Portugal. You know I saw Ireland being hammered by both Croatia and Spain. It seems obvious that if we had one national soccer team embracing all 32 counties we could do well.
We already have achieved greatness as a rugby power, notwithstanding the recent debacle in New Zealand. I think it was a bad idea to go with a team so tired and injured and spun out, after playing so many big games recently. Our rugby pool is so low. We fail to produce good heavy tall props. We need a large influx of good Dublin, Kerry, Mayo and hardy Northern players from places such as Tyrone, Donegal, Armagh etc to play rugby. Brian O'Driscoll and such are great players but if you could call on people like Pat Spilllane or "The Bomber Liston” or "The Goog" or Gerry O'Malley, we could be the best rugby team in the world. Our problem in Ireland is we are trying to play too many international sports at top level. So I finally appealled to John Delany and Co. and said let's form one Soccer Association for the whole of Ireland and let us have one Ireland team. Considering our small population, we do very well against other more populous nations. Our Irish supporters also deserve better.
God bless you all,
Fr. Brendan Duggan