welcome to you my fellow travellers as we journey on the narrow road to heaven.
A special welcome to our listeners in Christchurch New Zeland on this Lenten season.
In this episode we will begin with a meditation on the gospel for Quinquagesima Sunday.
After that I’ll tell you a story about a Rock in Ireland.
The meditation will naturally establish us in the presence of God and then focus on the teaching of the 2 gospel pieces which entertwine in their message to us.
The first is the apostles being blind to the coming suffering of Jesus.
The second Jesus healing the blind man who shouts ‘Jesus have mercy on me’’ and Jesus heals his blindness.
The story of the Rock a metaphor for our Church.
Let’s meditate a while on what is happening in the gospel liturgy presented to us by the church as she prepares for Lent.
Imagine the scene, Jesus is seated on a large flat rock The disciples have cast their outter cloaks on the rock to make it more comfortable.
Peter is seated with Jesus and they are in deep conversation.
the rest of the disciples are standing in a group nearby.
If you want to go near to Jesus you will have to pass by them.
As you approach the disciples you hear them mention something about suffering.
When one of them notices you they quickly change the subject.
Raising his voice slightly, Thomas changes the subject and so you hear what is being said.
They talk of the power they will have as soon as Jesus becomes King of the Kingdom of Israel.
They are tempted to hope you will hear and envy them.
John is not so sure. He reminds them again of the talk of suffering.
Look towards the rock again, Peter has got up and goes to join the others. Jesus turns His head, sees you and beckons to you.
“Come friend’ Jesus invites you, ‘sit here a while with me.’
As you go toward Him your heart begins to race you are a little frightened.
When you reach Him you genuflect deeply bowing your head in adoration.
then as you seat yourself beside Him a beautiful calm fills your soul and relaxes your body.
Jesus then asks you: ‘Do you understand what is happening in the gospel’
you answer “I think I do” and ask “why are the Apostles blind to your coming suffering. Did your heavenly father make them blind? And Why?
‘In the infinite wisdom of the divine all things are perfect. How often have I told my followers that they must cry from the heart in their need. Yet I have also said that the father knows your needs before you even ask.
Jesus I am a little confused. So why do we have to pray why not give us everything without us asking .
Jesus smiles at you with love and just a little pity in His eyes. Take time to look at him and feel the warmth of love in the smile, and the promise of coming graces in that look of pity.
Jesus continues: Sometimes my followers are made blind to the future for their protection. I have a lot to teach them and it would be difficult for them to learn while fretting about the future.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
My apostles were jewish men who were taught by a long line of antient prophets. They were taught and read for themselves details on the coming Messiah.
But Their present teachers had come to ignore all the prophases that warned about the suffering the Messiah would have to endure.
Instead they led the people to hope for a great king who would smash their enemies and like king David rule over the kingdom of Israel and even the whole world.
They believed this king would invite them to rule the earth with him.
When I told them of my coming suffering they were shocked. It was too terrible a thing to comprehend – they refused to accept such a thing.
They were blind and happy being so.
“So why Jesus did you say anything to them? You would have known the outcome.
Jesus looks serious: It was the most important lesson that they were to learn from me. To leave the world and come follow me along the narrow road of suffering.
I told them In order that when it happened they would remember that I warned them. They would realise that it was my will to suffer, This knowledge would transform their lives. It would transend their aspirations from a hope of a worldly kingdom on earth to the reality of the kingdom of heaven.
This teaching is for all my followers, all my disciples. It is for you. How often have I beckoned you to come to the cross and you were blind to my presence.
How many times a day do you pass a holy image in your home and are blind to it. You placed it there in order to remind you to pray. But you choose instead to be blind to the mementoes.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
You lower your head, “Jesus I understand. But what about the blind man of Jericho that wasn’t about spiritual blindness. Why does the church in the liturgy place those two gospels together?
The man of Jericho was blind by God’s will.
This blind man needed and wanted my help, did you see how the world tried to prevent him reaching me.
But HE was blind to the world. Had he not been physically blind he would have been tantalised by worldly treasures. It is unlikely he would have come seeking me. But he was blind and wanted to see and was determined, to reach me.
In the temptation of the world cry out to me even when in the darkness of despair and I will hear and answer you.
Look, now this man having seen me joins my followers.
Jesus I want to know in what ways I am spiritually blind. Show me my soul. Open my eyes that I see you clearly in my daily life.
How shall I mortify myself Lord. Please help me Lord, have mercy on me. How will I be blind to the world? How will I see you?
Jesus answers: You will find me at this rock. Follow my teaching. Lean on the rock of my church.
Come to this rock every day and we will talk and I will heal your blindness.
You see that the apostles are coming over now. Your intimate conversation with Jesus is coming to an end for today.
Jesus stands up and they surround Him as a group they move off.
Look at the disciples. At this point so blind they did not know what was in front of them.
Now they are filled with grandiose thoughts and plans for their lives. Like you and me that are afraid of suffering.
Like you after the crucifixion their eyes will be opened.
Call after Jesus. “I want to see Lord” Jesus turns for a moment and smiles at you, “Seek and you shall find, Ask and Knock.
Thank you Jesus, thank you for this time together. This season of Lent I will make a new commitment to come to the rock every day and meet you here. I love you but I want to love you more.
Please give me the graces to love you more and more.
Here is a little story for you about a rock in Co Kerry in Ireland.
Kilvicadownig is a townland on the ceann tra road that runs from Ventry to ballyferriter in the county of kerry in Ireland.
On the side of the road opposite the Atlantic ocean is a one roomed schoolhouse.
Outside of this you will see a large flat topped stone.
In the 1930’s the greatest pleasure for the children was to climb up on the rock and try to push each other off. The strongest and most determined held their ground on the rock for the longest time.
When we were little my mother would tell us about the huge rock outside her school in kilvicadownagic, She described it as huge with many children climbing onto it and falling off and being pushed off by the bullies
Every lunch time the children raced to the rock as if their lives depended upon it.
When Mama went to work in Belfast she was far away from County Kerry and didn’t have the money to go back.
I remember at the age of 5 leaning against her knee as she sat at the fire and taught me my faith from the “penny catechism”
She told me that the Catholic church was built on a rock, that outside it there was no salvation.
She described how Jesus had said to Peter “Thou art Peter and unpon this rock I build my church.”
She said the church was like the stone at Kilvicadownig it was huge and strong. That the Catholic people rushed to it. That you could fall off it if you were not strong enough in your faith. If you were not careful of the people you went around with they could stop you going to the rock.
It was in the 1960s that she and Dada had enough money to go “home” to kerry on holiday. I was with her when she went to see her old school and the rock outside.
We drove around Slea Head and stoped outside the schoolhouse. She pointed out the stone. She sat silently staring at it for a long time. Then very disappointed she said:
“It used to be so big. What happened? When I was a child it was enormous.”
Mama being mama was now disgusted with the stone and ordered Dada to move on She never mentioned the rock again.
She didn’t see the irony of the situation. Already the Catholic Church in Ireland was beginning to diminish.
You can see it can’t you.
The church the rock of our faith. The Irish once strong faithfull catholics swarmed all over the church. Being children of God we saw it as huge and it was huge. We lived our daily lives on that rock. But bullies got up on the rock and announced that this was not the only rock. There were other rocks just as important all rocks all churches were the same in the eyes of God.
Mama heard this. She believed it. So the rock was no longer the only salvation to God. She was disgusted and moved on. She never bothered with the Catholic Church again.
Briget Kennedy is in Purgatory and needs help. In your charity will you pray for her.