St Catherine’s Maynooth – Christmas 2012 – Video

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Homily : Student Mass, Dec 13, 2012

Penitential Rite

• Last Saturday I was doing a bit of work on the computer and listening to the radio.

• I found myself listening to an interview with Glen Hansard where he was discussing the lyrics to the song High Hope.

• The title of the song and it lyrics got me thinking – they tapped into something within me – what are my hopes, what is that one high hope that I have, that high hope that I believe will free me from all limitations, fears, regrets etc.

• Is there really such a thing as the high hope ?– what high hope have you in your life, for this past term and for the new one, for this Christmas season and for the holiday period, have you a high hope for tonight…..

• What High Hope would you to be blessed with here this evening and through this Christmas season….??

• The Christian Faith promises more than a high hope – it promises a true hope and this hope is one based on the mercy and love of an eternal and caring God – so we begin each Eucharist by reminding ourselves of this promise, this covenant of God to each of us by saying…..Lord have mercy….


• Glen Hansard seems to have been one of those guys who have lived an interesting life that escapes many of us, or at least me anyway, growing up in Ballymun, leaving school at 13 to go busking, an alcoholic father who never seems to have been able to be redeemed from this illness, a mother who supported him.

• As Songwriter, vocalist and guitarist with the Frames he has won many accolades 8 grannies I think, an Oscar, and has appeared in a number of films including the Commitments/TV programme and even has had a part on a Simpson’s episode.

• He jets around the world while not having forgotten his roots. Each Christmas eve he gathers a group of musicians to busk and raise money for the Simon community. In fact he with a friend spend some time living homeless on Dublin streets so as to understand what the effects of being homeless on the person him or herself. While dong this he learnt about the community that exists among the homeless itself with its goodness and it madness.

• Challenges seem to empower him and he has learned to accept opportunities and successes as they present themselves.

• Yet his philosophy is very simple and down to earth:

 Life is about the creation of memories

 Good memories involve us sharing some of our natural energies and let put energies into what really matters- giving time and sharing something of our selves – not just using money to buy a quick gift or immediate satisfaction

 A mistake is a mistake, a second mistake is just that, a second mistake, however a mistake that teaches us something is a lesson learned

 Sometimes we have to lose everything to find out what we really want

• I do not know if this man is a Christian or would consider himself religious in anyway. However to me he is deeply spiritual just as the two individuals talking through our readings this evening as well as that of the person of the Saint whose life we remember in the Church’s feast that occurs this day….


First Reading: Isaiah of the Exile

• The name Glen Halsard may not be one that will endure the longevity of time but I suspect much of his music will continue to be played and remain very much alive in the hearts of future generation and so it is with the author of our first reading today. Only in his case it was the message that he proclaimed to his own people and generation.

• The first reading we heard today was written by a Hebrew prophet who lived in the sixth century BC. He has been assigned the title Isaiah but this is very unlikely to have been his real name.

• We do however know about his congregation, his audience and people. They were a jewfish people, ten thousand strong who world had come to an end, not just in economic and recessionary terms as we may be facing in our Ireland of today but the core of a whole nation that had be transported in slavery across hundreds of miles off desert into exile in Babylon.

• They were a lost people among a foreign and powerful nation whose cities and wealth appeared to be much more powerful than anything they had had themselves

• The prophets first message to them was that they were still a people, a people who still remained created, defined and shaped by God and the Word that had been handed down to them. The temple in Jerusalem may have been in rubble but they were still the people of God. They had their memoires and the potential to live and make real new memories.

• This must have been a difficult message to deliver and to hear for these people. The life of faith and the religion they had created around themselves was now shattered. Faith had proved itself to be a very fragile thing.

• It was time to leave behind some of their old ideas and ways of being and allow new ones to emerge. In the words of the Hansard’s song in losing everything they were about to find out what was truly real and deserving of their efforts to find meaning

• The prophet sought to give them back a living God, a God who connected with their long history of them as a people, a story of Creation, life and salvation. As in our reading today he gave them images of a God going about his work of love and salvation behind the scenes whether the people wanted or knew it.

• A Holy seed was being sown and as often is the case the seed sprouts without anyone knowing when it really did. History shows that these people went from a people of despair to a people of hope. A sense of emptiness and lost was replaced by a sense of presence of something greater in their lives that allowed for peace and acceptance. Mistakes became moments of learning not condemnation.

• We can thank this unknown Hebrew for giving such prominence to the word Gospel in our lives. In its original Semitic usage the word gospel means simply a report. With this prophet the word Gospel becomes an occasion when daily events become graced moments, when daily live becomes an occasion for god to be present and active. Human actions become moment of confession, confession of God’s love for us and our trust in God, God among us, God saving us. God once again is a relational God.