Body and Blood of Christ


Drinking Well


Comfort or Joy?


     Hearing that John had been arrested Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali.  In this way the prophesy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulon! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of the Jordan, 
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;
On those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
A light has dawned.
From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.
Mt. 4:12-17.


When I was a young priest I used celebrate a weekday Mass for a small congregation in a large church.  The people were spread out around the church in their own familiar places that they always occupied, far from each other and far from the altar.  One day after Mass I invited the congregation to come together for a short meeting.  

I told them that we would have a better celebration of Mass if they all came to the pews near the altar; I made what I thought was a good case for this proposal and I asked them what they thought about it.  There was silence for a while and then one person said, ‘We are alright where we are.’ 
As I grow older I have more sympathy for this point of view.  I am getting settled in my ways.  I have a particular chair I like to sit on, I always use a mug instead of a cup, I do not like my tea too strong, and I get upset if I cannot watch the nine o’clock news.

Maybe I can take comfort in the words of today’s Gospel, ‘He went and settled in Capernaum.’ But Jesus did not settle in Capernaum for very long.  He used it as a base but was always on the move. He said later that while foxes had their homes and the birds had their nests, he had nowhere to lay his head.  He had to depend on the good will of people to provide accommodation and hospitality.

No settling down.
It is only recently I noticed that when God came into the lives of people in the Bible, he seldom allowed them to settle down where they were or remain fixed in their ways. Abraham was chosen to be the father of the Chosen People; the first thing God asked him to do was to ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you.’ When God set his people free from slavery in Egypt, they wandered for forty years in the desert; they had no fixed abode.  The prophets often had to leave their familiar surroundings and their lives became anything but comfortable when they said things to powerful people that they did not want to hear.

Leaving the comfort of their homes.     
What God did in the lives of those people in the Bible, he is still doing in the lives of people today.  I invite you to notice where you have seen this.  You will see it in the lives of religious people, in the lives of people who may not describe themselves as being religious at all, and you are likely to see it in your own life too.  Irish people in large numbers have gone as missionaries to most corners of the world.  Today there are about 1,500 Irish missionaries - religious sisters, brothers, lay people and priests - working in ninety countries.  Our aid workers go into difficult and dangerous situations to provide relief in humanitarian crises; they also work side by side with local people in development projects.  They may not always be able to choose how strong or weak their tea is or whether they have tea at all, but they are likely to find a contentment that far outweighs their loss of comforts.
Closer to home we see less dramatic examples of people leaving the comfort of their own homes to be of service of others.  Members of voluntary organizations go to meetings, organize activities, knock on doors, and wind and the rain do not deter them.  People watch out for their elderly or house bound neighbours.  Family members give up their own comfort for one another: mothers and fathers get up at night to care for their small children; sons and daughters make sacrifices to look after aged parents. `` 

     In God’s scheme of things there is no retirement. No matter how old we are, we cannot say: ‘God will leave me alone now, I have done my bit.’  Pope John Paul in his Letter to the Elderly said that ‘at every stage of our lives, the Lord can ask each of us to contribute whatever talents we have; the service of the Gospel has nothing to do with age.’  We will always find ourselves called to leave what is familiar and go into an unknown future as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus in our time.  If he had stayed in his quiet and familiar hometown of Nazareth, the people who lived on the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali would not have seen a great light.

                                                                                    Brendan Clifford


Live, Jesus, live,
So live in me, that all I do be done by thee. 
And grant that all I think and say,
May be your thoughts and words this day.



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