The following is the homily delivered at the Mass of Thanksgiving for Bishop Liam MacDaid. It was delivered by Mgr Larry Duffy, PP, Carrickmacross and Dean of the Diocesan Chapter of Canons.
After a Gospel like that (Luke 23:35-43) I feel God has a sense of humour.
As we celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for Bishop Liam we have a Gospel of Jesus between two thieves.
However, this Gospel passage is worthy of Reflection.
Calvary Hill presents us with a scene both terrible and chilling.
A Place of – darkness- of anger – and hurtful comment.
Leaders – jeering Soldiers- mocking Thief- doubting and belittling
And yet in the midst of this scene is a profound truth.
“If God is found on Calvary Hill, then there is no place on earth where God will not dwell.”
God does not hide from our places of pain, our places of sin.
He is with us in our darkest moments as well as our days of joy.
I link that Gospel passage with an extract from The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis:
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the street, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and clinging to its own security.”
Jesus suffers on the cross because of his ministry on the streets.
It was there he proclaimed the good news of Gods Kingdom by word and example – by his presence.
This man of compassion quickly understands the pain and the isolation of the poor.
He engaged with the lame, the crippled, the leper, the sinner, the persecuted etc….
Again and again we hear him say” Do not cry” “Do not worry” “Do not be afraid”, only have faith in a God who loves.
Jesus saw the person and their need before anything else.
He had a profound respect for the person regardless of personal situations.
The poor were overjoyed and followed him.
He enjoyed their company and ate at their table.
All this challenged the worldly minded and he was seen as a threat.
His was a voice to be silenced; a light to be extinguished ,
On Calvary Hill between two thieves, this champion of the poor was put to death.
Calvary is not the end
We know that Calvary is part of a bigger picture.
Resurrection, the gift of the Spirit, the Mission given to us.
Jesus calls us to be his missionaries, to be his compassionate presence in the world today.
Napoleon got it right when he said:
“Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I founded great empires, but on what did we rest the creation of our genius? – Upon force.
Jesus Christ founded his empire on Love – and at this moment millions would die for him”….
Millions have died for him.
Many more have lived life motivated and inspired by him.
In every Parish we see people who go the extra mile because of Jesus Christ- “people permanently in a state of Mission” ( Pope Francis)
Bishop Liam is one such person – and we are here to say thanks
A Bishop’s life today is not an easy one.
There is a heavy work load- and endless issues to be addressed.
Bishop Liam we thank you for your years of service
It was your approach we appreciated most
Your humble style-
Your respect above all for the person in front of you.
Your wisdom and leadership (qualities that generally evoked a positive response)
Maybe what I want to say is best reflected in a meeting I once had with a senior priest.
He told me he once met Bishop Liam and suggested it was time for him (the priest) to retire….. Whereupon he was told “You do more work than most priests, we couldn’t do without you”
The response of the priest was: “now there’s a man who knows his priests- a true shepherd!!”
Bishop Liam on behalf of the people and priest of the diocese –
I say Thanks to you for your years of service
Your gentle manner
Your encouraging words
Your support in difficult times
(and your Christmas card)!
Christ’s presence was never far from us when you were in our midst.
As the Priest said – A true shepherd – A father to your people.
My wish and prayer for you is well expressed in the words of John O’Donohue:
“May you be blessed with good friends,
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where there is love, warmth, feelings and forgiveness “
May God Bless You
20 November 2016.