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Can you remember back to 2010 and to the Papal Visit of Pope Benedict XVI?  I was remembering that visit during last week and in particular one aspect.  If you remember in the same way as myself, you’ll recall that there was great scepticism, grave doubts that the visit would have ANY impact at all on the UK.  The media said that the Church was irrelevant and the message of the Church had nothing to say to the world.  Yet, from Edinburgh through Glasgow and on to England, crowds came out and listened to what Pope Benedict.  And I remember reflecting afterwards (even in a homily with yourselves) that to hear the Pope giving his talks and delivering his homilies was like listening to a benevolent grandad sitting in the corner of the room, with some wise old sayings.  This wasn’t a leader who came to berate modern society, this wasn’t a Pope who told everyone they were wrong.  For me, it was more like the wise, old man sitting in the corner of the room throwing out life’s insights after the trials of his life.  It was as if Pope Benedict was saying “I’ve lived a long life and now I want to encourage to live as full a life as I have.”

 

 

 

Why am I giving you this image today?  To be honest, when reflecting on today’s Gospel, I couldn’t get past the first part of Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees.  They asked him which was the greatest commandment to which he replied “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”  I began to think that I had spent most of my prayer life thinking about the other two members of the Trinity: God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit.  In my younger days when I was part of the charismatic prayer groups and involved in youth/charity work it was easy to think about the excitement of the Holy Spirit; that early enthusiasm which the apostles had in Jerusalem was now mine – I thought – as I brought the joy of the Gospel into my life and that of others.  Then, particularly when I did the Spiritual Exercises, I became close to Jesus.  Seeing him growing up, seeing Jesus wash the disciples’ feet, seeing Jesus inspire and then seeing Jesus go to his death, it was easy to imagine that Jesus was close to me.  Yes the Holy Spirit.  Yes, Jesus, Son of God.  Yet this week I began to see that maybe I had not spent a lot of time reflecting on who God the Father was.

 

 

 

That’s why I began to think of that wise old man sitting in the corner.  And I invite you to think of who God the Father is for YOU.  When I began to think of God the Father and what he might mean for me, I thought of the Father reminding me that He is the Creator, that he created me.  I began to think of Duke Street Hospital in Glasgow where I was born.  I began to think of Mum & Dad and the love and encouragement that they have shown me throughout my life.  I thought of God the Father sitting there quietly in the corner of my life, giving me counsel, reminding me not to get bent out of shape with life’s worries and telling me of life’s simple values.  Life can be straightforward – Love, Peace, Joy.  That is all that is needed … said the wise old Father in the corner.

 

 

 

One of the criticisms that Jesus had of the Pharisees in today’s Gospel was that they had complicated life too much.  They had worried and fretted about whether this law or that law was more important than the other.  Jesus said only remember where you came from, who is your Creator and what simple and basic values he invites you to live by.

 

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