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Donnybrook Parish

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Donnybrook Parish


FS LentThe Fifth Sunday of Lent

Fr. Gerard Ryan, S.J.

The Centre Holds: The Ordinary and Brave Saints During Covid-19

These days the words of W.B Yeats are carried by the wind the length and breadth of our island, ‘The centre cannot hold, things fall apart’. In a certain sense things have changed in most unprecedented ways. Yet ,there also permeates a humbled awareness that the centre has held its ground.

The centre is often regarded as something central, essential and the most significant point. Sometimes in the business of life, one forgets what is the centre and who occupies that space.

In the natural distraction of ordinary life, we perhaps think that what is to be pursued is the most current piece of technology, or a particular designer item of clothing, or a new car. These items are, of course, not bad in themselves. But they can become distractions to what is real and important.

Whilst we might not consciously attribute great significance to what is material, our desire for them can become a centre in and of itself. Time spent tracing down the latest reviews for a phone or a car consumes more time than time spent with family and friends.

An event interrupts our rut. An obvious example of such an interruption is the death of a loved one. It is no surprise, then, that John affords the story of the death of Lazarus a lot of space in his Gospel. The words of Lazarus’s sisters become ours words today: ‘Lord, the one you love is ill’. For the Covid-19 has made these words of description a universal mantra in our global world. For so many are ill and our inability, for now, to vaccinate against this virus has left us especially exposed and vulnerable. We earnestly and prayerfully invoke, like the sisters of Lazarus, the help of Christ, the Lord.

During these times of national emergency, the words of Lazarus’s sister is our cry too, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. That is, however, not the end of the story of Lazarus. We hear in the final lines of the Gospel the transformative words that express the centre of Jesus’ reconciling and loving ministry here on earth: ‘Unbind him, let him go free’.

This ministry of care and ultimate concern, a ministry for all women and men across our  fragile global village, is urgently needed in our time. As Christians, our faith tells us that we in this moment, in these days, participate in that same transformative and liberating ministry of Christ that continues in all times .We are called today, in love of God and love of neighbour, to give testimony to it. One such testimony this week: Our Taoiseach thanked all frontline workers. As a nation we all applauded them on Thursday. I remembered especially my cousin Ciara and her colleagues working tirelessly in the ambulance service in Limerick city.

Mr. Varadkar extended his gratitude to include all of us: ‘Thanks also to everyone helping others in a million different ways. All those in religious life, our journalists and broadcasters, and everyone doing their best to raise the spirits of our country’.

As a religious community of worshipers, the parish of Donnybrook, commits to being part of that transformative and liberating healing ministry of Christ in our ongoing prayer for frontline staff and all those helping in so many ordinary and extraordinary ways.

We have moved from the parish church to our homes, for now. Indeed, our homes have become the centre of our parish prayer and, consequently, the centre of Christian discipleship continues as we pray for our God to come to the  assistance, yet again, of a world and human family he loves so dearly.

As the psalmist this Sunday prays: ‘Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption’.

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