Monday, 19 April 2010


Interruptions can be infuriating! I'm trying to compose a sermon. I need peace and quiet. No distractions. The phone rings. I have to answer the door. Or I may be sleeping after a busy day. But I'm brutally woken and have to give the sacraments to someone who is dying.

Of course I respond to these interruptions, but being human, I may mutter to myself and long for a bit of peace and quiet. You may react in the same way, if a crying child disturbs your sleep, or if a visitor comes while you are trying to cook a meal or do any other job, which demands your undivided attention. We quickly learn that although we may make plans, life is rarely as tidy and orderly as we would like.

It's reassuring to know the same was true for Jesus. After a busy day he would try to be alone to relax and pray. Like the rest of us, he needed a bit of peace and quiet. But people would hunt him down, demanding to be cured. And he generously responded to their need.
There's a story in the first three Gospels. It's about an official's young daughter. Mark tells us she was dying, Matthew that she was already dead. Her father, believing in Christ's power, begged Him to come and help his daughter. So Jesus set out for their home. But on the way He was interrupted by a woman, who had been sick for twelve years. She, too, needed Christ's help. Such was her faith that she believed that if she just touched the tassels on Christ's garments she would be cured. As He saw her need and recognised her faith He stopped, spoke to her and cured her. Only afterwards did He continue His journey and raise the dead little girl to life.

These interruptions in Christ's life have led me to re-think my reaction to interruptions in my own life. Instead of resenting them I should see them as God-sent -in truth a God-send. They provide unexpected opportunities for me to meet and serve Him in unplanned ways. It's fine and necessary for me to organize my life, but I must not be a slave to rigid and inflexible plans. I must be prepared to meet the God of surprises, wherever and however He may choose to show Himself and require my service. If I insist on sticking to my plans I will miss a new way of meeting God.
This was very true of Martha when Jesus visited her and Mary, her sister. They showed him their love and hospitality in different ways -Mary by staying with Jesus, Martha by preparing a meal for Him. We all how this can happen when we have an unexpected visitor. Some of us will entertain our guest, while others will prepare some refreshments.

But Martha had got her priorities wrong -she spent too much time in the kitchen, not enough with Jesus. After all, the main point of His visit was to be with His friends, not to have a splendid meal. But Martha was obviously annoyed with her sister, Mary. What's unpleasant about this incident is that Martha wanted to get Jesus involved in this domestic spat and expected Him to take her side. But gently, so gently, He let her know she's got it all wrong. He had a better solution.

Instead of interrupting His conversation with Mary, Martha should interrupt her over-elaborate preparations in the kitchen, and come and join them. After all, that's what Martha really wanted when she asked Mary to give her hand, and so enable her join Jesus more quickly. While she argued that many hands make light work Jesus thought that Martha was making her task unnecessarily heavy.
This story reminds me that I. too, must get my priorities right. I must interrupt my many activities and make time to relax with God and enjoy His company. If I don't my love for Him will grow cold. The same is true in my making time to be with my community and you with your families. I must also remember that interruptions to my planned activities can provide new and unexpected ways of meeting God.
Isidore O.P.
Next week Fr. Peter will Meet God ...'He does send!'

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


I used to live with a certain Dominican who always swept and cobwebbed his room before he got down to preparing an important sermon. For him it was as though an orderly environment helped him to have an orderly mind.

Not so for me. I'm one of those people who thrive on chaos and confusion. My small desk has to provide space for my laptop and printer, as well as scanner...all of them attached to cables that seem to have lives of their own -like a bunch of writhing snakes. They don't need any help from me to weave themselves into a tangle.

In one corner there's a collection of small pharmaceutical bottles that now holds paper clips, a variety of pins, and elastic bands. In another corner there's a pile of papers and books.

I've always had a problem with organising my pens, pencils and crayons. All of them find accommodation in a rather elegant wicker basket ....but -and it's a big 'BUT' -it's always troublesome to find the item I need amidst all this jumble.

The Good Lord must have a special compassion for me. On numerous occasions he plants weird and wonderful ideas into my head, fantastic connections, and interesting uses for objects that were designed for utterly different purposes. These flashes of insight come in moments of tranquillity, such as when I'm enjoying a quite time in the chapel or when I'm vigorously lathering in the shower.

I don't see these as distractions. For me they are divine interventions. They're so obviously helpful to me that in my excitement I thank and praise the Lord for His own inventiveness, which He has shared with me. I can't think that the devil would be so kind and considerate!

So, it came to me like a flash of lightning that my pens and pencils, etc. could be well organised with something like an inverted saucer of wire mesh...the sort of thing placed in vases for the arrangement of flowers. So, off I went to the stores in town that sell home and garden furnishings. No luck there.

Next move was to Skype Isidore with the exciting news of my latest brain-wave and of my fruitless treasure hunt. He welcomed the challenge with the eagerness of a ferret sniffing around a rabbit burrow. Such was his zest to dash off to the 'Charity Shops' in Leicester.

And look what he found (photographed above)! Our guess is that originally it was placed on a grave to hold the beautiful flowers of mourning and continuous devotion.

I pause to glance at my untidy desk, which I now bracket with the first chapter of the Bible. The primordial chaos prompted God to bring into play his creative genius to draw order out of chaos. He then decided what He could make of it. God was obviously delighted in what He had done with His mind having being totally open to the possibilities of creation ...some of them ingenious, fantastic, awesome, beautiful.

I'm excited that in rare and precious moments God takes us outside and beyond the obvious into the realm of the fanciful and the creative....what's fit for the graveyard becomes fit for my desktop!

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God through interruptions

Monday, 12 April 2010


Most of us look in a mirror at least once a day. For us men, it's usually while we're having a shave. The mirror helps us avoid cutting ourselves. Women need a mirror so that they can put on their make-up and do their hair. Looking in a mirror is part of our daily routine.

But what do we see? That's a daft question! Ourselves, of course! More important, how do we react? Some of us may be very dissatisfied with our appearance. We compare ourselves with super-models - male or female - and find ourselves wanting. But we will never have peace of mind unless we can accept what we see in the mirror and say, 'That's me! I'm glad!'

Others of us may be so pleased with what we see that we become like Narcissus, who fell in love with his image, reflected in the still water. That can lead to our becoming so conceited that we're completely absorbed in ourselves and have no time to appreciate other people; so we may well find that they have no time for us. And if our happiness depends on our good looks we will feel very insecure. We know that with the passage of time we will all lose the freshness of youth. And yet the wrinkles etched by age and experience can give us a much more interesting appearance than the characterless smoothness of a young face. Any way that's my comfort in old age!

When we look in a mirror we see not only our own image, but also God's. The first book of the Bible tells us that He made us in His own image and likeness, and that he was very pleased with His handiwork. And that likeness is much more than skin-deep!

Not one of us mere human beings could ever claim to be the perfect image of God. But Jesus, as the Son of God made man, is the perfect image of the invisible God, (cf. Col. 1.15). As Jesus told Philip, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father," (Jn. 14.8).

In and through Jesus, God could be seen, touched and heard; in Jesus divine love is perfectly embodied and expressed in a human form, readily accessible to us.

Imperfectly, we mirror God's likeness in our capacity to know and to love Him as He really is -the One Who is supremely good and true, loving and lovable. In such loving knowledge of God lies the happiness for which He has created us and to which He calls us.

He loves and respects each one of us so much that that He has sent His Son to share our human life and to lay down His very life for us on the cross -precisely because He wants to remove the barrier of sin, which prevents us from sharing His own divine life and happiness. God could not have paid us people a greater compliment than by His becoming one of us.

Our way to perfection is, then, to strive, with God's help, to become ever more like His Son, Jesus, who is our way to meeting God.

So, as I look in the mirror I see someone loved by God, Who has gone to such painful lengths to rescue me from making a compete mess of my life -from distorting and destroying myself as God's image. If God can love me so much, who am I to despise myself or, indeed, anyone else? God has convinced me that not only am I lovable, but also loved. The same is true for everybody else. Even when my sins have distorted His image in me He still loves me and is eager to repair the damaged image.

As I look in the mirror I realise that God has given me all that I have, all that I am. Without God's creative love I simply would not exist. If I achieve anything in life it's only because He has given me the ability to do so. Without God I can do nothing. Without God I am nothing.

So, as I look in the mirror I mustn't become like Narcissus and fall in love with myself. Instead, I must see myself as reflecting God, and should fall in love with Him. My perfection is to become ever more like God.

A final thought. In the musical, 'Les Miserables' there's a beautiful song with the line, "To love another person is to see the face of God."

Love is the key to discovering something of the glory of God, mirrored in each one of us. It's sad but true that many people will only get a glimpse of what God is like by seeing Him reflected in the love, mercy and care we show each other.

Isidore O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God 'Out of Chaos.'

Monday, 5 April 2010


Every day I make a point of catching a Newscast either on radio or TV. I hear of some form of violence -terrorism, armed conflict, domestic violence and street violence. Pictorial images, word descriptions, and my vivid imagination keep me aware of the physical and emotional pain that is life in the modern world. For some it is sporadic violence that breaks into more or less tranquil lives. For others violence and the threat of violence is the texture of their lives.

I think of the fear, the sense of insecurity, the longing for peace and the despair that this will never be attainable. Young children grow up with this. They have never known anything else. They are conditioned to perpetuate this. No wonder if this carries hatred and the desire for retaliation into the next generation.

I wish there were an easy solution to this dilemma of violence. Most times diplomacy and sweet persuasion fail to create an environment of peace in homes, on the streets, and in war zones. Such thoughts as these weighed heavily upon me during this season of Lent. I asked myself what is to be mywaygodsway to come to terms with this.

First of all, I must face the facts in their grim awfulness I take my lead from the two disciples making their way towards Emmaus....heart-broken, disappointed and disillusioned that their beloved Jesus, their hero, had been crucified. 'Our own hope had been that He would be the one to set Israel free,' (Lk. 24. 21).

And now I have recourse to the words of this same Jesus on the eve of the cruel death that He knew He was going to suffer. To the disciples he said, 'In the world you will have hardship, but be courageous. I have conquered the world,' (Jn. 13. 33). Are these trite words, or do they state the absolute truth upon which Christianity depends? Are they any help to me?

It is here that I have to make my own words those of St. John in his First Letter, 'This is the victory that has overcome the world -our faith.' (1 Jn. 5. 4). Faith such as that of St. Paul, when he wrote,
'Jesus is the peace between us, and has made the two into one entity and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, by destroying in His own person the hostility, that is, the Law of commandments with its decrees. His purpose in this way was, by restoring peace, to create a single New Man out of the two of them, and through the cross, to reconcile them both to God in one Body. In His own person he killed hostility. He came to bring the good news of peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near,' (Eph. 2. 16-17).

I ask myself whether Jesus really can bridge the divide of hostility and alienation, which is to be found today in so many locations and situations? Can my faith overcome the world with its doubting despair that could persuade me that the present situation is so bad that not even Jesus could do anything about it.

My faith is this: Jesus is the Saviour of the world, the whole world -not just one people, not just one race, not even just one religious grouping. His universal Lordship embraces those who have never heard of Him, as well as those who do not believe in Him. His breaking down the barriers does not depend upon our belief He can do so, nor upon our praying that He will do so. By His power to save and reconcile, Jesus can change the hearts of anyone or everyone.
I believe that the Crucified and Risen Lord has the answer, is the answer. I do not know what He will do, nor when and how He will do it. But I believe and trust. That is mywaygodsway -the only way.
Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God by looking in a mirror.