Tuesday, 26 January 2016



Our brother, Geoff. was an engineer, based in Aden. One of his jobs was to discover water beneath the parched, sun-baked land. Imagine the excitement when he struck water! A jet leapt high into the air, soaking the locals anxiously watching and waiting.

 Far from being annoyed at getting wet, old and young, men, women and children pranced and danced, laughed and wept for joy. Now a well could be sunk. That would guarantee a regular supply of water. They could plant and irrigate their crops; they could water their livestock. Their community could survive and prosper. They had a future! Geoff  rejoiced that he had helped them to survive.

Turn on a tap and the water flows! That's how it is for those of us who live in a temperate climate. We take take a drink of water for granted. Our thirst is easily quenched. Rainfall is a sign of God’s life-giving blessing upon those with ground that is  parched.  A shower of  rain is bad weather for those who want to enjoy outdoor games!.

Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ gives a new dimension and urgency to that Corporal Work of Mercy which is giving a drink to the thirsty. 
He reminds us that we are Custodians of God’s Creation. We owe to others and to ourselves that we protect it’s life-sustaining environment. All of us, even young children, simply must work to preserve the drinking water. People can't survive without water. No tap should be left running to no purpose.
"Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.....  But water continues to be wasted, not only in the developed world but also in developing countries which possess it in abundance. This shows that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue, since there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behaviour within a context of great inequality," 
(Laudato Si. 30).

Global Warming  is at the heart of  those droughts that threaten some parts of the world  and other parts with floods...on a devastating, destructive scale.

In stressing the importance of protecting the environment Pope Francis gives an obvious,  global, importance to quenching someone’s thirst. Such compassion is to be expected of any decent human being.

But what if we  give this very same drink in God’s name to a fellow human being who is made in God’s image and likeness?   According to Jesus, this simple act of kindness acquires an eternal value and richness. This is because Jesus identifies the giver with His own compassionate self; and the one who receives the drink with His own needy self.

Jesus identified with every thirsty person when He asked the Samaritan woman to draw for Him water from the well (cf. Jn. ch. 4).  He needed her help. The thirsty of the world need ours. In them, for them, the crucified Christ appeals, "I thirst!" ( Jn. 19.38).

Let us pray

Heavenly Father, your Son knew what it meant to be thirsty.  He knew what it was like to have to depend upon someone else to draw water from a well, to quench His thirst. When people ask us for a drink of water to be like the woman at the well.  She readily responded to Jesus’ need.
There are millions of people living in parched lands, dying of thirst, together with their crops and livestock.  Without water nothing can live, grow and flourish.
The gift of water is a powerful sign of your love and care for your people; our thirst for water expresses our love for you, our need  for you, our need for your help.
In your love and compassion hear the cry of your people’s thirst for your life-giving water.  Inspire us, your people, to preserve the drinking water already available.  Move us to protect its purity.  Help us discover knew sources of drinking water, new ways to make the desert green and fruitful, your people flourish.  Help us to be true custodians of the world you have given us, the world in which you have placed us. We ask this through your Son, who from the cross cried, “I THIRST.

             For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy                 on us and on the whole world.

  Isidore Clarke, O.P.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


With great sensitivity the TV News Reader warns that we are about to see what we might find very disturbing. This ‘News Event’ might well be about many a place where people are starving – even in the back-alleys of the wealthy metropolitan countries.

The News Reader is being responsible – some people may not be able to cope with the ghastly sight of starving people, their emaciated bodies, their dull unaware gaze; and, worst of all, the virtually fleshless bodies of children.

I now want to move away from what I’ve seen on my T V screen and face up to what I meet as I walk the streets; what I hear about in casual conversations.

We live in the midst of people who are grossly undernourished, weak, shriveled with hunger. They would want to hide from me in shame; they have to try to catch my attention in desperation! They’re begging for something to eat – usually they want money so they can, with some self-respect, buy something for themselves.

Every day they live out the role of the wretched Lazarus in the parable of Jesus. Starving, he sat at the entrance of the house of Dives. This rich man cared not a thing for the one who would been overjoyed to receive even the left-overs from the meal. Jesus had to condemn such heartlessness.
Who, in our day, are you in this parable? Who am I? Probably, not Lazarus! Please God, not Dives!
For us Christians such self-questioning becomes embarrassing, discomforting. Jesus makes it so. He denies us the ‘cop-out’ of, ‘If I’d known it was you, Lord, begging in the streets, I’d have treated you like royalty!’

In His Famous Last Judgement Sermon Jesus demolishes our self-defense. He identifies Himself with the neglected sufferer.

For I was hungry and you never gave me food... In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me,’ (Mtt.25).
At a very basic level we can reduce this to, ‘I was a human being – just like yourself! And you let me starve when you could have done something about it. You showed me no mercy; you weren’t interested in me…only in your own concerns.’
His Last Judgement Pronouncement will be, ‘You will go away to eternal punishment’ - which amounts to, ‘I shall want nothing to do with you ever, never, again.’

Pope Francis sees the starvation issue to be so critical that he writes,
‘Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.’ (Message for Lent 2014).

I would like to think that you and I, without seeking to draw attention to ourselves, reach out to the hungry with friendly courtesy. Do we realize how much Jesus admires and loves us for this? He will say,
‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food. In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’

Let us pray,

Almighty Father, every single human being, old or young, rich or poor, is made in your image and likeness. Each of us is precious to you as your beloved child. Each of us is brother or sister to every single member of your human family, our human family.
And yet, we are divided by our prejudices. When we are self-centred we are likely become indifferent to those who lack the basic necessities for life – such food.
We now pray that, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, starting with ourselves, the whole human family will receive the grace from you to become more sensitive, more caring, more loving, and more merciful towards our hungry, starving, brothers and sisters.

For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Peter Clarke, O.P.
P.S. Next posting, "Giving drink to the thirsty..."










Saturday, 16 January 2016


The Face of Mercy is the Face of God; the Human Face of Mercy is that of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Mary; Today’s Face of Mercy is meant to be your face, my face, the face of all of us who have accepted the call to be disciples of Jesus and strive to live according to His example and teaching.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, ‘Jesus of Nazareth began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism.  God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil,’ (10.37).
          The Gospels describe what a sensitive, caring person Jesus was. 

                 Out of loving mercy He attended to their various needs:

‘But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 'I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, or they might collapse on the way.' (Mt. 15.32)            
So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.’ (Mtt.14.14).

 So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length,’ (Mk. 6.34).

We see here that Jesus reached out to people at every level of their being and brought to them wholesomeness…to their bodies, their minds, and to their inner spiritual selves. 
Jesus wants you and me, His disciples to be the channels, the instruments of His merciful love for all mankind. He inspires us to do this. He empowers us to do so.
For our convenience the Church has drawn up lists of areas of merciful concern that we should attend to:

Feed the hungry,
Give drink to the thirsty , 
Clothe the naked,    
 Shelter the homeless,
Visit the sick ,
Visit the imprisoned ,  
Bury the dead.


Admonish the sinner,   
Instruct the ignorant ,
Counsel the doubtful ,    
Comfort the sorrowful,
Bear wrongs patiently,   
Forgive all injuries,  
    Pray for the living and the dead          

Together we, Isidore and Peter Clarke, O.P., are going to compose our own reflections on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. This will be our contribution to the Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

We want this to stimulate us into living, acting, with merciful love towards other people. We hope this will be treated as more than interesting reading matter.
We need the grace to compose these reflections. All of us need the grace to respond to them creatively.

          Soon to follow – our personal reflections on each of the Works of Mercy..


Isidore and Peter  Clarke, O.P.