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World Youth Day, Lisbon, 2022

World Youth Day will take place August 1 to 6 in Lisbon 2023. Package options and costs are still being determined and the registration system will open in September. At present it is intended to have the option for teenagers aged 16-18 to participate as well as those...

Associate Membership of Lourdes Pilgrimage

After an absence of two years, Bridie McHugh will be collecting for the Associate Membership of the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes in the front porch after Sunday Masses. Any contribution you make will go towards helping sick people travel to Lourdes who...

What is Roku?

Parishioners who watch our parish liturgies on their phones or Tablets might like to know about Roku. Roku devices are small streaming boxes that easily connect to the back of your Television. On the Roku device you will be able to access the streaming company that...

Pathways: Exploring Faith as an Adult

Pathways is a two-year, one evening a week, Adult Faith Development course on Thursday evenings, run by the Dublin Archdiocese in DCU St. Patrick’s Campus, Upper Drumcondra Rd., Dublin 9. Late September to May (7.00 p.m. – 9.30 p.m). Application is now open for...

Summer Parish Fair

St John’s Parish will hold a Summer Fair in the Parish Centre next Sunday 26th June from 10am to 2.00 pm. This year we have a wonderful selection of New Books kindly donated to us. There will also be homemade cakes, brand new items with labels on, Tombola and of...

Reflection on Today’s

Gospel Reading

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sometimes ancient quarrels have a way of enduring into the present. A conflict that may be centuries old can continue to impact succeeding generations. It is as if a pattern of behaviour establishes itself and becomes entrenched over time and seems to be repeated endlessly in every age. We have had our own experience on this island of ancient quarrels impacting on how people see one another and relate to one another in the here and now.

In the time of Jesus, the quarrel between Jews and Samaritans was already ancient. It lay in a centuries old dispute as to where God had chosen as his dwelling place. Was it Jerusalem in Judea, as the Jews held, or Mount Gerizim in Samaria, as the Samaritans believed? We find that ancient quarrel breaking out in today’s gospel reading. Jesus was a Jew on a journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, but he wanted to go through Samaria on his way to Jerusalem, so that the Samaritans too could hear the good news that the kingdom of God was at hand. However, the Samaritan village he hoped to enter would not receive him or his disciples, simply because he was a Jew heading for Jerusalem. As far as the Samaritans were concerned, Jesus and his disciples were heretics, acting out their heresy. Jesus was rejected in Samaria, as, indeed, he would later be rejected in Jerusalem. His disciples reacted to this experience of rejection in the spirit of the ancient quarrel, asking Jesus if he would like them to call on God to rain down fire from heaven to burn up these insolent Samaritans. Perhaps the reaction of his disciples to this experience of rejection horrified Jesus more than the experience of rejection itself. He immediately turned and rebuked his disciples. Jesus was not going to allow himself to be shaped by this ancient quarrel. Far from wanting the Samaritans destroyed, Jesus understood their reaction to him; he simply moved on to another village. He was prepared to wait on the Samaritans. He knew that the time would come when they would be ready to respond to the preaching of the gospel. We find this happening in Luke’s second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, when the Samaritans received the gospel with joy when it was preached to them by Philip, a deacon of the early church. Later in Luke’s gospel Jesus goes on to show how little he is shaped by this ancient parable. He tells a story, in which the one who embodies Jesus’ own compassionate, self-emptying service of others is a Samaritan.

The desire of Jesus’ disciples to call down fire from heaven to burn up the Samaritans has a contemporary ring to it. We have witnessed in recent months the equivalent of fire reigning down from the heavens on innocent civilians in Ukraine and burning them up. Another ancient quarrel has erupted with deadly consequences for those who are trying to live their lives in the here and now. Jesus, now risen Lord, would surely be as horrified at what is happened now as he was at his own disciples’ mind-set that day in Samaria two thousand years ago. Ancient quarrels, old antagonisms, can weigh heavily and painfully on the present, and that is true of our own personal lives as well as of the life of nations. As individuals we can live with the consequences of ancient quarrels within our families, even not so ancient quarrels. Today’s gospel reading suggests that Jesus wants us to break free of the weight of such quarrels and of the patterns of behaviour that they can so easily give rise to. Jesus had a freedom to rise above the ancient quarrel between Jews and Samaritans that his disciples lacked. This is the freedom Paul speaks about in today’s second reading, when he says, ‘When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free’. Paul is talking there about the freedom of the Spirit, the freedom to love others, even the enemy, in the way that Jesus does, which only the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Lord, can make possible. When Paul says in that reading, ‘Serve one another in works of love’, he is referring to a way of life that the Spirit makes possible. The Spirit frees us to love unconditionally. That is why in another of his letters Paul can say very simply, ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’.

Sometimes people can be wary of the call of the gospel because they see it as restricting their freedom. Yet, in reality, Jesus is the source of authentic freedom. In the gospel of John, he says, ‘if you continue in my word… you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’, and he goes on to declare, ‘if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed’. Jesus is the source of true freedom in that he gives us the Spirit who empowers us, who frees us, to live as God desires us to live, in ways that correspond to what is deepest and best in us, rather than in ways that are too readily shaped by ancient quarrels. The portrayal of Jesus in today’s gospel reading allows us to see what such freedom of the Spirit looks like in a human life.

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