Mass for Peace, in the Church of St John the Evangelist, 7th August 2016, Dublin
HOMILY by Msgr Eoin Thynne
In the aftermath of the brutal murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel and the terrible atrocities that inflict our world, you are justified in asking “what can prayer do for the people of France and the victims of so much violence in our world.” Can prayer help? Some may think it is just idealism and of no effect in the ‘real world’. As believers, we know that God is the only one who has constantly remained faithful to his people.
At every stage in human history, despite the infidelity of his people, God has remained faithful and has come to the aid of those who follow his path with fidelity. By placing ourselves in His presence, we also change ourselves.
When we see that God is love, we recognise that everything we have is gift. We cannot allow ourselves or others to use the things of the world for any purpose that would betray God’s design. But unfortunately, that is what is happening. When we are people of prayer we can only be people of peace, who wish to see all humankind live in harmony together and live in harmony with all of God’s creation.
Placing ourselves in an attitude of prayer we witness to how humans should behave towards each other irrespective of race, creed or colour. Prayer is not just a private conversation between you or me and God. Prayer is a placing of ourselves into a new kind of relationship with God and with others.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has asked that the Church raise its voice in prayer for peace and an end to terrorism and violence. We remember in particular today Fr. Jacques Hamel and all innocent victims of recent conflicts. We remember those who face the horrors of war and having abandoned their homes; now seek a better life on mainland Europe.
Our prayers today are for a just and enduring peace, for ‘a solution that goes to the roots of the problem’. Peace and justice are not abstract concepts or remote ideals. They are values which dwell in the heart of every individual. Individuals, families, communities and nations, all are called to live in justice and to work and pray for peace.
The heart of the Gospel message is Christ, who is everyone's peace and reconciliation. Lasting peace is not just a matter of structures and mechanisms. It rests above all on the adoption of a style of human coexistence marked by the capacity to forgive from the heart. We all need to be forgiven by others, so we must all be ready to forgive. Asking and granting forgiveness is something profoundly worthy of man. Sometimes it is the only way out of situations marked by violent hatred. We can never hope for peace in our world unless Moslem, Jew and Christian open their heart to forgiveness.
In reminding us of what love means, God teaches us as individuals and as a human family that the peace we all long for does not come just from having and possessing, but above all from the ability to give and to share and to care. Peace and progress need that same sense of personal caring for each other and of doing something, not out of self interest but because good is to be done.
How often have we heard in the scriptures: the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep? That is exactly what Fr. Hamel did. It is what we are called to do; not literally; but to lay down our lives by being a good neighbour. It means giving our lives in service of our brothers and sisters, the sick and the infirm and those we have been called to serve.
This service is expressed in many different ways. It is lived wherever God wants us to be. We are called to bring compassion, forgiveness, care, healing and respect to people; to seek out the lost and bring them home.
If we remain within our own narrow ways of thinking we will always remain just where we started. If we allow the message of Jesus to take root in our lives, then even in a society which no longer understands or is indifferent to his teaching, we can awaken others to the fact that He is the Good Shepherd.
May we continue to bring the values and demands of the Gospel into every sphere of human life and activity. All of us have the capacity to proclaim the Good News; we have the capacity to change, to change not only the life of individuals but the life of a nation seeking moral and spiritual renewal.
So our prayers today are for a just and enduring peace, for a solution that goes to the roots of the problem. Today we remember and pray for Fr. Jacques and for all who have given the witness of their lives and death for faith, hope and love. We mourn the senselessness of violence and pray for the repose of the souls of all victims of terror acts. May all who have died through violence RIP. Amen.
included are James McDonald KC*SG, Gerard Walsh, KCG and his wife Susan, Vincnet McBrierty KC*SG and his wife Kay, Peter Durnin KC*SG, Emmet O'Connell KCSG and Mrs O'Connell, Joseph McDonnell KCSG, Dr Eileen Kane DC*SG, Donal Lydon KS*SG and Maeve, John Morgan KSG with Msgr Amauri Medina Blanco
left to right Donal Lydon, KC*SG, Association Chaplain Msgr Eoin Thynne and Vincent McBrierty, KC*SG. Association President