“But I say this to you.”

“But I say this to you.”    Matthew, Francis and Elections.

There’s the rub:

“But I say this to you.” “There’s the rub” (Hamlet). However, as one of our old priests used to say: ‘Never mind what Jesus said; what does the pope say?’ Many believe that Francis was humming the song – ‘Whatever you say; say nothing.’ (Amazon document).  I doubt if Sarah and Ratzinger affected him.  Francis probably went off smiling.  He is stubborn enough to enjoy defying expectations.  There are other days.


We have to strip away the accretions of history and wonder what Jesus has to say to us now.  In the cultural climate of today; we cannot be mealy-mouthed or allow anyone minimise the beauty of faith. Everyone must find a context. I am always unhappy when people dismiss the past (only itemise the faults) and forget the richness of that past. However, we do live today and there has to be something bigger going on, for all of us.  The mantra of the NOW is ridiculous.  Mindfulness is precious, but we cannot be mindful, by thinking just of Me and Now.  Life is much bigger.  Perspective is essential. History is always necessary. The broader landscape of life, matters. It isn’t very edifying these days if a ‘critical incident’ occurs anywhere.  The cant is immediately hurled around – the counsellors came in.  For what?  An instant cure.  Nothing works that way. Life is always long-term.  Short-termism insults humanity. And is unGodly.

Was it  the Sinn Feiner or the Me Feiners who won the Election?

Politically, our Election has concluded. It was interesting how the Governing Parties (forever) were dismissed. ‘Eaten bread is indeed soon forgotten.’ (Some felt unloved!)  Brexit didn’t matter. The Restoration of the Assembly didn’t matter.  The thriving economy didn’t matter.  The only question that seemed to matter was:  What’s in this for me, now?   The superficiality of the immediate, was everywhere.  There was a great arrogance shown by the one- time big Parties who were so dismissive of Sinn Fein.  They (Sinn Fein) should be in Government in N Ireland but couldn’t be associated with us down here. They should be in Westminster; but couldn’t dirty us by sharing the same space. Well the electorate saw things differently.  Of course many were aghast at David Cullinane’s outburst.  The pent up feeling of rejection and dismissal, came out in his words.  The Southern politicians never really seemed to grasp, what the people of the North, had suffered and how Sinn Fein came through so much, to reach this moment.  The exuberance of acceptance, was highly emotive.  We mightn’t like the words – but surely we can understand the explosion of feelings.

Non-voters: No benefits!

“But I say this to you.” What might he say?  What might we say? On the Election? Should those who didn’t vote – be cut off from all state benefits? On the housing crisis:  It was and is a great idea to sell off Council houses, but should the stock be replenished, house for house?  How much of the housing crisis is due to breakdown in relationships; overspend on housing beyond means; drugs/alcohol?    Does the State (the working population) have to pick up the tab for everyone?  Simple questions.

Was it Matthew or Jesus?

“But I say this to you”:  Kill. Angry. Badmouth. Make your offering. Adultery or even look at.  Eye/right-hand, off. Divorce. Oath. Matthew definitely took Jesus on a back-up rant, to push and sort out the local tensions in his divided and complicated Community.  It is a useful polemical statement of an Orator. Or it could be a scribe recalling (usefully and tactically) what might have been said by Jesus or thereabout.  He quotes the Guru – in his own words (Matthew)! Possibly.  A sledge hammer or a jack-hammer was at work. Strong language helps to make a point.  The early softness of Matthew 5 has moved onto challenges.


“But I say this to you.”     What might it be?  Now. Here. For us.  Might we be politically sensitive like Francis in regard to the Amazon? In regard to our own land. Might he demand of us, to be politically challenging in our local Church?  Might he drag our leaders away from the mind-set of praying for vocations towards being radical in what vocation, actually means today? How about a sensible deconstruction of how Liturgy has been imposed on the Church?  Much of the language in the Books should be censored.  Should we ruthlessly check,  if it is an obstacle to worship?

Mass on the world:

The broader sense of mission and a fuller sense of the world of God in nature is shown in the Amazon document. Sharing the stock of priests is not the way. Overall the Document is very true, to that Jesuit of long ago,  de Chardin. We probably should be searching for some new Ivan Illichs to direct us into a deeper dredge of what life means.  The politicians could try this too.  Where our medical practices (and costing) go wrong. Where our educationalists go wrong. Should all teachers have to work in business for five years before being allowing into a classroom? Should there be a fundamental examination of economics in our country? Was it right or is it right to allow supply/demand dictate housing policy? It wasn’t Sinn Fein who won the Election; it was the Me Feiners.   How can we drag ourselves beyond simplicity and the immediate and entitlement, towards the bigger issues?   “But I say this to you.” It asks us to become bigger people with expanded hearts and full of love. We have to be more aware of our smallness and to be humble.


“But I say this to you.” Phil Gaffney in Ballsgrove, Drogheda, spoke powerfully and sensibly, at the funeral of the young man (Keane) today (Thursday).   He echoed the words used in the Gospel.  “But I say this to you.” Phil was a prophet.  He was bold and direct. He spoke from the heart. Such prophets are needed.   Locally we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes by going around to the housebound for Anointing.   We spent hours with them. They were anointed. But in truth we were anointed. The Prayer didn’t come from the Book; it came from their lives.  It was rich and enriching.   We felt that at least for those hours this week, we heard loudly what He was saying to us.   “But I say this to you. “

Seamus Ahearne osa


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