Feast: September 25
Son of an artisan named Amergin and a lady of the Irish royal court. Educated at Kilmacahi monastery, Kilkenny, Ireland. He had very light hair, which led to the nickname Fionnbharr, “white hair”. Made multiple pilgrimages to Rome, Italy, visiting Saint David of Wales on one trip. Preached throughout southern Ireland, and possibly in Scotland. He became a Hermit on a small island at Lough Eiroe and at Gougane Barra. Founded a school at Eirce. Founded a monastery on the river Lee; it developed into the city of Cork and became the town's first Bishop. Extravagant miracles were attributed to him. Legend says that the sun did not set for two weeks after his death. So, he was no St Patrick, but he still carried alot of religious zeal in him!
|Reflection: A poignant passage from Ezra on Wednesday. The Israelites, as we've been reading this week were finally returning home after a generation in exile...ready to return to their ways, their special devotion to God. One got the impression that the zeal to rebuild the city and return to their devotions was quite strong. And perhaps it was. But as with any faith, it was imperfect. Already the people were breaking their covenant with God by inter marrying with pagans. In our 21st century world, of course such a marriage would be considered as the norm, but for this people that had spent so many years with foreigners, the need to rebuild their own cultural and religious identity was crucial. The intermarriages is what has left the poor prophet Ezra rather distraught. What's even more painful for him, is that he is fully aware of the fact that despite his people's long history of sinfulness, God still shines his blessings upon his people. |
This is part of the great mystery, as also expressed in the Psalm. God will leads us into the depths of hell, but he will also lift us up again to partake in his glorious light. And so the invitation we receive is to always trust that God will provide. It's an invitation echoed beautifully in the Gospel, where Jesus calls on the first missionaries -i.e. his disciples- to 'pack light' and not over prepare for the journey, but to simply trust that God will provide. This is a passage I heard as a Jesuit novice before going on my pilgrimage, which itself was a great act of trust. I guess I sometimes forget how much I learned to trust in God after that experience. Like the Israelites of old, I too falter and fail in my attempts to live out my faith, and my love for God. Still, I trust that this is part of the progress (if I didn't stumble, there would be cause for concern!) and that God uses these moments of stumblings to deepen my own faith. God does work in mysterious ways, but we are called to always trust those ways!
Ezra 9: 5 - 9
|5||And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle rent, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God,|
|6||saying: "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to thee, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.|
|7||From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt; and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as at this day.|
|8||But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant, and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.|
|9||For we are bondmen; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem|
|Tobit 13: 2 - 4, 7 - 8|
|2||For he afflicts, and he shows mercy; he leads down to Hades, and brings up again, and there is no one who can escape his hand.|
|3||Acknowledge him before the nations, O sons of Israel; for he has scattered us among them.|
|4||Make his greatness known there, and exalt him in the presence of all the living; because he is our Lord and God, he is our Father for ever.|
|7||I exalt my God; my soul exalts the King of heaven, and will rejoice in his majesty.|
|8||Let all men speak, and give him thanks in Jerusalem.|