26 October 2008
Sermon of Bishop Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns, at the annual Opera Festival Mass
Rowe Street, Wexford, at 11.15am on Sunday 26 October 2008
“As Patron of Catholic Primary Schools in the Diocese, I ask them to look again at how the Budget will affect the quality of our children’s education, and through that, their lives.”
The first reading today is from the Book of Exodus. This Book, the second book of the Bible was written by Moses three and a half thousand years ago. As the name suggests, it’s the ”going out” of the Jewish people from the slavery of Egypt.
In the Book of Exodus the Chosen People get their marching orders. They are now free, but freedom brings responsibility and accountability, they now have to make their own decisions and live with the consequences.
This can be challenging but it’s the price of freedom. As you know theChosen People came to regret the fact that they were free, at one stage lamenting leaving the fleshpots of Egypt.
It could be said that they lost their way, there are no signposts in the desert. Either way, in the absence of Moses, they quickly fell into idolatry and ended up worshipping a golden calf.
This all happened a long time ago, we live in a very different world.
There is no slavery today, no desert, no golden calf. But Scripture has an uncanny way of being timeless, of being relevant in every age and every place. On the face of it there is no connection between Exodus and our time!
No slavery today… .unless you count the people trapped in addiction, consumerism and the endless struggle to make ends meet! No desert…unless you count the people who feel lost and alone, Cliff Richard has a song called ‘Lost in a lonely World’ many people, young and old know that feeling!
Many people, especially young people, struggle to make sense of life. Some of them, tragically, loose that struggle.
No golden calf… our time is certainly not short of false Gods, money, success, celebrity, possessions – and we haven’t lost our fascination with the calf either!
A few weeks ago at an auction in London somebody paid 13.5 million for an actual golden calf What would the people in the desert have made of that, that three and a half thousand years after their desert sculpture somebody would pay a kings ransom for a copy of it! So,
what message is coming over the centuries to us today?
Listen to Exodus speak to us in its own words – ”don’t be harsh with the widow and the orphan.”
Don’t go hard on the pensioner and the child, on the young and the old. Doesn’t that have a familiar, contemporary ring to it? The people marching in Dublin during the week were saying the same thing Exodus said three and a half thousand years ago. ‘Don’t be harsh with the old or the young,’ these words have a perennial wisdom.
I welcome the Government’s change of heart on the medical card issue and the 1% levy on the lower paid.
I appreciate that they are in a very difficult position, hard, painful decisions have to be made.
The national conversation that we are having at the moment, in the media and on the streets, is all about making sure that the most vulnerable are not hurt by these necessary decisions. The Government has heard the first part of Exodus, and I compliment them on it, “don’t be harsh with the old.”
I hope they will hear the second part too, “don’t be harsh with the young.” As Patron of Catholic Primary Schools in the Diocese, I ask them to look again at how the Budget will affect the quality of our children’s education, and through that, their lives.
The other message from Exodus that is so relevant and modern is the admonition about money
We are advised to use it carefully and responsibly, in the interest of people, their livelihood and welfare.
In the midst of a global financial crash, where for some, money had become no more than a high stakes game of scrabble, detached from everyday reality, how up to the minute is that!
It could have been written yesterday. Its bang up to date and it exposes the futility of the “greed is good”‘ mantra, so fashionable in recent times.
So, the words are from long ago, but they contain a timeless wisdom. They were first spoken in the Sinai desert but they speak to all people, at all times, in all places.
May they speak to us all today.
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)