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Bishop Tartaglia’s homily from Paisley Lourdes Day

Paisley bishop includes special message of hope and Faith for youth Catholics during his homily at the third annual Paisley Lourdes Day 2011 celebrated at Carfin Grotto on Sunday July 31. Pic: Tom Eadie

It is good that we, bishop, priests, religious and people, of the Diocese of Paisley have come together in such encouraging numbers at the Shrine of Our Lady at Carfin Grotto for our Diocesan Lourdes Day. It is good that we respond so well to the opportunity of experiencing the spirituality of Lourdes, if even only for a few hours. And it is a blessing that the Lord has given us today some reasonably fine weather for our day pilgrimage. And as we participate in this Mass and in the spiritual exercises of Lourdes, we can be sure that Our Lady of Lourdes, Mary the Mother of the Lord, and St Bernadette are present with us and praying with us and for us to God.

In today’s Gospel a crowd has gathered expectantly to see Jesus, to hear his words, and to be nourished and strengthened by him. As evening drew on, the crowd was hungry. Rather than send them away, Jesus fed them by multiplying loaves and fishes, a sign of his loving concern for them, a sign of his being the Saviour sent by the Father, a sign that he would feed all those who believed in him with the bread of life in the Eucharist.

Mention of feeding hungry people makes us think of the famine in East Africa and the need to feed so many hungry men, women, children and babies. We can be certain that our Catholic relief agencies, our own SCIAF, Caritas International, Mary’s Meals and other relief organisations are working in our name and in the name of Christ to bring food to those who are threatened by famine and starvation. And commending these desperate people to the intercession of Our Lady, we express the heartfelt hope that sufficient aid reaches the people who need it.

Today we have come together in a crowd, in a large group, to be with the Lord, to hear his word, to be nourished and strengthened by him, and to receive his blessing and the consolation of his healing touch. Today once more the Lord will not send us away empty-handed. He cares for the deepest needs of his people and he will once again multiply the bread of his presence for us in the Eucharist when he feeds us with his own body and blood.

We come here to Carfin Grotto each with their own prayers and needs and intentions for ourselves, for our families, and for others. We bring these prayers to Mary because she is our Mother who wants to help us. We bring these prayers to Jesus because he is the Saviour and Lord of all mercies. We hear the Apostle Paul tell us in today’s reading: “Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked.” And we take heart from hearing the Word of God assuring us that “nothing…can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I hope you can feel a huge encouragement today from our encounter with Jesus in his word and in the Sacrament of his body and blood. As we gather together in this Holy place, I hope you can sense a new motivation to live our Christian lives rooted in Christ and firm in faith. I hope you can sense a new excitement about being the Lord’s disciples who bring his truth and his love to the world in which we live. I hope you can feel a new urgency for us to be missionaries who are prepared to raise the question of God with our families, our friends and our colleagues, who are determined to pass on our faith to our young people and children, and who are inspired to help people come face to face with Jesus and experience a personal encounter with him.

And especially to the young people who are here today, I pray that you are not intimidated by the apparent absence of faith in the world around us. I pray that you are not swayed by the prevailing false opinions about God and man that circulate so freely in our society. I pray that you are not fearful because of your own frailties or scandalised because of the sins and crimes of others. I pray that you can continue to be captivated with the adventure of faith to which God invites you through membership of the Church and participation in the Sacraments. I hope you know that we do not have to be intimidated or swayed or fearful or silenced because Jesus Christ is our strength and our hope, because he is present with us until the end of time, and because he nourishes us with the bread of life, his body and blood, in the mystery of the Eucharist.

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord tells us, “Oh come to the water all you who are thirsty…come and eat…Pay attention, come to me, listen and your soul will live.” We have come here to the Lord today to drink the living waters of his word and to eat the bread of life. I hope that these few hours of pilgrimage will bring us a new experience of the Lord’s presence and help to deepen our response of faith and love, and, with Mary’s prayers to help us, raise the quality of our Christian life so that we can be more effective witnesses of Christ.

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