Michæl McFarland Campbell

Always telling the story

Archive for April, 2022

Freely give what you have been given: the gift of Divine Mercy

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Reflection on the readings at the Eucharist on the Second Sunday of Easter Year C (Divine Mercy Sunday): Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-14, 22-24; Revelation 1:9–11, 12-13, 17-19; St John 20:19-31

The gift of Divine Mercy

Today, as we conclude the Octave of Easter and then continue on into the rest of the fifty days of Easter, we celebrate the gift of divine mercy. We find that it is easey to forget that we do not have a right to mercy. Mercy has been freely given to us by the Lord.

In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we read of the power of healing flowing from St Peter and the faith of the people who sought him out. St Peter over the readings during the Octave has been the first to tell us that the power comes from Our Lord Jesus Christ, not from him. Today, we read that people are trying to fall under St Peter’s shadow to be healed. It is likely that St Peter would admit that he is but a shadow of the Lord. However, our blessed Lord uses him to heal those who seek him, just as those who seek forgiveness and healing through the sacraments draw close to our bishops and priests, knowing that it is the Lord who heals and forgives through them.

In today’s second reading from the Revelation of St John the Divine, St John has a vision of Our Lord holding

the keys of Death and of Hades

Revelation 1:18 NRSVACE

The Lord is not revealed by name, but reveals himself as “the first and the last” (Revelation 1:17) to St John who is imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos for giving witness to Jesus. His keys represent His authority: specifically, to bind and to loose. If we ask Him to liberate us, He will, but we do have to ask Him. Our Lord’s mercy is the key to liberation from our sins.

Our Blessed Lord did not have to forgive St Thomas for his lack of faith in the Gospel, just as Adam and Eve did not have to receive mercy after the fall. That fall condemned all their posterity (all of us) to separation from God for ever. We did not commit the Original Sin, nor was the Lord obliged to forgive it or to redeem all of us from its effects. However, in appearing to the Apostles, the Lord’s message is one of peace and reconciliation, not one of condemnation. In today’s Gospel, He empowers His Apostles to be instruments of His mercy. When a bishop or priest absolves a penitent from their sins, that mercy and power come from Jesus. Instead of remaining in doubt and regret about whether we have truly been forgiven, the Lord has given us sacraments that in faith we know bring us His forgiveness. When we were baptized, we also had our sins wiped away.

All these means of healing and mercy are gifts freely given by the Lord. We do not have to receive them, but surely we would be fools indeed if we did not seek them out.

Jacob Marley’s Chains

In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the ghost of Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley, appears to him to encourage him to change his greedy ways. The chains that now bind Marley forever are weighed down with

cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.

A Christmas Carol

When Scrooge asks the ghost why he is fettered, Marley replies,

I wear the chain I forged in life… I made it link by link and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it…

A Christmas Carol

Marley goes on to say that Scrooge’s chain has been much heavier than Marley’s for years.

Our sins reflect the things to which we are attached, just like the chains of Marley’s. What do we think ours look like? There is but one person who can free us all from those chains: Our Lord.

Freely give what you’ve been given

When the Lord sends out the disciples at the start of His public ministry, He tells them

You received without payment; give without payment.

St Matthew 10:8, NRSVACE

Today, we remember the peace and reconciliation He gave them without paying, and the ministry of peace and reconciliation for others that He asked them to carry out without pay as well.

We were freely given the gift of mercy. Let us give it freely as well, whether it is asked of us or not.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

April 24th, 2022 at 9:30 am

Gardening is good for my mental health… and helps some charity too as I #PlantPink

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I have never really been one for gardening. Even when I was growing up, I think the most successful planting I ever did was of some cress in school. And I think that only worked because everyone else’s did as well. So you can imagine my surprise that in the last month I have been planting some plants in pots in the front garden of our house. 

Now, this may have something to do with living close to a branch of Glanbia’s Countrylife here in County Kildare. Not having a car makes buying plants, pots, and bags of compost quite difficult. Ok, so the buying of them is the easy part, it is the getting them home from the garden centre that has historically been the difficult part. But, as I said, Countrylife is about 500 metres from the house, so there really is now no excuse. Even when there is an item or three that is too heavy, the local store will arrange delivery by a helpful assistant as they did with the three bags of compost. 

The garden is becoming more colourful. Photo: Michæl McFarland Campbell © 2022.

The first day that Andrew and I went there, we bought one pot and put three heather plants in it. The next week, I went back and bought another larger pot and put a plant in it. Today, I went bought two smaller pots but in green and put some lavender in one and some “Tickled Pink” dianthus in the other.

All of the pots are from Lemonfield Pottery’s Botanical Gardens range. Unfortunately, Lemonfield Pottery is trade only, but they do produce some lovely pots. I’m sure your local garden centre will be able to source them should you want them. 

But why did I start on this gardening? Well, I had read that gardening can be good for your mental health. It is also good to get out into nature, and living in the countryside I had been noticing more and more of the flowers around us. Wouldn’t it be pleasant to have some close by? So, that is basically why I am doing it. The lavender may also be useful later on in the summer as Andrew really loves the smell of it: it is useful for helping him to go to sleep. Hopefully we can use some of our own to assist. 

Originally posted on HIVBLogger.com.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

April 23rd, 2022 at 5:48 pm

Good news travels fast: let’s spread the news of joy

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Some thoughts for the First Sunday of Easter. Readings: Acts 10:34, 37–43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22–23 ℟ v.24; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

℣ Christ is risen, alleluia!
℟ The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!

Joy is the best response

We were created for joy. We never hear someone say,

You know, this whole joy thing is not for me. I wish I had a little more misery in my life.

We are created for joy, but we come to realize that it’s not something we can just buy at the local supermarket. Thinking about the most joyful moments of our lives, is it not true that they were a surprise?

Today’s Gospel gives us an idea of the surprise of discovering the empty tomb. St Mary Magdalene had been there at the foot of the Cross. She had see Jesus die. Crucifixion was not a joke. Being such a horrible way to die, even the Romans eventually outlawed it. So it was, that St Mary Magdalene was not expecting an empty tomb. She knew that Jesus had really died.

So, when she sees the empty tomb, she does not know what to make of it. So she runs and tells St Peter and St John. Both of them run to the tomb. St John beats St Peter to the tomb, he looks in, and then waits for St Peter, the first among the Apostles. St Peter enters the tomb, and then St John follows him in.

What they saw surprised them. We should really say that what they did not see surprised them. The body of Jesus was gone. The burial cloth was there, but the body was gone. The Greek actually says that the burial clothing was lying there in its folds. It was as if the body of Jesus had just evaporated and left the clothes lying there as though there were a body. But a body there was not.

Imagine the surprise. What has happened here? We are told in the Gospel that St John saw and believed. He believed that Jesus had risen from the dead! The surprise must have overwhelmed him. But as he began to believe, he was filled with joy.

Joy is the best response to Easter. Who could have ever imagined that death could be conquered? That is the meaning of Easter. Our deaths are not the end. Just as Jesus rose from the dead, we will rise from the dead. Body and soul, we will live forever.

Suffering does not have the last word. Death does not have the last word. No. The Love of God, given to us in Jesus Christ, the Love of God has the last word. This is why the response to today’s Psalm is

This day was made by the Lord, we rejoice and are glad.

On Easter Day, we also are surprised by the presence of the Risen Jesus. We, too, are filled with joy.

When we realize the gift of Easter, joy is the best response.

The Saint of joy

The St Philip Neri, the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, was known as the Saint of Joy. His antics were legendary. On one occasion four Polish nobles came to visit him. He welcomed them and started to read a book of jokes to them. Every so often he would stop laughing to remark,

You see what wonderful books I have, and what important matters I have read to me!

They went away grumbling about this charlatan who pretended to be a saint. He would also go around Rome with large white shoes on his feet, or dressed in a marten skin cloak, or have his beard shaved off only on one side, or get a haircut in church while Mass was being sung. When he was being criticized by others for his supposed ignorance, he made sure to mispronounce some Latin words during the Mass while they were present. He once said that

a cheerful and glad spirit reaches holiness much more quickly than a melancholy spirit.

St Philip Neri, was a man who had been surprised by the incredible Love of Christ. He realized that joy was the best response.

This day was made by the Lord, we rejoice and are glad.

Tell your story

The Easter story is the most wonderful story ever told. But it is not simply a story told for fun, it is a story that also happens to be true.

Think about how fast good news spreads.

If I really believe that Jesus died for me and for each person, do I not want to tell others?

If I really believe that Jesus rose from the dead at Easter, do I not want to tell others?

If I really believe that Jesus is alive, and wants to fill our lives with healing, freedom, and joy, do I not want to tell others?

Our faith, Christianity, spread because Christians told their story. In our own time, people will come to find joy in Christ if we tell our own story about finding that same joy.

Today, as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we know that He wants to be both our strength and our joy. After we receive communion, in church or at home, let us take a minute and ask Him, “What is my story?”

Surely every one of us will remember one moment when we realized that our life was different because I know Jesus Christ. Can we share that moment with someone else?

Someone else in this world is waiting to hear that story. Someone else is waiting to experience the joy of Easter.

Regina cæli, ora pro nobis.

As it is Easter, let us join in praise by singing the Regina Cæli:

Joy to thee, O Queen of heaven, alleluia;
He whom thou wast meet to bear, alleluia;
As he promised hath arisen, alleluia!
Pour for us to God thy prayer, alleluia!

℣ Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia!
℟ For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!

O God, who, by the Resurrection of thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast brought joy to the world: grant we beseech thee, that, through his Mother the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

April 16th, 2022 at 8:12 pm

Keeping my knowledge and skills up to date

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Every year, I work hard to keep my knowledge and skills up to date with CPD. At the end of March 2022, I had completed a year of CPD with CIPR — the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. This means that I maintain my Accredited PR Practitioner status, but more importantly it illustrates that I take the profession seriously. I urge everyone in their various professions to work to complete continuing professional development each year. It really is the best way to stay at the top of your game.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

April 2nd, 2022 at 7:32 am