Our most recent edition of Working Notes, Issue 83, deals with the theme of the Harm of Inaction. It features articles from experts around Europe that reflect on harm in the light of the Centre’s four focus areas: penal policy, environmental justice, economic ethics, and housing and homelessness. Kevin Hargaden provides homily notes to accompany this edition.
While our work has a wide and appreciative readership within government, the senior civil service, and the non-governmental organisation sector, it is not always so effective at reaching the ordinary Christian in a pew on a Sunday. We know that there is a growing hunger among the faithful to be educated about social justice and to see how it connects their everyday life to their faith. With the hope of helping pastors meet that hunger, we have prepared these homily notes, inspired by Working Notes, which we hope will allow parishes to engage with the themes explored in this issue, in the light of the lectionary.
The hope is that these notes might serve as a jumping off point for a pastor trying to prepare a homily. As they stand, the homilies would be about four minutes long if replicated in their entirety. Of course, some people would want to adapt and supplement, or indeed cut and edit. Whatever suits in a local place is appropriate!
Very often, homily notes that seek to draw out justice themes end up prioritising social issues at the expense of the Gospel message. We seek to avoid that situation by pairing each week’s readings with an essay from the latest issue.
On February 10th, when we have the great story of the abundant fishing haul from Luke 5, we recommend reflecting on the fundamental message of Sheelah Connolly’s piece on universal healthcare. Our current health system is determined by a belief in scarcity. We do not quite trust that we have what it takes to care for everyone. But as Dr. Connolly shows, it would actually make us more prosperous if we committed to trust in the abundance of our own resources and dedicating ourselves to offering healthcare that was free to everyone in Ireland at the point of access.
The subsequent weeks are similarly combined with a piece from the journal. On February 17th we read the blessings and woes from Luke 6 in the light of the lifelong trauma often associated with homelessness, which Dalma Fabian has explored for us. On February 24th we find resonances between Jesus’ teaching on loving enemies with Tim Chapman’s essay on restorative justice. In the final week of our notes, March 3rd, we move beyond the superficial readings of the speck/log-in-the-eye passage to use it to think about our collective confusion around climate breakdown, which is echoed in the essay by Thomas L. Muinzer on Irish responses.
We hope these notes provoke good thoughts and are helpful in the hard process of writing homilies which connect contemporary Irish life with the vital message of the Gospel.