Soul Food for Sundays

A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Christmas (3rd January 2021)

3rd January 2021
MT 2:1-12

The Author: Joe Poole C.S.Sp.
calendar_today Date: December 27, 2020 - 4 minutes read

3rd-january-2021 – Catholic Daily Readings (catholicreadings.org)

It is not often that I have the opportunity to spend Christmas with my family, but this year I have the chance to reflect back on the Christmases when I was a teenager.  I look back in gratitude, but once upon a time I didn’t think my present life choice would be possible.  Recently, at a Funeral Mass of a friend, I was told that my becoming a priest surprised many!   

I would have gone to Mass every Sunday and received the Sacrament of Penance twice monthly – a rigid family policy at the time – but my faith was far from being personally developed.  

I am grateful for the relationship, perfect or imperfect as it may be, with God that is ever-present in the many facets of creation. The gift of faith implies many people, I would like to acknowledge a couple who influenced my faith story, unlikely people who were nearly fifty years my senior. 

Like most teenagers, I never really knew that the language of the heart was different to that of the head.  In my mid-teens, I would have helped a friend set up disco equipment for discos, but that all changed when I decided that sitting with his mother and father was a wiser option!  I would have considered my friend’s parents (Martin & Bríd) as ‘old’, my relationship with them would decide my future life.   

Over time as we had our cuppa and conversation, I was aware that I was in the presence of what I would now call wisdom, something that I didn’t really comprehend.  This conversation wasn’t about ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ as I may have been used to; it evolved over time, it was like being in the midst of a compassion, a respect that allowed me to feel that I belonged.  Such ingredients began a process of change in my subconscious.  It took me years to understand even the wisdom of the conversation; my belief system was being turned upside down. 

This strength eventually allowed me to make certain surprising decisions, entering the seminary, but I still had a stubborn side that revealed itself from time to time.  In my first eight years in the seminary, I struggled to make a definitive decision about what I wanted to do with my life.  During my own training, my relationship with God made sense, it was tangible, and I felt so grateful for so much that was positive during those years but I found it hard to trust in the decision that my heart was prompting me to take, the demons in my head were still strong, despite all the good work I did in facing up to them.

I feel so grateful that I met Bríd and Martin, and the Spiritan missionary congregation that facilitated my going forward with the Spiritans.  I came to believe that I had something to offer, but that my future would only be possible if I allowed God to guide me. 

God’s Wisdom continues to make a home in me, necessary as I prepare myself to work in the near future with the poorest and most abandoned amongst Portugal’s migrants.  My heart is not my head; this is a reality that must be constantly learnt in the many different experiences that are placed before me daily, this is the energy the Word of God offers each one of us.

Photo by Nashad Abdu on Unsplash

The Spiritans Emblem

Joe Poole C.S.Sp.

Ordained in the mid-1990sFr Joeministered for many years in Angola in southern Africa. After further pastoral studies, he was leader of the Spiritan Community in Ballintubber, Co. Roscommon until 2020.

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