Song Greater Than The Singers

Musical Writing

In everything he did and in everything he said, Jesus Christ sang a song. Sometimes, when he cured a sick person, he sang softly and gently, a song full of love. Sometimes, when he told one of his beautiful stories, he sang a haunting panpipe melody that, once heard, is never forgotten. Sometimes, when he defended the rights of the poor, his voice grew strong and powerful, until finally, from the cross, he sang so powerfully that his voice filled the universe.

The disciples who heard him thought that this was the most beautiful song they had ever heard, and they began to sing it to others. They did not sing as well as Jesus had – their voices went flat, they forgot some of the words – but they sang to the best of their ability, and the people who heard them thought in their turn that this was the most beautiful song they had ever heard.

And so the song of Jesus gradually spread out from Jerusalem into other lands. Parents began to sing it to their children, and the song passed down through the generations and the centuries.

Sometimes, in the life of a great saint, the song was sung with exquisite beauty. Sometimes, however, it was sung very badly, for the song was so beautiful that there was power in possessing it, and people used the power of the song to march to war and to oppress and dominate others. Always, however, the song was greater than the singers and never lost its ancient beauty.

This is the first part of a homily at mass given by the Australian bishop, Geoffrey Robinson. Judith, in our parish, was sent the homily and passed it on to me. I read it at the Christmas Carol Service on Christmas Eve and people liked it, asked for copies. Copies are available, but I thought the parish would be glad to read the first and, later, the other parts.

We are always blessed when someone sees our precious truths in a new way. “Sing a new song to the Lord.”

God bless us,

Fr John
(8th January 2017)

Here is the concluding part of the Homily at the Eucharist by the Australian bishop, Geoffrey Robinson. Thank you for the comments you have made about this “song of faith”.

“There was always a tension between the beauty of the song and the weakness and the pettiness that I found within myself and in so many others who shared this song with me, but the song sustained me throughout the years.

“But then the darkness of evil within the Church gathered around me, and at times it was so deep that it seemed that the very song itself had been conquered. But in the depths of that darkness, when my clinging to the song was based on blind faith rather than on any warm feeling within me, I realised that the song is quite simply part of who I am and it is in the darkness that it is most important to me.

“The song must not stop with us and we in our turn must sing it to others. In doing this we must remember that this song has two special characteristics.

“The first is that we, too, will never sing the song as well as Jesus did – our voices lack strength and go flat, we misunderstand the words – but, if we sing this song to the best of our ability, people do not hear only our voices. Behind us and through us they hear a stronger and a surer voice, the voice of Jesus.

“The second is that we always sing the song better if we can learn to sing it together – not one voice here, another there, each singing different words to different melodies, but all singing the one song in harmony. Then people will truly know that it is still the most beautiful song the world has ever known.”

God bless us all to sing the song in harmony, each in our own voice

Fr John
(29th January 2017)

Related Links: Popular Reads and Fr John’s Parish Newsletters


Love and Forgiveness
Small Red-coloured Cross

One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the woods. As he thought about his life that day, he knew many things were not right. He thought of those who had lied about him, back when he had a job.

His thoughts turned to those who had stolen his things and cheated him. He remembered his family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he had that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment and frustration.

Standing there that day, searching for answers he could not find, knowing all else had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek the one he knew would always be there, and with tears in his eyes, he prayed:

“Lord – You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me to do many things for you, and I happily obeyed. Today, you have told me to forgive. I am sad, Lord because I cannot. I don’t know how. It is not fair Lord. I didn’t deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I shouldn’t have to forgive. As perfect as your way is Lord, this one thing I cannot do, for I don’t know how to forgive. My anger is so deep Lord, I fear I may not hear you, but I pray that you teach me to do this one thing I cannot do – Teach me To Forgive.”

Sculpture of Jesus carrying his Cross.

As he knelt there in the quiet shade of the old oak tree, he felt something fall on his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw something red on his shirt. He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been, was a large square piece of wood on the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them. He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw, Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head.

Finally, he saw the suffering and pain in His precious face. As their eyes met, the man’s tears turned to sobbing and Jesus began to speak.

“Have you ever told a lie,” He asked? The man answered, “Yes, Lord.”
“Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?” The man answered, “Yes, Lord,” and he sobbed more and more.
“Have you ever taken something from work that wasn’t yours,” Jesus asked? And the man answered, “Yes, Lord.”
“Have you ever sworn, using my Father’s name in vain?” The man, crying, even more, answered, “Yes, Lord.”
…the questions continued… “Have you ever?” The man’s crying was uncontrollable, for he could only answer, “Yes, Lord.”

Then Jesus turned and bowed his head. The man felt something fall on his other shoulder, he looked and saw that it was more blood. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love that the man had never seen or known before.

Jesus said, “I didn’t deserve this either, but I forgive you.”

Small red Cross surrounded by lilies

When I once suggested to a man that he must try to forgive the sinner although understandably, the sin was awful, he angrily replied, “Never, never”. I was very shocked, yet I could understand his terrible hurt.

If only we could turn back that clock!

However, Jesus turned the clock back for all of us. That’s also something we don’t readily accept. God is both loving and, today, merciful; talk to him.

Mercy Prayer (Year of Mercy 2015)

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you, sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.

Year of Mercy 2015 Logo

Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.

Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.

You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

Easter Faith

Cross with quote, Jesus Christ is Risen

“Is there is a moment in life where you would choose to be? It might be on that first Easter Sunday, in the Garden, with Mary Magdalen. What a joy to see his hands – with the wounds still in them – touching us out of love.” (Cardinal Basil Hume)

“It is not only with our hearts but with the totality of our experience that we know the risen Christ. We can know him day after day as the Apostles knew him. Not the Christ of the flesh but the ever-living Christ. The Christ of the spirit of whom St Paul speaks, the risen Christ who belongs to time and eternity because he died once upon the cross but lives forever. (Metropolitan Anthony Bloom)

“Today, all we can do is stand in awe before the fact of the Resurrection and the hope it carries. Tomorrow we have to keep on telling this story of hope to see how Jesus’ friends and followers tried to live it out. Just as they struggled to understand what it meant that he overcame evil …. that he pointed their lives in a radically different direction, so must we.” (Marie Dennis)

“Jesus, who was crucified, is risen. This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.” (Pope Francis)

Quotations from the Living Spirit in this week’s Tablet (28/03/16).

Related Links: Popular Reads and Fr John’s Parish Newsletters

My Attorney On Judgment Day

Cross against a yellow skyline.

After living what I felt was a “decent” life, my time on earth came to its end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat at the defence table. As I looked around I saw the “prosecutor.” He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the evilest person I had ever seen.

I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him.

Book Cover: My Attorney on Judgement Day

The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room. I couldn’t take my eyes off Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, “Let us begin.”

The prosecutor rose and said, “My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.”

He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about. As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defence at all. I know I had been guilty of those things but I had done some good in my life – couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’d done?

Satan finished with a fury and said, “This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.”

When it was my turn, my Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendour and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Saviour.

He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, “Hi, Father,” and then He turned to address the court. “Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned, I won’t deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death and this man deserves to be punished.”

Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and he has accepted Me as his Saviour, so he is Mine.”

My Lord continued with, “His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand, this man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.”

As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said,”There is nothing else that needs to be done. I’ve done it all.”

The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips… “This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed.”

As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, I will win the next one.”

As Jesus gave me my instructions on where to go next, I asked, “Have you ever lost a case?”

Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that has come to Me and asked Me to represent them, has received the same verdict as you, ‘Paid in Full.'”

Small yellow coloured Cross surrounded by lilies

Have you ever sinned? Yip!

Then sought Jesus’ mercy? I hope so, get a good Attorney!

Jesus said, “As for that day or hour no one knows it – neither the angels in heaven nor the Son – except the Father. Watch out! Stay alert! For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33)


Gracious and Holy Father, give us the wisdom to discover You, the intelligence to understand You, the diligence to seek after You, the patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You, a heart to meditate upon You, and a life to proclaim You, through the power of the Spirit of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

… God, Our Creator …

Your Ways, Lord

Small Red-coloured Cross

Help me to understand, Lord, that what counts is not the road travelled but simply putting my hand in yours and journeying side by side with you. Lord Jesus, you are the joy of my journey, the repose in our Father’s home. Holy, holy is the Lord, for eternal is your love.

… Hand-in-hand, Lord …


Most humble Jesus, give me a share of your humility. Take from my heart, everything that displeases you; convert it totally to you, so that I may no longer will or desire anything other than what you will.

… Jesus, My Love …


Lord Jesus, give us humility wherever pride reigns, pardon wherever offence abides, grace wherever sin abounds; we pray to you; Jesus Christ, risen Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.

… Lord, My Saviour …


Small Red-coloured Cross

O Blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You. Let Your mighty calmness reign in me. Rule me, O King of Gentleness, King of Peace.

♥ Christ Our King: Have Mercy ♥