Following on from the Ray Darcy Show

Judging by the reaction I have been getting over the past two days, my interview on Ray Darcy’s show seems to have communicated with people and made a lot of sense to some. Between emails, texts and tweets, the communications I have got must number well over one hundred. And all of them, with the exception of one that blamed me for killing babies, have been positive. It leaves me with a problem of trying to respond to them, which I hope to do in due course.

The notion of mystery appealed to a great many, and that mystery is something that we should not try to explain or define, but rather to enter into, and experience. So, trying to define God too closely is not helpful. The same applies to the the resurrection of Jesus. How exactly it happened, if there was or was not an empty tomb, is not important. The clear message is that his followers experienced the presence of Jesus with them after his death in such a powerful way that it changed their lives. When I mentioned that the writers of the Bible understood more than we do that matters of God and faith are better communicated through story, image and metaphor, and that a lot of the Bible is that, rather than historical fact, I could see from expressions on peoples’ faces that it was new to them. That brought home to me yet again how badly we have failed in educating people in the faith.
It is not that historical fact is true and stories are false. Stories, metaphors, can carry deep truths that historical facts never could.

It was a very complex subject that I tried to deal with in that short interview, and I must give great credit to Ray for allowing me the scope to go my own way in it. But inevitably there were things that I would have liked to say but did not manage to get to. For instance, when I was talking about the doctrine of the virginity of Mary, I said that in all probability she had more children,-that Mark’s gospel says clearly that Jesus had brothers and sisters. What I would have liked to add was that the greatness of Mary, and her importance in our devotions, does not depend on her virginity, but on the fact that she was the mother of Jesus, who not only gave birth to him, but reared him up to be the person he was.

I am fully convinced, and reading the emails I have got confirms me in my view, that there is a great hunger among people for spiritual meaning, and many have turned away from the church not because of a lack of faith, but because it no longer communicates meaningfully to them. Many are still enormously attracted both to the person of Jesus and to his message. That is a big challenge for those of us who believe, and what I am learning is that being somewhat apart from the institution, as I am now, helps in that task. It is a sad reality that the institutional church has now become, for many people, an obstacle to the message of Jesus. A very good illustration of that was the statement a day or two ago from Bishop Kevin Doran about the proposed maternity hospital. In one fell swoop he probably put paid to the current plan for the hospital, and also, because his statement coincided with the Citizens Assembly, he gave a major boost to the pro-choice side of that debate.

My last thought at this point:
I think, and hope, that the biggest message I gave out on Saturday night was about the wonderful loving presence of God in our lives and in all of creation. I find it ironic that I can no longer speak of God’s love in a Catholic Church, but I can do so freely in a talk show on RTE television!