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Bishop Denis’ Homily at Mass in Edenderry

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Year B:                                                     05.05.24

St. Mary’s Church, Edenderry @ 11am


John’s gospel on this sixth station on our Easter journey is saturated with an invitation to us “to remain in God’s love[1]. In doing so we get to a deeper understanding of a notion that has been with us since the moment of our conception – friendship.

The friendship of parents who brought us into the world; the friendship of a mother who nurtured us and nourished us; the friend we had on our first day of school; the friends we continue to have to this day. And on a much deeper level, the friendship we enjoy with the Lord. 

When it comes to friendship with the Lord, as adults we also realise how unworthy, how unearned that love is, that friendship is … let us call to mind our sins …

  • Is tusa Tobar na Trócaire – you are the wellspring of mercy: A Thiarna, déan trócaire. 
  • Is tusa Slí na Fírinne – you are the way of truth:  A Chríost, déan trócaire. 
  • Bí linn i gconaí, ós ár gcomhair amach – be with us always, showing us the way. A Thiarna, déan trócaire. 


May is a month of many significant moments or events that punctuate the entire month. We begin with May Day, the celebration of St. Joseph the Worker, and of course a lens on all workers and the value of labour.

Early this morning we had the annual ‘Dawn Chorus’ a simulcast anchored by RTE but including other broadcasting networks. Next Saturday we have ‘Darkness into Light’ the 5K run or walk that shines a light on those burdened by pressure or bereaved by suicide. Then Saturday night, the Eurovision, what in other years was a song contest but still remains one of the most viewed programmes all year.

The Month of May also brings us First Holy Communion Masses and Leaving Cert Graduation liturgies, with the key message permeating throughout both, “to remain in God’s love”[2], in God’s friendship.

Let’s look at that word ‘friendship’. The columnist Patsy McGarry every Saturday analyses a word, this weeks is very simple, the word ‘May’. It is a good way of getting under the bonnet of a word and its proper usage.

I enjoy reading Confirmation letters from twelve year olds who tell me what their hobbies are, the name they’ve chosen for Confirmation, nine out of ten times it has a strong connection to grandparents and mostly I hear about their friends. Some girls list off everyone in the class, or at least I hope they do and no ones left out; boys are more circumspect, sometimes their best friend is their gran or grandad and maybe a soccer or football buddy.

Who are your friends? In adult life, we should normally be able to list them on one hand, five fingers, five friends. There will many acquaintances, many pals, many team-mates but a few very good, sound, reliable friends. Very few who would always have your back covered; you mightn’t meet up for months and as soon as you connect it’s like you were never apart.

That’s the message for First Holy Communicants and indeed Leaving Cert graduates, to respond fully to the invitation to have Jesus as one of their friends.

A word of thanks to our priests, teachers, parents and all who accompany our little ones and young people on these significant milestones. Nothing gives me greater joy as I go around the diocese than to see parents bringing the family to Mass with them. All ages are there. It isn’t easy I know. There are often arguments and sulks, but its worth it. You are building up their friendship with Jesus. A friend who laid down his life for us, surely he is on one of our five fingers.

Every time we take part in a Mass, we are celebrating a friendship rooted in a  love which laid down its life for its friends – everything to do with the Mass has to do with that love, that friendship. I pray that this month May, which has its origins in Bealtaine, one of the great Celtic festivals will always have a special place in our hearts. May is the month to meet up with those five friends counted earlier on your fingers, no more beautiful month to do so, and today you have met the first one on that hand, Jesus. Just four more to go!

[1] cf Jn.15:9

[2] ibid