Today, 26 July, is the feast day of Anna and Joachim, the maternal grandparents of Jesus. This gives us a great opportunity to savour the significance of grandparents in the life of a child. I was fortunate in my growing up years to never live more than an hour from my four grandparents. They were, […]


With yesterday’s gospel highlighting the new family of those living in friendship with Jesus, today’s Feast of St. James the apostle reminds us that Jesus spent most of his three years of ministry with the twelve in friendship with them forming them to be his apostles. I noticed that yesterday’s friendship theme led to a […]

family & friends

In today’s gospel Jesus really blurs any clear distinction between family and friends when he asks “who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” We often have unrealistic expectations of our biological families. Our parents age and die. Siblings marry and form their own families. Children leave home and are no longer dependant on parents. […]

high ideals

If you took all the events recorded in the gospels and allocated hours to them (eg. wedding feast at Cana one day, Sermon on the Mount half a day, Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well an hour or two, and four days for the suffering, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus), the entire […]

here’s hoping

While some people might compulsively look on the bright side of any situation, such power of positive thinking is not the same as Christian hope. Positive thinking can be hard work and often ignores reality. Christian hope faces fear and understands that no situation, however difficult, is without hope. Hope is a decision based on […]

Alone? Not!

Both of my grandfathers were farmers, beginning their careers in the days when farmers followed teams of Clydesdale horses yoked together pulling ploughs across South Canterbury and North Otago countryside. I have no doubt that when they heard from today’s gospel that the yoke of Jesus is easy, the image of their farm horses linked […]

ultimate strength

Don’t miss this encouragement in the heart of the second reading of today’s liturgy. “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness” 1 Cor 12 Our human frailty and sin, when acknowledged honestly, becomes our capacity for God’s power. While our human achievements and successes might give us moments of […]

God at work

I have been to dozens of confirmation ceremonies over the years and expected this morning’s celebration of the sacrament at St. Bede’s College in Christchurch to be much like the others. But it was different. It’s been a big couple of days for the College with 15 students baptised, 55 confirmed and a number receiving Holy […]

on mission

It was a pleasure and a privilege to spend the past week in the Taranaki in the shadow of the mountain from which the region takes its name. A few months ago I was asked by the parishes of the Taranaki to lead missions for the Catholic church communities surrounding the mountain. In the weeks […]

the pointer

My paternal grandfather knew his way around the night sky. In New Zealand, the Southern Cross is the most recognisable constellation.  I remember my grandfather showing me this cross, and also pointing out the “Pointers”, the two stars that indicate the Southern Cross. Many artistic representations of John the Baptist show him as a ‘pointer’. […]

a new thing

When I am leading a session I often discourage those in the group from taking notes. Schools probably still teach that it is helpful to write while listening, but I’m not so sure. At times I have encouraged students, if they have to have a pen in hand, to doodle while actively listening. While some […]

come with me

Hidden in the heart of today’s Office of Readings is the episcopal motto of the first bishop of Christchurch John Joseph Grimes. Bishop Grimes was born in East London in 1842 and was educated in England, France and Ireland before his ordination as a priest when he taught English and Classics in Ireland and in […]

power-full prayer

Mount Carmel was a significant place for the prophets of Israel, especially Elijah 900 years before Christ. (you can read more about this in the first and second book of Kings, especially 1 Kg 18-19).  The section that is today’s first reading is one of the many great adventures in the Bible and ideal as a […]

hope in suffering

Perhaps it was being in the presence of so many Jesuits over the past weekend that stirred a deep gratitude in me for the Jesuits who have had a hand in my own formation. Each of them in their own way and using their own abilities, have communicated something of the breadth and depth that […]

grace abounds

Last night almost 400 people gathered at Hoyts Riccarton in Christchurch to watch the biblical drama Paul, Apostle of Christ. Since the movie is not being screened publicly in New Zealand Food For Faith decided to hire a small theatre for a private showing. Bookings came in quickly and we soon increased to a theatre […]