Watch it Here
And if you want more of this tune in to Podge and Rodge tomorrow night (Monday 22nd December 2008) at 10.30pm on RTE 2 when The Corrigans will be special guests in Ballydung Manor. Not for the faint hearted - Beware!
Now that it seems certain that we are to have means testing for medical cards for the over 70s I thought I might suggest the following (which was in a round about way inspired by this post from Grannymar) to make the experience as simple and painless as possible. After all if we are to believe various reports, once we hit 70 we spontaneously loose all our faculties and become blubbering eejits wandering around terrified of anything that involves putting pen to paper.
So what can we do to spare our poor helpless pensioners from the government’s latest tool of oppression, the medical card means test form, soon to be released into the wild? There is an alternative and it is not just for the sake of the pensioners that we should be glad of it – Can our capital city withstand another attack by the Grey Panthers? The debris is still being cleared up from the storming of the Dail. The remains of improvised weapons made from zimmer frames, false teeth and knicker elastic litter our streets. St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row is being re-consecrated after the shocking behaviour of our senior citizens who had the audacity to use the Church for political ends! (Nobody has ever done that before – have they?)
This is the alternative: The two Brians will go on an all-Ireland tour where they will grab all our senior citizens by the ankles and turn them upside down and shake vigorously! Using a previously prepared formula, based on the contents of the pockets of each pensioner they will determine their eligibility for THE CARD. Any evidence of foreign travel (an unnecessary luxury), such as non-Irish Euro coins will mean instant disqualification. Any pensioner with one cent coins will also face disqualification, as the ability to pick these up off any surface known to humanity is indicative of a dexterity and fitness most gymnasts could only dream of! Pills will also mean no card – we certainly don’t want to give the card to druggies! Where tissues are found in a pensioners pocket a very dim view will be taken and unless evidence of a medical allergy to Lidyl’s budget 1 ply toilet roll can be produced this will usually result in refusal. Though this process will cause temporary discomfort and a rush of blood to the head it will be less stressful than the ordeal of filling out the proposed means test form. And like the proposed means test the ratio of 20:1 will be preserved, the only difference being that only one in twenty will qualify! Now isn’t that much better?
PS: On a more serious note:
PS: On a more serious note:
What the government did re the Medical Cards was monumentally clumsy and stupid! For a very small financial saving the government have lost all the political capital and credibility they had. However I think common sense would say that the universal medical card for 70+ should never have been introduced. It was a cynical ploy to buy an election and poor stewardship of the nations resources no matter how well off we thought we were! People are too angry at the moment to listen to reason and I think the Grey Panther march yesterday was about more than medical cards - I think it was more about a sector of the population who are increasingly invisible in our rapidly changing and disconnected society. However there are better ways of making them visible than giving free medical care to those who can easily afford it themselves. There is a lot of talk about rights, but our rights are of necessity affected and circumscribed by the rights of others who also deserve a piece of a shrinking economic pie. There is scandalous wastage in our welfare and health delivery systems and these need to be addressed but the reality is that if we give out free medical cards to the wealthy there will be less beds in our hospitals and less resources to help those who are really needy and marginalized. Taken to its extreme people who need resources will die if some of these resources are given to those who don’t need them. If we all got what we deserved we might have even more to complain about!
UPDATE: Check out the excellent editorial in the Irish Times (Saturday 25th October) which puts all of this in its proper context.
Gonzales only shouted a warning to Andrew after he was already fatally injured. When he was lying on the ground, trying to get up, Gonzales then shot him again several times, in the limbs, causing the young rookie policeman who accompanied him to throw up in horror.
Now why would he do this? Well, one possible reason is that he knew Andrew was going to die, and he needed to show that some disabling shots had been fired. My guess is that he will now try to reverse the chronology and claim to have fired the leg and arm shots first. He’ll claim that the fatal wounds were inflicted only after Andrew refused to stop.
I’ll remind you again: Andrew Hanlon was shot seven times, and possibly by two different weapons.
Sermon for Sunday 13th July 2008
In the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 we are very usefully provided with an interpretation of the parable. Seed (the Word of God) is sown in various conditions and according to the ground on which it falls (the people who hear it) it either prospers or dies. And even without the interpretation, anyone with even a basic knowledge of gardening would understand the symbolism in this parable. The hearers of the Word are either shallow, rootless, distracted or lastly deep and receptive to it.
It is tempting to look at these different types of hearers and ask ourselves which group we fall into: Are we shallow and easily swayed? Are we lacking in endurance? Are we too busy surviving to think of the deeper things of life or are we well grounded and nourished, fertile ground for the Word to take root?
Whatever our answer, perhaps a better question to ask ourselves is this: What are we doing to prepare the ground so that the Word of God can take root and bear fruit in the lives of others? It is all to easy to resign ourselves to the inevitability that for some people God will never be a part of their lives. We criticize the rising tide of secularism and militant atheism – we despair at those who say there is no God or at least see no place for God in their lives – we speak sadly about the diminishing numbers of young people in our churches and yet we fail to ask the obvious question: Does it have to be this way? Or perhaps to rephrase the question in a more challenging way: what could I do to change things?
It is important to ask this question because we are not mere observers and the Gospel is not merely a description of the Christian life – we are participants and the Gospel is a call to action. I do not for one moment think that Jesus told this parable to describe the various ways of responding to God’s call on or lives but rather to draw to our attention to our calling as his followers.
And what is our calling? To make disciples of all nations or in other words to make Jesus known to everyone we encounter in our lives. That might sound straightforward enough buts its not! It is counter-cultural – We live in a society which increasingly says that faith is a private concern; that it is a matter of individual devotion and fulfillment! Who are we to tell others about this Jesus?! And the tragedy is that we have largely given in to this pressure and allowed the Gospel to be marginalized by being ring-fenced in the private domain. The truth is that the message of Jesus is personal but it is NOT private! It is of its very essence public! Jesus was and is political – Look at the beginning of his public ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth as recorded in Luke 4: “The Sprit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”. Bear in mind that this is in the context of Roman oppression and try and argue that Jesus did not preach a radical political message. And this is no isolated passage - look at the Sermon on the Mount and you see the same upturning of the social order! Yes Jesus is about the salvation of our souls but he is concerned for our bodies as well. He cared and cares about life before death as he cares about life after it! We must fight against this privatization of the Gospel. Dealing with this same compartmentalization of life, Steve Chalk in his recent book: ‘Intelligent Church’ quotes Archbishop Tutu who said: “If we are to say that religion cannot be concerned with politics, then we are really saying that there is a substantial part of human life in which God’s will does not run……If it is not God’s, then whose is it?
The Gospel does not exist in a vacuum – It had and continues to have deeply practical implications. A vital part of our calling is to prepare the ground for the Word of God. We expect far too much of people if we think that they will become followers of Christ just because we tell them that it is the ‘right’ thing to do – As Chalke also comments, the theologian Walter Bruggeman once famously said – “people are not changed by moral exhortation but by transformed imagination”. And maybe when we realize the truth of this it will release us from a burden because it just may be that we are trying too hard! Or to put it another way – we are trying to do the wrong thing! We are trying to make clones of ourselves when we are really called to make followers of Christ. How many of us in bemoaning the disinterest of our children and others who we call ‘lapsed’ in our community of faith are really sharing the difference that Jesus makes in our lives? Young people in particular are hugely sensitive to integrity and genuine commitment and however much we preach the importance of ‘going to church’ it is a futile exercise if it is not rooted in and motivated by a love of Christ in us.
I think this is the real crisis the Church faces today – We are calling people into an institution when what they are craving is a relationship with God….a transformative relationship that empowers them to be the people that God wants them to be and to do the good that they are able to do. We are not engaging effectively with the spiritual hunger that is out there! We are not in the market place – we are not sharing the vision – we are keeping it to ourselves and denying it the air it needs to breathe and to flourish.
And what we are called to is infact very simple – As Chalke puts it:
‘It is not our job to make anyone believe. Our responsibility is simply to love God and love others….Our communities are transformed because through us, God walks our streets, feels their pain, hears their cries and responds to their need.”
It is in this way that the ground is made receptive to God’s Word – that it becomes Holy ground and we truly exercise our discipleship of Jesus. May we follow him and in that following inspire others to walk in his way. Amen.