Paul O'Reilly SJ

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash
 I hope this will not seem disrespectful, but do you ever wonder what it must have felt like to be Jesus?- to have the power to heal people just by touching them...“Do you feel sick?” – I touch you – and immediately you get better. No fuss, no bother, no drugs, no side-effects, no operations, no clinical commissioning groups, no Health & Social Care Bills – you just get better right away. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to be able to do for people?I often wonder that because, during...
View of Guyana from a small plane
About twenty years ago, I learned the meaning of the word ‘fear’. It was my first flight in a small plane in Guyana in South America.When I first went on the missions I had fond imaginings of trekking up through the jungle like the last of the Mohicans, so I felt a bit disappointed that it turned out just to be a flight in a small plane. But, if I had wanted a test of courage, I don’t think I could have chosen better. It turned out to be an ‘Islander’ – a twin engined propeller-driven job which...
Seeds resting in a persons hands - Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash
‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’Right after I was ordained, I spent five years working in the Amazon in South America. The area I worked in is called the Rupununi. That’s an area of Guyana about...
Sheep on the mountainside
Some people, even some Christians, wonder whether being a Christian really matters and whether having a Church and a priest and people going to Mass every Sunday really makes any actual difference in the world. I admit that I occasionally have those doubts myself. But then I think of the flocks of sheep that I have known without a shepherd.You see, I once saw an actual flock of sheep without a shepherd. It was in the Rupununi in South America. I don’t know how it had happened, but a group of...
 A young woman gazes upwards. A cross is behind her.
“Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” [John 20.9]“So, what exactly is the point of the ‘bodily resurrection’?”I was once asked this question in a pub by a journalist. And, as always, when I find myself talking in a social environment with a journalist, I hear somewhere off in the background the words of the Police caution… “but anything you do say may be taken down and used in evidence…”But drink had been taken, so I did...
         "Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,                it remains only a single grain;                but if it dies,                it yields a rich harvest.”Well, yes, but the question I’ve always wanted to...
Sunlight breaks through trees. Photo by Kristine Weilert on unsplash
“The man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.”When I was a novice, I used to work in a parish where – because they were giving me all the bad jobs - they put me on what we used to call “drinkers’ duty”. Every morning, from about 7 o’clock onwards, about 20-30 men and women would come up to the church and they would stop in and tell me how much alcohol they had drunk the previous day. And my job was to write it down –...
God made me and God doesn't make junk - Anonymous
“…they discussed among themselves what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.”One of my patients has a favourite T-shirt which he often wears to consultations with me. In block red capitals (presumably he has concerns about my eyesight) it says, “Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.”Having lived with quite a few saints in my time, I can heartily attest to the former. But, just in case I have to live with them again, the story I am going to tell you is about the latter….Now, you may...
one beer later written on the cap of a bottle
It is not very often that a persons life is changed in a single day, even in a day of recollection. I have a friend called Chris, he tells me that between the ages of 16 and 22, he did absolutely nothing but play football, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and other drugs and chase girls, - mostly without success. Every night he came home drunk. After six years of this his mother was distraught. She simply could not cope any longer. She spoke to her parish priest. He wasn’t much help (and she wasn’t...
Rosary beads a traditional form of prayer
Just about this time fifteen years ago, my old French teacher died – “Monsieur Sam”, of Wimbledon College.When we were boys of 13, religion really didn’t mean very much to us. We had not yet experienced in our own lives any real need for God. But Monsieur Sam, our new French teacher, insisted on starting our French course by teaching us the Rosary in French. We found out that it was the first thing he taught every class he took.And he explained to us very simply why he did that – it was because...

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