Paul O'Reilly SJ

Piggy bank surrounded by coins
It was when I was in the second year of the Jesuit Noviceship that I got to be really quite ambitious. I had the chance to get a job that I really wanted to have. It was the job of House Treasurer - the man in charge of the money. It wasn’t, you understand, that I particularly wanted to be in charge of the money - simply that, three afternoons a week, the Treasurer got to sit warm and comfortable in an office with a three-bar electric heater, while the other novices had to go out into the wind...
Hands holding a light bulb lit up
Sometimes, you only find out what you have when you meet someone who hasn’t got it.When I was working in South America, I had a friend who worked in the electricity company. It’s called ‘Guyana Power and Light’. And he was in charge of what they called the “Rural Electrification Project”. That meant that it was his job to bring power and light to villages which had never had it before. He told me that it was the best job he had ever done.Wherever he went, he...
A hand holding two small flowers, one yellow one lilac
Peace – like love - is not an event, but an action. It is not something that is dropped on us from above, but something that we do, something that we choose.The Gospel teaches us that we are called, each one, to proclaim in word and deed that God’s Kingdom is about being centred in God, caring and compassionate toward others, living the Beatitudes. Then, as Arundhati Roy said: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing....
Older woman holds her head in her hands - by Christian Newman on unsplash
This Sunday is Christmas day, a day when, by long tradition, all over the world, Christians wake up happy – thankful for all of the good things they have been given in life. Not just the good things they have been given this morning, but all of the good things they have received from God’s hand throughout their lives. And thankful most especially for the people they have been given to love and people who have been given to love them. This is a day for rejoicing in all that God has...
I remember the day, in fact the exact moment, when I learned to pray – really, really hard.It was when I was about 12 and my family went for a holiday to France. My father drove the car as far as Dover, we got the ferry to Calais and my mother drove down to Paris – at least that was the plan. And it worked fine until we were about twenty minutes down the big motorway from Calais to Paris.Now, as everyone knows, the key thing to remember about driving on French roads is that you are...
Two hands holding scrabble letters that spell forever: Photo by Gabby Orrcutt
“Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.”Do you believe in love at first sight?When I was at college I had a friend called Mark. And, one evening, we went out to dinner with a group of other students. At the dinner he met a young lady called Laura and they seemed to get on very well together. And, as we walked home, he told me that he had fallen in love with her. This was the woman for him, there would be no other. They would get married, live...
Margaret Hassan (Fitzsimons)
Around about this time twelve years ago, you may just remember, the whole country was talking about Margaret Hassan, a middle aged woman from Dublin who worked most of her life as an aid worker in Iraq and, that winter, was tortured and killed on television. Her horrific death brought her fifteen minutes of fame and subsequent oblivion. I want to briefly to remind you of the story of her life, because I believe it is the best expression I know in action of the words of this Gospel.She was born...
Group CEO Sleepout - a picture of the group
“Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection”.You should always meet your heroes; true heroism requires the reality test. That is why Thomas needed to put his fingers into the holes in Jesus’ hands. The ultimate things in life – and death – can only be faced with the confidence of a tested truth. And, as it happens, I met one of mine this week. I was doing a sponsored sleep-out for a homeless charity at Lord’s cricket ground. (When I was a teenager, my...
Two groups of young men gathered in a huddle
The first time I ever read this Gospel in Church, it was when I was working in the Caribbean. And it was to a youth Mass in a place called Albouystown - a very bad part of Georgetown in Guyana - a rough area, full of poverty, disease, violence and drugs.So, I read them the Gospel and I asked the young people to think of an image of what it would be like for Jesus to walk into their town and into their lives, the way He walked into Jericho and into the life of Zacchaeus.They thought for a bit...
A close up of a set of rosary beads
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”The one patient for whom no doctor can do anything is the patient who doesn’t think that he has a problem. I have a good friend who is an alcoholic. Since you will never meet him, I will tell you that his name is Tom. He has now not drunk alcohol for ten years, but he still knows that he is an alcoholic. Before that, his drinking destroyed his family, his job, his home and very nearly killed him. One day during Lent ten years ago, the...

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