Paul O'Reilly SJ

Harvest corn
When I was a child growing up in Ireland, we were the rich part of the family. We lived in the city, both my parents had paying jobs and we owned our own home. And every summer – in August - we went back to my mother’s real home, which was the hill country of Donegal to spend time with the cousins from the poor part of the family. And whenever we went back home, for weeks beforehand, my mother used to go to enormous efforts to go round all the shops and buy all the unusual foods that you could...
Statue of our lady with a crown of 12 stars, in Attard (Malta)
At a parish church where I often go on a Sunday, we have a big Portuguese community. And in the Church, they have put up a big statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It’s a statue of our lady Queen of Heaven, so the statue has an enormous gilt crown, a big red heart (which glows in the dark after you put the lights out) and a small white plastic rosary. And every Sunday, they put an enormous number of flowers and candles around it. And on special Marian feast days, they put extra ornaments on it – I...
"He could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them."As a doctor, I have always loved the last line of this reading. It seems like - for St Mark - just healing a few sick people doesn't really count as a miracle! He takes it for granted that healing is a natural part of God becoming really present in a human life.Well, a few days ago I had a young man in my office with his girlfriend - both much in need of healing. Both of them had just tested HIV...
Paul O'Reilly in Guyana
Paul O'Reilly SJ, who currently works as a GP among the homeless in London, reflects on the effect something as simply as touch can have on the sick.I sometimes wonder what it felt like to be Jesus, to have the power to heal people just by touching them... No fuss, no drugs, no operations – you just get better right away. What a wonderful thing to be able to do for people. One person who made me think that was Tessa; and the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life was making her see again....
A Child's Baptism on Flickr by Joe Green
'Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.'What does it mean to be “baptised in the Holy Spirit”?Well, if you ask a theologian, they’ll tell you that it is just simply what it is to be a Christian – to have one’s entire life imbued with the Holy Spirit not just in the next Life, but in this one – to have the Holy Spirit live...
Georges de la Tour 1644
If the consistent witness of the Gospels is to be believed, the most momentous event in human history begins with the idle whim of a public sector bureaucrat in urgent need of a data point to satisfy his constant anxiety for administrative exactitude – that addictive need for false reassurance through arithmetic that is the all too common characteristic of personally insecure public sector bureaucrats everywhere. It is a census which requires, for no good reason, indeed for no stated reason at...

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