Bishop Martin Hayes celebrated Mass with staff and students from the post-primary schools in the Diocese of Kilmore on Thursday 16 March 2023 at 11:30a.m. in St. Michael’s Church, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, which was hosted by St. Aidan’s Comprehensive School in Cootehill.

The following is the text of Bishop Martin’s homily on that occasion:

I would like to reflect on the scripture readings of today.  The readings, in particular, the Gospel presented me with a real challenge as the Gospel is an account of Jesus driving out demons, evil spirits.  Jesus states that a kingdom divided against itself will fall.  Jesus refers to Satan and goes on to state that it is by the finger of God that demons are driven out.

What or who are these demons?  The reason we have this Gospel today is because we are in Lent, walking with Jesus towards Easter, a journey which began for Jesus when he was tempted by Satan in the desert, when Jesus faced his demons, when he was tempted ‘to do his own thing’ independent of God, the Father.

Our demons are all that take us away from God; the other voices that try to convince us that we are all powerful, that we can manage without any help from others or from God, the voices that distract us from God, from our true calling in life.

In our introduction to our Mass, the TY students of St. Aidan’s, have beautifully presented all that brings us towards God, Respect – re-spect, to look a second time at the other person, Responsibility – to act from the heart, Resilience – that inner strength to overcome challenges, Love – which bears, believes, hopes and endures all things, Faith – grounded in the faithfulness of God, Friendship – the concern for the other, the gift of anam cara which we will reflect upon after Communion, and Justice or just being fair.

We embrace these values in listening to the voice of God as is the invitation in our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah.  We hear the call, “Listen to my voice..” as Jeremiah highlights by contrast those who were too stubborn to listen to the voice of God and who lose their way.

In accord with our theme today of Walking in Faith and Love, I would like to emphasise the two values of Love and Faith. 

Love, we can love God and each other as we are loved by God first in creating us, all of life, all of creation, in all its beauty and diversity, in providing us with a purpose in life as guardians of creation and so we can respond in love.  God loves us and sent His Son Jesus among us to help us make that connection with God’s love.  Jesus gave of Himself completely for us, His Body and Blood, which we celebrate in this Mass.  In being loved by Jesus in that way, we can love in response. 

Faith grounded in the faithfulness of God who is always there for us; through the guidance offered by Jesus in His teaching in the scriptures, through those called to be our teachers in our faith and guides; our parents, guardians, teachers, priests, deacons, school chaplains, pastoral ministers, and, of course, through the power of the Holy Spirit…..the gifts we received at Baptism and Confirmation.

These values, of love and faith along with respect, responsibility, resilience, friendship, and justice are of God, and they bring out the best in us with God’s help – that is important, we need God’s help.  We cannot live these values by our own will alone as we are then in the hands of our demons, at odds with ourselves, divided against ourselves and so we fall as we have heard from Jesus in our Gospel.  In the last line of our Gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters”.  God is calling us to gather together in harmony and peace, with the help of God.

We are invited to allow the finger of God to touch us and to point us in the right direction in life by embracing these values of respect, responsibility, resilience, love, faith, friendship, and justice.  In making the decision to embrace these values, in asking for God’s help to live out these values and in supporting each other we are walking together in faith and love.  At this time, Pope Francis is calling us to walk in faith and love, to listen to each other, to talk to each other in the spirit of faith and love so as to encourage and support each other on our respective journeys in life.

Bishop Martin with students of Ballinamore Community School


Bishop Martin with students of Bailieborough Community School


Bishop Martin with students of St. Clare’s College, Ballyjamesduff


Bishop Martin with students of St. Patrick’s College, Cavan


Bishop Martin with students of St. Aidan’s Comprehensive School in Cootehill who hosted the Mass