Bishop Michael Smith led thousands of people from the Diocese of Meath on the annual pilgrimage to Knock on Sunday 10 August 2014.  The ceremonies included the celebration of the Eucharist, the Anointing of the Sick and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Bishop, who is an enthusiastic supporter of Knock Shrine, welcomed the recent announcement of the € 10 million redevelopment of the Basilica and encouraged pilgrims to support the project with generosity.

“People come here from all strata of society, people come with their own physical and spiritual ailments” Bishop Smith emphasised. “There is no distinction, all are welcome, all are one in Christ Jesus, as St. Paul so beautifully expressed it. This characteristic of Marian shrines makes a profound statement about life in this day and age, about the dignity and worth of every individual before God, no matter how broken in body or spirit they may be. Mary extends the hand of welcome and support to all.”

In his homily, the Bishop reflected on the encounter between Jesus and St Peter in the Gospel of the day:

“God can seem distant at times. Peter, impulsive as ever, wanted reassurance that it was Jesus he was seeing: ‘if it is you….’ When he experienced the waves he lost courage, he lost faith: ‘Lord save me’. Jesus takes him by the hand and brings him back to the boat. The Lord is continuously holding out his hand to us also. Often life and all its demands and pains make us echo Peter in losing hope and direction. The Lord is holding His hand out to us

– in His Word – such as the words of reassurance and promise that we find in this Gospel, draw strength and hope from it

– in His Eucharistic presence – spend some time in quiet prayer and reflection before Him

– in His giving us Mary as a gentle and supportive companion on the journey of life.

Click here for the full text of Bishop Smith’s homily.