'Give Up Yer Aul Sins.' First Sunday of Lent Year B
The Temptation of Christ, Tintoretto, painted 1579-81
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Gospel Mark 1:12-15 (NAB)
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts,and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Back in the 1960s Peig Cunningham, from County Donegal in the north-west of Ireland, was teaching in a primary school right in the heart of Dublin, in an area where there was still great poverty, the place where the Venerable Matt Talbot lived most of his years. She recorded the children telling in their own words some of the Bible stories she had taught them.
The tapes were found some years after the death of Miss Cunningham and issued as a CD and tape, with Fr Brian Darcy CP doing much of the work. Later Brown Bag Productions made a series of videos using the recordings.
The language of the child telling the story of St John the Baptist is a Dublin dialect of English. The accent and the terms used may take some adjusting to. But the message that the young girl repeats a number of times, Give up yer aul sins (‘Give up your old sins’) – the title given to the CD and tape – is very clear and is precisely the message of Jesus in today’s gospel: Repent and believe the Good News.
St Mark puts the preaching of Jesus in the context of the arrest of St John the Baptist. Jesus echoes the preaching of St John in Mark 1: 4: John (the) Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Below is a video on Matt Talbot (1856-1925) who lived only two or three minutes’ walk from the school where ‘Give Up Yer Aul Sins’ originated. He never attended that school, as far as I know, and his academic career in my own nearby alma mater, O’Connell Schools, was extremely short, since he was what is known in Dublin as a chronic ‘mitcher’ – one playing truant. But, with God’s help, he did manage to ‘give up his aul sins’ – mainly those connected with excessive drinking - and lead a life of extraordinary holiness. One of the most powerful graces from God in his life was regular confession.
May Matt, to whom I pray every day, obtain for each of us the grace to ‘give up our aul sins’, especially through the sacrament of confession.
Matt Talbot (2 May 1856 – 7 June 1925)
To learn more about this holy man who 'gave up his aul sins' read Mary Gaffney's article, which we published in the September-October 2007 issue of Misyon, Matt Talbot - the Workers' Saint.