Readings & Homily
SUNDAY 5th APRIL 2020
The Readings for Passion (Palm) Sunday may be found in full on the Universalis website: www.universalis.com/20200405/mass.htm
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 5th April 2020
After two of the strangest weeks of Lent, we find ourselves on the brink of Holy Week! What will it be like for us not to be able to gather together physically during these most sacred days of the Christian Year? Our experience of the past two weeks will probably have shown us that there will be ups and downs; some positive things that take us by surprise, and some negative things that cause us pain.
Our week begins with Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem hailed by the people as their king as they laid down their cloaks for him to ride over. How soon this adulation will evaporate, and they will call for him to be crucified. If we were all together in church today, we would be invited to call out “Crucify him, crucify him”. One of the positive things about Holy Week this year is that we will have plenty of time to ponder on the meaning of Our Lord’s Passion. Read it slowly and meditatively in Matthew’s version today, and in John’ version on Good Friday. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you enter into the mystery of the Cross, ask for a real desire to understand the meaning of the cross. Not that we can ever understand everything about the cross, but we can begin to see what it means to our lives. Mysteries in the gospel are there to be pondered, just like Mary pondered the mystery of her Son.
To see the suffering around us at the moment should help us see the connection between suffering and redemption achieved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. I shall be remembering you all as I celebrate alone these great mysteries of salvation. Do look up the times of the services at St. Chad’s Cathedral and follow them on-line if you are able.
God bless you all,
(YEAR A Readings)
SUNDAY 29th MARCH 2020 – FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
FIRST READING: Ezekiel 37:12-14
The Lord says this ‘I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this’ – it is the Lord who speaks.
SECOND READING: Romans 8:8-11
People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him. Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
GOSPEL: John 11:1-45
The sisters Martha and Mary sent this message to Jesus, ‘Lord, the man you love is ill.’ On receiving the message, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified.’ Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when he learned that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was for two more days before saying to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judaea.’ On arriving, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days already. When Martha heard that Jesus had come, she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’ ‘Your brother,’ said Jesus to her, ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ she said, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’ They said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But there were some who remarked, ‘He opened the eyes of the blind man; could he not have prevented this man’s death?’ Still sighing, Jesus reached the tomb; it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. Jesus said, ‘Take the stone away.’ Martha said to him, ‘Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day.’ Jesus replied, ‘Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’ So, they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I knew indeed that you always hear me, but I speak for the sake of all these who stand round me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them,’ ‘Unbind him, let him go free.’ Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what he did believed in him.
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 29th March 2020
None of us expected a Lent and Easter like this one. What are we to make of it? We are given the Gospel of John’s account of the raising of Lazarus for this Sunday. It is the last of the three Gospels from John which were used to instruct the new converts in the early Church. (The other two being The Woman at the Well and the Man Born Blind).
The phrase which always catches my eye in this reading is “unbind him, let him go free.” This what God does for us at baptism, he unbinds us from all that holds us in servitude and enables us to be free children of God.
Baptism is like a death, we go down into the tomb with Jesus, so as to rise with him to a new life. What we are going through just now is also like dying to an old way of life; all that we took for granted and gave us comfort we are having to let go of. It is as if God is unbinding us from our attachment to what we have come to rely on and is teaching us to rely on him alone.
Pray for the brave men and women who are prepared to lay down their lives for their sick brothers and sisters as they care for them.
This Sunday is the day we in England are re-dedicating our country to Mary it was to have been a very public event to have taken place in all our Cathedrals but because of our present circumstances it will have to take place in our homes. We can, if we are able, view it online from St Chad’s Cathedral at 11am on Sunday morning. I hope we will try to join the Archbishop in our mother church.
God bless you all especially the sick.
Love and prayers,
SUNDAY 22 MARCH 2020 FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
FIRST READING: Samuel 16:1.6-7.10-13
The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen myself a king among his sons.’ When Samuel arrived, he caught sight of Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed one stands there before him,’ but the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Take no notice of his appearance or his height for I have rejected him; God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ He then asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ He answered, ‘There is still one left, the youngest; he is out looking after the sheep.’ Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he comes.’ Jesse had him sent for, a boy of fresh complexion, with fine eyes and pleasant bearing. The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.
SECOND READING: Ephesians 5:8-14
You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth. Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, having nothing to do with the futile works of darkness but exposing them by contrast. The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light. That is why it is said, ‘Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’.
Gospel: John 9:1.6-9.13-17.34-38
As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. He spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So, the blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored. His neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging said, ‘Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said, ‘Yes, it is the same one.’ Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’ The man himself said, ‘I am the man.’ They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man’s eyes, so when the Pharisees asked him how he had come to see he said, ‘He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.’ Then some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man cannot be from God; he does not keep the sabbath.’ Others said, ‘How could a sinner produce signs like this?’ And there was disagreement among them. So they spoke to the blind man again, ‘What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?’ ‘He is a prophet,’ replied the man. ‘Are you trying to teach us,’ they replied, ‘and you a sinner through and through, since you were born!’ And they drove him away. Jesus heard they had driven him away, and when he found him he said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.’ The man said, ‘Lord, I believe’, and worshipped him.
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 22 March 2020
As we saw last Sunday, the Gospel readings for the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent were used to instruct the new converts at Easter. Today’s Gospel is the healing of the man born blind. It was used to teach what Baptism is about. It is found seven times on the walls of the early catacombs as an illustration of baptism!
The emphasis on the man being able to see with the light of God is what is important in the account. He comes to see who Jesus is but gradually (rather like the woman at the well of last week). He meets with opposition from the crowds and even his own parents stand aloof from his testimony, but through these challenges he comes to a clearer understanding of who Jesus is. He begins his testimony by telling the crowd that it was “the man called Jesus” who healed him. When the authorities interrogate him he tells them that Jesus is a prophet. When they challenge him a second time, he announces himself as a disciple, and then when he is driven away he meets Jesus again and makes a declaration of faith: “Lord, I believe” and worships him.
This is how we all come to faith through the Holy Spirit enlightening us to see who Jesus really is “The Light of the World”. As we live through these difficult days, let use them to come to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is for us.
Keep in touch with Jesus in the Eucharist through your prayer and spiritual communion and visits to church when you can. I will be remembering you all at Mass every day.
Love and prayers,