Readings & Homily
YEAR A Readings
Sunday 24th May 2020
SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14
After Jesus was taken up into heaven, the apostles went back from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 4: 13-16 If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you. None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.
Gospel: The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus (John 17:1-11)
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him. And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was. I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me. I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 24th May 2020
Until Covid 19 hit us we thought we lived in an age of activism! We have been forced to reconsider what kind of an age we really live in. It is not a bad thing for us to learn that sometimes we have to sit things out and be patient and wait for a solution to be found.
The first disciples of Jesus had to learn this lesson during the time between Ascension and Pentecost. As we read in the first reading of today’s Mass, they were all assembled in the upper room together with several women, including his Mother and others of his relations. They were praying continually for the guidance of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had promised to send them when he had ascended to his Father.
This is the work of the Church in any age – to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit – Prayer and discernment are an essential part of the life of the Church and indeed the life of any one of us who are members of the Church. The present time can be seen as gift to contemplate on the true meaning of life. Lots of people have been seeing this and saying how we must not miss the opportunity we have been given. So, in the days that are left before we celebrate Pentecost let’s seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in regard to how we are living as Christians.
To be a Christian is to have eternal life as Jesus says in today’s Gospel. Do we know we have this life? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what it means to have this life already, not just as a reward when we die, but now. John says, eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have been reading another biography of our most recent Saint – John Henry Newman – he was very conscious that there is no sharp division between the life of this world and the life of the world of God – between what is seen and what is unseen – between the visible and the invisible worlds. He is a saint for our times one who can help us to realise the connection between the sacred and the secular. Saint John Henry Newman: pray for us.
YEAR A Readings
Sunday 17th May 2020
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8. 14-17
Philip went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves. There were, for example, unclean spirits that came shrieking out of many who were possessed, and several paralytics and cripples were cured. As a result, there was great rejoicing in that town. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, and they went down there, and prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet he had not come down on any of them: they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:15-18
Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander you when you are living a good life in Christ may be proved wrong in the accusations that they bring. And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong. Why, Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life.
Gospel: The Advocate whom the Father will send (John 14:15-21)
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments. I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you. In a short time, the world will no longer see me; but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will understand that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him.’
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 17th May 2020
The Christian mysteries are revealed to us so that we might ponder them and come to a deeper understanding of them with the help of the Holy Spirit. Today’s Gospel speaks to us of the relationship between the three persons of the Holy Trinity.
Some people say The Trinity is a mystery, so I just accept it in blind faith and that’s it! Others get hung up on the imagery we are given like the dove being an image of the Holy Spirit which they find unhelpful! What a pity if that is as far as we go with the Holy Trinity.
In the readings we are given by the Church during Eastertide there is a rich banquet of food for thought on some of the deepest truths of our faith. Today’s Gospel is a good example. Jesus promises to ask the Father to send another Advocate to be with us for ever (Jesus is first Advocate the Father sends). Jesus tells us what the Father is like and the Holy Spirit helps understand all that Jesus taught while he was on this earth. Jesus tells the disciples he will not leave them as orphans with no one to guide them. It will be the work of the Holy Spirit to give them clarity and conviction about what he taught them. He says they will no longer see him as they have done for the three years, he was teaching them, but he will be with them through the Holy Spirit who will dwell within them and they will share the life of God. This why we call the Holy Spirit The life-giver, he gives us the life that Jesus promised us , life that will last – eternal life.
The work of the Church down the centuries is to ponder on these eternal truths and pass them on to others. Mary is a great example of what the Church is – this is why we call her Mother of the Church. During this month of May, Mary’s month, we should ask her to intercede for us and all people that we would ponder on the truths of our faith – we have more time to do that at the moment let’s not waste the opportunity.
Have a good week.
(YEAR A Readings)
Sunday 10th May 2020
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
First Reading: Acts 6:1-7
About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’ The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:4·9
The Lord is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house. As scripture says: See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen and the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed. That means that for you who are believers, it is precious; but for unbelievers, the stone rejected by the builders has proved to be the keystone, a stone to stumble over, a rock to bring men down. They stumble over it because they do not believe in the word; it was the fate in store for them. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Gospel: Jesus Warns of his Departure (John 14:1-12)
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am now going to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you know me, you know my Father too. From this moment you know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him, ‘and you still do not know me? To have seen me is to have seen the Father, so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work. You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason. I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.’
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 10th May 2020
The Christian religion is not a “Religion of the Book”, as say Islam may be described. Our religion is a “religion of the word of God, not a written and mute word, but of the incarnate and living word.” This word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and dwelt among us. So we could describe our religion as a religion of the person.
This is what Jesus is talking to his disciples about in today’s Gospel – he is saying to Philip that he and the Father are one and to have known Jesus is to have known the Father. John’s Gospel is all about the purpose of Jesus’ dwelling among us being to reveal the Father to us. Jesus is the complete revelation of who the Father is, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews puts it this way, ” In many and varied ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (1:1-2). Benedict XV1 puts it beautifully in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. VERBUM DOMINI, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which give life a new horizon and a definitive direction.”.
As you know 2020 has been named “The Year of The Word.” by our bishops, I hope it will not be forgotten in the present troubles we are having to face. The document I have referred to is well worth a careful reading and will lead us to a deeper understanding of our faith – a faith which will sustain us whatever we have to face in the future. Jesus ends today’s Gospel by saying, “Whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.” These are the works the Holy Spirit will inspire us to do, together with all who are on the side of good – we are seeing plenty of these works in the actions of all manner of people – God bless them for their sacrifices.
(YEAR A Readings)
Sunday 3rd May 2020
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
First Reading: Acts 2:14.36-41
On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd with a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’ Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered, ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:20-25
The merit, in the sight of God, is in bearing punishment patiently when you are punished after doing your duty. This, in fact, is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow the way he took. He had not done anything wrong, and there had been no perjury in his mouth. He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was tortured, he made no threats, but he put his trust in the righteous judge. He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross, so that we might die to our faults and live for holiness; through his wounds you have been healed. You had gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls
Gospel: The Good Shepherd (John 10:1-10)
Jesus said: ‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’ Jesus told them this parable, but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them. So, Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold. All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’
Please click on the words in green text to open a pastoral letter from our Archbishop:
(YEAR A Readings)
Sunday 26th April 2020
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
First Reading: Acts 2:14. 22-33
On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him, “I saw the Lord before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me. So, my heart was glad and my tongue cried out with joy: my body, too, will rest in the hope that you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your holy one to experience corruption. You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.” Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.’
Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21
If you are acknowledging as your Father one who has no favourites and judges everyone according to what he has done, you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home. Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ; who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake. Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.
Gospel: The Journey to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short; their faces downcast. Then one of them, called Cleopas answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked.’ All about Jesus of Nazareth,’ they answered, ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’ Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself. When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening,’ they said, ‘and the day is almost over.’ So, he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at the table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’ They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 26th April 2020
How are we all coping with this unreal moment in time? There may be a temptation to see it as a punishment from God. This would be a temptation to resist. God doesn’t send plagues and tsunamis to punish humankind, he allows them he doesn’t perpetrate them! The origin of this Pandemic is not yet known but what we do know is that it has spread as a result of poor human decisions.
So what can learn from what we are living through? Whether we like it or not we have been stopped in our tracks – we are in lockdown. This will mean different things for different people, depending on our situation; are we on our own or are we part of a household? Even if we are not alone we will have much more time on our hands and because of the social distancing, we will have noticed a quietness and a stillness around us which has enabled us to be more aware of nature, many have noticed the birdsong and the beauty of the countryside. It is as if we are being invited to Be still and know that I am God. If we are too busy or consumed by other things it is difficult to be aware of God.
Perhaps this was the situation for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they were downcast and depressed because they were consumed with disappointment at the death of Jesus. Their own hope had been that Jesus would have set their people free! Little did they know that he had indeed set his people free, but not in the way they had understood. To open their minds to God’s way of acting Jesus took them through the Old Testament explaining all the texts that were about God’s purpose in sending Jesus. Then their hearts burned within them and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Perhaps in the extra time and quietness we have we could turn to the Scriptures more and that our hearts might burn within us and we will come to a deeper understanding of the Eucharist – this time when most of us cannot receive Jesus in the Eucharist might be a time when we come to appreciate it all the more.
Remember our sisters and brothers who are in the caring professions, they do not have the extra time and quietness but we pray that they recognize Jesus in the people they are laying down their lives for – when you did it for these, you did it for me.
(YEAR A Readings)
SUNDAY 19th April 2020
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 2:42·47
The whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. The many miracles and signs worked through the apostles made a deep impression on everyone. The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common: they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed. They went as a body to the Temple every day but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which had been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour. You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.
Gospel: John 20:19-31
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ There were many other signs that Jesus worked, and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 19TH April 2020
In the year 2000, Pope (now Saint) John Paul 11 canonised Sister Faustina Kowalska you can read more about her in the Newsletter this week. Pope John Paul declared that from the day of her canonisation, the First Sunday after Easter would be known as DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY.
It is the day we always get to hear about St. Thomas’s doubt from John’s Gospel. We should always remember that Thomas was healed of his doubt by Jesus appearing to him and the other disciples and after his healing he was able to make his perfect act of faith in who Jesus is ” My Lord and my God”!
The greeting Jesus used on the two occasions he appeared to the disciples in the room where they were staying in fear of the Jews was “Peace be with you.” He followed this greeting by saying “Receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven…..” The Church has always seen in this promise the gift to the Church to forgive in the name of God. It is the basis on which one of the great sacraments of healing is exercised in the Church, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The other two sacraments of healing being, the Eucharist, and the Sacrament of the Sick.
We are very aware that we are living through a time when it is difficult to avail of these three sacraments in the manner we have been used to, through the ministry of the priest. In order to keep our sisters and brothers safe we have been asked by our Government, and with the compliance of our Bishops, to refrain from gathering together where we might inadvertently pass on this terrible virus to each other. But God’s grace is not unavailable to us, especially in these critical times; we have always known that if it is impossible to get to Confession, we can make a good act of contrition, and intend to confess as soon as it is possible. Similarly, if we can’t be physically present at the Eucharist, we can make a spiritual Communion, (and these days be virtually present through streaming!). With regard to the Sacrament of the Sick, the priest is able to attend the seriously ill under special arrangements laid down by the Church and those who are caring for the person; the priest must be under 70 and he must not make direct physical contact by using a cotton swab to administer the Holy Oils.
I hope that when this awful isolation is over, we will appreciate all the more the love and mercy of God through the sacraments. I have found there have been many unexpected blessings during this time, and I look forward to returning to a world that has changed by our greater awareness of putting our trust in God, as Jesus said to St. Faustina, “I want the whole world to know my infinite mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to those who trust in my mercy.”
Keep safe and well, I remember you all at Mass every day, and commend you all to our Patroness as I stand before the statue of Our Lady.
(YEAR A Readings)
SUNDAY 12th April 2020
SOLEMNITY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD
FIRST READING: Acts 10:34. 37-43
‘You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
SECOND READING: Colossians 3:1-4
Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is sitting, at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
GOSPEL: John 20:1-9
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said, ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’ So, Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw, and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Homily and message from Fr John
Sunday 12TH April 2020
I am sitting looking out on the lovely presbytery garden on Holy Saturday. The weather is beautiful – unusually so for Easter! This year I am particularly struck by the words of a very ancient homily for Holy Saturday – we always have it as part of the Office of Readings on this day, but I feel it speaks to the moment more than ever this year:
“Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.”
The writer goes on to describe how Jesus searches for our first parents and all those who are lost in the shadow of death so that he can free them from sorrow and captivity. Jesus is bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him victory. He takes them by the hand and leads them out of bondage. Isn’t this what Jesus has done for us? Isn’t this what we are celebrating this Easter Sunday in spite of all the suffering and death that surrounds us?
The writer describes the suffering of Jesus, but sees it as redemptive, he says:
“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore you to the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hands to a tree.”
I am still looking out on my garden and remembering yet another garden which has an empty tomb! A tomb which makes every grave a sign of hope.
Happy Easter! With love and prayers,
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,