Following in His steps
The thoughts of Father Benedict as we follow in Christ's footsteps
22nd December 2021
Pastoral Letter for the Solemnity of the Holy Family 2021
To be read at all Sunday Masses on 26 December 2021
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
I extend to each of you, and to your families and loved ones, my warm good wishes as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour this Christmas. I pray that, in a deepened way, your heart might be opened to the loving closeness of the Lord Jesus. Now, and always, He is Emmanuel: God with us and God for us;nearer to us than our innermost thoughts, and closer to us than our heartbeat.It was because God loved the world so much, because God loved you so much, that He sent His only Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. For so great a gift, we too sing in thanksgiving with the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest.’
Whatever ups and downs the past year has brought,remember that you belong to Christ.In our isolation or distance, in our fear or disappointment, we have a home in Christ and in His Church. He knows our name. Our baptism is part of His life-story. The Lord never will never forget us or abandon us. How we need to be reminded of this, especially in difficult times. We are united to Christ, and to each other, in the family of the Church. Ours is not a do-it yourself faith or a go-it-alone religion. Believing and belonging go together. We journey with each other as Christ’s Body, called to live our faith from within the Church towards to the world.
The Feast of the Holy Family this year follows on immediately from Christmas Day. We remain focused on the new-born Christ child, held in the arms of His mother Mary and watched over by His foster father, St Joseph. United in Christ, Christian families too are places where believing and belonging go together, giving much needed witness to the unchanging virtues of faith, love, and hope, of patience, mercy and kindness.
What must it have been like for Joseph and his pregnant wife to have arrived in Bethlehem, exhausted by the journey from Nazareth?We know Mary was close to her delivery date. Joseph would have slowed the pace of travel to protect his wife and her unborn child. To avoid any possible hostility in Samaria, the Holy Family also probably took a detour. It would, therefore, have taken Joseph and Mary a week to ten days, maybe even longer, to reach their destination.They then struggled to find suitable accommodation and had to bed down beside the animals in the straw. Through all this they have something to teach us: they kept faith and they trusted in God’s promises.
Fast forward twelve years.The Holy Family had been in Jerusalem for the Passover. As they travelled home, their beloved child, the Lord Jesus, went missing. At that time men sometimes travelled separately from women, and the children travelled with either parent. Mary thought the Lord Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph thought He was with Mary. How panicked they must have been, fearing that He was lost, even that He had been injured or killed. Rushing back to Jerusalem, they found the Lord Jesus three days later teaching in the temple, getting on with His ‘Heavenly Father’s business.’It’s significant that they found Him alive after three days. The Gospel points to the resurrection. Again, there is something to learn here. In all we face, how we need to keep faith and trust in God’s promises. As the Christmas carol ‘Hark! The herald angels sing’ reminds us, Christ is born so we ‘no more may die,’ born to raise us from the earth, born to give us ‘second birth.’
Dear friends, we each need to nurture our faith. We each need to renew our trust in God’s promises.We live with hope in Christ born for us and raised from death on the cross for us. This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it. Thank you to parents, grandparents,and great grandparents for passing on the faith in your families. Thank you to catechists, teachers, clergy and religious sisters for passing on the faith in the family of the Church. Please be encouraged to continue helping people to believe and belong in Christ, especially through the celebration of the Sacraments, through cherishing prayer and the Scriptures, and through loving service to those most in need.
I assure you of my prayers on this beautiful Feast of the Holy Family: prayers for each of you and, in particular, for anyone struggling with life, and especially family life or marriage; for anyone coping with illness or bereavement;and for anyone uncertain about what 2022 might hold. Let us unite ourselves to Our Lady and to St Joseph. With them we keep faith and trust in God’s promise: a Saviour has been born for us who is Christ the Lord. He is Emmanuel: God with us and God for us.
With every blessing for this Christmas Season and the New Year
Yours devotedly in Christ
+ John Wilson
Metropolitan Archbishop of Southwark
23rd January 2021
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE XXIX WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2021
"You have but one teacher and you are all brothers" (Mt 23:8). A trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick
Dear brothers and sisters,
The celebration of the XXIX World Day of the Sick on 11 February 2021, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities. We think in particular of those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. To all, and especially to the poor and the marginalized, I express my spiritual closeness and assure them of the Church's loving concern.
1. The theme of this Day is drawn from the Gospel passage in which Jesus criticizes the hypocrisy of those who fail to practise what they preach (cf. Mt 23:1-12). When our faith is reduced to empty words, unconcerned with the lives and needs of others, the creed we profess proves inconsistent with the life we lead. The danger is real. That is why Jesus uses strong language about the peril of falling into self-idolatry. He tells us: "You have but one teacher and you are all brothers"(v. 8).
Jesus' criticism of those who "preach but do not practise" (v. 3) is helpful always and everywhere, since none of us is immune to the grave evil of hypocrisy, which prevents us from flourishing as children of the one Father, called to live universal fraternity.
Before the needs of our brothers and sisters, Jesus asks us to respond in a way completely contrary to such hypocrisy. He asks us to stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them (cf. Lk 10:30-35).
2. The experience of sickness makes us realize our own vulnerability and our innate need of others. It makes us feel all the more clearly that we are creatures dependent on God. When we are ill, fear and even bewilderment can grip our minds and hearts; we find ourselves powerless, since our health does not depend on our abilities or life's incessant worries (cf. Mt 6:27).
Sickness raises the question of life's meaning, which we bring before God in faith. In seeking a new and deeper direction in our lives, we may not find an immediate answer. Nor are our relatives and friends always able to help us in this demanding quest.
The biblical figure of Job is emblematic in this regard. Job's wife and friends do not accompany him in his misfortune; instead, they blame him and only aggravate his solitude and distress. Job feels forlorn and misunderstood. Yet for all his extreme frailty, he rejects hypocrisy and chooses the path of honesty towards God and others. He cries out to God so insistently that God finally answers him and allows him to glimpse a new horizon. He confirms that Job's suffering is not a punishment or a state of separation from God, much less as sign of God's indifference. Job's heart, wounded and healed, then makes this vibrant and touching confession to the Lord: "I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you" (42:5).
3. Sickness always has more than one face: it has the face of all the sick, but also those who feel ignored, excluded and prey to social injustices that deny their fundamental rights (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 22). The current pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in our healthcare systems and exposed inefficiencies in the care of the sick. Elderly, weak and vulnerable people are not always granted access to care, or in an equitable manner. This is the result of political decisions, resource management and greater or lesser commitment on the part of those holding positions of responsibility. Investing resources in the care and assistance of the sick is a priority linked to the fundamental principle that health is a primary common good. Yet the pandemic has also highlighted the dedication and generosity of healthcare personnel, volunteers, support staff, priests, men and women religious, all of whom have helped, treated, comforted and served so many of the sick and their families with professionalism, self-giving, responsibility and love of neighbour. A silent multitude of men and women, they chose not to look the other way but to share the suffering of patients, whom they saw as neighbours and members of our one human family.
Such closeness is a precious balm that provides support and consolation to the sick in their suffering. As Christians, we experience that closeness as a sign of the love of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan, who draws near with compassion to every man and woman wounded by sin. United to Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be merciful like the Father and to love in particular our frail, infirm and suffering brothers and sisters (cf. Jn 13:34-35). We experience this closeness not only as individuals but also as a community. Indeed, fraternal love in Christ generates a community of healing, a community that leaves no one behind, a community that is inclusive and welcoming, especially to those most in need.
Here I wish to mention the importance of fraternal solidarity, which is expressed concretely in service and can take a variety of forms, all directed at supporting our neighbours. "Serving means caring ... for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people" (Homily in Havana, 20 September 2015). In this outreach, all are "called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, before the concrete gaze of those who are most vulnerable... Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, 'suffers' that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people" (ibid.).
4. If a therapy is to be effective, it must have a relational aspect, for this enables a holistic approach to the patient. Emphasizing this aspect can help doctors, nurses, professionals and volunteers to feel responsible for accompanying patients on a path of healing grounded in a trusting interpersonal relationship (cf. New Charter for Health Care Workers , 4). This creates a covenant between those in need of care and those who provide that care, a covenant based on mutual trust and respect, openness and availability. This will help to overcome defensive attitudes, respect the dignity of the sick, safeguard the professionalism of healthcare workers and foster a good relationship with the families of patients.
Such a relationship with the sick can find an unfailing source of motivation and strength in the charity of Christ, as shown by the witness of those men and women who down the millennia have grown in holiness through service to the infirm. For the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection is the source of the love capable of giving full meaning to the experience of patients and caregivers alike. The Gospel frequently makes this clear by showing that Jesus heals not by magic but as the result of an encounter, an interpersonal relationship, in which God's gift finds a response in the faith of those who accept it. As Jesus often repeats: "Your faith has saved you".
5. Dear brothers and sisters, the commandment of love that Jesus left to his disciples is also kept in our relationship with the sick. A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love. Let us strive to achieve this goal, so that no one will feel alone, excluded or abandoned.
To Mary, Mother of Mercy and Health of the Infirm, I entrust the sick, healthcare workers and all those who generously assist our suffering brothers and sisters. From the Grotto of Lourdes and her many other shrines throughout the world, may she sustain our faith and hope, and help us care for one another with fraternal love. To each and all, I cordially impart my blessing.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 20 December 2020,
Fourth Sunday of Advent
20th October 2020
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR WORLD MISSION DAY 2020
Here am I, send me (Is 6:8)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish to express my gratitude to God for the commitment with which the Church throughout the world carried out the Extraordinary Missionary Month last October. I am convinced that it stimulated missionary conversion in many communities on the path indicated by the theme: "Baptized and Sent: the Church of Christ on Mission in the World".
In this year marked by the suffering and challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the missionary journey of the whole Church continues in light of the words found in the account of the calling of the prophet Isaiah: "Here am I, send me" (6:8). This is the ever new response to the Lord's question: "Whom shall I send?" (ibid.). This invitation from God's merciful heart challenges both the Church and humanity as a whole in the current world crisis. "Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat... are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying 'We are perishing' (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this" (Meditation in Saint Peter's Square, 27 March 2020). We are indeed frightened, disoriented and afraid. Pain and death make us experience our human frailty, but at the same time remind us of our deep desire for life and liberation from evil. In this context, the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbour presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer. The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realization that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others.
In the sacrifice of the cross, where the mission of Jesus is fully accomplished (cf. Jn 19:28-30), God shows us that his love is for each and every one of us (cf. Jn 19:26-27). He asks us to be personally willing to be sent, because he himself is Love, love that is always "on mission", always reaching out in order to give life. Out of his love for us, God the Father sent his Son Jesus (cf. Jn 3:16). Jesus is the Father's Missionary: his life and ministry reveal his total obedience to the Father's will (cf. Jn 4:34; 6:38; 8:12-30; Heb 10:5-10). Jesus, crucified and risen for us, draws us in turn into his mission of love, and with his Spirit which enlivens the Church, he makes us his disciples and sends us on a mission to the world and to its peoples.
"The mission, the 'Church on the move', is not a programme, an enterprise to be carried out by sheer force of will. It is Christ who makes the Church go out of herself. In the mission of evangelization, you move because the Holy Spirit pushes you, and carries you" (Senza di Lui non possiamo fare nulla: Essere missionari oggi nel mondo. Una conversazione con Gianni Valente, Libreria Editrice Vaticana: San Paolo, 2019, 16-17). God always loves us first and with this love comes to us and calls us. Our personal vocation comes from the fact that we are sons and daughters of God in the Church, his family, brothers and sisters in that love that Jesus has shown us. All, however, have a human dignity founded on the divine invitation to be children of God and to become, in the sacrament of Baptism and in the freedom of faith, what they have always been in the heart of God.
Life itself, as a gift freely received, is implicitly an invitation to this gift of self: it is a seed which, in the baptized, will blossom as a response of love in marriage or in virginity for the kingdom of God. Human life is born of the love of God, grows in love and tends towards love. No one is excluded from the love of God, and in the holy sacrifice of Jesus his Son on the cross, God conquered sin and death (cf. Rom 8:31-39). For God, evil - even sin - becomes a challenge to respond with even greater love (cf. Mt 5:38-48; Lk 22:33-34). In the Paschal Mystery, divine mercy heals our wounded humanity and is poured out upon the whole universe. The Church, the universal sacrament of God's love for the world, continues the mission of Jesus in history and sends us everywhere so that, through our witness of faith and the proclamation of the Gospel, God may continue to manifest his love and in this way touch and transform hearts, minds, bodies, societies and cultures in every place and time.
Mission is a free and conscious response to God's call. Yet we discern this call only when we have a personal relationship of love with Jesus present in his Church. Let us ask ourselves: are we prepared to welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to listen to the call to mission, whether in our life as married couples or as consecrated persons or those called to the ordained ministry, and in all the everyday events of life? Are we willing to be sent forth at any time or place to witness to our faith in God the merciful Father, to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, to share the divine life of the Holy Spirit by building up the Church? Are we, like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, ready to be completely at the service of God's will (cf. Lk 1:38)? This interior openness is essential if we are to say to God: "Here am I, Lord, send me" (cf. Is 6:8). And this, not in the abstract, but in this chapter of the life of the Church and of history.
Understanding what God is saying to us at this time of pandemic also represents a challenge for the Church's mission. Illness, suffering, fear and isolation challenge us. The poverty of those who die alone, the abandoned, those who have lost their jobs and income, the homeless and those who lack food challenge us. Being forced to observe social distancing and to stay at home invites us to rediscover that we need social relationships as well as our communal relationship with God. Far from increasing mistrust and indifference, this situation should make us even more attentive to our way of relating to others. And prayer, in which God touches and moves our hearts, should make us ever more open to the need of our brothers and sisters for dignity and freedom, as well as our responsibility to care for all creation. The impossibility of gathering as a Church to celebrate the Eucharist has led us to share the experience of the many Christian communities that cannot celebrate Mass every Sunday. In all of this, God's question: "Whom shall I send?" is addressed once more to us and awaits a generous and convincing response: "Here am I, send me!" (Is 6:8). God continues to look for those whom he can send forth into the world and to the nations to bear witness to his love, his deliverance from sin and death, his liberation from evil (cf. Mt 9:35-38; Lk 10:1-12).
The celebration of World Mission Day is also an occasion for reaffirming how prayer, reflection and the material help of your offerings are so many opportunities to participate actively in the mission of Jesus in his Church. The charity expressed in the collections that take place during the liturgical celebrations of the third Sunday of October is aimed at supporting the missionary work carried out in my name by the Pontifical Mission Societies, in order to meet the spiritual and material needs of peoples and Churches throughout the world, for the salvation of all.
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization and Comforter of the Afflicted, missionary disciple of her Son Jesus, continue to intercede for us and sustain us.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 31 May 2020, Solemnity of Pentecost
11th July 2020
Dear Esteemed Parishioner,
Good evening and I hope this email meets you well? I wish to thank you for your love, patience, support, prayers for each other and seeking each other out at these extraordinary times.
Please, I wish to share the following points with you. Kindly take note especially of the points made clearly below
- It is important to reaffirm that, at present, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended. Thus for this reason, Masses on Sundays will be at 9am, 10:15am and 5:00pm (Children's Liturgy will continue at 11:15am every Sunday). But also Masses at 10:00am on Wednesdays will stand out as a significant day in our parish, though coffee meetings will not hold. Please kindly reach out to me and indicate which mass you wish to attend as in individual or a family. I will respond by allocating a pew and space for you or your family
- Please be aware that there will be a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches. This will determined locally in accordance with social distancing requirements. To this effect I have attached a little map of the sitting arrangements in the church. The sitting arrangements allow for 25 individuals, but 5 pews have been designated for families of four or more. So the family pews can accommodate 4 at the least. This makes room for an additional 20 persons, taking the capacity of our church to 45 at each mass.
We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going 'back to normal.'
- Kindly think carefully about how and when you wish to return to Mass. As you will notice, I have added a mass to Sunday (9am) and adjusted 10am to 10:15am. Nonetheless, given there is no Sunday obligation, I kindly ask you to consider the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday (Monday, Wednesday or Friday). This will ease the pressure of numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for more people.
- Moving forward, there will still be many people who cannot attend Mass in person. We therefore shall continue to live-streaming Sunday and weekday Masses, both for those who remain shielding and vulnerable, and also for those unable to leave home because of advanced age or illness.
- When we return to Mass there will some differences in how the celebration takes place. For the time being, there will be no congregational singing and Mass will be shorter than usual. None of this detracts from the centrality of our encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. I kindly ask everyone to respect and follow the guidance/instructions in our church.
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation resumes on Saturday 18th July at 5:15pm in the church.
...... Each Parishioner is to attend mass wearing a face mask. Please this is essential.
....... Please once you get to the door, sanitise your hands before going to your designated seat. You will equally receive some wipes sanitizer to clean up where you sit after mass. Please make sure you clean where you have sat or knelt at mass.
....... Church toilets, Children's room, and parish room will not be in use.
....... During the mass, the Stewards will invite parishioners on each pew to step forward for communion or to receive a blessing, maintaining the social distance rules.
........ Once the mass is over, parishioners are advised to sit calmly and allow the stewards to invite you to leave the church in an orderly fashion through the exit door by the tabernacle.
....... The offertory will be at the end of mass with a basket at the exit door where you may drop your offering
....... Readers will sanitize before and after reading (Provisions will be made for you)
....... the Chalice will not be in use for parishioners, thus only one Eucharistic minister will be needed at weekend masses. The Eucharistic minister shall sanitise before and after administering the Eucharist to parishioners.
- Please if you have questions regarding the reception of any of the sacraments, kindly contact the Fr Benedict Via email or a phone Call.
- THERE WILL BE A ZOOM MEETING OF PARISHIONERS ON THE 18TH JULY 2020, TO CLARIFY OR RESPOND TO ANY QUESTIONS. PLEASE IF YOU ARE FREE, KINDLY ATTEND. See the link below (IT IS IN THE EMAIL SENT TO YOU)
Prayer to Mary, Mother of Hope
Mary, Mother of hope, accompany us on our journey!
Teach us to proclaim the living God;
help us to bear witness to Jesus, the one Saviour;
make us kindly towards our neighbours,
welcoming to the needy, concerned for justice,
impassioned builders of a more just world;
intercede for us as we carry out our work in history,
certain that the Father's plan will be fulfilled.
Dawn of a new world,
show yourself the Mother of hope and watch over us!
Watch over the Church in Europe:
may she be transparently open to the Gospel;
may she be an authentic place of communion;
may she carry out fully her mission of
proclaiming, celebrating and serving the Gospel of hope for the peace and joy of all.
Queen of Peace, Protect the men and women of the third millennium!
Watch over all Christians: may they advance confidently on the path of unity,
as a leaven of harmony for the continent.
Watch over young people: the hope of the future,
may they respond with generosity to the call of Jesus.
Watch over the leaders of nations:
may they be committed to building a common house
which respects the dignity and rights of every person.
Mary, give us Jesus!
Grant that we may follow him and love him!
He is the hope of the Church, of Europe and of all humanity!
He lives with us, in our midst, in his Church!
With you we say: "Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20).
May the hope of glory which he has poured into our hearts bear fruits of justice and peace! ( St John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa, 125)
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU PREPARE TO RETURN TO THE PHYSICAL CONGREGATION AT THE HOLY MASS.
YOUR SERVANT PRIEST,
20th June 2020
BASIC RULES FOR OPENING OUR CHURCH
The entry and exit doors should be clearly identified In and Out.
Anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms should be asked not to enter.
Toilets may not be used.
These Church openings are only for Individual Prayer and no communal prayers, confessions or any other sacraments are to be arranged.
The Blessed Sacrament may be exposed on the main Altar. With the Blessed Sacrament exposed before the Church opens and remaining until the Church is closed.
Doors and Windows are to be opened throughout the period and appropriately held open avoiding need by Parishioners to touch them.
There should be Hand Gel of no less than 65% Alcohol should be available at the entrance and another Hand Gel available at the exit. Clear signage to request parishioners to sanitise their hands on entry and exit should be on display.
There is no access to Sacristy for anyone other than the Priest.
Cordon off those seats not to be used and clearly mark out seats to be used to maintain the 2 M social distancing rule. Maximum capacity is to be maintained at 10 people at any one time.
People to be encouraged not to overstay to avoid lengthy queues.
Parishioners are prohibited from bringing their own candles.
Physical veneration of Statues and shrines is not permitted.
All Shared printed materials including Mass Books, Hymn Books, Devotional items etc are to be removed from sight.
Only limited single use material is to be made available and parishioners should be instructed to take it away with them.
Any printed material left by a parishioner will be removed and safely discarded.
The Team of Stewards and Cleaners are to be briefed as follows:
Neither Stewards nor Cleaners should be classed as clinically vulnerable, self-isolating or shielding.
Stewards: One steward is to be present at the Front door and the other Steward at the Exit Door at all times the Church is open.
At least 2 Stewards should be present at all times.
Stewards should complete an inspection of the premises before opening, to ensure all facilities and equipment are in place and that the Church is compliant.
Stewards must be given copy of Guidance about Re-Opening of Churches and abide by those instructions.
Stewards must maintain all social distancing instructions as for others and insure Parishioners are made aware of the instructions to which they must abide.
Stewards must not shake hands, hug or otherwise break any of the rules whilst in attendance. Stewards should not eat, drink or touch their face, unless they have immediately washed their hands beforehand.
Stewards should ensure any cuts or graze on their hands are covered complete with waterproof dressings.
Parish Priest must hold a record or Rota showing who was on duty at any given time, and also keep in the Parish Office, with the rota, the names and contact details of all stewards.
One of the Stewards could be the Parish Priest but importantly all stewards must be already known to the Parish Priest and be current volunteers in the parish.
Cleaners must be briefed on "Catch it, kill it, bin it" and effective hand hygiene.
Cleaners must be given copy of Guidance on Re-Opening of Catholic Churches for Individual Prayer and abide by those instructions.
Cleaners will wear plastic gloves and aprons when cleaning.
Disposable cloths or paper towels will be used for cleaning.
Any items left by parishioners will be placed into separate plastic sacks and be removed to lost property
All cleaners should practice decontamination when returning home by changing clothing and appropriate bathing or showering before mixing with members of their household.
Hand Sanitisers X 2
Face Masks X 2 per group of Stewards
Gloves for all entering church (if possible) and certainly for all Stewards and Cleaners.
Aprons for all Cleaners
Entrance and Exit Signage
COVID-19 Awareness Poster to be displayed at entrance and exit
23rd May 2020
22nd May 2020
29th March 2020
21st December 2019
1 Meanwhile the people had gathered in their thousands so that they were treading on one another. And he began to speak, first of all to his disciples. 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees -- their hypocrisy.
2 Everything now covered up will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.
3 For this reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed from the housetops.
4 'To you my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
5 I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, he is the one to fear.
6 Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God's sight.
7 Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.
8 'I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, the Son of man will declare himself for him in the presence of God's angels.
9 But anyone who disowns me in the presence of human beings will be disowned in the presence of God's angels.
10 'Everyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven, but no one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven.
11 'When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say,
12 because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say.'
13 A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.'
14 He said to him, 'My friend, who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?'
15 Then he said to them, 'Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs.'
16 Then he told them a parable, 'There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land,
17 thought to himself, "What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops."
18 Then he said, "This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them,
19 and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time."
20 But God said to him, "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?"
21 So it is when someone stores up treasure for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God.'
22 Then he said to his disciples, 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it.
23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
24 Think of the ravens. They do not sow or reap; they have no storehouses and no barns; yet God feeds them. And how much more you are worth than the birds!
25 Can any of you, however much you worry, add a single cubit to your span of life?
26 If a very small thing is beyond your powers, why worry about the rest?
27 Think how the flowers grow; they never have to spin or weave; yet, I assure you, not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of them.
28 Now if that is how God clothes a flower which is growing wild today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he look after you, who have so little faith!
29 But you must not set your hearts on things to eat and things to drink; nor must you worry.
30 It is the gentiles of this world who set their hearts on all these things. Your Father well knows you need them.
31 No; set your hearts on his kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well.
32 'There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.
33 'Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it.
34 For wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be too.
35 'See that you have your belts done up and your lamps lit.
36 Be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks.
37 Blessed those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. In truth I tell you, he will do up his belt, sit them down at table and wait on them.
38 It may be in the second watch that he comes, or in the third, but blessed are those servants if he finds them ready.
39 You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what time the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house.
40 You too must stand ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.'
41 Peter said, 'Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?'
42 The Lord replied, 'Who, then, is the wise and trustworthy steward whom the master will place over his household to give them at the proper time their allowance of food?
43 Blessed that servant if his master's arrival finds him doing exactly that.
44 I tell you truly, he will put him in charge of everything that he owns.
45 But if the servant says to himself, "My master is taking his time coming," and sets about beating the menservants and the servant-girls, and eating and drinking and getting drunk,
46 his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.
47 'The servant who knows what his master wants, but has got nothing ready and done nothing in accord with those wishes, will be given a great many strokes of the lash.
48 The one who did not know, but has acted in such a way that he deserves a beating, will be given fewer strokes. When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected.
49 'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!
50 There is a baptism I must still receive, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!
51 'Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
52 For from now on, a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three;
53 father opposed to son, son to father, mother to daughter, daughter to mother, mother-in-law to daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law to mother-in-law.'
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does.
55 And when the wind is from the south you say it's going to be hot, and it is.
56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?
57 'Why not judge for yourselves what is upright?
58 For example: when you are going to court with your opponent, make an effort to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand you over to the officer and the officer have you thrown into prison.
59 I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the very last penny.'
1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them,
2 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should have happened to them?
3 They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.
4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell, killing them all? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem?
5 They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.'
6 He told this parable, 'A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none.
7 He said to his vinedresser, "For three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?"
8 "Sir," the man replied, "leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it:
9 it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down." '
10 One Sabbath day he was teaching in one of the synagogues,
11 and there before him was a woman who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that crippled her; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright.
12 When Jesus saw her he called her over and said, 'Woman, you are freed from your disability,'
13 and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.
14 But the president of the synagogue was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and he addressed all those present saying, 'There are six days when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the Sabbath.'
15 But the Lord answered him and said, 'Hypocrites! Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the Sabbath and take it out for watering?
16 And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years -- was it not right to untie this bond on the Sabbath day?'
17 When he said this, all his adversaries were covered with confusion, and all the people were overjoyed at all the wonders he worked.
18 He went on to say, 'What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with?
19 It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.'
20 Again he said, 'What shall I compare the kingdom of God with?
21 It is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.'
22 Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem.
23 Someone said to him, 'Sir, will there be only a few saved?' He said to them,
24 'Try your hardest to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.
25 'Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself standing outside knocking on the door, saying, "Lord, open to us," but he will answer, "I do not know where you come from."
26 Then you will start saying, "We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets,"
27 but he will reply, "I do not know where you come from; away from me, all evil doers!"
28 'Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrown out.
29 And people from east and west, from north and south, will come and sit down at the feast in the kingdom of God.
30 'Look, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.'
31 Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go away,' they said. 'Leave this place, because Herod means to kill you.'
32 He replied, 'You may go and give that fox this message: Look! Today and tomorrow I drive out devils and heal, and on the third day I attain my end.
33 But for today and tomorrow and the next day I must go on, since it would not be right for a prophet to die outside Jerusalem.
34 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused!
35 Look! Your house will be left to you. Yes, I promise you, you shall not see me till the time comes when you are saying: Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord!'
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone to share a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely.
2 Now there in front of him was a man with dropsy,
3 and Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees with the words, 'Is it against the law to cure someone on the Sabbath, or not?'
4 But they remained silent, so he took the man and cured him and sent him away.
5 Then he said to them, 'Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day without any hesitation?'
6 And to this they could find no answer.
7 He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this,
8 'When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited,
9 and the person who invited you both may come and say, "Give up your place to this man." And then, to your embarrassment, you will have to go and take the lowest place.
10 No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, "My friend, move up higher." Then, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured.
11 For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be raised up.'
12 Then he said to his host, 'When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbours, in case they invite you back and so repay you.
13 No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
14 then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again.'
15 On hearing this, one of those gathered round the table said to him, 'Blessed is anyone who will share the meal in the kingdom of God!'
16 But he said to him, 'There was a man who gave a great banquet, and he invited a large number of people.
17 When the time for the banquet came, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, "Come along: everything is ready now."
18 But all alike started to make excuses. The first said, "I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies."
19 Another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies."
20 Yet another said, "I have just got married and so am unable to come."
21 'The servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the householder, in a rage, said to his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame."
22 "Sir," said the servant, "your orders have been carried out and there is still room."
23 Then the master said to his servant, "Go to the open roads and the hedgerows and press people to come in, to make sure my house is full;
24 because, I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet." '
25 Great crowds accompanied him on his way and he turned and spoke to them.
26 'Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, cannot be my disciple.
27 No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple.
28 'And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, anyone who saw it would start making fun of him and saying,
30 "Here is someone who started to build and was unable to finish."
31 Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who was advancing against him with twenty thousand?
32 If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace.
33 So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns.
34 'Salt is a good thing. But if salt itself loses its taste, what can make it salty again?
35 It is good for neither soil nor manure heap. People throw it away. Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!'
1 The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to him,
2 and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'
3 So he told them this parable:
4 'Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it?
5 And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders
6 and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep that was lost."
7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.
8 'Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it?
9 And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost."
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.'
11 Then he said, 'There was a man who had two sons.
12 The younger one said to his father, "Father, let me have the share of the estate that will come to me." So the father divided the property between them.
13 A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
14 'When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch;
15 so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs.
16 And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating but no one would let him have them.
17 Then he came to his senses and said, "How many of my father's hired men have all the food they want and more, and here am I dying of hunger!
18 I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired men."
20 So he left the place and went back to his father. 'While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him.
21 Then his son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son."
22 But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
23 Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we will celebrate by having a feast,
24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found." And they began to celebrate.
25 'Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing.
26 Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about.
27 The servant told him, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the calf we had been fattening because he has got him back safe and sound."
28 He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out and began to urge him to come in;
29 but he retorted to his father, "All these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed any orders of yours, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends.
30 But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property -- he and his loose women -- you kill the calf we had been fattening."
31 'The father said, "My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours.
32 But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found." '
1 He also said to his disciples, 'There was a rich man and he had a steward who was denounced to him for being wasteful with his property.
2 He called for the man and said, "What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer."
3 Then the steward said to himself, "Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed.
4 Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes."
5 'Then he called his master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, "How much do you owe my master?"
6 "One hundred measures of oil," he said. The steward said, "Here, take your bond; sit down and quickly write fifty."
7 To another he said, "And you, sir, how much do you owe?" "One hundred measures of wheat," he said. The steward said, "Here, take your bond and write eighty."
8 'The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.'
9 'And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.
10 Anyone who is trustworthy in little things is trustworthy in great; anyone who is dishonest in little things is dishonest in great.
11 If then you are not trustworthy with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?
12 And if you are not trustworthy with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
13 'No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.'
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and jeered at him.
15 He said to them, 'You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as upright in people's sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed in human eyes is loathsome in the sight of God.
16 'Up to the time of John it was the Law and the Prophets; from then onwards, the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.
17 'It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one little stroke to drop out of the Law.
18 'Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery, and the man who marries a woman divorced by her husband commits adultery.
19 'There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day.
20 And at his gate there used to lie a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores,
21 who longed to fill himself with what fell from the rich man's table. Even dogs came and licked his sores.
22 Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham's embrace. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 'In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his embrace.
24 So he cried out, "Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames."
25 Abraham said, "My son, remember that during your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony.
26 But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to prevent those who want to cross from our side to yours or from your side to ours."
27 'So he said, "Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father's house,
28 since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too."
29 Abraham said, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them."
30 The rich man replied, "Ah no, father Abraham, but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent."
31 Then Abraham said to him, "If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead."
1 He said to his disciples, 'Causes of falling are sure to come, but alas for the one through whom they occur!
2 It would be better for such a person to be thrown into the sea with a millstone round the neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones.
3 Keep watch on yourselves! 'If your brother does something wrong, rebuke him and, if he is sorry, forgive him.
4 And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, "I am sorry," you must forgive him.'
5 The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith.'
6 The Lord replied, 'If you had faith like a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea," and it would obey you.
7 'Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, "Come and have your meal at once"?
8 Would he not be more likely to say, "Get my supper ready; fasten your belt and wait on me while I eat and drink. You yourself can eat and drink afterwards"?
9 Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told?
10 So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, "We are useless servants: we have done no more than our duty." '
11 Now it happened that on the way to Jerusalem he was travelling in the borderlands of Samaria and Galilee.
12 As he entered one of the villages, ten men suffering from a virulent skin-disease came to meet him. They stood some way off
13 and called to him, 'Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.'
14 When he saw them he said, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' Now as they were going away they were cleansed.
15 Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice
16 and threw himself prostrate at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan.
17 This led Jesus to say, 'Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?
18 It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.'
19 And he said to the man, 'Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.'
20 Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was to come, he gave them this answer, 'The coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation
21 and there will be no one to say, "Look, it is here! Look, it is there!" For look, the kingdom of God is among you.'
22 He said to the disciples, 'A time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of man and will not see it.
23 They will say to you, "Look, it is there!" or, "Look, it is here!" Make no move; do not set off in pursuit;
24 for as the lightning flashing from one part of heaven lights up the other, so will be the Son of man when his Day comes.
25 But first he is destined to suffer grievously and be rejected by this generation.
26 'As it was in Noah's day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of man.
27 People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all.
28 It will be the same as it was in Lot's day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,
29 but the day Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all.
30 It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of man to be revealed.
31 'When that Day comes, no one on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back.
32 Remember Lot's wife.
33 Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe.
34 I tell you, on that night, when two are in one bed, one will be taken, the other left;
35 when two women are grinding corn together, one will be taken, the other left.'
37 The disciples spoke up and asked, 'Where, Lord?' He said, 'Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.'
1 Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.
2 'There was a judge in a certain town,' he said, 'who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone.
3 In the same town there was also a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, "I want justice from you against my enemy!"
4 For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, "Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person,
5 I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face." '
6 And the Lord said, 'You notice what the unjust judge has to say?
7 Now, will not God see justice done to his elect if they keep calling to him day and night even though he still delays to help them?
8 I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?'
9 He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being upright and despised everyone else,
10 'Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, "I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here.
12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get."
13 The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
14 This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.'
15 People even brought babies to him, for him to touch them; but when the disciples saw this they scolded them.
16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.
17 In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'
18 One of the rulers put this question to him, 'Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'
19 Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
20 You know the commandments: You shall not commit adultery; You shall not kill; You shall not steal; You shall not give false witness; Honour your father and your mother.'
21 He replied, 'I have kept all these since my earliest days.'
22 And when Jesus heard this he said, 'There is still one thing you lack. Sell everything you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'
23 But when he heard this he was overcome with sadness, for he was very rich.
24 Jesus looked at him and said, 'How hard it is for those who have riches to make their way into the kingdom of God!
25 Yes, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God.'
26 Those who were listening said, 'In that case, who can be saved?'
27 He replied, 'Things that are impossible by human resources, are possible for God.'
28 But Peter said, 'Look, we left all we had to follow you.'
29 He said to them, 'In truth I tell you, there is no one who has left house, wife, brothers, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
30 who will not receive many times as much in this present age and, in the world to come, eternal life.'
31 Then taking the Twelve aside he said to them, 'Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of man is to come true.
32 For he will be handed over to the gentiles and will be mocked, maltreated and spat on,
33 and when they have scourged him they will put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again.'
34 But they could make nothing of this; what he said was quite obscure to them, they did not understand what he was telling them.
35 Now it happened that as he drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging.
36 When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about,
37 and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by.
38 So he called out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.'
39 The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, 'Son of David, have pity on me.'
40 Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him,
41 'What do you want me to do for you?' 'Sir,' he replied, 'let me see again.'
42 Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.'
43 And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God.
1 He entered Jericho and was going through the town
2 and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man.
3 He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd;
4 so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today.'
6 And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully.
7 They all complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's house,' they said.
8 But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.'
9 And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham;
10 for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'
11 While the people were listening to this he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God was going to show itself then and there.
12 Accordingly he said, 'A man of noble birth went to a distant country to be appointed king and then return.
13 He summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds, telling them, "Trade with these, until I get back."
14 But his compatriots detested him and sent a delegation to follow him with this message, "We do not want this man to be our king."
15 'Now it happened that on his return, having received his appointment as king, he sent for those servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made by trading.
16 The first came in, "Sir," he said, "your one pound has brought in ten."
17 He replied, "Well done, my good servant! Since you have proved yourself trustworthy in a very small thing, you shall have the government of ten cities."
18 Then came the second, "Sir," he said, "your one pound has made five."
19 To this one also he said, "And you shall be in charge of five cities."
20 Next came the other, "Sir," he said, "here is your pound. I put it away safely wrapped up in a cloth
21 because I was afraid of you; for you are an exacting man: you gather in what you have not laid out and reap what you have not sown."
22 He said to him, "You wicked servant! Out of your own mouth I condemn you. So you knew that I was an exacting man, gathering in what I have not laid out and reaping what I have not sown?
23 Then why did you not put my money in the bank? On my return I could have drawn it out with interest."
24 And he said to those standing by, "Take the pound from him and give it to the man who has ten pounds."
25 And they said to him, "But, sir, he has ten pounds . . ."
26 "I tell you, to everyone who has will be given more; but anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has.
27 "As for my enemies who did not want me for their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence." '
28 When he had said this he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 Now it happened that when he was near Bethphage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives as it is called, he sent two of the disciples, saying,
30 'Go to the village opposite, and as you enter it you will find a tethered colt that no one has ever yet ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
31 If anyone asks you, "Why are you untying it?" you are to say this, "The Master needs it." '
32 The messengers went off and found everything just as he had told them.
33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said, 'Why are you untying it?'
34 and they answered, 'The Master needs it.'
35 So they took the colt to Jesus and, throwing their cloaks on its back, they lifted Jesus on to it.
36 As he moved off, they spread their cloaks in the road,
37 and now, as he was approaching the downward slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices for all the miracles they had seen.
38 They cried out: Blessed is he who is coming as King in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!
39 Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, 'Master, reprove your disciples,'
40 but he answered, 'I tell you, if these keep silence, the stones will cry out.'
41 As he drew near and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it
42 and said, 'If you too had only recognised on this day the way to peace! But in fact it is hidden from your eyes!
43 Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side;
44 they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you, because you did not recognise the moment of your visitation.'
45 Then he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were busy trading, saying to them,
46 'According to scripture, my house shall be a house of prayer but you have turned it into a bandits' den.'
47 He taught in the Temple every day. The chief priests and the scribes, in company with the leading citizens, tried to do away with him,
48 but they could not find a way to carry this out because the whole people hung on his words.
1 Now it happened that one day while he was teaching the people in the Temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came up, together with the elders,
2 and spoke to him. 'Tell us,' they said, 'what authority have you for acting like this? Or who gives you this authority?'
3 In reply he said to them, 'And I will ask you a question, just one. Tell me:
4 John's baptism: what was its origin, heavenly or human?'
5 And they debated this way among themselves, 'If we say heavenly, he will retort, "Why did you refuse to believe him?";
6 and if we say human, the whole people will stone us, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.'
7 So their reply was that they did not know where it came from.
8 And Jesus said to them, 'Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.'
9 And he went on to tell the people this parable, 'A man planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants, and went abroad for a long while.
10 When the right time came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get his share of the produce of the vineyard. But the tenants thrashed him, and sent him away empty-handed.
11 But he went on to send a second servant; they thrashed him too and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed.
12 He still went on to send a third; they wounded this one too, and threw him out.
13 Then the owner of the vineyard thought, "What am I to do? I will send them my own beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him."
14 But when the tenants saw him they put their heads together saying, "This is the heir, let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours."
15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 'Now what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
16 He will come and make an end of these tenants and give the vineyard to others.' Hearing this they said, 'God forbid!'
17 But he looked hard at them and said, 'Then what does this text in the scriptures mean: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone?
18 Anyone who falls on that stone will be dashed to pieces; anyone it falls on will be crushed.'
19 And the scribes and the chief priests would have liked to lay hands on him that very moment, because they realised that this parable was aimed at them, but they were afraid of the people.
20 So they awaited their opportunity and sent agents to pose as upright men, and to catch him out in something he might say and so enable them to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor.
21 They put to him this question, 'Master, we know that you say and teach what is right; you favour no one, but teach the way of God in all honesty.
22 Is it permissible for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?'
23 But he was aware of their cunning and said,
24 'Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and title are on it?' They said, 'Caesar's.'
25 He said to them, 'Well then, pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar -- and God what belongs to God.'
26 They were unable to catch him out in anything he had to say in public; they were amazed at his answer and were silenced.
27 Some Sadducees -- those who argue that there is no resurrection -- approached him and they put this question to him,
28 'Master, Moses prescribed for us, if a man's married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother.
29 Well then, there were seven brothers; the first, having married a wife, died childless.
30 The second
31 and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children.
32 Finally the woman herself died.
33 Now, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?'
34 Jesus replied, 'The children of this world take wives and husbands,
35 but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry
36 because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are children of God.
37 And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
38 Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him everyone is alive.'
39 Some scribes then spoke up. They said, 'Well put, Master.'
40 They did not dare to ask him any more questions.
41 He then said to them, 'How can people maintain that the Christ is son of David?
42 Why, David himself says in the Book of Psalms: The Lord declared to my Lord, take your seat at my right hand,
43 till I have made your enemies your footstool.
44 David here calls him Lord; how then can he be his son?'
45 While all the people were listening he said to the disciples,
46 'Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes and love to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets,
47 who devour the property of widows, and for show offer long prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.'
1 Looking up, he saw rich people putting their offerings into the treasury;
2 and he noticed a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins,
3 and he said, 'I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them;
4 for these have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in all she had to live on.'
5 When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, he said,
6 'All these things you are staring at now -- the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another; everything will be destroyed.'
7 And they put to him this question, 'Master,' they said, 'when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that it is about to take place?'
8 But he said, 'Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using my name and saying, "I am the one" and "The time is near at hand." Refuse to join them.
9 And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be terrified, for this is something that must happen first, but the end will not come at once.'
10 Then he said to them, 'Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
11 There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines in various places; there will be terrifying events and great signs from heaven.
12 'But before all this happens, you will be seized and persecuted; you will be handed over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and brought before kings and governors for the sake of my name
13 -and that will be your opportunity to bear witness.
14 Make up your minds not to prepare your defence,
15 because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict.
16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death.
17 You will be hated universally on account of my name,
18 but not a hair of your head will be lost.
19 Your perseverance will win you your lives.
20 'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you must realise that it will soon be laid desolate.
21 Then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains, those inside the city must leave it, and those in country districts must not take refuge in it.
22 For this is the time of retribution when all that scripture says must be fulfilled.
23 Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come!
24 'For great misery will descend on the land and retribution on this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive to every gentile country; and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the gentiles until their time is complete.
25 'There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the turmoil of the ocean and its waves;
26 men fainting away with terror and fear at what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.
27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.'
29 And he told them a parable, 'Look at the fig tree and indeed every tree.
30 As soon as you see them bud, you can see for yourselves that summer is now near.
31 So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 In truth I tell you, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place.
33 Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34 'Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will come upon you unexpectedly,
35 like a trap. For it will come down on all those living on the face of the earth.
36 Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of man.'
37 All day long he would be in the Temple teaching, but would spend the night in the open on the hill called the Mount of Olives.
38 And from early morning the people thronged to him in the Temple to listen to him.
1 The feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was now drawing near,
2 and the chief priests and the scribes were looking for some way of doing away with him, because they were afraid of the people.
3 Then Satan entered into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve.
4 He approached the chief priests and the officers of the guard to discuss some way of handing Jesus over to them.
5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money.
6 He accepted and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them without people knowing about it.
7 The day of Unleavened Bread came round, on which the Passover had to be sacrificed,
8 and he sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and make the preparations for us to eat the Passover.'
9 They asked him, 'Where do you want us to prepare it?'
10 He said to them, 'Look, as you go into the city you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him into the house he enters
11 and tell the owner of the house, "The Master says this to you: Where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?"
12 The man will show you a large upper room furnished with couches. Make the preparations there.'
13 They set off and found everything as he had told them and prepared the Passover.
14 When the time came he took his place at table, and the apostles with him.
15 And he said to them, 'I have ardently longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
16 because, I tell you, I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.'
17 Then, taking a cup, he gave thanks and said, 'Take this and share it among you,
18 because from now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the kingdom of God comes.'
19 Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'
20 He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.
21 'But look, here with me on the table is the hand of the man who is betraying me.
22 The Son of man is indeed on the path which was decreed, but alas for that man by whom he is betrayed!'
23 And they began to ask one another which of them it could be who was to do this.
24 An argument also began between them about who should be reckoned the greatest;
25 but he said to them, 'Among the gentiles it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor.
26 With you this must not happen. No; the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves.
27 For who is the greater: the one at table or the one who serves? The one at table, surely? Yet here am I among you as one who serves!
28 'You are the men who have stood by me faithfully in my trials;
29 and now I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father conferred one on me:
30 you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 'Simon, Simon! Look, Satan has got his wish to sift you all like wheat;
32 but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.'
33 'Lord,' he answered, 'I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death.'
34 Jesus replied, 'I tell you, Peter, by the time the cock crows today you will have denied three times that you know me.'
35 He said to them, 'When I sent you out without purse or haversack or sandals, were you short of anything?'
36 'No, nothing,' they said. He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and the same with a haversack; if you have no sword, sell your cloak and buy one,
37 because I tell you these words of scripture are destined to be fulfilled in me: He was counted as one of the rebellious. Yes, what it says about me is even now reaching its fulfilment.'
38 They said, 'Lord, here are two swords.' He said to them, 'That is enough!'
39 He then left to make his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, with the disciples following.
40 When he reached the place he said to them, 'Pray not to be put to the test.'
41 Then he withdrew from them, about a stone's throw away, and knelt down and prayed.
42 'Father,' he said, 'if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine.'
43 Then an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength.
44 In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.
45 When he rose from prayer he went to the disciples and found them sleeping for sheer grief.
46 And he said to them, 'Why are you asleep? Get up and pray not to be put to the test.'
47 Suddenly, while he was still speaking, a number of men appeared, and at the head of them the man called Judas, one of the Twelve, who went up to Jesus to kiss him.
48 Jesus said, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?'
49 His followers, seeing what was about to happen, said, 'Lord, shall we use our swords?'
50 And one of them struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear.
51 But at this Jesus said, 'That is enough.' And touching the man's ear he healed him.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and captains of the Temple guard and elders who had come for him, 'Am I a bandit, that you had to set out with swords and clubs?
53 When I was among you in the Temple day after day you never made a move to lay hands on me. But this is your hour; this is the reign of darkness.'
54 They seized him then and led him away, and they took him to the high priest's house. Peter followed at a distance.
55 They had lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and Peter sat down among them,
56 and as he was sitting there by the blaze a servant-girl saw him, peered at him, and said, 'This man was with him too.'
57 But he denied it. 'Woman, I do not know him,' he said.
58 Shortly afterwards someone else saw him and said, 'You are one of them too.' But Peter replied, 'I am not, my friend.'
59 About an hour later another man insisted, saying, 'This fellow was certainly with him. Why, he is a Galilean.'
60 Peter said, 'My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.' At that instant, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed,
61 and the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered the Lord's words when he had said to him, 'Before the cock crows today, you will have disowned me three times.'
62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
63 Meanwhile the men who guarded Jesus were mocking and beating him.
64 They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, 'Prophesy! Who hit you then?'
65 And they heaped many other insults on him.
66 When day broke there was a meeting of the elders of the people, the chief priests and scribes. He was brought before their council,
67 and they said to him, 'If you are the Christ, tell us.' He replied, 'If I tell you, you will not believe,
68 and if I question you, you will not answer.
69 But from now on, the Son of man will be seated at the right hand of the Power of God.'
70 They all said, 'So you are the Son of God then?' He answered, 'It is you who say I am.'
71 Then they said, 'Why do we need any evidence? We have heard it for ourselves from his own lips.'
11th December 2019
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself would be visiting.
2 And he said to them, 'The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to do his harvesting.
3 Start off now, but look, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
4 Take no purse with you, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.
5 Whatever house you enter, let your first words be, "Peace to this house!"
6 And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.
7 Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.
8 Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is put before you.
9 Cure those in it who are sick, and say, "The kingdom of God is very near to you."
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say,
11 "We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near."
12 I tell you, on the great Day it will be more bearable for Sodom than for that town.
13 'Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
14 And still, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the Judgement than for you.
15 And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be raised high as heaven? You shall be flung down to hell.
16 'Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.'
17 The seventy-two came back rejoicing. 'Lord,' they said, 'even the devils submit to us when we use your name.'
18 He said to them, 'I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19 Look, I have given you power to tread down serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you.
20 Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven.'
21 Just at this time, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children. Yes, Father, for that is what it has pleased you to do.
22 Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'
23 Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them by themselves, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see,
24 for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.'
25 And now a lawyer stood up and, to test him, asked, 'Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'
26 He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?'
27 He replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.'
28 Jesus said to him, 'You have answered right, do this and life is yours.'
29 But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?'
30 In answer Jesus said, 'A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of bandits; they stripped him, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead.
31 Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
32 In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a Samaritan traveller who came on him was moved with compassion when he saw him.
34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him.
35 Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper and said, "Look after him, and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have."
36 Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the bandits' hands?'
37 He replied, 'The one who showed pity towards him.' Jesus said to him, 'Go, and do the same yourself.'
38 In the course of their journey he came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord's feet and listened to him speaking.
40 Now Martha, who was distracted with all the serving, came to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.'
41 But the Lord answered, 'Martha, Martha,' he said, 'you worry and fret about so many things,
42 and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, and it is not to be taken from her.'
11th December 2019
1 It happened that one Sabbath he was walking through the cornfields, and his disciples were picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them.
2 Some of the Pharisees said, 'Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath day?'
3 Jesus answered them, 'So you have not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry-
4 how he went into the house of God and took the loaves of the offering and ate them and gave them to his followers, loaves which the priests alone are allowed to eat?'
5 And he said to them, 'The Son of man is master of the Sabbath.'
6 Now on another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was present, and his right hand was withered.
7 The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure somebody on the Sabbath, hoping to find something to charge him with.
8 But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand, 'Get up and stand out in the middle!' And he came forward and stood there.
9 Then Jesus said to them, 'I put it to you: is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?'
10 Then he looked round at them all and said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He did so, and his hand was restored.
11 But they were furious and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.
12 Now it happened in those days that he went onto the mountain to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God.
13 When day came he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; he called them 'apostles':
14 Simon whom he called Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the Zealot,
16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor.
17 He then came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples, with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon
18 who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. People tormented by unclean spirits were also cured,
19 and everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all.
20 Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said: How blessed are you who are poor: the kingdom of God is yours.
21 Blessed are you who are hungry now: you shall have your fill. Blessed are you who are weeping now: you shall laugh.
22 'Blessed are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of man.
23 Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, look!-your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
25 Alas for you who have plenty to eat now: you shall go hungry. Alas for you who are laughing now: you shall mourn and weep.
26 'Alas for you when everyone speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.
27 'But I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.
29 To anyone who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek as well; to anyone who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from someone who takes it.
31 Treat others as you would like people to treat you.
32 If you love those who love you, what credit can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit can you expect? For even sinners do that much.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to get money back, what credit can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount.
35 Instead, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
36 'Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.
38 Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap; because the standard you use will be the standard used for you.'
39 He also told them a parable, 'Can one blind person guide another? Surely both will fall into a pit?
40 Disciple is not superior to teacher; but fully trained disciple will be like teacher.
41 Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never notice the great log in your own?
42 How can you say to your brother, "Brother, let me take out that splinter in your eye," when you cannot see the great log in your own? Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter in your brother's eyes.
43 'There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit.
44 Every tree can be told by its own fruit: people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles.
45 Good people draw what is good from the store of goodness in their hearts; bad people draw what is bad from the store of badness. For the words of the mouth flow out of what fills the heart.
46 'Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord" and not do what I say?
47 'Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them -- I will show you what such a person is like.
48 Such a person is like the man who, when he built a house, dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built.
49 But someone who listens and does nothing is like the man who built a house on soil, with no foundations; as soon as the river bore down on it, it collapsed; and what a ruin that house became!'
11th December 2019
1 When he had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum.
2 A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death.
3 Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant.
4 When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him saying, 'He deserves this of you,
5 because he is well disposed towards our people; he built us our synagogue himself.'
6 So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends to say to him, 'Sir, do not put yourself to any trouble because I am not worthy to have you under my roof;
7 and that is why I did not presume to come to you myself; let my boy be cured by your giving the word.
8 For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man, "Go," and he goes; to another, "Come here," and he comes; to my servant, "Do this," and he does it.'
9 When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, 'I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith as great as this.'
10 And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.
11 It happened that soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people.
12 Now when he was near the gate of the town there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople was with her.
13 When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her and said to her, 'Don't cry.'
14 Then he went up and touched the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, 'Young man, I tell you: get up.'
15 And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
16 Everyone was filled with awe and glorified God saying, 'A great prophet has risen up among us; God has visited his people.'
17 And this view of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.
18 The disciples of John gave him all this news, and John, summoning two of his disciples,
19 sent them to the Lord to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?'
20 When the men reached Jesus they said, 'John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, "Are you the one who is to come or are we to expect someone else?" '
21 At that very time he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits, and gave the gift of sight to many who were blind.
22 Then he gave the messengers their answer, 'Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the good news is proclaimed to the poor;
23 and blessed is anyone who does not find me a cause of falling.'
24 When John's messengers had gone he began to talk to the people about John,
25 'What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No! Then what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? Look, those who go in magnificent clothes and live luxuriously are to be found at royal courts!
26 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet:
27 he is the one of whom scripture says: Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you.
28 'I tell you, of all the children born to women, there is no one greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.'
29 All the people who heard him, and the tax collectors too, acknowledged God's saving justice by accepting baptism from John;
30 but by refusing baptism from him the Pharisees and the lawyers thwarted God's plan for them.
31 'What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like?
32 They are like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn't dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn't cry.
33 'For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, "He is possessed."
34 The Son of man has come, eating and drinking, and you say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners."
35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.'
36 One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee's house and took his place at table,
37 suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment.
38 She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of person it is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.'
40 Then Jesus took him up and said, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' He replied, 'Say on, Master.'
41 'There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty.
42 They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?'
43 Simon answered, 'The one who was let off more, I suppose.' Jesus said, 'You are right.'
44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.
45 You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.
46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
47 For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.'
48 Then he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'
49 Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, 'Who is this man, that even forgives sins?'
50 But he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'
11th December 2019
1 Now it happened that after this he made his way through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve,
2 as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
3 Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.
4 With a large crowd gathering and people from every town finding their way to him, he told this parable:
5 'A sower went out to sow his seed. Now as he sowed, some fell on the edge of the path and was trampled on; and the birds of the air ate it up.
6 Some seed fell on rock, and when it came up it withered away, having no moisture.
7 Some seed fell in the middle of thorns and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
8 And some seed fell into good soil and grew and produced its crop a hundredfold.' Saying this he cried, 'Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!'
9 His disciples asked him what this parable might mean,
10 and he said, 'To you is granted to understand the secrets of the kingdom of God; for the rest it remains in parables, so that they may look but not perceive, listen but not understand.
11 'This, then, is what the parable means: the seed is the word of God.
12 Those on the edge of the path are people who have heard it, and then the devil comes and carries away the word from their hearts in case they should believe and be saved.
13 Those on the rock are people who, when they first hear it, welcome the word with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of trial they give up.
14 As for the part that fell into thorns, this is people who have heard, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life and never produce any crops.
15 As for the part in the rich soil, this is people with a noble and generous heart who have heard the word and take it to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverance.
16 'No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or to put it under a bed. No, it is put on a lamp-stand so that people may see the light when they come in.
17 For nothing is hidden but it will be made clear, nothing secret but it will be made known and brought to light.
18 So take care how you listen; anyone who has, will be given more; anyone who has not, will be deprived even of what he thinks he has.'
19 His mother and his brothers came looking for him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd.
20 He was told, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.'
21 But he said in answer, 'My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.'
22 It happened that one day he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, 'Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.' So they set out,
23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. When a squall of wind came down on the lake the boat started shipping water and they found themselves in danger.
24 So they went to rouse him saying, 'Master! Master! We are lost!' Then he woke up and rebuked the wind and the rough water; and they subsided and it was calm again.
25 He said to them, 'Where is your faith?' They were awestruck and astounded and said to one another, 'Who can this be, that gives orders even to winds and waves and they obey him?'
26 They came to land in the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.
27 He was stepping ashore when a man from the city who was possessed by devils came towards him; for a long time the man had been living with no clothes on, not in a house, but in the tombs.
28 Catching sight of Jesus he gave a shout, fell at his feet and cried out at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I implore you, do not torture me.'
29 For Jesus had been telling the unclean spirit to come out of the man. It had seized on him a great many times, and then they used to secure him with chains and fetters to restrain him, but he would always break the fastenings, and the devil would drive him out into the wilds.
30 Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' He said, 'Legion' -- because many devils had gone into him.
31 And these begged him not to order them to depart into the Abyss.
32 Now there was a large herd of pigs feeding there on the mountain, and the devils begged him to let them go into these. So he gave them leave.
33 The devils came out of the man and went into the pigs, and the herd charged down the cliff into the lake and was drowned.
34 When the swineherds saw what had happened they ran off and told their story in the city and in the country round about;
35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus they found the man from whom the devils had gone out sitting at the feet of Jesus, wearing clothes and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
36 Those who had witnessed it told them how the man who had been possessed came to be saved.
37 The entire population of the Gerasene territory was in great fear and asked Jesus to leave them. So he got into the boat and went back.
38 The man from whom the devils had gone out asked to be allowed to stay with him, but he sent him away saying,
39 'Go back home and report all that God has done for you.' So the man went off and proclaimed throughout the city all that Jesus had done for him.
40 On his return Jesus was welcomed by the crowd, for they were all there waiting for him.
41 And suddenly there came a man named Jairus, who was president of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus' feet and pleaded with him to come to his house,
42 because he had an only daughter about twelve years old, who was dying. And the crowds were almost stifling Jesus as he went.
43 Now there was a woman suffering from a haemorrhage for the past twelve years, whom no one had been able to cure.
44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak; and the haemorrhage stopped at that very moment.
45 Jesus said, 'Who was it that touched me?' When they all denied it, Peter said, 'Master, it is the crowds round you, pushing.'
46 But Jesus said, 'Somebody touched me. I felt that power had gone out from me.'
47 Seeing herself discovered, the woman came forward trembling, and falling at his feet explained in front of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been cured at that very moment.
48 'My daughter,' he said, 'your faith has saved you; go in peace.'
49 While he was still speaking, someone arrived from the house of the president of the synagogue to say, 'Your daughter has died. Do not trouble the Master any further.'
50 But Jesus heard this, and he spoke to the man, 'Do not be afraid, only have faith and she will be saved.'
51 When he came to the house he allowed no one to go in with him except Peter and John and James, and the child's father and mother.
52 They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, 'Stop crying; she is not dead, but asleep.'
53 But they ridiculed him, knowing she was dead.
54 But taking her by the hand himself he spoke to her, 'Child, get up.'
55 And her spirit returned and she got up at that very moment. Then he told them to give her something to eat.
56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
11th December 2019
1 He called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases,
2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.
3 He said to them, 'Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and do not have a spare tunic.
4 Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave let your departure be from there.
5 As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as evidence against them.'
6 So they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and healing everywhere.
7 Meanwhile Herod the tetrarch had heard about all that was going on; and he was puzzled, because some people were saying that John had risen from the dead,
8 others that Elijah had reappeared, still others that one of the ancient prophets had come back to life.
9 But Herod said, 'John? I beheaded him. So who is this I hear such reports about?' And he was anxious to see him.
10 On their return the apostles gave him an account of all they had done. Then he took them with him and withdrew towards a town called Bethsaida where they could be by themselves.
11 But the crowds got to know and they went after him. He made them welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.
12 It was late afternoon when the Twelve came up to him and said, 'Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.'
13 He replied, 'Give them something to eat yourselves.' But they said, 'We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.'
14 For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, 'Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.'
15 They did so and made them all sit down.
16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd.
17 They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps left over were collected they filled twelve baskets.
18 Now it happened that he was praying alone, and his disciples came to him and he put this question to them, 'Who do the crowds say I am?'
19 And they answered, 'Some say John the Baptist; others Elijah; others again one of the ancient prophets come back to life.'
20 'But you,' he said to them, 'who do you say I am?' It was Peter who spoke up. 'The Christ of God,' he said.
21 But he gave them strict orders and charged them not to say this to anyone.
22 He said, 'The Son of man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.'
23 Then, speaking to all, he said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.
24 Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, will save it.
25 What benefit is it to anyone to win the whole world and forfeit or lose his very self?
26 For if anyone is ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.
27 'I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.'
28 Now about eight days after this had been said, he took with him Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray.
29 And it happened that, as he was praying, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became sparkling white.
30 And suddenly there were two men talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah
31 appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem.
32 Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they woke up and saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
33 As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He did not know what he was saying.
34 As he was saying this, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid.
35 And a voice came from the cloud saying, 'This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.'
36 And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.
37 Now it happened that on the following day when they were coming down from the mountain a large crowd came to meet him.
38 And suddenly a man in the crowd cried out. 'Master,' he said, 'I implore you to look at my son: he is my only child.
39 A spirit will suddenly take hold of him, and all at once it gives a sudden cry and throws the boy into convulsions with foaming at the mouth; it is slow to leave him, but when it does, it leaves the boy worn out.
40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, and they could not.'
41 In reply Jesus said, 'Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer must I be among you and put up with you? Bring your son here.'
42 Even while the boy was coming, the devil threw him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and cured the boy and gave him back to his father,
43 and everyone was awestruck by the greatness of God. But while everyone was full of admiration for all he did, he said to his disciples,
44 'For your part, you must have these words constantly in mind: The Son of man is going to be delivered into the power of men.'
45 But they did not understand what he said; it was hidden from them so that they should not see the meaning of it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
46 An argument started between them about which of them was the greatest.
47 Jesus knew what thoughts were going through their minds, and he took a little child whom he set by his side
48 and then he said to them, 'Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. The least among you all is the one who is the greatest.'
49 John spoke up. 'Master,' he said, 'we saw someone driving out devils in your name, and because he is not with us we tried to stop him.'
50 But Jesus said to him, 'You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you.'
51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him to be taken up, he resolutely turned his face towards Jerusalem
52 and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him,
53 but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem.
54 Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, 'Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?'
55 But he turned and rebuked them,
56 and they went on to another village.
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.'
58 Jesus answered, 'Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.'
59 Another to whom he said, 'Follow me,' replied, 'Let me go and bury my father first.'
60 But he answered, 'Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.'
61 Another said, 'I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say good -- bye to my people at home.'
62 Jesus said to him, 'Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'
11th December 2019
1 Now it happened that he was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'
2 He said to them, 'When you pray, this is what to say: Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come;
3 give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins,
4 for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.'
5 He also said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, "My friend, lend me three loaves,
6 because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him;"
7 and the man answers from inside the house, "Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up to give it to you."
8 I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it to him for friendship's sake, persistence will make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
9 'So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; everyone who knocks will have the door opened.
11 What father among you, if his son asked for a fish, would hand him a snake?
12 Or if he asked for an egg, hand him a scorpion?
13 If you then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'
14 He was driving out a devil and it was dumb; and it happened that when the devil had gone out the dumb man spoke, and the people were amazed.
15 But some of them said, 'It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he drives devils out.'
16 Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven;
17 but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, 'Any kingdom which is divided against itself is heading for ruin, and house collapses against house.
18 So, too, with Satan: if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom last? - since you claim that it is through Beelzebul that I drive devils out.
19 Now if it is through Beelzebul that I drive devils out, through whom do your own sons drive them out? They shall be your judges, then.
20 But if it is through the finger of God that I drive devils out, then the kingdom of God has indeed caught you unawares.
21 So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own home, his goods are undisturbed;
22 but when someone stronger than himself attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.
23 'Anyone who is not with me is against me; and anyone who does not gather in with me throws away.
24 'When an unclean spirit goes out of someone it wanders through waterless country looking for a place to rest, and not finding one it says, "I will go back to the home I came from."
25 But on arrival, finding it swept and tidied,
26 it then goes off and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and set up house there, and so that person ends up worse off than before.'
27 It happened that as he was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, 'Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you!'
28 But he replied, 'More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'
29 The crowds got even bigger and he addressed them, 'This is an evil generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah.
30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be a sign to this generation.
31 On Judgement Day the Queen of the South will stand up against the people of this generation and be their condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, look, there is something greater than Solomon here.
32 On Judgement Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and, look, there is something greater than Jonah here.
33 'No one lights a lamp and puts it in some hidden place or under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand so that people may see the light when they come in.
34 The lamp of the body is your eye. When your eye is clear, your whole body, too, is filled with light; but when it is diseased your body, too, will be darkened.
35 See to it then that the light inside you is not darkness.
36 If, therefore, your whole body is filled with light, and not darkened at all, it will be light entirely, as when the lamp shines on you with its rays.'
37 He had just finished speaking when a Pharisee invited him to dine at his house. He went in and sat down at table.
38 The Pharisee saw this and was surprised that he had not first washed before the meal.
39 But the Lord said to him, 'You Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness.
40 Fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside too?
41 Instead, give alms from what you have and, look, everything will be clean for you.
42 But alas for you Pharisees, because you pay your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and neglect justice and the love of God! These you should have practised, without neglecting the others.
43 Alas for you Pharisees, because you like to take the seats of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted respectfully in the market squares!
44 Alas for you, because you are like the unmarked tombs that people walk on without knowing it!'
45 A lawyer then spoke up. 'Master,' he said, 'when you speak like this you insult us too.'
46 But he said, 'Alas for you lawyers as well, because you load on people burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not touch with your fingertips.
47 'Alas for you because you build tombs for the prophets, the people your ancestors killed!
48 In this way you both witness to what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.
49 'And that is why the Wisdom of God said, "I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will slaughter and persecute,
50 so that this generation will have to answer for every prophet's blood that has been shed since the foundation of the world,
51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the Temple." Yes, I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.
52 'Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves and have prevented others from going in who wanted to.'
53 When he left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began a furious attack on him and tried to force answers from him on innumerable questions,
54 lying in wait to catch him out in something he might say.
5th December 2019
1 Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert,
2 for forty days being put to the test by the devil. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry.
3 Then the devil said to him, 'If you are Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.'
4 But Jesus replied, 'Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone.'
5 Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world
6 and said to him, 'I will give you all this power and their splendour, for it has been handed over to me, for me to give it to anyone I choose.
7 Do homage, then, to me, and it shall all be yours.'
8 But Jesus answered him, 'Scripture says: You must do homage to the Lord your God, him alone you must serve.'
9 Then he led him to Jerusalem and set him on the parapet of the Temple. 'If you are Son of God,' he said to him, 'throw yourself down from here,
10 for scripture says: He has given his angels orders about you, to guard you, and again:
11 They will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.'
12 But Jesus answered him, 'Scripture says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'
13 Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment.
14 Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside.
15 He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him.
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read,
17 and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
18 The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.
20 He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21 Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.'
22 And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They said, 'This is Joseph's son, surely?'
23 But he replied, 'No doubt you will quote me the saying, "Physician, heal yourself," and tell me, "We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own country." '
24 And he went on, 'In truth I tell you, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
25 'There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah's day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land,
26 but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a town in Sidonia.
27 And in the prophet Elisha's time there were many suffering from virulent skin-diseases in Israel, but none of these was cured -- only Naaman the Syrian.'
28 When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged.
29 They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him off the cliff,
30 but he passed straight through the crowd and walked away.
31 He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath.
32 And his teaching made a deep impression on them because his word carried authority.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and he shouted at the top of his voice,
34 'Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.'
35 But Jesus rebuked it, saying, 'Be quiet! Come out of him!' And the devil, throwing the man into the middle, went out of him without hurting him at all.
36 Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, 'What is it in his words? He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.'
37 And the news of him travelled all through the surrounding countryside.
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in the grip of a high fever and they asked him to do something for her.
39 Standing over her he rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to serve them.
40 At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them.
41 Devils too came out of many people, shouting, 'You are the Son of God.' But he warned them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.
42 When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place. The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them,
43 but he answered, 'I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.'
44 And he continued his proclamation in the synagogues of Judaea.
5th December 2019
1 In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar's reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the territories of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,
2 and while the high-priesthood was held by Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah, in the desert.
3 He went through the whole Jordan area proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
4 as it is written in the book of the sayings of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight!
5 Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled, winding ways be straightened and rough roads made smooth,
6 and all humanity will see the salvation of God.
7 He said, therefore, to the crowds who came to be baptised by him, 'Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming retribution?
8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance, and do not start telling yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father," because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones.
9 Yes, even now the axe is being laid to the root of the trees, so that any tree failing to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire.'
10 When all the people asked him, 'What must we do, then?'
11 he answered, 'Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same.'
12 There were tax collectors, too, who came for baptism, and these said to him, 'Master, what must we do?'
13 He said to them, 'Exact no more than the appointed rate.'
14 Some soldiers asked him in their turn, 'What about us? What must we do?' He said to them, 'No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!'
15 A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ,
16 so John declared before them all, 'I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing-fan is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.'
18 And he proclaimed the good news to the people with many other exhortations too.
19 But Herod the tetrarch, censured by John for his relations with his brother's wife Herodias and for all the other crimes he had committed,
20 added a further crime to all the rest by shutting John up in prison.
21 Now it happened that when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical form, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son; today have I fathered you.'
23 When he began, Jesus was about thirty years old, being the son, as it was thought, of Joseph son of Heli,
24 son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph,
25 son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai,
26 son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda,
27 son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri,
28 son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er,
29 son of Jesus, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi,
30 son of Symeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim,
31 son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David,
32 son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, son of Nahshon,
33 son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah,
34 son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor,
35 son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah,
36 son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech,
37 son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan,
38 son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.
5th December 2019
1 Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world.
2 This census -- the first -- took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria,
3 and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line,
5 in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
6 Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child,
7 and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space.
8 In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night.
9 An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified,
10 but the angel said, 'Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.
11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12 And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.'
13 And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words:
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours.
15 Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.'
16 So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.
17 When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him,
18 and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them.
19 As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as they had been told.
21 When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.
22 And when the day came for them to be purified in keeping with the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord-
23 observing what is written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord-
24 and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is prescribed in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
25 Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to the restoration of Israel and the Holy Spirit rested on him.
26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord.
27 Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required,
28 he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
29 Now, Master, you are letting your servant go in peace as you promised;
30 for my eyes have seen the salvation
31 which you have made ready in the sight of the nations;
32 a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel.
33 As the child's father and mother were wondering at the things that were being said about him,
34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed-
35 and a sword will pierce your soul too -- so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.'
36 There was a prophetess, too, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years
37 before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer.
38 She came up just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
39 When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
40 And as the child grew to maturity, he was filled with wisdom; and God's favour was with him.
41 Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.
42 When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual.
43 When the days of the feast were over and they set off home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it.
44 They assumed he was somewhere in the party, and it was only after a day's journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances.
45 When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
46 It happened that, three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions;
47 and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies.
48 They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, 'My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.'
49 He replied, 'Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?'
50 But they did not understand what he meant.
51 He went down with them then and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people.
5th December 2019
1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God,
2 when he caught sight of two boats at the water's edge. The fishermen had got out of them and were washing their nets.
3 He got into one of the boats -- it was Simon's -- and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.'
5 Simon replied, 'Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.'
6 And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear,
7 so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled both boats to sinking point.
8 When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, 'Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.'
9 For he and all his companions were completely awestruck at the catch they had made;
10 so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. But Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will be catching.'
11 Then, bringing their boats back to land they left everything and followed him.
12 Now it happened that Jesus was in one of the towns when suddenly a man appeared, covered with a skin-disease. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him saying, 'Sir, if you are willing you can cleanse me.'
13 He stretched out his hand, and touched him saying, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' At once the skin-disease left him.
14 He ordered him to tell no one, 'But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your cleansing just as Moses prescribed, as evidence to them.'
15 But the news of him kept spreading, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their illnesses cured,
16 but he would go off to some deserted place and pray.
17 Now it happened that he was teaching one day, and Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was there so that he should heal.
18 And now some men appeared, bringing on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him.
19 But as they could find no way of getting the man through the crowd, they went up onto the top of the house and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus.
20 Seeing their faith he said, 'My friend, your sins are forgiven you.'
21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. 'Who is this man, talking blasphemy? Who but God alone can forgive sins?'
22 But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, 'What are these thoughts you have in your hearts?
23 Which of these is easier: to say, "Your sins are forgiven you," or to say, "Get up and walk"?
24 But to prove to you that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins,' -- he said to the paralysed man-'I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.'
25 And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
26 They were all astounded and praised God and were filled with awe, saying, 'We have seen strange things today.'
27 When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting at the tax office, and said to him, 'Follow me.'
28 And leaving everything Levi got up and followed him.
29 In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others.
30 The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'
31 Jesus said to them in reply, 'It is not those that are well who need the doctor, but the sick.
32 I have come to call not the upright but sinners to repentance.'
33 They then said to him, 'John's disciples are always fasting and saying prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees, too, but yours go on eating and drinking.'
34 Jesus replied, 'Surely you cannot make the bridegroom's attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them?
35 But the time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them; then, in those days, they will fast.'
36 He also told them a parable, 'No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; otherwise, not only will the new one be torn, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.
37 'And nobody puts new wine in old wineskins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins and run to waste, and the skins will be ruined.
38 No; new wine must be put in fresh skins.
39 And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. "The old is good," he says.'
5th December 2019
1 Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have reached their fulfilment among us,
2 as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
3 I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus,
4 so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.
5 In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron.
6 Both were upright in the sight of God and impeccably carried out all the commandments and observances of the Lord.
7 But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both advanced in years.
8 Now it happened that it was the turn of his section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God
9 when it fell to him by lot, as the priestly custom was, to enter the Lord's sanctuary and burn incense there.
10 And at the hour of incense all the people were outside, praying.
11 Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense.
12 The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear.
13 But the angel said to him, 'Zechariah, do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you shall name him John.
14 He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth,
15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink; even from his mother's womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit,
16 and he will bring back many of the Israelites to the Lord their God.
17 With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to reconcile fathers to their children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.'
18 Zechariah said to the angel, 'How can I know this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.'
19 The angel replied, 'I am Gabriel, who stand in God's presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news.
20 Look! Since you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.'
21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long.
22 When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them and remained dumb.
23 When his time of service came to an end he returned home.
24 Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived and for five months she kept to herself, saying,
25 'The Lord has done this for me, now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered in public.'
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.'
29 She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean,
30 but the angel said to her, 'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour.
31 Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David;
33 he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.'
34 Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?'
35 The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.
36 And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month,
37 for nothing is impossible to God.'
38 Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the angel left her.
39 Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah.
40 She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth.
41 Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
43 Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?
44 Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.
45 Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.'
46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
48 because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name,
50 and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him.
51 He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart.
52 He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.
53 He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty.
54 He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love
55 -according to the promise he made to our ancestors -- of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
56 Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.
57 The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son;
58 and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had lavished on her his faithful love, they shared her joy.
59 Now it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
60 but his mother spoke up. 'No,' she said, 'he is to be called John.'
61 They said to her, 'But no one in your family has that name,'
62 and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called.
63 The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, 'His name is John.' And they were all astonished.
64 At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God.
65 All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea.
66 All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. 'What will this child turn out to be?' they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
68 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, he has set them free,
69 and he has established for us a saving power in the House of his servant David,
70 just as he proclaimed, by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times,
71 that he would save us from our enemies and from the hands of all those who hate us,
72 and show faithful love to our ancestors, and so keep in mind his holy covenant.
73 This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,
74 that he would grant us, free from fear, to be delivered from the hands of our enemies,
75 to serve him in holiness and uprightness in his presence, all our days.
76 And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare a way for him,
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the faithful love of our God in which the rising Sun has come from on high to visit us,
79 to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow dark as death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace
23rd October 2019
1. “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk 24:45). This was one of the final acts of the risen Lord before his Ascension. Jesus appeared to the assembled disciples, broke bread with them and opened their minds to the understanding of the sacred Scriptures. To them, amid their fear and bewilderment, he unveiled the meaning of the paschal mystery: that in accordance with the Father’s eternal plan he had to suffer and rise from the dead, in order to bring repentance and the forgiveness of sins (cf. Lk 24:26.46-47). He then promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would give them strength to be witnesses of this saving mystery (cf. Lk 24:49).
The relationship between the Risen Lord, the community of believers and sacred Scripture is essential to our identity as Christians. Without the Lord who opens our minds to them, it is impossible to understand the Scriptures in depth. Yet the contrary is equally true: without the Scriptures, the events of the mission of Jesus and of his Church in this world would remain incomprehensible. Hence, Saint Jerome could rightly claim: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, Prologue: PL 24,17B).
2. At the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I proposed setting aside “a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people” (Misericordia et Misera, 7). Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world. Here, we are reminded of the teaching of Saint Ephrem: “Who is able to understand, Lord, all the richness of even one of your words? There is more that eludes us than what we can understand. We are like the thirsty drinking from a fountain. Your word has as many aspects as the perspectives of those who study it. The Lord has coloured his word with diverse beauties, so that those who study it can contemplate what stirs them. He has hidden in his word all treasures, so that each of us may find a richness in what he or she contemplates” (Commentary on the Diatessaron, 1, 18).
With this Letter, I wish to respond to the many requests I have received from the people of God that the entire Church celebrate, in unity of purpose, a Sunday of the Word of God. It is now common for the Christian community to set aside moments to reflect on the great importance of the word of God for everyday living. The various local Churches have undertaken a wealth of initiatives to make the sacred Scripture more accessible to believers, to increase their gratitude for so great a gift, and to help them to strive daily to embody and bear witness to its teachings.
The Second Vatican Council gave great impulse to the rediscovery of the word of God, thanks to its Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, a document that deserves to be read and appropriated ever anew. The Constitution clearly expounds the nature of sacred Scripture, its transmission from generation to generation (Chapter II), its divine inspiration (Chapter III) embracing the Old and New Testaments (Chapters IV and V), and the importance of Scripture for the life of the Church (Chapter VI). To advance this teaching, Pope Benedict XVI convoked an Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2008 on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”, and then issued the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, whose teaching remains fundamental for our communities. That document emphasizes in particular the performative character of the Word of God, especially in the context of the liturgy, in which its distinctively sacramental character comes to the fore.
It is fitting, then that the life of our people be constantly marked by this decisive relationship with the living word that the Lord never tires of speaking to his Bride, that she may grow in love and faithful witness.
3. Consequently, I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity.
The various communities will find their own ways to mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity. It is important, however, that in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s word. On this Sunday, it would be particularly appropriate to highlight the proclamation of the word of the Lord and to emphasize in the homily the honour that it is due. Bishops could celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a similar commissioning of readers, in order to bring out the importance of the proclamation of God’s word in the liturgy. In this regard, renewed efforts should be made to provide members of the faithful with the training needed to be genuine proclaimers of the word, as is already the practice in the case of acolytes or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Pastors can also find ways of giving a Bible, or one of its books, to the entire assembly as a way of showing the importance of learning how to read, appreciate and pray daily with sacred Scripture, especially through the practice of lectio divina.
4. The return of the people of Israel to their homeland after the Babylonian exile was marked by the public reading of the book of the Law. In the book of Nehemiah, the Bible gives us a moving description of that moment. The people assembled in Jerusalem, in the square before the Water Gate, to listen to the Law. They had been scattered in exile, but now they found themselves gathered “as one” around the sacred Scripture (Neh 8:1). The people lent “attentive ears” (Neh 8:3) to the reading of the sacred book, realizing that in its words they would discover the meaning of their lived experience. The reaction to the proclamation of was one of great emotion and tears: “[The Levites] read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep’. For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” (Neh 8:8-10).
These words contain a great teaching. The Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its words. At times, there can be a tendency to monopolize the sacred text by restricting it to certain circles or to select groups. It cannot be that way. The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division towards unity. The word of God unites believers and makes them one people.
5. In this unity born of listening, pastors are primarily responsible for explaining sacred Scripture and helping everyone to understand it. Since it is the people’s book, those called to be ministers of the word must feel an urgent need to make it accessible to their community.
The homily, in particular, has a distinctive function, for it possesses “a quasi-sacramental character” (Evangelii Gaudium, 142). Helping people to enter more deeply into the word of God through simple and suitable language will allow priests themselves to discover the “beauty of the images used by the Lord to encourage the practice of the good” (ibid.). This is a pastoral opportunity that should not be wasted!
For many of our faithful, in fact, this is the only opportunity they have to grasp the beauty of God’s word and to see it applied to their daily lives. Consequently, sufficient time must be devoted to the preparation of the homily. A commentary on the sacred readings cannot be improvised. Those of us who are preachers should not give long, pedantic homilies or wander off into unrelated topics. When we take time to pray and meditate on the sacred text, we can speak from the heart and thus reach the hearts of those who hear us, conveying what is essential and capable of bearing fruit. May we never tire of devoting time and prayer to Scripture, so that it may be received “not as a human word but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess 2:13).
Catechists, too, in their ministry of helping people to grow in their faith, ought to feel an urgent need for personal renewal through familiarity with, and study of, the sacred Scriptures. This will help them foster in their hearers a true dialogue with the word of God.
6. Before encountering his disciples, gathered behind closed doors, and opening their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures (cf. Lk 24:44-45), the risen Lord appeared to two of them on the road to Emmaus from Jerusalem (cf. Lk 24:13-35). Saint Luke’s account notes that this happened on the very day of his resurrection, a Sunday. The two disciples were discussing the recent events concerning Jesus’ passion and death. Their journey was marked by sorrow and disappointment at his tragic death. They had hoped that he would be the Messiah who would set them free, but they found themselves instead confronted with the scandal of the cross. The risen Lord himself gently draws near and walks with them, yet they do not recognize him (cf. v. 16). Along the way, he questions them, and, seeing that they have not grasped the meaning of his passion and death, he exclaims: “O foolish men, and slow of heart” (v. 25). Then, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the Scriptures” (v.27). Christ is the first exegete! Not only did the Old Testament foretell what he would accomplish, but he himself wished to be faithful to its words, in order to make manifest the one history of salvation whose fulfilment is found in Christ.
7. The Bible, as sacred Scripture, thus speaks of Christ and proclaims him as the one who had to endure suffering and then enter into his glory (cf. v. 26). Not simply a part, but the whole of Scripture speaks of Christ. Apart from the Scriptures, his death and resurrection cannot be rightly understood. That is why one of the most ancient confessions of faith stressed that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas” (1Cor15:3-5). Since the Scriptures everywhere speak of Christ, they enable us to believe that his death and resurrection are not myth but history, and are central to the faith of his disciples.
A profound bond links sacred Scripture and the faith of believers. Since faith comes from hearing, and what is heard is based on the word of Christ (cf. Rom 10:17), believers are bound to listen attentively to the word of the Lord, both in the celebration of the liturgy and in their personal prayer and reflection.
8. The journey that the Risen Lord makes with the disciples of Emmaus ended with a meal. The mysterious wayfarer accepts their insistent request: “Stay with us, for it is almost evening and the day is now far spent” (Lk 24:29). They sit down at table, and Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and offers it to them. At that moment, their eyes are opened, and they recognize him (cf. v. 31).
This scene clearly demonstrates the unbreakable bond between sacred Scripture and the Eucharist. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she has venerated the Lord’s body, in that she never ceases, above all in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the word of God and the body of Christ” (Dei Verbum, 21).
Regular reading of sacred Scripture and the celebration of the Eucharist make it possible for us to see ourselves as part of one another. As Christians, we are a single people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.
Sacred Scripture and the sacraments are thus inseparable. When the sacraments are introduced and illumined by God’s word, they become ever more clearly the goal of a process whereby Christ opens our minds and hearts to acknowledge his saving work. We should always keep in mind the teaching found in the Book of Revelation: the Lord is standing at the door and knocking. If anyone should hear his voice and open for him, he will come in and eat with them (cf. 3:20). Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of sacred Scripture. If we hear his voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us.
9. In the Second Letter to Timothy, which is in some ways his spiritual testament, Saint Paul urges his faithful co-worker to have constant recourse to sacred Scripture. The Apostle is convinced that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (3:16). Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is fundamental to the teaching of the conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum on the great theme of biblical inspiration, which emphasizes the Scriptures’ saving purpose, spiritual dimension and inherent incarnational principle.
First, recalling Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, Dei Verbum stresses that “we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures” (No. 11). Since the Scriptures teach with a view to salvation through faith in Christ (cf. 2 Tim 3:15), the truths contained therein are profitable for our salvation. The Bible is not a collection of history books or a chronicle, but is aimed entirely at the integral salvation of the person. The evident historical setting of the books of the Bible should not make us overlook their primary goal, which is our salvation. Everything is directed to this purpose and essential to the very nature of the Bible, which takes shape as a history of salvation in which God speaks and acts in order to encounter all men and women and to save them from evil and death.
To achieve this saving purpose, sacred Scripture, by the working of the Holy Spirit, makes human words written in human fashion become the word of God (cf. Dei Verbum, 12). The role of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures is primordial. Without the work of the Spirit, there would always be a risk of remaining limited to the written text alone. This would open the way to a fundamentalist reading, which needs to be avoided, lest we betray the inspired, dynamic and spiritual character of the sacred text. As the Apostle reminds us: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). The Holy Spirit, then, makes sacred Scripture the living word of God, experienced and handed down in the faith of his holy people.
10. The work of the Holy Spirit has to do not only with the formation of sacred Scripture; it is also operative in those who hear the word of God. The words of the Council Fathers are instructive: sacred Scripture is to be “read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit through whom it was written” (Dei Verbum, 12). God’s revelation attains its completion and fullness in Jesus Christ; nonetheless, the Holy Spirit does not cease to act. It would be reductive indeed to restrict the working of the Spirit to the divine inspiration of sacred Scripture and its various human authors. We need to have confidence in the working of the Holy Spirit as he continues in his own way to provide “inspiration” whenever the Church teaches the sacred Scriptures, whenever the Magisterium authentically interprets them (cf. ibid., 10), and whenever each believer makes them the norm of his or her spiritual life. In this sense, we can understand the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples when they told him that they now understood the meaning of his parables: “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Mt 13:52).
11. Finally, Dei Verbum makes clear that “the words of God, expressed in human language, are in every way like human speech, just as the Word of the eternal Father, in taking upon himself the weak flesh of human beings, also took on their likeness” (No. 13). We can say that the incarnation of the eternal Word gives shape and meaning to the relationship between God’s word and our human language, in all its historical and cultural contingency. This event gives rise to Tradition, which is also God’s word (cf. ibid., 9). We frequently risk separating sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition, without understanding that together they are the one source of Revelation. The written character of the former takes nothing away from its being fully a living word; in the same way, the Church’s living Tradition, which continually hands that word down over the centuries from one generation to the next, possesses that sacred book as the “supreme rule of her faith” (ibid., 21). Moreover, before becoming a written text, the word of God was handed down orally and kept alive by the faith of a people who, in the midst of many others, acknowledged it as their own history and the source of their identity. Biblical faith, then, is based on the living word, not on a book.
12. When sacred Scripture is read in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written, it remains ever new. The Old Testament is never old once it is part of the New, since all has been transformed thanks to the one Spirit who inspired it. The sacred text as a whole serves a prophetic function regarding not the future but the present of whoever is nourished by this word. Jesus himself clearly stated this at the beginning of his ministry: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). Those who draw daily nourishment from God’s word become, like Jesus, a contemporary of all those whom they encounter: they are not tempted to fall into sterile nostalgia for the past, or to dream of ethereal utopias yet to come.
Sacred Scripture accomplishes its prophetic work above all in those who listen to it. It proves both sweet and bitter. We are reminded of the words of the prophet Ezekiel when, commanded by the Lord to eat the scroll of the book, he tells us: “It was in my mouth as sweet as honey” (3:3). John the Evangelist too, on the island of Patmos, echoes Ezekiel’s experience of eating the scroll, but goes on to add: “It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter” (Rev 10:10).
The sweetness of God’s word leads us to share it with all those whom we encounter in this life and to proclaim the sure hope that it contains (cf. 1 Pet 3:15-16). Its bitterness, in turn, often comes from our realization of how difficult it is to live that word consistently, or our personal experience of seeing it rejected as meaningless for life. We should never take God’s word for granted, but instead let ourselves be nourished by it, in order to acknowledge and live fully our relationship with him and with our brothers and sisters.
13. Yet another challenge raised by sacred Scripture has to do with love. God’s word constantly reminds us of the merciful love of the Father who calls his children to live in love. The life of Jesus is the full and perfect expression of this divine love, which holds nothing back but offers itself to all without reserve. In the parable of Lazarus, we find a valuable teaching. When both Lazarus and the rich man die, the latter, seeing the poor man Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, asks that Lazarus be sent to his brothers to warn them to love their neighbour, lest they also experience his torment. Abraham’s answer is biting: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Lk 16:29). To listen to sacred Scripture and then to practise mercy: this is the great challenge before us in life. God’s word has the power to open our eyes and to enable us to renounce a stifling and barren individualism and instead to embark on a new path of sharing and solidarity.
14. One of the most significant moments in Jesus’ relationship with his disciples is found in the account of the Transfiguration. He goes up the mountain with Peter, James and John to pray. The evangelists tell us that as Jesus’ face and clothing became dazzlingly white, two men conversed with him: Moses and Elijah, representing respectively the Law and the Prophets; in other words, sacred Scripture. Peter’s reaction to this sight is one of amazement and joy: “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Lk 9:33). At that moment a cloud overshadows them, and the disciples are struck with fear.
The Transfiguration reminds us of the Feast of Tabernacles, when Ezra and Nehemiah read the sacred text to the people after their return from exile. At the same time, it foreshadows Jesus’ glory, as a way of preparing the disciples for the scandal of the Passion: that divine glory is also evoked by the cloud enveloping the disciples as a symbol of God’s presence. A similar transfiguration takes place with sacred Scripture, which transcends itself whenever it nourishes the lives of believers. As the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini reminds us: “In rediscovering the interplay between the different senses of Scripture it becomes essential to grasp thepassage from letter to spirit. This is not an automatic, spontaneous passage; rather, the letter needs to be transcended” (No. 38).
15. Along our path of welcoming God’s word into our hearts, the Mother of the Lord accompanies us. She is the one who was called blessed because she believed in the fulfilment of what the Lord had spoken to her (cf. Lk 1:45). Mary’s own beatitude is prior to all the beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus about the poor and those who mourn, the meek, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted, for it is the necessary condition for every other kind of beatitude. The poor are not blessed because they are poor; they become blessed if, like Mary, they believe in the fulfilment of God’s word. A great disciple and master of sacred Scripture, Saint Augustine, once wrote: “Someone in the midst of the crowd, seized with enthusiasm, cried out: ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you’ and Jesus replied, ‘Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it’. As if to say: My mother, whom you call blessed, is indeed blessed, because she keeps the word of God. Not because in her the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, but because she keeps that same word of God by which she was made and which, in her womb, became flesh” (Tractates on the Gospel of John, 10, 3).
May the Sunday of the Word of God help his people to grow in religious and intimate familiarity with the sacred Scriptures. For as the sacred author taught of old: “This word is very near to you: it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance” (Dt 30:14).
Given in Rome, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on 30 September 2019, the liturgical Memorial of Saint Jerome, on the inauguration of the 1600th anniversary of his death.
2nd September 2019
FR STEPHEN MITCHELL, SS PETER & PAUL, EDENBRIDGE,
THE REV’D MEL COMMANDEUR OF THE EDEN CHURCH, THE REV’D SUE DIGGORY OF HOLY TRINITY, CROCKHAM HILL
FR BENEDICT FADOJU, ST LAWRENCE CATHOLIC CHURCH EDENBRIDGE
FOLLOWING THE DECISION TO SUSPEND PARLIAMENT
Some three years ago this country voted by a small majority to leave the European Union. Since then, and doubtless because the vote was so close, the opposing sides have continued to argue with great passion about the best way forward. Knowing the sensitivities of all this we, your clergy, have chosen to say little about this issue recognising that good Christian folk find themselves on opposing sides of this question for heartfelt reasons.
But now things have changed.
Many of those who voted to remain are still wedded to what they see as the European ideal whilst, those who wanted to leave have grown increasingly frustrated by our seeming inability so to do. Parliament has singularly failed to approve the Deal, agreed between our last PM and the EU, but seems equally keen to avoid what has become known as a No Deal Brexit whereas our new Government believes it represents the people when it says we must leave at all costs on 31 October, Come what may.
Claiming that this is the only way forward and that such is a perfectly normal Parliamentary procedure, our present PM has now decided to prorogue Parliament. For many this is simply a step too far, a way of closing down debate and of depriving our legitimate representatives of their voice. Whatever some might say, there is little by way of precedent for this move and all attempts to defend it in terms of the normality of a recess at this time of year, the need for a new Queen’s Speech etc, are disingenuous.
For some of us at least this new development sets a dangerous precedent and silencing debate at a time such as this is worthy only of those regimes against which this country has fought time and again at no little cost to our people. This move is not worthy of our great liberal tradition. As Christian clergy we believe that discussion and debate reflect the will of God as to the way human persons should deal with issues in the public sphere. Closing down such debate, however good the practical reasons might be, would seem, therefore to be contrary to the will of God.
To stifle the voice of dissent must be seen as fundamentally unchristian as it runs counter to a Christian anthropology which sees us all as created equal with a contribution to make to the Common Good through discussion and argument however heated and passionate the debate might become.
Now, some would say the Remainers lost the argument and that the voice of the majority should prevail and that this means the Government’s will is paramount. But Christianity has never been that naïve about democracy. As Pope Benedict once said,
Truth is not the result of a majority vote.
Just because you lose doesn’t, of itself, mean you are wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean you lose your right to voice an opinion. This right is inalienably yours as a child of God created in his image and likeness.
Yes, it is easy to understand the frustration of those most committed for whatever reason to our leaving the EU, but the struggles of the last three years are surely only testament to the divided state of our country and the importance with which all of us regard this momentous issue. This is a once and for all event with no change of mind possible in five years’ time. We must let debate flourish.
If we do not, we risk leaving a significant number of people feeling marginalised and unheard; EU citizens living here feeling even more excluded than they do already; and the rest of the world wondering at the cavalier way in which the Mother of Parliaments could be so easily silenced for the benefit of a Government not a little short on both moral and political authority.
Therefore, we encourage you all,
·to pray for our country at this time of trial;
·to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit on those who would lead us;
·and, perhaps most importantly, to attempt to discern the face of Christ even in those with whom we disagree.
28th February 2019
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)
Dear Brothers and Sisters
Each year, through Mother Church, God “gives us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed… as we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ” (Preface of Lent I). We can thus journey from Easter to Easter towards the fulfilment of the salvation we have already received as a result of Christ’s paschal mystery – “for in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). This mystery of salvation, already at work in us during our earthly lives, is a dynamic process that also embraces history and all of creation. As Saint Paul says, “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19). In this perspective, I would like to offer a few reflections to accompany our journey of conversion this coming Lent.
1. The redemption of creation
The celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, the culmination of the liturgical year, calls us yearly to undertake a journey of preparation, in the knowledge that our being conformed to Christ (cf. Rom 8:29) is a priceless gift of God’s mercy.
When we live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:14) and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law, beginning with the law written on our hearts and in nature, we also benefit creation by cooperating in its redemption. That is why Saint Paul says that creation eagerly longs for the revelation of the children of God; in other words, that all those who enjoy the grace of Jesus’ paschal mystery may experience its fulfilment in the redemption of the human body itself. When the love of Christ transfigures the lives of the saints in spirit, body and soul, they give praise to God. Through prayer, contemplation and art, they also include other creatures in that praise, as we see admirably expressed in the “Canticle of the Creatures” by Saint Francis of Assisi (cf. Laudato Si’, 87). Yet in this world, the harmony generated by redemption is constantly threatened by the negative power of sin and death.
2. The destructive power of sin
Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbours and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will. Intemperance then takes the upper hand: we start to live a life that exceeds those limits imposed by our human condition and nature itself. We yield to those untrammelled desires that the Book of Wisdom sees as typical of the ungodly, those who act without thought for God or hope for the future (cf. 2:1-11). Unless we tend constantly towards Easter, towards the horizon of the Resurrection, the mentality expressed in the slogans “I want it all and I want it now!” and “Too much is never enough”, gains the upper hand.
The root of all evil, as we know, is sin, which from its first appearance has disrupted our communion with God, with others and with creation itself, to which we are linked in a particular way by our body. This rupture of communion with God likewise undermines our harmonious relationship with the environment in which we are called to live, so that the garden has become a wilderness (cf. Gen 3:17-18). Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests, to the detriment of other creatures.
Once God’s law, the law of love, is forsaken, then the law of the strong over the weak takes over. The sin that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself. It leads to the exploitation of creation, both persons and the environment, due to that insatiable covetousness which sees every desire as a right and sooner or later destroys all those in its grip.
3. The healing power of repentance and forgiveness
Creation urgently needs the revelation of the children of God, who have been made “a new creation”. For “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Indeed, by virtue of their being revealed, creation itself can celebrate a Pasch, opening itself to a new heaven and a new earth (cf. Rev 21:1). The path to Easter demands that we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness, so as to live fully the abundant grace of the paschal mystery.
This “eager longing”, this expectation of all creation, will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the “travail” that conversion entails. All creation is called, with us, to go forth “from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites Christians to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts. Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy. Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us. And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.
Dear brothers and sisters, the “lenten” period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Is 51:3). May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be “set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.
From the Vatican, 4 October 2018,
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
[Original text: English]
© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
1st January 2019
Good politics is at the service of peace
1. “Peace be to this house!”
In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6). Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate. So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”
2. The challenge of good politics.
Peace is like the hope which the poet Charles Péguy celebrated. It is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence. We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction. Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). In the words of Pope Paul VI, “to take politics seriously at its different levels – local, regional, national and worldwide – is to affirm the duty of each individual to acknowledge the reality and value of the freedom offered him to work at one and the same time for the good of the city, the nation and all mankind”. Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.
3. Charity and human virtues: the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace.
Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”. This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity. In this regard, it may be helpful to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002: Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role. Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility. Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest. Blessed be the politician who remains consistent. Blessed be the politician who works for unity. Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change. Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening. Blessed be the politician who is without fear. Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.
4. Political vices.
Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony. We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power. To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.
5. Good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others.
When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals, the future is compromised and young people can be tempted to lose confidence, since they are relegated to the margins of society without the possibility of helping to build the future. But when politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces. It becomes a confident assurance that says, “I trust you and with you I believe” that we can all work together for the common good. Politics is at the service of peace if it finds expression in the recognition of the gifts and abilities of each individual. “What could be more beautiful than an outstretched hand? It was meant by God to offer and to receive. God did not want it to kill (cf. Gen 4:1ff) or to inflict suffering, but to offer care and help in life. Together with our heart and our intelligence, our hands too can become a means of dialogue”. Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home. Authentic political life, grounded in law and in frank and fair relations between individuals, experiences renewal whenever we are convinced that every woman, man and generation brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies. That kind of trust is never easy to achieve, because human relations are complex, especially in our own times, marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security. Sadly, it is also seen at the political level, in attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need. Today more than ever, our societies need “artisans of peace” who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.
6. No to war and to the strategy of fear.
A hundred years after the end of the First World War, as we remember the young people killed in those battles and the civilian populations torn apart, we are more conscious than ever of the terrible lesson taught by fratricidal wars: peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity. This is why we state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace. Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace. Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations. Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights. One out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups. The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.
7. A great project of peace.
In these days, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War. In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”. Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects: - peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”; - peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say; - peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future. The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Saviour and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).
From the Vatican, 8 December 2018 Francis
 Cf. Lk 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased”.
 Cf. Le Porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, Paris, 1986.
 Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (14 May 1971), 46.
 Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 7.
 Cf. Address at the “Civitas” Exhibition-Convention in Padua: “30 Giorni”, no. 5, 2002.
 BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Authorities of Benin, Cotonou, 19 November 2011.
 Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris (11 April 1963), ed. Carlen, 24.
© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
26th December 2018
Many people over the last two millennia have reflected on the lowly start of the Christ-child. The stable we imagine was not like the radiant clean places of Christmas cards; it was more likely to be poor, cold and smelly. The lowly birth of this child, Jesus, was to change human history; God had become human.
- At moments during the day, I will go back in my imagination to that stable in Bethlehem. I reflect on the significance of that event in the world today. I also thank God for the overwhelming generosity of God’s gift of Jesus to the world.
culled from the Diocesan Spirituality Commission
24th December 2018
Although Mary is the central figure in this gospel reading, we also consider the proclamation of Elizabeth. As Elizabeth testifies, Mary is blessed since she is the Mother of God, but Elizabeth also draws attention to the fact that she accepted in faith the call to be the Mother of God. She listened to the message of the angel and we know that she pondered many things in her heart as her precious son grew up. We too have the opportunity in this season of preparation to ponder prayerfully in our hearts what we are being called to be and called to do.
culled from the Diocesan Spirituality Commission
Reflection on the season of Advent
22nd December 2018
Today’s gospel is very much a celebration of women’s ministry to women. In our reading, we have two expectant mothers getting together rather like modern mums-to-be having a ‘baby shower’. In this case, they are sharing joy and expectations against the odds. One is well past child-bearing age and the other is expecting a child outside wedlock. Not the most auspicious start to two precious lives and yet, even the unborn babies give testimony that this is the fulfilment of a very special promise. Perhaps we too can help others exceed their own expectations of themselves through a kind and affirming word.
culled from the Diocesan Spirituality Commission
Reflections on the Season of Advent
22nd December 2018
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews stresses that we become holy through Jesus’ offering of himself to the Father in total trust. Jesus’ surrender to the Father can be seen not only in his death but throughout his life: in the poverty of his birth; in the hidden and humble life of his childhood and youth and throughout his active ministry with its focus on the poor and the marginalised. Our own holiness springs from our union with Jesus in his self-offering love. How am I sharing in Jesus self-offering love in all that I am and do?
culled from the Diocesan Spirituality Commission
Reflection on the season of Advent
20th December 2018
The reading from the letter to the Hebrews celebrates Jesus’ perfect obedience to the Father’s will in every aspect of his birth, life and death. ‘Will’ is a difficult word for us suggesting a whole list of ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’. Desire may be a better word. Throughout his life, Jesus’ total union with God’s desires enabled him to meet the challenges of the world. Where do my desires spring from? How can I centre them on God so I can lead the life God desires for me?
Culled from the Diocesan Spirituality Commission
Reflections on Advent
20th December 2018
This Sunday’s psalm is a prayer of deliverance. It originally referred to Israel’s deliverance from captivity in Assyria. However, let us make it our prayer of deliverance in which we ask God to bring us back into God’s wonderful light. We are also reminded of the beautiful words from the Hebrew blessing (Numbers 6:25): "May the Lord make His face shine upon you". Like the sun, bathing the earth in light, let us today ask for God's favour to radiate on and in us.
Culled from the Diocesan Spirituality Commission
Reflections on the Season of Advent
18th December 2018
Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, we encounter the image of God as a true shepherd, faithfully feeding and caring for his flock, rescuing them from the faithless leaders who neglected and abused the poor. Now we hear that the one that God will send will be that true shepherd, bringing peace to the ends of the earth and divine justice to the poor.
- Who are the people in my life who have been given into my loving care?
- I ask the Lord to show me what I can do today to demonstrate that loving care to just one of the people in my life
culled from the Diocesan Spirituality Commission
Reflections on The season of Advent
29th November 2018
Dear brothers and sisters,
During the summer months the media was full of horrifying reports of the sexual abuse of children and young people by clergy, in two Benedictine Schools in this country, and in the wider world abuse in many dioceses in America, Australia and other countries round the world. These crimes have caused a terrible wound in the hearts of the victims of that abuse, and in the community of the Church, the community of God’s people, the body of Christ on earth. These terrible wounds brought to my mind the picture portrayed towards the end of St. John’s Gospel, when Jesus was being taken down from the cross: “When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance: and immediately there came out blood and water.” The sexual abuse of children and young people in the Church has deeply affected all of us who are members of the Church: the laity, male and female religious congregations, deacons, priests and bishops. It is heart-rending and we must do what we can to support the victims.
At the same time we must put all this in the wider context of the sexual abuse of young people in the community of our Church which has been prominent in society at large. This was well set out in a very recent interview with Fr. Hans Zollner who is President of the Centre for Child Protection at the Gregorian University in Rome, and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. He was told that the impression is often given through the media that child abuse is rife in the Catholic Church, and was asked, “Is it possible to say that it is more likely to take place in the Church as opposed to the wider society?” Fr. Zollner’s response was this: “We can’t say it is more likely and people who say so can’t present statistics. There is no other institution, no other Christian denomination or religion, which has been investigated as thoroughly as the Catholic Church. So there is no real comparison to that. And even within professional groups, there isn’t any research that would cover, for example, school teachers… psychologists, doctors, police, and sports trainers. We also have to acknowledge that by far the most sexual abuse and of course physical abuse of minors happens in the family context.” But he went on to say rightly, “This does not excuse the Catholic Church. Every single abuse that takes place is one too many. Every single abuse that is committed by Catholic clergy and other personnel in the Church is a horrendous crime and needs to be prosecuted and punished... full stop!”
So I just want to give you a brief summary of what the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have done in recent years to combat such abuse by clergy, and to reach out to the victims of this abuse. In 1999, Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O’Connor asked Lord Michael Nolan, a well-known and highly respected member of the High Court to set up a review by independent experts on child welfare, to draw up a set of procedures for all the Bishops of England and Wales to deal properly and fully with any allegations against a priest that he had abused a child.
The Review took 12 months to complete and was made public in 2000, and was accepted by all the Bishops of England and Wales. The consequence was that since 2001 every Diocese in England and Wales has a Diocesan Safeguarding Commission to deal with any allegations of abuse by priests, permanent Deacons and laity in responsible positions in the parishes. After five years, Baroness Cumberledge was asked to review how the procedures were working and to provide recommendations as to how they might be improved in the light of experience, which she and the members of the review body did very fruitfully. We also have two national bodies to oversee and improve these procedures on an ongoing basis, the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service and the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (both of which can be accessed on the Internet). As regards to Safeguarding in our schools, all our Diocesan Catholic Schools are subject to the Local Authority of the area in which the school is, and which oversees safeguarding in all the schools in that area. And one of the consequences of my experience early on in my return to my home Diocese of Southwark, was to ask all the priests of the Diocese to contribute to a fund which would enable me to pay for psychotherapy for the victims and their families. The clergy responded magnificently and very generously from their own pockets, and I have been able to help some of the victims and their families, which has helped them enormously.
The season of Advent which we begin today, is a season of hope, longing and joyful expectancy, but is also a penitential season. As we look forward to and prepare for the celebration of Christmas, we need to put our trust firmly in the risen Christ who said: “If you want to be a follower of mine, you must take up your cross and follow me.” and “Fear not, I am with you always, yes, even to the end of time.” So we must put our trust firmly in that promise, that he will always be with us as his family, the community of faith, and despite all the difficulties we are facing, he will also give us the grace and strength to continue to fulfil the mission of the Church to preach and live out the Gospel in season and out of season. Jesus seeks entry to our innermost lives in order that he may share his life with us. He stands at the gate and knocks. So during Advent I ask every parish in the Diocese to arrange, preferably on a Friday each week, to have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and pray for those who have suffered abuse. All those attending the National Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool, back in September were uplifted by the experience and came away strengthened in hope and trust in the love, mercy and compassion of Christ. In that time of adoration we encountered the risen Christ and asked for his help to heal the wounds of the Church in these difficult times. The great challenge we have today is to have the courage and strength to continue the fundamental mission of the Church to proclaim the Gospel in the face of the awful scandal of the sexual abuse of children and young people, and to pray for all those who have been abused.
With an assurance of my prayers for you all,
Archbishop of Southwark
Given at Southwark, 28th November, 2018
21st October 2018
Kindly read this link https://missio.org.uk/world-mission-sunday-2018/
TEN Pastoral Lessons from Pope Francis’ 2018 World Mission Sunday
This celebration started based on the decree of Pope Pius XI in 1926. It is a day in which every Church institution, rich or poor around the world prays and supports the mission through a special collection for the Church’s worldwide Mission Sunday (WMS) Solidarity Fund. It would be recalled that the Holy Father, Pope Francis released his message for WMS titled “Together with the Youth we Proclaim the Gospel to All” on May 19, 2018. What informed this message is his firm belief that “young people are the hope of mission.” 10 Takeaways from the Holy Father’s 2018 WMS Message
1. Everyone is a “Mission”: We must make concerted efforts at fulfilling the mission we received from Christ by the virtue of being grafted into him at baptism as espoused in Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et Spes and Ad Gentes through reflecting deeply about why God created us i.e., “To know him, love him, serve him in this world and be happy with him in the next.”
2. Proclaim Jesus Christ: We are charged not to be afraid of proclaiming Jesus to all peoples (Redemptoris Missio 3) amidst the vicissitudes of life based on the assurance that “evil is an incentive to a greater love” to those who stand by him.
3. Learn from the School of the Saints: Since it is the Saints who first opened for us the horizons of God, we ought to be set afire by the love of Christ by being consumed by that fire through generous sacrifice even if it leads to martyrdom –
4. Learn from the School of the Old: Grow in the grace of the faith bestowed on us by the Church’s sacraments by tapping “the wisdom and experience of older persons to become testimony and encouragement for those looking to the future” – The wise counsel of the aged and the enthusiasm of the young ought to create a missionary-bridge of unity of faith and profound neighbourly love in our communities.
5. Transmit the Faith: Because transmitting the faith is at the heart of the Church’s Mission, we are called to spread the faith through encounter, witness, proclamation and charity especially to those in “desolate peripheries” who may be indifferent or hostile to the faith.
6. Rejection of God has Consequences: Our liturgy warns against all forms of material and spiritual poverty as well as discrimination against our brothers and sisters because these are “a consequence of the rejection of God and his love.”
7. Rediscover Your Vocation: In a world in which young people are caught in the web of social networks which often promise elimination of distances and reduction of differences, we are charged to “share a true communion of life,” by discovering and preserving our vocation to God and humanity.
8. Bear Witness to Love: We are called to take advantage of ecclesial groups like parishes, associations, movements, religious communities et al to engage in missionary volunteer work which promotes human dignity and witnesses to the joy of the gospel.
9. Training Young People: As a Church, we are charged to educate and train young people in vocational discernment to promote and foster their God-given gifts in the service of others by being missionaries who are plunged “into the stream of witnesses God desires.”
10. Support for the Missions: Since “some give to the mission by going and others go to the mission by giving,”
Conclusion: By the virtue of our baptism into Christ, we are all missionaries called to serve the needs of the Universal Church ad intra and ad extra. We are particularly charged to give the youth their rightful place in the Church as leaders of tomorrow so as to showcase their talents for the growth of the Church to the greater glory of God. While this is done, it behoves on the youth to always listen to the wise counsel of the aged. Since the Church is missionary by character (Redemptoris Missio 5), the Holy Father reminds you and me that we are “Mission.” Happy World Mission Sunday!
3rd October 2018
The Holy Father has decided to invite all the faithful, of all the world, to pray the Holy Rosary every day, during the entire Marian month of October, and thus to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.
In recent days, before his departure for the Baltic States, the Holy Father met with Fr. Fréderic Fornos, S.J., international director of the World Network of Prayer for the Pope, and asked him to spread this appeal to all the faithful throughout the world, inviting them to conclude the recitation of the Rosary with the ancient invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium”, and with the prayer to Saint Michael Archangel that he protect us and help us in the struggle against evil (cf. Revelation 12, 7-12).
The prayer – the Pontiff affirmed a few days ago, on 11 September, in a homily at Santa Marta, citing the first book of Job – is the weapon against the Great Accuser who “goes around the world seeking to accuse”. Only prayer can defeat him. The Russian mystics and the great saints of all the traditions advised, in moments of spiritual turbulence, to shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God pronouncing the invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium”.
Sub Tuum Praesidium
The invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium” is recited as follows:
We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
With this request for intercession the Holy Father asks the faithful of all the world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.
Prayer to Saint Michael
The Holy Father has also asked that the recitation of the Holy Rosary during the month of October conclude with the prayer written by Leo XIII:
Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
15th September 2018
The gospel reading of today (Mk. 8:27-35) gives us an opportunity to reflect on the person and authority of the pope. Jesus asked his disciples what people say about him. Their response was that people say he is Elijah or one of the prophets. Obviously not satisfied with this answer, he then asked the disciples what they personally think about him. The evangelists did not tell us if each of the disciples gave a personal response to this question. The only response recorded is that of Peter who said Jesus is the Christ. Matthew’s account of Peter’s response was more elaborate by adding that Jesus is “the Son of the Living God” (16:16) and in this way he gives us more insights into Jesus’ Trinitarian relationship as God.
Two elements must immediately be noted about the pope’s infallibility. The first is that it is a negative protection: prevention from error. This implies that it does not mean that when the pope teaches infallibly or his ordinary teachings that flow from the infallible or defined teachings of the Church cannot be explained further, rather, it means that substantially that teaching is prevented from error. Secondly, infallibility does not mean impeccability. That is, that the pope teaches infallibly does not mean he is impeccable, that is, it does not mean he is perfect. The evangelist taught us this by showing how just shortly after Peter professed Jesus as Christ, he was denounced for his too worldly view about Jesus’ impending suffering (Matt. 16:22-23; Mk. 8:32-33). If the pope like Peter, were impeccable, then he will not need the gift of infallibility; If he was perfect, he will not need to be protected from error.
What this shows is that the concrete manifestations of the teaching authority of the pope does not always come out in black and white. It is often within the course of time that this becomes clearer on certain teachings. This might often entail constructive criticisms as Paul did to Peter (Gal. 2:11-13). This is because as Pope Benedict XVI remarked when he began his papacy, the pope is not an absolute monarch, but his office exists to serve the truth. Consequently, he needs the constructive dialogue of others to exercise this ministry. But for these criticisms and suggestions to be helpful, they should not be presented in ways that attempt to delegitimise the office of the pope through polemics and the mobilisation of the mass media. We cannot reform the Church by causing scandals. Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, may have been right on some of his criticisms against the pope and the Church in his own time, but the way he went about it left the Church and the history of Christendom more problems than the ones he wanted to address.
The infallibility of the Church and the pope can be seen as God’s insurance of his teachings. We would not need car, property or health insurances if our cars or properties can never be accidented or if we never fall sick. Hence when ever we face difficult moments in the Church where we desire more from those in authority, it is always a time for more prayers. This is not only because God will always set things right, but also that many may not be led astray. The Church as a whole and the office of the papacy is insured from error. But its efficacy at every point in history in carrying out that role such that more persons are served in their journey to salvation often depends on our fidelity. But Christ has also ‘insured’ his Church such that any time that fidelity fails, the Church would not be led astray. Hence the priest says at mass “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of the Church.” If the Church’s teachings cannot be preserved from error, then it means that the wish of Christ for his teachings to lead human beings to salvation will not be achieved. It would also mean that the gate of hell will be able to prevail against the Church. That is, the Church would not be able to teach sure doctrines that will lead people to salvation.
In addition to prayer, every Catholic expresses this fidelity to the Church’s and papal teachings by good doctrinal formation that should be rooted in Tradition. The Catholic faith is not just what we believe today, but what has been believed in the past, and what we are going to handover to the future. The guarantee of what is worthy to be handed over to the future comes from how we have faithfully received what has been given to us in the past. In this way, in responding to the issues of today, we deepen what we have received not only in knowledge, but also by allowing it to guide our lives as we enrich it with the best insights of today. It is for this reason that the saints have always stood out as the best guide in what we believe. Their lives faithfully combine the harmony of doctrine and life. In order to always wade through the competing interpretations of times, let us ask for the guidance of the saints. St. Catherine of Siena called the pope our Sweet Christ on earth even when he criticised Pope Gregory XI for relocating away from Rome to Avignon in France. The exercise of the pope’s office calls for religious obedience of mind and will, which does not necessarily exclude constructive criticism. But the harmony of such constructive criticism with obedience, comparable to Mary’s question at the annunciation on how she can be the Mother of God since she knew no man (Lk. 1:34) often comes from the way we air our reservations, and how we continue to remain loyal and faithful when our criticisms are not accepted. Let us ask Mary the Mother of the Church to help us have a true love and reverence for the pope that flows from love for the Church and love for the truth.
8th September 2018
Dear Friends, I am wishing you a happy Sunday and the peace of Christ.
As we reflect today on Catholic education and its relevance to us, I wish to keep our minds focus on the readings of today which express the spirit of Catholic Education.
Starting with the Opening prayer (Collect) at Mass, some certain words emerged in this wonderful prayer as a reminder of what exactly the Church hope we should reflect on. We have been "WE ARE REDEEMED AND RECEIVED ADOPTION"; "THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST" and "TRUE FREEDOM AND AN EVERLASTING INHERITANCE". The first and last quoted words of prayer finds its fulfilment in second quoted sentence. That is;
"WE ARE REDEEMED AND RECEIVED ADOPTION" and "TRUE FREEDOM AND AN EVERLASTING INHERITANCE" find their purpose and fulfilment in their "BELIEVE IN CHRIST".
In other words, the teachings about Christ we listen to everyday at mass, in school, at home or in the catechumen sessions, are all part an parcel of Catholic education. "The Catholic School" (A Vatican document in 1977. Article 34), stipulates that the "The foundation of all Catholic Education enterprise is Christ". The person of Christ is the perfect human in whose image all who attend catholic schools are being formed. He is most perfect of all creatures; fully human and fully Divine.
Therefore, knowing Him liberates us and sets us free, because we shall no longer be blind, deaf or dumb anymore (as stated in the 1st reading). Knowing Him, breaks the barrier of class distinctions, because man will no longer be judged by what he has but what he is; created in the image and likeness of God. (as it implies from the 2nd reading). Knowing Him, helps us to develop a good conscience and a sound Judgement; "HE HAS DONE ALL THINGS WELL".
Let us praise the Lord as the psalmist encourages today, for all the wisdom gained through faith at HOME, THE CHURCH AND THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, which is what is referred to as "THE CATHOLIC EDUCATION". Let us love it, live it and propagate it, because this is how we become living witnesses and the vehicle of evangelisation in our world.
MAY CHRIST, THE WORD OF GOD BLESS US ALL. AMEN.
11th August 2018
"Father, where are you going without your son? Where are you hastening, O priest, without your deacon? Never before did you offer the holy Sacrifice without assistants. In what way have I displeased you? In what way have you found me unfaithful in my office? Oh, try me again and prove to yourself whether you have chosen an unworthy minister for the service of the Church. So far you have been trusting me with distributing the Blood of the Lord."
This loving complaint of joyous self-oblation Sixtus answered with words of prophecy: "I am not forsaking you, my son; a severer trial is awaiting you for your faith in Christ. The Lord is considerate toward me because I am a weak old man. But for you a most glorious triumph is in store. Cease to weep, for already after three days you will follow me".
28th July 2018
In the First Reading of today’s mass Jeremiah (23:1-6) bemoaned the failure of the priests and prophets to lead the people aright. He expressed his criticism with the metaphor of the shepherd that has allowed the flock to go astray. The shepherds usually ensure that the sheep of his flock moved in a focused direction. As they often tend to wander off, he is constantly on the watch to use his rod to keep them in line. If he does not do this, the sheep of his flock would scatter. They would wander into unfocused and unsafe paths. Such paths would not guarantee their safe pasture, and they could also fall into the hands of wolves and thieves. This could be noticed when shepherds are careless or heartless.
God’s regret which Jeremiah’s criticism expressed is that the priests and prophets, like the bad shepherd, have let his “flock be scattered and go wandering and have not taken care of them.” (Jer. 23:2). Many of them wandered away to foreign countries and no longer had the opportunity to serve God. The sin of the rulers led into exile. But God, through Jeremiah promised a restoration where the remnant of God’s flock will be gathered together and brought back home: “But the remnant of my flock I myself will gather from all the countries where I have dispersed them, and will bring them back to their pastures: they shall be fruitful and increase in numbers.” (Jer. 23:3; Cf. Mic. 2:12)
The second reading gives a clear description of how we can be Good Shepherds, citing Christ as a perfect example. By his death and resurrection, Christ is the shepherd that gathers the scattered children of God together. This is what the High Priest unknowingly prophesied when he suggested that Jesus should be killed for the sake of the people (John 11:49-53). Jesus already showed this disposition to offer himself for the people in the gospel reading of today (Mk. 6:30-34). He showed himself to be the good shepherd that will never allow the flock to wander. Even when him and his disciples had set out time to rest, as the people were coming around, “he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.” (Mk. 6:34). Unlike the shepherds of old who placed themselves and their comfort above that of their flock, Christ the good shepherd was different. He totally gave himself to his flock. This is evident when a shepherd is compassionate and ready always to sacrifice for the sake of those he has been sent to. (This applies to all everyone who leads anywhere, not just priests)
The Church has often been faced with sheep who go astray due to the negligence of shepherds. Today, many in erstwhile Christian countries have abandoned their faith, and sometimes live their lives in a way that shows hatred for their Christian roots. On the other hand, in countries where the faith still blossom, we are often faced with a flourishing religiosity that lacks the power to transform the society from within (This does not rule out the fact that these countries have faithful Christians or shepherds who strive daily). It is not difficult to find religious leaders who want to follow the tide. Often, their motivation is not to preach the truth, but to tell people what they want to hear. Anyone who takes an honest assessment of the religious situation today knows that the minister of God is often under the pressure of relevance. He has to mount the pulpit to dish out the gospel of prosperity or political correctness.
13th July 2018
At the Saturday morning mass (7th July), we celebrated, the HOLY NAME OF JESUS. This feast calls to mind the importance of the name of Jesus; Its power, its relevance and its meaning. Each of us have names, by which we are identified and known. Names given to us by our parents, may have been circumstantial or purposeful. But the reality is that each name has an etymology or root from which it derives its meaning. Therefore, have we taken time out to know the meaning of our names? Have we been living and witnesses in accordance with the meaning of our names, or the circumstances by which we were named.
We are thus faced with two situations; the name of Jesus and our own names. In the gospel readings today (8th July), there were two types of astonishment; the human astonishment and the Divine astonishment. The people were astonished about the Authority of Christ, also the astonishment of Christ himself at the lack of faith of the people. In our world today, the lack of believe in our names astonishes people around us, because our names are meant to identify and define us. We astonish God also when after much verbal and mental beliefs in His name, we fail to show such beliefs practically.
However, the difference in our names and the name of Christ, is the power that the name "Jesus" gives. The name of Jesus brings salvation, reconciliation, forgiveness and it means "he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Jesus lived up to the expectation of His name, as He was called the Logos (the Word) in John 1ff, which means "the Word with power". The "Word" with which the world was created, The "Word" who is the Creator and the "Word" who is with the "Word" Is "Power" and not an ordinary word. This is name I am asking us all to believe, love, adore and propagate to ourselves and the world, so that the world will be astonished by whose Authority we act and live.
6th July 2018
The gospel reading of last Sunday(Mk. 5:21-43) recounts how Jesus raised the daughter of one of the Synagogue official, Jairus, back to life after she was proclaimed dead. Within the same scenario, the gospel also narrates how Jesus cured a woman with a protracted case of haemorrhage: “after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. “ (Mk. 5:26). In these instances Jesus is shown as one who does the impossible. To raise someone from death is not an ordinary feat. Same to the cure of an ailment that has defied known medical treatment. In this way, the evangelist shows how Jesus has come among us to redeem us, to do for us what we cannot ordinarily do for ourselves.
What is often missing in the way some understand and practice Christianity today is a lack of an integral understanding of the mission of Christ. This has often led to mistaking signs for reality. A sign is not the same as reality. It refers you to the reality, but it is not the reality. Signs are usually referential. The miracles of Jesus are signs. They refer us to a reality beyond them, except in the Eucharist where reality is not beyond the sign. If the miracles of Jesus were not signs, then Christ would only offer us a material salvation, a salvation that does not go beyond this world.
24th June 2018
The Spirit does not speak of Himself. blog post
23rd May 2018
Happy Pentecost Sunday to you all!
The biblical account on the Tower of babel (Gen 11 : 1 - 8) speaks of the enthronement of man and the dethronement of God. Man became the ultimate and the concept of God was abhorred. Unfortunately, man is in constant change but God does not change. Therefore the insatiable quest of man keeps him highly ambitious and may never be satisfied since he constantly changes rather than God who never changes but is unfolding to man. Sadly, the language at the tower of babel was that of greed, self absorption and confusion which eventually led to self destruction of the human family.
The first reading (Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11) today reminds us of the different people with different languages, but with one mind gathered together set on God. Thus God remained enthroned and the human person found its gaze on God, thereby using all it possessed (including its means of communication; language) to serve the cause of God and not man. Since man reaches out to God in Hope and faith, God used man's tool of communication (language) to express himself to man. Thus our faith and hope in God makes Him to grant us the different gifts to enhance our faith and reassure our hope in Him. These gifts when used for the glory of God and the benefit of men produces fruits; these fruits strengthen the community of God. And the only way in which God is glorified and man benefits is to LOVE.
We all know that God is love (1 John 4:8), but man cannot know God if he had no faith and hope to enthuse his belief, so that his experience of God will be the experience of love. So "love" helps us to focus not on ourselves but on greater and perfect things. God being the perfection of all things. It is in the love of God and others that our own goodness and peace is found because we seek the common good of all. This is what is called spirituality; the spirituality spoken about in the second reading. (GAL 5:16-25)
This spirituality is the sign of witnessing, because the Spirit of Truth which is granted by the Father will lead us to the complete truth, as Jesus promised us in the Gospel reading. The truth which is our liberation (John 8:32). So the gifts of the Spirit we have received must not be kept indoors. As Catholics we cannot be passive but active with the gifts of the Spirit, which leads to the fruits of the Spirit and our community becomes more vibrant.
12th May 2018
MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
FOR THE 52nd WORLD
The truth will make you free ( Jn 8,32). Fake news and peace journalism
Dear brothers and sisters,
in God's project, human communication is an essential way to live communion. The human being, image and likeness of the Creator, is able to express and share the true, the good, the beautiful. He is able to tell his own experience and the world, and thus build the memory and understanding of events. But man, if he follows his own proud selfishness, can also make a misuse of the right to communicate, as shown from the beginning episodes of the biblical Cain and Abel and the Tower of Babel (see January4.1 to 16; 11,1-9). The alteration of truth is the typical symptom of this distortion, both on an individual and on a collective level. On the contrary, in fidelity to the logic of God, communication becomes a place to express one's responsibility in the search for truth and in the construction of good. Today, in a context of ever faster communication and within a digital system, we are witnessing the phenomenon of "false news", the so-called fake news : it invites us to reflect and has suggested that we dedicate this message to the theme of truth , as my predecessors have already done many times since Paul VI (cf. Message 1972: Social communications at the service of truth ). I would thus like to make a contribution to the common commitment to prevent the spread of false news and to rediscover the value of the journalistic profession and the personal responsibility of each person in communicating the truth.
1. What is false about "false news"?
Fake news is a term discussed and an object of debate. Generally it concerns the diffusion spread online or in the traditional media . This expression therefore refers to unfounded information, based on non-existent or distorted data and aimed at deceiving and even manipulating the reader. Their dissemination can respond to desired objectives, influence policy choices and foster economic revenues.
The effectiveness of fake news is primarily due to their mimetic nature , ie the ability to appear plausible. In the second place, these false but probable news are captious, in the sense that they are able to capture the attention of the recipients, relying on stereotypes and widespread prejudices within a social fabric, exploiting easy and immediate emotions to be aroused, such as anxiety, contempt, anger and frustration. Their diffusion can rely on a manipulative use of social networks and the logics that guarantee its functioning: in this way the contents, even if baseless, gain such visibility that even the authoritative denials can hardly contain the damages.
The difficulty in unveiling and eradicating fake news is also due to the fact that people often interact within homogeneous and impermeable digital environments with divergent perspectives and opinions. The outcome of this logic of disinformationis that, instead of having a healthy comparison with other sources of information, which could positively put prejudices into question and open a constructive dialogue, we risk becoming involuntary actors in spreading biased and unfounded opinions. The drama of disinformation is the discrediting of the other, his representation as an enemy, up to a demonization that can foment conflicts. The false news thus reveal the presence of attitudes that are at the same time intolerant and hypersensitive, with the sole result that arrogance and hatred are likely to spread. This ultimately leads to falsehood.
2. How can we recognize them?
None of us can exonerate ourselves from the responsibility of countering these falsehoods. It is not an easy task, because disinformation is often based on variegated discourse, deliberately evasive and subtly misleading, and sometimes makes use of refined mechanisms. Therefore, educational initiatives are highly praiseworthy that allow learning how to read and evaluate the communicative context, teaching not to be disclosers unaware of disinformation, but actors of its unveiling. The institutional and legal initiatives involved in defining regulations aimed at curbing the phenomenon, as well as those undertaken by the tech and media companies, are equally commendable., to define new criteria for the verification of personal identities that hide behind the millions of digital profiles.
But the prevention and identification of the mechanisms of disinformation also require a deep and careful discernment. In fact, to be unmasked is what could be defined as the "logic of the snake", capable of disguising and biting everywhere. This is the strategy used by the "astute serpent", mentioned in the Book of Genesis , which, at the dawn of humanity, became the author of the first " fake news " (see Gen 3,1-15), which led to the tragic consequences of sin, which then took place in the first fratricide (cf. Gen 4) and in other innumerable forms of evil against God, neighbor, society and creation. The strategy of this skilled "father of lies" ( Jn8.44) is precisely themimesis , a creeping and dangerous seduction that makes its way into the heart of man with false and enticing arguments. In the story of original sin, the tempter, in fact, approaches the woman pretending to be a friend, to be interested in his good, and begins the discourse with a true statement but only in part: "It is true that God said:" Do you have to eat any tree in the garden? "» ( Gen 3 : 1). What God had said to Adam was in fact not to eat of any tree , but only of a tree : "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you must not eat" ( Gen.2:17). The woman, answering, explains it to the snake, but gets attracted by her provocation: "Of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said:" You must not eat it and you must not touch it, otherwise you will die "» ( Gen.3,2). This answer knows legalistic and pessimistic: having given credibility to the forger, letting himself be attracted by his approach to the facts, the woman is led astray. So, first he pays attention to his reassurance: "You will not die at all" (v.4). Then the deconstruction of the tempter takes on a credible appearance: "God knows that on the day when you ate it your eyes would open and you would be like God, knowing good and evil" (v. 5). Finally, we come to discredit the paternal recommendation of God, which was turned to good, to follow the seductive enticement of the enemy: "The woman saw that the tree was good to eat, pleasing to the eye and desirable" (v. 6) ). This biblical episode thus reveals an essential fact for our discourse: no disinformation is harmless; on the contrary, trusting what is false, it produces harmful consequences. Even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects.
In fact, there is our craving at stake. The fake news often become viral, or spread so fast and hardly unstoppable, not because of the logic of sharing that characterizes social media, but rather for their grip on the insatiable craving that easily ignites in the human being. The same economic and opportunistic motivations of disinformation have their roots in the thirst for power, to have and to enjoy, which ultimately makes us victims of a much more tragic imbroglio than any single manifestation: that of evil, which moves from falsehoods into falsehood to steal the freedom of the heart. This is why educating to the truth means educating to discern, to evaluate and to ponder the desires and inclinations that move within us, so as not to find us without good "biting" each temptation.
3. "The truth will make you free" (Jn 8,32)
The continuous contamination with a deceptive language ends up in fact to obscure the person's interiority. Dostoevsky wrote something remarkable in this sense: "Whoever lies to himself and listens to his own lies reaches the point where he can no longer distinguish the truth, neither within himself, nor around him, and so he begins to no longer esteem nor of himself, or of others. Then, since he no longer esteems anyone, he ceases to love, and then, in the absence of love, to feel busy and to distract himself abandons himself to vulgar passions and pleasures, and because of his vices he becomes like a beast; and all this derives from the continuous lying, to others and to oneself "( The brothers Karamazov , II, 2).
How then to defend ourselves? The most radical antidote to the virus of falsehood is to be purified from the truth. In the Christian vision, truth is not only a conceptual reality, which concerns judgment on things, defining them as true or false. The truth is not just bringing to light dark things, "unveiling reality", as the ancient Greek term that designates it, aletheia (from a-lethès , "not hidden"), leads to thinking. Truth has to do with whole life. In the Bible, it carries with it the meanings of support, solidity, trust, as it gives to understand the root ' aman , from which the Amen also comesliturgical. The truth is what you can rely on not to fall. In this relational sense, the only truly reliable and trustworthy, on which one can count, that is "true", is the living God. Here is the affirmation of Jesus: " I am the truth" ( Jn 14 : 6). Man, then, discovers and rediscovers the truth when he experiences it in himself as loyalty and trustworthiness of those who love him. Only this frees man: "Truth will make you free" ( Jn 8:32).
Liberation from falsehood and search for the relationship: these are the two ingredients that can not be missing because our words and our gestures are true, authentic, reliable. To discern the truth it is necessary to examine what accompanies communion and promotes goodness and what, on the contrary, tends to isolate, divide and oppose. Truth, therefore, is not really earned when it is imposed as something extrinsic and impersonal; flows instead from free relations among people, in listening to each other. Moreover, one never stops searching for the truth, because something false can always creep in, even in saying true things. An impeccable argument can indeed rest on undeniable facts, but if it is used to hurt the other and to discredit it in the eyes of others, however correct it appears, it is not inhabited by the truth.
4. Peace is the true news
The best antidote against falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who, free from greed, are ready to listen and through the effort of sincere dialogue let the truth emerge; people who, attracted by the good, take responsibility for the use of language. If the way out of the spread of disinformation is the responsibility, particularly involved is who for office is required to be responsible for informing, or the journalist, guardian of the news . He, in the contemporary world, does not only do a job, but a real mission. It has the task, in the frenzy of the news and in the whirlwind of the scoops , to remember that at the center of the news there is not the speed in giving it and the impact on the audience, but people . Informing is training, it is dealing with people's lives. For this reason the accuracy of the sources and the custody of communication are real processes of development of the good, which generate trust and open ways of communion and peace.
I would therefore like to address an invitation to promote a journalism of peace , not meaning this expression of a "good-natured" journalism, which denies the existence of serious problems and takes on sentimental tones. I mean, on the contrary, a journalism without pretense, hostile to falsehoods, to slogans and to bombastic declarations; a journalism made up of people for people, and which is understood as a service to all people, especially those - the majority in the world - who have no voice; a journalism that does not burn the news, but that engages in the search for the real causes of the conflicts, to favor their understanding from the roots and the overcoming through the start of virtuous processes; a journalism committed to showing alternative solutions toescalation of clamor and verbal violence.
For this reason, inspired by a Franciscan prayer, we could thus turn to Truth in person:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Make us recognize the evil that insinuates itself in a communication that does not create communion.
Make us able to remove the poison from our judgments.
Help us to talk about others as brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; let our words be the seeds of good for the world:
where there is noise, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us bring sharing;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us ask true questions;
where there is prejudice, let us arouse trust;
where there is aggression, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.
© Copyright - Vatican Publishing Library
8th May 2018
Our Lord in the gospel reading of today called his disciples friends (John 15:9-17). He contrasted this designation of friendship with that of a servant. He will not call his disciple servants because, as he says, “I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.” (John 15:15). This kind of knowledge which the disciples have makes them unlike servants “because a servant does not know his master’s business.” (John 15:15).
Jesus calls us friends. We are friends of God! Some people measure their importance by the kind of friends they have. Often a person is said to be important if he has friends in high places or among people of means and influence. If we can gain importance from ephemeral and passing states of things, how much more should we rejoice in the fact that Jesus calls us his friends.
Friendship among persons require at least two conditions. The first is a certain form of equality or commonality, and secondly contact, and in fact frequent contact. If there is no equality, friendship would be difficult. In this case it might be more appropriate to talk of one being a servant of another. If Jesus is God, how can we have equality with God? But by virtue of his incarnation, Jesus is also man. His humanity makes us have some form of equality with God. Christ has made us friends of God.
21st April 2018
Vocations Sunday also known as Good Shepherd Sunday is a day to pray for shepherds who will take care of the sheep and not abandon them. To deepen our sense of this intention, we would need to further consider what our Lord means by a Good Shepherd in contrast to a hired man, or one who takes on the name of a shepherd, but exercises it only as a hired man. In this regard, let us appeal to some points from Augustine’s Sermon on Pastors which is usually reproduced in the Office of Readings during the Third and Fourth Week of September.
Jesus’ contrast between the good shepherd and the hired man can be recast in Augustine’s contrast between the pastor who feeds the sheep and the one who uses the sheep to feed himself. Augustine employs the image of milk and wool to drive home his point. Milk is the sustenance the pastor receives from the flock, and wool is the honour he gets from them. The pastor needs both from the flock, but he cannot set them as his goal, or allow his desire for these to keep him away from his primary function of guiding the sheep.
Augustine refers to the example of Paul in his Letter to the Galatians when Paul praised the Galatians for their kindness towards him, but he did not fail to rebuke them when necessary nor did he becoming self-seeking (Gal. 4:14-16): “Paul received the sheep’s milk, as we heard before, and he received their wool to clothe him, but he did not neglect the care of his flock. He did not seek his own interests but those of Jesus Christ.”
Furthermore, Augustine speaks about the motive that must guide the shepherd in the way he seeks to satisfy his needs from his sheep: “So the means of living must be offered only as an act of charity and accepted only out of necessity. The Gospel must not be like something that is bought and sold, the price being the preachers’ livelihood. If you do sell it like that then you are cheapening a thing of great value. Accept the relief of your wants from the people, but receive the reward of your preaching from the Lord; for it is not right for the people to reward their pastors for serving them in the gospel of love. Let the pastors look for reward from the same source that the people look to for salvation.”
16th April 2018
Being GOOD is an effort in reaching out to God but may not be adequate. There is the need to step into Divine actions, by reading sacred scripture, studying it, loving it and living it, thus delving into the spirituality of our Faith which gives fragrance to our GOOD deeds. In this way we become WITNESSES of God's love, His forgiveness and mercy. Invariably, we begin to live the life of the RESURRECTION. May Christ support our Humanity with His Divinity, so that our Human nature could cooperate with His Divine nature and understand His will for mankind.