Living the Word part 2, 12 Sunday of Ordinary Time

Each week I prepare a set of reflective questions for the parish based on the Gospel. Beginning on the Monday, I pray, read and reflect on God’s Word for the coming Sunday.

Sometimes the questions are obvious and are formed with little effort, sometimes they take longer, resulting in me sending them to the parish secretary later than either of us would like!

Last week, in the light of recent events in London the Gospel was tough reading.

At Mass on Sunday we were joined by Jessica’s family and on hearing the priest reading the Gospel, I realised that I was writing not only for those in the parish but particularly for her family. Jessica has been missing since the Grenfell Tower fire on 14th June. Her aunt is a member of our faith community at Corpus Christi, Brixton, and Mass was being offered for their intentions.

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I was asked to proclaim the first Reading…Jessica’s mother sat in front of me and I found myself reading to her ‘But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion’ willing her to to take them to heart.

We can not help but wonder where is God when terrible things happen and while we know that God is right there with us, in our pain, our grief, our bewilderment, we also don’t know that too. We need to be reminded, by those who hold us in our grief, those who love us, those who pray with and for us.

Only then can we hear the opening words of the Gospel with any hope of understanding how to…’Fear no one’. 

And there is hope too in the words that follow ‘Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.’ Those responsible for the fire will be found out, they will be found wanting and justice will prevail, and hopefully not only at the end of time!

Yet for Jessica’s family I can only imagine how hollow the next part of the Gospel must have sounded: ‘ do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;’.

Though missing we hold the hope that Jessica will be found because we know nothing is impossible to God. We also know that death is not the end, but it sure feels like it at the time.

When I have grieved over the death of a loved one I was broken and I was afraid, afraid that I would not be whole again. In my grief, sometimes the promise of heaven was not enough. Others held that reality for me until my grief allowed me to hold it for myself.

I hope that Jessica’s family know that we hold that reality for them and will continue to do so for Jessica is ‘worth more than many sparrows.’ 

The Gospel holds no magic formulae for Jessica’s family, but it does offer hope.

I don’t know why this happened and the Gospel offers no answers. It does not make sense, it is not fair, it is not right.

The only thing I can say with certainty is that God is there in the midst of it, Emmanuel lifts His voice with ours when we rail and shout at the unfairness, the utter unfairness of what has happened.

Had I been preparing Sunday’s homily that is what I would have said. I hope that all of you find some solace and comfort from these reflections. It was a privilege to worship and pray with you on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

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Living the Word in the 12th Week of Ordinary Time

Living the Word this week…
In the light of recent events how do you respond to Jesus’ words?

What are you being invited to speak in the light and proclaim from the housetops?

How will you acknowledge Christ to those you encounter?

Children
How does it feel to know that God knows you so well that He knows every hair on your head?
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You are special to God like no one else. How does this help you to love yourself?
How might you talk to your friends about Jesus?
Family
We all have secrets, skeletons in the cupboard, what drives that secrecy?
Can you bring them before the Lord responding to the invitation to ‘Fear no one’?
How might you rejoice in how much you are loved and known by the Lord?
Prayer inspired by Psalm 130 adapted from Christian Aid.

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear our voices!
Above the sound of terror and the weeping of those bereaved,
hear our earnest prayers!
We look on in horror at children killed, homes and schools hit,
smoking rubble.

We listen in fear to voices speaking defiance,
vowing revenge, claiming violence as a solution.
We mourn with
all who have lost loved ones,
all who have everything,
all who will lie down in fear this night.

We wait for the Lord, our souls wait,
and only in the Prince of Peace can we hope;
our souls wait for the Lord,
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch in fear for what destruction the morning’s light will show.

May the horrors of these days give fresh determination to the peacemakers.
And may we see conflict here no more. Amen

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When there are no words…

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How do we respond when our vocabulary runs dry? Words such as awful, atrocious, terrible, horrific, needless, senseless have littered our media, both public and social since March. And yes I am aware of the irony that insists on using words to express myself.

I have posted ‘There are no words’ on face book after Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and on the wall of a friend whose niece is still missing after the fire in Grenfell Tower. This morning I awoke once more to the attack on a Mosque in Finsbury Park.

What began slowly has escalated to the point where I wonder just how many more mornings I can awake to another tragedy, to another senseless death or injury of innocent people going about with the intention of living another day.

My thoughts move on to those who live in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Turkey, South Sudan, the Yemen, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines to name but a few, for whom this is a daily reality, and I am reminded to be thankful once more.

We are an Easter people – I am called to be a sign of the Resurrection in the world today. Resurrection is to be fully alive, to share in the love of the Triune God.

In the weeks leading up to today I could have been forgiven for beginning to doubt the reality of this. I have never felt less like an Easter people in my life. I know God is here with us, and yet I want to shout long side Thomas ‘Show me’.

Yet The Joy of the Gospel  of the Gospel tells us that “However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads … beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history … Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.” 276

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, talks of our relationship with the Living Lord making a difference in the world today.

It is because of our relationship, this invitation to share in God’s love that we are able to respond to the Spirit when she says ‘I tell you get up’.

 

This good news that fills us with joy is not something that is simply talked about, it is a way of living. If we are to live as Easter people, people who believe in the Resurrection, then sharing the love of God is not an option. We are called to bring the about the Kingdom on earth. We are to share the glimpses of heaven with those we meet.

In Paul Valelly’s book ‘Untying the Knots ‘ Pope Francis says:

“Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say.

It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion and their proposals.

Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a pre-emptive condemnation.

To dialogue, one must know how to lower the defences, to open the doors of one’s home and to offer warmth.”

We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone. It is about agreeing to live together, a social and cultural pact. (p.239)

And so when there are no words I turn to the Gospels and prayer. As a woman of faith I know that the Spirit prays in me when I do not know how.

I pray for those affected, that they may know that God is with them in their suffering, their loss, their fear, their anger.

I pray for those who see violence and greed as a legitimate way to live may have their hearts changed.

I pray for those who hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s urging ‘I tell you get up’ and be the Good News that their actions may inspire others, especially me.

I pray for those who who are paralysed by grief that they may see glimpses of heaven and find God is there with them.

I pray for those who, day after day, work to keep us safe, that they may know our gratitude.

I pray for those who make future decisions that whatever their faith, they may be guided by a common concern for the dignity of all.

I pray for those building bridges in the face of opposition and cynicism may never lose heart.

I pray for those who when words run dry may take comfort…

In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express.  And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will.’ (Romans 8 26-27)