Weaving the Word – 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Yr A

Hearing the same story from different writers is always illuminating as we can see from this week’s account from John’s Gospel of the baptism of Jesus.

(try as I might I have been unable to source this picture. If you are the artist or know who the artist is please message me and I will reference them.)

Even after reading, praying and rereading this account in preparation for the entry to the parish newsletter, I was still taken aback by the first two words proclaimed by our priest:

‘Seeing Jesus…’ my concentration lost and my mind quickly jumping from thought to thought, I tried to bring myself back to the present and catch up with the words of the Gospel.

‘I did not know Him…’ whoa, what? My mind took off again – but you saw Him, He is your cousin, you leapt in the womb at the Visitation, you know He is greater than you, that He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. You claim you are not worthy to carry His sandals and yet you do not know Him?

Throughout the rest of Mass these two phrases began to merge together in a way that they had not previously, despite all my working with the text during the week.

How often do I see Jesus in my day? He is there of course in every encounter, every person, every tweeter and face book poster. Yet how easy it is to forget, to my shame it is often not His presence that influences the way I respond to others.

It is easier for me to recognise Jesus in the homeless man that sits outside my local supermarket or those I say hello to on my walk to the station. It is easier to see Jesus in the charity appeals for the poor, the refugee, the sick and the prisoner.

But in all honesty, it is more difficult to remember to see Jesus in those who I know and know well and although I have no idea why it might have something to do with familiarity and sameness. Most of us are friends with those who hold similar values and ideas as ourselves. The Jesus I once saw in them has become comfortable and no longer challenges me to go deeper. Might it be that for me familiarity really has bred contempt?

John the Baptist saw Jesus but also declared ‘I do not know Him’. The more I ponder these words, the more I realise the truth of them. I too see Jesus yet do I know him? Of course one can never fully know the second person of the Trinity, the son of God fully human and fully Divine while on earth. But that must not prevent me from getting to know Him and recognise Him as our personal Lord and Saviour. He calls us into relationship, and we all know that no nourishing relationship is static.

The more I believe I know Jesus, the less I realise I know Him, and that, of course, is the reality of Mystery.

I want to rekindle my desire for the Lord, to want to know Him more. And for that I need to sharpen my focus to better see Jesus, to spend time with Scripture to better know Jesus, and pray (as I can not as I can’t) to better deepen my relationship with Jesus.

 Namaste

Reflection Points

Twice we hear John the Baptist say ‘I did not know Him …’
Where are you surprised by what you know and do not know about Jesus?
How does this enable you to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ?
Where are you aware of the presence of the Spirit at work in your life this week?


For Children
What do you know about your friends?
How do you get to know them?
Do you ever think of Jesus as your friend?
How can you get to know Him better this week?


For Families
Today is Peace Sunday. Find out about
Pax Christi and see if there is any way you can become
involved in their work http://paxchristi.org.uk


Pax Christi’s Prayer for Peace Sunday
Loving God of peace,
Strengthen my determination to work
for a world of peace and justice;
My conviction that, whatever our
nationality or race, we are all global
citizens, one in Christ;
My courage to challenge the powerful
with the values of the gospel;
My commitment to find nonviolent
ways of resolving conflict—personal,
local, national and international;
My efforts to forgive injuries and to
love those I find it hard to love.
Amen.

 

 

Weaving the Word: 3rd Sunday Advent Year A

Now that the dust has settled (here in the UK at least) I find myself reflecting on Gaudete Sunday.

This week the church calls us to rejoice and to keep on keeping on.
And yet for many (me included) will be finding it difficult to accept that invitation and to ponder on the point of carrying on.

But as a follower of Christ, a lover of Jesus, a beloved of God, baptised by fire and water full of the Spirit then accept it I must. Indeed I already have.
Despite my moments of despondency I know deep down that my Hope is in the Lord and I can Rejoice in God my Saviour.

The blush of a pink rose rather than deep purple,                                                            my yes to the Gospel,                                                                                                                to the Eucharist,                                                                                                                          to being dismissed                                                                                                                      to building the Kingdom,                                                                                                            to live by Gospel values                                                                                                    leads me to seek a deeper joy and                                                                                   tells of a hope yet to come.

I will rejoice in the small acts of kindness I see                                                                  and take time to thank the Lord for them.
I will rejoice in the many ways to make a difference                                                        and find inspiration to do likewise.
I will rejoice in the love of my friends whose laughter lightens my load                      and I am strengthened to help others carry their’s.
I will rejoice in the warmth and comfort of my family                                                    and I am encouraged to extend that welcome to others.

When I rejoice in all this (and so much more) then I know that there is hope. And if we all remember to be grateful, to find inspiration, to aid others and to extend a welcome then we will show the works of the Lord and bring His hope to the world.

And if that weren’t enough the O Antiphons begin today!

Reflection Points
Where do you hear and see the work of the Lord?
In what ways do your encounters offer you a sense of healing?
What do you notice about the way Jesus answers John’s question?

For Children
John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary went to visit her. He was Jesus’ cousin and in last week’s Gospel he baptised Him in the river Jordan.
Why do you think he told his disciples to ask Jesus if ‘He was the One?’
If you were Jesus’ messenger today what would you tell people about Him?

For Families
What one thing could you all do to make the world a better place?
Who do you identify as prophets in today’s world?
How can you encourage one another to speak truth to power?

Prayer
Lord of our everlasting joy and true hope – 
Strengthen us to do Your work
Give us a heart with a joyful song
that we may rejoice in building Your Kingdom.
Amen

 

Are You the One?

Ordinary time…again

I have resolved to start blogging again and to try to keep it going for a little longer this time! Therefore I offer once again this post from last year to start me off…

This is my daughter, the beloved, my favour rests on  you.

And with that wonderfully scary affirmation Ordinary Time begins.

I love Ordinary Time. There is a comfort in the rhythm, the same-ness; time to go deeper, to bed down, once more in routine; seeing God in the everyday, a time to hone our Sacramental Imagination.

Ordinary Time is where we live who we are, a time to live baptismally. This week I came across the following poem (with my slight adaptation!) which I loved immediately. I loved the way it challenged me to move out of Christmas, not leaving it behind but taking it with me.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:                                                                                 

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.

You are my daughter, my beloved, on whom my favour rests.

How can I not work for the Kingdom knowing that? How can my baptism be in the past, something that was done to me when I was a baby?

When the Godparents have returned home,

When the white robe has been cleaned and put away

When the candle is back in its box,

The work of baptism begins:

It  is said that Martin Luther, every morning on waking said ‘I am baptised’. When I imagine this he says it incredulously for when we begin to recognise what it means to be baptised it is awe filled. We  have been named for Christ, invited to to work for Him in bringing about the Kingdom because

Rebekah, you are mine, whom I love beyond measure and my favour* rests on you.

Happy Ordinary Time everyone.

Poem: Dr. Howard Thurman was an influential author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 20 books, and in 1944 helped found the first racially integrated, multicultural church in the United States.

*Some translations read ‘well pleased’ for favour. I prefer favour to ‘well pleased’, if God is well pleased, God can also be not well pleased. God’s pleasure is somehow to do with me. Whereas God’s favour is freely given, to all and that includes me regardless of what I do.

Picture by HeQi

One year in

Last Saturday I opened the first diocesan meeting held by A Call to Action (ACTA) in the Archdiocese of Southwark.

I began by talking of Vatican II and its wonderful documents. These documents are our most authoritative teachings. They are beautifully written, every line carefully crafted often to say something new, or to shine a light in a new way. Yes, sometimes you will find contradictions in the texts, but that is ok.

What I hadn’t registered was that this week it had been a year since Benedict XVI’s resignation. And whether we like it or not things have changed. There is a new focus which invites us to live out our baptismal mission in a renewed way.

It might be easy to assume that the documents of Vatican 2 came out of nowhere. Whilst that is true of the invocation of the Council, the shift in thinking that produced the main documents had been taking shape for many years before that. Take for example, Dei Verbum. DV invited us to place Scripture at the heart of our Mass and our lives. It was of equal importance to the Eucharist. Furthermore Scripture was to be read and studied by the laity. This last reform echoed the encyclical of Pope Pius XII in 1943. Many other reforms can trace can be found to begin many many years before John XXIII asked for the windows to be opened.

The tectonic plates had begun to shift and eventually surface cracked. The renewal and reforms of Vatican II were just waiting to happen.

The same is true of ACTA. This meeting is the result of years of courageous conversations, years of people yearning to live-out the ecclesiology of Vatican II, years of believing there has to be a better way, years of loving the church and brave enough to make a mark in the sand.

There is a story told of the early Christian communities. Christians; a hunted and persecuted people could trust only those known to them. On encountering a stranger they would idly draw an arc in the sand whilst passing the time of day. If the stranger recognised this they too would draw an arc in the ground with their stick beginning at the end of the first line and intersecting it near the end:

Fish 2 (349x145)

That is what the priests in Ireland did when they began to talk about their disillusionment. It is what the Priests did in Austria too. And it is what the group of priests here in England and Wales did before they wrote to the Tablet in June 2012. The tectonic plates were shifting. They left their mark in the sand.

Before the letter in the Tablet, I had followed the other groups with interest and just after Easter I said to my boss at the time, when will it be our turn? When will we be able to stand up and say there are things that are not right and more importantly be HEARD? Two months later ACTA was born.

There followed a meeting at Heythrop where so many people turned up the meeting had to be moved across the road. And from that meeting ACTA had its second annual meeting last September with the third already booked. Every diocese in England and Wales has an active group meeting and having those courageous conversations.

The groups of priests in Ireland and Austria and ACTA have many things in common but for me the most important one is that we all love the Church. We love it deeply. If we didn’t we would just walk away – as if that is even possible, (that’s the content for a whole other blog). And when we act we do so out of this great love.

There is another group who also act out of a place of love. There are those who believe, that to seek to change any part of the Church, to draw a line in the sand, is to be disobedient to the hierarchy, that those of us here are dissenters, that we are seeking to harm the church, a church that they love too.

No wonder they find it difficult to countenance what we are about.

In the 1970’a Cardinal Bernardin spoke out about the polarisation he was witnessing and invited all parties to dialogue with him and one another. He noted that there was a certain ‘mean spiritedness’ which to him was incongruent with Gospel values.

We must remember that we are all the People of God.

One of ACTA’s main aims is to provide a safe space where courageous conversations, dialogue, can take place. In fact under we carried the strap-line ACTA: a time for dialogue. On the website it says ACTA: promoting dialogue in the Church.

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.”

Since April 2013, a new wind had swept through the church. True, Pope Francis has not made any sweeping doctrinal changes. I am not sure it was realistic for us to even think he might. But for me this new wind has changed things, it allows the questions to be asked, it allows for the courageous conversations to be spoken. It invites dialogue.

And this can now happen in the open, bubbling up from deep within, at the surface (and service) of the Church.

actalogo6

Ordinary time

This is my daughter, the beloved, my favour rests on  you.

And with that wonderfully scary affirmation Ordinary Time begins.

I love Ordinary Time. There is a comfort in the rhythm, the same-ness; time to go deeper, to bed down, once more in routine; seeing God in the everyday, a time to hone our Sacramental Imagination.

Ordinary Time is where we live who we are, a time to live baptismally. This week I came across the following poem (with my slight adaptation!) which I loved immediately. I loved the way it challenged me to move out of Christmas, not leaving it behind but taking it with me.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:                                                                                 

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.

You are my daughter, my beloved, on whom my favour rests.

How can I not work for the Kingdom knowing that? How can my baptism be in the past, something that was done to me when I was a baby?

When the Godparents have returned home,

When the white robe has been cleaned and put away

When the candle is back in its box,

The work of baptism begins:

It  is said that Martin Luther, every morning on waking said ‘I am baptised’. When I imagine this he says it incredulously for when we begin to recognise what it means to be baptised it is awe filled. We  have been named for Christ, invited to to work for Him in bringing about the Kingdom because

Rebekah, you are mine, whom I love beyond measure and my favour* rests on you.

Happy Ordinary Time everyone.

Poem: Dr. Howard Thurman was an influential author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 20 books, and in 1944 helped found the first racially integrated, multicultural church in the United States.

*Some translations read ‘well pleased’ for favour. I prefer favour to ‘well pleased’, if God is well pleased, God can also be not well pleased. God’s pleasure is somehow to do with me. Whereas God’s favour is freely given, to all and that includes me regardless of what I do.

Picture by HeQi