Solemnity of Christ the King (B)

National Youth Sunday

On this, the last Sunday of the Church’s year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.  It’s also National Youth Sunday when we pray especially for our children and young people.  This year, I wanted to write to our young parishioners – particularly those who join us for Mass each week – to say ‘thank you’.  Here is the letter I have written and will share during the Homily this weekend.

Dear Young People,

On this National Youth Sunday, I want to speak to you personally.

The first thing I want to say to you is:  ‘Thank you’.  Thank you for the way you come and join us for Sunday Mass.  Whether you realise it or not, it really means a lot to the rest of us gathered here.  We know that it’s not always easy for you to come to Mass – you may find it boring sometimes and wish you were somewhere else; you may want to stay in bed on Sunday morning or go out with your friends; you may be worried about your peers making fun of you for coming to church, even calling you names.  Despite all this, you’re here.  Thank you.  Thank you for the sacrifices you make to be here.

You may come to Mass because your parents ask you to come.  It is a beautiful thing to come to Mass because someone else asks you to come with them.  It may not feel like a beautiful thing when other things tug for your attention, but putting yourself out for someone else is a beautiful thing to do.  It says a lot about the kind of person you are.

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You may come to Mass because that’s what your family does.  You may feel that it’s not a big deal.  But in today’s world it is a big deal because, as you and I know, a lot of Catholics no longer keep Sunday special or come to celebrate the eucharist as our Lord asks us to do.  You are being what Pope Francis describes as “counter cultural” – going against the tide to do something for God and his people, the Church.  In doing so, you set a good example.  You are, to quote last Sunday’s First Reading, like “bright stars” shining in a world that can be dark and hard, confusing and selfish.

Some of you have felt able to help out at Sunday Mass too, whether that’s as an altar server or reader, collector or ringing the bell, carrying the gifts of bread and wine or in other ways.  Our celebrations of Sunday Mass would be poorer without you because suddenly we would struggle to find people for all these important ministries.  And they are important.  Lots of people, young and older, work together to make the Mass happen, as it were.  So thank you for helping us to celebrate and to celebrate as best we can as a community.  When you volunteer to help, or when you respond to a plea from me, you encourage others to step forward and help as well.

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Being a teenager is not always easy.  We all know that because we’ve all been teenagers.  There’s a lot on your plate in the teenage years.  Suddenly, your hair becomes important and you have to spend a lot of time getting it right!  Friends become more important in your life.  You have to learn to balance doing what your parents ask of you and what you want to do yourself.  There are many other challenges too – how you fit in at school, discovering you have opinions that may be different to your parents’ opinions or those of your friends, the surge of new emotions and confusing moods, and of course finding time to play Fortnite!  But, jokes aside, we know the teenage years are not always easy because we’ve been there too.  And that gives us a deep respect for you because, despite all that’s going on in your lives, we see you here trying to develop a relationship with God and his people, the Church – a relationship you may find difficult to understand and may not always be particularly attractive.  So, as they say:  “Respect!”

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A few weeks ago, there was a big meeting of bishops and young people in Rome.  Pope Francis wanted to hear what young people really think about the Church.  He wanted to hear their gripes as well as their ideas.  Our Archbishop wants to do the same.  He has called a similar meeting for everyone in the Archdiocese in October 2020 called a Synod.  Part of the preparation for that big meeting is genuinely listening to each other.  It could be easy for young people to get missed out of this listening because most of us grown ups have probably got a lot to say!  But your voice is equally, if not more important to hear, not only because you will be around long after we’re gone, but also because you see things in new and different ways to us.  So I’m going to provide opportunities for us to meet in the New Year so that you can have your say.  I hope you’ll come and meet with me and our Parish Member for the Synod to share your thoughts and ideas about the Church.  This is so important if we’re going to become the Church Jesus wants us to be.  The Holy Spirit is speaking to us through you too!

Finally, thank you for being you!  In the words of St Paul, “You are God’s work of art” (cf. Ephesians 2: 10).  God loves you and will always be with you as your friend and companion.  And no matter what happens, even during those moments we all have when we mess up or make mistakes, God will always be there smiling upon you with his love and forgiveness.

May God bless you and keep you close to himself.

Fr Dave


33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 13: 24-32)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.

‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’

From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

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Reflection

As we hasten towards the end of the Church’s year, the readings focus on the end of time when Christ will come again and gather us all into his kingdom.  This gathering into his kingdom is the task of every Christian.  People are attracted to Christ and his way of love when we, his followers, show his welcome, his love, his compassion and his mercy.

On this World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis writes: “Very often the poor hear voices scolding them, telling them to be quiet and to put up with their lot. These voices are harsh, often due to fear of the poor, who are considered not only destitute but also a source of insecurity and unrest, an unwelcome distraction from life as usual and needing to be rejected and kept afar. We tend to create a distance between the poor and the rich, without realising that in this way we are distancing ourselves from the Lord Jesus, who does not reject the poor, but calls them to himself and comforts them.”

In the run up to Christmas, how can we show the face of Christ to the poor in our own communities?

Fr Dave

Prayer

God of Justice,
open our eyes
to see you in the face of the poor.
Open our ears
to hear you in the cries of the exploited.
Open our mouths
to defend you in the public squares
as well as in private deeds.
Remind us that what we do to the least,
we do to you.
Amen.


32nd Sunday of Ordinary time (B)

REMEMBRANCE DAY

Today is Remembrance Day.  This year, we mark the end of the First World War one hundred years ago.  We keep silence with the rest of the nation at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  As we do so, let’s remember and pray for all those who lost their lives in war and armed conflict.

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
Amen.

Prayer

Father of all, look with love on all your people, living and departed.

On this day, we pray especially for all who suffered during the First World War – those who were killed and those who returned scarred by warfare, those who waited anxiously at home, and those who returned wounded and disillusioned; those who mourned, and those communities that were diminished and suffered loss.

We remember too those who acted with kindly compassion, those who bravely risked their own lives for their comrades, and those who in the aftermath of war, worked tirelessly for a more peaceful world.

And as we remember them, remember us, O Lord: grant us peace in our time and a longing for the day when people of every language, race and nation will be brought into the unity of Christ’s kingdom.

We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

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Commitment to Peace

The ‘Peace Prayer’, often attributed to St Francis, was promoted by Pope Benedict XV in January 1916.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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After Mass today, parishioners are invited to a ‘Peace Party’ in St Benedict’s Parish Centre.

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Many thanks to Ruth Ramsay for the photographs.

 


31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (Mark 12: 28-34)

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

From The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

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Reflection

In replying to the scribe, Jesus quotes the great creed of the Jewish people – the Shema – found in the book of Deuteronomy (6: 4) which is the First Reading given to us today:  “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The Shema is at the heart of Jewish daily prayer, just as the ‘Our Father’ is at the heart of Christian prayer. Jewish people recite the Shema twice each day – once in the morning and once in the evening. They are the first words a Jewish person learns to speak and the last words uttered at death.

To this, Jesus adds a second commandment quoting the book of Leviticus (19: 18):  “You must love your neighbour as yourself”.

Jesus teaches us that we love God by loving other people.  This is at the heart of being a Christian.  As the hymn goes, “And they’ll know we’re are Christians by our love.”

Fr Dave

Prayer

Lord our God,
all true love comes from you and leads to you.
You have committed yourself to us
in a covenant of lasting love
in the person of Jesus Christ.
Help us to respond to your love
and to live your commandments,
not as laws forced on us,
but as opportunities to love you
and your people, our brothers and sisters.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted from Bible Claret © 2016 Bibleclaret. All Rights Reserved.