7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 5: 38-48)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

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Thought

Today’s Gospel follows on from last week’s passage and concludes our reading of the Sermon of the Mount (for now anyway).

Jesus asks us to go beyond the letter of the law.  He says:  “You have learnt how it was said… but I say this to you…”  In short, Jesus is asking us to learn to love like he loves.

This is not always easy for us, especially when someone has hurt us badly, or gossiped about us, or said something unkind to us, and so on.  Instead of trying to get our own back or hating the other, Jesus asks us to try and forgive.  Again, this is not always easy, and sometimes it can feel impossible.

In these times, we need to go to our Lord and ask him to help us and guide us – and he will.  In time, we will notice our hearts begin to soften – especially if we’ve talked about our anger and hurt to a trusted friend; our thoughts begin to entertain the possibility of reaching out to the other person, or forgiving them in our hearts if it’s not possible or desirable to get in touch with a particular person.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  God’s Spirit is at work in us and will bring us to peace and healing if we let him.  But it takes time and we have to be careful not to shut ourselves off from the possibilities that God can bring in a particular situation.

So what Jesus is asking of us is not impossible.

Bishop Seamus Cunningham, the emeritus Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle, once offered a helpful prayer for difficulties in relationships.  He said:  “May the Christ in me recognise the Christ in them, and may the Christ in them recognise the Christ in me.”  I’ve found that a very powerful prayer over the years.

Fr Dave

Prayer

Compassionate God and Father,
you are kind to the ungrateful,
merciful even to the wicked.
Pour out your love upon us,
that with good and generous hearts
we may keep from judging others
and learn your way of compassion and love.
Through Christ our Lord.

SYNOD 2020

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Until Sunday 15 March, we are invited to reflect and submit proposals on the fourth and final Synod Theme, “Building community, nurturing belonging”.  There are a number of ways we can do this:

1)  There will be a Meeting for all the Parishes in Warrington Pastoral Area on Tuesday 3 March, either at 1.00 pm or at 7.00 pm in St Joseph’s, Penketh.

2)  There will be Thoughts & Reflections in the newsletter each week which will help us to reflect on the theme and suggest proposals for action.

3)  There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection led by Fr Chris Thomas and Sr Moira Meeghan, 7.30 – 9.00 pm, on Tuesday 27 February at St Joseph’s, Crow Orchard Road, Wrightington WN6 9PA and on Wednesday 4 March at Our Lady Help of Christians, Portico L34 2QT.

4)  You can visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk

In this Synod Theme, we reflect on what it means to be a Church of welcome and discipleship.

The Prophetic Community

I believe that the way ahead, the only way,
lies through our making ourselves what we ought to be.
When our sons and daughters, our grandsons and
Granddaughters can look at the Catholic Church and say:
‘There is a community of reasonable and sensible people
who actually believe in this person called Jesus Christ
and his resurrection;
there is a community which is not obsessed with itself
but puts itself at the service of humanity;
there is a community in which people pull together;
there is a community which has fire in its belly about justice:
doesn’t mind rattling the bars of people’s cages;
there is a community which clearly possesses a treasure,
a hidden treasure which makes its members happy.’
When our children and grandchildren can look at us
and say that about us, they will also want to say:
‘And that is the community I wish to belong to.’

Monsignor Tony Philpot


6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 5: 20-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’

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Prayer

I come slowly to this time of prayer.  However the day has been, I take my time to settle and become still…
I become aware of the presence of Jesus, the teacher, and I ready myself to listen to him…
I ask that his Spirit might open my heart to his call to greater virtue…

I read the Gospel slowly…

Perhaps I am struck by Jesus saying ‘you may have learnt something in the past, but now I am saying this to you’ –  i.e. something very new.  In what way is his teaching different?
Perhaps I imagine Jesus speaking to me, entrusting me with his teaching, encouraging me to go deeper with him.
I pause to ponder…

I may well be able to recall occasions when I have fallen far short of Jesus’s teaching. How do I feel about this? …
Who or what sustains me when I feel dragged down into despondency? …
As I pause to notice what is going on within me, I pray for the grace to remember that Jesus continues to call me, inviting me to trust in his love.

I look to Jesus, again.
Perhaps I wonder at how he approaches life – with integrity, transparency, clarity.

I end, when ready, by asking him to be with me in the decisions of the coming week, helping me to be an honest, trustworthy and dependable presence for those around me.
Glory be…

(From Prego – St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham)

SYNOD 2020

theme4

From today until Sunday 15 March, we are invited to reflect and submit proposals on the fourth and final Synod Theme, “Building community, nurturing belonging”.  There are a number of ways we can do this:

1)  There will be a Meeting for all the Parishes in Warrington Pastoral Area on Tuesday 3 March, either at 1.00 pm or at 7.00 pm in St Joseph’s, Penketh.

2)  There will be Thoughts & Reflections in the newsletter each week which will help us to reflect on the theme and suggest proposals for action.

3)  There will be an Evening of Prayer & Reflection led by Fr Chris Thomas and Sr Moira Meeghan, 7.30 – 9.00 pm, on Tuesday 27 February at St Joseph’s, Crow Orchard Road, Wrightington WN6 9PA and on Wednesday 4 March at Our Lady Help of Christians, Portico L34 2QT.

4)  You can visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk

In this Synod Theme, we reflect on what it means to be a Church of welcome and discipleship.

What people said in the Listening Sessions:

“Belonging to a parish community is good for children and families”
“Find ways of being more inclusive”
“Children should feel safe and loved in our Church”
“Divisions leave people feeling marginalised and pushed to the fringes”
“The Church is vital in welcoming and valuing the weak and the vulnerable”
“Young people should feel fully part of the community”
“Housebound and infirm should still feel part of our communities”
And much more!

In becoming the Church that God is calling us to be:

How do we ensure our parishes are inclusive?
How do we hand on our faith?
How can we support the home, school, parish partnership?
How do we reach out to those who feel excluded, on the margins, weak, or vulnerable?
How do our parishes grow in love for God and neighbour?
How could parishes work together?


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Gospel  (Matthew 5: 13-16)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

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Reflection

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

Perhaps you are familiar with this popular hymn. It is often used in children’s liturgies, and was in fact written as a gospel song for children in the 1920s. It later became something of an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, associated in particular with civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer. The song was seen as a way of expressing unity, as people fought for equal rights and freedom.

‘This Little Light of Mine’ is based on the words of Matthew’s Gospel that we hear today: ‘No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub… your light must shine in the sight of men.’ Without the light of those who were part of the civil rights movement, our world would be a very different place. There are good people everywhere who continue to fight for justice and freedom, who use their ‘light’ to help others and make sure people are treated fairly and with dignity – both those who campaign and speak out about injustice, and the people on the ground who support the sick, the homeless, refugees and others experiencing difficulties. Witnessing so much suffering, it might be tempting for these ‘people of light’ to become disheartened, but they carry on, using their compassion and skills to bring about change, shining their light in the darkness.

As followers of Christ, we are called to light up the world. Take some time this week to think about how you can let your light shine.

‘A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow him’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

Tríona Doherty

Litany of Praise

Lord Jesus,
you came as salt to give a new flavourr to our lives
changing us from self-centeredness to being people for others.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ Jesus,
you came as light to overcome darkness and the fear of death.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you entrusted to us the mission
to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Lord, have mercy.

SYNOD 2020 MEETING

becoming

Many thanks to those parishioners who were able to attend one of the Pastoral Area meetings last Tuesday to explore the third Synod Theme: ‘How we pray together’.  After each Mass this weekend, there will be the opportunity to stay behind for a short while to hear about the theme, discuss it and share your thoughts.  Do stay if you can – even if only for a little while – and, in the words of the Archbishop, help us all to discern carefully “what the Spirit is saying to the Church in the Archdiocese of Liverpool and agree on common goals and actions for the coming years”.

You can also visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk

Fr Dave


Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Gospel  (Luke 2: 22-32)

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 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. 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, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

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Thought

Today’s feast doesn’t fall on a Sunday very often because of leap years.  The last time we celebrated today’s feast on a Sunday was in 2014, but the time before that was 2003.

Before the changes in the 1960’s, today’s feast marked the end of Christmas.  Some churches still keep the Crib in place until today.  Now, the feast of our Lord’s Baptism marks the end of the Christmas Season, which we celebrate in early January.

The Jewish religion invited parents to bring their first-born son to the Temple to give thanks to God and to make an offering for the poor.  So Mary and Joseph went to the Temple with Jesus as the law advised.  While they were there, the Holy Spirit inspired an old man called Simeon to recognise Jesus as the long awaited Messiah – the Light which would enlighten the world.  Simeon was filled with joy, so much so that he felt he could now die in peace.  His prayer, recorded in today’s Gospel, has become part of the daily Night Prayer of the Church.

The light of Christ inspired the mission statement of one of primary schools.  The Mission Statement of St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School is:  “In the light of Jesus, we learn to shine”.

Today’s feast perhaps makes us think of the older members of our parishes.  Like Simeon and Anna, they are always at Sunday Mass and popping in to pray during the week; and those who can no longer come to church often spend their days in prayer at home.  They are truly the backbone of the Church and the pillars of many parishes.

Last Friday, Pope Francis hosted an international congress on the pastoral care of the elderly.  You can read his address here:  the-richness-of-many-years

Fr Dave

SYNOD 2020

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Between now and 16 February, we are invited to reflect on the third Synod Theme:  How we pray together.   There are a number of ways we can do this:

1)  There will be a Meeting for all the Parishes in Warrington Pastoral Area this Tuesday, 4 February, either at 1.00 pm or at 7.00 pm in St Stephen’s Church, Orford.

2)  There will be an opportunity to share your thoughts after the weekend Masses at St Oswald’s and St Benedict’s next Saturday & Sunday, 8 & 9 February.

3)  You can visit the Synod Themes and submit a proposal online at:  www.synod2020.co.uk

HOW WE PRAY TOGETHER

In this Synod Theme, we reflect on the place of prayer and worship in our life as Church.

“How beautiful will be the day when all the baptised understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work, that just as I celebrate Mass at this altar, so each carpenter celebrates Mass at his workbench, and each metal worker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand, is performing a priestly office! How many cabdrivers, I know, listen to this message there in their cabs; you are a priest at the wheel, my friend, if you work with honesty, consecrating that taxi of yours to God, bearing a message of peace and love to the passengers who ride in your cab.”

St Oscar Romero in ‘The Violence of Love’, p 10-11

“Prayer is, for me, an outburst from the heart; it is a simple glance darted upwards to Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and of love in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy! In a word, it is something exalted, supernatural, which dilates the soul and unites it to God. Sometimes when I find myself, spiritually, in dryness so great that I cannot produce a single good thought, I recite very slowly an Our Father or a Hail Mary; these prayers alone console me, they suffice, they nourish my soul.”

St Therese of Lisieux

“A priest went to visit a patient in his home. He noticed an empty chair at the patient’s bedside and asked what it was doing there. The patient said, ‘I had placed Jesus on that chair and was talking to him before you arrived… For years I found it extremely difficult to pray until a friend explained to me that prayer was a matter of talking to Jesus. He told me to place an empty chair nearby, to imagine Jesus sitting on that chair and to speak with him and listen to what he says to me in reply. I’ve had no difficulty praying ever since.’ Some days later, so the story goes, the daughter of the patient came to the rectory to inform the priest that her father had died. She said, ‘I left him alone for a couple of hours. He seemed so peaceful. When I got back to the room I found him dead. I noticed a strange thing though, his head was resting not on the bed but on a chair that was beside the bed’.”

Anthony de Mello SJ in ‘Sadhana, a Way to God’ (1983)