A dishonest 'manager' has been caught in the act of stealing. He sees his life unravel and visits to the jobcentre don't hold out much hope that things will improve. Then, like the wasteful son in the Parable of the Prodigal Father, this man reviews his situation and comes up with a survival strategy. His back is to the wall and he's not going down without a fight. His strategy is to seduce others to collude in his dishonesty. He tells himself, that once the trap is sprung, he can enjoy their support for a long time to come. Sound familiar?
With His usual creativity, the Beloved Son of God - having just painted a surprising portrait of what God is like for the wasteful son - portrays the dishonest managers' employer in a strange light. His only response to the loss he has endured is to praise the dishonest manager for his cleverness and cunning! A bit like those scenes from a mystery film where the detective from Scotland Yard gazes into the empty bank vault and says of the robbers, "Credit where credit is due. They knew what they were doing".
Keep in mind that the Parables of Jesus are about spiritual matters. The dishonest manager knew how to survive when his physical and social life was threatened. The disciples of Jesus need to have the same 'wisdom' to act decisively when their hearts are at stake. The Children of the Light appear to Jesus to be lacking in this regard. They are threatened on all sides. Powerful internal and external forces are at work to lead them astray. If they are not alert to these, if they do not have a plan which galvanises them into action, they might be swept away by the darkness.
Specifically, the Divine Teacher suggests that we should not allow money to make us dishonest. Put simply, if we use it for the service of Love we will have mastered it. But if we swap the first commandment and make money our first love it will have mastered us! And He knows that if we try to build our security on what we own it will fail us. It's only use, in Kingdom terms, is to see it as a resource that builds community. If we use our resources to relieve the suffering of others, and to strengthen the bonds of friendship in our community, we will have used them in the way God intended.
Our trustworthiness with the baubles of earthly 'wealth' is a sign that we are doing well with the genuine riches of the Kingdom. Becoming a person who can be trusted is a step in the right direction, which will allow the Spirit of God to reveal the deeper richness in our own soul. In both cases, it seems that for Jesus, our spiritual growth cannot be pursued in isolation from the life that we are living, and the people we are living with here and now. We have to choose, in this context, what is most important to us and make everything else a servant of that choice.
This choosing is very important. We must choose friends who are not just spiritually surviving but thriving! Instead of hanging around people who collude with our sin, we have to hang around people who inspire us to be the best that we can be. Sometimes our friends, if we let them, can see us more clearly that we see ourselves and sometimes they have the answers that we cannot yet see. This is why, in our friendship group, we should have at least one person who loves us unconditionally and at least one person who can challenge us to continue to grow. These guides will help us to be more alert to what is destroying our spiritual development and help us to act effectively to guard the treasure in our soul.
If, after reading this, you are asking yourself if you have lost some of the music of the Gospel in your soul, stop what you are doing and don't go on until you find it again.
'Tax Collectors and sinners' are a social group of people who have been excluded from the community. 'Pharisees and scribes' are a social group of people who have not been excluded from the community. These complain that Jesus is welcoming those who have been excluded and is eating with them. Is He approving of their sin? They think He is! But while they fear Jesus has gone over to the dark side, Jesus clearly sees Himself bringing the two sides together. He was a person of reconciliation in a world that had accepted, and may have even enjoyed, divisions. Jesus is struggling to pull together what others wish to pull apart.
He offers two parables for their reflection. The first about a wandering and lost sheep, the second about a lost coin. So He knows they are lost. But what is new is that He is searching for them, including them in the community of the 'already found' and inviting the community to a celebration of their inclusion. Notice how Jesus wants his listeners to recognise the parables in their own experience. ' Which of you....' 'What woman ....'. Jesus seems pretty sure that His parables are revealing something about the best in human nature.
Then it gets even more interesting. In Sacred Scripture numbers are very symbolic. One hundred and Ten connote completeness, fullness and wholeness. There is a pull in every human heart towards this wholeness. The shepherd and the woman of the parables are creating a social wholeness which will open the door to spiritual wholeness - the integration of heaven and earth. All Jesus can see is that His community is split into two camps and they must re-engage in the struggle for community. The shepherd seeks the One sheep to add to the ninety-nine. The woman seeks the one coin and adds it to the nine. In this way, a divided community can become whole.
This longing to find the missing one represents the realignment of God with Creation. God wants unity. This is why the angels rejoice much more when a whole is created by the inclusion of what was excluded than when an incompleteness - even a just incompleteness - leaves the community short. The synchronised rejoicing in heaven and earth is The Sign that things are the way they are meant to be.
I find myself smiling as I watch, listen and contemplate this strange behaviour of Jesus. And I also find myself seriously challenged by His teaching. It's too easy to accept the loss of relationships as inevitable. When we fall out with and lose family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and even members of our own parish community, when we lose our creativity and energy to do something to fix it, when we lose our desire to contribute to the wellbeing and future of all creation, we may have been overly impressed by the inevitability of loss. We may just shrug off our losses rather than searching for and reclaiming them. We can become numb to the
pain of missing what was once crucial to our lives. Instead, Jesus, the Beloved Son of God is not resigned. He is searching the wilderness and sweeping the house. He will not settle for loss. "For the Son of Man came to seek out and save the lost." (Luke19:10). And He does not see these as private reunions which take place behind closed doors. When He finds the One who restores completeness, the whole community are gathered. One whole, invites and creates another whole! Getting back what we have lost, receiving into our heart and soul what makes us complete overflows into party time. This joy is contagious and the whole community are infected. Perhaps it is the same Angels rejoicing in heaven who spoke to the shepherds at His birth and said, "Good news of great Joy for all the people." (Luke 2:10)
Throughout the timeline of our lives, we walk with one another, and there are times in everyone's life when there is a getting lost and a coming home, of not being there and suddenly being there again. Jesus is an artist of relationships and his exquisite teaching creates the spaces we need for spiritual encounters to happen. It seems that when we pursue reconciliation, the angels are quick to get in on the act and all creation comes along for the ride. I guess the question is, who needs to come off my hit list!
Someone asks a question about salvation. This is religious talk for health and wellbeing. Jesus tells them that there is a door, in the age to come, where God is hosting a banquet. Everyone is trying to get in and the owner solves the log jam problem by rising from the dead and shutting the door!
The people outside beg to be allowed in. But the Lord answers that He does not know them. It seems that relying on vague contact with Jesus is not enough. Jesus does not join in the man’s quest for numbers but invites him to put all of himself behind the quest. So many are trying to be saved the wrong way. They think that 'who you know' rather than 'who you are' is what matters. But notice that the door does not open to the well connected.
Jesus only recognises His own. He knows us if we are like Him. Jesus speaks from a heart set on God alone and works with the Spirit to transfigure His heart into one which loves all people. This is not easy. It is a lifetime’s work.
There will always be people who want Salvation on their own terms. They want to stride into the feast adorned in titles and lists of who they know. And then there are those who struggle for community and for the mighty love. These will learn the great lesson of Grace - that all who strive to love must die, and surrender all to the One who has the power to save them. They are considered by the first group to be the last because they do not compete in the world of ego. But in the Kingdom they are first because they have found in their heart what Jesus knew in His Heart - the divine love that makes us one. When we know this, the narrow door widens to become the widest of doors.
Someone once asked Fritz Perls if he was saved. He answered,' I'm trying to figure out how to be spent!'
What does Jesus mean when He says, "See that you are 'dressed for action' and have your lamps lit". (Lk:12.35). To help us understand this, we need to turn to the story of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. You remember that their wisdom was celebrated because their lamps were lit! What does that mean and how does it work?
Quite simply it means that we speak and act in a way that inspires others. When they look at how we live, how we speak, and how we act, they are given a living pause for thought and the path is lit for the way they need to walk. It would be sad if, when they listened to the words we speak, or observed our life, they decided that we had nothing to offer or that we were hypocrites. Or, to put it a little more directly, Jesus had very severe words for those who extinguish the light of love in another person’s heart.
Now here's the thing. The foolish ones are always rushing to the wise ones when it's too late to ask for some of their oil. It's too late because, the problem is, it can't be given. I can't turn to you on my deathbed and ask you to give me the value of the good that you have done. This is a serious warning from the Teacher. Today I have to decide that this is the right thing to do and do it.
I love the image of God as Bridegroom but I'm a little more curious when I think of God as a burglar. You may remember that I had a visit from one of these shortly after I arrived in Bracknell. It's not a pleasant experience. But
it was, in one sense, my own fault because I went out and left my window open. Jesus says that The Son of Man is
coming, like a burglar, at an hour we do not expect. Wouldn't it be great if we were ready, welcoming Him with
the words, I've been waiting for you, Light of the World. And more to the point, I have been doing what you
asked of me. I shine bright and clear as a sign of Your Love for others. Now look what happens. "I tell you solemnly, He will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them." That's worth consideration!
It doesn't matter if it's the rich or the poor - I have seen families torn apart and destroyed over questions of inheritance. As if they believed that the precious relationships of their life were less valuable than the baubles which helped to hold them together!
In cash terms, all of us, no matter who we are - how young or how old - try to juggle many 'financial' balls. A job I love, or a job that pays well. Can I have both? Rare. Now I'm working with people I don't like, but the money is good so I'll endure. My boss is awful, nothing is worth having to face that one every working day. And so it goes on, with the great question, when will we ever have enough - too much would be better - to live the life we want. Then.....
Jesus sent His disciples, without cloak or coin, His word their only possession, like troubadours with a single song. They broke over Galilee like a summer storm, cleansing air and earth and leaving a fragrance as fresh as the time before the first scream. They came back to Him, having broken the back of pain and He said, 'Come aside and rest awhile'. So Jesus pulled them away to a desert place where they reclined on the green grass of His soul. "We have done great things," they said. 'Your feet are dusty, I will wash them,' He said. "We will have a time of no more hunger, no more thirst,' they said. Jesus said to them, "People who would end hunger may be hungry themselves. Here is Bread. People who would do away with thirst may be thirsty themselves. Here is wine. Eat and remember or the earth you shake will swallow you. The mountains you move will crush you. The sin you stalk will in turn stalk you".
Then Jesus opened his hands and a story fell live to the ground.
'Once there was a rich man
and the over-generous earth opened to him
with the gift of 1000 suppers of wheat.
At the sight of such abundance
his mind became a ledger
and he broke down his bins and built bigger barns
To house his new self-sufficiency.
I will never be hungry again - he shouted.
He never was. That night he died.
Eat and Remember!'
(Adapted from John Shea, The Indiscriminate Host)
The Beloved Son of God is not tied to the prescribed prayer times of the Temple. He lives instead a rhythm of
contemplation and action - swimming in the waters of God and the waters of the world. His disciples have been
watching Him at prayer and they want whatever He is having! Perhaps, if they can connect with God like He
does, they will have less difficulty with His unpredictable attitudes and behaviours. "Lord, teach us to pray," they
His words lack any solemnity. He speaks to God with the intimacy of a friend. The Jaw dropping use of the word
'Abba' a clue about what is to come. His disciples unite heart and soul in reverence for their Abba and unite in the
only activity worth doing, working for the coming of Gods Kingdom. The prayer of Jesus transforms the One who
prays it into a unity of being and doing. Now, as they walk the earth they are an open invitation into the heart of
God. Those who are still alienated from the Love which is their life see the truth and the beauty of what is before
them. The disciples sow seeds which are destined to become a tree which attracts all the birds in the air.
And if it should be the case that those who are alienated from God reject their offer and attack the ones who offer
it, they will not respond with violence or threats. Only love must be returned should trials come.
Now that they have the words and the illumination they're bring, Jesus moves to
stage two. The first Parable is outstanding, because it suggests first that God is
also praying to us to act with justice. God arrives at the door of His 'friends' to tell
them of hungry travellers who need rest and nourishment. If their friendship with
God does not move them to act with justice, God will just keep on asking till they do
it if only to get some peace! The second Parable follows the same theme and
celebrates that fact that people in bed and evil parents will overcome the obstacles
to compassionate living and give what is needed.
Now back to Abba - the one who gives with no obstacles. He is overflowing with the desire to give the Holy Spirit
to anyone who asks, seeks and knocks. For Jesus, prayer is the art of opening ourselves to the gift that is already
there. Praying the prayer of Jesus as illumination is learning what to ask for and how to receive it. The Holy Spirit
floods the hearts of all who ask and creates a bond that jump starts the adventure of being a disciple of Jesus.
The tragedy would be if the prayer which is His gift to us is repeated mindlessly. If it is memorised and repeated
in a way that never expresses the thoughts of our minds or the feelings of our heart we have lost it and we need
to apprentice ourselves anew to the divine Teacher.
One of Leo Tolstoy’s mystical short stories explores this theme. A bishop on a ship is told that there are three
hermits living on the island they are passing. The bishop insists on going to meet them and he asks them how
they pray. They tell the bishop that their whole life is a prayer. The words they use, "We are three. You are
three. Have mercy on us." The bishop teaches them the Lord's Prayer and tells them to use that instead. A few
years later the bishop is back in the area and as he is considering a second visit, a ball of light comes out of the
island and moves towards the ship. As the ball of light gets closer, the bishop sees the three hermits are
within. They are telling him that they have forgotten some of the Lord's Prayer and they need more
instruction. But the bishop is jolted by a new awareness and awakened to the true holiness of the hermits. A
holiness that has come without the repetition of words. He answers, "Go home, and when you pray, say, "You
are three. We are three. Have mercy on us".
This is not an argument for ditching the learning of prayers but for making them our own. Perhaps, since we use
Matthews version of the Lord’s Prayer in the liturgy, we could try using Luke's version in our personal prayer to
keep it where Jesus wants it to be. It's potent coupling of phrases prepares the heart for self-giving, generative
justice and love. It is the Love which God pours without reserve into the empty hearts of all who ask. This is a
cup which is destined, as Psalm 23 celebrates, to overflow
Last week we heard of a lawyer who asked Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" The lawyer knows the great commandments of Love, but he does not know how to put them into action. Jesus tells him a story about how to do love. Love of God and Love of neighbour. Whatever is created and stored up on the inside will flow effortlessly to the outside.
In today's visit to the home of Mary and Martha this lesson is continued. Martha is the classic person who is stressed and distressed because, in her view, she has too much to do. She tells herself that her stress is made worse by the fact that her sister is not doing her bit. But the very situation she sees as a problem - Mary sitting at the Lords' feet to absorb His teaching - turns out to be her only hope for peace. It is Martha who must join Mary because she has the one thing necessary - a growing heart, filling with love for God which will give her everything she needs to be effective in the world.
This story of the integration of these two 'sides' of ourselves can be found in other religious traditions. There is a delicious story in the Sufi Wisdom literature. The disciple said to the master, 'I just saw a man who can fly!' The Master replied, 'Big deal, a bird can do that'. So his disciple said, 'And I met a man who can live under water!' 'A fish can do that', said the master. 'Then I met someone who, in the twinkling of an eye, can travel from one town to another'. 'The devil can do that', said the master. "If you truly want to find someone really extraordinary, find someone who can be with people and keep their thoughts on God.' The Master concluded.
Notice how the Master has no time for those who can only see God in the spectacular. The truly extraordinary life is the one that is lived in the ordinary world but is not of this world. But this is not a competition. It isn't as if we have to divide our attention and our energy into separate lives. Our contemplative hearts see more clearly that God is the ground and the horizon of our lives. What Mary brings is the wisdom of knowing that the time we spend at the feet of Jesus is never wasted. This inner wisdom of Mary can connect Martha to the outer world in a new way. The lure of God is present in every situation and in every circumstance. God is inside and outside as a strength which sustains us in all our ways and which commands us to focus our energy on building a just world. When we wake up to this revelation, this truth, we have integrated the two energies that flow with and
There is a prayer which, for some strange reason is positioned towards the end of the Lord’s Prayer, when it is prayed within the celebration of the Eucharist. "Deliver us Lord from every evil, and graciously grant us your Peace in our days. That by the help of your Mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all (stress) and distress. As we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ". Martha is the precursor for all who have too much stress and distress in their lives, who feel it is all too much and they just cannot cope with the demands which are weighing on them. And she has a very simple and beautiful lesson to learn and to share with us. That when what we are doing on the outside does not flow from our contemplative hearts we will be in trouble. Resentment and anger will be the early warning signals that we have pulled the plug on our soul. Her desired solution, to turn Mary into another frantic multi-tasker is not accepted by Jesus. Mary has chosen the better or good way. As it is written in the Book of Wisdom, "Although she (Mary) is but one, she can do all things (Martha), and while remaining in herself (Mary) she renews all things. (Martha) (Wis 7,27)
When looking to write about scripture or put together a homily I always research what others have said and very rarely do I find a piece written I feel should be shared in its entirety. This week is an exception and I was so moved by this piece from the Pastoral Review that I felt it should be shared. So, please enjoy and please mull over its content.
Last Sunday we heard about the mission of the seventy-two who were sent out by the Lord to proclaim the kingdom of God. This week, it is the scholar of the law who comes to Jesus and asks about eternal life.
Most of us are so familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan that we can easily hear it without really listening to it. It’s easy to do that sometimes with passages of scripture we know so well. The story is simple. A man who is going from Jerusalem to Jericho is robbed, beaten, and nearly killed. It was a dangerous road. A priest and a Levite walk past the injured man, and a Samaritan stop to care for him. The Samaritan treats the wounds of the injured man with wine, oil, and bandages. The Samaritan takes him to an inn, pays for his care, and promises to pay for any additional needs when he returns. The Samaritan demosnstrates what is means to be a neighbour.
We want to be good neighbours. The law of God invites us to love God and love our neighbour. That is not a mysterious commandment. It is not something hidden from our view. This commandment is near to us, in our mouths and in our hearts. We know it and we can follow it.
The difference between the Samaritan and the priest and the Levite was more than just their actions. We do not know why the priest and the Levite did not stop to help the injured man. We do know why the Samaritan stopped to help the injured man: he was moved with compassion. From the compassion that he felt for this unknown injured man on the side of the road, the Samaritan carried out the love of neighbour.
We want to be compassionate neighbours. The word compassion means to suffer with. To be compassionate means that we are willing to suffer with those who are suffering. The Samaritan was willing to suffer and willing to sacrifice for the injured man. His act of charity cost him. It cost him wine, oil, and bandages made of cloth. It cost him comfort on the journey because he gave the injured man his own place on the animal he was riding. It cost him the two silver coins that he gave to the innkeeper, and whatever he would pay on his return. And it cost him the most precious gift that we can give to another: it cost him time. The Samaritan was willing to suffer with the suffering. That is what it means to be a neighbour.
And that is part of what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus. We suffer with the suffering. In union with Christ who suffered for us, we suffer with the poor, the injured, the sick, the rejected, and the dying. We suffer with those who have been cast to the side of the road in our society: the unborn, the immigrant, the elderly, the mentally ill, and the disabled. Each of us was marked with the sign of Christ’s glorious sufferings in our baptism. Every vocation is marked with the blessing of Christ’s holy cross. Mothers suffer with and for their children. Fathers suffering with and for their families. Teachers suffer with and for their students. Husbands suffer for their wives, and wives suffer for their husbands. Priests suffer with and for their people, and the holy people of God suffer with and for their priests. We are the neighbours, and we are the people Christ calls us to be when we are willing to suffer with those who suffer.
But we were not the first to suffer. We suffer in union with Christ on the cross. For in truth, we are not the Good Samaritan in the parable. We are the injured man. And Christ our Saviour traveling on the road to the heavenly city of Jerusalem looked and was moved with compassion for each of us. Jesus approached us while we were still sinners. He bathed us in the wine of his blood and anointed us with the oil of gladness. He carried us in his own body and placed us in the inn which is his holy Church. He left the two precious coins of his Word and his Sacraments until his return in glory.
And now, at the altar, we meet him. Our compassionate Saviour meets us in our suffering and gives us eyes to recognize his presence and eyes to recognize those who are suffering. Here we are strengthened to suffer with Christ and for Christ who willing and lovingly and compassionately suffered for us
Luke’s Gospel records two occasions of Jesus sending out disciples on mission. In 9:1-6 Jesus sends out the twelve apostles. Then, at the beginning of Jesus’ great Journey to Jerusalem, he sends out ahead of him 72 others in pairs to prepare the way. The sending out of this larger group is proclaimed in today’s Gospel (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20).
Both accounts of Jesus sending out disciples are meant to provide a model for Christian missionaries and to emphasize the missionary nature of the Christian Church and the supreme task of the Great Commission to go make (to form) disciples of all peoples. The Gospel today provides a sense of spirituality that should accompany the proclamation and the teaching of scripture and it informs us of the missionary life each of us should commit to as a follower of Christ. The instructions Jesus gives to the 72 has a lasting relevance and should be thought seriously about and explored by each of us and together as a community when considering our Christian mission.
The instruction given by Jesus suggests that for the most part the world is not going to give a friendly response to the gospel and in many cases it may be hostile. The reasoning behind this is that the world the 72 were being sent into had largely fallen out of the hand of God into the grip of spiritual forces, hostile to God and to the true interests of human beings. The 72 missionaries did not operate on benign or even neutral ground, they were being sent out into territory that had to be wrested from the grip of others who did not wish to hear the message. It was far easier and comfortable for people to reject the message or pretend not to hear and act on the message being proclaimed and explained to them. Reality was that not everyone wished to hear the good news. This was especially true when the good news challenged their present assumptions on how best to do things and challenged their current settled way of life.
Moving forward 2000 plus years we might like to explore and ask ourselves are today’s circumstances similar to and may best describe the society we live in today? We need to explore this because we are being asked, just as the 72 were asked, by Jesus to go out and prepare the way, to go make disciples and this going out and making disciples of all peoples is core to our Christian faith.
Undertaking what is expected of us as committed Christians is not always easy, it can be hard. This especially true when on reflection and contemplation we realise we have not got it right. What the Gospel asks us to do is to be wary of just accepting and living by the values prevailing in the world around us. Getting things wrong is part of life, to err is human we know that when we get it wrong it is best to learn and move forward.
Each of us is called to reach out to everyone around us, to see God in everyone and to go make disciples of all. We are encouraged to have a healthy prayer life; to study scripture; to go out and meet the marginalised; to stand up for those who feel no one listens or stands up for them; to bring Christ into the world around and about us. Christians are asked to make individuals feel that someone cares about them and that they belong to our family. However, whilst Christianity should be comforting it is not always comfortable and easy for us to put into practice. This is why we need to be supportive of each other, to be watchful and to help and assist with the talents and gifts each of us has to fulfil the mission of St Joseph the Worker and St Margaret Clitherow Parish Bracknel
The Beloved Son of God often refers to himself as the 'Son of Man'. Perhaps 'Son of Humanity' might be more
useful in our days. Either way, this is not just a title. It is clear that Jesus sees a new possibility for humanity
being born and emerging in himself. He gives humanity a new way of understanding ourselves and of how we
must be in the world. In today's Gospel, He begins by asking how people are responding to what He is proclaiming
and offering. This question is asked in the region of Caesarea Philippi where a counter proposal of violence is
being offered by the Romans.
His disciples draw a rough sketch of what people are saying. Some see Jesus as a prophet like the great ones
of olden days. But seeing Him this way, and not fully understanding Him, might limit us to viewing him just as an
instrument of judgement and social change. So Jesus then asks what His own disciples are saying. How are
they (or we) understanding Him. It is Peter who has a flash of insight but one which will need more work.
Jesus' identity and our own identity will not be found in the revival of a dead past, even if that is situated within
the prophetic tradition. Much more, it is about choosing to fall into the heartbeat of God and expressing this in
compassionate living. Jesus takes the 'confession' of Peter and goes off in a direction no one could have
foreseen. Peter has grasped the identity and mission of Jesus, and in return, Jesus reveals the true identity and
mission of Peter. Both identities are so interwoven that they cannot be separated.
Peter is given the gift of recognising who Jesus really is and what He is offering. Peter has been able to receive
this gift because of his relationship with the Father. We might say that Peter has made a trip to heaven and the
Father has shown him who Jesus really is. The view from heaven is the rock which survives every storm. But
there is a need to join understanding with action. When Jesus speaks, He is the Word of God. When His words
are understood and acted upon, they become an indestructible foundation. Heaven and earth are joined, forming
the rock on which Jesus can build the new humanity. It is this process of aligning heaven to earth that will be the
foundation stone on which the new humanity will gather. Jesus calls this gathering, the Church.
The rock that is formed by confessing Jesus as the only and eternal truth is bullet proof. Even when the gates of
hell are opened and all negativity is unleashed, it cannot prevail against the new humanity. This is because Peter
and all other disciples have the key to another set of gates - the gates to the Kingdom of God. The prayer of
Jesus, which begins with the words, 'Our Father...' , opens these gates every time it is prayed and heavens grace
flows on the earth.
With so many jokes flying around about St. Peter greeting people at the pearly
gates, it can be easy to miss that he is not designated as an afterlife security
officer. The gate for which he has the keys is in the heart of human life which
turns the flow of love in the world from a stream into a torrent. This is the
supreme act, the supreme sacrament of the new humanity. It is an act of
freedom and love flowing from their nearness to God. Disciples of Jesus are
free to engage with every situation which enhances life and free to disengage
from every action which contributes to death. This is the new paradigm which
is being offered by the Son of Man. In a world where Jesus is often and
deliberately misunderstood, He makes it clear that He wants a clearly worked
out revolution of awareness and action for those who get Him. The truth that
is revealed is as much about us as it is about Him.
St. Peter and St. Paul are amazing examples of how to grow into confident disciples. Yet they leave us with a
question about how we develop our understanding of Jesus and then integrate that understanding into our
behaviour. An artist might use broad brush strokes to guide us into acts of Love, Compassion, Mercy, Justice
and Forgiving. But that aside, His Word in us will take us to surprising places. The poet Denise Levertov,
reflecting on the fig tree that Jesus cursed, wondered if He was telling His disciples that they were withholding
'gifts unimaginable'. Perhaps we know we are getting closer to the truth when gifts unimaginable are flowing
through us into the world that He loved unto death
CATHOLIC PARISH OF ST JOSEPH & ST MARGARET CLITHEROW
St Joseph’s Church. 39 Braccan Walk, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1BE (Directions)
Tel: 01344 425729
South Berkshire Pastoral Area
The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871
St Joseph’s Church. 39 Braccan Walk, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1BE (Directions)
Tel: 01344 425729
South Berkshire Pastoral Area
The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871