Pastors Desk: Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time / A

Posted 16th September 2017 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 17th September 2017 - Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time / A

as-we-forgiveForgiveness and mercy are the main themes of our readings today. We can all find it difficult to forgive those who have hurt us, with things they have done or said about us, but it forms a central theme of the gospels.

Today’s first reading from the Book of Ecclesiasticus urges us to forgive our neighbour for any hurt they have caused us. Because, if we hold or ‘nurse’ any anger towards them, how can we expect mercy and forgiveness from God for the hurts we have caused others. We are encouraged to live by the commandments and overlook the offence.

In today’s gospel Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother when he wrongs him. Jesus tells him ‘Seventy times seven’ to illustrate or indicate that there is no limit on the times we must extend that forgiveness to others. It’s a daily and lifelong challenge because the memory of wrongs and hurts can deeply affect our ability to forgive situations. It does not come easy or sometimes without cost.

The story of the wicked servant today is a reminder to us that we are duty bound to extend the hand of forgiveness to those who have hurt us when we have already received the forgiveness and compassion of a loving God throughout our lives. For example, each time we pray the Our Father we ask God to ‘forgive us our Trespasses’, ‘as we forgive those who have trespassed against us’, how can we say that if we have not put it into practice daily.

Fr Gerry

Pastors Desk: Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time / A

Posted 9th September 2017 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 10th September 2017 - Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time / A

hands1The term ‘duty of care’ is a recent addition to our vocabulary. In the past, we may have used the word ‘responsibility’ instead. Today we can say that parents have a duty of care to their children. Similarly, teachers have a responsibility for the children in their class. Anyone in a caring profession has a ‘duty of care’ to anyone whose health or wellbeing has been entrusted to them.

On a personal level for example, if we are in company with someone who wants to drive home after consuming alcohol we will try to stop them as they could cause serious injury or even death to themselves, other road users and pedestrians. We do this out of a common notion of a duty of care we should have for each other.

In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds those listening that the welfare of all members of the community, the strong and the weak, is paramount. He tells them that it’s important that they support each other and even be prepared to speak out if any of them is going down the wrong path in life. These words or actions should not be motivated by any sense of malice or some previously held grudge, but simply out of love.

Of course, the chances are that we will be accused of interfering in the lives of our family and friends and we risk losing a long-established friendship, but it’s a risk we must take when it’s needed. And we do this out of genuine love and concern. That must be our guiding principle in all we say and do, always.

Lord, keep us sensitive to one another’s needs as we live our lives together.

Fr Gerry

Pastors Desk: Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time/A

Posted 2nd September 2017 in Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk 3rd September 2017 - Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time / A

take-up-your-crossIn today’s Gospel Jesus surprises the disciples when he tells them that he will go to Jerusalem and is destined to suffer greatly there at the hands of the Elders, the chief priests and the scribes, die and be raised up on the third day.

Peter is reluctant to accept pain or hardship as part of discipleship and so he is quick to challenge Jesus and tells him that this must not happen to him. It seems that maybe Peter sees discipleship as a life of privilege and the very thought that it might end that way for Jesus or any of them was difficult to accept or comprehend.

In reply, Jesus tells Peter to step out of his way, that he must not be an obstacle to God’s plan for humanity. He tells him that the ways of this world are not God’s ways and He outlines the three conditions of discipleship: ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me’. Followers must be prepared to renounce any sense of privilege or status and simply follow him.

That challenge to place all our trust in God and follow him with hearts and minds focussed on the reward we will receive in the next life is often difficult. Especially when we are told the journey may involve an element of suffering for us all. But the reward for us in this life is the knowledge that we don’t travel alone. That, during times of difficulty, pain and sadness, God is present, guiding us and sending others to us who help to carry our cross and ease the burden.

Fr Gerry

Pastor's Desk: Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted 26th August 2017 in Pastor's Desk

In place of the Pastor’s Desk this week, we include the following extract from Intercom Magazine:

The Deep End - Who do you say I am?

Peter gets it right in today’s Gospel and Jesus calls him ‘blessed’. That is, he is a person who brings a great gift and who brings that gift to others. Already in the community that Matthew is writing for, the community of Jesus’ followers are gathering as ‘church’. Peter is seen as Jesus’ successor and future leader for that community.

Jesus is a very different Messiah to the one the Jews expected. It is understandable that he would order the disciples to keep quiet. The people of his time wanted a leader who would lead them in a military revolt against the Romans, who would be a great king. Jesus’ mission involves a very different focus, reaching out to the outcast, those on the margins, a radical love. His actions will speak for who he is. It is for each of us to make up our own minds as to who Jesus is. Peter is quite clear and sincere in his declaration, however, as we will see later, Peter did not understand fully what the journey of Jesus would entail. Peter commits himself but it is a reminder that we must always leave room for growth in the understanding of our commitments.

‘The joy of Jesus bursts out … and he speaks his dream of an impregnable community of faith held together by the power of God rather than by external organisation, a community of commitment and freedom.’ - W. Yeomans

A question to focus on today might be: ‘Who do YOU say that Jesus is?’ What is Jesus for you, today, in your life at this precise moment?

Jane Mellet

Pastor's Desk: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted 19th August 2017 in Pastor's Desk

In place of the Pastor’s Desk this week, we include the following extract from Intercom Magazine:

The Deep End - Unexpected encounters

We might wonder why Jesus is so rude and dismissive to the woman in todays’ Gospel who comes and asks for his help. Does he really call the woman ‘a dog’?! Many explanations have been given for Jesus’ words with some suggesting that it was an attempt at a first century joke, that he was just ‘teasing’ (he didn’t really mean it!) or that it was an opportunity to test the woman’s faith. The disciples also clearly want her sent away.

What happens just before this incident is important. Jesus has just left Gennesaret where the Pharisees have continued to be extremely hostile towards him. Jesus’ mission to ‘the lost sheep of the House of Israel’ is not going so well. So, Jesus ‘leaves that place’ and goes somewhere that is unfamiliar. What happens in this unfamiliar place is certainly life giving for the woman and for Jesus also. It might be considered a place of new beginnings as Jesus’ mission is opened up to those who would have been considered ‘unworthy’, such as a woman who is also a foreigner. The food rejected by the religious leaders of the time is ending up in unexpected places. It is here that the kingdom grows.

You have to admire the woman’s persistence. She is a reminder of people we encounter who have great faith and make a deep impression on us.

We might ask ourselves today: when have experiences of rejection in our own lives led to new possibilities? Where are the unfamiliar places that we must go in order to grow, to embrace new life and new experiences?

Jane Mellet