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Third Sunday of the Year, Year C, 2019

Dear Friends in Christ

3rd Sunday of the year 2019

The Gentiles, like Luke himself, had believed in Christ on the testimony of others, not because they were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life, ministry and resurrection. To build up their faith, Luke wrote down an orderly account of the events and encounters of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry ‘just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word’. Luke’s Gospel shows the continuity between God’s promises made through the prophets and their fulfilment. jesusreadisaiahJesus, reading from the prophet Isaiah the promise that God would send one who would free his people from oppression and imprisonment, and restore their freedom and liberty, announced: ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’. His words electrified his audience. They had heard this promise many times before. But now Jesus, in front of their own eyes, was saying: ‘I am fulfilling this great promise of God. I am the Spirit-bearer foretold by Isaiah and, I am bringing in a new age of freedom and divine favour, restoring men and women to health, and casting out demons’. It’s not surprising that ‘the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him’. It’s also unsurprising that they could not accept him and ‘rose up and put him out of the city’.

Jesus now stands before us. He still proclaims the Good News, making us see with new eyes that we are loved and forgiven, and leading us into his Father’s presence as beloved sons and daughters. He restores to us our inheritance as God’s children, freeing us from oppression and liberating us from whatever imprisons us. Do we believe this and go to Jesus to receive his grace and life? Or do we not believe that he can do all things for us and so reject him? Jesus stands before us as he stood before his fellow townspeople and challenges us to come to him for healing and freedom. The choice, however, always remains ours.

Lord Jesus, you restore all things. You break the power of evil. You heal our sins. Help me to come to you with complete faith and confidence. Teach me to fix my eyes on you.

Second Sunday of the Year, Year C, 2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

2nd sunday of the year 2019

In a village in Galilee we encounter John’s ‘sign theology’. As he puts it so simply and beautifully: ‘This, the first of the signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee’. The question as always with these signs is: ‘What does this sign mean?’ Like all the signs the meaning is profound and many-faceted. St. Thomas More said that the Scriptures are such that a mouse could put his tiny foot in them and an elephant wade in their deep waters! What are you – a mouse of an elephant? Don’t answer that!

watertowineThe changing of water into wine is many people’s favourite miracle. A wedding in first-century Palestine was a joyful occasion with plenty of food and wine, and lasted a whole week. Quite some party, that is for sure! Running out of wine was clearly socially embarrassing for the couple but a sign perhaps of how much people were enjoying themselves. The water that was changed into wine was not ordinary water – it was water that had been blessed for the ceremonial washing. This special water was not changed into vin ordinaire, as the French say, but top-notch wine. Scholars inform us that as a result of this miracle there were now six jars each holding up to 25 gallons of quality wine! What a miracle!! Indeed, it dumbfounded the guests.

Believer or unbeliever, we all understand the message a superabundance of wine gives – in conveys joy and celebration. In Israel an abundance of wine was a prophetic turn of speech for the ushering in of the new Messianic Age. There is also a passage in the non-canonical 2 Baruch 29, which echoes this sentiment: ‘on each vine there shall be a thousand branches, and each branch shall bear a thousand clusters, and each grape, produce a cor [120 gallons of wine]…because these are they who have come to the consummation of time.’

For John the miracle was a sign of the Messianic Age, the passing from the old to the new. The wedding feast was a sign of the heavenly banquet to which we are all invited by virtue of our baptism. The bridegroom as this wedding is Jesus. The joy of the heavenly banquet would come after the ‘hour’ of Jesus’ suffering: the cross, his death, his glory.

The Baptism of the Lord 2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

baptism of the lord 2019

Today the season of Christmastide draws to a close. It reaches a wonderful climax in a definitive event in the Lord’s life: his baptism in the Jordan. Jesus’ baptism was a remarkable event because the baptism offered by John the Baptisttrinity was for repentance. The immersion in the waters of the Jordan was a sign of conversion, or a person changing direction in life. John’s message was addressed to tax collectors, soldiers and ordinary men and women. It was a message of moral reform, of preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus’ baptism is a baptism of solidarity with sinners and began his public life and in this moment God is revealed as Blessed Trinity.

The Trinity is unique to Christian faith. We are united to Muslims and Jews because we share a common belief in One God, but at this point our faith departs sharply from these two others faiths because we believe that God is three Persons in One God – The Holy Blessed Trinity. God is Father, God is Son and God is Holy Spirit. Jesus’ baptism was the manifestation, of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and the Son of God. The unveiling of Jesus’ nature and mission brought forth from the Father a tender and heart-warming affirmation: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

Jesus’ baptism was the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s Suffering Servant. He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners – he is truly ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ In today’s Gospel we are seeing unfolding before our very eyes the ‘fulfilling of all righteousness.’ We are witnesses of Jesus consenting to submit himself entirely to his Father’s will, which was his death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

baptismThe coming down of the Spirit of Jesus’ baptism looked forward to the coming down of the Holy Spirit on us – a prelude, if you like, to the new creation. We commit ourselves to entering more deeply into the mystery of our baptism, praying about it, seeking to understand it and growing in our appreciation of this wonderful grace.

(Solemnity)The Epiphany of the Lord 2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

epiphany of the lord 2019

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The great feast of the Epiphany marks the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world. The Magi, the three kings or wise men whom tradition has named Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, come to worship and adore, thus representing the acceptance of the ‘Good News’ by the pagan nations.

Their coming to Bethlehem in order to pay homage to the King of the Jews is significant because it shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the Star of David, the one who will be the King of the nations. The Jewish nation remains God’s special and chosen people. The pagan nations can discover Jesus only by turning towards the Jewish people and receiving from them the Messianic promise latent in the Hebrew Scriptures but revealed fully in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Mission is at the very heart of the feast of the Epiphany because it reveals how those who do not know Christ can be moved compelled and convinced by the gospel (as the Magi were) to bow down and worship. In fact, every effort we make at mission – sharing our faith and giving witness by deeds – is nothing less than an epiphany. Why? Because when we so this God’s world is manifested and fulfilled in the world.

On this most holy feast-day we can re-cover and re-discover a sense of our own mission to make Christ known, not only to the nations but to those we live and work among. If we ask him, the Holy Spirit will imbue us

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 with a new confidence to witness to Christ. Whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is beautiful and whatever is true in other cultures and natures is of Christ and in Christ. The message of Christ won over the Magi and it will win over pagan nations and those who resist the gospel – not by force or power but by the grace of the Holy Spirit, who revel as and convinces that there is only one King for all the nations, and that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph

Holy Family 2018

The opening sentence of Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece Anna Karenina is a striking one: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ holy family.pngWe can be sure that the Holy Family was a happy family, but like all happy families their happiness was forged through trial and suffering and the ups and downs of domestic daily living. Today we cross the threshold into the tranquillity and holiness of Holy Family. Here we find the hearth at which Jesus lived his hidden years. Here we find the first domestic Church, a loving family devoted to God and to each other.

The Scriptures only speak of the birth of Jesus, the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt and the discovery of Jesus in the Temple. To learn more we seek the wisdom and guidance of the Spirit. The Spirit leads us to understand that because the triune God is a communion of love, the family is its living reflection. St. Pope John Paul II said: ‘Our God in his deepest mystery is not solitude, but a family, for he has within himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family, which is love. That love, in the divine family is the Holy Spirit.’ The family is, then, a school of prayer, a school of service, a school of discipline, a school of formation, but most of all a school of love.

We thank God the Father for the Holy Family’s witness of love, we rejoice in the Son for the healing grace of salvation, and we give praise to the Holy Spirit whose love is poured out upon us so we can love and serve God in our families. The importance of the family has been the bulwark of Christian teaching since the beginning. It is the womb from which vocations are born, be that to the married or priestly of religious life. Jesus spent his hidden years deeply rooted in the day to day life of his family in Nazareth – here he learnt to love, serve and pray. Thank God for the family you were born into; each family member is a blessing and grace from God.

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COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS How to return to the Practice of the Roman Catholic Faith 2019 A New Year! A New Beginning!

My Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,

Christmas 2018

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Let me wish you and all your loved ones a very Happy & Blessed Christmas! You are very welcome here today to celebrate the Birthday of Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ. If you are a visitor to our Parish for the first time I hope you have enjoyed this wonderful celebration. If you have been away from the practice of your faith for a period of time ‘Welcome Home for Christmas!’ It is truly wonderful to have you here with us; you are part of this Christian Family!

In an age when Christianity and Religion appear to have been relegated to the ‘insignificant pending tray’, I would like to take this opportunity of inviting those who have been away from the practice of the Roman Catholic Faith, for whatever reason, to seriously think about ‘Coming Home!’ We live in an age of apathy, indifference, secularism, materialism, and a culture that often promotes individualism, but still many people are unsatisfied; often looking for a real meaning in their lives.

COMING HOME’ – LANDINGS: – is a programme to help those who have been away from the Church for a long time to slowly and gradually reintegrate back into the regular practice of faith. In the New Year of 2019 the Parish will initiate the opportunity for those who have been away to come to very informal meetings run by Catechists and Fr John to help each person recognise their own rightful place in the life of faith and the Church. Each one of us has so much to offer, and we should never underestimate what Almighty God can do in, and through us!


Landings is a place of compassionate listening. The group listens respectfully and without judgement to one-another’s faith story and reflections on the theme, viewing each as something uniquely personal and sacred. Participants are invited to be honest and open about struggles with their faith.  Participants are asked to share only what they feel comfortable sharing. Listeners are bound by confidentiality to promote sharing. Landings doesn’t attempt to ‘fix’ problems. Those with particular issues are invited to consult with specialised professionals – counsellors, priests, religious – who can help with specific needs.

A NEW BEGINNING

I’m sure we all have vivid memories of coming to Church with our parents when we were young; being prepared for First Holy Communion, & Confirmation. For the most part, these are good memories! The gathering together for the Eucharist on a Sunday Morning is still the main event in the life of the Roman Catholic. Participating in the mass is central to being Catholic. For some people, they may have got out of the practice of faith; others may have had a bad experience in life which turned them away from the Church, others may have lost a loved one and feel angry with God; whatever the reason we are not here to judge! We are here to love, encourage, support, help and listen. Sometimes people just want to be heard!

If you, or anyone you know, a family member, friend or colleague, has been away from the regular practice of their faith for a long time, please tell them about this programme. Hopefully this little message is just one way that God might be ‘Calling you Home!’ What more beautiful occasion than Christmas to feel the real beauty of God’s love for us in sending us his Son, Jesus Christ. In the innocence of the Christ-child God entered our world and he desperately wants each one of us to be part of his!

Even if you feel nervous or afraid to come back to Church, just ask the Holy Spirit for the strength & courage to make this bold move, you won’t regret it! For some, you may wish to speak to a Catechist or Fr John in advance of returning; this is also important. There may be issues that you wish to speak privately about. A compassionate and open door will be waiting for you.

2019 is a New Year. This may be your Special Year, for all sorts of reasons! Please consider all that has been shared in this little bulletin. This may be a New Beginning for you, and your family!

With Love & Peace to You All this Christmastide!

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Fourth Sunday of Advent, 2018, Year C, Luke

Dear Friends in Christ, 

4th Sunday of Advent 2018

‘O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the people await and their Saviour. O come and save us, Lord our God!’ St. Luke narrates his Gospel with beauty and charm, jamming his masterpiece full of rich fare for us to feed upon. visitation.pngToday we celebrate the feminine genius of Mary and Elizabeth. These two giants of faith reveal in their encounter with the Holy Spirit so much of what it means to live a life of faith. These two women were joined in a sisterhood of faith; they were both on an adventure on which they were overshadowed and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

What is the feminine genius so clearly on display to us in today’s readings? Perhaps it is best captured by the way in which both women were blessed by God because of the simplicity and straightforwardness of their faith. We could say that faith came naturally to them. They were ready to embrace all that God was doing in their lives. They were both midwives to God’s extraordinary grace being poured out at this very special moment in history. The motif of their faith is joy. So infectious was their joy that even the bay in Elizabeth’s womb (John the Baptist) leapt with this same joy, the joy of the Holy Spirit

Also striking is the two women’s kindness and generosity towards each other – they delighted in God’s work in each other’s life. Mary rushed to Elizabeth’s home, eager to share her good news, Elizabeth, for her part, was full of praise and thanksgiving for Mary, and imparted two blessings: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed the child you will bear!’ and ‘Bless is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’

These two holy women point us to trust and really on the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life. Through their witness they reveal that the Christian life is an adventure in the Spirit. They show us that as we receive blessings from God, we in turn bless others with the same grace. Elizabeth and Mary are models of discipleship, and we thank God for their stunning witness of the joy and happiness that is our birth right as men and women born of the Spirit.