Newsletter

St James the Great Weekly Newsletter

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"O come, O come Emmanuel,"  this hymn is a great Christian prayer.  It is a call on God to come and save, rescue me.  In the fifth century there was a heresy which was condemned by the council of Ephesus. This was the heresy known as Pelagianism which says I can save myself and don't need Christ. Sadly there are people today who still think they can save themselves. To the point whereby I say,  "some people do not need Christ or his saving work."   They believe they are getting to heaven by their own efforts. The AA (alcoholic anonymous) talk about the need of a greater power outside

themselves.  They have got it right.

For us it is Christ.

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First Sunday of advent and our thoughts turn to Christmas.  Is that Christ, our shopping, or pressure, or embarrassment

or lack of money, or eating or drinking or Santa or........A thought...

"When God becomes absolute in our lives, consumer goods become relative."

This Tuesday we start with confession with a number of priests.

  1. If it is over a year since I have been then I need to go.

2, Do I have a concern for the hungry, poor, homeless, housebound, or strangers.

  1. Am I serious about my relationship with God, others, mass or is it all a bit hit and miss.
  2. If I am married, am I married in the church?
  3. As a parent, do I pray with my children every day?  Lead by example.
  4. Work... do I work honestly and treat others fairly.  Employers or employees.
  5. As a child of the universe do I have concern for the environment.
  6. Am I a good member of the family of St. James. Do I pull my weight.
  7. Do I respect my parents, children,

 teachers?

10.How about pride, anger, laziness, drunkenness, obesity, drugs, porn, jealousy?

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From a baby to a king but not only a King but King of the Universe. Sounds awesome but the more important part of it is that He wants to be King of our Hearts. It is here that the King truly wants to reign. We may have very mixed and confused images of kings. They exist outside of us, but this king wants to live within us.  When I live for others, for my husband or for my wife, for my children or my parents, for my parishioners or for each other, for the poor or the stranger, then I am not far from the Kingdom and the King reigns within me. When I am a person of integrity and honesty, generosity and cooperation then the King reigns within my heart.  When I cooperate with the word of God that is called grace and I swim in a sea of grace.  Now that is an awesome thought. I hope you have had a very fruitful liturgical year as a member of the family of St James and that you also found fulfilment in your own contribution.

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I hope many of you have found the perfect wife.  But I also hope many of you ladies have found the perfect husband.  If we live for the others

either as a wife, husband, single person or priest, then I believe we will not be far from the Kingdom. The story of the talents is very much about using our gifts, again for others.  The central tenet of our faith is the incarnation,  that God became man, flesh and blood.  This is revolutionary stuff.   God walking among us, what worries me as a priest is that we are trying to find him in words.  Talking, preaching, words, words, words.  texting, emails even praying.

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Do I have a love of the truth? Do I try to find out the truth about my faith or do I just go along with the news and attitudes of the day?  The first reading tells us about people who have a love for the truth, always seeking it out through reading or talking to someone who is in a position to guide them. Jesus does not spare his words in the gospel and we need to understand them. He talks about the virgins.....five were wise and five were foolish. And that could be any man, woman or child.  Wise ones and foolish ones.  So, make an effort to check things out.  Don't build your world around yourself.

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A few weeks ago Paul told us that when the word came among us it came,"as power, the Holy Spirit and utter conviction." Today Paul tells us that "God's message is God's message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among us who believe it. When we hear the word on Sunday and the reader ends, "This is the word of the Lord."  We should shout out, "Thanks be to God" with power and utter conviction. That God has truly spoken to us.  God Himself, it is an awesome thought and we really need to get into it and feel it, Yes God has spoken to us. The word of God is alive and active. The key answer to all of this is humility.

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Amazing to think that the Book of Exodus written 27 centuries ago, could still be so relevant and important today.  And we still need to talk/preach about it.

So simple we could miss it:-

Do not molest or oppress the stranger.

Do not use harsh words with the widow or the orphan.

Do not demand interest.

If you borrow someone's cloak, give it back before sundown.

We do not have an eternal home, we are all passing through, getting off at the next stop.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE US TO LEARN?

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Which do you prefer?

The power of love or the love of power.

On my phone profile I have written

Love Changes Everything"

And I truly believe this. Start from a loving point and end on a loving note.

It has all kinds of benefits. Lower blood pressure, nicer person, less hassle. more accommodating and the list goes on.

Why did Jesus advocate it so much?  He knew the way forward, He knew what was good for us.

Paul even nails it in today's second reading.  "the Good News came to you not only as mere words , but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction."

Take the power of love to your heart  and do not be emotionally numb  but emotionally alive.  (Last week’s homily.)

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Today Isaiah talks about the great banquet in heaven.  It is a usual reading for a funeral.  Sadly people usually forget the reading before it, which we had last week, about the beautiful vineyard (the world) that the land owner leased out to tenants.  They failed to produce fruit and so they were thrown out of the vineyard.  The vineyard was leased to others.  The vineyard is the church/world and everything was provided.  But they did not cooperate with the generosity of God.  We have got to cooperate with the graces (church, sacraments, prayer, love of all etc.)  God has given us.  When we cooperate with these graces we flourish.  When we don’t we turn in on ourselves.  In hope we pray for the salvation of all but we can’t be presumptuous..

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"Those to whom much is given, much will be expected." We have been given the best of everything.  The truth of the Gospel given to us by God Himself.

Used properly we certainly should get to heaven. The labourers in the vineyard were given everything to produce a great harvest.  But sadly they failed.  Don't be like them.  Paul as ever spells out a receipt for happiness in life.  "Finally brothers and sisters fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, everything that can be thought virtuous 

or worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you."  The power of positive thinking.

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Good to go away and have a break and The Gospel today is so obvious that we almost ignore it.  Our life as Christians is about what we do and not what we say.  This is why Jesus is promoting the tax collectors and sinners.  They may not profess much by the way of faith but often by their actions they may be streets ahead of us.  Any wonder then that Jesus had so much time for tax collectors and sinners.  Not the Pharisees who always felt superior by their attitude but their actions do not confer.  Paul gives us a great guide and tells us be united....in your love, in your common purpose and in your mind.  Just like Jesus' prayer...."May they be one as we are one."   so that the world may believe.

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Good to go away and have a break and The Gospel today is so obvious that we almost ignore it.  Our life as Christians is about what we do and not what we say.  This is why Jesus is promoting the tax collectors and sinners.  They may not profess much by the way of faith but often by their actions they may be streets ahead of us.  Any wonder then that Jesus had so much time for tax collectors and sinners.  Not the Pharisees who always felt superior by their attitude but their actions do not confer.  Paul gives us a great guide and tells us be united....in your love, in your common purpose and in your mind.  Just like Jesus' prayer...."May they be one as we are one."   so that the world may believe.

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Let's be clear .... many of us find today's gospel hard to stomach.  Probably downright disagree with it.  We often do not find such generosity and when we see it we consider it downright reck-lessness. Why should we help all those immigrants, other brothers and sisters by another name? You can't see a doctor, the NHS is clogged up, can't get an appointment. Yes, "Our thoughts are not your thoughts. Your ways not our ways.  (Isaiah)  All very difficult to take.

But thank God, you are reckless.  Here in the UK, a beautiful country, great climate, (we complain), plenty of food, security, we live in peace, sadly some people do not appreciate it.  So putting it simply, as Paul does:

"Is God glorified in you."

or

are you a miserable selfish complaining

_____?______ ?

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"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

We may say the above prayer many times a day but still think we can go on not forgiving.  "Well, it is only one person," I hear you say.  Thank God you are not fighting with the whole world. But that is the one person you are meant to forgive.  Jesus did not say forgive most people. He meant everyone and that is a recipe for heaven.  But also very important, if I don't forgive, I may get a heart attack, probably shorten my life with the weight of the burden or guilt.

 Forgive and let go.

Enjoy the freedom of God's children

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Forgiveness seems to be paramount in the ministry of Jesus.  In the Our Father when he teaches us to pray he tells us to forgive others if we want to be forgiven.

So forgiveness is a must.

I don't understand why people fall out in the first place.  Often when I am in a difficult situation, I find a great help is to say:-”I feel upset by what you said."

At least that gives the other person an opening.  But if I attack and say, "Why did you say that...."    Well then communication has broken down.

Of course this communication works both ways. If you have a quick/sharp temper pray hard.

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Fr Jack

Good to go away and have a break and meet many friends.  A change, a rest, time for prayer and to view things from another angle.  always refreshing.  I hope you also got an opportunity to rest and be with loved ones.

Now good to be back with the familiar and with my family of St James again.  No deaths while I was away, Thank God.

Thanks to Fr Boniface for his work and you for taking care of him. He seems to have put on weight!!

Now back to all the usual.

If anyone would like a visit, or to come and discuss anything, you know where I am.

Today's Gospel challenges us to make decisions.  "If you want to be a follower................"

Not making, or not being able to make decisions in life can be very frustrating.  Because quicker than you expect things begin to  mount up and you can feel overwhelmed. This can be very frustrating, debilitating and annoying.  As I get older I find I am slowing down a bit.  But then the holiday gave me time to recharge.

Also with the Gospel.   We can drift on saying our prayers being good and never heading anywhere in our Christian life.  Make decisions about your faith and you will find it much more empowering.  As we start back the new academic year, find time every day, if only for 10 minutes to be quiet in the presence of God.

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Fr Boniface

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today Jesus reveals to His disciples His mission, which entails suffering grievously, dying and rising after the third day, something that Peter could not stomach. He calls Jesus aside and remonstrate with Him, telling him "God forbid, this cannot happen to you ". Peter completely misunderstands the mission of Christ, as perhaps could some of us. He cannot  accept a saviour who is weak, who will be humiliated and die, rather he expects the Messiah to be as powerful as the Roman rulers of that time, and he would be among the powerful ones since he is within the inner cycle. This expectation of Peter is the human way of thinking, not God's, who sacrificed His only Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us on the cross, a shameful death, and because of that human way of thinking Jesus called him satan.  Dear friends,  God has chosen a different path to save us and we can only share in carrying His cross in order to share in His glory, as the saying goes "there is no resurrection without good Friday". We have not to avoid the cross but rather to embrace and  carry it here on earth, losing our earthly selves in order to gain our true lives in heaven. So when suffering comes to us in different forms: sickness; death; loss of jobs, homelessness, wars and others,  let us accept them in faith aware that our master underwent the same. Endured in faith, the end shall be Joy in ChristJesus who endured a lot of suffering for our sake. May Christ Jesus continue to  strengthen us in carrying our daily crosses.  Secondly let us strive to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and do before Him what is good, what is pleasing and what is perfect, total self giving to Him, that He welcomes us in His heavenly kingdom, Amen.

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Fr Boniface

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

in the Gospel reading of today, Jesus asks his disciples who people know him to be, and the disciples mentioned the names of three very popular personalities at that time: John the Baptist, Elijah and Jeremiah. These are all mistaken identities based on their popularity. He then went on to ask the disciples themselves, who they know him to be, and Peter gave the true identity of Jesus, "you are the Christ, the son of the Living God", an answer for which Jesus was very happy and called Peter blessed because of this divine revelation. And because his strong faith has led him to know Jesus as the Saviour, Jesus would then leave in his hands the keys to the gate of heaven. True faith becomes the bed rock, the foundation on which the Church of Jesus Christ is built, a pathway to heaven.

Dear friends in Christ, our true identity of Jesus as the Messiah shall lead us to enter into heaven, for this divine revelation strengthens our faith and makes us live according to the Will of God. Jesus is indeed asking each one of us today the very same question "who do you say I am"?  The answer is deep in your heart! To me, Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. He is a friend with whom I want to be at all times, He is a perfect example for me to follow, a bridge between me and God the Father, Jesus is my whole.

Let us strive in faith and prayer to discover who Jesus really is in our lives: the Christ, the son of the living God, so that discovering this divine truth leads us to be with Our Father in heaven. Amen.

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Fr Boniface

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The gospel reading of today encourages us not to get discouraged when our prayers are not instantly answered, but rather to continue seeking help from God, till our prayer’s intentions are met. The Canaanite woman in the gospel of today has little in common with the Jews, and yet she knows Jesus as the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. She knows through faith in Him, Jesus shall heal her daughter who was sick.

Jesus, to test the depth of faith in her, first seems not to pay attention to her plea to heal her sick daughter. Secondly, he categorically tells her he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, referring to the Israelites, but the woman, determined to get what she wants from Jesus, challenges him "even dogs eat the scraps of food that fall from the master's table", and because of this strong faith she showed, Jesus granted her, her heart's desire.

Have you been praying for something and have not received it yet - a job, a stable family, justice to be done to you, immigration challenges, a brighter future and so on, continue. With faith in God, you shall get the answers to your prayers at the appropriate time, do not be discouraged by those who don't believe in the goodness of God.

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POPE FRANCIS

ON THE TRANSFIGURATION.

Brothers and sisters, this Gospel traces a path for us too. … In fact, it is by staying with [Jesus] that we learn to recognize on his face the luminous beauty of love he gives us, even when it bears the marks of the cross. And it is in his school that we learn to glimpse the same beauty on the faces of the people who walk beside us every day — family, friends, colleagues who take care of us in the most varied ways. How many bright faces, how many smiles, how many wrinkles, how many tears and scars reveal love around us! Let us learn to recognize them and to fill our hearts with them. And then let us set out in order to bring the light we have received to others as well, through concrete acts of love (cf1 Jn 3:18), diving into our daily affairs more generously, loving, serving, and forgiving with greater earnestness and willingness. The contemplation of God’s wonders, the contemplation of God’s face, of the Lord’s face, must move us to the service of others. 

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POPE FRANCIS

The Kingdom of Heaven is the opposite of the superfluous things that the world offers; it is the opposite of a dull life: it is a treasure that renews life every day and leads it to expand towards wider horizons. Indeed, those who have found this treasure have a creative and inquisitive heart which does not repeat but rather invents, tracing and setting out on new paths which lead us to love God, to love others, and to truly love ourselves. The sign of those who walk this path of the Kingdom is creativity, always seeking more. And creativity is what takes life and gives life, and gives, and gives, and gives. ... It always looks for many different ways to give life.
Jesus, who is the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value, cannot but inspire joy, all the joy of the world: the joy of discovering a meaning for one’s life, the joy of feeling committed to the adventure of holiness.

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Jesus spoke to the people in parables because they are timeless.  Whether in the time of Christ or today, the parables are always fresh and always new.  We reflect and every generation will find something relevant.  Today is no different but in the three parables there are some eternal truths.  Evil is a fact of life and there are people who work hard at being evil.  Maybe not me, but do I contribute my bit even if little? Because God is tolerant, he lets good and bad travel side by side.  Obviously, we need to try to eradicate the bad.  The church had small beginnings but it should be growing. We are all called to do our bit.  Again, for many of us, do you seriously teach your children and those you meet?  Finally, the church should be making a difference in society, being the leaven and helping people to rise up and have a better quality of life.

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As a farmer's son, today's parable speaks volumes to me. In November you ploughed the land, spread fertilizer, later on ploughed again, harrowed, rotavated and then you were ready to plant six months later. Beautiful soil well broken and land fertilised to receive the golden grain.  My father would lift it up and let it flow through his hand like dry sand blowing in the wind. Beautiful. In Ireland with rain and sun you could look forward to a good harvest.  Still more work to be done with spraying and keeping the birds away with scarecrows. Most of the work was done in preparing the landNo preparation and the planting was a waste of time and certainly no harvest.  Do you understand me?  Are you hearing me?  If we do not prepare for our mass/readings then even the greatest of preachers are wasting their time.  Yes, many people will say great sermon, Fr Jack, but by the time they get home the cares of the world take over.

Read the readings again and make them their own.

NO PREPARATION, NO RESULTS

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Fr Jack

Paul in the second reading makes what I think is a massive assumption.  "Our interests are only in spiritual things."  May be true for some people but not all.  If we were all interested in the spiritual things only we would be living in a different world.  Yes I believe it is possible.  "Jesus says his yoke is light."  Yes, anything we grasp with both hands and put our heart into is light and easy and very possible. But for many their faith is routine, tired and boring and I agree, because our heart is not in it.  We need to appreciate what God has done for us and is still doing.  The times he has protected and brought us through.  I remember several times when God positively intervened in my life. And yes I believe he has even greater things in store for me and all of us.  Make sure you enjoy the journey by sorting out your priorities.

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Those of us who are baptised should consider ourselves dead to sin and alive with the life of Christ.  Jesus talks about giving a person a cup of water. Seems simple enough in our western world where water is available at the turn of a tap.  But for three quarters of the world's population water is like gold.  As Pope Francis says:- "Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. This debt can be paid partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor.

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We are worth more than many sparrows. Might seem like an insult at first but when we read the whole thing in context it is clear that Jesus, God is crazy about us.  But Jesus wants us to respond to him, in that way we become more responsive to him.   And in becoming more responsive we become more aware.  Our whole problem is the limitation of our mind and heart.  We lack a God language to help us appreciate.  We fail to look around our world and appreciate the beauty of what God is doing for us.  People say they want signs, open your eyes and there are signs everywhere.  All the bad signs and things you see or hear are man-made.  And sadly, often we blame God.

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Today's Gospel is a very touching story about Jesus. "He felt sorry for them."  He passionately cares for each one of us.  An awesome thought.  God caring for me. They were harassed and dejected.  A man came to see me as I am writing this.  He's got food and he has got a house, a job, a family but he was harassed and dejected. Life is tough, he said.  And yes, it is tough for many people.  Increased prices and bills, fraught relationships, lack of appreciation by partner, employer, family and friends.  Boredom and routine, no light at the end of the tunnel.  I was/am in total sympathy. Then Jesus goes on to talk about a few labourers.  And a great harvest.   For far too long I think many people have seen this to refer to priests. I would like to reduce today's gospel to one sentence.  "TALK TO AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER."

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"God loved the world so much that "Do this in memory of me."  How often did I hear at a funeral,  "we will never forget them."   Yet within a few days Granny is totally forgotten. "At the going down of the sun, we will remember them." and as we are saying it we are bombing the hell out of people in another corner of the world. We surely have a short memory.  So Jesus, totally aware of our inability to remember, told us to;- "Do this in memory of me." Keep the memory alive, Jesus says, never forget how good I have been to you and how much I love you.  Thank God billions of people and priests have gathered together around the world to keep the Memory alive.   Here in St James we do it nine times a week and the same world-wide. The memory of Jesus still lives on. Long may it continue.  But for the above to be real and true we must keep loving people as much as he did. Visiting the sick. Visiting those in prison. Feeding the hungry. Giving drink to the thirsty.  YES, AND WELCOMING THE STRANGER.  

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"God loved the world so much that He gave us his only son." What a beautiful statement from the mouth of Jesus himself. May all of us, but especially parents be faithful to receiving that great gift every week in the sacrament of Holy Communion and helping their children to appreciate it. It is frightening how callous we can sometimes be in the face of Jesus. Please receive often and never become casual. We are talking about God himself.

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We may think the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles was like a bit of magic but they worked hard at it 

Two very important things 

  1. They stayed together
  2. They were discussing the scriptures.

Staying together is so important.   That is the church.  We stay together and the more we support each other the more powerful we/the church will be. Remembering we are the church. People often ask me will I retire. Living without the church/my family/YOU I think I could lose my faith. We need each other. Thanks for being there for me and each another. Long may it last. The better it is, the greater the presence of the spirit among us. Our own Pentecost.

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How is your prayer life doing?  I am sure we all worry about our ability to pray from time to time and we worry about our own sincerity, I know I do.  Chapter 14,15,16,17 of John's Gospel is known as the Priestly Prayer of Jesus. Jesus’s prayer for the world before He goes to the Father.  Looks very straight forward, factual and is Jesus sharing with his Father what He wants. He is more or less telling God that he came and did what He requested. So now you keep your side of the bargain and take me back to heaven. I love it. Read it again and let it help you in your prayer life.

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Do you enjoy mass every week, some weeks or never.  Why do you come?  A dangerous question but one worth reflecting on. Challenge yourself.  What does your faith mean to you?  If you were accused of being a Christian. Would you have enough evidence to prove, yes, I am a Christian.  Jesus gives us fairly simple answers.  "If you love me, keep my commandments."  Keeping the commandments can seem very boring, but they are all an attempt to get to know Christ better. Boring, OK but positive. Good for our health, wellbeing and peace of mind.  It proves I love Christ and that is far from boring.  You are not an orphan.  I am truly a son/daughter of the Father all wrapped up in a divine love. What a claim. I now await the coming of the Holy Spirit. to convince me more of who I truly am.

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I love the first reading from Acts. The apostles were faced with a very real problem of taking care of everything. So they called a meeting of all the elders and agreed to elect seven people to take care of other jobs.

A great sign of the church in action.

Thank God here in our own parish we have a great band of people taking care of so much,

Readers,

choirs/band/singers

Eucharistic ministers/sick/housebound

servers

cleaners

flowers

finance

health and safety

hospitality

safeguarding

catechetical work of many kinds

Liturgy groups

SVP/poor

Legion/lonely

School/s

Secretarial

The one I forgot - We have got our own parish co-ordinating council who decides what we need to do here in our own parish. Why don't you write to them with suggestions of what you may feel we need to do here in our own parish. Would like to offer your services to any of the above groups for an hour or two a week?

YOUR PARISH NEEDS YOU.

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Today's gospel shows Jesus as an absolutely caring shepherd.  No hint of cheating or callousness.  But the true shepherd who cares for all his sheep. Minding the sheep as they come and go and always leading them to pastures new. This is Jesus and also our Heavenly Father, continually watching over each one of us with a fatherly affection.  We in turn should express that love in our care for each other.  I hope in some small way my own love shines through as a reflection of the love of God.  As individuals and as parish we need to be continually showing forth the love of God. This is where vocation comes in, going beyond the call of duty, giving without counting the cost. loving as we have been loved.  Would I do it all over again?  An impossible question to answer, but what I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed my 50 years and am very happy with my decision.  I would encourage any young person with a big heart to check it out.

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I love this story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Let us assume for now that they are husband and wife.  Having a good chat about all the goings on in Jerusalem over the last few days. In their discussion I like to think they enlightened each other.   Wherever two or three are gathered in my name I am there in their midst.   The Gospel puts it very graphically and says Jesus walked with them.   Nothing surprising there.  So whenever two or three of you gather in your house to prepare the Sunday reading, Jesus is there with you.  This sort of preparation can make Christ very real for you and your children who have a great imagination, it is a fantastic faith builder and form of prayer.  God is in his word and it is only when we break the word that we find Christ. "I live now, not I but Christ lives in me."

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When Jesus rose from the dead, he met Mary Magdalene who clung to his feet.

She is obviously delighted to see Jesus again and it seems a reasonable thing to do, however, Jesus seems very abrupt and tells her not to cling to him but to go back to Jerusalem and tell the brothers.

Here Jesus is being adamant that He has opened the gates of heaven and we should not cling to him but get on with preaching the Good News.

Same idea on the Mount of Trans-figuration  when Peter wants to build three tents and stay on the mountain.  

Jesus is adamant that they must go down and preach the Good News.

Today we see Jesus breathing on the apostles and telling them to receive the Holy Spirit, your sins are forgiven, we are free so get on with telling others what Jesus has done for you. As you read this you can reflect on what Jesus has done/means  for you?  Is it worth telling others?

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NEWSLETTER Mon 17th April Sun 24th April 2023

When Jesus rose from the dead, he met Mary Magdalene who clung to his feet.

She is obviously delighted to see Jesus again and it seems a reasonable thing to do, however, Jesus seems very abrupt and tells her not to cling to him but to go back to Jerusalem and tell the brothers.

Here Jesus is being adamant that He has opened the gates of heaven and we should not cling to him but get on with preaching the Good News.

Same idea on the Mount of Trans-figuration  when Peter wants to build three tents and stay on the mountain.  

Jesus is adamant that they must go down and preach the Good News.

Today we see Jesus breathing on the apostles and telling them to receive the Holy Spirit, your sins are forgiven, we are free so get on with telling others what Jesus has done for you. As you read this you can reflect on what Jesus has done/means  for you?  Is it worth telling others?

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Today has changed the course of history forever, and you and I are the proud knowers of this mystery. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. The cross is empty and the tomb is empty.  We are free. Not even death to worry about. Christ has been there before us. This is the news that has impacted billions of lives.  Do I feel truly free, do I experience the real freedom that Christ brought by his resurrection? Because the cross where Jesus died is empty and the tomb where He was buried is vacant, you really can experience true freedom. His resurrection is really good news. It's news that has impacted billions of lives across millennia in some incredible ways. And it's relevant to you, here and now.If we look around the world and see the suffering, the hunger, the oppression by corrupt governments, we must truly look and see how blessed we truly are.  As some would say we should never get off our knees from thanking God. 

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.

It is not the suffering of Christ that pleases the father but his willingness.  

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Fr Jack

The cross is our great Christian symbol.  Many people wear it as an item of jewellery, a symbol of what they believe and proud of it. Sadly, others wear it as a fashion item which is rather strange.  Can you imagine wearing an electric chair or a guillotine around your neck?   Because that is what it is a symbol of capital punishment.  And yet it is the sign by which we conquer this world and its enticements.  On the cross Jesus is saying "THE NONSENSE STOPS HERE." The nonsense.......our own ugliness, our own dysfunction, our own lack of forgiveness. our scapegoating, our own hurtfulness. our own self-righteousness. The world's dysfunction is displayed on the cross.  Jesus is saying leave it all here at the foot of the cross and unburden yourself, or in the language of last week's gospel unbind yourself and let yourself go free. This is why it is Good Friday, Jesus unbound the world from all its dysfunction. Why don't you accept it?

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Again, a very familiar gospel about the raising of Lazarus. Hopefully when our time comes, we will also rise. But in the meantime, we can do a great job in preparation for experiencing the joy of heaven and get a taste of it here and now.

"The dead man. Lazarus came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth around his face."  Jesus says,"unbind him and let him go free."   I believe we are all bound to many things, either through attachment or inadequacy. Remember last week's newsletter, "Spiritual maturity is gained when we stop attaching happiness to material things."

ATTACHMENT:

to anger

to jealousy

to not forgiving

to my phone

to any possession

to spitefulness

to self-righteousness

to judging

INADEQUACIES:

feeling inferior

not good enough

comparing to others

not being at peace with myself.

Unbind yourself and be free this side of the grave.

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To be blind must be a great physical disability. Yet some blind people I know are very positive. They often say "I see." meaning.........I understand!!!  Probably more important.  Why do we often say never discuss religion or politics? because you can discuss them forever.  Sadly, sometimes it is not a discussion, it is an exchange of opinions.  Your opinion----my opinion, is one as good as another?  That is an exchange of opinions. Self-referential? often not very enlightening.  This would be fine in a world without Jesus but Jesus came into the world because he loves us.

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My favourite Gospel. I've got a beautiful carving, from Jerusalem,  of this scene. Here you have got a terrific encounter between two people.  Remember this took place two thousand years ago. look at the contrast:-

JESUS           THE WOMAN

a man              a woman

a Jew               a Samaritan

a rabbi             a sinner

God                 a human

And Jesus is at home in this scene. Shattering all our prejudices and isms -sexism, racism, sectarianism, nationalism, superiorism.  He sees his sister and he loves her, does not judge her.  How often am I guilty of judging and condemning rather than seeing the potential of another human being and a friend.  As Jesus says our worship needs to be in SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH, or as the Pope says, "For it is in togetherness that we follow Jesus. Together too, as a pilgrim Church in time, we experience the liturgical year and Lent within it, walking alongside those whom the Lord has placed among us as fellow travellers,"  The woman having met Jesus goes on to talk about him.

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Jesus did not come to start another religion but to reveal God in us. Here today on the mountain we see this happening in an extraordinary way. There is this great event and all these people are appearing.  Words are spoken, clouds come down and there is a marvellous manifestation. Then all is quiet and the apostles see no one but Jesus.  The message has come true, they have received it, "They see no one but Jesus."  He is our point of reference, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  Peter, impetus as ever, wants to build three tents and stay with the experience.  But Jesus is very clear, no, you have seen, now go down the mountain and strengthen the brothers. Just our job, we know Christ so that we may share him with others.

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The Garden of Eden.  What a beautiful place it was.  The clear message here is that God creates.  Six days or six million years.  Who knows?  No one and no one cares.  1. But what is important is that God did create. What the writer (probably Moses) is really trying to tell us is that God is crazy about us.  He gave us a wonderful, beautiful world to enjoy.  In short God creates.  2.  He created us to be happy.  That's why he gave us a beautiful place.  3, Adam (men) and Eve (women) they/we did something to upset the plan. They/we did not LISTEN  to God, in other words they did their own thing.  Every time we sin we ratify what they did.  So don't blame them.  We are all guilty.  4. God plans to restore the relationship. He is going to send his son Jesus Christ to undo what was done.  So let us now LISTEN to him and not continue to wreck each other and the universe.

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We continue with chapter five of Matthew.  The new and higher law, that is the LAW OF LOVE.  We follow Jesus Christ out of love and not the fear of hell or punishment.  This, I believe, is where many of us Christian fall short....."What must I do."  What is the bare minimum I will get away with and scrape my way into heaven.  Have a heart of welcome and forgiveness.  A heart as big as the God who gave it to you.  A heart like his. Paul says be ambitious for the higher things.  In this kind of behaviour, we find our own identity, we find God, we find happiness now and we find eternal life eventually. In short, get a life.

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Matthew 5 seems to be a very little quoted, or known gospel in relation to our faith.
Jesus makes it very clear the way things were and what was the right thing to do. As he says that was the way it was, and that was ok e.g. "an eye for an eye."  You killed my son now you will have to be killed.  Yes, we agreed with capital punishment for a long time.  You kicked me so now I can kick you back,"an eye for an eye. "BUT then… I (JESUS) SAY. "If you call your brother “Fool” you will answer for it in hell's fire." This is the thing, Jesus came and turned everything upside down.!  Third commandment says, "Go to Mass every Sunday."  So you have to. But Jesus says, "You love me so much that you want to come to Mass every Sunday, to meet me in your fellow brothers and sisters and to be fed by me at the altar. What a wonderful opportunity to meet God and be with Him.  I would not miss it for the world.

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Fr Jack

A Good person is a light in the dark.

I think I would like that on my headstone.  Seems fairly basic, but then St Francis said,  "All that is necessary for evil to thrive is good people to do nothing.  "But good people who as Isaiah says, "share their bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor."  "Do away with the joke, the clenched fist and the wicked word.  "Your integrity will go before you.  There you have it.  "Do not protect your integrity but let your integrity protect you."  So, boast of your integrity or should I say like St Paul, the power of Christ within me.   Together all things are possible.

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In today’s Gospel we hear how the crowds came from different parts of Israel to listen to Christ’s teaching.  They were excited and eager to see Jesus.  Isaiah says “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near”. Jesus taught them the meaning of happiness which enabled them to inherit the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, the sermon of the mount requests us to identify our gifts and use them in an appropriate way to lead a happy life which then leads to Paradise.  Are you gentle? Are you merciful? Are you a peacemaker? Are you honest? Are you ready to be persecuted for the sake of the Gospel?  Who are we today? We are Christ’s soldiers who are called to lead our faith and defend it. May Almighty God grant us His Grace in the coming week!  Amen.

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Jesus started His public ministry by proclaiming “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”.  This profound message started ringing in the hearts of the people and they began looking for God’s forgiveness and mercy.  This key announcement of Jesus demonstrates the prophecy of Isaiah “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” Jesus is the light of the world, his mission is reinstate God’s Kingdom among us, which was distorted by human disobedience of God’s commandments.  He enabled each one of us to see the true light out of His infinite love for us.  He gave us the freedom to walk through this everlasting light.  Now, it’s high time for all believers to let God guide and lead us.  When the light of Christ shines within us we shall clearly see the presence of God’s Kingdom in our midst.  In today’s Gospel, while Jesus was preaching by the sea of Galilee he called His first four disciples.  They were astonished by his words, they had never heard such powerful preaching, afterwards they left everything and followed him.  They recognised their master’s voice.  Let us drop our vested interests and engage and labour for the kingdom of God, He will reward us.

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Last week we heard we are beloved sons and daughters.  Do I really hear it.  John today declared openly that Jesus baptised with the Holy Spirit.  He is the one who gives us the extra dimensions to our life. The one who empowers us.  The one who helps us, yes to engage, 

  1. with ourselves 
  2. with each other 
  3. with God.

After 50 years in the priesthood, where I often blamed myself for the failures of the parish, I now think there is a very different dynamic at work.  Or should I say not at work.  Many of us do not want to engage.   Still very much on the personal salvation route.  Please consider do you engage with fellow parishioners, fellow brothers and sisters here in St James.  We are all on this journey together and if we travel together, it is so much more enjoyable.

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Last week we heard we are beloved sons and daughters.  Do I really hear it.  John today declared openly that Jesus baptised with the Holy Spirit.  He is the one who gives us the extra dimensions to our life. The one who empowers us.  The one who helps us, yes to engage, 

  1. with ourselves 
  2. with each other 
  3. with God.

After 50 years in the priesthood, where I often blamed myself for the failures of the parish, I now think there is a very different dynamic at work.  Or should I say not at work.  Many of us do not want to engage.   Still very much on the personal salvation route.  Please consider do you engage with fellow parishioners, fellow brothers and sisters here in St James.  We are all on this journey together and if we travel together, it is so much more enjoyable.

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People of my generation and younger will have the memory of the church as a hierarchical institution. Pope at the top then cardinals, bishops, priests and people. Very much like a school head, deputy head, heads of year teachers assistant teachers and pupils.  But remember the most important people in the school are the children as in the church the people. This is the great shift to see the church as the PEOPLE OF GOD.  All on a level playing field, pope, bishops and people with Christ as the centre, certainly not the priest as we often think in our parishes.  "What does father say?"  My sacrament is a sacrament of ORDERS.  Special orders within the people of God. Through Baptism we are all equal.  All in need of redemption with Christ as the only Bridge Builder between heaven and earth. So when people ask me, “am on my own in Peckham?"  I usually reply, "Yes and a thousand people." Not forgetting that we are baptised with water and THE HOLY SPIRIT. The one who empowers us to be an active and living church, changing the face of society.  

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POPE FRANCIS a few thoughts.

  • There is no perfect family.
  • We have no perfect parents, we are not perfect, we do not get married to a perfect person, neither do we have perfect children.
  • The good of the family, Pope Francis said, “consists in sharing relationships of faithful love, trust, cooperation, reciprocity,” which brings about their happiness.
  • “The family humanises people through the relationship of 'we' and at the same time promotes each person's legitimate differences.”
  • Generally, without an annulment of their sacramental marriage, such a couple would not be able to receive Communion or absolution of their sins unless they promised to live as “brother and sister.”
  • But every situation is different, the Pope said, which is why the church does not need new rules, but a new commitment on the part of pastors to provide spiritual guidance and assistance with discernment.
  • Turning to those who believe allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion waters down church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the Pope said, “we put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel.”

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The incarnation, God becoming man is an amazing thought.  Why would God want to join us here on earth?  Are we so fantastic?  Yes, we are.  God wanted to bridge the gap between earth and heaven, He did not want to remain apart.  The greatest thing we can learn from it is the importance of us becoming one as a people.  Sharing our joys and sorrows, supporting each other, don't suffer alone. Talk to someone and feel connected and hopefully supported. Look for what unites us, what we share in common.  Don't look for the divisions, the differences. We are God's chosen people, he loves and we should love one another.  A sincere thanks to all the people who helped this parish through the last year.  Much goes on behind the scenes by many faithful, dedicated workers.  Feel appreciated, you certainly make my job less stressful.  You make this parish go round and spread the love of God.  Long may it live, make sure you are on board in the coming year. Happy Christmas and a Holy New Year to one and all.

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FR Jack

Many people want more information about their faith and about Jesus.  Then they will go out and preach???????  The idea is not bad but.............Many people collect memorabilia about their heroes.  And a few are willing to pay the price to emulate and follow   them. Many kids will sweat their hearts out, and break their parents hearts in the process.  Trying to emulate Mbappe (French) or Messi (Argentinian) and be in World Cups of the future.  And when they don't make it there will be tears like you know who (sorry.) Olu in our shop sells a lot of memorabilia about Jesus and saints.  Sometimes it worries me because  Jesus does not  want admirers he wants followers not collectors of memorabilia.    Like the kid who is prepared to sweat his /her guts out to be like their hero.  And when he/she fails they cry.   Don't see too many Christians crying because of the failure of the Gospel or dare I say our failure.  Conceive of Christ in your hearts and he will become a reality in your life this Christmas.

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FR Jack

Reading the prophet Isaiah, you can't but feel a great sense of joy.  The optimism and the looking forward to someone coming.  Someone who will bring great joy and freedom to the hearts of people.  Do you feel that joy in your life right now?  Do you experience anything, like the anticipation of a woman waiting for her first child to be born.  The hope that is in her heart, the anticipation the sharing with her partner.  This is their love personified. Living proof that we love each other. Our love on two legs.   Yes, I am a romantic at heart.  If we can't dream at the birth of a child, when can we dream? "What will this child grow up to be?"  (A book could follow on the responsibility to keep that love intact.  Sadly, some parents are only capable of giving physical birth.)The need for that child to grow up spiritually as a child of love.  A child who was conceived in love, out of love and FOR LOVE.Parents pray with your children everyday so that they may know whom they truly are as your children and as brothers and sisters of the Christ child.  Don't forget their search for God is their search for their own identity.  Which parents give their children.

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Worthiness results in being loved not from just achieving.  I am wonderful because God is wonderful.  Today's readings are full of some powerful words. Check them again integrity, faithfulness, justice, peace,  tolerance, produce appropriate fruit.  When these virtues are in us people notice and we become the presence of God in our work place, in our schools and in our lives.  If they are missing or a bit dormant Advent is a great time to resurrect them again.Tuesday we have a penitential service here in our own church at 7pm.  Please use it to appreciate why Jesus came into the world. Then and only then will we be able to say with the mystic Julian of Norwich, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all shall be well.”

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We come again to a new year, all the readings starting from today will be from Year 1. In Advent like in Lent the vestments are in purple this is because they are both penitential seasons.  Lent is the preparation for the Resurrection and Advent is the preparation for the birth of Jesus.  We have a good tradition of doing something special in Lent, we should also do something in Advent.  We know Christ is born – he came into history 2,000 years ago.  Is he now coming more and more into my life.  If Christ is to be born in me, I’ve got to make space in my heart, this means getting rid of any bitterness, jealousy, racism, lack of forgiveness, selfishness and so on.  It is said that prayer has two wings – fasting and alms giving.  So if our prayer is to be real we have to have fasting and alms giving.

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We come again to a new year, all the readings starting from today will be from Year 1. In Advent like in Lent the vestments are in purple this is because they are both penitential seasons.  Lent is the preparation for the Resurrection and Advent is the preparation for the birth of Jesus.  We have a good tradition of doing something special in Lent, we should also do something in Advent.  We know Christ is born – he came into history 2,000 years ago.  Is he now coming more and more into my life.  If Christ is to be born in me, I’ve got to make space in my heart, this means getting rid of any bitterness, jealousy, racism, lack of forgiveness, selfishness and so on.  It is said that prayer has two wings – fasting and alms giving.  So if our prayer is to be real we have to have fasting and alms giving.

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Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. His ultimate desire is to be King of our Hearts. He is not a dictator king but, dare I say a benign king.   He cares about each and every one of us and wishes for nothing but our complete good here on earth and there after in heaven. He wants to be king of our hearts.  Is Christ present in your life?  As Paul says;- "I am patient and kind.  Never jealous, arrogant or boastful.  Always ready to forgive, rejoicing in the wellbeing of others. I do not take offence and am not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but rejoices in the truth.  Love does not come to an end."  How did you do? 

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The end of the church year is fast approaching this Sunday and another Sunday left.  A good time to take stock and review our lives.  The one great virtue that we as Christians have is HOPE.  Here we need to be aware of two pitfalls, DESPAIR, whatever I do will make no difference anyway, or I am useless and don't even trust God. The opposite extreme, PRESUMPTION is equally as bad/wrong.  No need for me to do anything, God will take me to heaven anyway, regardless!  Don't presume.  Jesus says that"The kingdom of God is very near to us."  When we are kind, generous, cooperative, compassionate, humble, honest and forgiving.  By being this way, we will truly make the Kingdom of God present in our world.People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.  Hence my continual emphasis on reading the scriptures and modelling ourselves on Jesus Christ.

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The end of the church year is fast approaching this Sunday and another Sunday left.  A good time to take stock and review our lives.  The one great virtue that we as Christians have is HOPE..  Here we need to be aware of two pitfalls, DESPAIR, whatever I do will make no difference anyway, or I am useless and don't even trust God. The opposite extreme, PRESUMPTION is equally as bad/wrong.  No need for me to do anything, God will take me to heaven anyway, regardless!  Don't presume.  Jesus says that"The kingdom of God is very near to us."  When we are kind, generous, cooperative, compassionate, humble, honest and forgiving.  By being this way, we will truly make the Kingdom of God present in our world. People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.  Hence my continual emphasis on reading the scriptures and modelling ourselves on Jesus Christ.

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We have four gospels. All telling the same story but with a slight variation here and there, and that is as it should be.  We all probably have slightly different views of Christ but they must be true to the gospels.  As Paul says we preach what we know. However, Matthew, Mark and Luke talk very much about all things leading to the end of time, death, judgement, heaven and hell. John by contrast has a very different view.   He talks about it all happening in the here and now.   "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. "We have eternal life here and now.  We are truly blessed as children of the father, here and now.  The Holy Spirit lives in us here and now..... thus we are able to do some good.  Without him nothing would be possible.  As sons and daughters, we are a living family and should behave as such in the here and now. For John it's all happening in the here and now through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.  Enjoy it and practice it.

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“How many of you read a passage of the Gospe! every day?  Keep a small Gospel always at hand.  Open it to a random page, read what Jesus says, and experience that Jesus is there!  At any time in the day I take the Gospel out of my pocket and read a little something, a short passage. Read the Gospel.  We’ve said this before, remember?  Read a passage of the Gospel every day.  Carry a copy of the Gospel with you, in your pocket, in your handbag – have one at hand, anywhere.  And there, reading a passage, we will find Jesus” Whizz kids may wish to use their phones.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 24th October Sun 30th October 2022

Just wondering if anyone did any practice on the prayer of last week Y_H_W_H.  Did you find it helpful? YAHWEH or put another way, the vowels are silent.  I hope so.  Helped you to relax, clear your mind, feel good about yourself.  That is all good but there is so much more. We are not doing yoga/feel good, important as that may be, we are supposed to be praying, putting ourselves in the presence of God.   So we need to get into the mind of God which we find in the scriptures.  Proper breathing should help us to focus. And we have the answer in today's readings. Does my prayer make me humble,  "The humble person's prayer pierces the clouds."   God hears the voice of the poor, God is not a respecter of personage. My prayer must lead me to hear the voice of the poor, otherwise it is not real.   Everyone of us baptized is called to be holy, caring for the physical and spiritual needs of people, and sharing  that holiness with other people, a spreader of the fire of the Holy Spirit that sets the world ablaze.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 17th October Sun 23rd October 2022

In today's gospel Jesus tells us that even the unjust judge gives in to the woman.  If he can do it how much more will God help us if we only trust Him.  "Pray continually." If you are praying well, continue doing so.  However, how do we pray continually?  A tall order.  But Jesus says it and we must try to understand.  In the Hebrew language vowels are not pronounced.  So if we take the name of YAHWEH and leave out the vowels what do we get......Y-H W-H.  Now pronounce that yh wh.  It is synonymous with our breathing,  yh wh, yh wh, yh wh.  So in our breathing we are continually saying the name of God. For those who do good yoga that is what you are trying to do....get in touch and keep in touch with your breathing.  Just repeating the name of God.  When you popped out of the womb and the midwife slapped you on the rear end......you gasped and said God.  And as you give your last breath, probably with one great gasp and a gurgle you will say yh wh.  So we come into the world and leave the world with the name of God on our lips. Wow????  So in between the womb and the tomb we need to be continually in touch with the name of God on our lips. This is why finding quiet time throughout the day to get in touch with our breathing, with yh wh can be very calming and contemplative.  And the result is that in between time we have a heightened awareness of yh wh.  Praying continually.

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“Thanks” such a lovely word and we all love to hear it.  Pope Francis said three very important words are: please, thanks and sorry.  Today we don't see much thanks in the Gospel.  Ten were cured, one said thanks.  In the life of a Christian we should not be disappointed not to be Thanked.  Jesus is not thanked by nine.  Jesus says;- "to give without counting the cost."  And it is not always easy. Give, give, give??  When last did you thank your mum, your dad, your teacher, your priest, your boss, your employee, Your God?  Eucharist means THANKSGIVING. So, we come to mass every week to give God thanks, on our own behalf and on behalf of the world.  You may not feel great about it but you know it is the right thing to do.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 3rdOctober Sun 9th October 2022

If you told someone 100 years ago that one day a man would walk on the moon, they would probably laugh at you.  Could you blame them? If you approach something in life saying it must be done, the chances are it will be done.  How many great things have been done because of man's/woman's belief in themselves.  I hope you have achieved quite a few things in life yourself, because of your self-belief, did you not surprise yourself. Congratulations.  Continue to believe in yourself and you will still do great things. Don't settle for the pile as they say. Now if you are confident that you approach no task alone, how much more will you do?   You always have an all-powerful God at your elbow. He even tells us: - "If your faith were the size of a mustard seed, you will do great things. Often, I think when people say they have no faith they are saying one of two things: -Really, I do not believe in myself, suffering from lack of confidence.  And so, I cannot move forward. 2.  Often people say they doubt, their faith is weak.  If you are reading this, your faith is not weak, rather you are looking for certainty.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 26th September Sun 2nd October 2022

Our first reading today is from the prophet Amos and is all about the poor.  It is the favourite reading of all who care about the poor, Martin Luther King, Helder Camerar, Oscar Romero just to name a few.  They were always on the side of the poor.  I feel embarrassed myself because of often being aligned with the rich.  We all have to find a way to deal with it. As British Rail say, "Mind the Gap."  Surely that is the issue.  When a few people own more wealth than the whole world put together.  Problem is we live in different worlds.  We do not understand each other.  The rich man is not necessarily a bad man, but he just does not seem to notice.  It's mine, I'm entitled to it, I've worked for it, I earned it.  And God says it is all gift.   We haven't a clue how other people live. And maybe the poor are not any better.  They also aspire to be rich, famous, celebrities to be at the top and may often despise people at the bottom. But God sees things very differently and has a different arrangement. The scraps are given to the poor whether it be scraps of food, leftover clothing, or the change in the bottom of my pocket/purse. Pray for enlightenment. 

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NEWSLETTER Mon 19th September Sun 25th September 2022

The Gospel today is all about stewardship. Am I a good steward with my Time, Talent and Treasure in this parish of St James. If everybody did one job, an hour a month, this parish would be buzzing. Can you afford an hour?  Or can you refuse an hour? So:-What are your dreams and desires for your parish?What wonderful initiatives are already taking place?What tangible steps will you take to make your dream a reality?Will you give it that hour a month, or better even a week?

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NEWSLETTER Mon 12th September Sun 18th September 2022

"Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We often give a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of "Christian" countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I'm afraid.”  Richard Rohr

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NEWSLETTER Mon 5th September Sun 11th September 2022

The Comboni Missionaries state that they dedicate themselves to the missionary apostolate to the populations that are not yet or not sufficiently evangelized, especially in Africa. They are present in Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Spain), Africa (Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Zambia), in the Americas (Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru), and Asia (Philippines, Macao, Taiwan). The Mother House is in Via Luigi Lilio in Rome. At the end of 2008, the congregation had 328 houses with 1,803 religious, 1,296 of whom were priests. Today Fr Mario is here to do an appeal on their behalf. Your generosity is appreciated.

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The key word of today's readings is humility.  If I live in a castle or people put me on a pedestal there is always a great fear I will be toppled.  Often as a priest people want to put me on a pedestal.  I've always resisted. For some of us life is a drama.  And like Shakespeare says, "Do I have to play all the parts."  And yes, some of us feel we do.  I am the writer, the director and the lead actor.  And it is everybody's else's job to make me look good. Let's get it right, God is the writer, (not the controller).  So, relax and don't take yourself too seriously.  Nobody else does.  When we live our lives in relationship with God, we realise our lives are not about us.  And that is a very liberating experience.  We get rid of the monkey on our back.  That Super Inflated EGO of mine which makes life impossible. And like today's gospel, as in a drama, the least likely character is the hero. 

 

 

 

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NEWSLETTER Mon 22nd August Sun 28th August 2022

Is there anybody who can open the “narrow gate”? If you were making a sign for this gate, could you call it “love”? According to Pope Francis, that is the only thing that opens the gate? Jesus makes it clear that it is not a matter of numbers, that there is no “limited number” in Paradise! Rather, it is a case of taking the right way from now, and this right way is for everyone, but it is narrow. …. He tells us things as they truly are: the doorway is narrow. In what sense? In the sense that, in order to save oneself, one has to love God and neighbour, and this is uncomfortable! It is a “narrow doorway” because it is demanding. Love is always demanding. It requires commitment, indeed, “effort,” that is, a determined and persevering willingness to live according to the Gospel. Saint Paul calls it “the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim 6:12). It takes a daily, all-day effort to love God and neighbour.

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Today we celebrate Mary been taken up into heaven.  For all of us our mother has a special place.  And obviously all of us would like our friends to like our mothers. Hence the respect and love we have for the mother of Jesus. I often wonder did Mary have a midwife for the birth of Jesus.   I say that because I believe in very many ways, I am a midwife.  Apart from the fact that I delivered a baby on the side of the road at two o clock in the morning. You see God is within all of us but sadly many of us are still looking for him outside of ourselves.  God is within and I believe all preaching is an attempt to help us all to give birth to that God within.  God is there, "I live now, not I but Christ lives in me."  Waiting to be born in me so that I really become aware of the Gospel as the Good News.  Many people spend a life searching for God not knowing where to find him.  He is in our hearts and very apparent when we love, forgive, share, rejoice and so much more.  And he is in our midst when we welcome, help, support, forgive and so much more foreach other. My friend Jimmy spent so much time searching for God, worried so much about it and when he died.... God found him.   "Don't worry you are worth more than many sparrows, every hair of you head is counted."

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Knowledge is power. In today's second reading we see Abraham growing in stature/faith. God asked him to go to a foreign land and he set out to a strange country. God told him he would be a father despite Sarah's age. God told him he would be the Father of many nations. Abraham trusted in God and God was being faithful. All seemed to be going well. And then God asked him to kill his only son. Abraham must have been shattered and in obedience proceeded. Perhaps not in obedience but he trusted in God. God had been so good to him, all along He/God would not let him down now. That is the faith we must all grow in. We need a certain knowledge and appreciation to grow in faith. That's why when people say they do not believe in God. I believe they are not rejecting God, but rejecting their childhood notion of God. And rightly so, because the God they believed in as a child is not going to be much good to them as an adult. Sadly, they have never grown in their understanding of the God of Jesus Christ.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 1st August Sun 7th August 2022

Hope many of you had a chance for a break of some sort or other, whether in sunny Peckham del Sol, or away from Peckham with family or friends. I just had a very nice break in Ireland while still celebrating my Jubilee.  All the family are well. Thank God. Today's readings bring us back to reality with a bump. Look into your own heart and what do you find there? Like the first reading, are you looking for a lot of vanities/wealth, things that pass? What do I really want out of life? Whatever it is, share it.  Support others.  Build relationships.  Do not be greedy. Remembering; “It is in giving that we receive."

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NEWSLETTER Mon 25th July Sun 31st July 2022

Today we welcome Fr Brian Oswald MHM to promote the RED BOX. Many families have one, but many more I am sure will be very happy to help. I have no doubt you will give him a fantastic St James’ welcome.
Together we are helping missionaries share the love of Jesus overseas For almost 200 years, we have been supporting world mission, providing missionaries with the spiritual and material support they need to enable local people to build and sustain their own faith communities. Today we continue to empower the Catholic Church globally, showing the love of Christ to everyone, and especially to those in need. We achieve this with our partners, the Mill Hill Missionaries, and your generous Red Box donations.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 18th July Sun 24th July 2022

Jesus, in protecting Mary in today's reading, is protecting all women. In many parts of the world today women are forbidden to go to school.  "Girls do not need education, they are for bearing children and manual work!" The reason for manual work is not a reason for a woman to give up her heart’s desire. Martha understood the place of women in their society. They were to clean the house and cook like Martha was doing, and there was no need for them to have education. Their husbands would see after them???? No wasting time like Mary was doing. Martha demands that Mary be made to ‘play the woman,’ and as ever Jesus will not go along with the stereotype: “Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it.” How much women have suffered over the world, over the centuries, because of the perception of their "proper role!"  Dare I say as defined by men?????????? Like Sarah in the first reading, they are for cleaning the house and cooking food.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 11th July Sun 17th July 2022

Probably the best short story ever told and the best known world-wide by all religions: The Good Samaritan.  We know it by heart, we have heard it a thousand times, we even use the phrase, "be a good Samaritan."  We all know what it means.  You could even say we are quoting scripture, but the call to be a GS is something else. We are all good from time to time and help now and again.  But we say there is a limit. This, I believe, is the difference between a Christian and a non-believer. The non-believer may get tired. A Christian never gets tired. You go on and on.  As Jesus says to give without counting the cost, now there is a challenge. When you start to count you have lost the plot.  Jesus gave the last drop of blood, we are called to do no less, giving a bit here and there. Yes, you're a good person, even a nice person, but as Paul says: - "Even the pagans do as much, do they not?" So being a GS demands sacrifice.  Now there is a word you don't hear too often, S.A.C.R.I.F.I.C.E. By and large we do not like making sacrifices, going to mass is a sacrifice, spending time with people we may not like is a sacrifice, giving up something for the benefit of another is a sacrifice. And that is the call of the gospel, going the extra mile.

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I believe that St Francis’s message is even more important in light of this most recent pandemic. Francis—and his spiritual sister, Clare—remind us we are all connected. The paths of greed, consumerism, individualism, and nationalism endanger the planet and its peoples. In the spirit of Francis, we need to break down barriers of friend and stranger, citizen and immigrant, rich and poor, if we are to survive in this increasingly interdependent world. Nations need to see patriotism in terms of world loyalty as well as self-affirmation.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 27th June Sun 3rd July 2022

I often worry about what I write here and what I preach. Why? My mother used to bake brown soda bread and it was beautiful. Many other women bake brown soda bread, even here in the parish. But none of them make it quite like my mother. It is a very personal experience. You see, I could give you a recipe here for a wedding cake.  All the best quality ingredients, quantities and how to put them together.  But no way does that compare to the sheer joy of eating/sharing a wedding cake and a glass of champagne with the happy couple. Reading the scriptures and doing what Fr Jack suggests, no way compares to the sheer joy of knowing Christ. You've got to sit down and spend your own time with the readings/ingredients and hopefully that will bring you to knowing the person of Christ in a very personal way. "I live now, not I but Christ lives in me." This is the freedom that Paul talks about in the second reading. The freedom of being in love.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 20th June Sun 26th June 2022

I am not often stuck for words, but last week must go down as the mother and father of all parish days. Just shows you what can be done with everyone pulling their weight and everybody contributing. You did me proud, everybody was impressed and I believe enjoyed themselves as well.  And God, himself was not to be outdone in generosity. A day to be remembered. But I fear for who can organise next year. The obvious answer is we keep the DQ on. Do I hear you say yes? The food, the music, the barbecue, the drinks, the planning, the organization, the clean-up, just everything. My family and friends were delighted, but now no longer feel sorry for me. In fact, they envy me. And I also hope you feel very proud and happy to belong to St James’. This is faith in action. "LOVE CHANGES EVERYTHING." One priest had the audacity to ask me when I was retiring.  And he was not thinking of my well-being???. To one and all, big hugs and kisses, all around. Let's continue to build.   Proud and happy to belong to St James' and for your very generous gift.  Be blessed.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 13th June Sun 19th June 2022

The beauty of God is in relationship. Not the father implementing draconian laws or the son being a proud know it all, because of his pedigree. No, it is in their unity of spirit and purpose which ironically is us.  Creating a wonderful world for us and showing us how to treat each other.  The more we listen and act the more we become like them' creating a beautiful world for the better of all people. Creating a spirit and atmosphere of love which is nothing other than God himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. You see Jesus became man in order to participate in our human condition and transform it from within. And the father’s only desire is that we share his happiness. But we have got to make his words our own. As Paul says; - "I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me."  And it is only when we make it our own will it become the driving force in our life.   Because happiness is an internal job and we can only enjoy it in relationship.

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NEWSLETTER Mon 6th June - Sun 12th June 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 6th June Sun 12th June 2022

Happy birthday. Yes, today is our birthday. The church was born from the side of Christ. Blood and water flowed out, meaning Christ is dead and the way is now open for the Holy Spirit to come. So, his arrival today is the beginning, since the Ascension of Jesus they are locked in the upper room, AFRAID. But today they get the Holy Spirit and get courage to go out and preach, go out and preach to the point of death. Around the world millions of people are prepared to die for their belief.  Here in the UK, we will never be asked to die for our faith.  But we are continually asked to stand up for our faith, speak out when you see wrong doing etc. The 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understandingcouncil, fortitude, knowledge, piety and the fear of the Lord. The Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit: 1. Charity 2. Joy 3. Peace 4. Patience 5. Kindness 6. Goodness 7. Generosity 8. Gentleness 9. Faithfulness 10. Modesty 11. Self-Control 12. Chastity. When some or all of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit are present, then you know God is around. QUESTION:  How alive is the Holy Spirit in your life?

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 30th May Sun 5th June 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 30th May - Sun 5th June 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 30th May Sun 5th June 2022

Whether it be marriage, a school, an office, or family, a country or institution, unity is the key to happiness. All people working and pulling together under the leadership of the boss/head, trusting they are a good leader.  Jesus knew that so well. His departing words were, "That all would be one."  The breakup of the Christian churches into thousands, yes thousands, many vying for position, must surely go down as the greatest scandal of our time. The result is a very weakened church, lack of conviction and a failure to preach the gospel message of PEACE.   A failure to change the face of society. At the moment, if we are trying to hold the church together, it must be as an instrument of peace and not preserving it for its own sake. The dying prayer of Jesus was: - "That all may be one."  "Father may they be one as we are one. May they be one, with me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise it was you who sent me." 

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 23rd May Sun 29th May 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 23rd May - Sun 29th May 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 23rd May Sun 29th May 2022

The arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen by the Hong Kong government this week is bad news for the Vatican. It's true that the 90-year-old cardinal, who is in poor health, has been released, but he is out on bail and will face a trial. By targeting the man who has been nicknamed the "conscience of Hong Kong" and who has been a tireless defender of human rights on the island, Beijing is conveying to Pope Francis all the fragility and ambiguity of the rapprochement it initiated in 2018 with the Vatican. Moreover, it is a rapprochement that Cardinal Zen has criticized. He has always seen it as the pope compromising with an increasingly harsh regime. Therefore, it's no coincidence that the Holy See, contrary to its usual practice, raised its voice immediately and strongly protested the cardinal's arrest. This is also bad news for China. By inaugurating his mandate as chief executive of Hong Kong with the condemnation of a Catholic figure respected throughout the world, John Lee is giving proof that he intends to continue Beijing's takeover of the island. After attacking political and economic opponents, the regime is now targeting religious leaders. This heralds difficult years for Catholics in Hong Kong. And beyond that, for all those on the mainland.

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 16th May Sun 22nd May 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 16th May - Sun 22nd May 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 16th May Sun 22nd May 2022

"After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” They appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith." This reading today from Acts, is a very good model of how the church could/should work in any/this parish. People who will agree to take responsibility for different ministries and will be faithful. Great things happen in this parish because of a few people.  Just imagine how much more effective it would be with everybody doing something. Are you up for it?

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 9th May Sun 15th May 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 9th May - Sun 15th May 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 9th May Sun 15th May 2022

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. We all love the image of Jesus carrying a sheep around his neck and carrying him back to the fold. Just imagine yourself with that closeness. The Good Shepherd Jesus himself taking care of you. I hope after 50 years I have reflected some of that love in my parishes. Pretty demanding trying always to keep the bright side out.   But a man can only do their best.  I am sure there were many shortcomings and for that I trust in the mercy of God. The grace of God is a wonderful thing.  How do I describe it?   50 years ago, I put on my souvenir card, "By the grace of God." Not sure what I really meant then, but now I know. That grace which has kept me faithful to the job for 50 years and close to the Good Shepherd. To God be the glory.

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 2nd May Sun 8th May 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 2nd May - Sun 8th May 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 2nd May Sun 8th May 2022

Today is a beautiful homily story. The apostles dejected, no fish to sell, no money to buy food for their family, not even a fish. Can you imagine them going home, the children running with excitement, "Daddy, Daddy what have you got?" Sorry children, not even a fish, not to mention the bread and sweets they would have bought with the fish they sold. The pain of a father watching his children go hungry.  The sense of failure.  Cold, dejected, and hungry after a long night. Jesus, a non-fisherman telling them what to do.  Fishing in the daytime, never heard of. Then the success and the bar-b-que on the beach.  I've done it many times.  Wonderful. Then the challenge to Peter, "do you love me."  The pain of being asked and asked and asked again. But no doubt in Peter's heart. Despite what he had done.  He knew his Lord and master.

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 25h April Sun 1st May 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 25h April - Sun 1st May 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 25h April Sun 1st May 2022

The reality of life is death.  And not death to be avoided but death transformed. This is the great news of the Resurrection. The only trustworthy pattern of spiritual transformation is death and resurrection. As Christians we must carry our cross.  Death and life are two sides of the same coin; you cannot have one without the other. Each time you surrender, each time you trust the dying, your faith is led to a deeper level and you discover a Larger Self underneath. You decide not to push yourself to the front of the line, and something much better happens in the back of the line. You let go of your narcissistic anger, and you find that you start feeling much happier. You surrender your need to control your partner, and finally the relationship blossoms or ends. Yet each time it is a choice—and each time it is a kind of dying. It seems we only know what life is when we know what death is. Or try Paul’s famous one-liner: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Things change and grow by dying to their present state, but each time it is a risk. (R. Roher) As spring follows winter and summer follows spring = dying, budding and blossoming. May you blossom this Easter in the knowledge that Christ is risen and alive in you.  "I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me."

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 18th April Sun 24th April 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 18th April - Sun 24th April 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 18th April Sun 24th April 2022

Thanks for all your good wishes and prayers. I hope you have a wonderful Easter and that the Lord shines in your heart. Amen HAPPY EASTER

document NEWSLETTER Mon 11th April Sun 17th April 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 11th April - Sun 17th April 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 11th April Sun 17th April 2022

A Happy Easter to one and all!

 

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 4th April Sun 10th April 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 4th April - Sun 10th April 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 4th April Sun 10th April 2022

I love today's gospel: A very angry crowd. A very calm Jesus. That's how to do it. Jesus bends down, He doesn't want to look the woman straight in the eye and embarrass her. Such consideration. And then the finger of God writing on the dust just as it had written the 10 commandments on the tablets of stone earlier. He is the author of the law and as such he must respect it. The people thought they had him over a barrel. As ever Jesus is not out done and he puts the challenge back to the angry crowd. He challenges their own sincerity. It is easy for Christians to take a self- righteous attitude towards the world.  It is much more difficult to take Jesus's attitude. "Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more."  All of us have contributed to the darkness of the world, none of us can cast the first stone. If I have mis- judged you, please let me know.

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 28th March Sun 3rd April 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 28th March - Sun 3rd April 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 28th March Sun 3rd April 2022

The wasteful son. We know it backwards. One of Jesus' most famous stories. Often the problem we have in hearing it, is we tend to compare:  The older son, the younger son, the father.  The good, the bad and the kind. Useless exercise.  If you want to compare, compare yourself with Jesus. Jesus, as ever, turns religion on its head as it should be. I hate the word. (religion) The ones who do wrong are forgiven, transformed and rewarded. And some of us good Christians do not like that. Some situations we cannot fix, understand or control.  Up to that moment it has only been religion. Now faith has to take over. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me," A similarity of life. At that moment Jesus fell totally into the hands of the Father. That is faith/trust. And that is resurrection. (Comment is welcome)

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 21st March Sun 27th March 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 21st March - Sun 27th March 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 21st March Sun 27th March 2022

God is a wonderful gardener. Just look at the world he has given us and he also takes care of it. Some of us do a bit. I prefer God's Garden. Ours tend to be a bit too manicured.  The joy of the forest, the variety of trees, plants and shrubs.  Interconnected, feeding of each other, supporting each other and at times destroying one another.  All part of nature and God's way. Not to mention the home it provides for millions of insects, animals. The roots holding water and avoiding floods and landslides. The music in the wind and the birds and the bees. Don't you feel truly blessed? And it runs in the family. It seems his son is an equally good gardener. Today he does not want to cut down a "useless" fig tree. Give it another chance. Don't you feel doubly blessed? Because He is talking about you and I. He gives us a million chances to find happiness and life. But we often do not want to appreciate what He is doing/has done. We still want to do it our our way. Frank Sinatra will never be dead. (only for the over 50's)

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 14th March Sun 20th March 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 14th March - Sun 20th March 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 14th March Sun 20th March 2022

The transfiguration of Jesus Christ was a powerful demonstration of His divine nature and manifestation of His glory.  The transfiguration of Jesus was quite a dramatic event. We may not be capable of transfiguration but we can be transformed. Again, let Paul be our guide. In his letter to the Philippians, he says: - “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  even though he is God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped......"  But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of all men: And being found in human form, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death on the cross. Or again: -  "I live now not I, but Christ lives in me." "Him in whom I live, move and have my being. Yes, we are being continually called upon to be of the same mind as Christ.  Through reading his word we form the mind of Christ in us, so the transformation at death will, I hope, be easier, but then again, "no eye has seen or ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him." Sounds spectacular. I pray and trust we have a wonderful future.  Enjoy it in embryonic form here and now.  Stay close to God.

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 7th March Sun 13th March 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 7th March - Sun 13th March 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 7th March Sun 13th March 2022

PRAYER The beauty of prayer is to be silent in the company of another person. Not having to talk but just to BE.  Be yourself. Be still and know that I am God Be still and know that I am Be still and know Be still Be Confident that He is listening. FASTING Taking good care of your body.  Eating good food and enjoying it. Maybe the food on your table comes from six different countries. Think of all the people who have provided this food for you.  Cultivated, transported stored it.  Say a prayer for them.  It can be " Eucharistic.""Look good, avoid obesity and feel good.  Our god is wonderful. ALMSGIVING Don't stuff yourself and put a few bob in the jar for Pecan. With a little thought, a little can go a long way for all of us.

pdf NEWSLETTER Mon 28th February Sun 6th March 2022 Popular

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NEWSLETTER Mon 28th February - Sun 6th March 2022.pdf

NEWSLETTER Mon 28th February Sun 6th March 2022

I would like to believe we are all good people and I am sure God does as well. However, we are all capable of so much more and that's what God wants, our best. "The glory of God is man/woman fully alive." And so, Ash Wednesday is coming.  An opportunity for all of us to do better. The secular world cashed in on Lent. Stoptober, alcohol free January etc. Lent is our time to improve, change direction, look at God's plan. The pope has asked us to make Wednesday a day of prayer and fasting for Ukraine. Can we do every Wednesday and Friday? Looking at Kiev this morning on the BBC, I thought it could be London, New York, Tokyo. The thought made me shudder with fright. People going about their daily business, happy and self-sufficient.  Tomorrow it could be a desolate country like Syria. Millions of displaced people cold and hungry. These are our brothers and sisters. Let's use our number one weapon, God, prayer and fasting, now, to prevent such a disaster and not be having collections for the next ten years.