This will take place during the May 2020 half term.
We will be flying from Bristol to Lisbon, and after a 90min coach transfer to Fatima, we will be staying at the 4*Steyler Fatima Hotel, which is 100 metres from the Sanctuary. The hotel has 204 rooms, all with central heating/cooling, TV, safe, minibar, hair dryer and free wi-fi. Guests can also use the indoor pool, sauna, steam room, spa and gym (additional charges apply). The hotel also has its own Chapel and Stations of the Cross in the garden for quiet reflection. You can choose from a single, twin or double room (an extra child bed is available upon request).
If you are seriously interested, please add your name to the list by the Lady Chapel noticeboard.
Contact Lorraine Miller for further information.
The CAFOD Family Fast Day collection raised £760.55.
Many thanks for your generosity
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus rejects the traditional Jewish belief that disasters, accidents, sickness and misfortune are a punishment from God for our sinfulness and disobedience.
We still find this attitude today among many Christians.
It is totally wrong as it portrays God, our loving Father, as an intolerant, irascible ogre who delights in punishing his ‘beloved’ children. This attitude is highly insulting to God just as accusing you of treating your grandchildren in the same way would be highly insulting to you.
We ourselves, as a result of our words or actions, will often bring trouble upon ourselves. If I get drunk and assault someone I will end up in court and be sued for compensation. If I steal I will end up in Jail. If I abuse and insult people I will end up being unpopular and isolated.
These are misfortunes I bring upon myself and have nothing to do with God.
The correct Christian response to disasters, conflicts, misfortunes and grief is not to ask why? but to get involved in the many ways open to me to alleviate the suffering, loss and grief resulting from the disaster or misfortune.
I can ask ‘why’ as loudly as I want and as persistently as I like but will get no adequate answer in this life.
Much better and Christlike to help out as best I can and share what I have with the victims.
On the other hand consider that the people who have themselves suffered loss, those who have had to endure sickness themselves, those who have been victims themselves are most likely and best qualified to help others in the same situation. They, through their suffering, have received the gift of being able to best emphatise with others who have suffered in a similar manner. This gift, granted to those who have bravely borne and survived great loss and hardship, is not to be ignored but utilised for the sake of others who are similarly burdened.
Todays reading is about the transfiguration.
The focus is on Jesus of Nazareth being transfigured or changed before the eyes of Peter, James and John.
We are inclined to ignore the two people who appeared talking to Jesus. They were Moses (representing the Law of the Old Testament) and Elijah (representing the prophets of the Old Testament).
They too were transfigured. They too were changed. We are told that ‘behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glorious splendour.’
Scripture tells us that when the risen Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalen on Easter Sunday morning she did not recognise him until he called her name.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus walked with the risen Jesus and talked with Him for some hours but did not recognise him until he ‘broke bread’ with them.
St. Paul tells us; ’For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’
Today’s Gospel reading shows us two ordinary human beings who have died and received a sharing in the life of God (or the Kingdom of God). Their perishable bodies have received imperishability, their mortal bodies have received immortality. They can now thumb their noses at death and death’s handmaids, sickness and pain. ‘Death, for them, has been swallowed up in victory.’
This is my destiny. This is my great hope. This is my certain belief. I too look forward to standing side by side with the risen Jesus and Moses and Elijah in the presence of my God.
Isn’t that something to look forward to??
Isn’t that a good reason to regard one another with the utmost respect and consideration??
The Church Hall was packed, and brains were stretched for last night’s Quiz.
As well as being great fun for the parishioners who attended, a grand total of £361 was raised for our Parish Projects.
Many thanks to all those who contributed, organised and supported.
Some latched plastic cake carriers have been donated to the Church and can be found in the flower sacristy. If you bake for the Church events, please take one home to transport your cakes in!
The first few verses of today’s Gospel reading would demand heroic virtue which you and I would find very difficult to emulate on any regular basis. Not impossible but difficult.
The rest of the Gospel reading is just common sense even from a humanist point of view.
It is well known – though not widely practised – that as I tend to treat others so will I be treated by them. If I am generous, tolerant, forgiving, kind, helpful towards others they will tend to treat me in the same way. If I am selfish, greedy, intolerant, unforgiving, litigious, unkind, then when I am in trouble people will tend to think, ‘serves him right’ and show little concern.
But then we come to Christianity. Then, even the heroic becomes possible. Believing we are all created in God’s (the Creator’s) image and likeness and that if we live in this way ‘we will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.’ We do it, not just because it is the right and best way to live together but because it is also pleasing to our God in whom we live and move and have our being. From whom everything we are and have is a free gift (grace).
So this brings our motivation to another level. I treat other people as I want to be treated myself not jus because it is good common sense for my own good but because I believe I was created to live like this and in doing so I become like my Creator in everything I do and say. I can then truly be called a son, a daughter, of the Most High because I treat and respect all others as well loved siblings.
Having read what Scripture Scholars say about today’s Gospel reading, I can say that there is wide disagreement as to how to understand it.
I think we must look at it from the point of view of the author; that is Luke.
Elsewhere we are told that Luke was a physician – a medical doctor. As such he could and would be able to make a comfortable living in most circumstances. He wouldn’t be regarded as poor or hungry or rejected in any literal sense of the word. Nevertheless I think he would regard himself as qualifying as blessed, together with the poor, the hungry, the despised etc.
On the other hand, in the eyes of many he would be regarded as rich at least insofar as he wasn’t poor or hungry or insulted.
Consider that Jesus of Nazareth spent his life standing up for, trying to alleviate, and supporting, the poor and the downtrodden. He looked on poverty as unjust and the result of injustice and greed by the rich and powerful. He did not say ‘put up with your poverty now because when you die you will have a great time in the Kingdom of Heaven.’
So how can the poor and the hungry be blessed???
They certainly don’t feel blessed.
And then we read; ‘Woe to you who are rich.’ Woe to you who are well fed.’
In the eyes of most people in poor countries, in the eyes of some people in this country, all of us here in church today qualify as rich and as well fed.
God’s wish, God’s plan for all people, for each and every human being, is a long, healthy and happy life here on earth and then sharing in the Eternal Life and happiness of God the Creator. Is this possible if I am poor and hungry?
Jesus of Nazareth; God made man, proved this over and over again by his miracles of healing, physical and spiritual, his feeding of the hungry, his insistence of sharing donations given to him and his followers with the poor and beggars. His producing over a hundred gallons of good wine when they ran short at a wedding. His delight in attending parties where there was good food and wine. His mixing freely with both rich and poor, with supporters and with those opposing him. His eventual arrest and execution for continually opposing injustice and oppression.
It is in this context that we must read and understand today’s Gospel reading. It is a rejection and a condemnation of the values and priorities of this world. It turns on its head what this world generally regards as success and failure.
Woe to those whose lives are dedicated to rampant ambition and power seeking. To those whose priority is the pursuit of wealth and fame at any cost. Woe to those who ignore and even laugh at the plight of the poor and the needy. Who see no need whatever to fight injustice and oppression but co-operate in this injustice and oppression.
Today’s Gospel reading is a call to me to adjust my priorities. To change my outlook drastically. To be Christlike. To look to the needs of others as I look to my own needs and the needs of my own family.
Many of us today are dumbfounded by the ruthless greed of many of the already super rich. Many of us today are dumbfounded at the near total disregard of governments to the plight of not only the poor and destitute but also to the plight of the less well off who struggle to make ends meet.
That is the message of todays Gospel reading.
‘When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.’
Peter was the ‘alpha male’ of the group.’
Peter had a nice little business going on the sea of Galilee. He was in partnership with at least one other fishing family – Zebedee and his sons James and John. They were quite successful as they also employed others in their business.
Peter was married. Maybe James was also married.
What in the name of God possessed them to leave everything and follow this itinerant preacher/prophet?
If you have ever wondered what Jesus’ words – ‘If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.’ means, now you know.
The word ‘hate’ here does not have the same meaning as we use it today. Here it means not preferring or not regarding as more important.
We have the same meaning in Jesus’ words ; ‘If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire.’ Meaning, if something in your life is an obstacle to your relationship with God then you must consider abandoning it.
It is a case of priorities. What do I consider as more important?
It might mean abandoning something which is in itself good and praiseworthy as in the case of Peter, Andrew, James and John abandoning a successful business, lifestyle and family or as many do today to follow a career or vocation to which they feel called.
I spoke last week about gratitude to God and towards parents as a motivating factor for religion and for caring for parents.
Today we look at trust.
What motivated Peter, Andrew, James and John to leave everything and follow Jesus? They must, against all the odds, have trusted Him completely.
What an awesome character he must have been to inspire such trust.
This does not mean that their trust in him did not sometimes waver. Even Peter wavered when he was walking on the water towards Jesus. And again when fear made him deny knowing Jesus three times.
Just as a well informed gratitude to God is a great motivator, so too a hard headed trust in God is a great motivator.
My trust in God will sometimes waver especially when things go wrong just as happened with the Apostles. But maybe then I consider that if I don’t trust my God who can I trust?
The image I want you to take away with you is that of the child running into the arms of a beloved parent.
To quote the word of God; ‘Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.’