Reflection on 3rd Sunday: 24th January 2021

“Follow me”

Jan Richardson offers the following reflection on today’s readings. ‘I marvel at how quickly they leave their nets, these fisherfolk who meet Jesus as they labour by the Sea of Galilee. What do Simon and Andrew hear in Jesus’ voice as he calls; what do James and John see as Christ beckons them to cast aside all they have known? Perhaps, listening to Jesus, they remember the story of Jonah. Perhaps they think of the first time God called that reluctant prophet, and what happens when we run in the opposite direction of God’s call: how we are likely to wind up in a place that is dark and dank and lonely. A place that presses clarity upon us and inspires us to respond differently—as Jonah does—when the invitation comes again. Perhaps, encountering this man who immediately compels them, Simon and Andrew and James and John already know in their bones what Paul will later write about in his first letter to the Corinthians: how following Christ will mean letting go of what they have relied upon, will mean living without what they have become attached to. In the days, weeks, years to come, these four—and the eight soon to join them—will live into that initial burst of letting go. They will learn, and learn again, what it takes to follow Christ: how they will have to continually practice the art of leaving. And in their leaving, in their letting go, they will find their sustenance and their true home.

The Jewish tradition took great pains to make clear that Yahweh doesn’t require sacrifice. “I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices. I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings to me” (Hosea 6:6) and this loving relationship entails that we “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before our God.” (Micah 6: 8) I wonder if the people of Israel ever wondered if sacrifice might be easier than all this justice and kindness stuff. It can feel consuming, being in relationship with God: it requires so much more of our very selves than simply offering a sacrifice that’s detached from us. And for all that it asks of us, following Jesus doesn’t offer much in the way of earthly security, as Mark reminds us in today’s gospel which begins with a mention of the arrest of John the Baptist. It’s challenging at times to reconcile the seeming paradox that giving ourselves to a God of love and mercy does not always protect us from heartache and suffering; in fact, it sometimes does just the opposite. Called to engage in the world, we find ourselves drawn more deeply into the pain and despair present there—along with (thank God) the delight.’
‘Whatever the circumstances of our lives, they are the circumstances in which Jesus comes to us, the context in which we hear the call to new life, and the place where we are changed and the ordinary becomes the extraordinary. “Follow me” is Jesus’ invitation to a new life. It is the call to change and grow.’

Michael Marsh

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

January 2021

We may have left 2020 behind, but many socially distanced measures are still in place. This has meant that some of the events that we normally take part in have been curtailed. One of those was the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. We may not have been able to meet together in the one place, but we can still pray for Unity and not just for one week. Although I am late in getting this to you, hopefully, we still have time to unite our voices and pray for unity among Christians.

Many resources have been made available for this and here are some of the links:

And don’t forget that on Monday January 25th, as well as the Conversion of St. Paul, it is also the time for haggis, neeps, taties and a wee dram of Whisky! We cannot have our usual Burns Supper, but I hope that this time 2022 we can all be seated for some good food, good company and good whisky!

Reflection on 2nd Sunday of the year: 17th January 2020

“Come and see.”

“What are you looking for?” ‘How we answer Jesus’ question determines how we live, how we navigate the tragedies and pain of life, and how we relate to God and our neighbour. We answer it every minute of every day by our choices, the decisions we make, the priorities we establish and the relationships we create.’1 Underlying each personal response, there is a common search for our true home, ‘that place where we discover who we are, where we are coming from and where we are going to. It is where we learn to love and be loved.’2 Jesus tells us where to find our true home. ‘Make your home in Me as I make mine in you.’ (John 15:4) Like the apostles, we may ask, “Where do you live?” and with a sense of anticipation and awe we may respond to Jesus’ invitation, “Come and see.”

‘How many times have we heard a child say: “Come and see …..” There is excitement and joy in their voice, maybe even a sense of urgency. Their words are an invitation to share in their discovery, to experience their world, and to participate in their life. It is an invitation to let our life and theirs come together as one. That’s why we can’t just sit back and say, “No, just tell me about it.” That’s not an acceptable answer. Children know that information and relationship are not interchangeable. We never outgrow the desire to invite and to be invited, to share our life with another in a deep and meaningful way, and to participate in something larger than ourselves. Would we rather read a travel brochure or travel to a new land? Would we rather know about Christ or know him?’1

‘The only way we can get to know another person is by immediate presence. You have to be around them to pick up their real energy; to experience how they live and how they love.’3 ‘Our relationship with Christ, with one another, and with ourselves must be a first-hand experience. A first-hand experience won’t let us stay where we are. It moves us to a new place. It transforms us in a way that information and facts about Jesus never will.’1

[1]Michael Marsh [2] Sister Stan [3] Richard Rohr

Gospel: John 1:35-42

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.

One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Lectio Divina: News

Our group has started the New Year with a very popular session today, and as always, it was a joy. The group took the readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Jn 1:35-42 They saw where he lived and stayed with him.

God bless you and keep you safe

You can read the thoughts the group have generously shared with us here.

Reflection on the Baptism of Jesus: 10th June 2021

Identity and Mission

The Baptism of Jesus is the third of three great manifestations or revelations of God-with-us which characterise the liturgical Christmas season: the Birth of Jesus, made known to the shepherds, representing the poor and the marginalised; the Epiphany, which reveals that Jesus was born not only for his own people but for people of every country and every race everywhere;1 and the Baptism of Jesus which is ‘the great epiphany of the Trinity on the day when Jesus is brought into the limelight of history to begin his public ministry.’2 ‘Jesus’ identity is being affirmed as he is being ‘missioned’ by his Father for the work he is just about to begin. The baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity. It reminds us of who we are and whose we are. “You are my Beloved”. It is because Jesus knows who he is that he does as he does. Like Jesus, all that we undertake must flow from who we are – God’s beloved.3

‘It is the experience of who we are in God that enables us to carry out our mission in life even in those times when it is difficult to experience love because of experiences of failure, humiliation, suffering and difficulties in relationships. It is true that we not only are the Beloved, but also have to become the Beloved. If that is true, how then can we get a grip on this process of becoming? If the spiritual life is not simply a way of being, but also a way of becoming, what then is the nature of this becoming? Could it be that:

  • our growing awareness of being the beloved will gradually lead us to stop identifying ourselves with our jobs, our emotions, our life situations? These are not who we really are.
  • finding people and places where we are reminded of our deepest identity will renew our experience of what is already within us?
  • celebrating our beloved-ness with gratitude and wonder for our many daily experiences of love, we will fully live even when life is full of hurt?

When we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the beloved, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others that they are also beloved. At the beginning of a new year, today’s gospel tells us that being the beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence. Our main mission in life is to embrace our belovedness and to become who we are.4

[1] Living space [2] Pope Saint John Paul II [3] Vatican news [4] Henri Nouwen

Gospel: Mark 1:7-11

John the Baptist proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio Group have returned to meet the New Year.

You can read what the readings for the Baptism of the Lord Year B meant to them.
“Mk 1:7-11 You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rest on you.”
What do these readings mean to you?

See what they meant to some of our Lectio Group here.

Kindness in Lockdown

ITV News recently ran a short piece on the Windrush Generation volunteers who cook and deliver meals for the vulnerable and elderly people of Preston. Finding premises is difficult and at the moment they are operating from the Xaverian Centre. You can see the report which includes a short video here.

If you would like to support their work then you can find out how by following this link.