Reflection on 18th Sunday: 2nd August 2020

Abundance

The story of the feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle that appears in all four Gospels. In Matthew and Mark there are additional accounts of feeding 4000 people. In all accounts, the disciples query how the crowds could be fed with the small amount of food provided. In some accounts, as in today’s gospel, the disciples wanted to send the people away to take care of their own food.

In the Gospel stories of ‘multiplication’ Jesus’ response is not only an act of compassion but it is primarily a revelation of the nature of divine compassion. He wants to create a new understanding of ‘enoughness’, of more than ‘enoughness’- as we see in the twelve baskets left over. The human mind is actually incapable of imagining anything infinite or eternal. So it cannot conceive an infinite love or a God whose mercy and compassion is everlasting. Every multiplication story emphasises abundance, that there is always much left over. It is a major mental and heart conversion to move from a scarcity model to an abundance model and to live with an attitude of gratitude. Our little tiny lives are connected with something bigger, something that matters, something eternal. Suddenly our ordinary lives have a transcendent and universal meaning. Whether we realise it or not, that is the hunger and thirst within each one of us.

Richard Rohr

Like the disciples, we count what is there though we too often focus on what is not there. And pretty soon the reality of our circumstances blinds us to the possibilities of what might be. Our vision becomes narrow and the world small. We see through the lens of scarcity or lack and not through the lens of abundance. The problem is not a lack of fish and bread but a lack of vision. We see things not as they are, but as we are. The abundance of God’s loving presence is hidden in plain view and often within the illusion of scarcity. Abundance is less a resource to be counted and more an interior quality, a presence, a way of being and seeing.

Michael Marsh 

Gospel Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

Lectio Divina: News

Our thoughtful Lectio Divina group have been considering Matthew 14 13-21 You can read some of the thoughts they offer here.

We can learn from their example by reading and thinking how we personally relate to the Gospel passage. How does it speak to us, here and now?

Reflection on 17th Sunday: 26th July 2020

Hidden Treasure

“Our vocation is to appreciate ourselves as the pearl of great price. We get to discover ourselves as the treasure in the field and to rejoice with God in the wondrous work that God does in each of our lives. I will never exhaust the mystery that is me. So, the good news is I can never figure myself out. I can always surprise myself.” [1] There is a story of 2 brothers who each asked for the gift of a horse for their birthday. When the day arrived, they ran outside – and found two large piles of manure! One brother walked away in disgust; the other started digging excitedly into the manure shouting, “There has to be a horse in here somewhere!” How do we see ourselves?

‘My highest ambition is to be who I already am- hidden with Christ in God from before the origins of the universe.’ [2] Our True Self is who we objectively are from the beginning, in the mind and heart of God, “the face we had before we were born,” as the Zen masters say. It is our substantial self, our absolute identity, which can never be gained nor lost by any technique, group affiliation, morality, or formula whatsoever. The surrendering of our false self, ( selling all that we have) which we have usually taken for our absolute identity, yet is merely a relative identity, is the necessary suffering needed to find “the pearl of great price” that is always hidden inside this lovely but passing shell. We are afraid to believe in our own greatness. We are afraid of the unknown. Or perhaps it is more true to say that we are afraid of losing the known. [3]

The psychologist Rollo May believes that the neurosis of our age is that we’re afraid to be all that we are. That is, we’re afraid to accept the full potential of who we are and what we’re called to be, because if we accept it, we just might have to stand up and bear witness to it. But the price paid for the half-lived life is bitter. [4]

[1] Mary Beth Ingham, [2] Thomas Merton, [3] Richard Rohr, [4] James Finley

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to reveal to us the truth of our being so that the way of our being can match it.

Wm. Paul Young

Matthew 13:44-52

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’

Poetry and Book Club: News

Our Poetry and Book Club met on Zoom on Wednesday. This week they were sharing Poems on the theme of Summer. We have a selection of some of the poems members brought to the group. You can read them here.

If you want to become a member of the group then please use read about the group here and if you are interested then use the enquiry form at the bottom of that page.

Reflection on 16th Sunday: 19th July 2020

“Let them grow together.”

“Can true humility and compassion exist in our words and in our eyes unless we know we too are capable of any act? “

St. Francis of Assisi

The words that are translated as “let them” in Jesus’ statement, “Let them grow together” can also be translated as forgive them. It’s the same words Jesus spoke from the cross in St. Luke when he says, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Forgive the weeds? Love the weeds? The gospel is always a challenge. So, yes, forgive them. Love them. Maybe that’s how the wheat begins to disentangle its roots from the weeds.  [2]

It takes uncommon humility to carry both the dark and the light side of things. The only true perfection available to humans is the honest acceptance of our imperfection. This is precisely what Divine Perfection can help us do; only God in us can love imperfect and broken things. Learning how to love—which is our life’s project—is quite simply learning to accept our messy reality. If you love anyone, then you have learned to accept them despite their faults. You see a few things you’d like to change in your partner, your children, yourself. By the Largeness of God within you, you are able to trust that the good is deeper than the bad, and usually well hidden. This is probably why so many of Jesus’ parables are about hiddenness, seeking, and finding. [1]

[1] Richard Rohr     [2]  Michael Marsh

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.” 

Megan Devine

“In befriending life, we do not make things happen according to our own design.
We uncover something that is already happening in us and around us and
create conditions that enable it.”

Rachel Naomi Remen

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-43

Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

Lectio Divina: News

The Lectio Group have been considering the Gospel  for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) Matthew 13:1-23: The parable of the seed.

They have shared their views and thoughts with us. Have a read here.

If you want to join this group then please let us know by filling the form at the bottom of this page.

Reflection on 15th Sunday: 12th July 2020

Good soil

The parable of the sower and the seed is very familiar to us as are the various interpretations of the nature of the soil which symbolise the state of our heart. We have rightly been encouraged to lead lives which have all the ingredients of lives rooted in good ‘soil’: lives of love, of prayer, of forgiveness, of gentleness, of compassionate action…. These are the fruits of growth from good soil. But what is good soil? In farming terms good soil is soil that has been ploughed, has been turned over and over, and has been fertilised. In other words it has had lots of manure dug into it. It stinks, it is messy but it is rich for planting. It is where growth takes place. The seed has to be transformed from one form into another. This is done in the dark womb of the soil. It is in darkness and in solitude that transformation takes place. Death, darkness and solitude are used as vehicles of transformation. Out of death comes life. Out of darkness comes life. Pain, darkness and discomfort are the vehicles or portals that are used to transform us.

Our culture today despises pain and difficulty, it does everything it can to avoid it. “We give answers too quickly, take away pain too easily and too quickly stimulate. We build false structures on top of the soil. The soil is piled high with things that will hopefully anaesthetise the pain. These are the weeds and the thorns and the hard ground. The seed cannot even reach the soil. In terms of soul work, we dare not get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. Darkness and brokenness are where we learn lessons of humility, trust, gratefulness, resilience and reliance. Yet this sacred space is the very space we avoid…we avoid God, who works in the darkness – where we are not in control! Maybe that is the secret: relinquishing control?”

R.Rohr

If you feel that circumstances have ploughed through your life; if you feel that your life is messy; if you are in a dark place right now, know that you are in the very space where transformation can take place. Allow the spirit of God to begin that metamorphosis in you. Embrace the pain and allow it to teach you. Don’t become hard and bitter or look for things to anaesthetise the pain. Life will come to your spirit. Trust the process and allow it to produce good fruit in you. Let the darkness do its work. You are in good soil.

Adapted: Lisa Hunt-Wotton and Richard Rohr

Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23

Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn-and I would heal them.’

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio group is once again in top form despite the inconveniences of our present times.

You can read some of their thought provoking reflections on the reading for this Sunday here.

Remember, it is never too late to join in. You do not need to offer your thoughts to the group, that is optional. If you want to join in then message the group leaders using the form at the bottom of this page.

Covid update

The government has updated its guidelines for the use of multi-purpose spaces. You can access them here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities

We also fall under the places of worship guidelines as well.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-places-of-worship-during-the-pandemic-from-4-july

I hope you enjoy the read! It is proper government speak, but complicates how we can operate!