Website: News

Some of our readers have been wondering why they have not had the usual Sunday Morning email for a couple of weeks. The details are unimportant but it proved impossible to update the website whilst I was on holiday.

Normal service has now been resumed. Until the next holiday that is!

The mechanism we use for generating the newsletter will include the content you would have had from the previous two Sundays. So it is a bumper issue today.

Reflection on 13th Sunday: 27th June 2021

An interruption becomes an intertwining

Today’s gospel reading focuses on the story of a young girl, the daughter of a leader of the synagogue, whom Jesus is on his way to heal. (vv21-43)  This story is intertwined with that of the healing of the haemorrhaging woman who reaches out to Jesus: (vv:21-24. 35-43)  In both stories Jesus ignored the following cultural taboos:

  • Bleeding made the woman ‘unclean’ (Lev 15:19- 30) and anyone who touched her became unclean;
  • Children were not considered important and sons were considered better than daughters;
  • Contact with a corpse caused a person to become ritually impure.

We are often encouraged not to put God in a box. But these stories tell us God doesn’t put people in boxes. There is no condition at all, which cuts us off from the mercy and love of God.’1

Both stories involve believing. ‘The woman’s condition is more than physical. She’s losing more than blood. She’s losing her life, its warmth, vitality and fruitfulness. Her story is our story. At times the outflow of our energy is greater than the inflow. Drained of life, we go through the motions, fearful that we will never have the life we want. Often we convince ourselves that once this or that happens everything will be better. We all have our “as soon as” scenarios.  We don’t know what this woman heard about Jesus but it was enough to make her refuse to be identified with the circumstances of her life. “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” It was enough to touch his cloak. The connection was made and a relationship established. “My daughter,” Jesus said “your faith has restored you to health; go in peace.” Life no longer leaked out of her but flowed into her.’2

Jairus must have been worried and annoyed at this unplanned delay in returning to his daughter. His story is also our story. ‘There are experiences that seem to come as interruptions, stories that shoulder their way into the story we think we are living. Intent upon my individual tale, face turned toward the destination I am bent upon, I can resent the intrusions, the ways that other stories sometimes press upon, break through, waylay my own.’3  Every encounter, however unplanned, can have a positive effect. When Jairus witnessed the woman’s faith, did this give him hope and courage to believe that his daughter would also be restored to health, even when he later heard that she had died?

Was it his encounter with this woman that enabled him to surrender in trust to Jesus’ reassuring words, which are also spoken to each one of us, whatever our story : “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

Adapted: [1] Sylvia Collinson   [2] Michael Marsh   [3] Jan Richardson

Gospel : Mark 5:21-43 

Shorter alternative in italics : Mark 5:21-24. 35-43

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.

Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’

While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio Divina for this Friday took the Gospel reading for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.

Mk 5:21-43  Little girl, I tell you to get up.

(Shorter form: 5:21-24, 35-43)

Read what thoughts the scripture inspired.

Poetry and Book Club: News

The July meeting has been cancelled.

We will next meet on 22nd September, hopefully at the Xaverian Spirituality Centre. The topic will be “The book I enjoyed in Lockdown”

I will confirm this in early September and issue rules for Covid security at the meeting.

Programme for autumn.

September; “The book I enjoyed in Lockdown”

October:        “Poems from abroad” (Transferred from July)

Please email me your suggestions for Nov and December; one book , one poem.

Discussion of “Boy” by Roald Dahl

We found this autobiography interesting and extremely well written.

The dark side of Dahls writing and personality were also discussed.

With best wishes for your stay at home summer, I very much look foreword to meeting in person, I imagine that this will be a cheerful and social chat.

Reflection on 12th Sunday: 20th June 2021

Faith and Fear

“The terms belief and faith are often used synonymously. Yet they are very different. As David Benner says, ‘Beliefs are often simply objects of attachment that provide a misleading sense of certainty. Faith, on the other hand, can never be reduced to beliefs or thoughts.’ Faith is a calm and hopeful trust that God is inherent in all things. Faith is more how to believe than what to believe.”1

“We sometimes describe anxiety and fear as the flip side of faith, casting them as opposites and chastising one another—or ourselves—for not having enough faith to still our fears. It’s true that faith and fear have a hard time living together. Fear and anxiety can seduce us into a frantic loop in which our perceptions grow so distorted that we may completely lose the path that would carry us through our fears. Like the disciples, we become swamped. They were right to feel afraid. Yet their perception that their reality was defined solely by the storm only increased their experience of being overwhelmed. The presence of the storm was not the whole truth of their situation. Whatever the sources of our anxiety, faith helps to provide the tools we need to maintain our vision and to see the truth within the waves that seek to command our whole attention. Faith asks us where we are turning our sight, and what we are allowing to define our reality.”2

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life… “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves: One is called Fear. The other is called Faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”3

Faith welcomes unknowing and mystery.1 “And they were filled with great awe.”

Adapted: [1] R. Rohr [2] Jan Richardson [3] A Cherokee parable

Gospel Mark 4:35-41

With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’

Lectio Divina: News

Today our Lectio Group had had another beautiful session. They considered the reading for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.

Mk 4:35-41 Who can his be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.

Have a look here to see what they noted.

Reflection on 11th Sunday: 13th June 2021

The Sower

‘When we move into mystery, into what is a meeting of the transcendent and the ordinary, we need words and images to express what is beyond expression. Today’s Gospel uses the images of sower and seeds to express the mystery of God’s kingdom, the “where God is experienced.”1

Sowers are people of hope, a hope that comes from letting the past be, like the turning over of the soil before a new crop is planted. Once he has planted the seed, the sower has no way of knowing how the seed is doing. That is the great lesson of sowing, learning to wait, learning to let life take its course. We must trust what we cannot see.’2

The seed is in the ground.
Now may we rest in hope
While darkness does its work.

Wendell Berry

Sowers have vision. The business of sowing is like prophesying which is about planting new questions in the human heart. It is not for people who seek immediate success. It is for people who live according to what their heart is telling them about what life is meant to be like.

Sowers are life-givers. The sower respects the sacredness of life and sees the generative energy in the soil, in the sun, in the rain, in the day and in the night. The sower is open to the generative energy and love within himself and around him. He knows the secret of growth, the slow process that needs its own time. He knows what it is like, waiting for life to emerge. Sowing is about releasing life, about releasing hidden beauty and potential. The poet Rainer Marie Rilke writes: ‘Everything is gestation and then birthing.’2

Adapted : [1] Sundays into Silence – A Pathway to Life [2] Sister Stan: Now is the Time

Gospel Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is what the Kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.”

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio Group took the reading for this the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.

Mk 4:26-34  It is the smallest of all seeds; yet it grows into the biggest shrub of them all.

You can read their thoughts here.

Reflection on Corpus Christi: 6th June 2021

This is my body. This is my blood.

Last year, at the time of today’s feast day, the national lockdown restrictions were gradually being eased. During the previous months we had been unable to gather together to celebrate Mass. We reflected on the life of the Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who, because of his travels and research as a palaeontologist, often found himself without the means to celebrate the Eucharist in its traditional form. “I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar. I will make the whole earth my altar and on it I will offer God all the labours and sufferings of the world. This bread, our toil; this wine, our pain, representing the solidarity of all human kind and all beings, and the earth itself.” For Teilhard, the Consecration is already there. “I firmly believe that everything around me is the body and blood of the Word. That is why, in our prayer at the altar, we ask that the consecration (transformation) may be brought about in us.”

One year later, we are conscious that the bread of toil and the wine of deep pain continue to be offered daily on earth’s global altar. We have become more aware of the solidarity of all humankind, we are experiencing ‘what has been true since the first moment of our existence: We are the very Body of Christ.’ (R.Rohr) We often wonder how we can live this awesome reality. In his ‘Heart Prayer’, James Finley offers us the following practice which deepens our awareness of our inter-connectedness:

‘At times there is within each of us a burden almost more than we can bear. At those times, it helps to renew the awareness of our breathing. When we inhale, we inhale God loving us through and through, burden more than we can bear and all. God is the Presence that spares us from nothing even as God unexplainably sustains us in all things. Grounded in that love, I invite you to think of someone in your life whom you know and love, who is carrying within them a burden. As you inhale, inhale into yourself their burden so that in the spiritual realm of love they no longer have to carry the burden alone. You inhale their burden not to carry it, because it will crush you, but you inhale it that it might dissolve in Love, in the Love in which all our burdens dissolve. Then exhale into the depths of their burdened heart the Love that is at once your love and God’s love as one love. Expand this practice to those around you… your family… to our suffering world. The reality of God’s love inter-connects all of us. We pray that we will not break the thread of this inter-connected awareness, of belonging to each other, of being one body in Christ.

Gospel Mark 14:12-16,22-26

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as lie had told them, and prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body. Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, l shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’

After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.