25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 20th September 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

In the Gospel, Jesus tells a story about the 11th hour workers getting paid the same as those who have worked hard all day. To our human ears, this sounds unjust and sounds like bad business, and unfair employment practise that would most likely result in industrial action being taken! However we should try listening to the parable by thinking through eyes of those rejected and overlooked: the forgotten, the sick, the lonely the disabled and the disadvantaged. Imagine the joy on their faces when they finally got chosen! God forgets no one and gives up on no one ~ Nor must we as his disciples give up on anyone.

 

God does not do rejects, nor does he write anyone off. The parable is not about justice but it is about generosity. The essence of this weekend’s reading is the generosity of God, a bit like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, where God is ridiculously and outrageously generous in his mercy and in his compassion with sinners and those cast out by society.

 

We are called to imitate this in our lives and in the way we treat one another ~ We are not to overlook anyone; we are not to reject we are not to forget anyone. The challenge is to be as generous as our God in the abundance of love and mercy that we show to each other.

 

Fr David

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 13th September 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

The need for Forgiveness is at the centre of our faith. At the heart of the word forgiveness is indeed the word “ give”. So forgiveness calls for a generosity on behalf of the giver. It is not always easy when someone offends us to let go of feelings of resentment and even hatred. However, it is not good to hold on to such feelings as it is not healthy to put energy into something that is not very life-giving to us.

 

In today’s Gospel, in answer to Peter’s question about how often we should forgive others if they do wrong to us, Jesus responds and backs up his answer with the powerful parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The message is simply that if we expect to be forgiven our sins by God, then we must be prepared to forgive others the wrongs they do to us. So we should always forgive others because of our love for the Lord and because Jesus tells us to.

 

The great symbol of generosity and forgiveness is the Cross. Jesus died on the Cross to forgive our sins. Even on the Cross he was merciful; saying “Father forgive them”. This showed Jesus forgave those who had inflicted terrible pain and suffering upon him. As he was dying on the cross, he even forgave and promised heaven to a thief who was sorry for what he had done and said he trusted and believed in Jesus.

 

May the Lord help us to be open to forgive the wrongs of others as he did, so that we can go to him with our own sins and be confident of his generous mercy.

 

Fr David

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 6th September 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

I’m sure we all have incidences when people are wronging us or others that we know. These sorts of things can escalate: feuds, bitter grudges and disagreements are at the heart of much division in society. These can be the reasons for many long-standing conflicts and falls-outs. Unless handled carefully such things can rip apart families and communities. If I am being mistreated, I generally prefer to keep it to myself and put up with it quietly rather than confront the perpetrator which can be stressful. The danger is that saying nothing can allow an incident to eat its way into us. We might even be tempted to talk to others about it, but that risks becoming a source of gossip from which we can take pleasure. That does not however resolve the problem ~ there is no change, there is no reconciliation and the problem persists. Confronting someone about their behaviour or attitude requires the gift of courage, and we need to be confident that the reason for tackling the issue is out of love for the person who is doing the wrong and the impact of their unreasonable behaviour is having on a wider community.

 

Today’s Gospel gives us the approach that Jesus tells us we should adopt against those who wrong us. He says the initial step is to simply confront the perpetrator. Failure to confront the person who is wronging us shows a lack of love and we are neglecting our responsibility and duty as Christians. So let us be confident that if we go about it the right way, reconciliation can and does result and it leads to great growth in both parties. Reconciliation should never be left untried even though it is the harder way ~ it is the better way and it’s God’s way.

 

Fr David

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 30th August 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

The easy way is not always the best way. I think we all learn very quickly that the easy way to achieve things usually ends up as being foolish. In life it is very tempting to cut corners. We can all be tempted with taking a short cut, to try to make life easier for ourselves, however what is worthwhile in life usually comes at great cost and involves effort, patience, commitment and sacrifice.

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples after Peter’s profession of faith that he is destined to suffer persecution and death at the hands of the religious leaders but will rise again on the third day.. Peter reacts to this saying that this must not happen. Much as Jesus might delight to hear the temptation that an easier life is possible for him, he is wise to see through it. Therefore he sees Peter’s objection is a stumbling block in his way and is determined to be obedient and faithful to the Father’s will. He knows that what lies ahead is necessary for God’s plan of salvation for all humankind to be realised.

 

Jesus teaches us that the right way is always ultimately the best way and is most likely to be God’s way too. Anything less than that is to cheat ourselves and cheat God. We might fool other people but when we cheat, we don’t fool ourselves and we don’t fool God. Our following of Christ can be in small steps because God is patient and his challenge is an invitation to us. Jesus supports all of those who follow him down the narrow road of sacrifice and shares his paschal victory with them.

 

Fr David

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 23rd August 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

Jesus calls Simon Peter, because he clearly saw the potential that he had in him; God does not see as humans see, because He always sees the bigger picture. We all need someone to believe in us in order to grow, but the growth of course has to be gradual. In today’s Gospel, Peter makes a declaration of faith for which Jesus praises him and promised him further responsibility; the Keys of the Kingdom.

 

At the core of the relationship between Peter and Our Lord was love; everything our Lord did for Peter was done in love, for his own good. As we look back, we can see this enabled Peter to become the strong leader of the Church that he was to become, after Pentecost and ultimately being prepared to die for the Lord.

 

A good leader is one who is aware of their weaknesses as well as their strengths. The experiences Peter had such as denying Jesus, helped Peter be aware of the need to rely on God and other people not just himself. It also enabled him to be understanding and compassionate when encountering weaknesses and failings in other people. Like Peter we also blow hot and cold; sometimes we are strong and other times our weaknesses come to the fore.

 

Only with a strong relationship with Christ, can we like Peter live with the mistakes of the past, overcome them and move on from them. At the same time, we are to allow Christ to help us to grow and bring others closer to him and enable them to grow in discipleship too.

 

Fr David

The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Sunday 16th August 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

With having three churches, our parish is blessed to have three different patronal feast days in the year. This weekend, because one of the churches is called St Mary of the Assumption, we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady The doctrine of the Assumption teaches us that at the end of her earthly existence, the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken up (assumed), body and soul, into heaven. The implications of this is that if we model our lives on Mary then where she is we will follow.

 

In today’s Gospel, Mary shared her joy of being told she was to be mother of the Lord by putting herself out and journeying a long way in order to share her good news with Elizabeth, who herself was with child. The spirit of Mary is to put ourselves out for others, share our joy. In sharing our joy, we receive joy in return. Elizabeth greets Mary by saying “blessed is she who believed that the promise made to her by the Lord will be fulfilled”. It’s not simply about being faithful it’s about being blessed, because she not only spoke of her faith she acted on this belief. Faith needs to be expressed in actions. Because of our Christian faith, like Mary we refuse to give up when things get tough.

 

Faith impells us to struggle on sometimes without the hope of a happy outcome. A person with faith never gives up. Mary is first and foremost the perfect disciple of the Lord. This is why the Church proposes her as a model for us all to follow. That is why we honour her feast day today. We too will be like Mary if we also hear the word of God and act on it.

 

Fr David

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 9th August 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

We can’t see God of course but we can see Him with eyes of faith. It is only in Heaven that we believe that we can see God as he really is. Our faith asks us to trust and to believe that God is present in everything. This is of course not easy for us who live in a world that requires answers to everything. Like myself however I am sure you get experiences that happen every now that are just personal reminders that God is very much around in your life.

 

In today’s first reading, Elijah the prophet is on the run, being hunted down by the Queen and has had serious doubts about his faith. God reveals himself to Elijah in the simplicity of the sound of a gentle breeze. Elijah does not however see God as he covers his face but he totally believes that God is near. Thanks to this encounter Elijah is spiritually uplifted and renewed in his mission and his purpose.

 

In today’s Gospel, the disciples are in the boat and are frightened when they are caught in the high winds and rough sea. Jesus comes to his disciples by walking across the water of the angry sea and his presence calms their fears and brings them peace.

 

In these uncertain times of the Covid virus, may we continue to trust in the reassuring and confident presence of Christ who we know is with us always and especially in times of trial. We pray that he may bring us peace and remind us of his unconditional love for us.

 

Fr David

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 2nd August 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus takes His disciples out into a deserted place, a place of human loneliness, hunger, and thirst. Hungry and thirsty people have followed him out there. When the day was getting long, His disciples tell him the obvious. “They are hungry,” they tell him And Jesus’ responds; “Feed them yourselves.” Which is what He is telling us, His modern day disciples. We are likely to reply, as did to His disciples back then, “All we’ve got are five barley loves and only two fish. But what good that is that among so many? In other words: What good is that in the face of all that has to be done?” There is a lot of need in the world ~ in fact in each and everyone of us there is a longing, a hunger in the midst of our human restlessness. What should we do? The Lord does not leave us empty handed ~ he has given us enough for ourselves as well as plenty to share. He asks us to be open and willing to share. In fact it is only when we realise that we have very little ourselves that we can realise that Jesus himself will do the providing for us ~ all we have to do is to play our part in the sharing and the Lord will do the rest.



Life gives us chances to share ourselves with others and to let others share themselves with us. Are we willing to admit that we have hunger and thirst for something ~ that we have needs? Are we also willing to admit that we are dependent on others to nourish our hearts and souls? It is good to be independent but unless we surrender some of this and admit that we need God and others to meet our needs, then we will end up still thirsting and hungry for some direction in life.

 

Fr David

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 26th July 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

There was an “ice-breaker game”, I used to play a good few years ago when I was a voluntary youth worker and even as a Youth Chaplain ~ it was called: “The questionnaire”. It just consisted of a series of questions about ourselves to be shared in a group. Among the more challenging questions was “what is your most treasured possession?”. When I was younger I would have probably answered; “my bike” or “my guitar”. I am delighted to say that some of the young people had better answers like “family” or “friends”. If I would answer today I would say that “my Catholic faith” is my most treasured possession. I value it more as I have got older but even in the more confusing days of youth it mattered to me even though to be honest, I did not always fully appreciate it.

 

In the first reading today Solomon is asked by the Lord for the gift he would most like to receive. He chose the gift of wisdom so he could make wise choices and decisions. To even think of asking for such a gift was
wisdom itself!

 

The parables of the treasure and the peal in today’s Gospel have a similar message; The Kingdom of Heaven is worth investing everything we have to acquire it. However we also need the gift of wisdom in order to see this.


Our faith tells us that God loves us so much he has bestowed upon us great dignity as calling us his children. That is the most precious gift he has given us and should be our most treasured possession. Searching for this, should cost us not less than everything. May the Lord give us the wisdom to seek to build the Kingdom of God by cherishing this great gift of our Catholic faith.

 

Fr David

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 19th July 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

I really have difficulty in seeing someone as all bad, as someone to dislike, as someone who is all bad. I suppose the same is true about saying someone is entirely good too. We are all imperfect ~ no-one is perfect ~ there is surely therefore always something we can notice that is good about everyone. No-one should be condemned or written off. All judgement is to be in the hands of God.

 

Our own heart is a mixture of both what is good and what is not good. If we think about ourselves, there are bits we like and love about ourselves, there are aspects also that we are not proud of that we really don’t like.

 

In the parable of the wheat and the darnel, at the beginning of the growth process, both wheat and darnel look the same the darnel looks like wheat. Only at harvest time approaches do we notice a difference ~ they all grow together. The difference between the two then become apparent. In any relationship people enter into a friendship or even a marriage with good intentions ~ it takes the test of time to work out what are the good bits and what are the bad. Everything in life needs the test of time to see what the reality is. There is no substitute for real life. Like the weed and darnel growing together.

 

Let us ask the Lord’s mercy upon our lives ~ may we be careful and lenient in our thinking and our treatment of others. May we try to eradicate evil in the world and in our lives by beginning with ourselves.

 

Fr David

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday 12th July 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

The man in the story of Jesus in today’s gospel is a tenant farmer just like many of his listeners. These farmers did not own the land but farmed land for rich landowners; in return for providing the landowner with a crop, they would get paid in food for their own work. They weren’t always concerned with being careful about the seed for it did not belong to them. Jesus explains the parable later to the disciples. The sower is spreading God’s word but the seeds are different types of people reacting to hearing God’s word. Some just don’t understand and are given over to evil. Some hear it and accept it but then fall away because they have not let the word deeply into their hearts. And as soon as trouble arises or they are questioned or persecuted, they give it up. Still others accept the word but are smothered by the lures of the world – wealth and power. The final category of hearer is the one who tries to understand, who reflects on it, and lives it. These people will bear fruit a hundredfold : these are the living saints among us, while others will still bear fruit in an acceptably high range.

 

The question to ask ourselves today is where would Jesus place us in his list of those who hear the Word? Will He place us in this last category where we hear and understand the Word, act on it, and bear fruit for others?

 

Let us ask ourselves in the coming week how receptive we are to welcoming the Word of God in our lives. Throughout the lockdown, with the churches closed, we have had to find new ways and new times and places to hear the Word of God. Hopefully, these challenges have helped us to appreciate the value of the Word of God and a heart that is hungry to be fed on God’s love.

 

Fr David

 

14th Sunday In Ordinary Time

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus the Master teacher speaks of humility. “For I am gentle and humble of heart”. In our world, we are told to big ourselves up and project ourselves if we want to get on and humility will get you nowhere. However we also don’t like show-offs or big heads or people who are full of themselves. We find them irritating and annoying so we should look for another way forward. Genuine humility is a real gift. A truly humble person does not make a big deal of their status or position in society. We are to model ourselves totally on Christ in every aspect.

 

When we are around people who are ambitious and proud of themselves, we can tend to feel inadequate and inferior and so become defensive and not enabled to be your best in their presence. Humble people enable others to be at ease and at peace around them and can therefore enable them to bring out the best in others.

 

So let us the listen to Jesus the Master teacher, let us come to him who yearns for our love and for us to grow in our friendship with him. He will give us peace of mind and rest for our souls. And let us learn from the times when we have let our pride get the better of us and felt foolish. May the Lord help us to move on from such occasions and grow in his grace and love.

 

Fr David

Feast Day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles Sunday 28th June 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

Simon Peter was a fisherman from Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee. He was with Jesus from the outset of his ministry. His name was changed by Jesus to Peter to be a rock for the Church ~ because Jesus saw within him his strong faith. His faith was a great source of strength for the Early Church.

 

Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish Pharisee, well educated and very devout in his religious practise. He never actually met Jesus but was persecuting the early Christians because he believed they were a threat to his Jewish faith.

 

He became Paul the great missionary after his conversion experience on the Road to Damascus. He became a missionary whose main aim in life was to share the Good News that had transformed his life so dramatically.


They were both martyred in Rome for their faith. We give thanks for the faith of these two great heroes of the Church. They are both buried in Rome with great basilicas over their tombs. Today we celebrate the gift of our faith, which has the Apostles as its foundation.

 

We pray that we may, like Saints Peter and Paul be open to be called by the Lord to respond to his invitation ~ to be formed by his love to change the direction of our lives accordingly: and to be sent out into the world to spread the Good news, that everyone matters to God.

 

Fr David

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time Sunday 21st June 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to not be afraid. The Lord tells us to trust him. Being honest, truthful and open is always the right way. It is human of course to have fears. We all have to face things we are afraid of in life. Running away from them and not facing them can get us into deeper trouble.

 

Fears debilitate us, they prevent us from being free to live and to be ourselves. They can prevent us from becoming who we are meant to become. Jesus was calling his disciples to move beyond fear, that is
what true courage can do.

 

Finding courage to speak out against injustice, telling the truth about an aspect of our lives, or admitting that we have done something wrong takes great courage. Standing up to someone who frightens us, or who is difficult to deal with does take an awful lot of courage.

 

Courage is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have received and it tells us that God is with us ; He has equipped with all we need to face our fears and overcome them.

 

Let us pray that we put deeper trust in the Lord to give us the courage we need to be faithful witnesses and that he will stand by us in our times of trial. Let us remember that God lovingly watches over us just as he watches over the life of the smallest and least valuable of creatures.

 

Fr David

 

Corpus Christi Sunday 14th June 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection for Corpus Christi

 

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, which means the Body of Christ. This is a term that is used to describe the Church. Christ is the Head of the Church and we are the Body. In the Blessed Sacrament we are invited to receive the Body of Christ and we are to be like Christ in the way we treat God and other people.

 

Christ is of course at the centre of this feast. He was full of love throughout his Passion, Death and Resurrection. Love, prayer, service and generosity are also at the heart of what the Eucharist is about.

 

The word “Eucharist” is another word for the Blessed Sacrament. It derives from a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”. When we celebrate the Mass, we are first and foremost being grateful to God for all the many blessings we receive in our lives.

 

If anyone should ask us what is unique about being Catholic, I would say that’s its our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion.

 

This year, we are not able to receive Holy Communion on this great feast; indeed we are all receiving Our Lord in Spiritual Communion. Despite these challenges that we face, may the Lord enable us to still fittingly celebrate this great gift of our faith on this feast of Corpus Christi.

 

Fr David

 

The Most Holy Trinity Sunday 7 June 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection For Trinity Sunday

 

Today is Trinity Sunday. On this day we think of our belief that God is one and that he is love. We are privileged however to have had revealed to us through our faith in our Jesus Christ, that God is a community of three equal persons. God is a community of love. It’s a love however that is not exclusive. but a community to which through the Holy Spirit we are invited.

 

The Father is our Creator. Jesus, in the Gospels, gives us an image of the Father as one whom he loves. He says to have seen him is to have seen the Father because the Father and him are one. He gives us the image of the Father’s house as being where we are called to be in the life to come.

 

Jesus is the Son, and he is fully God but also fully human. He came among us to bring about the kingdom of God and he is therefore an eternal king.  Out of love, Jesus is utterly obedient to the will of the Father. His symbol is the cross which is the means of our salvation. He rose from the dead at Easter and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

 

The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. Last Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost, when Jesus sent the Spirit upon the Apostles to bring about the Church. We receive him at baptism, and are called to be loving and generous. He allows us to grow and leads us closer to Christ. He leads us into a deeper relationship with God and inspires us to change, and enables us to want to pray and to become more like Christ.

 

We should see the Trinity as friends to whom we can relate and to whom we can talk in prayer. We are God’s children and we are his family. God is love and our response to such love, can only be to trust in God and show love to one another.

 

Fr David

 

Pentecost Sunday - Sunday 31st May 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection for Pentecost Sunday

 

Today is the feast of Pentecost, the final day of the season of Easter. This took place fifty days after Easter. The Apostles were together in Jersualem and were unsure about how to move forward and do what Jesus asked of them. The Holy Spirit comes among them and breathes courage into their hearts. This marks the birthday of the Church, because the Church is about people with the Holy Spirit in them. We first receive the Spirit at Baptism. The Holy Spirit has guided the Church through a journey of 2000 years.


The Spirit comes like a powerful wind: we can’t see the wind but we can see what it does. Similarly we can’t see the Holy Spirit but we see what it does in other people. The Church is all about people with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in his Church but we need to look for the signs which are all around us. It would be too easy to miss them or dismiss them.

 

The Spirit also came upon the disciples as tongues of fire. Fire changes everything, because after a fire everything has changed. It’s also a sign of renewal because after a fire, everything has to be made new again. The disciples were never the same again after Pentecost ~ they were renewed by the Holy Spirit and it was evidenced by their confident proclamation about the Risen Jesus. We are told that those who witnessed this event were "amazed and astonished".

 

May the Lord bless you on this great feast of the Church. Even though our churches are locked for now, we can still celebrate belonging to the family of the Church in some way. May the Holy Spirit fill you with his love and give you the confidence and courage to be proud of your Catholic faith.

 

Fr David

 

Seventh Sunday of Easter - Sunday 24th May 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

I always start and end meetings for school or parish with a prayer. Also when I visit a family for baptism or a funeral I always finish my visit by saying a prayer with them. It is usually greatly appreciated. I do this to bring the Lord into the meetings and visits and invite him into our conversations, discussions and decisions.

 

It’s a powerful thing when someone promises to pray for us. As a priest often people ask you to pray for them . A priest friend of mine often says that the main role of the priest is to pray for the people: “We are paid to pray”.

 

It is lovely thing when we actually hear someone praying for us. It is very powerful and reassuring to hear them pray and especially when they pray for good things for us. What better thing can we pray for than to pray for eternal life for someone.

 

In today’s Gospel we hear part of Jesus solemn prayer, set at the Last Supper, where he prays for himself and his disciples. Among other things he prays that the disciples may have eternal life. I wonder how the disciples felt when they heard the Lord pray for them so powerfully, beautifully and confidently. They must have had all sorts of emotions, feelings and thoughts when they heard such a powerful yet beautiful prayer for them. It really was the spirit of Easter, because eternal life becomes a reality and not just a hopeful dream.

 

Perhaps in the coming days you can let someone know by phone, email, letter or other means that you have been praying for them. It might just be the message they need to hear.

 

Fr David

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter - Sunday 17th May 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

When I was a child, one of the most important things I was taught to mention in Reconciliation was the sin of disobedience. This would mainly be about not showing respect and obedience to my parents and teachers. This is fairly straightforward because a child does not always have the ability or the understanding to make good decisions or to know what is best. Therefore we are taught to obey because it is important that we take notice of those in charge of us and show them respect.

 

As we grow older, obedience gets more difficult ~ we have to obey laws and to respect those given authority over us and to comply with all sorts of regulations. Therefore people of all ages because of the virus have recently had to obey new rules about staying at home and social-distancing. The problem with obedience as we grow older is often our pride ~ this means that we may question why someone should have authority over us or know better than us. Pride can be a barrier therefore between ourselves and other people and it can also come between us and God, whom we are also asked to obey.

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching his disciples gathered at the Last Supper, just hours before his terrible death the next day. He uses very powerful words, that come from the heart and says that if they love him they will obey his commandments. His commandments include the following; Do this in memory of me: Be kind to those who hate you; forgive those who do wrong to you ; Do not give up hope when the going gets tough; do not judge others but leave that to God: Do not repay a wrong with a wrong. All these teachings are quite challenging but could be summed up in a single word ”love”. We are simply to love each other as Jesus has loved.  Jesus is asking us also be faithful to him not out of duty, but out of love for him. Our obedience to his teachings is to be in response to his love for us.  This should give us a totally different approach to obedience.

 

Fr David

 

 

 

Fifth Sunday of Easter - Sunday 10th May 2020 

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

 

Today’s Gospel is set at the Last Supper, just hours before he is going to die a terrible death, Jesus speaks really lovely words of comfort and reassurance. I don’t think the gathered disciples in that upper room realised the enormity of Jesus’ very intimate words to them that night before he died. He says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God still and trust in me”. He knows full well what is going to happen to Him and he is trying to ease the blow for the disciples, because he knows the next day is going to be really devastating for them. He knows the disciples will literally be all over the place on Good Friday and will find it very hard to accept the particularly violent death, he is about to face. It is incredible that Jesus should even think of saying these very powerful words to his closest friends, however, he is trying to focus them beyond his death and to look to the glory of Easter.

 

Today’s Gospel reading is very popular at funerals, perhaps because Jesus’ words are so heartfelt and comforting for those who are grieving. When someone we love and have known all our lives is taken from us, our world is shattered. How can life go on! As people of faith, we know death is not the end for our loved one, and we believe because of Easter their soul lives on and can be welcomed into their eternal home through God’s mercy. So to hear words of reassurance from the Lord himself in telling us not be devastated, but to rely on our faith, because God has not abandoned us.  He is close to us in this time of pain. These words are just what we need to hear when we are mourning.


In getting his friends to focus on Heaven and eternal life, Jesus tells them that he Himself is the way to the Father’s House, which is our eternal home. Heaven is where we can see God as he is. We know that the way to get to Heaven is by modelling our lives on Jesus himself. If you think about what being like Jesus means, then we have got to be Christ-like; being obedient to God the Father; being generous, as Jesus literally gave his life for us; we are also to be trusting in God, as the Lord was to the end; we are also to be approachable and easy to get on with, just as He was; and we are to be merciful like He was with sinners, even with those who made him suffer, which means we have to be forgiving when others do wrong to us. Finally let us think of those words of Jesus:


“I am the Way the Truth, no-one can come to Father except through me”.

 

Fr David

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter - Sunday 3rd May 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. It refers to the fact that Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. A shepherd looks after the sheep entrusted to him, caring for them, seeing to their needs, guiding them and protecting them from harm and danger. In today’s Gospel Jesus calls himself “the gate” of the sheepfold. A gate has an important role; to enclose the sheep and keep them safe, to allow access to those who need to be with the sheep and to keep out everything that would be harmful to them. Jesus always promises to look after his flock the people who make up the Church by making them feel that they belong to him, providing the care and love they need, feeding them with his Body and Blood and ensuring they receive the guidance and example of “shepherds” he has personally chosen for them to act on his behalf. In this way Christ, the Good Shepherd truly is the “gate” through which those serving in the Church must pass.

 

Today is also a day of prayer for vocations to the sacred priesthood and Religious life. It refers to the fact that people like myself who are priests, believe that because the Risen Lord Jesus is alive, he keeps his promise to look after his Church. He does this by personally calling ordinary people, like Fr Kevin, Fr Emmanuel, Fr Benneth and myself to follow him and dedicate our lives to serving his people in the Church. As priests, we have agreed to be his shepherds by modelling ourselves on Jesus and to be friends with
him by being faithful to prayer. We are also to provide the people entrusted to us with the guidance they need, to help them to understand their Catholic faith as well as to celebrate the Sacraments like the Eucharist and Reconciliation for them.

 

The Gospel reading ends with a very famous line of Scripture: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (Jn 10 vs 10). These powerful words which were said by Jesus at the Last Supper just before he died, are full of Easter promise. He is telling us that he wants us to be free to enjoy life and not to be held back by our sins and mistakes. This is why he was prepared to go through the terrible hardship of the Cross in order to bring us all the joy and hope that His Resurrection promises.

 

Fr David

Third Sunday of Easter - Sunday 26th April 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

Today’s Gospel is the Road to Emmaus. On Easter Sunday, two disciples are going away from Jerusalem where all the drama has taken place. They are joined by the Risen Jesus but they don’t recognise that He is with them. This is understandable, as they have been traumatised by the events of Good Friday, with all its horrors, and now reports that Jesus is risen have left them very confused, so effectively they are running away.

 

Jesus, first of all listens to where they are at; they are confused and downhearted, their “faces downcast”! He then puts the events of the last few days into context by explaining all of the Scriptures to them that refer to himself and we are told that their hearts burn within them as He does this. He later joins them at table in the inn and re-enacts what he had done with bread and wine with them, just a few days before at the Last Supper. It is at the breaking of bread that they suddenly realise it is Jesus who is with them, and at
this point Jesus disappears from their sight. This encounter with the Risen Lord has rejuvenated them so much, that they immediately rush back to Jerusalem to excitedly tell the other disciples that it is true that they have seen that he is indeed risen. It’s the same with us, we are often blinded by getting too caught up in the busyness of life, or other things that prevent us from noticing the presence of the Risen Lord, and to
recognise he is with us on our Journey. As with the disciples in the Gospel story, Jesus accepts us where we are at, he wants to reassure us of his presence even at times of great concern and anxiety. When we come to Mass on a Sunday, the Day the Lord rose from the dead, Jesus speaks to us in the Gospel and we witness “the breaking of the bread” which is the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. At the end of Mass we are dismissed or “sent out” to glorify the Lord by being faithful to his Gospel and bringing his love to everyone we meet.

 

A simple way of being aware that the Risen Lord Jesus is always at our side is Bishop John’s prayer, which takes its inspiration from today’s Gospel story:

 

Stay with us Lord on Our Journey.

 

Fr David

 

Second Sunday of Easter - Sunday 19th April 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection

 

We always have the story of Thomas for the Gospel on the second Sunday of Easter. It reminds me that for some people, the Resurrection really is too much to believe. Just as St Peter would never be able to shed the “denials of Christ“ from his life, so too Thomas will always be remembered for his doubts about the Resurrection. Thomas was missing when the Risen Lord had appeared to the disciples on that first Easter Sunday. He helped them to make the huge leap of faith required to come to believe in the Resurrection. However, it is one thing to believe what you see with your own eyes, it’s quite another to believe something on the strength of what another person has seen.

 

There was an honesty about Thomas in what he was saying ~ the horrors of Good Friday would have been very vivid in his mind. It was unheard of for someone to come back from the dead; Therefore Thomas was speaking with the voice of reason. For us to believe in something, it has to make to make sense to us, so we need to satisfy both our faith and our reason. Jesus appeared eight days after rising from the dead, so that Thomas could see for himself that he was alive and to enable him see and touch his wounds which he had stated he needed to do in order to believe what the others were telling him. The experience is humbling for him, but it enabled Thomas to make that leap of faith that brings him to address Jesus as “My Lord and My God”. After overcoming this barrier to faith, Thomas is then able to fulfil his vital role along with the other Apostles of being an authentic witness to the Resurrection.

 

When we have any doubts or questions about our faith maybe we can ask the help of St Thomas, asking him to open our eyes of faith so we can see the Lord’s presence clearly. We remember the Risen Lord’s words said to Thomas that apply to us: “Happy are those have not seen but yet believe”.

 

Fr David

 

 

Easter Sunday - Sunday 12th April 2020


Fr David's Easter Sunday Reflection

 

We cannot have Easter Sunday and all its joys without first having Good Friday with all its drama, pain, horror, trauma and sorrow. When we are experiencing Good Friday moments, of suffering, feeling alone, lost and struggling we should remember Easter Sunday. Easter is massive for us. It is the most important aspect of our Catholic faith. It simply tells us that the Lord has once and for all conquered sin and death. We have had over six weeks of Lent to prepare for Easter and now we will spend a further 7 weeks celebrating Easter. We also celebrate the Easter event every Sunday, which is the reason why it is our Sabbath Day and why we normally come to Mass.

 

On that first Easter Sunday, we hear in the Gospel that John and Peter go down to the empty tomb. They do this in order to see with their own eyes what they have told by the women who were the first witnesses to this momentous event. They see the clothes rolled up, where the Lord had been lain and the penny drops! Until that moment they had not really understood what Jesus meant when He said that he would suffer, die but rise again on the third day. Jesus had tried to tell them, but they had failed to fully understand until that day arrived. They would not look back from this moment on Easter Sunday.

 

This year, there is a danger that our Easter celebrations are overshadowed by our isolation because of the virus. Let us ensure that we do mark Easter and despite the restrictions still make it special in some way. Let us perhaps make more time today to just be with our family or those we live with and enjoy who they are. We thank God for this greatest feast that gives us hope and joy, even in the midst of worry, fear and anxiety. He Is Risen. Alleluia. Happy Easter.

 

Fr David

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord Sunday 5th April 2020

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

There was a very catchy song a few years ago called “price tag” which spoke of someone wanting to be spoiled by her lover and asking that they give her everything she asked for, regardless of how much it cost. The song contained the line “forget about the price tag”! Everything has a price and therefore it is often unwise to forget what things cost. The danger of doing this is that when we forget about the price we can take things for granted.

 

There was a very big price tag on our salvation: it cost Jesus a great deal: He was betrayed by Judas for 30 silver pieces; He was denied by Peter 3 times when he most needed a good friend; He was rejected by the crowd, many of whom just days before had welcomed the Lord into Jerusalem by waving palm branches and they now urged Pilate to release Barrabas and instead crucify Him; He was flogged, mocked and spat upon by the Roman soldiers; although weak Jesus had to carry a heavy cross to Calvary, where he was stripped and nailed to the Cross. Our salvation came with a huge price tag!

 

Therefore the Palm Sunday liturgy for Mass with its contrasts between joy and sorrow, starkly remind us that it was a mighty price for Jesus to pay for our sins to be forgiven: but He thought we were well worth it; we were worth dying for, we were worth everything. The one thing, however that we must not do is to forget what the Lord did for us. So in this coming Holy Week we are to celebrate and remember the extent of the Lord’s love for us. Let us fully enter into the mystery of Holy Week and although this year, we cannot physically take part in the powerful ceremonies, they will be celebrated in private and so we can still mark the Paschal mystery albeit in a a quieter, more challenging way. Let us allow ourselves to join in the Easter Triduum as best we can spiritually, but with hearts still grateful to God. May we grow in our gratitude for Jesus who gave his all for us. The current words on our Christian lips should perhaps be “don’t forget about the price tag!”

 

(Fr. David)

Fifth Sunday of Lent Sunday 29th March 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down by the Corona virus. We are being asked to stay at home, stay away from others and effectively go into quarantine. We are not able to come to Mass or receive Holy Communion, Reconciliation or the other sacraments or even to pray in our churches, which for now are closed. Totally right as all these measures are, they are very difficult for us to adapt to, because as Christians we are more naturally inclined to come together, to be in union and communion with others.

 

Surprisingly I am seeing the privilege of being able to celebrate a private Mass with parishioners being in “spiritual communion” as enriching its celebration in a new way.

 

The image of the 10th Station of the Cross whereby our Lord is “stripped” of his garments comes to mind in reflecting about our current situation. We are “stripped” of wonderful things that we have got used to and suddenly we find ourselves having to completely rethink how we practice our faith and how we act as Church. It is striking that this “stripping” for us, should coincide with Lent, because Lent is a time of change and growth as we prepare to commemorate the Death and the Resurrection of Our Lord. We began our journey of Lent committing to fast, pray and give to others in order to centre our lives more fully on God, and yet now most of us find ourselves having to continue to do this without the assistance of what we always thought would be there to support us.

 

In the Gospel, Ezekiel’s vision of God restoring life out of death comes true. Jesus builds on the faith of Martha, and in order to show the glory of God, raises from the dead his dear friend Lazarus who has been in the tomb for 4 days. We know that those who believe in the Lord will never die, they will live forever. Martha believed to the point of knowing for certain that Jesus was her Lord and Saviour. Like Martha, may we who also believe and trust in Christ as Our Lord and God, hand over all our fears for ourselves and our loved ones, to the One who brings us life, and who has conquered sin and death for ever.

 

(Fr. David)

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent Sunday 22nd March 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

We are currently living in extraordinary times and are therefore going to encounter new challenges as we travel these unchartered waters, caused by the Corona virus. The Decision of the Bishops of England and Wales to suspend the celebration of Public Sunday Mass for the time being, has like many of you, made me stop and think. A number of people have expressed their deep sadness to me in the last few days at not being able for the first time in their lives to come to Sunday Mass or receive Holy Communion. It is equally going to be very strange for me as a priest celebrating Mass without a congregation.


In today’s Gospel, Jesus cures a man born blind. By putting his trust in God the man is gradually enabled to see clearly who Jesus is through his faith. The Lord is then able to let him see with his eyes for the first time in his life. The Lord is al-so calling us to trust him and to see life and every situation through the eyes of faith.


Fr Kevin was recently telling me how he has found the last four months when he has been in isolation: that although it has been difficult and challenging at times, he has seen it as a grace-filled time, and has taken the period as an opportunity to create more time for prayer and reflection. I honestly feel that some good things will also come for the Church and our country from this challenging time that we are all facing. I pray that we might all grow in this time of Lent in our faith and in our appreciation for the Mass and many of the other good things that we enjoy in our lives. May you be assured of my prayers for each of you and those you love. Please remember me and all the priests in our Diocese in your prayer and spiritual communion.

 

 

 

Third Sunday of Lent Sunday 15th March 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well in the heat of the midday sun. She has made a lot of mistakes and as a result is no doubt the source of much local gossip. It’s for this reason that she comes at the hottest point of the day, when most people would be indoors and so a time when she can avoid her neighbours. Jesus convinces her by talking about “living water” that she needs God in her life. She has come to seek water from the well but is “thirsting” for something else in her life: a chance to change, to be forgiven her sins and to be given a clear new direction for her life. The woman asks questions of Jesus then seizes the opportunity that He gives her to change her way of life. Remarkably this is one very rare moment in the Gospels when he literally discloses his true identity as the Christ.

 

By the end of the encounter with Jesus, in her excitement the Samaritan woman leaves behind her water jar and the very reason she came to the well, which shows her priorities had changed as a result of the chance encounter with Jesus. She is then eager to seek out her neighbours and to tell them all about Jesus. Jesus began by asking the woman to give him a drink of water and ended up giving her everything she needed to get her life back on track.

 

Lent is a time for giving. Jesus gave the woman something money could not buy; he gave her hope and a chance to start again. The spirit of Lent is to give without counting the cost to us: when we give we
should not do it for ourselves but for the Lord and the good of all. Let us reflect on what we could give to others that would change their lives for the better.

 

(Fr David)

Second Sunday of Lent Sunday 8th March 2020


Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

It seems strange at first sight that the Church always has an account of the transfiguration on the second Sunday of Lent each year as it is focusing on Easter. We might ask should it not come more towards the end of the journey? The rest of the weeks of Lent focus particularly on the conversion and coming to faith, especially in Year A, where will have the conversion to faith of the Samaritan woman by Jesus, then the Man born blind who comes to faith. Then on the 5th Sunday of Lent we will revisit the future glory with the account of the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. Then we will commemorate Palm Sunday with its sharp focus on the Passion and death of Jesus. So the Transfiguration of Jesus really fits particularly well in this year with its focus on the future glory and the need for faith, courage and trust in God.

 

In today’s Gospel, the Lord takes three of his disciples up to the top of a mountain, where they are privileged to see him as he is now in glory. Peter was inclined to “freeze-frame” the moment for a duration, but the Lord knew they had to come back down the mountain and face his terrible passion and death and all that went with it, before he could attain that future glory.

 

It reminds us that Lent is a time for us to grow stronger in our faith and in our belief. It is a time for us to grow in resilience and inner strength so that we are prepared to face all the trials and difficulties that life throws at us. Lent is a time for us to prepare well for the glory of Christ’s Resurrection at Easter. Jesus encourages us to grow closer to him in faith and love. It is a time to get our lives back on track and move away from selfishness and sin. The Lord asks us to keep on trusting him, keep on following him and not be afraid because he is always with us on this pilgrimage of life journeying towards the Promised Land of heaven.

 

(Fr David)

 

First Sunday of Lent Sunday 1st March 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Lent lasts for over 6 weeks and its length is based on the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert, when he fasted and prayed. This took place after his baptism and was in preparation for the start of his three year ministry of healing and preaching, which would culminate in his Death and Resurrection.

 

As always on the first Sunday of Lent, in today’s Gospel we hear of the end of the 40 days in the desert and the temptation of Jesus, when he is physically weak but spiritually strong. Therefore he is able to say “No” to the attractive temptations put to him by Satan.

 

The main disciplines of Lent have their roots in the time of Jesus in the desert. So we are also asked to fast, to show that we have control over our appetites with God’s help. We are asked to pray and have more time for God by listening as well as speaking to him. We are additionally asked to give in a variety of ways including our money, our time, our love especially to those in need.

 

Whatever we do for Lent we are to remember that Lent should help us to change and model our lives more fully on Christ. Our Lenten commitments should therefore strengthen us to be more resistant to the temptations to sin. Let us remember the purpose of our Lenten journey is to bring ourselves closer to Christ, to become better people and to get our lives back on track for Easter and beyond.

 

(Fr David)

 

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Sunday 23rd February 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Today’s Gospel teaching is very powerful and extremely challenging for us: Jesus tells us “love your enemies”: Maybe we don’t have enemies as such but we all know people who we mind challenging and make us feel uncomfortable and it’s to them that we need to show love by being extra patient and praying for them. We can always try to look for the goodness or potential for good that lies within each and every person we know. He also tells us to “go the extra mile”. This means showing forgiveness time after time : it means letting go of grudges and resentment, it means shedding thoughts of getting someone back for harming us. All of this will free us to be able to live as God wants us to live: to be free from the harm that the clutter of storing up resentment and hurt inside of us can do to us. We will therefore be free to put all our energy into living and loving as Jesus did.

 

The Lord also speaks of loving ourselves too. He is not speaking of a selfish love but of a love that allows us to be comfortable with who we are. It enables us to know that because God has created us, we are filled with his goodness and the potential for eternal life with him. The things we find hard to love about ourselves are the howling mistakes that we have made, when we have let our loved ones down, let ourselves down and also let down the Lord. We should be to so open to his divine grace that we can live with these imperfections and know that through Jesus Christ we are quite simply redeemed of all that is not perfect about us.

 

On Wednesday of this week we will begin the holy season of Lent by presenting ourselves to have ashes placed on our foreheads as a sign of our repentance. Lent is time to change and to become more like Christ in every aspect of ourselves. In this Year of the Word may we listen to the challenging words of Our Lord in today’s Gospel and respond to them by the way we treat one another in the coming week.

 

Fr David)

 

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Sunday 16th February 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word this Week

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus affirms that the laws of God are good . He encourages us to keep the Ten Commandments but he asks us to do a bit more too. Most laws are not there to make life difficult for us but to keep us on the right track. Without laws, people would be allowed to do whatever they liked and this would result in disorder and chaos. Jesus pulled up the Scribes and Pharisees for being too legalistic: they were too caught up with keeping the letter of the law that for example, they would not even help someone who needed help if it went against the laws of the Sabbath.

 

The laws of God are to keep us on the right track towards eternal life with God. Jesus says that we must also keep his commandment too ~ the commandment to love. The backdrop to everything we do should be love. If we wonder whether something we are about to do will be pleasing to God, then just ask yourself ~ am I doing this out of love? If the answer is affirmative then you can be fairly sure that it is going to be pleasing to God.

 

(Fr David)

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Sunday 9th February 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

We are currently in the Year of the Word and we are being urged to essentially listen to God’s Word. Imagine being present when Jesus told some of his famous parables or preached the sermon on the mount. Every time we dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God, we should be prepared to “catch” some particular message that the Lord is hoping to say to us.

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to be like salt to the Earth. At one time salt was as precious as gold and thus soldiers were paid their wages in salt. When Jesus calls us to be like salt, he is reminding us that we are of great value and worth to God. Just as a small amount of salt improves the flavour of the food it touches, then we are also called to make a huge difference by doing all that is asked of us by the Lord. We are asked to show lots of little acts of kindness to each other, to give and not count the cost, and to show love where there is disharmony and strife. If we do everything for the Lord then his grace and goodness will permeate every aspect of life that it touches.

 

We are also called to be light to the world. The Lord himself is of course the Light of the world. He comes to take away the fear of sin and death. He comes to bring peace and hope. Whenever we are faithful to the Lord and his Gospel, we are letting his light shine on the world. Whenever we choose to forgive and let go of grudges towards those who have wronged us then we are shining his light brightly. Whenever we stand up for what we believe in and even face hostility and persecution for our faith, then we are allowing the Lord’s light to shine forth.

 

(Fr David)

 

Feast of the Presentation Sunday 2nd February 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week 

 

Today is the Feast of the Presentation which is celebrated 40 days after Christmas to complete the celebration of the Incarnation. Candles are lit and blessed today to welcome in Christ, the Light of the World.

 

In today’s Gospel, Mary and Joseph go to the Temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord according to what the Jewish Law required of them. Simeon and Anna being filled with the Spirit were dedicated to God and spent much of their time praying at the Temple. When the Holy Family arrived at the Temple, the Spirit allowed these two individuals to recognise Jesus as the Son of God.

 

Simeon and Anna were both elderly when the promise made them by the Lord was fulfilled in the Temple. Anna and Simeon remind us of the value of old age and how it can be a time to mature in our faith and our relationship with God. They saw the face of their saviour in the latter days of their life.

 

Just as He did with Anna and Simeon in today’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit , who is present within each of us through our baptism can guide and direct us too, to proclaim Christ’s presence in the world today. By living out the Gospel to the best of our ability, people will know that Christ is present here and now, not so much because of what we say but most especially because our actions back up these words.

 

(Fr David)

 

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Sunday 26th January 2020


Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Behind discipleship is always an aspect of sacrifice, doing something for God; that means surrendering ourselves into his hands and to be trusting that all things will work out. It means giving up other possibilities and other paths that life may offer. In the life of a priest for example, it means celibacy, giving up having a family; it means making a promise of obedience to your bishop ~ so working through him God will send you to the people he wants you to serve. In other words where he wants to minister, work and live. Speaking to most priests and religious who give their lives to the Lord, we feel we are repaid many times over by the most lavish of givers, God himself, who is never outdone in his generosity to us.

 

In the gospel we see Jesus settling in Capernaum and the first thing he does is seek companions which is a natural human thing to want to seek friendship and companionship. In calling the fishermen he is also preparing for the fulfilment of his mission because it on these four men and 8 others that God’s rescue mission will be founded. It is interesting to note that a third of the apostles, should be fishermen from Galilee. They had plenty to leave behind: a livelihood, a business, a family, stability, some control over their lives. They were ready to move out of their comfort zones to join this travelling preacher. Whatever happened to them that day by the lake, they were moved somehow to respond, and something within themselves told them that it was God’s work they were being called to do.

 

We too are called to follow the Lord in our own lives. As people of faith, we are called to realise and trust that the Lord is at work today, we are always in his presence, although veiled to us. Just as he called the fishermen and used their natural gifts and qualities, he will use ours too. Like them we too must simply each day say yes to his invitation to follow him. To follow him means putting into practise his teachings and putting service of Jesus and one another at the centre of our very being. It means putting into God’s hands all our gifts, talents, our time, our very selves. We are to remember that whenever we are generous with God he will always give it back to us many times over.

 

(Fr David)

 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Sunday 19th January 2020


Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

I am a big fan of the Catholic French writer whose 50th anniversary is in September this year, and I intend to mark with a Mass in French in Burnley in his memory, the details of which I will keep you informed. Commenting about today’s Gospel Mauriac writes; “That which had passed between them at the first meeting between the Lord and Andrew and John son of Zebedee was the secret of a more then human love, love inexpressible. Already the lighted fire was catching from tree to tree, from soul to soul”.

 

That first encounter we hear of with John and his disciples is really important. This is like the first spark of his mission. Like the first spark that begins a forest fire, which spreads from one tree to another this inexpressible divine love is always infectious and moves quickly from one human soul to another. John is then able to witness that Jesus is the Lamb of God having witnessed the spirit like a dove come down upon him at his baptism as we heard about last Sunday as we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord.

 

As Christians, we are to try each day to keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts to burn brightly so that others may be drawn to catch that infectious love for Christ. Though sinners ourselves we can bring the message of conversion and hope that comes through professing Jesus the Lamb of God to be the Lord of our lives and our hearts.

 

(Fr David)

 

The Baptism Of The Lord Sunday 12th January 2020


Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Last week we celebrated the Epiphany, a revealing of who the child born in the manger really is, in the calling of the magi by God through the star. Like the Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord is also an unveiling of who Jesus truly is. In today’s feast, his true identity is revealed to the chosen people gathered that day at the River Jordan to be the Beloved Son by the voice of God himself. Through such affirmation, he was given the power he needed for the three year ministry he was about to begin.

 

At the heart of the Incarnation is God coming among us to live a fully human life and to show us how God wants us to live. To do this, God had to totally immerse himself into the fullness of human life. Between the actual Epiphany and the beginning of his ministry marked by Christ’s Baptism are some thirty years. Apart from one incident at the age of 12 nothing really is known about those years , nothing else is recorded in the scriptures about them. For this reason they are known as the hidden years. We know he lived under the authority of Mary and Joseph. He would have done all the normal things that human beings do; experience family life, make friends, go to school, go to synagogue. In fact he would have experienced all the things human beings absorb themselves in. This included their fears, the things that worried them as well as the things they looked forward to . There is no substitute to the living out of ordinary life. These hidden years were not wasted years by any means, they were vital years, when we are told he grew in wisdom and stature . The Parables he told, the compassion and understanding he shows during his ministry, make manifest a deep understanding of human life. They illustrate that he had totally experienced and understood the life he had lived to the full.

 

Today we think of our own Baptism and we thank the Lord for this great gift by which we become children of God and members of the Church. May the Lord help us to live out the grace of Baptism by you showing the Lord the trust of a child and by becoming ambassadors of the Lord’s peace and love to one another.

 

(Fr David)

 

The Epiphany of the Lord Sunday 5th January 2020

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Epiphany means manifestation, making-known, a moment of understanding. We celebrate this Feast by a change to our main Christmas focal point in the crib in church. We are still in the season of Christmas, but the mood has changed now. Until now the focus has been on the Lord being born as one of us. Who this child really is, has been revealed directly by angels to Joseph, Mary and the shepherds.

 

At this point in the Christmas season the focus looks to the future and we see who this child is for and so we introduce the magi (the kings). The magi were learned men from different countries and most importantly unlike Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, they were non-Jews, they are what we call Gentiles. They represent the Good News that this Child, the Son of God has come to bring. This is a message of salvation not just to the chosen people of God but to all nations. As we hear in the psalm: “All Nations shall fall prostrate before you”. Most of us are not Jewish but we are from "the nations" who were given the Faith, so the magi represent us.

 

The magi were guided by a star to see the Lord Jesus. We also need to be like a star, we need to burn brightly in order for our lives to be a vehicle for the Lord to make himself known to the world through us. The Lord is constantly looking for opportunities to make himself known to others, however, sin and selfishness and half-heartedness can often diminish the light of the Lord within us. Maybe we need to see what aspect of Our lives need attention in order for us to be better ambassadors of the Lord’s love.

 

Lord Jesus, we thank you for making yourself known to us in so many different ways. Through the guidance of a star, the magi came to see who you really are. Help us to be instruments of your Epiphany to the people of a world desperately needing to know you and see who you are. Through Christ Our Lord Amen.

 

(Fr David)

 

The Holy Family Sunday 29th December 2019

 

Fr David's Reflection on The Word This Week

 

The family is at the heart of Christmas. Like many of you, this year I was invited to spend Christmas day with my family. Christmas is a time to come home and be with those we love, especially when we are separated from them by distance. Like many people, my own family have given me an experience of what love is and what God is through the love I received from my parents and the sacrifices they made over many years for me.

 

Many families face the ups and downs of life by offering support and encouragement to one another. Of course this is not always the case. The model offered by the Church is the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They had to face many difficulties including the flight into Egypt to escape the threat of death by King Herod of innocent children. The light of faith of both Mary and Joseph was surely tested by such experiences, but proved to be strong enough to shine through the darkness of the fear and uncertainty they had to face.

 

It is in the family that the gift of faith is handed onto the children of Christian parents when they are presented for the sacrament of baptism. On this Feast of the Holy Family we think about how God entered human history as a vulnerable baby, born into poverty but destined to save the world. We think of Mary, conceived without sin to become the Mother of God ~ we marvel at her faith and confidence in God’s Word. We also think of St Joseph who put his faith and hope in God to guide him through the circumstances of the Incarnation.

 

May the Lord bless all the families in our parish of the Good Samaritan in this season of Christmas. May we be grateful to the Lord for all the blessings we receive. May he bless our families with good health and provide them all that they need. May the Lord help all the families that are experiencing difficulties. May those who feel they do not belong to a family remember that they are part of the family of God.

 

(Fr David)

 

Fourth Sunday in Advent Sunday 22nd December 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Both Mary and Joseph are our companions during this short 4th week of Advent. In today’s Gospel, they are guided through the difficult circumstances surrounding the birth of Our Lord. Joseph is a good and upright man and he wants to do the right thing. However we are told that he changes his mind after he is guided by an angel in a dream and he then decides to take Mary as his wife.


Joseph’s role is vital in the story of the Incarnation. It is Joseph who is related to King David and hence through Joseph, Jesus can be known as the Son of David. Joseph will provide himself as the legal father to Jesus ~ he will provide a home and food on the table for Jesus and Mary. He will also go on to enable Jesus to become known as the carpenter’s son.


So often, many of us look to be noticed and the centre of attention, but life is not about that, we all have a part to play in life and we are to work out what it is that God asks of us. We can do far worse than be inspired by Joseph’s simple faith and trust in God. He is humble but in his own quiet way, he accepts that he also has a privileged role in the story of salvation. He carries out this role with great dignity and knows he is part of something truly divine.


We see the hand of God in today’s Gospel guiding Mary and Joseph through the difficult circumstances surrounding the birth of Our Lord. Let us pray for all foster parents that they may inspired by the example of the generosity and humility of St Joseph. May both Mary and Joseph inspire us, particularly through their faith and trust in God in uncertain times, encourage and guide us on the final stage of our Advent journey to draw closer to Christ.

(Fr David)

 

Third Sunday In Advent: Gaudete Sunday 15th December 2019

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Today is Gaudete Sunday, which speaks of joy. Today we light the pink (rose) candle and the priest can wear rose-coloured vestments. This is because the coming of the Lord is getting nearer and so the mood of Advent changes from solemnity to joy.

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus answers the messengers of John by saying that in Him the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah is happening before their very eyes: “the eyes of the blind are opened: the ears of the deaf unsealed: the lame shall leap like the deer...”

 

So the Lord asks us also to look for signs that He is coming: let us look for things in life that make us filled with joy. It is likely to be simple things, not complicated things that bring you joy: the smile of a child; someone remembering to send you a Christmas card: an answer to prayer. Whatever brings us joy let us always know the true source of joy is the Lord.

 

Finally, In the second reading St James tells us to: “be patient, brothers, until the Lords coming" we must therefore be patient for the Lord’s coming. we must be patient with each other, be patient in prayer and be patient in silence. At this time of year, when queues for everything can be much longer than usual, patience can be in quite short supply, so let our joy be anchored in patient prayerful anticipation.

 

(Fr David)

 

Second Sunday in Advent

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Do we need, in this time of preparation to have a change of direction in our lives? Do we need to admit that the priorities we have could with a reshuffle? Are the lives we lead too complicated? Do we need to straighten them out by making life more simple?

 

If our answer to any of these questions is yes, then we are given by the Church just the person we need. Our companion for the second week of Advent is John the Baptist. He tells people to have a change of heart to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. He is the fulfullment of Isaiah who tells us to make the paths of the Lord straight. In Advent we have a chance to reflect and to think about the direction our lives are going.

 

John is not an easy or comfortable companion for us but he will look us in the eye and ask us gently but firmly to invite the Lord more fully into our lives; to be more honest and more truthful with ourselves and other people. He also tells us to be more trusting of the Lord as we see the need to change.

 

The Lord calls many people to be a disciple, to love one another and to spread the good news. If we can be as faithful as we possibly can be to the Lord’s teachings, if we can be full of love for the Church and Our Lord himself then we are going to enable those we encounter to desire to grow closer to Christ and His Church themselves.

 

(Fr David)

 

First Sunday in Advent

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

Advent literally means coming. It is a time for preparation for Christmas. There can be a danger that we allow Christmas to smother our experience of the season of Advent. Advent is a time of spiritual preparation ~ it’s a time to slow down, when society is telling us to get busy. Its also a time to think and reflect upon the enormity of what we are celebrating at the Feast of the Incarnation: the coming of God among us. Its also a sobering time for to reflect on the anticipated second coming of Christ at the end of time.

 

Our companion for the first Sunday of Advent is the prophet Isaiah. He foresees the Incarnation of the Lord God who chooses to come and stay with his people. His ways will lead to peace.  As part of his vision, Isaiah sees that all weapons will be reshaped to be used in farming to bring life and nourishment.

 

Our central focal point in Church during Advent is the Advent Wreath with the progressive lighting of the 5 candles to mark the stages we reach as we approach Christmas. Jesus is the meaning of Christmas. He is the meaning of human existence. The baby born in the stable, in poverty and helplessness as God made man, is our light and hope. During Advent we lift up our hearts as we journey in praise and thanksgiving towards Jesus who is the Light of the World, the light which darkness could not extinguish or overcome.

 

(Fr David)

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King 24th November 2019


Fr David's Reflection on The Word This Week

 

The Magi brought appropriate gifts for the new-born baby Jesus. Among the treasures they brought was gold; this was in recognition that this child was a king. Jesus was to become a Universal and Eternal King. Shepherds who were outcasts, were the first to set eyes on the new-born King. Through the way Jesus treated them, those on the margins were to recognise the nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus pushed no one away, indeed he welcomed the sick, those whom society shunned like tax collectors and those whose actions made them unclean in the sight of the law. Jesus revealed his Kingdom as being one where every person mattered, regardless of what they have done or their status in the community. His Kingdom turned upside down the accepted values of the day.

 

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. There is no better illustration of what sort of King Jesus is, than the scene in today's Gospel with the two thieves on the cross with the Lord. In saying "Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom", this man branded as an outcast and a criminal in the eyes of the worlds, retains his dignity in the presence of God. He is assured by the Lord than even people like him, matter considerably in the eyes of God. His trust and confidence in the dying Christ results in him being promised salvation.

 

In the coming week let us play our part in making Christ our King, which we do by listening to his Word and inviting him to make his home in our hearts. In so doing he invites to be builders of his Kingdom, by trying to see the potential in everyone; by giving everyone another chance, and by remembering that everyone is known and loved by God.

 

(Fr David)

 

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 17th November 2019

 

Fr David's Reflection on The Word This Week

 

We all look forward to our birthdays, especially as children. However when we get older, birthdays can be less enjoyable because they are a reminder of our increasing age which perhaps is not so welcome! It is nevertheless important to mark these occasions in some way because they represent the gift of our lives from God. Our earthly lives are temporal because we are not immortal.

 

The readings at Mass today remind us of our mortality and that even magnificent buildings like the Temple will not endure old age or human destruction. Jesus calls upon us to show endurance and asks if our faith can be strong enough to hold firm even in the face of death. He means that keeping the Faith and continuing to trust in the teachings and promises of Our Lord even through the traumatic ordeals and troubles of life, is vital for our eternal lives.

 

He asks us to take seriously his provident care of us; To the Lord every little detail of our lives matters to him and is known to him. So he can rightly say: "not a hair of your head will be lost!"

 

Let us thank the Lord for the wisdom we find in those who are older than us and ask him to bless them. May we also give good example and encouragement to those who are younger than ourselves so they may appreciate the gifts from the Lord that endure such as faith, love, friendship and sincerity. May we value the blessing of each day, month and year that God gives to us!

(Fr David)

 

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Remebrance Sunday 10th November 2019 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

Jesus is asking us today to say what it is we really believe about what happens to us when we die. When somebody is told that they are going to die it's always so much more comforting for them and their loved ones if they do have faith in the resurrection; that death is not the end.

 

On this Remembrance Sunday we think of those brave men and women who died in two World Wars and other conflicts to stand up for our country. Many of them died at a young age, may we never forget their generosity and courage.

 

For me, resurrection and eternal life after death makes sense of our lives, even if our death is untimely, because it clarifies the meaning of human life, and it makes sense of death as well. Today's Gospel emphasises the reality of life after death. Jesus instructs the proud Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, that if God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob then they must be living, even though they have died. Otherwise, God would be God of the death, and this is unthinkable.

 

So, how about you? Do you really believe in the resurrection? It is an important questions because it influences how we live our lives. We should not put off answering the question until we find ourselves in the process of dying to contemplate it and then have to respond to it.

 

(Fr David)

 

 
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time 3rd November 2019 

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

"Little by little....you correct those who offend". These words about God from today's first reading from the book of Wisdom are truly fulfilled in the Gospel in the attitude of Jesus with Zacchaeus the tax-collector. Jesus reaches out to this public sinner and invites himself to dine at his house. Zacchaeus joyfully embraces this opportunity to repent, change his ways and move away from a life of wealth, isolation and sin. He shows that he means business by his offer to repay what has taken from his fellow citizens.

 

The people of Jericho despise Zacchaeus for his wrongdoing, so unsurprisingly they are not impressed that Jesus befriends him and wishes to go into the house of such a sinner. They forget that Zacchaeus is not the only sinner in town because like us, they too are all sinners. So we should be delighted when someone who we know is on the wrong path in life sees the error of their ways and desires to change.

 

This account shows that everyone matters to God. All that God has created is good and He really wants to give everyone a chance of salvation. Jesus says in the Gospel; "The Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost". He indicates quite clearly that God does not want to reject anyone or push them away because He cares infinitely about every single person. Like Zacchaeus, we are also sinners and also children of Abraham. Therefore we also need a chance to change and receive forgiveness for our mistakes and weaknesses. May we also share the Lord's fervour and joy for all those in our own time, who seize their chances to be reconciled.

(Fr David)

 

 

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 27th October 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Most of us would recognise ourselves in both people: At times we can be the proud and arrogant person and at other rimes we can become very contrite and aware of our weaknesses, our sinfulness and be truly humble before God.

 

Inspired by the words of the tax collector’s heart-felt words in this Gospel, Orthodox Christians formulated a prayer as follows: “Lord Jesus Christ Son of the living God , have mercy on me a sinner. This is known as the Jesus prayer. It was used by monks and others in monasteries and became central in their spiritual lives.


This is a prayer that reflects the humility Jesus calls for us to have through the parable of today’s Gospel. You can pray it all day long whenever you find a moment; for a few minutes before going to sleep or when you feel tempted or even when you are waiting for a bus or are in traffic.

 

Hollow prayers that are empty of love but puffed up with pride for ourselves mean nothing to God. Humble words sound out more sweetly in the ears of our compassionate, merciful Lord. Let our prayers always be sincere, our humility genuine, and our hearts filled with love as we approach the Lord who hears us before we even ask him.

 

(Fr David)

 

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time 20th October 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

 

Prayer is any communication with God and should involve listening just as much a speaking. We are urged to vocalise our prayers of intercession to God, who already knows our needs before we ask. However Jesus stresses the significance and the need to, nonetheless, still do the asking.

 

I am delighted at the response to the invitation to compose a prayer for our new parish and particularly at the quality of the thinking and creativity that went into these prayers. We now have now got a new parish prayer to help us on our journey as one big parish to really be truly united and grow in cooperation and love.


In any activity in life we quickly learn that we should never give up. We are to persevere and be patient in all things in life. Everything comes to those who wait.

 

Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that we need to apply the same principals to prayer. We are called to be patient, to persevere and to never give up. Using the example of a woman seeking justice from a judge who is not particularly upright, Jesus tells us that God who is all loving will surely listen to our prayers and will grant them if they be according to his will.  Jesus is urging us not to be disheartened if our prayers do not seem to be listened to. If our prayers are unselfish, for other people’s needs and are genuine and sincere in their nature then let us leave them in God’s hands and for him to respond in his own way and his own good time. Most importantly Jesus urges us to persist in prayer and to trust his words.

(Fr David)

 

Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Sunday 13th October 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word this Week 

 

Jesus has come to show us that salvation is possible for all, through him. His offer of salvation crosses the borders of nationality and race as well as long standing feuds from the past. Suffering and illness can change us and can make us grow in faith, in appreciation, in gratitude or it can make us bitter and resentful. Pain and suffering can bring  people closer to God or they can drive people away from him.

 

In today’s Gospel , Jesus tells the Samaritan leper that his faith has saved him. Conversion and salvation are separate events:  all the lepers were healed  and all ten of them seemed to believe Jesus had the power to  cure but only this foreigner was converted, healed and saved. He had the faith and insight to recognise the source of this unexpected healing.

 

So we are asked to be grateful people to grow in our faith in the Lord despite the difficult and unpleasant experiences that life can throw at us. To see that through faith and the promise of salvation lie lasting healing of body, mind and soul which is when a person can be open to discover their  road to eternal salvation.

 

Coming to Mass on the Lord’s day is the best way to show we are grateful people, it’s the perfect way to show our gratitude to God for all the blessings in our life. At today’s Sunday Eucharist , let us bring to the Lord at least  ten ways in which we feel we have been blessed by him in the week that has just passed. In the expression of our appreciation may we humbly grow in our love and respect for the one who heals us of all that prevents us from living life to the full.

 

(Fr David)

 

 

 

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 6th October 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

It’s very human to want to be appreciated for what we do for other people. However in today’s Gospel the Lord speaks to us of not needing to be noticed all the time for what we do. There can be a side to each of us that yearns to have our good deeds as well as our talents and achievements recognized. The Lord warns us not to strive for this because He sees everything that is done and he misses nothing. Let us offer up our small acts of kindness and selflessness to the Lord and not be trying to impress other people by them. We are to see ourselves as servants doing no more than our duty.

The other side of the coin is that we ought to strive to be more observant and therefore appreciative of what other people do for us so that we do not take them for granted. We should include God among those of whom we ought to be more appreciative. Like others who help us, we can also tend to take God’s unconditional love and friendship for granted; surely it is far better to acknowledge this and respond generously to it?

The message of the Gospel today is that a little faith, provided it is truly authentic can do great things, even achieve the impossible. We are urged by the Lord to go on serving the Lord without any claim on a reward. So in the coming week let us ask the Lord to help us build on the little faith that we have and to humbly acknowledge that we are simply servants doing no more than our duty.

 

(Fr David)

 

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time 29th September 2019 

 

Fr David's Reflection on The Word This Week

 

The expressions, “pampering oneself” and “living the life of Riley” come to mind in hearing the first reading today from the prophet Amos. He warns us about getting so caught up in luxuriating and not giving a thought to those who are poor. The rich man in today’s Gospel is so caught up with himself that he does not even notice the sick, homeless and hungry Lazarus who was begging for food from him outside his own home. There are times when we get so caught up with our own lives and busy diaries that we also fail to see the needy on our own doorstep.

The message from Amos and likewise from Jesus in the Gospel is clear ~ we will be judged for such actions. We cannot plead ignorance because we know that some people are poor and struggling. Let us make a point of keeping ourselves up to date on the global picture especially where there are occasions where people suddenly find themselves without their homes, their livelihoods and their dignity.

We are urged these days to think about living sustainable lives to think about what we need, not just about what we want and to always think what can we give to those who, often through no fault of their own cannot make ends meet.

The parable of Jesus reminds us that once we die we cannot undo the wrongs we have committed. Our Lord who is risen from the dead directs us and encourages to show love to everyone. He emphasises the need to share what we have with those who do not enough to live on. He also urges us to repent of our sins while we are still able to do so.

 

(Fr David)

 

Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 22nd September 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

The 1st reading speaks of the tendency that we can have to short- change people, cheat others out of what they are due, rip people off and practise other acts of dishonesty and deceit. Amos reminds us that God sees all of these acts which he will notice and remember. When we cheat and try to get away with something that is dishonest, then we are really only cheating ourselves. If we sell someone short then it’s our own integrity that we have sullied. Dealings of this sort naturally damage our relationship with God. It’s high risk, because if we get found out for our underhand and dodgy dealings, this can do irreparable damage to our reputation and our good name in the community.

Having integrity, telling the truth, being fair and setting impeccable standards in our dealings with each other are the ways to ensure that we are in good standing with the Lord and with each other.

Trust is a very important thing to have between people. However it is very easily broken. Once it has been broken, it is very difficult to restore. We need therefore to understand the importance of honesty and the delicacy of the precious gift of trust so that we can prioritise them and help them to grow in all our relationships.

In the coming week, may we strive to invest in riches that endure and so help to build the Kingdom of God. We do this by trying to live more simply and by being totally honest and upright with each other in our thoughts, words and actions. 

 

(Fr David)

 

 

Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 15th September 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

 

The second parable is probably the least famous of the parables we hear in today’s Gospel but with a bit of explanation of customs at the time of Jesus, it’s meaning becomes clearer: The 10 coins or pieces of silver weren't worth very much monetarily, but they were of great sentimental value. These pieces of silver were a gift from her husband's family, the mark of a married woman, which she put in her hair on very special occasions. The woman might wear them while her husband was away to remind her of his love. These coins were to be worn with five pieces on each side of her head, fastened with little hooks. To lose one coin would be shameful and devastating.

It was believed that the loss of this precious coin represented the withdrawal of God's favour from the family. It was also a cause of great grief for the husband, so much so that he might actually expel his wife from their home because of the disgrace she had brought to him. This is why Jesus tells us in the parable that the woman lit the lamps, diligently swept the floor and carefully searched for the missing coin. She wouldn't give up until she found it. When she did, she would invite her friends and neighbours in to rejoice with her. They would all understand the significance of finding the coin and her relief.

The lost coin could be likened to a person within the household who is lost. The parable of the lost coin also gives us a glimpse of that in which God delights. When a sinner is restored to friendship with God, it is a cause of great rejoicing and cause for celebration.

 

(Fr David)

 

 Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 8th September 2019

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word this Week 

 

We measure people’s commitment to a cause by the sacrifices they are prepared to make for it. Think about something that you yourself have accomplished in life, or of someone, like an Olympic athlete, that has won great honour.  In order to accomplish something like that, what did you have to do?  You had to put all your energy into it. You had to make sacrifice. You had to eat and drink healthfully and carefully. You had to commit yourself totally.

Being genuine followers of Christ also involves making sacrifices.  The two short parables that Jesus mentions in today's Gospel are examples of this. Jesus tries to show that if you want the kingdom of heaven and if you want to be a faithful disciple of his, then you have to sacrifice things that would get in the way of achieving that goal.

Jesus uses a parable about construction. When you are about to build a building, you would be foolish if you didn’t first  sit down and estimate the cost of it and know whether you can really afford to do it. Similarly, the follower of Christ needs to know what it is going to cost to follow Jesus.

Perhaps  this week we can  focus more attention on our goal, even if it means giving up some of the things on which we think we depend. Reflect this week about whether you have your priorities right. If necessary, start to change your priorities by looking at the end goal. Be like the builder who knows what kind of building he wants, but makes sure that he has the capital necessary to get it done. And if you don’t have it right now, bring to your prayer what you might have to do in order to make this possible at some point in the future.

 

(Fr David)

 

Twentysecond Sunday in Ordinary Time 1st September 2019 

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

 

No-one likes to be embarrassed and in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives a very practical example of avoiding embarrassment. The worst form of embarrassment is when we have wrongly assumed that we are more important than other people. Using the example of where you might sit a Wedding Banquet he tells us that if we always put other people first and put ourselves second then we are not likely to be shown up for thinking that we are full of our own importance. This is a good strategy to adopt in lots of different situations in life.

As Christians we should learn the gift of humility ~ we are to see other people as God sees them. After all, we are all the children of God and are all equally loved by God. When we take it upon ourselves that we matter more than other people do, then we are on dangerous territory and are at risk of rightly being put in our places. The one place of honour we should all strive for is a place at the Heavenly Banquet which is reserved to those who have tried to live out the Gospel of Christ to the best of their ability.

Let us pray in the coming week to be genuinely humble by putting others first; to seek out the greatness in others and not in ourselves: and without our prompting to allow others to see for themselves the goodness in us, for which we give glory to God.

 

(Fr David)

 

 
Twentyfirst Sunday in Ordinary Time 25th August 2019

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

In today’s Gospel, St Luke reminds us of Jesus’ definitive journey to Jerusalem, which will be the climax and focal point of his ministry.  He reminds us also of the urgency which this journey proclaims and the radical, costly response it calls for.  Nothing must be taken for granted.  There is a stern warning that many, having been invited by Jesus to follow him but failed to respond, will not discern the reality of their situation until it’s too late.  Jesus here challenges the whole concept of religious privilege.  Those who will stand outside knocking,  are former table companions who listened to his teaching but did not follow it. They will be excluded.  No one can rely on a privileged position or even religious heritage: for people will come from the four corners of the earth to eat in the kingdom of God, echoing Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah 25:6-8).


We are faced with the paradox of exclusion and inclusion.  There will be a remnant, the few who will enter by ‘the narrow gate’, perhaps bowed down and with stragglers coming along too. So we must understand what it means to enter by that narrow gate. Narrow gates sometimes lead into gardens and humble homes, and often we even have to stoop to enter them. This recalls Mary’s Magnificat, which we heard on 15th August for the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, where the lowly will be exalted. It also reminds us of Luke’s concern for the marginalised and suffering people in our world whom Jesus will welcome.

Let us pray this week that we recognise and take the opportunities to ‘enter through the narrow door’ and so fulfil Our Lord’s wishes for us to gain access to the Kingdom of God through service to our neighbours.

(Fr David)

 

 

 

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 18th August 2019

Fr David's Reflection on the Word this Week

 

 

Jesus tells us that he has come to bring fire to the earth. Fire is very powerful and brings change and it results in things being renewed. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire. This changed  them considerably and renewed them. When we pray to the Spirit, we ask him to "enkindle within us the fires of divine love."

To understand what Jesus means about families being split apart because of him, it is easier to understand this if we consider that we encounter differing forces within us whenever we think about taking him seriously. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

There is a restlessness within Jesus in today's gospel. There is a task ahead that must be faced, no matter how unpleasant or challenging it is. He longs to complete the work entrusted to him by the Father. With his dying breath on Calvary when referring to the task entrusted to him by the Father, he says "It is finished”

He goes on to say: "I have come to bring division." This seems strange, until we reflect seriously on it. If Jesus appeared to a group of people anywhere on this earth right now, he would create division. The reason he would create division is that, once he begins to speak his message, the crowd will become divided, some agreeing with him, and some opposed to him.

The first conflict we  must face up to, and deal with, is the conflict within ourselves. If do we really decide to take Jesus seriously, there will be all sorts of voices coming at us; voices of prudence, voices of reason, and other voices intellectualising. May the Lord help us in this daily conflict in the coming week to grasp the truth about who Christ is for us and what he asks of us.

 

(Fr David)

 

 Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 11th August 2019

 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

There are lots of things in life that we can be afraid of. There are things like spiders and mice that that we call fears but are really just things that some people don't like. There are other things that make us afraid and really can debilitate us and prevent us from being able to be ourselves. These include fear of failure, fear of being laughed at or embarrassed for our failings, fear of the unknown and fear of pain, suffering and death.

The phrase "do not be afraid" appears many times in the Scriptures  including those from this weekend's readings. Therefore it is a key message that God is asking us to hear. He wants to take away our fears and give us his strength and reassurance so we can be free to live.

Today's second reading states that faithfulness and trust in God's promise are really important. The letter gives the example of Abraham who showed great courage when God asked him to leave his home and go to a new land. This was further illustrated when Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac his only beloved son but trusted all would work out alright and he was of course very right to do so. 

The Gospel asks us to keep on trusting and believing in God when life throws challenges at us. So in the coming week may we remain committed to our responsibilities. May we also remain faithful and obedient in our service of the Lord and one another. May we also be confident about the words of Jesus that give us life and hope. 

 

(Fr David)

 

 

 

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 4th August 2019 

Fr David's Reflection on the Word This Week

 

 

Today's Gospel Reading speaks of the right attitude towards possessions. On one level Jesus is addressing the young man’s brother perhaps who is being selfish in not sharing his inheritance. On the other hand, he is talking to us and saying that we need to put our trust in God and not in material things that do not last..


Possessions are necessary for life. But possessions can assume such an importance in our life that there is a danger that we could be obsessed with them. There is a risk we get obsessed with desiring to acquire possessions so much so that we no longer hear the Lord speaking to us. When that happens we have indeed got our priorities all mixed up. However a person's life does not consist of possessions. There is more to life than the accumulation of possessions. It is sobering to remember that what we have accumulated, we have to leave behind when we die. Likewise, if ever we have accumulated knowledge it is best left behind as wisdom for those whom we have advised and mentored.

The Lord has indeed blessed us enormously, but we need to 'rise above materialism,' and to share our blessings, and so find ways to build up our accounts in heaven.

May the Lord help us in the coming week to put our possessions into context and to put our energy into those things that will endure. By doing this we will indeed be building the Kingdom.

(Fr David)

 

 

Seventeeth Sunday in Ordinary Time 28th July 2019

Fr David's Reflection on The Good Samaritan Parish

 

Last weekend we announced the news that we are now one parish. We were also able to announce that Bishop John had chosen the new name for the parish from amongst the nominations that the people of Burnley had considered. So we are to be called the Parish of the Good Samaritan.


One of the things I like about the new name is that it is quite unique and I think that’s great. So far the only two places I have discovered with the same name are a Catholic church in Ambridge in Pennsylvsania, USA and a parish near Chalons Sur Soane in France. These could be potentially good places to link up with. The parable is only found in St Luke’s Gospel therefore I would suggest our parish feast day could be 18th October, the feast of St Luke the Evangelist.

 

Jesus tells the parable so he is the story-teller. However significantly according to the Church Fathers, the Good Samaritan is a Christological title for Christ. The man left dying by the roadside is humanity, dying of its sinfulness: The Samaritan is Christ, the outcast, the one rejected, despised and ultimately crucified. The outcast is the one who shows compassion and love for humanity by tending to his wounds. The Samaritan pours oil and wine on the wounds ~ these are symbolic of the sacraments. The man is taken to the inn which represents the Church where he can be welcomed and restored. The Samaritan promises to make good on his return and Christ of course promises to come again.

 

Therefore I see the Good Samaritan as a title for Our Lord. So, our new parish is under the patronage of Christ himself. Jesus himself is urging us to seek salvation for ourselves through our practical love for our neighbour and thereby show our love for God. I see the title of our new parish as unique, challenging and at the same time comfortably familiar. May the Lord continue to guide us on our journey to unity.

 

(Fr David)

 

Fr David's Reflection on Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday 21st July 2019

 

On Thursday we had a very enjoyable day of retreat and pilgrimage to Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire. Ampleforth is a Benedictine Monastery and the Benedictine monks pride themselves on their hospitality, which forms part of their Rule, given by St Benedict. The monks made us very welcome during our visit to this elegant place, seeped in history and set in glorious surroundings. As a North East lad, I was brought up by my wonderful parents to appreciate the importance of showing hospitality to guests.

 

The Benedictines also of course give great priority to prayer, giving praise and glory to God. Very early in the morning each day the monks come into their abbey church to pray together largely centred on the beautiful singing of the psalms. They pray the hours of the day together and on Thursday we also joined the monks for their lunchtime prayer. In today's Gospel, Martha is showing great hospitality and love to Christ by serving and waiting on him. Mary is just happy being in the presence of the Lord, showing love for Jesus by listening to him and having time for him. When Martha complains that Mary is not helping her with the serving; he tells her that Mary has chosen the better part. The Lord here is emphasising the precedence of prayer.


Prayer is about giving glory and praise to God as well as just being in the company of the Lord. Prayer is fuel for the soul and it’s therefore absolutely essential. Mary was just happy to enjoy the Lord's company and that's a great example of prayer. Being like Martha by showing hospitable to  tend to the needs of others is an important way of showing our love for others. However prayer is about showing our love and our dependency upon God.

 

(Fr David)

 

 

Fr David's Reflection on Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Sunday 14th July 2019

 

The commandment “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” which we hear in today’s Gospel is not just a Christian teaching. Jesus however brought a completely new understanding to the commandment. This teaching is understood differently in different religions and cultures. And the key to its understanding lies in the question that the lawyer asks Jesus in today’s gospel, “Who is my neighbour?” that I have an obligation to love?

Among the Jews of Jesus’ time there were those who understood “neighbour” in a very narrow and restrictive sense. The average Jew would not have regarded the Samaritan as a neighbour. They were considered as outsiders. The circle of neighbourly love did not include them. Jesus came into a world of “us” and “them,”. The “us” being the circle of those recognised as neighbours, and the “them” being the rest of the world regarded as hostile strangers and enemies of the people.

The new thing in Jesus’ teaching of neighbourly love is his view that all humanity is one big neighbourhood. Thus he broke down the walls of division and the borders of prejudice and suspicion that humans build between “us” and “them.” To bring home this point he tells the story of the Good Samaritan. This man would be regarded as “Public Enemy Number One” by the Jewish establishment simply because he is Samaritan. However he is the one of the three passing travellers who fully proves himself to be neighbour to the Jewish man in need. Thus to the question “Who is my neighbour” Jesus’ answer is: Anyone and everyone without exception.

God knows and loves each and every one of us without exception, so I pray in the coming week that we remember this love and that we seize all the opportunities to show love for our neighbours whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

(Fr David)

 
 

 

Fr David's Reflection on Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

 

Sunday 7th July 2019

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about there being few labourers of the harvest and the need to ask the Lord for such labourers. This Gospel often gets to think about vocations to the priesthood and Consecrated life. There is often a mentality of doom and gloom when we think about the future of the Church. I think as we look back over the last 2000 years we can see that the Lord has provided for his Church with labourers of the harvest. There have always been lean times and more promising times in the history of the Church, but of the Lord’s faithfulness to his promise there should be no doubt.


I tend to be a positive thinking person and I see signs of hope for the Church. Pope Francis has got us all thinking about our faith in a different way.  As Diocesan Vocations Promoter I continue to work with a small number of quality men  currently discerning a possible vocation to the priesthood for our Diocese in the future.  In mid-June, I took part in the discernment weekend at Hyning Hall when a number gathered to discover more about serving in the Church as  labourers in the Lord’s Vineyard. In addition on 20th July,  Bishop John will ordain Rev Damien Louden and Rev Bob Hayes and Nathan to the priesthood at the Cathedral.


We need to continue to pray for and encourage vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life . The best way to encourage vocations is to be a good authentic example of the Christian life ourselves by continuing to show our love for Our Lord, His Church, the Mass, The Eucharist and the sacred priesthood.


This is the way we can urge those the Lord is inviting to make the next step. However we still need to back this up with asking the Lord with sincere prayers of desiring new vocations.



 

(Fr David)

 

 

Fr David's Reflection on Saints Peter and Paul

 

Sunday 30th June 2019

 

Simon Peter was a fisherman from Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee. He was with Jesus from the outset of his ministry. His name was changed by Jesus to Peter to be a rock for the Church ~ because Jesus saw within him his strong faith. His faith was a great source of strength for the Early Church.

 

Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish Pharisee, well educated and very devout in his religious practise. He never actually met Jesus but was persecuting the early Christians because he believed they were a threat to his Jewish faith. He became Paul the great missionary after his conversion experience on the Road to Damascus. He became a missionary whose main aim in life was to share the Good News that had transformed his life so dramatically.

 

They both were martyred in Rome for their faith. In this year of faith we give thanks for the faith of these two great heroes of the Church. Today we celebrate the gift of our faith, which has the apostles as its foundation.

 

We pray that we may like Ss Peter and Paul be open to be called by the Lord to respond to his invitation ~ to be formed by his love to change the direction of our lives accordingly: and to be sent out into the world to spread the Good news that everyone matters to God.



 

(Fr David)

 

 

 

Fr David's Reflection on The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

 

Sunday 23rd June 2019

 

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, which means the Body of Christ. This is a term that is used to describe the Church. Christ is the Head of the Church and we are the Body. In The Blessed Sacrament we are invited to receive the Body of Christ and we are to be like Christ in the way we treat God and other people.  We are to become therefore, He whom we receive in Holy Communion.


The Real Presence of Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament is of course central to our faith as Catholics. Before we receive Holy Communion we are asked to say “Amen”. This word means “let it be so”. When we say “Amen” to the consecrated host shown before us, as we receive the Eucharist, we are in effect making a proclamation of our faith.

 

The word “Eucharist” is another word for the Blessed Sacrament. It derives from a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”. The best way to thank God for the many blessings in our lives is by receiving the Lord in Holy Communion and trying our best to put his teaching into the practice of our daily lives.

 

It would be good in future years to consider having a Corpus Christi procession in our churches, which is a great way of showing our devotion to this gift to the Church. It would also be good to consider organising Quarant’ore devotions in one of churches next year. This consists of  40 hours of Exposition over a period of days leading up to Corpus Christi.

 

May the Lord help us to fittingly celebrate this great gift of our faith on this feast of Corpus Christi, and bin

 

(Fr David)

 

 

Fr David's Reflection on Most Holy Trinity

Sunday 16th June 2019

 

We tend to approach the Trinity as something to be grasped intellectually. However I think it’s more important to be seen as something that is rather to be experienced. This manifests itself in the relationships that exist within the Blessed Trinity and which flow out from it.

 

The Trinity continually lives in the tension between concealing and revealing. On the one hand, the Trinity is shrouded in mystery and eludes our attempts to define it. However God constantly reaches out to make Himself known to us, to engage us in the loving relationships that lies at the heart of this mystery of our faith.

 

In today’s Gospel the Holy Spirit, John stresses the importance of the Holy Spirit which carries on the work of the Jesus after Jesus has departed for the Father. The Spirit, we are told, helps the Church to grasp the full meaning of all that Jesus has said, especially about what is shared about the Father.

 

Central to today’s celebration, is an invitation to open ourselves to the love that is at the core of the Blessed Trinity. It reminds us that love is at heart of our understanding of what God is really like. St Paul echoes this, in today’s 2nd reading: “And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us”. So how will we in the living out of our daily lives in the coming week, open our hearts to the love that is the Trinity’s ultimate gift to us?

 

Fr David

 

 

Fr David's Reflection For Pentecost

 

Pentecost Sunday 9th June 2019

 

Today is the feast of Pentecost, the glorious final day of the season of Easter. The Apostles were together experiencing bewilderment over how to move forward when the Holy Spirit flows among them and breathes courage into their hearts. This marks the birthday of the Church, guided through time by the Holy Spirit himself.

The Spirit comes like a powerful wind: we can’t see the wind but we can see what it does. Similarly we can’t see the Holy Spirit but we see what it does in other people. The Church is all about people with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in his Church but we need to look for the signs which are all around us. It would be too easy to miss them or dismiss them.

The Spirit also came upon the disciples as tongues of fire. Fire changes everything, because after a fire everything has changed. It’s also a sign of renewal because after a fire, everything has to be made new again. The disciples were never the same again after Pentecost ~ they were renewed by the Holy Spirit and it was evidenced by their confident proclamation about the Risen Jesus. We are told that those who witnessed this event were "amazed and astonished."

Pentecost immerses us in the brilliance of fire and the power of wind, calling us to trust in something bigger than we are. As we look back over the journey that the Church has taken since the first Pentecost, let us marvel at how the Lord has remained utterly faithful to His Spouse through many different circumstances. As our three parishes go through a process of change let us pray to the Holy Spirit for his continuing guidance, hope and trust that all will be well.

 

(Fr David)

 

 



Fr David's Reflection


Sixth Sunday of Easter 26th May 2019


There was once a king who asked one of his artists to produce a painting depicting peace.  The paint he produced was of a thunderous waterfall crashing down to the rocks below, you could practically feel the force of the water, the painting was so graphic.  At first the king was angry at the artist "this is not peace" he said:   the artist urged him to keep looking at the painting.  Then the king's eye was caught by a detail he had not previously noticed; at the base of the painting near where the water crashed to rocks was a little tree and in its branches a bird's nest in which a sparrow was sitting on her eggs, eyes half closed, waiting patiently for her eggs to hatch.  The king now understood the message of peace of his artist; that it's possible to be at peace even in the chaos of life.

 

During his Last Supper Jesus spoke of peace to his disciples: "Peace I leave you my own peace I give you, a peace that the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.  So do not let your hearts be talking about peace, because real peace is communion with God.  Jesus was in perfect communion with God so he could talk about peace even as his enemies were closing in on him and death was just around the corner.  Peace is a sense of inner calm that signifies right relations with God and others.  Peace is the fruit of trusting God.  Pleasing God is thus the dominant factor in life.  This is something that can be retained even in times of conflict, turmoil and unresolved problems. 

 

The Lord offers us the gift of his peace, it's not an easy peace of course it's a peace that has been won by his victory over sin and death.  Anyone who tries to bring two or more parties together in a conflict can often have a tough time.  Being a peacemaker is far from easy but it's what we should all strive for, because peace is what we all hope for in life.  Our prayer for peace is that we should all become peacemakers and not shy away from all the opportunities we have, to bring Christian love into situations where hatred and division prevail.  This can all be possible if we are truly in communion with God and like Jesus desire his will before our own desires. 




(Fr David)

 



Fr David's Reflection


Fifth Sunday of Easter 19th May 2019


Jesus gave us a marvellous example of love by everything he did with his life; with his compassion for the sick, the sinner and those who were suffering. He then tells his disciples on the eve of the greatest act of love, his Passion and Death that they are to love one another as “I have loved you”. Therefore as followers of Jesus today, we are also to show love through the living out of our daily lives.

Mother Teresa was once helping a man in a terrible condition with gangrene. An observer noticed and said to her: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars!” She replied: “Even I wouldn’t do it for that amount! However I do it out of love for God.”

Love is about being sincere and generous with each other. Love is about those who have more than they need, sharing what they have with those who do not have enough to live on. Love is about those who are not of our faith, meeting Christ in us, through our kindness and humility. Love is being able to rise above the grudges , jealousies and meanness of spirit which form barriers between ourselves and others. Love is not limited to just our friends but is extended to everyone. Love comes from God.


 



(Fr David)

 

 


Fr David's Reflection

Third Sunday of Easter 5th May 2019

 

Peter’s denials by  Jesus at a crucial moment are very well known. Despite being so close to Jesus, out of fear he said  three times that he didn't even know the Lord.  Perhaps not so well known are the "three yeses” that Peter says to the Risen Jesus on the shore of the Lake.  There is always an awkwardness when reconciliation is needed after difficulties between two estranged friends which in many ways Jesus and Peter were. Jesus had predicted Peter would deny him and so is very aware of what Peter has done to him out of fear. He had also stated that Peter would emerge from this moment of weakness stronger and better.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is masterful in helping Peter to move on from his mistakes so he can be free to lead the Church in the future. Without making reference to the three denials, he simply asks three times whether he loves him. Perhaps Peter is upset at the third question because he at that point realises what the Lord is accomplishing by this powerful conversation. Jesus gives him the mandate to be a shepherd to his people and to lead the Church.

May we also ask invite Jesus into any strained relationships that we are experiencing at the moment . May we have the same sensitivity that Jesus used with Peter. May we be full of love and forgiveness and so facilitate reconciliation. May the Lord give us the courage, words and actions that we need in order to put behind us past hurts and wrongs so that our relationships can be healed, rebuilt and grow healthily on the foundations of our Christian faith. 

 

(Fr David)

 

 

 

 

 

Fr David's Reflection

Second Sunday of Easter 28th April 2019

Divine Mercy Sunday

 

Easter is about new life. Everything about Easter is about things being new, refreshed, changed and different. After our Lenten observances we should be stronger in our faith and our commitment to the Lord.  At Easter we have received the new holy oils blessed by the bishop on Maundy Thursday at the Chrism Mass and these are central to a number of the sacraments to be celebrated throughout the year.

The newly blessed Easter water is also a sign of the new life through the sacrament of Baptism which is the gateway to life with the Risen Lord in the Church. The most central symbol to our Easter faith is the brand new Paschal candle which represents the presence of the Risen Lord, who has conquered death forever through his own death of the cross. This candle will be lit at all our liturgies throughout the rest of the Easter season as well as at baptisms and funerals throughout the coming year. The Paschal candle is lit at a funeral to remind us of the promise of eternal life offered to the departed Christian at their baptism.


May we take anew to our hearts the words of Our Lord to Thomas in today’s Gospel  ~ “Happy are those who have not seen, yet believe”. May the richness of the symbolism of our Catholic faith help us throughout the year to see the Risen Lord at work in our lives. May Our Lord help us with the challenges that life presents to us and help us to respond to his invitation to join him forever in heaven through our obedience and trust in the words of his Gospel. 

 

(Fr David)

 

 

 

Fr David's Reflection on Easter

Easter Sunday 21st April 2019

 

If anyone asks me what is the most important thing about our faith ~ I respond it is believing in the resurrection of Jesus. Easter is at the heart of what it is to be a Christian.  It’s the reason why every Sunday is the Lord’s Day and why we are asked to come to Mass. Every Sunday, because of Easter, is a celebration of the Resurrection.
Easter Sunday is the key to our faith and to our hope, and is central to everything that Jesus taught concerning himself and the Kingdom of God.  It is central to everything that the Church has proclaimed since the day that Jesus ascended into heaven. So we are to believe in the testimony of those who saw the risen Jesus and talked with him - and wrote his words in our Sacred Scriptures. We are to believe too in the testimony of those like Paul and the millions of Apostles and Saints after him who have testified to the fact that the Risen Christ has visited them.
So today we celebrate our faith. Today we stand up with everyone else present in church this day as we are sprinkled with the newly blessed Easter water and say I believe in Jesus Christ who was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead. We say this because we believe and through our own personal relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus.

 

(Fr David)