The events which have taken place in Israel in recent days are tragic on many levels. In Jerusalem, in particular, where a house of God has been the centre of so much violence, with both sides attempting to claim the moral high-ground is to be deplored.
Jerusalem is a city where three different faiths recognise one God, all of our faith’s and traditions are from the Abrahamic root, we are all made in God’s image and likeness and are all called to love. We have so much more in common than what divides us, but when men look at the world with worldly eyes, they fail to see the people they are throwing rocks at, are their brothers and sisters.
Our readings today, take us back to the beginning of the Church; in our first reading from the acts of the Apostles we have St Peter recognising that Jesus chose twelve apostles as the foundation of the Church, mirroring the twelve tribes of Israel. The fathers of the twelve tribes were esteemed by the Jewish people and gave their name to their tribe, people knew where they came from and to which tribe they belonged. We may see the choosing by lot as a little bit strange, but this was identical to the way the priest was chosen who would enter the Temple sanctuary to burn incense. For the people of that time, it was recognised that random events; outside of man’s control; were expressing the will of God. It was not abdicating human decision either, humans had chosen the two candidates; but it was a way of putting the final decision in God’s hands. St Peter, used the psalms to justify this, maintaining the Jewish tradition within the early Church.
Our Gospel has the beautiful words of Jesus asking for God’s protection on those He is sending out to continue His work. These words form Jesus’ prayer for our priests; these words are a prayer we should say for our priests. Just like our Gospel last week, Jesus mentions how He wants to share His joy to the full. These men, trusted by Jesus, listened to His words, and shared them with so many people that two thousand years later Jesus’ word is still spreading, His Church is still growing, and sadly His Church is still being persecuted. The world still sees the Church as a threat, but if you look at the words of the Gospel, those who listen and follow the words of Jesus will be hated by the world, because we are not of the world. Jesus says we belong to the world as much as He does. We belong to Jesus because we have been consecrated in the truth.
My wife Pam, and I, formed a strong bond with a priest, who sadly is no longer with us. We worked together in leadership of Marriage Encounter and this was a prayer he had framed for us during our time of leadership. It was very precious to him and became special for us too. We now frame it and give it to new priests we know, at their ordination.
Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday when we commemorate the day when the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of truth. All of us who have been Baptised and Confirmed have been consecrated in truth, because we too have received the Spirit of truth. At St Bede’s Church next week we will celebrate the Confirmation of 43 young people. I pray that they will be filled to the brim with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that they and we, will recognise that this is not the end of their journey, but a new beginning; where they can take an active part in the Church by loving God and their neighbour. May the gifts of the Holy Spirit help them to discern the path God is calling them to.
On Friday we entered into the nine days leading to Pentecost, the Parish website has a link to the Novena used at this time, I offer my Novena for these young people as they commit their lives to being adult Christians. The link for the Novena is Pentecost Novena to the Holy Spirit – St Bede’s, Basingstoke (stbedesbasingstoke.org.uk) Even if you have missed the first couple of days when you read this, it should be straightforward to catch up. I would encourage everyone to pray this Novena, because right now, the whole world needs a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (also available below)
Glasgow, the city where I grew up, in is not perfect. Over the years it has had a bad press for violence and intolerance; some of which has been based on religious intolerance and bigotry. This week, however, it made headlines, which hopefully will start to undo some of those negative perceptions. The Immigration Service carried out dawn raids on the feast of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, to apprehend two men. Quickly neighbours got together and blocked in the Immigration van, before long a crowd gathered and more than 200 people took part in a peaceful protest, with cries of “These are our neighbours!” and “Refugees are welcome here!” The protest was so effective that the two men were released and the crowd escorted them to the nearest mosque. This was an example of love of neighbour in action.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this reflection, people who claim to follow the same God are in peril now in the Holy city of Jerusalem, the land where Jesus walked, houses people in fear. I pray that God will intervene and untie all of the tangles which keep these tensions going. May God bring peace to all of His children; regardless of how they choose to pray to Him. Our second reading reminds us that because God loved us so much by sending his only Son into the world then we should love one another. When we live in love then God lives in us. I pray that there will be enough people with God living in them to help restore peace to the Holy Land and to all other areas of conflict in our world.
Have a blessed week.
Please keep in your prayers this week
- All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
- Those who are organising and attending the Let it Be course on Monday.
- All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation next weekend, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- Those who are praying the Novena for Pentecost (please join in).
- All those who grieve at this time.
- Prayer Marathon to end the Pandemic (please join in).
- Those who continue to attend the RCIA Course on Wednesdays.
- The families completing the Baptism Preparation Course this Sunday.
Deacon Tony Darroch, 15th May 2021.