Happy New Year!

Today’s Gospel is a familiar one, especially if you attended Mass physically or virtually on Christmas Day. It is the same Gospel used ‘during the Day’ at Christmas, (as there are different readings for the Vigil, for Mass during the night and for Mass at Dawn on Christmas day). The readings chosen today focus on the mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus. The use of this Gospel from John underlines in poetic majesty, what the other Gospels do narratively – The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.1

The reading from Ecclesiasticus uses the expression ‘Pitch your tent in Jacob, make Israel your inheritance.’ This is the same thing as ‘dwelt among us’ from John’s Gospel as the Israelites were nomadic people. However, John expands the promise made to the Israelites to all people who believe in Jesus when he uses the words ‘’But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself.”

As St John’s Gospel tells us, Jesus was present in the beginning, before time existed; Jesus was the Word., God created the world through his spoken word, as Genesis tells us, God said ‘let there be…. and there was’. St Paul reminds us that ‘before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should be his adopted sons through Jesus Christ.’ Remembering that those who are adopted have been carefully chosen by the parents.

These scripture readings today are extremely rich in what they tell us; the more you look the more you will find. I urge everyone to look again at these readings; find a quiet spot in your day and read them again; absorb them and take in the beauty of God’s Word as it is addressed to you.

Today’s readings talk about wisdom and coming to a full knowledge of God and in that spirit, I would like to encourage us all to make wise decisions about how we use our time. Some of us may see the previous lockdown as a wasted opportunity and may have regrets when we heard how some others utilised their time.

As we have started this new year, we may have made some resolutions to change some aspect of our lives. If you haven’t yet decided, there are a few initiatives I’d like to recommend for you to consider.

  • The first is the Alpha course which is advertised on the Parish website and in the Newsletter. Even if you have taken part in Alpha before, it is worth considering again, as you are in a different place now from when you first experienced it. I found this was a really good way of looking at my faith and exploring what it meant to me. The fact that it is online may make it easier for you to attend. To register or for more information contact geoffpoulter@hotmail.com
  • Another initiative is 100 days of Prayer, which is being run by the National Vocations Office of England and Wales, it started on the 1st of January, but it is not too late to take part. This has a short daily prayer for the first 100 days of the year, focussing on English and Welsh saints and praying for vocations within our Community. More details at UK Vocation | The Website of the National Office for Vocation
  • The next one is Bible in One Year; this can be done either by a daily email or an app and can take as little as 10 minutes each day via their express method. More details at bibleinoneyear.org |
  • If you are unable to attend daily Mass try watching online; every Mass at St Bede’s is shown online, see the most recent newsletter for details of the times.
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  • If you don’t already subscribe to the Diocesan e-news try it out, you can receive a weekly free message with lots of information, reflections and links for other activities, you can view previous issues or subscribe via this link E-News | Portsmouth Diocese
  • Sign up to Bishop Robert Barron [ Bishop Robert Barron – Word on Fire ] or the Dynamic Catholic website [ Home | Dynamic Catholic ] with Matthew Kelly et al, he is the author of ‘Rediscovering Jesus’ – gifted to us by Bishop Philip a few years ago; offers daily reflections sent direct to our email – who knows, you may even consider becoming a ‘Parish Champion’
  • If you don’t have access to computers or are nervous about joining things online, why not commit to reading the readings from the Mass each day from your Missal? Even if you don’t have a Missal with the New Translation of the Mass, the readings have not changed, so you can still use an ‘old’ Missal if you have one.
  • Maybe consider putting together a prayer list or perhaps starting a prayer journal to track your thoughts and reflect any growth in your prayer life.

I often find that I start things with great enthusiasm, but after a short time everyday things can get in the way, such as balancing time with family, full time employment & church, watching football, down time etc.. So, I use things like timers or calendar reminders on my phone to help me remember what I have committed myself to do. The daily reminder subscriptions really help too.

Our Gospel reading this week talks about the true light entering the world, I hope that with these suggestions I can offer you a small glimpse of that true light, which enlightens all men and women. That by seeking the true light we will recognise Him in our midst, serve Him and answer the call which He has for each and every one of us. I pray that whatever you commit to do this year to deepen your relationship with God and to improve your awareness of Our Faith that it is successful and I ask you to pray that my endeavours will be successful too.

I wish you all a peaceful, healthy and Spirit filled New Year.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick at this time.
  • All those seeking direction in their lives.
  • Our doctors, nurses, care workers and health workers who are under extreme pressure at the moment.
  • Those who are struggling with relationships.
  • For all vocations within our Parish Communities.

1 Robert Draper, Breaking the Word Sundays, Pastoral Review Vol 17 Issue 1, (The Tablet Publishing Company, Twickenham, 2020) 77.