Last week at the Alpha Course being run online, we were all asked, ‘Who is Jesus?’ This week in our Gospel from St Mark, the unclean spirit says to Jesus, ‘I know who you are, you are the Holy One of God’. Jesus then orders the unclean spirit out of the possessed man and it obeys His authority. In our first reading from Deuteronomy we also hear about authority, Moses is foretelling the times of Jesus, by telling the people of his times about a great prophet who will come from their people and will speak with the voice of God and that the people are to listen to what this prophet says. These words in Deuteronomy parallel the voice of God heard at the Transfiguration of Jesus “This is my Son, the Beloved, Listen to him” (Mark 9:7).

The same theme is within our psalm, ‘listen to his voice!’ the psalmist warns and then we hear the verse –

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord,
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord.”

This jumps out at me for a couple of reasons. Recently, I realised that one of the things which I really miss during this pandemic is joyful communal worship music. Last weekend while I was out for a walk, I played the rosary in my earphones for the first part of the walk and then I normally move across to some 80’s music to keep my steps lively (it helps to pass the walking time quicker). This time however, I chose to play worship music, how can I bemoan not hearing it and then choose not to listen when I have the time?

As I walked and listened to the music it really lifted my spirit. I shared this with the Afternoon Tea group last Sunday and I proposed that we finished the afternoon tea with a sing-a-long to ‘Shine Jesus Shine’, (we played the music with the lyrics on the screen and asked everyone to mute so that we were singing together). It was really joyful, and we asked one of the others to choose a different hymn for this week’s afternoon tea. For anyone meeting virtually for church meetings or with likeminded friends I recommend this as it is a very powerful way of worship, which we are being denied; due to essential health restrictions; during our Liturgy.

The other thought which jumps out at me is the word joy. We are called to ‘ring out our joy to the Lord’. We need to remember that we are here to listen to and share the Good News. Jesus is alive, he is with us. We are here at a celebration and this should fill us with joy; fill us to the brim. Our joy should overflow and touch others. In the reflection for today’s Gospel in ‘Bible Alive’1 the author highlights that those who heard Jesus’ teaching in Capernaum recognised something ‘new’. We can be something new to others, for those on the margins we can bring joy, acceptance and love.

During this pandemic, all we hear on the news is doom and gloom, all we read about is another set of depressing statistics. But as Christians we know Jesus is risen. We know that God loves us. We know that this life is not the end. ‘Let us come before him, giving thanks, with songs let us hail the Lord.’ With this in mind, I would like to suggest that we all try to find some time every day and play a joyful piece of worship music, it could be a favourite hymn, some which lifts you or inspires you. We could choose the same song every day or put a little bit of variety into our lives by choosing a different song every day. If you have access to a computer, you could perhaps play it on a video with the lyrics and join in with those who are singing. We need to remind ourselves daily that this world was created by God, let His music fill the earth, let His music fill our hearts and minds.

Today is Racial Justice Sunday. Tragically, there are too many examples occurring throughout our world that highlight why this day is still needed in the 21st Century. In this week’s Portsmouth Diocese enews there is a powerful message from Bishop Paul McAleenan urging us all to do something to support this cause. It is not enough to condemn, or offer words of support; we have to put our concerns into action if we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in a world where Racial Injustice is something taught in a history lesson where the pupils ask incredulously ‘did they really treat their brothers and sisters so badly?’ I urge everyone to take the time to read this and to respond with love.

Last week I mentioned that I had registered for the CAFOD Walk For Water campaign, during Lent I (and other Parishioners) will be walking 10,000 steps every day to raise money for CAFOD. Our daily step total is to replicate the distance some families have to walk every day to obtain fresh water. I’d like to thank those who have already sponsored me. If you would like to sponsor me, my link is Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD there is also a general link for Holy Ghost Parish St Bede’s Church, Basingstoke is fundraising for The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) (justgiving.com) Whichever way you choose to donate CAFOD will be very grateful for the money, or if you would like to join in please go to Walk for Water | CAFOD. If you are not in a position to sponsor, then your prayers for all taking part would be very welcome.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, we pray for their recovery and that they do not give up hope.
  • For justice for all men, women, and children regardless of their race; for a better understanding for all of prejudice and an awareness of how much we as individuals can do to help make life fairer for all of our neighbours.
  • For the protection of those who campaign against injustice; and for a will that everyone will start to challenge injustice and will no longer tolerate prejudice of any kind.
  • For all those affected by flooding in our country.
  • Our doctors, nurses, care workers and health workers who are under extreme pressure, we ask for their protection.
  • For all those taking part in the Walk for Water campaign.
  • For those suffering from Domestic abuse in our local area that they will have the strength and courage to seek support
  • For those attending the Alpha Course on Monday help them to get a full appreciation of Why Jesus died.
  • A quick recovery for Fr Patrick in Tadley, who had a fall last weekend.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 30th January 2021.

1 Bible Alive – January 2021, (Alive Publishing, Stoke-on-Trent, 2021)46.