This Sunday we are encouraged to pray for peace. It has been chosen by our Bishops as the day we will celebrate the 54th World Peace Sunday and earlier this week in the Diocesan e-news Bishop Philip shared details of the theme being adopted by Pope Francis for this year’s message.1 The theme is “A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace”, the Bishops rightly highlight that the Pandemic over the past year has put firmly into focus the value of carers in our world, emphasising how essential it is that communities work together to support the vulnerable and that caring has to be at the heart of our personal and community life; but they also point out that carelessness, callousness and violence have to be rejected with people and nations re-committing themselves to the path of peace and reconciliation.
The pandemic has generated national restrictions and national vaccination programmes, but unless the richer governments and communities look beyond national borders then the international pandemic will keep mutating into different forms and will continue to migrate across international borders. The wealthier countries must support the poorer countries with this; and a truly global response is required if we want to end this global problem.
In the passage from the first letter to the Corinthians, which we have today we are reminded that we all make up the body of Christ. We as individuals are called to glorify God with our bodies, as the Bishops have pointed out in their document publicising Peace Sunday, this is not purely about ‘sins of the flesh’, we are called to use our whole bodily existence to make the world a better place. The bishops challenge us to use our network of relationships to build a culture of care which helps others to flourish.
In our first reading we hear of Samuel, before he was able to recognise the voice of the Lord, he needed the help of someone who recognised God’s message to help him. We are called through our Baptism to help others to find God. Eli recognised that God was calling Samuel and advised Samuel to listen and how to respond. In our Gospel we have John the Baptist pointing the way to some of his disciples, showing them who to follow. The disciples in turn followed Jesus and entered into a relationship with Him. As soon as they had a relationship then they in turn told friends and family, they did not keep the good news to themselves; this is known as Evangelising or Evangelisation.
How do we share the good news? How do we let others know about the love Christ has for us and for them? It is not about standing and preaching, because we are not all called to do that; however, we are all called to ‘tell’ others about God’s love by sharing that love. This may be more difficult for some during the Lockdown, but others have seen this as a great opportunity. Helping people with shopping, keeping in touch by phone or via the computer, knocking on doors (and standing well back) to check on a neighbour. You could invite friends and neighbours to the Alpha course starting on Monday or even sign up yourself to help you deepen your relationship with God.2
God is persistent in His calling, God does not give up. I have shared before how I resisted my call to the Diaconate for ten years before I finally thought “this isn’t going away, I had better do something about it.” I didn’t think I was good enough, at times I still don’t think I am good enough. But I remember a time when my wife and I were called to take on a leadership role within Marriage Encounter; the day we received that call the Responsorial psalm was the same as today’s psalm “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”
When we do not think we are good enough that is normally because we are thinking about our own will, our own abilities, our strengths and our weaknesses. But the Bible is full of many people who had flaws and still did amazing things for God. I am reminded of another saying, God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. We definitely experienced that throughout our leadership time in Marriage Encounter.
The third Monday in January, has, in recent years become known as Blue Monday; it has been recognised that this is when some people start to feel the pinch from their Christmas spending, or perhaps realise the few extra pounds they put on over the festive period are more difficult to shift than they imagined, in this country the weather is also usually quite cold or wet and miserable and of course this year things are compounded by the restrictions to combat the Coronavirus.
The Samaritans are trying to turn this Blue Monday on its head and are launching Brew Monday,3 they are encouraging people to get together for a virtual cuppa, to reach out to people, have a catch up and check each other’s welfare. It can be fun, and the person reaching out more often than not will benefit as much as the people they contact!
We don’t have to wait until Monday, within Holy Ghost Parish we have been running a virtual afternoon tea for a few weeks now., We allocate an hour and a half for the call, but people can drop in and out for as little or as long as they like. A few people stay on the call for the whole duration, it is a way of keeping in touch and some new friendships have been formed as a result. There is usually a short quiz and we normally finish with Intercessory prayer for anything which those on the call offer up or request. Anyone can join in; it is not restricted to a select membership and you don’t need to live within Holy Ghost Parish either. If you’d like to join in drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you the Zoom joining instructions. For either your phone/tablet/computer or for you to call in on a landline.
Peace starts with individuals; individuals having peace of mind. If those who have peace can share that with others then peace grows. If we look out for others then the love and peace of Christ will grow in our hearts and in our communities. That is what we are called to do, that is what God is calling out to us, just as he called to Samuel in the middle of the night. We just have to respond.
Please keep in your prayers this week
- All those who are sick at this time.
- For peace in our homes, in our country and in our world.
- For a peaceful transfer of power in the United States this coming week.
- Our doctors, nurses, care workers and health workers who are under extreme pressure at the moment.
- Those who are struggling with relationships.
- For the success of Brew Monday and the Pastoral Area Alpha programme which begin this week.
1 Pax Christi, Peace Sunday 2021, available from 2021_Peace_Sunday_liturgy_booklet.pdf (mcusercontent.com) accessed 15th January 2021
3 Brew Monday launch available from Brew Monday 2021 | #BrewMonday | Stay connected with a virtual cuppa (samaritans.org) accessed 16th January 2021