In today’s first reading we have a passage from Job, where he describes his life in total dismay. He seems to be tired of life and views it as an existence; thinking that he will never see joy again. Some people can be tempted to fall into that trap, looking at life as being like a glass half empty. We have seen in recent days, great sadness in our country, at the death of a man who had the opposite view. In the lead up to his 100th birthday, Captain Tom wanted to express his gratitude to those who had looked after him so well in the National Health Service, his original plan was to raise £1000, but thanks to great publicity he raised over £30 million for NHS charities. He could have been like Job, wishing his life away, instead he inspired a nation at a time when we needed a focus to help us get through the first lockdown. May his soul rest in peace.

Our psalm this week again asks us to sing, we are called to praise God for he is good, sing to God for he is loving. God will heal the broken hearted and call back all who are far from him. God never stops calling, we, in turn, need to listen and respond.

In our second reading we have St Paul telling the Corinthians that it is his duty to preach the Gospel. This duty is shared by all of us as Christians; it is a duty which comes from being Baptised. If we live with the peace of Christ in our hearts, His joy will shine in us and people will see that we are different. This is a peace and a joy and a love which is meant to be shared.

St Paul’s example showed that he encountered people where they were in order to bring them to God. How can we do that today? How can we as a Christian people reach others during lockdown? At a time when the needs are great this is a time, this is our time to let the love of Jesus grow in the world. There are many people doing great work by volunteering for things like the Foodbank, or less organised things like helping elderly neighbours with shopping, or just checking they are okay. As Christians we need to ask ourselves what more can I do to help my neighbour?

In our Gospel we first of all hear about Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law, and she responds by serving Jesus and His disciples. Bible Alive1 recalls St Bede’s observation on this “The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength that she is able to minister to those of whose help she had before stood in need.” This is truly Divine, to be suffering from a fever and then by the mere touch of another to be able to get up and start working.

In the evening they brought more people for Jesus to heal and to cast out devils. Jesus then went off to find a quiet place, Jesus sets an example for us to follow; we all need to find a quiet time to be with Our Father. My days are currently filled with time spent looking at screens either through work or through some of the Church activities which have moved online or when I am meeting up with friends and family through the internet. At times I feel my eyes need respite and I need to find time away from screens; find a quiet time to spend some time with God. I struggle to do this, even my prayer time is spent on a screen as I pray the prayers of the Church through an Application on my computer. This week I will try to spend less time on screens; I will pick up my Office of the Church and use the books again, spend time with my Father away from the screen and let His light shine instead of the light from my computer screen.

These times of silence which Jesus regularly practiced, were not just respite. These were times for Jesus to be still with his thoughts and be closer to the Father. As St Paul said (elsewhere) in his first letter to the Corinthians “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11 NIV). In spending time in silence Jesus is urging us to find that time in our days, find a quiet place free of distractions and just be still. Be present for God , just as he is always present for us.

In our Gospel Jesus gives us another example, he does not want to restrict his teaching or his healing to one town. Following his time of prayer Jesus reveals that He has to spread his message to the other towns in the country; preaching, healing and casting out devils. Jesus is telling us not to keep this to ourselves, He went out to other people He did not wait for them to come to Him. There are many ways where Jesus is reaching out to us. This week in our Pastoral Area the Alpha course continues online and is very well attended. In St Bede’s the RCIA course continues online too and the Parish is looking at more ways to reach out to our community (more news soon).

The message from God is that we do not walk alone on our journey; God is always with us. We also have the accompaniment of our fellow travellers to encourage and support us. We are one body, we are only as strong as our weakest part, sometimes we are the weakest part of the body and sometimes we can be the strongest part (without realising it). It is how we accompany and encourage each other that builds up our community. We are part of something far bigger than ourselves, far bigger than our Parish, we are part of the Body of Christ which is at the same time, an awesome privilege and a great responsibility.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, we pray that Jesus will heal them as he healed those in Capernaum.
  • For an end to Human trafficking, that perpetrators of this heinous crime will have a change of heart and that victims will get the support they need.
  • On Thursday we celebrate the Feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, may Our Lady intercede for all the sick at this time.
  • For all those affected by inclement weather in our country and for the protection of those who work to keep us all safe at these times.
  • 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 as they explore the subject of faith and for those attending the RCIA course on Wednesday that we can learn more about Mary the mother of Jesus and our Mother.
  • A quick recovery for Fr Patrick in Tadley, who is still feeling the effects of a fall.

Once again, I thank those who have sponsored me on my Walk for Water Challenge in aid of Cafod. The serious walking starts on Ash Wednesday and will go on throughout Lent. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD

All donations are greatly appreciated and as always if you are unable to financially support me or the others taking part your prayers are very welcome.

1 Bible Alive – January 2021, (Alive Publishing, Stoke-on-Trent, 2021)53.