May 5th 2019

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Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection
  5. From the Archbishop's Desk: May 2019

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading   Acts 5:27-32.40-41

The high priest demanded an explanation of the apostles. 'We gave you a. formal warning,' he said 'not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man's death on us.' In reply Peter and the apostles said, 'Obedience to God cornes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.'

They warned the apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.

Second Reading     Apocalypse 5:11-14

In my vision, I, John, heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the animals and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, shouting, 'The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.'

Then I heard all the living things in creation - everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying, 'To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.' And the four animals said, 'Amen'; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.



Gospel Reading      John 21:1-19

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, 'I'm going fishing.' They replied, 'We'll come with you.' They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, 'Have you caught anything, friends?' And when they answered, 'No', he said, 'Throw the net out to starboard, and you'll find something.' So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord.' At these words 'It is the Lord', Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred' and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, 'Who are you?'; they new quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?' He answered, 'Yes Lord, you know 1 love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' A second time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' He replied 'Yes, Lord, you know 1 love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Look after my sheep.' Then he said to him a third time, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' and said, 'Lord, you know everything; you know 1 love you.' Jesus, said to him, 'Feed my sheep. I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go.' In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, 'Follow me.'


Sunday Reflection 3rd Sunday of Easter

Break-fast

This Sunday's Gospel (John 21:1-19) depicts the Resurrected Jesus in the coastal settlement of Tiberias whose origins date back to 1200 BC, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

In times of uncertainty, the familiar is comforting and reassuring. People often drift back to a familiar place or occupation. Peter at some point in the post-Calvary and empty tomb period drifted back to his fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. For those unfamiliar with the Sea of Galilee, night time is when the fish rise from the cool depths to which the daytime bright sun had driven them. Also, once the sun rises it causes the surface of the sea, when calm, to become opaque. However, a person on the shoreline can often see the movement of a shoal of fish invisible to fishermen in a boat on the sea. Jesus acted as the 'spotter' to his fishermen friends, the same as people do today.

As well as a physical drifting back to familiar places, times of severe uncertainty reduce our willingness to reach out with the previous confidence we had shown. As a child of six, I suffered a fracture in my lower right leg. Having worn a whole-leg plaster cast for six weeks, I had to learn to trust my right leg again! It was tough, learning to walk again. I depended on the encouragement of those I could trust.

In John's Gospel for this Sunday, there's a message in every detail - the lit charcoal fire, the cooking fish and the bread - of Jesus' preparation for his hungry, weary, deflated and massively hesitant returning fishermen/disciples. How many times previously had they eaten together on the shoreline with minimal amounts of food, blessed by Jesus, to satisfy as many as were present …. and willing to communicate? This early morning reunion of disciples would have also been a 'resurrection' of previous memories that had become overshadowed, lost sight of, in the terrifying all too recent trauma of Calvary that would still have haunted them.

This was yet another invitation to his disciples to break from their 'fast of hope' i.e. 'break-fast'. These disciples were still adrift in an unending 'night' of uncertainty. Could they be persuaded to break-their-fast of belief in Jesus' Resurrection? Aged six, I wanted so much to walk again on my previously fractured right leg now without its supportive whole-leg plaster cast but …. could it be trusted? Could I trust it? Each disciple would have had his own interior struggle on the Tiberian beach that morning.

It was highly significant that Jesus requested the previously empty-handed crew to: "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." By this Jesus indicated that this break-fast was not a fresh start but a continuity of call, of vocation. Jesus had not 'fasted' from calling them despite their probable 'fast' from believing in Him and in His call to them. Jesus was involving them in His enactment of their healing which would lead to their re-communion with Him.

At times our Baptised lives may seem bereft of a sense of God's presence? Times when formalised prayer and sacramental practices feel as they have failed to touch our injured depths? Times when the 'beaches' provided by the Church had no visible charcoal fire, nor cooking fish, nor bread. Instead, there appeared an all-obscuring sandstorm-tsunami of contamination that washed not into, but out from, the Church and, most especially, appeared to have been caused by some those whom the Lord had called to be shepherds on his behalf.

Yet, if, while acknowledging the appalling contamination, we refuse to give in to it, we will find the Risen Lord recognizable amongst the debris, identifiable by his still active wounds. He invites us to put our fingers into the holes made by the nails and our hand to touch his opened side and "doubt no longer, but believe!" (John 20:27) the victims while they tell us of their all too real pain and disfigurement, for which we have no answer but our tears and our shared shame.

The original disciples had come back to Tiberias from the Sea of Galilee after what they had thought was a fruitless night's fishing. It was a bright, sunny Tiberian morning but they may have been unaware of it. Their inner vision might well have remained as obscure and damaged as had been the inner vision of their two companions on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Jesus may have had to work hard to re-engage with their faith fractured by their own disloyalty and fear and, for Peter, his thrice-public denial of knowing Jesus (Matt: 26:69-75)

Yet, it is Peter whom Jesus singles out. He asks Peter three times: "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" To what was Jesus referring? Did he indicate Peter's companion disciples or was Jesus indicating Peter's former life as a Galilean fisherman? It is more likely to be the former, for Peter gives Jesus the uncomplicated answer: "Lord, you know that I love you". Jesus, in his bountiful forgiveness, gives Peter the opportunity to have the painful memory of his threefold public denial of Jesus expunged by making a threefold public affirmation of contrition. In Luke 7:47 we find Jesus' earlier teaching about genuine love counteracting the affliction of sin.

John records this public encounter between the Risen Jesus and the healed Peter to show how Peter was to become the great shepherd of Christ's Body on earth. There were those in the early Church who drew comparisons between Peter, John and Paul. Peter may not have had John's deep theological ability to visualize, verbalize and record. Nor may Peter have had Paul's determination to journey to distant places and catechize the Gentile nations. But to Peter, explicitly, was given the beautiful and entirely demanding task of shepherding the sheep of Christ. We, too, may not have John's capacity for theological exploration and exposition, nor Paul's ability for voyaging and adventure, but we do share Peter's fragility for, like him, we surely have denied Christ in our life and been the recipients of his healing forgiveness. And, like Peter, we can feed the lambs of Christ with the Word of Life, we can feed Christ's flock by our communion with one another and we can guard others from going astray.

Each day, we need to hear Christ's call directed to our self:
"----, son/daughter of ---- and ----, do you love me more than these?
because we are called afresh, daily, to be one with Peter who, in this 21st century, bears the name of Francis.


From the Archbishop's desk: May 2019

By Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

The recent retirement of Pat Gaffney as the general secretary of the British section of Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement, has made me think about my own commitment to realising Christ's peace in our world. Pat worked for Pax Christi for 29 years and, at times almost single-handedly, built it up into an effective organisation to increase awareness and educate our community in the art of peace-building. Among many other qualities needed to be a person of peace Pat showed the virtue of courage at its best.

To have the courage of our convictions is what is needed to be a follower of Jesus. We often forget this and withdraw into a kind of personal religion where we set the boundaries and don't step outside them. The harsh reality is that at times Christianity demands us to be prophets as well priests; leaders as well as disciples. To be faithful to this takes guts. We cannot always retreat into prayer; sometimes prayer and reflection mean that we are compelled to act. But we must always be rooted in prayer, otherwise we may lose our way, and then we will be following our own ambitions and not those of our Master, the Prince of Peace.

Pat's courageous service will be missed by many in the peace movement both inside the church and beyond, but the work of peace-making will continue. In truth, the Church should be the peace movement par excellence: if only we had the courage to be just that.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God!