August 18th 2019



  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection
  5. Sunday thoughts
  6. Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2020

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St Benedict's Newsletter is not available

This Sunday's Readings

First Reading                  Jeremiah 38:4-6.8-10

The king's leading men spoke to the king. 'Let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. The fellow does not have the welfare of this people at heart so much as its ruin.' 'He is in your hands as you know,' King Zedekiah answered 'for the king is powerless against you.' So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well of Prince Malchiah in the Court of the Guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the well, only mud, and into the mud Jeremiah sank.

Ebed-melech came out from the palace and spoke to the king. 'My lord king,' he said 'these men have done a wicked thing by treating the prophet Jeremiah like this: they have thrown him into the well where he will die.' At this the king gave Ebed-melech the Cushite the following order: Take three men with you from here and pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies.'

Second Reading                Hebrews 12:1-4

With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God's throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.

Gospel Reading                   Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: 'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how 1 wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism 1 must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

'Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

Sunday Reflection 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A String of Pearls

People place a high value on a string of flawless, natural, graduated pearls. The Hebrew word for preaching, charaz, means 'stringing pearls'. Luke's chapter 12, from which we have an excerpt for this 20th Sunday of the Year, could be described as a collection of some of Jesus' verbal pearls. While he gave them no particular order or connectedness, we can look at some of his teachings from the entire chapter.
We are to avoid hypocrisy which is another word for insincerity.
We are to be fearless, because one person's power over another is limited to this life. One person may take the life of another, but not their soul. Matthew (10:28) records Jesus' warning about fearing the one (Satan) who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Also, we are to be fearless because God's care of us is highly detailed. Again, from Matthew (10:29): "Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted."
We are to beware of the unforgivable sin, the sin against the Holy Spirit. Those who heard Jesus speak about the Holy Spirit, at this stage in his ministry, had the understanding of the Spirit that was common among the Jews. A Jew who witnessed the manifestly good work of God and then described it as evil, was closing his/her heart to God. Perhaps, in our time, there are instances where there have been the unjust suppression of dissenting voices both within the Church and within the wider society. In Matthew (12:31) Jesus says: "And so I tell you, every human sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."
Jews understood God's Spirit as the bringer of Truth to people and as the enabler who made it possible for people to grasp God's Truth. There's the old adage 'use it or lose it'. By repeatedly rejecting God's Spirit, and repeatedly choosing our own will, we can become impervious to God's Spirit. As a consequence, we see evil as good and good as evil. A classic example would be the Scribes and the Pharisees who had so blinded and deafened themselves to God that when he came amongst them, they called him the devil.
Why is there an unforgiveable sin? Because when a person no longer recognises and seeks that which is good, when goodness no longer holds any appeal to them, they are unable to repent. It is not God that disbars them, they disbar themselves.

Jesus' 'string of pearls' also identifies the virtue of loyalty which has no earthly reward but does have the welcoming words of our Saviour to greet us in heaven: "Come. Blessed of my Father …" (Matt.25:34).
Jesus's 'pearls' also confirm the role of the Holy Spirit as the permanent advocate of those who accept Jesus as God-made-Man and commit themselves to follow his teaching.

Those who were learning to accept Jesus as the Messiah, the promised One, still held to the idea of a conquering king whose presence would usher in a golden age. Quite likely, one of Jesus' 'pearls' would have come as a bleak shock; namely, "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were blazing already!' (Today's Gospel)
For the Jews, fire is almost always a symbol of judgement. They were hearing Jesus say that the advent of his kingdom would herald a time of judgement. The element of judgement runs through the teaching of Jesus, much like the cord that strings together the pearls. However much people may wish to ignore the element of judgement, it remains unalterably present. Of course, the Jews were firmly of the belief that God would judge them by one standard and all other nations by another. This was tantamount to saying that being Jewish would bring its own absolution. Shades of this mentality were also found in Catholicism, when the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism was thought to be sufficient for eternal salvation.

Jesus continues: "There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!"
The implication of this passive voice of the verb to be baptised has, in its original Greek, the implication of a person being wholly submerged, totally entombed beneath the waves. Were we to give Luke's words a modern translation, the result might be to have Jesus saying: 'I have a terrible experience through which I must pass; and life is full of tension until I pass through it and emerge triumphantly from it'.
For Jesus, Calvary's Cross was the permanent backdrop to his life on earth. By contrast, the Jewish backdrop was of victorious, avenging armies and flying banners.
Jesus' coming inevitably brought division:
"Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division ..."
It is said that the division it caused was one of the major reasons why the Romans hated Christianity. It divided families. Over and over again a family member had to decide whether they loved kith and kin better then Jesus Christ. The essence of Christianity is that loyalty to Christ has to take precedence over the dearest loyalties of this earth. A man must be prepared to count as loss all earthly things for the privilege of belonging to Jesus Christ.

Some scholars have suggested that Luke 12:49-50, which form part of today's Gospel, are a glimpse into the soul of Jesus. By describing his mission in terms of fire and division, Jesus made it clear that there could be no neutrality regarding his words and works. He knew that the challenging character of his teaching would meet with growing opposition and hostility on the part of those who refused to accept the truth.

So, when next your eye alights upon a string of flawless, natural, graduated pearls, perhaps pause for thought beyond their natural beauty or monetary value.

Sunday thoughts: August 2019

By Monsignor John Devine

'Make us know the shortness of life that we may gain wisdom of heart.' Psalm 89 gets Msgr John Devine thinking what's important and what's not.

My mother often said, 'Life is short'. I wondered what she was talking about. At the time I thought she'd had a long life. Now I see things differently. She died not much older than I am now. It's said that youth is wasted on the young. When I was young, I assumed there to be an endless progression of years ahead of me. I was impatient for the best years I imagined lay ahead to arrive quickly. Rarely did I savour the moment. The future couldn't come quickly enough.

In the psalm for the 19th Sunday of the Year, we read: 'You sweep men away like a dream, like grass which springs up in the morning. In the morning it springs up and flowers; by evening it withers and fades. Make us know the shortness of life that we may gain wisdom of heart.' (Ps89)

Death concentrates the mind. It's not just about a biblical day of judgement. You don't have to be religious to appreciate this wisdom. The realisation that our life is temporary, not permanent, offers a fresh perspective on what's important and what isn't.

'There's no tow bar on a hearse.' That's a pithy variant I recently heard on 'No pockets in a shroud'. Even the wealthiest come to realise in the end that they are temporary custodians of the fortune they have amassed. They think their wealth is theirs, but they have to leave it behind.

As a priest celebrating funerals I can usually tell how much the dead person was loved. Their wealth, or more modest circumstances, are irrelevant. Their legacy lives in the hearts of those they loved.


9TH TO 18TH JUNE 2020

Irenaus are planning a pilgrimage to the Holy land in June 2020. Travelling from Manchester with El Al, on the 9th of June and returning to Manchester on the 18th of June. Accommodation is half board, in twin rooms The cost of the pilgrimage will be in the region of £1,800 and there is a supplement of £629 for a single room.

Email or phone 0151 949 1199 for more information or to request a booking form.