Can there be opposition between truth & mercy, or between doctrine & mercy?
I will say this ; mercy is real; it is the first attribute of God. Theological reflections on doctrine or mercy may then follow, but let us not forget that mercy is doctrine. Even so, I love saying mercy is true. When the adulteress stands before Jesus & the people are ready to follow the Law of Moses & stone her, he stops & writes in the sand. We do not know what he wrote..the Gospels do not tell us..but all the people who were there, ready to cast their stones, dropped them & left. Only the woman remained & she was probably still frightened, having been a breath away from being stoned to death. To her Jesus says “has no one condemned you ? neither do I condemn you. Go & from now on do not sin anymore.”
We do not know what her life was like after that encounter, after that intervention, after hearing the words of Jesus. We know that Jesus says that we should forgive seventy times seven ; the important thing is to return frequently to the source of mercy & grace.”
(The Name of God is Mercy; Pope Francis)
On our Beach Prayer Walks last week we recall the story of the woman caught in adultery & Our Lord writing a word or phrase in the sand with his finger, & then repeating the gesture a few moments later with a second word or phrase. We invite each retreatant, at some stage in our walks, to lag behind the group & to write their own word of truth in the sand, leaving it & perhaps a struggle or joyful moment it represents, behind, knowing it was read & held by Our Lord in the beauty of His creation before the incoming tide took it out to sea.
Please continue to keep the work of the Village Surgery in your prayers as they settle into St Benedict’s House. It is a blessing to share our House with them, as their work of healing meets with ours, in a profound sense of care & joy. The contractors for the extension to the Surgery are to commence work this Monday. They will make use of our hardstanding at the bottom of the Graveyard for their Site Office for the next few months. We will have continued access for parking on Sat evenings & Sundays for Mass during the building works, & we hope to have some new more robust external lighting installed from the bottom of the Graveyard to the hardstanding in good time before the darker nights.
The new Vicar for the Benefice Rev Catherine Reid is to be Instituted by the Bishop of Whitby at St Hilda;s Church on Sunday 27 Aug at 230pm. Please keep her & the parishioners of St Hilda’s & the local Churches in your prayers at this happy time. We hope to invite Rev Catherine & the parishioners of St Hilda’s to Our Lady & St Benedict’s in the Autumn to offer her & her family our warmest welcome.
I expressed my hope at Mass last weekend that in this holiday time we would each experience a Transfiguration moment,
an unexpected meeting with Christ in place or in person. Last Sunday, walking to the Abbey Church for Midday Office, a woman rider, who had just finished her race in the Ryedale Grand Prix, slowed down & said “thank you for allowing us to use your beautiful grounds, & I hope we haven’t caused too much inconvenience.” Christ in person indeed.
With my love & prayers. Fr Bede.