Blessed are the distant It is not fortuitous that Zacchaues wasn’t part of the crowds. Even though, as a chief tax collector, Zaccahaeus held an important & creative position, he was a person on the fringes of society, like the blind beggar on the side of the road to Jericho, whom Jesus had healed just before meeting him. He was alienated from his neighbours by the very fact of being a customs officer, someone performimg a job who was shunned for political, national, ritual & moral reasons. Customs officers collected taxes for the hated forces of occupation, handling coins which bore the emperor’s likeness..money that a pious Jues, according to the teachings of rigorous rabbis, should not even touch. And on top of that, they would line their pockets illegally. Zacchaeus was despised by his fellow countrymen, although they may have envied him, since he was, it is written, a very wealthy man. Jesus’ conversation with Zacchaeus is not an isolated incident in the New Testament. One might even describe it as a kind of “Gospel in miniature” in which we discover in a few concise sentences an accurate picture & illustration of Jesus’ mission of converting, healing, finding, & welcoming home his “lost sheep”. That probably explains why the passage became a favourite theme of sermons & essays by some of the great Christian thinkers. Jesus never stopped searching out those who were “distant”. In His parables, the rabbi from Nazareth habitually ascribed positive roles to scorned groups such as the Samaritans, detested customs officials, prostitutes & other sinners. He devoted Himself to lepers, the physically handicapped, & others who were excluded from society. His interest did not derive from apredilection for the “lower depths” or from angry youthful revolt against the status quo, & not even from “social welfare” or political solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, & the exploited, as we understand it nowadays. At the centre of His attention alongside the poor were the sick, “sinners” of every kind, also the rich like Zacchaeus. Note that even after Zacchaeus’s conversion, Jesus didn’t urge him to abandon his profession, & we are not to assume that Zacchaeus sank into poverty after making his promised recompense for wrongs done. What they all have in common is that they are all..for various reasons..on the fringes of the setting in which Jesus worked, one that largely defies categorisations under our familiar headings of state, nation or Church, & is most frequently described in the New Testamant as “this world”. In the light of his presence, the world that Jesus entered appeared sickly, empty & inward looking, a world without heart. Those who occupied the highest position in it had hearts of stone, not of flesh; their hearts were uncircumcised & waxed gross; their were like whited sepulchres, full of uncleanness. In such a world many people felt abandoned like sheep without a shepherd. And Jesus himself cannot find a home in such a world, He has nowhere to lay his hear. That is another reason why he speaks above all to “people on the fringes” & identifies with them. (Patience & God; Tomas Halik)
On Data Protection progress, thank you to those of you who have completed a Consent Form. We need a Consent Form for each family member over the age of thirteen; please name children under thirteen on your own Consent Form. As we welcome home some of our students from College &University, could I ask you too to complete & sign a Form? Until we receive your Form we are not permitted to make contact with you, as you have yet to give your express permission. There have been over 20 occasions since the legislation was introduced on 25 May 2018 where I have been unable to make contact with individuals for whom I have as yet no consent. Could I encourage you to ask members of your family who do not attend our Parish, or who attend elsewhere, to consider being registered with us here? We hold pastoral responsibility for all baptised Catholics who live within our parish boundaries, & it is vital for the spiritual, administrative & practical well-being of the Parish that we are fully aware of those to whom we owe the love & duty of care.
St Benedict’s RC Primary School have again excelled, this time in the week of their Patronal Feastday on Wednesday, when we celebrated the Monastic Office of Midday Prayer in the School Hall with two Choir sides of St Benedict & his sister Scholastica reciting the psalms exactly as the Community pray it in the Abbey, & the Sisters in Stanbrook Abbey. That evening & on Thus evg KS2 put on a great performance of Alice in Wonderland in the Parish Hall, well timed & with no extra time nor penalties, in order for cast & audience to be home to see England play Croatia. The previous weekend our Hockey team took part in the North Yorks Schools athletics & games finals; they went through the day unbeaten, & are now North Yorkshire Schools Small Schools Hockey Champions. Our Yr 6 Leavers Mass is in School on Wed at 2pm, & on the last day of the academic year on Friday, Mrs Barrs leaves us as Head of School to move to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs RC Primary School in York as Headteacher. We are deeply grateful to her for all she has achieved in her two years with us, & it is a tribute to her & to her young staff that their hard work in improving standards in teaching learning & performance have been acknowledged in the Diocese to such an extent that, in the face of stiff opposition, she was appointed Headteacher of one of the largest Catholic Primary Schools in the Diocese. Please keep her & her family in your prayers, & also Mr Ged Eddy as he joins us in September as Headteacher of both St Benedict’s & St Joseph’s Pickering. With love & prayers Fr Bede.