One of most beautiful passages in whole of Scripture this evening/morning from prophet Jeremiah; earth shattering / heartbreaking.. where God offers, not the clean slate you may have been working & praying for this Lent so far, to placate a God of reprisal who is angered by your continuing disobedience to his legal binding agreement, the10 commandments, & the chilling indictment “guilty” .. but a new relationship from his heart into yours ..a relationship 3000yrs later we still find hard to believe in..gentle words of comfort, depth & divine renovation..
“..deep within them..” no longer written as a debt on a slate.. ; Lord have mercy “..I will plant my Law..” tenderly planted not painfully chiselled.. ; Christ have mercy “..writing it on their hearts..” by the divine calligrapher himself, one word of adoption on your heart..”mine” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“Sir, we should like to see Jesus.”..we are in best of company until I remind you of our companions origins..Greeks..foreigners..migrants..migrating for what reason? Who am I to judge? but I still do..they came travelled through hostile territory among defensive & unwelcoming natives “we would like to see Jesus” & the migrants from Syria in Lesbos, Africans in Calais, asylum seekers on Teeside, what do they really want?..we surmise its handouts, food parcels, state benefits, NHS treatment & subsidised housing..”we should like to see Jesus” your Jesus is our Jesus surely?..one of catechists here last weekend with Our Lady of Kirkstall Conf Gp was Rose McCarthy nominated for Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards 2018, for services to migrants & asylum seekers..she was here among us at Mass last Sun morning “we should like to see Jesus”..a group, dare I say, of spiritual migrants who chose to come to see Jesus here rather than to the Abbey..”we would like to come with you”..in conversation she explained gently that what migrants need isn’t so much handouts, it is relationship; to be listened to, to be valued for who they are now, & to feel they belong..”we would like to come with you..we would like to see Jesus”..” wherever I am, my servant will be there too” wherever I am..Lesbos Calais Ampleforth Village Leeds Teeside, “my servant will be there too”..“there”..present not represented by aid worker or Cafod envelope or by proxy, in a second hand coat or a food parcel..”in so far as you failed to visit me, to listen to me, to tell me face to face & convincingly how much you love me, you failed to meet me”..she told me of one Syrian refugee she’d met recently; 41 children to 2 wives..my first reaction maybe is now yours; however, we underestimate prejudge those fellow disciples of ours at our peril, widening gap distance between us, as our spiritual strain of cabin fever increases/ worsens, as we are prevented contained, not by snow & severe weather, but by our severe cold religious convictions, our perception that our lifestyle is fully compliant with gospel values..a self righteousness that drip feeds cautiously distantly the “thou shalt nots” of responding distantly to their worsening plight..the migrants in crisis & our worsening crisis over the migrants..a bidding prayer we have shared many times in last 2 yrs..”mind the gap” is it a message of caution on the Tube or a wake up call from a guilty conscience?..at odds with our deeper authentic self & essence of the gospel..”now my soul is troubled, what shall I say; Father save me from this hour?”..what a revelation as these migrants cry out for help /salvation from their Gethsemane & its sufferings.. & here are you & I in a more serious critical condition, as we begin Passion Week suffering from cabin fever..contained in this protectorate a valley & parish of such beauty privilege & giftedness..potentially more life threatening than Calais or Wakefield, the national holding centre for refugees from where they are gently integrated into welcoming fertile soil..a wheat grain falling to the ground, & in time, with care & nurturing, yielding a rich harvest for the communities, the spiritual allotments which welcome the seed of great price..& is it coincidence or work of Holy Spirit we have a Church a graveyard & an allotment side by side & interconnected? ..our allotment rented out fenced off behind a kissing gate..I leave you to ponder on the situation its meaning & implications..of this beautiful Church so lovingly cared for & prayed within..& of gravestones lit protected maintained neatly..& outwith what some of us would still defend protectively definitively as “holy ground”, an allotment with great potential “let out to other tenants”..remember on this St Patricks weekend legacy left to us, tenants in Catholicism, by the Irish migrants who came here not seeking handouts but relationship..families of 10/12 children with at least two offered one as a priest another a nun..remember?..& where would our English Catholicism have been without the precious seeds from across the water?..how many vocations has our little parish seeded since its foundation, so close to the power station/ greenhouses half a mile east of here?..in all honesty do we want to see Jesus?..as one youngster asked me last weekend when he felt safe enough “deep down do you believe in God?”..do you?.. [5thLentYrB Jn12;20-30]